Editor’s Note: This post contains sensitive material dealing with miscarriage that may be difficult for some readers.
I’m bleeding. It’s not a lot, not even a fair amount, but I know.
I’m reading every article and every forum I can find online about other women’s experiences with spotting during pregnancy. So many of them say it’s normal. So many experts say it’s normal.
I know it is, but the sinking feeling I have deep down, entangled with heartache and anguish, is making it hard to focus and even harder to think that this is normal.
No, stop it, you’re only 8 weeks. You’re fine. Women spot all the time.
I go to work.
I go to the bathroom between every patient, wiping obsessively. I’m in a frenzy, wanting so bad to see white on the toilet paper. My eyes work to convince me the red is nonexistent as my heart tries to convince my brain everything will be fine.
Why am I not nauseous yet? I was nauseous from the beginning with my other pregnancy. That’s OK, some women don’t get sick right away.
I had always wanted to be lucky enough to escape the nausea … until I was. Until now.
I’m on my lunch break and go to buy a dollar pregnancy test because they’re cheap and don’t detect the pregnancy hormone, HCG, the way the expensive tests do. I tell myself that when it’s positive, I’ll know for sure I’m still pregnant. I can’t wait to test until I get back to work, so I use the store bathroom.
The dollar pregnancy test is still positive. I’m disappointed in both the rush of relief I was expecting and the return of the excitement I felt when the two pink lines I’d been trying so hard for appeared. It was work to plan a pregnancy.
I tracked my ovulation. I took the sexy part out of sex because I had a job to do with a goal beyond an orgasm, and this is what I get? My body succeeded in creating the miracle of life, but now my body is rejecting what it created?
This isn’t fair and I’m getting angry. I dread going through all of this again, but I know I will.
I’m bleeding slightly more now. Maybe it’s not slightly, maybe it’s getting heavy, but I can’t admit that. Not yet. I’m usually a strong woman, but right now I feel like a girl and I feel so … sad. So unworthy and unfit.
Isn’t this what my body is supposed to be best at doing? I hate this feeling of feeling sorry for myself.
My friends at work know something is wrong, so I tell them. They keep telling me that spotting is normal. I keep telling them they are wasting their words trying to convince me — that it’s not a big deal; I’m only 8 weeks.
I go to the hospital after work. I sit next to an older man on my left who has a cough tinged with blood. There’s a woman who thinks she broke her pinkie finger on my right. I watch another woman being pushed in a wheelchair scream out in pain and clutch her stomach.
Should I even be here?
A man calls me back and asks what’s going on. I tell him I’m pregnant and I’m bleeding. He asks how far along I am. I answer about 8 weeks. He raises his eyebrows just enough for me to notice and just enough for me to get pissed off.
Eight weeks or 8 months — I’m still pregnant, asshole.
But I don’t say that. Instead, I ask if I should just go home. He says it’s up to me. I decide I can’t go the entire weekend not knowing whether I should be celebrating a new life or feeling crushed that I created one and couldn’t maintain it.
I’m lying on the hospital bed, legs crossed, hands tucked tightly between my legs, and I’m shivering. Why is it so cold in here? Maybe they want you to be cold so you have something to think about other than what’s wrong, which for me, right now, is everything. I wanted this baby so bad.
A technician wheels in an ultrasound machine and asks me about my symptoms. I repeat them for the third time and still stings a little more each time the words are spoken into the universe. It makes it more real. It makes it true.
He has me guide the ultrasound probe in my vagina because it’s too early for a belly ultrasound. It’s freezing and my exposed legs stretched in the stirrups are covered in goosebumps.
The probe goes in. Ouch. I remember now that I hate these things. I stare at the ultrasound screen and see nothing. The technician says, “Well, there is a sack, but it’s empty. So yes, you are miscarrying.”
Now I feel nothing. I don’t want to feel this. I don’t want to feel like I’m a failure somehow. Like my body doesn’t know what to do. Like I’m less of a woman. I know these feelings are irrational, but I can’t help them.
I go to Walgreens with a prescription for pain medication. I text my partner to update him. I don’t wait for a response before heading inside. I welcome the feeling of dizziness and spacing out the medication will provide. Anything to get away from this.
The pharmacist is confused. She asks me if I’m pregnant and I tell her I’m not anymore. Why would she ask me that? Can she not see the pain in my face? It’s 10 PM and the hospital is across the street. Why can’t she put two and two together?
She tells me, “Well, if you are still pregnant, these will be counterproductive to your pregnancy.” I am stunned. I’m not pregnant anymore. I saw the space inside of me where something once was, but now is not. How dare she.
I tell her again that I’m not pregnant anymore and am having a miscarriage. I now start to sweat as I feel the ears of customers behind me hone in on the personal questions she shouldn’t be asking.
I tell her to just give me the damn medicine. She does.
I’m at home. I tell my partner I don’t want to talk about it and he doesn’t force me. He knows I don’t like to talk about things like this, but what he doesn’t know is that I secretly hope he’d force me.
I’m in the shower because it’s the only place I can go in our small apartment where he won’t hear me cry. No, get over it. Women deal with this all the time and you can, too. Time to be a big girl. But it hurts so bad. I wanted this baby. I cry again.
I’m in bed already planning when I can start trying again; already feeling myself obsessed again, but it’s the only way I know how to cope. I put the white pill on my tongue and taste the bitterness just before I take a gulp of water. It’s bitter like I am now. Screw it, I’ll take another.
I wish I would have known then what I know now: there was nothing I could have done. Early miscarriages are common and unpreventable. Nobody (at least, nobody that mattered) was looking down on me for what I couldn’t get my body to do. I wish I would have talked more about it with my partner. I wish I wouldn’t have suffered in silence.
It doesn’t matter if you are only a few weeks pregnant, miscarriage is miscarriage. Grief is grief. Never again will I be afraid to show it.