I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to sit down and write this out. Not so much because of the heavy emotions it brings up, of course that’s difficult, but because of my pride.
You see, I always want to be honest and transparent. That’s important to me and it’s just who I am. I know that doesn’t mean I have to share everything with you, my reader and friend, but this has been heavy on my heart and something I think needs to be talked about. Not by everyone, but by someone. Because so few can actually talk about it without completely falling apart, but every woman whose experienced this needs the encouragement and to know they are not alone, not broken.
I’m talking about miscarriage. A difficult, completely unexpected and uninvited reality, every time. Yes, I said every time because I’ve experienced two. One with a twin pregnancy before our amazingly healthy daughter was born and another just two weeks ago.
It’s hard to say that, to admit that to you. In fact, as I’ve shared with people in my community, I’m reminded that I am a woman who has experienced miscarriage not once, but twice. I’ve sat through the quiet, heartbeat-less ultrasound...twice. I’ve cried tears of sorrow and mourned the loss of my babies...twice. I’ve experienced the bloody aftermath of the news and the physical and emotional stress...twice. I’ve picked up the pieces and my broken heart not once, but twice.
And experience sure as hell doesn’t make it any easier, but I will say that my experience this time was different. My heart is in a different place, my faith is stronger, my knowledge of fertility is better and my hope is overwhelmingly present.
Let me share my journey over the past 6 weeks...
In early November, I noticed that my cycle was running really long. My husband had been away for two weeks on a trip to Israel and was gone during what I thought was my fertile period so at first, I figured it wasn’t even possible for me to be pregnant!
I pulled out my period tracker like three nights in a row before I went to sleep and counted the days since my last period...34, 35, 36... you get the idea. On Sunday, November 5 I had this gut feeling that it wasn’t just a long cycle, but that I may be pregnant so I asked Matt to stop at the store on our way home from my parent’s house that night.
As we headed up our street, I told Matt I’d be really excited if it was positive. You see, the last time him and I had talked about our feelings on growing our family, maybe a month or two before this, we were on the same page that we’d be happy with just one, our sweet girl.
We went home, I put Elle down for bed and acting as cool as a kitten to Matt, I said, “Don’t worry babe, I’m sure I’m not pregnant.” I anxiously grabbed the test and headed for the bathroom. I watched as the single line turned pink, but the second line didn’t show up right away so I set it on the window ledge. As I stood up, I glanced over and the double lines caught my eye. Holy $#*%, it was positive! Low and behold, I was pregnant! I fell to my knees and prayed, asking for the Lord’s protection and peace then brought the test out to Matt who was totally stunned. In fact, his reaction was a tad bit disappointing. It took him a day to process, but he quickly joined the happy train.
So started the process of growing a fetus. I was super tired that next week, taking naps a few times with Elle and going to bed by 8:30pm. I was over the moon because four of my best friends are also pregnant and if you’ve ever been pregnant with a bestie, you know it’s kind of the coolest thing ever. Someone to bitch about pregnancy aches and pains with who actually knows what you’re feeling, what more could you ask for?
With all the excitement I have to be honest, there were moments of pure anxiety. Having experienced a miscarriage in the past, the early weeks of pregnancy can be overwhelmingly concerning if you allow them to be. I had to stop in my tracks and pray through moments of anxiety and fear and I used lots of affirmations.
Though we planned on having another home birth, I like to start out with an ultrasound to see the little nugget and hear a heartbeat. There is just something about the sound of a heartbeat that brings so much comfort and reassurance in those early weeks of pregnancy. We couldn’t get in with my doctor until late December, but at an appointment with the nurse she informed me there had been a cancellation and she booked an appointment with the doctor for the following week. I thought that given the time frame that Matt and I had sex, before and after his Israel trip, I had to have ovulated early and figured I would be close to 8 weeks by that first appointment so seeing a heartbeat would be totally doable.
So we anxiously awaited the appointment. Even as a Nutritional Therapist, feeling confident in my first trimester nutrition and lifestyle habits, taking all the supplements and all that good stuff, I still struggled with all the emotions. There was fear, there was excitement, there was uncertainty, planning, dreaming, anxiety, concern. You name it, I felt it.
Now, with that being said, I really tried my hardest to stay positive and believe that baby into reality. I allowed myself to feel the fear and the anxiety, but didn’t let it run my world. Prayer, affirmations and my amazing family and friends were all I could stand on at this point.
The appointment came and there we sat in the doctor’s office awaiting that first ultrasound. I had all the symptoms–exhaustion, a little queasiness, a wee bit of moody–so we were feeling pretty confident.
As Dr. P scanned us, he found the sac and a little bean shaped babe within it. There was the tiniest flicker of a heartbeat, not yet audible. The baby measured about 6 weeks at this point and the anatomy was all there for this time frame. Since this was smaller than we had originally thought, of course there was some concern.
Maybe I actually ovulated late in my cycle, conceiving when Matt came home from Israel. This in and of itself concerned me because those late cycle eggs aren’t usually as good and have higher miscarriage rates (ignorance is bliss my friend, that’s for sure. Knowing so much about the world of fertility and baby makin’ brought in some extra worries...and reassurance...oddly enough) hence why having a regular cycle is so important for health conception.
The doctor wanted to test my Hcg and rescan me in another week. If I was that early on, there would definitely be a fetus forming and an audible heartbeat in another week.
So we went home and just relaxed into it. Of course I had some concern, but I tried not to deny my pregnancy in order to not let myself be let down if we did end up losing it. I tried to focus on staying positive, pour myself into my first born and just relax.
My Hcg came back strong, growing as it should so this added to my confidence.
Then came the next ultrasound. I went alone since it was smack dab in the middle of naptime. Going alone gave me some anxiety, my heart rate was 99 BPM just sitting in the office!
Dr. P came in, kind of somber from what I remember and said, “Alright Justine, let’s see what we’ve got!” and began the ultrasound. Yet, again, there was the silent wait as he moved the ultrasound wand around, trying to orient himself to the space and locate the sac.
I could see what he was looking at, the same little sac we had found last time, but this time that little bean was more like a funky looking, smaller than before triangular shape. No 7 or 8 week fetus shape, no heartbeat flicker or sound. Nothin.
When I think back to this moment, I don’t remember feeling a huge let down in emotions. It was almost like I had subconsciously known or prepared myself for this. I took a deep breath and said, “It’s OK Dr. P” as if I was reassuring him.
We sat and talked about the next steps. I told him I wanted to miscarry naturally, no meds or invasive surgeries. Just me, at home, allowing my body to do what it needed to. Any other patient he may have encouraged the medical route for fear of infection or poor self-care, but he knew my story and my beliefs, he was there to wish us good luck on our home birth two years prior and he trusted my intuition.
He did his best to reassure me, but I didn’t want false hope. I knew it was over, that that baby had gone to meet Jesus and was already waiting to meet us in Heaven.
I was OK with that.
I had to do another Hcg level to begin to follow the trend downward and it took everything in me to hold myself together until I got to the car. I text Matt and my mom and a few besties that had been praying for my appointment. I needed time to just sit in the emotions, by my self, in the car, while people pulled in and out next to me.
I sat and just sobbed like a total baby. Out loud, yucky, ugly, serious crying.
The first thing I said to God was, “Ok God, how are we going to spin this one?” because all I could think about was how embarrassed I was. A holistic Nutritionist dreaming of changing the way we nourish fertility to grow healthier families, teaching couples about how to prepare their bodies for conception so they DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS VERY THING and here I was, miscarrying.
It was hard. Really really hard. My pride was shattered and I was mourning the loss of a baby I never knew. Mourning the plans we had made looking forward to a family of four. Mourning the picture of pregnant bellies with besties. Mourning the experience of pregnancy and the excitement for another birth at home.
I was finally able to answer the phone and talked with Matt and a few friends. By the time I got home I had settled down and felt a little less overwhelmed with emotion. We talked and prayed and took the next few days to rest and allow ourselves to experience the rollercoaster of emotions that were surely to come.
But that next day I was hit with a peace that I can hardly explain. A peace that allowed me to share the news with more of the people we had shared the pregnancy with. A peace that allowed me to pray prayers of gratitude for our story and His perfect plan, despite the pain and brokenness. A peace that truly surpassed all understanding (and I’m so grateful for whoever prayed that prayer for me).
As my body naturally let go and I began to miscarry, a traumatic experience in and of itself, I was reminded of something that I struggled with in my first miscarriage. This was a blessed interruption, a difficult loss yet a moment in life that reminds you of just how precious life is and what a miracle our first born was. A reminder that you just never know, despite your best efforts.
But in this, and the greatest gift of all was the reminder that God is good and God isn’t done and that His perfect plan will come to pass. I’m surely not saying HE caused this because I don’t know how all that works. I do know that God quite literally makes beauty from ashes and my story isn’t exempt from his mighty redemption and grace.
As hard as it is to experience loss and as hard it has been to come to terms with all the broken plans and humbling of my heart, I’m so glad that God is beside me and above me and beneath me. I am so grateful HIS plans are better than my own.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18
As I type that, I can hardly read through the tears. Not out of sadness, but out of joy and peace and overwhelming gratitude that our sorrows will one day be washed away and that we’ll get to join our 3 babies in Heaven amidst the glory of the Lord.
I’m looking forward to putting all I teach with my preconception prep couples into motion in our own life, seeing our own Nutritionist (yes, this Nutritionist has her own Nutritionist!) and really digging in with intention, now that we know we want another babe. I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you, both the ups and the downs. Whatever comes along the way.
And if you’re still reading this, I’m guessing maybe you’ve experienced loss yourself. As I ride the wave of this miscarriage onto a calmer shore, I know that the Lord is using this to connect us.
I hear your cries, your pain, your hurt, your confusion. I feel your sorrow and your longing for life within.
I want to remind you that you are not alone and you are not broken my beautiful friend. I pray that you will be blessed with the same peace that I’ve experienced. I am here with you mama and I know the Lord will see you through this, no matter how hard and yucky miscarriage may be. God is good always and always God is good.
I’m praying for all of the hearts that are hurting out there because I know there are so, so many.
Looking forward to sharing our journey of healing through this and getting our bods all baby ready. For when the time is right and the prep is done.
Lots of love my friend,