If the title of this post wasn’t indication enough – I’m telling you now that this post may be graphic at times. This post isn’t “the usual” for our blog. Ashley and I do our best to keep everything happy, positive and light on here… but as we all know, life isn’t always that way. Even though it isn’t the norm, this post is what Ashley and and I have promised you ever since starting this blog. This post is as open and as honest as it gets. This post is emotional, graphic and real, but more than anything, this post is exactly what life has been like for the past three months.
Even before we got married, Joe and I talked about the family we would one day have. We always wanted kids – and being that Joe is 9 years older than I am, we decided we’d get started sooner rather than later. We also decided that we’d try to have our children as close together as possible. Why put away the bottles and diapers when we could just keep going?!?
We were SO lucky with William – we didn’t even really have to “try”. Thanks to a very handy fertility app, and the grace of God, I got pregnant with William the first month. After that, my pregnancy was relatively easy, my delivery was uncomplicated, and he’s been THE most perfect angel baby ever since. When William turned one, people immediately started asking us, “When will you start trying for number two?” We decided that we’d start thinking about “trying” when we got back from Italy at the end of April. I wanted to enjoy all the wine, unpasteurized cheese, and cured meats my little heart desired.
June 7th: I was finishing packing for New York (we were headed there for my grandpa’s funeral) when I realized that I was a day late. My heart raced. I didn’t want to get too excited, but I was hopeful as well. I’m never late. I had an unused pregnancy test in my nightstand, and I figured I might as well know before we headed back East. It was one of the digital tests. A little virtual clocked blinked in and out for what seemed like an eternity. The suspense was too much, so I crawled into bed and set it on my nightstand. I started to blog to take my mind off of things. After five minutes I looked over to see YES lit up on the screen! My heart leapt… it was everything I had imagined. We’d have two babies under two – I’d have two little ones before my thirtieth birthday – before we knew it, we’d be a family of four!!! I woke Joe up and said – “Look!!!”
His eyes got huge… “Oh my god – you’re like Fertile Myrtle.” We laughed, kissed, and went to bed – 100% on cloud nine.
The next few weeks were a blur. Half the time Joe forgot I was pregnant, but for me, there wasn’t a second where I wasn’t reminded of the tiny human growing inside me. I immediately ordered my prenatals and took them religiously. I swore off alcohol. I stopped drinking coffee in the morning. I started ordering salads with my lunch. I started drinking 90 OZ of water a day <<< something that is really hard for me. I stopped taking all my medications. I started drinking tea religiously at night. And I started taking cooler showers < hot ones are bad for the baby. I did everything I knew to be right.
June 22nd – It was the first day of my sixth week of pregnancy. I woke up for work at 3:45am. I went to the bathroom. Half asleep, I stood up to hop in the shower and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Blood. The toilet bowl was full of Bright. Red. Blood. I quickly flushed the toilet and got into the shower. My breath was short, and tears stared to pour from my eyes. I sat down on the shower floor and cried.
“This can’t be happening…”
As suddenly as the tears had started, I stopped them. “Jesus Emily – get it together. Everyone spots in their first trimester. It will stop. You’ll be fine. You need to toughen up.” I finished up my shower and threw on my clothes for work. Before heading out the door , I went to the bathroom again. I didn’t want to look, but I made myself. More blood… my heart sank. It was 4:45am and I had to leave for work.
I usually play Spotify on my way to work, but instead I drove to work in silence. My stomach was cramping pretty badly at this point, and I felt SO completely empty. I sent a text message to Ashley from the parking garage at work.
“I think I’m miscarrying.”
Typing the words made it so real, and I started crying again. At my job – there’s no time for stuff like this. I had already used most of my vacation days, we don’t get sick days, and in an office full of men – what could I say? No one would understand. I wiped my eyes and went upstairs. The next few hours went by SO incredibly slowly. At 9:00am I slipped out to the hallway to call my OB. The usual front desk woman answered, “Thank you for calling – blank blank blank – how may I help you?”
“Hi, my name is Emily, I’m Dr. ___________’s patient…. and I… I…. I think I’m miscarrying.”
The woman on the other end of the phone sounded completely disinterested and asked, “How far along are you, what is your date of birth, and can I put you on a brief hold while I get the nurse?” I gave her both, said sure, and thought to myself, “This woman must hear this all the time, or she’s just a complete bitch. It’s probably both.” Then the nurse came on the line… “Hi… so… you’re bleeding… hmmm… six weeks… yeah, there’s nothing we can do. You’re not far enough along for a sonogram, and besides the doctor has NO time to see you. I mean… we can have some labs done – to see if your levels are increasing. Do you want to have some labs done?”
I started crying hysterically at this point. “I don’t understand what you’re saying.”
She sounded annoyed at this point, “Well, if your levels are increasing – that is a good thing. You’ll have to get your blood drawn today, then again on Friday, and then we’ll know. You sound really upset?”
I wanted to tell her to go fuck herself. “You sound upset?” What the fuck kind of response is that? I wanted to say…. “Listen I get it… you hear this stuff all the time. You’re probably numb to it. But this is my baby. You don’t know the hopes and dreams I had for this child. You haven’t heard the conversations my husband and I have had at night about what an amazing big brother William is going to be. You don’t know me… and YES… YES… I AM UPSET… I am crying in the hallway of my office… go fuck yourself!”
She said she’d have my lab sheet sent over and I’d hear from the doctor on Monday. It seemed completely inhumane. It was Wednesday. I’d have to wait nearly a week to know anything. I hung up and went to the bathroom. I sat on top of the toilet seat and sobbed into my hands. What was I going to do? I had no choice.
I went back into my office and positioned my chair facing the window. Over the next four hours I sat silently crying into my keyboard – barely looking at anyone else – and not saying a word. At 2pm I sent my last email for the day and ran to my car. On the way to the lab, I assured myself, “This is totally normal. You’re freaking out for nothing.” I walked into the lab, signed myself in, and then took a seat in the waiting room. As I looked around, I could see I was surrounded by older men and women – all in their 70s and 80s – all in what looked to be, pretty poor health. I thought to myself, “These people have problems. I have my whole life ahead of me. It’s just a miscarriage. It happens all the time.”
I felt a hand on my arm – it was the old lady sitting next to me, “Sweetheart, I think she’s talking to you.” The woman behind the counter was yelling my name, I just hadn’t heard her. I walked up to her and said how sorry I was. She told me she couldn’t find my lab slip – and was wondering what test I was in for?
“My doctor thinks… I mean…. I think…. I’m… I’m having a miscarriage.” The tears started flowing again. I could feel the whole waiting room’s eyes on my back and the old man sitting behind me let out a deep breath. The woman behind the counter took my hands in her hands and said, I’m going to have you come and wait back here. She brought me into the back of the lab and just held me. I was crying and shaking, and she was a complete stranger, just holding me – shhshing me like a baby, and telling me it was going to be ok.
She held my hands in her hands and said – “I have three girls, they’re 20, 18, and 6… and I have three babies in heaven. Those will always be my babies. And this – no matter what God chooses – will always be your baby.” The tears just wouldn’t stop at this point. She was right. Jamie at Labcorp – she was my angel that day.
I had my blood drawn. She gave me a hug, and told me that she’d be waiting for me on Friday. I wiped my face, threw on my sunglasses, and literally ran out of the waiting room. I was filled with so much guilt. I drove home and all I could think was – “What had I done wrong? Why was my body doing this? Why was God doing this to me?” And then, more rational thoughts took over. “This happens to one in five pregnancies. I was one of millions. This happens when something is seriously wrong with the baby. This was bound to happen once in my life. I’m young – I’ll have more babies. And – thankfully – I have one perfect baby to hold in my arms.” Then I started praying. “Whatever you want, God… It’s whatever you think is best.”
I went home and crawled into bed. It was 3:30pm.
I talked to my sister who was in her OBGYN rotation of Physican’s Assistant school, and she broke everything down for me. What the tests were, what my numbers would mean, what I should be looking for, when to call the doctor, when to worry… and what to do. <<< all things my doctor should have done, but “was too busy to.” She reassured me it would be ok, and if it wasn’t… well, we’d cross that bridge. Until then, I needed to rest. That night, my husband took care of William, Henry, and the whole house, while I slept for 11 hours. I was emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted.
June 23rd: Thursday. It was a good day. I had a little spotting – but this time it was more dark brown in color, so that was good. What’s more, my initial lab results came back and they looked totally normal. I called my sister to give her the good news. As the medically versed one, she reminded me that the initial results didn’t mean anything. She warned me not to get my hopes up because there needed to be a progression of increasing HCG numbers. We’d have to wait until Friday to know more. She was right. I needed to be realistic. That afternoon I drove home from work and crawled into bed, again at 3:30. I prayed, and then I talked to my baby, “Maybe you weren’t meant to be – I don’t know – but I love you, and I will take care of you as best I can until God decides.”
June 24th: Friday was another good day – no blood. I felt like dancing when I walked into the lab. The sweet, sweet, angel woman, Jamie, did a little happy dance with me as I told her I hadn’t had any more bleeding. “That is such a good sign,” she said. “Take care of yourself, and hopefully I’ll see you back for that nasty glucose test.” We hugged goodbye and I got back into my car hoping she was right.
Later that night we drove up to the lake; my coworker was getting married on Saturday about 15 minutes from our cabin, and we figured we’d relax and make a weekend of it. Friday night we took it easy, barbecued at the house, and went to bed early.
June 25th: Saturday morning was hectic. I coerced my mom into driving back down the mountain to pick up my lab results with me. Even though my doctor refused to talk to me until Monday, (such bullshit) my results would be ready first thing Saturday morning, and I figured that knowledge was power. So… down the mountain we drove to the lab.
Unfortunately, an hour later, I knew nothing more. My sister and everything I read on the internet said my results were inconclusive, and I’d need more testing. My initial HCG number had been 13,000 – and this, my second number, was at 22,000. At this point in pregnancy, technically we were looking for my HCG number to double every 2 days. Mine hadn’t. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. My mom and I rode back to the lake in silence. The cramping started again… I shut my eyes and tried to sleep.
It was about 9:30am when we walked back in the cabin doors. Eager for a distraction, we decided we’d all head to the pool. I ran upstairs and put on my bathing suit. I packed my beach bag, started down the stairs, but as soon as I did – it happened. I let out a scream. There was bright red blood running down my legs. I ran to the bathroom and sat on the floor crying. Joe came running in – “is everything ok? Oh god… Babe…”
He just held me, and I cried, and cried and cried. I asked him to take my mom and William to the store and then to the pool. First I needed pads, and then I needed to be alone. I got in the shower, and again sat on the ground. I had THE most horrible headache in the world, and the tears would not stop. I know, I know, it seems crazy to be SO upset over a baby that hardly even was, but like I said before… the second you find out you’re pregnant… you have hopes and dreams for that little human. For those hopes and dreams to literally be ripped away and out of you is gut wrenching. It was loss like I had never felt in my life.
Joe and my mom came back from the store with pads and a bag of all my favorite junk food. My husband knows me well, and in times where no words can help, ginger ale and gummy bears will. I sent everyone to the pool, and laid in bed bleeding.
I called my sister. She told me it didn’t look good. The bright red blood, and the amount of blood were definitely bad signs. But I hadn’t passed any clots yet… so that was good. I cried some more. I called Ashley, and we cried together. When we got off the phone I realized I had to figure out what to do. I had a wedding to go to… a wedding I couldn’t just miss. You see, we’re a really close office… my coworkers are like the brothers I never had… and the groom, sits right next to me. I didn’t want him to think I had ditched out on his wedding because “I didn’t feel well.” I reasoned that I’d go to the wedding and leave early. It was easier. I got ready without thinking, and before we left the house I took a deep breath and went to the bathroom again.
More blood. It wasn’t stopping. I had filled two huge pads at this point.
We got to the wedding, and my girlfriend, Ivy, gave me the biggest hug. I had told her what was going on early that morning, and thank God I had. It was so comforting to have someone (other than Joe) in my corner… someone who knew fully what was going on… and someone who could take over during small talk when my eyes were welling up with tears behind my sunglasses.
The wedding was beautiful. It was a gorgeous Tahoe day. During the vows, my coworker promised to “be a good father…” I squeezed Joe’s hand – and said a little prayer that they’d never have to go through anything like what we were going through. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. We made it halfway through the cocktail hour, and I couldn’t do much more. I felt faint… and hot… and dizzy. I went to the bathroom, and there it was – more blood. The tears started again. My iron was low, I was dehydrated, and I had nothing left. Joe talked to the groom’s parents – I told the bride how beautiful she looked – and we snuck out the side door.
That night, again, I went to bed early.
June 26th: I woke up Sunday and as I opened my eyes, I thought for a moment – “Oh thank God – it was all a nightmare.” But then I looked on my nightstand… ginger ale, gummy bears, and a pack of maxi pads. Not a nightmare.
No… this was reality.
Sunday floated by. I texted my closest girlfriends – who knew I was pregnant – to let them know. They sent their best wishes – and if I needed anything, they were there. The blood continued. Ivy, my girlfriend from the wedding, sent me a text urging me to go to the hospital. She was right. I needed to be sure of what was going on, and at this point, since I still hadn’t passed any clots, I was nervous that the miscarriage wasn’t progressing on it’s own. From what I had read – I knew I had options – I could let it progress on it’s own, I could get a D&C or I could take a pill. All of the options made me sick to my stomach… I wanted to disappear.
We got to the hospital and I wanted to run. I didn’t want to hear what they had to say. They admitted me and an hour later I had an IV in my arm and a random doctor poking around everywhere. After another 30 minutes, we had some good news. My cervix was closed – a good sign – but there was blood… and that was a bad sign. We’d need a sonogram to know more.
An hour later they rolled my hospital bed down a long hallway into a sonogram room. For whatever reason, they wouldn’t let Joe come with me – so I was completely alone with a stranger. The tech was nice enough, she asked me some questions – my age, date of birth, what was going on, etc. Then she got to work. It wasn’t like a normal sonogram where you can see the screen and get to breathe a sigh of relief when you see your baby. No. This was her and I – for an hour – of silence and machine clicking. I tried at first to be positive. I thought, “Maybe she’s having a bad day… maybe she can’t say anything… maybe she just doesn’t know.” But after so much silence and clicking, I couldn’t help it… “There’s no baby… something bad is happening… she just doesn’t want to be the one to tell me.” Tears streamed out of my eyes and onto the hospital bed. Finally we were done. She said that the doctor would be back in to give me my results in a bit.
The waiting was agony… but at least Joe and I were together. Two hours later, the doctor appeared. She had good news, and bad news. The good news was that our baby was alive. Joe hugged me so tight… there was hope!!! She continued to say that I was internally hemorrhaging in three places, but at least the baby was alive. I’d never been happier in my life. But then…. the bad news… our baby’s heartbeat was low, and I’d had a “threatened miscarriage.” The doctor said I still might miscarry, but there was nothing I could do. If it was going to happen, it was going to happen. I’d just have to wait.
June 29th: The next week, I had another sonogram, and finally, everything looked good. We were overjoyed. However, over the next month, I bled more, I cramped more, and every day I was certain that this pregnancy wouldn’t last. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I was wrong.
Being able to tell you now – at 14 weeks – that I am still pregnant is the best feeling in the whole world. At our last sonogram, our baby’s heartbeat was strong, our baby’s size was right on target, and our baby looked to be perfectly healthy. Our baby – as all babies are – is a little miracle.
So if I didn’t miscarry, why am I telling you all of this? Well, first of all, the point is to be open and honest. I know on Instagram our lives look like rainbows, butterflies, and lots of clothes. This post is to tell you that everyone is so much more than what meets the eye… you never know what is going on behind the Instagram veil. Secondly, I hope to help anyone else going through something like this – miscarriage, threatened miscarriage, implantation spotting, it doesn’t matter. If I can help one woman by putting this out there, then it will be worth it. Lastly, evidence shows that most people know absolutely nothing about miscarriages, mainly because we don’t talk about them. See two amazing articles on the topic— here and here. That is really why I wrote this.
Even though I didn’t miscarry, through this “threatened miscarriage” experience I learned a lot… and there are a couple of things I want to share with you.
1.) Choose a doctor who will see and hear you. This was a huge mistake on my end. Every person – pregnant or not – deserves a physician who will see them if they need care, and who will listen to them if they are in distress. My original OB’s office did neither of these things, and after this experience, I promptly switched doctors.
2.) There is no real “timeline” for a miscarriage. This is something I found out as I researched – and it was frustrating as all hell. Miscarriages can happen at any time, and they can take hours… or weeks. Yes… weeks. The average time that a miscarriage takes is actually two weeks. <<< Think about that. The mental, physical and emotional distress is horrible – and the “not knowing” what is going on, and when “it” is going to happen makes it SO much worse.
3.) Just because miscarrying is “common” – doesn’t make it normal. Doctors and the internet will tell you that 1 in 5 pregnancies will end in miscarriage… maybe more… and yes, that’s a lot. That number makes it common. But… the emotions, feelings and physical distress you’ll endure are not common… and they’re not normal. Anyone who makes you feel like you’re overreacting, or you have no right to be upset is a complete asshole and has no idea what they’re talking about.
4.) If you are miscarrying, or think you might be, take the time you need, and seek the help you need. You have to take care of yourself – mentally, emotionally and physically. Take time off work, seek professional help, join a support group… do whatever you need to do.
5.) Tell whoever you want to – this goes for when you get pregnant and when/if you miscarry. People say that you shouldn’t tell anyone you’re pregnant until you’re at least 10 – 13 weeks along. Personally, I think this is a bunch of crap – it’s up to you. I told my close family and best friends as soon as we got our positive pregnancy test, and they were there with me every step of the way – through all of this. Without the love and support of my nearest and dearest, I don’t know what I would have done.
6.) If you have a friend that might be going through something like this…
- Be there – sometimes a hug or phone call can mean the world.
- Listen – there’s nothing you can say that will make it go away, so just listen.
- Don’t tell a soul – this should go without saying.
- These cards can help – here.
I pray that none of you will ever have to experience anything like this – or worse, survive a miscarriage. However, the numbers don’t lie. Chances are that 1 in 5 of you (maybe more) will go through something like this… and that makes this worth writing about. That makes every story worth sharing.
Sending lots of love and light to all of you.
*** If you do feel compelled to comment, please remember this is a kind and supportive space.