A pregnancy and miscarriage
This post was migrated from my Lifeblog.
I never got around to announcing my first pregnancy on this blog. It’s just as well because at 7 weeks, I miscarried.
For weeks now, I’ve been hiding under a rock in my little emotional world. Every time I get to thinking about what’s happened, I crawl back in; but hard though it is, I think it’s high time I came out.
We’d started trying in late February. To my great disappointment, the first month rolled by uneventfully. (I was just so shocked that nature could miss!) After that, I resigned myself to what could be a long wait. However, the second try was the charm. A few weeks after my period (March 21st), I had an odd afternoon of cramping, very unusual for me mid-cycle; a week after that, my breasts started aching and swelling. Finally, at two days late, I tested and got a lovely plus sign. I was pregnant!
The beginning wasn’t at all what I’d expected. I thought we would leap to the phone and notify the grandparents, then cozy up at a romantic candlelight dinner and dream about family life. Instead, Spencer looked stunned and got back on his computer. We sat around for days before we made the first call. After the general excitement subsided, we were left with our own thoughts and eight months before the world exploded. Truth was, we were a bit stressed out. After all, we’re living in a 400 sq. ft. apartment in the heart of Hedonism and Road Rage, USA. Not exactly baby-friendly. And only three months into his career, Spencer was looking at fitting family and fatherhood into the picture. I couldn’t blame him for feeling strained.
I admit, with all of two weeks between wanting a baby and starting to try, it wasn’t the best planned pregnancy. I’m impetuous, especially when I’m bored. But on the other hand, we’d been married for a year and a half already, and we’d always said we’d start trying after college when Spencer had a good job. Well, we were out of college and he had a good job. What else were we waiting for? Turns out there are several more details that could have been better arranged, but it took experience to see that.
Despite our worries, we were happy and looking forward about our bundle of joy. Things wouldn’t be easy, but we weren’t afraid. (Stressed, yes. Afraid, no.) We were excited about our family and future and eager to get started. So when it all ended abruptly, only two short weeks after it started, we were devastated.
It started on a Tuesday morning. I woke up with a stomachache and quickly discovered I was bleeding. At first, I tried not to think too hard; after all, a lot of women bleed during their pregnancies. But the cramping and bleeding worsened over the morning. Numbly, we drove to a doctor where an ultrasound showed that the fetus had probably died at five weeks. That evening, I passed tissue and we knew it was over.
Since then, the recovery has been a gradual one. The first few days were the worst. I was exhausted and numb to the core. Spencer was able to take a few days at home, and we sat around watching Whose Line Is It Anyway, attempting to brighten our misery with a little cheer. Everything seemed so unreal; even the sunlight looked garish.
Initially, my biggest stress was the medical aspect. During our first trip to the ob/gyn, we were efficiently bustled from room to room, poked and prodded, and sent home with an order for several blood tests. We came out rather dazed, with no idea how deep the rabbit hole went. Thankfully, it turned to be quite shallow. Because I’d miscarried so early in my pregnancy, a D&C was not necessary. Our doctor, who had seemed nice but rushed on our first visit, turned out to be very kind in accomodating our lack of insurance and preference for natural healing. In the end, we needed only one little check-up to end the ordeal.
After that, life resumed its normal routine, and the emotional healing began. It was very odd. My emotions came in intense bursts, between which I would go for hours or even days in a numb-ish state. The most crushing thing at first was losing the future we’d so eagerly anticipated. We had already begun to see ourselves as parents and rearrange our lives as such. We had reconsidered his career and budgeted for baby supplies, canceled plans for a cruise and thought about renting a house. Suddenly, it was all gone, and we had to go back to being who we were before the pregnancy. It was terribly disorienting to think a thought and then realize it was now moot. For weeks, I thought I’d never regain my sanity.
Naturally, I felt grief, but it was not at all as I’d expected. My pregnancy had been so brief, it had hardly seemed real to me; certainly, I’d never connected spiritually to my fetus or anything. So I was completely surprised by the depth of my agony. It wasn’t just pain and sorrow; it was shame, guilt, and a deep sense of inadequacy as a woman. I was a mother whose child had died. Never mind all the medical facts about how miscarriage usually isn’t anyone’s fault and happens to all sorts of women. My body had failed, and it was grieving its loss. When I described the emotion to my husband, he mused that it was similar to impotency for a man, which makes sense. Underneath our modern exterior, we’re ancient beings, and evolution is not kind to those who cannot produce children.
Perhaps the most confusing thing I felt was relief. Yes, relief. Even amidst my terrible pain. I was not as ready for children as I had thought, and it wasn’t until I was pregnant did I fully realize it. There were still so many things I wanted to do in my youth: places I wanted to go, projects I wanted to complete, things about myself I wanted to change. I knew that Spencer felt the same. Here we were being given another chance to get our act together before accepting the most precious responsibility of our lives. It was the silver lining on our cloud. I wouldn’t have given up that baby for the world, but having been dealt this hand, I did what I could with it.
Now, it’s been almost a month since the miscarriage. We are slowly re-embracing our identity as a young childless couple and redefining our future. Most days are happy, and I don’t think too much about what has happened; but now and then, the tears still come, as intense as ever. I still don’t know what to think about everything, and I won’t for a long time. But for now, life goes on.