The Miscarriage Club
*Hey everyone: This post is a bit of a deviation from my normal posts, but it’s what’s going on in my life right now, and I think it’s an important message for me to share.*
I went to a private Christian college, devoid of sororities or fraternities. Since the communication department (my home for all four years) was small, clubs like the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) struggled to thrive; and I personally never had much interest in student government. Consequently, when my peers list the organizations they belonged to in college or my brother laughs about his days as a frat boy, I have nothing to add to the conversation. No professional affiliations to list on my resume. No memberships besides the gym.
All of that changed this week, when I became one of the newest inductees into a group that approximately one in six women have the misfortune of joining: The Miscarriage Club.
I found out I was pregnant two and a half months ago, after three different urine drenched sticks manifested an unmistakable plus sign, double blue line and the word “Pregnant.” My emotions at the time were those of shock (we had only really been trying for one month…Hello, Fertile Myrtles), elation (after all, we were trying) and that undeniable “Oh Crap” feeling in the pit of my stomach that stemmed from wondering if Hubs and I were really ready to be parents (and probably from a little bit of pregnancy-induced gas).
Our friends and family were thrilled for us, saying things like: “You’re gonna be such an adorable pregnant lady” or “You’ll have the cutest baby!” (As a woman, you know the first statement is a lie, but one that all girlfriends must tell each other so as to ease the pain of the impending bodily changes. As a couple, you pray that the latter statement is true because as much as they tell you you’ll fall in love with your child no matter what his or her physical features are, you also know deep down that you’ll recognize if he or she comes out looking like a treasure troll.)
I went to my seven-week appointment giddily anticipating coming home with the ultrasound pictures that all of my friends have hanging on their refrigerator and was disappointed to learn upon arrival that my doctor does not do ultrasounds on the first visit. But as a newly pregnant, slightly anxious woman, I begged and pleaded with him to do one; and he (surprisingly) obliged. After what seemed like 15 minutes of playing around in my uterus (if you’ve ever been pregnant, you know what I mean), he showed me a circular object on the screen and said, “Well, I can’t see the fetus, but that’s the gestational sack right there. Don’t freak out. It’s probably just too early for us to see the baby.”
Once again, if you’ve ever been pregnant, you know that the phrases “I can’t see the baby” and “Don’t freak out” do not go together; and I left the doctor’s office with my mom on speed dial, tears in my eyes and my car headed straight for the nearest phlebotomist to have them check the HCG levels in my blood. To my (slight) relief, the doctor called about 24 hours later to tell me that all of my blood work indicated that there was, in fact, a baby in there and he felt we should proceed as if everything was normal with my pregnancy. My next ultrasound–set for 10 and 1/2 weeks (this past Tuesday)– would tell us more, but he (once again) saw “no reason to freak out.”
Now, I work for a website. Technology pays my bills and powers this blog; but let me tell you that the Internet–in all of its informational glory–is a scary place for a pregnant woman. In the three weeks between my first and second ultrasound, I Googled every possible problem associated with phrases like “can’t see baby at seven week ultrasound,” “gestational sack, but no baby” or “signs of a miscarriage.” After doing my research, I came to the conclusion that I had a 50-50 chance of being pregnant or having what is medically known as a blighted ovum.
This past Tuesday, Hubs and I went to my second ultrasound appointment. As soon as the perinatologist, who is apparently only called in this early if your doctor suspects problems with your pregnancy (this should have been my first clue that my doctor was not taking his own advice about “not freaking out”), walked into the room, I informed him (blurted out?) that my OBGYN couldn’t see the baby at seven weeks, so Hubs and I were prepared for the worst.
For the record, the term “prepared for the worst” is a lie, because even if you are not shocked by bad news, you can never be “prepared” for the emotions you will feel after you actually receive said news. Between his look of intense concentration and the concentric circles the ultrasound equipment was making on my stomach, I knew almost immediately that the perinatologist couldn’t find a baby either. Eventually, he turned to Hubs and I, showed us a small mass on the screen and said “This was your baby. Unfortunately, it looks like the pregnancy only made it to about three or four weeks and due to what was probably chromosomal or genetic abnormalities (the most common cause of a miscarriage), it terminated itself.”
I was then given three options: 1.) Wait for the pregnancy to pass on its own 2.) Take pills to force the pregnancy to pass on its own or 3.) Schedule outpatient surgery to have the pregnancy removed by a doctor. I elected to go with number three as I have friends who have miscarried “naturally” (which sounds like such an oxymoron) and said it was rather traumatic to see the fetal tissue coming out of your body; and taking pills to speed up that process seemed rather barbaric and kinda like I was aborting my child.
I had the procedure done yesterday and am now home and processing all that has happened this week. I intend to “verbalize” that processing in upcoming posts because a.) writing is how I deal with my emotions and b.) I have been blessed with women who were courageous enough to share their own miscarriage stories with me, and I want to do the same for others who might need someone to talk to or share with.
Between now and my next post (no guarantees as to when that will be exactly), if you have had a miscarriage or know someone who has, feel free to read/share the following tidbits of advice that you/they may or may not find helpful:
1.) There is nothing shameful about having a miscarriage. It does not make you any less of a woman and is not an indication of how successful you will be at carrying a child or being a mother in the future.
2.) People handle loss in many different ways. You may be handling your grief differently than your husband, friends or family–and that is ok. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel, whenever you feel it; and don’t put any pressure on yourself to be stronger than you are or put any guilt on yourself because you don’t feel as sad as you think you should.
3.) Let people do nice things for you. If you’re like me, you’re always the one who brings people meals or sends a card or makes a phone call when something is wrong with them. Even though it may be difficult for you to let people help you (e.g.- bring you meals or flowers and call you just to check in), let them do it. This is truly what friends are for.
4.) Communicate your emotions with your husband and try to get him to communicate with you. Trials either make or break a marriage. If the two of you are having a difficult time talking with one another about how you feel, I strongly suggest going to see a counselor who can help you sort things out. I have been to counseling before, and there is nothing shameful about that either.
5.) If you are going through this alone–or feel you are all alone– please feel free to contact me at jenn (at) thestylegeek (dot) com.