Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tomorrow is Never Promised - A story of miscarriage

“Healing doesn’t mean forgetting or making the memories insignificant. It just means refocusing.”

On September 18, 2013 we lost our baby.  I was 13 weeks and 5 days when I went to the doctor because some light spotting was lingering.  They performed an ultrasound and were not able to find a heartbeat.  I was devastated.  So in order to work through my grief, I wanted to write about my experience and everything that I am going through.  I think it will be therapeutic and help me let go of everything I’m holding on to.  And I also want other women who are suffering the loss of a miscarriage or even a stillbirth, to know they are not the only ones.  And perhaps my experience can bring them some peace as well.

When we were in the room getting the ultrasound done, first it was very exciting.  We hadn’t seen our baby since 8 weeks, and let’s be honest, it didn’t look like a baby then - but we had heard a strong heartbeat at 180 beats/minute.  Everything was great.  At 12 weeks, we went in for our regular appointment.  It was just an OB appointment, but they listened to the heartbeat, and everything seemed great.  Then the spotting started just after 13 weeks.  We had been told by several of our doctors and nurses that light spotting can be normal. I read online that you only have to worry about spotting if it is dark red or you’re bleeding a lot.  So since it’s was light pink and I only saw it on the toilet paper when I went to the bathroom, I didn’t call the doctor right away.  I regret that decision every day.  When the spotting was still persisting after 3 days, I called the doctor and they told me to come in and get checked.  All the nurses kept telling me that they’re sure everything is fine.  That “only a handful of times has it been the alternative”.  I knew once you heard the heartbeat at 8 weeks, your chance of miscarriage dropped to like 1%.  And once you hit 12 weeks, your risk is only about 0.5%.  So we thought we were being extremely cautious and over reacting since this was our first pregnancy.  My husband almost didn’t come to the appointment with me, that’s how sure we were that we were over reacting.  Boy am I glad he decided to come any way.  There is no way that I could have handled that by myself, or had to break that news to him myself.  When we saw the ultrasound, we were so excited to see our baby actually like a baby.  I was thinking about how excited I was to show everyone the ultrasound picture and post it on facebook.  And then the tech said “I’m sorry.  There’s no heartbeat”.  It took me several seconds to process what she said.  And then another several seconds to process what that meant.  I turned to my husband and he seemed to be in as much disbelief as I was.  She seemed to shoo us out quickly and put us in a room to wait for our doctor.  It seemed like an eternity.  We just held each other and cried and didn’t want to believe it.  After all, I hadn’t had any miscarriage symptoms.  No cramping.  No bleeding.  So how was this happening? I wanted a second opinion.

When the doctor came in, he told us he was sure there was no heartbeat, and he didn’t know why baby’s heart just stopped beating.  He said he wanted to do a D&C and run some tests on the baby to see if we can determine what may have happened so we can be prepared for the next pregnancy.  We went home to grieve.  That evening, the bleeding started and I had a flood of emotions hit me.  First I was scared because I was bleeding.  Second, I was almost relieved because it meant my body was telling me: yes, the baby is gone.  I could finally accept that what the doctors told us was true.  I think it was God’s assurance to us that He had our baby and we needed to let go.  So I called the doctor’s office immediately, knowing it was closed, and I would just get the on-call doctor.  That doctor was absolutely awful.  If I didn’t have a connection to this doctor and know how nice his staff is, I probably would have switched doctors after this. But this post isn’t about that.  It’s about the miscarriage and trying to move on and let go.  So I won’t go into those details.  But the bottom line was that I needed to stay home that night and hope nothing happened.  We didn’t want to lose our baby in the toilet. What kind of goodbye is that?  And we wanted the testing done, and I was told I could “collect the tissue” myself and “put it in a baggie and bring it in”.  What?  I was going to have to collect my baby’s remains out of the toilet and place them in a bag???  Absolutely not.  My baby deserved so much better.  So I laid on my back with my knees propped up and prayed that we would make it through to the morning when my doctor’s office opened.

I called at 7:30am sharp and within a few hours, they had scheduled my D&C for that evening.  I was scared of having surgery because I’ve never had surgery before.  And I was terrified of waking up to not having my baby anymore.  Thankfully I have a great support group.  My husband is absolutely amazing.  As upset as he was about it too, he was amazingly supportive and was there for me every single minute.  My parents and brother also came and also my in-laws.  I was happy that so many people were there because I was worried about my husband while I was in surgery.  I was glad that he had people there to help support him, since I couldn’t.

The D&C procedure was actually a piece of cake.  I had a great anesthesiologist.  I remember being given something to “relax” me, and feeling like I had several glasses of wine.  I remember my husband giving me a kiss.  That is the last thing I remember that feels real.  Then a few memories that feel like a dream are being wheeled through the hospital to the OR.  And I remember having to scootch myself onto the OR bed.  But it just feels like a dream. I’m not entirely sure any of that actually happened.  The next thing I remember is waking up in the post-OP room with a nurse saying hello and calling for my husband.  Apparently I had woken up briefly before because my doctor asked if I remembered him talking to me earlier.  I did not.  Not even a dreamlike feeling. Lol.  The scariest part after the D&C was when I stood up for the first time.  There was SO much blood.  Again, I am so thankful to have my amazing husband who called the nurse about it.  She brought me some washcloths and told me not to worry about it – that it was completely normal because I had been laying down so long.  After a few minutes, the blood stopped pouring.  I got dressed, sat in a wheelchair, and got to go home.  From the time the doctor showed and “relaxed me” to the time I woke up was 1 hour and 30 minutes.  I was told it would likely be approximately 2 hours.  And it only took them about 30 minutes to get me discharged and in the car heading home.

My doctor told me I would feel like I had had surgery for the first few hours and then I might experience some cramping and bleeding still.  Well, I had no idea what “feeling like I had surgery” meant.  But I had to have my husband help me to go the bathroom later that night (all the IV fluids going through me!) and OMG.  I felt like I had been hit by a truck.  I think it was all the drugs and fluids wearing off.  I could hardly stand by myself, let alone walk.  So that’s what that meant.

Within 12 hours of waking up from my surgery I was feeling better.  I could stand and walk around myself.  Emotionally I was still a wreck.  But let’s be honest, it’s almost been a week now, and I’m still a wreck.  Which is why I’m writing this – hoping to work through my pain.

Now it is dealing with all the emotions.  I have had so many thoughts swirling through my mind.  Some I’m not proud of. Here is a list of what it is like dealing with a miscarriage:

1)      My sister-in-law was due 3 weeks before me.  I am terrified of seeing her with her still pregnant belly.  I’m terrified of finding out if she’s having a boy or girl because we should have found out 2 weeks after her.  I’m sad to think about her having any sort of shower or when she goes to the hospital to deliver our new niece or nephew.  And it has nothing to do with her.  It wasn’t her fault or our new niece or nephew’s fault.  It just doesn’t seem fair to me and it is so sad for me.  We had so many dreams for the cousins being close because they were going to be so close in age.  We wanted them to live together in college like I lived with my cousin.  And now all those dreams are gone.
2)      I never got to experience the joys of pregnancy.  I never got to feel the baby kick.  I never got to know if it was a boy or girl.  I only got to see my baby a few short glimpses.  I never got to hold my baby and feel its heart beat against mine.  I feel so cheated.
3)      All my hopes and dreams for the baby have been severed.  There were so many things I was looking forward to doing with my baby.  I wanted to help him/her learn to love reading like I do. Help him/her with homework.  I wanted to watch our baby grow into an adult, graduate, go to college, and have their own family.  But all of those dreams have been slashed.
4)      I’ve waited so long to become a mom.  And now I still don’t get to be a mommy to a sweet little baby.  I wanted my husband to become a daddy.  We wanted our little family.  And our little family was severed before it even really got to start.
5)      I was angry and confused.  So many women choose to end their pregnancies every day.  I didn’t get a choice.  If I was given a choice, I would have done anything to keep my baby.  But I didn’t get to.  My baby was taken from me by God, for reasons I don’t understand.  It isn’t fair that I wanted my baby so badly, but I didn’t get to keep it.  But women who never wanted babies, have perfect, healthy pregnancies and get perfect, healthy babies.
6)      I’m starting to get angry and frustrated with women who complain about their babies or pregnancies.  I’ve seen several posts on facebook about how their babies are growing out of all their newborn clothes.  Or how they just want to be themselves and not “mommy” today.  Or talking about how they still need a nap for their pregnancy.  I would trade ANYTHING with them to be mommy or have a baby that is growing so quickly.  Or still need naps and having snacks and being hot all the time, and still “growing a human”.  I feel bad about being so mad at other people, but they don’t understand how much good they have.  And it seems like a waste to me.  To give something so special to someone who doesn’t appreciate it.
7)      I’ve had several times where I’ve blamed myself.  I remember sitting in the bathroom as we were getting ready to head to the hospital for the D&C and just saying over and over again to the baby “I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry”.  I’m having trouble not blaming myself for this.  What if I hadn’t gone to the gym the previous day?  What if I hadn’t stopped the progesterone pills at 13 weeks?  What if I had gone in to the doctor on Monday instead of waiting until Wednesday?  So many what-ifs.  I know it won’t bring my baby back and I know my baby knows how much I loved it and I wouldn’t have done anything to hurt it.
8)      I’ve felt bad because a lot of people’s comments make me frustrated.  For instance, I’ve been asked “How are you doing?” about 1800 times since that day. How do you think I’m doing? I’m crying my eyes out and I lost my baby.  Of course I’m not doing well. I’ve had better days.  Stop asking how I’m doing.  I also just find a lot of words just being words now.  The ones I’ve found that have meant the most were from those who have experienced a miscarriage as well.  And those to just say simple things like “I’m praying for all three of you”.  When I read that comment, I broke down a cried.  Someone was thinking of our baby too.  And that meant more than any of the other novels I read from people saying how sorry they were. And I don’t want to feel this way – it means a lot to me that anyone took the time to say a few words about our loss.  But it’s a natural thing and no one should feel bad about reacting this way.
9)      I want to go back to Monday and just freeze time.  I want to freeze our perfect little family.  For a few short weeks we were so happy.  And though we feel like we took it all for granted, we were still very happy and making so many plans.  I want to just freeze time and remember that moment forever.
10)   I feel like I took it all for granted.  I just assumed once we made it past 12 weeks that we were in the safe zone.  I assumed we would have another 6 months still to talk to the baby and play music for the baby and tell the baby how much we loved it.  And then in a few seconds, everything came crashing down.
11)   I was surprised how much loss I felt.  How connected and how much I loved a baby I never got to meet.  A baby I hardly even got to see on a screen.  I’m not sure how that connection began, but it was very strong.  Much stronger than I anticipated.
12)   I am terrified of forgetting my baby.  This is one of the strongest feelings I’ve felt throughout the entire process.  I feel that if I start having fun and enjoying life again, that I’m somehow hurting my baby’s memory.  Or I’m going to forget my baby.  And after reading a website, I realized that part of that is due to the fact that I don’t have anything to remember my baby by.  There are no pictures.  I only have 2 ultrasound pictures and that is it.  I don’t even have a positive pregnancy test because of the way I discovered I was pregnant.  So I have virtually no mementos of my baby.  I want to remember my lost baby for the rest of my life.
13)   After having the D&C, I realized that I am going to have a doctor bill, hospital bill, anesthesiologist bill, pathology bill.  That this procedure to take away my baby is going to cost just as much as delivering a baby…but the difference is I will not have a beautiful baby to make it all worth it.  Instead I am left with painful what-ifs and giant bill. 
14)   I had announced it on facebook so absolutely everyone knew we were expecting. And now I have to tell everyone we are no longer expecting.  I have to deal with having people come up to me and ask how baby is doing, if we’ve found out if it’s a boy or girl yet.  I posted it on facebook at 12 weeks.  A little over a week later we lost the baby.  It’s just not fair.

I’ve also come to a couple things that have helped me feel a little better.  And I’m really helping that writing all this down will not only start bringing some peace to me, but can also help someone else.

1)      Talking to a friend who recently went through a miscarriage has really helped.  It was also her first pregnancy, so she knows exactly how I’m feeling.  She has really helped validate the feelings I’m having, but also helped me see a light at the end of the tunnel.  Yesterday, she told me she heard that a baby after a miscarriage is called your Rainbow Baby.  She got her rainbow baby.  So I’m waiting to weather this storm to reach my rainbow baby too.
2)      Support system.  Knowing there are so many people out there who care about us has really helped.  We weren’t the only lives our baby touched in the few short weeks we had it.  I can feel prayers lift my heart a little bit
3)      My husband.  He has been absolutely amazing.  We both suffered a lot in those first 2 days.  I am glad he was able to grieve as well.  But as soon as I had to have surgery, now he couldn’t only be sad.  He had to be strong and take care of me as well.  I love him so much more than I ever thought I could after my surgery.  He took such good care of me.  And he just holds me when I start crying.  Telling me it’s ok, and he understands.  He isn’t trying to fix it – there is no way to fix it.  But he lets me just cry it out.  That means so much to me. And I hope he’s been able to fully grieve and my needs haven’t prevented him from being able to move on.
4)      Planning a trip.  We had planned to take a family vacation to Florida for baby’s 1st birthday.  We have a timeshare sampler that was going to expire a year to the month after baby was due.  So it was perfect.  But now that it will expire before we have another first birthday, we decided it was best to move it up.  It has helped to have something to plan and look forward to.  To get away from the memories of baby.  But I’m also worried that going on this trip when it was supposed to be for baby is going to hurt.  Today, we decided since we’ll be there for Halloween, we are going to buy Disney Halloween shirts and I am going to embroider the date we lost our baby on the sleeves and wear it while we’re on our trip.  A way to dedicate this trip to our baby.
5)      I also bought a charm for my Pandora bracelet.  It’s currently being made, so I can’t recommend the specific place yet, but just knowing it’s coming brings me peace and happiness.  It is a heart charm with a dangling charm with footprints.  I was able to have the date we lost baby personalized on the back. And then I added a gemstone for March (when baby was due).  This way, I will always have baby close to me.  And it gives me something to remember baby by – an actual memento of my baby.
6)      Pinterest.  Pineterest has been helpful because I was able to find ways to create mementos for our baby, but I also was able to find several poems and sayings that have helped me grieve.  I will post a few of them below.  They bring sadness, but also hope.
7)      Thinking about seeing my baby when I get to Heaven.  I know that God is taking good care of my baby.  And that my baby will be waiting for me when I get to Heaven and I cannot wait to meet it.
8)      Making a memento to put on our Christmas tree every year.  Christmas is my favorite time of year and I think it is the perfect time to remember our very special baby who was taken from us too soon.
9)      Tomorrow is never promised.  My baby taught me a lot about unconditional love and made our marriage stronger.  But the biggest thing baby taught me is that tomorrow is never promised.  Live life like you won’t have a tomorrow.  Go after your dreams.  Love everyone like there’s no tomorrow.  Don’t wait to do things because you have a master plan.  The only plan that matters is God’s.  I thought I had a perfect plan of when we’d start our family.  But that was my plan, and not God’s.  And how quickly He showed me that my plan didn’t matter.  So don’t take things for granted.  Be thankful for everything and everyone in your life.  And always remember that tomorrow is never promised.

“Healing doesn’t mean forgetting or making the memories insignificant. It just means refocusing.” – this quote is from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyloss/mcsurvivingemotionally.html.  This is one of the most important things I’m trying to remember.  Just because I heal from the loss and move on with my life, it doesn’t mean that I will forget my baby.  And I know my baby would want us to move and have another baby so it will have a brother or sister.  I just need to remember that if I do that, it doesn’t mean I have to forget my first baby.  But the new baby deserves to be loved just as much as this baby was.

Please read the poem of our baby that my husband wrote.

You can request a bereavement kit from March of Dimes if you lost a baby between conception and the first month of life by requesting it here: bkit@marchofdimes.com

“How can I say goodbye when I never said hello? Why does my heart grieve and time pass so slow?” – sayinggoodbye.org

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.”

“You were my light, my heart, my gift of love and joy, from the very highest source.  So every day, I vow to make a difference, share a smile, live, laugh, and love.  Now I live for us both, so all I do, I do to honor you.” –sayinggoodbye.org

“Take our million teardrops, wrap them up in love, then ask the wind to carry them, to you in Heaven above.” – sayinggoodbye.org

I’ll Be There
Daddy please don’t look so sad,
Mama please don’t cry
Cause I am in the arms of Jesus
And He sings me lullabies.

Please try not to question God,
Don’t think he is unkind.
Don’t think He sent me to you,
And then He changed his mind.

You see, I am a special child,
And I’m needed up above.
I’m the special gift you gave Him,
The product of your love.

I’ll always be there with you
And watch the sky at night.
Find the brightest star that’s gleaming
That’s my halo’s brilliant light.

You’ll see me in the morning frost,
That mists your window pane.
That’s me in the summer showers,
I’ll be dancing in the rain.

When you feel a little breeze
Form a gentle wind that blows,
That’s me I’ll be there,
Planting a kiss on your nose.

When you see a child playing
And your heart feels a little tug,
That’s me I’ll be there
Giving your heart a hug.

So daddy please don’t look so sad
Mama don’t you cry.
I’m in the arms of Jesus
And He sings me lullabies.

A Million Times
You never said I’m leaving
You never said good-bye.
You were gone before I knew it
And only God knew why

A million times we’ve needed you
A million times we’ve cried
If love alone could’ve saved you,
You never would have died

In life we loved you dearly,
In death we love you still.
In our hearts you hold a place,
No one else will ever fill.

It broke our hearts to lose you,
But you didn’t go alone.
Part of us went with you,
The day God took you home.

For Those Few Weeks
For those few weeks
I had you all to myself.
And that seems too short a time
To be changed so profoundly.

In those few weeks
I came to know you
And love you.
You came to trust me with your life.
Oh, what a life I had planned for you!

Just those few weeks
When I lost you,
I lost a lifetime of hopes,
Plans, dreams, and aspirations…
A slice of my future simply vanished overnight.

Just those few weeks
It wasn’t enough time to convince others
How special and important you were.
How odd, a truly unique person has recently died,
And no one is mourning the passing.

Just a mere few weeks
And no “normal” person would cry all night
Over a tiny, unfinished baby,
Or get depressed and withdrawn day after endless day.
No one would, so why am I?

You were just those few weeks my little one.
You darted in and out of my life too quickly.
But it seems that’s all the time you needed
To make my life so much richer
And give me a glimpse of

They Say There is A Reason
They say there is a reason,
They say that time will heal.
But neither time nor reason,
Will change the way I feel.

For no one knows the heartache,
That lies beyond our smiles,
No one knows how many times,
We have broken down and cried.

We want to tell you something,
So there won’t be any doubt.
You’re so wonderful to think of,
But so hard to be without.

“As a butterfly graces our lives with one moment’s fragile beauty, so too has your baby’s presence blessed you, and those that surround you with their short life, and unique spirit.  May you find peace, and joy with each butterfly that passes, knowing that your baby lives on in the hearts of all they touched.”

Another website that helped me understand that all my emotions are normal is: http://www.miscarriagesupport.org.nz/grief_issues.html.

I hope that this long post is able to help even one other women get through her miscarriage.  And I am still grieving, but I do know that time will help heal my broken heart and I have an amazing marriage and faith.  And all of that will pull me through this and make me even stronger.  And I cannot wait to have another baby so that my baby in Heaven will have a brother or sister.  And I will cherish every single moment I have with that baby, because tomorrow is never promised.


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