I Told Everyone I Was Pregnant, And Then I Miscarried – Here’s Why I Don’t Regret It
I was sitting in a Starbucks working and a man walked passed me briskly. I could smell his body odor like a punch in the gut. It stopped my fingers on the keyboard. I paused, wondered if my face was twisting and recoiling like my mind was, and then dove back into my inbox.
Three minutes later I look up, wondering if that man had passed again? I could still smell him. He was nowhere in sight. I shook up my iced caramel macchiato, took a sip, and stopped mid-slurp. I was pregnant. I have a very acute sense of smell, but it’s never this wildly offended unless I’m totally pregnant. Come to think of it, a couple weeks before I had become incoherently nauseas at the smell of bacon, and thought nothing of it, except that I was going insane.
Once a pregnancy test confirmed my nose’s suspicion, I felt overcome with gratitude, and also was a bit anxious. Actually not just a bit anxious – I was deeply anxious and worried. I went that day to tell Joe, and he had a similar response, going into his own spiral about money and house sizes and providing for all of our kids now. It wasn’t our best moment.
For some reason, from that very first day of knowing, things felt a little off. Just off. I didn’t feel quite right and I was so negatively concerned. Honestly, and I’m being very honest – I was almost kind of doubting the whole situation and if it was the right time, if we should have planned better. This is not me to be so upset about a dream coming true, I thought. Not me.
Joe kept asking me why I was being such a downer about the whole thing. He was perplexed by this uncharacteristic melancholy. Especially around a pregnancy, since I wanted “a boatload of kids”. Later that first day when we found out, he brought home flowers and we got excited. I took a selfie with the bouquet, reminding myself of what everyone says: “your second child gets much less attention, and way less baby photos.” I wanted to document just like I had for our first. I was getting excited now.
“Can you believe I’m pregnant again?!” I would ask Joe rhetorically. My dream of a big family was unfolding, and I couldn’t get over it. I was so excited to tell our parents, although I worried they would think we were having children too close together. To my surprise they were all not surprised, and very encouraging.
“Our kids would be close together, just like we wanted!”
“When in baby-mode, stay in baby-mode.”
“It’ll only be tough for a couple months”
They were reassuring and positive, though I was intermittently working into a frenzy and celebrating like mad.
We started telling our family and friends immediately. We can’t keep secrets around here, and we always said so casually that if anything happened, we would tell them anyways. Not even a week had passed and acquaintances at the gym were congratulating me – news travels fast, even in a big town. I was so happy and proud, so I smiled and gave hugs. People rubbed my belly which I swore was already in the pre-chubby “I just ate a burrito” phase.
Life was good. So good.
The moment things took a turn, I knew. We went in for our first ultrasound, proud as punch.
“We’re back! Couldn’t get enough of you!” we announced. Everyone entertained us and laughed with us. We sat in the waiting room chairs and reminisced about that one time Joe showed up there alone, sat amongst dozens of extremely pregnant women for about 20 minutes, and then realized he was at the wrong doctor’s office. Oh, the good ol’ days.
Things quickly got more serious when the calculation of the baby’s size was so off. They thought the baby was not as far along as I had calculated, and it put a pit in my stomach. I had thought I was nine weeks, but the baby’s growth was showing as six weeks. At that point, I was honestly surprised that they saw a heartbeat, but they did! We were in awe, even though it was our second time around. A sigh of relief, for just a moment.
However, the next day I started to experience alarming symptoms. And it was truly a bit scary.
I’ll spare you the details, as I’m already walking the line of vulnerable versus intimate, but the signs of miscarriage are often the same, and start with something heavier than spotting which for me escalated each day, until a few days later, when I had excruciating cramping, etc., and realized that I had in fact miscarried our second baby. I had gone to the emergency room due to the pain, and while there they confirmed that I had lost the baby fully.
I will never forget the feeling after the ultrasound, sitting curled up on top of the sheets of a hospital bed, just wanting to go home. A nurse came in asking for my credit card. “That’ll be $250 Mrs. Van Tassel.” “Great,” I thought. Add insult to injury.
When there is an unspeakable pain in my life, something dark and awkward to bring to the public forefront, it rests on the surface of my private mind. I can feel it behind my eyebrows.
I’d be crunching on a salad at lunch with co-workers, and every time someone asked me a question, I’d silently be screaming in my mind about a hardship I was going through, most recently my father’s cancer. It would be loud in my mind, “But did you know my dad has cancer?! He could die! He has CANCER!” And I’d sit there with a papier-mâché smile, and shove down my internal panic with each lettuce bite. It’s a wonky contact lens that slips over the other thoughts, forcing me to move it around and think about it before clearly shifting into the other, more pressing thoughts.
With the unspeakable pain of this second pregnancy, I was in the midst of planning my son’s first birthday, and my parents were staying with us. I had gone through this with them right by my side, thankfully, though it also felt so public. I had friends scheduled to come over, a taco guy coming to cook, and decorations to be bought and hung. Once I started feeling “off”, I cancelled the party with a vague reasoning as to why, and created the first ripple in the telling of our friends.
I kept a journal, to help me process emotions as they rose to the surface. Here is what it reads:
Day 2 morning:
With the cloud of bitterness comes a sweet light summer rain. Those drops that perk up the hairs on your arms, sending cold chills into a hot humid atmosphere. A relief from the suffocation.
Losing even a tiny fetus has made a 5 am wakeup a welcome joy to see Boyd. A cuddle from the dog in bed, who’s making the covers impossible to get over your left leg, so knowing and perfect. Morning coffee never tasted so much like home.
You’re still in pain – physically and emotionally reeling in the corners. But at least for this day, this seam in time that is the day after, I feel only gratitude and love for what is.
Day 2 evening:
With each piece of adversity in my puzzle I become more me. More of a home for other hearts. With each hardship, a new folded layer with created darkness, but also incredible light. Little moments shine through as the heroes they are.
But there is a unique torture in having to take your one year old to daycare for the first time, two days after a miscarriage. It feels today, unbearable. And tomorrow I anticipate much worse.
Maybe God slowly pulls your children away in one way or another to remind you that their only yours to borrow. To help you heal little by little. Maybe it’s the healing and the sewing up of our hearts that is really the gift. A reminder of our own mortality and how special each ray and shadow cast by the sun is.
It’s all light and dark, dancing. Moving together.
Day 3 morning
Today there is not enough coffee to fill the weariness of my heart. And If my heart is a mug, then my eyes are tea bags, full and puffed with water, spilling out with the gentlest squeeze between fingertips.
Day 3 evening:
Me: What do we do with the ultrasound picture? I can’t throw it away.
Joe: No, don’t throw it away.
Me: I guess I’ll file it.
Joe: We have to keep it. It’s the only photo of them that exists.
We’re now a few weeks out, and I can read this without actually crying (maybe a little tearing up). Life moves on, and things get easier, as they always do. I felt the common range of emotions: sad, embarrassed, like something was wrong with me, and also a tiny bit relieved. I am not immune to the trappings of loss, though I felt oddly at peace throughout the entire event. When you’re body knows, when your God acts, you listen.
It wasn’t long before our people starting calling to ask if I was ok. They were checking on my “feeling under the weather” comment from our cancelled birthday party. We told everyone immediately what had happened, and just came out with it.
Though it was uncomfortable and a bit awkward, I must say this: I am glad we told everyone. They say to test the strength of your relationships, you have to do just that - test them. I certainly never intended to shock our friends and family with sad news, nor would I wish this upon even a single enemy. In the thick of a dark time for me, I lived authentic and open, and was met with those exact graces. I had flowers, meals, cards, and more delivered to my house. Friends called, texted, and sent cards with words that I will save and read over and over. Heaps of the most genuine love poured out all around me. I have never felt more cared for. I had at least half a dozen friends reach out who had also been through a miscarriage – I had had no idea. It truly was a common event, and something that could unite me with others. One of life’s secret societies that I had been chosen to join, unknowingly.
As I walked out of my doctor’s office for the post-event check-up, I felt so normal. There was no heaviness or dejectedness. No film over my thoughts to adjust. I didn’t have that screaming voice behind the brows, starving for acknowledgment. We lived this one in real time with our people, and I was able to heal in real time, with my people. There was nothing left to say, internally or aloud. The shame was never able to form. We’re still sad, but we know God has a plan for us and our family. For each soul in our circle. For now, I hope we can share a tiny ray of the light we see surrounding our hearts.
Since I first wrote this all down, I have had a few days where I feel quite sorry for myself. I’ve cried a little, and had one epic and unexpected meltdown with a friend, which was just what I needed to keep processing. I left our time together and thanked her for listening. Her response still hangs with me.
“We’re all just walking each other home.”