‘The pain radiated from my stomach to my legs. I threw up. Finally, the fetus came out. I caught a glance of the baby in the toilet before flushing it down.’: Woman details pregnancy loss, grief advice, ‘We need to talk about hard things’

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Disclaimer: This story contains details of miscarriage that may be triggering for some.

“This wasn’t how I expected to announce my pregnancy. I planned on taking smiling pictures with Brandon in this mamacita sweatshirt and in our newly renovated house, telling you while we worked on the biggest project of our lives, we were working on an even bigger one behind the scenes. I planned on sharing my ‘safe’ pregnancy beauty routine and exercise plans. I planned on decorating a nursery. I planned on being pregnant…

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

But does anyone expect their pregnancy to end in loss?

Despite the fact many people don’t know I even was pregnant, Brandon and I decided to share our miscarriage story with you all because through this process…we came to wonder why more people don’t talk about it. This is not meant to judge those who don’t share their stories. We know firsthand the pain it causes and appreciate if it’s something too painful for those who have experienced this kind of loss to discuss. We also know this topic makes others uncomfortable. How do you sit with someone in their grief and normalize it? It’s awkward and I get that, too. Rather, our intention is to share our story so others who experience this (a staggering 1 in 5 pregnancies) will feel comfort in the most uncomfortable process. The second we found out we had miscarried, we both searched the internet for answers and found very little to explain the actual process of what I (my body) would go through. It’s a trauma. There is no other word for it. And something we want to share with you in hopes someone, even one person, can stumble upon this when they are going through something similar and know they are not alone.

Yes, this is hard. It’s hard to share a very personal story with the world and people who only know us on a surface level, but hey…as my dear friend always says, ‘We can do hard things.’

Here is my miscarriage story. The hard, the graphic, and the way we got through it. I’m not holding back, because, well…that’s not in my nature, and you should know that about me by now.

I found out I was pregnant on March 3rd. Brandon had been gone on a weekend trip with the guys and I surprised him with the news when he got home late that night. We were both inexplicably happy. It’s so funny how for so many years in our marriage we weren’t connected to the ‘wanting a baby’ thing, but how quickly that all changed for us – suddenly it was the only thing we were sure of. How perfect God’s timing was to gift us a new baby just as we were renovating our new home. We spent many days/nights in what we lovingly referred to as ‘the nursery,’ dreaming about welcoming our baby into our new home. A new home and a baby all in one year?! It was perfect. We shared the news with our parents and just a couple of our best friends, asking them to keep it private until we got to at least 10 weeks, when we had planned to share with more family and close friends.

Courtesy of Leah Behr

We went to my 6-week checkup to confirm the pregnancy and I was doing great! Honestly, I felt better than I ever have when I was pregnant. No sickness at all, just tired, but honestly not too bad. I felt really calm and balanced. Maybe I was on cloud 9, or maybe it was the hormones, but I loved it. (this was a shock to me as I NEVER understood how women could LOVE being pregnant. I now know…).

About 9 weeks into my pregnancy, we were scheduled to have an ultrasound and hear the heartbeat. We were so excited to finally get to have an ultrasound and see our baby! Something that would make it ‘real’ for both of us.

That’s when the worst happened.

As I lay on the table in the doctor’s office and Brandon stood there recording the whole thing, expecting to document the most exciting moment of our lives to date, the doctor began the ultrasound. A few minutes later she said, ‘I’m not seeing a baby.’ Everything felt very sterile after that. ‘What do you mean there’s no baby?,’ I thought. She then started asking me strange questions about my cycle and other questions that seemed crazy at the time, when all I’m thinking is, ‘Aren’t you going to show me the heartbeat?’

She zoomed in and was finally able to see a fetus, but it wasn’t developed as far along as we should have been. She then started explaining I was either 3 weeks behind where I thought I was (which felt crazy, as that means I would have found out I was pregnant at two weeks) or I had miscarried – and it was pretty much an even 50/50 chance.

Courtesy of Leah Behr

I can’t even explain how those words made me feel.

You go in with an expectation to have one of the most amazing and happiest experiences of your life, only to be met with some of the worst words you could imagine. It’s just so messed up. Everything was such a blur, and all the questions I had hoped to ask my doctor (Can I still do cardio? Can I fly to Europe for a babymoon?) suddenly felt so insignificant.

The worst part was just not knowing.

The doctor told me it was really a 50/50 chance it could be a miscalculation or a miscarriage, and I needed to get a series of bloodwork done to see where my HCG is and where it goes over the next few days, along with an ultrasound with radiology the following Wednesday. A whole week to sit there and just wonder whether or not I had lost my baby. It was brutal.

Brandon and I went home and processed this information for the rest of the day. All the thoughts flooded like, ‘Did I do too much work at the house remodel and overdo it? Did I have too much caffeine? Am I too stressed?’ but Brandon reminded me the doctor said most miscarriages are not influenced by outside sources and I felt comforted in that.

As the day went on, I reasoned and made myself feel better about the situation. Although I didn’t have normal pregnancy symptoms, which was unnerving, I also didn’t have any miscarriage symptoms. I also felt my uterus very prominently the rest of the day, which made me feel like the baby was saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’m still here.’ You really just ride every wave of emotion…

Although I went to bed with peace that night, I woke up pretty heartbroken the next morning. Grief is such a cycle, right? But I sucked it up and went to work, because that’s what I do. Shelving my emotions and working through them has always been my default. I cried…bawled myself to sleep that night.

Later that day, I received a call from the doctor’s office stating the results of my bloodwork came back and I was at 15,000 HCG. ‘That’s good right?’ I asked. ‘Yeah, that’s really good.’ HOPE! Even though this was just a baseline, to determine where my levels would be later that week (up for pregnant, down for miscarriage), knowing my levels were currently so high gave me such sweet hope.

Courtesy of Leah Behr

The next day, I went in to test my blood again, only to get the call they had dropped 3,000 points from the day before. Not good.

The following day was a Saturday, and I was to wait 4 more days to have the ultrasound at Radiology to confirm what was going on. I happened to share the news with a close friend who works in Radiology, and they told me they could get me in THAT day to check everything out. I went back and forth on if I should. After all, why did my doctor want me to wait four more days? But, I reasoned God had opened this opportunity for me and I should take it. After all, the waiting was the hardest part.

Brandon and I went to that appointment, and sure enough…there was no heartbeat. There were no indications of miscarriage either, but in my heart I knew I should have been further along and should have heard a heartbeat. In that moment, I knew it was over. I’ll never forget the image of looking over at my husband when the tech said she couldn’t find a heartbeat. I’ve never seen his heart so broken.

Monday was when I began spotting. A call from my doctor confirmed I would probably have the miscarriage within 24-48 hours. I was warned I could bleed a lot and advised on when to go to the ER if needed. But no one prepared me for what actually happens in a miscarriage, and that’s another reason I want to share my story with you. Nobody talks about the fact you will actually have contractions and labor this tiny fetus out of you. Google it. ‘Bleeding, severe cramps,’ nobody says ‘contractions.’ And because women don’t talk about miscarriage, we don’t know what a women actually goes through in a miscarriage. I’ve had friends go through miscarriage but never shared these details. I’ve had friends go through miscarriage I never knew went through miscarriage until I shared my story with them. Again, I totally get why people don’t talk about it. It’s hard and painful and I’m not judging at all. Still, all of this just made me want to share our story even more. We need to talk about hard things, friends. We need to let people walk with us and in turn, walk less alone…

Monday night I woke up with intense ‘period cramps’ and decided to go sleep on the couch so I wouldn’t keep Brandon from sleeping. They were pretty bad, but nothing really worse than my worst period. I grabbed a heating pad and took some Advil and laid on the couch for an hour until I was finally able to sleep.

The next morning I woke up still feeling mostly okay but with continued cramping. I almost went to work that day. Deciding to stay home, I sent Brandon off to work (remember…I had no idea what to expect and neither did he).

Then things really started to get rough.

I spent 3.5 hours going through contractions, laboring our tiny baby out. (of course, I had no idea they were contractions because, hi…no one told me that’s what miscarrying was like). It was pain like I’d never known. If you (like me) read somewhere having a miscarriage is like hard period cramps, don’t believe it. I’ve talked to women who have miscarried and had babies and it’s full on contractions. Yes, there is a lot of blood too, but the contractions were what most surprised me. 1.5 minutes of intense pain followed by 1 minute of rest, 2 minutes of pain followed by 3 minutes of rest, and so it continued for 3.5 hours. The pain radiated from my stomach to my legs. It was so painful I threw up. On a scale of 1-10, I was at a 20 for 3.5 hours straight. When I texted my mom to tell her what I was feeling, she insisted on coming down. She sat there with me, helping me breathe, as I ran back and forth from my couch to my toilet for what seemed like every 5 minutes for an hour straight. We called my doctor for assurance and guidance that everything was okay, which she assured me it was just part of the process before prescribing me narcos. I couldn’t even hold the phone to talk to her I was in so much pain.

Finally, the fetus came out.

I caught a glance of the tissue (baby) in the toilet before flushing it down, and running back to the couch to lay down and fight through more pain. But I could feel in my body it was over. At least the worst of it. The next two hours I fell in and out of consciousness. I was wiped. I was still in pain after it passed but by then it was more like intense period cramps (a 10 on the scale).

We had shared what was happening with our parents and our best friends, and I texted them during it pleading for prayer/relief. My body was truly put through the ringer, and I physically didn’t think I could take anymore and needed God to intervene. It feels good to feel people praying for you, and I felt it so strongly the days surrounding my miscarriage.

That night and through the next day, I continued to bleed, but it was manageable. It was such God’s timing that, (because I had scheduled the early ultrasound) when I spoke to my doctor the day before the miscarriage, she told me to still come in Wednesday (the appointment I would have had the original ultrasound on) but to just come see her. This ended up being the day after my miscarriage, and was an important meeting to have because she did have to ‘remove’ some more tissue that didn’t make it out and if she hadn’t done that, I would have continued to be in pain that day.

I spent the rest of the day resting. I wasn’t in pain any longer, really, just felt like it was mostly the ‘aftershock’ of pain and the intense trauma my body had been through the day before. My friends kept asking me if I was ok (emotionally). I honestly was ok. I think I was in such a state of shock I couldn’t process the emotion of what had happened.

It wasn’t until days later it hit me.

It would hit me suddenly and randomly for weeks to come. On the car ride home, after work, when I was alone to process. The first time a friend text me to tell me she was pregnant and would be due around the same time I would have been. And all the days after, at very random moments throughout the day. Like I said before, I tend to shelf my emotions. If you’re into the Enneagram, I’m a classic 3, which means I feel things deeply and intensely, but I shelf them because they don’t serve me. I don’t ‘have time’ to deal with my feelings. But this…this I tried to let myself feel. And this feeling made itself known to me whether I wanted to allow it to or not. It’s hard guys. It really is.

Still, here I am today, writing this and honestly feeling ok about it. It’s a thing that happened. A deeply, horrible, hard, ALL THE THINGS, thing that happened. It is a memory I will hold forever, but we got through it and are stronger because of it. Perhaps weaker in some ways, too…

I would say this has strengthened my husband’s and my love for each other. I felt so cared for by him, when I was going through everything. I never felt like it was ‘my fault’ or he was disappointed in me. He constantly reassured me, and took great care of me. It’s also strengthened our faith. Sharing our story has allowed God to add such beauty in our lives, and it’s been so healing. So many women have come forward and shared their stories with me, and it’s so honoring. I pray our story helps them, and so far, God is showing me it is and helping my heart be whole in the process. They say everything happens for a reason, and if I can spread some goodness in the midst of others’ tragedy, then our pain was well worth it.

Here’s how we dealt with the grief:

– Taking Time To Sit With It – Like I said, I tend to put my emotions to the wayside, but I allowed myself to sit with this as long as I needed to.

– Not Staying In It – Although I think it’s important to have time to sit in your grief, I also recognize when it’s time to move forward. I literally told myself, ‘this is the time you have to mourn, and this day you’re going to move forward’. Do I still cry occasionally and randomly? Of course. But my mindset is not so focused on it.

– Humor – Brandon and I have always been able to laugh together and laughter was our greatest weapon during this time.

– Queer Eye – This is just a feel good show and both of us were like, ‘We need to watch Queer Eye’ to see the goodness of the world in action, when we were going through our darkest days.

– Sharing with family and close friends early on. – We made the decision early on in the pregnancy to tell our parents and closest friends. I know people are cautious to share too early out of fear of a pregnancy loss, but I knew if I experienced something like this, I would want my closest friends and family to walk through it with me. More importantly, I would want them to pray for me. There’s nothing better in the world than feeling like you’re being prayed for, and I definitely felt it.

-Talking About It – Today, I share (when appropriate) with friends and family what had happened. As I mentioned at the beginning, I do think it makes some people uncomfortable. It’s hard to navigate how to sit with someone in their grief and I get that. But for me, talking about it helps. I’ve always aimed to be transparent, because I don’t think you can’t really be a real friend if you’re not… And since we’re friends, I needed you to know, too. I want you to know this is a thing that happened to me, because it changed a piece of my heart and you need to know if I’m a little different…that’s why. But also, it helps me process it. It’s cathartic. Too often we sit with our pain and don’t share it because we don’t want to ‘ruin the moment’ or rehash our hurt, but, for me…talking about it normalizes it and takes the sting out of it. I think satan loves for us to keep things in the dark, because he can have his way with us in the darkest parts of our heart and mind, but talking about it allows Jesus to do the good work in the most unexpected ways that free us from the bondage we keep inside.

Here’s what you need to know about me now.

-I’m ok. Truly. Yes, it’s hard. It has forever changed me. But, I’m ok.

-Brandon’s ok.

-We have hope in knowing we can get pregnant and plan to try again immediately. (prayers welcomed)

-Don’t feel like you need to hide your pregnancy announcements from us. We have both been so genuinely happy for all of the many friends that have shared their pregnancy news with us, since this happened. The pain we experienced, has nothing to do with the joy we feel for you. Please continue to share with us. We don’t need to be sheltered.

I’m not exactly sure how to end this story. How do you put a period mark on this story? I suppose you don’t. It is a piece of me and will forever be. My prayer in sharing this is someone out there gets the answers they need to, if they experience what I did. There was one article Brandon found when I was miscarrying that helped me feel normal. ONE person on the internet (I could find) actually explained what was happening to her. And the moment I read it, I knew I needed to do the same. My other hope in writing this post is we can make this more normalized. I mean, it’s a very normal thing, after all. But…I don’t think the way we talk about it or think about it is. I think we don’t talk about it very much at all. And when we don’t address things, that’s where the real pain builds up. Like I said, I totally get it if it’s something you have experienced and it’s too painful for you to share, but I also encourage you to try to. Sharing our stories is what makes us get through the ups and downs of life together. And, we are in this together, friends.”

Courtesy of Leah Behr

This story was written by Leah Behr. Follow her on Instagram here. Check out her blog here. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter for our best stories.

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Read more inspiring stories of strength through loss here:

‘I didn’t realize how many women suffer from pregnancy loss in silence. We are taught not to talk about the bad.’

‘Love cannot be measured in weeks’: Mother who lost baby opens up about the comparison of pregnancy loss’

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