• Hard Stuff

    Birthday

    I love my birthday. I know you’re supposed to grow out of that feeling by the time you can wipe your own ass or drink legally, but it just never happened for me. Usually people are tapped out from gift giving at Christmas and straight-up broke to give two proper shits about my birthday a month later. Plus, it’s usually freezing which also greatly lowers people’s enthusiasm for my special day.

    But, every year I put on an awkward birthday celebration when I force my loved ones to drink with me and put candles on a damn cookie cake as if they care as much as I do. It’s precious, really. Sometimes I wear a pink tutu. Sometimes I wear a homemade “Birthday Girl” shirt. But there’s always pink champagne. Usually too much that I end up revisiting in the toilet later on…but it’s tradition.

    This year was obviously different. I was never going to have a “good” 34th birthday. It wasn’t in the cards this year. For maybe the first time in my life, I wished for a birthday boycott.

    No celebration.

    No cake.

    No candles.

    No presents.

    I woke up immediately wanting the day to be over. There’s something very dreadful about being wished a “happy” anything when you’re internally inconsolable. Some people didn’t know about the loss, others played ignorant, others openly said “Your birthday is going to suck, but we love you.”

    I love those people.

    They were right.

    I held it together all day. I accepted the kind-hearted birthday wishes, but by the early evening when my children were giddy with excitement over “mama’s day,” I just kind of…shut down.

    This birthday was going to be different. I was supposed to be in the early stages of my second trimester. I was supposed to be begrudgingly sober. I was supposed to be propped up on the couch with a growing belly, healthy baby and full heart.

    34 will be remembered as me being slightly befuddled by 4:30pm (Chardonnay– that dirty rascal), a stomach full of bloat and in a full blown mental-health crisis by 8:30pm. My heart couldn’t process what my head was telling me:

    The baby isn’t here.

    It was at that moment when I realized that my sadness was bigger than I wanted to recognize. That, right there is a sobering thought.

    I’m not that tough.

    So on my 34th birthday, late at night, I contacted a grief counselor. A gift to myself? Yes. A gift to others who will undoubtedly grow tired of my meltdowns? Yes.

    I much prefer my previous birthdays (even my 18th birthday when I decided it was “time” to wear a thong for the first time and walked around like I was…well, wearing a thong for the first time), but I’m realizing that I’m pretty lucky to have waited 34 years for a truly bad birthday.

    And was it all that bad?

    No. It was just different. An unexpected, unanticipated different.

    I’m still struggling. That isn’t news. Life is moving forward. I’m moving forward and that pains me, in a weird way. My birthday forced me to realize that there is an internal, mental conflict between “Public Allee” who smiles, accepts good wishes and celebrates her birthday and “Private Allee” who feels suffocated, stifled and slow to return to “normal.”

    But I’m getting there.

    Happy Birthday to me and Happy Birthday to my high-deductible medical insurance that is about to be HIT UP with counseling co-pays.

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 9: Remember

    You were loved. It doesn’t matter if you were in me for 10 seconds or 9 full months. You were my baby. You were loved.

    I must’ve taken two dozen pregnancy tests. The Dollar Store sells them so I didn’t feel all that guilty for peeing on something that only costs one dollar. Sometimes I’d test in the morning, rush home from work and test again. In my head, you had the ability to “spike” my hormones in a matter of hours and make your presence known through a test.

    In the downstairs bathroom, before work, I tested. In between putting on my mascara and straightening my hair, I thought “take a test. Why not?”

    Ever-so-faintly there was a line. Soft pink. Barely visible.

    But I was desperate for you. I knew it was there.

    It was a few days before Thanksgiving. School was energized with anticipation of the upcoming holiday break. I had a different energy though.

    I had you.

    The next day, I tested again and the line was darker. So, I took more tests.

    Pregnant.

    Pregnant.

    Pregnant.

    How was I going to tell your dad? On my day off I decided to prematurely decorate for Christmas. The day prior, I had bought a snowman ornament with two snowmen, one with an expectant belly with the words “baby” over its body.

    The kids and I decorated while dad was at work. We replaced everything with red and green and I dragged up my artificial tree from the basement. Many years ago, I bought it on clearance and for good reason: it sheds and looks barren. It’s an actual piece of shit and your dad hates it, but it’s all I had to work with on this particular day.

    He came home with pizza and a positive mood about being off for a few days. Surprised that we had decorated the house, I pointed him to the solitary, sullen tree in the corner of the dining room.

    It only has one ornament on it.

    Go look at it.

    He ran over to me. He picked me up off the ground, spun me around like some type of Nicholas Sparks book-to-movie adaptation. He kept asking “really?! Seriously?!” as the kids asked “why are you guys so happy?”

    Soak it in, I remember thinking.

    He was so excited. The best husband and father I could have ever imagined wanted another baby. Our third. Lord knows he knew what he was signing up for: dirty diapers, sleepless nights, a hormonal wife, expensive formula and a life restricted by a needy infant.

    But he was still so excited.

    My love.

    He was giddy to have another baby. It was never a question of if we’d expand our family, it was only a matter of when. We are in love with being parents and we were immediately in love with you.

    You were our little secret. We couldn’t wait to share you with the world.

    And we did.

    Your little soul was so loved. People cried at the news of your existence. Most had known dad and I had been trying. They were just waiting for the confirmation and there you were…

    Existing.

    Growing.

    You made me tired. So tired. Your poor brother and sister had to endure forced episodes of Disney Junior shows so I could nap. “Why are you always so tired, Mom?” they’d ask. Too tired to build LEGOs, too tired to play Barbie’s, too tired to pretend that I wasn’t dealing with first-trimester lethargy. But I would have done anything for you. Napped, puked, cried, whatever you needed.

    I love you.

    You do anything for the ones you love.

    One of my favorite aspects of being pregnant is that feeling of never being alone. As a mom of two, I guess I’m never alone as it is. It’s something I regularly complain about actually. I can’t pee without an audience. If it’s not the kids budging their way in, it’s the cats or dog. I’m always surrounded. But pregnancy is different. There’s something inherently beautiful about being attached to your growing baby. I had to make better decisions for you. You were always with me and that was reassuring and exhilarating.

    Now it’s just all just different.

    Empty.

    There’s a dark space where you used to be. I remember the inconspicuous smiles triggered by your  occupancy. Just walking down the hallway, I’d remember that I was pregnant and a sense of happiness would wash over me. I loved remembering that you were there…

    But I also forgot you were there sometimes.

    You were a quiet, pleasant, tranquil little house guest. You made it easy to forget that you were in existence. The first-trimester is notorious for making mothers ill, resentful and a walking, struggling being of intolerable symptoms. But you made it easy. Too easy.

    I had to remember not to forget you.

    You were there.

    Quietly.

    But you were there.

    In hindsight, I believe that you were so favorable and passive because you knew you wouldn’t be around forever. What an added level of cruelty to make me sick and to disappear so prematurely.

    It’s funny to look back and think of how there were moments I’d forget that I was pregnant. Brief moments of “pregnancy brain” when I had to remind myself that it wasn’t just me anymore. Now, I find myself remembering that it is just me now.

    People are moving on. The concerned texts, inquizitive voicemails and periodic “check-ins” are dwindling. People are going to forget this. For some, they already have. Some never cared to begin with.

    But I won’t forget.

    You were loved. It doesn’t matter if you were in me for 10 seconds or 9 full months. You were my baby. You were loved.

    I will remember. Forever.

    Day 9: Remember.

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 8: Regret

    When I told people about the miscarriage, many of them inevitably responded with something along the lines of “it’s nothing you did. It’s not your fault.” Even the nurse who helped break the news reminded me, “don’t blame yourself.”

    Well damn, I wasn’t. But now that you mention it. Maybe I will.

    I know this wasn’t my fault. I have some remnants of stable mental awareness to know that and the majority of my mind believes it. But what if.

    What if I did things that caused this? What if I didn’t do other things that caused this? There’s no way to ever not blame myself in some regard. Everyone will say that it wasn’t me, but I have mom-guilt for missing my daughter’s snack day at preschool or forgetting my son’s library book. My mind is a list of dramatic “what if’s” and “what about’s”…

    …I never stopped running.

    I ran throughout previous pregnancies so I know this isn’t a cause. Doctors encouraged me to keep up my fitness regime. They explained that pregnancy was a time to “stay in shape” not to “get in shape.” I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. No crazy long runs or over exerting speeds. Should I have stopped? Fattened up on the couch with a bag Tostitos and a carton of ice cream?

    …I worked out.

    Like running, I didn’t abandon my basement workout space or my Monday evening bootcamp classes. I was responsible: I made modifications to certain moves to ensure they were safe, I monitored my heart rate and I followed all first-trimester guidelines. My cousin is currently past her due date and is still squatting weights heavier than me. I don’t think my sporadic 10 minute “arm and back” workout would have caused this. But…I don’t know.

    …I continued taking a “pregnancy safe” medication.

    I didn’t take any medicine with either pregnancies, but my doctors assured me that this was okay and safe to take throughout pregnancy. I trusted them. Should I have done differently? What if it caused something bad that no one, not even someone with a medical degree, could anticipate? Am I selfish for not discontinuing the medicine? What if it harmed my baby? We will never know, but I’ll always ask the question.

    …I missed a few days of prenatal vitamins.

    I just forgot some nights. Ate dinner without taking them. Fell asleep without taking them. Maybe I should have been more responsible.

    …I skipped breakfast some days. Sometimes lunch too.

    Life got in the way. Taxiing the kids to school and activities. Working. Traveling between two schools. I just forgot to eat some mornings. I learned to pack car snacks and remind myself to eat, but what if it was too little and too late?

    …I drank coffee.

    Coffee is one of the pillars of my life, but I loathed it during my first trimester with both babies. Not this one. I carefully calculated caffeine milligrams and rationed my intake. Could a little cup of coffee done big damage? Rationally, I know that’s not true. But irrationally…what if?

    …I never felt sick.

    Tired? Yes. Sore boobs? Yes. Nauseous? No. I pressed the issue with everyone from friends to physicians and they kept saying, “A lot of women wish they had no sickness. Maybe you’re just lucky.”

    Lucky.” Not so much.

    Maybe I should have pressed harder for an explanation. Made more phone calls. Done more research. A defining pregnancy symptom wasn’t there.

    I wasn’t lucky, afterall.

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 7: Resume

    One week ago, I met with one my building principals to discuss an unexpected, upcoming opportunity. Towards the end of the conversation, he hinted that he knew my secret. A little birdie had told him and he understood that the news wasn’t out to the masses yet, but he extended his best wishes. We talked about my due date (finally! Not a September baby!), potential maternity leave (I’d take a little more than the customary six weeks, for sure), how I was feeling (so good! Not sick!) and his excitement about the addition (thank you! We are so excited too!). I left the office relieved that he knew. One less awkward meeting to have.

    One week later and I am walking into work and another principal calls me over in the street. He hugs me and whispers “I’m so sorry. Good to have you back.”

    Seven days. One week. I had a baby, lost a baby and am forced to hit the “play” button on life.

    Smile at co-workers in the hallways.

    Open the classroom door.

    Read sub notes.

    All was fine in my absence.

    Should have stayed out longer then.

    Greet students when they come in.

    “Where have you been?” the kids continuously ask.

    To answer that is like solving some last minute riddle with a gun to my head.

    I got kidnapped by Chris Hemsworth. We ran off together. Into the sunset. But then I felt bad that no one was teaching you guys about the Revolutionary War so I came back.

    They laugh. Most of them don’t know who Chris Hemsworth is. Some of them actually believe this to be true. A few of them just really don’t care to know where their teacher was.

    My mind is a total fog. I think I compared the French and Indian War to Donald Trump wanting to build “the wall.” I’m not even sure, looking back, how I made that connection. The kids looked rightfully confused. Their teacher is a mess.

    I’ll recover.

    I go up to the high school and am met with similar questions from my older students. They’re far more inquisitive and intuitive than middle schoolers.

    Maybe they know.

    I pretend that all is well. Afterall, their midterm is next week. They need to review. But at this moment, my cramps kick into overdrive. I didn’t bring my medication as I convinced myself that I was fine without it.

    My friend and co-worker casually offers to co-teach my class. I enthusiastically accept because between being in physical pain and a mental haze, I’m not sure what I’m doing. I just want to go home with my heating pad and Motrin and cry myself into a peaceful nap.

    Resuming life is hard.

    It’s a lot of pretend. A lot of acting. A lot of forced smiles.

    But this is day 7: Resume.

    Even if I’m not ready.

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 5-6-Forever: Recovery

    I stood in the shower waiting for the water to run clean.

    Eventually, I ran out of hot water waiting.
    The kids were on their way home from an eventful and distracting evening out with my mom and sister and their cousins. To me, this was the most important task to bestow upon anyone. An innocent six and four year old had spent four days trapped in the house with one parent not-so-secretly suffering and one parent busily distracting them with various indoor activities. I didn’t want them to see the aftermath of the procedure. I wanted  them to be giddy with excitement to tell me about the arcade games they played, the prizes they won and the pizza they ate. My mom and sister shielded them from the harsh reality of life. Lord knows I couldn’t. I know my mom would have been with me in the room, but the kids needed the safety of their Nana more than I needed the comfort of my mom. I guess that’s true, unselfish adulthood right there.

    I didn’t sleep again. Everytime I closed my eyes, I flashbacked to the procedure. The darkness which is meant to provide relief, only reminded me of the day’s events.

    Are you up and able to sign some forms to test the tissue?

    Initial on all of the lines.

    Sign the bottom.

    Most of the time, it doesn’t provide a reason why this happened.

    Yes, sometimes we can determine gender.

    My baby was now reduced to a sample to be tested in a lab.

    ———————–

    At 4am, I heard Ryan stirring in bed.

    Ryan, I miss our baby.

    I know. Me too.

    ——————————

    I spent most of Tuesday in bed. It was a combination of physical pain and mental exhaustion. I responded to some texts, ignored most calls and just wanted to punish myself by replaying it all over in my head.

    Do you need us to go over the procedure today?

    We can postpone if you’d like- if you’re not ready.

    As if anyone is ever ready for something like that.

    ——————————-

    Recovery from a D&C is nothing that women aren’t already used to. It’s not something that requires many aftercare instructions or prescriptions for painkillers. The doctors move on to their next patients as if they just removed a splinter from your finger. You just kind of have to go home and live it out. You have to accept the reality.

    There’s no numbing pill for that.

    This is Day 5, 6-Forever: Recovery.

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 4: Reeling

    Previous Posts:

    Day 1: Raw

    Day 2: Restless

    Day 3: Resentment

    I’m not even going to beat around the bush about this. Today was the hardest, most mind fucking, messed up day I’ve ever experienced. If “trigger warnings” exist for a reason, I guess this is it. Don’t read if you don’t want to hear about bad shit.

    Today was the day I prepped for and got my D&C procedure. To those innocent and blessed individuals reading this that don’t know what that is, it stands for “dilation and curettage.” That is literal, fancy medical terminology for removing a failed pregnancy.

    For whatever godforsaken reason, I had to spend Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday gearing up for today’s procedure. By “gearing up” I mean “suffering through intense cramping and frightening bleeding.” Every damn time I went to the bathroom, it was like some cruel reminder that my body had failed me. My bathroom routine was cry, change my pad, cry, wipe, cry some more and then return to the couch.

    The heating pad became my best friend. The cramping intensified like my body was just following the manual for a miscarriage. It was textbook. Cramping, bleeding, repeat.

    I woke up knowing that by the day’s end, I wouldn’t be pregnant anymore.  There would be nothing left to protect, I’d have to abandon the habit of touching my stomach or examining my body to look for new symptoms. Soon, there’d be no symptoms. There’d be nothing.

    Some d&c procedures can be done in the hospital under general anesthesia. It’s not an insanely invasive procedure (although anything happening in that region is invasive if you ask me) nor is it very time consuming. It’s the reality of the procedure, of what’s being done, that probably makes it very appealing to be asleep during.

    At 10:30, four hours before the procedure, I had to take a medicine to help dilate my cervix. My aunt arrived an hour later and we visited like we normally would have: talked about movies and shows, played with Oliver and gossiped about annoying people. By 1pm, the cramps were all consuming. It felt like someone was using every ounce of  their strength to stretch and knot my insides.

    I took my medication an hour before the procedure, as directed by the doctor. There were pills for anxiety, antibiotics and pain reducers. By the time we got in the car, my legs were shaking uncontrollably . Ryan asked if it was because of nerves or the medicine and I had no idea. Probably both.

    I teared up in the waiting room, but when they brought me into the room…

    I broke down.

    It wasn’t an ordinary examination room. It was a “bad” room, reserved for bad things like this. It felt unusually large, cold, sterile and unwelcoming. This was a room no one wanted to be in. It meant bad things.

    I undressed, had the procedure re-explained to me and got into the all familiar gynecological position. Above me were two painted ceiling tiles, meant to distract patients from why they were laying there in the first place. It was some type of painted skyline that was presumably meant to be peaceful. Look up, stare at the illustrated sunshine and forget why you’re there.

    Not so much.

    To my left was my husband, quietly reminding me how much he loved me and rubbing my arm.To my right was my aunt, who probably thought she was going to remain in the waiting room and read an Us Weekly or something. I wanted her there though, which is such a selfish request. “Hey do you want to come witness this awful thing and be permanently scarred? No? Yes, you do.”

    I closed my eyes so tightly. Tighter than I have ever closed them. I gripped my hands together over my chest and tried to breathe.

    Move your toes.

    Flex your feet.

    Relax as best as you can.

    Take a deep breath.

    But I just couldn’t. The doctor was moving through the process for what felt like hours, but in reality was minutes.

    Here comes some more cramping.

    We are going to numb the area.

    Going to be a little uncomfortable for a minute.

    You’re doing great.

    Just a couple minutes more.

    Then the worst came.

    The noise.

    I knew what they were doing. Those reading this right now know what they were doing.  

    The noise will haunt me forever. It will be something that wakes me up from a sound sleep. A noise that will take a lifetime to get over. If I ever get over it.

    It was done.

    Just like that, twelve weeks of unconditional love, hope, promise and growth was gone. My little baby…and now my little angel. However completely f***ing corny that sounds.

    As much as I’m relieved that this final step is complete and we can begin the emotional healing process, I feel physically and emotionally empty.

    I woke up pregnant and ended the day…not.  

    I don’t know where to go next. I fear that I’ll be physically better in days, but mentally and emotionally stunted for however long it takes. People will move on. I’ll laugh again. I’ll get off the couch and play with my kids again. This will become a distant memory to outsiders. But I fear that I’ll put on a strong face, get back to my sarcastic ways and everyone will assume I’m okay.

    But I’m not. Not after today.

    This is Day 4. The worst day.

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 3: Resentment

    Day 1: Raw

    Day 2: Restless

    I’ve watched enough depressing movies about loss to know that one of the stages of grief is “anger.” I’m naturally an aggressively edgy person so it doesn’t take much to really piss me off (ex: people who count out their change at the cash register, people who litter, not being able to open cans or bottles without the help of a man, etc.). I suppose a miscarriage is a justified reason to be angry.

    In a world of instant sharing and false perceptions of happiness, my Facebook and Instagram was like a cruel slap in the face.It wasn’t as if I was envious of people, I was just bitter that they were carrying on with their lives while my life feels so incredibly sad. I’m self-aware enough to know that time marches on and one person’s hidden tragedy isn’t enough to spread worldwide sadness. I just couldn’t stand the duplicity: how could you extend your sympathies and then post a picture of your pet, post commentary about a TV show or upload videos of your workout. Misery loves company and I just really wanted a crowd.

    My best friend came over with her baby after much convincing on my part. She wanted to leave the baby at home, understandably worried that it would deepen and aggravate my emotions. But here’s the thing: right now, I’m not spiteful of her happy, healthy baby. That is her baby. Not mine. Never mine. I’m mad that my baby didn’t make it. It gets me nowhere to be mad at a great mom for having and loving her own. I want to love my own baby and I don’t get to.

    What does anger me are the people who have vanished. Perhaps, they’re at a loss for words or trying to avoid uncomfortable situations, but I’m not looking for the perfect words or even a shoulder to cry on from everyone. I’m looking for acknowledgment from those closest to me.

    Miscarriages are common, but it’s not common to me. Both of my grandparents are still alive. My blind, diabetic senior dog is still here. I’ve been lucky enough not to experience deep and powerful loss so this cuts like a knife. To someone on the outside, I can see how it could be minimized.

    It wasn’t meant to be.

    Something was obviously wrong.

    You can try again.

    You already have two perfect, healthy children.

    You weren’t that far along.

    Some people have it much worse.

    All correct. But while reading someone else’s story, she asked why pregnancy loss is treated so much differently. She said, “you would never go up to a widow at a funeral and say ‘you can just get remarried,’ ‘you weren’t married that long,’ etc.” That would be wildly inappropriate and you’d probably be punched right in the face and labeled as cold hearted, but people’s trivialization and dismissal of pregnancy loss is just as painful.

    I get that the right words are impossible in situations like these. I’m not asking for an explanation, a solution or even a well-thought out response, but I am asking for a sign of love from people that I love and from people that I thought loved me. If we share DNA or even a history of meaningful friendship then how can you go missing/ I feel alone as it is.

    I’m not angry by people that are happy right now, but I do detest people that ignore hard situations in favor of not making it awkward.

    Tough times show who the good people are.  

    • A best friend and coworker who appeared at our doorstep with dinner.
    • A cousin, who experienced her own tremendous loss, delivering a handmade card and beauty products as a reminder to take care of myself.
    • A new group of running friends sneakily leaving gourmet donuts on my porch.
    • A friend bringing over her kids to keep my own kids distracted and busy while we swapped our pregnancy loss stories over cupcakes.
    • Coworkers who I barely speak to, going out of their way to plan my class lessons, make copies and write up sub plans so I wouldn’t have to worry.
    • Our former babysitter and now family friend, bringing a cookie cake and potted flower over to brighten our day
    • Friends and acquaintances reaching out through text, calls, messages to let them know they’re there and care.

    People are good. People are really good. They’ve surprised me and restored my faith in humanity.

    I’m trying not to focus on the few that have disappointed me. The ones that I thought would be there, but aren’t. Those are the ones that make me angry. I resent them for thinking that we’re okay, that we’re strong enough without their support.

    It turns out we are strong enough, but it still stings..

     

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 2: Restless

    When people say that they were up all night long, I usually take that to mean they had intermittent periods of sleep. I assume they got some sleep. Some type of rest to re-energize them even if it were a few scattered, interrupted moments.

    I was up all night.

    By 2am, my restless body and busy mind gave up. I sat up in bed and began to cry, loud enough to wake up Ryan next to me. It was the deafening-type cry when your shoulders tremble and your chest shakes. The ugly, uncontrollable cry.

    By 4am, I was downstairs. My bed had become crowded with a husband, a preschooler, a dog and a cat. There was no space for my jittery, anxious body.

    I laid on the couch staring up at the shelves above me. Once again and unsurprisingly, I cried. Quieter this time, but heavy. The previous day’s events replayed over in my mind.

    No heartbeat.

    No heartbeat.

    No heartbeat.

    I deleted pregnancy apps off of my phone to avoid the weekly “Your Baby is the Size of a…” alerts that I had become so accustomed to receiving on Fridays.

    A lime.

    12 weeks is a lime. 2 inches long, half an ounce in weight.

    I circled the kitchen, periodically stopping to devour a frosted snowman sugar cookie. There was nothing on TV other than infomercials and televangelists.

    I texted friends, selfishly not caring if my middle-of-the-night text woke them up.

    “I can’t sleep. I want my baby.”

    By 7am, the house was stirring. I had to get Caroline on the bus, braid her hair, force feed her pancakes and disregard the fact that mom being in her pajamas on a Friday at 7am wasn’t weird. Ryan told them the night before. Caroline, full of compassion and intuitiveness, is much too smart to lie to. She wanted a baby. We all did.

    I did some writing while listening to a stranger’s uploaded playlist literally called “Songs for Sobbing.” They were right; I sobbed. Johnny Cash, Coldplay, Bon Iver, Fleetwood Mac…an eclectic mix of melancholic melodies and pained lyrics.

    The day moved like I was walking through molasses, but I guess that’s how it feels when you don’t have a night’s sleep to splinter your days. Days and nights have no discernable beginning or end. I felt like I wasn’t counting minutes, but was counting down to the next meltdown.

    The worst meltdown came in the bathroom. The most mundane task of peeing turned into an unexpectedly painful reminder of why my day felt so long. I was bleeding and even though I knew the source and the outcome, I was blindsided by its presence. I’m a woman after all. This is commonplace. Monthly.

    Not this time.

    Outside the bathroom, the kids were playing Legos and Ryan was preparing them dinner. I tried to stifle my cries, but Ryan slipped in to console me. This isn’t how I envisioned our marriage, even on our bad days. He’s seen me on my worst days, in my most vulnerable of moments, but this was different. Unflattering. Unpretty. Raw. Painful.

    It’s getting worse. It’s happening.

    It was as if my body heard the doctor’s confirmation and kicked it into high gear. Every ounce of denial disappeared.

    I still have two and a half more days of this.

    This is Day 2.

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 1: Raw

    It’s been a long, long time since I used this thing. Life got in the way as it usually does. So why am I writing again? Because I need this space right now. I need a safe spot to share, to vent and to release. Also because I’m experiencing something that 25% of women have or will experience yet no one talks about it. So I will. 

    Today won’t be remembered for a mild snow storm that extended my morning commute by twenty minutes. Today won’t be remembered as the time I accidentally wore my leggings inside out. Today won’t be remembered as the time I rarely had an hour to myself and selfishly watched the new season of “The Bachelor” before my daughter got off the bus.

    Today will be remembered as the day I lost my baby.

    Tomorrow was supposed to be the celebration of the end of my first trimester. A reassuring time when miscarriage statistics dwindle and parents are in the acceptable zone to safely share the news with the world. Given that this was our third baby and our first screening came back normal, we happily announced to those closest to us. I loved being surrounded by people’s excitement and eagerness. Now, I find myself clinging to those same people for grief and mourning.

    Days prior, I had started spotting. Uncredentialed internet doctors chalked this up to “old blood”, hormonal surges, cervical irritations and most of those supportive people I previously mentioned told me not to worry.

    I worried.

    The spotting intensified. It changed color. Cramping started.

    My doctor examined me, noting the source of the blood. She couldn’t find the heartbeat and like the doctor two weeks ago, she blamed it on my high-maintenance, severely tipped uterus. “Let’s do a quick ultrasound.”

    I knew. I think she knew.

    We sat in the dark ultrasound room and as soon as the probe zoomed over, it was confirmed. “Oh Allee, I don’t see any cardiac…” she said sweetly as her voice trailed off. My baby was gone, but yet I was staring right at its little profile. A profile that had changed and developed so much since our first scan. What once looked like a blurry ink smudge now resembled a perfect baby who had paused its short life. It’s static presence will forever be engraved into the deepest corners of my mind. A black and white image of a future I’ll never see, of a person I’ll never get to know.

    We went to a small room to discuss the next steps. I just stared at the floor as she explained the procedure to “remove” the pregnancy. “Take these pills an hour before the procedure, take these ones four hours before, cramping and bleeding afterwards is normal, have somebody drive you…”

    I left with a pamphlet on grief, envelopes of medication and an appointment card reminder to return in four days. On my way out, I passed a happy couple who was taking pictures of their sonogram to obviously send out to their friends and family. They looked overjoyed. A few weeks ago, I was that woman. Now I am the red faced, swollen eyed woman who just miscarried. A selfish part of me wanted to stop and lecture them to not rush to excitement, but a bigger part of me wanted to witness that contagious, unparalleled feeling of anticipation. We were both having moments we’d never forget, but were on opposite ends of the spectrum.

    I came home to an empty house, at my request. For maybe the first time in my life, I sat in darkness with no TV or radio producing background noise. I just cried. I sobbed, really. I stomped my feet. I yelled. The reality that I was still holding a lifeless being engulfed my every thought– caught in pregnancy purgatory. I am pregnant, but not expecting. I am a mom to three, but people will only ever see and know two.

    When I asked the nurse “why,” she said that miscarriages are common and is often the body’s natural way of stopping something that wasn’t developmentally correct. If miscarriages are so common then why do I feel so alone? When someone dies we announce it in newspapers and hold memorials, but here I am carrying my departed baby and I am nervous that people would find my mourning to be dramatic and brush it off as “sad, but common.”

    I feel as if I am simultaneously drowning in grief and suffocating with fear. I don’t want to face Monday’s appointment and I don’t want to face the future of trying again. I am at the bottom of a hill that I do not feel like climbing up again. My happiness was inside of me and now there will be a hole that I know many people share, but I wanted to be different. It sucks to be a statistic. 

    This is Day 1.

    As I lay down on the bed
    Try’na come to terms with what has just been said
    I don’t know where I should look or what to say
    Is this happening to us today?

    If I could then I would scream
    I’d wipe the tears off of my face
    Wake me up if it’s a dream
    This is more than I can take
    I’d give everything I own
    If someone else could take my place
    Will someone else please take my place?

    How can life be so unfair?
    I can’t breathe, in fact I’m choking on the air
    It’s all over, I can see it in on your eyes
    Pull my hand down, heavily I sigh

    If I could then I would scream
    I’d wipe the tears off of my face
    Wake me up if it’s a dream
    This is more than I can take
    I’d give everything I own
    If someone else could take my place
    Will someone else please take my place? — Take My Place, Lily Allen