Written for those who are curious, those who don’t know what miscarriage is like, those who think they do, those who share the same pain, and those who will… and also written for me by me as a way of trying to put the pieces back together.
They say writing is healing, and I guess I’m desperate for solace. This is the story of the life, death and birth of my baby, that we called Blueberry, and me trying to figure out where I go from here… all in a word document.
On March 19, 2022 I got 2 lines on my pregnancy test (that I never expected to be positive) and from that moment on I had crippling anxiety and an overwhelming sense of dread that something was wrong with my baby. No reason for it, just did. I had never been pregnant before, and thought I was supposed to be excited (I was thrilled I was pregnant, not thrilled about the feeling of impending doom). I thought I was supposed to be bursting with joy. The only thing I was bursting with was fear. I called an OB and made my appointment. My first scan showed my baby was 6 weeks and 3 days (thought I was 7w/3d, but ovulation was off). Everything was “perfect”… perfect measurements. Perfect heartbeat.
I had intermittent spotting starting around 7 weeks. Nothing heavy, nothing bright red. I called my OB several different times over the next few weeks concerned, and the nurse told me I had a had a 1cm subchorionic hemorrhage on my first scan, and to attribute my bleeding to that. She said it had no effect on the baby and not to worry. All I had done since I found out was worry. But alright nurse, if you say so.
When I called yet again at exactly 9 weeks for more spotting, they told me I could come in for peace of mind. Again, baby looked “perfect” with a heartbeat of 175 and measuring on target at 8 weeks and 6 days. They found a cervical polyp at that scan and said I was spotting from that too. They told me I now had not one, but TWO reasons for my consistent light bleeding, and I would likely bleed on and off throughout my whole pregnancy. The nurse told me to only be concerned if I started bleeding so heavy that it filled a pad in an hour or less. They sent me home with ultrasound pictures. I walked to the car and called Heath near tears and told him that they told me everything was perfect but I didn’t feel like it was. I had by all accounts an “easy” first trimester with virtually no symptoms. No nausea, no vomiting, no debilitating exhaustion, etc. which made me worry even more. He told me I was lucky, and it was just my hormones and first time mom jitters. My mom and best friends agreed. I felt no better, but I believed them.
At exactly 12 weeks (May 16th) the spotting started up again with light cramps (nothing new), and when I went to pee, I wiped about a dime sized clot onto my toilet paper. I was tired of crying wolf, but I was still drowning in anxiety and fear something was wrong. So after much deliberation with myself, I called my OB yet again. They told me I was likely finally passing the subchorionic, and they weren’t concerned, but if I felt I needed to, I could come in again. I told them I’d be coming in. The nurse made a joke about me being a regular.
I laid down on that crinkly paper, stuck my legs up in the stirrups, took a deep breath, and had another transvaginal ultrasound. I watched the tech measure and when I saw 10 weeks on the screen I felt a wave of nausea. The tech said nothing, so neither did I. A few more clicks, and the tech asked me how much I had been bleeding. I told her I was spotting. Radio silence. Then, in my own head, I immediately confirmed what I already knew. She had never asked me that before, even all those times I came in because of bleeding. The measurements on the screen were never so far behind. She normally played the heartbeat pretty quickly. Then it came… “I don’t see a heartbeat.” My initial sobs didn’t produce tears, but there we plenty of tears that followed. When the nurse came in to hug me, I bawled into her shoulder and just kept repeating “I knew it, I knew it.” What broke my heart even more is my mama was there with me, and she didn’t realize what was going on until the tech said there was no heartbeat.
Baby had stopped growing at 10 weeks. I had been carrying my dead baby for 2 weeks. When the OB came in she pointed out signs of what she believed may be a chromosomal abnormality on the ultrasound, but was unable to determine what exactly it might be.
I was given 3 options. I could wait until I miscarried naturally, I could take a pill that would induce miscarriage, or I could have a d&c. I was adamant I wanted a d&c… I knew not having it would only make this bad situation worse. But the OB informed me there were no available appointments in the OR until the following week (May 23). I signed the paperwork for the d&c in the office anyway, and also signed for the tissue testing to see if a reason for my baby’s demise could be found.
When I got home, I cried puddles of tears. I wished the d&c wasn’t so far away because I didn’t want to carry my poor dead baby anymore. But at the same time, I was praying it didn’t kick in naturally before then, because I didn’t want to add that to my portfolio of pregnancy loss experience. The trauma of a missed miscarriage was enough.
Wednesday afternoon around 12:45 pm the spotting increased to a light bleed and the cramping started creeping in. My mama gave me ibuprofen, a heating pad, and all of the comfort she could for a grieving first time grandma. Heath held me close and let me squeeze his hand and arm every time I contracted. As time ticked on, the pain worsened. I had a bit of a reprieve over night and was able to sleep for awhile. And then 6:30 am on the dot, a full force lightning bolt of pain woke me up. And so it began… everything I did not want to happen began.
The pain was excruciating. My mama gave me maximum ibuprofen and Tylenol doses at the recommendation of the on call OB (my OB office was not open the first time she called). I might as well have been taking tic tacs. I was up, down, laying on my stomach, on my back, on my side, on my other side, on my bed, on the couch, on the chair, pacing the living room floor, squatting, sitting on the floor, laying on the floor, writhing in just about every position and location one could think of. I held my lower belly the whole time, groaning loud in pain, with my eyes squeezed shut. I could not even speak the pain was so bad.
My mama called my OB again at about 9:15 am, and the nurse called her back. She told my mama the doctor could put in a Percocet prescription if my pain was uncontrollable (uh, duh), or the other alternative was to take me to the ER. My mama, bless her critical care nurse heart, said the ER would probably only give me tic tacs and a $400.00 bill.
While she was on the phone with the nurse, I suddenly felt the most strange sensation. It was like a popping, ripping feeling deep in the lower belly. The pain immediately stopped, and as I began to sit up I felt a huge gush of fluid come out of me. I raced for the bathroom and made it to the toilet. All I did was slightly release the muscles, similar to what it’s like to pee, and I felt the ENTIRE contents of my uterus dumping out of me. My mama was standing next to the toilet and I had my face buried in her chest, sobbing, shaking, yelling in pain, and repeating “I’m so scared..” over and over and over. At about 9:20 am on May 19 my baby, who we had always affectionately called Blueberry, was born still.
When I no longer felt solids pouring out, I pulled my face away, continued to sob and asked her to wake up Heath, who was asleep in my bed. The poor man had slept about 5 hours in the last 36 hours between caring for me, his kids, and working night shift. I stayed on the toilet and she brought him in there. As traumatic as it was for me, I’d imagine it was traumatic for them. They had to stand there helplessly watching me in physical and emotional agony. I labored 21 hours with my dead baby. When I finally stood up from the toilet, I had tears and snot all over my face, and blood pouring down my legs to my knees.
I had initially told them I didn’t want to look in the toilet so the two of them did. It was just a sea of crimson… so I did look and it was so solid colored red that none of what I had passed was visible. Heath handed me wipes and I cleaned up as best as I could, and then packaged myself up with overnight pads that my mama handed me. Heath and I went out to the living room and I put the heating pad back over my belly. My pain had definitely subsided from what it had been, but it wasn’t gone. Heath rubbed my back and I just sat silently, trying to make sense of everything that had just happened. My mama asked me if she could check the toilet (bless her critical care nurse heart again) and I told her she could. She gloved up and went back in the bathroom to wade through the bloody water.
A few minutes later I called out to her asking if she had found everything, because I was afraid it wasn’t over and I would be passing more. She gave me a weak “yes.” I asked her if she found my baby, and an ever weaker “yes” followed. My heart sank. I asked her if she could bring me Blueberry.
My tiny, 10 week baby was perfectly formed. Blueberry had all his/her fingers and toes, and his/her little ears, eyes, nose, and mouth were visible. Blueberry’s little legs were closed, so there was no way to even try to determine if he/she was a boy or girl. I held my tiny baby for a few minutes, and then we gently wrapped Blueberry up in paper towels and laid him/her down in a plastic container.
Because I miscarried naturally I was unable to get the uterine tissue tested. The tissue needs to be immediately submerged in special chemicals, which obviously are not found in toilet water. I have so many questions about what happened to my Blueberry, but they are questions I’ll never get answers to… At least not during my time on Earth.
In the days following the miscarriage, the bleeding was extremely heavy, soaking an overnight pad an hour, and the clots I was passing were several inches long. It was a constant reminder I had birthed my dead baby just hours and days before. I smelled like blood.. it seeped out of every pore for days. The physical pain would come and go. By Sunday, the pain had changed from legitimate pain to bad menstrual cramps that the ibuprofen and heating pad finally eased.
A friend of mine, Sarah, who is also a mama to a beautiful still born baby girl named Indie, told me she calls the stage of grief immediately after miscarriage “seeing the world in black and white.” And black and white it is. I know I need to eat, but food has no taste. I know I need to sleep, but I only sleep 3-4 hours a night. I know I can hear, but things sound muffled. I know jokes are funny, but I don’t feel any joy. Black. White. I sat in the park with my mama one evening and watched the people, ducks, birds, squirrels, and ants and thought “there is life.” Then I remembered my tiny, still baby cupped in my hands just 2 days before and thought… “and there is death.” Black and white. My mind is empty… my belly is empty… I’m empty. I see no light at the end of this tunnel. Who I was before and who I am now are two different people. I am forever changed.
The support system I have cannot go unmentioned. In addition to Heath, my Mama, and Sarah Rodriguez… my extended family and my closest friends have been incredible. Lindsey, Kevin, Aunt Denise, Kaitlyn, Aunt Linda, Sarah DeLuca, Kristen Judge, Sarah Lodato, and everyone else who has reached out, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have all helped me sort through the aftermath of this traumatic experience.
The devastation and grief felt after ANY miscarriage or ANY pregnancy/child loss is indescribable. It shatters what is left of my heart to know so many women have traveled this road before me, and so many will after me. I never in a trillion years thought it would happen to me until it did.
I’m afraid I’ll never be a mom. I’m terrified to be pregnant again because I’m terrified this will happen again. I don’t think I can live through this twice.
The moral of the story is, always trust your gut mamas. A mother’s instinct starts at conception and will continue until our very last breath. Us women don’t get enough credit for the sh*t we endure.
I’m sending peace and healing to each and every mama who can relate. For mamas who have never experienced this, I pray you never do. Squeeze your babies extra tight tonight. For those mamas holding their rainbow babies, my heart is happy for you. I believe your angel baby hand picked him/her for you. For those mamas who, God forbid, find themselves facing something like this, feel free to reach out to me. If my experience could one day be someone else’s survival guide, then Blueberry’s short life wasn’t in vain. Sarah’s story became my survival guide, and I hope to one day become what she became to me.
And I could never forget those mamas who are still waiting for their rainbow baby… our time is coming.
One thought on “Nicole’s Story”
Pingback: Life After Pregnancy Loss: Nicole | A pregnancy loss blog