(Prefacing the below details with the fact that I’m sharing a happy photo with this story, which might be confusing. It took some time, but I do feel content now and okay with everything.)
Earlier this year, I found out I was pregnant. It was a bit of a surprise and a bit of an emotional rollercoaster as I began to process all that meant.
I remember the moment I realized my period was late. I thought, “No way. I’m too old for this, right?” But as I waited for the period that didn’t come, it became a reality that I was going to be 40 and pregnant.
I had to know for sure. I bought a test on the way home, beelined for the bathroom, took the test and while I set the timer on my phone, it was positive within seconds and clearly showed I was pregnant.
I told Hunter almost instantly. We were headed out to dinner that night and before we could even make it home, I blurted out the news with accompanying tears.
“Can you believe it?” I asked.
The look on his face was priceless. There was a brief moment of skepticism as he thought it was another of my deadpan jokes, but it wasn’t and to his credit, I’ve never seen a bigger smile of excitement. He kissed my hand, which he was already holding and said, “Babe, this is meant to be. We’ve got this.”
He was for sure more excited than I was, because my thoughts were racing to all the things this would impact. I’m not usually a worrier, but in this case, it was a lot and I couldn’t stop playing different scenarios in my head. But at the same time, I was settling into the idea and along with the list of immediate changes an expectant mom makes as soon as this news comes about, it became really real really fast.
For the next little bit, we kept the news to ourselves and felt almost giddy at times holding this big secret. All I could think about was how we would share this news with the girls, what our family would look like with a new addition, how this would impact our schedules and work, what our families would say, would it be a boy or girl, was the prenatal regimen for an old mom different, how could I register this kid for kindergarten with gray hair, and how old would I be when this baby goes to college.
My brain felt like an internet browser with way too many tabs open. Even so, in the midst of the over analysis, I felt so excited and already so in love with this precious gift from God.
I couldn’t get in to the OB since they were booked out so far, but I had a far-off appointment to look forward to and was assured I could always call the nurse line for any issues or questions.
I Think I’m Having a Miscarriage
For a while, all was well. We still hadn’t shared the news, but I was feeling better than I ever had and really enjoyed an inner bliss that I just can’t explain.
But that’s when the spotting started.
(Sorry if this is TMI, but I wanted to share because this is the info I found myself searching for while it was happening.)
I never had a reason to be concerned when pregnant with Emery and Collins. Sure, I was cautious overall, but never had spotting or anything alarming, so this was all new.
I immediately called the nurse line as it started and they asked a few questions, then said to call back if the spotting goes from a muted brown to a bright red. Over the course of a few days it seemed to be getting better and disappearing, then suddenly I saw bright red and knew it wasn’t good.
Because of a fluke tech issue, the phone lines were down at the doctor and we were headed into the weekend. I thought maybe I could just ride out the weekend and all would be well. A part of me knew things were going south, but a part of me was optimistic that I was overthinking it.
Each time I went to the bathroom, I was wiping away blood as if I were on my period. It was getting heavier and brighter. I remember I had taken off my pants and walked to the laundry room to clean them. As I was standing there, blood started dripping out and when I looked down, there were big splatters on the floor.
It was thick and I grabbed the closest thing – a paper towel – to wipe it.
There was a small amount of tissue like a jelly and I immediately called Hunter, who hadn’t gotten home yet. Thankfully the girls were already staying with his parents for the night so they weren’t there to see any of this.
As soon as Hunter came home and saw what was happening we called my mom. I hadn’t even told her I was pregnant because I wanted to share in a meaningful way and the moment hadn’t come yet. Now here I was, saying, “Mom,I’mPregnantAndStartedBleeding AndI’mWorried AndIThinkI’mHavinga Miscarriage.”
Like the best mom that she is, she came right over and snapped into action. By this time, the bleeding was heavy with tissues and I had called our family member who is a nurse practitioner to get advice. She delicately said going to the ER will not stop what’s happening, but if I’m bleeding out golf ball size chunks, I may need to go in for my own safety.
Googling What a Miscarriage Looks Like
This is probably not the norm, but I looked closely at everything that came out of my body. I was googling like crazy and needed to confirm what I was seeing. It’s so hard because this isn’t something that’s talked about often as far as the nitty gritty, but I needed to see and know as if I were logging it into a lab notebook. Sound crazy, I know, but it’s just how my brain works.
With so much blood and tissue passing, we sort of collectively decided that checking in would be the safest choice, so to the ER we went.
I had already seen what I thought was THE tissue. It was different and compared to what people were sharing and detailing on the dark corners of the internet, I felt pretty certain our baby was gone.
By the time I was in a room, I had bled through my clothes. They did blood tests so we would have a baseline to compare HcG levels. If it remains the same or increases, that would be good news but if it goes down, that would be a sign that the pregnancy had ended.
They did an ultrasound, but couldn’t find a heartbeat. But also said it was most likely before the time a heartbeat would be 100% detectable. Either way that was a hard moment.
After a few hours of waiting, we went home. They couldn’t say anything definitely until the followup blood test, which would be taken a day or two later.
We went home in the middle of the night and I cried myself to sleep. It was so much to process.
It felt like all this joy and positivity was slipping through my fingers and all I had was stained clothing and an empty feeling inside.
Over the next few hours, I started feeling intense cramps. It was like the worst period cramps I’ve ever experienced, where a wave of muscle movements were repeatedly pushing everything downward and out. It’s kind of crazy how textbook this was to what I was reading online and over the weekend, I passed even more clots.
After the Miscarriage
I honestly felt in a way the same way you feel after coming home from giving birth when you’re in a diaper-wearing stage just trying to recover while your sweet new baby snuggles, nurses and sleeps. The difference was, there was no baby coming home.
This is another detail that is a lot to share, but I gently saved what I thought was the tissue from our baby and the placenta. It just didn’t seem right to flush it down the toilet or throw it away. Hunter really wanted to believe it was a boy and while we don’t know, I thought it was a nice thought to go with. I found a sweet little box and placed the contents inside it. We wrote a message on the outside with a bible verse and Hunter took it to bury in a special place. It was just something we decided in the moment and I”m glad we did.
I cried on and off for a few days and while it was a series of lowt emotional points, I was somehow able to go into robot mode and put on a normal face. It was my response to handling it all. I needed any sense of normalcy to keep me from bursting into tears and we had agreed it was too much to tell the girls. I did my best to carry on our usual routine and schedule. Sticking to the norm was therapeutic even though I was going slower and not 100% in it.
Smiling through Grief
Grief is a crazy thing. I didn’t feel like I was faking anything by continuing work projects and cheer drop offs and making dinner because I felt authentic in those moments. But while I was trying on a pretty new dress or splashing with my girls or getting satisfaction from a great finished design, I was constantly thinking about anything and everything baby-related.
Seeing a friend’s growing belly as she counts down to her little baby’s arrival – happy for her and heartbroken for me.
Touching a sweet newborn’s little hands and being in awe of how God can create such perfect little creatures – happy for that mom and heartbroken for me.
Seeing an influencer’s pregnancy announcement and gender reveal – excited for her knowing what the joy feels like but sad for me because it was not happening for our family. No announcement would be forthcoming after all.
Thinking about a family trip we had been planning for the year ahead – thankful we can give the girls our full attention, but sad we wouldn’t be seeing them as big sisters, especially Collins.
Learning that someone I know has been through a miscarriage quietly and we are joined in this unwanted sisterhood – comforted that we aren’t alone but sympathetic knowing what it’s like to experience.
Emotions are wild the way you can feel two things at once, both content and detached, both happy and sad.
It’s been long enough now, that I have shared that I miscarried with a small group of people, but even with close friends and those I’ve seen in person, it just seems like a weird thing to add to the conversation out of the blue if the time or place or people present isn’t just right.
I’m rarely shedding tears when I think about it and overall I feel really blessed to have the family I do. We have come so far in so many ways and have gone from truly the lowest points to feeling closer and more surrounded by love than ever before.
What Not to Say
One thing I want to stress though, is that you really don’t know what people are going through behind the scenes. Things may look happy and pretty, and while that can still be true, it can simultaneously be tough and sad along with those positive moments.
I will never forget when I went to the doctor to have the follow-up ultrasound. I managed to check-in, provide my insurance card, sit in the waiting room and even speak to the ultrasound tech without bursting into tears. It felt like a feat that I conquered and I was so proud, like yes, things are improving and I am feeling more and more normal.
I get to the elevators and while I’m waiting for the doors to open, a woman in front of me turns around and gestures to my stomach saying, “Congrats to you!” with the biggest smile on her face. It took me a minute. I said, “I’m sorry, what??” She said, “Congratulations I said. So exciting!”
WTF!!! I just looked at her dumbly and shook my head because I couldn’t find the words.
What I should have said was, “Ma’am, you don’t know me at all, but I just came in for someone to confirm that my baby is gone and my uterus is just an empty shell bleeding out. But thanks for reminding me.”
Please please do not put anyone in that position. It’s like a knife to the heart and no one should feel that.
I’m Okay Now
All this to say, I’m okay now. This year has been full of unexpected updates and adjustments. I am doing well, feeling good and while I don’t see us trying for a baby after this, I am happy and content with where we are.
I love my daughters and my husband and I’m thankful I have two healthy girls who bring us so much joy and laughter. I will probably always grieve this idea of what could be, but that’s life. I’m reminded that it’s natural to think about, but what serves us best is focusing on the amazing blessings God has given us, large and small.