April 6th will forever be a day that makes me stop, think, and reflect a little on what could have been but isn’t. I haven’t opened up a lot about this and I think it’s been long enough and time to share my story, hopefully by sharing my experiences I will help someone else who has experienced this kind of loss….
April 6th was the due date for Mike and my first baby. Way back in the summer of 2010 we decided like many couples do that it was time to start a family. We were fortunate that we only had to “try” for a couple of months. I will never forget the morning I took a pregnancy test….and two lines appeared. Something happened in that moment I became a mother. We were having a baby, everything was changing and I couldn’t be more excited about that. We told my sisters and a couple of close friends and I secretly made plans about what clever way we would tell our parents that they were going to be grandparents. This little baby would be the first grandchild on both sides of our family I couldn’t wait to share our exciting news. I had my first prenatal doctors appointment and was told that all was good and was given our due date….April 6th. I was so excited to have an April baby since my birthday is in April I always loved the idea of a spring baby. I was told by the nurse that I may have a little spotting after the appointment and not to worry but if it continued past a couple of days or got heavier than just spotting to call them. So at first when I started bleeding a little I wasn’t too concerned it was exactly as the nurse said just some light spotting, but it continued for longer than I liked so after a couple of days I called the doctor. Since it wasn’t heavy bleeding and I wasn’t cramping the doctor assumed it was just from my doctors exam a few days earlier, I tried not to worry but I think deep down in my gut I knew something wasn’t right. I was starting to really get scared. I remember I went to work at Apple during this time and had to secretly sneak into the bathroom to call the doctor I can’t even imagine how crazy I must have seemed. Since the bleeding was continuing I called the doctor a second time and they scheduled an ultrasound for the next day just to make sure everything was okay. Once again I went to work explained to my supervisor that I needed the next day off but I didn’t tell him the specifics of what I was dealing with. And then during work that day the cramping started and in that moment I think I just knew this wasn’t right. I stayed at work as long as I could but dealing with customers at Apple yelling and being mad about their iPhone was more than I could handle when I was dealing with potentially losing my baby. So I went home early I will be forever thankful that I left when I did because things went from bad to awful quick. I got home and tried to eat some dinner with Mike and Ashley (who was living with us at the time) but I was really uncomfortable so they sent me upstairs to bed. I was in tears partly from the physical pain of the cramps but I think mostly it was because I knew it was over. Ashley convinced me to call my mom even though at that point she didn’t even know about the pregnancy. My mom convinced me that if I was in that much pain I needed to call the doctor again. At this point I was bleeding pretty heavily I remembering going to the bathroom and there was so much blood and large clots of tissue and in that movement I knew my baby was gone. But I called the doctor and she encouraged me to go to the ER, since I hadn’t had an ultrasound yet she was concerned about the possibility of an eptopic pregnancy. So Mike and I went to the ER….it was the absolute worst. Everyone at the hospital was amazing and I received the best care but I was so sad. I didn’t want to be there, this wasn’t how this was supposed to go. I was supposed to be thinking and planning about telling work and my parents, this was a joyful time not one where I was consumed with sadness but sadness was my reality. We left the hospital with a miscarriage diagnosis and I was told to follow up with my doctor the next day. I remember getting home late that night waking up Ashley and just crying on her shoulder it was over and it was time to figure out how to live after the loss of the baby.
The next day Ashley went with me to the doctor that was even worse than the ER the night before. The last time I had been in that office I was having my first baby, I looked at all the other pregnant bellies in the waiting room and was excited that was going to be me in a few months. And suddenly I was back but my baby was gone and suddenly those bellies were just a reminder of what I had lost. But like anything I got through the appointment and was told officially I had had a miscarriage my hCg levels which had been taken at the ER and then again that morning were going down, and I would have to return to the doctor each week to have my levels monitored until they were at zero to make sure the miscarriage completed on its own. Worst thing ever returning to the pregnant bellies week after week. I think that went on for five or six weeks before my levels were at a normal level.
I think the months following the miscarriage were the hardest. I felt everyday that I shouldn’t still be sad over my loss. That I needed to just get over it and move on I hadn’t been pregnant for that long. But no matter how much I felt like I should feel better I just didn’t. Every pregnancy announcement was a reminder that I didn’t get to announce mine, all the pain of that night would hit me all over again. Work became almost unbearable. I would sit trying to teach people about their Macs and anytime someone got upset with me all I could think was my baby died and you are yelling at me about your contacts I cannot deal with this. Eventually I found an amazing counselor who helped me navigate these feelings, I went part time at work, and we started trying again. But I was no longer the blissful wife excited about the possibility of starting a family I was desperate to get pregnant again to wash away the loss. I thought if I just got pregnant I would feel better but that didn’t happen either.
After the miscarriage we struggled to get pregnant again. I can look back now and understand that maybe my body knew better than me and I needed that time to heal but that year and five or so months after the miscarriage before we got pregnant with Molly were some of the hardest months of my life. Each month when I started my period I would slip into this dark place for a few days then I would start charting, tracking and planning when would be the best days to try the next month. Then I would sit and obsess about whether or not we got pregnant that month and ultimately be disappointed when it didn’t happen again. I can’t even imagine how many OPK’s and home pregnancy tests I peed on during that time. I would check Facebook tentatively because it seemed there was always another pregnancy announcement or some status update about someones pregnancy. I would cautiously answer the phone if it was a someone I hadn’t heard from in a while, convinced they would tell me they were pregnant. And all I could think was that was supposed to be me…what if it’s never me. Our baby’s due date came and went, mother’s day also came and went, and I struggled with those days. Eventually we did get pregnant again but I had changed no longer was I simply excited to be having a baby, I was excited but I also was terrified what if I had another miscarriage could I go through that again. When we starting telling people about our pregnancy with Molly I would keep tally of who knew so I would know who I had to untell if I had another miscarriage. And unfortunately I know any future pregnancies will also have that fear, I will never be that blissfully unaware mom who just hears about miscarriages but doesn’t expect that to happen to them.
I wanted to share this story about our loss because it was a time in my life when I felt so alone. I felt like it was my loss and mine alone because no one around me knew what the pain of a miscarriage really felt like. It is completely isolating and that was horrible. I think if I had reached out for help sooner maybe I wouldn’t have struggled with the sadness for so long. I also think there is something so therapeutic by just putting the whole truth out there, so that’s what I’m doing and if someone reads this and it helps them feel less alone, less isolated, less sad then that’s a win for me.
Today while I type this up Molly is playing with her toys, she is an amazing 18 month old, but there are days (usually around the due date or the day we lost the baby) I think about the baby that didn’t make it. We would have a toddler who would be turning three soon. I wonder if we would have had another girl or if it would have been a boy. This year on April 6th I will be running in the half marathon in San Francisco and I’m sure during one of those miles my mind will wonder to our first baby. But I’m so thankful that today after so much sadness I am able to think about that child and not be consumed with sadness and guilt over not being able to successfully carry that baby. I can think about the baby send love it’s way and move on, but it has taken me a really long time and a successful pregnancy to get there. Because no matter what the moment I saw those two lines a positive pregnancy test, my life changed I was someones mother and that doesn’t change after a miscarriage. It is a loss that needs to be grieved just like any other and I’m fortunate to have been able to do that.