August 28, 2017

What No One Wants to Say About Miscarriage

I hesitated sharing this with everyone, but I fear not talking about it is not doing myself or anyone any justice. If you follow me on social media, you will know that I am currently pregnant with our rainbow baby (a baby that is born following a miscarriage, still birth, neonatal death or infant loss). What you don't know is right before we conceived our little miracle, we suffered a loss as well. Below is that story.

In May 2017, hubby and I found out some very exciting news that we were expecting our second child who would be due on January 17, 2018. Unfortunately, at 5 weeks pregnant, I also found out I was having an early miscarriage. It was something I always knew was a possibility but never imagined would happen to us. Before losing our child, I always felt sorry for expecting mothers who lost their child to a miscarriage but I honestly never truly understood how that felt. Since going through the process of a miscarriage (yes, this is a process. It doesn't not happen overnight), I've had more awkward and uncomfortable things be said to me that if only people were more educated or had a bit more empathy for those experiencing a miscarriage, then it could help make that person feel that much better that they can get through it. 

I'm going to share some important and extremely blunt statements of things I have experienced during this process. There may be some TMI, and it may get a little dark...but these are things you need to know so you can support any loved one who has to endure this.

1. A miscarriage, specifically an "early miscarriage" should not be treated like it's just a late period. 
The cramping and bleeding you experience during a miscarriage is nothing like a period. The cramps are sometimes painful, and a constant reminder of what is happening to you. The bleeding is excessive and it takes everything in you to go about your normal day and try to get through it. I can feel a piece of my heart breaking as my body removes the last of my former child-to-be. I don't wish that feeling on anyone. But I can tell you, this is NOTHING like having a period. This is heartbreaking, depressing and defeating. A miscarriage is not something that happens within one day or night. A woman goes through this for sometimes a week or more, depending on how far along they are.

2. Don't ever say "at least it happened this early".
At least it happened early? Are you serious? And I won't turn this into a political debate of whether this is a baby or a "fetus". This is MY baby! And I lost him/her. When a woman receives a positive pregnancy test, in that moment everything changes. They change their entire lifestyle, watch the food they eat, watch what they drink, take vitamins just for their baby. They feel a deep connection and dream about what their new family will be like together. Whether he or she will enjoy the same things as they do. What will he/she grow up to be like? How will your other children connect with the new baby? This flashed through my head in the short two weeks I knew I was carrying my new baby. There is no "at least". It is painful at any time.

3. Others, even healthcare professionals, need to think before they speak.
After sharing the unfortunate news of our miscarriage with those we had previously shared our good news with, I could feel the awkwardness begin. No one knew what to say. Every "I'm so sorry" felt like a dagger going through my heart. And while everyone meant well, it still feels awful. I've had a few people make really inappropriate statements and pose assuming questions to me which felt like I was sucker punched. One person told me about how they felt there as such a huge baby boom going on right now and how everyone we knew was pregnant. Really? Not me...thanks for reminding me of that. After getting the official word on our miscarriage, my doctor requested I visit the hospital for another RhoGAM shot (typically for pregnant women who have negative blood types, missing the Rh factor in their blood). Normally, a pregnant women wouldn't receive this shot until much later in their pregnancy, but as a precaution it is also given to those who miscarry. Now, I'm a fairly petite woman. And while I don't like when people make assumptions on pregnancies, I think it was pretty clear which of the scenarios for receiving this shot I fell into. Yet still, I had two labor & delivery nurses ask me "when is your due date/how far along are you?" and I needed to make everyone uncomfortable by saying I actually just found out an hour ago I miscarried. Then trying to hold back the tears and pretend it's okay so everyone can move on with the conversation is even worse. Can everyone just be a little more conscious of the words that come out of our mouths? And that includes myself. You never realized how badly such simple words can hurt people until you're the one hurting.

4. There is a sense of guilt you just can't shake.
I felt like I was holding on to this pregnancy really hard. There was a point right before the miscarriage where I felt off. For some reason I remembered "feeling pregnant" with my son, and this time I did not. I ran to the pharmacy to test again to double check and felt immediate relief when I saw two positive tests right away. Two days later is when I miscarried. You know it is not your fault, but you can't help but feel deep down that somehow it is. That your body failed you and your child. You look around and see all of the women who are successfully pregnant and wonder why you can't be. I kept thinking of all those couples who go through multiple miscarriages or infertility and how they still have hope that their baby is coming. I felt guilty for feeling so upset when those people go through this heartbreak over and over. I felt guilty for not giving my son all the attention he deserves while I grieved.

5. Honestly, I felt numb. 
My brain just hadn't caught up with my body on what is happening. I found myself for weeks after in a complete fog. I caught myself staring off into space, not being fully present with my family. I felt the tears welling up behind my eyes and the lump in the back of my throat as I try to hide my emotions so no one else feels uncomfortable. I wondered how I'll get past this and try again. How do I get to that place where I feel OK to move on? How can I honor the baby I'll never get to hold?

6. I felt alone in all of this.
It's important to remember, you are in fact NOT alone in this. Your husband/partner must go through it also. Unfortunately, it's easy to feel alone when your body is the one going through it. Specifically with early miscarriages, it's hard to communicate your feelings knowing you've already connected with your baby and your partner may not have. To them, it is pretty sad and unfortunate but may not be as soul crushing of a feeling as you are feeling right now. I was really lucky to have people in my life to help explain what I was going through to my husband so he knew how to be more supportive during this time. And he has been great. He's let me cry when I need to, and let me laugh when I need to not think of it. 

I know this post seems more like I'm just rambling but it's part of my process and something I really wanted to share. If you or someone you know has gone through this, just know it's more common than you think and you aren't alone. I want to break this stigma there is that we just shouldn't talk about miscarriage as if those babies don't matter and it's too morbid to discuss. It's serious and just being there for someone going through it can really help. I'm fortunate enough to have family around that don't mind listening, but everyone deserves to have someone.  

For the rest of my life Mother's Day will be different, my baby's due date will be hard, and the stories we tell our kids will include their brother or sister that should be with us but can't be.

I also hope that reading this gives others in this situation hope.  We were extremely fortunate to follow our miscarriage with a so far health pregnancy. Miscarriage is something that hurts the heart badly. But I am confident that those who go through it or other painful losses will get their sticky rainbow baby soon. It will never replace the baby that almost was, but it will give you another life to fight for. 

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