Big Changes Part 1: Cross country move, miscarriage and answers

Whew. We did it!

We successfully moved across the country with a 15 month old, dog, and household of stuff. It’s been an incredibly hard, exhausting, exciting, and challenging spring so far and I don’t even know where to begin. So, I’ll just jump on in. This could get long, so I’m going to break it up into a 3 part series. You can read Part 2 and 3 Here and Here.

Pregnancy and Miscarriage

Positive Test_ReadySetSarahBlog

We found out in early March that we were expecting baby #2! We were THRILLED! I always wanted my kids close together and I wanted to start working on #2 just in case we experienced any trouble (like the first pregnancy which ended in a miscarriage at 12 weeks). The timing was a bit insane, since we were prepping for a cross-country move May 7th, but we couldn’t wait to show up in California with a little stowaway! Well, things didn’t go as planned… do they ever?

First, at what we calculated to be our 8 week appointment (based on my last period), the baby was only measuring 5 weeks. Strange… but our dates could very well have been off since my cycle was nowhere near regular yet. Then, a week later we went back to find a 6 week baby with a little steady heartbeat! A bit slow, but the Doc figured it was just getting going.

Heartbeat_ReadySetSarahBlog

Baby’s heartbeat.

Whew, it felt like we were in the clear and everything from there on out would be the (relatively) uneventful, smooth, and healthy pregnancy I’d always dreamed of… then I saw the tiniest bit of blood the Friday before what would be our  8 week appointment (based on the new dates adjusted at the first appointment). Okay, I’ve spotted with both my previous pregnancies…. those went 50/50, miscarriage/live birth. I trusted my gut and got in that day to have the baby checked.

The baby’s heartbeat was gone. It had stopped developing sometime in the 6th week after we saw it last.

This couldn’t be happening.

I was in shock, disbelief, numb.

Another miscarriage.

Why?

All our plans for another little November baby (like the first we miscarried which was due Nov 2nd, this baby’s adjusted due date was November 15th) were crushed. It took 3 weeks of bleeding before I finally miscarried fully. I had worked from home for a week waiting to pass the baby, but ended up miscarrying in the office on my last day before leaving for our big move to California. April 23rd. Almost exactly 2 years after I miscarried my first baby.

I Love You Forever_ReadySetSarahBlog

I packed away our Sister Bear and Baby bear shirts along with my hopes and dreams for these little siblings who would grow up so close in age. I pushed down the excitement for seeing Ziva as a big sister. I forced myself to see the silver linings this time around. At least I wouldn’t be having morning sickness and fatigue as I packed for the big move, at least I’d be able to lift things, at least, at least, at least…

I promise you, there was and is no silver lining that makes pregnancy loss of a wanted baby feel okay. There’s no silver lining good enough to replace the weight of a newborn in your arms, the kicks of a little growing baby, the joy of their first smiles, the love, the person they become. There just isn’t.

At least this time I had Ziva. At least this time I could hold her and find joy in her as she grows and changes… at least this time I know that I can survive, and life will go on, and eventually the sharpness of the pain dulls.

At least I was preparing to move back home where I could be close with my family and have a wide network of support for whatever the future holds. Our little family of 3 (4 with doggy Brinkley) would continue and move forward and move on, missing one more little angel.

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The Day that Almost Was

Tomorrow is significant for what it’s not.

It was the day that we thought we might have our first child. It was the day that I memorized immediately after finding out we were pregnant last February. It was my due date.

Now, it’s just Sunday.

It may seem silly to hold on to the date, like it once held some magic. Especially silly since most babies aren’t born on their due date. Truth is, the baby measured small at that first and only ultrasound. They probably would have moved the date about 4 days like they did this time around. But still, the anticipation of November 2nd has stuck with me.

In April all I could think was, “Oh G*d, I hope we are pregnant again by Nov 2nd, or I’m not sure how I’ll manage the day.” In truth, sitting here almost 6 months pregnant it does seem to ease a bit of the hurt. The loss. But I can’t shake the feeling that something was taken. That this day was supposed to mean something.

Sometimes when I get sad thinking about the first baby, I remind myself that I am grateful for the one inside me now. Maybe, just maybe it had to happen this way so that we’d get this particular little spirit, due on the very same day we found out we were pregnant with the first.

Sometimes I think I’m silly for mourning something that really almost never was. Just 12 weeks. But, in my heart I know fiercely that I felt that little spirit with me… And I felt them leave. It was like someone had left the room. Like the opposite of the feeling you get when someone is watching you, the feeling of absence.

Have a very merry unbirthday little one.

You are missed. You are loved. You were, and I will never be the same.

 

For more on our experience with pregnancy loss: 

Strangers on a plane

Santa Barbara Labor Day Weekend

We just returned from our first trip back home to California since the fateful trip in April. Though I had some underlying anxieties about traveling home again, knowing full well that the trip home did not cause what happened, it was actually a pretty positive experience.

We enjoyed a few lazy days the Bay Area after a long Labor Day weekend in Santa Barbara celebrating my cousin’s wedding with my sister, my new baby niece, my mom, and my mother’s side of the family. Brian broke out our new-to-us DSLR and got to becoming a bona fide [amateur] family photographer. It was, all in all, a very good trip.

Birthday walk on the warf in Santa Barbara. Gorgeous view which ever way you look! (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

Birthday walk on the wharf in Santa Barbara. Gorgeous view which ever way you look! (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

My precious niece Stella. Those stunning eyes! (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

My precious niece Stella. Those stunning eyes! (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

Who can resist those cheeks? I could have spent forever snuggling this little lady. (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

Who can resist those cheeks? I could have spent forever snuggling this little lady. (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

I was dreading our early Sunday morning flight home. I’m never really ready to leave my California home. Reluctantly, we rose at 4am PST and packed the last of our things. We enjoyed a last few minutes with my gracious dad, our ride.

Making a connection

Through security and waiting at our gate, I began to get my typical pre-flight jitters and pestered my husband until he agreed to move closer so that I could hear the gate agents better. Standing alert, waiting for the cue to board, a woman approached and asked for my help understanding the boarding process. I explained that she was Zone 2, and would have to wait until the priority and zone 1 customers had gone.

Another woman, older and with a more frazzled expression, approached me as the first left. She also needed help understanding when she should board. Her boarding pass was crumpled and her hands were a bit shaky as she held them out so that I could examine her pass. I explained her zone and the system for boarding, she explained that it was her first time ever flying alone. She asked if I flew often and if she’d be allowed to use her phone on board. I gave her a few pointers and answered her questions before we parted so that she could line up with the other zone 2 passengers.

I didn’t think much of our interaction, I try to make a point of helping people when they need a hand understanding a process or finding their way. This seemed no different. I can understand the feeling of being anxious, jittery and afraid of somehow missing something or getting left behind. We boarded the plane with the other non-elite (who forgot to check-in early) passengers in zone 3.

A few hours into the flight, waiting for the bathroom, the older woman met me with a startled look as she left the teeny lavatory. We met eyes and I saw that hers were red and glossy. Coming right up to me she explained with liqueur laden breath and wet eyes that she had been very upset earlier when she’d asked for my help because it was her first time flying alone. Her husband had died the day before.

My heart and stomach sank. I immediately felt a strong connection to the woman. The feeling of flying home, looking around at all the frazzled, happy, distracted travelers and wondering if they could see the pain and loss on my face. Feeling the overwhelming need to be taken care of, given space and consideration as I grieved the fresh loss of my own last April. The need to be held close as the feelings mixed with general travel anxiety.

I told her I was so, so sorry. I knew that wasn’t enough. I gave her a hug. I held her for a minute, her small frame and frizzy blonde/grey hair, her sorrow and her bravery in reaching out. I hugged her because it was all I knew to do. I hugged her because I knew how much it helped me to have Brian there to hold me when the sadness and newness of the pain took over me as we traveled home.

The other passengers who had been waiting looked on in surprise as we separated and the grieving woman slipped off to return to her seat. I didn’t even see which way she had gone I was so taken by the quick but weighty exchange.

This story needs no moral, but it was a heavy reminder of why I reach out, and respond when someone reaches out for a hand. Sure I’m a crotchety traveler sometimes, but it doesn’t hurt to open yourself up to the people around you. To hear them and help them when they ask a question or look befuddled. You never know what they are facing or where they are going or coming from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Care after a Miscarriage

All of the views expressed here are my own. I have used “alternative” care most of my life and find it helpful in combination with western medical care, particularly in caring for my overall wellbeing.

SelfCare_ReadySetSarahBlog

1 Month Today

Today marks the 1 month point since I lost the baby. We would have been starting our 4th month of pregnancy today, and instead we are mourning and reflecting on 1 month since our loss.

Self-care is particularly important when my strength and resilience are stretched thin by a circumstance like this, outside of my control. I stay on the look out for ways to manage the stress and anxiety that flare up for me from time to time. But in a time like right now, when my emotions are high, and can come up unexpectedly, I find it even more important to make a concerted effort to maintain balance and practice thoughtful self-care.

A traumatic, stressful, sad life event is the perfect storm for making stress and anxiety hit a fever pitch, and I’m determined to get through this in a healthy reasonable way.

Here are a few of the things I’ve been doing to take care of myself since the miscarriage:

Scale Back.
One of the first and strongest feelings after returning home to Michigan after the miscarriage was that the feeling that family and home are the most important things to tend to in my life right now. This meant cutting back on outward commitments to save my energy for work, family and my personal care and interests. Sometimes getting out and getting active is a good thing, but right now it feels like all of the extracurricular commitments would just cause me to avoid my feelings, avoid thinking about things, avoid quiet moments to process our loss and grow past it. I decided that sticking to the things that matter most: my family life and health will help me heal more quickly and more fully so that when we are ready to try again I am balanced and ready.

Sure, I have had moments of guilt for dropping out of some commitments to groups I’m involved with. I tried my best to be respectful of their needs and communicated what was going on as promptly as I could. I just know that if I don’t take care of myself now, the grief will only come up later in disruptive ways. Right now, beyond my job, my main responsibilities and my all of my energy are dedicated to healing our family, tending my bond with my husband, and  caring for my physical and emotional health. These are my only and main concerns, and that is okay.

Get sleep.
Letting myself get over tired is a big no no when I’m under emotional stress. When I’m over tired everything feels harder and I get more reactive and it’s harder to stay positive. My negative thinking can get out of hand quickly, even in the best of times, and when you heap being over tired to the equation it’s a recipe for disaster.

Sleep is healing. I often work things out in my dream life. It’s really important to keep up a healthy sleep routine when emotionally tested. Not too much, not too little. I’m trying to stick with a solid 8 hour routine to keep myself on track. In the late hours if I’m not in bed and ready to sleep, the sad and longing thoughts of loss creep in, the arguments and emotional, irrational behavior pick up quickly. If you are anything like me, do everyone a favor and give yourself an early bed time and a regular wake up call. When that alarm goes off, get up and get going with your day.

Talk About It
If you need to talk about what has happened, go ahead and talk about it. Don’t wait for others to ask, or expect others to bring it up. Not to say you should share when you don’t feel comfortable, or all of the time, but I’ve found that most people are nervous to bring it up for fear of reminding me or upsetting me… so it’s up to me to bring it up if I’m feeling the need to share a thought or feeling about what has happened. It can be a dark place in the days after losing a baby, don’t spend your energy being upset with people for not asking, or being angry with them for something they don’t know.

Find the people you feel safe talking with about your feelings. It doesn’t have to be everyone, but find a few people you can share your thoughts with and go ahead and talk. Telling your story, recounting memories, sadness, and concerns can be a release. Hearing about the sadness other people I love are experiencing has also helped me feel that I’m not alone in my grief (not that I want anyone to be sad, but it is validating to know I’m not the only one grieving the loss of the potential life of our little one).

Assume that people mean well. Many people don’t understand, can’t understand what it means to lose a child early in pregnancy. Many will say things that can be a bit upsetting… assume that they mean well and move on to find people who will support you in the ways you need. I found that speaking out publicly about our loss allowed me to find other people who have been through pregnancy loss. Sharing with them and discussing the deep feelings of grief and fear has been really helpful. Knowing that they understand that this was a child we lost, and not just a blip on the radar is comforting.

For me, sharing in writing has been as cathartic as sharing in person (and is available whenever I need it). You can read my story, and some of my musings about the miscarriage herehere, and here.

Physical care.
I saw my OB Gyn in the first weeks after the miscarriage to make sure I was medically ok. That was the first step and the minimum of what I could do to care for myself physically. I’ve written in the past about developing a meditation practice, and my forays into acupuncture (you can read about those here and here).  Acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage have been really helpful ways to support my wellbeing.

In the week or two right after the miscarriage I suffered from severe lower back pain and headaches. I’ve read that these are common symptoms after a miscarriage due to dropping hormone levels and the body readjusting and the uterus shrinking back down. The physical memories of the pregnancy and the pain of the miscarriage were overwhelming and often led to emotional pain. While some of this just had to be endured, I decided to take initiative and fix what I could.

The chiropractic office I go to, Optimal Wellness Family Chiropractic, has been a great source of support and care during my years in Royal Oak. I discovered Dr. Michaela through a Groupon for a massage at her clinic and have been going back since (Brian, my husband, now goes there as well). This office happens to focus on pregnancy and pediatrics, so I felt this was a good place to go for post-miscarriage care. Sure, it was a small splurge to get Brian and myself each a massage, but it was worth it to provide my body with the physical relief and relaxation after such a traumatic event. The chiropractic adjustments, caring concern, and listening ear that Dr. Michaela provided in those first few days alleviated not only some of my physical pain and discomfort, but also helped me feel cared for and safe in my grief.

Exercise and healthy diet. 
We are taking this new-found pre-babies time to work on my physical health. I gained some lb’s over the winter and  during the pregnancy I couldn’t make any drastic changes in exercise routine and diet. Now that I have the time (whether we want it or not) I’m committed to taking care of my body as much as possible. I’ve been following the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge as a way to manage my diet and “reset” my eating behaviors that led to the weight gain (you can read more about that here). Brian and I have also been following a 30 day ab challenge to work on toning up, and we are taking advantage of sunshine for long walks with our pup.

These things not only make me feel happy because they are things I like to do, but the exercise and healthy eating make me physically feel great and boost my overall mood. Sure, there have been times I’ve wanted to eat my feelings during the last month, but I’ve decided to not engage in self-destructive behaviors that will only make things worse. I can’t take the chance right now of pushing myself even deeper into grief, and a potential depressive episode. Right now, I’m going to do everything I can to lift myself up.

Check yourself (before you wreck yourself)
Don’t risk traveling down the road of spiraling negative thinking. It takes a lot of work and practice to learn to recognize negative thought patterns. Knowing what to look out for and how to turn your thinking around is a great place to start learning how to check yourself. I’ll admit… I slip up all of the time. Just last night I was deep in a cycle of spiraling negative thoughts, I was near the edge emotionally and it was not good. I let my deep feelings of sadness spin into negative feelings about my life, relationships, and everything in-between. I was deep in it before I realized I was in a spiral, and by then harm had been done. With the tools of self-reflective thinking, support from my husband, time, and a little sleep, I was able to pull myself back up a bit to make it through today.

It’s a constant process of catching myself on my way to, or in a place of anger, bitterness, or self-pity, and then purposefully and thoughtfully drawing my mind away from those destructive thoughts. Here are some resources that talk about how to recognize negative thinking, negative self-talk and how to “talk back”:

Things aren’t great. Bad things have happened. I choose to keep going, I choose to focus on making our lives better and fighting for the chance to try again, even if I’m scared shitless about what could happen if the unthinkable happens again. I’m going to be a fighter. That’s my choice.

Buy yourself flowers
Or whatever small acts that make you feel joy.

SelfCareFlowers_ReadySetSarahBlog

A Prayer for Mother’s Day

Happy Mother's Day, Love ReadySetSarah

Happy Mother’s Day, Love ReadySetSarah

A Prayer for Mother’s Day,
Author Unknown

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you

Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst.

We remember you.

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A lesson in patience this Mother’s Day

Patience while waiting until we were ready to start trying (I was practically born ready)
Patience as we waited to see that second pink line each month
Patience knowing it would be 9 months before we could meet our little one.
Patience waiting for the first trimester to be over share our happy news.

Patience now, waiting to be ready to try again. Wanting a little one with us now.

Patience, patience, patience.

This whole experience has been a lesson in patience. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. Waiting until I was “allowed” (allowing myself) to try to get pregnant took patience. And now it seems we are back at square one.

Rabbi Corey (who officiated our wedding and was a huge support during our wedding year) sent us an email this week checking in on how we are doing as Mother’s day approached. He shared an article about facing Mother’s Day after pregnancy loss, written by a Rabbi who experienced not one, but two miscarriages. You can read the article here. I connected with some of what she said in the article, mostly with the last lines:

“I don’t know what I want or what I need this week. Who am I kidding? With Mother’s Day around the corner, I just want to be a mom.” –Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin

I feel like this is my first Mother’s Day understanding what it really means to live for someone else, to give over your body for their life, to love them harder than you ever thought you could… even without knowing them… even if they weren’t “real”.

Maybe I’ll be an emotional wreck all day. Maybe I’ll be fine. I don’t expect other people to stop celebrating just because I’m sad, but I do wish we were celebrating too. Instead, we’re celebrating our own mothers, and milling over our experience of almost being a mom and dad… I know we can get beyond this. I trust it will happen for us some day (fingers crossed).

But like the Rabbi said, I just want to be a mom.

Until then, Happy Mother’s Day to all of the incredibly lucky, hard working, strong loving mamas out there.

Remember, today and everyday, how lucky you are that you have the great joy of holding your little ones and watching them grow. It is truly a miracle when a child comes into the world. We take it for granted that there so many, but it really is a miracle each and every time.

Happy Mother's Day to my sweet loving mama.

Happy Mother’s Day to my sweet, loving mama.

I Carry You In My Heart

The night after the hospital I found myself awake in bed. My husband sleeping beside me, exhausted emotionally and physically. I laid in my childhood room with only the orange glow of the streetlights coming in through the skylight window, and the bright light of my iPhone screen.

I milled through how I might process my new reality. No longer planning to for the baby’s arrival, I was left adrift.

On reflex I opened the Pinterest app and searched “miscarriage.” I had no plan for what I might find… I didn’t really know what I was looking for.

Something, anything.

I scrolled through the inspiring messages accompanied by images of love and remembrance, I familiarized myself with the vocabulary for my new life. Angel baby, Pregnancy loss, rainbow babies…

I was looking for something not knowing what. Something to do, some way to find closure. Some way to honor the spirit of the baby that never came to be. I searched “miscarriage remembrance.”

Unable to find a gesture that felt right, I scrolled through the many charms that popped up in the search feed.

Many seemed inappropriate to our experience. Little feet charms with hearts and angel wings felt wrong for us. I kept scrolling, until I found this charm from Tag You’re It Jewelry on Etsy.

 

It took me a minute to figure out why the charm looked different in person, then I realized the pin image is slight different than the image on the etsy page it links to... I was a little disappointed at first that I hadn't seen the difference. It is still a very nice charm to wear and remember our little one with.

It took me a minute to figure out why the charm looked different in person, then I realized the pin image is slight different than the image on the Etsy page it links to… I was a little disappointed at first that I hadn’t seen the difference. It is still a very nice charm to wear and remember our little one with.

I cried. This felt true. This spoke to our early term miscarriage. We were preparing to be parents, and all we have to carry now is heavy hearts.

The next day on the plane back to Michigan, Brian and I discussed things we can do to honor, remember, and grieve. We made plans to make a private gesture together.

I kept remembering the charm and thinking to myself, “I will carry you in my heart forever.” When we landed at DTW I ordered the charm.

A token. Something to remind me of the love I felt as I carried you. Something to help me remember you always.

TagYourItCharm_ReadySetSarahBlog.jpg

 

Heartbroken: April 19th, 2014

Heartbroken: The end and beginning of our miscarriage story.

Heartbroken: The end and beginning of our miscarriage story.

I knew the miscarriage was coming because of the pain. The spotting was concerning, but it wasn’t until the dull ache in my uterus became unyielding lower back pain that I finally began to allow myself to think the unthinkable. I was going to loss the baby. Standing in Target with my father and husband I began to come unhinged. The pain combined with the sinking sorrow that had begun to seep through my being left me feeling empty and frightened. I cried, standing helpless looking into their frightened faces.

Leaving my dad and husband in the store to finish the shopping I went out to the car to lay down. I had noticed all week that my lower back would begin to ache a bit if I stood too long, I wrote it off as part of pregnancy, but this was different. I lay on the warm leather of the backseat of the car, curling into myself and the small hope that this was normal… But knowing deep in my soul, that it was not okay.

I spent the rest of the day in the warm afternoon sun in my father’s living room. Laid out on the chaise with my hand on my stomach, I imagined that it all might still be okay. This might still pass and we’d be fine. I thought to the baby, “Please stay with me, I want you more than you know. Please, please stay.” Arching my back and rubbing my stomach to relieve the tension, it gradually eased as the afternoon light faded into early evening. I thought maybe it would be okay.

Saturday morning I woke and used the restroom. After wiping I stopped and stared. The smallest bit of tissue, just the littlest bit of deep reddish brown bloody clot remained on the paper. My heart sank deep inside me to where I almost couldn’t retrieve it to get myself together and leave the bathroom. I called my mother in to assess the color of the blood, to reassure me, though we both knew silently to ourselves this might mean the end. Without acknowledging the inevitable, we decided I should bring an extra set of clothes with me to Napa that day, and some pads “just in case.”

With the distraction of hosting my best friends bachelorette/birthday party all day, I managed to feel all right, even forget that it was possible I wouldn’t make it through the day with my baby. I couldn’t allow myself to sink into fear, I needed to stay positive and calm for the baby and for myself. Too afraid of scaring my husband, I didn’t let on that we might have cause to wait and not continue sharing our happy news. I chauffeured friends through Napa from winery to brunch, to winery again feeling happy and pregnant, and proud to announce to the tasting room hosts “I’m expecting so I won’t be tasting any today, thank you.” It felt honest and true, I still had to believe we’d be fine, this could still pass and we’d have our little one…

By late afternoon we arrived at a very nice sparkling winery, excited to close out the day with more bubbly and girly fun. As we entered the winery grounds we went over a bump and I felt a slight pop… Like something snapped inside, not painful, but a distinct change. After depositing my friends at the wine tasting room I snuck away to the bathroom to check that nothing had changed. It had.

I knew it had begun, I stared at the paper, and the mark that the miscarriage had begun… I stood there, still.

Shutting down slowly and methodically each compartment of my heart and soul so that I would be able to exit the stall, wade through the throngs of jolly tipsy people, and find my friends again upstairs. If my world was going to be crushed to pieces, I was not going to let it ruin my best friend’s special day.

While finishing up at this last winery I snuck away many times to use the restroom. “Pregnant ladies, you know?! Can’t keep us out of the bathroom!” I’d say shakily before stealing away to check that it hadn’t gotten worse. By the time we headed out to the car it seemed stable again, no excessive bleeding, a “safe” color of spotting again, maybe we’d be okay. I had texted my husband to let him know… “I can’t talk now. If I hear your voice I’ll lose it. When I get back we should go to a doctor. It’s time to make sure everything is okay. I’m scared.”

The hour long drive blurred past. I tried to keep up with the casual happy conversation and not let on that my world was ending. My heart breaking. I was shaking inside. Things seemed to start speeding up when we reached the East Bay. The blood getting fresher, and more consistent, I could barely hear what people were saying to me. When I pulled up in front of my Mom’s house I could barely hold anything, I was so numb and afraid.

I saw my 7 month pregnant sister coming to meet me in the street, my husband, my mother. Everyone seemed as nervous as me. The gravity of the situation pressed down on us, we spoke but it seemed silent and dark around us, words couldn’t break through the weight of the air. It seemed the world had gone silent and I was alone even with the people I love the most.

The world moving past slowly, as if I was dreaming, we reached the ER at Alta Bates. My mother checked me in, I could barely hold the pen to write my name. My hands and head didn’t feel connected. We were told there would be a wait. Waiting, for what felt like ages, the pain in my back and uterus would come in waves flowing through me steadily, growing, and then pulling away like a tide. I knew it couldn’t be much longer, but I still hoped. “I want my baby.”

After what must have been another 30-40 minutes (my mom says we were there about an hour) I was called into the triage room where the older male nurse told me to have a seat. After standing up I could feel the blood flow had gotten heavier. Afraid to sit, I perched on the edge of the seat. “Make yourself comfortable, sit back,” the nurse urged, not fully understanding that was no longer an option.

“I’m bleeding, I cannot sit back. I am bleeding. I need something to sit on, I need to use the bathroom,” I pleaded and reasoned with him. He retrieved a blue bed pad from a drawer and offered it to me. Humming “Amazing grace” to himself (or to me, who knows), he entered my information into the computer.

How could he be so nonchalant about this? Couldn’t he tell it was an emergency? Why didn’t he seem to get the urgency? Why won’t he stop fucking humming!?!!??

He drew vials of blood from my hand because my arm veins were too hard to find.

My mother reasoned with him, telling him I needed to use the bathroom, but was afraid I’d lose the baby into the basin. He asked me to get him a pee sample and handed me a little cup. I responded that I couldn’t go without losing the baby. He stated blankly that I could use the bathroom in the waiting room because they didn’t have a room for me yet. We pleaded with him, “you don’t understand, I’m about to lose the baby!” My mother asked him, could we at least have something to catch it in? He gave her a plastic bin and another bed pad and sent me back into the waiting room.

He sent me bleeding and crying, back into the room, now full of strangers, with not an empty seat.

He sent me back out, to lose my baby into a plastic bin in a bathroom attached to a room full of strangers.

He turned me out into what felt like a fishbowl of eyes looking into my heart and watching me break.

I whispered to my mother “I can’t go to the bathroom, I’ll lose the baby,” I whispered to my dad, “I can’t sit down, I can’t stand in the middle of this room,” he suggested we stand just outside the door and let my mom wait for them to again call my name.

As panic began to crest in my mind I stepped out into the cool Bay Area night air and immediately, I felt what I knew had been coming…

“Please, please, let me back, I’m losing the baby,” I pleaded with the lady at the desk. Holding my long dress up to my knees, the blood rushed down my legs and began to fill the heals of my shoes. Sobbing and crying out to her, the lady seemed frozen and unresponsive. They still had no room for me. My sister banged on the door to triage and the humming nurse was there, but would not let us pass.

With no where left to turn, sobbing and bleeding in a room full of strangers, I realized they were not going to help me.

I ran for the bathroom and without even a chance to close the door I hoisted my skirt up and my world fell out, hitting the seat and fell to the floor.

The next minutes are a blur… My mother scooping it into the bin, holding me while I sobbed… my husbands face as he entered and saw it all, our souls laid bare on the floor in a dirty ER bathroom…

It’s funny where your mind goes in a moment like this. I was overly concerned about ruining my dress. Looking back I don’t even want it… But in that moment it seemed to me the only thing I had control of.

The humming nurse returned with a knock and said they had a room for me.

A little too late.

He stood there with a wheel chair with a blue bed pad on it… “Could we at least have a hospital gown to cover her?” My mother, sister and I practically hissed at him. What was I supposed to to do? Bare my ass and thighs streaked with blood to the room full of watching eyes? They had all just seen and heard the lowest moment of my life, with front row seats no less, they didn’t need the full Monty.

The idea seemed surprising to him and he returned with the gown. He at least wheeled me out facing away from the crowd. One small gesture to preserve any dignity I had remaining, after failing many times over.

Wheeling through the triage room, into a hall sparsely populated with hospital staff, I felt the heat of their eyes on me, my shame and sadness mounting and mounting until all I could do was cover my face in my hands and cry.

I rode that way until we entered the room and were finally in private.

The rest of the care that night was kind. The doctor spoke with me and she was nice enough. The new nurse was far more conciliatory and considerate of me and offered me some kind words and delivered the sedative and pain pills ordered by the doctor. The techs were kind and brought me heated blankets when I began to shiver.

With my parents on either side of me and my husband holding my hand, the doctor confirmed that the ultrasound had shown that all “products of conception,” had cleared out on it’s own and I wouldn’t need a D&C.

Time passed, phone calls were made. My mother helped me clean myself. My husband helped me change. My sister gave me water. My father stroked my hair. My heart kept breaking. My baby was gone.

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Pregnancy Weeks 10-11: The last weeks

I promise, this won’t be the only thing I talk about on this blog forever, but for right now it is what matters. Breaking the silence about pregnancy loss allows me a place to think things out, and has allowed others to share their stories with me and find support, so we can lean on each other. That is part of why I continue to share. Thank you for listening.

Love, Sarah

Weeks 10-11
It’s finally getting warm! Which means a return to active living. Going for a walk is the best cure for any discomfort. At my new job I have a friend from grad school and previous jobs who I can go for walks with around Ann Arbor’s (A2) downtown. I’m so happy being back in A2 where I went to school and first loved Michigan. I can’t wait to get settled and look into maternity yoga classes, prenatal groups and eventually take advantage of all that A2 has to offer for families and children.

It’s been a little nerve-wracking switching jobs, health insurance, and providers right in the middle of the first trimester. I can’t wait to get it all settled and have our next appointment. I wish we had gotten a picture from the first ultrasound at 7 weeks, but soon enough we’ll see our little one again.

Symptoms: Still have eczema patches that showed up with conception. Crazy pregnancy dreams are a norm, and occasional nausea and dry mouth are still a part of day-to-day life, but the main symptom is still exhaustion.

Sitting at my desk all day has been a bit uncomfortable, but I was happy to adopt a stray stability ball that found its way to my colleagues office. Sitting on the stability ball has really helped my back and comfort when sitting at my desk all day. Although I’ve been told it’s a nauseating to talk to me as I bounce on the ball. 🙂

Finally, my trip to California arrived! I couldn’t be more ready visit with my family, celebrate my sister and her pregnancy, celebrate Passover with our families, and host my best friend’s bachelorette day in Napa!! I am a bit nervous to fly for the first time pregnant, but as long as I stay hydrated and calm it should be okay.

Since we’ll be 12 weeks on Sunday, April 20th (the day we fly home to Michigan) we have decided to start telling the rest of our families and close friends while we are home and can tell them in person. I can’t wait to see their faces and talk about the future with them. It’s awesome because there are a number of new babies in the family living in the Bay Area, and soon there will be a few more!

Dinner with friends and family during week 11, before the loss.

Dinner with friends and family during week 11, before the loss.

Adorable baby clothes I've collected at Mom2Mom consignment sales for my baby niece!

Adorable baby clothes I’ve collected at Mom2Mom consignment sales for my baby niece!

My childhood home. I love this place. My mother will be selling it this year and this could be my last trip home to say goodbye :-(

My childhood home. I love this place. My mother will be selling it this year and this could be my last trip home to say goodbye 😦

Pregnancy Reflections: Weeks 8-9

A week ago our hopes were dashed when I miscarried at 12 weeks pregnant. I am still processing and grieving the loss. Sharing what I wrote during my few weeks as an expectant mom is how my baby-that-never-came-to-be will live on for me. The memories and the dreams are what we’ll have from this experience. That is all we are left with.

Weeks 8-9
It’s funny the way any pressure on my belly has become so uncomfortable, even from early on. This week I finally got over my embarrassment that I am just barely fitting my jeans and I made the switch to unzipped pants with a belly band. Hilarity ensued (don’t try playing ping pong in pants held up loosely by a belly band). Just before week 9 I took the early plunge into pregger jeans to avoid flashing people. I got one pair from Target and I’m now living in them.

I received a care package from my mom with another belly band, button extenders and some other pregnancy/mama pampering things. It made me happy to see the Amazon box waiting for me when I got home, full of thoughtful gifts from the Grandma-to-be. 🙂

I started my new job, which is enough change on it’s own, let alone all the excitement of preparing for baby! We spend our evenings (when I have the energy to do anything) discussing the plans for finding a new doctor with my new insurance, how and where we’ll have the birth, what we’ll do in those first months after the baby arrives, what names we like, all of the wonderful/confusing/joyous things that lay ahead.

I’ve started vision boards for boy and girl nurseries (I want to start decorating already! We haven’t even moved yet). They are secret boards on Pinterest until the little one gets here. I can’t wait to bring the room to life! I can already picture the late nights and wee hours of the morning spent in the dimly lit and cozy room, cuddling and staring at the little one with wonder and love. I want it to be a soothing place for me, but a joyful place for a little one to eventually play and make memories.

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Going to Mom2Mom consignment sales with my friend who is 6 months pregnant has taken on a whole new meaning now that I know I am pregnant as well. I’ve been collecting clothes for my little niece for a while, but now I scan the tables laden with adorable baby fashion and fantasize about what I’ll buy when we know whether baby is a he or she (there are plenty of gender neutral things I love too, but I want to hold off until we know). I love being part of this new-to-me world of motherhood and family. It feels like where I have always wanted to be.

Daddy and I are super excited and can’t wait to find out who you are, little one. What will you look like? What kinds of things will you like? Do you love music? Do you have strawberry blonde hair and green eyes? That’s what I’ve been guessing. Are you a little boy or girl? A friend who doesn’t yet know we’re pregnant dreamt she was playing with our baby boy. She dreamt he was a red headed and rambunctious boy. Maybe it’s a sign??

I’ve been waking up very early, which is unlike me. It could be that I’m so exhausted that I could fall asleep at 8pm some nights, or it is the hormones waking me up at 5:30am or 6am everyday like clockwork. I love it. I’ve always wanted to be a morning person!

I’ve had some pretty intense pregger dreams though. The last one was about breastfeeding and pumping (and house hunting…). Only in the dream my left boob was the only one that worked! Not pleasant. The left was big and full, but the right seemed flat and empty. It was such a real feeling dream.

We told a few close friends, our siblings and family this week, but still only a handful. I’m excited for when people will know and be able to see the belly as it grows!