"Late this spring, I was pregnant, and then, just as summer arrived, I was not."
It was scary and sad, and there are probably a lot of very emotional things I could say about it—and someday I may well write about those feelings, as well as about how I hate phrases like "rainbow babies," and how "At least you know you can get pregnant" and "This happens to a lot of people" are both accurate things to say but probably shouldn't be your initial reaction when someone tells you they lost a pregnancy. But the main thing I felt about the experience was unprepared. When I discovered I was at a high risk for having one, I realized I barely even knew what a miscarriage was, not to mention how to tell if I was having one, how to know whether I needed medical care, or how to deal with myself and my life, physically, while it was happening.
What I really wanted to know was this: What should I expect? And it was very, very hard to find answers. Partly, I think, because—kind of like pregnancies, and labor and childbirth experiences—miscarriages vary widely, and there's not necessarily a Platonic ideal here, no precisely "normal" run of show.
So that's why I've decided to tell this story straight: the details of what actually happened during my particular miscarriage. It's not going to be pretty—in fact, it's going to be very, very ugly, so please do not read this if you're easily grossed out—but I'm doing this for everyone else who may be going through it right now, or who will in the future, or who did in the past. Because the one sappy thing I will bring myself to say is this: Women go through some incredibly shitty shit, and they are amazing, and this experience revealed that to me in a way that I never could have anticipated. So this is for them. And for me.
Friday, May 20: I've been trying to get pregnant for about eight months, so I attend my first appointment with the acupuncturist (and all-around lovely person) Aimee Raupp, who specializes in fertility. She does my workup, and while I insist that I had my period earlier this week—at least, I think I had it—she thinks I may be pregnant and suggests taking a test this weekend.Sunday, May 22: I take a pregnancy test. It seems positive? The plus sign is a little faded. I run to Target and buy the digital kind, and that one is pretty unmistakeable. I realize thatwasn't my period last week; it was implantation bleeding, and I'm about five weeks along. Freak-outs ensue. My husband, Akshay, is elated. I'm 30% elated, 70% certain this is too good to be true. We call our parents and our best friends. There are lots of tears.
Saturday, June 4: Akshay and I are on vacation in Dublin. We have sex. I use the bathroom, and there's blood when I wipe. It doesn't seem to continue, so I try not to worry, but I'm pregnant and bleeding, so it's hard not to.
Sunday, June 5 through Thursday, June 16: I find brownish spots in my underwear, or see a drop or two in the toilet or when I wipe, almost daily for nearly two weeks. I call my doctor, and she says it's quite common and that there's not necessarily a need to worry unless there is a greater volume of discharge and it looks like red blood. It never gets to that point, so again, I try not to worry, but.
Friday, June 17: I'm about eight weeks along now. I visit my new Ob/Gyn for my first prenatal appointment, where she says she'll do an ultrasound to check for a heartbeat and make sure everything looks good so far. She inserts the ultrasound wand. Akshay grabs my hand — it's like we're setting the scene for "that ultrasound moment." And then, the doctor calmly turns the screen our way to show us. She says, "This dark area is the gestational sac, but I don't see anything inside, and I don't detect a heartbeat. There's a chance that we miscalculated and you aren't as far along as you thought, but I would say you have about a 60% chance that this is not a viable pregnancy." We spend the weekend crying.
Monday, June 20: I've gotten myself to a place where I feel comfortably numb. And I have a photo shoot today for work, so I need to be on point. In a way, it's nice to have a distraction—when you're on set, it's busy, and there's no sitting at your desk and staring out the window and ruminating. The shoot goes well, but on my bathroom breaks at the studio, I notice that the spotting has gotten worse. It's not quite red blood, but it looks sort of like the last day of a period: dark brown, streaky goop in my underwear and the toilet. I go back to the set and back into Chipper Fitness Editor mode.
Akshay and I meet up and walk home, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and I talk to him about how my discharge has changed, but I'm not sure what it means—and the more I think about it, the more I have no idea what to expect if something does, indeed, go wrong. I call Akshay's cousin, an Ob/Gyn based in California, and she walks me through it: Based on what my doctor saw and said, she guesses our chances aren't good. The miscarriage may happen on its own, and it'll be like a very heavy period with very bad cramps. If it doesn't, I can either have a D&C procedure
or take a medication to induce the miscarriage. I think, In a way, I hope this happens on its own. I don't want to have to have some awful procedure or take some weird drug on top of everything else. She also tells me that if it does happen naturally, I'm probably best off just dealing with it on my own—if I'm filling more than two pads per hour or feel faint, I should go to the ER, but other than that, it's probably more comfortable to just let it pass at home.
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