Where to begin? It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog posts so it feels a little weird to come back with such a downer. Sorry about that. In all honestly, I don’t know that I would have ever talked about this publicly if I hadn’t already made a pregnancy announcement on Instagram. Travis, being the most supportive person he is, told me I shouldn’t feel pressured to post anything. I agreed, it was definitely going to take me time but I didn’t want to pretend like nothing happened and I definitely didn’t want someone asking me months down the line, “Hey, how’s your pregnancy going?” Overall, I’m still glad I made the pregnancy announcement because it kinda forced me to talk/write about the miscarriage and that’s definitely been therapeutic.
Anyways, I’m coming on here to tell the full story because A, it’s therapeutic for me to write about it and B, I hope it’s helpful for anyone else that has to go through something similar. Miscarriage is so common (1 in 4 women), yet it still feels weirdly shameful to talk about, although with social media, I think that’s beginning to change.
We’ve all heard the 12 week “safe zone,” rule. Don’t announce you’re pregnant until you’ve hit 12 weeks, because after that point, the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically. I understand it (more now than ever) because you probably want to spare yourself from having to explain a miscarriage to family, friends, coworkers, etc. But I also want to say it shouldn’t stop you from celebrating that little life, or make you feel ashamed for sharing about it early. I think this rule can sometimes make women think or feel as if they’re not really pregnant until after the 12 week mark. And there’s also this judgyness in the air towards women who choose to announce early. I just wanted to officially get on the record it’s OK to announce whenever you want to. It’s okay to celebrate new life even if its only for a few weeks. No one should feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty for announcing early.
I announced I was pregnant with Ryker (my first) at 10 weeks, and everything turned out fine. I thought, “why would this one be any different?” Still, I waited one extra week and made a post at 11 weeks. I figured it was close enough to the safe zone rule. I had opted into the elective 12 week genetic screen testing with my OB, something I didn’t do with Ryker. I don’t know why I chose to do the screening this time around except…because, God. I really believe God told me to do the screening. If I hadn’t done it, I would’ve spontaneously miscarried who knows how many weeks later and would’ve never known why because my next regular ultrasound wasn’t scheduled until 20 weeks. But because of the screening, I was spared some heartache and given closure as to why.
At the 12 week screening, they did an ultrasound. I showed up all confident because my first pregnancy was a dream. The tech was super nice and never let on that anything was wrong. She pointed out that baby was sucking his/her thumb and joked that he/she wouldn’t stop moving. At the end, she said I would be speaking with the doctor. I assumed this was normal. So, I walked into my OB’s office and she said, “have a seat…” and that’s when I left my body. She had this tone in her voice and I knew something was wrong and from that point it felt as though I wasn’t even in my own body, I was just watching myself in a movie. It’s impossible to process bad news in real time. It feels like slow motion and fast forward all at once. She explained that the tech found some abnormalities that were “concerning.” She then said they could see in the ultrasound that the baby had some swelling, specifically in the abdomen and behind the neck. They believed the intestines were outside of the body. And lastly, they saw an extra finger on one of the hands. I almost laughed at the extra finger because it sounded so minor compared to the other things. Like who cares about an extra finger! No biggie! Easier to catch a football, HA! But then my OB said that because there were several abnormalities, she was concerned there was a bigger underlying issue such as a Congenital Disorder. If it had been just one of those things, it would have been less concerning I guess. She said she would be sending a referral for a follow up ultrasound with a perinatal specialist ASAP. I nodded okay and held back tears, said good bye, checked out of the office, got in my car, and sobbed like I’ve never sobbed before.
It didn’t feel real and I didn’t want to believe it. I prayed. And then I started googling on my phone. Bad idea. The term Congenital Disorder is an umbrella term for a lot of different things including Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13 and more. The last two are typically death sentences. I read that babies that make it to birth with those disorders typically don’t live to see their first year. The list of possibilities was overwhelming. I kept going through this vicious cycle where I would calm myself down and think, “It’s probably just physical abnormalities, my baby will survive, everything will be normal and fine. But what if he/she is born with Down Syndrome? I’ll still love him/her…But man, that’s gonna be hard. What if it’s Spina Bifida…that would be hard too. What if it’s Trisomy 18 and baby needs to be hooked up to all sorts of tubes and machines and we have to be in the NICU for months knowing he/she will die eventually? How will we afford the medical bills? What if the baby dies when I’m late in my pregnancy and I still have to deliver?” Then I’d get overwhelmed, start crying, and then start the cycle again. I knew it had to stop. I knew I needed to be seeking God if I was to avoid falling in a deep depression.
It’s funny how God puts things in your life that you don’t realize had a purpose until much later. I had actually just followed 3 insta accounts several weeks prior to receiving my news. A strong woman on Instagram who had a baby born with his intestines outside his body, (her handle on insta is @darling.children). Through her account, I learned a lot about this condition. I had never even heard of babies being born with their intestines outside before. Because I had followed her, I wasn’t as scared to hear about the findings in my ultrasound. In fact, as scary as it sounds, apparently most babies born with that condition do survive and go on to live normal lives. I had also recently been following a girl who had a baby born with Trisomy 18 (@mrs.jordonbailey). Her story broke my heart but I was so inspired by her faith in God through it all. And then the third account(s), @Lindsayletters.co (and her husband, @dugansherbondy). Their child didn’t have any disorder related to the diagnosis I was given for my baby, in fact she was just a healthy average kid. But she suffered a traumatic brain injury and almost died. She is still recovering slowly and has a long road ahead, but man her parent’s faith! Their faith and unrelenting prayer was and is SO inspiring, and powerful. It brought me to my knees and brought tears to my eyes every time I read updates their accounts.
None of these people even know me, but by them sharing their stories, it inspired me to strengthen my faith rather than become bitter and angry. (And although my experience is no where close to what they are having to go through, they are the reason I wanted to share). It’s easier said than done, but you kind of only have two options when you’re going through trails; Keep the faith and have hope, or lose faith and be angry. The latter is the easier option by far, but has no benefit to you. You have to actively choose faith.
So anyway, I can tell I’m rambling now. Props to you if you’ve even read this far. Thank you. I’ll cut to the chase. We had that follow up ultrasound with the specialist 3 days later. I was mentally prepared to love this baby no matter what and see this pregnancy through regardless of the complications. I braced myself for the results, expecting either a miracle or them telling me to abort. Instead, the doctor gently told us there was no heartbeat. My reaction was a mixture of sadness and relief. Sad that I would never get to hold and kiss my baby, but relief that he/she didn’t have to suffer the complications, surgeries, and hospital stays that would have likely resulted if he/she survived birth. I felt spared from the heartache of continuing 6 more months of a high risk, anxiety ridden pregnancy constantly wondering what the next day was going to bring. Instead, this journey was over, the baby was in heaven, and I had closure. And for that I’m thankful. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t mourn.
The day we got the news, I like to think I was strong. I cried a little, but I mostly felt that relief I just mentioned, and I believe it’s because of the strength and peace God granted me that day. But the following days were full of emotions. Logically, you can know it’s all over, and it’s for the best or whatever, but emotionally, your heart still hurts. I realized that God’s peace and strength is something you have to constantly be seeking. For me, praying for that strength was only thing that helped. I almost never read the Bible, but I found some amazing verses during this time that I thought I would share:
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. ” – Romans 12:12
” As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” – Ecclesiastes 11:5
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” – Phillippians 4:6-7
” But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” – James 1:6
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3
After we received the news that there was no heartbeat, I asked what the next steps were. I had no idea what to expect. At this point, I had no symptoms of a miscarriage, no bleeding at all. If I hadn’t had the screening, I would’ve been totally unaware that I was going to miscarry. The doc said it can take up to 2 weeks or more for your body to realize and start shedding stuff (for lack of a better term). Or, I had the option of a procedure called a D&C, which they recommended due to the size of the baby. I agreed. Going into the holidays, I didn’t want to be attending thanksgiving, or walking around the mall, Christmas shopping, wondering when I would start bleeding. The D&C, in my mind, was also the fastest way to get everything over with and move on.
If you don’t know what a D&C is, I won’t explain all the detailed medical stuff that happens (you can google it), but its a surgical procedure where they go in and remove all the contents of the pregnancy. Sounds pretty harsh, but it’s apparently a very common procedure with low risk. And, luckily, they put you under anesthesia for the whole thing. Healing is pretty quick too. It’s a bit of a trip, because the doctor makes you think it’s such a routine, easy, quick procedure (which I’m sure it is comparatively), but for someone who has never had surgery, it’s a little scary. The preparation alone seemed like a lot. I had to go in the day before to do a series of blood tests and answer all sorts of medical questions, and then the day of I had to show up 2 hours early and sign a bunch of papers about the risks of surgery and anesthesia and answer more medical questions. We ended up being there almost the whole day because my doctor was about an hour late, and then it takes time to wake up from anesthesia and get discharged from the hospital. Afterwards you feel what I would describe as bad period cramps for about 3 days…not too terrible, thank goodness. It’s the emotions of it all that are the hardest part.
When I woke up from the anesthesia, I was immediately overcome with emotion. I couldn’t help it. I had just spent 12 weeks being excited about being pregnant again, day dreaming about life with a 2nd, excited for Ryker to be a big brother. There were a couple women I knew that were also pregnant and had due dates close to mine which I was excited about. We even already bought a new double stroller because I was that excited. Even though the excitement ended when we were told there was no heartbeat, the D&C really made everything final. Now it was really over, over. I knew my baby was already with God the moment his/her heart stopped beating but now it really felt like I had handed him/her over to heaven. I remember asking God to give my baby a hug and tell him/her that I love them. It made me sad. Not to mention my hormones were still all effed up. I don’t think people realize that. That your hormones aren’t just crazy when you’re pregnant. They’re still crazy when you miscarry. And lucky for me, my D&C was just two days before Thanksgiving.
The last thing I wanted to do was be at a family gathering with a bunch of people. I pretty much isolated myself after we got the news and didn’t want to see anybody. I was able to share on social media, but for some reason it felt/feels so much harder to talk about in person, probably because I don’t really enjoy crying in front of people. But I got through thanksgiving. There were definitely a lot of tears and emotion, but I got through it. I know I still have to get through Christmas but it felt good to get through the first big family gathering since everything happened. Like I just climbed a giant, difficult mountain and I could finally make the downhill trek home.
I’m rambling again, I can feel it (haha). Props to you again for making it this far. I’ll wrap it up. Since Thanksgiving, things have been a lot better. I feel as though I’m finally moving on. My hormones have leveled out. I’m excited for life again. I’m more thankful and appreciative than ever to have Ryker. Despite everything, I still feel so blessed for the life that I have and for all the support we received from family and friends. I am so blessed to have the amazing husband that I do. He loved our little baby so much and was just as excited as I was to be having our second. He mourned with me after we got the news and lifted me up when I crying on the kitchen floor. Sure, there will still be hard moments and triggers that will bring back emotion, but I know that God is our strength and I trust that things will all still work out the way they’re supposed to. In fact, we decided to give this baby a name to represent just that. Gavri. It’s a short version of Gabrielle or Gabrielle, (we never found out gender), and it means, “God is my strength.”
Until we meet again little Gavri!!! We love you! ❤
“You were carried for a moment, but you will be loved for a lifetime.”