This will be a first in a series of posts about preparing for pregnancy, early pregnancy, miscarriage, and more, but really how it all relates to the way our culture approaches these topics.
I'll start out by saying I had a miscarriage recently.
That's really what this first post is all about. I got pregnant faster than I ever thought I would. We were "trying" (side note: I'd like to come up with a new term for "trying" or TTC since I think it is weirdly success/failure oriented, but that's for a later post) technically, but with my health history I assumed it would take months, if not longer. Having rarely had a regular cycle, a history of thyroid imbalance, PCOS, adrenal fatigue and the stress of just having moved to a new place. Yes, I had been on a great pre-pregnancy diet for about 1 year and had started taking Vitex, an herb known for regulating the cycle, but I had literally just started taking it days before conceiving. I'd had a few sessions with my naturopath in prep for pregnancy. I also identified a highly recommended acupuncturist in Northampton that could help if (when) it took several months to conceive. But, it didn't and while totally shocked, I was so thankful.
Around the time I found out I was pregnant, I had also been burping up a storm and having all sorts of digestive issues. All explained by the new pregnancy. I was starting to feel more fatigued and gained some belly weight too. All normal! I was craving cheese like never before and digesting it fine. I also wanted juicy fruit like pineapple, melon and oranges-- not exactly seasonal eating in December in Massachusetts, but I went with it. Not the worst craving in the world! I loaded up on some prenatal DVD workouts (more on why I think these are the greatest things ever to come), but was too tired to do them at first. Then, around week 6, I started to have more energy. I actually started to feel more myself.
Now, with my line of work, history of all sorts of health issues, having worked with so many different alternative practitioners who often encourage tuning into ones own body, I am pretty darn self aware, both physically and emotionally! When my bloat started to go down, I had more energy and I was able to do a different prenatal DVD workout every day, I thought it was weird. I shared this concern with Gideon and he told me I was being paranoid. Also, not unusual for me. I tend towards worry and anxiety in general. I tried to let it go. I've heard of women who felt good during their first trimesters, but still it didn't seem right.
Around this time, Gideon and I met with the midwife practice we're going to use and they wanted to know how far along I was. Enter: ridiculous method for charting pregnancy. If you don't already know, your pregnancy is timed back to the first day of your last period. For those who have totally "normal" 28-day cycles, this adds about 2 weeks on to your pregnancy because you obviously didn't conceive on the first day of your last period. Given that the cycle before I got pregnant was 43 days, we knew my cycles were long. But I knew around when we conceived because I'd been following the Fertility Awareness Method for months already. Long story short, the midwives thought it would be a good idea to get an early ultrasound to more accurately date the pregnancy. While I knew when I got pregnant (at least within a few days), I was cool with it because of how anxious I'd been feeling. If I could see the baby and maybe even detect a flutter, I'd be much more at ease.
So, on January 29th, I went for an early ultrasound AND saw the flutter and got a cute picture of the little one. Very little- about 0.4 cm. According to those crazy "your baby is the size of a blueberry" websites, 0.4 cm was smaller than I had recalled, but everyone is different. All I cared about was seeing the heartbeat. Then, they gave me my due date: September 23rd. Now THAT didn't make any sense. Going by LMP (last menstrual period), my due date was Sept 8th and going by conception, my due date was between Sept 12 and Sept 15. But, once again, I thought of it as cookoo machine estimates and disregarded. I was just so happy to have seen the flutter and even went to check out the birthing center in the hospital just to see what it was like before I left.
Then I went to my initial appt with our midwives and, all in all, had a great pregnancy day!
That evening I started feeling bloated, but chalked it up to not really eating normally that day. Then I noticed some brown discharge... then more cramping. Dr. Google and tons of online pregnancy forums told me it is extremely common to have cramping and spotting after an internal ultrasound.
I called the midwife and she suggested I take a bath. Gideon drew me a bath and lit some candles. I took deep breaths. Then I started bleeding more. And more cramping. I called the midwife again and she used the word "miscarrying." I started crying. Then, I got mad at Gideon for saying the ultrasound was silly to get in the first place. Was he implying I caused the miscarriage by getting an ultrasound? No. That couldn't be.
The cramping lasted all night and the next morning, around 8:30 (less than 24 hours after seeing the heartbeat), I miscarried. I knew I did. I couldn't stand up straight, was doubled over in pain and as soon as "it passed" I could stand up. I went into the kitchen and told Gideon (while he was making his morning oatmeal) and he assumed that's what was happening. He hugged me and kissed me and rubbed my back and told me there would be another baby and we'd get pregnant again.
It was awful and scary and truly unbelievable. I didn't believe it was happening until it was over.
A few hours later a midwife from the hospital called to give me the final ultrasound results. What a wacky order of events, right? Turns out the heart rate was slower than it should have been and it was smaller than it should have been knowing when I got pregnant. It explained the size and strange due date they gave me. Based on what she could see, "the fetus was not developing appropriately." Those words provided closure in some weird way. Although, I honestly believe I'll never really have "closure" on this topic.
I honestly think my body was preparing for the miscarriage as soon as I started feeling better. I'll never know, but that's what I believe was going on.
So why am I writing about this?
Because, well, I have a lot to say. For one, we can do a lot to optimize for positive outcomes, but we just dont have control over everything... or hardly anything actually. I work with clients and run programs every day about preparing for pregnancy and had been following my optimal pre-pregnancy diet for over a year, but still. Shitty things happen. An important lesson for us all, I think. I've also started to share my thoughts about the way our culture handles miscarriage and everyone I talk to about this says, "you should write about this!" so I am. I think it's really hard for male partners to relate to what's going on when a woman has a miscarriage and I'd like to write about our journey too. Then there's the hormonal shift that goes along with all of this and even when you want to just feel like yourself again, your hormones might not allow it. I learned a lot about different modalities, alternative therapies, herbs, and so much more that helped me and I'd love to share these.
Ultimately, I think miscarriage and everything that goes along with it is something we should talk about. And, well, I'm gonna talk and write about it.
There's a lot to say and I hope you support me writing about this, feel compelled to share your own experiences and/or share these posts with someone who you think might benefit. I also hope this is therapeutic for me. I guess we'll see.
(Next post in this series: http://deenabarselah.com/the-untell/)