What the world tells you about miscarriage is silence. Is this unfair to say? Yes it is. People can’t reach out to you and support you if they don’t know. For the people that we actually told, we mostly got support. Is it unfair to hold that information to yourself and expect that other people will pave the way for you in society by sharing their painful stories? Yes it is. I can’t expect other people to share their miscarriage stories, when I am too ashamed and sad to share my own. A double standard, clearly, but one that is hard to navigate inside your own head let alone sharing those things out loud.
What the world doesn’t tell you….
When the ultrasound tech starts the ultrasound and decides to switch gears and goes out of the room so you can get undressed and says be back in a minute, but it takes 10 minutes – expect the worst. She has gone to get the doctor to deliver the news that is coming that she doesn’t want to say. It isn’t her responsibility to shatter dreams and hopes and tell you that your prayers didn’t work. When she comes back and says doctors like to be in the room for the test (but you have already had ultrasounds in this facility and know they don’t – unless something is wrong). It is ok to let tears fall after she comes in and she says sorry for the delay but she was waiting on the doctor to come out of the room he was in to “let him know you are there.”
That the doctor comes in the room and is squinting at the empty sac turning his head like a German Shepherd puppy (minus those amazing cute floppy ears) trying to see something that isn’t there and trying to come up with the words to soften the blow. When you say from the exam table “the sac is empty” and he breathes almost a sigh of relief that I already know the inevitable, so the next words coming out of his mouth won’t be the complete shock he thought they might be.
That his hasty retreat from the room isn’t to be rude (at least in our case) it was to research my chart and try to provide answers once we are moved to an actual exam room.
That after this kind of news the ultrasound tech changes her tone and won’t make eye contact because she looks like she wants to cry with you. That her “I am so sorry” was the first of many at the office and had pain behind it because she knew that she was instrumental in bringing this reality to light and even though it isn’t her fault – changing our lives for the worst.
The walk of “shame” from the ultrasound room to the patient room to talk to the doctor is one of the most emotionally difficult walks there is. Wallowing in the floor sobbing was not acceptable when that is what I wanted to do. Punching the wall and leaving a dent was not acceptable when that would at least give me some outlet of frustration. That tripping the next person that walked by smiling was unacceptable (granted that would be mostly unacceptable any time) but when you are that sad and frankly pissed off you don’t want to see happy people. In the matter of one minute from US room to exam room all of these emotions slam into you like a semi barreling down the highway. People staring at you trying to decode the tears as you attempt to slow the sobs.
That even when you felt like you knew what the answer was going to be, that it would hurt just the same.
That behind the closed doors clutching your spouse those emotions just turn into tears and sobbing. Angry tears, sad tears, devastated tears, frustrated tears, dreams ending tears, jealous tears, distraught tears, failure tears, shame tears, what if tears. They streak down your face like the ocean leaving a salty streak that you won’t notice for hours.
That for a few minutes you would be grateful for the time alone with your spouse to cry and be alone so you can wrap your head around things and process before the doctor comes in to talk to you. But after a few minutes you would wish and hope the doctor would just hurry and come in so that you can leave and escape this place.
That when he comes in he talks to you, not at you, and he apologizes over and over. His compassion is there and as you are sobbing you cling to his compassion and that holds you together for the time being.
That when the smiling check out girl takes your encounter form and looks at you and asks how you are and you try to be polite and say “I’m ok,” then she looks at the form and sees the code for miscarriage and she stops smiling and says “I am so sorry” with such sympathy. Then she excuses you from the rest of the check out process so you don’t have to be in the “baby office” anymore since you don’t have your baby.
That when you call to cancel your next OB appointment and the f/u from the miscarriage appointment, the person on the other end offers to pray for you and that is nice, because you are having a hard time finding the right words to say to God.
That you want to sleep. When you sleep, you don’t feel the cramps and you can escape from the pain – physically and emotionally.
That with each passing “milestone” you think, if you lived you would… (be certain gestation, size, due, first holidays, age, etc).
The cramps are horrible and add to the emotional aspect. The bleeding is horrible and gross with clots and just weirdness. That your cervix opens to pass the “biologic material” or “biologic remains of tissue” – and you can feel it. That the only time you will ever “hold” that child is when you wipe them away.
That there is an emptiness, a new broken, and your heart hurts. Each time it beats there is a searing pain.
That there is a grief so deep and wide. And aiding that grief is that shame. That you don’t want to tell other people because it would make them sad. That our road has already been a difficult one and people supporting us don’t need to add one more chapter of sad disappointment to it. Telling people would lead to those looks of pity. Telling people would admit to the failure that happened. Not that you did anything (so to speak) wrong, but that things went horribly wrong and you had no control to stop it, to protect your child. That you don’t want to tell people because you don’t know if it would ever happen again, and the added stress of people asking you if you are pregnant again would just add to your anxiety and shame if it actually never did happen again. That asking would emphasize that you lost something already. That you would interpret people asking that question to mean that your baby that is no longer here doesn’t matter and possibly never did. That I wasn’t far enough along for me to really care or be upset or for “it to count”. That people wouldn’t understand that a loss is a loss, and it is hard. That your grief goes beyond the physical loss and extends into the loss of dreams and ideals. That the hopes that were tied up in our MKB were lost and with that comes a profound grief as well.
That they can tell you to “try” again and there is complete fear in that simple word. We didn’t try in the first place and what if it doesn’t work. How invested do we get in opening up these old wounds? How far are we willing to go to prove this was or wasn’t a fluke? How much money are we willing to sink into this and add to the money we have already sunk?
There is so much to learn in the world of miscarriages. There is so much I have to tell myself, to remind myself it wasn’t my fault, even though when the world crashed down around me it certainly felt and some days feels like it is because I couldn’t hold it up. I have to remind myself that there is no shame in our infertility journey. That even though it is sad and heart breaking and that sometimes people don’t want to talk about Addy (and now probably MKB), because it is too sad, that it is our story no matter how broken and messed up it is and that is ok. That our children matter to us and we talk about them all the time. That even though our children aren’t breathing they live inside us. That broken can be beautiful.
As we approach my birthday for 2019, I remember those moments of joy and elation last year. I also remember the devastation that lead to my birthday boycott. In almost a years time, since our loss, Andy and I have been on a roller coaster with so many different things. Highs of Andy graduating and work done on the house to lows of Otis passing and the loss of family members and the uncertainty of was MKB just a fluke?
After the darkest and most horrible storms come a rainbow. We are excited (and yet cautious) to say we are expecting ours 10/6/19. Working with the doctors we tried again and just when I was about ready to toss in the towel we got news that we are pregnant. Our doctors are great and have done a lot of hand holding and double checking to make sure we are on the right track. I appreciate everything they are doing for us to keep us calm and reassure us. This excitement doesn’t erase our journey this far. This doesn’t make all of that “ok.” But it does help. It hasn’t completely healed our brokenness, but it has helped. This doesn’t take place of Addy or our MKB. This baby will know of their siblings in heaven, Addy that we saw and loved, and MKB that we felt and loved. While we are over joyed at this miracle we long gave up hope for, I am still feeling anger and bitterness towards God. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thankful for this chance at carrying a child and being a biological mother and Andy a biological father, but there is still this feeling of why. Why did it take this long? Were our prayers not good enough then? Why did Addy have to die? Why has this road been our road? Why did we have to experience so much heartache? Why did we have to empty our bank accounts before? Why did we have to go through the adoption processes? People saying that this was all in God’s plan or timing – they may feel that way, but to me that is not comforting. To me that minimizes Addy’s birth and death as well as our weeks carrying MKB and that tiny heart beat that stopped too soon. That takes away from their stories. That takes away from this long road we have been on. That makes it seem like we should just “get over” all that we have been through instead of allowing it to be part of our story, no matter how sad. This does not minimize the years we have dealt with infertility – this does not ease that hurt. It changes it – yes – but that sting lingers, as I have been told by other infertility friends it always will. My God is big enough to deal with my bitterness, anger, continued sadness, and lingering grief. He is so great that he can see those emotions and walk with me through them and at the same time see the joy and happiness and how thankful and blessed we are. He knows that my heart has been shattered to pieces and that while this fills my heart with so much joy there is that possibility it might never be entirely hole again. He is ok with that. He understands my fears that this will all come crashing down around me and that I won’t be able to breathe easy until I hold this baby in my arms. And that after that I will hold my breath as we reach each milestone until the day I take my last breath. He understands that this happiness comes from a road of pain and tears, and that we will embrace all of that road and will remember where we have been to get this far.
Infertility messes with your head. It creates self doubt and feelings of worthlessness. It has this taboo and shame that no one wants to talk about. I understand all of that. The statistics glare at you. 1 in 8 experience infertility. 1 in 4 experience child loss. I belong to both of those categories. This pregnancy doesn’t erase those facts.
We are grateful and blessed. Our journey is not over. Our road is not final. Our story starts with a new chapter. My heart still aches for the heartache of the past and wounds that have been open too long; but it beats for the hope and love of the future.