When the Grief Hits You All at Once…

Life After Miscarriage

The day I lost Mackenzie, I immediately felt grief, heartache and denial. The day I lost Chase, I only felt sadness and denial. Having a natural miscarriage was a lot different than having a D & C. With a D & C you don’t see anything. You are sleeping and not traumatized by what you see. Where as with a natural miscarriage, I saw everything, and I continue to see it in my sleep through nightmares.

At some point shortly after my second loss, I started to have nightmares. I had nightmares I was bleeding heavily and couldn’t stop, then I would wake up. I continue to have these nightmares, that keep reminding me of my natural miscarriage. I also had flashbacks. I had flashbacks of the hospital, flashbacks of ultrasounds, and the night I was experiencing labor pains. These symptoms sounded to me a lot like PTSD, but I’m not a doctor. I ended up asking a counselor at some point and she said based on my symptoms and what I have gone through, it is likely I have PTSD.


I really don’t cry about the babies I’ve lost, not anymore.


I don’t feel like people understand why I cry. I’ve also expressed to Charles that I don’t want to talk about future children. I can’t even fathom that right now. I am more that willing to talk about our angel babies, but not future kids.

When did the grief really hit me? Well, it hits me when bad stuff happens. This year has been awful. If I were to name off all the crap that has happen, I’m sure you guys would agree. But when life gets really tough and I start to cry, I think I end up crying more for my babies than what I’m actually upset about. Because like I said before, I really don’t want to cry… but I need to.

Unwanted Reminders

Life After Miscarriage, Poems

In the beginning of September, I was in a funk. Part of me was depressed and anxious as my “what would have been due date” was approaching…. While other parts of me, was excited for a new beginning. I was excited to start school again. I was excited to continue getting healthier and start our trying to conceive journey. I was also excited for fall, and all the fall things.

On September 7th, after coming home from my campus job, I looked through the mail. I discovered a letter from DHHS and opened it. As I read the letter I froze. I was shocked. I was angry and I was hurt. The letter read:


Reporting a Baby’s Birth. Our records show that you will be giving birth to a baby this month. Please…..


After that I stopped reading. I called my husband into the living room. I was heated. Why was DHHS sending me this document, when I had already called back in February and told them I had experienced a miscarriage? Charles encouraged me to call and leave a message. I was so angry, and I truly wanted to leave an enraged voicemail on my case worker’s phone. I wanted to… but I didn’t. I was afraid that if I had tore into my case worker…. it was likely he wouldn’t take me seriously. Instead I was stern, honest, and said that there was no reason I should have received this letter.

A few days later he called me back. He left a message and said that he was unaware I had had a miscarriage. For whatever reason he never got the message, but would fix it right away. Receiving this message made me even more angry. He didn’t get the message? Seriously!? Not only was I upset that he didn’t get my message, but it didn’t even make any sense. DHHS paid for my D & C! They paid for all of my appointments!


So why on earth did he not realize I wasn’t pregnant?


Receiving letters in the mail, promotional offers of baby items via email, and even a free case of baby formula left at my door; were just some of the many unwanted reminders I experienced before my due date.

Abortion: A Topic That is Triggering to Women Who Have Miscarried

Just Me Blogging, Life After Miscarriage, Resources

With all the talk of abortion lately… I decided to write this post. I was quite hesitant in that this topic is so controversial. Now my intention is not to turn this post into a debate or to push my views on to other people. My goal for this post is to simply offer a new perspective to many who may not have considered it. I’m also not going to clearly state whether or not I am pro life or pro choice. I am simply offering a perspective that I believe others have experienced too.

After having my miscarriage, the topic of abortion became very triggering to me. This was mostly because I was a different person and I looked at things differently. I watched many people have debates over social and news media. I saw graphic pictures throughout my campus. All of these things were very upsetting, but the one thing that set me off the most was my medical bills. When I received my medical bills I was not only trigged by the reminder of my miscarriage, but I was also triggered by the medical lingo that was used. Spontaneous Abortion. I looked at those two words and felt sick to my stomach. Home alone, I screamed at the top of my lungs “I did not have an abortion!” I was heated.

After doing some research it seems this is the proper terminology that is used when it is recorded that a woman has a D & C after a miscarriage. Despite that I still had uneasy feelings about it. Did I really have an abortion? I didn’t have a choice if my baby would live or die. Did I do something wrong? Should I have opted to have my miscarriage naturally? It took me weeks before I found the answers to these questions, and strangely enough I stumbled upon them in a devotional I received from a friend. In the devotional it states that yes, according to medical terminology I did have a spontaneous abortion. I could choose to look at it from that perspective, or I could choose to look at it another way. My baby physically left my body like any other women who has a natural vaginal delivery. There were tools used to help remove my baby yes, but my cervix still dilated. So, instead of looking at it like an abortion, I choose to look at it like labor. I labored my baby who sadly was born sleeping.

If you are reading this and you haven’t had a miscarriage, first thank you for reading, and secondly keep in mind there is likely a woman in your life that has had a miscarriage. I would also like us all to keep that in mind the next time we discuss or debate the topic of abortion. Always consider your audience and who might be listening. Abortion is a very touchy topic and just because I find it triggering doesn’t mean other women will. However I will leave it at this. I did everything right, and my baby died. I didn’t have a choice… and it hurts.

Presenting on Trauma

Life After Miscarriage

On Monday April 1st, I had to give a presentation on trauma on the brain for my internship. I originally picked this topic when I transferred to my new internship site. The topic of trauma and how it affects the brain and development really interests me. I spent a lot of time working on this project through my recovery time at home. I decided to create this presentation using a trifold presentation board. Not only was it therapeutic for me to understand the affects of trauma, but I also enjoyed being creative and assembling this presentation.

When it was time for me to present at 12:30pm, I was a little nervous. I don’t enjoy public speaking, but at the same time I was up to the challenge and wanted to do well in this internship. The presentation was only going to be about 30 minutes and I was presenting to about an audience of 10 peer educators. When I started the presentation, I did okay. I tried sounding enthusiastic as well as professional when presenting on my topic. Towards the middle of the presentation, I remember reading my notes and feeling a lump in my throat. I wasn’t really sure why. I had practiced this presentation many times, and yet I was getting choked up. My voice started to crack as I read to the audience different traumatic events that can affect people

“Car accidents, natural disasters, losing a child, including miscarriage, infant loss or still birth…..” Then I involuntarily stopped talking. My mouth could open but no words were coming out. It was the same problem that happen when I tried talking to the receptionist at my OB’s office. “Um…” I said trying to talk. My mind was blank. Why couldn’t I talk. Why did I feel like I was about to cry. I felt humiliated standing up there not being able to talk. I had practiced this and I was fine, but now that I was presenting I was being triggered by my own presentation. Eventually, I was able to start talking again. I don’t know how but I did. I don’t remember much more after that. I know I finished the presentation but I’m pretty sure I rushed through it and didn’t make a lot of sense.

Once I was done I was ready to get out of there. I left all my stuff and stepped into the hallway. I broke down and started crying. I felt humiliated I couldn’t keep it together. My friend Jeanie came out in the hallway and held my while I cried. She could tell I was triggered too. We both went to a different room where we could cry and calm down. My coordinator Danielle told me I did a good job even though she could tell I was having a really hard time. Despite the fact that I was triggered while presenting on trauma, I was still proud of myself for coming as far as I had and for getting through the presentation. I was also very thankful for the opportunity to research and present on the topic of trauma, and hope to have the opportunity again someday.

One Month Later…

Life After Miscarriage

The last week of March wasn’t easy. I didn’t realize it until later, but since the month of February only has 28 days, the month of February as well as March fall on the exact same days of the week. For instance I had my ultrasound and was given the worst news of my life on Monday February 25th, and I had my D & C on Thursday February 28th. Since February has 28 days instead of 30 or 31, March 25th also fell on a Monday and March 28th also fell on a Thursday. I found this really interesting as I approached the one month mark of having my miscarriage. It almost felt like déja vu. The 25th of March wasn’t as bad as I expected. Sure I was sad and I reflected a lot on what had happen a month ago, but since I was in so much shock that day, I think that’s why it didn’t affect me as much. Thursday March 28th however, was rough to say the least.

I woke up that morning feeling the heaviness of fresh grieve once again. It was as if I was under a weighted blanket and I honestly did not have the strength to get up. I called in sick to my internship, and my coordinator understood. My husband was worried about me. He had to go to class and work, but he was hesitant to leave me alone. I told him I would be okay and I was just gonna get some rest.

I remember laying in bed and pulling out my phone. I started scrolling through social media pages, which I now know was a big mistake. Within minutes I saw two pregnancy announcements for babies who would be due in September and October…. I lost it. I laid in bed and sobbed. The pain, the grief, the sorrow it all flooded back as if the miscarriage had just happen yesterday. From that point on everything set me off. My arms ached again as I longed for my baby. I grew angry and started yelling at God again for taking my baby. I was also still lactating and it was becoming unbearable. Every time I cried, I would lactate. It was ridiculous. It was a constant reminder that I no longer had a baby. It wasn’t fair.


That afternoon I became very emotionally unstable. I decided to call my doctor. She had mentioned at my last appointment that if I am not doing well emotionally, or physically then I need to call her. When a nurse at the office answered I was already crying. I tried holding back my tears so she could understand me. I told her how frustrated I was that I had been lactating for over three weeks. I also explained to her that my surgeon had told me to give the office a call if I wasn’t doing well… and I obviously wasn’t. She asked me if I wanted to speak with a social worker. I paused and said “Yeah, it would have been nice if you had offered that to me a month ago!” I probably shouldn’t have yelled at her, but I was so frustrated. I was still angry the social worker was too busy to see me the day of my surgery. I had so much support when I was pregnant, but once I miscarried, I slowly felt the support dwindle away. She ended up transferring me. I left a message for the social worker stating I wanted to talk, I wasn’t doing well and I would like some resources to help me cope through my miscarriage. When I hung up the phone, I felt like nothing was accomplished. All I did really was cry and leave a message.

After that intense meltdown on the phone with the nurse, I took a nap. I was emotionally drained. When I woke up about an hour later I got a text from my best friend. I unlocked my phone and read it. I instantly got a pit in my stomach and tears started to well up in my eyes again. My best friend was 5 weeks pregnant… and I started crying again. Part of me wanted to fake it and say congratulations, but since I was so unstable I knew it wasn’t a good idea. I had already yelled at the nurse over the phone, I didn’t also want to yell at my best friend. This was a happy thing, and I didn’t want to be selfish and make it all about me. So, I decided not to respond.

I ended up calling my mom and crying to her, as well as reaching out to my online support group. I talked about how challenging it is to see pregnancy announcements. On the one hand I wanted to be happy for them, but I wasn’t…. I was jealous. I was suppose to be pregnant! I was suppose to be showing and getting congratulated. Secondly, it’s challenging because I instantly had anxiety for everyone else who was pregnant. What happen to me was awful, and I wouldn’t ever wish it on anyone else. Even though I was jealous and angry, I still prayed for those women and that their babies would be okay. After this emotional day of seeing three different pregnancy announcements, and the fact that it landed on one month since my surgery; I decided to unfollow some of the pregnant and young moms on social media. It wasn’t going to be forever, but just for the meantime until I reached a place where I could handle it better.

That evening I went to dinner at the dining hall with Reaghan. I wasn’t hungry for anything except ice cream. I ate three bowls of it. I had no shame. I needed comfort food that day. Reaghan was so supportive and such a good listener as I talked, cried and stuffed my face with ice cream. After being quiet for a moment I remember telling her “I miss my baby.” as I silently cried over my ice cream. She said with compassion “I know… and it’s okay to be sad Kaylee. It’s okay to feel everything you’re feeling” she knew exactly what I needed to hear.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

Returning to the OBGYN’s Office

Miscarriage

On Wednesday March 20th, I had my follow up appointment with my OBGYN. I had nothing else planned that day except spending time with my mom. Since Charles still had class in the afternoon, my mom went with me to my appointment. I was slightly nervous for this appointment as I often still became emotional when talking about my miscarriage. I was still having more bad days than good and I was still really unstable.

When we arrived at the hospital, I became fidgety. I could feel my anxiety increasing. Even though I knew my doctor was only going to talk to me and possibly do an exam, I was still really nervous to return back to the office. When we walked into the hospital. I did okay for the first few steps. We followed the signs hanging from the ceiling that pointed to my doctor’s office. I read the word ultrasound on one of the signs and began to hyperventilate. I gripped my mom’s arm, thankful she was there and walking beside me. She held me, rubbed my back and told me it’s gonna be okay. I began to start crying. All the feelings of excitement from when I was pregnant came back. All the memories of the last time I was here flooded back as well. I knew this was going to be hard.

When we got to the waiting room and sat down, I immediately didn’t want to be there. All the pregnant belly’s were staring me in the face again. I continued to be fidgety and experienced the flashbacks and memories of my ultrasound, walking out of this office heart broken, my surgery and everything in between. We sat in the waiting room for 30 minutes. I tried my best to stay distracted, but I couldn’t. I went up to the front desk and asked if I would be seen soon. The receptionist said it should be only a few more minutes. Okay, I think I can hold on a few more minutes, I thought.

Just then I heard the door open from the ultrasound room. I then heard the worst sound. The sound that I knew all to well. A young woman about my age came out of that room. She had her hand covering her mouth, and her other hand gripping her belly. I heard her sob. Immediately I knew what happen. I suddenly felt sick and heart broken all over again. This young woman just received the worst news of her life. She just lost everything. I didn’t mean to stare but I couldn’t help it. I was all too familiar with what she was experiencing. Part of me wanted to rush over to her and give her a hug, but part of me knew I wasn’t strong enough. I was currently fighting my own battle. I watched her sob in her chair. She was broken. She just received news her baby was gone. They called her back rather quickly. I was glad. She didn’t need to feel humiliated. I said a small prayer for her. I prayed God would hold her as this is likely the worst day of her life. I so wished I was wrong, but somehow I knew I wasn’t. A few minutes later a man came in and asked to go back with his wife, I’m pretty sure that was her husband. I’m glad she was no longer alone.

I was finally called back after a 45 minute wait. When my doctor came in the room she asked how I was doing. How am I doing? I just sat in your waiting room for 45 minutes staring at pregnant ladies, and being retraumatized by another woman who just lost her baby. How do you think I’m doing!? That’s what I wanted to say, but I didn’t. I told her I was still having a really hard time. She seemed surprised and said she expected me to be more stable by now. Excuse me!? It had only been three weeks since my surgery. Of course I’m not stable! Again I didn’t say that… but I wanted to.

My doctor talked with me about starting birth control and trying an anti-depressant for my depression and anxiety. She also gave me a pelvic exam and told me she would see me again in May. Before leaving the office my mom gave me a hug. She told me she was proud of me for being so strong, I still don’t know how I showed strength that day, I was just thankful the appointment was over.

“I will never be the same as I was before. I endured the heartbreaking task of saying goodbye to my child.” – Jennifer Ross

The Things They Don’t Tell You When You Have a Miscarriage… or at least the Things They Didn’t Tell Me.

Miscarriage

When becoming pregnant, I knew there was a risk I could have a miscarriage, especially in the first trimester. However, I thought chances were quite slim. Both my husband and I are in pretty good health. There are no miscarriages that run in my family, and I was doing everything I could physically and mentally to take care of my growing baby. I am also well educated with an Associate’s in General Studies, an Associate’s in Early Childhood Education and on my way to getting a Bachelor’s in Child and Family Development. Even though I didn’t have the experience of being a mommy yet, I did have the experience and a well rounded education of working with children.

Throughout my pregnancy I researched and familiarized myself with the signs and symptoms of miscarriage. The most common signs are cramping, bleeding and spotting, back pain, headache and nausea. In all my research, I had never found anything that said you could have a miscarriage and not even know it. So, when I went to my 11 week ultrasound, I was completely blindsided. I didn’t have any symptoms, I just had common pregnancy symptoms.

After having my D & C, I was given some basic instructions of recovery and post-op care. However, there were many things I experienced after my miscarriage and D & C that my doctors failed to tell me about. The following are a list of things I wish I had known after my miscarriage. Plus, some of these are a bit TMI, so if you are at all squeamish… you may want to skip ahead.

1. It’s Important to be Consistent With Your Pain Meds and other Post-Op Care.

After my D & C I was pretty doped up on pain and anxiety meds. Once I went to my parent’s house to recover, I rotated between Ibprophen and Tylenol. Make sure to talk with your doctor and follow the instructions on the medication bottle before taking anything. I remember having cramps off and on for the next several days. There were some nights I would wake up in pain. It wasn’t excruciating pain but enough to be uncomfortable and wake me up. I set my alarm every 6 to 8 hours to remind myself to take something.

It was also important for me to stay hydrated by drinking water and other fluids.

Lastly, I used a lot of hot and cold pads. I was given some from the hospital, but they are also available at various stores including Target, Meijer and Walgreens. I put these anywhere it hurt.

2. What Bleeding is “Normal” and What Bleeding is Concerning.

At the hospital I was told that I could bleed after my D & C for up to 2 weeks. However, if I was bleeding enough to fill a pad within an hour, I needed to go to the ER because I could be losing too much blood and hemorrhaging. Now the consistency in bleeding really depends on the person. For me, It was relatively light but if I was more active, or emotional I would start to bleed heavier. Also the color of blood was all over the place. Sometimes it was bright red while other times it was light brown.

3. It’s Possible to Start Lactating After a Miscarriage or D & C.

About three days post surgery my breast were very tender and just felt full. I didn’t know what was happening. I assumed it was just my hormones dropping in my body… but I wasn’t totally sure. I had my surgery on a Thursday and that following Sunday morning I woke up wet. My chest and whole top half of my shirt was soaked. I really wasn’t sure what was going on. I got up to change my shirt and as I was changing I realized exactly what was happening… I was lactating.

That afternoon I called my doctor and asked if it was normal or at all concerning. I spoke with a nurse and apparently lactating does occur in some women after a miscarriage. Since my pregnancy body was nearing towards the end of the first trimester, I guess my body had enough hormone to produce milk… at least that’s how I understood it. I spoke to a friend who recently had a baby and she said that normally your milk doesn’t fully come in until three or so days after you give birth. If that is the case and my milk came in three days after my surgery, then that would mean my body thought I had had a baby. This sent me into a spiraling emotional mess. Not only was I upset that my doctor didn’t tell me I could start lactating, but I was also upset my body was making milk for a baby I no longer had. This just rubbed salt in my very raw wounds.

So, if you recently had a miscarriage and begin lactating, I do highly suggest a few things to try.

– Call your doctor and ask for their advice. My doctor told me I could lactate for 1 – 2 weeks… I ended up lactating for 5ish weeks but everyone is different.

– Wearing a super supportive bra can be very helpful… I even wore it when I slept.

Wearing nursing pads are great and super absorbent.

– Using ice or cabbage can actually give you a lot of relief… just not heat because that could cause you to produce more milk.

4. Loss of Pregnancy Symptoms.

I think part of the reason my doctors didn’t tell me about this is because it truly depends on the person. I was told that my hormones would likely drop within a few weeks. However, I wasn’t told or truly prepared for the emotional toll it would take on me. I can imagine that after you give birth, you feel your hormones drop and no longer feel pregnant, however you do have a baby. Whereas, when you have a miscarriage and you slowly start to stop feeling pregnant, it feels like just another thing to lose. As much as I complained about being pregnant, I loved it and would truly give anything to still be pregnant.

5. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

I think it is absolutely incredible that just within the last 15 years we have learned so much about PTSD. For the longest time it was known as, the disorder soldiers get after war. But, through a lot of research and awareness of mental health, our society has discovered truly what PTSD is and how anyone can get it after suffering a traumatic event. I talked about this with my counselor, and she said although she wasn’t diagnosing me with PTSD she did say I had some symptoms of it including insomnia, flashbacks and night terrors.

If you feel you are experiencing any symptoms of PTSD, I strongly encourage you to talk to your doctor, seek out a support group, or get into counseling.

6. Triggers

Since I am a peer educator for survivors of sexual assault, I knew about triggers. I know there are many events, words and things that can trigger a survivor of a past assault. However, since having a miscarriage I also discovered my own personal challenges and specific things that would trigger me and remind me of my loss.

Some of my personal triggers include…..

– Babies crying

– The baby aisle at the store

– Pickles (My pregnancy craving)

– Young children playing, laughing and with their parents

– Pregnancy Announcements

– Seeing Pregnant women

– Discussions of Abortion

After having a miscarriage, I had no idea how many things and how easily I could be set off and start crying. I remember about two weeks after my surgery I walked past a daycare with children playing, and I lost it. I just stood there paralyzed and sobbing watching the kids play, devastated my baby was gone. It’s a good thing I was a safe distance away and the kids didn’t notice… otherwise they would have probably been really concerned.

Overall, it’s important to keep in mind that after having a miscarriage…. or a traumatic event for that matter, you will likely be triggered from time to time. It is helpful to try and take care of yourself, and prevent yourself from being triggered, like getting off social media to avoid pregnancy announcements. But just keep in mind you will likely not be able to avoid everything. It is a process.

7. Emotions and Hormones

The hardest thing after my miscarriage, was dealing with my hormones and emotions. I was a bundle of emotions. One minute I was angry. One minute I was sad. One minute I was depressed. One minute I couldn’t sleep. One minute I was numb and the list goes on and on. Not only was I grieving over the loss of my baby but I was also angry and hating my body for failing me. On top of that my hormones were dropping like I was on constant PMS. It was horrible.

If you are experiencing these symptoms following a miscarriage, there are some things I want you to know. First off, its okay to not be okay for awhile. It’s okay to feel unstable and even a little crazy. It’s okay to feel every emotion you’re feeling. In this moment it absolutely sucks, but just know it won’t be like this forever. Secondly, please, please, please be gentle with yourself. As hard as it is to not blame yourself for what happen, please try to understand losing your baby was not your fault.

For the record, I am not an expert or doctor in anyway, but I have experienced a miscarriage and understand what it’s like to lose a baby. So I am always here to talk and to listen. The above advice is just something I have learned from my own personal experience.

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The Worst Pain

Miscarriage

I hoped and prayed I would never have to go through this.

The pain I’ve experienced in the past two days has been hell.

A miscarriage and losing a child is something I would never wish.

There are moments I try holding my head up, acting like all is well.

And then there are moments, I can’t even get out of bed.

I cry in silence and I cry amidst a crowd.

People try to help, but I usually hate the words they’ve said

Sometimes I can’t control my emotions and I end up screaming out loud.

Or I suffer in silence as the pain becomes unbearable.