Working through a loss is never easy, and the guilt losing a pregnancy that was initially unwanted brings another flood of emotions.
My only unplanned pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 10 weeks.
When I found out I was pregnant for the third time, I wasn’t happy. True, I wanted more kids, but I was finally enjoying life after pulling through some wicked postpartum anxiety and depression that crippled me after my daughter was born. I wanted more kids, but not then, and I did not want that pregnancy.
I was out to dinner with a group of friends and fellow volunteers for Milwaukee Babywearing. I'd gone to the restroom and there was some concerning spotting. I remember coming out and telling Jessica about the spotting and saying, “I’m going to hate myself if I miscarry this baby.”
Only days before, I had finally gotten excited about it, after the weeks of feeling resentful and upset. I had realized I wasn’t upset with the prospect of another baby, I was upset about the prospect of another postpartum. After I had my daughter, my thyroid went totally whack and hyperactive. I always felt intensely anxious and had panic attacks pretty much daily. There was nothing the doctors could really do since it was caused by hormonal shifts, except put me on Zoloft. Which was ok, it helped, or I thought it did, but I was emotionally neutral and didn’t really bond with her for months, despite doing everything I possibly could. Never particularly happy or sad, I’d get angry and that was about it.
When this surprise came around, I was weaned off the Zoloft and feeling like “myself” again. We made so many plans. It was the summer we went hiking in the mountains in Colorado with our kids, we took them down to Missouri to see the Solar Eclipse, we went camping along cliffs. I was first-trimester tired, but it was awesome. So much easier than having to take a baby along. Selfish, right?
But then our adventures concluded and I started making lists. It's how I process. Name ideas. Gear we would need for camping and hiking with three little ones. Plans for Milwaukee Babywearing. Inventory of our cloth diapers.
It was almost exactly four years ago, and I’ve since had my rainbow baby, but like any death, especially one when you feel responsible, I’m not totally over it. And looking through my journal from that time, I found very few mentions of the loss. "Started light spotting,” then the next day, "Had a miscarriage," then, four weeks later, “Still bleeding” and a few days after that “Bleeding stopped. Finally.” But I did find the ultrasound picture that almost no one had seen, and certainly no one asked about.
So this picture. The morning after the spotting at the restaurant, I was still bleeding, a bit more than before. I called my doctor’s office and requested an ultrasound to see what was going on.
They got me in that day. Sam stayed home with the kids, or maybe my mom watched them because he had to work, I honestly don’t remember. But I remember the ultrasound room, and I remember asking the tech, “Either way, could you print a picture so I can show my husband?”
Shortly after starting, she told me she was so sorry, there was no heartbeat. I was crying but trying to stay still because she needed to still take a few measurements.
The baby only measured 7 weeks, so they estimated it had died several weeks ago. I was offered a D&C, which I declined. Part of me thought that maybe there was a fluke, maybe the baby was fine, maybe they missed a twin or something. I didn’t want the baby forcibly removed. He told me that I would pass some tissue. Since it was already starting, I wouldn’t have more than a few days. I’ve had unmedicated births, sounds fine.
“Pass some tissue.”
It was like labor. I passed a placenta in chunks. I passed the tiny baby, wrapped in toilet paper and flushed. There was so much blood. For some reason I imagined an early miscarriage was just a heavy period. It was not.
My mom, Sam and Jessica helped with the kids while I “passed some tissue.” Four days later, when the worst had passed, I brought my kids to hike Holy Hill and enjoy the fall colors.
I imagined a little girl. A little girl I never loved until she was already dead.
I carried her picture with me for two years, and never showed anyone except Sam. But there she is, just a typical baby blob on an ultrasound.
And that was four years ago. I'm ok now, but I still remember, I still feel the loss and the complicated emotions although it's not so hard.
And I want to see your baby's photo.