I’m Not Pregnant Anymore

Ouch. We’ve had a miscarriage. Our baby died. And even though I know that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, that doesn’t make this any easier. If you’re squeamish or don’t want to read the details of my experience, read no further. I’m about to share exactly what happened from my perspective.

I thought I was at the end of the first trimester, so when the nausea went away at 13 weeks, I just thought it was because I was transitioning into the second trimester. But then I had a tiny bit of spotting. At that point, I got worried.

That night I had one of the most vivid dreams of my life. In my dream, I went to the bathroom and a tiny dead baby came out. I held it in my left hand. It was in the fetal position, about two inches long and I stood, staring at it and thinking, “Oh my God, my baby is dead.” When I woke up, I was SO RELIEVED. “It was only a dream! Oh my goodness, everything’s OK, it was just a dream.”

Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t just a dream.

But we didn’t know that yet.

We decided that with so little bleeding we’d wait to get an ultrasound and just check for a heartbeat. But there wasn’t a heartbeat. Then again, it’s the first trimester and lots of people can’t hear a heartbeat with the doppler but still have a healthy baby. So we decided to try to hear the heartbeat again in a couple of days. But there was no heartbeat again.

At this point I was a bit more worried, but I knew that it didn’t make sense to freak out yet, since we didn’t have all the information. My midwife mentioned something about making sure the dates were right and in retrospect I think I was probably measuring small. I should have been 13 weeks pregnant. But last week I said to my mom, “I don’t think I’m growing.” As it turns out, I was right.

On a Friday morning my husband and I went in for the ultrasound. We were hopeful and in good spirits. He was joking around as usual and helping me release my tension through laughter. We saw the baby on the screen. But it wasn’t moving. Kevin said, “That looks like a baby!” And I said, “And it’s not moving. I wish it would move.”

The technician did a close up of the baby and I knew there should be a heartbeat visible, but I just kept hoping that I had missed something. And then the technician had to break the news to us. I felt so bad for her. She pointed to the baby’s heart and said, “See right here? This is where we should see a heart beating. But there’s no heartbeat.”

I immediately started crying.

I’m crying again writing this. It was a devastating moment. Our baby had died. The technician was clearly unsure how to help. She ran out of the room and called my midwife.

It turns out, they think our baby died at 10 weeks 3 days gestation. That’s just three days after we heard a healthy heartbeat and announced our pregnancy to the whole wide world. I purposely waited to tell everyone until I thought we were safe from miscarriage, but I guess we were the unlucky 2% of people who hear a healthy heartbeat and still lose the pregnancy.

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a second or third trimester baby or a child. I cannot even imagine the pain of that. It’s really so much easier that we lost our baby so early. But it still totally and completely sucks.

When we got home from the ultrasound we had to tell my mother in law, who was shocked and our 2 ½ year old daughter who seemed bewildered by all of our tears.

Since I should have been at 13 weeks 3 days, my body was clearly not getting the message that the pregnancy was no longer viable. I called my OB to find out what to do next. She prescribed some medication and we sent Julia to her grandparent’s house for the day.

After about 6 hours the medication took effect. The first thing that came out was the entire amniotic sac, completely intact. It was the size of a small grapefruit. I put it into a bowl because I was horrified by the thought of flushing it down the toilet.

I had been warned not to look at my baby. You can never erase the images you’ve seen. But I felt I needed to see it. I wanted to know for sure that it was dead. I wanted to see how far it had developed. And besides, I had already had that incredibly vivid dream. I was pretty sure nothing would be more disturbing that what I had seen in my dream.

I cut open the amniotic sac and looked at the tiny baby inside. It was so small, just about an inch and a half long. It wasn’t moving. Its eyes weren’t completely developed. It’s little arms and legs were so tiny and it just had buds where the fingers and toes were starting to grow. It was less developed than the baby in my dream. It all became so very real in that moment.

I wrapped our baby in some cheesecloth, went outside and buried it in the back yard.

I’m sure it must be illegal, but my OB didn’t give me any instructions about how to dispose of the tissue. So I did what my heart told me to do. And I wondered what other women do and whether they were curious if they’d broken some law about proper disposal of human tissue. But the truth is, even if I’d known the proper legal procedure, I still would have done the same thing.

And then I sat on my daughter’s potty in the middle of the living room floor and watched movies with my husband until the worst of the bleeding was over.

Kevin told Julia that the baby had died and later when I asked her if she knew why we were feeling sad she replied, “The baby died. Now it can’t nurse.” She has mentioned the baby several times since and is asking questions about death and dying.

A couple of nights ago, just before she drifted off to sleep she whispered, “Mama, how did the baby die?” I was surprised by her question since lately she’s been asking, “why” a lot. I took a deep breath and answered her as honestly as I possibly could, “The baby’s heart stopped beating. When people die, their heart stops beating.”

She does seem a little bit concerned that she could die too, and the hard truth is, she could. We all could. Life is fragile. But I remind her that her heart is beating strong and she’s a healthy kid. Death is a difficult concept to understand at her age. And I’m sorry that it has hit so close to home already.

Even in the midst of my sorrow it’s difficult to stay sad for very long. Julia is such a vibrant and energetic little being. She is such an incredible gift and a blessing. I know how lucky I am to have her.

And the outpouring of love and support I’m experiencing is incredibly heart warming. I keep getting messages from dear friends who I haven’t talked to lately. And Facebook messages and little notes, cards, and emails. I was gifted with three bouquets of flowers. And yesterday a friend stopped by my office on her birthday just to give me a hug. I don’t mean to brag, I’m just saying that even as this difficult event is occurring in my life, I’m pretty sure that

I’m still the luckiest person I know.

In a way, I feel like I’ve been admitted entry into some sort of club, the “childbearing women who’ve experienced a loss” club. And there are lots of us. I definitely know that I’m not alone. And I know that I can handle this and I do feel connected to all the women who’ve gone through this before. And again, I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

I’m young enough and healthy enough to try to get pregnant again. I have a wonderful, loving, supportive husband who adores me and is the best dad ever. My daughter completely blows my mind on a daily basis. I have an incredible family and extended family support system and a freaking amazing group of friends.

So the only real bummer is that I’m not pregnant anymore and that I have to tell everyone. People don’t know what to do or say, and that’s OK. There’s really nothing anyone can do except offer love and support. I’m a little worried about going through the first trimester all over again (morning sickness was brutal this time), but who knows, maybe it’ll be easier next time. Our plans for a winter baby are dashed, at least for this winter.

Maybe I’ll go get that tattoo I’ve been thinking about. And I’ll stain my front porch. And hooray! Now I change the cat litter again 😉 We can turn the hot tub back up to 102. I can drink a beer. But somehow none of that is much consolation. I think I’ll just keep enjoying my husband, my daughter, and connecting with friends and family. For me, it’s the connections that make life wonderful.

Thanks for being here and listening to my story. Warm hugs, Shelly

40 comments
Maldenmama
Maldenmama

Found your blog here a few days ago by accident. Your post touched me deeply and now I believe this was not a chance encounter. Like yourself and many others here I too experienced a loss (April of this year) at 9 weeks. I also have a 3 year old daughter who is the absolute light of my life.  I think deep down I knew something was not quite right from the beginning. I was hoping that our first prenatal appointment would provide reassurance, but instead it became heartbreak. Know that I share your pain but also grow stronger for your words and courage. Wishing you peace and love in the days ahead.


JanetteGyesky
JanetteGyesky

I am honored to know you my dear. My heart goes out to you. Your motherhood is deep and I love you so much through your sadness....and hope that life is perfect.


SylviaPoareo
SylviaPoareo

Shelly, 

I am so sorry you have had to face the heartbreaking loss of your precious baby.  And, I also deeply celebrate you for having the courage to share your experience with all the hard yet beautiful details.  You have given a gift to so many women who have not had a forum for their grief, or acknowledgement that this is a devastating loss in a society that tends to brush over miscarriage because our babies are less 'visible.'  Thank you for speaking both plainly and with such authentic vulnerability.  You are lucky to have such support and I hope other mothers will be inspired to know that they deserve such support, validation and voice as you have modeled so powerfully here. Much love to you in your healing journey!!

HeatherMontoya
HeatherMontoya

Oh Shelly. I'm so sorry. This is the one club I never want to have my friends in with me. As you know, I lost my second child at 18 weeks gestation. May 27 was her first birthday. Yes, I consider it her birthday and plan to um, not celebrate, exactly, but commemorate, every year. This year, we released a butterfly to send her some kisses to heaven. 

The loss was devastating for me, as it is for any mother who loses a child. It took a long time to stop crying daily. I think it is great that you are allowing yourself to feel your feelings instead of trying to keep them bottled. That's is what I did/do, and I really think it has helped me to heal. There will always be a wound in my heart for my first daughter, but time does make it hurt a little less.

As you also know, I now have my rainbow baby and I adore her to pieces. You will one day have your rainbow baby, and while s/he will never take the place of this baby, it does help in healing, at least a little bit. And I certainly know what you mean about wanting *that* baby. I felt that way even after my second daughter was born. The only difference is I wanted them both. Part of me even believes that maybe she is the same baby, just in a different body. There is a believe among many midwives that each woman has certain baby spirits that float around her. When she gets pregnant, the first spirit in line takes it's place. If she loses that baby, the spirit goes back to first in line and takes it's place in the next baby.

I don't know if that helps you at all, but the thought has always helped to bring me a little peace.

I wish you peace during this difficult time. Hugs. Feel free to call me if you need someone to talk to.

Heather

Sorcha
Sorcha

I am so very sorry for your loss. It is a very unique loss, only those who have been through it can fully understand. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage & I was so devastated. All my hopes and dreams for my little one were gone in, well, a heartbeat. I did the same thing, watched movies while waiting for the bleeding & cramping to stop. I cried a thousand tears & to this day still think about that baby and getting a tattoo in his (I just know it was a boy) honor. Today I have two healthy, happy boys and am so blessed. I cried reading your story. I am sending you healing, loving thoughts. You are right, you are not alone. Prayers for you & your family. Xoxo

EdwardHessey
EdwardHessey

As a foster carer looking after new borns you make me feel how precious my job is. Thanks shelly for sharing your story our prayers are for you god bless angie Eddie

electrorainbow
electrorainbow

you are an insperation.  all this family's love and blessings.

realhollyparker
realhollyparker

Shelly, I am so sorry that your family went through this. I don't have any magic words for you. What I will do is send you my love and think of your family tonight as I meditate.

When my firstborn was about 2, we decided to have another baby. We conceived pretty quickly and I had a very strong feeling that I would have a boy. So strong, I went out and bought a blue stroller and car seat combo. I should have been around 12-13 weeks, had some spotting, called the OB and he had me go to the ER, just in case. The ultrasound showed no heartbeat and it looked like the baby had died around 9.5 weeks. I went home and the next day I had a surgery (D&C, I think) to remove the baby and sac. It was horrible and people kept telling me things that weren't helping. I stayed home for a week and tried not to answer the phone. I tried to move forward, not wanting to talk about it, but things came up. A coworker that hadn't heard yet made a fuss over how I still looked so thin and wasn't even showing yet. I had to return the stroller. Another coworker was pregnant. Finally, I talked about it with a few close friends and that helped. I named him Ryan, like we had decided just moments after the test showed 2 lines. Once in a while, I think about how old he would be and how my girls would have a brother and I still get a bit sad, but it gets better. I had another miscarriage, this one was much earlier and it was an empty sac. Even with the loss that we've suffered, we are blessed in so many other ways. We have 3 beautiful, healthy daughters.

Thank you for sharing your story. It does help to know we're not alone.

MicheleBerner
MicheleBerner

You are such an amazing woman and mother!  I don't even have words to express how sorry I am for your loss.  You really have a gift with words.  I am sure that you will help many others through your experience.  I am glad you have so much support through this difficult time.  I wish I could be there to give you a big hug for real! 

Katica
Katica

Shelly, my heart goes out to you as I know exactly what your loss feels like.  I also miscarried a few years ago at 8 weeks and it was the most painful news I ever received.  I never thought I would get thru that pain but I did.  Please take ALL the time you need to feel, to be present, and to heal thru this.  Big hugs!!!


Dianna Niemann Harris
Dianna Niemann Harris

Shelly my heart is with you after reading your profoundly personal and courageous sharing.  The tears are  down my cheeks in empathy for your very real and present loss.  I cry also remembering the first child of my body who lived and died in my womb 33 years ago.  Bravo to you for looking with love on your child and for finding a way to invite that tiny body to return to the earth.  Small "i" so wish you were not in the sisterhood of we who have lost an unborn child...but know I am one who has known a sorrow such as yours  and enter gently into the place where your heart is weeping.

gibbrn
gibbrn

Oh my so very sorry for your loss. I have never experienced such a heartbreaking loss. Sending you and yours prayers of healing. One day at a time. Huge hugs and much love.

Amy Zoe
Amy Zoe

I'm so sorry for your loss and empathize with your pain.

I lost a pregnancy at 9 weeks over two years ago. Like you, I had let everyone know the good news that we were pregnant and then had to let them know the bad news. I found comfort in recognizing my body's wisdom in releasing the pregnancy. My miscarriage was the natural outcome of a biological miss-match, an embryo that wasn't able to sustain itself. 

What I grieved was the hope that was lost with the death of my teeny-tiny-child-to-be. I was racing against a biological clock that was tick, tick, ticking and concerned I wouldn't have the opportunity to make up for the loss.


It took us several months to get pregnant again, but I am happy to report that my husband and I welcomed our son, Theo, a year ago almost to the day.

Peace and blessings,

Amy

deemarie
deemarie

It's so hard to know what to say because it is so heart wrenching to go through, losing a part of you. I went through a similar situation at 7.5 weeks. I started to spot a little bit and really worried something was wrong. I went the next day and had an ultra sound, all was well ! The heartbeat was strong, I could see the baby and the heartbeat and felt a HUGE relief. My doctor assured me that everything looked good and there was a 99 percent chance I would carry full term with no complications...I felt so fortunate, and so silly for over reacting, but I still couldn't completely shake the feeling something wasn't right...I went home feeling much better about the pregnancy. Well, apparently I was that 1 percent, I lost the baby that night...I blamed myself for not keeping the baby safe, I blamed my doctor for telling me everything was gonna be alright, I was upset and didn't understand what went wrong.I was very nieve about a lot of things back then. I later learned that miscarriages are no ones fault, that they are very common, and that there may have been abnormalities with the baby that could have effected it for life. No, it doesn't make it any easier, but oddly enough in a way, I consider myself fortunate. I miscarried a child early in the life cycle, I can not imagine losing a child that is farther along in life, at any age. I no it is part of everyday life on the news...but I don't know how people survive it. The doctor told us to wait 6 months before trying again, we didn't use protection, we kept hoping for the best, taking a pregnancy test for the next 2 months, disappointed each time. The following month I was gathering cattle, and was throw from a horse, I remember the only thought that went through my mind right before I hit the ground ( rather hard I might add) was " please keep this baby safe". As I shook off the fall, and dusted myself off, I thought to myself, " what was that about"? Needless to say, I hustled back to town and bought a test...why, I don't know why I bothered, I knew the answer. My beautiful daughter was born Dec. 17, 1996. Now, here I am 16.5 years later, just turned 46 with an amazing 3 year old son Quinn that is fortunate to be part of your extended family as well :). I hope sharing this helps in some way. I know if it wouldn't have happened the way it did, I wouldn't have the family I do, and I wouldn't trade it for anything :). You have helped me so much to be a better parent Shelly, you are amazing, and very loved :) thank you and your family for being part of ours. Love you all. Xoxo

RebekahFaust
RebekahFaust

I don't know you personally Shelly, other than from all your wonderful articles on parenting, but I am feeling your pain as I believe all mothers are connected through their love for their children, born or unborn.  I am so sorry for your loss and am hurting with you. I am in awe that you had the strength to face the reality of your baby's death by actually confirming it physically yourself, but I think it was a good way for you to have closure, so I commend you.  And thank you for sharing your story, as I'm sure it wasn't easy for you.  Sending lots of love and compassion your way and wishing for you a sense of peace and understanding that this happened for a reason as well as hope for another pregnancy that ends with a healthy baby!  Take care of yourself and keep finding comfort in your wonderful daughter and husband! xoxoxoxoxo ~rebekah

JM_Cook
JM_Cook

One of the hardest things I've ever had to read and I'm so proud of you for having the strength to share it.

wookumus
wookumus

I do not know you other than your wonderful newsletters but I just felt the need to send some love and compassion your way.  I am heartbroken for you and cannot imagine your pain, I never could have begun to understand until having my own children.  I wish you strength and peace, as much as is possible, with your loss.  My thoughts are with you.

Miranda

EdwardHessey
EdwardHessey

Sorry for your loss ..thoughts are with you and your family ..take care ed and family Prescott mside

LisaKathleen
LisaKathleen

Oh, Shelly, My heart is sending you waves of love.  I have always believed that a woman is a mother the moment she becomes pregnant.  The vulnerability is not less, and the pain is not less if the baby is never born.  Thank you for your honesty and openness, again and again, in the face of the hard parts of life.  Love, love, love. 

Lisa Kathleen

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

Oh @Maldenmama I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm super happy to have you here, even if the way we found each other was by sharing such a painful experience. I'm glad you have your daughter to delight in and I know that we'll both heal stronger than we were before. Sending you great big hugs, Shelly

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

@MarieAlessi Thank you so much. Every time in interact with you I feel happier, lighter and more hopeful. YOU are an inspiring mom and I'm super grateful to have you in my life. Hugs hugs and love, Shelly

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

Thanks @JanetteGyesky. You've been such a wonderful support for us through this experience. I feel so lucky that we have the best midwife we could ever hope for and life truly is perfect. Right now I'm seeing this as an opportunity to spend one on one time with Julia for a bit longer before she has to share us with a sibling. And maybe we all needed this extra time to truly prepare to bring our next child into the world. I'm still sad and this is difficult, but I'm hanging in there and feeling grateful to be so very loved and supported. You are an amazing woman to walk this path with so many mothers. Birth work is sacred work and I'm amazed at your gracefulness with it and your passion for it. Thank goodness there are people like you in the world. Love, Shelly

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

Thank you so much @SylviaPoareo. I am honored by what you've said and so grateful to know you. Mostly I wrote this post as a way to process my own grief, but the idea that my post might help someone else to feel less alone or to know that their emotional experience is validated warms my heart. I hope you're well and I'm sending warm hugs to you Sylvia :)

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

Thank you so much @HeatherMontoya. I know that your loss is so much heavier than mine, simply because you had known your baby for longer before she left this world. My heart goes out to you and I think of you often. I want you to know that your bravery in sharing your story online inspired me to do the same. As a result, I have had so many women contact me with similar stories of loss as well as with love and support. I'm so grateful that even though we've never met in person, we have each other to turn to in our times of need and sorrow, and not just in the good and happy times. Thanks for being one of the incredible women in my life. I appreciate you so much. Warm hugs and love, Shelly

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

@Sorcha Thank you. I'm sorry for your loss too. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been to lose a first pregnancy. It must have been difficult to trust that subsequent pregnancies would go well. I'm grateful that I have my daughter to remind me what the results are when things go right :) Your strength and compassion are helping me heal.

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

@EdwardHessey And thank YOU for doing such important work. Your work with those babies will help to shape their lives in such a beautiful way. BTW, have you seen janetlansbury.com yet? She has wonderful information about respectful care for infants.

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

@realhollyparker Thank you so much for sharing your story too. I'm glad you're able to talk about your experience now, even though it was hard for you at the time. I find that seeing pregnant women around town is bitter sweet right now. I'm so happy for them and hopeful that everything will go well for them, and I also feel envious and a little bitter that my pregnancy is over. I'm pretty sure I'll go on to have another healthy child, but I really wanted THAT child. Thanks for your support and understanding, Shelly

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

@MicheleBerner Thanks so much Sherris. I love you and feel your hugs even though we're so far apart physically. Hug your kids extra tight for me.

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

@Katica Thank you. I'm sorry for your loss too. I definitely feel present to it all which makes me grateful I did all that emotional work during my 20's! Now I know how to feel my feelings as they occur which is such a beautiful gift. Thanks for the hugs!

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

@Amy Zoe Thank you so much Amy. Your story inspires me and I feel lighter and more hopeful after reading it. Hugs, Shelly

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

@deemarie Thank you so much for sharing your story Dee. It helps a lot to know that others have gone through this too and survived it. And you're right, I know that there's a reason this happened and that I'll cherish my children all the more in light of this experience. Thanks for being family with us! xoxo

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

Thanks @RebekahFaust I'm grateful that I had a space to share myself so vulnerably where I knew I would be received in love and kindness. Thank you so much for being here and for being a part of this community. I appreciate you. And YES to another pregnancy that ends with a healthy baby! Big hugs, Shelly

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

@wookumus Thank you so much Miranda. It means a lot to me that you reached out. Thank you for your well wishes and for your empathy and understanding. Warm hugs, Shelly

HeatherMontoya
HeatherMontoya

@AwakeShelly, I'm so glad to hear I was able to help you in some way! I hope you are finding peace, although I know it will take a long time to go through the grieving process. Sending love and hugs from clear across the country.

Heather