The reality of having miscarriages

Miscarriage. A word filled with so much pain and confusion, more than I ever realized. Never thought it would happen to me, and when it did it hurt. Hurt more then anything I could ever explain.

The last few months have been painful and exciting all at the same time. I've gone through what my mind and body found as a tragedy and the recovery has taken time, but in the end it will all be okay. 

Did you know that women under 35 have a 15% chance of a miscarriage? Did you know that 80% of women miscarry only once? I knew nothing. I didn't. And had I known maybe it would have hurt a little less but maybe not.

My husband, Trent, and I have been married for 7 years. We wanted to establish ourselves before we had kids, and our last big hurdle was finishing law school. As the end of law school quickly approached, we couldn’t wait to start trying! The day of Trent’s graduation, we had a BBQ at our house. That night I went inside to take an ovulation test. I was only planning on taking an ovulation test, but for some reason I decided to take a pregnancy test, too. It was positive. This was the first month. I was honestly just in shock.

I surprised Trent with the news that night and we both were so excited. I don’t think either of us really knew what to do. We had planned a trip to Jackson Hole that weekend and talked the entire time about how we would wait to share the news until I was six weeks along, which is what the internet told us was right, and duh, the internet never lies. I was so excited to tell everyone, but we wanted to be careful and go to the doctor before we shared any news.

Well, in full disclosure, we had a big fight that weekend. For a long time, I blamed myself for fighting, because I thought it had caused my miscarriage. I also blamed myself for putting my legs in the hot tub, which, again, the internet tells you not to do. Slightly ridiculous now as I look back on. I’ve since learned that miscarriages aren’t caused by anything we do. They just happen and it's not something you can stop and most importantly it's NOT YOUR FAULT, ever.

We made up Sunday and I had been bleeding a little bit that day, which made me a bit nervous, but I figured all was well and it was just normal spotting. I bought a new pregnancy test to calm my nerves and it read “Pregnant, 1-2 weeks,” which was weird because the first test on Friday night told me I was 2-3 weeks along. I though, “it shouldn’t go down, right?” The second test, in hindsight, was one of the first signs that I was miscarrying, but at the time I wanted to stay positive and told myself it was nothing.

Monday came after a good night of us talking and making plans for this new baby the night before.

I woke up at 6 am, scared to move. I didn't feel right. I could tell that something was off. I work trent up after hanging on as long as I could, and told him I think we needed to go to the doctor. As soon as I told him, the tears came. We both jumped up and began calling local doctors in Jackson, but found nobody in the small town was open. We found an urgent care clinic that would soon open, so we headed that way. When we arrived, they said the doctor wouldn’t be available for another two hours, but to try another clinic down the road. We talked and decided we'd rather get home and go to my long-time doctor instead of a stranger’s clinic.

It was the longest five-hour drive home and lots of tears came with it. We stopped at a gas station on the way, and in the restroom, I noticed that I had some big clotting. At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was normal or if something was wrong. Now, after what I’ve learned, this was likely when I miscarried.

When we arrived in Salt Lake, we went directly to my doctor's office and had no idea that I was likely miscarrying at the time. We assumed something wasn’t right, but just thought that I was bleeding heavier than normal. One of the biggest things I wish I knew, which I know now, is that reading everything on the internet will not answer all of your questions and often will just scare you. I thought it was comforting, but looking back, I really think it made my recovery harder. At the time, I thought the articles made up, in a weird way, a part of my support system, but really they were just a bunch of articles about everything that could possibly go wrong.

When I went in to the doctor’s office, I told my nurse (whom I love love love) about my symptoms and she gave me two options: (1) they could draw my blood, but it would take time to get the results back, or (2) I could go to the ER and to do an early ultrasound and more immediate blood tests. Keep in mind I still had no idea I was miscarrying. There was no urgency in her voice. I remember thinking, “why isn't this a bigger deal to everyone?” She just was so calm, as I was hysterical.

Doctors and nurses have a hard task they see miracles often but that day, I could see it in her eyes; I could see that delivering this kind of news was devastating, but yet she was so calm.

We decided to go directly to the ER and they admitted us pretty quickly. They took a blood sample, asked some questions, and I recounted our story. They decided to take me back for an ultrasound as they were doing the blood test to see if they could see any indication of trouble. When we were in the ultrasound room, I just laid there, worried. I was sad, feeling a bit defeated. What were they going to say, were they going to find a baby? I had tears welling up in my eyes and I just had no idea but yet part of me still had this hope that everything was going to be OK.

As the nurse performed the ultrasound, my husband and I both felt so confused. The screen was black and made no sense to either of us. My husband later said that he was looking at the screen hoping the little dots were possibly the baby growing.  I remember looking at the ultrasound technician just wondering what she was seeing: did she see a baby or did she not see anything? I asked if she saw anything, and she responded that she didn’t see anything, so she ordered a vaginal ultrasound to get a better look. As I lay there, I felt sick, but agreed to the next exam. During the second ultrasound, the nurse said she didn't see anything. That was it. How was I supposed to move forward. I just lay there and felt so hopeless. They told us they were going to send us back to our room and they would have a doctor come in and speak with us. I just wanted to lie in that bed and never leave. As I looked at my heartbroken husband, I couldn't imagine how we would get through this. I was pretty upset and didn't feel like speaking to anyone or responding to calls and texts. No one really talks about the anger you experience after a miscarriage. Of course I was sad, but I was also just mad and frustrated. As I looked down at the end of the bed, I saw my husband devastated at my feet, and we were both so confused at how the happiest moment in our lives just became one of the worst.

After a few minutes they brought us back to our room and the doctor told us that we had an early miscarriage. It wasn’t clear what happened, whether it was a bad egg, a chemical pregnancy, or something else. All that we knew was there were no remnants of a baby inside of me. The clotting I had experienced earlier was likely when I had miscarried the baby. I wanted to know why I had miscarried, but I now know there often is no answer as to why you had a miscarriage. It just happens sometimes.

At that point, I was pretty devastated.  We still hadn't told anyone really other than my best friend, and I just didn't know how to approach the situation and tell my friends and family. One of my favorite movies is What to Expect When You're Expecting, which features a variety of pregnancy stories – adoption, traditional, miscarriage – and I remembered watching it and wondering what our story would be. I never thought the miscarriage plotline would be mine. Yet, as I left the hospital that day, I replayed in my mind over and over the scene in the movie where she lay at the hospital devastated that she had lost her baby. I never thought I would have to feel that way, but I did, and I learned that it was fine to be sad and mad.

As we drove home, I was devastated. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't see straight, and I couldn’t understand what had just happened to me. It was starting to set in, it was real: we lost the baby.

We decided to head home and just hang low that night.  Since we had been rushing out of town, I hadn’t been able to surprise Trent with the news of the pregnancy the previous Friday. Earlier in the weekend, I had asked my assistant to get 100 balloons to “surprise” Trent in our room for him to walk into. With everything that happened, I had to tell him that the balloons were waiting for us at home. When we got home, he walked inside and popped every balloon and got rid of all the positive pregnancy tests I had taken. The same tests that had made me so happy three days prior would have devastated me had he not thrown them out. That was it. It was over. Now I had to mourn this loss and eventually move on. But in that moment and weeks to follow, I had no idea how to cope, nor did I even want to think about moving on yet. I had lost my first baby. To me that was like losing my world.

Trent was amazing through all of this. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who was going through this, but that we both had to deal with the tragedy. Quite honestly, seeing the way that it broke his heart almost made it hurt even more knowing how bad he wanted it as well. I suffered from some major body guilt, and I shamed myself for not being able to carry a baby for us. The guilt may seem like an odd and unreasonable emotion, but those who have gone through a miscarriage know that it’s very real.

Later that night, I decided to tell my friends so that they would know why I was going through a hard time. I also told them because I know my personality and I knew I would need their support. At first, I was scared to tell anyone, but looking back now, I should’ve been more open to discussing it. My friends were really wonderful. Messages of support, love, and comfort poured in. As I told friends, I received messages about how many of them had also gone through miscarriages, or their sisters had, and I just sat there wondering how it was that I didn’t know this many people had experienced miscarriages. Why didn't I know it was more common? Why didn't anyone talk about it? I understand that everyone approaches tragedy differently, but before this happened, I honestly couldn't have singled out one person I knew who had a miscarriage.

The following day, I was back to work. I had a huge commercial shoot and two weddings that week. That was by far the hardest thing I had to do, but I had no choice. This was my company and my life, so I sucked it up and made it work. The first day back was probably the worst, I felt empty and unsure of how to go back to being me.

I’m sure the next few months were super hard for Trent, as well. I became overly obsessive, often spending hours reading others’ stories and all that did was make me more nervous. I obsessed about taking over the process instead of letting nature just run its course.

After a few months, I started to mellow out. Things weren't as hard; I was sad, but I was back to being hopeful. I was traveling a lot, which threw off my body’s routine. Since I was young, I had always had regular and consistent periods, but then one month I didn't get a period without the hopeful positive pregnancy tests. I called my doctor and was about to start a new medicine that kick starts your period, but then it came the next day. As silly as it sounds, I had always been able to rely on my period, but even that was failing me now which made me feel even more anxious about it all.

The following month, I got home from Paris after a 10-day work trip during which I thought I had ovulated. I assumed that we had missed our chance for the month.

Fast forward three weeks and I was in California with my assistant, completely exhausted and not able to keep my eyes open past 8 p.m. I remember thinking it was weird that I was so tired, but I had just gotten home from Paris and my body was really struggling to get back to normal. I flew straight to Iceland from California for a girls’ trip with my mom and some family friends. The entire time, I had a sore back, was pretty tired, and I didn't start my period like I was supposed to on the trip. I texted Trent frustrated that my period was, once again, going to be off. While I thought there was a problem, Trent thought that I could be pregnant. I kept thinking no way.

Before taking off back to the States, I decided to take a pregnancy test right there on the plane that I had from California, because I already took one before Iceland! I went back to my seat and waited for the results. The guy sitting next to me became my cheerleader and was really great to have because I was sitting away from my mom. The result came and it was a positive! I was dying. How was it possible? I mean I was barely home the previous month! I wrote my best friend because I didn’t want to just tell Trent over text, but I had to tell someone! I then texted my assistant to help me get donuts to surprise Trent with the news, and then just cried on this flight home of happiness. After the first miscarriage, I was so doubtful, but now I had gotten pregnant twice! This time was going to be different. My body knew how to get pregnant and it was just going to be different. I knew it.

I got home from my flight and I took one more digital at home and it was positive. This was really happening. June 30 was my date. My baby was coming. It was so hard to keep it from Trent, my mom, and then my friends who I was with all day the next day!

The following day, I just had to tell somebody else, so I told another friend in hopes she would come record me telling Trent the big news, she was out of town. That night I told Trent with a box of Banbury Cross donuts that spelled out “pregnant.” We both were so happy. The video of the reveal still makes me tear up. We both agreed it would be different and we would share with our family and friends, even though we knew that something could happen like last time, but we wanted to celebrate instead of keeping it to ourselves. We headed up to Park City to celebrate our anniversary, and I told a few friends that weekend as we chatted, and felt so much love and support. On Sunday, we told our families and a few more friends and were elated about this little miracle.

Monday, I went and took a blood test so my OB/GYN could track my HCG levels. My score was higher than I had registered during my first pregnancy, which was a relief. We were on a good track. I kept telling Trent I just wanted to make it to each week and celebrate. I told my close girlfriends that Tuesday morning and just felt like a million dollars.

The day before, I had a little spotting, but I had had this before and it looked just like implantation, so I brushed it off. I went in for a second blood test on Wednesday to make sure I was okay with the bleeding, and that day I just giggled all day long knowing I had a baby in me. I was driving home that night at about 5:30 to meet Trent to go see one of my favorite dance performances, Thriller.

As I was driving home, I got a call from my OB’s nurse. Immediately when I picked up, I could hear it in her voice. She was wrong. There was no way. Then she broke the news. My levels had dropped more than half.  I just fell apart. I was miscarrying again. Why why why?! Why me? Why this? I couldn't understand. She said she'd call me the next day and hung up. I called Trent immediately. I was hysterical to say the least. I remember just being so upset. Why did this happen? Trent rushed home from work. I texted a friend and said, “I lost it.” Three words that changed my life just as much as saying “I'm pregnant.” I then told my sister and mom, which felt pretty devastating because we all were so excited. The love poured in. I wasn't ready though. It was like I couldn't accept it yet. I was so mad at my body and at myself for letting this happen. Obviously, I had no reason to be mad at myself, but the feelings are so real when they’re happening. I just remember screaming and crying asking why, and just almost not believing that it happened. That night, I just was empty. How do I deal with this? We had shared the news with friends because we wanted to celebrate all that we could, so I let them know the news. I didn't want to talk about it, but I also didn't want people asking me how the pregnancy was going when it was gone.

That night, we stayed in together and just let it sink in that another miscarriage was coming. I luckily didn't have a ton of shoots that weekend because I had set aside time for the holiday, so I was able to hang low. Every day got a little better in some aspects and a little worse in others. I would feel good and deal with it well, and then I'd also feel so broken and sad. I still feel pretty sad as I write this, but much better than last time. I learned to lean on friends, one of whom has dealt with multiple miscarriages, so having her and her support made the world of a difference.

Looking back, I am so glad I told my friends and family when I did. I got to celebrate in this amazing moment and although it's gone, I am happy I got to celebrate my pregnancy. I would do it the same all over again, and will when I get pregnant again.

A few days later, I actually had the miscarriage. I thought I was okay, but that day hurt more than I think I want to admit. We had an appointment that week with my doctor, and I was told that everything still says I am completely healthy. There’s a possibility that I’m not done with miscarriages, but pregnancy is so unpredictable, so it’s difficult to know what will happen next time. We know I can get pregnant, so now it's just about staying pregnant and I am grateful for the small victories. We also made a plan with my doctor to try baby aspirin and progesterone to hopefully help make the next baby stick, and truthfully all we can do is just hope and pray that next time we have a better outcome.

This is what I leave you with: everyone's story is different. I'm so happy for the women who get pregnant and never have any scares, but I also feel so much for the women who do. We all will have pain, and whether it’s small to the rest of the world, it's big to us. I've lost both my babies at five weeks, I have friends who have lost theirs after a couple months, and I know women who have lost them very late in their pregnancies. No matter what, you lost a baby, and that is heartbreaking. So, don't be afraid to talk about it. Find your support system and educate others on what you are experiencing. Just remember that no matter what you did it wasn't your fault. You can't cause miscarriages and you did everything right. Whether you've had one or ten, it hurts. People might not get it but your world falls apart. Just be patient with others and yourself and forgive yourself for anything you might blame on yourself. For me I relied on prayer. Prayer gave me relief and gave me a sense of comfort in knowing that things happen and there are always new paths open. I hope this post has been helpful to some and given peace to others who are searching for it.

Most importantly, know that I feel your pain and I send all my blessings to you that I can from my heart. Regardless of how far along you were, you were pregnant, and you had a baby on the way, you still feel all the grief. 

Stay strong and keep the hope.