baby blythe

d + r = baby b


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Guest Post: The Pregnant Friend’s Perspective on her Friend’s Miscarriage

I’ve written a little about Diana before, and I asked her to share her experience/perspective about something that created a visible wedge between our friendship: my miscarriage (written about here and here and specifically in reference to Diana here). Want more of Diana? Visit her blog, Losing It where she writes about weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle after pregnancy.

On a Sunday in January of 2012, I found out I was pregnant.  The next day, I told only my family and one very dear friend, Rachel.  I will never forget our conversation.  I sat down in her classroom before school started and I said, “So, I am pregnant.”  She responded with a “Shut-up!”  It was an awesome BFF moment.  All throughout the day via email, and later that night over text, she asked me a variety of questions.  Actually, she asked me A LOT of questions, things like “How are you feeling?” to “How dark was the line on the pregnancy test?”  I just assumed she was curious.

The next day at school, Rachel came into my room and shut the door.  I didn’t think anything of it:  we do stuff like that all the time.  She handed me a card, which I assumed was a written congrats.  Rachel is a generous and thoughtful friend, and one of her trademarks is surprise gifting and affirmations.  I read the card quickly and looked up at her.  Then I said, “Wait!”  I read it again.  The card was not from Rachel; it was from Baby B.  My own personal joy of being pregnant had just been amplified.  My best friend was pregnant, too!  She energetically pulled out multiple pregnancy tests from her purse and showed me each one.  She told me that she found out she was pregnant on the exact same day that I found out I was.  Suddenly, all of the questions from the day before made sense.  I had never felt so connected to a friend.  I already had so much in common with Rachel, but we were about to experience the most amazing time in our lives, together.

Rewind just a bit.  I typically am difficult to get to know.  I would imagine that my first impression can sometimes be read as stuck-up, standoffish, and distant.  I don’t always do well during social situations and I don’t open up for a long time to people.  So, you can imagine my surprise when I first met Rachel and I immediately knew we would be friends.  We have joked about how we are seriously like friend soul-mates and that we were meant to meet each other by working at CHS.  Another coworker actually bought us a paper gift for our first friend-iversary.

Rachel started trying to get pregnant around the same time that I started trying.  This was not some weird pregnancy pact thing, although multiple students have asked me if it was.   We just happened to be in similar places in our lives.  (We each got married in June of 2009.) We spoke a lot about how exciting the prospect of becoming pregnant was, and we shared concerns that it seemed to be taking longer than either of us thought it would.  One day at lunch, I remember Rachel saying, “I hope that no matter what, we can be happy for each other.”  I never felt like it was a competition or a race to become pregnant, but I did wonder how I would feel if she got pregnant first, or vice-versa.

Over the next two weeks, Rachel and I exchanged emails throughout the day guessing at each other’s due dates and speculating on the size of our tiny babies.  We talked about birth plans, names, worries, maternity leaves, etc.  It was so nice to be able to talk about it with her because I was keeping it a secret from everyone else until it was appropriate to share.

One day during the last block of the day, Rachel came to my room.  She asked to talk to me, so I went out into the hallway and shut the door.  She told me that she had spoken to her OBGYN office, and they asked that she go to the hospital for some tests.  She was fighting back tears, and I could tell that she was trying very hard to not jump to any conclusions.  I did not want her to drive herself, so I insisted that I drive her home so she could leave for the hospital with her husband.  I had a team teacher in the room with me during that class, so I told her I was leaving and we got in the car.  It was an icy day.  The roads were not clean and it was snowing.  I don’t remember exactly what Rachel and I talked about in the fifteen minute car ride, but I do know that I was trying to stay hopeful for Rachel.  Like Rachel, I had been pouring over pregnancy articles, blogs, and books from the  moment I started trying to become pregnant.  She had shared her symptoms with me, and the word we avoided saying out loud was bouncing around in my mind.  I was very scared for her.

Later that night, Rachel called me.  She did not have any results back, but she told me a few details from being at the hospital.  While we were on the phone, her doctor called her, so we hung up.  A while later, Rachel sent me a text telling me that the worst had happened:  she was miscarrying.  I don’t remember how I responded, I just remember feeling so sad for my friend.  I do remember suggesting that she take some time off, but she told me that she needed to move on and live as normal, and I knew in that moment that she was incredibly brave.

The next day at work, I knew that something had shifted.  I did not know how to act around Rachel.  She was visibly drained.  She was broken.  I was the only one at work that knew what she was going through, but I also knew that I was probably the last person she wanted to be around.  I couldn’t help but feel like the enemy.  I was pregnant, and she was not.  I decided it would be best to give Rachel space.  I felt so conflicted.  I argued with myself.  I thought, maybe I should do something for her.  I should pamper her.  However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that just my presence pained her somehow.  I tried to consider how I would feel.  If she did have any negative feelings towards me, I completely understood.  I read the signs as best I could and I tried to give Rachel space while letting her know I was there when she was ready.  This strange friendship limbo went on for awhile.  People at work started to notice.  After I announced my own pregnancy, a coworker actually approached me and guessed the entire situation.  She somehow knew just by our actions that Rachel had experienced a miscarriage.  I, of course, did not share Rachel’s story, but I dismissed the claim.  Women know.

It felt very strange to be so happy for myself and so very sad for my friend at the same time.  Although I was not mourning the loss of my pregnancy, I was mourning for a friend, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was mourning the loss of our friendship.  The overwhelming emotion during this time was guilt.  When it was safe for me to announce my own pregnancy, I felt guilty that I did.  I wanted to be happy for myself.  I wanted to tell everyone.  I wanted to do all of the things I planned on doing as I waited to become pregnant.  I told myself that I couldn’t continue to compare Rachel’s situation to mine and I needed to enjoy the experience I was having.  Every time I did though, I felt like the most selfish person alive.  I convinced myself that I would also suffer a miscarriage.  In a weird way, I felt like I almost deserved it.  At one point, my husband confronted me and told me that I was never going to experience being pregnant for the first time again, so I had to stop analyzing everything as though I had had a miscarriage.  I knew that I had to just try to separate our two situations.

I eventually had distanced myself so far from Rachel that she confronted me.  “It seemed like you stopped being my friend.”  I was so afraid of hurting her that I actually did.  I continued to hope that after some time, Rachel and I would be able to be as close as we were before.  It was through honesty and a few letters that we were able to express to each other how we each felt about the situation.  As time went on, things started to feel more and more normal between us.  When Rachel found out that she was pregnant with Porter, I was overjoyed.  I know that she was very worried and did not have the easiest pregnancy, but I felt so happy that she was going to become a mother, and that we would still get to go through the process together.

Now, Rachel and I talk daily about the joys and struggles of being new mothers.  Rachel and I get our babies together as often as we can.  Porter is the most amazing little man.  He has beautiful skin and eyes, just like his momma.  She is Auntie Rachel in our house.    Although our friendship has mended, that difficult time has not been erased.  Whenever I share something with Rachel about McKenna, I worry that I might be reminding her of what she went through.  If Rachel did not experience a miscarriage, our babies would be exactly the same age.  I can say that Rachel and I are now very honest with each other, and we are able to share these thoughts instead of letting them stew.

I can’t say that any of my other friendships have been through something like this.  I am forever thankful that I met Rachel.  I am a better teacher, friend, and person than I would be never having met her.  She challenges me.  She gets me.  She is my sister, a supporter, and an incredible friend.  Most of all, she is an amazing mother to Porter.  I have a lot of regret from how I handled myself during this complicated situation, but I know that Rachel forgives me.  That is what sisters do.

Thank you, Diana for sharing your story! Be sure to check out her blog, Losing It!

Also, don’t forget to enter my first giveaway! You have until August 3 to enter and you have three chances to win!

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The Miscarriage: The Not Too Detailed Details

It’s taken me over a year and a half to be able to sit down to write this post.  Naturally, it’s not something that I like to recall, but it’s still something I think about often. Even though I have a beautiful baby boy whom I love so dearly, I think about the first “baby B” more than I’d like to admit.

I was terrified that I was going to miscarry as soon as I got my first positive pregnancy test.  I know that most women probably are, but my paranoia seemed to be a little over the top. I panicked at every twinge and pain and I Googled almost anything that could be a “symptom” of miscarriage. Every time I went to the bathroom, I feared that I would see blood. And then one day, I did.

This next paragraph may be TMI for some of you. Skip it if you don’t want these details. It didn’t start out as bright red obvious miscarriage blood, which gave me some hope. At first there was just a bit of brown discharge. I turned to Google and knew that this could be considered normal for some pregnancies. Most sources said it was probably implantation bleeding, and there were plenty of women who said they had bleeding during successful pregnancies. After experiencing my second pregnancy, I know that bleeding–even bleeding for several weeks–didn’t necessarily indicate miscarriage or other problems. I tried to think positively, but deep down, I feared the worst.

Then the discharge increased. It still wasn’t bright red, but there was more of it. Since Google could no longer assuage my fears, and my first appointment was several weeks away, I called my OBGYN during my prep period at school.

After telling the nurse what I had been experiencing, she asked a series of questions.

“How long has this been going on?”

“A few days.”

“Do you feel any pain or cramping? Have you passed any clumps or clots?”

“Maybe a little, but nothing severe. No, I haven’t passed anything.”

“Have you done any heavy lifting lately?”

“No.” I hoped that these answers would earn me some gold stars or brownie points in the eyes of the fertility Gods.

Even though nothing I had said would necessarily provide any hints towards miscarriage, the nurse wanted me to go to the hospital for an ultrasound.  After hanging up the phone, I immediately burst out in tears.

I walked to my friend Diana’s classroom, whose classroom is around the corner from mine. She had a class, but at the time I didn’t care. She was also pregnant (and found out on the same day as I did). She came into the hallway, and I told her what was going on and that they wanted me to go to the hospital. She immediately said that she would drive me home and that she didn’t want me driving. It had been snowing and the roads were icy.  Despite my protests, she insisted.  She had a co-teacher who could cover her class for the rest of the day (it was near the end of the day).  I called David and told him the news. Diana and I talked in the car, but I was afraid if we talked about it too much that it would make it real. “They are probably just being overly cautious. I’m sure everything is fine.” She told me. Later, she confessed to me that deep down she knew. I don’t know how she did–and maybe I did, too, but I was too afraid to admit it–but she did.

David and I went to the hospital and after waiting in the waiting room at the hospital, I was finally called back for the ultrasound.  The technician only spoke a few words to me throughout the entire process. Then she sent me back out to the waiting room to wait for my doctor’s phone call.

It seemed like we waited forever, but in all honesty, I don’t remember how long it actually was. Finally, the phone rang and the receptionist called my name. My OBGYN was on the phone with the results from the ultrasound.

She verified the first day of my last period, and told me that there was no amniotic sac or fetal pole on the ultrasound. However, she did not say that meant I 100% miscarried. Since I was only a few weeks pregnant, she said it would be too early for anything to show up. Next, she sent me down to the lab for blood work. A quantitative pregnancy would give us answers for sure.

I was pricked with a few needles, got my blood drawn, and then was sent home. My doctor was suppose to call me at home when she got the results. I was told that this could take a few hours.

By this point it was around 7 in the evening. We hadn’t eaten dinner (not that I was hungry) and my car was still at the school. We picked up a pizza and I retrieved my car and drove it back home.  I ate a few bites of pizza and we sat on the couch for a few hours…waiting.

Finally my cell phone rang, and I didn’t want to answer it.  I knew that if I answered the phone, that I may not want to hear the news on the other end, but I knew I had no other choice.

My doctor verified what we feared all along: the pregnancy was not viable. She said my quantitative blood test came back as a 14, which is technically a positive pregnancy test. I didn’t understand that if I was testing positive for pregnancy how she knew for sure that I was having a miscarriage. How could I be pregnant yet NOT pregnant? She explained that HCG stayed in a woman’s system for a long time. In fact, she said that even if I were to take an at home pregnancy test, it would still show up as a positive*. According to the first day of my last period, if the pregnancy was viable, the numbers would have been a lot higher. She said there was no way that these numbers supported the idea of a successful pregnancy.

In addition to this news, she also told me that I am Rh-negative.  While this in and of itself is not a huge deal, it can cause problems later with future pregnancies.  Thus, I was told that I needed to return to the hospital on the following day in order to receive a shot of Rh immunoglobulin to prevent sensitization. None of that made sense to me (and it still doesn’t) but I returned to the hospital the next day. I had to have my blood drawn again, because they had to verify I was Rh-negative. Even though my blood was drawn the day before and it was in my chart, it had to be drawn again. We had to wait two hours for the Rh-negative results, and then I received the shot in my lower back/butt.  I had to get this shot again later in my pregnancy (third trimester, I think) and also after giving birth.

What I won’t tell you are the real details of the actual miscarriage, because honestly, I couldn’t put it into words, and I wouldn’t want to try.

I do think about our first “baby B,” though. I wonder if it was a boy or a girl. If it was a boy, we would have named him Porter, but then our Porter wouldn’t be here today, which is a weird thing to consider and think about. Would he look like our Porter does now? Would his mannerisms and personality be the same or would he be completely different? These are not questions I’ll ever know the answers to of course, but they are questions that still haunt me at night when I lie awake.

After I miscarried, someone who also miscarried once told me that if she wouldn’t have miscarried then she wouldn’t have the daughter she has today. While I do not want to say I’m glad it happened by any means (because I’m not), I do consider that point. If I wouldn’t have miscarried, Porter wouldn’t be here (or at least the Porter we know today…a different Porter could be here, which is enough to make my brain hurt).  It doesn’t make the memories of the miscarriage any easier to deal with or less painful, but I am so happy and grateful to have Porter with us today.

*I had several pregnancy tests at home, so I did continue to take a pregnancy test every day for several weeks until it no longer was positive.  This was tortuous, and I can’t explain why I did this to myself, but some weird logic told me that maybe everyone was wrong. I thought that maybe if I kept getting positive pregnancy tests then I actually was pregnant.