But back to the story.
I was pregnant.
We gave it a nickname.
I downloaded all the pregnancy apps and read all the pregnancy books. (Highly recommend Expecting Better if you're a paranoid hypochondriac like me!)
I stopped going to hot yoga.
My boobs grew an entire cup size which was awesome, not gonna lie.
I had the WORST food aversions to vegetables, chicken, and leftovers, and only wanted to eat cheeseburgers and fries and oatmeal. So many fries.
I didn't experience the extreme fatigue I'd heard about, but my energy was definitely lower and I was incredibly spacey. It felt like I usually do during my period, except extra strange.
We spent an entire evening picking out baby names.
We broke the news to our parents over my birthday weekend and celebrated with my mom and dad here in Chicago.
We told Ben’s grandma that only the best grandmas are promoted to “great.”
We planned to tell my grandma when we visited her in the Quad Cities over her birthday/Mother’s Day weekend.
I started mentally rearranging my work and travel schedule over the next year.
We started mentally rearranging our furniture so we could convert my office into a nursery.
And FINALLY around what would have been my 8th week I went in for my first ultrasound appointment to get a more accurate estimated due date.
You can usually detect a heartbeat and see an embryo via vaginal ultrasound at around the 6 week mark, so I was nervous and excited to finally see something, make this pregnancy feel real, and confirm there was actually something growing inside of me and I wasn’t just having what felt like a bad hangover 24/7.
Another thing they don’t tell you - to measure and view your reproductive organs and embryo they do an internal ultrasound which means a giant wand is shoved right up into your vajay. I had experienced this before so luckily it wasn’t an unexpected suprise! Yay womanhood.
So I go into this ultrasound expecting to see a little jellybean hanging out inside my uterus.
Instead, all to be seen was a yolk sac - the precursor to an embryo, and everything was measuring at about 5 and a half weeks along. The tech didn’t seem concerned because this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, it usually means I must have ovulated and conceived later than we thought.
But it was still a pretty crushing shock, especially since I had been so in tune with tracking my fertility and knew deep down that something was wrong.
I scheduled a follow up ultrasound the next week to see if the embryo had developed (they grow fast!), and also had my hCG or pregnancy hormones tested to make sure they were increasing.
That next week was the longest 8 days of my life.
I spent way too many hours on the internet, binging on message threads and reading about other women’s experiences. I know this doesn’t sound like the best thing to do, but I really needed to feel like I wasn’t alone.
It was so hard to have zero control over the situation, and impossible not to worry.
To make matters more stressful, a few days later I started to spot. Again, spotting in the first trimester doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong, but it wouldn’t go away. And then it turned into light bleeding. And then my nausea let up and my breasts stopped aching. I tend to be a hypochondriac, but I still knew that it was ending.
I journaled a list of all the things I could do this summer if I wasn’t pregnant.
Get back to my high intensity workouts.
Lose the 10 pounds I’d put on.
Drink all the beer and margaritas.
Have energy to pour into my business goals.
The following Thursday Ben took the morning off work so he could come to the follow up ultrasound with me. I was bracing myself for the worst, and just wanted to know what was happening and gain some certainty over the situation.
I didn’t think of it as “preparing for bad news” because miscarrying didn’t seem bad or wrong to me, it was just neutral.
The ultrasound did show that a fetal pole had developed (the first stage of an embryo), and the tech could detect a slight fluttering she measured as a heartbeat, but it was extremely slow, and everything was still measuring at only 5 and a half weeks along even though I should have been over 9 weeks by then. So yay growth! But …
I feel extremely grateful for our ultrasound tech, she was a mom herself and so friendly and positive and told us we still shouldn’t assume the worst until we got the results of my blood test back.
So we went home to wait for the doctor to call since I chose the earliest possible ultrasound and the office wasn’t even open yet. Annnnnd then the attending OB was called into an emergency delivery. So I had to wait for several hours. My bleeding kept getting worse and worse, so I knew what was happening before she called back and shared that my hCG levels weren’t rising and that I would have a miscarriage. She said it was ok to pass everything at home, but to go to the emergency room if I started bleeding very heavily.
I didn’t really have any feelings at that point, I was just grateful to have answers and know what to expect, or at least to know what was happening. After the longest week ever of worrying it almost felt like a relief.
Except then I just had to sit around and wait for the miscarriage to actually happen, and had no idea what it would be like or if I’d have to go to the ER.
Ben went into school to teach his afternoon classes but my friend Amanda came over to be with me, and we sat on the couch and binged American Idol because watching talented teenagers chase their dreams was just what I needed to escape my reality.
Amanda eventually had to leave for work too, but I felt stable enough and although I had started to cramp, it wasn’t unbearable pain.
Pretty soon after she left, I went to the bathroom and passed a small gush of blood and two larger globs of tissue, which wasn’t as traumatizing as I had feared but still the saddest thing that had ever happened to me.
So at 7:45am that morning I learned our little tadpole had a heartbeat of 58-62 bpm (for a healthy baby it should be at least twice that).
By 4pm in the afternoon I was flushing it down the toilet.
That is what crushes me the most.
After that the bleeding never got worse, so I had Ben pick up my favorite burger and fries on the way home (my biggest pregnancy craving), and we cracked open two cans of bubbly we had in the fridge because I honestly just wanted to drink.
It was the saddest and most surreal day of my life.
Side note: having a miscarriage three days before Mother's Day?
LITERALLY THE WORST.
But wait, there’s more! The miscarriage doesn’t end when you pass the tissue and fetus!
Everyone is different, so there’s really no way to tell what will happen to your body. Sometimes you need to have a “D&C,” short for dilation and curettage, where they literally dilate your cervix and suck or scrape out the remaining tissue if your body doesn’t pass it on its own.
I didn’t need a D&C because my bleeding was never too crazy heavy, so I let things happen on their own time. It still took me almost two weeks to stop bleeding. It was like the neverending period from hell.
Think of it this way: when you have a regular period, you’re shedding your uterine lining that has been building up for 10-14 days or so. When you have a miscarriage, you’re shedding the fetal tissue PLUS the uterine lining that has been building up for weeks and weeks to make a nice cushy home for your baby.
I went in the next week for a check-up, and my doctor removed some of the remaining tissue which might have helped reduce my bleeding, but then I just felt like someone had punched my uterus from the inside for the next couple of days.
And then the following weekend (so 8 days afterwards) I flew to Florida for a retreat with some of the health coaches on my team. I knew a good girls weekend would be really good for me, and it was, although I was so depressed even hanging out with my squad couldn’t really lift my energy. I also avoided the pool or ocean because I didn’t want to risk infection, which was kind of a bummer. At least I could drink my fave kombucha margaritas! At risk of sounding like an alcoholic, being able to have margaritas this summer has been the biggest consolation.
Monday morning we planned to clean up the AirBNB, before flying back to Chicago that afternoon. At around 7am I started having cramps again, and they quickly intensified to the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. I’ve never felt anything like this before and now I’m curious to actually go into labor to compare the feeling, because it felt like I was having contractions.
Every 30-45 seconds or so the pain would ease up for 5 seconds, and then another wave would hit. This went on for a little over 2 hours and I didn’t know what to do. I took three ibuprofen which seemed to do absolutely nothing for the pain. I tried to drink a little water and eat half a banana, which I promptly vomited right back up. I felt like I was literally in hell. Couldn’t think, couldn’t move, couldn’t talk. The weird part was that my bleeding never got worse - if anything, it was lightening up.
I called my doctor’s office to see if they could remotely prescribe me some pain killers but they told me all I could do was get to urgent care and then come in when I got home. So Amanda (who I am starting to think of as Saint Amanda) drove me to the nearest urgent care, where they gave me a shot of pain reliever (in my butt, HAHA) and a prescription for Vicodin so I could survive the plane ride home.
Within an hour the cramps eased up (PRAISE THE RISEN CHRIST) and I never ended up needing anymore meds, although I started to cramp again around 3am the next morning by the time I finally made it home (oh yeah, after an 8 HOUR FLIGHT DELAY, go figure) I popped a few more ibuprofen and went to sleep.
I think it was my uterus saying “F this sh*t, I’m done” and taking one last stand to expel any remaining tissue because after that the bleeding stopped fairly quickly.