One year ago today I got the best present I could have asked for, a little pink line a stick. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about the feelings that overwhelmed me when I saw that line appear. I had been waiting to see that for over a year and I think I was in disbelief when it happened. We had been trying to get pregnant for so long that I was at the point that I just wasn’t sure it was going to happen for us. But before I get too in to that let me start from the beginning.
For those of you that don’t know or haven’t read that blog post, I had a pretty tough miscarriage in the beginning of 2015 that took a toll on me not just mentally but physically too. Though we didn't know about the full extent of the physical repercussions until almost a year later. After the miscarriage we waited a bit to let my body heal from the trauma it had been through and honestly I needed to mentally wrap my head around what we had been through. For anyone who's had a miscarriage you all know that it's hard to comprehend that you were pregnant and then you weren't, that there was a baby there and now it's gone, and there really is no solid reason why. After I had time to at least mostly recover we started trying again to have a baby. I kind of figured it would be easy for us considering the first time around I had been on birth control when we got pregnant. Looking back at it all now that was definitely wishful thinking.
The first few months of trying I just kept telling myself it was normal for it to take a while to get pregnant, even if you are tracking. The weird thing for me was that my cycles were super irregular. Years ago when I wasn’t on birth control I had the most regular cycle that I could tell you down to the hour when my period was going to start. Yet all of a sudden this wasn’t the case. Again, I just kept telling myself that it was normal, that it most likely had something to do with the miscarriage and that things would eventually go back to normal. But every month things were the same or worse. I finally turned to Dr. Google and decided to search a little on what could cause what I was going through and I had every symptom of having scar tissue. I knew that it was probably a long shot but asked my Obgyn what he thought and he agreed that it was worth checking out so he ordered an HSG.
I really had no idea what an HSG was when it was ordered and I went in not really knowing what to expect. In short detail, they insert dye into the uterus and watch whether it flows through the fallopian tubes without getting blocked. I remember laying there watching the dye flow on the screen that the radiologist was watching and seeing the dye stop immediately on my right side. And then when the radiologist confirmed what I saw I was speechless. I am pretty sure I just said thank you to the guy and walked out to my car. I just sat there in my car thinking “you've got to be fucking kidding me.” Later that day my Dr called and told me what the radiologist had already told me and then said that because they couldn't confirm that the scar tissue blockage was definitely due to my miscarriage insurance would just classify this as infertility and wouldn't cover any surgery to remove it. I was devastated. There are no other words to describe how you feel when your doctor tells you your “sub-fertile”. After getting pregnant on accident, now I was on the other end of the spectrum.
Fertility treatments and surgery weren’t an option for us, mostly for monetary reasons. We resolved to just keep trying the “normal” way and maybe someday it would happen for us. At this point I was still tracking but I was quickly starting to feel that it was pointless. There was no way to know which side I was ovulating from so for all I knew it wouldn’t even matter that month. By the time we were nearly at a year of trying I decided to back off on the tracking but to also start acupuncture. I figured at the very least it would help to relax me. I went to one of the best fertility acupuncturists around, Dr. Ray Rubio, and everything that he did for me was above and beyond what I had expected. In my first appointment with him he straight forward told me to stop calling myself infertile or even sub-fertile because it would get me no where. If I kept that mindset that alone would work against me and I needed to remind myself that I have been pregnant once before. He told me that he felt that my body had just been through a lot of trauma and it needed time to heal. I know it may sound corny but it was one of the things that I needed to hear the most after a year of feeling so down on myself. The idea that my body had done it once before so why couldn’t it do it again. That, to some extent, became my mantra and I would remind myself of that every time I started to get down.
Now mind you, my “mantra” definitely wasn’t fool proof and some time in June 2016 I remember having a major breakdown. By major I truly mean major. I started a stupid fight with my husband over something trivial because I had so much pent up stress about “my stupid body” and by the end of the fight I was sitting on the ground sobbing in my husband’s arms. We agreed that if by August we still weren’t pregnant we would look in to next potential steps. That month I just “gave” up. My husband was supposed to be gone most the month because of bike races and I was 100% sure that there was no way it would happen so I just made every attempt to forget about it. Towards the end of the month I started feeling what I assumed were PMS symptoms but, as is always the case when you are trying to get pregnant, a little part of me hoped that they were pregnancy symptoms. I remember at one point I was at a friends house hanging out by her pool and her little boy wanted me to pick him up. I bent down to pick him up and he slammed straight in to my upper body and breasts and it was painful. And a different kind of painful then typical PMS pain but I didn’t want to think about it and I attempted to just ignore it.
July 4th rolled around and it was supposed to be the first day of my period but with the irregular cycles that I have I knew that it was a maybe and a good chance it would be the wrong day. One of our best friends had invited us to a BBQ and we were planning on going. I felt absolutely ridiculous taking the test but I figured what could it hurt. If it was negative it would be like every other month so whatever and I could go to the party and have a margarita and try to forget about it. I remember taking the test and setting it on our bathroom floor and walking away. I wasn’t about to sit there and watch it not show me that elusive pink line. I started doing things around our bedroom and actually had forgotten that it was sitting there. It was when I happened to walk back in to the bathroom that I looked down and saw it sitting there. At first glance I just thought “oh yeah, I should throw that out” but then as I took a step closer I felt my whole body go numb. It was like I was moving in slow motion as I bent down to pick up that test, I probably stared at it for a good minute or two, in disbelief. I then promptly dropped it and went running downstairs to tell my husband. I believe my exact words were “it worked, it finally worked, were having a baby!” No cutesy tell your husband announcements for us, when you’ve waited as long as we did I couldn’t have waited longer then the 2 minutes I did to tell him.
That moment makes it in to the top 10 best moments of my life. For anyone who is struggling to get pregnant that long awaited pink line is something you have dreamt about every single day. You think of how you will react, how you will tell your husband, etc. But when it does finally happen it does not go the way you expect it to, and if anything it is a million times better. On days when, like today, my son seems like he is on one and determined to press every single one of my buttons I will sit back and remember everything I went through to have him in my arms and it is like all my anger melts away. Tonight as he fell asleep in my arms I held him a little closer and smelled his sweet little head and I knew that everything happened the way it was supposed to.
For those of you out there struggling to get pregnant I’m not going to tell you any of those stupid tips like relax, stop trying so hard, or your not trying hard enough. That isn’t my place and honestly anytime someone said those things to me I wanted to strangle them. I will say this though, don’t give up on yourself or your body. As I said before, it may seem corny, but make a mantra for yourself, to tell yourself on those days when you feel like it’s all pointless. And last but not least remember the one thing that my mother has told me for as long as I can remember “Everything happens the way it’s supposed to.” I have a love/hate relationship with this quote but as I get older the love for it gets stronger and honestly no one can deny the truth of it.
When you first find out your pregnant it is an overwhelming, exciting yet scary moment in your life. You stare at the test in disbelief. For me the disbelief was even more since the pregnancy was a surprise, I was on birth control so we definitely weren’t trying. After we got over the initial shock of this little surprise we started telling our closest friends. I knew that they say that you should wait until 12 weeks before you tell people but we just thought, we are both young and healthy nothing will happen. I remember looking up the statistics for miscarriages and though they said 1 in 4 pregnancies, the number for women my age was significantly less. At 6 weeks I called and scheduled our first ultrasound for 8 weeks, on Dec 19th. It was the perfect date, we would get the first ultrasound pictures and then the following week see our parents for Christmas and surprise them. As we got closer to the appointment, the more anxious I got. I can’t tell you what it was but those miscarriage statistics kept creeping back in to my head. When we finally went to the doctors office I remember just feeling nervous, I held my husbands hand the whole drive there. I know he thought I was crazy, he just kept saying everything is going to be fine I don’t know why you are worrying.
Looking back now, almost 3 months after that day, and it still feels like a dream. The memory of it still has that hazy feel like when you wake up in the morning and you remember the crazy dream you had the night before. The first half of the appointment was awkward, a little because the staff there was so amazed by the surprise, while on birth control, pregnancy, and mostly because my husband didn’t quite realize what happens at those types of appointments. When we finally got to the ultrasound portion of the appointment the doctor pulled over her dinky little ultrasound machine and had my husband stand next to her while she moved the wand around. When she got it in place she just went quiet. That moment feels like it lasted forever. All the doctor said was I don’t see anything. She kept looking and still nothing. She finally explained that she saw the gestational sac, the yolk sac, and some other things but no heart beat. No sign of a growing, flourishing baby. She went on to tell us that she would send me for blood tests to confirm what she thinks the ultrasounds are showing and then we would go from there.
We went straight to get the blood test done and then we went to get tea to sit and process everything. We discussed our options, if the baby definitely isn’t developing do we let my body miscarry on it’s own or do we get a D&C. My husband tried to reassure me that we would try again and that everything would work out. I just remember hearing him but not quite taking it in. I didn’t know how to process it all, it was so much information yet so little at the same time. That night was one of the hardest of my life. I called my friends that I had told about the pregnancy, and were anxiously awaiting my sending them a picture of the ultrasound. Those friends were all the perfect people to have to talk to in that moment. Two of them had had miscarriages many years before and one had just suffered losing her baby at 24 weeks about a year before. Talking with those women that night was more helpful then I could ever explain. Knowing that your closest friends have gone through this and that today 2 of the 3 of them have multiple children is a comfort when you feel like your body has just failed you more then ever.
After talking with them I made the two phone calls I dreaded the most. I first called my mom, who up to this point had no idea I was even pregnant. 24 hours before that I was so excited to surprise her the coming week with our baby news and now I had to call her and tell her, I’m pregnant but it looks like the baby has stopped developing. It took all my strength to not cry before I even had a chance to say hi when she answered the phone. I barely made it through telling her before I broke down. She said all the right things and kept it together for me and reminded me that she would be there in a few days and that everything was going to ok. Knowing she was coming in a few days helped me a lot. And I know that the minute she got of the phone she started balling but her strength while I talked with her was more then I could have asked for. After I got off the phone with her I made the second dreaded phone call, my mother in law. Her and I have a very close bond and I see her as my second mother. That phone call was helpful in a whole different way than the others. When I called her I knew that she had had a miscarriage before she had my husband but I didn’t know the details. After I told her our situation she told me her whole story of what happened to her. Little did I know that what she went through was exactly like I was going through, almost to a T. She told me that after her miscarriage she researched all of it and went to many different doctors to get answers to all her questions. She found out that this type of miscarriage was not a typical miscarriage. Doctors told her that it was a sign that she was healthy enough to take a baby to term and that the baby had most likely had chromosomal problems and that was why it stopped developing. The fact that my body hadn’t rejected the baby the minute something bad happened and had continued on with the pregnancy was a sign of how strong my uterus was. The chances of my ever having this happen again are very slim. Hearing all of this and knowing she knew exactly what I was feeling was a huge comfort.
Over the next few days I went through my routines in a zombie like state. My pregnancy hormones had been causing me to have insomnia leading up to the doctor’s appointment and now it was like the insomnia was just exacerbated by everything running through my head. I remember laying awake at night, staring at the ceiling, holding my belly, just wondering why. After some more blood tests that showed my blood levels were rising like they should in a normal pregnancy my doctor was very confused by it all and sent us for some clearer ultrasound pictures. Once those were done she informed us that this was definitely what is called a Missed Miscarriage and that we had 2 options, to let my body pass it on it’s own or to get a D&C. Since a D&C is essentially a surgical procedure we chose to wait it out and let my body process everything naturally. At this point we also chose to get a second opinion for a more “seasoned” doctor who might have some better explanations and some other options. The new doctor was a friend’s doctor who is pretty well known in our area. He was immensely helpful and sat there with us explaining everything he was seeing in the ultrasound and why my body was doing what it was doing. He gave us the same diagnosis but gave me the to option to take medicine that would help my body start the miscarriage process as well as some pain medication because he said since there was so much that needed to come out it would be a painful process.
From that point on it was just the waiting game. Every week the new doctor would call to check and see if anything had happened and every week it was a no. Finally after 3 weeks it started, but it wasn’t painful, and nothing like what I had been told it would be. When I thought it was done I called the doctor and they set up a follow up ultrasound. We went in and when he did the ultrasound I remember him just looking at my and shaking his head. He said, I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear but you didn’t expel everything and what’s left need to come out now before it makes you sick, you have to get the D&C. That was the last thing I wanted to hear. After almost 2 months between being told there was no heart beat to that point I just wanted to be done with all of this so that I could try to start moving on. But now I needed to do the last thing I wanted to do. We scheduled it for 2 days later.
Going in to that hospital was very hard for me. I didn’t want to be there and I just wanted to be done with the whole process. When I was finally taken in to the operating room I just laid on the table, staring at the ceiling trying not to cry. The anesthesiologist was having a hard time getting his computer to work and couldn’t put me under right away and the longer I laid there the harder my heart started to beat. My doctor came in and asked me how I was doing and I just looked at him and said I don’t want to be here. He looked at me, held my hand and said I know, it will all be over soon. I almost started having an anxiety attack and the anesthesiologist finally was ready, if he had taken much longer to put me to sleep I think I might had tried to run for the doors. When I woke up afterwards I wasn’t in much pain and just wanted to get out of there. I think in total between check in and check out it took under 4 hours. Two days later I came down with a fever and severe abdominal pain and had to go back to the doctors. I found out I was clotting really bad and had an infection. I was given an antibiotic and the doctor said that if I didn’t pass the clots over the next week he would have to do another D&C . The thought of another D&C was more then I could handle and I just begged my body to do something correctly for once after 2 ½ months. Finally I passed the clots, broke my fever, and got the good to go from my doctor. The physical process was finally over.
Although physically speaking, through the whole thing from finding out there was no heartbeat to passing my clots, I went through only a small amount of pain, the mental pain and torment was harder than any pain I felt. Going through a miscarriage is a pain like no other. You lay awake at night wondering what you did wrong. Was it the glass of wine you had the day before you found out, or maybe that Italian sub that you ate that was full of processed meats. Everyday you think of something new that could have been the cause of your baby not developing properly and then you spend the rest of your day convincing yourself that it wasn’t anything you did. At the time I had a friend who had a baby while I was going through my miscarriage and I couldn’t bring my self to go visit her in the hospital. The thought of walking through the maternity ward was more then I could handle. I waited until she was home to see her new little one. There were days that I felt great and then one commercial would trigger my sadness and I would break down out of no where. I remember one day I was watching some TV show while running on my treadmill and something happened, I don’t know what, but I got off my treadmill and went to shower. I think that shower ended up lasting at least an hour. I just stood there in the water crying and couldn’t stop. My husband came home toward the end of the shower and from that day on for the next month he wouldn’t let me stay home by myself. If he needed to leave me alone for a while he would make sure I had plans with some friend for most the time while he was gone. He was my pillar through it all. He held me any time I asked and never questioned if I started crying. He told me everything was going to be all right and reminded me that we would try again. This was coming from the man who before this whole thing wasn’t even sure if he was ready to have kids or when he would be. Hearing him say that gave me strength, it allowed me to see the silver lining of a horrible situation. Though I wish this had never happened without it my husband would have never truly have been able to say “we will try for a baby.” No matter how hard it got I was able to find silver linings like this one to get me through.
It has now been 3 months since that first doctors appointment and I have mostly good days with one or two here and there that are a little bit harder then others. I have had many distractions since getting my D&C and that has been my saving grace. The more I think about everything that has happened to me and look back on what I have been through I realize there is one thing that still irks me about all of it. Why are miscarriages so hidden from the general public? I can tell someone that my dad died when I was 17, or that my husband’s father died when he was 21 but I can’t tell them I had a miscarriage. I can’t tell them I lost my baby before I got to meet it but I can tell them about the death of a family member. Thousands and thousands of women go through this every year yet there is no such thing as a group for women to meet and talk and share their stories. At one of my follow up appointments with my doctor he told me that that week he had already had 5 miscarriages, and it was only a Tuesday. Every person probably knows at least one or two people who have had a miscarriage yet they probably have no idea that they ever went through it. And the crazy part is they will probably never know unless they themselves go through a miscarriage. Why is a woman going through a miscarriage something that is whispered behind closed doors? Why do people make it so taboo to talk about? It needs to be treated like any other tragedy you go through in life so that these women can comfortably turn to any of their friends for support, not just the ones who have gone through it too. We shouldn’t have to go through this turmoil alone and we should be allowed to talk about it openly not have to hide our sadness. After my dad died, people would ask why I was sad and I would say my dad died last week. Yet through all this if someone asked me what was wrong I would just have to tell them, oh it’s nothing, just having a bad day. I am broadcasting my story not because I want sympathy but because I want other women out there to know they are not alone. I want the general public to stop treating miscarriages like taboo and start treating it like any other tragedy we will go through in our lives. I know that this one story isn’t going to change societies views but I like to think that it will be a start.