Whew. I didn’t think this would be as hard to write as it is. I’m sitting here at my computer with all of these thoughts and my heart is pounding. This is the first personal post I’ve ever written. For years, I’ve gone back and forth about sharing more of our personal lives. I feel it’s important for my clients and followers to get to know me but then there’s point where over-sharing can occur and I never wanted to be that person who’s super annoying posting pictures of their kids/lives all the time, so up until this point I’ve not shared. This post is different. It’s something since our experience happened that I knew I wanted to share. You see, many people around you have gone through something similar but I bet you don’t know it. It’s something people keep to themselves and mourn privately. They feel alone, isolated from the world around them. When people ask them (not knowing what’s happened) how they are doing, they say “fine,” but inside they feel their lives have been ripped apart.
What are we talking about? Miscarriage. Since we’ve experienced it, I’ve noticed a lot of things that I want to share. But first, I want to share our experience with you.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
I came home from a Session Premiere that evening with a fantastic client. I was feeling great because I love working with them (4 time client). Randomly as I was in the bathroom I thought I’d take a pregnancy test. I never really had regular cycles so I didn’t expect anything to show up. But it did. I was ecstatic! I knew that I wanted to incorporate Scarlett in revealing the news to Mike. So that next morning I bribed Scarlett with helping me make this video with Cookies and Cream ice cream. Yep, it was 6:45 am. Mom of the Year award right here. She did great and I went to work at the studio that day, made the video, went on with my day and had another Session Premiere that night. After I got home, I played the video for Mike. We laughed, we hugged, we were excited!!
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I went in for blood work on the 27th, which confirmed my pregnancy. Sigh of relief….I’m always a hypochondriac so it was nice to have a confirmation. 🙂
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
First OB appointment. This appointment always goes over health and pregnancy history. Kinda boring stuff. The only thing we were a smidge concerned about was the birth of this baby. The labor I had with Scarlett was relatively easy. She came at 38 weeks. I labored with mild contractions for a few hours at 4 cm dilated. Then I went from 4 cm to 10 cm in 15 minutes. Pushed for 20 minutes and she was here. My doctor was concerned that I would go even faster this time around and that I may not make it to the hospital on time. She though we could induce me at 39 weeks but then I never made it that far with Scarlett so we decided that we’d figure it out later. We had time. Because I don’t have the most regular cycle, although I am a tracker (I knew I was 8.5 weeks), my doctor wanted to do an ultrasound to confirm the due date.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Mike took the day off so we could go to the ultrasound together then he’d work on some things around the house in the afternoon. We arrived to our appointment excited to see our new little one. I lay on the table looking back at Mike in the chair. He’s not one to get too excited about anything, but he was smiling, sitting on the edge of the chair waiting for the ultrasound tech to find our little one. The image on the screen was blurry as she was locating everything. With a few swift movements of the wand, boom: there was our baby. So tiny and cute. More of a blob really, but it was our baby. She measured the uterus, the baby, my ovaries and took a couple of other measurements. Then she placed the cursor right over baby’s heart. She clicked a few buttons and a window popped up on the bottom screen with a long line from left to right. She clicked a few more buttons and the cursor followed that line from left to right. This time the sound of my body was playing. You could hear the swishing of the wand as she moved it about. Again and again she clicked and clicked. I knew what she was looking for. And with the absence of those rhythmic sounds, my heart sank. I could feel my stomach in my throat. I knew. I knew. I knew. Our baby didn’t have a heartbeat. The technician asked me to get dressed and let her know when we were finished. She was going to bring us into a room to meet with the doctor.
I was shaking so much I had a hard time getting my leg in my jeans. My voice so quivery I refused to speak. I opened the door when we were ready and the technician ushered us into an exam room. We sat there for a few minutes before there was a knock on the door. My doctor came in, gave me a big hug and said, “I’m so sorry, there is no heartbeat.” I broke down sobbing. Why? Why had our baby died? Why even put it on this earth for it to be taken away? She said she looked over the ultrasound, which revealed that my uterus measured 8 weeks and the baby measured 6 weeks with no heartbeat. Being the tracker that I am, I knew I was 9 weeks along. My doctor said that our baby *could* be a late bloomer and the heart will start beating in the next day or two (the heart starts beating at 5 weeks), so she wanted to do a repeat ultrasound 5 days later to see if anything had changed. Her gut said that this was a missed miscarriage but we’d do the ultrasound the next week to verify. If she was right, we had 3 options. We could wait to let nature take its course and let the miscarriage naturally happen. I could take a vaginal suppository to help the uterus contract to expel the baby and placenta or I could have a d&c to have it surgically removed. I couldn’t make a decision right then and there. This was too much to handle. We left that appointment absolutely heartbroken. I didn’t know what to say. It was a very silent ride home.
I have a friend who has gone through several miscarriages so I called her as soon as I got home to hear what choice she had chosen and why. I did some online research myself and within hours, I knew I wanted to do the d&c. I couldn’t deal with walking around for God knows how long with a dead baby inside of me. Where would I be when the miscarriage would start? I couldn’t deal with having it still be inside of me and seeing it in the toilet when it finally happened. Flushing it down the toilet? No. Our baby deserved more than that. Option two was out. The more I read about the medication the more women I had read that regretted that decision. They felt like they were giving themselves an abortion. I am highly against abortion in general so that was out. The only other option was the d&c. I’d go to sleep, doctor would perform the procedure, I’d wake up and be done. We could move on with our lives and maybe try again in a few months. I called the doctor’s office and let them know my decision. The soonest we could be scheduled was Friday, December 20th. Really? I have to walk around for almost 3 weeks with a dead baby inside of me? Ugh. It was what it was so I dealt with it.
Saturday, December 7th and Sunday December 8th, 2013
We visited family and told them the news. They were excited to hear that we were expecting but immediately saddened to hear that baby has passed away. We still had the final ultrasound on the coming Wednesday so everyone was keeping their fingers crossed and praying for a miracle.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Mike took the day off again to go to the appointment. I lay on that table again, praying for a miracle. The tech used her wand to find baby. There was our little baby again. She brought up the screen to hear baby’s heartbeat. But nothing. Absolutely nothing. We had hopes but deep down, I knew that our baby had passed. The nurses set up my d&c and told me to call them if anything happened in the mean time.
Friday, December 20, 2013
We arrived to the hospital, got checked in and sat down. I’m normally not one to be anxious about surgical procedures. As a former surgical RN, surgery was no big deal. Except this time I knew what the outcome meant. During the admission, our pre-op nurse asked if we were Christian and wanted the Chaplain to visit us. I said, “Of course.” Our Chaplain, Courtney at Trinity, was pretty amazing. She cried with us, hugged us and prayed with us. We learned that Trinity does something pretty amazing. If we chose to participate, we could have our baby’s remains cremated and we could participate in a communal burial of all miscarried babies from the year. I knew this was exactly what I wanted our baby to have. A proper service and a resting place.
Mike and I just sat there as we felt the weight of the day upon us. There was a lot of silence but we knew our baby was in Heaven. The doctor and anesthesiologist came in to go over the procedure with us, I signed the consents and then Mike was asked to go to the waiting room as I headed back into the OR. Being a patient in that situation is much different than the scrub nurse I had previously been. I was used to the cold OR, the long hours of standing on your feet, the constant beeping of the anesthesia machine monitoring the patient’s heartbeat, the smell of the cautery machine. I wasn’t going to experience that this time. I hopped up onto the hard table as tears flowed down my cheeks. I felt the goosebumps on my legs against the starchy sheets then I laid back until my head was resting in the donut pillow. The nurses wrapped me in warm blankets while the anesthesiologist was preparing his cocktail of meds to put me asleep. When I was working in the OR, we used to joke that Propofol was “Milk of Michael Jackson” – we’d tell patients that it burned a little as it was being infused in their IV to put them to sleep. I remember looking to my left (where my IV was placed) when the anesthesiologist said I’d start to feel sleepy in a few seconds. My IV was turning white and realized I was getting the “Milk of Michael Jackson.” I have to say that I don’t remember falling asleep or feeling the burning as it entered my veins. I just went black. Pure nothingness.
The next thing I remember is waking up in the pre-op room and seeing Mike sitting in the room with me. Holding my hand and asking if I was okay. While I was physically okay, emotionally, I was a wreck. We received a few pamphlets about the burial service our little one would have, I signed discharge papers and away we went. Saddened by what we just went thru, again the car was silence on the way home.
December 25, 2013
Christmas morning. I woke up angry about our situation, angry that our baby was not in my belly and that in this lifetime, I would never hold it. From that day on, I became very sad, angry and lonely. Feeling like no matter whom I talked to, they just wouldn’t understand. The loneliness became a part of who I was.
December 31, 2013
We were out to lunch as a family as I received a phone call from my doctor. She had received the pathology report back from my d&c and she had some sad news. We had suffered a partial molar pregnancy. I remembered that term from nursing school and my heart sank. All I could get out was “Oh, no!” For those who are interested, a molar pregnancy is where two sperm fertilize the egg instead of one sperm. Our baby had three sets of chromosomes instead of two. This is a complete genetic accident. It’s not compatible with life – meaning that no matter what happened, it would result in miscarriage. The placenta does not know when to stop growing and can become cancerous. It’s called Choriocarcinoma. It’s rare, but it does happen. The treatment is a d&c to remove all parts of the placenta and baby.
Here’s the kicker. Because the placenta has cancerous tendencies, you must not become pregnant for up to one year. The placenta could start growing into cancer inside of you if they don’t get it all out, so I had to get A LOT of blood work done. The placenta is responsible for producing the HCG or pregnancy hormone – the hormone that’s picked up when you have a positive pregnancy test. This takes a while for it to come down after miscarriage but they need to make sure that it stays negative for 6 months after you have your first negative test result. Say, for example, that you do become pregnant after a molar pregnancy. They wouldn’t know if it’s the cancer from the molar pregnancy or your hormones from you new pregnancy. Awesome, right? Cancer or a baby. Couldn’t be more polar opposite. I was given lab orders to do weekly until it was negative, then monthly for 6 months. I’m currently finishing up my last month of testing then hopefully we can move on from this.
The darkest period of my life. I wasn’t the same bubbly Sarah I had once been. I played my part in Christmas, New Years and the few weeks afterwards but deep inside I was dark. I’ve never been so lonely in my life. No matter what anyone would say or do, they just didn’t understand. I truly can’t even put into words what I was feeling. Despair, depression, hopelessness, sadness, anger. I went through the motions everyday. I did the laundry, I did the dished, I showered, I went to work, I made dinner but I wasn’t there. I was a shell of who I used to be. No hope, no future, no baby. It was awful.
Mike sat me down one Sunday after church and asked me to explain what I was feeling. I told him he wouldn’t understand. He said he couldn’t understand unless I told him how I was feeling. For three hours, I poured my heart out. I cried like I had never cried before. I told him that MY body changed, MY hormones were in full swing and I felt pregnant….he wouldn’t get it because he wasn’t in my body. That led to me thinking that because he wasn’t me that he wasn’t grieving. I learned that I was wrong. He was grieving but that he was privately too, so I just didn’t know. From then on, we promised to always let each other know what we were thinking and feeling. They never know unless you tell them. At the end of our conversation, we just sat there in silence. We always have a radio on in our kitchen tuned to KLOVE. “I’m Worn” by Tenth Avenue North came on and this explained soooo much of what I was going through for months. I’d love for you to listen to the lyrics and appreciate that no matter what we are going through in life, that God is always there. Click to watch the video.
The part at the beginning where he says “I’m tired, I’m worn. My heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing.” That’s exactly how I felt. I was so worn out by living. It took so much energy to continue on with daily life. But after that long ugly-cry fest with Mike, I began to feel better and life seemed to have a bit more life in it. God was healing me.
April 5, 2014
My birthday. I’m 31 today. Today is also one of the services for our baby. Trinity offers a Butterfly Blessings service at the hospital to remember infants that passed before birth or shortly after as well as miscarried babies. We went to celebrate the life of our baby. We were able to light a candle in our baby’s memory and Scarlett colored a butterfly in memory. Though she really doesn’t know what’s going on, we do a little bit with her about the baby.
April 26, 2014
Today is the burial. I love that Trinity offers this to parents of little ones in heaven. What’s sad to me, is that miscarried babies (babies who passed away before 20 weeks gestation) are mostly considered medical waste in the medical field and it was important for us that our baby was well taken care of. I arrived that morning not knowing what to expect, except that it would be really sad. Indeed, it was the saddest thing I’ve ever endured. As I walked up to the tent, I saw something I didn’t expect at all. There was in infant sized casket with a beautiful spray of flowers gently resting upon it. I knew our baby was cremated but didn’t expect to see a casket. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Our baby was gone but know our baby is with Jesus. The chaplain we had at the hospital was the one who gave the service. She spoke things that eased my heart but didn’t take away the pain. I appreciate that Trinity offers this service. I know it helped me with a bit of close and I prayed that it would do the same for the about 15-20 other families there. The chaplain said we are invited there anytime to be with our baby and can leave mementoes there in memory of our baby. On the drive home, I was struck with what I wanted to do. In that moment, God spoke to me, I knew I was supposed to speak out about miscarriage.
July 12, 2014
My due date. Toady is the day I was supposed to be due with our little one. Today I should be holding my baby, but I’m not. While I’m extremely sad about not being able to snuggle, nurse and love on this baby, I know they are well taken care of in heaven. Someone greater than myself is loving on them. God is snuggling them and keeping them until we can one day meet them. I’m not sure if you’ve ever read “Heaven is for Real” but it’s a fantastic book. A 3 year old little boy has emergency surgery and ends up in heaven for about 3 minutes. He comes back to earth to tell his story. He had a miscarried sibling when he was just a baby (obviously didn’t know they existed), and met this girl in heaven. The little girl told him that she can’t wait to meet her parents when they get to heaven. I love this so much. I love that I am able to meet our little one someday and I hold them so tightly.
I asked my friend Mary to capture us on my due date at the cemetery. She was happy to help. We talked about our baby with Scarlett and she explored the memorial. We let a balloon go in memory of our baby. We want to come back every year on this day and celebrate the short little life of our baby.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? It’s not because I want your sympathy or pity. I want to share my story so that you feel you can share yours. I know what God has called me to do. I know I am supposed to help others share their stories and encourage others to speak their child’s name and speak it often. Over the course of our experience, I’ve come to realize that many people don’t speak about miscarriage. It’s a taboo subject and often times people (on both sides of the experience) just don’t know what to say. For me, when people ask how many children I have, I would always say “one.” But now I’m convicted to speak about our other baby. I now say “one on earth and one in heaven”. No one should be ashamed, embarrassed or tip-toe around their experience. Your baby is worth celebrating, no matter how short their life was on this earth. Talk about your child. Celebrate that little life with your other children. God placed this child in your life for a purpose. We may not know the purpose right now but I know why He placed our child in ours. I am to encourage others.
What to say to someone whose baby went to heaven: I don’t like the word loss. While our baby isn’t here any longer, they certainly aren’t lost. I know right where they are. They are with Jesus, waiting for us to join them. Many other parents feel the same way, so saying “I’m sorry for your loss” may not be the greatest thing to say. I love this phrase a bit more: “I’m not sure how I can make your pain any easier, but I will be here with you as you cry.” Being with someone who has gone through this is absolutely invaluable. Crying with them, being a shoulder they can lean on and an ear when they need to talk. Encourage them to speak out about their baby for they are worth celebrating just as much as our children here on earth. We will meet our baby in heaven. I know it’s kind of morbid to say, but I’m not afraid of dying. Obviously I don’t know the circumstances in which it will happen, but I welcome the time when it does happen. I can’t wait to be with Jesus and I can’t wait to meet our baby.
If you’ve suffered a miscarriage, please tell us your story and your baby’s name (if you had named your baby) in the comments below. Reach out to those who’ve gone through this and be with them as they need support. Your baby deserves to be celebrated. Let’s celebrate.