Today marks one week since my miscarriage started.
Today also marks one day since I submitted a paper for my counseling course on the topic of miscarriage.
My life is so filled with irony...it's ridiculous.
If you've followed my blog or know me in person, you know that I love babies and have had baby fever ever since I knew in my heart that I was going to marry Ryan. So the prospect of having a baby is one that filled my heart with sheer joy.
While I was at another base for a TDY, Ryan and I decided that we were going to start trying. *angels singing* I had my birth control, Mirena, removed. That was wayyy easier than getting it put in...just sayin'. I was in and out of the doctor's office and the journey to Baby Erskine was just beginning. It is truly an amazing feeling when you as a couple decide that you want to try to conceive (TTC). I had been waiting for Ryan to agree to this for so long and I didn't want to pressure him so we were finally on board together!
We were able to conceive right away, which is such a blessing. I remember taking an early pregnancy test and got nothing. A week later though, my boobs hurt so much and I just had a feeling. I was in Wisconsin at the time and texted Ryan asking if I should swing by a Walgreens or CVS to pick up a test. He said to hold off since I was going home the next day. I remember rushing to the bathroom the next morning (after I had flown back the night before) and there was my first positive. Then I tried a box of Clearblue pregnancy tests. If you're not familiar, these digital tests are more expensive but give you the actual words "pregnant" or "not pregnant."
The first two read "pregnant" and then..."not pregnant." What? I attributed this to a diluted sample so I hopped in the car and drove to the Exchange to pick up another box of two.
Success! I had an additional two "pregnant" tests.
The next morning I went to the base clinic and they confirmed it, I was indeed pregnant. I have to say that one of the best things about those initial moments are the congratulations you receive. Warmth and happiness just fill you up and it's the best feeling. Of course, per my job I had to fill out a lot of paperwork and be put on a special profile. I was even signed up for a prenatal class because I had the sudden realization that despite all of my education on sexual and reproductive health and even women's bodies, I had no idea what I was doing. However, starting this journey was amazing.
We decided to tell our network of friends and family. I, of course, ran over to Michaels to pick up crafting supplies and announced with silver and gold plastic eggs in little boxes. Inside the eggs were little strips of paper that said "Welcoming Baby Erskine, January 2016." I was still making the boxes for friends out of state. Surprising our friends was the best! It was a time of celebration and the future just seemed like the happiest of places.
I had been frustrated when I felt something go very wrong last Monday night. I thought I was imagining things and decided to take a shower. However after using the restroom, I saw blood. Every fear hit me right then. Monday was my bad day to say the least. By bad, I mean it was a shit storm of a day. I was panicky and frantic. I called the after hours base med group hotline trying to find answers. I had never been to an off base clinic. I had no idea how to handle this situation. If a woman is pregnant and bleeding, whether spotting or something else, it is recommended that she go to see a medical professional. So I was given that information and had no idea what to do next. I called the hotline again and the woman was very kind and gentle and wrote me up the fastest referral.
Ryan and I hopped into the car and drove down to the walk-in clinic. I was so scared and I felt in that moment that we were losing our baby. I actually made my nose bleed. We walked in and we were seen probably 15 minutes later. The P.A. was phenomenal and did a great job of calming the situation with information and compassion. They did some blood work and I wouldn't find out the results until the next morning.
The results were good! They were normal for how far along we were, we just had to wait a day and do more blood work to compare. If the results went up, that was great but if they went down, that meant that I was losing my pregnancy.
I had to go to return-to-duty at the med clinic and met my new doctor who is awesome. She was also incredibly compassionate and informative. She knew and understood how upset I was at the possible miscarriage that was happening. She set me up for a referral for the walk-in clinic again to have my blood work done.
The next day I went to the clinic again. This time the wait was longer and I was by myself. It was lunch time so out in the waiting room, it wasn't so bad. However, I ended up waiting in the exam room for 30 minutes alone, waiting for a different PA from Monday. He non-chalantly strolled in and spouted out, "why did you get your Mirena taken out?" My response, "My husband and I are trying to have a baby." His retort, "Oh I've heard it takes couples up to a year off of Mirena to conceive...so this is great." Just a word of advice, don't say that. In a moment where I am waiting to see the results on whether or not I am pregnant is not the time to give me conception facts. Also, every gyno I've had leading up to having Mirena and afterwards have actually given me an differently set of reproduction facts for it so I was pretty wary of this guy. I had my blood drawn and would find out the results later that day.
To take my mind off of things, I decided to decorate for Ryan's birthday, which was the next day. As I was taping streamers to the ceiling, I received the phone call. The rude PA cheerfully read off my results with an hcg level of 159. I was confused because the man's voice was cheerful and happy, but my results were significantly down from Monday. I clarified and reiterated that those numbers are not a good thing and he essentially said, "yup" in response. I was mad and upset and sad. Just so very sad. Of course the conversation wasn't done with the man whose bedside manner is less than ideal and it turned out that I need to get more blood work done to "make sure my levels actually hit 0." Someone, anyone give this man a lesson in delivering sad news.
This week I also had a paper due on the topic of miscarriage for my counseling class. So a lot of things happened this past week in regards to my miscarriage. I was surrounded by friends and family and simply by those who care. I also had the rough yet eye-opening opportunity to dive into the research of miscarriages for my paper. I won't say that I was able to truck through that like a champ. I took a break for a couple of hours because the trailer for The Little Prince made me sob. My job and my internship have been so supportive. My leadership checks in on me frequently to see how I'm doing and being in an internship, with so many women, is a community of ladies who have experienced miscarriages and understand.
For me, sharing this is important because statistically 1 in 5 women will experience a miscarriage and 10-25% of pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. It affects a lot of people. I believe people have a really hard time talking about it because a baby is a much better conversation starter than a miscarriage. However, they happen so frequently that how we discuss them and why they happen need to be understood.
60% of miscarriages are due to a chromosomal abnormality. Basically this means that as cells are dividing, something just goes wrong and this isn't the parents fault. It just happens. For me this is oddly comforting. For many women going through a miscarriage, clear and concise information coupled with compassion are the most needed things in medical treatment.
So with that said I am going through a grieving process and each woman goes through it differently. It helps for me to work and to have things to do. However, there are certain things that make me very sad. One of those things is actually how people choose to phrase something. For most women, a simple "I am sorry for your loss and please let me know if I can do anything to support you" is all they need and that works for me. I know for many people, they are saying things because they come from a good place but please just don't. Simplicity without justifying why a miscarriage happened is all I need.
Things Not To Say:
You're young and you'll have another.
First off, you don't know that. I don't that. Only God knows that. I have a really strong relationship in my faith and I believe that God will give us a baby when it's time but if He doesn't, that's okay. However, please do not equate our youth as a couple with fertility and future babies.
At least it happened this early
Oo boy, I think this actually the most offensive to me. When I got those four positive pregnancy tests, I was elated. Ryan and I planned for a baby in January. We made plans for the nursery and I surprised him with a daddy-to-be book. I felt in my soul that we were having a boy. So please do not dismiss our baby as if he or she was replaceable like that. You would never say that to someone who lost a child so don't say that to someone with an early miscarriage.
Maybe now isn't the best time...
Maybe now isn't the best time...
Miscarriages happen for a multitude of reasons but usually because they just happen. By saying now wasn't the best time, puts the blame on the parents as if we had not been wanting, praying, and hoping for this baby. This baby was very much wanted at this time and in this moment by two people who are responsible and so loving.
I rejoice in the fact that our Lord designed our baby and He will be the first one to meet him or her. That gives me a great sense of peace but please do not say that this was God's will. God cries and mourns and grieves with us. He does not wish suffering and pain on his children. This happened because of life and how cells divide and that's okay. My spiritual journey and semblance of faith is unique to me and in that same light, I don't expect another woman who has experienced a miscarriage to have peace with it or to not blame God. We're all different.
So for now, Ryan and I are grieving but hopeful for the future. We will always celebrate the start of our journey as a family with this first baby and I am hopeful that one day we will meet in heaven. For now, we appreciate the prayers and well wishes. I am hoping to celebrate my baby's short but joy-filled existence by planting bulbs in our yard. I know that even if we're gone, they will come up annually and a family can admire them, too. I am excited for what the future may bring and pray for continued joy and happiness for our little family.