“There is no baby,” the ultrasound technician said firmly, but with a heavy heart and sadness in her eyes. “No! No!” I said in disbelief as I covered my eyes and wept. “No…” I kept saying over and over while the tears streamed down my face. Rick grabbed my hand while the technician finished up. She gave us a moment and said she would be back to take us to speak with the doctor.
This was not the blog post I had in mind when Rick and I found out in June we were having a baby. Instead, I envisioned a creative announcement entailing a flirty city photo shoot telling the story of how God blessed us with the miracle of a child (it was an amazing story but God has since intervened and our story now has taken a turn). And so, here is the different news I have to share. And for those of you who know me, I do share. Some people would keep something like this private. For me, while I certainly don’t share every single thing about my life, I felt inclined to share this amidst my pain. If I happen to touch or help one person, it is worth it.
Excited, nervous, anxious and filled with joy, Rick and I received the news that we were expecting a baby in early June. We had been trying to conceive for exactly one year when the vivid positive sign on the pregnancy test had me in disbelief saying curse words (but ones of joy) in my bathroom, barely able to breathe. The first few weeks were surreal and apart from being tired and peeing every 14 seconds, I felt great. And then weeks 5-7 were really hard for me. My hormones were beyond the point of having overtaken my whole body, physically, mentally and emotionally. It was rough and I will spare you the details, but it didn’t feel good. Around week 7, I had to go to the doctor for an emergency ultrasound as I was spotting. It only happened once and not again and the results came back generally okay. The technician was able to see the yolk sac (where the baby lives), my uterus was growing, I still had all the symptoms of being pregnant and while she couldn’t actually see the baby during the ultrasound, she said this was okay. There was, however, a small leak of blood from the sac, which is common and occurs in a high percentage of pregnancies and because mine was so small and I had not bled again, both the technician and the doctor felt there wasn’t anything to be concerned with. They would see me again in a few more weeks for the first big ultrasound.
I remember vividly waking up on Saturday, July 14 (almost 8 weeks pregnant) feeling 99% back to myself. I couldn’t believe it! The hormone takeover had exponentially subsided. It felt amazing. I had energy and my drive for life back. In fact, I took a run (albeit slow) as I was feeling so good. Oddly it felt as if I wasn’t pregnant. For so many days of not feeling good to then waking up and feeling great, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat empty. Right or wrong, I went onto a forum I had visited before and looked at what other women had experienced related to this (one day feeling so much better, but then not having the “pregnant feeling”). And for the most part, the responses were that it was okay, and the women went on to have healthy babies. Furthermore, the comments reaffirmed how crazy hormones are in the first trimester and your body is going through so many changes that any change like that is arguably “normal.” I put the word normal in quotes because honestly nothing is normal in the first trimester and because every woman is different, it’s almost impossible to rely on any source of information. Other women on the forum, a lesser percentage, did miscarry. I, of course, focused on the positive and didn’t worry.
On Friday, July 27, Rick and I were 10 weeks pregnant as we went in for the big ultrasound. The one where, if you can hear the heartbeat, you move into “safe zone” as they say. Safe zone essentially is the start of the second trimester (recognizing I still had a couple more weeks technically until that point) where the risk of a miscarriage decreases significantly. Yes, of course, things could happen post first trimester, but the stats are far more in your favor. As I lay awkwardly on the table (no matter how many times you visit an OBGYN office, it’s so incredibly awkward) waiting for the technician to arrive, I looked at Rick and asked him if he was nervous. He looked at me like I was nuts. Meanwhile, I felt like I was going to vomit. This was it. We will hear a heartbeat or we won’t. Something didn’t feel right to me. The technician came in, greeted us and asked me “do you feel pregnant?” That was weird, I thought. I told her about how I felt awful and then felt amazing and ironically, no, I didn’t feel pregnant (though I still had some of the basic symptoms). And moments later, the words “there is no baby” suffocated me and broke my heart. I couldn’t believe it. I actually thought for a second I was having a nightmare and that I would wake up. How could that be? I haven’t bled, I have had no cramping. I still have symptoms of being pregnant. But there is no baby.
As we spoke with our doctor, it was clear it was going to get worse before it will get better. I, at that point, technically had not yet physically miscarried. And to spare you the details, what this essentially means is the physical aspect of the miscarriage is yet to come, either naturally or surgically. The doctor did confirm that because of the abrupt change of not feeling well to feeling great (or how I described it, the feeling of “not pregnant”) while still in my first trimester, that was likely around when the development of the baby stopped.
When we learned we were pregnant in early June, apart from sharing the news with a few very close people in my life, I methodically thought through others we (okay, I) would share this news with. You see, when you get pregnant, your immediate thought is not erring on the side of pessimism, it errs on the side of the optimistic and perhaps fear-based “I know that has happened to others, but it won’t happen to me.” Which then leads to the unbelievable excitement to create a special moment with certain people in your life that you know will not only be equally excited about the news, but that will support and love you deeply along the way.
I have recently learned that the reverse is true. Not only will those people celebrate with you in times of joy, they will mourn with you in times of sorrow. It reminds me of a bible verse that says “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). And I have to admit, prior to being pregnant, I perceived miscarriages as a sort of common occurrence. Something that while is so sad and unfortunate, it is a reality and many women go through it. Well, I guess my thoughts could be true. But what you never really understand is that painful reality that a miscarriage is a death. It is a loss. One that is confusing. One that requires grieving time. One that shakes you. One that hurts deeply. One that requires those around you to weep with you.
And during this time of grievance, I do feel loved deeply and for that, I am beyond grateful and thankful to God for blessing me/us with an incredible community of people. Those who rejoiced with us when we shared the news, also wept with us. A few specific moments stand out to me specifically:
I remember reading my daily devotional after I came home from the doctor on July 27 and the words “hope is a golden cord connecting you to heaven. This cord helps you hold your head up high, even when multiple trials are buffeting you. I never leave your side and I never let go of your hand.” It was in that moment that I had comfort and security knowing God was with me during this process and while I didn’t understand why this had happened to us, I trusted God’s plan.
I had Rick holding me while I wept in his arms at the doctor’s office and his words of I love you meant more than I could have imagined. The safety and security of a loving husband is truly something I do not take for granted.
My best friend, Eileen, was at my house even before I got home from the doctor’s office.
I received phone calls from friends where I could actually sense pain in their voices for me.
Text messages and emails came through with words that, in that moment, offered me healing: “I’ll be praying for you. Love you, God will bring you through this.” “Lots of prayers your way and always here if you need to chat.” “I am so sorry Ann. I am here when you feel you want to talk. You’re very loved…don’t forget that.” “I am sorry, I am here for you.” “I love u.” “Let me know what I can do.” “I’m sorry.”
My sister was on vacation in Mexico and knew I had my ultrasound that day. She called me from her trip as she could sense something was going on. She obviously wasn’t sure what, but I found that to be truly one of those sister moments. It was as if she could sense I was in pain and had to call.
The most special note came from my mom. She wrote, “Ann & Rick, I can’t tell you how sorry your dad and I are about the baby. I know it hurts terribly right now, but God usually has a reason for this even though you can’t see it now. I am sure I told you I also had a miscarriage, so I do know how you are feeling and it will take a while for that feeling of emptiness to subside. The good news for me was that 3 months later I was pregnant with you, so that was when I realized there must have been a reason for my miscarriage and was able to have you.”
Trials will come and pain in this world is inevitable. But with friends and family and most importantly, faith in God, we are able to get through life’s toughest challenges. And while the pain of our loss will likely be with us forever in some way, the love and comfort of people is what makes the pain bearable. And I know that each day will get easier and with time, we will be able to see God’s story play out in HIS way, not ours. And that is exciting…and of course, scary 🙂
Philippians 4:13 is what I am hanging on to right now: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.