There Is No Silver Lining In My Miscarriage

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There Is No Silver Lining In My Miscarriage

Today I got my period, hooray! 

TMI? A little over 2 months after finding out I had a miscarriage, getting my period is a sign that at some point soon my husband, Sam, and I can restart this anxiety-provoking, possibly heartbreaking, potentially life-granting process all over again.

On September 30, I went to see my male OB. (The one I saw once during my first pregnancy, after which I declared that I diddn't want a male OB, specifically the one I had.) But it’s COVID pandemic times and I'm 9 weeks pregnant, he was the first available appointment, and I didn't want to wait to hear the heartbeat of another munchkin I was shockingly so ready to have.

In the patient room, bottomless draped in a paper blanket, I waited to see my doctor — who was already 45 minutes late.

During the appointment, I Facetimed with Sam, who was home with our 16-month old son, because COVID didn’t allow him to join me at my appointment. (We were also in the middle of a 14-day quarantine so we could finally stay with family since the COVID lockdown started in March.)

Sam and I were planning to tell them our family the good news when we could finally hug them again.

As it turns out, we wouldn’t be bringing any good news.

RELATED: 6 Things I've Learned From 3 Miscarriages In 9 Months

The doctor came in about 30 seconds later and my examination was underway. We saw on the ultrasound a little sack. Phew, so I am pregnant, was my immediate thought of relief.

But then the doctor told us the baby was too small to hear a heartbeat; it was measuring the size of 6 weeks. My excited nervous face, the smiling face of Sam who was forced to hear this news over Facetime, starts to fade. The dread kicks in, the fear kicks in, the tears kick in. We know what this means. 

I’m sent for bloodwork to check my HCG levels. If they decrease, it’s a miscarriage. We know what this means.  

I cried in the patient room by myself, collecting the packet for expecting parents the nurse had given me when we both thought I was pregnant. Sam is forced to hold it together while he takes the hit of our potential loss while also taking care of our oblivious toddler who seems to be living his best life climbing in and out of the broiler.

RELATED: I've Had Miscarriages Before — But Never Like This

After two days and two rounds of bloodwork, what we suspected is confirmed. Our hopes and hearts are crushed. The OB who was terrible in my first pregnancy actually thrived during our miscarriage. He was kind and compassionate and gave us space to talk. He told us to allow ourselves to grieve, that we were suffering a loss, no matter how early it was. We needed to hear that.

I took misoprostol and was told it would feel like a few days of bad period cramps. I took it that night, had wicked cramps, wicked diarrhea, and bleeding. One week later, I was still bleeding and a nurse called to check in.

Have I passed any clots, any tissue, she asked, like I had done this before and should somehow know what to be looking for. I don’t think I have, I responded.

She recommends another round of bloodwork. I plan to get it done when I return from seeing family. During this time the bleeding started to smell.

As if looking down every time you go to the bathroom and have a constant reminder of your sadness and loss isn’t enough, that sadness actually starts to smell, adding insult to injury. I called my OB and he tells me to come in.

Turns out I had a tilted uterus, and therefore some miscarriage clotting was unable to pass and was building up and becoming necrotic — that was the smell: built-up dead tissue. The OB scraped it out and yes, it was as painful and upsetting and uncomfortable as it sounds. 

After another ultrasound, he found more clots still. He suggested another round of misoprostol (which I took), resulting in another round of side effects, but it didn't work.

So the day after National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, I had a dilation and evacuation.

Two weeks after we don’t hear a heartbeat, our journey ended. Two months after that, I got my period. A new journey begins again.

Throughout this whole process, we told a few loved ones and a few close friends about our miscarriage. It wasn’t a secret, but how do you share this news during a pandemic?

Do you tell them when your friends message you about their pregnancies, or their births, so we can steal their joy and share our pain? Do we tell them when we all send each other benign check in texts, and I’ll just drop my miscarriage information right there? It feels mean to burden people with the responsibility to carry our pain.

I’ve felt a lot of things during this process. A lot of sadness and a lot of anger. With each pregnancy announcement, I feel another chip in my heart. Can’t people just stop having babies until I can have mine?

I tried therapy. She asked why I was there in our first Facetime session. I started, well I had a miscarriage … and she cut me off. She asked if I had a flu shot this year. She went off about statistics about miscarriages and flu shots. My blood boiled, as I wondered if I should hang up and be done. I eventually interjected and said I believe in getting the flu shot, pregnant or not.

How do I trust a doctor (and yes, she was a proper PsyD) whose initial step is to find blame in one's own miscarriage? (I promise you, lady, I already had boatloads of self-blame, wondering if I caused the miscarriage because I ate a salami sandwich or had some sushi. Please screw off about a flu shot.)

RELATED: What To Say (And What NOT To Say) When A Woman Miscarries

I’ve received love and support from those I’ve told. I’ve also had well-intentioned friends and family say things that I hated, say things they didn’t realize were thoughtless and unhelpful, words they thought may be comforting. 

All I wanted to hear was "this sucks", because there's no silver lining in this miscarriage sh*t cloud. This pandemic has been painful and tiring on us all, and adding this miscarriage, it all felt like too much. I needed a space to tell my story and feel my pain — the pain of being unable to give our family another member, our parents another grandchild, to give our son a sibling. And while I know these things happen, there’s the worry of not knowing if another miscarriage is imminent in our future.

I wanted check-ins, and I wanted people to check in on my husband directly. I never realized how gendered a miscarriage loss presented itself.

While this loss and pain was mine physically, it was both ours emotionally, and we both felt — and continue to feel it — deeply. I needed other people to see him. I needed him to have people show their love and support to him, like they had to me, with words. (And let this be a call to partners and men to please share their own miscarriage stories).

To our well-intentioned friends and family: I promise you bringing up our miscarriage will not suddenly remind us of a pain we’ve forgotten about. We feel a twinge anytime we see or hear about a growing family, whether it's a friend or a pregnant woman walking in the street. We feel joy in our loved on's  exciting news, of course, we feel honored that they share it with us, but that twinge, we feel it deeply and daily. 

So anyway, I got my period. And our journey begins again.

Rachel Levy has a master's in public health, and works as a  suicide prevention specialist. She lives in South Philadelphia with her husband, 19 month old son, and 9-year-old dog.