I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of days now. To try and pretend that I’m a closed-book would be laughable. I’m a very open person and my experience is not something I’m ashamed of or I find too painful to talk about – I just didn’t want people to feel bad for me or tip-toe around me. But if there’s one thing I learned throughout this process it’s that other people’s stories can help other people, and hopefully I can pay it forward to one girl who may go through a similar experience.
Last month after a Sunday afternoon filled with mimosas and friends, my husband and I found out I was pregnant. I stared at the faded line in disbelief, with tears in my eyes that I was going to be a mom. Excitement, joy, and downright fear flooded my mind that night, as I lay in bed thinking of everything I imagine a newly pregnant woman thinks about. Will my baby love me? How much weight will I gain? What foods can I no longer eat? The next morning after making a doctor appointment, I downloaded the suggested pregnancy apps that many women use. I looked at the screen excitedly to see that my baby was the size of a sweet pea and how quickly things seemed to move along. My husband and I were not necessarily trying for a child. We followed a “let’s see what happens” ideology that lead to something we were never expecting to happen so quickly. I had no idea what the next nine months held for me, but I just knew that it felt right.
Unfortunately, that didn’t last.
Just as quick as things came, they also fled. My doctor told me after my first appointment that my hormone levels weren’t where they should have been. Still they reassured me that this is common, and it’s not so important how high they are, but that they start doubling. Throughout that entire week I was at the doctor’s office every day, getting blood work done and watching my levels slowly decline. Finally I received a call saying that unfortunately my pregnancy wasn’t sticking and that I would be losing it. Almost instantly from hearing that news, I started to miscarry.
The truth is that I had a very “realistic” – albeit pessimistic – view on my pregnancy. I did not see it as a baby yet – for me, at six weeks it was tissue and cells forming into a baby. I also went into things knowing the reality of the situation, and that roughly 15-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriages with most happening in the first 12 weeks. I also have so many friends who have suffered similar losses, specifically my best friend Heidy who wrote about her suffering on her blog. And not to mention my very laid back approach to having children. As you know back in January I wrote a post about why my husband and I decided to take our time with having kids, and all of the milestones we wanted to hit independently and together before making the commitment. I’ve never been the girl who dreamed of being a mother. I knew it was always something that I wanted and I always felt it was in my future, but my world wouldn’t end if it didn’t happen. I also have many other goals I dream about, and while I know I would be a good mom, being a stay-at-home mom is not something I think I would find happiness in. I am not someone who was tracking ovulation, I am not one of the 10% of women who struggle with infertility, and by no means am I someone who looks forward to being pregnant – in fact, I am dreading it.
But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt.
In fact, it hurts just as much.
I find myself trying to balance the thoughts in my head that say “something wasn’t right which lead to this outcome” with my emotions that make me want to scream because I lost something that was ours. I’m thankful that my body was doing it’s job of getting rid of something that wasn’t viable while also being angry that I spent one painful, uncomfortable week of hell with nothing to show for it. I’m someone who struggles with perfection, and I worry that pregnancy will never be the special moment it was for us again because of what we went through. I’ll never get that moment back – that moment of excitement muddled with fear of the unknown. Selfishly, I get angry that if/when I am pregnant again, the announcement to my husband, family, and friends won’t be as special because that concern will always live in the back of my mind. It’s a haunting feeling that I’m hoping time will eventually shake. That I’ll start forgetting every Sunday to automatically count how many weeks I would have been, or that I’ll work up the courage to delete the photo of my positive test from my phone. Eventually, I’m hoping that December 2nd (what was my due date) won’t be a day that I’m slowly dreading, and will go back to being nothing more and nothing less than Britney Spears’s birthday – something I always looked forward to as a kid.
And yet through all of the heartbreak, I feel incredibly thankful. It took a good two weeks for me to feel like I had my head semi-above water, and when I did, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly grateful for all of the positive things in my life. First and foremost, our experience has brought my husband and I even closer together. I don’t know how he knew the perfect thing to say or do, but he could write a manual for supporting a wife during a time like this (and did little things throughout the day to make me smile, like downloading my favorite Call of Duty video game for me to play). My parents, who I know can’t wait to be grandparents, brought me the same comfort they would give when I was a child sick at home (because is there any better cure?) and my girlfriends were my crutches, sending flowers, checking up on me every day, and even being down to have a spontaneous staycation and spa day at the Waldorf (thanks, Heidy!). One of the most helpful parts was hearing their personal experiences and knowing they made it out on the other side. I am lucky to have amazing health insurance, a doctor that provided me more than just the medical support I needed, and a job that allotted me all the time I needed to grieve and heal. Life is so much easier when you work for a company that allows you the time you need to deal with events and tragedies.
There are so many women who aren’t as lucky as me. Although The Family and Medical Leave Act was signed into law in 1993 and includes some protection around miscarriages, many stipulations exist. Furthermore, many women don’t have the PTO days (side note: the last thing having a miscarriage feels like is a vacation) or they can’t afford to take off time because they’re paid hourly. Speaking of money, women who do not have health insurance and need special treatment for miscarriages are spending between $4,000-$9,000, while insured women can spend between $400-$1,2000 out of pocket. There are currently 3 million working women who are uninsured, and the fact is many companies in America do not offer the proper bereavement leave for women who miscarry. Which is crazy when you consider that one in four women will experience a miscarriage. I do not take for granted the support, finances, and job security that made my experience so much easier than that of many other women. And my heart breaks even more for them.
So what’s next for me? That, I’m not too sure of. For now I plan on going back to enjoying wine, cheese, and embarrassingly, store-bought lunch meat that’s probably not too great for me (hey! a girl’s gotta live). If there’s one thing I want to make clear, it’s that I am someone who is very fulfilled in their life, and while my husband and I have experienced a bit of a set-back in life, we’re determined to focus on the positive.
I get to continue to enjoy the beautiful children my amazing girlfriends are having, experience another beautiful Chicago summer, and plan some exciting trips and experiences for my future – with a husband by my side that continues to move mountains to make me laugh.
And I can’t help but think, how lucky am I?
Cheers to the future (and the unexpected),