I had a miscarriage on February 22. (Please know that if you are struggling with infertility, pregnancy loss, or currently pregnant- this post might be hard to read.) It is long, because it is my heart poured out all at once. I’m sharing this picture- and only this picture- as a reminder that brighter days are ahead.
how i got pregnant
I always paid attention in health class, but they only teach you how to avoid pregnancy. We started trying to start our family right after our wedding in 2019. I’m proud that we were patient in the year that we tried on our own. We were excited, but calm about it. “It’ll just happen when it happens!” I said month after month. I truly believed that. While we always wanted a baby, we are firm believers in the old saying that ‘good things come to those who wait.” I made small changes to help improve fertility naturally. I changed my diet. In addition to cutting out dairy, I also cut out caffeine and reduced gluten and alcohol. I upped my supplement regiment to support fertility. I began acupuncture, remained active, and made time to destress each week. My cycles were sporadic, but I was realistic about the damage years of hormonal birth control could have done to my body. I wanted to give my body time. I’m glad that I did.
After 6 months of trying, I went to visit my regular OBGYN. She ran some blood work and did an ultrasound. She confirmed that everything seemed fine. That being said, she told me if we wanted, she could refer us to a fertility specialist since my cycle seemed irregular. We had a great conversation, and we decided we wanted to wait the full year that ACOG suggests. We didn’t want to unnecessarily put my body through fertility treatments if would happen on its own within that year.
Once we hit the one year mark, we decided to move forward with a consultation at Reproductive Medical Associates in Norwalk. We heard such great things, and we knew we would be in good hands. We started slowly with a consultation and then scheduled our tests over the next few months. No major issues were detected on our testing, but my ovulation was sporadic. This was why those stupid at-home kits drove me up a wall. I just kept praying we’d be one of those couples who got pregnant in the middle of fertility testing. That wasn’t us.
In late 2020, we decided to move forward with medicated IUI cycles. I became pregnant from our January 2021 cycle. We were shocked that it actually worked. I spent January and February feeling so grateful that our struggle to get pregnant had come to an end. In fact, it felt silly to use the words “infertility’ as I know many people who struggle for years and years. I felt silly complaining about our 20-month struggle that suddenly felt so short.
what happened on february 22
I taught that morning, and I felt horrible. There was something that was so strange about the beginning weeks of morning sickness. I felt like garbage, but I was so grateful. Every morning I woke up feeling so incredibly lucky that I was finally pregnant. Some women never get to experience this, and I felt so blessed. I looked at the calendar and said, “Okay, a few more weeks and we’ll tell everyone!” It seemed so close.
I took a half-day from school, met Ben at home, and we headed off to my ultrasound. Because we are fertility-center patients, I was being monitored closely. This is something else I feel infinitely grateful for. I had blood labs every few days and was able to see our thriving, little blueberry-sized baby on the sonogram screen at Week 6. It felt real from that first positive beta result.
That day, we took a video on the car ride to the doctor’s office. I have been documenting all of our appointments in the hopes of showing our child someday how much work it took to bring him or her safely into the world. Those minutes contain sheer happiness and joy. As impossibly painful as that video is to watch now, I am glad we have it. It shows just how excited we were to become parents.
20 minutes later, I would find myself on the exam table looking at a screen and hearing the words every hopeful mother dreads. “I’m so sorry, but the baby stopped growing. There is no heartbeat today.” Although Covid forces me to attend all of my appointments alone. I wasn’t alone. Ben was there on FaceTime and a familiar doctor and nurse were with us. I will never forget the doctor’s compassion or the nurse’s support as she held my hand. I cried and couldn’t help but repeat, “I’m sorry.” to Ben over and over again. In that moment, I knew it wasn’t my fault, but it sure felt like it was. It still feels that way sometimes.
As I left our fertility clinic, I walked down the stairs and saw Ben standing there. I had complete tunnel vision as I grabbed his hand and pulled him out the door. I kept my head down, walked as fast as I could to the car, and slammed the door behind me. In that moment, I completely lost it. I’ve dealt with the passing of loved ones before, and I always cried. But, this was different. This was the only moment I have actually wailed. I’ve never experienced such an emotional pain that radiated physically through my entire body. I thought once I let it all out, that I would feel better. I didn’t. I spent the next few days in complete shock unable to eat, sleep, or speak without becoming a pool of tears.
What happened? I wish I had some sort of answer to that question, but the reality is- losing our baby boy through miscarriage has left me with more questions and lots of confusion. While genetic testing after our loss yielded no detectable chromosomal abnormalities, our doctor is convinced that is what caused him to stop growing. I can Google a million different potential reasons, but, at the end of the day, we trust our doctor.
how i’m feeling
Physically, I feel like my body has been to hell and back. On the day of my d&c, my hormone levels were still extremely high. Even my body didn’t realize the baby had died. I was an emotional mess, could barely eat, and didn’t sleep for over a week. I bled a lot during the surgery and had to be packed afterwards. Subsequently, I got a bladder infection in the days following. Needless to say, the last two weeks of February were a bit of a blur. My levels continue to drop. With each day, I am able to be a bit more active and feel like myself again. I plan to continue acupuncture as it has been incredibly beneficial to me over the last two years.I never realized all the little changes a pregnant body makes, even after only a few months. All of those changes have gone away, and I miss feeling pregnant.
Emotionally, I am getting there. I started therapy. I am grateful to be able to spend an hour each week talking through my emotions and starting to heal. I feel like a different version of myself, and I’m coming to realize that is okay. This version of me cries a whole lot.
I’ve always found such joy in being a teacher, but this whole experience has made me see children in a different light. I didn’t think it was possible to adore them anymore, but I do. They’re all miracles. I see their parents in a new light, too. The idea of doing absolutely anything for your children, I get it now. Being back at school has offered the best distraction. I’m grateful to be surrounded by such incredible little people each day. (And big people, too. My coworkers have been amazingly supportive.)
Ben’s joke has always been that he is “Husband of the Year.” Anytime he takes out the trash or helps make dinner, he proclaims, “I’m Husband of the Year.” He has earned that title this year more than ever. He has always been my best friend, but he has taken things to a whole new level as we navigate our fertility challenges. Ben has been there for me 100%, and I will forever be grateful to him. He insists on Facetiming in to every appointment. It’s crazy how something like this has brought us closer together in the most intense and amazing way. At our wedding, our priest reminded us that we should love each other more with each day. My love for Ben continues to grow tenfold with each passing day.
what is helping& what hurts
One of the most powerful things has been hearing other women share their stories of infertility and loss. Although I can’t compare our struggle to anyone else’s, it helps me put our journey into perspective, and it makes me feel less alone. It is a sisterhood and a recognition of, “I’m 1 in 8, too.” (Or the 1 in 4 who experience a miscarriage) I am so grateful for the people who reach out to share with me. We have been wrapped in such compassion, love, and support. I am trying to focus on all of the amazing words of encouragement and support we have been given over the last few weeks. To be completely honest, it can be hard sometimes. I often find myself focusing on the negative and hurtful conversations, rather than the incredibly supportive ones. I am trying to write down anything that bothers me so I can acknowledge it. Then, I throw it away and try to move forward.
Sharing where I’m struggling is not written with the intention to make anyone second-guess things they have said to me personally or someone else dealing with pregnancy loss or a fertility issue. I want to be open and overly honest about the things that trigger me. I realize that 95% of people say things with good intention. While intention matters, it can still hurt.
I never thought I’d be that girl who cries scrolling her Facebook feed filled with baby pictures. But, on February 22, I became her and that’s okay. I am genuinely happy for my friends who are pregnant or new mothers. I truly mean that. I know when our day comes, I’ll want to share it, too. But, I am human. It is hard to hear about hatred for C-section scars or stresses as a new mom right now. I’m trying to be there for my friends, but I’m fully aware I can’t do a good job right now.
A week after it happened, a friend asked me, “Oh, did the doctor know you were doing CrossFit?” That stung. Not only did my doctor know that I was doing CrossFit, he encouraged me to get back into the gym after I spent the first three weeks terrified to move. I modified the heck out of my workouts and felt confident that moving my body was the right thing to do.
It has also been hard to listen to someone share with me about her five-month struggle to get pregnant while she stood in front of me 8 months pregnant. Also, being told, “We made an appointment with the fertility doctor, but canceled it because I got pregnant.” has been a tough one to swallow. A lot happens between trying to have a baby and the stage we are in now. Perhaps it would have given me hope a year ago. (And I had more than one woman tell me this, by the way.) Saying that, “You will be pregnant again, I just know it!” is such a kind sentiment. I know it is being said with the intention of boosting me back to the optimistic person I usually am. It hurts sometimes. I was already pregnant. I want to be pregnant with this baby boy. We didn’t just lose our baby, we also have the reminder of our infertility diagnosis looming over our heads when we try again.
So, what should you say? Rereading the paragraph above, it seems like there’s not much that doesn’t upset me these days. I fully realize the last month has made me an irritable, overly-sensitive, difficult ball of emotions. I can imagine I’m not the easiest person to be around right now. I won’t be her forever. What has helped immensely is when my friends who haven’t been here, say, “I’m so sorry. You are strong. I am thinking of you.” And for my friends who have been here, hearing your stories makes me feel not-so alone.
We keep pushing forward. We ask tons of questions, do our own research, but trust our doctor when he advises us on our next steps. (Side note, Dr. Richlin at RMA has wrapped us in intense support and knowledge with a side of humor. I will never forget his kind words of support before my d&c. And, just as I started to dissolve into a puddle of tears, he made me laugh by telling me all about the Coldplay concerts he watches on YouTube. This journey would not the same without his guidance and constant reminders to keep our eyes on the prize at the end- a healthy baby here on earth.) We thank our lucky stars for being able to get pregnant at all. We continue to remind ourselves of all the love and support that surrounds us from our family and friends. We keep our heads up and constantly remind ourselves, “We will be parents.” We have decided on our next steps in the coming months. Bottom line- we will just keep going.