This is a guest post from Marian Mellen over at www.marian-mellen.com
She is a lovely family member of mine, and graciously agreed to share her story here as well as on her own blog since she saw firsthand how helpful others’ stories and photos are when experiencing loss, which is so often shrouded in secrecy.
**** THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC PICTURES OF OUR JOURNEY THROUGH MISCARRIAGE. THERE ARE PICTURES OF TISSUES, BLOOD AND THE BABY WE BROUGHT INTO THIS WORLD. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ THE FULL STORY WITHOUT GRAPHIC PHOTOS PLEASE CLICK HERE.
“I can’t wait to see our baby again,” Jake shared as we pulled into the parking lot. It was the morning of our 14 week check up. “Me too, sweetie. You can update the picture, too,” I was pointing to the visor in the car where he had two of our past ultra sound pictures. He “took us” with him for his work travels and it felt very sweet to my soul. We were both feeling excited and light that morning as we walked through the clinic doors.
The nurse took my vitals and asked how I had been feeling. I was finally rounding the curve into second trimester (or so I believed). I was happy to feel my energy returning and the nausea subsiding. ‘I made it!’ I thought, ‘this is the sweet spot of feeling a bit more in flow, I am going to soak it up.’ Vitals looked good and we headed to meet with the doc.
Our last appointment included blood work for genetic testing. Our doctor came in and shared all of the tests looked great with nothing of concern. She was also happy to hear I had made it out of the nausea woods and also got through a pretty rough flu. As we routinely did, I laid down on the table for our third ultra sound.
This is the moment time started to slow down. With big, compassionate and present eyes our doctor took a deep breath.
“I am so sorry, I don’t have good news. There is no heart beat.”
The room suddenly became silent, only seconds ago a lightness filling the air. In that instant, time stopped. Our train was heading one way and we just came to a screeching halt with no warning signs. There was zero indication that our baby stopped growing at 11 weeks, three weeks prior to this appointment. No spotting, no cramping. I came to find out in the days following, this is what is called a “missed miscarriage.” The body hadn’t yet come to the awareness that there was no longer a viable pregnancy and it was time to physically miscarry the fetus.
We were, as you can imagine, devastated. I felt like a giant bolder just fell from the sky and landed in front of us; we could no longer continue down that path. In a moment’s time, we were frozen in stillness – this journey of pregnancy was no longer ours.
Walloping tears started to fall, our shoulders collapsing. The picture of baby toes right in view reminding us what would no longer be ours this year. Our doctor, with glossy eyes, embraced me in a hug and shared her compassion. “There are options of the next step but there is no rush to decide them right now.” She shared our three options for us to think about for the coming days.
We took our time with big breaths and wet cheeks. With hands held and holding on tight to each other, we exited the room.
Just as we were about to leave, a woman shared, “I am checking in. My name is Genevieve.”
We believe our angel baby was a boy but if she was a girl, Genevieve would have been her name. Genevieve Grace – named after my grandmother and great aunt. As we left the clinic, we took a detour to our next appointment and we drove under Grace Avenue. I didn’t even know that street existed in our city.
I felt peace prick each and every cell. I knew I needed this recognition from the spirits to continue this earth bound journey and trust in the higher plan for our family.
Driving to our second appointment we were both grieving and starting to contemplate our next steps. With a missed miscarriage there are three options – Option 1) wait until the body naturally miscarries the fetus. This can take weeks but at some point the body will recognize there is no longer a viable pregnancy and miscarry on its own. Option 2) Take misoprostol – pills either vaginally inserted or dissolved under the tongue. This initiates the process of miscarriage and often times, moves the process along more quickly. Option 3) Schedule a surgical operation called a D & C – dilation and curettage. This is when the cervix is dilated as the fetus and tissues are removed.
My inner voice was guiding me to give space for my body to naturally begin the process on its own. I also knew this could bring up a lot of emotional turmoil as I waited for the process to begin. Since our baby stopped growing at 11 weeks and we were at 14 weeks, this meant my body had already been holding onto the pregnancy for 3 weeks. I wanted to give it at least another week to give us space to process this news. This week of waiting was both hard and needed. It gave both J & I time to digest the changing of our route and the loss of what ‘would have been’. We did a lot of hand holding and reaching towards one another. I am deeply grateful we came together as a team. Just months prior we had shared our marriage vows to really show up for one another when times got heavy and tough – our practice arrived sooner than expected. We prayed, cried, snuggled up and found comfort in our community. I had so many conversations with women with a “me too” on the other end of the phone. There were a few who viscerally understood the depth of pain and the conflicting emotions that encompassed this time. It was a comfort to know I was not alone.
We returned home after our second ultra sound (which is generally done to confirm that there is no longer a viable pregnancy). It was hard to sit in the waiting room and watch very pregnant women waddle in for their ultra sound appointments. I kept hearing my mind say, ‘this is no longer your journey. This will not be your story for this pregnancy.’ My hands trembled and the tears fell. J slid his hand in the shape of a crab claw (our little gesture that says: ‘hey baby, this is really hard and I’m still right here.’)
As we walked in the door, our fur babies greeted us and it was a welcomed joy. They felt our sadness and did what dogs do best, they loved us unconditionally. I walked out to our patio and sat in the sun, feet planted in the grass. I was angry. I was sad. I was so mad that God had given us this gift and then snatched it away. I felt hot, steaming tears run down my face and a growl come out of my throat. The range of emotion was all encompassing. I didn’t try to change the feelings, I let them arise and knew this was the beginning of a long healing period.
A few days passed and I shared with J, “I think I need to give myself permission to have an end date to the waiting.” Together, we made the decision to give my body until the following Wednesday May 25th, and then I would take the Misoprostol. I looked at the astrology calendar and this was the very end of the moon cycle and the final release. Mars would move into Aries which would give me more courage and strength.
The week and half waiting on my body to miscarry naturally was a lot of walking around with the small voice inside saying, ‘You are carrying a dead baby.’ I wasn’t even going to write this here but it is the truth and I want to be transparent. It was living in the ‘in between’ of grieiving. I wasn’t technically pregnant anymore but I had to remind myself of this over and over again.
I began singing songs to coax our spirit baby free. I did womb release meditations. I took baths and lit candles. I created space for our departure from one another. I believe I was holding tight to our angel baby and we would need some assistance in letting go of each other. I was just so excited to be a mama and I felt so disappointed.
The week passed and my body was not starting the process in a way that would move the miscarriage along. There was the smallest amount of spotting from time to time but overall, we were in a stand still. It seemed life couldn’t move forward until this process happened.
Wednesday morning arrived and I was scared. I didn’t know how my body would handle the Misoprostol but I knew from friends and reading a couple blogs that it could be extremely painful. Misoprostol is a pill that helps the uterus start contracting. It doesn’t always work the way the package says which is within 1-4 hours after inserting the pills.
J came to the bed and we shared a little prayer. I inserted the 4 pills vaginally and waited. Hours passed and nothing happened. I was thinking it wasn’t going to work and then we would move on to the D & C or another round of Misoprostol (which I didn’t want to take).
8 hours later I started to feel slight cramps come on. I then felt a big cramp and the urgency to get to the toilet. A big WHOOSH happened and a ton of blood and fluid rushed out of me. J came in and said we should look in the toilet to make sure the baby wasn’t there. I wasn’t in that much pain and there wasn’t tons of blood so I thought probably not.
I am so grateful he had this intuition to check because as I scooped around with a little spoon, we found our fully formed baby.
The first word out of my mouth was wow. I didn’t know how I would feel seeing our baby with fingers and toes and a little curled up body in the palm of my hands but I felt peace. I felt this sense of the physical experience matching the emotional experience. I thought “wow, this is the past 14 weeks in the palm of my hand.” I felt closure and a space of peace began to expand in the center of my heart. J shared the same. This isn’t everyone’s experience, but this felt true for us.
Little did we know, our very long night was just beginning. My cramps were extremely mild for the hour after passing the baby. I had a large bulb of blood drop down which was part of the placenta. Key word, *part* of the placenta.
About an hour later around 9pm my cramps started to increase. My body was trying to pass the rest of the tissues and it began to cramp with contractions. They started out at 45 seconds with 30 seconds between. I laid down and rolled onto my side, griping my jaw and trying to make it through the intensity. I had an overnight pad on and I started to feel the blood soaking through the pad, my pants, and onto the heating pad. I knew I needed to get to the toilet. When I did there was so much blood. I started to get a little light headed and we called our doctor. She said it was time to get to the ER as I might be losing too much blood.
We got to the ER at 11pm and the contractions were still coming. I was soaking through the pads and my pants onto the wheelchair but my vitals were still good.
The hospital staff were actual angels in earthly body disguise. I had never felt so cared for. Every single person looked me right in the eyes and I could feel their love. By 3am our doctor’s resident doctor came in for a pelvic exam. She saw the tissues wanting to come out around my cervix and called my doctor. My doctor said she wanted to be there and arrived within minutes. At this point it was 4am and she knew I didn’t want an operation if I didn’t have to have one. She said they would try to get out the tissues manually.
Feet in the stirrups, my doctor stated to scrape around my cervix. This was the most grueling pain I had endured (up to this point in the process and up to this point in my entire life). I was breathing and grinding my teeth so hard that I could barely think about anything except for the spot on the cieling where the flourescent light met the tile. My body was in so much pain. This was the point I started to get woozy. Very quickly I felt the energy in the room get very serious. “We need an IV in her now.” “She’s going into the operating room. Get her a bed cleared asap.” “Fluids in her now. There is no time. We need to go now.” I was losing too much blood, clots the size of prunes coming out and dropping to the floor. The tissues didn’t want to come out with the tools the doc had so my only option now was the D & C operation.
Within minutes I was quickly rolled into the Operating Room and given general anestesia. I remember the nurse coming over and placing her hand on my arm, “we are going to take care of you, sweetie. It’s okay. That is what we are here for.” I started bawling my eyes out and before I knew it I woke up in the recovery room at 9am. Groggy and looking around, I had a wave of relief come over me. We did it, I thought.
The recovery nurse paged J and he came. Placing his hand over mine with his calming eyes and loving presence, we’re going to be okay and I took a big sigh.
I was discharged from the hospital and we walked into find our dogs Moosie and Lilo waiting. Our healers through and through.
The following days I moved slow, cried and ate soup (and lots of comfort food like mashed potatoes). That weekend we took our baby to a burial in my parents back yard. My dad made a homemade cross out of twigs and we found feathers to surround the grave.
We all shared from our hearts, read a prayer and we laid our baby to rest.
Holding hands with a tight squeeze, the tears fell.
As I write this, it has now been one month. I am finding comfort in writing and sharing my prayers with our angel baby. There is still sadness and big waves that come unexpectedly. Sometimes they come without warning and I am in the middle of a public place and all I can do is walk around with walloping tears falling out onto the ground. There are moments I think “I was supposed to be pregnant right now.” Moments that I see other women celebrating their pregnancy and I wish it were us. Moments when I feel it went by so quickly.
But then there are moments that remind me of a space buried so deep inside of my being that is filled with faith. There are the ones that encompass my entire heart with love. The ones that carry peace in knowing there is a higher plan at play. The moments that remind me of the folks who have walked this path and who have shown up in ways that take the breath right out of my lungs.
This journey of loss has lots of feelings. It is love swirled up all together with pain.
I often think that perhaps our baby was just too big in spirit to be encompassed in flesh on this earth. Maybe our angel needed to be present for more than what a human can do. Maybe we will know the reason and maybe we won’t.
I do know that if I had the choice, I’d do it all again.
There is joy and there is pain. And that pretty much sums up the truth of life.
There is a softness to life these days, the noticing of the branches moving ever so slightly in the breeze, the glimmer of the sunshine poking through the pines, the creamy yellow underbelly of a bird flying past. I think grief does that to people, makes us land in the here and now. Makes some things more clear and creates a haze over the rest. Slows the pace. Slows us right down to the very essence of life.
And to Jacob, the love of my life and the dad to our family:
Thank you for your unwavering love, empathy and support when times get really, really tough. Your arms are a space of deep peace to my soul and are meant to hold me through it all. You are my guy and I am so grateful for this life with you. It’s been a big chapter in our book this year, I love you fiercely and gently. ~ Mare Bear
If you feel called to reach out, please do. I can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or @marian.mellen ~ there is a big community of support if you are going through this pain & I have listed some other resources below. You are not alone and me sharing that might not make it easier but perhaps it can bring just an ounce of comfort.
From a heart that feels it all, thank you for reading this chapter of my story. ~ Mare