This is a difficult post to write for me, and I debated writing it at all. I even talked it over with Chris, and I hardly ever do that. He doesn’t really ever know what I’m writing and sometimes reads it afterward. Anyway, I’m getting off topic.
You all may have noticed it was pretty quiet around here last month. You see, I thought we were going to have some exciting news to share and was trying hard not to spill it. As it turns out, it’s a good thing I kept quiet.
I had a miscarriage last month.
It feels good to say it, even in written form, because it continues to help me face it. So, since I feel that it isn’t talked about enough, here’s our story. It’s pretty long because I want to tell you everything that was happening, so you can appreciate where I’ve been the past little while.
As you all probably know if you’re frequent readers, Chris and I started trying to conceive late last year. Then, sooner than I ever could have imagined (I always thought it was going to take a good 6-9 months), I was staring a positive pregnancy test. It was Friday, December 16. It was an incredibly surreal moment. I had felt a little off all week, and the test finally confirmed everything – my mood swings, my immense fatigue, and my appetite. Let me just say though – pregnancy tests are a strange thing – it’s amazing that you can go to the bathroom as a wife and come out a soon to be mother.
Needless to say, I showed Chris the test and we were both incredibly excited. I’m not going to lie – I was also scared out of my mind thinking about what I was facing – but beyond excited at the joy a little test brought to our lives. I told my mom that night (knowing I’d need her advice along the way), and we went to bed happy that night.
The following week was Christmas, and we went up to Buffalo to visit Chris’ extended family (his aunts and uncles). It was a difficult few days, because in addition to dealing with being away from my family during the holidays for the first time (to add to it, Hannukah fell during Christmas this year, and my family celebrates both), I was also dealing with pregnancy symptoms. Luckily, I never had morning sickness, so his family didn’t figure it out. It was hard to keep it from them, but looking back I’m really glad we did.
Once we got back, things got a little easier. I was still tired all the time, but didn’t really have a lot of other symptoms. We started a private registry and I started doing research into everything we needed. After doing the math, we figured out we were due on August 24. We made my first doctor’s appointment for January 17, when I would be 8 weeks along.
Tuesday, January 17, I woke up really excited to head to the doctor. Chris and I headed there in separate cars since we would each be heading to work afterward. I was nervous to see what would go on at the appointment, and so excited to see a heartbeat.
When I got on the table for the ultrasound, my doctor started looking around for the heartbeat. It was taking her a little bit longer than I thought, and when she froze the picture, I knew something was potentially not right.
You could see that my body had prepared itself for pregnancy, and there was a sac, but it was dark. Nothing inside it. That meant one of two things – we had done the math wrong and I wasn’t as far along as I thought, or it was a miscarriage – more specifically, a blighted ovum.
It was a bunch of emotional mumbo jumbo to me, but I was upset. I tend to be a little obsessive about things, and I knew there was no way my math was wrong.
My doctor sent me for blood work immediately, with instructions to get more done that Thursday. I went with a sinking feeling, and wasn’t sure I would be able to make it through the workday.
This is where the story just gets more tragic, at least for that day. I got to work probably around 10:30, after talking to my mom and calming down a little. My boss went to lunch at noon, and when my mom called at about 12:30 pm, I thought she was just checking in on me. She wasn’t.
She was calling to tell me that my grandmother had passed away that morning. Somehow, I put together everything I had to at work and finished things that needed to be done. When my boss got back from her lunch, I told her, then ended up leaving work at about 2 pm. It had already been an awful day and was steadily looking worse for the rest of the week.
If you’re Jewish, then you’re familiar with how quickly we hold funerals. My grandmother passing away Tuesday morning meant that the service was Wednesday at 1pm. In addition to everything I was going through personally, I had to drive to Brooklyn, NY on Wednesday – and back. Chris didn’t go with me. Honestly, he probably could have gotten the time off had he asked for it, but I didn’t really want him to, knowing that we’d likely be back the same day (we weren’t sure when we left if we were staying the night or not).
I left on Wednesday morning just before 6 am. I met my parents at a rest stop in Maryland, where one of my sisters got in the car with me so I wouldn’t be driving alone. We got to the funeral home at about 10:30 or so, and changed there for the service. Family and my grandmother’s friends started arriving just after 12. My grandmother had been in a nursing home for a long time and I knew very few of her friends since we lived hours away, but it was so nice to see them show up there to show their respects. I know it was a great comfort to my mother to see them. After the service, we drove to the cemetery on Long Island. One of the hardest parts of the day for me was there – I was incredibly close to my grandfather and seeing her casket go in next where his is was heartbreaking. I don’t really know how my mother held it together.
Here comes the part where I give you too much information, so I hope you’re ready for it.
Just before we left the cemetery, we stopped to go to the restroom – where I discovered I was bleeding. On top of everything already happening on Wednesday, my body had started the process of miscarrying. It was devastating, and there was nothing I could really do. My cousin was riding in my car with me and my sister back to my uncle’s house, so I couldn’t really talk it out with my sister (I had already told her what was happening – they knew about the pregnancy pretty early on as well). Luckily, I was able to catch my mom before we got in the car, and she was able to stop and grab me some always on the way, since I couldn’t stop without my cousin asking questions.
If course, New York has all kinds of laws about calling while driving (and rightfully so), so my sister sent Chris a text letting him know I’d call as soon as I could – there was no way for me to call him before I left with my cousin around. Once we got to my uncle’s house, I sent my sister in ahead of me, then called and told Chris what was going on. For once, he wasn’t squeamish about it and just let me talk – I was upset I couldn’t be there to tell him in person, but he had to know what was going on. I then called the doctor, who confirmed what I thought – that I was likely miscarrying, but they wouldn’t know for sure until they saw the blood work.
We then proceeded to go in to my uncle’s house, where I had to pretend everything was normal, or as normal as it can be when a relative has passed away. Something you may not know about my extended family – in general, we don’t really talk. In fact, a lot of my extended family doesn’t even like each other. It was kind of torturous to be there. Because of the way my family is, I barely know my cousins and don’t really talk to my aunt and uncle at all, but those are issues for another day. Needless to say, I was counting the minutes until we could leave.
When we finally left, I think it was about 7 pm, and we got straight on the road headed home. My sister came home with me for the night so I would have someone with me the whole way. Don’t ask me how, but we were home at 11 pm – with two stops. It’s about 250 miles. Thinking about it, I can’t imagine that we left that late, but I don’t remember at all what time it was when we left. I was so glad to get home that night.
Since I get two days for bereavement from work and Wednesday had been so stressful, I took Thursday off as well. I got my blood drawn in the morning, then met my parents so they could take my sister home. I continued to bleed, and I think some part of me knew it was over – I was just waiting for the final word from the doctor. Knowing what was likely coming, I took Friday off as a personal day. Early Friday morning, my doctor called and confirmed the news – I was miscarrying. My HCG levels were not rising they way they should have been, and my doctor gave me the option of scheduling surgery or seeing what would happen naturally. I chose to wait and see what my body would do, and I am so glad I did – my body knew exactly what to do.
I continued to bleed throughout the following week, including losing what had been the (empty) gestational sac. When I had blood work done again the following week, my HCG levels had dropped from 3700 on Thursday the 19th to 127 on the 26th. I have to go back for more blood work next week, but it seems that I will be able to avoid having surgery, which I am grateful for. It’s been a harrowing enough experience.
I know this has been an incredibly long post, and much more serious than I normally am here. If you’re still reading, I’m impressed (but maybe you just skipped to the end, and I’m okay with that too).
Miscarriage, regardless of the circumstances, is a hard thing. I didn’t really know how to deal with it at first, and my husband had way less of an idea of what to do. That’s the problem – there was nothing to do, nothing we could have done. It was no one’s fault and there was no one to blame – it just wasn’t our time yet for whatever reason.
As the time goes on, I get better and better about it. The first few days I was sad all the time, but now I think about it less and less often. I think about mine and Chris’ grandparents and truly feel the baby is with them, well taken care of. They probably gave it a really Italian name (his family) or a really Jewish name (my family), and we’ll meet him or her one day. Despite how much it has hurt, I still truly believe that everything happens for a reason. There was a reason we had a miscarriage, and in the end, it’ll only make us stronger.
I really posted this so I could let you all know where I’ve been, and also to raise awareness of how often this happens. My doctor mentioned that as many as 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. It’s difficult to truly measure it, as pregnancies can end before a mother even knows she is pregnant. I never knew it could be that high, and I didn’t expect this, even knowing that both my mother and mother-in-law went through them.
If you know someone going through a miscarriage, female or male, please do your best to be there for them. My close friends have been there as a shoulder – offering an ear to listen with, some kind words, and hugs, even from afar. My family has just listened and let me know that it’s okay to cry and be upset and that they understand what we’re going through. I don’t know what we would have done without any of them, and I’m so thankful to have them in my life.
Finally, if you know me in real life and are finding out about this through the blog world, please understand. It’s difficult to tell the story once, let alone to everyone we know, over and over again. This is my way to let you know. Please understand that just because I didn’t tell you personally, it isn’t that I didn’t want to – it’s just sometimes difficult to keep telling, and it doesn’t mean I care about you any less.
Here’s to happier times and better news next time.
“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” -Marilyn Monroe