Last weekend I made a big mistake. I had a bridal shower to go to, and because I didn’t want to drive, I got a ride with a friend. Unfortunately for me, this friend happens to be a stay-at-home mom. She hasn’t worked for 5 years, and her husband travels frequently and for long periods of time for work. She spends all day, every day, with her two kids.
The shower was supposed to be 3 hours long, which with driving time, I figured would mean about a 4 hour outing. No big deal, just the afternoon. I had planned on coming home afterwards and having a nap, then going out for dinner with M, and calling it an early night, as usual. We left my house at about 12:30, and arrived just after 1PM. The shower was lots of fun, and ended quite promptly at 4PM. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law left immediately, and I didn’t think anything of it. I could have gone with them since they live close by, but I assumed (very incorrectly) that we would also be on our way soon.
I was way off: I didn’t realize that to my stay-at-home mom friend, this was her getaway, her fun time, her time to spend with adults, free of children!
She chatted exuberantly for HOURS. Other people were leaving, including another pregnant lady, not as far along as I am, who left saying she was tired out… By 6PM, I was frustrated and tired beyond belief. I had eaten all the fruit and crackers I could handle, but it was time for dinner, for real food. I was hot and tired and hungry. Once, my friend even said – I guess we should get going soon, to which I replied, “Yeah, I’m totally ready for a nap!” I thought this was pretty straightforward, but apparently not. Next thing I knew, she had struck up another conversation and there was no way I could even get a word in edgewise. I should have just put on my shoes, picked up my purse, and started saying my goodbyes. We stayed for longer.
Her husband even called to see when she would be coming home because he was hungry for dinner. After she hung up with him, she said: “See, you get to go home and rest. When I go home, I get to have my kids climbing all over me and I have to help with dinner.” No wonder she didn’t want to go home. But I couldn’t help but be angry that she couldn’t see how exhausted I was. I bit my tongue, though, because she had given me a ride and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful.
Finally, my other sister-in-law got a call from her husband (also seeing when she was going to be coming home so they could have dinner), and I jumped at the chance to see if I could get a ride home with her. Upon hearing that, my friend finally decided that we should get going, too. We made our way home, stopping at Starbucks first, and I did my best to keep my energy up during the ride home.
As soon as I walked in the door, at just after 7 PM, M greeted me and asked how I was holding up. I had been texting him for the last couple of hours, lamenting my situation. My response was that I was so tired that I could cry. And with that, I burst into tears and headed upstairs as fast as I could. I tore off my dress and climbed into bed, bawling because I was beyond exhaustion. M offered to get me food or something to drink, but all I wanted was to lie down and sleep. I was frustrated, angry and completely beat. I had not planned on being out for seven hours, and it was way too much for my pregnant body.
It was different from just a day at work because in that situation, I know what to expect. I know what time my day should start and end. But this was supposed to be a short afternoon out, followed by a nap and food. Instead, I cried myself to sleep and woke up at 9PM to have a bite to eat, and then went back to bed feeling worn out and robbed of my day.
I’ll never make that mistake again.
M has been a busy bee lately. As soon as he gets home from work, he’s doing things around the house, cleaning, organizing, fixing things. His current project is re-staining the back deck. We did it last summer, but only did one coat and it’s faded and scratched from the two dogs always running around back there. I am too big and tired and hot to help, so he’s doing it on his own. Watching the progress, I can’t help but think back to last year when I was right in there with my paintbrush, breathing in those fumes when I was only a few weeks pregnant with the baby that we would eventually lose.
Did I cause my miscarriage by painting????
The truth is, I’ll never know. And I can’t blame myself for the loss of our baby. I knew I was pregnant at the time, but I didn’t think it would be a problem to paint because we were outside, not in an enclosed space. Partway through it, I thought maybe I should check online to see if painting was advised against while pregnant. What I read told me that the reason they used to say pregnant women should avoid painting was because paint used to include lead. However, household paints are no-longer lead based, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Most sites also advised to not paint for long periods of time and make sure you took fresh air breaks.
Back when I first miscarried, my doctor told me that there is usually nothing the mother did to cause a miscarriage. Miscarriages just happen if things aren’t coming together properly, and that in the long run that means that the embryo wasn’t going to develop correctly. She said that 90% of the time, women will have a successful pregnancy after they have a miscarriage, and that miscarriages are unfortunately very common the first time. That was of little comfort at the time.
Awhile ago, I wrote a post on what would have been my due date if I had not miscarried. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what that meant. Instead of being 33 weeks along, I would have had a month and half old baby right now. It’s hard to imagine!! Right now, baby is still inside of me, kicking away as I type this, and getting bigger and stronger each day. I have to just hold firm to the belief that this is what was meant to be, that I can’t regret anything that happened or that I did in the past.
Today is an important milestone for a couple of reasons. Firstly, at 27 weeks, I am now in my third trimester! And secondly, on a much more somber note – if I had not miscarried in October, my baby would have been due today.
In the dark days and weeks after my miscarriage, I often thought of this day: June 3rd. How would I feel? Would I still be sad so long after my miscarriage? Would I be pregnant again by then? What if we still hadn’t been able to conceive? I remember feeling like it would be an extremely difficult day for me if I was not pregnant. As it turns out, I’ve had a wide range of emotions today and leading up to today.
As the date loomed closer, I was already feeling a bit of anticipation. I can’t recall when it was exactly, but in the last few days there was a morning when I lay in bed alone, with M already up and about, and I cried. I thought about our little blueberry, the baby that we had lost, and that I still mourn. I thought about all of the pain and anger and disappointment, and mostly about that feeling of emptiness. I remember how I used to wake up each morning and sadly put my hand on my then-empty belly, thinking of what we had lost and if I would ever be happy again… I remember dreading June 3rd, and wondering how I would feel knowing that my baby could have been born on that day. Even writing this now is so difficult! I have to stop typing after every sentence to wipe the tears from my eyes!!
M and I talked last night about how today would have been the big day. He knew immediately what I was going for as soon as I started to bring it up. I wonder sometimes if he still thinks about what happened to us last year. He’s such a positive thinker that I don’t believe he does. I think he thinks about the excitement of what’s coming up for us in September.
He caught me off guard this morning. I was at my desk when the receptionist called me and told me I had a package delivery. I assumed it was a sales package, but to my surprise, sitting there was pretty red box with a black and gold ribbon. Instead of flowers, he had sent me Cookies by George! The card simply read – Sweetie, thinking of you today. Love, M. I burst into tears immediately. Luckily, I had the explanation of today being our third trimester milestone, but the double meaning of today hit me hard. I quickly retreated to my office, closed the door, and tried to fight back the tears. We could have been welcoming our baby into the world today, but instead we are counting down these last 3 months.
I am18 weeks now.
It’s incredible for me to think that I am almost halfway through my pregnancy. Every time I touch my growing belly, it astounds me at how round it’s getting. Everything has been going really well. My appetite has definitely kicked up a gear and I think I need to eat every couple of hours. I can never eat a whole lot, but I need to eat a little something all the time. But as well as I feel, I still can’t help but worry. I guess that’s what pregnancy after miscarriage is all about, though. I thought it would get better after my first trimester, when the chance of miscarriage goes down drastically, and it did a bit, but the worry is still there.
I suppose what really surprised me was when M and I went to that second doctor’s visit a couple of weeks ago. After I had asked all of my questions, the nurse asked if there was anything else she could answer for us. Unexpectedly, M asked if there was anything she could tell me to help me feel not as scared, based at how far along I was now. As soon as he asked that, I burst into tears. I guess it just caught me off guard – I had no idea he was going to do that. I was also a bit surprised at her answer. I can’t remember the exact words, but she said that this is a new baby now, and that I have to say goodbye to my first pregnancy, that it wasn’t meant to be and that I can’t worry about it. I was very surprised at her response. I thought she would have said something more like: this time is different, you’re in the 2nd trimester now and everything should be fine, your baby is doing well.
I still count down every day and every week. Often, people will ask me how my pregnancy is going and if I’m excited. Of course, we’re very excited. But I could never say that my pregnancy has been joyful. I hear some women say that they loved their pregnancy, and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to say that about any part of mine. I can’t honestly say that I love being pregnant because there is always that seed of fear and doubt in me. When people tell me how fast my pregnancy will go, I can’t help but think that it can’t go fast enough. Whenever I hear of late miscarriages, or even worse, stillbirths, it makes me shudder, making me think that I won’t ever feel safe. I just want to give birth so I can hold my baby in my arms, alive and well and breathing.
At around this time, it’s possible that I will finally get to feel baby moving. I’ve read that quickening can happen anywhere between 16-20 weeks, and possibly even as late as 22 weeks. It happens sooner if it’s your second child or if you’re slim, or later if it’s your first time or are overweight. I’m quite small, so I’ve been hoping to feel it as soon as I hit that 16 week mark. Supposedly, it’s also harder to tell in your first pregnancy because you don’t really know what to feel for, and it could seem like gas bubbles! It can also feel like a fluttering or popcorn popping. Sometimes, I lay on my back and try to concentrate on my lower abdomen to try to feel for something, anything going on down there.
Today, M and I went to a movie and while I was sitting there, I had this weird sensation. It wasn’t really a tummy rumble, like I often get when I’m hungry, even before I was pregnant. I suppose it could be described as a fluttering. I felt it again later tonight, the same sort of sensation that I can’t quite describe.
Is that you, baby?
I’m worried. Not so much worried…nervous. anxious. wary. cautious.
It was on this night in my first pregnancy that I was curled up in a ball with pain. I was crouched on the floor of my bedroom, and later in my bathroom, with incredible cramping that turned out to be the start of my miscarriage. At the time, I had thought that maybe it was the salmon that I had for dinner that was not sitting well. After all, I had eaten salmon a couple of weeks before and also ended up having a stomach ache. But this was different. The next day I found spotting. It was bright red. Then more on the following day, and yet more spotting again the day after that. Finally, I went to the doctor’s office where she sent me for an ultrasound. And on Day 1 of Week 8 of my pregnancy, an ultrasound found that there was no heartbeat. The yolk sac was present, but they didn’t see what they should have been able to see at 8 weeks. My baby was already dead. Within a day, my miscarriage was in full force and I was passing huge clots of blood. It was the most devastating thing I have ever gone through in my entire life.
Today, I am 7 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I had lamb and rice for dinner. I’ve felt sick a few times today, as usual, but there’s an additional queasiness that has nothing to do with my hormones today.
Since I found out I was pregnant again on Christmas Day, I have cut out all alcohol. I’ve cut way way back on coffee and any kind of caffeine. I’ve been eating well, taking my prenatal vitamins and drinking lots of water. I haven’t played a single game of hockey or gone to hot yoga. I’ve barely even gone out, except maybe for dinner. I didn’t even go to watch M’s hockey game last Friday night, opting instead to sit on the couch with our dogs and watch a movie. In a way, I’ve put myself on a modified bedrest, trying as much as possible to let my body rest and concentrate on what’s more important than anything else in the world right now – building a baby.
I knew that when this week came, I would be extremely nervous. It’s part of the reason I didn’t schedule my ultrasound for this Thursday even though my doctor said that I could have. I would have been way too terrified to go for another ultrasound at the 8 week mark. I felt as if I would have been tempting fate, daring it to repeat what it had done to me in the past.
I have to believe that this time is different and that I won’t have another miscarriage. I have to believe that this time, we are going to have a beautiful, happy, healthy baby.
In dealing with my miscarriage, I went over every possible reason I could have lost my baby. Some were scientific, but many were not. One of the things I blamed myself for was for being too smug, too proud to have conceived so easily, especially since my sister in law had been off birth control for nearly a year. I thought I was in better shape, took better care of myself and was more capable of carrying a baby. I thought perhaps the miscarriage was a way for God to humble me. Maybe I held on to too much rage, honking at other drivers when they weren’t driving the way I thought they should drive. I thought that perhaps my heart rate was elevated to such a level in my anger when my puppy was attacked at the dog park that it wasn’t good for my baby, and that I had killed it by not being calm and happy and forgiving enough.
I know all of these things are unlikely and unproven, and that the vast majority of miscarriages are caused to a genetic abnormality that is decided at the moment of conception. However, that did not stop me from wondering if I hadn’t done enough to earn my baby.
With this pregnancy, as new as it is, I think that always in the back of my mind is a tiny voice reminding me of karma. There have been a few times in recent weeks when I’ve done a good deed, not with the intention of buying my baby by acting as a good samaritan, but because I’ve felt like it would be good for my soul. With all the heartache and agony that I’ve been dealing with, it’s as if I need some other kind of nourishment. A pregnancy after miscarriage is ever more cherished than one that has never had to deal with this kind of loss.
On the Sunday after Christmas, I went with M to visit my dad’s grave. I admit that it has been far too long since I’ve gone. Even though it has been nearly 20 years since his death, I still can’t visit him without tears. Even now, as I type, my eyes are welling up. I loved him so much and I still miss him. (It probably doesn’t help that I have the nostalgic sounding Gran Torino song playing on my laptop.) As we stood over my dad’s grave, I read the inscription silently in my head, as I always do. I wrote it for him as my farewell when I was fourteen:
you’re here in my heart
and though we must part
we will meet again
in a land far away
a land without pain
we will be together
just good memories
until we meet again
I asked my dad to look out for me this time, to look after the tiny baby growing in my belly. I told him I was sorry that I didn’t come here last time. I asked him for his blessing, and to be our guardian angel. I have always believed that my dad is with me and looks out for me. On very rare occasions, he has visited me in my dreams. Sometimes, mostly when I was younger, I truly felt him with me. And on that day, as M and I stood there with our arms wrapped around each other, I hoped that he was with us again, all three of us: M, me, and the little blueberry growing inside of me.
For days I’ve been obsessing over when I would get my period. Over a week ago, I thought it was maybe time, but day after day would pass with nothing. It would drive me crazy to hear about all of these women who were getting pregnant. Last night I heard of yet another one. She already has two kids and wasn’t even trying. She didn’t even want to get pregnant and she was pregnant again!
I broke down. I fought with my husband because I was so frustrated. I was angry because I wasn’t even back at square one, I was somewhere in the land of square negative. Having my period would be back at square one, and it was not coming. Where the hell was it? How long would I have to wait? It was killing me. I was miserable, not able to cope with all the feelings of jealousy and loneliness. I felt so alone, so weak and fragile and uncapable. My heart broke yet again when I thought about how far along I would have been by now. This would have been the end of my first trimester, a huge milestone in my pregnancy. But instead, my womb is dead and empty. When would it be ready for life again?
But finally, this afternoon, it’s here.
I’ve already checked my trusty ovulation calendar and have marked down the days that we’ll try again. I finally feel like there’s hope for me again. I feel like I can start over.
It’s not fair! I can’t handle this today. I’ve had it!
In the last 24 hours, I’ve heard of two more people who are pregnant. AGAIN. Both of them already have little girls and they are pregnant again. I’m pissed off. Maybe I’m no one to judge, but I can’t help it. One of them is an eternal drama queen – one of those people who always seems to have some sort of incredible story of this or that, someone’s deathly ill, their car got broken into again, they’re going to sue someone for something, blah blah blah. For the other one, no one is quite sure who the dad is of her daughter, and she’s pregnant again, and again with no boyfriend.
I eat well, I exercise, I don’t smoke, I have been taking folic acid every day for months, drink lots of water and carefully planned this pregnancy and I had a fucking miscarriage. I should have been 12 weeks by now.
I just remembered something while browsing through some other blogs about miscarriage.
A friend of ours smoked during her entire pregnancy and she carried her baby to term. She now has two children.
I came across another blog today which shared an article about how grief due to a miscarriage is different from other types of grief. It has a long list of items, and I found myself nodding in agreement at so many of them. You can view the list here.
I have thought many times about how this loss compares to the other tragedy of my life. I lost my dad when I was very young, only 14. I loved him – he was the sun. I was his good little helper, a daddy’s girl. We did silly little things, like keep our watches perfectly in sync. When I was little, I would greet him from the second step of the staircase when he got home from work. He would put down his briefcase and I would jump from the step into his arms. Eventually, he had to tell me that I was just getting to be too big for that. But we would always have our special bear hug.
In the weeks before his death, he was recovering well from his bypass surgery. He was told that he had lost too much of his vision, that he was now legally blind and would likely never be able to drive again. True to his form, he never accepted that and never wavered in his belief that he would recover and drive again. And of course he did. He was getting well in every way, I thought. He was fine. And then one day, I got a frantic call from my neighbor telling me that my dad was lying outside on the steps. He was still alive when I found him. His eyes were wild and bewildered and lost. He couldn’t speak. I suppose I called an ambulance, or maybe my neighbor did. The paramedics asked if I wanted to ride with them to the hospital or if I would get a ride there. Not knowing how I would get home if I went with them, I got a ride from another one of my neighbors (an ex-football player) instead. By the time we got to the hospital, it was too late. A counsellor took me into a warmly lit room with a lamp and a couch and a box of tissues. I went home.
I don’t think that the grief from my dad’s death is at all like the grief with my miscarriage. There is sadness in both, but not the same kind. There was no guilt with my dad, no sense of betrayal, no jealousy, no failure. I don’t think I was even angry. With my miscarriage, I feel all of those things and more.
I think one of the most difficult parts of having to deal with a miscarriage is that feeling that my future was taken from me. Grieving for my dad, I think of all of the wonderful memories we had together, like ice skating in the winter on a frozen lake. In grieving for my lost baby, I can only think of all of those memories we never got to have.