Category Archives: The Miscarriage

Miscarriage and Macaroni and Cheese

The front door banged. I startled from my nap and realized Alex was finally home from an exhausting day at work. He was a shipping and receiving manager for an innovative healthcare technology company. The days were long and weary, but I couldn’t complain about his decent wages and health benefits. I gathered my strength and pushed myself from bed, shuffling out to the living room to greet Alex and share the news.

“Hey honey. How was your day?” I asked as I leaned against the oak door jamb in the cozy living room.

“I’m okay,” sighed Alex, “It was a rough day, but otherwise good. What’s for dinner?” I frowned slightly at Alex, but stuffed my emotions down. Alex had a hard day and didn’t deserve my complaining.

“I hadn’t started dinner yet. I just woke up from a nap. Can we order out since I’m not feeling well?”

“Oh, that’s right. You went to the doctor’s today. How’d it go?” Alex plopped on the hot pink couch from Ikea and flipped on the tube. He wanted to catch the score of his beloved Penn State football team.

“Well, it wasn’t that great. Alex…can you mute the TV? I have something serious to tell you.” I sat on the couch next to Alex, hoping to get his attention. He muted the television and turned slightly to face me, a questioning look in his eyes.

“What happened, honey?”

“I went to see Dr. Lee. She said that I’m having a miscarriage. The baby was only a few days old.” I paused, unsure what else to say. Alex gently cradled my soft small hands in his rough ones, smoothing my knuckles with his thumb. He stared at the floor a moment, quiet, our breathing the only sounds. He lifted his head to gaze into my eyes and caressed my cheek with his hand.

“I’m so, so sorry, Kat. I know how much you wanted this baby,” Alex spoke softly. “We can always try again. What else did the doctor say?”

My eyes filled with unshed tears at his tender words. I bit my trembling lip, unable to stop the tears from falling. Alex gathered me in his arms, rubbing her my in slow circles.

“Shhhh…it’s okay, Kat. Don’t worry. We can try again. It’ll be okay.” I sobbed anew as the grief ripped through me.

“I’m so sorry, Alex! I don’t know what happened!” I cried. I blamed myself for losing the baby, blamed my body for betraying them.

“It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t anything you did. You know that.” Alex rocked me gently as my crying subsided into sniffles.

“I need a tissue,” I mumbled into Alex’s plaid shirt. “I think I got snot all over your shirt.” Alex chuckled and reached over to the end table, grabbed a tissue, and handed it to me. He watched me as I sat up, attempted to smooth my hair and dab at my eyes. Smiling wryly, I reached out and lightly touched a wet spot on the front of his shirt.

“Don’t worry, Kat. It’ll all work out and be okay. We’ll figure it out. Do you want me to make something for dinner so you can rest?” Alex slid a tendril of my curly blonde hair behind my ear.

“That would be nice,” I sniffled. “I don’t think I feel up to doing much yet.” Alex stood, patted me gently on the shoulder, and headed to the kitchen to scrounge up something to eat. Most likely it would be macaroni and cheese since it was Alex’s favorite food. Every time we ate it, I remembered when we were dating how Alex would stock up on the boxes of macaroni and cheese. He ate it for almost every meal, claiming it was cheap and easy for a bachelor. I remembered that at one time, he had almost 100 boxes stashed in cupboards from a sale they had at the grocery store. I shook my head ruefully and smiled. It was nice to have the old Alex back. I hoped this was sign of better things to come in our relationship.

I hated fighting with Alex. It tore at my heart. The last year had been particularly difficult. It seemed all we ever did was argue about everything. It didn’t matter what the topic – money, friends, not enough time together, even what to eat for dinner. Most of the time, I would just go along with whatever Alex had decided or said, but occasionally I would fight back. We ate dinner, relaxed and watched TV on the couch together, and turned in early for the night, both drained from the day’s events.

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Healing After Miscarriage

As a side bar into this story, I want to offer some insight and advice about miscarriages and how to deal with the effects – physically, emotionally, and mentally. I remember what I went through and the lack of resources I had regarding the emotional fallout of the miscarriage. I don’t want the same to happen to another woman.

Suffering from a miscarriage or stillbirth can be very traumatic. Not only is it taxing on you physically, but emotionally as well. While a woman’s body can heal and recover relatively quickly from a miscarriage, emotionally, the healing process can take much longer. Although many women do not want to deal with their feelings after a pregnancy loss, facing them can help you pull through and emerge a stronger person.

As with any loss, it is normal for couples to feel grief after a miscarriage. Unfortunately, far too often, outwardly displaying signs of grief is seen as a sign of weakness, causing some to be tempted to bottle up this emotion (I did). Though you may want to appear emotionally strong to those around you, it is important to keep in mind that entering a grieving period after a significant loss is a perfectly normal human emotion.

There is no specific amount of time that a couple is expected to grieve after a pregnancy loss. How long a woman and her partner mourn for will vary from couple to couple and is not dictated by the length of a pregnancy. Whether you had an early miscarriage or stillbirth, the pain can be equally acute. Only you will know how long you need to grieve for.

Moving Past the Grief

Grief is not the only emotion associated with miscarriages. Other typical emotions reported by woman who have lost a pregnancy include depression, loneliness and isolation. Although these feelings are perfectly normal, if you are having troubles coping day to day because of your emotions, you may want to make an appointment with your health care provider. When your emotions begin to interfere with your daily activities, it can be a sign of major depression, a health issue that requires professional attention.

Another common emotional response to a spontaneous abortion is self-blame. Many women often feel that if only they had done something differently, if only they hadn’t had that glass of wine before they found out they were pregnant, they wouldn’t have miscarried. These thoughts can ring in your mind for weeks, making it even harder to get over your loss.

Miscarriage can also cause a woman to feel intense anger and jealousy towards other women, even friends, who are pregnant. While these emotions can be appalling, they will eventually pass and fade.

The Male Side

Miscarriages can make men nervous to talk to their partners. Not only are they upset about the loss, but also they are grieving for their partner. As a result, you may find that your partner is reluctant to broach the topic, fearful that he may upset you. Be honest with your partner; if you are not ready to openly discuss the loss with him, say so. But don’t forget to also let him know when you do want to talk.

After a miscarriage, a couple’s relationship can become noticeably strained. Dealing with such a significant loss can cause individuals to turn inwards and away from each. Yet, this is when you each need each other the most, for support and for a shoulder to cry on. Discussing your feelings after a miscarriage is often difficult for couples, but it is necessary. If you find that there is too much stress on your relationship right now, seeking out couples counseling can help you work through your grief as well as improve the communication between you and your partner.

Finding Support

Coping emotionally after a miscarriage is not easy and your friends and family are one of your best sources to find the support you need during this difficult time. Unfortunately, sometimes those that you want the most support from are the ones that make the situation worse by ignoring it. Though this can lead to feelings of hurt and anger, perhaps even causing you to withdraw from those closest to you, try to keep in mind that perhaps they are avoiding the topic for fear of upsetting you. Like your partner, it is important to be honest with your friends and family, letting them know when you do and when you don’t want to talk about your miscarriage.

Another great place to turn to after a miscarriage is a support group. Talking with other women and couples who are also dealing with the aftermath of a miscarriage can breakdown those feelings of isolation and loneliness. Alternatively, speaking with a professional therapist one-on-one can help you come to terms with your loss.

Coping Tips

Here are some tips that may be useful in helping you deal with your miscarriage:

  • Write it Down: Journal writing is an excellent method for people to air out their emotions. Because a journal is private, you can be honest with yourself and your thoughts, allowing yourself to reflect on just what it is that you are feeling. Furthermore, studies have found that writing in a journal can actually speed up the recovery period during sad times.
  • Set Some Rules: It can be difficult for your friends and family to know whether you feel comfortable hearing about other women’s pregnancies and pregnancy losses. To help yourself and those around you feel better and more at ease, make it clear which topics, if any, are off limits with you.
  • Go Away: If you don’t feel ready to face the world right after your miscarriage, then don’t. Take some time off of work to focus on yourself. If you can, arrange for your partner to also have some free time so you can be together.
  • Remember: Finding a special way to commemorate your child can turn a negative situation into a positive one, helping you to let go of your grief. Some parents choose to hold a memorial service while others decide to plant a tree in a local park or their backyard. Some even choose to write about their experience or create a website in order to help others.

Pregnancy loss can cause severe depression for many women. A support group or professional counseling may be useful if there is depression.

While some people may not understand her grief or expect that a woman should just “get over it”, the reality is that a child has been lost and it may take a long time to recover.  Taking whatever time is necessary to heal is so important.  While the impact remains, hopefully over time and with support, and with the memories of the baby, you can cope with your loss.


A Bump in the Road

According to the test results, I had only been pregnant for a few days. Not even long enough for my body to fully register that it was pregnant. But long enough for me to know that it was the beginning of something. After a few hours sleeping, I knew I needed to call my job to let them know I would be out from work another day. I dreaded making the call, but knew I had no choice. I didn’t want pity from anyone. I just wanted to be left alone, to curl in on myself and lock it away. I reached for the phone and dialed.

“Hello? Greta? It’s Kat.”

“Hey, Kat. How are you feeling? Is everything okay?” asked Greta, the concern clear in her voice. I sighed, wondering how much I should tell her. Greta was my co-worker, but was also a counselor who had her own private practice. I was afraid Greta would see more behind my words than I wanted. I also didn’t know her that well as I kept to myself mostly at my job, leaving the office for lunch with my husband or to eat alone almost every day.

“Yea, I’m okay. I went to the doctor and apparently I’m having a miscarriage. I was only a few days pregnant and didn’t even know I was pregnant. So it’s no big deal.” I tried to reply nonchalantly to Greta’s question, hoping it would deter any further probing.

“Oh, Kat. I’m so sorry to hear that. Is there anything you need? Anything I can do?”

“No, I’m good. I just need another day to rest before coming back to work. I’ll be fine.” I said goodbye and hung up. As much as I wanted to spill my feelings to someone, I felt that I couldn’t and shouldn’t. I needed to be strong – for myself, my family, my husband. I learned a long time ago that problems were kept within the family and even then, you didn’t always talk about them. You learned to bury them, stoically facing the world head-on, smiling and pretending that everything was copacetic.

Not to mention, I felt that I didn’t have any friends close enough that I could turn to even if I wanted to tell someone. I painfully remembered the severed friendships when I married Alex. Alex didn’t like me associating with my old friends, those that were friends with me before him. He didn’t trust them. During college, while we were dating, he always thought I was out drinking irresponsibly with Nikki and Jack, two of my closest friends, doing God-knows-what and with whom. For some reason, he had images of me drunk, having sex with random people, doing drugs, and so forth. He accused me of this more than once despite it not being true. He said that he was worried about me and only wanted me to be safe. Slowly, without me realizing it until it was too late, Alex had pushed away my friends, convincing me it was for the best. Goodness knows I had tried to tell Alex that Nikki and Jack weren’t like that – that they were wonderfully caring people and would never encourage anything like that. I even tried to have Alex hang out with them all, but it was painfully obvious that he wasn’t comfortable with them.

I wished I still had Nikki to turn to, especially now with the miscarriage, but I knew I was alone with my feelings. I could talk to Alex, but I wasn’t sure how that would go. He had argued about even trying to have a baby in the first place. He wasn’t really sure he wanted me to go off the birth control. He was worried about how we would pay for a child and the responsibility that comes with it. Alex seemed to relax about it over the two years that we had been trying to have a child. While we didn’t talk in-depth about it, I thought Alex seemed happy to be trying, or maybe that was just because he got to have sex often. At least that part had been a lot of fun. The more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself that Alex would be upset, but would still be game to keep trying. I wanted children so badly it was a persistent longing in my soul. I felt born to be a mother. I always pictured herself married with the traditional story book image of a white picket fence, the nice house, happy family, kids, and enjoying life to a ripe old age. This was just a blip in the grand scheme of things. A bump in the road. I was comforted in the thought of knowing my life was secure and this wasn’t the end of the world.


My Unborn Dream

I cracked an eye and looked at the clock. 1:00pm. Time to drag myself out of bed to get cleaned up for the doctor visit. A sigh so deep pushed up from my weary depths. I felt wrung out like a dirty dishrag. The angry pain still coursed through my lower back and legs making walking difficult. I washed myself the best I could, trembling from exhaustion. I noticed I was bleeding even stronger now, clumps of waste left behind. I picked myself up and locked the fragile emotions deep. I had to get through this appointment. I drove myself to the office which was mercifully only 10 minutes away. I didn’t think I would make it much farther. I dreaded this appointment for I knew what was coming, what the doctor would say, and there was nothing I could do about it. Maybe it wasn’t what I suspected. Maybe I was just fearing the worst, but in reality everything would be okay. I kept my fingers crossed as I headed in to see Dr. Lee.

At least the chairs are comfortable as I settled into the mauve-cushioned seat. What is it with doctor’s office and using the color mauve? Was it listed on the approved soothing colors brochure? It reminded me of rotten watermelons, the bright pink faded, mushy, and washed out grey with detritus. I wished that Alex were here to support me. I couldn’t believe he chose to go to work instead. It wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last, I supposed. I brushed my golden blonde bangs out of my eyes, lost in thought. Alex and I had married four years ago. It was one of the best moments of my life. I still couldn’t figure what happened, what was the pivotal moment where everything began to change. Where did I start losing myself and becoming somebody I wasn’t?

Long ago, I gave up my voice, instead choosing to hide in the background of my fun-loving husband. His personality was so vibrant and domineering, it’s no wonder that people chose to be near him. Even I used to be enamored with his zest for life, wanting to constantly bathe in his radiance. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, I realized that I had faded from view. I was no longer the center of his world, but pushed along the sidelines as others became more interesting. I was often referred to as Alex’s wife instead of by my own name, my own person. My “friends” weren’t even really my friends anymore. They were Alex’s friends who embraced me only because I was associated with him. I initially had accepted this as part of the natural course of our marriage, but over time realized that I was tired of taking second place to everything and everyone else.

“Kat?” The nurse interrupted my thoughts, calling me back to the present. Nervously and feeling very alone, I trudged to the back and into the room with the nurse.

“You can wait here. Dr. Lee will be with you in a moment.” The nurse hung the clipboard outside the wall and gently closed the door. I shivered in the cold sterile room as I sat on the hard exam table. Moments passed as I picked at my fingers, chewing on the hangnails – a bad habit that I had forced Alex to give up. Just as I thought they had forgotten about me, Dr. Lee walked in.

“Hello, Kat…I hear you’re not feeling well. Can you tell me what’s going on?” Dr. Lee asked in her comforting, motherly voice. Her black-haired, five foot frame bustled efficiently around me, checking my blood pressure and temperature. I dispassionately began telling her of my morning, the severe bleeding, and the excruciating pain. Just talking exhausted me. I was ghostly pale and clammy, staring with a faraway gaze.

“Kat, we’re going to draw some blood to do a pregnancy test as well as some other tests to find out what’s going on, okay? I need you to come with me to the nurses’ station. Can you do that?” Dr. Lee offered a smooth hand to me and helped me down off the table. I followed Dr. Lee to the nurses’ station and eased myself into a chair. As the mousey brown-haired nurse drew my blood, she smiled sympathetically. I could see the pity in her eyes. I looked away as the nurse removed the needle, not wanting to meet her gaze again. I just wanted to get it all over with and go back home to bed.

“It’ll be just a few minutes for the results,” the nurse stated as she walked away with vials of my blood. I stared at the floor letting my blonde curls fall forward to cover my face, willing the minutes to pass quickly. I mindlessly scraped my leather flip-flops across the carpet. All too soon, the nurse was back with Dr. Lee.

“Kat, I have the results of your blood test. You were pregnant and are having a miscarriage.” Dr. Lee rattled off some other results such as only a few days old, nothing to worry about, this is normal, but I didn’t hear much of what she said. All I could think was that I lost it. I lost my baby. The nurse and Dr. Lee looked at each other, concern clear on their faces. “Kat? Do you understand what I’m saying?” asked Dr. Lee. “Do you have someone who is here with you? That can drive you home? You need to rest.”

I shook my head and mumbled, “I drove myself. I’m alone. I’ll manage.” I thanked Dr. Lee, shook her hand limply and slowly drifted to my car, numb and confused. So much for so little. How was I going to tell Alex? Would he even care? I walked in the door of our small double-wide trailer, not remembering how I got home. I stripped my clothes and climbed into the welcoming bed, burying myself under the turquoise sheets. Tears began to slip from my hazel eyes as the reality of what Dr. Lee said hit me. My chin trembled, my body quaked, I sobbed, grieving for my lost little child.


Maybe This is How It Is Between Husband and Wife

Alex went in the bedroom to get dressed, pulling on jeans and a button-down plaid shirt. It didn’t take him long to get ready as he had no hair to contend with and showers were only five minutes tops. He was a roll-out-of-bed and go kind of guy and he was quite content with it. Shaving was the only concession he usually made since he would end up a wooly mammoth in two days if he didn’t keep it under control. It was bad enough he had to shave his back and chest hair so it didn’t pop out of his shirt. He glanced back at the bed. I was still curled up in a ball. He shook his head, wondering if he should even bother me.

“Alex? I don’t feel so well,” I mumbled. I looked at him through pain glazed eyes. Alex walked over and put his hand on my forehead.

“You don’t feel like you have a fever. What’s wrong?” Alex brushed my bangs aside gently as he felt my forehead.

“My lower back and stomach are killing me. I can barely move my legs and I’m bleeding like a stuck pig,” I whimpered as I cradled my stomach. “I think there’s something wrong.”

“Maybe you should go to the doctor?” Alex eyed me skeptically.

“I probably should. Will you call and schedule the appointment with Dr. Lee? Can you take me? I don’t think I can drive.” I attempted to push myself up in bed, but another gut-wrenching convulsion sliced through my lower back. “Ooohhhhhh!” I cried as I fell back in bed.

“Can’t your mom or dad take you? Is there someone else you can call? I have to work. You know how important it is that I be there. I can’t afford another day off to go to the doctor with you.” Alex huffed and straightened up. He knew there was no way he was missing another day of work to go the doctor again. He had already missed a few days because of the fertility tests and consultations. I would just have to do it without him.

“Come on, Kat. Maybe you’re just having a bad period. It can’t be as bad as you’re acting. I’ve got to go. You’re going to have to do this without me.” Alex rolled his eyes and went out to the kitchen, packed his lunch and got ready to leave for work.

I laid there, silent tears leaving a silver trail down my cheeks, feeling incredibly alone. I couldn’t believe that Alex would just walk away like that from me. Didn’t he love me anymore? Didn’t he care? Couldn’t he see I was in so much pain? I heard the front door slam shut and the car drive away, leaving me abandoned on the bed.

Maybe I deserved it. Maybe this was how it was supposed to be between a husband and wife. I scrabbled for the cell phone on the end table, knocking off a book in the process. Nittany, the three-year-old grey tiger cat, took off running from the bedroom, startled by the loud thud. I made an appointment with Dr. Lee at 2:00pm. I dropped the phone over the side of the bed, curled up into a ball, and tried to fall back asleep. I hoped the crushing pain would ease as I sobbed quietly into the pillow.


Wicked “Aunt Flo” Comes to Visit

 

Groaning, I rolled over. My lower back spasmed demonically as I laid in bed. I had been years since I had the flu and I was hoping I didn’t have it now. Alex,  laid beside me, snoring like a freight train. A 10-piece band could march and play in the bedroom and he still wouldn’t budge. I stumbled to the bathroom, hoping not to trip on one of the cats. That was the last thing I needed at the moment. Glancing at the clock on my way, I realized that it was 6:30 in the morning. I had a whole hour yet before I needed to be out of bed and headed to work. I doubled over in agony and held my stomach as it felt like someone was twisting a fiery hot poker in it. What the hell was going on? I lowered herself onto the toilet and wearily held my head in my hands. Maybe I ate something bad last night and now I was paying for it this morning. I racked my brain trying to come up with something that tasted “not quite right” yesterday, but nothing came to mind. And if it was food, how come Alex wasn’t sick?

My belly and back throbbed angrily. I wiped and came away with a handful of blood. Oh great, I’ve got my period and it’s going to be a bitch this time! I knew I could never predict when, where, or how strong or weak it was going to be each time. Heck, there were times I would go months without getting it and then other times I would have it for two weeks straight. I missed being on birth control which made my menstrual cycle as predictable as clockwork. Another contraction surged through my lower back as my stomach clenched violently. I shuddered, sweating through the fierce pain. A thought started winding its way through my mind, but I skittered away from it. It’s not possible. Is it? Dare I think it? I didn’t want to, but it kept pushing insistently against my consciousness.

We had tried for two years now to have a baby, but no such luck. Only recently had we started seeing a fertility specialist who had put me on Clomid to try to increase the chances of me becoming pregnant. That was only two weeks ago. Could it have worked so fast? Or not, I thought as I tried to clean up the mess I was making. Groggily, I realized this was more than just wicked “Aunt Flo” making her normal appearance. Finally, I attempted to stand, holding the wall for support. My legs trembled and felt heavy like blocks of cement were attached to my feet. I could barely move them. Fear started to settle in my belly, which only added to the turmoil, as I suspected what might truly be happening. Shuffling back to the bedroom, clutching my nightgown against my stomach, I curled back in bed, praying I was wrong and it was just bad menstrual cramps that would be over soon. An hour went by and the alarm went off. Alex mumbled and rolled over, slapping the alarm off. He went to get up when he realized that I was still in bed next to him.

“Hon? Kat? It’s 7:30am. You need to get up for work!” Alex nudged me playfully, trying to get me to get my butt in gear. “Kat?” Sighing, Alex gave up and trudged into the school bus yellow bathroom. He really needed to repaint it. It glowed from under the doors and was the last color he wanted to see as he cracked open his eyes in the mornings. My attempt at sponge painting the walls had gone awry. Well, it’s more like Alex went awry since he got tired of doing the sponge painting and decided to paint it all on at once. I had wanted to go to bed instead of finishing the project. He was getting tired of cleaning up after me. Alex thought I never seemed interested in him anymore. That I was always distracted and moody. He heard me mumbling in the bedroom, but ignored it as he continued getting ready for work.