Surviving Miscarriage

Surviving Miscarriage

On paper, the last year has been golden. My husband and I bought our first house, I quit my job to blog full time, and we welcomed Boots into our lives. On paper, it was rainbows and sunshine. In reality I’ve been living a different life. Let me explain. Just a warning that this post is going to be longer than usual and gets a bit graphic. I’m not writing it for sympathy or to be looked at as a victim. I’m writing it because the few and far between posts like this helped me get through the last year in surviving a miscarriage.

Last summer, Anel and I decided to start “trying” to get pregnant. We were young (I was 29 at the time), healthy, drank green juice, and worked out so I figured we had nothing to worry about. And I was right! In two months (last August) I got pregnant. It was so easy and seemed too good to be true… It was. Being the type A woman that I am, the day after we found out, I called a realtor and started looking at houses. I knew that I wanted to move into a real house before we had the baby so thought I’d get on it before the pregnancy got further along. We looked at a few houses and put an offer on our current one a few weeks later.

We were living high, smiling at all times with so much joy in our hearts. That same weekend we hit the road for my friend’s wedding in Provincetown. My best friend Katie had gotten pregnant the same week and we were both going to the wedding so we had a lot to talk about! It was one of the best weekends of my life. Being surrounded by my best friends in a gorgeous place, knowing that a beautiful life was growing inside me made my heart feel as though it was going to burst. The night of the wedding, I was spotting but didn’t think too much of it as a lot of my friends had reported similar stories in their early pregnancies. I was nervous, for sure, but when the next morning it stopped, I tried to stay calm.

On the drive home, we stopped at my aunt’s house in Rhode Island to say hello and use the restroom. That is when I miscarried for the first time. Imagine your period but aggressively intensified. There was so much blood and the cramps were unbearable. I called Anel into the bathroom and we just stood there in utter shock, not knowing what to do. No one at the house knew we were even pregnant since I was just barely 7 weeks in so we swiftly said our goodbyes and headed out the door. The minute the door shut behind us I crumpled onto the car, sobbing.

My sister stayed with us that night and the next morning she took me to the doctor who confirmed that I had, in fact, lost the baby. Seeing my empty uterus on the sonogram was a crushing visual that I’ll never forget for my entire life. I took the day off from work (I was still working full time) stating a family emergency, and spent the day in and out of tears. We drank a bottle of wine which was my saving grace. When Anel came home from work that night, I think we hugged for 15 minutes without letting go.

I was absolutely devastated and felt completely empty inside. Not figuratively but physically empty. I decided to go back to work the next day because I had no idea what else to do or how to even begin understanding how to survive a miscarriage. I remember going to the bathroom to cry every hour or so that day and every day that week. I wasn’t sure who to tell or how to feel.

The next few weeks were a blur of deep sadness like I’ve never experienced before. I told close friends and family about our loss but no one really knew what to say or how to act. After a while I realized that my miscarriage story made people uncomfortable and that wasn’t their fault. It was because so few people actually talk about it. No one shares their stories. As a woman, carrying a child should be the most natural thing in the world so when you feel like you can’t do that properly, it’s almost shameful. For a while, I felt that way about myself but have since changed my views.

Since we had put an offer on the house, we decided to move anyway as we loved the property. Moving was tough. Anel and I were fighting a lot because I felt like he didn’t understand how I could be so upset two months later. The move just about broke me. Broke us. Two weeks later, however, I realized that my period was late and I tested positive. We were in such a bad place and I was still crying daily so it just felt off. When I showed Anel the pregnancy test, he didn’t believe it. That same day we flew to San Francisco for Thanksgiving. At the airport, I miscarried for the second time.

This time, it was different. I had only had a few hours to get excited about the pregnancy and it was still so early that it was far less painful. But in a way it was almost worse. The first time I figured, “this happens to people all the time, I’m not too worried about the future”. But this time it felt like there was something seriously wrong with my body. Thanksgiving was a mess. I was so so sad and literally told Anel that I wanted to stay in California. In my mind I wanted to just run away. From him, from my life, from everything. He brought me back down to earth, thank God.

The holidays were hard. At Christmas, we went back to my aunt’s house (the scene of the first crime) for my cousin’s engagement party and just being there was almost too much to handle. I cried myself to sleep that night, like many other nights in the previous months. Around that time, I saw my doctor and got tested for everything under the sun. All of the tests came out clean and medically I now know that there is nothing wrong with me. That made me feel even more like it was my fault somehow for losing the babies. A few times in December, I woke Anel up in the night, crying in my sleep.

In January I decided that I had to make some serious changes. I was working with Aimee, an acupuncturist and fertility specialist in New York City, and she kept reiterating that my work schedule was not conducive to getting and staying pregnant. After many conversations, I decided to quit my job so that I could focus on blogging and consulting, cutting my work hours in half. It felt like I was on a new path with a new lease on life and everything would finally be ok! In addition to working with Aimee, I started back up with my hypnotherapist to working on calming meditations. Anel and I saw a couples counselor. Things were on the up and up. I was hopeful and I finally felt a glimmer of true happiness again.

We started “trying” again with no luck. Every month when I got my period, it was like a stab in the heart. Now it just didn’t make sense. I was calmer, sleeping through the night for the first time in my life, meditating, working half the hours, and connecting with my husband in a new and beautiful way. Why wasn’t it working?

Last month (May), Anel and I decided to “take the summer off” to enjoy the weather, glasses of rosé, the few trips we have planned. Since then it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and I think it was the best decision we’ve made in a long time. May was also the month that our first baby was due so I knew it would be extra hard for me emotionally. My best friend who was due the same week that I was had her perfect beautiful little boy and, although I couldn’t be happier for her, it hurts my heart to think about it too much.

In the last few weeks, seemingly all of my friends are getting pregnant (something that happens in your early 30s) and every time someone else tells me that they’re expecting I’m simultaneously excited for them, and sad for myself. At first I felt guilty for having those feelings but it’s natural and now I allow myself to fully feel them.

Today, I feel hopeful for the future but also feel very lonely in my own body if that makes any sense. We could get pregnant in the fall or in three years, who knows. At every party I go to or family friend I see, someone inevitably asks me when we’re going to have kids. I’ve learned how to plaster on a smile and say, “Soon, we hope” and then excuse myself to regain true composure. I don’t fault anyone for asking. I mean I’ve been married for four years, I’m turning 31 next month, and we bought a house in Connecticut. It makes perfect sense!

I don’t plan to talk about this journey again on Lemon Stripes (with one exception, my Snapchat Q&A today)  until I have a healthy pregnancy but I wanted to share my story so far in hopes that it teaches women to speak up about their experiences, to change the discourse and not feel ashamed of their bodies or their paths to pregnancy. I wish I had been able to read a post like this when I first started trying. I was so naive about how it all worked.

If you have a friend or family member who has experienced miscarriage, here are three things you can do to help:

  1. Check in on her every few days for at least a month. Send a sweet quote and just let her know that you’re thinking about her.
  2. When you speak with her, ask her how she is feeling and let her talk about it for as long as she needs to.
  3. Send a card. My friend Eva (whose blog post inspired this one) recently posted about these thoughtful miscarriage cards. I would have loved to have received one…especially this one.
  4. Share this post, or one like it, with her so she knows that she’s not alone.

If you’ve survived a miscarriage yourself, I encourage you to share your story even with just a close friend. Whatever feels comfortable for you. I promise, that is what will help the most. You never know, that person may have gone through the same thing. I know that once I started opening up about it, friends that have healthy babies finally shared their stories with me as well. I was shocked at how many times that happened and those conversations brought me back to life.

What I’ve learned in the last year is that while I may want to control everything in my life, there are some things that are truly up to a higher power (God, The Universe, whatever you want to call it). I know 100% that we’ll be parents and I just have to be ok with waiting a while longer. There are days when I accept that and there are days when I sob just thinking about it. But in my heart and my gut, I know that we’ll be ok.


Update, June 2017: I finally got pregnant again in October 2016 and am due with a baby girl in July 2017! Read more about my fertility journey and what worked here. Keep the faith!

Update, August 2017: Amalia Louise, our rainbow baby, was born on July 24th. Read her birth story here.

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