"Take one breath at a time, one day at a time. It wonʻt always be this hard"
Where to begin...
I have started and stopped this blog about a thousand times because I know it is going to be painful. However, I hope that somehow and some way it will help someone else go though this incredibly painful experience. I have learned that by being open and honest about my feelings and what I have gone through, I have made friends I didnʻt expect because our trials have brought us together. It has helped me grow and help me process. I am being honest that this is not my most faith filled and positive experience. It is honest and raw, the way it really went. SO, here goes nothing.
Iʻve been spending quite a bit of time in therapy (which by the way, I still think everyone should go to) and we talked about how it has been a long time since I blogged. And it was the last time I was stuck in bed for open heart that I took to the computer and I felt like it was a great way to get out some of the difficulties I was going through and process it.
Well, here I am back in bed. For those who donʻt know I had some pretty major back surgery back in June on two ruptured discs. It has been challenging, but it has given me time to stop and process and restart this blog.
So, I really wanted to talk about one of the most difficult parts of my journey. The one that is rarely talked about, frequently suffered in silence, and unfortunately very common.
Here is my story, and some perspective for those who have miscarried and are going through it, those who may go through it in the future, and for those who never will experience it - but donʻt know what to do or say to those who are living it.
On February 22 we officially got the news that we were pregnant! I actually had a feeling at like week 2-3 (which some people say is not possible), but I knew pretty instantly that there was a little spirit in there. We were overjoyed. Over the moon! We found out in front of the health department and screamed and held each other. Something I would never forget! It was seriously a miracle because doctors had said it would be pretty near impossible for me to get pregnant without help. So, they told me to go ahead and go off my birth control when we got married because there is no way my body would ovulate right away. Guess again! More reading has said that women with PCOS are most fertile the minute they go off birth control because your body is working hardest to remember what it should do on its own.
We wanted so badly to get pregnant! We are both so ready to be parents. We believed that this was an incredible miracle and although I was on a ton of medications and dealing with ongoing heart issues, God wanted this baby here -- because why would I get pregnant in the first place if he didn't?
So here is the one picture I have during my short pregnancy. It hurts my heart to look at this because I really was so happy. I know with everything in me the reason I have been protected, safe, and lived through some scary experiences is to be a mother. This is a face of a girl who sees a future of excitement. Of baby clothes. Of Firsts. Of play dates! And Disneyland. Of gymnastics and dollies and all things girly (which also, strong intuition that this baby was a girl. Both Devin and I knew).
I started going pinterest crazy! I told more people than I should, because once again I thought there was no way I was losing this baby. And, I knew that if something should happen, they would be the people I would feel most comfortable telling the other side to anyway...so I went ahead with it.
I got maternity clothes, bought "What to Expect When Youʻre Expecting" and "Dude, youʻre gonna be a Dad!" for Dev. I signed up for every app there is and countdowns. I can honestly say that next to my wedding day, it is the happiest I have ever been. Happy that with this incredible man, pregnancy was easier than I thought! I thought maybe for once, God was going to let me do things the easy way when it comes to the functionality of my body.
Unfortunately, I was very wrong.
On the Sunday of our 9th week Devin and I both woke up and something felt different. I have never seen Devin sleep in that long ever. We hardly talked. No appetite. And I felt empty.
Then the cramping started, and it wasnʻt the normal uterine cramping I faced. This was the clear through the back, take your breath away cramping. I called my mom in a panic and I could hear her nervousness in her voice although I know she was staying positive for me.
I laid of the floor and tried to tell myself it was probably normal. But then the clincher for me was when Chloe (my puppy) who since the instant I was pregnant was very, very careful around my tummy. That morning she came running in with her toy and used my tummy as a spring board to jump onto the bed. I knew she wasnʻt there anymore. That spirit, that life, my little blueberry, my sweet girl.....was most definitely gone.
I was in agony the next two days while I passed the embryo that I had to watch. It was traumatic. I have no idea how that canʻt be called life? With itʻs heartbeat, growing fingernails, and brain. It was humbling to see life like that.
I laid on the floor alone, bleeding, and empty. I felt so alone after having a life with me for those nine weeks. Many would say, "oh you were only nine weeks at least. Can you imagine longer how much worse it would be? Nine weeks you arenʻt even attached yet." (This goes in not good things to say category) Let me tell you, I was attached. That was more than "tissue". That was the start of a future and family, and all my dreams coming true.
The next few days were so strange. Devin and I were so devastated. If you know my husband, you know he has that sweet smile on his face just about always. But we cried and we held each other some more and cried.
The packages I ordered of baby clothes and cute maternity outfits mad me furious. I threw them against the wall. My stupid apps I signed up for sold my email so that every day since I get a new email from some company saying, "CONGRATS! Youʻre 6 months and 3 days along!" And all I want to do each time (and a lot of times I do) is yell "shut the hell up! And stop sending me these!"
Everywhere I turned was a baby, a pregnant woman, and pregnancy announcement on Facebook. I definitely took a hiatus and it is still hard for me. Yesterday I counted 6 announcements and 32 baby pictures. I counted because I wanted to show what happens when something is so glaring in your face...that you canʻt ignore the woman on the street with the big belly. Every time I see a new announcement I try to tell myself to be happy....and trust me, you are happy for them! Itʻs just this dichotomy of happiness for others and a punch in the gut of what you donʻt and canʻt have right now. A reminder of what isnʻt. And itʻs a stab in the heart....and let me explain why.
1. One of my fundamental beliefs is that we were put on this Earth to create families. It is one of the most incredible gifts I believe we are given - is to create life. I mean, how amazing is that? Especially with someone you love...nothing is greater in my mind. In fact, it is incredible, yet so basic. So basic that we are taught how careful we have to be not to get pregnant. That it just takes once! Yes I learned that. But what miscarriage and infertility has taught is me is how incredibly UN-basic it is. How fragile life is in the beginning. And you begin to hear people all around you complaining about how miserable pregnancy, motherhood, and raising kids is. And all you feel in your heart is the ache to switch places. Yes, I was incredibly morning sick, my legs ached, my back hurt, and coming off medications was hell. But for once my illness had a purpose! Iʻm not saying you canʻt ever have a bad day as a mother, to complain. But what I hope this blog does is help remind people who incredibly blessed and amazing it is to have that opportunity. To have it come easy if that is how it happened for you. Because there are more women than I had any idea of who struggle every day with infertility. With the heartache of staring at a stick for 30 seconds waiting and hoping only to get a "not pregnant" over and over and over again. Feeling like a failure every month when you get your period, because it is a sad reminder of an empty uterus. Of nothing there. Of women that take ovulation tests like they are an addiction. And count days, and take temps, and agonize of symptoms, and track every detail of the most intimate parts of your life. SO when people make flippant comments about how easy getting pregnant was for them, and why itʻs taking so long for you really hurts.
One example of a completely innocent comment sent me into a full blown panic attack.
I was at the doctor to find out whether I needed a D and C. I was already terrified and then when I got there, I ran into a couple I know who congratulated me because they heard the good news, and I had to awkwardly tell them I was there because we had lost it. Rough start. The lady called me up to the counter and said in a regular speaking voice in front of a very small waiting room "Now, youʻre here for the miscarriage, right?" and looked at me like she was dealing with someone with a fever. "Yes" I replied as I watched eyes look up from their phones and magazines and quickly look away. I pulled my jacket quickly around me and walked to my seat trying not to make eyes with anyone.
This was one of the only times I didnʻt have someone at the doctor with me because of scheduling issues and I was very scared. The next girl that came through the door was probably 8 months pregnant and instantly tears welled up in my eyes. I pulled it together and waited for my name. A few minutes later the nurse comes in and says, "Chelsea..." Myself and the pregnant girl stood up at the same time. The nurse then looked at me and smiled and said, "sorry, other Chelsea." The girl then says, "You can go if you want! But I am certain you donʻt want allll of this" as she rubbed her cute her belly...
All the eyes that had heard 5 minutes before that I was here for a miscarriage again looked up from their phones, with all of us knowing that one cut deep - out of innocence. I was heart broken.
I went into the bathroom sobbing and unable to catch my breath.
Ugh. It was awful. And I donʻt blame her! It was totally innocent like I said. But sometimes innocent comments like, "when are you going to start your family already?!" can cut so deep.
2. One thing I really didnʻt understand about miscarriages before I experienced it myself, is what hell it is on your body, your hormones, your emotions, and your mental health. Let me break it down for you:
If you miscarry in the beginning (really anytime) you experience the lovely symptoms of your first trimester which is the crappy part of pregnancy. Morning sickness, cravings, weight gain, emotional and hormone changes...all that fun stuff. I still look like a swollen balloon. Granted some of that is meds and surgery, but I just felt like I never let go of that extra water weight I stuffed on.
Then you get to experience labor and contractions. And they hurt. And your uterus feels like, man, I donʻt know! Like your gonna lose it on the way to work or something weird like that. And you bleed like you would not believe. Itʻs terrible.
And then you get to experience postpartum depression, with no cute baby to come home to. So you are dealing with loss, sadness, anxiety, and depression like I have never experienced. To be honest, I got to the point of feeling like I no longer wanted to be on this earth. I know enough about depression to know that was not me talking, and I have been completely open and honest with my family about this to keep me safe. It has been so hard to tell my sweet hubby that, because we just got married! And Iʻm having these thoughts?! I did not want him to think this was about him. These were my stupid hormones talking. And it is so real. If you want to know just how real postpartum depression is, read this tragic story about the Emily Effect. It is so horrific and heartbreaking and incredibly moving. I hope we can take the stigma out of this and understand how real it is.
I have not been myself since. I am trying, but am still so closed off to friends and family. I feel like an outer casing...a shell with nothing inside. I still have little interest in so many things I usually do. My head is foggy and cloudy. I canʻt shut off my brain and the demons telling me I am worthless. I hardly sleep, scared of my dreams. It has been hard to get out of bed. I have lost my faith and my footing for some time, and am slowly bringing that back. I had so much anger and frustration with God. Why couldnʻt he stop this? Why couldnʻt he intervene? I definitely had so much entitlement that I should be immune from this. I have never ever felt like this, in any trial I have faced, but this was different. This has been a special kind of hell.
Something that has really helped build my faith back in God and brought me closer to Him was in this talk found HERE. Whether you are mormon or not, this can really help you come closer to God and help bring some perspective. Something I have really needed during this time.
"Your illness is not your identity. Your chemistry is not your character." - Pastor Rick Warren
3. The last thing I wanted to talk about is that if you are going through this, you are definitely not alone. It may feel like the loneliest experience you will ever go through, but you have so many people that have gone through or are going through infant loss. I found that there are so many support groups and people to talk to, but you have to be open enough to share your story as well. I know people have gone through much worse than I have. Had still borns one right after another. I know that we each have our personal crosses to bare, and this was definitely mine. It felt like the heaviest I have had to carry in some ways - probably because it is the thing I want most in life.
To watch it slip through my hands and to have to walk into the dark not knowing what life is going to hand me is terrifying. Doctors have warned me that this is going to be a very difficult journey. That my heart, my meds, my PCOS all complicate things very much. That I have a very low chance of carrying full term, of having gestational diabetes, of passing on defects, and a chance of having to do in vitro. It scares me so bad!
But all we can do is try again and have faith. Knowing that we may have to do this again and again, but that we will get there! There are so many strong women that have gone through this and have their families and give me hope. Am I excited about it? Not so much - at least not the journey to get there. To those who get to just get pregnant and have easy and healthy pregnancies - ah! To be you. You are blessed! But we are just going to put one foot in front of the other and trust that the Lord has our best interest in mind.
So there you go. A brutally honest and open letter about what this has been like in the moment to go through a miscarriage. I know I will heal, I know it gets better, and I know that although I will always feel like I lost a piece of my heart when I lost her, she is with me. Helping me heal! In fact, the other day I had such a beautiful experience. I woke up and I felt her laying on my chest, comforting me. It was so clear! And something I could never fully explain, but I knew it was her. And it was so peaceful, and so beautiful. Something I will take with me forever.
My husband and I have become insanely close during this experience and he has been able to heal my heart and fill in the gaps where I am lacking with his faith, like caulking fixing me piece by piece. If you go through this, donʻt let it be a stumbling block in your marriage, but a building block. We know we will have kids later, you donʻt have to tell us this. And maybe when we look back we will have a little more understanding. But for right now, it stings. And my wounds are fresh and healing them sucks. And although I have had negative experiences, I have also had some positives. And it has made me a very sensitive person these days. As I look in peopleʻs eyes I wonder what heartache they are facing, because we just never know. And it makes me want to be more loving and more kind to everyone around us.
Thanks for reading and for being my online support. I canʻt tell you how much it helps me to know you are there.