The Unexplained Grief of Miscarriage

The Unexplained Grief of Miscarriage

2019-11-21 09:57:24

TW: Miscarriage

Miscarriage. Like my friend Irina says, it’s a weird word and concept. Something we never think will happen to us, even when we get pregnant. Even though the statistics say otherwise. Between 10 and 15 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and this doesn’t account for the others that may occur for women who aren’t aware they’re pregnant. 

I spent most of my life like many women, trying hard to prevent pregnancy, but this year my husband and I decided we were finally ready. We both have awesome, reliable jobs, and we felt ready to take the next step into parenthood. On Halloween, after we returned home from a trip to see family and friends in Cancun, I knew my body felt weird. I had all the symptoms – sore boobs, bloating, exhaustion, and HUNGRY. I knew these symptoms were similar to what I feel leading up to getting my period, but according to my app where I track my cycles my period was late. I started to panic, but also feel excited. Were we really doing this? Could this be real?

I decided to take an at-home pregnancy test that day and it came out positive. I took another one, a different brand, and that one too was positive. Fer was off shift that day and I got to tell him right away. We cried together. What an experience to have wanted this, and for it to happen. Very different from our past. We jumped up and down and of course, and like so many couples, we immediately started planning. How were we going to tell our parents? When would we all be together again? How far along was I? I called the doctor and we tried to calculate the dates. 

They were able to get me in for an ultrasound a few days later, but that experience brought troubling news. The ultrasound showed no sac and no pregnancy was detected. Our hearts dropped. I took another pregnancy test in the office and it came up positive again. The doctor informed us of several different options of what could be going on. I might just be much earlier than we originally thought and that would explain why nothing was coming up on the ultrasound yet. I might have an ectopic pregnancy or a non-viable pregnancy, or I might have experienced a miscarriage and not known earlier in the month, and the pregnancy hormone that makes tests positive was still in my body. She sent me home with orders to go get labwork done and check my hCG levels. She said, “treat this as a normal, early pregnancy until we know more.” 

I walked into that office excited and left a wreck. I had no idea that I would have fewer answers and more questions leaving the doctor’s office than before I went. I was in limbo for an entire week. I had to go home, try and do my work, and show up for my life in some sort of normal way, all the while wondering what the heck was going on with my body, and whether I should feel mad, sad, terrified, or excited. I got my hCG levels checked 48 hours apart and the goal was to see if they were rising or falling. Of course getting the results from the lab took days and by Friday I had to be on a plane to San Diego for a weekend away I had planned.

As I was gathering my things in the house before leaving for the airport it started. I took another pregnancy test to calm my anxiety. It was positive. But then, bloating. A heaviness in my pelvic region. A trace of blood in my pee. My mom picked me up to go to the airport and I hadn’t told her what had been going on. Instead, I was hoping in a few more weeks to surprise her with the excitement of a healthy pregnancy. But as with this entire story, how I expected it to go is not how it went. Instead, my mom could see by the look on my face that something was really wrong with me and asked me what was going on. I burst into tears and told her everything. I said I didn’t know right then, but I think I was about to have a miscarriage.

I went through the motions of what should have been a joyful and exciting cross country trip. On the first leg of my trip I missed a call from my doctor’s office – the call that would have told me the answer – were my hCg levels going up or down? When I landed in St. Louis and returned the call as soon as the plane landed, the offices were already closed for the weekend and I wouldn’t be able to get my results until Monday. I boarded the plane to San Diego and my cramping and bloating got worse. I sat with my eyes closed in my window seat, tears streaming down my face for most of the ride. 

When I arrived in San Diego, getting off the plane perked me up slightly. My friend Allie came to get me. I got in her black BMW and closed the door. “So I think I’m having a miscarriage right now…” I blurted out. Allie’s face was void of emotion. She didn’t panic or seem alarmed. She just said sorry and that she was there for me. She asked me what I needed and held space for me. She took me to eat my favorite food – Indian. When we got back from dinner my miscarriage was in full force. I was having painful cramping and bloating with a good amount of bleeding. I laid down in Allie’s bed with a heating pad and called my doctor’s on-call nurse and I sobbed into the phone, “I’m having a miscarriage – what do I do?” 

There was nothing I could do. The biology of the human body does what it wants. It’s sophisticated in that way. Something wasn’t working or it wasn’t complete or it couldn’t survive. I won’t know why. I won’t know the real reason, but I can try and guess. On Saturday I received a call in the middle of the She Recovers recovery workshop I was attending in San Diego from the on-call nurse. She had the results of my hCg levels lab work and they were decreasing. I told her it didn’t matter because I had my miscarriage last night. 

The days after my miscarriage were ones I never expected, just like the experience itself. They were difficult and emotional. I found myself feeling angry, sad, confused, and disappointed. Working was extremely difficult and the apathy towards my recovery and everyday life was obvious. I tried just doing the basics – eat food, shower, show up for work, sleep, and cry when I felt it. 

I have been surprised about feeling so sad about this experience. Logically I know it is something I can’t control, something common that happens to many women, and something that doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with me. Spiritually and emotionally I am grieving something I wanted and thought was going to happen. I’m grieving one week being excited and having the hope of a new experience, and the next having that experience taken from me without any real explanation as to why or how. 

Why is it that the grief of a miscarriage feels like something we must do in private? Something we aren’t entitled to unless it qualifies by a certain number of weeks? Why does the grief of what might have been, feel less important? Why does this type of grief feel like it’s irrational or not allowed?

I’m grateful for friends who have been where I’ve been who have reached out to me and shared their own grief and stories with me. I’m grateful for my husband and my family who tell me it’s absolutely ok for me to feel the way I do, regardless of how far along I was or how long I knew about the pregnancy. I am grateful for my people continuously checking up on me and reminding me healing is not linear. 

I’ll be honest, I have not been meditating or making my daily gratitude lists or journaling. It all seems too tough right now. 

I am once again finding myself wishing I was not a person who feels things so deeply. 

I know that I’m not okay right now, but I know I will be.

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