It is amazing what the mind can and cannot remember. I remember every detail about what happened in the doctor’s office on Friday, April 15, 2006 when I learned I had a miscarriage, but I have absolutely no recollection of what happened after and during the weekend. All I know is that that I spent the weekend in a functional daze. I put on a smile and went about the days like everything was normal, but every moment that I was not around my daughters or family and friends, I spent crying and not sleeping. Then the day came.
Monday… April 18, 2016.
A day I will never forget.
The day of my D&C.
I woke up to a day that was anything but normal. For one, it was a Monday and my husband was home. He usually would have been at work. We tried to make the day seem as normal as we could. We told the girls my tummy was feeling yucky and daddy was home so he could take me to the doctor where they would make it feel better. Fortunately they didn’t ask a million questions. We fed them breakfast, got them ready, dropped them off at school, picked up my mom from the train station and headed to the hospital.
When we arrived at the hospital, everything that could go wrong… went wrong. I walked into the outpatient surgical center alone as my husband and my mom went to park the car and get breakfast. In hindsight, I should have never been left by myself.
Upon checking in, I was told to go upstairs to admitting because I did not have all of the necessary paperwork. Annoyed, I headed upstairs. When I reached admitting, they could not find the paperwork and spent about 30 minutes looking around and on the phone with my doctor’s office. At some point I told them that they needed to get their act together because I wasn’t there to have my tonsils removed… I was there because I had a dead baby in me (obviously I was angry). Once the paperwork issue was settled, I was sent for pre-op blood work which should have been easy… but it wasn’t. It took like what seemed FOREVER to be called in to get the blood work done. My husband and mom kept telling me to calm down and relax which I could not comprehend or do. I just wanted this day to be over. Eventually, I was finally called in for my blood draw. Once we entered the room, the phlebotomist told me she needed to step out because she did not understand the order.
I lost it.
I told her how unprofessional and insensitive everyone was. As a medical professional myself, everything I had experienced was unacceptable especially considering my situation. How could she not understand a simple order? Why was it not entered properly in the system? The tears flowed from my eyes and I began to shake. In shock, the stunned phlebotomist apologized profusely. She didn’t know what to do. My blood was eventually drawn and I walked back into the waiting room in tears. I told my mom and husband what happened. They said they already knew because they could hear me. Even with my mom and my husband besides me they could not stop the words coming out of my mouth as I turned towards the admitting personnel to finish telling them what was on my mind. I was angry.
Once we returned to the outpatient surgical unit, they immediately took me to the back to prep me for the procedure. The nurse that showed me where to change was very sweet and I thought things would get better… but they didn’t. While the nurse was sweet, it was her first day in the unit. She had me walking around in circles (in the hospital gown nonetheless) because she did not know where the room I had to be in was. I stopped walking and told her to go ask someone where the room was because I was tired of walking around with my a$$ hanging out. We had walked past the room twice.
After I was settled in the room, they brought my husband in. We sat in silence until the doctor came in. I asked the doctor to do another ultrasound to confirm that there really was no heartbeat and this was not all a dream. With no hesitation she agreed. I held my breath as she got the ultrasound ready and burst into tears when the screen showed no heartbeat. She did not need to explain to me what I was seeing on the screen. I am fortunate that my doctor knew exactly what to say. She sat there talking with my husband and I and said she would not go ahead with the procedure if I was not comfortable. There was no sense of urgency. She was patient, kind and compassionate like a healthcare provider should be. She stood with us until the blood results came back, which surprisingly (and I mean that sarcastically) were delayed.
It was time.
The doctor reviewed the results then left the room. My husband was escorted out and I was escorted by the OR nurses into the operating room. When the doors opened I started to cry again. The white, cold, sterile room was not how my pregnancy was supposed to end. My tears quickly went away when I heard the nurse asking if we were running late because my doctor was talking too much as always. I once again lost it and informed them that they were unprofessional and how dare they talk about a provider that actually cares about her patients and was doing her due diligence by waiting for the results of the blood work. I don’t think they could get the anesthesia in me quick enough. Before I knew it, the world around me went dark.
A dim lit room. A dull looking curtain. The sounds of machines beeping. My husband sleeping in the chair next to me. That is what I woke up to. Besides feeling groggy, I physically felt fine. The nurse walked over and began to ask me routine questions. She then asked me if I remembered anything. Confused, I asked about what? She then proceeded to tell me how I really woke up. Apparently… I woke up in a state of delirium. I was combative, belligerent and screaming at the top of lungs. All I kept saying was “Get me the F&$* our of here! I don’t want to be here! Get me my Darwin… I hate his F&$*ing name but I want my Darwin!” (Note… Darwin is my husband’s first name). They had to restrain me and actually broke protocol to get my husband to see if that would help. It didn’t. Even in a deep sleep I was angry and there was no hiding it. All I wanted to do was go home.
Walking through my front door and seeing my daughters was exactly what I needed. Their smiles, excitement and little hands on my face as they hugged me and gave me kisses, allowed me to forget everything that I had gone through… even if it was only for a few minutes. It all came back when I could not carry my girls and had to keep reminding them not to touch my stomach. Needing to rest, my husband and mom made me lay down. But there was no resting for me… at least not for my mind. All I could do was think about the reasons why I could have had the miscarriage… and cry.
To say the next few weeks were tough is an understatement. I put on a smile and went about my daily activities forcing myself to stay strong for my girls. I did not want them to see me crying… but I would cry anytime they were asleep or not looking. Many days were filled with visitors… friends I told (which was less than a handful) and the rest my husband told (because he knew I needed support)… but I didn’t want visitors. There were also several conversations with my OB as I called and questioned everything that was happening with my body… even though as a PA I knew what was going on. To add insult to injury, I had to go every two weeks for blood work to monitor my hormone levels and ensure that they were going down. Mind you, I had to go every two weeks for 3 months which had a massive impact on me emotionally.
What I learned…
Now I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. If you ever find yourself in this situation, or know someone who is, here are some tips that I learned from my experience:
1. Review all of your options with your OB to decide what is best for you and your situation.
2. When going through grief, people handle it in different ways. Make sure to communicate with your partner about what is going on. Yes this is happening to your body but it is also happening to your partner and not all partners may express their emotions or know what to do. In the beginning there was a lack of communication between my husband and I and I felt so alone… which magnified all of my emotions.
3. Whether you tell people you are pregnant and miscarried or don’t tell people you are pregnant and have a miscarriage it is still the same grief. Ask for support… you need at least one person besides your partner to vent/cry to. I wish I would have asked for support sooner but I too thought it was a taboo topic.
4. Seek professional help. I should have. The emotional toll it had on me was huge and lasted for a long time. Professional help could have given me better tools to deal with the wave of emotions I went through.
5. If you are medical professional… these words from my OB really hit home… “You can’t be a PA and a patient.” This was her response to me when I kept asking why I had a miscarriage and questioning everything that was happening with my body. Basically, you don’t have to know everything.
6. More wise words from my OB after I told her I did not want to cry in front of my daughters and look weak. “What do you remember from when you were 2 and 4?” As a mom, it is ok to cry and show emotion. You do not have to go into details with your little one but mamas are allowed to be sad too.
7. You will hear many different responses when you tell people you had a miscarriage… a lot may be with good intention but not exactly what you want to hear. For example… many people told me “well at least you already have two beautiful girls.” My response was “yes I do… but I still lost a baby” and I would walk away. Do not focus on or internalize what other people say (and I know this is super hard to do). They are not in your shoes and do not know what you are going through.
Sharing My Story…
Now, writing this series (read Part 1 and Part 2) has been one of the most difficult things I have done. It has also been therapeutic. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about my miscarriage / pregnancy loss and how things could have been different. As each day goes by I grow stronger. I know that I am not the only one and I need to share my story. Miscarriage is such a taboo topic in our society yet it happens to 1 in every 4 women! We need to stop making it taboo and in order to do that, we need to start sharing our stories.
Yes, I am 1 in 4.
I am a statistic.
I am really a mom of 3.
My name is Michelle and I am the wife of the hardest working man I know, the Mami of 4 beautiful and AMAZING kids (3 girls and 1 boy) and a Pathologists’ Assistant turned Stay at Home Mami turned Owner and Creative Director of Mami Works Design Studio, LLC. I am super excited to share my experiences and learn from you. As women/moms/entrepreneurs, we must stick together and support each other!