Last Year I Had a Miscarriage
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Hi. My name is Lauren and last year I had a miscarriage. This was my first pregnancy and first loss, so while I would speculate that the timing of a miscarriage is never good, I have to guess that having a miscarriage during the year 2020 was especially rough. It was a year of isolation… add in a particularly isolating event that no one knew about in the first place and a hospital trip where only you were allowed to go in / no visitors allowed and that is icing on a very sad cake. I want to preface this by saying that I’m not writing this for sympathy, so please don’t feel sorry for me. I am discussing this somewhat taboo topic in hopes that other women don’t feel so alone. If you have never experienced such a thing, please don’t feel bad and for sure don’t feel bad about your pregnancies. If anything, I hope you take something away from this post and are a bit more sympathetic towards others. If those things are achieved, I could not be happier with the outcome of this post. That being said, this post does contain the topic of loss and miscarriage. If this is particularly triggering for you, I suggest saving this post to read at another time. For reference purposes, I wrote down all my thoughts and feelings as my miscarriage occurred and have come back months later to reform and finalize my thoughts.
I really don’t even know where to begin, so I guess I’ll start from the top. Looking back I feel badly, because I doubted the pregnancy from the beginning. I mean we knew what we were doing, but I was like ?! Pregnant already?! After being on hormonal birth control for almost 10 years, having Ulcerative Colitis, and being told I had low AMH (low egg count), I guess I didn’t think it would happen so quickly. There were a lot of “if” statements thrown around, like “if this works out”, “we’ll see what happens”, it is almost like I knew it was doomed from the beginning.
Since I track my cycles (I have been doing so for 2+ years now), I knew I was pregnant pretty early on - about 3 weeks. For reference, some people don’t realize they are pregnant until 7 or 8 weeks! I thought that I might be, and then my acupuncturist was taking my pulse and was like “Lauren… do you have something to tell me?” I went home and took a test and that was that! Two days after I got a positive test, I began to experience what I thought was spotting, but what I would now call bleeding. Pregnancy is weird in the sense the some symptoms can swing both ways. Cramps? Oh those can be from the baby attaching to your uterine lining, but it could also be a sign of a miscarriage. Blood? That can be a result of the attachment to your uterine lining as well, but it could also be miscarriage. Confusing to say the least!
Almost a week after my positive test and on the 4th day of intermittent spotting / bleeding, I had an appointment with my OBGYN for my annual check up. I had scheduled this before I knew I as pregnant and was actually kind of glad, as I was going to be able to see her way earlier than normal. I told her I was pregnant and we were going to proceed with the pap smear. Before she began, she noticed blood. I hadn’t experienced thick / clotty spotting, so I was surprised when that is what she retracted. She was very calm, but stern in the sense that it could be serious, but it could be okay. From there she took the specimen for testing and proceeded to do bloodwork. She had me come back 2 days later to do more bloodwork to see if my Beta HCG levels were increasing like they should. The next day I stopped spotting and was so relieved. The pause only lasted 5 days and I started spotting again, except this time there was more blood, which eventually led to me starting my period and having a miscarriage, just a day shy of 7 weeks.
Let’s back up a bit though shall we? I went to bed one night with a gut feeling that I was going to start my period that evening. I could just feel it. When I woke up, sure enough, I had. I messaged my doctor to let her know and went along my way. I’ll touch on mental health later, but at this point I had been crying for days, so I was pretty numb to what was happening. I was like okay, I’m not very far along, so I’ll just battle this out at home and figure this out. I really wasn’t in any pain other than typical period type pain, so I went about my day as normally as I could. I had a chiropractor appointment that afternoon and could not wait for it. They always make me feel better and I was thankful that it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was literally about to walk into the room to be adjusted when I heard from my doctor. She told me that my Beta HCG had doubled (it is supposed to grow in pregnancy) and that I should go to the emergency room immediately to make sure that I wasn’t having an ectopic pregnancy. I went into panic mode. I had walked to the chiropractor, so I didn’t have my car with me. I immediately messaged / called Nick who luckily was able to end a meeting early to come and get me. Needless to say, I wasn’t prepared to go to the hospital in any way shape or form. My phone was at 50%, I wasn’t wearing socks, and of course was in shock. Couldn’t I have at least grabbed a sweatshirt and some headphones?! As a reminder, this was during the pandemic. Our hospitals here in LA were at capacity and COVID was running rampant. We arrived at the ER and when we tried to go in, the security guard yelled at Nick for even trying to go in with me. It added another level of terror, because not only did I have to experience this, but I had to do so alone.
I entered the hospital a little after 2:00 pm on a Tuesday, only to find a fairly full waiting room and to hear that they had no available beds and didn’t think they would for a while. I ended up sitting there for around almost 4 hours until they had availability. At this point I was freezing, hungry, and exhausted. As if it wasn’t enough to sit there in my own blood, I also had to witness the countless COVID patients being carted in from the ambulances right outside. (They weren’t brought in the waiting room area, but I could see from the window.) I also have no idea how the emergency room works, as I witnessed countless people being taken into I guess what were available beds, ahead of me and some other people who had been waiting a lot longer. I didn’t have much else to do besides pay attention to my surroundings, as I was trying not to be on my phone / waste battery.
My shining light that day was the nice PA on call that evening - Jessica. She came into the waiting and spoke to me around 4:00 pm to get to know my situation. She was able to order my an ultrasound even though I didn’t have a room yet, so I could at least get the process started. Almost an hour later, I was called in for the transvaginal ultrasound. The tech didn’t say much and sent me back into the waiting room to await a bed. At this point, time was escaping me, but I think I waited another hour and I finally got a bed. They immediately did bloodwork to test my blood type, Beta HCG levels, and a couple other things. Bloodwork takes about an hour to process, so it was more of a waiting game. The hospital was so busy, I was alone for most of the time / wasn’t really checked on. I was fine except my IV was jabbed in my arm and it was in a constant state of pinching. Needless to say, I had a bruise for several weeks after.
After what seemed like hours later, Jessica came and spoke to me and said that I had had a miscarriage. She said that it wasn’t my fault and was likely a chromosomal issue that my body had spontaneously aborted. Spontaneous abortion is another term for miscarriage. She asked if I had passed any tissue, to which I replied I didn’t think so. At the time, I didn’t realize that she meant the baby. Tissue is what they refer to the baby as at this stage. She then said she could do a cervical exam and retrieve the baby for me, which would make the rest of the miscarriage easier. I first asked to use the restroom, because at this point I had again, been laying in a pool of my own blood for some time. I think I may have said something like “it’s a war zone down there” which of course was me trying to project humor instead of pain. I also remember muttering things about “best possible case scenario.” I hobbled into the bathroom with the IV still in my arm. Because of how bad it hurt, my left arm was pretty much useless. I then had to somehow pull down my leggings, etc with one hand, all while trying to clean myself as best as I could without a shower and try not to make a mess in this public restroom. Humbling to say the least! Jessica then retrieved the baby for me and asked if I wanted to see it. I said yes, just for closure purposes. She asked if I wanted to send it to the lab to run tests. I said no, as this was my first miscarriage and typically that is done if there are several, to try and figure out what went wrong. After that, Jessica wrote me a scrip for pain meds should I need them, talked to my doctor and shortly after that, she discharged me. I was able to be go home / not have to stay the night, because I didn’t have an actual surgery and my Beta HCG levels had dropped enough. They couldn’t say for sure I didn’t have an ectopic pregnancy at the time because the couldn’t actually see my left ovary in the ultrasound, but I wasn’t exhibiting symptoms / they were able to remove the baby. I want to say it was 11:00 pm by the time I got home and crawled in bed, but to be honest the whole day was a blur.
As far as how after that went, the next day was fine, but I was in pain the second and third day after. I didn’t end up filling the scrip, but wonder if I should have for those second and third days after the hospital. Those were day 4 and 5 after I thought I started my period. The bleeding and spotting probably lasted for another week. I was in a real mental fog for the next week as well. I had an acupuncture appointment already scheduled for a couple days after the miscarriage, which helped with pain management. She also gave me this herbal tea to drink, which would help clear out my system of pregnancy hormones and reduce symptoms. The next week I already had an 8 week appointment with my OBGYN for what was supposed to be my first ultrasound. We kept the appointment so she could check on my uterus and make sure everything had passed. Everything looked fairly normal, so she sent me on my way, but not before giving me a hug. You think that is normal, but in the time of COVID it isn’t, and for that I am grateful.
While the physical process went fairly quickly, the mental was a lot longer and was more work in my opinion. During the days leading up to starting my period, I was very weepy and sad. It’s like my mind subconsciously knew what my body was going through. No one except Nick and my doctors knew I was pregnant, so it wasn’t exactly something I was going to talk about openly. Luckily I wasn’t the one who broke the news to our families. When I entered into the ER I asked Nick if he would make that phone call so I didn’t have to. I’m so grateful for that, as I don’t think I could have done it… to not only tell them I was pregnant, but to also say that I was either miscarrying or having an ectopic pregnancy. My point is that I didn’t really have anyone to talk to or confide in during that time. I talked to Nick and he did the best he could, but unless it is something you have experienced, it is kind of hard to understand. Even after the fact though, I wasn’t really up for discussing it yet. Sure I told a select number of people, but usually in my statement I said something along the lines of I don’t really want to talk about it. In truth I was still processing it myself and didn’t know what to say.
Was it the handful of drinks I had before I knew? Was it my 20lb cat that used my left ovary as a spring board shortly after I conceived? Was it the UTI I had at the beginning of the pregnancy? Was it the peppermint oil in my deodorant or the salicylic acid in my facial peel? If I had gotten back on a prenatal sooner would that have helped? Was it that I didn’t 100% believe it was going to be viable and that energy threw everything off? While I don’t think those things now, they were very real thoughts racing through my head at the time. Even though I knew they weren’t true, that didn’t keep them out of the back of my mind. I assume others have asked similar questions when they experienced miscarriage as well. What could we have done differently? Why is it that people who often aren’t trying conceive, do? Why do so many people have unwanted pregnancies, but so many people would trade everything they have for a beating heart? Why do so many people who would be great parents, not have the ability? All these inquiries and more stuck out like sore thumbs in my brain. Sure they weren’t fair thoughts. I’m am and was 100% aware at the time, though the logic seemed to be lost on me.
I felt very much like, “Hello, I’m Lauren and I’m a walking statistic.” There are a lot of different stats thrown around regarding miscarriage, but the main one that is mentioned is 25%. 1/4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Per the Mayo Clinic, more than 3 million miscarriages occur in the U.S. each year, so why isn’t it discussed more? The miscarriages that I know of are from people I know, not really influencers with a platform who can reach more people. 85% of miscarriages occur in the first trimester. That’s me.
2020 was a roller coaster for everyone. For me specially I felt betrayed by my body. I try to lead a more natural, healthy life, and this is how it repays me? I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in January 2020. I actually just found out good news regarding my inflammation dropping when I found out about the concern / needed to get my HCG levels tested. It was really hard to celebrate one thing, when I was so anxious about another. I went about a month or two thinking I had PCOS, and while I was relieved to find out I didn’t have it, only to learn that I did learn that I had low AMH. Coupled with my age (29 going on 30), it isn’t a great combination… not to mention that is often harder when you have IBD or an autoimmune disease like I have. To be honest, I felt like my body has failed me. I felt sad, I felt embarrassed, and I felt alone.
I was just shy of 7 weeks. I had only known for 3 weeks, so why was the pull of gravity so hard? How attached can you really become in just 21 days? I shouldn’t diminish my own struggle, but I’ve had a myriad of friends lose babies in 2nd and 3rd trimesters. I do not know the grief of retracting pregnancy announcements or delivering those babies when they were already in paradise or left this world shortly after delivery. It’s all valid and it all sucks. I think the biggest thing I learned through all of this is that i never realized how scary pregnancy and parenting can be. Sure there’s the anxieties and worry while they are still in utero, but it’s not like it stops after they are born! There are safety issues, sickness, and omg driver’s licenses! Becoming a parent is truly wearing your heart on your sleeve.
I am happy to say that I am in a much better headspace that I was several months ago. I think it is necessary to go through the stages of grief. I think it is okay to be angry and upset, but to stay in those feelings is very dangerous. I won’t lie. Social media can be both unintentionally and intentionally cruel. I deleted the Facebook app for a while and only got on Instagram when I had to. I unfollowed or muted people I couldn’t stomach to follow at the time. Do what what you need to do for you! Since social media is what I do for work, it was a little hard to avoid all together. I purposefully stayed off when I thought people would make pregnancy announcements for around the same time I would have. It hurts. Even though I wasn’t mentally ready yet, I dove into the devotional Grieving the Child I Never Knew. I actually read it through twice. I also ordered The Mourning Sister journal which includes beautiful poetry and scriptures. I didn’t know how to unpack my feelings , but I knew I needed to start. I couldn’t live in that sad hole forever.
Other things we did that seemed to help were name the baby and have a funeral of sorts. We went to a special place for us and basically had a celebration of life… spoke about it aloud. We also purchased a piece of jewelry for me as a keepsake. It’s really special to me and serves as an ongoing and physical reminder of that life. I also have a box of cards, gifts, my hospital bands, and some other sentimental items that serve as a reminder as well.
People grieve differently. Often guys and girls grieve differently too. For me, it hit while it was happening. For Nick it hit more after. I think it’s important to remember that just because people do this differently, doesn’t make it wrong. I would just try to align a little bit so you can best support your partner or friend during this time.
How to Help
If you’re wondering how to help a friend going through this, I think I’d say acknowledge it. We received cards and sweet gifts from people. It doesn’t have to be physical though! Simply checking in now and then is showing that you care. While they may not respond or may not want to discuss it, they see it and that is showing up. This is exceptionally important in such an isolating event. I would also say to consider your questions and how you ask things. While asking a question like “is that your first child?” may seem harmless, my answer (along with many others) to that will never be yes. I don’t think that question is ever asked in a malicious way, but simply being aware of what you say and how you say it can be of tremendous help for others. Another question that you might rethink are even asking people when they are going to have a baby. You have no idea if they have actually been trying without luck and/or experienced several miscarriages in the process. Secondary infertility is something to think about as well. I know several people who are struggling to conceive a second child and they “how about another one” comment can actually be really painful. I actually wrote a post on pregnancy questions in the workplace a couple years ago and you may find that post helpful. Also simply be kind! You never know what someone is going actually going through, nor do you know the lens they are currently viewing life through.
The reason why I said it’s important to not live in the angry camp forever is because it is truly damaging. There are some miscarriage talks out there that seem to be based solely on anger. I do think that feeling angry is important, but it is equally important to work through that. Maybe you don’t have to feel ecstatic when see a pregnancy announcement or hear of a birth, but hopefully you can get to a place that doesn’t leave you spiraling. I didn’t find a silver lining in my miscarriage and don’t expect you to, but I have come to a place of understanding. No, I don’t understand why it happened and never will; however, I can say that my empathy and sympathy towards others has increased tenfold. I pleaded with God and told him I didn’t need anymore and that I already had enough simply from my time wearing a brace because of scoliosis and dealing with ulcerative colitis. Well, now I can add miscarriage onto my list. Did you know that miscarriage is actually in the infertility camp? I thought the struggle was just the inability to get pregnant; however, it isn’t. Some people can get pregnant, they just can’t stay pregnant. Because of this loss, I am able to walk with and relate to more women than I could before. My doctor knows that I’m a content creator and when she first found the blood, before the miscarriage even occurred, she said you have to write about this. You have to tell people. So many influencers these days make it look so easy and it isn’t. Most people have it hard. So while this isn’t something I ever wanted to happen to me, it has given me a new perspective. If I can make one woman’s journey feel a little bit less lonely, that’s enough for me.
If you made it through this dinosaur of a post, thank you so much for reading. I truly appreciate it. Writing this and publishing it has been somewhat painful, but therapeutic at the same time. I hope it speaks to you. XOXO
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