We found out we were pregnant on May 5th, 4 days before Mother’s Day. Today was supposed to be our first ultrasound, where we got to hear the heartbeat and do some testing to find out gender.
I say “were” and “was” because we found out we were having a miscarriage on June 8th.
The weekend before the 8th we traveled to Philadelphia for Tyler’s nephew’s birthday. His parents were in town, and his sister in law encouraged me to invite my parents (who live outside of Philly) because his dad had not met them yet. Since this was the first time we were all going to be together and probably the last time until the wedding in October, we figured it was a good time to tell them about our pregnancy. I was only going to be 9 weeks and I knew that 12 weeks was a “safer” point, but I am absolutely horrible at keeping good news to myself and had already let it slip to a few friends. I knew I wanted our parents to be some of the first to know, so I figured we should do it.
After our parents met and we were all talking, Tyler looked at me and mouthed, “Now?”. I said, “Sure, just give me a warning when you’re coming.” I had purchased a T-shirt for Phoebe on Etsy that said “Promoted to Big Sister January 2022.” Earlier in the week, after our first “confirmation” doctor’s appointment I had dressed Phoebe in it and we took her right to my sister’s house to tell her, her husband, and my nieces and nephew.
Everything went well telling our parents, I even got some cute reaction videos! I had this plan (as you guys know I am a bit of a reels guy) to put the footage of that, some clips of Tyler reading about breastfeeding (lol) and some early ultrasound stuff together for a baby announcement for the ‘gram. I started writing a blog because I wanted to document everything about my pregnancy for myself. I even had some lifting clips because one of the most popular questions I was asked by people who knew was whether I was going to stop lifting weights. I have a Pre and Post Natal CES certification so I feel comfortable giving general pregnancy workout advice and let me tell you that lifting is a great habit to continue through pregnancy! I also know that’s not the reason this happened.
The hardest day
In the beginning of my pregnancy, I was having really strong food aversions and underlying nausea. When I think back, I feel like I should have known something was wrong because the nausea went away about a week and a half before everything happened. But I just figured I was having an easy pregnancy.
I realized something was wrong on Monday afternoon and called the doctor immediately after asking my sister and a friend who had been through this experience what I should do. Their office had just closed, so the on call midwife spoke with me and tried to explain all of the potential scenarios and outcomes. If the bleeding picked up, we could consider going to the emergency room to check on both the baby and me (heavy bleeding can be dangerous for mom too and mean hemorrhaging). We decided to see how things went overnight and call in the morning.
The bleeding didn’t get heavier, but it didn’t stop, so they sent me to an ultrasound appointment. Both a tech and a radiologist were in the room, talking to each other for what felt like forever before they explained things to us. They told us our baby was measuring small, at six weeks when he or she should have been nine. They saw a sac but not a heartbeat, though that is normal for six weeks. They couldn’t tell us much, but my doctor called us right after to give us more information. She asked me to come do a blood draw to check my hCG levels. This hormone is supposed to continue doubling every couple of days throughout pregnancy, and my levels were nice and high on my first blood test. It was possible we just got our dates wrong.
We went in for the test Tuesday afternoon, and then all we could do was wait. Overnight my bleeding got very heavy and I was up from two to three am with horrible cramps. I knew this couldn’t be good, and I had very little hope for our phone call the next day. On Wednesday our midwife called to confirm the “failed pregnancy.”
It’s my understanding that there are three different scenarios that could happen when you’re having a miscarriage:
- Your body allows the process to happen naturally without intervention. This has been my experience, and although it’s a long process I am thankful that my body seems to know what to do. There is a risk for infection here, but my doctors have been monitoring me closely.
- The doctor can prescribe medication to move the process along. This may work the first round or may require a second round and/or surgery.
- If the process does not progress in either of the above scenarios, you may need a surgery called dilation and curettage, where they dilate the cervix and remove tissue.
Doctors need to continue to monitor your hCg (pregnancy hormone) levels following these interventions until they return to normal (below 6 mIU/mL). The time it takes for these levels to normalize will depend on the person and the interventions. In my case, I’ve had them checked three times so far and they haven’t fully returned to non-pregnant levels. But they are progressing well.
Dealing with miscarriage
I am someone who processes things externally, by talking through them, which is why I’m telling the world now. Reading other women’s stories also helped me to understand what was happening to my own body and learn what was going to happen next. Plus I do not believe this is something to be ashamed of.
Miscarriage is cruel because it tears your body apart while you’re also in such a dark place mentally. I will spare you guys the details, but it is incredibly difficult to have a physical reminder every time you walk into the bathroom that your baby stopped growing and you didn’t realize it. The meanest joke is that all of my social media now includes targeted ads for new moms: pregnancy leggings, onesies, crib sheets. It happened the second I googled something related to my positive pregnancy test, and yet it’s not going away after I googled all the things related to miscarriage. Another reason to hate the algorithm.
I am now part of a club I never ever wanted to belong to. I think I had so much anxiety around miscarriage that I thought, “I’m so prepared for it to happen and anticipating it, so maybe it won’t”. Unfortunately that’s not how it works. Miscarriage is a really common occurrence that happens to 10-15% of pregnancies and is not talked about nearly enough. As I mentioned, reading other women’s stories or talking to friends who have experienced it helped me a lot, and I couldn’t imagine if I didn’t have those people and experiences to lean on. Something my doctor said to me and what I would want other women to know is that it’s not your fault. It’s not because you pushed hard in your last workout, or ate something wrong, or had an extra cup of coffee. I say this because these are all thoughts I had, but rationally I know it’s beyond my control.
If you’re reading this and you just had a baby, announced the gender, or celebrated your little one’s first birthday I want you to know I am truly happy for you. I look at my pregnant and new mom friends and they give me hope for our family’s future. It might sound strange but I have searched out those stories and that joy more now than when I was pregnant, stopping my scroll for friends’ celebrations, acquaintances bump updates and even strangers’ birth announcements on social media.
Know that there’s nothing you can say to make things better, but you don’t need to hide your joy. Just keep checking on your friend. Because when the “how are you doing” texts get less frequent the thought that crossed my mind was that it must be time to move on. But I don’t know if I will ever truly “move on”. The only thing I know is that I don’t get a baby right now. And although I hope I will someday, I feel very unsure and scared about our future in this moment.
My friend Laura wrote a great blog that includes what not to say and I’d suggest reading through some of those suggestions. Something I would like to add is to urge you not to ask people if they’re pregnant. Or guess if that’s why they’re so tired or feeling sick. This applies to anyone, not just a couple who recently miscarried. You just never know what they’re going through- they could be newly pregnant and terrified, or struggling to conceive, or currently going through the worst day of their lives.
When you get pregnant your body starts to change almost immediately. The first thing I noticed was getting out of breath really easily. Then I started to notice my body shifting- I actually lost weight during pregnancy because of eating less, but I felt this “cushion” start to form around my stomach. My little top abs that started poking out this year were gone, but I was okay with it because I got a baby. But after miscarriage your body just feels a bit foreign. Not only did it betray you but it has changed so much in the last 1-2 months and now it feels…different.
If you’re a woman going through this, I want you to know you’re not alone. There is no right way to respond to it. Your emotions might be triggered by the smallest comment, or you might feel numb to everything. Some days you might cry all day, and some days you might feel like you should be crying but can’t. The overwhelming feeling for me was just a sense of heaviness and grief, and I’m not sure when that’s going to go away. However talking to friends, especially those who have gone through this experience helped. I feel like other women who are part of this club are the only ones who can understand or say the right things. That’s why I’m sharing my story- in the hopes that it could help someone else.