My Walk Through Miscarriage
Let me start by saying that I am not sharing our story for any sort of sympathy.
I decided to share our journey through miscarriage after a lot of prayer and processing.
What we went through is something I never thought we would ever go through (very naive, I know), so it's taken me a couple weeks to fully process it all.
If writing this all down helps one person or simply serves as a healing process for me, it will be worth walking through our experience once again.
I've realized that miscarriage is a topic that many women struggle with whether they feel guilt, anger, or just pure sadness. I completely understand that this is a very personal topic that many would prefer to handle privately, but for me, I knew that wouldn't be the case. I have been blessed with a small platform on social media and felt that God has truly called me to use my voice.
I am going to do my best to be honest and raw while writing each and every word of this because it is real and it happened, so I do want to warn you now that I will be detailed to an extent about my pregnancy and what miscarrying looks like.
On Father's Day, June 17th, Josh & I found out I was pregnant. This is a high that I wouldn't take back for the world. It truly is the best feeling. I've told our friends and family that this was one of those out of body experiences that goes in line with getting engaged and getting married. Those of you that have experienced this know exactly what I mean!
Let me share a bit of our journey with you so you have some background and an idea of how long it took us to get to this very moment....
I got off the pill in July 2017. Never did I think that it would take almost one full year to get a positive pregnancy test. Not that we were trying during that entire time, but it was still crazy that we went so long without this moment. Afraid to share it in the midst of trying to get pregnant, I have since shared with Josh and our loved ones that I had always had a feeling, since I was a teenager, that I would never be someone that would get pregnant right away. I have no idea why I felt that way, I just did. I now know God was preparing my heart for a year of trusting Him and His timing. Even though I knew I needed to wait for God to bless this journey, it didn't make the waiting any easier. I think what makes this period of waiting worse is the constant thought of "Can I get pregnant?" I remember Josh asking "Not to jump ahead or be dramatic, but when should we go get tested?" Having people in our lives that have had to go in for testing to find out why they weren't getting pregnant, we were very realistic that something could be wrong and we may have a longer journey ahead of us.
How we found out...
Since we have been trying to get pregnant, I am obviously very in tune with my body and cycle. To the women that also track their periods, my cycles can range from 29-35 days which makes the whole "waiting to see if you're late" game pretty torturous. Technically, they say you aren't late until 5 days past your projected period, so this means 40 whole days of torture, waiting to see if I'm going to get a period or not. Well, I was three days past my period and started spotting. The thing is, I never got a full period. In the meantime, I felt BLEH. Literally like a blob. I'm a curvy girl and I get down on myself sometimes, but literally y'all, anything I put on was uncomfortable. Even my favorite Zella leggings just made me feel huge. I still wasn't convinced I was pregnant because when you've had more negative pregnancy tests than you would like to see, it's hard to let yourself go there mentally.
Well, since I wasn't getting a period, we decided to go to Target after church and buy a pregnancy test. I was rushing Josh not only because I was anxious but because I had chugged a coffee at church and had to go to the bathroom. I obviously had to pee on the stick so we needed to get to our apartment ASAP. Luckily we live just behind Target so I wasn't miserable for too long. As we pulled into our complex, Josh prayed while I ripped open that First Response box. He parked the car and I ran upstairs. Within seconds he was there to see the results with me. There they were, clear as day. Two VERY dark lines. I was pregnant. Our eyes teared up and we just stared at each other in disbelief. I was in awe that I actually had life inside of me. This was a moment I had imagined for so long, so I couldn't help but grab my stomach and hug my sweet husband over and over. We had discussed ahead of time if we would call people to tell them that day and Josh was hesitant. We knew that miscarriage was always a possibility, so telling people without knowing how long this pregnancy would last did make us nervous. I told Josh that we wouldn't FaceTime anyone that we wouldn't be okay with going back and telling later that we had a miscarriage. He agreed and we quickly dialed first our friends Matt & Alex who had just moved out of Houston and pretty much already knew in their hearts that we were pregnant. They were also the only ones we knew for sure were awake and hanging out since they were in Mississippi! After that, we FaceTimed our parents, siblings, and a handful of friends. As the day went on, I browsed Pinterest for pregnancy announcement ideas, registry must-haves, and maternity fashion. Yeah, I let myself go there knowing the risk. That leads me to my next point...
My first and only week of knowing I was pregnant...
I knew very well that I could have a miscarriage and was very aware that this bloated bump I had was a blessing. I was not going to take "feeling pregnant" for granted. I walked around every single day rubbing my tiny bloated bump as I stood in the kitchen trying to figure out what I was going to eat next (because I was constantly starving), as I laid in bed before I fell asleep, and as I worked. Even though I only knew I was pregnant for five days before my miscarriage happened, I was all in. I had looked at the calendar to figure out when we could have a gender reveal in San Diego where we are from, I had filled my Pink Blush Maternity cart with cute clothes, and I had started researching pregnancy journals to log every little thing I was experienced as my body changed. I also found an OBGYN to make an appointment with and found out I was almost 8 weeks along. A lot further than I thought! I was able to make an appointment to see our little one the next week and instantly let our families and friends know so they could mark their calendars.
In the back of my mind, I still knew this pregnancy could end any day. Being in the blogging world and following many people on Instagram, I had come across stories of women who had experienced miscarriage. Not just one miscarriage, but multiple. I wasn't naive when it came to this topic and knew the percentage of miscarrying was high. Even though I knew this, I wasn't going to deprive myself of enjoying this experience. I still hyped myself up and reminisced about my sister-in-law's pregnancies (both past and current), my best friend's pregnancies, and other pregnancies around me. I was constantly texting them asking them things about my heightened senses, my constantly growling stomach, and learned about their favorite pregnancy apps. I am so thankful to each and every one of them for their love and support as I navigated through this new stage.
What miscarriage looked like for me...
Thursday evening, the light brown spotting I had been experiencing (as a handful of women do in the beginning of pregnancy) had turned into bright red blood. I knew this wasn't normal and while in the bathroom, I just remember breaking down. I was hysterical and sobbing. I was pleading to God "please don't take this baby from me Lord. PLEASE don't take this baby from me." Looking back now, I know how foolish I was in that moment because it wasn't God taking this baby from me. We all know and I think can agree that we live in a broken world, so bad things happen. God had given us this baby, but by no means was he taking our child from us. I am sharing this vulnerable moment because this was clearly a low point for me. We ALL have them. Instead, I wish I would have stopped to pray and ask for the strength to take on whatever happened moving forward. Man, was I going to need that strength.
Whether you're just having a bad day or experiencing something traumatic in life, I want to encourage and challenge you to stop and pray instead of getting angry at God. I know this is easier said than done, but that's why I used the word challenge.
Anyways, I knew this bleeding was bad, so I instantly texted Josh to tell him I was starting to get pretty nervous.
When Josh got home from work he was so sweet and did his best to comfort me. As soon as I showed him how much blood it was, he was surprised, but acknowledged it still wasn't very much. At this point, I knew that if I was miscarrying, it was what it was. If I went to the hospital right then and there, there is nothing they could have done to save this baby. I decided to keep an eye on my bleeding to see if it was getting heavier and if it did, we would of course go in. I woke up a couple of times in the night to go to the bathroom and both times, I passed blood clots. I instantly googled this (as I did just about everything I was experiencing) and saw a mix of responses. Some women experienced this and went on to have healthy pregnancies, but other also said this was how their miscarriage started. What threw me off is that I still felt very pregnant and wasn't having any kind of pain. Regardless, I knew clots weren't normal and woke Josh up saying we need to go to the emergency room so I can get checked. Once again, I spent the entire drive and visit in the emergency room rubbing my bump, terrified that it could be gone in a matter of hours.
Our emergency room visit at Texas Women's Hospital was amazing. Clearly you all know how this ended, but in the midst of these crazy emotions, we were so so thankful that the people we came in contact with were incredible. This is not the closest ER, but being new to Houston and having just picked an OBGYN, I chose to just go to the only hospital that my doctor's office delivers at. I am so thankful we did. Instantly, a nurse named Josh (total God wink) came into our room and started chatting with us. The doctor also came in and we let her know I was having more bleeding than a pregnant woman should feel comfortable with. She calmly explained I could be miscarrying or could have something else like a hemorrhage, so they would take some blood through an IV and send me down the hall to have a regular & vaginal sonogram to check everything out. We felt such a peace being there with these sweet people, I didn't even cringe at the m-word like I should have.
Josh (the nurse) came in to take my blood and we had a great conversation with him about being from San Diego and how we were new to the area. He reassured us that we came to the right place and shared how much he loved working at that hospital. That also brought us so much peace. Next was the sonogram and I can't say enough about the sweetheart that came in to do this part of the process. She first told me that she's simply taking the photos and can't tell me anything that she sees, we would have to wait to receive that news from the doctor. We understood and tried to break up this tense situation with some light conversation. As soon as I stood up when she was done, I pretty much knew I was miscarrying. The amount of blood I had after the vaginal sonogram was ridiculous. I even told Josh "If this isn't miscarrying, I don't want to know what is."
We were taken back to the room we had been in before and didn't wait too long before the doctor came in. In this time, I asked Josh for my phone so I could play our church's worship CD and try to have some time with God. I felt this wave of strength come over me and just told Josh "Whatever happens, whatever she says, I just want to be a warrior for God through it all." Through this crazy time, I've had to remind myself many times of this exact feeling.
The doctor came in, grabbed a stool, sat down, and said something along the lines of "this is the part of my job that I hate."
We knew. We knew what was going to come out of her mouth next. I don't even know if she said "you're having a miscarriage" or just started with the next part I remember. I broke my intense eye contact with her and burst into tears as soon as it had set in what she was about to say. Josh was standing over me, crying and hugging me tight as we listened to what came out of her mouth next.
"You didn't do anything wrong, I want you to know that. This happens to 50% of women whether they know it or not, it just happens."
50% OF WOMEN?!?!? I remember thinking I need time to even process just that.
She went on to explain that my HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels were at 14 when they should be at a minimum of 6,000-ish. I then asked her "so I'm in the process of going through a miscarriage?" She said "yes, but I think you've definitely gone through the worst of it." She then said that I need to make an appointment with my doctor for Monday to make sure my levels continue to go down on their own. She was so kind and so sympathetic as I just sat there trying to process every word she was saying. She left the room and I just kept sobbing in Josh's arms repeating "it just isn't fair." I couldn't help but apologize to our nurse Josh for being such a disaster as he walked in to discuss the next steps. He was so sweet and so gracious, we were so thankful for him. We took our time in the room by ourselves to talk and just process what was happening. We had prepared ourselves for this answer, but now we were living it. We were in shock, but we pulled ourselves together as we made our way to the car.
I called my mom on the way home to let her know what had happened, asked her to tell my dad, and decided to hold off on telling anyone else. I just wasn't ready to talk about it yet.
I asked Josh if we could stop off at our favorite coffee shop and he quickly agreed it was necessary. We then made our way to H-E-B to grab panty liners since I was obviously still bleeding and had no idea when it would stop.
It was during this trip to the grocery store with a swollen face from crying, looking like an absolute mess, that I had a moment. I had walked into this store many times to do my usual grocery run and have walked by so many people while doing so. Now, I'm walking in, currently going through one of the most traumatic things I've ever gone through, not knowing if people will do a double take at how terrible I looked. I thought to myself in that moment "I will never be able to know what every person I pass in this store is going through, but I should always show grace to every person I encounter. If I walk by and smile at someone, but don't get a smile back, I should just take a second to pray for them. They could just be having a bad day or they could be in the middle of something that cuts deep. Little things like that can go such a long way."
Fast forward to the next morning real quick:
Josh & I decided to have breakfast at Chick Fil A as we do just about every Saturday morning. I was now getting more uncomfortable and the backaches had begun, but I needed to get out of the house. We were standing at the front ordering our food when I heard the cashier next to me say to her customer "I'm sorry, but I can only offer you what the coupon is good for." The woman continued to argue with her and another cashier said "I'm sorry but we can only give you the treat that you have earned and is listed." For those of you that don't know, Chick Fil A has an app that you can scan every time you go. The more you scan, you get closer to earning free treats. That's why Josh and I end up going for breakfast on the weekends because we usually have some kind of treat from going that week or the week before. It's an awesome system and we have gotten a lot of free food for using their app! As I listened more, I realized the woman was complaining about her FREE treat that she didn't want and was asking for something different instead. She kept repeating "but I don't like that, I want ____." She was persistent and was clearly making the poor cashiers uncomfortable who had already shared their policy. I turned to Josh so incredibly annoyed. As I said before, I am not asking for sympathy for what I've been through, but this woman triggered something in me. I thought to myself "I am having to listen to this woman have a petty argument about how she is receiving something free that she doesn't like while I'm just afraid of bleeding through my clothes. Her biggest problem in life right now is that the Chick Fil A employee won't change their policy for her while I am standing here bleeding out my baby." I'm sorry if that sounds harsh or intense, but I said I would share every emotion. Was it dramatic? Absolutely. Should the world stop because I am going through something tough? Absolutely not. But in that moment, it's just how I felt. When something crappy is going on, no matter what it is, I think we all feel like that. But unfortunately, the world didn't know what I was going through and even if they did, they didn't owe me a single thing.
Back to Friday after our trip to the grocery store. We took some time to ourselves to crawl back into bed and try to rest. Josh was able to fall asleep which isn't shocking since we had both been crying on and off all morning, leaving us with the heaviest eyes we have had in a very long time. But I just could not relax. I was so tense. I took that time to text Josh's aunt Kristy who lives in Dallas, just four hours away from us, and she called me with some of the greatest encouragement I have received to date. As silly as it may sound, it was so comforting to talk to someone that was actually in the state of Texas with us. I had just told her the day before that I was pregnant and now I was having to tell her I was having a miscarriage. Luckily, Kristy has counseled so many people with her husband John and has guided some women through the toughest moments of their lives. After I shed some tears, we praised God together that I was able to even get pregnant. Y'all, I CAN GET PREGNANT! This is such an answer to prayer. I have read that so many women get annoyed when this is said to them after miscarriage, but this was the only thing giving me hope. This is half the battle for so many women, but my body did it. I have since read so many beautiful stories of women who have had successful pregnancies after miscarriage and never had a miscarriage again. Who knows what my body will do, but this is also so encouraging. When Josh woke up, he called his parents as I texted his sisters. As we talked about it to more people, we could thankfully get through conversations without becoming blubbering messes. I then texted my sweet girlfriends who we had told and the amazing responses flooded my inbox. Raw, genuine emotion. That's all I needed! I didn't want any of them to feel like they needed to write the perfect text because there is no "right way" to respond to something like this.
I have often babbled at my friends since this all happened and I know they just have no words, yet they somehow have brought me peace and comfort every single time they let me get everything I'm feeling off my chest. Our friends Amanda and Richard were recently in town and Amanda told me she just had no words except that she loves us and she knows God is going to do amazing things in our lives. Just that meant so much to me! I told her I don't need words, just having her there to listen to me helped so much. They were such a calming presence for us and I couldn't help but thank God for His timing the entire time they were here. He knew just one week after I had a miscarriage that they would be here visiting for the first time and that we would need our time with them even more than we did before. They were the closest connection we had to home and I really needed a bit of home. They let us talk through the process and just stuffed their faces with us as we ate our feelings.
Gosh, we just love these two.
So now that I've babbled at y'all like I do Josh, our moms, my sister-in-law's and my girlfriends, you may be wondering "what's next?"
Well, we met with my doctor, the same one I was supposed to meet just two days later to see my baby for the first time. Josh and I were so encouraged by her and were thankful for her sweet heart. She asked if we were interested in trying again and we eagerly told her "absolutely!" She gave us her blessing to move forward with trying again as soon as I have a period. I also scheduled a routine wellness check with her since I was a new patient to her. Everyone in that office was so sweet and genuine, we were thankful for another wonderful experience.
Some of you may also be thinking, "how are you ready to get pregnant again?"
Had I been further along or had an ectopic pregnancy, this may be a different conversation. However, my body did its job. I stopped bleeding after two days and my HCG levels are dropping.
Emotionally, I'm battling fear. In the back of my mind, I'm terrified. Terrified of getting pregnant again, getting excited, and going through another miscarriage. Well, that's my mind.
My heart on the other hand is on a mission. I'm a mom on a mission. I know what it feels like to be pregnant and I know what it feels like to know you are creating life. There is a hunger in me to do exactly what I promised to do in that emergency room. I WILL BE A WARRIOR FOR GOD. God will bless this journey as he already has during our walk through my miscarriage. He's softened my heart and has made my love for Him, for my husband, for my unborn child, and for my future children SO MUCH GREATER than my fear.
If you are are currently going through a miscarriage or have experienced a miscarriage in the past, I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 50% of women experience this in their lifetime. I need you to know that there are so many other women that know where you've been and know exactly what you're feeling right now. If you ever need someone to talk to about it, I am here. Please don't ever hesitate to contact me, even if you just need someone to pray with. I don't have all of the answers, but I can sympathize. I love you so much and God loves you way more than that.
To all of our amazing friends and family that have supported us through this crazy journey, tears are flowing as I think about how lost we would be without you.
To my best friends with their own children and my sweet sister-in-law's with a combined (almost) eight minis, thank you for letting me love your sweet little ones as my own. Thank you for letting me be a part of their lives. I can't wait to give them more friends/cousins someday.
Our time will come and when it does, I will have an even greater appreciation for the miracle of life.
I can't wait to share this next chapter with you all.
We love you.
Josh & Riley