My Miscarriage Story
After struggling to conceive, in January 2018 I finally learned I was pregnant. I got four beautiful positive pregnancy tests. I was nauseous. I was exhausted. I was bloated. Everything felt as it should. I had no indication that anything was wrong.
My first ultrasound was at 8 weeks. We went in excited to hear the heartbeat. What we heard instead was my doctor say “I’m going to tell you right now that this doesn’t look good.”
I should have been two days shy of being 9 weeks pregnant. The ultrasound, however, showed that the embryo had stopped developing at 6 weeks. My body, on the other hand, carried on as if everything was okay.
My doctor checked and checked but there was no heartbeat. The pregnancy was over.
Looking back, I did have one sign. That morning of the ultrasound, I woke up feeling less nauseous. I barely thought anything of it. I was almost to 9 weeks, after all. I thought maybe the nausea was easing.
I sat in the exam room and felt numb. I could feel Danny gripping my arm, but I couldn’t look at him. If I looked at him, all the emotions would come. I just kept my eyes focused on my doctor.
She explained I had three options. Option 1: I could get a D&C, which is a minor surgery. Option 2: I could wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally, which could take days or weeks. Option 3: I could take a medication that would induce the start of the miscarriage.
I immediately knew I didn’t want to do the surgery. That felt too impersonal, too clinical. Nor did I want to sit and wait for it to happen on its own. What if it happened at work? And so I choose the medication.
I continued to sit there in numb disbelief while my doctor described the process. Words floated through my foggy brain. Heavy bleeding. Contractions. All the while I kept thinking that this couldn’t be happening. There must be a mistake.
And then it hit me: we would have to start all over again. The blood tests. The fertility meds. All of it. I felt overwhelming exhaustion at the thought.
The ride home was silent. I tried to process my new story in my head. I no longer had a baby due in September. Though I was still technically carrying Baby M, I was no longer growing a baby. It was over.
The emotions finally flooded out in hysterics when we reached my parents’ house. Telling each and every family member was painful and left us both an emotional mess each time.
This all happened on a Wednesday. For various reasons, we decided to wait until Saturday to take the medicine. And so for the next two days, I sat at home in a fog, constantly alternating between numb disbelief and hysterical crying.
Saturday morning came. We had specific instructions from my doctor. It would take several hours for the bleeding to begin. We were told exactly what was too much bleeding and other signs that I should go to the emergency room.
Danny and I tried to make the best of the day. We sat on the couch all day and watched old episodes of Friends and The Office. We watched Lord of the Rings and the winter olympics, which had just started the night before.
At first I felt nauseous. I got really cold. Then later diarrhea began. Later still the cramping and bleeding started. It wasn’t much at first. At its heaviest point that evening, it felt like I was peeing blood. Danny sat on the rim of the bathtub and held my hand through the worst of it.
Then it was over. The bleeding eased. Blood clots continued but were much smaller. Everything had been manageable. I never felt like I needed to go to the ER. We were able to make the day as comfortable as possible.
The following Tuesday I had an ultrasound to check that my uterus was clear. My doctor could see what appeared to be some blood and tissue that hadn’t passed yet, but she said that it would over the coming weeks. In the meantime, I could go back to running and my normal life activities. The only other thing I had to do was get a blood test done every week so my doctor could monitor the hCG hormone level in my blood. (The hCG hormone is the pregnancy hormone that gives you a positive home pregnancy test. It takes weeks to drop after a miscarriage).
I threw myself back into running and strength training. It helped me cope with the emotions, and I was determined to get stronger for the next pregnancy.
Each week I got my blood test done and the hCG remained stubbornly high. My body seemed to be as reluctant to let go as I was. Finally, 4 weeks after I took the medication, I came home from a run to find I was bleeding heavily. I called my nurse the next morning, thinking this was the bleeding my doctor said would happen. My nurse instead said it was my period.
This is the part of a miscarriage that I was really unprepared for. The nurse warned me that the bleeding would be heavy and could last ten days. Any of the blood and tissue left behind would finally pass. Cramps would be worse than usual. Although I could wear a tampon if I wanted, she highly recommended using maxi pads so that I could easily monitor how much I was bleeding. I was once again told what was too much and when to call the doctor's office or go to the ER.
And so began the period from hell. I’m not one to usually take ibuprofen during my period, but I was taking it every few hours to deal with the cramps. One day the bleeding got so heavy that I had to call my nurse. She sent me to the hospital on my lunch break to get a complete blood count done to make sure my body was handling the heavy bleeding. Luckily it was. My body was managing.
I kept working. I kept running. I kept dealing with the blood clots and the cramping. About seven days after it began, I got home from work and realized the bleeding had increased again. That evening I was finally able to pass the tissue that had still been lingering in my uterus. It was both fascinating and horrifying and felt like going through the miscarriage all over again, except this time I was mentally unprepared for it.
After that the bleeding slowed. The hCG level in my blood finally started to drop significantly. The worst was over.
Eight weeks after my miscarriage, I got a call from my nurse saying that the hCG level was finally down to a negative level. Once we were ready emotionally, we could start trying to get pregnant again.
Although we did start trying right away, and I did eventually go back on Clomid again, it took a long time to heal emotionally. There were days I was okay and there were days I was not okay, and it took me a long time to understand it was okay not to be okay.
Five-ish months after my miscarriage, we got pregnant again. Although to this day the emotions from the miscarriage are still raw, this current pregnancy, more than anything, has helped me move on.
Looking back, I think that I was lucky. My miscarriage story could have been so much worse. I didn’t wake up in middle of the night surrounded by blood. I was never hospitalized. I was able to hear the terrible news from my doctor, who calmly and rationally explained what was happening. I was able to manage everything at home, and I had family in town who brought us meals and helped us through it.
At the end of that first ultrasound when we heard the horrible news, my doctor said, “I’m going to say this last because I want you to remember it. You did nothing wrong. There’s nothing you did or ate or drank that caused this to happen.”
It’s what I needed to hear and what every women needs to hear.
So let’s keep talking about miscarriage. Let’s keep sharing our stories.