The Worst Month of Our Life | Our journey with grief
Trigger warning: this post includes language and information about pregnancy, loss, and grief.
We weren’t really trying, but it happened. But let’s back up. On November 8th, 2018 havoc and disaster struck our community. The massive and wildly destructive Camp Fire destroyed a nearby community and left it ravaged. The 10 days that followed the fire were tumultuous and draining for everyone in our community. Including us. The smoke was everywhere and toxic. My husband had been commuting 2.5 hours away for work, so we decided to go stay closer to where he was working and escape the smoke for a few days. The second day we were there, I realized that I wasn’t have normal period symptoms and if my calculations were correct, I should be starting my period the next day. Which meant it was alarming that I wasn’t having any of my regular symptoms. I was a little worried that I might be pregnant. It wasn’t the best timing. The next morning, I took Knox for a run and on the way back to the cabin we were staying, I stopped at Raley’s to grab some snacks and a pregnancy test. I probably should have waited for Joel, but I needed to know.
Sure enough, positive.
In the matter of 10 seconds I had a range of emotions. But, I was mostly freaked out. I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t know if I could handle two kids. Good grief. And in the middle of my freak out, Knox walked over to me, grabbed my face and hugged me. And I knew we would be okay.
That afternoon I told Joel. It was nothing special. I just looked at him and said “I have something to tell you” and he knew right away. He cried. I cried. We were in disbelief. We celebrated with pizza and treats. Keep in mind, we were living in the mountains, away from home. That was a Thursday and the next day, the remainder of our family was going to come up for the day to escape the smoke too. We had actually left the cabin we were staying at and moved into a hotel (why? that’s a long story). So, we were thrilled that we would be able to tell my family all at the same time.
I immediately calculated my due date. July 25th. Two days before our wedding anniversary, 8 days after Knox’s second birthday. Two July babies.
I started to plan out when I would launch my Fall products. It would be about three weeks after the due date. So, things would be crazy. I needed to get my business organized and in shape. And quickly. We told our friends. Lots of our friends. We were happy and excited.
One of my best friends was pregnant and due in March and we would have babies that were 4 months apart! After finding out about our pregnancy, we found out about 4 more friends who would be expecting around the same time we were. It felt perfect and exciting.
None of my close friends were pregnant when I was pregnant with Knox, so this time would be even more fun. I was convinced it was a girl. I was already thinking about names and what it would be like to have a little girl to play dress up with. To go on dates with. To get manicures with when she was older.
I was sick. Really sick. There were days that I laid on the floor all day, just waiting for Joel to get home. This was also when Knox wasn’t sleeping at night or napping well. He was cranky and exhausted. I was cranky and exhausted. It was also the same time where business was the busiest. Orders needed to be shipped out every single day. I was supposed to be planning for 2019 and getting organized for the New Year. I cried all the time. I felt like I was at the end of my rope. Exhausted. Cranky. Worn down. Weary. Defeated. It was the hardest month of my life.
Then the Christmas deadline hit, orders slowed, and it was time to get ready to leave town for the holidays. I was actually starting to feel better. Less tired, less sick, less cranky.
I was about 9 weeks along at this point.
Now normally, you would see a Doctor at this point. But when I called, they couldn’t see me until January 8th, 2019. Because of the fire, all the residents from the town that was destroyed were now in need of doctors where I live. It wasn’t ideal, but it didn’t bother me that much.
So, now we were getting ready to leave town for Christmas. In the back of my mind, I thought it was a little odd that I was feeling great all of a sudden. No nausea, getting up early wasn’t a struggle anymore, coffee sounded good again. But, I pushed the thoughts aside.
We flew to Los Angeles to be with Joel’s family. Two days into the trip (December 23rd), I went to a SoulCycle class and it was truly one of the best classes I had ever been to. But, I was fine during class. I didn’t get tired, I was able to push myself and work hard, no nausea.
I went back to the hotel and talked to Joel about how it seemed odd that I was all of a sudden feeling fine. I texted my mom. Called my sister. They assured me that I was probably fine because I really had no reason to be worried. I hadn’t bled. I was probably just distracted and wasn’t noticing my tiredness and nausea because I didn’t have a chance to.
But, I couldn’t shake the feeling. Within the hour we had signed in at the ER. I just had a feeling.
Three hours later we walked away with not great news. But nothing definitive. My blood work was normal, but the ultrasound was odd. They couldn’t find a heartbeat and I was measuring 7.5 weeks instead of 9.5. They wanted to see me again in two days (which would have been Christmas day) to confirm that I was having a miscarriage. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. Those hours of waiting and worrying resulted in nothing. I had no definite answers. It wasn’t good news though. I called my mom and sobbed. I cried so hard. I didn’t know I could cry so hard.
We got back to the hotel and immediately called the airline to fly home. Within two hours we were at the airport. I was a mess. Joel was just trying to keep Knox happy. We were in shock. Heartbroken. Confused. Lonely.
We got home around midnight that night. I barely slept and woke up crying. I didn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t get out of bed. We tried to call my doctor, but all the offices were closed. The last thing I wanted to do was go to the ER again to get definitive bad news. But, it was what we had to do and I finally came around. But, I didn’t want to go on Christmas day.
So, on December 26th, we headed to the ER first thing in the morning. Five hours later we walked out with the confirmation we were praying we wouldn’t get. “You have had a miscarriage.”
I honestly don’t know what else to write. Because what has followed since that day is impossible to put into words. The sadness and grief and anger and pain that you feel when this happens is like something you can’t describe. It shatters your world. It leaves you feeling ugly and embarrassed and like a failure.
You never think it’ll happen to you. You never think that you’ll be the one dealing with the grief or writing the blog post about miscarriage. You never imagine that the growing bump that made your jeans tight, would now be a constant reminder of loss. You never thought you’d have to return the big brother book to Amazon or no longer wrap the Christmas gifts for baby #2. No one is ever prepared to live with bruises on their arms for two weeks from multiple blood draws. Or have to send text messages to friends explaining the loss because you were too eager to keep the exciting news secret.
I wasn’t prepared for the sadness to be so strong that getting out of bed seemed impossible. In all honesty, nothing and no one can prepare you for something like this. Because you never think it will be part of your story. Sure, you know it’s common and you know a lot of people it’s happened to. But, will it happen to me? Of course not.
But then it happens.
And your world flips and you don’t know how you’ll get back up again.
The truth is, we are still very much living with our grief. Yes, we had to go back to work and take care of Knox and go grocery shopping. We go to church and see our family and clean the house. But, it’s there. The grief. It hangs over you like a dark cloud. A constant reminder of loss. Just waiting to hit you in the face again. There’s moments you forget about it for 3 minutes. And then you remember and you just want to go back to bed. There’s days where it feels like everyone else got the healthy pregnancy and the heartbeat on the ultrasound and the growing bump and the nausea and the gender reveal party and the baby shower. But why not me?
I was left with a bump, but no baby. A broken heart. A void. A child that I loved fiercely but will never get to hold or breastfeed or watch grow up. It hurts. It hurts to my core.
And to be honest, I’ve questioned God a lot through this process. Why me? Why let this happen during an already challenging season? Why take my baby? I’ve felt my faith dwindle. My trust weaken. My soul has grown weary. I’m tired. And honestly, I’m angry. Grief is something I have never been familiar with. And it’s painful and exhausting. The emotions you feel change daily and one minute you can feel great, and then all of a sudden it comes back to slap you in the face.
There are things about this experience and this new part of my story that no one should ever have to experience. And no one is ever taught or prepared to go through the motions of having a miscarriage. I mean the name alone makes you feel like you failed. “I miscarried.” I missed the mark for carrying my baby. You never expect to live the moment when the doctor walks in with the blood panel to reveal that your HCG levels have decreased. You will be frozen when you read the ultrasound technicians notes and see “no fetus detected.” You won’t ever be ready to go to the hospital for the third time and be poked and prodded. You’ll always remember the cold air. The gowns. The IV. The look the nurses give you. The 300 times you have to recite your first and last name and birthday. You’ll be triggered when the $1200 hospital bill arrives from your ER visit while out of town to visit your in-laws. You’ll never forget what it’s like to feel like you have a postpartum body, but you don’t have the baby. You’ll want to erase it all. Soak the pain up with a sponge and squeeze it down the drain. But you can’t. It’s always there. It’s real and raw and you have physical reminders to trigger those memories. It’s grief.
I don’t have a perfect way to tie this story up with a bow and make it feel great. The truth is, we are grieving and sad and hurting. As I spent several days in bed, unable to do much beyond cry and watch Friends, I found tiny glimmers of hope by reading other stories of women who had walked the road I was currently walking.
And I knew that if one day if my story of loss could help ONE person, it would be worth sharing. And I also didn’t want this child of mine to be forgotten. I wanted her story to be know. Heard. Remembered. Because although she will never walk on earth, she changed me. She is my precious second baby and I will forever miss her. My soul will forever long for her.
All the images in this post are from the many hours we spent together as a family, mainly in bed.