Why I’ve been MIA [trigger warning: miscarriage]
This post is long and deeply personal. It has nothing to do with design or RVs but was written for anyone curious about why I took a break from blogging. And to be honest, it was also written to help me process these past couple of months. (Trigger warning: miscarriage.)
I chose to pause blog posts in January so I could focus on final book updates and create a new website. My word for 2022 is Passion, and I was putting that word to work. I enjoyed what I was doing, was in a good place, and was making good progress – despite Covid taking me down for a couple of weeks. Never had I imagined the posts, book, or website would be on pause for this long.
Sometime in January, I had this strong gut feeling we would be pregnant in February. The sense was so strong that it felt more like fact than wishful thinking.
The first week of February came, and I took a pregnancy test 5 days early. Staring back at me were 2 lines!
This was it!
While anxiety lingered in the background, I was optimistic and believed this pregnancy would be different. (Sadly, our last 2 pregnancies were missed miscarriages.) Despite the pain, suffering, and loss we’ve encountered over the last couple of years, I was honestly amazed at how easily I could let that go and lean into the joy of this pregnancy. I wasn’t going to let fear get in the way. And when it did show up, I didn’t let it stay too long.
Morning sickness hit HARD within a week. So hard that I was like, oh yeah, this is different than my last 2 pregnancies. I also had a dream there was a giant neon sign in the sky that lit up and said, “It’s a girl!” I wondered if it were true…
I went in for bloodwork pretty early, and everything looked great. Despite my progesterone being over 30, I asked for supplements. I also asked about taking baby aspirin daily as an extra precaution, which the doctor okayed. These are 2 things I previously read about in recurrent miscarriage forums (and from readers) that could potentially prevent a miscarriage, depending on the reason. It felt good knowing I was doing something different during this pregnancy. I also knew if I didn’t do these two things, I’d play the “what if” game if something did happen.
Before leaving the doctor’s office, the receptionist asked if I wanted a baby registry sample box. My first thought? No, thank you. It’s early, and I’ve had 2 miscarriages, so let’s wait at least a few months to make sure everything’s good.
However, I quickly realized this was fear taking over, so instead of denying the box, I smiled and said, “sure, thanks!”
On that drive home, I felt anxiety creep up but told myself we deserve this box of baby samples. I’m allowed to get excited about this pregnancy! This box made it feel more real, and that felt good.
I was so utterly nauseous, exhausted, and dizzy that I felt and moved like a sloth. The brain fog was no joke, as though I was hopped up on flu medicine, and just about everything grossed me out, even water.
Eric was super busy with work, so I basically spent my days lying on the sofa and trying to look after the dogs, which felt like a massive undertaking. (McNally is pretty chill, but Tahoe, our mini Aussie, is like a 5-year old that can’t sit still, and you start to worry if he’s been quiet for just a tad too long.)
Reading, writing, and even searching for something to watch or listen to would make me nauseous and light-headed. I spent most of my time just lying there, staring into space. I was too sick to move, yet too sick to fall asleep.
Weeks passed and it was awful. I felt so lame for not being able to work, put away the piles of laundry, or play with the dogs, but I told myself this was temporary and it would all be worth it. I would go through worse if it meant our baby was safe and healthy.
Some women feel amazing during their first trimester, but that was NOT me. I also know some women have it much, much worse.
I was not glowing. But I was surviving. This became my one and only goal.
And despite being disgusted by food, I was constantly eating gf bagels (my saving grace) because eating was the only time nausea went down a smidge. Ginger ale? Gross. Preggie pops? Gross. Smoothies? Gross. Pretty much anything but bagels? Gross. And let me tell ya, being gluten-free REALLY sucks when you’re pregnant because all I wanted was real saltine crackers and soft french bread. However, reading that gluten intolerance may affect pregnancies was enough to prevent me from giving in to those cravings.
I felt gross and sick, but this also comforted me.
Despite reading that morning sickness doesn’t equate to a healthier pregnancy, I knew this pregnancy felt different and clung to that for hope.
Sneak Peek Test and Early Ultrasound
I wanted to allow myself to get excited, so we even took the sneak peek clinical test to find out the sex of the baby. I feared our immediate family (who were the only ones that knew we were pregnant) might not think this was a good idea, given our history. Still, I saw that as living in fear, and I wanted to embrace this life. This baby deserved it.
So I took the test at an ultrasound clinic (to avoid contamination) and anxiously waited for the results. We also had an early ultrasound at the same place that took the test and saw the heartbeat!
I’ll admit the tech was odd, and while it was only supposed to be a “5 minute sneak peek”, she told us she saw everything she expected (which we briefly saw on the screen in front of us) and then rushed us out.
After 2 missed miscarriages and never hearing or seeing the heartbeat, this felt..anticlimactic.
Granted, she was the only tech in a small office filled with families eagerly awaiting their ultrasound, but we left feeling uncomfortable. Like she wasn’t telling us something? We saw (and briefly heard) the heartbeat and even had a blurry ultrasound photo, but something felt off and was hard to shake. Yet, we held onto the fact that she verified the gestational sac, fetal pole, and heartbeat at 6.5 weeks. This was good news!
We figured we saw what we needed to see and would have a better ultrasound at our doctor’s office the following week. We told ourselves she was busy, things seemed chaotic at the office, and maybe that’s all we were picking up on? She did an external scan, so I knew seeing the heartbeat was good even though we were measuring a week behind. We figured we would get more info and peace of mind during the internal scan.
That evening we received the results of our sneak peek test…
I cried. Happy tears, of course! I had a gut feeling it was a girl – perhaps because of that dream – but this made the pregnancy real. We were so excited, and it was easier to visualize this pregnancy going well and holding our baby girl soon enough.
The 2nd Ultrasound
Unfortunately, our second ultrasound didn’t go as expected.
Eric took the day off of work, and we showed up for our ultrasound, only to be told they were supposed to call me to cancel the week prior. Instead, I received multiple calls, texts, and emails confirming my appointment. Thankfully, they rescheduled the appt. at their other location for the same day, so we left and headed to the other office roughly an hour away.
Long story short, the tech had zero bedside manner, and the internal ultrasound was so horrible I’ll probably have nightmares about it for the rest of my life. (The tech was young and either inexperienced or having a massive off-day.) To make matters worse, there was no screen in front of us to see what was going on. The tech told us she couldn’t tell us anything and we would have to go back to the waiting room until the doctor could see us. (I’ve sadly discovered this is “normal” at some offices, but I think it’s ridiculous).
We’ve had 2 internal ultrasounds at 2 different locations in the past, so I do have something to compare this experience to. The techs at the previous clinics were kind and explained what we saw on the screen in front of us, but the doctors came in for the diagnosis. I liked that we could see what was happening in front of us in real-time. And while the news at both of those ultrasounds was heartbreaking, at least we knew what was going on.
We switched clinics for a few reasons, one being I thought a change of scenery would be good. (Our first miscarriage happened in a different state. Otherwise, we would have gone back there. And just as a side note, all of the prenatal care clinics I chose, including the new one, were because they had midwives in addition to doctors).
This time we felt completely in the dark. And after 2 missed miscarriages, not being able to see or hear what was going on was anxiety-inducing. We waited an hour and a half for the doctor to tell us the scan results. That’s almost 2 hours waiting in a room full of pregnant women just to find out what the tech saw. It was torture.
I’ll admit I was angry and frustrated, but I remained calm. This just didn’t feel right. I told myself I was being tested, and despite this horrible experience, we would leave with good news.
And while we didn’t leave with the absolute worst news, it wasn’t great either.
The doctor came in and started asking if we had done any fertility testing in the past (which I thought was an odd way to start the conversation). I informed her that I asked to get testing done after our last miscarriage but was told I’d have to wait until we had 3 miscarriages. And because of my “geriatric age,” the previous doctor said I was running out of time and should try to get pregnant again as soon as possible. (I have since read that the 3 miscarriages rule is standard, but it really pissed me off. They should let the women decide when to get testing done. I now realize I could have looked elsewhere to have testing done but wasn’t in the right headspace at the time.)
The new doctor then told us this pregnancy had a 50/50 chance of viability. We measured a week behind, which is normal, but they didn’t hear a heartbeat. We measured 7.5 weeks, so I knew not hearing a heartbeat from an internal scan was bad news, but she said something about it possibly being blocked.
We scheduled an ultrasound for the following week, and I prayed the tech screwed up, even though I knew it was unlikely. Part of me didn’t want to hold onto hope only to be disappointed, but I told myself that if the doctor was giving this pregnancy a chance, there must be one. Besides, if there was even a 1% chance of this pregnancy being viable, this baby deserved to be believed in. So that’s what I did.
We left the doctor’s office uncertain of the outcome and without a photo of our ultrasound. Not the way we wanted it to go. We don’t know what they saw, which made us feel even more confused and in the dark.
The next day, to control some part of this pregnancy, I decided to get the follow-up ultrasound elsewhere. Even if this pregnancy was healthy and good, there was no way I would finish it out at that clinic. Despite how nice the receptionist, midwives, and doctor were, the communication was lacking. (There had also been multiple screw-ups with my prescription before this).
Ultimately, I decided to go back to the clinic we visited last year because I knew how their ultrasound process worked. They informed me I’d need a transfer which could take up to 10 business days. I was okay with waiting a few more days if it meant we would have a better ultrasound experience, even if the news wasn’t good.
Besides, I had a presentation to work on and knew bad news would make it nearly impossible to finish it on time. So I chose to hold off on the ultrasound until the presentation was done. During this time, my symptoms started to dissipate (which scared me) but meant I could finally attempt to get some work done. I tried to convince myself this was because my body was finally adjusting to the hormones.
I had several breakdowns during the waiting period but had to compartmentalize my feelings and try my best to stay distracted. It wasn’t easy, but I also realized how lucky I am to work from home and make up my own hours. I don’t know how other women, especially those with littles at home or a boss to report to, do this.
The day after my presentation was submitted, I heard back from the clinic I was trying to transfer into. They said my transfer was denied due to the “complications of my pregnancy.”
I was devastated. And any glimmer of hope I had for this pregnancy went out the window because what I heard them say was they didn’t see this pregnancy as viable. I tried not to freak out and told myself I needed to believe in this pregnancy until we were given a real reason not to.
I found a private ultrasound clinic that offered the experience we wanted, so I called my doctor to see if they could refer us. Unfortunately, they don’t do referrals since they offer ultrasounds on-site but said I could go to ER if I wanted. Ummm… no thanks. Their next available ultrasound wasn’t for another 2 weeks, so I made an appointment for the next day at the private ultrasound clinic instead. We had to pay out of pocket, but it was worth it.
The 3rd Ultrasound
We got the worst news during that private ultrasound, but the tech told us what was on the screen while being kind and compassionate, which is all we were looking for.
I can’t say I was surprised, as I hadn’t felt “pregnant” for about a week, even though I did have symptoms (and still have them, especially food aversions). I was technically 10 and a half weeks pregnant, but there was no heartbeat, and the baby had gotten even smaller. It seemed we did, in fact, miscarry at 7.5 weeks.
Today, I would be 11 weeks pregnant, but I still haven’t miscarried. This is what sucks about missed miscarriages. There are no signs of miscarriage until the scan. I haven’t had any spotting, and the latest ultrasound revealed I also have a subchorionic hemorrhage.
I forwarded that ultrasound report to my doctor and am waiting to hear back. (I’m RH negative so I’ll need a shot within 72 hours of miscarrying.)
I hate that the innocence of pregnancy has been taken from us. That we can’t walk into an ultrasound room without anxiety or watch ultrasounds on TV without cringing. I used to think when you got pregnant, you had a baby. That was it.
I miss those days.
Missed Miscarriage – Moving Forward
My birthday was this past weekend, and Eric and I made a trip to Asheville. I’ve wanted to find a way to honor these pregnancies and the babies we lost, so while there, we picked out some gemstones that represent the due date of our 3 miscarriages. We also picked out a small dish to keep them in. It brought more healing than I expected, which I’m grateful for.
Some moments (and days) are better than others as we continue to grieve and move through this process. I’m avoiding triggers but allowing myself to feel whatever comes up.
There are times I’m angry, sad, or numb. Mostly, however, I feel as though I’m finding peace. However, I’m aware emotions will likely arise once the miscarriage physically happens. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.
While finding out the sex of the baby and allowing myself to be excited made this loss harder, I wouldn’t change how I handled this pregnancy. I’m proud of myself for leaning into joy.
Update and important note about RH negative blood:
I started spotting a few days after writing this post and called my doctor’s office several times to find out about getting the RhoGAM shot because I’m RH negative. I won’t get too deep into it here, but if you’re not familiar, RH negative blood is rare. So if the mother is RH negative and the father is RH positive, then the baby could have RH positive blood. If that happens, and the baby’s blood mixes with yours either from spotting, miscarriage, or live birth, your body may create antibodies. The antibodies may then attack the baby’s blood cells during your subsequent pregnancy, resulting in miscarriage or birth complications. While this is rare, it’s also the reason for getting the RhoGam shot – as a precaution. The shot can help prevent future pregnancy/birth complications, but if you don’t get it and end up with Rh sensitization, you have it for life. (You can read more about it here).
A nurse finally called me back and told me they had to order the injection and would call me once it came in. At this point, I had already been spotting for a couple of days – the weekend was approaching – and I had read you need the shot within 72 hours of spotting or miscarriage for it to be effective. I mentioned this to the nurse, but she assured me I didn’t need it within 72 hours. Before we hung up, I asked her to double-check because if I needed it within 72 hours, getting it later may not be effective.
She called me back a few minutes later and said I did need it within 72 hours. She found just one local pharmacy with one single dose of RhoGam available, so I had to drive there and pick it up, then bring it back to their office so they could administer the shot. This really frustrated me because I may not have gotten the shot in time had I not said anything. And while the chance of something happening is slim, it’s a chance I don’t want to take.
To make matters worse, after I was given the shot, the nurse smiled at me and said, “So, how far along are you?”.
This place needs to get their communication together. My cramps and bleeding had picked up at this point, and I was incredibly uncomfortable. As soon as I got to my car, I burst into tears. Going into a doctor’s office filled with women and their beautiful belly bumps is the last thing you want to see when you’re literally going through a miscarriage. And the nurse’s comment didn’t help. By the time I got home, I could barely walk and was grateful I got the shot when I did. I miscarried that evening, though the spotting/cramps have continued (the process generally last about two weeks).
I mention my experience with the RhoGam shot because the nurse clearly didn’t know much about it, and I would hate for someone else to get overlooked and end up with unnecessary complications because they have RH negative blood and their partner has RH positive blood. Most doctor’s/midwives are aware of this and will talk to you about it before it’s an issue but in case they don’t, I want you to be able to advocate for yourself.
If you’ve experienced a miscarriage, I want you to know how deeply sorry I am for your loss. It’s heartbreaking, traumatizing, and painful. I hope you find peace and that you get the family you’ve longed for.
I don’t want anyone to feel alone in this process, and I hope my story shows that.
Experiencing 3 miscarriages in 2 years has been hard on me mentally and physically. After my last miscarriage, I kinda felt an “F&*! you body!” mentality. Before we got pregnant, I was taking care of myself – eating well, taking supplements, meditating, and working out. Then after we lost the baby, I felt like my body failed me. I ate crap and stopped taking supplements for several months. It wasn’t until a month or two before we got pregnant that I had started taking care of myself again. And being of “advanced maternal age,” it’s even more important that I’m doing what I can to stay healthy.
So this time, I’m not going to take the pain out on my body. Instead, I’m going to honor my body, and while I don’t know what the future holds, I know taking care of myself is important either way. Because if I have any regrets about this pregnancy, it’s that I waited so long to get back on track, and I don’t want to have the same regret in the future.
Despite what’s going on, I remain hopeful.
I wish this post was about miracles, but it doesn’t mean I don’t believe in them. We choose to believe we’ll have a family someday and are open to however that may unfold – natural pregnancy, IVF, adoption. It doesn’t make today easier, but it does give me something to hold onto.