I Had a Miscarriage: Losing My First Pregnancy

I shared on my Instagram account about how after going back and forth for a long time on this, I’ve decided to finally share the full story of our miscarriage. This is scary for me, but it feels like the right thing to do. I’m breaking it up into a few different sections partly so that it’s easier to organize my thoughts and partly because writing this is hard- having to re-read this post over and over for editing purposes, is emotionally draining.

Here is a little backstory and why I feel the need to share:

On July 27, 2016, my husband and I lost our first child. I was 17 weeks and 5 days along when I went into preterm labor and gave birth to our sweet little girl, Madelyn Hope. The one overwhelming thought that kept me going and focused on the future is: I cannot let this happen for no reason. I can’t go through something this devastating and just move on and I absolutely cannot let the world forget about my baby. Everyone grieves and deals with loss differently, and hanging onto this thought is what has helped me.

I’ve always been 100% positive that Madelyn was a part of our life for a reason, I just didn’t know why. A few months after my loss, I started communicating with others who had or were currently going through a miscarriage. I wanted to share my story with them to let them know that they weren’t alone, I also think talking openly about it was a big source of healing for me.

Sometime after that, I realized that maybe Madelyn’s presence in our lives was for a bigger reason. I don’t have a huge platform, but I do have a platform and I can use it to help other couples in need and to help spread awareness. I want to be a part of the movement that is normalizing the topic of miscarriage, it affects way too many people for it to be something that is supposed to be kept quiet.

This first part of my story spans from the day we found out I was pregnant, to the day we had to say goodbye to Madelyn.


MADELYN HOPE

I took the pregnancy test after work one evening- totally not expecting to actually see the word “PREGNANT” that month. In fact, I was so sure that it wasn’t going to be positive that I took the test while my husband was in night class… because what was the point in waiting?! So I took it… and almost immediately the big capital letters spelling out “PREGNANT” appeared! I was in shock and I had no one to freak out to!! I was SO excited that I actually texted my husband the news because I knew he couldn’t talk and I wanted to ask him if I could call my sister – something he still won’t let me forget!

I felt pretty good during my first trimester – other than being very tired all the time. I also felt instantly connected to the life growing in me. We waited to announce the news until I safely made it to the 3 month mark. I remember taking several different announcement photos to post on Facebook, using a little sign I had painted, an ultrasound picture, and a small stuffed lion I had bought for her. We saw our baby (that we nicknamed Poppy) dancing around on the ultrasound. She did not stop moving- we called our little Mexican jumping bean! We also found out through an early blood test that she was a girl. I was at work when I got that phone call and I was SHOCKED! For some reason I’ve always felt that I was going to end up being a mom to all boys. I was incredibly excited though, I’m a girly girl at heart and I loved thinking about all the fun we would have! I have also always loved the idea of having a daughter to pass down my jewelry and accessories to. I loved planning out her nursery and thinking about how cute it would be for her to take ballet lessons- just like I did! She would be my mini me! I had the vision of our future life with her all planned out in my head… and it was beautiful.

This is the small sign I painted and used as our pregnancy announcement on Facebook.

This is the small sign I painted and used as our pregnancy announcement on Facebook.

From our ultrasound at 13 weeks - she was jumping around non-stop!

From our ultrasound at 13 weeks - she was jumping around non-stop!

My pregnancy was pretty uneventful. I had no major symptoms, no scares, everything seemed to be going perfectly. Until it all came crashing down the Saturday before my birthday. I was 17 weeks and finally starting to show. I remember putting on a form fitting skirt and tank top that day, because I was so excited that I actually looked pregnant! It was July 23, 2016… 2 days before my birthday. I had started feeling kind of crampy earlier in the day but I thought it was just normal pregnancy pains (this was my first pregnancy and I had no clue what I was supposed to be feeling). So we went on about our day, celebrating my upcoming birthday. We went to babies-r-us and bought a crib followed by an afternoon movie. It wasn’t until we went to an early dinner when I decided I couldn’t sit through the whole meal, I had to go home and rest. When the pain didn’t subside, we decided to go to the ER. Looking back, I think I knew something wasn’t right… but I also didn’t really think that something bad could happen to me.

At the ER, the nurse was able to easily find our daughter’s strong & healthy heartbeat. However- after having an ultrasound, we were given news that would change our lives forever. The ER doctor came in and explained that my cervix was shortening and funneling – and for the first time in my life I heard the term “Incompetent Cervix”. I remember the doctor was so cold and told us that we were most likely going to lose our baby but that we would need to be admitted to the labor and delivery unit for observation. I started bawling my eyes out. How could he give me news like that so matter-of-factly?? I was almost halfway through my pregnancy- I thought I was in the safe zone?? I felt like I was trapped in a terrible movie… it didn’t feel like real life.

The rest of that weekend I kept feeling like this wasn’t actually happening to me. I, of course, knew that it was… but I still felt like I was watching it happen to someone else. You hear about these things happening to other people… or on TV shows, but you never think it will happen to you. We stayed at the hospital all weekend and I wasn’t allowed to get up except to use the restroom. It was in this room that I decided that we would give our daughter the middle name “Hope”.

Monday came around (my birthday) and after being under observation for about a day and a half, I was wheeled down to an ultrasound room. They had a maternal fetal specialist come in for a consultation. She was the first doctor who talked to us like we were a couple facing the possible loss of our child. Meeting her was the small silver lining of this whole, awful ordeal. This ultrasound showed that my cervix had shortened a very minimal amount since being on bed rest and that was pretty much the best news we could hope for. She felt comfortable discharging us – I would just have to take it easy the rest of my pregnancy. I held onto those ultrasound pictures tightly and felt like this was the best birthday present I could ever get.

{ OH – I forgot to mention that we were also currently without a doctor because a few weeks prior, mine had stopped accepting my insurance. And did you know that if your doctor stops taking your insurance, they also stop answering your questions when you call them and tell them you might be experiencing a miscarriage?? Yeah… as if it wasn’t hard enough, we felt completely abandoned }

So when this maternal fetal specialist said that her team would gladly take us on as a patient (they only see a small amount of high risk pregnancy patients), we felt like things were really starting to get better.

The last time I saw our little girl on an ultrasound, on my birthday.

The last time I saw our little girl on an ultrasound, on my birthday.

We left the hospital and got back to our apartment. I called my boss and let her know that I would be on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. In the middle of the night, the contractions returned and this time they were consistent and STRONG. I knew that this wasn’t going to get better. When morning came, we went back to the ER- this time at the hospital where the high risk doctor + her team had their office. My husband pulled up to the entrance to let me out and as soon as I stepped out of the car, my water broke. I wouldn’t let myself admit that’s what happened though… because then I would have to acknowledge that we were going to lose our baby.

After finally getting admitted to a room, we were seen by our new doctor. She confirmed that my water did indeed break, and that my labor was progressing pretty quickly. There was no hope for this baby. We had to make the decision to either schedule a D & C (dilation and curettage) for the following day and have our baby surgically delivered or we would be put into a delivery room and wait for her to be born naturally. Because of how fast my body was progressing, she said that preparing for a natural delivery would be the safest option. I remember asking if I would have to push… the thought of physically giving birth to my baby and knowing she wasn’t going to survive… it actually broke my heart.

I knew that I couldn’t be selfish though, if a natural birth would be safer then that’s what I had to do. I was wheeled off to a room in the labor and delivery unit. The hallways were filled with posters of smiling babies… seeing those made me cry even more, it felt so cruel and unfair. We got to our room, where they started administering medicine to help move things along. All of the nurses were so kind to us- I really will never forget that. There is nothing anyone could have done to make this situation better for us, but they did what they could- which was to offer their empathy and understanding… and that meant the world to me.

We waited and waited. We were exhausted, both physically and emotionally. The medications took their toll on my body- occasionally making me throw up. Things happened that no one should ever have to go through. At one point Luke and I (completely delirious) just looked at each other and had to laugh (in between crying) at how awful and terrible everything was. The doctors would come in and check on my progress every once and a while. Then at around 3 in the morning on July 27th, it was finally time for me to push. I was TERRIFIED. How was this seriously going to be my first experience in childbirth?! But I somehow pulled myself together and I got through it. Madelyn Hope was born at 3:22 in the morning. They took her to the weighing station to gather the measurements and clean her up. She was 8.5 inches long and weighed just 5 ounces. The nurse brought her over to us, wrapped in a blanket and I started hysterically crying. I thought that I would have wanted to hold her to say goodbye… but in that moment, I couldn’t. This is something I still carry a lot of guilt over, I feel like I failed her as a mother. I shouldn’t have let her be alone. I had no control over my emotions at that point though, and I’m working to give myself some grace.

We slept on and off for a few hours before my doctor came in. She needed to do an ultrasound to make sure there was no tissue or anything left over. Seeing the empty ultrasound where my baby was supposed to be felt awful and that empty feeling never went away. We were discharged and I cried as the nurses wheeled me out of the hospital. Leaving the hospital no longer pregnant and with no baby was devastating.

We went back home and had to try and figure out how to put our life back together. We leaned on each other and the support of our family and friends. This was the hardest thing either of us had ever gone through and it’s something that will stay with us forever.


Thank you so much for reading. I’m planning my next post to be about our life after the miscarriage. The pain of a miscarriage carries through to so many areas of your life. It can affect how you look at life, make you scared for the future, and cause you to question everything. You don’t just lose a baby, you lose the chance to get to know this person that you’ve already planned a future with.

I hope sharing my personal experience can help shed light on this. And if you’ve experienced a miscarriage, I’m so sorry. You’re not alone.

MISCARRIAGE & INFANT LOSS RESOURCES:
Shrine of the Unborn / This church located in NYC and you can have your child’s name inscribed in their “Book of LIfe”. On the first Monday of every month, they hold a mass to honor the names inscribed in this book + to pray for them and their families. This was something small that I found comforting.

Pregnancy After Loss Support

Community Forum for Miscarriage Support on What To Expect / I’m sure most first time pregnant women will download the “What to Expect” app… the app has a TON of different forums where you can communicate with other expectant moms. They also have a Miscarriage Support group, as well as groups that are individualized- for example, I always went to the “Incompetent Cervix” board. Sometimes it helps to hear from other women who are going through a similar situation as you.


When we were discharged from the hospital, we were given a small memory box. This box contains a small baptism dress and hat, cards with our daughter’s footprints, linking heart pendants, and educational pamphlets with resources for grief support. I still have this box and I have put other mementos in it that remind me of my daughter. This box means the world to me and I will hold onto it forever. I have a link where you can donate to help support the production of these boxes, as well as educational classes for the hospital staff on how to work with families experiencing a loss. (PERINATAL BEREAVEMENT PROGRAM)