Now is the hard part

Three weeks ago I had my second miscarriage. It was very different than the first, in nearly every way. I was farther along, it was a home, and 3 weeks later I’m still not back to normal physically. Nevermind emotionally.

The reaction from friends and family has largely mirrored my own: how could this happen? One miscarriage is not so unusual, but two? Well, it turns out they’re not so unusual either. At least, not unusual enough to justify the extensive testing that comes with recurrent miscarriage, which is done after your third.

No one is surprised that it’s an emotional time for me. Now, at three weeks out, it’s starting to get hard. The remaining physical symptoms make it impossible for me to put the miscarriage out of my mind for more than an hour or so. But everyone else has moved on. Even my husband is pretty much business-as-usual at this point. Meanwhile I’m on my third package of maxi-pads, knowing full well that the longer this continues the longer it will be until we can consider trying again. I was originally due in February 2014, and now the soonest I could have another child is 2015. Or, from where I’m sitting, an eternity.

One of the hardest things to navigate at this point is well meaning friends who try to point out silver linings, or “at leasts.” At least you know you can get pregnant. At least you’re young and have plenty of time to try again. At least this will give you some more time to sleep in. At least you already have a child. They’re genuine expressions of sympathy, and they’re true, but to be honest they’re not very comforting. I have a hard time remaining gracious when people say them, but I know they just don’t know what else to say.

To their credit, there are a lot of silver linings. We’ve made quite a bit of lemonade from the situation, not the least of which is planning a family trip to Disney World. The first time I went I was pregnant with Bitmap, and couldn’t go on any of the rides. RevolvingDork is excited to take me on Space Mountain.

There’s a second type of reaction I get: people who are afraid it could happen to them. They want to know as many details as they can acquire politely. What caused my miscarriages? Is it something I did? Something I am? Is it likely to happen again? I actually don’t mind these, and try to be as forthcoming as possible.

Here’s what I know: having two miscarriages in a row is uncommon, but not abnormal. In most cases miscarriage is a way for your body to handle a fetus that wasn’t going to make it to begin with. It happens often enough that it’s well within the statistical realm of “bad luck.” Lacking other complications or signs of problems, most doctors won’t refer you to an endocrinologist until your third miscarriage.

My two miscarriages were very different. The first one was ‘missed,’ we only found out about it during the ultrasound, and was surgically removed. It was more or less painless, and I recovered within a few days. The second was exactly like going into labor. I had contractions for eight hours, my water broke, and then I delivered something. It was terrifying and painful and three weeks later I’m still wondering when my body will be done with it so I can move on.

We did genetic testing on the first one, and it came back genetically normal. I also had a lot of genetic testing done on myself, and all of that came back normal. Thyroid problems sometimes cause miscarriages, but mine is normal. Add to that a totally normal first pregnancy with a happy healthy baby girl (which itself rules out a few major causes of miscarriage), and it looks a lot like bad luck. I know I should be glad to hear there isn’t anything obviously wrong with me, but at the same time not knowing what went wrong doesn’t feel great.

I’m not sure where to go from here. My doctor, midwife, and husband all feel confident I can carry a child to term again. I waver back and forth. On good days I gather the strength of all the women who came forward to tell me about their multiple miscarriages. I look at the wonderful children they were rewarded with for their perseverance, and think “of course we’ll try again.” Other days the thought of going through this again is just too much to bear, and I start mumbling to my husband about maybe investigating adoption.

I know eventually I’ll start to feel more normal. The bleeding will stop and I won’t have such an ongoing reminder. When spring comes I’ll almost certainly want to try again, and if I do get pregnant I’ll be a neurotic mess for at least the first four months. Meanwhile I’ll try to focus on other things, like my business and my existing family. I have a lot of good things going on right now, and I haven’t forgotten them. But some days I just feel sad and crappy, and I think that’s OK too.

4 thoughts on “Now is the hard part”

  1. Hey, I’m sorry to hear about your second miscarriage, and I’m sorry it’s been difficult for you to get the emotional support you need. Not to defend people making the “silver lining” comments, but I kind of see the emotion behind it. Like, I read about this, and part of me is like “Oh my god, what if I go through the same thing but when I’m in my late 30s, not late 20s?” I think those comments are sort of related to people’s fears of what if they go through something similar, but later, or in a worse situation. I don’t think it’s really about you, or how they think you *should* feel, and it’s seems totally reasonable that you don’t find them comforting. One thing I would ask, is what type of behavior would be helpful for you now? Do you need hugs, or someone to do your cooking, or distraction, or someone to talk to?

    1. I know the ‘silver lining’ comments come from a good place, and I try really hard to recognize them as someone who cares, even if it’s not quite what I need to hear. Mostly what I need to hear is that people care, and that outside of my own little bubble of sadness is this incredible group of people who care about me. I have that, and it’s wonderful, but I’ll admit it’s something I need to be reminded of. Right after something bad happens, everyone is there to remind you they love you. A few weeks later, they still love you but they don’t remind you so much, and it’s easy to start wallowing in self pity instead.

      As for what I need, it’s probably all of the above. Mostly, I need to reconcile how I feel (shitty) with how I think people expect me to feel (mostly ok). It helps to be told it’s ok to still feel shitty, and that people still care that I feel shitty. Once I acknowledge feeling shitty as a legitimate way to react to the situation, it’s easier to go about my day instead of just feeling like a loser who doesn’t get past things.

      Do you remember after Katie’s mom’s funeral we all went to your parents’ house and dyed our hair? I have no idea if that was the “right” thing to do, but I remember at the time it was all I could come up with, having no similar experiences to call upon and relate to Katie. Now that I’m on the other side of that, I feel like those sort of activities help. It’s a distraction, but also a reminder that people care about you, and that life goes on.

      This is sort of rambly, but in short the best thing is when people genuinely ask how I’m doing, let me know they still care, and maybe offer to distract me if I’m feeling mopey. In the meantime I’m learning to ask for those things when I need them.

  2. There are definitely at least some of us out there who know it isn’t something you just put past you. I think part of why people aren’t talking about it or letting you know they care is because it’s very easy to tell in the beginning that the person is experience grief at that moment in time but as the weeks pass it becomes less obvious. As such people don’t want to say anything about it just in case you happen to be in one of those moments where you can allow yourself to be distracted. Which isn’t to say you need to broadcast exactly where you are with things at any given moment. Just that we mean well in not bringing it up….which you obviously already know.

    I cannot begin to understand where you are coming from as I was in a very different situation with very different outcomes. However, the experiences I had with my own pregnancy took me well over a year to recover from and for the first eight months of that year I was a complete and total mess and feel no guilt about it whatsoever. Everyone deals with these things differently. Whether it takes a person five minutes to get over or five decades the timing is unique to them and their situation.

    I’m glad you’re working on asking for things when you need them, but as a friend I am definitely going to take all of this info to heart and learn to be more forthright with checking in for distraction duty 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing. I’m not really close enough to you be good in person, but I send you mental <3s.

    Let me know if you ever end up in SF – Alice lives there now! (Assuming your'e not in VA for Christmas? Actually, Katie and I are getting together if you are, so let me know.)

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