Greetings. Well, the nightmares have started. The other day, I dreamt that I gave birth to a little girl who was missing thumbs, but somehow became a baby sign language prodigy. My dead father was in the dream too and kept saying things like, “It’s fine. A kid don’t need thumbs anyway.”
Last night, I dreamt that I needed brain surgery and that we saw Bun on the anatomy scan. It was a boy, and his heart was outside of his body. I’m told that these dreams are normal. One of my friends shared that she used to dream that her baby was 400 lbs. At least the 8 times I wake up a night to pee keep me from being stuck in one dream for too long.
I come to you tonight from my recliner, pantsless and in reasonable spirits since I’ve started taking a dump regularly again (probiotics FTW). I just got back from meeting with a doula (don’t worry, I put pants on for that), because with my support system dropping like flies and my hormones and mood swings raging on, Chris and I thought it best to call in some reinforcements.
I can tell we’re going to get along because she actually listens when I speak and she’s encouraged me to call or text her as much as I want, despite Chris’s many warnings that I am “high maintenance.” I’m sure he’s glad to have a little back up these days. He’s only one man putting up with my many, many personalities. I expect him to crack any day now, but he continues to be as loving as possible, telling me I’m pretty, running to the store for whatever I need, and apologizing every time I cry, regardless of whether or not it’s rational (Spoiler Alert: It almost never is).
Today started with my daily workout, and now that I’m not feeling sea sick every moment of each day, I can make it to Crossfit a solid five times per week. The newest challenge this week was increased dizziness when I get up too fast. Ah, the joys of pregnancy.
I left the gym and stopped at two different garden centers on the way home, and after double checking that this shitty selection of rose bushes was all Home Depot had, I left with a 2-gallon hot pink knockout rose bush.
I came home as Chris was taking care of the dogs and making himself some breakfast. “What’s that?” he asked.
“A rose bush,” I said, making my way towards the back door.
“To replace the old one.”
“Because the old one needed to be replaced,” I snapped as I made my way out to the garage and tried shimmying my bin of gardening tools off of a high shelf.
It was drizzling outside, but I didn’t care. I generally avoid yard work because I hate bugs and snakes and creepy crawlies. I started digging a hole in the tiny garden just off of my patio as it rained down on me. Chris followed me outside.
“What made you want to do this?”
“The rose bush needed to be replaced.”
“Because it’s bothering me.”
He stood there, puzzled, watching me dig in the rain, periodically standing up to stretch my legs and back because my tiny gardening shovel was making this take a lot longer than it really needed to.
“Do you want a bigger shovel?”
He went to the shed and got the bigger shovel and finished digging the hole for me.
“There, do you see that?” He said, pointing in the hole.
“That’s soil. From the last one.”
That’s how I knew this was the exact spot. The place where we buried Bun #1. The place where we planted the yellow rose bush that just mysteriously disappeared one day. The place that made us want to build this garden.
“That’s good,” I said, placing the bush in the hole and burying it with my hands, carefully patting down the dirt, and getting scratched by thorns. Chris went back inside. I placed the pine straw as the rain kept pouring down. “No weeds in our bed,” I said.
When I was done, I watered it for good measure and went back inside. Chris kept asking me if I was okay. I didn’t want to talk about it. I never do.
“Because it was bothering me. It needed to be replaced.”
“Yeah, but why today?”
“Because today’s the day it happened.” I walked away as I said it. I knew if I stayed there, I’d start crying, and Lord knows I do enough of that these days.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“Me too,” I said, my back turned to him.
“You know, this Bun’s gonna be okay, right? This Bun is strong.”
It’s weird. I know it makes him sad. He knows it makes me sad. And everyone knows that those two miscarriages, despite my best efforts, have completely colored my pregnancy experience. But I still don’t like to talk about it. And I think that’s part of the problem.
1 in 4 is a lonely place to be. And it really shouldn’t be. You would think that something that happens to 25% of us (probably more) wouldn’t be so hard to talk about and we wouldn’t feel so lonely or awkward and ashamed. And yet, I feel all those things. I remember making Chris call the handful of people who knew to tell them that we’d lost Bun. The second time, I remember crying in the hospital, apologizing to Chris and then apologizing to everyone we’d told, like I owed anyone an apology. It’s a little fucked up. And to this day, I still have a really hard time talking about it with my husband at all.
It shouldn’t be this way.
Since October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I’m going to talk about the thing I hate talking about because what happened to me stayed with me and still scares the shit out of me. I shouldn’t be feeling this sad and alone and ashamed. And neither should you.
Three years ago, I walked into a doctor’s office, 8-and-a-half weeks pregnant and excited to see my baby. What I got was some dipshit ultrasound tech telling me “There’s no heartbeat. I’m sorry,” as she rushed me out of the room and shoved a picture of my dead baby into my hands as she herded me down some back hallway so I wouldn’t have to walk back through the waiting room around the happy expectant couples.
The crumpled picture sits in a white trunk in my office, along with some of my Dad’s belongings.
I sat there as nurses poked and prodded at me, taking my weight and blood pressure, not telling me what was going on until finally I said, “Uhm, why am I still here?” I listened as they told me that my two safest options were a D&C or Cytotech (which, by the way was absolute bullshit, but I was too much in shock and too uneducated to know any better), even though I’d already started spotting that morning. Since the doctor was “too busy” (so I was told. I never actually saw a doctor that day), I let them give me meds. I remember the lady at the pharmacy coming out from behind the counter to hug me. I remember the NP inserting the pills inside me and some falling out and me joking “Oh man, I can’t keep anything up there!”
Nobody laughed. Assholes.
I remember stopping for waffles and not talking about what just happened. I remember waiting in the car while Chris called my mother and told her what happened. I remember ignoring her calls all day. I remember the cramps and the pain finally setting in. I remember puking and shitting and crying from the pain until finally, about 5 hours later, I passed the little bubble.
The next day, we buried it. And then we built a garden so our kid wouldn’t be stuck in some shitty dirt pile. And while we were building the garden, our beloved fish, Jeff Gordon died. So, we buried him in the garden in the rain, and then my husband started crying for maybe the fourth time since I’d known him, and I cried too.
After a solid month or so of bleeding and pain, I finally started to feel like myself. And on December 12th, on Chris’s birthday, I found out I was pregnant again. This one was quicker and in some ways, quieter. I started bleeding a lot while I was away in Connecticut for school. They sent me back and said the baby was still there, but to come back if it got worse. Two days later, on New Years Eve/my birthday, I stood up after a writing workshop and hemorrhaged right in front of everyone. I’d never seen that much blood before, and for a second, I thought I was dying. I went back to the ER where nurses and doctors said that “I wasn’t bleeding that much,” which seemed odd to me since I left a trail of blood everywhere I went and was wearing a mesh diaper.
Finally, a doctor came in, whining about how she had to work on New Years. She let me know that the baby was still there, but that the heart beat went from 97 to 62.
“So, am I miscarrying?”
“I can’t say for sure.”
“Okay. I understand that. And I’m sorry you’re stuck working today. But could you maybe cut through all the bullshit, since it’s my birthday and all?”
In her opinion, I was miscarrying, and it’d be over in a few days. The baby couldn’t implant properly, and it was separating from the uterine wall.
I left school early and went to my uncle’s house an hour away. Lucky for me, that side of the family doesn’t like to talk about things either, so my uncle drove me home and got me my favorite cheesecake on the way. My grandpa and uncles called to check on me, never actually saying the words “baby” or “miscarriage” or whatever.
Chris flew out the next day and within the next 24 hours, I lost the baby. No bullshit medications or procedures. Just letting nature run its course.
I stopped bleeding within the week and went home, but not before I apologized to everyone for announcing our pregnancy early, like I owed anyone an apology.
And aside from a chapter in my master’s thesis, I don’t ever talk about any of this.
Well, I tried to talk about it with my OB a few months ago, but all I got was, “Well, you need to get over that. Worrying won’t help.”
I nearly fucking stood up and slow clapped for her. Solid advice, because, as we know, it’s just THAT easy.
Here’s the thing: For a long time, I thought my shitty habits—being overweight, smoking, and drinking, etc.—were to blame. And so I made it my mission to build a better body. And I did. I quit smoking and drinking and got my ass in shape. And when I saw that little pink line in June, I was overjoyed.
And when I spotted in July, I lost my shit.
When someone is sick around me, I lose my shit.
Any time I get a cramp, I lose my shit.
Any time I feel something weird, I lose my shit.
And every day, I lose my shit a little over something. Today it wasn’t over anything in particular, but nevertheless, I ended up planting a rosebush in the rain, burying it with my hands and getting pricked by thorns.
It shouldn’t have to be this way.
So, I’m just going to say this and hope that at least one person reads this and feels a little less alone: I didn’t LOSE anything. My babies were taken from me. Whether it be some genetic bullshit or bad implantation or whatever, it wasn’t my fault. The world wasn’t ready for them, and they were taken from me. I hate the word miscarriage. It implies I did something wrong or something malfunctioned within me, the carrier.
I carried to the best of my ability, but for whatever reason, they were taken from me. I don’t have anything to be sorry about.
I’m not sorry for announcing early. I used to feel really bad about that. Why? I don’t give a fuck how short my pregnancies were; I won’t feel bad that for however long, the world knew I was having a baby and I was excited. And that’s why I announced early this time around too, and that’s why when someone asked me, “Aren’t you scared to announce this early because of what happened last time?” back in July, they were promptly written off as a fucking asshole for saying that.
You announce whenever the fuck you want to announce. For me, there was never a second that I wasn’t excited about my kid, and I wanted to share that.
It’s okay to be a little bitter when someone announces their pregnancy on the heels of you losing one. We all do it.
There have been times where in passing, I’d mention my morning sickness the first time or my cravings the second. Those kids existed. Those pregnancies were real. And that shouldn’t make anyone feel awkward.
This happens to people. It happens to A LOT of people. And we should be able to talk about it. Sometimes, it’s downright scary, and keeping it to ourselves only gives it power over us that it just doesn’t deserve.
I had two miscarriages. And both times were scary in different ways. And because of them, my current pregnancy is always a little more scary to me. I’m always going to overreact a little to weird things because of it. And the more I talk about it, the easier it gets. Chris was actually the first person to say, “I know you’re having a hard time right now, but I think you might be struggling a little bit with what happened to you before.”
And in that moment, I felt a little better. He named it.
And I should be able to talk about it. And so should my husband.
Brene Brown says that in naming our shame, we take away its power. Shame’s power lies in the dark. So, in an attempt to breathe a little easier, I’m gonna shed some light on this shit. If you feel alone, then you feel special. And ladies, the loss sucks, but it happens to 1 in 4 of us. We may be sad or scared or a little traumatized, but we are definitely not special or alone. We’re all a part of the same shitty club. It sucks, but we’re all gonna be okay.
Pregnancy loss blows. It blows even more when you have to deal with it alone. So, let’s not do it anymore.