7.7.17

I'm Sorry For Your Loss


For me this blog has been a place to record some parts of my life I want to remember. Though this is something I will never forget, I want to share it. This experience was full of so many surprises, all of which opened my eyes to the risks of pregnancy and the fragility of life. So, here it goes; I had a miscarriage. 

Fisk and I didn't always want children. In fact, Fisk had always said he would be supportive of whatever decision I made about it. I never wanted kids. This was because my own upbringing was very difficult and I didn't believe I would meet someone I would trust enough to start that adventure with. Maybe that's a sad way to exist, but I had no problem with it. I never saw myself as a victim or anything like that, I was going to work and be an artist for the rest of my life - that was enough for me. Until I met Fisk, who really opened my eyes to life in a new way. After we got married, it occurred to me, that maybe starting a family could be a lot of fun. 

So I did my homework. I read. A lot. Mostly about pregnancy, breastfeeding, child rearing strategies, a bunch of things. (Favorite authors were Emily Oster and Ina May Gaskin) After a while, I felt like I had a reasonable understanding of what I was signing up for, so, earlier this year we made the decision to start a family. 

I got pregnant quickly, which was the first of many surprises yet to come. I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks and had one entire week to enjoy my pregnancy before morning sickness rocked my entire world. Morning sickness was horrible. It was as if I had food poisoning 24/7 - there was no relief. 

If you know me, you know that I can be a bit of a work horse and I love to be productive. So feeling horrible for weeks on end was not only physically exhausting but emotionally draining. I was so surprised by the immensity of pain that immediately falls into the lap of pregnant women and how women suffer for their babies before they are even born. Let me say, I am so impressed by all pregnant women out there. How is it even possible for so many women to be suffering so silently and still maintain their day to day obligations? 

I couldn't stay silent, so I didn't, and we told our families when I was 8 weeks pregnant. We had just heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time and it was honestly, such a magical time. I thought that my morning sickness, being so severe, was evidence of a strong baby. I had no idea, that just three weeks later, I would be having my very first surgery - a D&C. 

The next surprises happened fast, and the next few paragraphs are a little graphic, so just a fair warning. 

I had spotted a tiny cluster of blood on a Thursday morning, and Fisk had just finished brushing his teeth when I said, "Oh my god, I think the baby is dead." I'm not kidding, that's really what I said. I panicked. I called the midwives, who told me to have an emergency sonogram. I called the hospital and they squeezed me in at noon. I moved through my morning, delicately, and on the edge of tears until it was finally time to go to the hospital. 

Fisk joined me for this emergency, because even though it seemed like the tiniest bit of blood, in the event that things went bad, he wanted to be there. Fisk got there just before it was time for me to go into the sonogram room. 

I wish I had a moment to talk to myself before walking into that room. I wish I could say, that life is painful, but that it's beautiful. I wish I could have said anything to prepare me for what was about to happen. I was not prepared. I had read no books about miscarriages. My mother had five kids, my nana had five kids, my other grandmother had four - no one ever mentioned a miscarriage. I was naive enough to believe that I was exempt from miscarriage. 

But I didn't have that moment to tell myself anything. I walked in with Fisk, and I laid on the bed, and the technician looked at my insides to see our little jellybean.  The technician took measurements and I could see there was something wrong. The size was not correct with the number of weeks I was supposed to be. My body moved and pulsed and jellybean didn't. The technician left and returned with a doctor, who also looked at my insides and said, 

      "You had a bit blood loss this morning?" I said, "Yes, but it was very small" As if the quantity of blood was somehow evidence that the baby was fine. Then the doctor said, "Yea, that was it. I'm so sorry, there's just not a heart beat here."

I didn't say anything at first and neither did Fisk. I think we wanted to listen. What did that mean, no heartbeat? The doctor repeated himself, "Yea, I'm sorry, but there's no heartbeat." 

At this point things get a little tough to remember. I asked, so what happens now? Do I just wait to miscarry? The doctor outlined a number of options, waiting to miscarry was one. Another, to take some pills to get the miscarriage started. But he recommended a D&C, because I was already almost 11 weeks. 

That's when I started crying. The doctor and technician gave us a moment. You'll have to ask Fisk if I said anything during this time, I really can't remember. I remember the technician apologizing profusely, and I remember telling her, that it wasn't her fault - that they do a great job to help so many people.

I called the midwives and told them what happened. They agreed that the D&C was the best option. They wanted to schedule it the very next day - which I just couldn't do. In a matter of moments, I went from having a baby, to needing to have my baby removed for fear of hemorrhaging or getting a life threatening infection. I really just couldn't wrap my mind around what was happening. 

I had had a missed miscarriage. Also known as a missed abortion. It's when your baby dies in utero but your body doesn't recognize it, and doesn't miscarry naturally. This happens to roughly 1% of all pregnant women. Lucky me. 

So we went home. We talked, we cried, we watched my favorite movie and held each other. We had already picked out names. I knew where I wanted to put the baby crib in the new place we were getting. I had just found the perfect subway stroller. I knew I wanted a baby box. I had made all the plans. Now, things were different. We would never get to hold our baby. 

We were in uncharted territory and I felt like a buoy in the middle of a storm. How do you move through life, when life moves through you? 

I went to work the next day and the day after because I needed to be distracted. Each day I became more and more worried that would miscarry naturally, and that I would have to go to the emergency room from hemorrhaging. Sunday we packed and packed to prepare for our move the following weekend. 

Suddenly it was Monday. June 22nd. D&C day. If you don't know what a D&C is, I would recommend googling it. I would not recommend google image searching it, just don't do it. Before the surgery I was scared I was going to die. Not because the doctors were bad, or because the procedure was uncommon, or anything rational. But because I suddenly believed, knew, that the impossible was possible, and I was so uncertain of my previous reality compared to the one I was in. 


Pre Op, nervous smiles. 

Post Op, pretty fuzzy.

This mermaid tale quilt that my mother in law Judy made for me, it helped so much! 


I chatted up all the doctors, because that's what I do when I'm nervous. The surgeon held my hand while I was on the operating table, before I fell out of consciousness. When I woke up, Fisk was there. I smiled at him, and through everything, I somehow felt my love for him grow beyond all measure. 

Since the surgery it's been an interesting and challenging place. Telling our families was the hardest part. We were all so excited. 

At first, I wanted to pretend that none of it even happened. I was so upset by how painful the entire experience was and is. Then I got mad, I wanted to talk about our baby. I wanted people to know we had lost our baby. I wanted to hear, "I'm sorry for your loss" because even hearing that was acknowledging our baby as a significant part of our lives. 

Suddenly everything was about me again, and what a horrible return. I had already changed. My mind had already made every daily decision about what was best for the baby. Now, it was just my body again.

There really isn't a perfect way to tie this up. I've found a lot of help from the women close to me in my life. I am so eternally grateful for each of them, especially those who also miscarried and reach out to me to make sure I was okay. I'm convinced there can be no kinder gesture. There are some really great articles that capture what this new space is like. This article is my favorite one. This instagram is my favorite too. 

1 in 4 women have miscarriages. What has been an even bigger surprise is how few women talk openly about the experience. I have had and worked through a lot of feelings, but I don't want my miscarriage to be this secret. This was something that happened and something that has changed us, but it  hasn't destroyed us. We will always remember our jellybean. 

I am not in a place to even know when or if we will be ready to try again. I hope that anyone who reads this knows, that there are people to talk to about it. I hope my sharing this experience can help even one more woman who is suffering, reach out to those around her for support. We're here, our babies were here, and we loved them, even if it was just for a short while. 

I realize its hard to know what to say to someone who lost a baby. For me, in this moment right now, I can say that what I want to hear is, I'm sorry for your loss. The only other kindness you can do for me is to be kind to those around you. Life is so much more fragile than we allow ourselves to believe, there really isn't any room for anything but kindness.