Recovering from a miscarriage. It's surreal typing that, but that's still what I'm doing today 9 weeks after hearing the news.
On January 9th, I found out at 14 weeks that I'd had a miscarriage. If our little spirit baby had stuck around, I'd be 23 weeks pregnant. I can't believe so much time has passed. It's crazy to look back on my Instagram posts from the week after I found out. The same sentiment I wrote then stands true today:
Currently I’m carrying a bit of guilt over the wave of emotions I’ve been having: sadness followed by comfort, followed by inspiration, followed by worry, etc. Right now I’m just letting myself feel everything and trying not to hold anything back.
When I shared the news on social media, I didn't feel like I was sharing information that I shouldn't, or talking about a forbidden topic. Despite that, I ended up with so many comments and private messages thanking me for my honesty. ⠀
It had me wondering why so many women keep their struggles and emotions bottled up? Miscarriage happens between 20-25% of all pregnancies, and that's not even including the percentage of women who miscarry within the first month and never even know they're pregnant.
Miscarriage shouldn't be something we feel ashamed of or struggle with internally. ⠀
As hard as this has been for me, I'm trying to remain positive and to find a purpose for why this happened to us. Aside from believing that our spirit baby just wasn't ready to share his life with us, and that he'll return when he's ready, I wonder if this is also a learning opportunity for me. An opportunity for me to begin sharing more of my vulnerable moments; for becoming more transparent and more visible within this community. ⠀
I hope to take away from this experience the chance to share all my struggles, my self conscious faults, and maybe even some of my diagnoses that I've kept from nearly everyone in my life. If I'm struggling, someone else out there is as well. I shouldn't be ashamed to show and share what I've learned through these trying times, and you shouldn't either.
Here's to finding hope and courage to keep sharing. I hope you can do the same and keep the dialogue open as well.
If you're interested in hearing my story, I'll share below. If you're wanting to journal and talk about your story, I'd be honored if you cared to share it in the comments.
My History with Fertility & Autoimmunity
I always expected to have difficulty trying to conceive.
When I was 17 years old, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, an autoimmune disease which would make it difficult for me to get pregnant. Honestly, I'm thankful I learned of it at such a young age. It allowed me to prepare mentally for the possibility that I may need to have interventions in order to conceive.
Later I was diagnosed at age 25 with PCOS (another autoimmune disease affecting fertility). It wasn't until then that I really started to realize that it would be difficult, if not impossible for me to have a baby on my own without surgery or hormone therapy.
I've said from the very beginning that my journey with the autoimmune protocol, a protocol designed to help manage autoimmune disease through diet and lifestyle, was motivated by my desire to healthfully conceive on my own. And in October of 2016, two years after starting the AIP, I did just that.
Although I'd been prepping for pregnancy with diet for a couple of years, James and I had only been actively trying for a couple of months. I was so surprised and thankful to have gotten pregnant so quickly, and I attribute that success to my long-standing AIP diet and lifestyle.
Preparing for the Worst
Looking back now, James and I both feel like we somehow knew that this baby wasn't quite ready. We'd both get scolded by friends and coworkers when we'd preface our pregnancy news with “Assuming everything is okay…”. No one else understood why we were talking pessimistically about the pregnancy. They'd respond with, “Oh, don't say that, you'll be fine.”
It seems like the whole time, we subconsciously knew that there was something missing, but everyone around us continued to shut down that emotion. This is just another reason why these topics need to be talked about with more regularity. Miscarriage isn't a shameful topic, and we shouldn't have to shut down and suppress our feelings about something that is considered to be taboo.
Despite that, I had all the terrible first trimester symptoms: crazy fatigue, food aversions to nearly everything, all day nausea, and even an aversion to technology (I swear responding to emails was torturous, I can't explain it). As horrible as these symptoms were, they were signs that my hormones were progressing as they should, so in a way it was reassuring.
I had my first sonogram at 14 weeks. I know this is late, but it's just the way it worked out for me. I'd had a doppler to hear the baby's heart beat prior, but this was the first time I was going in to actually meet our baby.
I knew right away that something wasn't right. The sonogram tech was pointing out my anatomy, but not mentioning anything about the baby. I expected her to say something about the heart beat but she just kept showing me my ovaries and measuring them. Then she showed me my sac and mentioned that it appeared to be empty.
The doctor came in and explained to me that the baby stopped developing very early on, and for some reason my body still thought it was pregnant, so the sac continued to develop. He mentioned that it's impossible to tell what the cause was, but that it was likely just bad luck or a chromosomal abnormality in the embryo.
Since my sac was developed to 14 weeks, it was strongly advised that I have a D&C (dilation and curettage) as it would be very painful to naturally miscarry and there would be a greater chance of hemorrhage. Also, my body still was developing the sac, so the doctor wasn't sure that my body would ever miscarry on it's own.
I found out about my miscarriage on a Monday and had my D&C on Thursday of that same week. I won't ever forget what it was like to hold the hands of complete strangers in the operating room right before I said goodbye to my first baby. I'm so thankful to the nurses who comforted me.
The next two paragraphs explain graphically what happened after the procedure, due to an infection that developed. Skip this if you're sensitive to these subjects.
Recovery from the D&C was very easy the first few days. I didn't need any medication, had only mild cramping, and hardly any bleeding. The Monday following the procedure, my bleeding started to pick up. My cramps started around 3 that afternoon, and I ended up leaving work early since they were so strong. I called the nurse to check if this was something to be concerned about, and she mentioned it being normal since I wasn't going through more than one pad in 2 hours.
Around 7 that evening, I felt something big come out of me. I ran to the bathroom, and inside the pad was a literal handful of blood and clots. For the next three hours I laid in the bathtub with contractions as my body “aborted” the clots. I'm thankful now that I didn't go to the emergency room, and just let this happen at home, as scary as it was.
I'm told this experience is very similar to what it's like to miscarry naturally at home, without a D&C. I can only imagine how terrifying that would be if you weren't expecting it, and I'm so thankful that it hadn't happened earlier on in my pregnancy before I'd known that I had miscarried.
I went in to have another sonogram the next day to make sure I had passed all the clots, and that there wasn't anything else in my uterus. They found that not even 12 hours later, it was already filled with blood again, which indicated an infection. Again, thankfully my uterus hadn't been knicked, and I was able to recover and move forward.
Just like most other women who have miscarried early on, I won't ever know the reason why it happened. It's hard to believe there is a purpose for it, but I somehow feel like I'm in the process of finding it.
I believe that our baby wasn't quite ready to join us, and that he will in the future. There is more in life that James and I are meant to accomplish before he does.
This event was happening when we found out we lost our baby, and reading that article gave me so much comfort. Reflecting on these past couple of months, I have tears in my eyes as I realize how much truth lies in it.
What is meant for us will always hit its mark in our lives right on time. It’s not possible to mess up our life’s plan so severely that we feel desperate and without hope.
Yet, even with that being the case, sometimes the divine orchestrates such an event that it’s impossible to ignore.
We missed something—something big—something that, quite possibly, we didn’t think was meant for us.
James and I are taking advantage of the opportunity of having more 1-1 time to spend just the two of us and having more time to develop our business. We were both enlightened after the miscarriage to restructure our business model to include more passive programs and fewer 1-1 clients. We're hoping this will help to get our health coaching business to a place that will allow for more freedom once we do have a baby. In general, we're continuing to prep ourselves for a baby, and taking advantage of the time extra time we've been granted.
No matter how much we think we know the ending, sometimes the universe shows us that this was only the first act.
This next month—whether we want it to or not—possesses the ability to change everything in an instant.
Where you once felt stuck, things will suddenly fall apart to reveal new information and alternate endings you could never have imagined.
Situations morph, evolve and transition—sometimes more beautifully than we could ever anticipate.
Perhaps there are no final choices or endings, but once in a while, the universe and God conspire to give us a chance at having the life we’ve always prayed for—our only job is to listen.
Our mission this month is to be open to change, so we can let ourselves be led to where we need to be, instead of planting our feet in resistance.
Because once in a while, miracles really can happen—but only if we let them.
“What good are wings without the courage to fly.” ~ Atticus
We named our spirit baby Atticus after that final quote.
So much truth lies in that article. Since our miscarriage, we've accomplished big things and we've set other big things into motion. I truly feel there is a purpose, and that these accomplishments are testiment to that. I'm just not quite sure what that exact purpose is yet.
I do know this. One day we'll be holding a baby in our arms, and won't be able to feel anything but love for this whole process. We will be so thankful that this miscarriage happened, because if we hadn't lost our spirit baby Atticus, the one in our arms wouldn't exist.
A note to you:
Thank you for reading this. If you're recovering from a miscarriage, I urge you to keep the communication open. Don't shut down your emotions, and don't distract yourself from them. This isn't something to be ashamed of, and suppressing the emotions only perpetuates the false premise that miscarriage is shameful.
Find peace, seek out a purpose, and express your emotions. So much love and healing vibes from me and James to you and your family.