The Ones We Won’t Hold

August 12, 2016

A couple of months ago, Jeff and I found out that we were expecting our second child.  We were thrilled!  Adeline has brought us so much joy and we were so excited to have another baby to dote on, adore, and love unconditionally.

We told a few people we were expecting… Mostly because I am lucky enough to have a titled uterus, which makes it painfully obvious that I am expecting from very early on… from approximately 5 weeks.  I even had to switch out all of my regular clothes for my maternity clothes at about 7 weeks because my clothes were already too small.

I went to my first OB appointment a couple of weeks ago.  When the doctor did an ultrasound, he unfortunately could not find a heartbeat.  The doctor said that there was a slight chance that it was simply too early for him to see the heart beating, but that it was likely we had lost the baby.  I can’t say that I was terribly surprised because I had experienced a fair amount of spotting, and for some reason, I just felt like something was off.  In fact, just the night before, I had told Jeff that I felt like there was something wrong.  But still, I was devastated.  The doctor told me to make an appointment for about 2 weeks later so he could do another ultrasound IF I hadn’t officially lost the baby by then.  And then he sent me home… basically to wait to miscarry.

I have experienced so many emotions over the past couple of weeks.  When the doctor told me that he couldn’t find the heartbeat, I was so grateful that he used the words “the baby” rather than “the embryo” or “the fetus.”  Because to me, it was a baby.  MY baby.  A human life, despite what scientists or doctors or others may call it.  I was so grateful that the doctor didn’t minimize what this baby was, or what this baby meant to me.  I was also grateful that he gave me a copy of the ultrasound picture… That I have a picture of this baby, even if I never got to see him or her grow up.  Even though I never got to hold, hug, or kiss him or her.

I have also felt so devastated.  It is crazy how sad I could be given that I had only known about this child for a few short weeks.  My heart literally hurts when I think about the fact that I will never get to meet, hold, or show love to this child.  People have told me things like, “Miscarriage is nature’s way of saying that something is wrong,” and while I’m sure that’s true, it doesn’t make me feel any less sad.  And in fact, it seems to invalidate the feelings of sadness I am experiencing.  My heart is broken, and that’s okay.  It’s okay for me to be sad.  It’s okay for me to hurt.  It’s okay for me to grieve this child who is not going to come to me.  It is NOT okay for me to let others dictate how I “should” feel about miscarrying.

Anxiety is another emotion that I have become very familiar with over the past few weeks.  When I first went home, I was incredibly anxious about when I would actually miscarry the baby.  Every twinge I felt in my abdomen, I would think, “Is this it?  Is this when the cramping and the bleeding will start?”  I was afraid to leave the house because I was worried that I would be away from home when I started to lose the baby.  It was all I could think about.

The day after my doctor’s appointment, I found the ultrasound picture the doctor had given me.  I hadn’t shown it to Jeff simply because I had forgotten and had many other things on my mind.  Showing Jeff the ultrasound must have been a trigger of sorts because I had a major anxiety attack.  I started thinking about the idea of getting pregnant again– What if I couldn’t get pregnant again?  And if I did, what if I lost the baby again?  What did I do to make this happen?  How could I stop it from happening again?  Did I drink too much caffeine?  Was it the Excedrin Migraine I took?  Did I not drink enough water?  Or is it because (I know this sounds silly) I had jinxed it by switching out my regular clothes for my maternity clothes already?  I couldn’t stop the irrational thoughts and fears from plaguing my mind.  This led to lots of tears and hyperventilation.  Luckily, my husband is amazing and as he held me, he talked me down and I recovered.  Of course, I had a splitting headache and was incredibly dizzy due to lack of oxygen, but all was well.  I am so grateful for my sweet husband.

That brings me to the next emotion I have felt over the past couple of weeks.  I have felt a whole lot of love.  Jeff has been such a huge support to me.  He has not invalidated the way I have been feeling.  He has been compassionate and kind.  He has done more than his fair share of cooking, dishes, and cleaning–not to mention how much he has done to care for Adeline.  Jeff and I have grown so much closer and I am so appreciative of all he does for me.  If I had been closer to my sisters and my mom, I am sure I would have had a “Girl’s Night” or something with them to keep my mind off of things, but because we don’t have any family around us, and although I have had many phone calls and texts from those I love who don’t live near us, it’s really just been Jeff and me.  We have grown closer as a couple, and I am very thankful for that.

Thank goodness for this sweet baby girl and her dad.  Don’t know what I would do without them.

To those who wonder what to say to someone they know who has lost a baby, there are a couple of things I have found to be helpful, and a couple of things that are not helpful at all.  First of all, I have just wanted someone to listen to me.  I don’t need someone to tell me that I’m being irrational (because I know that already).  Having someone point out to me that if I had carried this baby to full-term, there may have been something wrong with him, was not helpful at all.  That just led to the thought, “Well, why did there have to be something wrong at all?”  I just needed people to say they were thinking about me and praying for me.  I needed someone to tell me that it was okay to grieve, and it was okay to be sad.  One of the most helpful things was to talk to people who had miscarried before, especially if they had gone on to have healthy pregnancies later.  They gave me hope.  Luckily, I had a great support system (sisters, parents, friends), even if most of them live far away.

One of the most common things women who miscarry hear is, “One in 5 (or whatever statistic they have heard) pregnancies end in miscarriage.”  As if that makes it okay.  As if it will make a woman feel better.  To me, that phrase is just about as comforting as telling someone who has lost a parent or a grandparent, “Well, 100% of the people who are born will one day die.”  Please don’t minimize a woman’s pain by making her feel like just because miscarriage is fairly common, she shouldn’t feel sad about it.  She has every right to mourn this loss.

I wish that I had known what to expect when I actually miscarried.  Now that I have experienced it, I feel a little silly thinking that the little pains I felt during the past 2 weeks could have possibly been related to the actual miscarriage.  So to those women who have not experienced a miscarriage, but wonder what to expect if it ever happens, here are some things I was not prepared for:

  • It takes a couple of weeks from the time the baby dies, to the time you will actually pass the baby.
  • I was not prepared for how much I would bleed.  I will not be too graphic, but just know that, at least at 10 weeks like I was, there will be A LOT of blood.  It will be bright red, and there will be fairly big clots.  The bleeding will last at least a few days. And, unfortunately, you cannot use a tampon because of the risk of infection.  Sorry about that.
  • Your cervix will have to open enough to pass the baby, the tissue, and the placenta.  That means that you will have a miniature labor.  So it’s going to hurt.  The pain doesn’t get as bad as labor when you deliver a full-term baby, but it’s not just a little bit of menstrual pain.
  • Even at 10 weeks, it is alarming when the baby passes.  I was not prepared for how well-formed and baby-like the fetus would be when I passed it.  It was really traumatic for me, and I am so grateful that my husband was there to help me take care of things.  I can TOTALLY see why women choose to have D&Cs rather than pass the baby naturally when they have a choice.  I wish I could “un-see” what I saw.

I had actually expected to feel relieved once it was all over.  The 2 weeks previous to this had been so filled with anxiety that IF I was going to miscarry, I just wanted it to happen.  But once it was over, I felt no relief at all.  It was like all hope was gone.  Even though I had really felt in my heart that we had lost the baby, there was still that teeny, tiny bit of hope that I was clinging to–that hope that maybe everything was okay after all.  And so, once I miscarried, I wasn’t relieved at all.  I felt empty.  It finally hit me that this child I had been carrying was gone.  I had loved this child, and yet, I had nothing to show for it, besides a grainy, black and white ultrasound.  A piece of my heart was gone.  And I wasn’t going to get it back.  I had thought I had done my grieving already, and that was partially true.  But I had a bit more grieving to do.  And that’s okay.

Finally, to this child I will not get to raise,  I just want you to know that you were wanted.  You were prayed for.  You were rejoiced over.  You were grieved for.  And you were loved.  Until we meet again, little one.


More about Shannon Packer

Hi! Thanks for stopping by! My name is Shannon Packer and I am married to my best guy, Jeff. We have a daughter named Adeline. I started this blog to keep our families updated on our lives since we have moved far away. But I will also be posting about parenting, life in general, and finding joy in the journey. Enjoy!

    1. I’m so sorry Shannon. We went thru the same thing just a few months after we got married. Some days are still hard and I think it might always be that way. But with the knowledge that we have it makes it easier. Hang in there, I hear to listen if you need it.

      1. Thank you. It helps to know that other people have gone through similar things.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience and feelings Shannon. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine how difficult that must be. I admire you and all of the brave women I know who are willing to share their experiences for the sake of others who may have to experience it in the future.

      1. Thank you. It has gotten a little bit easier as the days go by!

    1. Thank you for your honesty, the love you can feel in your words, and for being a great mom and wife (it sounds like you are!).
      I did the D&C a bit later on and I remember the pain- having a c-section in a later pregnancy I think was LESS painful that miscarrying before the D&C.
      And the anxiety you talk about- I have that with my current third pregnancy. I think once you know what having a child in your arms is like the following pregnancies and anything associated with them makes it SO much more nerve-racking cause you know more.

      Good luck, stay positive, keep your family close and always remember your Heavenly Father knows your thoughts and heart better than anyone!

      1. You are so sweet. Thank you so much. It’s comforting to know that other people understand what I’m feeling.

    1. Love you Shannon and I am sorry for yours and Jeffs loss. I too had a miscarriage. It was my first pregnancy and I wanted a baby so bad. When I went for an ultrasound I was told I had a blighted ovum. I miscarried at home and went thru terrible labor all night long and like you had a lot of bleeding and clots. A few days after I had a D&C
      You will never forget this. I went on to have 3 children but I was scared with my pregnancies until an ultrasound showed the heartbeat. I will keep you in my prayers and thoughts. Enjoy Adeline everyday because our children are truly blessings from God. Lori

      1. Thank you, Lori. It helps to know that other women have experienced similar things and that they went on to have healthy pregnancies later. And I agree. Adeline is my biggest blessing! Miss you and love you!

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve had three. One was at 12 weeks and I was in so much pain I went to the hospital and they did an emergency D&C. I didn’t know before that day that the baby had died.
      I gave a lesson at a RS activity of newly-weds once about miscarriage and I told them, if you haven’t yet,
      you will experience it or someone close to you will experience it, so we need to talk about it.

      1. I think that is so smart! So many women (like me) are just so unprepared and don’t know what to expect! So sorry that you know the pain of losing a baby, too.

    1. When I was in college the wife of my friend had a miscarriage. It was early, 8-10 weeks and I said something like “well at least it was early, right?” How stupid and insensitive I was. When we lost our first at 26 weeks I realized how foolish I had been. Others don’t get to dictate how we feel or grieve. I’ve got few regrets in my life, but treating the loss of his child so flippantly is one I’ll always remember. Thanks for the courage to share something so personal.

      1. I can’t even imagine how painful that experience must have been for you and your wife. So sorry you had to experience that, and I’m very grateful we all learn from the times we do things we are not proud of.

    1. Oh my dear sweet sister… I have been there and experienced that and know what it is like and even though I had six children I still think of the ones that I did not get to raise and wonder about them. I am glad you seem to be doing so well and that your marriage is strong and your love for each other and for your precious little girl sustains you and that our loving Heavenly Father sustains you. I will be thinking of you and keep you in my prayers… May the peace of the Lord be with you. Suzanna

      1. Thank you, Suzanna. It means a great deal to know that you are thinking of us and praying for us.

    1. I miscarried near the end of my first trimester and it was emotionally one of (if not the most) difficult things I’ve ever gone through. I felt the deepest-darkest sadness. My heart didn’t fully heal until my next baby was born, and I loved and cherished all the feels that came with her all the better because of it. The sun will come out again for you too, but in the mean time it’s okay to “feel the feels.”

      1. Thank you so much for sharing that with me. It gives me the courage to try again, because sometimes I feel too much anxiety to even think about trying to have another one. So glad the sun came out for you!

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