Category Archives: miscarriage

The Complexity of Grief

As I stand outside, the cold wind sneaks through my jacket, causing the hairs on my arms to raise and my body to shiver involuntarily.  The glades of the grass glisten with frozen water drops and I hear the soft crunch, crunch of cold grass folding under my children’s running feet.  I tighten the blanket that holds Amelia’s little body and bring her closer to me.

The wind stirs up a memory deep inside as the tears make a path down my cheeks.  Gasping, I remember.  September 8 marks the 2nd year anniversary of my second miscarriage.  In another month, the first year anniversary of miscarriage # 4 will also come and go. Conflicted, I hold Amelia – my miracle – close and wonder about the complexity of grief.

*****

“Your miscarriages have changed you,” Ben tells me one night as I remind him of these anniversaries.  “Since having them, you see the world through a different lens.”

He’s right.  I am no longer afraid of death.

When my grandmother passed away, I wondered why I didn’t cry tears of sadness.  At the time, I felt I had cried too many tears over the last year that I didn’t have any grief left inside.  I recognize now that there was a different reason.  My grandma struggled for years with Parkinson’s disease.  Her mind quickly gave way to dementia and she was no longer the Grandma Alice I grew up with.  Her passing indicated that her time on Earth had ended but her time elsewhere had begun.  (I like to think of her dancing with the clouds, as graceful as she once was.) This will happen to me, to my dear Ben, and to my much loved children. Naturally, like all parents, I hope my children outlive me.  But I understand all too well how my hopes don’t always match with reality.

*****

Amelia is my miracle, I don’t doubt that. Yet when I think of her, I wonder how this happened.  I have far too many friends who suffer through recurrent miscarriages and heartbreaking infertility in which answers are unlikely.  So why did I suddenly have a healthy pregnancy that ended with a healthy, beautiful infant?  I didn’t deserve it more than my other friends whose hearts are hurting and whose wombs are barren.  I also don’t believe that if God exists he selectively chooses who he’ll heal.

*****

Creak, Creak

The rocking chair sings a lullaby with me as I rock Amelia to sleep.  The words to her song flow from my lips as the melody calms her shaking body.  She is sick and tired and just wants to rest, but doesn’t know how to sleep through pain.

I longingly look at my bed.  Emily and Andrew are sprawled out while Ben is huddled at the edge, clutching at the blankets the kids have not taken.  I smile, despite my exhaustion, and think about how quickly time passes.  Soon the long nights will end and Amelia will look as grown-up as her older siblings.

I suppose perspective mixed with grieving is a great anecdote to sleep-deprived panic, though I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone.

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Feeling Free, Feeling Good

After a considerably hard weekend, I decided to take two days off from work.  Sickness and pain were my nemeses and I had only one remedy: sleep.  I also made some dietary changes and limited my food to saltines and soup with the occasional sandwich.  For whatever reason, these switches have positively impacted my after miscarriage stuff. While I am still feeling slightly ill, the back pain is almost gone and my mind is just about free of fog.

It’s strange, really, to have these excessive emotional highs and lows–to go from hating life to feeling excited for tomorrow.  Hell, I’ll take the positives, they keep me going and my world incredibly interesting. Eh, I guess I can handle the lows if they make life exciting and this couldn’t be possible if there isn’t one (or two, or 10) sh***y day a week.  I know because my Guide to Life says so.

(What is my Guide to Life?  Well let me tell you.  Nah, I’ll just redirect you.) (This book is on a pedestal in my household and we read from it religiously.  RELIGIOUSLY I say.  It’s my replacement bible.)

(Speaking of the bible, Emily comes home singing new Christian songs that she has learned in preschool about once a week.  My favorite is God Is Great. She sings this every meal time while Ben and I sit and laugh.  It’s just so darn cute!  Also, she doesn’t like it if I try to change the lyrics to “Emily is great!” or something similar.  I guess she thinks I’m being cynical.  Where would she get that idea?)

ANYWAY.

If my life were a musical, I would be singing “The Hills Are Alive” or “Defying Gravity.” If only I could attach wires from my brain to the TV so my amazing thoughts could be transmitted to the BIG SCREEN.   Picture this:  Me, in a beautiful dress, singing and dancing my way through life.  It would be priceless.  And entertaining.  Mostly entertaining.

(Have I mentioned that Emily dances like a Hip Hop star?  I guess my regular Zumba work-outs HAVE taught her something.  Like how to shake her hips and booty.  I feel slightly guilty in encouraging her but, frankly, it’s hilarious to see my 3-year-old shaking her thing better than most pop stars do.)

AHEM.

I return to work today and I feel like doing some jumping jacks–I am THAT excited.

Is this what feeling free–from anger–is like?  If so, I really like it.

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Why Miscarriage Isn't Simple

In life, events have scripts.

After giving birth, a woman is pampered–she sleeps as much as possible, people bring meals, the boss expects her to take time off of work, etc.  People like to see the baby and are typically conscientious of what the mother needs.  In reality, all mothers and fathers know how those first few weeks are more exhausting than any other point, but the script is still available.

If a person experiences an unexpected death in their immediate family–spouse, parent, child, grandparent–concerned family members and friends surround them and provide food, cleaning, and whatever else they need.  They take time to grieve and people give them space to do so.

But if something happens that has no script, what do we do?

Take this miscarriage.

After I started bleeding, I went to work.  I figured that the harder I worked, the less I would think.  I ignored what was happening inside my body by focusing on things and people I could help. I accomplished what I set out to do: I successfully ignored the miscarriage, only thinking about it when I needed to share the news; however, it didn’t alleviate the physical pain or the increasing morning sickness.

The difficulty with a miscarriage lies in the ambiguity.  I enjoy research.  When something is happening in my life or in my immediate family’s life, I like to find out all I can so I am fully informed.  That way, when I meet with a physician, I can ask appropriate questions and answer their questions with specifics that will help with diagnosis.  I observe, I document, I form my own hypotheses, and I try to find the root cause–even if it means my opinions are wrong.  With a pregnancy loss, there are no specific answers.  There isn’t a FAQ sheet I can look at to make sure everything is going okay.

For example, my primary care physician sent me to the ER last Tuesday. I went, they did tests, and found what could be leftovers from the miscarriage.  They insinuated that I might have to have a D&C and encouraged me to make another appointment with my Primary physician.  I did, explaining that I was still feeling very ill and hurting as much as before.  He listened, patiently, and decided to talk with my Ob/Gyn to see what he suggests (as he is the specialist for this kind of thing). My Ob looked at the ER sheets, called back, and explained to the doctor that my hCG levels were very low and that a D&C at this point could do more harm than good. He then asked me to return to the office if I started feeling worse.

But what if I don’t feel any better?

At this point I feel resigned to not having any answers.  I would like to focus on healing, but where do I start? I didn’t have a live birth; instead, I bled and cramped until all the remnants of the primitive placenta and embryo were discharged.  So what is the script?

  • Should I take time off from work?  If so, how long?
  • When can I expect the “morning sickness” to go away?  If it doesn’t, what should I do?
  • How long will I cramp?  Will my back ever not hurt?
  • When can I start exercising again?  Should I have stopped?
  • Is mental confusion typical (i.e. fuzziness in the brain)?  What causes the mental confusion and how can I decrease the negative effects so I can work and parent again?
  • Where is the What to Expect When You Miscarry book?

For a research-minded person, like myself, this experience is incredibly vexing.  A doctor will be the first to admit that there is limited miscarriage research and the reasons behind recurrent miscarriages are almost impossible to detect.  I did everything I could think of doing when I had my second miscarriage.  My doctor and I discussed options, ordered blood work, and felt that this was only bad luck.  When I became pregnant the third (really fifth) time, I was put on progesterone, had weekly blood draws, and went through several ultrasounds.  After that miscarriage, Sue ordered more blood work and with great frustration exclaimed, “what is going on with your body?”  I felt so glad that someone, besides me, had these feelings.

Naturally, with this being my fourth, the irritation is mounting.  My Ob/Gyn called to make sure that I would be coming in so he could “figure out why you keep miscarrying.”

I’ve never really had the desire to write a book; weird, I know, for a blogger.  However, I am seriously considering collaborating with an obstetrician to write a go-to book for women that miscarry.  Maybe something good will come out of all these losses.

But the answers for my case may or may not be forthcoming.  I do know that I’m tired of this experience.  I would like to put it all behind me, but my body refuses to let go of whatever it is that is keeping the morning sickness alive.  So instead of moving forward, I am stuck in a place that I hate: ambiguity and bed rest.  I have to take time off of work because I can’t focus on anything.  I forget what I am saying mid-sentence.  I feel dizzy, nauseous, and in pain–like a clamp is stuck to my lower back, sending waves of pain whenever I move, sit, or do anything.

Sometimes I really want to sleep and not wake up.  At least the pain and sickness would disappear.

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Apathy Toward Loss and Life

Deep within my heart is a hiding place.  In it resides the four pregnancies I have lost.  I don’t know what to do with them.

They are lost, like me.

I feel empty more than sad.  Like a spoon has slowly scooped out my emotions and left me bare.  As I try to pinpoint my exact feelings, I am faced with more confusion.  I guess I feel beyond questions like “why me?” or “why has this happened again?”  The likelihood of finding answers is signficantly low and I don’t really have the energy do to so.

According to one website that I frequent often–and found after my second miscarriage–my chance for having a normal pregnancy is 43%.  That is not a promising number.

A dear friend reminded me, though, that I must continue on, that life is not as desolate as I feel.  She encouraged me into action, so I made an appointment with a doctor to see if they might find what my other physicians didn’t: an answer.  Again, in 50% of cases like mine, there is no discernible cause.

The appointment is a few weeks out and I have no idea what will come of it, but I guess there’s nothing to lose.

The website I mentioned above also provides a very accurate list of what women might experience after miscarriage:

  • disturbed sleep and eating patterns
  • unexplainable tiredness
  • unexpected tears
  • disturbing dreams and mental confusion

I would also add,

  • extreme emotion–anger, sadness, happiness, etc
  • feeling betrayed by your body and/or by God (if you believe in a higher power)
  • wondering if you should have done something different and feeling guilty for little things you feel you could/should have changed

When a miscarriage is your second, third, fourth, etc, things change.  It seems–in my experience–as the miscarriages add up, the more distance I’ve placed between myself and the situation.  This is proof in how I announced my pregnancy to the few people I told: “Well, I’m pregnant; since I probably only have 3 weeks left, I’m not too worried about sickness and other symptoms.”  Talking about it with my usual dose of sarcasm was my way of coping with previous losses and steeling myself against the possibility of another one.

Somewhere on this website, the authors mention a sense of ambivalence when a women finds she is pregnant, again, after suffering multiple miscarriages.  There seems no point in seeking a connection with the growing embryo when your body will spontaneously abort it soon.

I find myself wondering at how I will cope with this one.  It sounds weird, but I feel confused (see? mental confusion) and unsure of what is going on in my head and heart.  I feel tears behind my eyes, but no desire to let them through.  I suppose it seems that tears are unnecessary;  I’ve been there, done that, and feel like a broken record when I speak about my loss to anyone.

And I really dislike the word miscarriage.  It comes off my tongue with spite, like the very word is poison.

Let this post indicate to you how I am doing.  I just don’t know.  One minute I am seething with unknown anger, the next I am listless.  I feel pointless.  Not like I am worthless, but like I don’t have direction–my thoughts, my purpose, I just don’t know what I am doing or where I am going.  Even at work, I will sit at my desk and think for 10 minutes about what I need to do.  It’s strange, really, because it isn’t connected to religion or whatever, it’s connected to this loss that I don’t understand.  A loss that most people don’t grieve over, publicly, and many people aren’t fully informed about what it involves.  It’s almost like we, I, are trying to force our way into the parent category of the child/infant loss group.  People will roll their eyes at my grief, suggesting it really isn’t that bad.

And maybe it isn’t.

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Hello, Goodbye

I really enjoy choosing titles that have dual meanings.  Like this one.  It’s me saying good-bye to Nablopomo, officially (and early, again).  It also means saying good-bye to something else that many of you weren’t even informed of yet.

Hello Pregnancy

I found myself unexpectedly pregnant a few weeks ago.  As this would be our fourth attempt at a third baby, I was quite pessimistic about the outcome.  However, my body gave me many indications that this one would stick: I was horribly sick; I started losing weight (from sickness); my back, hips, and, well, everything ached all day long; I was excessively emotional–crying, laughing, angry, and sassy;  and my bladder did not have much room (that’s a nice way of saying I was peeing constantly).

After a couple weeks of this, with things gradually progressing as they should, I even allowed hope to slip under my blanket of negativity.  My husband and I started considering names and other exciting things (like how we would do the birth, where we would place the baby, etc).

Goodbye Baby

Everything changed on Tuesday night.  Unexpectedly, I started spotting.  Now, spotting doesn’t necessarily indicate miscarriage; however, in my case, it has always led to more bleeding and, eventually, miscarriage.  So when I saw that, after having a great evening with my husband, everything fell apart.  I fell apart.  Deep within in my heart, a sob rose.  When it released, it took me a while to realize it was coming from my mouth.

The next morning, I made the split-second decision to go to work anyway.  I knew that I was miscarrying and I couldn’t stand the thought of staying home with nothing to do.  As expected, I started bleeding heavily with a bit of cramping.  I only broke down once the whole day–that is, until I went home.  I ended up falling asleep at 8 pm.

As for today, everything intensified.  I had to leave work because pain medicine was not working.

Emotionally, I just don’t know how I feel.  I do feel the typical anger, sadness, betrayal, and bitterness.  But I phase through each so rapidly that it’s hard to determine how I am feeling at any point.

I do have a general sense that nothing is right in my world.  To explain what I mean by that would be impossible, but I suppose it accurately represents how upside down and inside out I feel.  Or, as a good friend said, disbelief and denial.  Like I am living a nightmare that  I will hopefully wake up from soon.

Fantastical thinking, I know.

And there you have it.  The cold, hard truth.

On that note, I will not be closing the comments this time; however, I will not be responding to any correspondence yet.  Maybe over the month I will find the energy to do so.  Right now I am just trying to live and not fall into a hole of despair.  So. Yeah.  That’s all I have.

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The Persistence of Thoughts

The kids run, they play, they laugh. I watch, I listen, I giggle.

Inside, I wonder: Will they be it for me? Is my body done?

I have no way to know.  No fortune-teller reading my palm and telling me, with an honest conviction, what my future holds–kid, kids, and more kids.

My womb, it’s empty.  My heart, it’s aching.

Have I tempted fate too much? When is too much?  Two children, three miscarriages, what now?  Do I stop?  Do I wait?  Do I hope?

Prayer.  Sometimes I wish I could rely on God, but He has let me down.  Too often.  With the idea that if I do as He asks, certain blessings will follow.  I did–still do–but I know the truth and can no longer be fooled.  It is much easier to believe in a higher power in the Universe than to believe in a God that allows so much pain and hurt–not just in my life, in those around me, in those women and men’s lives that I don’t know around the world.  The suffering of the children from hunger, abandonment, rape, and so much more.

I prayed my heart out.  I had blessings–several.  All pointed to something I thought I heard: I was doing the right thing and would soon be holding a healthy baby.

Wrong.  Three times over.

But, in my heart, I want a baby–babies–still.  The chaos, the messes, the crazy days are what I crave. I am in a better place, much more mentally and emotionally stable; however, when does it become over-kill (excuse the unintentional pun)? When does one stop? Miscarriages, pregnancies, all these things are not easy–on the body or the psyche.  Is it worth it to drive me to the brink of insanity, a place in which I am teetering on the edge already?

A fortune-teller.  That is what I need.  With other things in my life–employment, school, and growing–I have at least a basic outline.  I know things can change, on a whim, but those changes will be relatively expected.  I do not know, unfortunately, what our family size will be; it is unrealistic, and a bit silly, to expect that I, of all the infertile women, will have the gift of a healthy pregnancy soon.  See, there is a possibility that I will, but there is a possibility that I won’t.  And that is the truth, a place I would rather be than to misplace my expectations on a slim chance.  I mean, I did tell myself that if I had a third miscarriage, I would not try anymore because the pain would be too intense for me to try again.

This is where I wish I could be okay with my two kids.  I am happy with them, overjoyed that they are in our family; however, I can’t shake the feeling that there is an empty space, empty spaces, that need filled.  I want it to go away, beg that it will go away. Instead, I remember my dreams, my hopes, my desires, and those memories refuse to desist in haunting me.

Possibilities in life are endless, but sometimes I wish I could just know the outcome for one thing.

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And Life Goes On

With a heavy heart, I put him down.  His need for me to hold him as diminished.  I want to kiss his cheeks, but he is too busy with his toddler agenda.  And my mind wanders into the “if” zone.

If I had known my womb would reject baby after baby…

Would I have kissed his sweet, newborn lips more?

Would I have endured those night-time feedings with more patience?

Would I have lived with more love and less resentment?

Would I have less regrets now because I had lived purposefully and in the moment then?

I don’t know the answers.

*****

Today marks the one year anniversary of my second loss.  Or at least writing about it.

*****

I thought I was okay.  It’s been well over 4 months since I had my third loss, but I guess that grief is still oozing from my heart. In swells.  At first it was anger, bitterness, and so many other loud feelings.  It petered off to rejection and a forget-this-I’m-strong attitude. Now the deep sorrow has set in.  I can’t hear of another pregnant woman without waves of sadness sweeping over me.  I try to ignore it, I do, because I am very happy and excited for them.  However, my thoughts are overwhelming.  I am afraid to leave the house because little things might open the dam of tears.

Oh depression, please leave me be!

*****

I once thought things were simple.  My life, as I knew it, was perfectly planned out.  But the physical and emotional pain over the last year threw my soul into a rather-be-forgotten rut.  No, this isn’t about detours or how God has other plans, it’s about biology and how sometimes there is no damn reason for why our bodies do certain things.  Or why, after two healthy, albeit tough, pregnancies I can’t seem to grow another.  It also doesn’t explain, well, a lot. Something I won’t go into, yet.  Too dark for a Friday.

*****

How do you celebrate an anniversary of loss?  Right now, I’m thinking food and love.  But dear Ben has his first major exam for medical school on Monday and will not be around today, tomorrow, or Sunday.  I will be alone.  With the kids.  With my thoughts.

So we will continue with our regular routine: eat, clean, make messes, clean some more, eat, and bed.  Maybe some fun sprinkled in, but, in my current state, highly unlikely.

Happy Friday everyone.  Have some fun for me, okay?

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