I am so overwhelmed by all of you who have shared here this past week. Thank you. I am trying to respond to each of you and those of you who have emailed through facebook as well, but I don’t know if I will succeed. Please know that I am honored by your stories. I am humbled to be able to share and walk with you.
When the news hit that our baby had died, we were numb. Our doctor let Josh and I sit alone for a while and then came back in to the room asking if we would like a cup of tea. She was so aware of our emotions, so comforting. We realize now that this is not always the case. She encouraged us to go home and spend the weekend processing. She wanted us to have some time before making decisions about how to proceed.
Although I have had several friends who have miscarried, beyond that one word to describe their loss, I had no details…no idea about what to expect. I wanted to talk to people I trusted about their experiences. I was honored by my friends who shared with me, who grieved with our family, who told their stories in hopes that we would be peaceful in our own choices.
Our doctor pulled up some statistics for us and we learned that after the death of a baby in the womb, 75% of women pass the baby on their own within 4 weeks, 60% within 2 weeks. For those of us who need brushing up on our fetal development facts, the baby leaves the embryonic stage of development at 6 weeks and enters the fetal stage. A miscarriage when the baby has entered the fetal stage means that miscarriage can be much more difficult, often requiring a D&C to prevent infection and avoid the risk of hemorrhage for the mother. At eleven weeks gestation, and 15 weeks pregnant, I fell into the more risky, latter category.
Although we thought we had time, I began to miscarry on my own on Christmas Day. My parents were with us; my sweet mama made a feast. I spent most of the afternoon in bed consulting our doctors and coordinating medications with the pharmacy before they closed early for the holiday. We decided to stay home to ‘deliver’ and be in constant contact with my doctors. They called often, they emailed encouragement and sympathy…even as they celebrated with their own families. They were kind, and they made sure I had some serious pain medication in hand and were willing to meet me at the hospital at any time.
I read about miscarriage at home and felt prepared. I highly recommend reading this linked resource to anyone facing similar circumstances. It was invaluable to us. I also found an article about how to support someone experiencing miscarriage and emailed it to my mom and my husband. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to have anyone ask me how I was doing. Answering ususally led to a breakdown of tears. So, having something already written to pass along was all I could do. I also was so encompassed with grief that I did not know what kinds of questions to ask. It would have never occured to me, on my own, to ask to keep our baby’s body for genetic testing and burial. But I am so thankful we knew. I am so thankful for whomever the writer is of these hard, sad detailed words: the education and direction they provided has blessed me beyond what I can communicate.
It took two days before I miscarried my baby. I experienced true labor and contractions strong enough to take my breath away. I nearly fainted on the bedroom floor before Josh caught me. I thought about heading to the hospital several times. It was almost exactly like what is described in the documents linked above: horrifying and raw and surreal.
I questioned whether I should have gone through this process at a few different times. I questioned whether I should have just had surgery: one giant anestetic and no memory of the physical loss. I didn’t know at the time what grace miscarriage at home was for me. I needed to experience fully and engage in what was actually happening. I still didn’t want to talk, but the time I had to lay in my bed, to journal, to read, to sleep…every moment was a necessary one in my ability to grieve well. My own denial had to face head on the reality of my loss. I didn’t know then that I needed to lean in and be fully present, even in my pain, before I could ever think of experiencing rest.