I haven’t been very good at returning emails yet. Or answering the phone. I know that people are concerned and want me to know that they are thinking about us, but it’s hard to actually face people. Luckily, I’ve been able to stay home from work for a week so I’ve been hiding out and avoiding contact with anyone. I guess that’s why it caught me off guard when I saw two of my friends the other day.
The first was a neighbor who I became friends with when we were both on maternity leave with our sons. The boys are now in daycare together and just a couple of weeks ago, we learned that we were both expecting in September. Our due dates were only one week apart! We were very excited to know that we would be spending our mat leave together again.
When I was dropping Littleman off at daycare, I felt a tap on my shoulder and then I was grabbed into a big hug. I had told this friend by email – knowing it would be difficult for her to hear the news. She had tears in her eyes. I tried to keep myself together, given that we were standing in the lobby of the daycare, but it was really hard to see her. She’s looking pregnant now… a couple of weeks further along than I was and she is having twins. I’m so happy for her and I don’t in any way wish anything bad for her, but I couldn’t help but feel why me??
I came home and pulled myself together, forcing myself to choke down a bagel and some coffee. Then the phone rang. I absent-mindedly answered it (why? I have no idea.) and it is another friend. I met her while I was on maternity leave with Littleman. Our boys are one week apart and we spent that whole year together. She had trouble conceiving her first but then had a surprise pregnancy with her second, who was born 21 months after our little guys.
This friend was sitting in my driveway, here to drop off a care package. She said she would leave it outside the door, but of course, I wasn’t going to let her leave without inviting her in. It was the first time I’ve relayed the entire story to anyone, other than writing it here. It was hard. Harder than I thought it would be. And it made me scared to face anyone else right now. How am I ever going to go back to work?
I know that situations like miscarriages are hard for people. Friends and family want to comfort you but they don’t know what to say. Thank goodness we live in the electronic age, where people can send you an email or text instead of having to talk to everyone in person or on the phone. I can barely talk to my mom, my sister and my best friend right now, so I don’t know how I could tolerate talking to anyone else.
Our second trip out in public after the miscarriage was a trip to the grocery store. It was a Monday afternoon, so we figured it was a good time to go. When we arrived back home, there were two bouquets of flowers on our porch. Really nice gestures from some family and friends, but kind of made me feel a bit sick.
Then there are the words that people say, trying to be helpful: “Things happen for a reason.” “Good things will come in time.” “It wasn’t meant to be.”
I know that people are not trying to be hurtful with these statements. They probably don’t know what on earth to say to me and these sound like good, generic, miscarriage-related statements. But it feels bad. I know in my heart that there was probably something wrong with the baby and so this miscarriage “happened for a reason.” But right now, no one can tell me that reason and it just makes me mad to think about it.
I’m trying to cut people some slack though, because I know they care about us and they just want to reach out and help in whatever way they can. Unfortunately, sometimes saying things just makes you feel worse.
I’ve read about people who have said that a young child sensed their pregnancy or that their dog starting acting different as soon as they got pregnant. That always sounded weird to me. I mean, come on, how does a kid or a pet know what’s going on in your body?
Now, I have to wonder though. Shortly after we found out I was pregnant, we told Littleman he was going to be a big brother. “Are you going to have a baby brother or sister?” we would ask him. “Sister,” he always replied, even though it was way too early for us to know the baby’s gender. He liked to talk to my stomach and give it kisses.
D and I nicknamed the baby “Poppy” because it was the size of a poppy seed when we first found out we were expecting. One day Littleman misheard us and started calling it “Puppet” which made us smile. In the evenings, he would come and kiss Puppet, his “sister.”
A couple of nights before we found out about the miscarriage, I was home alone with Littleman. I was reading him some books before bedtime and I asked him if he wanted to say goodnight to Puppet. He looked at me and said “Puppet gone.”
Did he already know something was wrong? Or was it just one of those weird random things that little kids say?
My body seems to be betraying me right now. When I look at it, I cry. My boobs still look veiny and pregnant, although they are getting smaller already. My stomach, which just days ago was starting to round out and feel uncomfortable in my clothes, is now flat.
I feel empty. Even though the baby wasn’t big enough for me to feel its movements yet, I’m still very aware of it being gone. It feels a bit like hunger. But eating doesn’t make it go away.
It turns out going out in public was awful. Way worse than I anticipated. We live in Canada and Target has recently opened some stores here. Whenever we would travel to the U.S., Target was one of my favourite places to check out. Obviously, I was pretty excited to check it out. We decided to hit up our new Target for something to do two days after the surgery. Big mistake.
Two weeks ago I would have been in heaven. The first things we saw when we walked in were the cute little bikinis and other summer wear. I should have been happily marching right past this stuff because, of course, they weren’t going to fit my big pregnant body this summer! I averted my eyes and kept walking, only to come to the maternity wear. I felt my eyes fill with tears as I quickly turned the corner to keep moving through the store. Eek, baby gear. Obviously we have all the major baby gear we would have needed since we already have our Littleman, but seeing the swings and infant seats and baby monitors still broke my heart. I had to get out of there.
I’m not sure what would have been a better first outing – maybe there isn’t anywhere that would have made me feel better – but Target definitely felt like a bad call that day.
I know why people wait until after the first trimester to tell their friends and family that they are pregnant. Usually, by this point, you’ve seen the baby moving. You’ve seen and heard the heartbeat. You’ve passed a lot of major developmental milestones and you feel like you’re in the “safe zone.”
We adhered to this school of thought pretty strictly for both of our pregnancies. To help us get through the long wait, we each told one close friend, but other than that, we told no one. Not our parents, not our siblings, not our friends or our colleagues.
After our NT scan at 12 weeks, when everything looked great and we hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time, we happily shared the news with the world. Since our Littleman was going to get a new sibling, we made him a t-shirt which he wore proudly as he marched into my parents’ house to announce our news. Littleman wearing his “I’m going to be a big brother” t-shirt became our way of announcing our news to all our friends and family. Everyone was excited and happy for us.
I know that miscarriage is hard at any time of the pregnancy. I don’t think losing my baby at 14 weeks is any harder to deal with than someone who suffered an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage at 8 weeks. Dealing with the loss is awful, no matter when it happens. For us, it would have been a tragedy at any time, but even a couple of weeks earlier meant it could have been a more private tragedy.
“How do we un-tell everyone?” I sobbed to D after it happened.
This was the part that I dreaded. And when I finally started doing it, all the emotions flooded back again, making it seem more real, more final. Where possible we had other people pass along the news for us. My mom told our extended family and my sister. My boss told my other colleagues. But for the majority of our friends, we had to do it ourselves. We chose to tell by email, keeping it short and letting everyone know that we appreciate their friendship and that we know that they will be thinking of us during our difficult time.
Physically, recovering from the D&C wasn’t so bad. I was a little uncomfortable when I got home but the cramps weren’t even as bad as some of the worst period cramps I’ve had before. The bleeding was minimal… a couple of gushes the first few times I stood up and then it was just spotting.
Emotionally, that first evening was easier than what was to come (although I didn’t know that at the time). It may have been residual effects of the anesthetic or pure exhaustion, but I think I was pretty calm. Dr. P had prescribed me something to help me sleep, which I took eagerly and went to bed early. I went to sleep hoping we could start to move on and heal from this ordeal.
I guess my only experience with surgery is from watching TV, which turns out not to be very realistic. I wasn’t rolled into the OR on a gurney, but I strolled in myself and had to hop up onto the bed in the middle of the room. This is where I started to panic a bit. The room was massive and cold. There were lots of people milling around – all with masks so I couldn’t really see their faces. My arm was hooked up to the IV. Dr. P asked me some questions. Then it was time. A nurse put an oxygen mask on my face and then told me that I’d go to sleep soon. I felt claustrophobic and felt like there was no way I could ever go to sleep in that state. Then I felt some pain in my hand from the IV fluid.
The next thing I remember was waking up with some man talking to me in another room. He said that everything was done and that he’d monitor me for a bit longer and then I could see D. It felt weird. I was almost mad at the man for waking me up… like all I wanted to do was sleep and forget.
Shortly after, I was wheeled back into the room where we had waited for the surgery. D came to see me and I was finally allowed to drink some water. I felt like I hadn’t had anything to drink in days. There wasn’t any pain but I could feel some bleeding. The nurse made me get up to check the bleeding and then gave me some Pitocin by IV to help contract my uterus before I was allowed to leave. A couple of hours after the surgery, we were sent home.
We arrived at the hospital for the D&C. I was told to go to the day surgery area and that I would be on the “wait and see” list, meaning I would sit there all day until there was either a cancellation or someone else’s surgery finished early and there was a space for me. I was terrified. I’ve always been a squeamish person. I hate hospitals. I used to faint every time I had blood taken (although I’ve vastly improved in this department since getting pregnant and giving birth the first time!) I have an aversion to veins so IVs gross me out. I’ve never had general anesthetic before. All of this, plus my current emotional state, seemed like a recipe for disaster. Amazingly, I held myself together pretty well.
I was called into the pre-op area pretty quickly after we arrived at the hospital. I changed into a gown and my IV was put in. Then the nurse called in D and told him he could wait with me. It was another few hours before Dr. P came and told us it was time.
Getting through that night was horrible. D arrived home with the Littleman. I tried to stay strong so I wouldn’t scare Littleman, but it was too hard. “Mommy sad?” he asked.
I was told that I couldn’t eat in the morning before my surgery so I had to try to force myself to eat something before bed that night. It was awful. Everything tasted like sawdust. Sleep never came and I lay in bed all night wondering how this happened and where we would go from here.