31 Day Writing Challenge 2014,  On Pregnancy

On Miscarriage

31-days-of-writing-miscarriage-imageYesterday I mentioned that I had a miscarriage between my first and second pregnancies. I sort of mentioned it casually, but don’t get me wrong–I know I need to talk about that first, because so many women have struggled with miscarriage and losing babies, and for me to go on and on for 30 more days sounding like, “I’m so fertile and here’s all the problems with being fertile,” would just be so insensitive. I really appreciate all the women who have been bold enough to speak up and say, “Hey fertile ladies! Be careful with the words you choose to use around women who may or may not struggle with fertility. Be careful, because the women you are talking to might have had three miscarriages this year.”

Before my miscarriage, I had no idea how common they were. After I had a miscarriage, I learned that every single one of my close friends had had at least one. It was weird. But it made me feel better to know that it wasn’t just me. And it made it a little more bearable to know that I wasn’t alone. My doctor told me that 1 out of 5 pregnancies will spontaneously end in miscarriage.

I think I may have had three or more unofficial miscarriages before the big one–but my one sad, scary, unnerving miscarriage happened in the only time in my life when I was trying to get pregnant. About a year after my first baby, I decided I wanted a second baby so my daughter would have a sibling who was close in age. Two kids sounded nice to me. Two would be perfect, and I would have them close together and be done with childbearing so I could finish my master’s degree and Ph.D. and get my life back.

I was pregnant within a few months, but something was different. I was not sick at all. My first pregnancy I was so so so sick. This one was too good to be true. No morning sickness, no symptoms at all. Until I started bleeding when I was about 8 weeks along. I will spare you the gruesome details. But about a week after I started bleeding, I miscarried. It was one of the weirdest days of my life.

I went to the doctor. “Why didn’t you come in as soon as you started bleeding?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I said. “I think I just knew I was going to miscarry.”

I handed him the zip-loc bag I had brought with me, the precious baggie with the pad that held the placenta and amniotic sac, still attached. He looked at it and said, “Oh yeah. Look at that.” He took it all out of the bag and moved the placenta around with his latex-gloved finger so he could see all the different parts. “Yes, it looks like you had a miscarriage.” And then he threw it all in the trash can.

I gulped and held back the urge to grab it out of the trash can. Because what was I going to do with it? Would I really bury it or something? The doctor taught me how I was supposed to think of what came out: it was trash; it was nothing; it was interesting for two seconds, and then it was to be forgotten.

Even so, it hurt my feelings. I was being sensitive. I left the office holding my head up high, trying to fool myself into believing that I was fine.

But I was really affected. How do you explain the feelings that overcome you when you lose a baby? For me, it felt really unsettling and unfair. I wanted to be comforted, but life had to go on. That night I made Andy stay home from his good friend’s bachelor party weekend because I couldn’t bear the thought of being alone with my daughter for three days. I was still bleeding, and all I wanted to do was cry. I didn’t even know it, but I was being attacked by some serious depression.

One lesson I needed to learn from all of this was very clear from that day on: I needed to appreciate the child I did have. The loss of my second baby made me appreciate my daughter so much. I held her, sang to her, and gave her all the love my heart was bursting to give to my second child.

Just three months later, after I stopped caring about when or if I would ever get pregnant again, it happened. I found out really early on. I was at the doctor’s office because I had an ear infection. “Is there any chance you might be pregnant?” he asked, before he would prescribe antibiotics. “Well, I guess there is a chance,” I answered. “We aren’t preventing.”

He ordered a pregnancy test and within a few hours he called me back into his office. I was sitting on one of those rolling chairs, sort of dizzy from my fever, and the doctor’s voice sounded muffled through my infected ears. “Well. Congratulations. You are pregnant,” he said.

No. I wouldn’t believe it. I spent the next 10 months of my life waiting for another miscarriage. I refused to be excited about the new baby until she was born.

So that is my story about my miscarriage. I have heard stories that are way worse than mine. But I get it, at least a little bit. Miscarriage made me feel embarrassed, ashamed, alone, attacked, depressed, angry, confused, afraid, vulnerable, powerless, hopeless. I chose to try my best to not sit in that place for very long. I chose to love my daughter and husband with all of my heart, and let God have control of life and death.

Chelsea Rotunno is the author of Goodnight to My Thoughts of You, a novel about life as a Christian teen searching for true love.