"1 in 4" woman is the famous statisc women hear when they find out they are having a miscarriage. As if hearing these numbers are supposed to make it less impactful. I am a survivor of 2 traumatic at home miscarriages. I am here to share my story with you to let you know that I see you. I see you feeling broken. I see you feeling like a failure. I see you feeling like you are unable to weather the storm.
When our first baby, Shoshana was only a few weeks old we had decided to go to Vancouver, Canada where my husband is from and where his family lives. We packed up our car, hit the road and landed in Vancouver 3 days later. When we got there we stayed with his mom for a couple weeks and then we ended up renting a brand new one bedroom unit that was a couple of blocks away from where is mother was living. We spent the winter months in our heated floored apartment and had the luxury of easing into parenthood with no real life pressures.
Then one rainy Vancouver day I got that feeling. The maternal energy that washes over you seemingly out of nowhere when you become pregnant. I just KNEW it. There was no reason for me to think that I was pregnant other than that energy that took over my being. My cycle hadn't been regular since giving birth to Shoshana so there was no real gage of "being late", I wasn't nauseous, I wasn't exhausted, I was physically feeling fine. For the next few weeks I ignored that voice telling me to take a pregnancy test. It just didn't make sense that I could have ACTUALLY become pregnant. I eventually decided to not ignore the voice inside my head any longer and took a test just to prove to myself that I was wrong in my feeling.
I quietly took a test without making a big deal about it. I had done this many time before so it wasn't nerve wracking. I was just waiting to see the words on the stick to tell me this was all in my head. Two minutes passed and I looked down to see "Pregnant". That maternal feeling was quickly replaced with worry and anxiety. How could this be?! Shoshana is just a few months old! I haven't even completely healed from her birth. I can't be a mom to a new baby! I barely know what it's like to be a mom to this baby! I remember that moment so clearly. I was so afraid. Through the fear I told Sean, and he reassured me that we would be okay. So I made a prenatal appointment to see an OBGYN across the border in Washington. I was still covered by health insurance in the states so thats we were headed to go see a 12 week old fetus on the screen.
For the next few weeks I had a constant pit feeling in my stomach. It wasn't nausea. It was fear of becoming a new mom all over again. I decided to try to just focus on the present and continued to do my best for Shoshana. We would go on walks, shop at the mall, spend time with family. Then the day came. The day I knew something was wrong. The day I started spotting.
I knew I needed to see a doctor ASAP but not being a Canadian I didn't have health coverage in Vancouver and going to Washington would take too long. Some strings were pulled and the OBGYN who sees all of Sean's friend's wives and family members said he would see me free of charge. I was so grateful. That late Thursday morning the receptionist called me back into the Dr.'s office and he asked me a bunch of questions. He said, "There is no need for an exam. You are having a miscarriage." In that moment I felt relief. Relief that I didn't have to become a mom all over again. Then I felt guilt.. Guilt that I had the feeling of relief. He told me to make an appointment for Monday morning for an ultrasound to see if I needed to get a D&C. I let him know I already had an appointment scheduled but now it was going to be a very different appointment.
The next day I spent the morning shopping and preparing for Shabbat as I did every other week. We were going to be having a friend over to join us for the meal so I decided to make it nice and enjoy the good and not focus on the news I had recieved at the doctors office the day before.
That afternoon was going like any other friday afternoon before Shabbat. I was cleaning and cooking and it was even a sunny day out so we had the windows open to let the fresh air in. Then it hit me like lightening. It was show time. I had extreme cramping. I started balling my eyes out and Sean quickly called his mother to come help.
Sean took Shoshana to play outside to keep her in her blissful infant world and my Mother in Law hurried me into the bathroom and I got in the shower. I NEVER in a million years would have thought having an at home miscarriage would be equivalent to giving birth. There was so much pain and blood. I saw things that you normally only see when you google "10 week old fetus" Lets just say, the google images are very accurate. My Mother in Law was my saving grace in that moment. She was a witness to one of the most humilating and vulnerable expierences I had ever been though all while staying calm and making me feel nothing but cared for and strong. She helped me clean myself and the bathroom up, she wrapped the fetus in a cloth and put it into a jar so that it could be taken to Chevra Kadisha* to be properly buried, she then finished prepping Shabbat while I layed in bed for the rest of the night. She did this all with the most calm and loving energy. She made the abnorable feel normal. It was only recently that our guest found out that I wasn't actually sick that night.
I was devastated and feeling a ton of guilt. I blamed myself for a very long time. I had felt that I willed this. I took me until I had my son that I accepted that it was out of my control. That my initial feelings of not wanting to become a new mom again, wasn't why the miscarriage happened.
Fast forward several months and we landed back in the states. We settled in a wonderful community in Long Beach where we continued to grow our family. Natan's pregnancy was very easy. No complications until he decided to grace us with his presence 6 weeks early. We spent the first 4ish weeks of his life in and out of the NICU. Daniella's pregnancy was the opposite of easy. I had to receive weekly progesterone injections as a preventative to preterm labor since Natan had been born early.
I went into labor with Daniella at 28 weeks and spent two days in the hospital receiving a magnesium sulfate infusion to stop labor and it worked! My doctor gave me a nifedipine prescription to take if I were to start contracting again at home. If the nifedipine worked, great! If I continued to contract after an hour from taking it, then go immediately to the hospital. I had to take that tiny pill 2 times. The first time it worked. The second time I found myself back in the hospital at 32 weeks. This time instead of the Mag. Sulfate, they gave me a stronger dosage of the nifedipine that they gave me at home. Labor had stopped again but this time my doctor put me on "couch potato" rest. This meant I should stay on the couch all day unless I needed to get up to shower or use the restroom. I gave the doctor a small chuckle and said "did you forget that I have two toddlers at home?" I didn't know how I was going to manage to stay put all day. THANK GD for the wonderful community that we live in who brought us meals everyday for a month since I was not able to cook and my parents anf friends who effortlessly and without a thought took in our children everytime we had to go to the hospital. I honestly don't know how I would have handled it otherwise. Daniella, arrived healthy and happy at 36 weeks with only a brief 24 hour stay in the NICU for observation.
After the early delivery and hospital stays with Natan and the in and out of the hospital/bedrest with Daniella, I actively decided that I needed a break from having babies. The last two were logistical nightmares and I needed to focus on what we had. We spent the next 4 years as a family of 5. We focused on what it meant to raise all of these babies and build a family dynamic. A few months after Daniella turned 4 I finally felt physically and mentally prepared to go through another pregnancy knowing that I would have to get weekly injections again and plan out the logistical headache that was likely to happen with numerious doctors appointments and close monitoring.
It didn't take very after that decision that I became late on my cycle and started to feel nauseous.
Sean and I were out at a community Bar Mitzvah party and I politely excused myself from a conversation with a friend to run to the bathroom to do that nauseating act you do in the early stages of pregnancy. After I was done being sick, I told Sean that we had to leave and go straight to the drug store. We quietly slipped out of the party without even saying goodbye to anyone and pranced into Walgreens in our black tie attire. We got home and the test read the words we were hoping to see. PREGNANT. We were overfilled with joy and excitement.
We made the first OBGYN appointment when I was only 7 weeks along. Normally, it not necessary to go this early but given my history I needed to go in as soon as possible. I layed down on the doctors table staring at the screen where we would see our next little blessing cooking up. As the doctor scanned me he kind of looked surprised and I immediately said "omg there are two of them in there?!" He gave a nervous chuckle and said not exactly. I looked at the screen and he said "so here is the sack" as soon as he put his finger on the dark grey spot on the screen we both simultaneously said, "but there is no heartbeat".
We left that doctors office optimistic since it was still early. Even though I was certain of the date of my last period, I could have calculated it incorrectly. He told me to come back in two weeks. For the next two weeks I grew increasingly more nauseous so I took it as a sign of the pregnancy progressing and that this actually wasn't going to be the familiar story I had 6 years prior. I had my blood taken two days before my second ultrasound appointment so that when I came back for the ultrasound we would match it up with my hormone levels.
We went into that same ultrasound room we had been in two weeks prior but this time we were nervous. The doctor scanned me and on the screen was a dark grey spot that grew in size but again, no heartbeat. He then had me come into his office where he read my hormone levels that were extremely high. My answer to him "That's great!" and he then explained to me that it wasn't. My hormone levels were the equevlant of being 10 weeks pregnant which matched up with my last cycle but the ultrasound was only showing a 7 week pregnacy which meant we were having a miscarriage.
I didn't believe him at first. I didn't care that he was a doctor. I knew my body. My first miscarriage I felt the opposite of pregnant and this time I felt very pregnant. I came to understand that the reason for feeling so pregnant was because my hormones were still clipping along as if it was a viable pregnancy which was giving me all of the classic symptoms but the fetus wasn't growing along with them. He told me that I could come in the next day for a D&C but I told him I wanted to think about it since I was doubting the whole notion of a miscarriage and also because I wasn't thrilled at the idea of being put under.
Two weeks passed and I was on the couch all day because I was feeling extreme nausea. I decided I was going to go through the D&C but when I called the doctor to schedule it he was so booked up that he wouldn't be able to do it for 3 weeks. I was feeling so gross and feeling so pregnant. I couldn't stand the feeling anymore but I also knew that I could start to miscarry at any moment do to the spotting that had been already happening for a week.
The uncertainty of not knowing when it would happen was stressing me out. I run a daycare in my house and having a miscarriage during daycare hours wasn't an option. So, one Sunday morning I decided it was enough. I started vigorously cleaning the house to try to kick start the miscarriage. Nothing was happening so I did some sit ups, then squats. Still nothing. I got on my hands and knees and started scrubbing the floors. This worked. I yelled out to Sean as I ran into the bathroom to miscarry. My mother in law still in Vancouver and my parents n Texas. This time I had to do it solo.
Sean told the kids that I wasn't feeling well and that he was going to help me. He put them in furthest room away from the bathroom and sat them down with the tablet to watch shows so they wouldn't be aware of what was happening. They barely come up for air when they have screen time so this was a sound solution. Sean sat in the hallway on the other side of the bathroom door feeling helpless and sad that we were going through this pain and trauma all over again. I spent the remainder of the sunday resting in my room.
It's been a just over a year since the second miscarriage and there is still pain lingering in my heart. We were so hopeful and excited for our family to grow and it all came crashing down on us. I grieve what wasn't and at the same time I count my blessings for what is. It is part of our journey and I know I am not alone in my story.
I know 1 in 4 pregnancies result in a miscarriage and I know that the statistic doesn't make it any easier. I know it's not my fault that it happened to me and it's not your fault that it happened to you.