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!

Counting Silver Linings: Dealing with Grief and Loss

SilverLinings_ReadySetSarahBlog

Obviously, Brian and I would prefer the alternative. We would much rather be happily awaiting our baby-to-be, rather than trying to find the silver linings in this awful situation. Never the less, I have found it really helpful today to focus on all of the small positives that remain as a result of losing the baby. They are a sorry alternative, but I’d rather focus on gratitude for the good stuff, rather than linger on the loss and all of the “why’s” and the anger, sadness, and pain.

So, this is what we are left with. My list of silver linings:

  • I am grateful to have more time to settle into my new job. I was pretty nervous about having to take maternity leave during my first year with a new company, even though I am pretty sure my new employer would have handled it fairly.
  • I am grateful that I will have more time to get our finances in order before attempting to bankroll childcare. With only 28 weeks to go, the cost of going back to work was really starting to give me heartburn. We would have made it though.
  • I am grateful that I will have a chance to get my body healthy again before becoming pregnant again. It was a tough winter on my waistline and it can’t hurt to get a little more fit and active before the next go round.

Right now, this is pretty much all I can think of. It hurts a bit to think of anything good… It is strange to process mentally and emotionally that we aren’t actually pregnant anymore.

In the first trimester so much of the experience is mental and emotional. Despite the blatant side effects and symptoms, a lot of what grows in those first 12 weeks are your hopes, dreams, and expectations. The baby books and apps all recommend taking time each day to develop a connection, a bond with the growing baby… than, immediately when it’s over everyone starts telling you not get too attached, and that it wasn’t really a baby yet (or at all if it terminated because something was wrong genetically). Like it’s that simple.

It’s not that easy to make the cognitive leap to believing whole heartedly that a little human is actually living inside of you and will someday be a person you know, talk to, and love… it’s even harder to reverse that.

 

Pregnancy: Weeks 6-7

Symptoms:

  • Metal cottonmouth (look it up, it’s a thing)
  • Waves of nausea
  • Feel super bloated
  • Tired and want my bed, husband, and puppy.
  • Waking up daily between 5am and 7am overheating, thirsty and nauseous

Chicken sounds gross, even though it was once a favorite, lettuce is hit or miss. Hard candies are a godsend (Organic Preggie Pop Drops) and sprite is my new friend.

Occasionally have to just stop what I’m doing and lay down. Even if it’s on the floor in my office for 3 minutes.

Food cravings: By end of the week nothing sounds better than an American cheese omelette, crunchy peanut butter on toast, or mint chip ice cream. Ps-I normally don’t eat American cheese or ice cream. I fought the mint chocolate chip craving feeling like it was too cliché… But by Saturday I gave in and had a little.

After experiencing a little spotting I freaked myself out and called the doctor. They sent me to get a blood pregnancy test and to test my hormone levels. After a day and a half of fear and unease, I got the results and everything looked as it should :-). We are definitely still pregnant.*

Our first ultrasound was scheduled for 7am Sunday Morning (they could have told me 3am, I’d have been there), and our OB intake appointment was set for Monday March 17th at 8am. We had to have the gestational diabetes screening at it’s first appointment because of my weight/height ratio, luckily it came back in an okay range. Because of the history if gestational diabetes among women in my family, that was a huge relief.

Everything turned out well with the test results, only my Vitamin D was low so I have been prescribed a supplement to take weekly along with my prenatal vitamins. It was nerve wracking having the early ultrasound, but it was incredible seeing the little bean in there with it’s yolk sac. I can’t believe that it is our baby.**

They say babies come in their own time. You can make plans, but they come when they are ready. Who would have guessed we’d get two pink positive lines in the same week that I got offered new job? Of course that’s how life is, you should know that by now! And so, we start this week 7 meeting future baby Lubetsky for the first time, and end it by saying good bye to a job I’ve called home for the last few years.

Sometimes change comes in indiscriminate increments, sometimes in seismic events.

*When we had the spotting I read that a percentage of women who experience spotting still go on to have healthy pregnancies… while I’m sure many do, I think this was our first hint that things might not end well…

**Looking back now, this was the only time we ever got to see it. Even that small I felt immediate love for it. It may have never come to grow into a “real” baby… but in that moment it was ours, and we loved it deeply. We weren’t given pictures from this ultrasound, but I will never forget seeing it floating there inside me. My heart is broken. 

MiscarriageThis past weekend Brian and I were excited, eager, expectant parents. As we approached 12 weeks, the end of the first trimester “risky window” we decided to begin sharing our happy news with a wider network of family and friends. It was perfect timing because we were at home in California visiting my family and some of his cousins for the week. Saturday evening, April 19th we experienced a miscarriage. It was an incredibly difficult experience (obviously) for many reasons which I want to share at some point down the road. I had begun to suspect something was going wrong earlier in the week, but we moved forward with things hoping it was all just part of the pregnancy journey.

Since I had begun writing about the pregnancy from the moment we found out, I decided it is important to still share our experience. I don’t want this to be a secret. I want to honor the experience and share it. It happened, it was real, and it hurts to know it is now over. This little spirit has moved on, but I will carry it forever in my heart.

Pregnancy- Weeks 0-5

This past weekend Brian and I were excited, eager, expectant parents. As we approached 12 weeks, the end of the first trimester “risky window” we decided to begin sharing our happy news with a wider network of family and friends. It was perfect timing because we were at home in California visiting my family and some of his cousins for the week. Saturday evening, April 19th we experienced a miscarriage. It was an incredibly difficult experience (obviously) for many reasons which I want to share at some point down the road. I had begun to suspect something was going wrong earlier in the week, but we moved forward with things hoping it was all just part of the pregnancy journey.

Since I had begun writing about the pregnancy from the moment we found out, I decided it is important to still share our experience. I don’t want this to be a secret. I want to honor the experience and share it. It happened, it was real, and it hurts to know it is now over. This little spirit has moved on, but I will carry it forever in my heart.

PregnancyWeek0-5_ReadySetSarahBlog

Weeks 0-5

Positive test: Feb 26, 2014

Symptoms:
  • Stretching in lower abs (sharp pain across sides of lower abs- I looked it up and it is round ligament stretching).
  • Having to go pee often, and it seems to creep up out of nowhere!
  • Craving beef. I usually prefer chicken breast (and only chicken breast).
  • I’m winded easily (I didn’t think I was THAT out of shape).
  • Burping a lot.
  • Headaches.
  • Hot flashes (hot burning face).
  • Acne cleared rather than appeared at period time.
  • Weird new dry skin patches. I thought it was my psoriasis acting up, but it turns out eczema is a somewhat common pregnancy symptom. I got a big patch on my chest, and smaller ones on my shoulder and the small of my back.
  • Fatigue. I mean, sleeping on the floor behind my desk, practically feel drugged after lunch, fatigue.

How we found out:
I took the test right after getting off the phone with my cousin (more like a big brother) Jonathan. He kept asking “what else is going on?” “Any big news?” I wanted to tell him “I think I might be expecting!” But of course, I didn’t. I couldn’t stand to wait any more once we hung up the phone. I had to take a test to know for sure (and so there would be any chance of concentrating the next day at work). We had been trying for a few months, and I was counting the days until my period was officially late. The day had finally arrived.

Brian and I had decided I would test that night to put an end to my excited nervous guessing (I could barely get a thing done at work that day). Through tracking my period with an iPhone app, I learned that my cycle is usually 32 days  (meaning that when my period appears to be four days late, it actually right on time). That’s something new I hadn’t realized before we started trying to conceive. Because if my longish cycle I wanted to delay testing until I was at least a little later than usual, even though I had a few hints what might be going on. I always felt a little foolish testing and getting a negative, like maybe I had convinced myself of something that wasn’t really there…

I have had plenty of “false” symptoms in previous months while trying, but this month I had a dream the week after ovulation. In the dream I was two months pregnant and I could feel my belly, big under my hands. I kept running my hands down my stomach, feeling the roundness under my shirt. I don’t remember the details of what else was going on in the dream, but over the course I became more and more pregnant. I’ve never had such a physically vivid sensation of being pregnant in a dream before.* Looking back now, in the dream I was in an elevator at some point around month 2-4 and the somehow it started spinning around, and knocking me around. I was upset in the dream and kept yelling, “But I’m pregnant! Stop!” I didn’t think much about it at the time, but now looking back after the loss, it gives me the chills.

The only other month that I had a pregnancy dream I had taken a test in the dream and showed it to Brian, telling him I was pregnant. I had 2 or 3 of those dreams that week… but then got my period that Saturday. It was not a false alarm though! That Sunday my sister called out of the blue to announce her pregnancy! Now, if all goes well, we’re going to have our babies 5-6 months apart! Crazy how things happen. We actually found out on the same day that one of our groomsmen’s wives had his baby!

When I took the test Brian was in the other room on the phone with his parents. I snuck away to the bathroom and nervously took the test. Unlike previous tests, I wasn’t left waiting long. As the liquid crept up the test window immediately a faint second pink line began to appear. I was in awe! “Is this real life? Is it all starting now?”

I stuck the test stick back into the box and hid it behind my back. I signaled to Brian asking him to hang up the phone, and when he did I told him I had a present for him. He knew right away, I could tell by the look on his face, and when I handed him the box and he took out the test we both laughed, and cried and hugged and practically jumped up and down.

Now we are ready to make plans, learn as much as possible, make appointments, and do our very best to keep the happiest secret I’ve ever held.
Our due date (screenshot from birthcenter.com)
Our due date (screenshot from birthcenter.com)

 

The Unbearable Weight of Nothing

UnbearableWeight_ReadySetSarahBlog

11 weeks and 6 days
cramping
spotting
aching
bleeding
loss

I carried you, like a promise.
I felt you depart.
A sudden awareness of absence.
The wanting and the wishing, all that remains.
A reluctant member of the semi-secret sisterhood of loss.
Your father, like a rock, an anchor to sanity and strength.
Your family all around you.
Barely here, but already gone.

 

SeaBreezePark_ReadySetSarahBlog

To read the full story of our miscarriage, start here.