On December 25, 2018, Marvin surprised me with the best Christmas present ever - a proposal of marriage. In January, thinking that it would probably take a few months to successfully get pregnant, we stopped trying not to get pregnant. And on January 29, 2019, I took a pregnancy test. To our surprise, the result was positive.
Warning: This blog post will not be for everyone. It has nothing whatsoever to do with travel or RVing. If you have a weak stomach or simply do not like hearing intimately personal stories, please skip to the next post.
Overjoyed with the news, I researched everything I should and should not eat, ravenously consumed YouTube videos and blogs about rearing a child, and scoured reviews of baby products - from strollers and high chairs to pacifiers and bottles.
On February 15, I visited my OB/GYN for the first time. The ultra sound technician confirmed that I was indeed pregnant, and in a state of euphoria, I heard and watched my baby's heartbeat.
For the next several weeks, I slowly built my baby registry, carefully selecting well-reviewed items. I continued to eat right, walked as much as I could, brainstormed baby names, and pinned everything baby-related on my newly-created Pinterest boards.
On March 4th, two days before our wedding, we told parents, siblings, grandparents, and a few close friends that we were expecting. Our overwhelming joy spread to our loved ones.
Two and a half weeks later, everything changed.
On March 21st, I began spotting. A sense of dread came over me, but I reassured myself that spotting can happen, especially during the first trimester, and it may be nothing.
The following morning I called my OB's office and left a message to have the nurse call me. By the time I finally spoke with her that afternoon, the spotting had worsened, and I was beginning to panic. She tried to reassure me that it could be any number of things, and advised me to come to the office Monday morning.
On March 23rd, around 3:00 in the morning, the cramps started. By 4:30, they had gone from a 1 or 2 on the cramps pain scale to a 3 or 4. I called my manager later in the morning and told him I would not be coming in to work. When Marvin left at 8:30, I assured him that I would be fine by myself, but he insisted that he would come home at lunch time to check on me.
And around 9:00, I passed my first pancake-sized blood clot. This continued every 15 minutes for the next two hours, then every 30-60 minutes for the following ten hours. True to his word, Marvin came home at 12:30, and at 2:30, when I nearly passed out the first time, I was grateful he was there to splash water on my face and help me back to bed. That evening, when the contractions started, I was in agony and knew that a hospital visit was inevitable.
At 9:00 I fell asleep, but awoke again at 10:30 to again rush to the restroom to pass yet another blood clot. This time, I did pass out. Fortunately, Marvin caught me, and I woke up on the floor wondering why he was loudly calling my name and patting my face. "Why are you yelling at me?" I asked him groggily. We rushed to the emergency room, where I nearly passed out again in the waiting room. At one point, lying on the bed in the ER, utterly exhausted, knowing how much blood I had lost and how much blood I was still losing, I looked at Marvin and asked him genuinely if I was going to die. After spending the entire night in the ER being prodded and poked, I was admitted to the hospital for two blood transfusions.
And on March 24, exactly one month ago, at 11 weeks and 3 days, I passed the gestational sac that was to be my baby.
I wept. I sobbed. Over and over and over. In the hospital. In the car. At home. At night. I cried so much at night. I woke up crying. I woke up sad, sat up, and started crying. For the first five days, I spent hours sobbing in absolute anguish. I felt like my body had betrayed me, and that a part of me had been ripped out.
Through it all, Marvin was my rock. When I cried, he held me. He woke up and sat up with me while I sobbed. He texted me throughout the day to ask me if I was okay. He made sure I ate.
But after five days, I was on the brink of depression. I've been there before. I know what depression looks like for me. I stood at the edge and knew I had to reach out to someone. So I spoke to one of my oldest friends who struggled through multiple miscarriages but now has four beautiful children. Just opening up about it helped.
The following day, I spoke to my grandmother, who never had a miscarriage, but who said, "We've both been through some pretty crappy situations. We made it through those, and we'll make it through this." And later that day, I spoke with another friend who had a difficult miscarriage and now has two beautiful kids. She gave me some advice that helped me immensely. We talked about trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel. She said, "There IS light. And don't feel guilty about being happy either." Having other women assure me that I would come through this, as so many other strong, wonderful women have before me, helped tremendously. And knowing that I was allowed to start feeling better made me finally start to feel almost okay.
For the next couple weeks, I continued to cry, especially when I saw a small child or a pregnant woman. But I cried less often, and the sobbing subsided more quickly as time went on.
On this, the one-month anniversary of the end of the pregnancy I had longed for, as I think about it and write about it, I cry again. But Marvin and I have already decided that when we find a house, we'll plant a tree in memory of Baby Barnes. And soon we'll try again, this time better prepared and with more knowledge than before.
For the past several weeks, I have struggled with whether or not to post my story. One could reasonably argue that this is a deeply personal, extremely intimate experience of my life that others need not know.
Obviously, I ultimately decided that I needed to write this. I needed to post it. For one thing, so much of social media and blogging shows only the good, happy things that happen in our lives - the fabulous vacations, the weddings and honeymoons, the goals achieved. But life has both ups and downs, and marriage is for better and for worse.
For another thing, talking about our struggles, allowing ourselves to open up and be vulnerable, is therapeutic. I needed to write this for myself, as part of the healing process.
But more than that, I decided to post this because I felt that if I can help just one other woman struggling through the same thing, it's worth opening up and becoming vulnerable. Ultimately, what helped me through the grief was talking to others who had gone before, who had been through miscarriage and had gone on to have successful pregnancies resulting in healthy babies. The vulnerability and openness of others pulled me back from depression and helped me move forward.
If you've suffered a recent miscarriage and need someone to talk to, please don't hesitate to reach out.
If you've been through a miscarriage and have words of wisdom and encouragement, for me and for others, please drop a line below.
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