sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Stephanie Gordon EPLA Editor
Hello! I’m Stephanie Gordon, and I am a new blog editor for the Early Pregnancy Loss Association! I am a resident of Hillsdale, Michigan. I am married to my husband, Matt, who’s a chiropractor. Together we have two young girls, Eloise (5), and Flora (3). I am also one in four. I experienced miscarriage in 2012, and it shook me to my core. After experiencing miscarriage, I continuously told those around me that I needed to be a voice and to get involved. No one was talking about miscarriage, even in 2012. Not long after my miscarriage, the EPLA was developing, and I reached out to Emily during the early years of the organization and exclaimed my interest of getting involved. I wanted to be there, even in some small way, for other women. I helped design and publish the organization’s website, and I am now here sharing my stories, and stories from others. Here is my miscarriage story.
None of this was planned – or part of the plan at that moment in time. Life happened quickly, and I remember seeing that positive pregnancy test. Honestly, the plus sign made me nervous for many reasons, but I knew it’d be OK. Days and weeks passed, and I quickly fell in love with the idea of becoming a mom and growing a human inside of me that was formed out of love. Matt and I were going to enjoy the next 10 months of just us. We knew life was going to change a lot, but we were excited.
I wasn’t ignorant to the fact that miscarriage was a possibility, as it is with every pregnancy. I took great care of myself. I ate healthy. I continued to CrossFit and made my coaches aware of my condition. I took my prenatal vitamins every day, and limited caffeine intake. I was doing everything right to grow a healthy human.
I was about nine weeks along when one day I remember going to pee and noticed blood. Oh, no... It’s OK, spotting is normal. I knew deep down something wasn’t right, but I tried to ignore it and went about my day. I shared the news with Matt, and he wasn’t too alarmed. Spotting during pregnancy is completely normal (I actually spotted with both of my girl’s pregnancies, too). A few days passed, and the amount of blood I was losing was increasing. Matt and I made the decision to check on myself and the baby. I called my doctor at University of Michigan from bed, and they asked me to come to triage immediately.
I sat cold and silent the whole way to the hospital. I was scared, and I saw it on Matt’s face, too. We arrived at U of M, and I was wheeled to triage. I filled out some paperwork, and was admitted to a room. I changed out of my clothes and into a gown. As I got undressed, I noticed I was losing more blood. I sat in a bed and waited for the doctor. They took my vitals – all was well – or so they made it seem. They also took a sample of blood to measure my hormone levels. The young doctor asked routine questions like, “when’s the last time you peed? When was your last period? Is this your first pregnancy? Do you have a history of miscarriages?”
The doctor reassured me that everything was going to be OK, and nurses kept asking how I was feeling. I was honestly sliding into a deep depression. Here I was sitting on a white pad, bleeding. Losing my baby. After three hours, I was told I needed a vaginal ultrasound.
The tech turned the lights off as I laid on the table. She inserted the wand, and there was our baby. I saw Matt’s face and his facial expression. He knew, but he tried to put on a hopeful face. She took lots of pictures and she didn’t say a word, nor did she answer any questions. She was silent. She removed the wand… so much blood. Tears ran down my face. I was wheeled back to triage and waited for the doctor to come back with results.
My doctor came in and sat down. I could tell she was a little nervous to share the news. There was no smile. She started by saying my hcG levels were barely at 7,000 – when I should be at a minimum of 10-20,000. I was hit with immediate sadness even though I was already expecting the worst. Tears started streaming, again. I remember her putting her hand on mine. “This pregnancy is not viable. Let’s make an appointment with your doctor on Monday morning to talk about options,” she said.
There’s something really hard about letting go of something you love so much. I knew as soon as the pills were inserted, that was it. I would no longer have my baby.
She left the room and Matt and I lost it. He just held me. I remember putting on my clothes and my dirty underwear – another horrible reminder. I don’t even know how I got to the car; I was so numb. I called my parents as we left to tell them we lost the baby. The drive home was full of silence, quiet tears, and broken hearts. My baby was dead inside of me.
Monday slowly came, and I met with my doctor. We got one last ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage. Our baby was measuring eight weeks, so it hadn’t been long since the baby died. We talked about options as far as how to “take care of the situation.” Since my pregnancy wasn’t too far along, I was given the option to take what’s called Misoprostol. This option allowed me to insert four pills into my vagina, and my body would go into labor about 4-5 hours later. The other option was a D&C – dilation and curettage - which means dilating the cervix to remove all contents of the uterus. My doctor recommended taking the pills at home, so it could be a private experience that I could do with Matt by my side. I decided to take the Misoprostol at home.
I wanted to wait until the weekend to take the pills. I wasn’t ready to let go of my baby that was inside of me, even though it wasn’t alive. There’s something really hard about letting go of something you love so much. I knew as soon as the pills were inserted, that was it. I would no longer have my baby.
We both said a long prayer and hung on to those last moments. I tried to insert the pills myself, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let go. Matt, bless his heart, was able to do it for me, both of us crying the entire time. We laid in bed and waited. All I could do is cry and hang on to my belly. After three hours, I started having cramps, but nothing too major. I was starting to feel almost ill, and my stomach hurt. I laid on Matt’s chest and he read me books.
Four hours in, I felt sick to my stomach – a side effect of Misoprostol. After emptying my bowels, I had strong uterine cramps coming on, and I was quickly losing everything from my uterus. It was all happening so fast, and it hurt. Going into this, I knew I couldn’t flush anything down the toilet. I saved everything that exited my uterus. I was determined to give my baby a proper burial. There was a point in time that I fainted on the toilet. Hours 4-6 were torture. I hated every second of it. I was hot and sweaty. I was dizzy. I had just lost my baby. I wondered why I had opted for this option. Never again, I thought.
No one really tells you how it’s going to be or how it’s going to happen. I think because it’s different for everyone. My experience with the Misoprostol had its ups and downs. I was happy to go through the procedure at home. I was happy I was able to keep my baby, and I was happy I wasn’t in a hospital. The downside is that I experienced major side effects. I hated how it felt. I had zero control – basically I was giving birth over a toilet, which just sounds sad and depressing. I hated that it upset my stomach. Also, I had to get multiple blood tests afterwards to make sure my hCG hormones were slowly declining. It wasn’t just a one and done thing. I think that’s what made it so hard: weekly blood tests to make sure I was officially no longer pregnant were utterly depressing.
The following Mother’s Day, Matt bought a crab apple tree to remember our baby. He also wrote me a beautiful card that read, “Yes, you are a mother. Yes, you lost like a mother. Yes, you loved like a mother.” Those words will always stay with me. That day, we planted the tree and buried the baby underneath the tree. It was beautiful, and I finally felt like I had some sort of closure.
I had a long, hard year after that miscarriage. I cried a lot. My sadness turned to anger. I despised every other mother I saw, especially those who got pregnant and didn’t care for their bodies. Essentially, I was jealous, and that also made me mad. It’s not like me to feel that way. It’s hard to explain the emotional torture from miscarriage. But, after that one year anniversary, something changed. I was OK. The sadness never really left (I don’t think it ever does), but somehow I came to terms with what had happened.
After that anniversary, we were ready to try again. I was scared and worried we would have a hard time conceiving or keeping a pregnancy. That first pregnancy after miscarriage is terrifying – as I think they all are after experiencing miscarriage. I spotted during Eloise’s pregnancy – and even Flora’s pregnancy. But, I birthed two healthy, beautiful girls.
I am forever grateful for the baby I never met. That baby showed me what a mother’s love truly is. It is beautiful, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I always dream and wonder who they were and who they would’ve been.
Essentially, I was jealous, and that also made me mad. It’s not like me to feel that way. It’s hard to explain the emotional torture from miscarriage.
Whenever I feel a little sad, I go visit the crab apple angel tree, and tell my baby I love them so. I don’t ever wish miscarriage on anyone, and I hope more mothers share their experiences with miscarriage. I hope that if you are going through a miscarriage, or have experienced one, that you’ve had someone to turn to – to lean on. It’s not fair. But, know that you are loved. You love your baby, and you will get to meet them one day. Isn’t that a beautiful thought? It will all be OK - eventually. You are strong, and absolutely no less of a woman or mother.
Stephanie Gordon is a paleo food enthusiast, wife, full-time SAHM, marketing professional, and blogger.