Yesterday I had brunch with a very dear friend I hadn’t see in years and he shared with me that he and his wonderful wife had a miscarriage over the summer. Not only that, but they had it around the same time in the pregnancy that Josh and I had ours in pretty much the same way and had to get a D&C, just like we did. It was such a gut punch to hear someone I care about so deeply recalling this, not to mention knowing exactly what it feels like. And it sucks. You start questioning everything, specifically what you did wrong (which, most likely, is absolutely nothing because miscarriage is insanely common and despite what you’ve been told, a healthy pregnancy is truly a miracle). Everyone deals with grief differently, but having to take two steps back when you think your life is about to completely change is never easy — and losing a child is something I would never wish on anyone. We were lucky in the sense that it happened so so early in my pregnancy. Even though we’d already started preparing, both mentally and environmentally, I cannot imagine losing a child later in a pregnancy or having a stillborn child.
And the thing is, all of these events are so much more common than people think. They’re just so rarely discussed openly because both men and women are taught throughout their lives that not only is sex shameful, but that one small slip-up during sexual activity can result in an STD or a baby. And while this is extremely true, so much emphasis is put on that idea that both girls and boys are not taught as much about equally important concepts concerning their bodies — the importance of getting seen regularly by a doctor, how the reproductive system works (I have learned so much about my body in the past two years it’s not even funny, and I probably never would’ve if we hadn’t had to seek treatment), how much fertility is affected as you age, practicing physically and mentally safe sex over abstinence, etc. These are such crucial things to start incorporating into health education — and no one should ever feel shame over them. If you are planning to wait until your thirties to start a family, I would highly recommend getting some baseline fertility tests because even though our case may be atypical, that shiz is scary. BE INFORMED. I find it appalling in hindsight how much I’ve had to explain to fellow women about certain parts of this journey and the truth is, if I wasn’t dealing with infertility, I’d be in the same boat. Our educational system has failed us big time.
Anyway, that’s a tangent. My miscarriage never really “happened,” per se. I got pregnant for the first time ever about a year and a half after we first started trying, which was this past February, after our third IUI. We were in shock. I took pregnancy tests every day, twice a day, for at least two weeks because I didn’t believe it.
We told most of our family and close friends and started buying a few baby items here and there, planning renovations to the house, etc., as a way of prepping for baby and indulging in some of our excitement, but also to quell our fears and misgivings — instincts that, unfortunately, turned out to be not unfounded. We saw the beginning of a little person when I was almost six weeks pregnant, but still could not quite feel that connection. And when I was about seven and a half weeks pregnant, there was no heartbeat or growth.
The most surprising part of this was that neither of us felt taken aback. We were like, “Oh. Well…yeah.” At that point, any positive news was something unexpected, sadly, so as difficult as it was to deal with the aftermath of losing a baby (and it WAS difficult, but thankfully involved lots of wine, sushi, caffeine, Brie, and other things pregnant ladies are supposed to steer clear from, plus lots of tears), we were more mentally prepared than we realized we were.
Not that it was easy. I have never seen Josh in so much pain, and I hope I never have to again. I know I will, because life is inclusive of those moments however much we wish it wasn’t, but seeing the person you love most in the entire world feel that kind of pain and not being able to do anything about it is such a horrible thing. Also, around that time, we also knew approximately 678435 people who were pregnant. I gained 10 lbs. in a month from depression eating. It wasn’t a good spring/early summer, guys.
Not only did I opt to induce miscarriage by taking medication, but I tried that route about six times (each a little less painful than the previous attempt) — meaning I wasn’t able to miscarry fully on my own despite the repeated attempts and writhing on my bathroom floor in pain, so I had to get the D&C. My doctor told me he had only seen the medication not work for someone one other time ever. LUCKY ME! Fortunately, the D&C procedure itself went as smoothly as it possibly could’ve. We are very thankful for that, and that my mom flew in for emotional support. It was so much easier having her here with us. My cycles also went back to normal like clockwork, thank God. They are actually even better/more normal than they were before.
The most difficult part of the D&C wasn’t the surgery itself (or even the bill, which added up to about as much as an IUI cycle), but the moment I had to sign a consent form about what to do with the tissue and I did a double-take at the “Mother” signature line, thinking it meant my mom because up until that moment, it always had — and she was right next to me at the time, so I assumed it was for a witness signature or something.
When I realized it meant me, it felt real in a way it hadn’t up until that point, and I don’t wish that feeling on anyone. It was the first time I had ever been called a mother by someone I didn’t know, or signed anything that referred to me that way, and thank God I went under anesthesia shortly after that because I almost lost it. It was like a punch in the throat and the moment I felt like I was truly saying goodbye.
Another thing I shared with my friend today is that I am still grappling with feeling like this is the universe demanding payment for something, like it’s Rumpelstiltskin taking my firstborn child from me because of something I didn’t even realize I was gambling for or did wrong. According to my own internal dialogue, it could be a lot: breaking off my engagement eight years ago and leaving my fiancé for his best friend, waiting until my thirties to have children, getting annoyed at crying kids in public, not living in the same state as my aging parents. Take your pick. Payment? For the amazing 2015-2016 Josh and I had. We both got great jobs (mine literally at my dream company), bought a house, went to Europe. So my brain was like, something is going to be a payment here. (Yes, I’m talking to my therapist about this.)
My friend today was one of the first people I’ve told this to who hasn’t shot it down cold. He of course said it wasn’t true — which is what I would tell anyone else who wasn’t me, to be fair — but he also said he understood why I’d feel that way and that it wasn’t unreasonable or irrational to feel it. Oddly, that made me feel kind of empowered about it. These are feelings I continue to work through and I am a lot better about it now than I was a year ago. To be honest, Josh and I both still grapple with the way we got together, but not nearly as much as we used to. It creeps in when we’re both feeling especially insecure and has shown its face in a very ugly way throughout this infertility journey, during the times when we both feel defeated and the “when” is an “if.” It’s still a “when” for us at this point and we’re trying to be optimistic, but that ebbs and flows and I think that’s probably OK.
I did get to spend my birthday at Walt Disney World when I was still pregnant, which was so fun. Josh bought me a bottle of non-alcoholic wine for the AirBnB and a little silly bell to ring when I want a kiss, and a coffee mug that had the name we’d picked out if our baby was a girl (spelled differently, but still). We had felt it was a boy before that, but that day we changed our minds because we took it as a sign that the gift shop had our girl name but not our boy one.
We had fun deciding what would be baby Haupt’s first ride, and made a video on Dumbo where we talked to the baby about how much we were excited to take her to WDW one day. We told our waiter at dinner that we were expecting our first child and he was so excited for us and took great care of us. He even tracked down non-alcoholic wine for me. It was probably my best birthday to date.
We never did find out the sex of the baby for sure because we opted not to have the D&C tissue tested since most of it had cleared out from the meds before I went in for the procedure, but my mom thinks it was a girl too.
We mutually decided to call her Genevieve (my mom’s idea), because that was what my mom had wanted to name me initially.
We cried for Genevieve a lot. We still do sometimes, but not nearly as often. She will always be our first baby and she will always be any future babies’ (and Penny’s!) big sister.