Losing a Piece of Your Heart

TW: Miscarriage

I’ve had this title and blank page sitting in my drafts since August 2016. Every time I think I should write about what happened, I chicken out. Maybe “chicken out” isn’t the right phrase but I just couldn’t bring myself to sit here and type the words…I had a miscarriage.

Whew, Jesus! Even that was hard to do. The reason I’m sharing this now is because I think it will help someone to hear that they aren’t alone. I also think it will help me to get it all out and talk about it openly. Maybe I won’t cry so much…

To belabor the point, I am not the first person you’ve come across that’s had a miscarriage (whether you know it or not). I am not 1 in thousands or even hundreds. I am 1 in 20.  According to WomensHealth.gov , “As many as 10 to 15 percent of confirmed pregnancies are lost. The true percentage of pregnancy losses might even be higher as many take place before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. Most losses occur very early on — before eight weeks. Pregnancy that ends before 20 weeks is called miscarriage.”
So 15% of 100 is 3/20. 3…out…of…20.

I look at that statistic and it’s alarming. Not just the fact that the number is so high but because the number is high and NOBODY talks about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard of women having miscarriages before and it was sad to hear. But until I went through it myself, I didn’t know how devastatingly heart-wrenching the experience was.  In 2016 alone, I personally know 4 other women who had miscarriages as well. That’s not counting the stories I see on social media.  And the only person you might have to talk about this with is your spouse or parents. Miscarriage is not a topic that’s casually brought up in conversation. So, think about it, a group of 20 women you know or don’t know in a room together and 3 have gone through this life changing ordeal and you are none the wiser. That’s tragic. To be honest, it’s changed my whole perspective on life, pregnancy, and children.

This is my story:
{it’s long and as detailed as my emotions will allow – but not graphic}

Mr. J and I found out I was pregnant on my birthday last year (Jan 31, 2016). That was the best birthday gift he could have ever given me.  We were so excited and kind of suspected but weren’t 100% sure. I took 2 tests and surprised him when he got home with balloons and a newborn onesie. I should have recorded it but he had picked me up and was spinning me around. Over the next few months, I had the usual sickness and soreness. I had my first appointment in mid February and then our first ultrasound in early March. I waited until I was 4 months exactly to tell my family and best friends in late April. Everyone was excited! I was the first in my group of friends to get married and now the first to have a child. They were already preparing to spoil the baby rotten. We made our appointment in late May to have another ultrasound. The one where you find out if you’re having a boy or girl. Of course my husband wanted a boy. Come to think of it, I did too because I wanted our daughters to have an older brother. I am the oldest of 4 children and I’d always wanted that for myself. But to be honest, we didn’t care either way. We just wanted a happy healthy baby.

May 13th was a Friday night and we had settled in for our regular “Netflix and Chill” binge sessions. We had dinner and while we were watching a movie had Breyer’s Butter Pecan ice cream (my favorite). After a few hours, we finally went to bed. In the middle of the night, I woke up because my bladder was feeling heavy. It wasn’t a big deal because of the whole “the baby pushes against your bladder” nightly  every 30 minutes and was used to multiple bathroom breaks.  I went to the bathroom and then got back in the bed. About an hour later, I jolted awake from excruciating pain in my pelvis and lower back. I thought it was a cramp or bad gas from all the ice cream I ate so I was trying to ride it out. Unfortunately, it got progressively worse.  I left the bedroom so I wouldn’t wake my husband and went to lie down on the living room floor. I was down there almost an hour with no relief. I finally called out to Harvey and he jumped up, tried to help and eventually said that we should go to the hospital.

{I’m going to pause right here  – I told him “I don’t think so…I don’t know”  because I had never been to the hospital emergency room my entire life. My whole 32 years, I had never broken a bone, never had my appendix rupture, tonsils taken out…nothing. So I wasn’t sure if this pain was pain enough to constitute an emergency. Sounds crazy right? }

He didn’t take “no” for an answer, dressed me and rushed me to the hospital. We got there around 3:00am and had to wait. As I was waiting a nurse came out and I described that the pain was coming in waves. Her demeanor immediately changed and asked if I was bleeding at home. I told her I was not. While she was prepping, she wanted a urine sample from me. I went to the bathroom and that’s when I noticed the heavy, constant bleeding. At that moment, they rushed me back to a room to check me out to see exactly where the bleeding was coming from. The Physician’s Assistant checked me first. Then left and got a Doctor, then he prepared to check me again. As he was inserting the speculum, my water broke.  It was at that moment, that I burst into tears because I knew it was over. This had been my worst fear…now coming true.

The hospital staff rushed me upstairs to Labor and Delivery to prepare me. Since they had given me some pain killers, my cramps contractions weren’t so bad anymore but now it was the mental and emotional pain doing the most damage. All 6ft 3 of my husband was curled in a ball in a chair next to my hospital bed and I was numb. Another Doctor , a specialist, came in and said that because I was under 20 weeks {I was 19 weeks and 4 days} that there would be nothing they could do to try and save the baby. She also said that the baby would most likely be born stillborn. So because of that, we had 3 options: 1) Wait and let my body miscarry naturally, 2) Take a pill to initiate the process, or 3) Get surgery. We opted for the natural option. Harvey and I are Christians so we prayed. We specifically prayed that “it was God’s will that this baby live regardless of the circumstances or if this baby was not going to live then we would accept that also”. It was hard…but it was true. We didn’t want to make a decision ourselves based on emotion that we might live to regret. So we waited….and waited. Sometimes it felt like time was moving by so slowly and that Saturday was just another day but with different surroundings.  I remember looking at the clock around 11:00am thinking, “I was supposed to go grocery shopping today”. It’s crazy how drastically your life can change in an instant.

There was a point where the Doctor asked if I wanted to hold the baby when it came. I said no because I didn’t want to hold my stillborn baby and have that be the last haunting memory. A few hours later, another nurse came and asked me the same question. I was starting to get angry. They told me my child would be stillborn, what don’t they understand about me not wanting to remember her or him like that?? Then they asked if I wanted the footprints and pictures. I told them to keep it in my chart until we were both ready to come back and get them and they agreed. I can remember the most frustrating thing about the whole process with the Doctors/nurses was the information they were giving us. They would give it to us in bits and pieces. We’d make a decision, let them know and then they’d give us the rest of the information and the consequences of said decision. It was infuriating to say the least. We are the type of people that need ALL the information beforehand so we can make an informed decision. It got to the point where Harvey told the doctors and nurses not to come back in the room with any more information unless they were coming back with EVERYTHING. They assured us they would listen but as we found out later, that was a lie.

The rest of the day sort of moved along. I had no more pain and was emotionally {or maybe I had blocked it for the time being} stable enough to call my parents. My mother is a Doctor so I wanted to let her know what was going on. They also live in Florida so it’s not like they could hop in a car and be there within the hour. Of course they were sympathetic, loving, and my mother gave me a lot of information. Around 4:30pm, my contractions came back…slowly at first. The nurse gave us some pen and paper so we could track them. They were coming closer and more intense. It was so bad that they had to give me more pain killers and I eventually fell asleep around 9:00pm. I slept {and Harvey did too} for about 3 hours. I finally woke up to use the bathroom around midnight Saturday/Sunday and that’s when I felt pressure between my legs. I called for the nurse and she and the team rushed in to deliver the baby. To be honest, all I remember from this part is the bright white light they had overhead and pushing. When the baby came out the nurses whisked away and it was over. Just like that in the blink of an eye.

The next part was waiting for the placenta to pass. We waited and waited and waited. About 45 minutes in {around 2am} the Doctor tried to do a manual extraction and was unsuccessful. Then she said I needed to go to surgery. Remember, I had never been in the hospital let alone in surgery. So all of my experience/knowledge about surgery was negative. Scenes you see on TV with it going horribly wrong and I had two cousins who went into surgery and never came back. As you can imagine I had a panic attack and was freaking out. Harvey called my parents and surprisingly they picked up on the first ring. It had to have been around 3:00am by then. My mother comforted me and reassured me as much as possible. She even spoke to the doctor to get all the particulars. I had calmed down a bit after she hung up…until they told me I had to take off my wedding ring. Then all my fear and anxiety came rushing back. I just knew that that would be the last time I had it on and Harvey and I would never see each other again. Yeah…I was a wreck.  The last thing I remember is being rolled down the hallway and Harvey kissing me on my cheek. When I finally woke up it was around 7:00am Sunday morning.

{I need a break…}

When I woke up, the nurse who was there all day on Saturday stopped by to check on us. She had gone home right before I fell asleep Saturday night and had said she had a feeling it would happen after she left. She was so sweet, I’ll never forget her. She also came with some paperwork. She said we had to sign a birth and death certificate. At first we were like “Okay” but then we were confused. Why would you need a birth and death certificate if the baby was stillborn?? The nurse was shocked and was looking at us like we were crazy and we were doing the same to her. She said, “Didn’t anyone tell you?? Your baby was born alive.” I crumbled. Harvey asked her what the hell she was talking about {with some other choice words sprinkled in}.  Remember I said earlier that we found out the hospital staff lied? Evidently, our baby was born alive {whether it be 1 minute or 1 heart beat}, nobody told us, and the hospital still considers it a live birth. So because of that not only did we have to sign these papers, we were responsible for the remains. Yes, we were now responsible for burying our miscarried baby that was born alive and had now passed away. We were livid as was the nurse because she was appalled that no one had said anything the night before. We also heard her arguing with some doctors outside saying that it was wrong what they were making us go through. Turns out there was less than a 1% chance that the baby would be alive. We must have been special…

Due to this turn of events, in order for us to sign the paperwork, we would see the sex of our baby. We hadn’t known because our appointment would have been the following week. This was definitely not how we wanted to find out. The hospital did end up getting the foot and hand prints, along with some pictures. The nurse sat with us while we went through everything………
We had a beautiful baby boy. He had my nose.

{I need another break…}

That night I was discharged {I wasn’t in any pain plus we were ready to go}, we went back home empty handed. It was hard walking back into our dark apartment with nothing but some pieces of paper.  I don’t even remember falling asleep. I think the both of us just cried in the dark, holding each other until we passed out.  The next day, Harvey contacted his job and took 2 weeks off. We also had the unfortunate task of finding a funeral home. Harvey took this on himself because he didn’t want to burden me any more than I already was.  We also had to contact the hospital again because we wanted to give him a name. We didn’t want him to be Baby Boy Johnson forever. We also chose to get our son cremated. I didn’t want there to be a chance that we moved and would have to leave his burial plot behind. I had already abandoned him once in the hospital, I wouldn’t do it again.  We went through the process with the funeral home and then a week and a half flew by.  Harvey’s birthday is May 25th and we had a feeling that our son’s remains would be ready on that date. {Thinking back, 2016 birthdays and holidays were terrible for us} Thankfully, we didn’t have to go pick it up on Harvey’s birthday but it was a few days later that we’ll still never forget. When we got to the funeral home, we had some more paperwork to sign. We were also given the information from the hospital which included the time of birth and death.  Our son lived a full 2 HOURS after he was born!  2 HOURS someone could have told us. 2 HOURS we were sitting in the room waiting for my placenta to pass. 2 HOURS he was alone by himself without his mommy and daddy.

{I need a break…}

That is something that I still get livid about and regret to this day. I second guess myself and doubt my ability to be a good mother. Why didn’t I feel anything?? There was no “mother’s intuition” to say to them, “you know what I change my mind! Give me my baby!” If they had just TOLD us, then we could have held him in his little short time here. I could have sang to him and loved on him because he was loved…still is! I don’t know if that is something I will ever get over. We bought this new house because we were planning for a family. He was supposed to be born in October the day before our wedding anniversary. This was supposed to be our first Thanksgiving and Christmas with him. There are days I don’t cry but there are more days that I do. Harvey tries to be strong for me but there are days that I catch him crying as well. It hurts just as much as the day it happened.

Like I said, it has changed my perspective on life so much. We are still hopeful to have children but we don’t put a number on it anymore. How ever many children God blesses us with is fine with us.  I don’t get annoyed at crying babies in stores or on planes. I despise {even more now} people who are mean and cruel to children. I will never eat Breyer’s Butter Pecan ice cream again. We won’t tell anyone we’re pregnant until after the baby is born {we have an advantage since both our families live out of state} – the calls we made to those we told previously are just so overwhelmingly sad.  We always said we wouldn’t spoil our children but I’m sure we’re going to spoil the crap out of them now – but not so much that they become terrible people.

Each day gets a little better for us. There was a time when I deactivated my Facebook because a lot of the women I went to college with were pregnant the same time I was. I still cringe at being invited to baby showers and get a little sad when I see little brown baby boys. I still get triggered at shows like “This Is Us” and that episode of “Black-ish” where the Doctor couldn’t find the heartbeat of their new baby. People who don’t know our situation see us and ask, “When are you guys going to have some kids?!” and I don’t immediately wish hurt upon them in my mind anymore. I know it could have been worse or I could have been farther along.  But it still hurts regardless. It really is just a process that will get better with time but I don’t believe it fully ever goes away.

For anyone who has been in this situation, every day is a new day. There’s nothing wrong with your emotions. Give yourself permission to be angry, jealous and sad. But also give yourself room to love, hope, and be happy again.

Love,
Freda
❤💕❤💕

P.S. If you ever need to talk I’m here 💘

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6 thoughts on “Losing a Piece of Your Heart

  1. astoldbydestiny says:

    Wow. I don’t know what to say, but thank you so much for sharing and I’m so so sorry for your loss. I have a friend from high school who has experienced two miscarriages and she expresses how much it hurts to interact with the world and see babies and such ALL the time. This post translates those same feelings. Thank you so much for sharing this moment with us. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do it. I can only imagine the process and it makes me soooo angry how the hospital staff handled things. I can tell you have an amazing support system within your husband and family, and now with us, your cyber blog sisters. I can’t end this without giving you a cyber hug. ❤️ Lol.
    -Destiny

    Like

    • H & A Johnson says:

      Destiny! I love you for this sis! It made me tear up. I appreciate your words so much. I definitely understand what your friend is going through and she’s strong for having gone through it twice. I don’t know if I could handle one more time. Hugs back! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. notsphiwe says:

    You’re so strong for writing this. I am sorry that this happened to you but thank you for writing about this it must have taken a lot of courage. I’m sending you so much love!

    Liked by 1 person

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