In the months following Griffin’s birth in November 2017, I wasn’t sure I’d ever want more kids. I was a wreck and honestly, couldn’t fathom how anyone could go through that experience again. However, as time wore on, Griffin got easier, and sweeter, and the thought of giving him a sibling started to get really, really exciting.
Finally, in May of 2019 we felt ready. I decided to go off my birth control (which I realized after going off it that it had been seriously messing with my hormones). To keep this part of the story short, mid-June we decided to wait another few months to start trying because of a potential job. However, the numbers in my fertility app were off and I was actually already pregnant by the time we decided to wait (unbeknownst to me). Check your numbers, ladies! Ha!
June 24th, 2019
I was getting pedicures with my mom and it hit me: OMG. I think I might be pregnant. I recently had what looked like implantation bleeding and I’d also been extremely tired. I turned to my mom and said, “Mom……. I think I might be pregnant!” It was still too early for a test, but we were SO excited with the prospect of me being pregnant again.
July 1st, 2019
We’d just gotten back from a weekend trip in Sedona and were relaxing at home. The thought hit me, “Wait, when am I supposed to get my period?” I looked at my fertility app and realized I was on day 34 of my cycle. I usually have very predictable 28-day cycles, so I knew it was time to test!!
Monday, July 1st, 2019
I wanted to surprise Andrew, so I decided not to tell him I was taking a test. I went to the Dollar Store in the morning and grabbed a test. As soon as I took it, it LIT. UP. Pregnant!!!!! I cried a few tears of joy, looked down at my belly, and said, “Hi baby!!! Are you ready for a big adventure?!?” I couldn’t stop staring at the test and smiling, so I set it on the lip of my bathroom sink so I could look at it every night and be thankful for this baby. It was like its first little mark on the world, saying “Hi, mama! I’m here!”
That afternoon, I wrapped up the test and put it in a gift bag. I had Andrew open it when he got home and he actually teared up a little (which is crazy because he’s not a very emotional person). I also handed him a single grain of rice and said, “This is how big our baby is!” We hugged and couldn’t be more excited for this new little addition to our family. A new sibling for our little Griffy.
We went to Target that afternoon and found a t-shirt that said, “Best Brother.” We were headed to my parents’ house that night for my birthday dinner, so we decided to have Griffin wear his new shirt and tell our family. My parents and other family were elated. I guessed I was only about 5 weeks along at this point, so it was still early. But I couldn’t help but to tell a few close friends and family.
Thursday, July 18th, 2019
Time for my first OB appointment! As excited as I was, I hadn’t been feeling quite as many symptoms as I had with Griffin. A little nausea when I was hungry, some fatigue, some cramping, coffee aversion. The OB said that this wasn’t anything to worry about. Pregnancies are different and the fact that I’m still having some symptoms is good. I tried not to worry about it, but I still had this nagging feeling that something might not be quite right. But doesn’t every woman worry about that during pregnancy?! I scheduled my first ultrasound for the next week.
Thursday, July 25th: When shit hit the fan.
For the past couple of months I’d been looking for a new work-from-home position. Since Griffin started daycare in April, I’d started to get pretty bored… and blogging hadn’t been cutting it.
So, this Thursday morning the 25th, I woke up SO excited for 2 big events: I had a final interview for a dream job (I’d been going through the interview process since mid-June!) AND I had my first ultrasound to see Baby R!
My interview went fantastic and I felt like I had it in the bag. I texted Andrew that I was headed to my ultrasound and he responded with, “Great! I’ll look forward to your phone call afterwards!”
I got in a bit early and we walked back to the dark ultrasound room. The tech and I were so excited to see my squirming little nugget. I had a flashback to my 8-week ultrasound with Griffin when he was just a little gummy bear up on the monitor. The nurse had said, “Wow! You’ve got a wild one in there!” and boy, did that turn out to be true!
Like I said, I hadn’t been feeling as many symptoms, but I knew that everything was probably OK. I’m sure I was just worrying about nothing and I’d see my little babe up on the screen in a few minutes.
We started the ultrasound and my uterus came up on the screen. A big empty sac with a tiny little white dot towards the bottom. “Is that the baby…?” I asked.
“Could be….” She responded. “Let’s take a look at everything else and then we’ll come back to this.” My heart sunk. Everything else looked great – she checked my ovaries and saw that I ovulated from the left one. “You have a beautiful uterus!” I think this was supposed to make me feel better.
She measured what could have been the baby. “Looks like the baby is measuring about 5 weeks and 6 days old. I know you’re supposed to be 8 weeks 1 day, but it’s possible you just ovulated late. We can’t see a heartbeat yet, but it might just be too early. Let me go grab a doctor to chat with you quick.”
My head started swirling. No, I didn’t ovulate late. I knew exactly when I ovulated, exactly when I had implantation bleeding, and exactly when I had a positive pregnancy test. There’s no way I could have gotten a positive pregnancy test at 3 weeks pregnant if this ultrasound was right and everything was OK.
I sat in the ultrasound room alone for what felt like forever. The nurse came back and said, “The doctors are all busy right now, but we’re going to do some blood work to monitor your HCG levels to see what’s going on. We’ll also want to have you back for another ultrasound in a week so we can check things out again.
She walked me to the lab and all my emotions hit me. I felt like a zombie. The phlebotomist said, “Can you spell your first name?” I squeaked out, “H-A-Y-L-E-Y.”
“R-I-S-S *gulp* L-E-R.”
“Was that L-E-R?”
I couldn’t contain myself. I couldn’t speak. She looked over at me and I had tears running down my cheeks. She said, “Oh sweetheart. Do you need a tissue?” I nodded yes. “Do you need a hug?” I nodded yes. She gave me a big hug and said, “You got this!” I loved her so much.
After she took my blood, I quickly scheduled my next ultrasound so I could get out of there. When I got to the parking lot I called Andrew, who had been so optimistic for my ultrasound. I think that was one of the most unexpected calls he’d ever gotten.
“The baby is measuring 2 weeks smaller than it should be. They couldn’t find a heartbeat yet. I don’t know how this could even possibly turn out OK.” I sobbed.
“I’m coming home.”
I absolutely HATE uncertainty. I guess it’s my personality type, but I like being able to plan everything. I like having things under control… and this situation? Completely out of my control. I had no answers, but one million questions. Was my baby OK? Is this actually some odd miracle? Was my baby dead? Did I really ovulate late? Am I having a miscarriage? Why haven’t I started bleeding yet? How long is this going to take? Will I have to get a D&C? Will I have to be awake for it?
Queue: All the Google searches.
When Andrew got home, he gave me a huge hug. “It’s okay, we can try again. At least we’re good at making babies!”
“Yeah, just not this one.”
When we picked up Griffin from daycare, I gave him the biggest hug ever and never wanted to let him go. I had never been more thankful for him in my entire life.
Friday, July 26th
At about 11am I got a call from my OB’s office. “We got your preliminary blood work back and we just thought we’d call to tell you that your results coupled with your ultrasound findings point to a possible early miscarriage. We’ll have you come back Monday to take your blood work again and see if your HCG levels are rising.”
I went back to my bed and sobbed. I choked. I hated this. I felt like I was being forced to join a club that I didn’t want to join. 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. But I already had a healthy one, wasn’t I in the clear?! Not MY little bean!
I grabbed my pregnancy test that had been sitting on the edge of my sink. “I’m sorry this didn’t work out, baby. I’m sorry we won’t get to go on this adventure together. I guess this just wasn’t meant to be.”
At 1:30pm I got an email: I got the job I had been interviewing for since June! Out of hundreds of candidates, they picked me. We had been a bit financially stressed since I decided to stay home with Griffin, so having a second (albeit part-time) income stream was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
Talk about a day of an ultimate high and an ultimate low.
I went through all my pregnancy tracking apps and clicked “Report a loss.” The things you don’t think about.
The Weekend: July 27th – 28th, 2019
That weekend was rough. One minute I’d be fine, the next minute I wouldn’t be. I was getting some uncomfortable cramping, and every cramp was a reminder of the most-likely deceased baby I was carrying.
We went swimming at my parents’ house over the weekend which was just what I needed. I got a chance to have a good talk with my mom about everything. Her first pregnancy ended in a stillbirth at 9 months, so she had walked down this road, albeit much worse.
“If that pregnancy hadn’t ended how it did, I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant with your oldest brother when I did. I wouldn’t have had the same kids as I do now. And I wouldn’t have had YOU!” I’m the youngest, so she literally wouldn’t have had me.
This gave me a lot of peace. I keep thinking about it. We can’t always understand God’s plan, but it always ends up being the best plan. I am so thankful for Griffin and for my future kids, and if I wasn’t having this miscarriage, then I wouldn’t be having my next child when I have it. It would be a different child. Does that make sense?
Monday, July 29th, 2019
I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned this morning. When I was pregnant with Griffin, my gums bled pretty badly during my cleaning which can happen when you’re pregnant. I was terrified this would happen and I’d have to tell her about my miscarriage. The dental assistant was always so sweet and chatty, but I just didn’t feel like talking.
When I got there, she said, “How’s the baby?!” My heart dropped. “I guess he’s not a baby anymore. How old is he now? 18 months?” Oh, she was talking about Griffin. “Do you think you’ll have another one soon?”
“Yeah, we’ll probably start trying again soon.”
Thankfully my gums didn’t bleed.
After my appointment, I headed back to the OB’s office to get my blood drawn again to see if my HCG levels had risen over the past few days — they’re supposed to double every 48 hours. The same nice phlebotomist took my blood, so that put me at ease a bit.
At this point, I hadn’t even talked to a doctor yet about anything that was going on. I walked to the front desk and choked out through tears, “Is there a nurse or anyone available who I could talk to quick?”
“What’s it about?”
“Well, I think I’m having a miscarriage and I just have a lot of questions.”
She stepped away and when she came back, she said, “I’m going to get you in to see a doctor. Have a seat and they’ll call you when they’re ready.”
I finally got a chance to chat with an OB and, oh my gosh, I felt SO much better afterwards. As I mentioned earlier, I hate uncertainty. I think all the uncertainty around this pregnancy was crushing me as much as the news itself. I still hadn’t had any bleeding, so there wasn’t a clear answer from my body of what was happening. However, most of my pregnancy symptoms were gone besides cramping.
I walked out of the office with a lot of answers and a clear action plan: We’ll see what my blood work says, we’ll do one more ultrasound, then we’ll chat immediately afterwards.
Okay, I can do this.
Tuesday, July 30th, 2019
The OB office called me around 11am. “We got your blood test results back. Your HCG levels dropped slightly from Thursday. The doctor still wants to have you in for the ultrasound on Thursday, then you’ll meet with her afterwards to talk about management options.”
Management options. It sounded so clinical.
My HCG levels should have doubled within this time, so slightly diminishing was not a good sign.
I hadn’t started my new job yet, so I didn’t have much to do and it was a huge blessing. I laid on the couch and binged Queer Eye. I went to a local pizza place and got 2 single slices of pizza so I could eat my feelings. I felt emotionally exhausted. I didn’t really cry. I felt like I’d had time to process things. At this point, I just wanted it all to be over with. I wanted to try again.
Thursday, August 1st
One month since I found out I was pregnant, I scheduled my second ultrasound. The baby had likely passed 3 weeks prior, so I was ready to research the options to have a medical miscarriage, basically inducing my body to miscarry. I spent all morning researching Misoprostol, the drug used to medically induce a miscarriage. I looked up other women’s experiences to see if it’s something I’d consider or if I wanted to go straight for a D&C, the surgical way to induce a miscarriage.
Around 10am I was deep into my studies when I got a call. It was Griffin’s teacher letting me know he had a slight temp and diarrhea. I needed to come pick him up.
I had my ultrasound and appointment at 2:30 that day. More than ever, I needed Griffin in daycare that day. I didn’t want him running around the ultrasound room like a maniac while we confirmed my miscarriage.
I texted my mom about our dilemma and in a heartbeat she offered to try to get off work early to watch him. Praise the Lord. She is a saint.
Andrew got home early from work and we headed to the clinic. The same sweet ultrasound tech performed the scan and the baby hadn’t grown. Still measuring 5w6d. It didn’t shock me, but the confirmation of the news made me tear up. It was final.
The tech expressed her sympathy and said, “I was still holding out hope for you! I’m so sorry. This is the part of my job that I just hate. You are such a nice couple and the last people who should have to experience this.”
We headed to the exam room to meet with the OB. She said she likes to have women try the Misoprostol first, then resort to a D&C if it’s still needed. She said she’d also provide me with a prescription for Hydrocodone for pain, since the cramping can get pretty painful. Whoof. Here we go.
Friday, August 2nd
I wanted to take the Misoprostol ASAP because I was so ready for this nightmare to be over. However, due to the possibility of excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging, you can’t be alone. My mom had the day off so she was able to come over and hang out with me all day. Bless her.
She picked me up around 8:30 and we went out to breakfast. I read it was good to have a solid, healthy meal beforehand as the medication can be rough on your stomach.
I was getting super nervous to take the Misoprostol. I’d read some pretty scary stories of ultra-terrible bleeding, cramping, pain, etc. I was shaking as I opened the container. My mom said, “Hold on.” She took me in her arms and prayed. We thanked God for this pregnancy, for courage and strength through this process, and that this little baby was up in heaven being taken care of.
I psyched myself up and swallowed the first dose. I did it. No turning back.
To keep this part of the story short, the pills didn’t work. I had some cramping, nausea, and super light spotting, but nothing else. I took the second dose on Saturday and didn’t even have any spotting. I felt a bit more nauseous, but no sign that the miscarriage was about to start.
Week of August 4th
On Monday, August 4th I called the doctor’s office and got in the next morning. After a brief chat with my OB, we decided to schedule a D&C for that Thursday. The nurse had me prep for a pelvic exam, but I really didn’t want one. My OB actually asked, “Should we do an exam?”
I said, “Umm, I’d rather not. Ha!”
“Well, we only need to do one if you’ve been having any cramping of bleeding.”
Since I didn’t have any of that and barely even felt pregnant anymore, we skipped the exam. Thank God!
My Experience Having a D&C
I scheduled my D&C for Thursday, August 8th. A D&C, or Dilation & Curettage, is a procedure where you go under general anesthesia and the doctor suctions out the “contents of pregnancy.” This is sometimes done if you start hemorrhaging during a miscarriage, if your body doesn’t clear all the contents, or in cases like mine where your body just doesn’t start the miscarriage process.
I was told that I couldn’t eat or drink anything that day, so by the time I checked in at 11am I was PARCHED. Seriously, so thirsty.
The waiting room was hopping with parents, grandparents, kids, etc. It felt really weird being there for a D&C while having happy children running around at my feet.
We filled out paperwork and waited for 30-45 minutes. Once they called me back, they took me to a prep room that was sectioned off with a curtain. The last time I was in the hospital was when I gave birth to Griffin and I had my own room, so this felt a little… economy-class. LOL.
I changed into a hospital gown, non-slip socks, left a urine sample (of what urine I could get out because I hadn’t drank anything all day), and a nurse came in and took some blood samples.
I chatted with the nurse about the procedure while she got the IV port ready. She started me on some fluids and I had a short conversion with the anesthesiologist. My OB also came in and chatted with me about the procedure.
At this point I was feeling pretty nervous. These were my last moments carrying this baby. As much as I wanted to hold on, my baby had already let go and I knew it was time for me to do the same.
Andrew and I took a minute to pray and thank God for each other and to watch over me during the surgery, then he went to the waiting room.
The D&C Operation
Just before they rolled me into the operation room at 1:00, they gave me some sort of medication that would help me relax. I don’t know if that’s what I was feeling or if it was just placebo, but I felt oddly at peace when we started moving.
As we were entering the OR, I felt like I was in an episode of The Good Doctor. When I get nervous I start cracking jokes, so I also made sure to enthusiastically greet all the nurses and doctors in the OR which was apparently hilarious.
They gave me some oxygen and the next thing I remember, I woke up in the recovery room at about 2:30. I woke up with my hand on my belly which felt like a nice homage to my baby.
Recovering from a D&C
Upon waking up, I felt pretty nauseous. The nurse gave me some peppermint oil to inhale which took the edge off pretty quickly. I was shaking quite a bit from the anesthesia, so the nurse gave me some medication to help with that, too.
Oddly enough, the worst part after waking up was that my butt hole hurt (really not holding anything back here. LOL.) I told the nurse and she said that they’d given me misoprostol rectally, which helps your uterus clear things out and shrink back down to a normal size.
My OB also prescribed misoprostol orally every 6 hours after surgery for the next 3 days. I am seriously SO done with misoprostol, lol.
After I woke up, I found out that I lost more blood than expected. Apparently there was a little spot in my uterus that they had trouble clearing, so they kept suctioning until it was gone. They took another blood test to make sure I wouldn’t need a blood transfusion, but I was OK.
After about 15 minutes I was alert enough for Andrew to come in. I was SO relieved to see him. By about 3:00 we headed home. I just wanted to get home and rest.
I had quite a bit of bleeding over the next 4-5 days. I wore Depends + a maxi pad for a few days to keep from ruining my underwear.
On the Monday after my D&C (the procedure was Thursday), I woke up with a terrible cold. After getting up for a few minutes, I needed to lay back down. I got back up a few minutes later to finish making tea and the room started spinning. I sat down and Andrew came over to talk with me, but his voice sounded super far away. I got super pale and felt like I was going to throw up.
Then I realized I was probably super anemic. I went to CVS that afternoon and picked up some iron and vitamin C supplements. By the next day I was already feeling a ton better!
Dropping HCG Levels After a D&C
I continued having weekly blood tests until my HCG levels dropped back down to less than 5. This ensures that the miscarriage is complete and my body isn’t still holding onto anything. Here’s the progression of my levels:
- 8/1 (1 week pre-D&C): 125,000
- 8/21 (2 weeks post-D&C): 153
- 8/28: 35
- 9/4: 12
- 9/11: 5 (DONE!)
August 24th Update: It’s been 16 days since my D&C and I’m still having some light brown discharge. I’ve been cleared by my OB, but we have to keep from getting pregnant for one full menstrual cycle before trying again. I think it’s just for pregnancy dating purposes, but I’m OK with it. I need a minute to just be me before we try again.
Remaining Hopeful Despite a Miscarriage
I only just realized that my due date was March 4th… it’s like this little baby was telling us to march forth, despite this loss.
As terrible as this situation has been, I’ve tried to stay as hopeful as possible. One of my first thoughts after I discovered the baby may have passed was, “Well, this is going to suck, but at least I’ll be able to better empathize with women who have walked this path.” Being able to relate and empathize with others is core to who I am. Everyone just wants to be understood.
Another thing that’s helped me remain hopeful is knowing that God’s plan is the best plan for my life. Sometimes we go through things that simply SUCK, but we look back at them in weeks, months, or years, and see how much we grew from that experience. How much better of a person we became because we had to walk through that hard time.
We hope to have a healthy pregnancy in the next few months, but we couldn’t have that pregnancy if this one hadn’t failed. Whatever baby comes from that pregnancy wouldn’t exist without this miscarriage. The joy I’ll feel after birthing a healthy baby will be insurmountable compared to any other circumstance.
What is a missed miscarriage?
I’ve been documenting this journey heavily over on my Instagram. One of remarks I get most often is, “Wow, I didn’t realize how long this process was.” I found out about my miscarriage on July 25th. Today is August 24th and it’s still not 100% over until my levels zero out. Update: My levels finally “zeroed out” on September 11th, 2019.
The question I get asked most often is, “How is this different than a regular miscarriage?” Most of the time during a miscarriage, your body recognizes the baby has passed within 1-2 days and starts emptying the contents of your uterus. You’ll start bleeding and passing everything naturally.
My body didn’t recognize that the baby passed, thus “missing” the miscarriage. When I went in for my first ultrasound at 8 weeks, it was a surprise to find out that the baby had passed about 2 weeks prior and my body missed it.
My body never recognized the miscarriage throughout the whole process, which is a big reason why I opted to have the D&C. Who knows how much longer it would have taken my body to recognize the loss and start naturally? It had already been a full month at that point, so I didn’t want to keep waiting for the miscarriage to start naturally.
Choosing Joy After a Miscarriage
I wrote this short anecdote during one of my times of immense grief. I thought I’d share it here to express how I’m choosing to forever value the joy I’ve had during the pregnancy, despite the loss.
My sweet little nugget, I met you so early. Just a little grain of rice.
When I took that first test, it was your first, “Hi, mama!”
I felt an instant connection to you. Preparing for our big adventure.
The next few weeks were filled with joy. Excitement for the future.
Different clothes to accommodate your growing body.
Announcing to friends, family, anyone who would listen.
I couldn’t wait to tell the world of your impending arrival.
I couldn’t wait for you to meet your big brother.
A few weeks later, I was about to see you for the first time.
In the dark room, up on the screen.
Except, you were tiny.
Tinier than you should have been.
No heartbeat. No little arms and legs. No movement.
My little babe, you left me too soon.
Before we got a chance to really meet.
Before I got the chance to show you how fully I loved you.
So our journey ended too soon, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
The joy you brought me in our short weeks together was beautiful.
The excitement for the future was like I’d never experienced before.
I won’t get to meet you like we planned, but I will never forget you.
Thank you for your existence.
Thank you for the joy you created.
Thank you for the lives you touched.
I choose to dwell on the joy of knowing you as fully as I could, not the sadness of our goodbye.
I love you forever, my little bean.
Finding Support During a Miscarriage
I can’t even begin to describe how much the support I received through this process has meant to me and helped me in healing. My husband coming home from work to be with me after I first got the news. My parents and family members offering to help in any way they could, whenever we needed them. And how they showed up.
Meaningful talks with my mom about pregnancy loss. Sharing our experiences and feelings. Texting her that I needed a hug, and her showing up 20 minutes later. Having her there with me as I swallowed my first dose of Misoprostol. I can’t imagine having gone through this without her. Without someone who knows the pain of pregnancy loss.
Sometimes you forget how important meaningful support is until you need it yourself.
If you are going through this now and feel alone, please reach out to find support. Whether it’s a family member, a local mom’s group, a church group, a Facebook group… finding support from someone who’s walked through it before can really help you process your feelings and know you’re not alone.
If you’ve walked through a pregnancy loss, I’d love it if you left a comment below. 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, and knowing that you’re not alone is a tiny sliver of solace. I was reading another miscarriage story that had over 400 comments of women sharing their experiences walking through miscarriage. Whether you know it or not, someone close to you has likely walked a similar path to the one I shared today. ❤️️