My Miscarriage: The Story of Baby Sam
This is the true story of my miscarriage experience. It affected me profoundly and will stay with me forever.
When my son was two years old, my husband didn't think we should have any more children. He thought our first was perfect, so why mess with perfection? I, on the other hand, wanted a sibling for our son. Someone he could share his childhood with, and that would amplify all the family experiences and make them better by being able to share them with a peer. Eventually, my reasoning won out, and I became pregnant when my son was just over two years old.
I knew when I was two weeks pregnant that I was expecting due to certain signs that I had also had with my son. A home pregnancy test at two weeks confirmed it. I was thrilled. I had had a wonderful pregnancy with my son. I experienced hardly any morning sickness and was so proud and happy about becoming a mom, and now I was going to get to experience it a second time. Things were going along pretty smoothly. I was doing home daycare at the time, and when I was eight weeks along, I told the parents of my daycare children about the pregnancy and that I would be taking six weeks off when the new baby was born. They were all very happy for me and grateful to have that time in advance to make other arrangements for their children for those six weeks. I used the kid's nap time to write in a journal...which I would some day share with the new baby...all the feelings of joy and excitement about his/her impending birth and presence in our lives.
The day came when I was to have my first obstetric appointment. My husband was working long days and didn't like to take time off unless it was necessary, so didn't come to the first appointment with me. I figured that was fine because the first appointment was usually pretty standard anyway. When I called to make the appointment, they told me I would also be having an ultrasound on that day, as they usually do one at 8 - 10 weeks, and then not again unless there was a problem. The appointment was set for when I was 9 1/2 weeks along.
Off I went to my appointment with my head in the clouds, look so forward to talking to the doctor and getting all the information again on how to provide proper pregnancy care and nutrition for this second baby. I was acquainted with the doctor but hadn't seen him often with my son because this doctor's office had five doctors, and each time you went, you got whoever had space that day. The office did this on purpose so that a mother would be familiar with all the doctors when the on-call doctor delivered the baby on whatever day they arrived. This particular doctor had a strange sense of humor, and most mothers to be either loved him or didn't like him at all. Some felt he was too suggestive with his jokes, considering they were half naked when they went to see him. I just had always thought he was funny. He cracked so many jokes at my appointments that I usually laughed so hard I would forget to ask him all the questions I had come with.
The Doctor Delivers the News
The appointment went as planned. I asked the usual questions. He asked how I was feeling and made lots of funny jokes which of course had me laughing. Then it was time for the ultrasound. The nurse came in wheeling the ultrasound machine as they were going to do a quick ultrasound right in the office. The cold jelly was squirted on my abdomen. The excitement was mounting as the doctor took the transducer and started moving it across my skin. He didn't say much as he did his doctor thing. That was my first clue. I waited...and waited, for him to say, "There it is" and give me my first look at this precious baby. But he did not say that. I finally asked him if everything was alright. He said he just needed to take a couple of pictures. Then he turned the machine off and said, I'm sorry, but I was unable to detect a heartbeat." I was stunned but wasn't sure exactly what he was saying. Did it mean it was too soon to see one? Did it mean something was wrong? Did it mean I wasn't even pregnant and there hadn't been a baby after all?
I asked him what that meant. And that's when he told me. He usually said a baby's heartbeat starts at 5 - 6 weeks and a heartbeat can always be detected by eight weeks. According to their records, I should have been 9 1/2 weeks along, so my baby's heart should have been beating. I was stunned, and tears began to sting my eyes. How could this be? I couldn't comprehend it. I already had plans for this baby. It was already part of our family. I had already sung to it. I had started my journal and wrote about him/her every day. I sat on the table crying, in a silly cloth gown that is supposed to tie in the back, but they never do cover everything, so I always felt exposed in them. Now I felt exposed physically as well as emotionally.
The doctor told me to get dressed and then we would talk. When he came back in, he was alone, without the nurse. I had stopped crying but was still sniffling. He did an amazing thing. He put an arm around my shoulders and told me that although it was a huge loss, things would be okay. He told me it often happens in women in the first trimester, and that some women miscarry before they even knew it was a pregnancy. They just thought they were having a heavy period with extra painful cramps, and the baby was so tiny, it would pass, and they wouldn't know that's what it was. He said once my body had a chance to heal from this, that we could try again.
I suddenly remembered that this was my last chance. My husband wasn't sure he had even wanted a second child, and now that we had lost this one, I was sure he would tell me that we had tried, so it's better to keep things the way they were. I started sobbing heavily again and told the doctor this. He put a hand on my arm, and said, "You just wait. When he sees how upset you are, you will have another chance." At that moment, I didn't believe him.
I asked what to do next. He told me there were a couple of options. The first was just to wait. There was a slight chance, he said, that the dates were wrong, and maybe the baby wasn't as old as they had thought. The second was that since the baby hadn't passed yet, we could go to the emergency room and have a D and C ( dilatation and curettage) done. This is the scraping of a woman's womb. The baby would come out with that, and then I wouldn't have to wait for it to happen on its own. The third one was again to wait and see, and if a miscarriage started I could just let it happen, or if there was a lot of blood, he made me promise to call him because at that point we should go to the E.R. and have the D and C to make sure all the womb was emptied so it could heal for the next pregnancy. And he was concerned that if I was bleeding heavily, I would lose too much blood without medical intervention, and that wouldn't be good for me. With even the slightest possibility that the baby may still be viable and just younger than we thought, I chose the first option, hoping for that best.
When it was time to leave the doctor's office, he again reminded me to call him if I did start to miscarry, just to let him know how things were. The nurse went over the procedure that I might have to have and said if I did miscarry, it would feel crampy, just like a bad period. When she said the word miscarriage, it started the tears flowing all over again. I couldn't stop them. ( In fact, at the memory of this, they are starting to form again now)
The nurse didn't feel it was safe for me to drive myself home and asked if there was anyone who could pick me up. There was not. She brought me into a side room and got me a glass of water, and told me I had to sit there till she could see I was okay, and it would be safe for me to drive. After about 20 minutes, I told her I lived close and that it would be okay for me to go home at that point. The drive home to see my two-year-old son was hard. He hadn't really understood there was a baby coming yet, so at least I wouldn't have to deal with telling him. I tried to think of anything else but the baby and the appointment on the way home so the tears wouldn't start again. My mother- in - law was with my son, and I told her when I got home but told her I couldn't talk about it because I didn't want my son to see me crying and have to answer his questions.
Waiting to Share the News
At the time, my husband worked for a delivery company. This was 1993, and there were no cell phones, and he didn't have a pager. There was no way I could reach him. But I needed to share my pain, so I put our son in the car in his car seat and proceeded to drive on his delivery route. It was a very stressful drive. Every time we turned onto a street, my eyes would desperately scan the road ahead, and all the driveways to see if I could see his truck. I spent an hour combing the streets of his route with a heavy heart but never found him. He usually didn't get home from work till 6:30 p.m. so I laid down in my bed with my son near me and told him mommy didn't feel too well, so we had just to be quiet. He played with his toys and looked at a few books, and we waited.
When he finally did come home, I just totally broke down. I had not wanted to talk to anyone or share my pain at all for hours. But I wanted to tell him. It was his baby too. It all came out in sobs...my sadness, my disappointment, my fear that we would never have another child because he wouldn't want to. I just cried and cried. Afterward, I was totally emotionally spent, so he took care of getting our son off to bed, and I fell asleep, hoping when I woke up, it would be a bad dream. But it wasn't.
The next day, I was back to doing daycare. After all, nothing had changed for me physically, and I was hoping beyond hope that the baby was just younger than we thought, and was still growing inside me. I prayed and tried not to cry around my son and the daycare children, but my heart was heavy.
How I actually got through that day, I don't really know, except that I still had hope. Unfortunately, that hope was short-lived. I went to bed that next night still hoping until I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. And there it was...not gushing, but the first trickle of blood that meant my baby was leaving me. The tears started to flow all over again. I was so sad. There was no denying that I was miscarrying now. After a bit, I went back to bed and cried myself to sleep. My husband, who could never sleep touching anyone because he needed his space, actually did put his arm around me that night. It didn't help much.He didn't really understand what it was like to lose this baby. He hadn't said much about it, just knew I was sad. Because the baby was in MY body, and I knew it was leaving me, I felt so alone.
The next day was Friday. I woke up, and I still needed to use a pad, but it wasn't bad. I thought that this is what the nurse meant about it being like a bad period...although this seemed just normal. I got through the first half of the day and after lunch put the three kids down for a nap. I called my girlfriend, who had also had a miscarriage a few years earlier. She said her husband hadn't been very supportive, and that she hoped mine would be more supportive of me. I stood up as I was saying goodbye because I needed to hang the phone up ( no cell phones in those days remember, this was a wall phone with a cord!)
All of a sudden I felt it...it was a huge whoosh...like nothing I had ever felt before, and I knew I had to get to the bathroom. The doctor told me I should look for the baby to make sure it passed out of my body. How awful that would be...to see my baby, or as he described, a little blob of red, leaving me. I didn't see anything like that...just red everywhere. And then the cramps started. At first, I thought they were cramps. That was what the nurse had said to expect. But soon, they felt like full blown labor pains. I remember wondering how this could be...that my body was going into labor and I was technically only 9.5 weeks pregnant?
I called my mother in law who lived right up the street and asked her to come down. The pain was pretty bad, and I wasn't sure if I should go to the hospital or not. But I decided I wouldn't be in any shape to take care of the daycare kids for the rest of the afternoon, so I called their moms, and they came to pick them up. They were patting me on the arm and telling me it would be okay. Running to the bathroom to change pads every 20 minutes, it did not seem like everything would be okay. After regular pains that started coming more often, and repeated trips to the bathroom, I decided my mother in law better take me to the Emergency Room. All the while I thought that that nurse was crazy...this was no bad period...this felt like labor. All the way to the hospital, I practiced the Lamaze breathing I had learned when pregnant with my son. It helped...maybe not with the pain, but it helped me to not concentrate on the baby leaving me.
The D and C Procedure
I had called the doctor before I left the house and he said he would meet me there. I remember sitting in the wheelchair outside the emergency room doors, in so much pain. I was wondering how long I was going to have to sit there...in labor pain, without an end in site? Fortunately, my mom worked at the hospital, and she was on duty in the ER, so she came out and told me they were giving her some time off to see the doctor with me. They finally wheeled me into an examining room, and the doctor came in, smiling, trying to make a joke, but I could see the concern in his eyes. He asked how I was doing and I told him he should tell the nurse that this pain is NOT like a bad period, but like labor pain. He checked me and told me that is exactly what it was. My body knew it was time for the baby to leave, and it was doing its job and helping it along. That part of the story has always amazed me. That God has made women's bodies so that they know how to do this, even in the case of a miscarriage.
So, the good doctor told me I had two choices. He didn't want me to be in that much pain while waiting for the baby to come out, and sometimes not everything does come out, and that can affect future pregnancies, so he wanted to do a D and C. I was okay with that now because obviously, I was actually having a miscarriage But he told me if he gave me a sedative to help with the pain, I would have to stay at the hospital for observation for 5 or 6 hours afterward, to make sure I was okay. My second choice was to grin and bear it and go through it with no pain meds, but once it was over, I would just have to wait a short while, and I could go home. He seemed to be leaning toward the second choice, and I wanted to get home to my son, so with my mom's promise that she would stay with me, I decided to go for it, and chose the "grin and bear it" option, although believe me, there was no grinning going on. It was the most physically painful experience I have ever had. He explained that they would basically be vacuuming out the lining of my uterus, to make sure nothing would be left behind. As I lay there, I could feel tears streaming out of my eyes, and down the sides of my face, getting lost in my hair, and dripping into my ears. I was not actively crying, but the tears just came because of the pain, and the noise of the machine they used. The noise made things even worse. I was so glad I had my mom's hand to squeeze. If she hadn't been there, I don't know if I would have chosen to do this without any pain meds.
I did have an epiphany laying on that table, though. I was so sad to have this baby leaving me. And as I lay there, all I could think of was that every day, women choose to undergo this same D and C procedure to have an abortion. No offense if meant to anyone who reads this and has had this done for an abortion, but in my heart that day, I could clearly feel how wrong this was...to kill a baby this way. Because as you can probably tell by now, I believe a baby is alive at the moment of conception. And to kill a child that God has blessed someone with in this way is just so totally wrong. It's such a slap in the face to God. I had never been that verbal about my feelings on abortion until that very moment, but have been ever since.
Although it seemed like hours, it was over pretty quickly. Somehow they had tracked my husband down, and he arrived when everything was over. I cried more then but was able to go home about an hour later. I went right to bed and cried myself to sleep again.
The Aftermath of Miscarriage
Now came the aftermath. I didn't know really how to feel. I was still very sad. I felt as though I was in a trance. I didn't want to talk to any of my friends that called unless they themselves had gone through a miscarriage. I felt as though if they had never had one, they couldn't possibly know what I was feeling, and I couldn't explain it to them, so I had nothing to say. My husband fielded calls for me all weekend and only gave the phone to me if it was my mom or one of my few girlfriends this had happened to. Inside, I had two warring thoughts:
1) I had personally failed...as a mother to this baby, as a wife to my husband, and as a mother to my son, because I couldn't keep his brother or sister healthy. My body had failed us all. And I wanted to punish it. The second
2) It wasn't my fault, that these things happen to a lot of women, that I shouldn't feel it was my fault.
I chose to deal with these two warring thoughts in an odd way. All weekend, I laid out on the back deck in my bathing suit...and fried myself. I spent a good part of both Saturday and Sunday out there...drinking ice water, and laying on a beach towel in the sun. Of course, I used sunscreen...my mom had ingrained that in me as a young child. But even when I was hot and very thirsty, I only went into the house to make meals, and when the sun went down. On the one hand, I was punishing myself with the heat, and the sweat, and knowing that getting a tan is not good for the skin and could cause skin cancer. But it was a punishment my body deserved. On the other hand, it always had made me feel good to be tan. People usually commented that I looked good with a tan. After that first weekend, I continued to sit in the sun as much as possible.
I was still sad as the days went by. People brought food over the first few days which was nice because I didn't want to cook. My mother was very worried about me. After the first week went by, she repeatedly called to tell me I should be getting over this by now and it was not normal for me to be so sad. I could never understand how there can be a "normal" reaction to losing a child. Everyone grieves in their own way after all. My husband's priest called one day to say he had heard about the miscarriage and was so sorry. I am Protestant but my husband was Catholic, and although this priest married us, I did not know him that well. He did an amazing thing...he offered to have a memorial service for the baby. He said it would be just my husband and me, or we could involve a few family members too...whatever we wanted. I thought this was a great idea, and it would help me put the baby to rest. I told my husband about it when he came home from work that night, but he wouldn't hear of it. He thought it was ridiculous. I went through the everyday motions, daycare, caring for my son, making meals, but my thoughts were often elsewhere.
I started reading everything I could about miscarriage. Again there was no internet so that I couldn't look it up, but I did go to the library and took out some books on preventing miscarriage, as I was still sure I did something wrong and I could have done something different to protect the baby. I found a really good book about a woman who had had repeated miscarriages, and finally had a healthy baby. That gave me hope for the future. A week after the miscarriage, we went on a river boat mystery dinner with another couple that we had had tickets for about two months earlier. I remember being so sad on that boat ride. It didn't feel right to me to be off for a nice dinner, with other people, looking like we were having a good time. It somehow didn't feel very respectful of this baby that was gone. I didn't want life to go on as usual. It wasn't usual anymore. I felt like a traitor to the baby all night long. After too many of my mother's worried calls, I told her I needed to grieve in my own way, and that you can't actually put a period on it. She actually asked me how long I thought it would take. I threw out a figure to keep her happy...I said three weeks should be enough time to deal with the worst part of it. And that target really did help. I had two weeks left, to grieve, and I used it. After that, I knew I would keep the experience in my heart, but that my son needed me, and I would just have to go on.
That doesn't mean that I was over it. A few months after the miscarriage, I was in church, and two women got up and sang a song about being able to see our loved ones in Heaven one day, and I tore out of the church sanctuary and into the ladies room as fast as I could go with tears streaming down my face.
Times like that still happened periodically for a few years. There was a woman in my church who had been pregnant the same time as me. Her baby was born about ten days after ours was due. For the whole pregnancy, it was torture for me to watch that mom get more and more pregnant, and then when the baby was born, every time I saw her, I would wonder what our baby would have been like. I never knew when something about a baby's story might hit me and bring back the pain. About six weeks after the miscarriage, my husband and I were out to dinner, and I told him I really needed to talk about the baby and what it meant to me to lose it. I asked him to talk about it, but he basically said once it was over, he felt we should just move on as there was nothing we could do about it. I told him I couldn't move on until we gave the baby a name. Suspiciously, he asked what name I had in mind. I had given this a lot of thought and since we didn't know if the baby were a boy or a girl ( too early for the sex organs to be formed) I wanted to name it Baby "Sam" which meant it would have been Samuel if it had been a boy, and Samantha if it had been a girl. Since he didn't really like either name, and didn't think it they were ones he would want if we had another child in the future, he was fine with that. And so, Baby Sam finally had a name, and a place in my heart forever!
Epilogue: The doctor was right...my then husband ( now my ex) saw how sad I was and agreed we should try again for another child. Six months later, I got pregnant with healthy twin girls, and today they are 17 years old. They were a true blessing. They know all about Baby Sam, as I had bought a set of 4 Christmas bear tree ornaments after they were born...one for my son, one for each of them, and the fourth...for Baby Sam. When they were about five years old, they asked me about the bears, and I told them, and all three kids were quite curious but accepting.
Each year on July 9th I remember losing baby Sam and am sad. The saying goes that we will see our miscarried babies in Heaven someday. I am looking forward to that.
I recently read the book, "Heaven is For Real" and cried my eyes out when I read the part that the little boy in the book, Colton Burpo met his miscarried baby sister when he was in heaven. She ran up to him and hugged him and told him who she was. I cried even harder when I read that she didn't have a name because their parents never gave her one. I was so happy that I had named our baby. If you never named your miscarried baby, it's not too late.
I am married now to a wonderful man who would have held me all night long that night and probably cried with me. If he gets to Heaven first, I am sure he will give Baby Sam a huge hug, until I can get there and do it myself.
If you would like to read about how Colton Burpo met his baby sister in Heaven, you can purchase the book from Amazon here...
Have you had a Miscarriage?
Read on to see what happened next!
- Journal of a Twin Pregnancy
After having a miscarriage I wasn't sure if I would ever get pregnant again. Here are excerpts from my journal of my twin pregnancy in 1994.
© 2012 Karen Hellier