Thoughts on Pregnancy Loss, Two Years Later

NB: Today I’m going to be talking about my past pregnancy loss. I am also going to be talking about my subsequent pregnancy and living child. So if either of those are topics that you’d rather not hear about, please enjoy this picture of my cat and come back next week for more tea and frivolity.

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For those who don’t know, October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It also happens to be the month in which I personally became aware of the reality of pregnancy loss. I shared my original feelings in a post here.

Two years ago today, I went for what I thought would be my first look at our new baby. And then I learned how it feels when things go not at all the way you’d expected or hoped. It wasn’t a dramatic moment, but I will never forget sitting on that table, looking at the ultrasound monitor with my husband and the technician and hearing her say, “It’s a little… small.” She quickly walked it back and said we would see the doctor to discuss it. I’d spent enough time on pregnancy subreddits to know what my eight-week ultrasound should have looked like, so I sat for the half an hour that it took for the doctor to be ready and tried not to cry. I failed.

It felt like hours that we spent in the room with the doctor as she explained why she thought I’d had what is called a missed miscarriage, comforted us, and talked us through what came next. It turned into an almost-month-long process of trying different methods to pass the pregnancy, but that first moment of connection was, oddly enough, what cemented for me that I wanted to stay with this doctor’s office when I eventually got pregnant again.

That was the day I joined a club of really awesome people who have a really crappy thing in common.

I am not a naturally sunny or optimistic person. But I consider my miscarriage to have the silver lining of helping me not only realize how supportive my doctors were, but also to help me connect on a different level with so many people I already knew. Even at the lowest point in those first months, I had people I could turn to, and I was so so thankful. If you reached out to me or if I talked to you about my loss in those months, know that I appreciated it more than I ever expressed, even though I unevenly disappeared a lot back then. It hasn’t taken much to see the bright side of the situation.

Last year, my first pregnancy’s due date passed without remark because I was already pregnant and simply too ill with first trimester nausea to notice what day it was. A year ago, I was in my third trimester and on the edge of my seat, simultaneously excited and scared. The problem about pregnancy loss is that it’s not just about the pregnancy you lost. It is a stark reminder that, despite the reassuring statistics, you can lose your baby at any time. It’s a tough thing to deal with mentally when you just want to be excited, buy some cute baby clothes, and pee for the twentieth time in half a day. In a way, I was holding my breath the entire time I was pregnant with Elliot.

I felt myself release that breath the moment I heard Elliot cry in the operating room and the doctor pulled down the sheet for a moment to introduce me to my baby.

I would love to say that it all got better once my baby was born, but I’ve shared experiences on my pregnancy blog that would make you know that’s a lie. I will say that I have enjoyed every minute of being with this remarkable little being who made it through, even when I absolutely hated it. But it doesn’t erase my loss. And, somehow, seeing Elliot grow up has made me think more about the baby he wasn’t.

When Dan and I were talking about having babies, we would often talk about names. We had a lot of girls’ names we liked, and couldn’t agree on a boy’s name. I not-so-secretly hoped I had a girl. When I got pregnant for the first time, I wouldn’t have admitted it out loud, but I was sure I was going to have that little girl, and I knew what I wanted to name her.

Seraphina.

I am not a religious person, but that right there is dramatic irony. And when I got pregnant again and we discussed names, I knew that, even if this baby were a girl, I just didn’t want to use that name again. It wasn’t that it was cursed or bad luck or anything. It just… wasn’t the right name again. I also was much less sure that I was going to have a girl (although, I’m not one of those “I always knew” mothers — we had two names picked out, one for a boy and one for a girl).

So today, I’ll be thinking of Seraphina-who-wasn’t, and I’ll give Elliot-who-is a big hug and know that now it’s my turn to welcome new members into that really crappy club full of awesome people and let them know that it doesn’t go away, but it does go forward.

Where I’ve Been Lately (TW: Miscarriage)

NB: The short answer to the question “Where’ve you been the last month?” is that I’ve been dealing with a miscarriage. So fair warning — that is what I’m going to talk about. I’ll try not to be too graphic, but if you’re not up to hearing about pregnancy, miscarriage, and general health/mental health ickiness, you’ll probably want to just enjoy this adorable picture of my cat and not read any further:

So, hi. It’s been a while since I’ve had a regular posting schedule over here. I got going on my new segment and then stopped updating that, too. I haven’t even been able to put out a beauty or tea review in a while. And the reason for that is that I was pregnant and feeling crappy. And then, well, I wasn’t pregnant anymore, and feeling even crappier.

Miscarriage isn’t really something people talk about in normal, everyday life. Since I found out about my pregnancy and even more after my miscarriage, I’ve found this amazing group of women who have come to me and shared their experiences and that, yes, they know what I’m going through, and that, no, I’m not alone. So if you’re currently going through a miscarriage, you’re really, really not alone. So many people have been there and come out the other side. I’m not sure I’m entirely the best example because, even though I feel like I’m on the upswing, I haven’t even started trying to get pregnant again yet.

Alright, let’s back up to September. Mr. Tweed and I had been trying for a few months, and I was pretty sure this month would be more of the same. Until I got up early, peed on a little white stick, and there it was. Another line. I said something entirely unladylike and called the husband into the bathroom. We were thrilled. I called the doctor and made my appointment for when I would be eight weeks along, and then settled in for an excruciating four week wait. I started feeling occasional nausea around week six, and for some reason I completely lost my taste for tea and developed a wicked craving for coffee. My skin also freaked out and became very dry and sensitive.

Then, we got to the doctor and I got up on the table for the ultrasound tech and she put the transducer on my stomach. We watched as the monitor in front of us started showing images. And then we saw the sac inside my uterus… and not much else. The ultrasound tech made a somewhat disappointed comment, but said we should wait to see what the doctor said. But I knew what it meant. We sat in the waiting room for an excruciating half hour until the doctor was ready to see us. She confirmed the bad news: It didn’t look like much, if anything, was growing in my uterus. We decided to wait a week and come back to double-check. I cried a fair amount that week. After a week, it was more of the same. I got a packet of misoprostol and a prescription for strong pain meds, and went home to miscarry my pregnancy.

My experience with misoprostol was… anti-climactic. I had some cramping and some bleeding and some upset stomach, but nothing even as bad as my period usually is. I was confused and thought about calling the doctor, but opted to wait a couple of weeks. I mean, all my hormonal symptoms had gone away, and I had passed something. I spotted for the entire two weeks. Then, the night before it would be two weeks since taking the pills, I was having some weird cramping, so I put on a pad, just to be safe. Well, it was a good thing because at about 4 a.m., I was hit with a terrible wave of cramping and got up just in time to go to the bathroom before the flow hit. I called the emergency line for my doctor, where I was told to call back if things got worse. Things got worse. They squeezed me in for a same-day ultrasound and exam and the doctor discovered that I had not fully passed the pregnancy and scheduled me for a D&C the next day.

The D&C was almost worse in the hours leading up to it than the actual procedure. I’d never been under anaesthesia before, so I was nervous. But everyone at the surgery center was fantastic and I had no problem going under, or waking back up. I kind of wanted to go back to sleep after they woke me up, but Mr. Tweed was in the recovery room and got me up and talking while the nurse brought me water and ginger ale. After the anaesthesia wore off the next day, I got a bit more sore, but I never had to take any of the prescription pain pills. I was back at work the next Monday (although I had some pain the afternoon and opted to telework the next day), and I made it through Thanksgiving. I had some spotting for the next two weeks, to varying degrees, but almost exactly two weeks after the surgery, the spotting stopped. I had my post-op appointment and the doctor said everything looked fine. Four weeks and a day after my surgery, I got my period again.

And, well, that’s where I am now. At least, that’s what happened. You might notice that I haven’t talked a lot about how I feel about this whole thing. I mean, the short answer is “not great,” but miscarriage is so much more nuanced than that. I’ve been grieving, angry, sad, kind of secretly glad I got to have something to drink at Thanksgiving and Christmas, worried for the future, and absolutely terrified of trying to get pregnant again in case this happens again. It’s a bit of a mixed bag.

And, yeah, it hasn’t helped that the whole process has stretched out for longer than a month. I pretty much didn’t go into the office for about half of November. I’m just now starting to feel like life is getting back to normal. But I haven’t really been up to doing most things that aren’t absolutely necessary. I did get all my gift shopping done, but I’m not really feeling in the holiday spirit. I never put out my Christmas tree (all decorated, but still wrapped up in our storage room). It’s just… really not how I thought this holiday would be this year.

But I’m climbing out, slowly but surely. Exercise has helped a lot, as has giving myself permission to skip things that I don’t feel up to doing. I’ve watched a lot of Netflix when I’m not either exercising or at work. But I read a book earlier this week, which was nice. And I’ve been reading some stories for a new¬†“Tea and a Story” segment, hopefully later this month. And Mr. Tweed and I have gone to a couple new restaurants for our food blog. Like I said, it’s a slow and steady return to normalcy.

I wish I could finish this up with some sort of advice, either for people who are going through this, or people who want to support people who are going through this. But I guess the only thing that I can say is: Be patient. With yourself. With your friend who is grieving. It’s kind of lame advice, but really, every person is different. Some people want to talk about it; others don’t. Some people want to have a ritual or some sort of keepsake. Others really, really don’t. It’s not about specific acts of sympathy or acts of self-care — it’s about listening to yourself and your own needs, or listening to your friend and what they want. I guess that’s really all I can offer.

So that’s really where I am. Hopefully, my regular posting schedule will start back up soon, but it might be a little different. I haven’t been tasting many new teas or trying new beauty products. But I still have life thoughts to share from my quiet little corner of the sofa.