Mothers Day is almost here and we will soon be seeing posts all over social media in celebration of the holiday. Mothers Day is a wonderful day. I am a mother. I have a mother. It’s an important day to celebrate. But there is also the other side of this day that makes it difficult for those who do not have children and those who have little ones in heaven. I am SO incredibly blessed to have my daughter here on earth with me, but I also have a baby in heaven and so my heart feels torn. I think the pain increases with time. The loneliness deepens. The missing my baby becomes stronger as my would be due-date approaches in the next few weeks.
I wrote a post on my other very small and semi private blog about my experience with pregnancy loss. I’d like to share it now here. If you think this will be too hard to read, then take this as your warning: it’s kind of raw.
Originally posted January 7, 2014
First, why am I writing this?
- It’s good for me. I need to share, to write down my feelings, to remember.
- It might be helpful to you who reads this. If you have never experienced something like this it would be good for you to know a little bit about what it is like. If you are a pastor, teacher, counselor, or someone who might need to help a person going through an emotional or physical crisis, then maybe my experiences could be eye opening for you.
- A lot of people know anyhow.
I know, it’s awkward. No one knows what to say, and that is ok. So let me break the ice for you and just get everything out in the open so my friends don’t have to guess what I am feeling.
Do I think this is appropriate to share in such a public forum? Yes and no.
Yes, because this happened to me and it happens to a lot of women. Why is miscarriage such a big secret? Why can’t we talk about our children who we have lost? Does it make you uncomfortable to hear about it? Well, sorry Charlie. Life is uncomfortable. Loving your friends and family is uncomfortable. Knowing the pain that they experience is uncomfortable. This happened to me and I am ok with talking about it.
No because… I don’t know, but I am sure a reason will come to my mind right after I post this blog…
The Doomed Hershey Trip
I was 11 weeks pregnant. At 7 weeks I had an ultrasound that showed a perfect little tiny baby with a healthy beating heart. I went through the normal morning sickness phase (misery) and it was easing up so that I felt I could function as a normal human. Overall, feeling very good.
I left on a lovely Thursday morning to drive to Hershey, PA for the Women of Purpose conference. It was a strange morning. Normally, the promise of a weekend of work at the conference, refreshing services, great music, hanging out with great friends, seeing friends who I miss and wish I lived closer to, and eating all the Hershey’s chocolate that I wanted would have me very excited! For some reason this morning was chaotic as I packed and my daughter was being difficult. I left the house feeling frazzled.
I arrived to the conference (late) and went about getting settled and helping at the registration desk with set up and ticket sales. I took a quick break to run to the restroom and then it began… I was bleeding. It was very light but my heart instantly sunk into my stomach and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I tried to go about my evening as if everything was fine. I attempted to not think about it during a reps dinner meeting. I put it out of my mind as I worked on little projects that evening. Around 9:00 PM I went to my room to shower and get ready for bed. The bleeding was much heavier. At this point I just had a sick feeling in my stomach that this was not ok. I checked in with my mom and some friends and posted some questions on the Facebook groups for moms that I am a part of. With the encouragement of everyone I decided to run across the street to Hershey Medical Center to get checked out.
I walked in to the ER around 9:45 PM. As I checked in at the front desk I just lost my composure and began to cry. I felt so bad for the poor girl checking me in! She sweetly handed me tissues and I gave her my insurance card and ID. I was taken in within minutes. It was the routine blood draw, IV prep, urine sample, and embarrassing hospital gown.
Eventually a doctor examined me and I knew it wasn’t hopeful from his tone of voice. It wasn’t the cervix bleeding, there was blood coming through. Not good.
I had no cell service in my room in the ER, so Facebook messages were the only communication between me and my husband. I know he was freaking out. By the time I knew things were not good it was midnight. I was more than three hours away and he was home with our sleeping two year old and his car is not reliable. Although he so desperately wanted to get up right then and come to the hospital I told him no because it made absolutely no sense.
A doctor came in and talked to me. It seemed he was trying to prepare me for the worst case scenario. He explained that they might have to use some “scary” language like “spontaneous abortion” and what that meant. I explained that the night before I had been making dinner and suddenly felt a little rush of liquid, as if my water had broken. He agreed that it might have been. I asked if it was possible that it could have been because I had a UTI which had been undiagnosed for a little while. He said it was possible. When he left I pulled the sheets over my head and cried and said “I’m sorry” over and over. I felt a crushing weight of guilt as if I had killed my baby. I have a very tough time swallowing pills and while pregnant it is almost impossible. When I was diagnosed with UTI I was given big capsules to take a few times a day. It was impossible. I tried taking them by pouring the powder into juice to drink. Awful! In the end I only kept a few doses down. I really did try. In that moment in the ER I seriously thought that my water had broken and my baby was slowly dying inside of me because I hadn’t taken my antibiotics. What an absolutely horrendous feeling.
I waited in my room for quite a while before they came back to get me for an ultrasound. Ultrasounds are usually exciting. Not this one. I was in a hospital gown, in a wheel chair, covered with blankets. Since I had showered and then went straight to the hospital my hair was slicked back into an ugly bun and I was makeup free. I looked a mess and felt it too. I was wheeled down to the ultrasound room which was in a wing that was being remodeled. It was all torn up and felt very cold and deserted. The girl who did my ultrasound was not my favorite person. She tried to get a look externally, which had worked just fine when I was 7 weeks pregnant. But she couldn’t see anything that way so told me she was going to do the ultrasound internally. I don’t curse, but for sure I was thinking of some bad names for her at that point. She yammered on and on about how she was supposed to be off at 11PM (it was after 1AM at that point) and how she wanted to be home on the couch in comfortable clothes watching TV. Uh, yeah lady… me too! The ultrasound took F O R E V E R and it was totally miserable. When it was over I sat in the room alone in my wheel chair waiting to be taken back up to the ER. As I waited I looked at the ultrasound screen and saw the estimated due date for this baby was June 20th, a full two weeks later than it should have been. I knew what that meant.
Back in the ER my doctor came in to see me and talk to me. He was so nice and compassionate and appropriately sad for me, unlike my ultrasound tech. He confirmed that this was a case of fetal demise and the baby had passed probably two weeks before. My body was now beginning the process of expelling the miscarriage. I can’t even explain the weird sense of relief that the baby was already dead, probably due to chromosomal problems, and it wasn’t my fault.
I got dressed and collected my things and walked out. As I left the ER a concerned doctor stopped to as if I was ok. I’m sure I looked like a train wreck. I went back to my hotel expecting to find my roommates sleeping. To my surprise they were awake at 3AM! It was comforting to have their company for a few minutes before we all fell asleep.
The Drive Home
On Friday morning I woke up feeling numb. I packed my things up and my roommates prayed for me. They didn’t want me to drive home alone, but I assured them that I was ok. On my way out several friends offered to drive with me, but I was just feeling like I wanted to grab a Starbucks and drive home by myself. So that is what I did. I know this totally stressed out some of my friends! Honestly, I had no idea what was coming. I was thinking it would be something like a bad period. Not a big deal. I called a friend on my way out of the conference center and she warned me that it was going to be very painful. I talked with my doctor over the phone and he also told me that because of how far along I was this was going to be very difficult physically. I think if someone had said to me “you’re essentially going into labor!” that might have made sense to me. Instead I was thinking “how bad can this really be?” Well, let me tell you… BAD! Thankfully I made I home without incident.
At home I spent some time cuddling my daughter and crying with my husband. We were all very exhausted and napped for a bit that afternoon. When I woke up I sent my husband to the store to get my prescription pain medications that my doctor had called in plus a bunch of snacks and easy meal items. It was around that time that the pain really began.
A Natural Miscarriage
Warning: mildly graphic with talk of blood. Writing this part for the sake of other moms who might experience the same thing.
At first I managed the pain very well. I could describe it as very bad menstrual cramping. The pain came in waves and I felt fine in between. Over a few hours the pain continually intensified until it was nearly unbearable. The bleeding picked up very drastically. By 8PM I was in terrible pain and was unable to keep any medication down to assist with the pain. I took a bath and after I was finished and walking out of the bathroom I had a sudden rush of fluid. It was an instant relief! I thought maybe it would be better after that… WRONG! As soon as I got comfortable in the living room again I hit the pain wall. My husband was upstairs trying to get our two year old to sleep. I ended up on the living room floor thrashing around and moaning. The pain wasn’t coming in manageable waves any more. Just constant, terrible pain.
At a certain point I stood myself up and walked towards the bathroom. Suddenly I felt a massive rush of blood and it was so shocking I think I screamed. This is the part where my husband had to switch into Hazmat mode. The bleeding for the next few hours was absolutely unbelievable. I can’t believe someone can lose that much blood and still be ok. My poor husband would clean up the bathroom after I turned it into a crime scene, then 15 minutes later he would have to be doing it again.
Shortly into the bleeding craziness I began to pass very very large clots. At first, every time I passed them I screamed because it was such a shocking feeling. At one point I passed the gestational sack. I believe this is when I also delivered the baby.
The Part that Bothers Me Still
I was really scared of seeing the baby. I didn’t know what I would do. How would I react? The anticipation of seeing it was so frightening. So at the moment when I was pretty sure I had passed the baby, I panicked and flushed the toilet. That is hard to say. I mean, what should I have done? There was so much blood, I really didn’t want to go there. It was too gruesome so I freaked and just flushed everything. The next day it really began to hit me hard that my babies little body was flushed down the toilet. That hurts.
A Little Relief
After passing the pregnancy tissue the cramping and bleeding continued, but it was much better. I was able to get some sleep between 3:00 and 8:00 AM.
My mom drove in on that Saturday to stay with us and help with my daughter. I continued to have painful cramping and some bleeding for the next two days, but it was actually nice to relax and not have to do anything.
That Monday I was scheduled for an ultrasound and doctors visit. The ultrasound was first. I was relieved to see an empty uterus on the screen because I felt like it was all over. This was a hard thing for my husband. He had to turn away and not look at the screen. The ultrasound tech told me that there was still a good bit of pregnancy tissue (blood and stuff) stuck at the bottom of the uterus. When my doctor examined me he confirmed that he could see something blocking the cervix and therefore not letting everything else come out. He used forceps to try to remove it. And yes, that hurt terribly! He couldn’t get it so he kept asking for longer forceps. I shouldn’t have looked at the forceps they were brining in. I can’t believe how long they were! I was digging my fingers in to the side of the bed and trying not to scream. Then my husband, who had been quietly holding my hand, said in a very shaky voice, “um, I don’t feel good…” We all looked at him and he was white as a ghost! He nearly passed out. I told him to sit in the chair but the doctor told him not to go there because it was behind the doctor and there was a lot of blood. Not so good to see if you’re already woozy! So Josh sat on the floor next to my bed. The nurse gave him juice and a cold rag for his head and he slowly felt better. The doctor finally gave up because he wasn’t able to remove the blockage and it was getting kind of crazy intense in there what with me in a ton of pain and my husband about to keel over.
That evening the doctor called me to apologize for all of the pain I went through during the visit. He prescribed me an antibiotic and scheduled me to see him again in a week.
On Wednesday I woke up feeling very depressed. I stayed in bed until 11AM. All day I just felt so miserable.
Around dinner time I began to feel very cold. My mom brought me blankets and turned the heat up, but I felt more and more cold until I was shaking. I tried to eat something but it didn’t help. I could feel that the house was very warm but I couldn’t stop shaking. After an hour I knew something just wasn’t right. I took my temperature and was very upset to see that it was over 101. I knew this was a very bad thing. I called my doctor and left a message. I took my temperature again… 102. My doctor called me and I explained what was happening. He later told me he could literally hear me shaking and knew from the sound of my voice that it was serious. He told me to get to the hospital immediately and he would meet me there.
I called my husband who didn’t answer. At that very moment he was at church speaking in the youth service. I sent a frantic text to several of the youth staff that I needed him to come take me to the hospital immediately. Someone ran up to him to show him the text and he left right then to get me.
It was cold outside, so when my husband took me from the house to the car the cold went right into me and I went from shaking a lot to shaking violently. I felt like I was being punched in the stomach. Every few seconds I would suddenly double over with a guttural “UGH” sound as I shook all over. My head hurt so bad it felt like it would explode. By the time we reached the hospital I had no feeling in my legs.
After being checked in at the ER they put several heavy heated blankets over me, but I was still so incredibly cold. When I arrived my temperature was over 104. At a certain point it went over 105 and then the nurses were saying I had the highest fever they had ever seen. Not sure what that final temperature was. I was half out of my mind by this point. I was crying, vomiting, hyperventilating, and generally feeling like I was dying. I remember looking at the clock as I tried to keep myself under control and realizing that if I didn’t have the doctors and nurses there to help me I would surely not survive this. That is a crazy moment of realization to have.
I was already crazy, but when the nurse told me they were going to catheterize me I flipped out! I was crying and screaming that I didn’t want them to touch me. In the end, I won! The doctor felt so bad for me that he decided not to bother with the catheter. They prepped me for surgery and took me to the OR. At the point that they wheeled me out of the ER I don’t remember a whole lot. I was just soooooo happy to see the mask coming over my face when they put me out for the surgery. Sweet relief!
After surgery I was moved to ICU. That was a weird experience! So many tubes all over me, people watching me and my vitals constantly, being stuck with needled during the night, loud noises of all of the machines… but I also had some Demerol, which was awesome! After all I had been through I was so happy when they gave me the pain medications because I instantly felt warm and numb. Numbness was a very welcome feeling. I was also very chatty. I couldn’t stop talking! My voice was very hoarse from having been intubated, but it didn’t stop me from wanting to talk to all of the nurses about anything that came to my mind!
When I was released from ICU to a normal hospital room I was told I would be there for several days. Thank God they only kept me there for another day! I was absolutely miserable in the hospital. My IV bothered me (to put it mildly), my bed was terribly uncomfortable, and I just wanted to be home with my little girl. Once my fever had been under control for 24 hours they released me. I wanted to be happy but I couldn’t conjure up that emotion. My arm hurt very badly from the IV, my hand and arm were so swollen that I couldn’t use it at all or even bend my fingers, my eyes were swollen nearly shut, my head hurt, I was exhausted from lack of sleep, and I felt gross and just wanted to shower. As we drove home I just felt so angry. I don’t know who I was angry at, just angry in general. I hurt all over on the outside and was angry all over on the inside. My husband had to take me home and then leave for the weekend for a youth retreat. That was hard to deal with.
By the next morning I was beginning to feel a little more human. I weighed myself and saw that I had gained 11 pounds of fluid while in the hospital. Yikes! I took it very easy and let myself slowly come back to life. The next week was Thanksgiving and I was very thankful that I was well enough to travel to see family and enjoy the holiday.
How are you really supposed to feel after an experience like this? I think we are allowed to feel whatever we want. I personally had a very tough time with social situations for a while. It took a few weeks for me to be able to go to church. The first time I did I had to leave early because it was just too hard for me. Sometimes when I’m around a lot of people I just shut down. It’s like I can’t see right or totally comprehend what people are saying to me. This is a very hard thing to mask when it is happening!
A sweet friend put my name in to receive a bear from Heart Stitches. When it arrived I didn’t open it and threw the box behind my couch so I couldn’t see it. After a week I opened it with my husband and we cried together. I didn’t get to burry my baby. I imagine that if I had eventually the grass would grow over the teeny tiny little grave. So now I have my bear sitting on a bookshelf next to a little arrangement that looks like grass.
Now it is January. I should be halfway through my pregnancy. I should be learning my baby’s gender and giving my baby a name. But it will never be.
I now understand some things a little better. I can see how a person can love each of their children individually. I used to hear of parents losing their only child and think to myself that I definitely wanted to have several children so I would never be in that position. But that isn’t how it works. If you have 15 children or 1 child and lose one it is an absolutely terrible thing. Each child is precious and loved and can’t be replaced by another. I am so happy to have my little girl. I don’t know what I would do without her. Even though I have her, I still miss my little baby who I only knew for three months. Each one is precious. Each one is my baby. One is with me and one is in heaven.
This is a question I really don’t ask because there isn’t an answer. Bad things happen. We live in a fallen world and while on this earth we will experience pain. The hope we have is that there will be an end to our suffering and we will be reunited with our loved ones in heaven where there will be no more sadness or tears.
“And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.””