Pregnancy is a lot of things. It can be a joyous and wonderful time in a woman's life. A time filled with hopes and dreams for your future child and your family. And when a pregnancy is lost, all of those hopes and dreams are shattered. My blog is a place of sharing, of all of the experiences of motherhood and I am honoured to provide my friend Jacqueline Neher from Urban Chickadee a chance to share her story and to help her in her healing journey.
For those of you who do not know me, I am Jacqueline Neher. I am the co-founder of Urban Chickadee, Edmonton's premiere baby planning company and I deal with all things pregnancy and baby on a daily basis. Ironically, here I am writing my story of a pregnancy loss. I am doing this in an effort to heal, and to share. My story reflects my shattered hope and the heart breaking loss that comes with a miscarriage.
Let me take this back to December 2011. We had just found out we were pregnant after over nine months of trying. A person can only take so much rejection, and I was scared to even do the pregnancy test. With all the hope and anticipation I could muster up, I took the test and sure enough there was a "+" sign on that little stick. We were pregnant! My husband was at work until later that morning, and I decided to text him a picture of the stick - he was elated! The day was perfect!
We were going to wait to share the news with everyone until Christmas. We had our daughter’s 2nd birthday coming up, and wanted to embrace her time for what it was. My excitement got the better of me though, and I told my sister. I then I told my mom, and from there it slowly escalated to our entire immediate family and some close friends.
The timing of this pregnancy was absolutely perfect. My first trimester would be over on my birthday and we were due in the summer. I was not particularly looking forward to being pregnant in the heat, but I was excited because my mom would be off work and she would be able to provide the extra help we needed. It seemed like everything was working out in our favour! The nine months of trying would finally be paying off.
It wasn’t long before I found myself into the 9th week of pregnancy. I started to spot and my heart began to shatter. My gut wrenched at the sight of the little bit of blood. For those of you familiar with pregnancy and miscarriage, you will know that this can often occur and mean nothing. At the same time I was sick about the other possibility. I tried to act like it was nothing, but all day I was out of sorts. Then it happened again the next day, and that horrid feeling in my stomach would not go away despite my efforts to brush it off. In an attempt to ward off any potential loss of this baby I even tried not to do anything too physical and eat healthier. I told myself that maybe, just maybe, this could be the cause of the bleeding and I could stop it. This was all happening over the weekend it wasn’t until Monday that I could call my doctor. I held on to the hope that everything would be OK.
When Monday arrived I was able to get an appointment to see my doctor. They sent me for blood tests that would check to see if the pregnancy hormones were still going up. Thursday came, and my doctor called to tell me that the hormone levels were not rising, they but were still high. She asked if I was still bleeding, and I told her it was down to very minor spotting. To further assess the pregnancy I was booked for an ultrasound the next day – the morning of Friday the 13th. I’ve never liked that day. Maybe because of all the superstitious and bad things thought to occur on it. Turns out Friday the 13th can indeed bring bad luck, as we were about to discover.
During the ultrasound I knew something was wrong. The technician kept asking me "Are you sure your dates are correct?”. Of course I was! Throughout our attempt to conceive I had been charting and watching my cycles closely. The technician left to go get my husband, telling me "this is the hard part of my job".
There I was, left on the table with an ultrasound scope in-between my legs (oh yes - always fun). I waited to be told the news and tried to hold back tears (and of course the scope in-between my legs). The technician came back into the room with a parade - my husband, my daughter, and the radiologist. The radiologist and technician stood there, gazing at the screen and tilting their heads. They told us that even though they couldn’t get a good look at the "baby" it was only measuring at about 5-6 weeks. Apparently this is neither “good news nor bad news”, and they could not confirm anything. Either our dates were just wrong, or the "baby" wasn’t growing.
So we left... my husband remained the optimistic one, but I was not. I assumed the worst. We got home and talked things out. I Googled for hours and came to the conclusion that everything was still going to be OK. My hope returned.
We waited for my doctor to call on Monday. She was not feeling good about the ultrasound, and she wanted to do another blood test. At this point I was so MAD at her! I wanted her to at least be a little optimistic. Why was she being so negative? Why can’t we just wait? Despite my anger I trudged off to the lab to be pricked again. When I got home all I did was pray and hope.
My doctor called at 8 AM the next morning. The hormones had decreased again…and with that news, all my hope was gone.
We lost our baby.
I felt my heart shatter and watched as my husbands did too. We emotionally broke down and shared that pain with one another. Our two-year old daughter stood there watching us sob into each other's arms, not knowing why. Thoughts ran through my head: be strong, don’t be silly, this is no one’s fault, it’s only 9 weeks – get over it! This is not something you can just get over and I cried for the baby we will never meet, for the milestones that won’t be reached and for having to start attempts for a pregnancy all over again. I felt so cheated.
And as if that emotional turmoil wasn’t enough, my nightmare continued. I was told I would have to decide how I would like to "take care of this" miscarriage. They call my situation a missed abortion (what a horrific term) and refer to this unborn child as a fetus or embryo. I cringed at the medical terms and tried to make sense of what was happening. My mind fought to detach from the fact there is no "baby" and the fact that it has not left my body yet. A decision has to be made on how that is going to happen, and the nurse from the Early Pregnancy Loss Clinic walked me through my options. All of the options are upsetting and the nurse tells me that they don't like to do surgery, so my best one is to insert some pills. The pills that will end it all. When I talked to the nurse I just wanted this whole thing to be over, I didn't even want to go another day. I began to think of it as a fake pregnancy and I just wanted it to be done. I asked how soon I could get the pills and I planned for the weekend.
It's a surreal thing to plan your own miscarriage. You go through so many emotions. You wonder, is this really true? Can we just get this over with? You question if you can even get through it. You fear it is not really done.
The nurse described the horrific physical symptoms that may present during the process and we planned for my daughter to be with my mom. I didn’t want her to see me in any more pain and my husband wanted to be there for me. The morning I inserted the pills my husband and I braced for the worst. We waited... and waited... and waited... finally there is a bit of cramping and some blood, but nothing like they said it would be. My daughter came home from my mom’s place and we all sat in bed and watched TV together. I thought that maybe it won’t be so bad and checked in with the clinic. The clinic staff did not think I had miscarried yet and apparently the first dose of pills only works for 60% of women. I have to do it again.
The second attempt worked and it was SO bad. I won't go into the gory details, but it was the worst day of my life! I believe my mind tried to protect me and I felt numb. It was as if I couldn't process what I was actually going through. Then it continued...
...for three more gut-wrenching days.
I am now an empty shell.
Looking back at the last few months I think the only way I could have gotten through all of it was because of the support of my husband, who grieved with me and cared for me. I am also so glad that I reached out on social media. I can not believe how many people shared my story and reached out to me. I did not feel so alone.
In an effort to move on, we’ve planned a special trip for our little family. My focus will be on a healthier lifestyle for the future as I try to forget about the loss. Every once in a while it still hits me like a brick wall, but I try to refocus my thoughts and get through the moment.
My husband is such an optimist, and he tells me that this is one more experience I have to relate to with people in my life and in my business. My grandmother always tells me that "God only gives us what we can handle”. I guess God thinks I am one hell of a strong woman. If that’s the case, then that is what will be. I will be strong for me, my daughter, my husband, and for the future children that will grace this family.
Jacqueline Neher became mama to Little Q in 2009 and is one half of the amazing baby planning and design company, Urban Chickadee.