Disclaimer: This story contains some graphic descriptions of my experience with miscarriage.
Three years ago today I was sitting in the emergency room – waiting anxiously – not knowing if the child in my womb was alive or dead. Just waiting – while a child died inside of me. The waiting seemed like it took forever – my emergency, did not look like an emergency. When all the while – my emergency was death. Unpreventable, unimaginable, unexplainable death. Nonetheless – I was required by my OB to visit the emergency room so there I sat, hoping this was not death, clinging to a life that was no longer. When I was finally sent back to see a doctor I had to go through a plethora of blood tests and exams – all to tell me what I already knew, I was pregnant (but please tell me is the baby still alive?). Then I was sent back for an ultrasound – when I was asked to use the bathroom before the ultrasound I was faced with the reality that no doctor was yet able to tell me. Clots and blood, too much to be normal. My baby had died. I asked the nurse what I should do – “flush”. Then come lay naked on this table while we examine your uterus and look at pictures of your insides – but oh no you aren’t allowed to look, and no we may not talk to you. (I get it, rules, laws, procedures – doctors and nurses have hard jobs and I respect that – but this is my story, not theirs.)
Then there I was again the waiting. Waiting for someone to look at that ultrasound and tell me that my baby had died – while all along I knew the truth deep down in my soul. No pregnancy survives this much blood – I am harrowingly reminded of this every time I use the restroom. Then he enters – the doctor who had analyzed my tests, my body, my baby. He tells me in about ten words or less that this pregnancy is not viable, and that I am free to go and continue my miscarriage in the “comforts of my own home”. I am supposed to fly tomorrow – 1.5 hours of driving to the airport, 4.5 hours in the air, and then another 2 hours of driving to my final location. I ask my doctor if I should go or cancel my trip to visit family, and he tells me that I should be fine to travel, what I will experience in the next few days will be no more than “bad period cramps”. Once he leaves the room I cannot wait to get out of there. There is no place on earth that I want to be less than this very room. My husband keeps me calm enough to wait for my discharge papers, and we leave. We pick up our then 18 month old son. Pack for our trip, and head to my families house to spend the night before our early morning flight the next day. This is the advice I was given my dear reader. And there I was thinking, I’m going to be sad anyways – I might as well be with family. But oh naïve self of the past – I had no idea what torment awaited me on this trip.
The next morning at the airport I am hit with a wave of morning sickness – my hormones still think I’m pregnant. In reality, I’m just carrying a dead fetus inside of me. I’m able to eat a bit and board our plane. And there in that plane I bleed, I go in to labor, and deliver a baby made up of blood and tissue. Throughout the flight, throughout the drive to our location, and for the rest of that evening – I have a baby. And the pain – I endured an emergency C-section with a failing epidural and even that does not hold a candle to the pain that I experienced while miscarrying this child of mine. The pains of labor without the endorphins that come with knowing that a child would soon be in my arms – no solace, no hope, just death.
Mamas – I am all for the message that women can do anything, be anything, find strength unimaginable. But my friend, I am compelled to tell you – you don’t have to. You don’t have to get on with your life as if nothing is happening as a child dies inside of you. You don’t. Not only are you enduring great physical pain – you are experiencing a great emotional turmoil. And strong woman – you do not have to do it alone.
Trusting someone with a loss as sacred as a miscarriage is scary, it’s hard, and it’s worth it. Come alongside other strong women who have experienced what you are experiencing. Find solace in a friendship free of fear. Join an anonymous support group online. Whatever you do, know that you are seen. Know that your baby – their life was important. And you, my dear mama are oh so loved. More than you know. In your darkest moment, in your deepest pain – you are loved.
If you have experienced miscarriage or know someone who could benefit from being a part of a positive support based community – I urge you to seek out those around you who can be trusted with your deepest pains. You do not have to do this alone – and what’s more you shouldn’t be expected to. Our society places a stigma on miscarriage and our mourning is expected to happen in the privacy of our own homes, our stories are to remain unshared. Dear mama, your story is worth sharing and your grief is most worthy of comfort.