Friday, September 17, 2010

Miscarriage at 12 weeks
Northwest Arkansas

My story starts way back in the spring of 2006 while I was a nanny in New York City. I was invited to provide childcare at someone's homebirth. That is the day that my whole life changed. I witnessed that raw power of childbirth and knew right then that my heart was being called to serve childbearing women. I was an instant birth junkie and immediately began the certification process to become a professional doula. I started doing volunteer doula work when I moved back home to Arkansas and just surrounded myself in the natural birthing world. I already had babies on my brain despite having just turned 19 and being single.

Shortly after returning home, I began dating my now husband whom I had been friends with for a while. We were young and in love and never once in our relationship did we use protection. I quickly discovered fertility friend and began using it to try and avoid pregnancy during the early months of our relationship. We got married in May of 2007 and immediately began trying to have a baby. I was only 19 so we never expected it would take more than a few months, especially after how familiar I was with fertility friend by that point. The heartbreak of every passing month was excrutiating and really started to take it's toll on my emotional health and my relationship with my husband. It definitely took a lot of the romance out of the bedroom for a while.

After 14 months of trying, trying, and more trying, I finally saw two lines! It was just a few days after my 21st birthday (where I didn't drink 'just in case') and we could not have been more thrilled. We knew way in advance that we'd be using a midwife and I was lucky enough to get to watch her in action at a doula client's birth. Since we were using a midwife, we knew we wouldn't have a prenatal until around 12 weeks.

We immediately told everyone that we were expecting and I just felt like I walked around beaming. The weeks seemed to just drag and I was so sick all day long. I got myself through it by telling myself that all the sickness would be worth it in the end. I was absolutely thrilled when I got into that 11th week and started actually feeling better. I just chalked it up to entering into the second trimester and rejoiced, rejoiced, rejoiced. We had our first prenatal that week and everything seemed to be going great. We didn't get to hear the heartbeat with the doppler like we'd hope to. We knew that it can be totally normal not to hear it right at 12 weeks so we were told not to worry.

Just a few days after that prenatal, while I was at work, I went to the bathroom and saw blood. I immediately broke down and knew in my gut that it was the end. My husband came and got me from work and we called the midwife together. She basically just told me there was nothing that she could do if I was miscarrying, to just take it easy and lay around. I went home and just cried and cried.

Just a few short hours after I first started bleeding, I was in full on labor. I definitely had no idea what to expect beforehand so the contractions totally caught me off guard. I had a really hard time coping through the night while my husband was asleep. By the time I finally got him up, I was already exhausted and starting to panic. I had been bleeding heavily for a few hours when I decided to take a hot shower, thinking that would help me better cope with the pain. My husband was just freaking out seeing all that blood and called the midwife to ask what our next move was. She gave my husband some other signs to look out for other than blood loss and went back about her day. While I was in the shower I got incredibly light headed and almost passed out. When I tried to get out of the shower things started to blur quite a bit and the next thing I really remember was my husband helping me to the car so that we could go to the hospital.

The hospital staff was really awful to us, which I think had a lot to do with our lack of health insurance. They made me sit through a pelvic despite the heavy bleeding and then did a totally unnecessary ultrasound to confirm what we already knew. I was actually told once that I needed to "suck it up". I couldn't wait to get out of there and get back to the comfort of my own home. They sent me off with a Rhogam shot and some pain killers after less than an hour there.

I spiraled into the darkest depression I've ever experienced. I pulled away from my friends and family, and most especially my husband. I couldn't look at him without thinking about the little one we lost, wondering if they would have had his eyes or mine. We ended up seperating less than two months later after our grief became too much. We both struggled with depression and the miscarriage was a big trigger that left us both hopeless.

Luckily, through a ton of work we finally got back together in June 2009. We're still actively trying to conceive but it's not the main focus of our relationship any more. I just started my first semester of nursing school and our lives are incredibly busy, but so full. I can't believe I'm still not a mother two years later and it just hurts.

Not a single day passes that I don't think about my loss, especially around this time of year. As the anniversary of my loss gets closer it gets harder and harder not to be consumed by it. I find comfort knowing that one day soon, I'll be a more compassionate midwife to my clients who suffer a loss just by having been there myself.

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