29. Sarah’s Story - Normalizing Miscarriage
Updated: Feb 3, 2022
I want to share the story of my recent miscarriage, and I want to share this so that any woman that is going through the exact same thing or similar thing, like abortion, a miscarriage, or a missed miscarriage like mine. I want this to be for you so that you don't feel alone. So you don't feel broken because those are the two things that I felt in the doctor's office when I received the news. And it turns out this is a really, really, common thing. I just want to share my story to help normalize it.
On New Year's Eve. I went in for a 10-week ultrasound at my doctor's office. I went in feeling very pregnant. I was super exhausted. I could barely exercise or walk up Hills. I truly felt like my baby bump was growing. And I just had a lot of hope walking into that office.
As I walked in, I found out it was my doctor's last day, which is not the best timing. And we were talking about who my next OBGYN was going to be, and about taking the 10-week genetic test kit and all kinds of things like where the 20-week scan was going to be. It was a lot of planning. Everything felt very normal.
As I laid down on the table, we did my first stomach ultrasound. The first ultrasound I had was vaginal. And the second one was over my stomach, I didn't even have to take my clothes off. I could just lay there, which was awesome. As she started searching for a heartbeat and the embryo, nothing was popping up on the screen. It was just those weird gray and black patterns on an ultrasound and a black pit shaped thing in the middle where the heartbeat and the embryo were supposed to be and where they had been on my last ultrasound. And my sweet doctor was like, okay, not sure what's going on. We're going to get the vaginal ultrasound. It could be your bladder, that's in front of it.
So then she did a vaginal ultrasound. And there was absolutely nothing. And I was in, I was in shock. I had no response. I had no tears. I had nothing to say. I was just laying there like what the literal fuck.
I was always under the impression that if you had a miscarriage, your body would miscarry right away. boy was I wrong.
There was no heartbeat. There was no embryo. There was absolutely nothing, just a black hole. Everything kind of went into a blur after that. The doctor told me to put my clothes on. She was going to be back in a second, so I got dressed.
She told me to call my husband. I rang my husband and I wasn't really sure how I was going to put a sentence together to explain that our baby was gone. All of our hopes, dreams, and plans just kind of dissolved in that moment.
I had decided to give the baby the nickname Bean Sprout because that's what it looked like on the previous ultrasound.
Here’s a clip from a video YouTube series that I recorded. It was supposed to be a weekly series about what it felt like to be pregnant. And here I am explaining my first ultrasound.
"Big stuff happened this week. I had a prenatal appointment at my doctor's office and I got an ultrasound. I believe it's a vaginal ultrasound. I got to take a look at the baby. I got to see the little bean sprout. That's what I'm calling it. And we got to hear its heartbeat, which was cool. It was very fast. I want to share this with all of you, bam [showing photo of ultrasound]. And here, down here, you can see the full heartbeat look at how cool that is. I couldn't believe that you could just hear it at week six."
I mean, there were no words to properly explain to my husband what had happened. And fortunately for me, he didn't pick up the phone. I just sat there. I sat there waiting and she came back in and she went over my options.
She said that I could have a D and C procedure. I had no idea what that meant, I found out that that is the procedural name for an abortion. Or I could take meds that would induce cramping to get rid of all of the material that was still inside of my uterus. I think there might have been a third option, honestly. I'm not even sure.
My memory is hazy at this moment. It's interesting how sometimes you find out news and everything's crystal clear and it's almost like you can hear the sound of the air conditioning system, but in this case, I felt almost like a ringing in my ears and like floating. I was not there in that room.
She might have given me the option to just wait and let my body pass it. If she did, I have zero memory of that.
I asked her if meds meant the abortion pill and she confirmed that. And I just thought to myself, I have been so careful my entire life so I didn't have to experience the emotions of having an abortion. And there I was being told to take the abortion pill. It was defeating.
I made it mean that I had failed and that I was broken. I was alone literally because my husband was not allowed with me to the visit because of COVID. Now I would be someone that had gotten an abortion, which I had so much programming around.
If you've had an abortion, I commend you and I respect you. And I want to give you a huge hug because that is a big decision to make. And you made the right choice for you just as I made the right choice for me in that doctor's office.
She went over the very complicated directions of taking the abortion pill. I didn't understand any of it. She gave me a sheet of paper, fortunately with directions written down. And then she told me that I had to sign a waiver saying that I knew I was getting an abortion.
It's already bad enough when you're grieving a loss in a hospital, not in your home, surrounded by family, then to be told that you have to go through a procedure to heal from that loss. And then on top of that, the government has decided that you have to sign a waiver stating that you are consenting to have an abortion. When there was no embryo, there was nothing alive inside of my body. That felt like an injustice.
But again, I was just floating. I grabbed the pen and I signed the paper. Honestly, I couldn't even tell you what was on that piece of paper. Next. I grabbed all of my things and I remember everything taking longer than it was supposed to. I grabbed my things and it felt like that took an hour and followed the doctor down the hallway to the nurses station.
A nurse came to administer the first part of the abortion pill. And I'm assuming this is either government ordered or just part of the system. But the nurse asked me to hold out my hand to take the pill. And then he had the nerve to tell me that taking the pill meant it would be gone.
And I just looked at him and I said, it's already gone. And he apologized.
And I just thought, how is the government interfering in something so personal as a miscarriage/abortion. That blows my mind because this is maybe the most personal thing that I could be going through. And the fact that I had these very just bureaucratic steps to follow was very inhumane to me.
Then I floated my way to the bathroom where I could finally cry. And I just sobbed. I let it all out. The disappointment, the fear, the disbelief, and the pain.
You see, it turns out that I had actually miscarried at eight weeks, according to the doctor. And, my body just did not realize it. For the past two weeks before that appointment, I was walking around, rubbing my belly with oil, recording pregnancy videos, tracking symptoms, and taking prenatal pills. I was doing it all for nothing. And that's what got me the most.
Here's a recording from week nine of my baby bump. "Okay. Here's the bump and I feel like I’m showing. I for sure feel like I'm showing it's, just if you don't know me and if you don't know I'm pregnant, you don't notice it. But like, yeah. I feel it. And let me tell you guys, the pants, the pants are tight."
That video was all I could think about in that bathroom. When I was sobbing from the news of my loss. I couldn't believe how disconnected I was from my body, from the reality of my body that I truly was which is very strange for me. I am very connected to my body. I knew right away that I was pregnant. To be so out of touch and confused that I still had pregnancy acne and that I gained 15 pounds, and that my belly bump was indeed growing that it was just all a lie. I felt silly.
And then I knew it was time to call my husband again. That is one phone call I never want to make, but I found the words through my tears. I told him the baby was gone and that I needed to have an abortion because my body did not realize that I wasn't pregnant anymore. And thank you universe for my husband because he was on his way to work. And he immediately turned around and spent three sick days with me, grieving and healing from this loss.
As he was coming home, I floated down to the pharmacy from the doctor's office. And that's really when reality set in. I was just sitting there waiting for my prescriptions to be filled. I was crying into my face mask. I looked like a zombie. I had almost no purpose and didn't care what I looked like. I was just a blob waiting for my name to appear on the screen to show that my prescription was filled. That was maybe the longest 20 minutes of my life.
And then I walked outside. A non-pregnant. I remember it was raining that day, it was a weird morning rain rainstorm. It's pretty rare in San Francisco for it to just storm for like three hours and then clear up. But that's exactly what happened. And I decided to take an electric scooter home, one of those Lime scooters.
As I was on this scooter and I was going into the rain. The rain was like a sheet of ice, going straight into my eyes. And I don't know if that's what woke me up. Or maybe my personal development tools that were just going on autopilot in my head, but I just thought I'm not broken. I am whole. And then I remembered three times that I knew that I was whole.
And then I thought, this is another change you see, when I first found out I was pregnant, it really scared the shit out of me, it rocked me. I freaked out. I thought about all of the different options that I could have, including an abortion.
Here's another clip from one of the YouTube series videos that I recorded. It's from the first video of this series. It talks about me considering all my options in the pregnancy. “And I should say too, that, we did, like, we did have conversations about what we wanted to do. I want to be really honest about that. It was something that we had been talking about. And even though in my heart of hearts, I wish I had one more year before we had a baby, I think that this baby is coming early. And, I would feel guilty not going through with it. It's not that we didn't think about it. I do want to say that we did, explore all the different realities and all the different options. And this is where we left. Yeah.”
I'm almost laughing through the shock in this clip. Looking at these videos from where I'm at now I feel like I'm an entirely different person. Ultimately I decided to have the baby but Universe planned otherwise. I thought to myself, okay, this is another change. What does this mean for the future now?
And randomly, my husband had planned a honeymoon for us in February in Mexico. He was nervous to give me the gift on Christmas. And I was ecstatic. I cried when he gave it to me. I was excited to have something to look forward to. And now just like I had originally planned, I will get to go on my honeymoon without being pregnant. I had come to terms with the fact of it. And really it didn't matter anymore, but suddenly I felt like I had something to look forward to.
This is when I started a daily practice of eating a chocolate croissant. I learned that I grieve, by eating bread, chocolate, and lots of sugar. I was being really gentle to myself, allowing myself and anything that I wanted or needed without any judgment. It was really cool to go through this experience with that mindset.
My husband came home and we took turns crying. We talked about how we felt. The feelings that were coming up. We took a walk with our puppy. I was very gentle to myself that day.
And then I prepared for the abortion, the actual abortion, the following day, which meant saltines for nausea. Heavy-duty menstrual pads. I'm talking basically diapers. I think anyone who's had a baby knows what I'm talking about.
The next morning I felt like I was preparing for war. I decided if you're going to go into battle, you might as well have blueberry pancakes for breakfast.
Later I took the rest of the pills. the way the abortion pill works is you take the first pill that prepares your body to start bleeding, and then you take eight doses of misoprostol. That induces the cramping and you hold it in your cheeks for 30 minutes. And then you swish water in your mouth and swallow everything.
And for some women, this doesn't take, some women have to take this multiple times in order for the cramping to be induced. I wasn't sure if it was going to take, I was preparing for everything. I took an ibuprofen and then I waited three hours. My husband and I sat on the couch. We watched TV, we made each other laugh.
Then the nausea started and my friend had just told me a horror story of sitting with her friend during her abortion and how painful it was for her friend. She spent the day on the bathroom floor. She had flu-like symptoms. She bled through a pad almost every 30 minutes, maybe more.
I imagine this is similar to pregnancy, the cramping anyway, not the actual birthing of a child what's coming out is a little bit of a different.
I took the nausea pill immediately. I was in so much pain already. I didn't want to be in any more pain.
And then the cramping started and I started pacing in my apartment. Like I've never done before rubbing my belly and breathing. They were intense cramps and it started to get unbearable. I was doing cat-cow stretches on the ground and moaning a lot.
I decided to take the Percocet that my doctor prescribed me and I was trying to hold off as long as I could to take it, but I just didn't want to feel anything. 30 minutes later I was super relaxed on my couch.
It was like, I barely could feel anything. And that is exactly what I wanted. Which I believe is how addiction starts. My husband told me that he was upset that I had been prescribed five Percocets and he's right. Addiction runs in my family. My grandmother was addicted to painkillers and heroin. And, I don't want to go down that road. I really don't, but I got a glimpse into why she did for sure.
Over the next four and a half or five hours, I was changing my pad. I was passing blood clots, large pieces of material. And I cried every single time that I was in the bathroom. And I saw something come out because it was a piece of my future child.
That is how I spent my new years having an abortion in my apartment. The tears and the crying were pretty heavy in those first couple of days. My husband and I kept holding each other when we needed to.
I want to share a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert about grief. She says, “Grief is a force of energy that can not be controlled or predicted. It comes and goes on its own schedule. Grief does not obey your plans or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you. When it wants to. In that regard, grief has a lot in common with love.”
Those words really helped me in those first couple of days, process exactly what was going on. The cramping did come and go every once in a while, over the next four days.
Four days after I took the second part of the pill, I got really bad cramps. I thought I was getting a period. Then a few hours later I passed more tissue and then it stopped. The bleeding continued for 10 days. I got a rash on my vagina because I was Always brand pads.
I just had my follow-up ultrasound two days ago. And, I'm very glad to report that my body passed everything. This entire process has revealed, a genetic mutation, that I am working on with my team of doctors now, to see what it is and what