Thursday, April 2, 2009

On Miscarriage



Often people are surprised that I've had a struggles with infertility.  A mother of six?  How can that be?  After my third baby was born I experienced more than a few miscarriages before and between the last three pregnancies, ranging from week 6 to week 15.  I was diagnosed with "unexplained infertility"-in other words, after extensive testing there is no known reason for my miscarriages.

Miscarriage  and fertility issues never even entered my mind when I became pregnant for my fourth time, as my first three pregnancies were issue-free, and I had three beautiful perfect babies to prove it.

At twelve weeks pregnant in my fourth pregnancy, with two 'beating-heart ultrasounds' under my belt,  I was a little put out when, at a routine office visit, with an older ultrasound machine, my midwife couldn't find a heart beat. She wanted to send me across the parking lot to the medical office where they had state of the art ultrasound machines. She didn't seem too concerned, and looking back, either was I. But the fancy ultrasound couldn't find the baby's heartbeat either.  

My midwife came over and confirmed the baby had died, and we talked about options as I cried, still in shock.  I told her I wanted another ultrasound as I couldn't wrap my head around it. I had just started feeling better finally-I struggled with hyperemesis with each of my pregnancies and I had just made it out of that difficult time of pregnancy-I was ready to enjoy the next six months and couldn't wait to meet this new little one that we were all so excited for.  She agreed, God love her, and ordered another ultrasound and I went to a different office, a better machine, another doctor. He was so kind when he confirmed what I think my heart already knew-our tiny little baby had died.  We were devastated.

In the end the miscarriage sent me on a hormonal roller coaster I could have never imagined.  I had told everyone that we were expecting a baby, of course, and had to untell, while I was physically and emotionally feeling so much pain. I was happy for the support at the time, but I felt really vulnerable constantly. I remember I had heard about the stages of grief and it was like clockwork for me.  It was hard.  It was difficult to hear pregnancy news from friends and relatives, it's difficult to feel hope when despair has a way of taking over.

Never would I have thought this would happen to me over and over again-but I was gifted with three more beautiful babies with me here on earth-three successful pregnancies during those years of experiencing many losses, and although the pain and loss was heartbreaking, it left me with something in it's wake-such a deep appreciation for the ability to have a baby.  What I once took for granted years ago with my first three, I would never take for granted again.

I know many women experience miscarriage, and although I know all of our experiences are quite unique, in the end I would give this advice:

1. Look ahead, not behind.  Find hope and cling to it!  'What if's' and 'why me's' and 'it's not fair', don't get you anywhere but the bottom of that deep dark well. (I've been there, I know how daunting it might seem to climb out.) Acknowledge your loss, because you deserve to-you have lost a new life, your baby. The best you can do is feel the sadness but find a way to keep looking into the future. Sometimes the future is blurry, but invent one for yourself.  Move forward...it is the only way out of the pain.  A part of the loss is knowing you will never again have a "worry-free" pregnancy-that naivete and innocence is a loss too and has to be acknowledged.  I remembering physically shaking going into to get each of my ultrasounds and not one day went by during each pregnancy where I didn't think the worse could happen. 

2. After I had read a book on miscarriage and pregnancy loss, I realized that there are many women who have beat unbelievable odds, and have been through much much more than I could have ever imagined.  It helped put my experiences into perspective.  There are some strong strong women out there, and their experiences gave me hope.  You might know or will meet people who can comfort you because they truly understand what you are going through. 

3. Don't trust anyone to do your medical research for you. Read everything you can get your hands on, even if it is scary. (This book is excellent.) Tests are cheap compared to the pain of loss. If your doctor tells you that you "have" to have three losses before any testing, run for your life. Find a midwife or a doctor who acknowledges your loss and takes it seriously and help you find answers, if there are any to be found. A couple gallons of blood, some serious cycle charting, and you can't believe what you can find out.  Be your own best advocate-ask questions, insist on seeing a specialist if you feel like something is not right.  Be very wary of the fertility industry, it IS an industry.  Be careful when presented with choices.  I am a Catholic and have a deep deep respect for life, from the moment of conception.  Knowing where I stood on issues, and recognizing that some of the tests and procedures offered were roads I most definitely would not travel helped me choose doctors carefully, and ask important questions. 

4. Through our struggles we find deep appreciation and gratitude that sets us apart from other.  You can read more here.

28 comments :

  1. Such a moving post. I'm so sorry you & your family had to go through that. Sometimes we just have to accept God's will without knowing the why.
    Thanks for sharing, I'm sure there is someone experiencing the same thing right now that this may help.

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  2. This is heavy and hits a little close to home for me. My dad and his wife lost a baby when she was 5 months pregnant. That was the first time I think I ever saw my dad cry. I can't imagine the pain that comes from a miscarriage.

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  3. Beautifully written Sarah. It brings back painful memories. It is one of the most devastating things a woman can go through. Hopefully this post will bring hope to someone reading who is going through a loss of her own, and will realize that she will get through it.

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  4. I'm so sorry you went through this. I know this was hard to write.

    My son's daycare teacher just had a miscarriage last week-one of the other teachers told me. I didn't know what to say when she returned, so both my son and I told her we missed her while she was gone. I didn't feel right bringing it up, I hope that was okay...

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  5. Oh Sarah, I know... thank you for posting this. I think it's so sad that we still don't really talk about it, it's a burden we have to shoulder so alone. I know you love and miss that baby and think about him or her even after years and years, and I'm sorry.

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  6. I am usually just a lurker, but had to comment on this. Thanks for sharing your story. It is hard to do, and is something that is incredibly common yet not talked about much. I can relate to your feelings being in the NICU- I wrote about feeling those same things in a NICU here:
    http://3cutekids.blogspot.com/2009/03/i-once-considered-stealing-baby.html

    Thank you for this post. It spoke to me today.

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  7. HUGS to you Sarah, what hard decisions you had to make in such a painful time. Can I ask a personal question? Did you name the baby, because I would like to pray to him/her since they would be a Saint.

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  8. Hugs to you and thank you for sharing your experience. Your story shares with others that having a D&C is just an option, and an option with risks, although many people just go along with their doctors wishes as they think it is the only option.

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  9. Sarah, thank you for sharing this. My sister in law has had 2 miscarriages, I am going to share this with her. Thank you for speaking from your heart.

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  10. My miscarriage would have been baby number three. I never saw a heart beat. Was just 6 weeks along. However. I felt much like you described. I mean, I had two kids, and was pretty much sure that when you look at the ultra sound you get to see a heart beat.
    And there was none.

    Wait..what??? Can't be. I ALWAY see a heart beat!

    I very quickly realized the two miracles I had waiting at home for me. I felt ashamed. Like I had taken these gifts for granted.

    Baby number three DID finally come...and on the day I saw my doctor for my first check up, she noticed "something" on my husbands neck.

    He was diagnosed with cancer just two days later.

    SO...........lesson learned for me. Trust in the Lord. Everything for a reason. I believe the baby that DID happen saved my husbands life.

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  11. Wow...tears. I am so glad you were motivated to post this. I know all too well all the feelings that you have talked about, and I am so sorry that you have had to go through this as well. I have had many miscarriages and it never gets easy. It is such a difficult thing to go through and most of us go through it alone. I thank you for being so brave to talk about it. I have wanted to talk about my experience, but I haven't yet. It is heavy, and I think I would overwhelm people with my whole story. So thank you Sarah, for being a voice for many of us.

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  12. Sarah, I know we've discussed this topic ad nauseum over the years, but I'm still glad you posted this. I'm certain you could help someone understand the pain, shock, heartbreak of miscarriage who otherwise would not.

    I know it's so hard to talk about, and even harder (for me, anyways) to hear the platitudes from people who mean well, but just have NO CLUE. By miscarriage #3, you kind of learn who to tell and who not to tell, don't you?

    Thanks for mentioning Ivy, too. That means a lot to me.

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  13. Hi Sarah,
    I'm a fairly new reader, love your blog but haven't left a comment yet. Thank you for sharing this. Like you said, it's so hard not to regard a miscarriage w/ a no-big-deal approach if you haven't gone through it. I'm not at that point in my life, but have friends who've gone through it and this helps a lot in trying to understand what it's like.

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  14. What a great post. I to have experiences a miscarriage at 8 weeks pregnant. It is the hardest thing that I have ever gone through and I cried for days. I miss that little one I often think about how old he/she would be at what things we would be experiencing with our little one. The amazing thing is that our two older children are 18 months apart and we just had a baby boy in June of 2008. So the one we lost and our new baby would have been 18 months apart as well. Just the way I always wanted my children. God had other plans but my heart still aches for the child that I never got to hold. Very powerful post. I seen it on my blog list this morning but didn't think I could handle reading until now. I still tear up at the emotional journey it takes each mother on. Have a great day!
    Sarah

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  15. I'm so sorry.

    I know it must have been hard to write this. I did a similar post last week, and ended up taking it down, because I felt so vulnerable. Plus, I hadn't told more than two people, and it was hard to have it out in the open like that.

    I know it helps others, though, when you are able to share. Thanks for posting.

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  16. Kami and Rachel....trust me, I scheduled this for Monday, then delayed and delayed, thinking, who wants to read this stuff...but in the end I really thought it happens to so many people and so many people also give it little thought. It is dismissed by many as nothing unusual, but IT IS AWFUL.

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  17. My heart goes out to you in this day.
    I stop by every once in a while...The fear of loss, especially of children, is the biggest one I have..

    I had a friend who lost a little boy at 6 months, she had to deliever him..He would of needed to have open heart surgery upon arrival, but things were 'meant to be', if you say.

    But now she has beautiful twins (boy and girl) who are healthy and 9 months old.

    Keep up your wonderful post! You are inspiring.
    Much love from California.

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  18. I am so sorry to hear that you had a miscarriage.

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  19. I have so many times wanted to post about my trials with pregancies...several miscarriages and an etopic pregnancy...I can't bring myself to do it because I know there are people out there that read my blog, that I don't want seeing that vulnerable side of me, but it does scar you for life in so many ways...and you go on, but you never ever forget what might have been. I feel those losses will haunt me for the rest of my life.
    I was in a very similiar situation with others having babies and it was VERY HARD....nobody REALLY knows just how hard it was for me. Thanks for sharing your story. (((HUGS)))

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  20. Hey Sarah! You are such an awesome writer. I thought I was going to have a miscarriage with Lucy. I was like 16 weeks along and I thought I would surely die if it was true. You just get so bonded to that baby by then. I had all the signs. But somehow it all worked out. Oh it's all heart-wrenching though. I'm so sorry you had to go through that!

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  21. Oops, this is really Shawni, signed in as my daughter Elle. Sorry. She's keeps signing in on my computer.

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  22. After reading yor post, I was not surprised to find you keeping it real once again.

    Bravo, Miss Sarah. You help people more than you know -from the seemingly unimportant (crazy blogging) to the wildly important (your post today).

    Laura

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  23. I'm actually going through this right now. I'm supposed to be 10 weeks along except the baby hasn't grown since 6 weeks. There is a heartbeat but it's very very slow. I'm trying to let my body do it's job, but it's getting harder and harder. Today has been a rough day. Thanks for the post.

    www.apositivesign.blogspot.com

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  24. Coming from someone who has had two miscarriages within the last year, I understand and empathize with what you went through. It's amazing the different emotions a miscarriage can bring out in 10 different women. But one thing I have heard from most women is that it is something they will never forget. It changes you in a way you can't explain. I have written about mine a couple of times on my blog. It has definitely helped me, as does reading and hearing of others experiences. Thank you! Here's a link to my first miscarriage post. Hope it helps.

    http://tenderandcrazeyeme.blogspot.com/2008/09/just-those-few-weeks.html

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  25. Our miscarriage journeys are almost identical. I had 3 in a row... and I had two children already. The first miscarriage I opted to wait and not go with the d&c and ended waiting what seemed like forever for my body to comprehend that the baby had died. So many other similarities in our stories, right down to progesterone being what I took for my 6th pregnancy, that resulted in my now 10-year-old healthy boy.

    Anyway, it was quite a long time ago for me, but I couldn't believe how similar our stories are. It must affect more people than we realize... whatever it was that makes our bodies need the progesterone...

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  26. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your miscarriage story. I've been a follower of your blog for years & never imagined I would ever need to read your story. After having 4 normal easy pregnancies I have recently had 2 miscarriages (one with twins) & I found myself remembering this story you had shared. I just had my most recent miscarriage this past week. Your story has given me hope in this hopeless situation I find myself in. And it has just helped to read your story & know that I am not alone in my pain, fear & heartbreak. Thank you for sharing.

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  27. Sarah I have followed your blog for years. Today we buried our baby Joseph after 19 weeks alive in my womb. He was beautiful and perfect and his short life has already changed me. My other children are 6, 4, and 2 years. I found myself going from fearing that I would be the old women in the shoe to now fearing that I won't have another. Your words about motherhood are so spot on. We must live every moment and be present for our children. Thank you for your words about the beauty of life! And please pray for us as we heal over our lose. My God give another child to raise here on earth!

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    1. Jessica, I am so so sorry for the loss of little Joseph. I will pray for you as you heal and for your whole family. I think the greatest gift God has given me in a way is the children he wanted back right away-they gave me something only those who go through the pain can understand-a greater appreciation for life, for my children here on earth, a tenderness and understanding for mothers who experience infant loss, etc etc etc. A quote I will never forget from a blog author who wrote about the loss of her child was how difficult it is to mother a child in heaven-I never thought about it that way, but we are always that child's mother, no matter where they are, and it's something we will feel everyday-that pain of loss. Please keep hope-keep looking forward-you will be blessed again.

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