Friday, December 09, 2011

Remembering my own miscarriage

I woke to the news that Michelle Duggar has miscarried with what would have been her 20th child born to her.

And now I cry.

It takes me back to my first pregnancy. How fast that little guy was conceived (I have zero proof that our first was actually a boy, but I just know - gut feeling). How strong that heartbeat was the first time we heard it and got to actually watch it on an early ultrasound. My life changed that day.

It changed again just a few days later when I realized something was terribly wrong.

To this day I do not remember any pain or cramping. Yet, there's no doubt now that I was in complete and utter denial of the entire experience. "Women spot! Happens all the time!"

I wasn't spotting. I was slowly losing my baby. My first child.

And how I lost my child was ... awful. Miscarriage is terrible. In my case, it provided no closure. It was terribly disrespectful to this little life. It was embarrassing. Miscarriage turns off everyone's "Appropriate Things To Say" button. Because NO ONE would walk up to anyone in any other situation with a bright face and say, "You can always marry another man!" or "You can always have another child ... to replace this, um ... teenager." Yeah, um ... no. That would never happen.

I felt angry at the time, and have had to let that go. Miscarriage makes everyone uncomfortable. People simply don't know what to do. It's not their fault. They simply do not have a person in front of them to mourn. It makes sense. It hurt me, but I'm not mad at them for their reactions.

I was just mad at death.

There are women who miscarry and it does not affect them in this way. I won't dare to predict why. I do not know. I know me. We get to all be different. We all deserve respect for how we feel. It's ours. And no one should dare try to dictate it. Do not feel guilty if you do not grieve a miscarriage. It is your body, your pregnancy and your feelings! Guilt? Um, no. It is yours. That guilt is coming from what someone else is projecting on you. There is no truth behind it, because this. is. yours.

So, here I sit ... fourteen years after that child's due date. It doesn't hurt like it used to. However, now it comes out of nowhere, when I very least expect it. Plenty of miscarriages have crossed my path this past year. But along comes Michelle Duggar and I find myself grieving at my kitchen table as five children flutter around me.

Maybe it's because I know people are being just awful to the Duggars. Hurtful ... spiteful ... to an entire family who is grieving.

Not here. Feel free to share your own story. Feel free to say, "I am so sorry for their loss." But no one gets to hurt someone else here. Not even someone we don't know. Death is death. Grief is grief. Today we mourn.


Mid-afternoon, I received an email from my husband. He had read today's post at work. I had almost posted the differences in our experiences, but never wanted to make my husband out to seem jerky. He wasn't jerky. He reacted in the only way he knew how, and in the only way our circles seemed to be dictating. But he owned that today, and I want everyone to read it.

I was deeply hurt by the giant cavern between my pain and what appeared to be my husband's complete lack of grief. We have talked about it over the years on days like today, when it hits me again. He offered to share this with everyone, because he's so unbelievably strong and caring. Let this help you. Let it mend the rift that may exist between you and your partner when it comes to a loss during pregnancy:

"When we miscarried, I had no idea what to do, except to be there next to you. I didn't know whether the right thing was to wish it away ... act like it had never happened ... chalk it up to "one of those things" ...

I also didn't really know how to feel. I knew others who had experienced a miscarriage, but had never really listened to anyone talk about it. Everyone that I had met seemed to suppress what they felt. I always felt like it was totally taboo to talk about it. And I guess I carried that into our experience.

I'll never forget [a friend] saying, "Men experience it different than women." That's a sucky way to look at it, but I totally carried that into our experience, and used that as an excuse to not allow myself to feel anything.

I'll never forget being at [a conference we had that weekend]. Leaving early. I'll never forget the hospital stay with the D and C. And I'll never-ever forget how impersonal the doctor was when we went in for the "official word."

I didn't know anyone at that point who knew what to say ... who knew what to do. And, Christine, I know that I wasn't totally there for you. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to say. I know now to take it just as seriously as any other death. Like you said, grief is grief. We lost a child. We.lost.a.child.


Lindsay Mama to Nine said...

Thank you for having the words that are so raw in my heart, I would never be able to give them a voice like you just did.
Loss is loss and NO ONE can dictate for anyone else what that is 'supposed' to look like or feel.
I have had 8 pregnancy losses. I little boy fully formed at 21 weeks in my one validated it for me, I still miss Dawson.
Next was Gages twin sister,Gwendolyn (Winnie), they called it "hidden twin syndrome, where the baby dies and gets absorbed....I missed her the whole pregnancy, and still do.

When we lost Gibson in Haiti, 8 months into his adoption, at 11 moths old...all people had to say to me was "you never held him, how could you have really loved him"'s the dreams and the hope we wrap around these little lives. It's the childs name we will never call in from the backyard...
It. is. LOSS....and the harder you love, the more it hurts.

Michelle Duggar treasures her prayers and thoughts are with her today...

Shan said...

We grieved my first (and only pregnancy) when I had placenta abruptio (?) and lost a huge blood clot. I went in to talk to the doctor and got all the grief counseling paperwork. Then the lady taking the ultrasound saw my boy and started talking about what he was doing not realizing we were in for a miscarriage. He was still there and kicking away! We called him our miracle baby and took every day forward as a gift. It's a horrible thing to lose a child at any stage. I am so sorry that the Duggars are a target for hatefulness. They are true role models of loveliness and make terrific kids!
(..and my wv was "rantory" as in, I did a little bit of rantory just now didn't I?) :)

Rose Anne said...

I have never physically had a misscarriage and Thank the Lord that I was allowed to bring my Saul home. But had started an adoption for a baby brother for him and we lossed him when he was only 10 months old form dehydration in Haiti we both know that we will see Caleb again when we get to heaven.
I just found out the Jim Bob and Michelle lost their baby and felt so sad when I read this ...God hold this family in you loving arms!

Rachel said...

I believe in my heart if hearts I had a very early miscarriage. The nurse practitioner told me I was being ridiculous. The grieving of that, however, sent us on the path to our beautiful son.

I am so sorry that you were triggered into grief by this. I wrote a post when I found out she was pregnant and people were saying such horrible thing. And now I grieve with her, too, especially because people are asinine.

Diana said...

My…I was wordy today! BTDT...all of it. It sucked. I knew I was pregnant within hours of conception. I knew because we were trying with the doctor's help and because I was sick almost immediately. Even though we were so thrilled to be pregnant again, deep down inside I knew from the start something wasn't right. By 5 weeks, even before I'd seen the doctor for the first time, I was already being treated for gestational diabetes. (I'd had it with my daughter, too, so I knew what to look for and caught it right away.) I kept getting sicker and sicker. Most days I couldn't even move off the couch. At 8.5 weeks I started bleeding. I'd threatened miscarriage with my daughter. This was different. I did everything I was supposed to do to try to save my baby. I couldn't. By 2 a.m. I was cramping and hemorrhaging. I was scared, confused, sad, mad, and angry. We had no one to leave our daughter with, so we got her out of bed, bundled her up, and hauled her off to the hospital with us. I was bleeding all over everything. It must have been a gory sight. They called the doc on call in. He told me to rest, come back if I was hemorrhaging (DUH...that's why I was there!) and when I reminded him of that, he transorported me all over the hospital with nothing to catch the blood and he did an ultrasound. No baby. No hearbeat. Just a bunch of gunk. He sent me home to wait it out just in case. I was glad to do so. Even though I knew in my heart it was over, I have a friend who had a similar experience and ended up delivering a healthy baby boy 9 months later. So I was glad they suggested some time before they did anything drastic.

They wanted me to make a follow up appointment for the next day in the late afternoon. Because I already had an appointment set for my first ob check at 8am the day after that, they just left it at that. I walked into the office full of perky pregnant ladies. The front desk nurse happily congratulated me. Apparently the word didn't get out. I nearly burst into tears and ran away. With a dazed look in my eyes and a lead weight in my heart, I told her I'd lost the baby and they were now just doing a follow up. Sure enough, they took me back, did an ultrasound, and it was officially over. Because I was still bleeding very heavily, I was promptly sent across the street to the hospital and prepped for an immediate D&C. They gave me drugs that were supposed to make me loopy and not remember anything. They knocked me out cold for two hours. I still remember my doctor coming in...and oh, how I wish I didn't remember this, but I remember them bringing in the machine they needed to do the procedure. It's the same machine used to conduct abortions. Only one other time in my life...the time I nearly lost my son in Ukraine...has grief ever hit my heart so hard and so deep.


Diana said...

When it was all over, we were in a daze. We didn't know what to do. My husband ran me to the fabric store to pick something up that I needed for a project I was working on. It would keep me busy. My husband went in to work. He was dazed. When his boss found out what happened, she promptly sent him home and told him not to come back for two days. They then pooled money from everyone in the office and brought dinner into us that night along with some special gifts. She's been there. She'd done that. She knew what we needed. I will always be grateful.

While yes, I have tears streaming down my face as I type this, first time ever, I've told my story in its entirety without overwhelming grief. In it's place is peace...except for the part about the machine...I still had an automatic dry heave response there. One of the best things I ever did was deliberately write out my whole story of infertility from beginning to end (some of it was pretty colorful, too) and take time to properly bid farewell to my old friend infertility before I had my hysterectomy last year. I blogged about it here.

Little did I know that miscarriage was only the first of many dead babies I'd lay to rest in the cemetery of my heart. I have several failed adoptions in there as well. And of course, infertility's final resting spot is right next to all of them. Writing this comment was the first time I’ve visited the cemetery since. I brushed off all their graves. I laid flowers. I cried. Now I can breathe deeply and walk away…and I still have peace.

Layla Payton said...

Somehow you penned the story I could never write. I still cry to this day, and I know we lost a boy too...I just know. Thank you for this one, Christine.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I love you. I hear you. I see you. I'm sorry.

Kristi said...

I am so sorry. I read about Mrs. Duggers miscarriage and I cannot read the comments that people have said. I just can't, regardless of what number child it is, it is a child. It is a death.

I am so sorry for your grief and flood of emotions. There are no words.

Laurie said...

I am so sorry for the loss you have all experienced. It must be devastating & you all have every right to grieve your losses.

Hugs to you all.

Andrea M29 said...

I got pregnant for the first time after trying for four years my fiancé and I were so happy but little did I know I was already losing my baby from the moment I took the test I had light spotting and everyone told me stories of how they had the same thing and had healthy babies but one week later I sure enough lost my baby. The doctor said it happens all the time and wait it out at home, he blamed the fact I am overweight and told me to loose some before trying again. I was devastated and having stopped thinking about the fact that my baby would be turning two in a few weeks. I felt so alone and everyone expected that I would bounce back but it still hurts me today. Then early this year I found I was pregnant again we were ecstatic I was eight weeks and went to all my appointments but in ultrasound they said are you sure your eight weeks because it hasn't grown and there is no heartbeat. A few weeks later I started bleeding to the point of hemorrhage and ended up in emergency after a few hours they sent me home to wait it out. My sister found out she was pregnant one week behind me and is doing great. A few days later my mom passed away and I was devastated, when I got home I had to push the rest out and it was horrible. I am filled with anger, sadness and greif that I will never get to meet those two angels of mine and my mom won't ever see me be a mother. I miss them all every day and will never forget them. People act like it's your fault or that you aren't normal and that it is easy to get over but it isn't no matter who you are. Some day I will be a mom whether it is to a child I have or one someone else doesn't want and I will be great at it because I have a lot of love to give. My thoughts go out to all of the women that loose a child any age because you carry them in your heart forever.

anya* said...

I miscarried with my first pregnancy too. It was tremendously emotional. And looking back on that 21 year old self, in the bathroom stall at the community college when I saw the blood, knowing in an instant that it was more then spotting, and knowing in an instant how incredibly fragile life was- I want to hug that girl. A girl who was so scared and heart broken. A girl who lay on the bathroom floor later that night crying after she passed her babe at 12 weeks.
It is heartbreaking no matter your age or number of children- loss is loss. I feel for Michelle. I cannot imagine going through this with people not being for you. I still have a little box filled with a pair of booties, a mother's day gift, cards from friends sending their love. Thinking about this now, nearly 9 years later I am still wiping tears from my eyes. xoxo

Rebecca said...

Christine, thank you for posting that. We lost our triplets in 2007 due to pre-term labor. We tried for over 10 years to conceive another child after our son Jackson was born. When, at last, we discovered that we were expecting three children, two of them twin boys, we were thrilled. No one told me how easily we could loose them. I know now it probably could have been different..... They were born very much alive. I could feel each one kicking as I went into labor. We held them helplessly as they struggled to breathe. In 2007, most hospitals did not attempt to preserve the life of a pre-term infant until they were at least 24 weeks old. Ours were 22 1/2 weeks. I discovered recently that Baylor Grapvine now saves 23-week olds. I heard that and it felt like a kick in the gut. 4 years later, that kind of thing still knocks the wind out of me. We had tons of validation from friends, family, even strangers. Somehow, because we laid eyes on them. Held them. Looked them in the face, called them by name.....and buried them in a casket....they became real to everyone. I am not in any way complaining about the support. I am so grateful. It was our lifeline. It made me wonder at human nature though--including my own. Before Charles, William and Gracie were born, they were Charles William and Gracie. They were our real children and we called them by name. Before we knew the sexes, we simply called them 'the babies' yet they were still our children that we loved & wanted more than anything. Had we lost them before the end of the first trimester to miscarriage, some our loved ones might have found it more difficult to express or even feel the amount of sympathy & support we so desperately needed. After all, there would have been no ceremony & I might not have even 'looked' pregnant. After talking to several friends about their miscarriage experiences, including one who lost her twin boys at 18 weeks and after learning that our Daughter Clara, who was born in 2008 might have been a twin, my perspective has changed. It's true. A loss is a loss because a human life is a human life. There is no sense in comparing. The loss mothers & fathers go through is profound and life-changing, no matter what the details. When people ask, I am slowly learning to answer, "Why yes, I have 6 children. Three with us and three in heaven."

:)De said...

I am sorry for your lost.... I am sorry for their lost.

Hannah_Rae said...

Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story. Thank you for providing a safe place for others to share theirs.

Michelle is one of my heroes, and I am so sad for all of them today. I am praying against any attacks of the enemy on her heart...and that any cruelty of people is not allowed to have effect.

Losing Baby E in a few weeks makes my heart ache in ways I never knew it could, and she wasn't even from my body...she wasn't even officially mine. Loss is loss? Yes, but I know there is something even deeper losing a child from your womb. I'm praying for all who have.



Erin said...

Thank you for speaking out about this.
Four of my siblings were lost to miscarriages. It always felt as if there were empty places around our dinner table. Yet I had friends say when I told them my mom had lost four babies: "But you're from a large family!" and "Your parents already have tons of kids." [They had six in total] Still smarts a bit when I think of those responses - almost two decades later.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to both you and your husband for being so open about this.

J said...

You post this on the would-be 2nd birthday of our sweet angel (who we call/ed Sprout)

Although we never found out gender, I am sure he was a little boy. My miscarriage was traumatic and horrific. I eventually made it to the hospital, where my body began crashing. My blood pressure dropped and the "labor" was horrible.

I sit here today, with my 8 month old daughter, who will know that her big brother watches over her from heaven. After being through labor twice (once at 15 weeks, and once at 40 weeks), I can honestly say that the 15 week miscarriage labor was the worst. Nothing can express the physical and emotional pain.

I feel for Michelle Duggar. No one should have to endure the loss of a child.

Chaz Elban said...

Lovely site! Thanks so much for sharing!

Adoption iGuide

Mrs. Hall said...

hugs to you from Mrs. Hall. I've lost two babies to miscarriages. It sucks balls. The pain ebbs and flows though, so for me, it gets better.

but yeah, the Duggar story punched me in the gut too.

hugs to you.

hugs hugs hugs hugs hugs hugs hugs!

Ranger said...

I'm crying with you. People truly don't know what to say or how to respond, you're so right. I found the same with the three I lost, and after that I couldn't try again, the grief was too much to take. It's so hard to be the mum of a child you can't talk about and have such very short memories of, and yet will never stop loving, missing and thinking of, it's a secret devastation with no real way to share it. There's forever the space where they should be. I'm so sorry you lost your baby. Love and hugs to you and your husband.

Ranger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine said...

Thank all of YOU for sharing your stories about your children. Each child you so desperately want to have in your life. Children who existed and brought you great joy while with you, no matter the exact length of time.

I always avoid the details of miscarriage, because it's just too macabre. But I know. Friends - I KNOW how we had to lose our children and it will never stop turning my stomach. It's so. very. unfair.

Love to each and every one of you. It was an honor to join you in this grief. I am greatly humbled to be a part of such a sacred time.

Dennis Nesser said...

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I remember feeling totally hopeless that I could not take the pain away from my wife. We wanted the little girl that would never make it (and again, it was just a gut feeling), and were excited at the prospects. But when they told us she was no longer alive I felt like a total failure as a husband. My job is to protect my wife, and my wife at that moment was more miserable than any other in her life, I failed!

I didn't know if I was to hold her, to let her grieve in peace, to talk about it, to promise there would be another chance - that I would do everything in my power to make sure of that, to, to, to, to ......and nothing I did seemed to be the right thing, her pain was still there, and I continued to fail in my primary duties of a husband. How could I continue to live as a complete failure to this woman? How could I even look her in the eyes?

Michael is right, I don't remember ever speaking to another man until long after that day about their dealings with a miscarriage. Right, wrong or indifferent, it’s not something me talk about sitting around the bbq pit as a rule.

And honestly I’m still to this day not certain how I feel about the loss of that little girl, other than to have some spiritual comfort that God didn’t want her here with us that day, but that He would take care of her. It’s not something any mother ever wants to hear, but it’s how I’ve been able to deal with it.

It took me years though to get over the loss of a huge part of my wife that day. Even after we had a child of our own a year or so later, it was not the same. The forgiveness I’ve asked for of myself for not protecting my wife from the worst day ever has been hard coming and hard to grant.

I send my prayers out to the Duggers, that they might find peace and comfort in this time of grief, I grieve with you.

I want to not only thank Christine for this posting, but Michael for sharing too. I’ve known for a long time I wasn’t the only one in despair, but it’s nice to read it too.


PS – While that despair wasn’t the only reason, I’ve always been convinced that was a major part of the breakup of my first marriage.

nancy said...

We lost our third child to miscarriage. I was only a couple months along, in contrast to a sister-in-law who was six months and had to deliver their stillborn daughter one month before our miscarriage. I overheard people talking about how sad and hard that must have been for them. Very, very true. But many hadn't even known I was expecting (hadn't really announced it yet but to family). It was hard, while truly grieving with sister-in-law and family, to also not feel "jealous" that no one was able to support us, that someone being only 2mo. along, it seemed our grief shouldn't be as deep. I know that was unfair, as they didn't know, but an early miscarriage just seemed that it was supposed to be not as difficult, if that makes sense. I also struggled with the fact that they got to meet and hold and "know" their child. We experienced none of that. Grief does some strange things to you, as I was even jealous of that, at the time. The person who helped me the most? My sister-n-law, who assured me that our loss was just as deep, that we had indeed lost a child, not merely "tissue". She gave me a special gift in honor of our baby. In her own deep grief, she reached out to support us in ours, just one month after their tragic loss.

Our family doctor at the time did a D and C, though not before I needed 4 pints of blood. He was so empathetic, brushing my cheek with his hand and saying encouraging words. In contrast, the doctor who visited my hospital room the next day, suggested that many people go through this and some "it wasn't the end of the world" type phrases. Wrong thing to say to a grieving mother.

I lost our baby on Mother's Day, of all days. That seemed just too much, at the time. How could God choose that day, of all days? But, if this makes sense, as years went by, that special day became a very special way to mark our child's passing.

I gave birth to a healthy daughter 11months later, then we started our adoptions, something we'd always wanted to do. We have eight children, and a ninth in heaven.

I also felt great sadness when I read of the Duggar's loss. I have seen the truth in Romans 8:28, as God has worked even that difficult experience in our lives for good. I've been able to encourage others who have lost children to missarriage through the years.

It's surprising how many experience miscarriage. I don't think I ever noticed, until we expienced it ourselves.

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

not me, but my daughter. within a few days of being at the doctor for her very first prenatal visit she lost her baby. being only a very few weeks along, she felt guilty for being so sad. it hurt to see my child in so much emotional pain. the only thing i could do was hold her while she cried and cry with her.

it's what we all did for her.

now she's expecting her daughter in February. she's going to be a wonderful mama. it's still scary for all of us, but the longer she goes with her totally healthy and medially unremarkable pregnancy, the easier our entire family breathes.

Melissa said...

We didn't even know I was pregnant again (we have three wonderful children - almost 5, almost 3, and 8 months). I just assumed it was my 3rd period post-childbirth and that it was late because I was still nursing. But I hit the statistic dead on (1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage) on Saturday, Nov 12th of this year when I found something that wasn't "period" on the floor after going to the bathroom (still no idea how it got there, except that God felt it was important that I know). Best guess is that I was 6-7, maybe 8 weeks along. After playing piano and singing at our Saturday night service, I came home and later that night in bed told my husband (who had just had a vasectomy, despite my objections - he was "done" at 2) that I might have just had a miscarriage. The next day, I took a pregnancy test (positive), and called the midwives. I've just now finished up all of the bloodwork to make sure that my body knew it wasn't pregnant anymore.

I've said for a while now that I wanted God to be in control of all of my life - including my reproduction (hence the objection to my husband's vasectomy). Even though this little one got started prior to the surgery, it was still despite our best efforts that God opened my womb and I conceived. And it was through no fault of anyone's that God closed my womb and we lost the baby. God was in control the whole time. "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord." I can (and do) grieve. I am sad, and that's ok. But I can't really complain.

We named this little one "Nattie" which means "gift of God." Right now, I just want to know the end of the story. I don't doubt at all that God will use this for His glory and that good will come of it. But I want to know _NOW_ what that story will be.

Kelly said...

I've rewritten this comment 5 times. This is my last version. Please forgive any typos because my eyes are full of tears. I lost my baby a week ago. It has been the single most horrific, traumatic, life changing experience of my life thus far. I was a mommy and now I'm not. I had a baby that I was taking care of and now it's gone. I loved my baby and now its gone. I don't know what to do with all those emotions and excitement now that it's gone. I just know that I'm sad. I'm very, very sad.

Jenn said...

This post helped me figure out the heaviness in my chest for the last week. This week marks the seventh anniversary of the loss of my first pregnancy, at 15 weeks. The baby stopped developing around 6 weeks, but my body never got the memo - what they call a "missed miscarriage." It is a sadness that never quite leaves you.

Thank you for your post.

Jolene said...

Just getting the chance to read this post. When I tell people that I have had 24+ miscarriages they hardly ever believe me. They don't find it physically possible to have endured that many and do I even need to go into the incredible emotional place this takes one to?!

I just *knew* (gut feeling) I was not infertile, I mean HELLO I could GET pregnant I couldn't STAY pregnant! I knew we'd find the answers in the blood work but my Doc had no clue where to start looking. I hit the internet and seriously diagnosed myself and I was shocked to find out it was a blood clotting disorder that caused all those babies to leave this world before I could hold them close.

Nearly 8 yrs after having my first child by birth I finally gave birth to my 2nd child.

I still cannot comprehend the many losses we've endured. How can I? Over two dozen. We were getting pregnant almost monthly for awhile. We don't know the exact number I lost count somewhere along the way. I think that is the saddest part for me. Not knowing how many.