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The Pain of Loss & Power of Hope

Having a miscarriage is a painful journey, both physically and mentally. This blog was written during my Husband Ryan & I’s second miscarriage late July. October is designated as pregnancy & infant loss awareness month. Oct. 20th was supposed to be Ryan and I's first baby delivery date. I'm 1-in-4 women who have suffered a miscarriage(s) and I'm using my platform to raise awareness about the fertility struggles many women and families suffer through every single day. I wish to be a voice of hope for those out there going through similar situations and to remind you that you are not alone. You don't have to be embarrassed or feel not worthy. This situation may have happened to you, but it doesn't define you. All you can do is have hope and try again, whatever avenue you choose. You can do this!

July 2018. I’m having another miscarriage and I’m on a plane. I probably should have stayed home but staying home would do more harm than good. I have been home all week, going in and out of the doctor’s office for blood work and sitting through one heartbreaking ultrasound when we learned there was no baby, no heartbeat. That’s when the fear gremlins kicked in bad, deep down inside I could feel the dreadful news coming. This was another so called “bad pregnancy.”

As I sit here in on the plane, in an aisle seat thank gosh, I can’t help but look around at the women around me. Have they experienced a pregnancy loss? How do they look so strong? Do I look strong? From the outside, I could appear to be and generally speaking, I do consider myself a strong person, but not this week. This week I felt weak, broken, confused, helpless and hopeless.

The above words might make you sad, they make me sad, but my intention is not for your pity or my self pity. I’m expressing exactly what I’m feeling right now and it’s a release. I’m starting to feel more powerful. With age, experience and heartbreak, comes wisdom. I’m more insightful. I try to look at the bigger picture. Through sharing my experience, I hope I can touch the lives of many, to give hope and encouragement to other women and families going through the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the heartbreaking, a miscarriage. In our case two miscarriages in less than six months.

Before I dive into the details of our second loss, I want to preface why I’m on a plane. No, I’m not running away and yes, I have support at home. This trip was already planned. I’m traveling to one of my favorite cities in the world, Las Vegas. The place I was born, the city where I graduated high school and college from, the place I still consider one of my forever homes. This trip has been planned for a while. We are celebrating my Mom’s birthday. Her husband, my stepdad, got her a table at the Gwen Stefani concert at Planet Hollywood. I could’ve stayed home, but there’s something about spending time with my mom, sister and best friends that I couldn’t pass up on. Sometimes we are stronger as a community and I know I could use the love, support and distraction. After all, this weekend is not about me. It’s about my mom and she is worth celebrating.

Disclaimer about this next paragraph, I’m being open, transparent and going full disclosure so read at your own discretion. In this moment as I’m typing, I’m super uncomfortable, making frequent trips to the bathroom and practically wearing a diaper. Apparently my body will miscarry on its own. I guess that makes sense. If your body can conceive, then it surely can terminate.  That word “terminate” is disheartening, but it is what it is. Time heals and I’m just ready for this to pass so I can once again start my healing journey.

Taking it back to July 4th, our Nation’s Independence Day, a Holiday I enjoy celebrating and this years was one to remember. I woke up with morning sickness and lack of energy. For the past few days I had been feeling different. My stomach was always upset in the mornings and I would sooth the sickness with oatmeal, raspberries and ½ tbsp of peanut butter. Almost immediately I would feel better and slowly I would regain my energy back, getting as much done as I could when I was feeling good. I knew I was pregnant. I had so many symptoms from the morning sickness, to hunger pains, lower back pain, sore/tender breasts, shortness of breath, moodiness, MAJOR moodiness, restless nights, body temperature changes, slight cramping, the lists goes on and on.

It was a funny situation because my mom was visiting and we really wanted to keep this 2nd pregnancy to ourselves until we were in the clear, given our 1st miscarriage, but I couldn’t wait any longer to buy a test. Ryan went to the store, picked up a box of tests, brought it home and I took one. I immediately put the test in my robe pocket and ran to the bedroom where Ry was waiting so we could look at the result together. On the count of three, I turned the test with the answer over. IT WAS POSITIVE. We were thrilled. It had been four months since the last pregnancy. We had to wait three cycles in between before I could get an HSG (tube cleaning) to then get clearance from our OB to try again. This was the first month of trying again and we did it!! As I had mentioned, we were celebrating undercover so picture this, Ry and I were screaming and waving our arms around in pure silence. It was hysterical. It was our little secret and the best kind of one.

The next day I ended up breaking down and telling my mom because we were shopping in NYC and usually that includes wine and good food.  I couldn’t lie to my mom, so I caved and told her our little secret. We cried and we celebrated. A few days later I went into the doctor for a blood pregnancy test and to check my HCG/Progesterone levels. Pregnancy is a series of hurdles. You have to get through one to move onto the other. It’s a lot of hurry up and wait. My levels were exactly where they needed to be. I passed the physical exam too. We were making progress. My doctor was happy. She said my cervix was a lot more firm this pregnancy, which was a great sign. She scheduled our ultrasound.

We waited until week 9 of our pregnancy for our first ultrasound. Prior to the appointment, I was doing everything I could to take care of myself. Cutting back my caffeine, dialing back workouts to 70% output, keeping my heart rate under 160, making the necessary food/drink eliminations, making sure I was eating enough, getting enough rest, all the things I was happy to do again for our baby. The biggest victory of all during that waiting time was I did not bleed, not once, which was my biggest fear as my first miscarriage was constantly lingering in my mind.

Ryan and I were so excited for our ultrasound. It was on a Monday. We showed up, we were hopeful, we tried our best to look at the positive, no matter the result. The tech did their job taking the initial look then sent the doctor in to go over our results. She was so kind explaining to us what she saw. There was a sac, but no yolk sac or baby. There were two potential outcomes, either we were earlier on then we expected and just needed more time for the baby to fully develop or at some point our pregnancy dissolved. The doc urged us to be hopeful, scheduled another ultrasound for two weeks and set up an appointment with my OB for Tuesday to get my blood levels checked again to make sure the pregnancy was going in the right direction.

The day after our ultrasound, I started bleeding. I knew something felt off again. The abdomen pain, the panic, the fear, all felt too familiar. I got into my OB right away, informed her what was going on and she took my blood levels. She said I needed to be prepared for the unfortunate outcome as all signs were leading to another bad pregnancy. I still had to wait until my lab results came in Wednesday to be for sure. This was the tough part, despite partially knowing what’s going on in your body, you still have to wait for results to be absolutely sure. The waiting game is brutal because not only are you stuck in your body, but your mind. I felt like a prisoner. I could feel everything, mentally and physically. Ry would continue to look at the positive side, he had so much hope. I admire that quality in him. I tried so hard to be on his level, but I just had an overwhelming feeling that this wasn’t going to work out again. I prayed so hard. I dropped to my knees, I surrendered. I begged God for a miracle.

It’s Wednesday. The day I was supposed to get my results. I anxiously awaited a phone call only to learn my OB was in delivery all day and she was the only approved contact to provide me answers on my case. Luckily my sister-in-law is a Doctor. I called her and asked her to try to contact my OB to find out what was going on. I needed answers now. I was terrified beyond belief. I was awaiting results about whether this pregnancy was worth fighting for or if I needed to start the miscarriage process. I didn’t know if I would need termination assistance like I did the previous miscarriage (possible ectopic pregnancy) or if my body would naturally miscarry on its own. I needed a professional opinion, guidance, anything. I needed to know whether or not I could get on a plane Thursday to fly to Las Vegas for my mom’s birthday.  I just needed answers.

My OB called me from the hospital. The results were not good. My levels were not improving, I was bleeding and nothing showed up in my ultrasound. My OB said unfortunately she has to rule this another “bad” pregnancy. I could hear the pain in her voice. She said she felt so bad for us and didn’t know what else to say. The upside was that my body would be able to naturally miscarry, which is less invasive then having to get a painful shot of medicine that pushed out my last pregnancy. However, miscarrying naturally could take a couple weeks. My doc encouraged me to go on my trip. She said I would feel uncomfortable for a while as my body needed to discard the pregnancy tissue, but she was positive I would get through it as I did my last one. So, my Ry and I talked about the pros/cons and we made the decision that I should go and spend time with my family.

Which takes us back to the beginning of this blog when I was miscarrying on a plane. My miscarriage lasted about a week. I bled a lot, I was in physical pain a lot, mentally I was wrecked, so sad, but I was ready to move on and start the healing process. I enjoyed the trip the best I could from Thursday-Monday. Then I was back at the doctor Tuesday and every other day for a week until my blood levels came down to 0, to officially confirm the pregnancy was over and that my body was getting rid of all evidence, pregnancy tissue. That might be one of the hardest emotional tests of all. Having to walk into the OB office, surrounded by pregnant women, only to get your blood work done day after day to finalize your miscarriage. It’s a constant painful reminder from the emotional toll to the physical one, the constant pricks in both of my arms. I cried nearly every time I got my blood drawn, not because of the pain, but because of the mental agony.

But I survived, like I knew I would, as hard as it was. Shortly after Vegas, we had a scheduled trip to travel Europe for two weeks. It was perfect timing and a much needed distraction for both Ryan and I to travel, explore, be adventurers, be tourists. We lived it up and made some of the most incredible memories, life experiences I’ll hold onto forever.

During that trip we made the decision that we weren’t going to try again until we got some answers. Given our pregnancy loss history, we were able to get into a fertility clinic where we were assigned a doctor and nurse to help guide us through our trying stage. Their number one goal is to get you pregnant. This is the help we needed.

October 5th came quicker than we expected. Our fertility counseling appointment has been followed by weeks of testing, waiting, analyzing results and forming a game plan. We are fighting for our rainbow baby (s) one positive action at a time. Next blog will detail that experience. 

If you made it this far, I hope you are left with a sense of hope. We are surviving these miscarriages one day at a time. It’s something so unfair and hard to understand but I promise you time heals. The most important thing is to learn to deal with the losses anyway that makes you feel better. Everyone has their own journey and it’s unique to them. I like to express my feelings through blogging and speaking out loud about them, while others like to keep their experience private. There’s no wrong way, just seek support anywhere you can whether that’s from your partner, family, best friends, counselor, etc. There’s strength in human connection and that’s something I’ve learned along the way. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and if you’re going through something similar, just know you are not alone

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