• Courtney McLane Mize

The Story of Our Missed Miscarriage

As we come to the end of Infertility Week I feel like it’s time to share about our experience with miscarriage earlier this year. I know our story is so small compared to others on the journey of fertility, but this isn’t about comparing. Struggle is struggle and loss is loss. It hurts no matter what way you slice it. Unfortunately, we realized there are not a lot of answers that doctors can give during miscarriage, but that’s all I was desperate for. If our story can help just one other person feel “normal” during their experience then this is 100% worth sharing.

Finding Out We Were Expecting

We found out I was pregnant very early! I was barely four weeks and my doctor’s appointment wasn’t scheduled for another month or so. That seemed insane to me but I learned that it’s actually normal to not be seen before eight weeks. My pregnancy was completely normal up until my doctor’s appointment. I was tired, nauseous, and at times cried over literally nothing. Classic pregnancy symptoms.

Diagnosing the Miscarriage

We were told during our first ultrasound that there was no heartbeat. The tech did an abdominal ultrasound, then moved to an internal ultrasound, then told us she was concerned because she couldn’t find a heartbeat. She continued to take lots of videos and images that were sent to radiology for a final confirmation. That’s how we found out we had a miscarriage. I had literally zero signs prior to this. This is called a missed miscarriage or a silent abortion. The baby’s heart stopped beating but my body didn’t show any physical signs of miscarriage. Prior to this experience, I didn’t even know that was possible. About 5% of miscarriages fall under this category.

We were left alone after the tech got all the footage to send to radiology. Know that WHATEVER you feel during that time of sitting in the exam room waiting for someone to come in and confirm that your baby doesn’t have a heartbeat is okay. Anger, sadness, numbness, it’s all okay. Tyler actually started crying before I did. I tried my best to hold it together (my go-to move when life gets hard) but my chest was completely broken out in red, splotchy patches, and the tears were quick to follow once we were alone. It’s almost hard to believe what’s happening when you get this news while you’re lying on an exam table with your legs in stirrups.

Next Steps of a Missed Miscarriage

At this point you are typically given three options: wait for your body to pass things naturally, take a prescription to induce the process, or undergo a D&C procedure. Don’t feel rushed to make a decision on the spot. I felt like I blacked out while we had this conversation with our doctor. The gravity of what you are trying to process is so heavy and if you aren’t ready to make a decision about your next steps in the moment, that is okay. Your doctor will likely want to continue to see you weekly until this journey comes to an end, and unless you opt for immediate surgery, the timeline is somewhat indefinite.

At first, we decided to see if things would pass naturally. We wanted to give my body a fair chance to do its own thing before introducing medicine or doing anything invasive. Loss of any kind is painful and this is not to say one type of loss is worse than another. But this, in my opinion, is what makes a missed miscarriage really unique. The waiting. Never knowing your baby’s heart stopped and then waiting to start feeling any symptoms, waiting to miscarry or not miscarry, it’s just one big wait. There are no definite answers about what to expect. That is brutal physically, mentally, and emotionally. After a few weeks, we ended up moving forward with a D&C. We were both confident that we waited a fair amount of time for things to happen naturally and nothing was progressing. We knew we did not want to risk getting an infection and making this worse, so a D&C was the right choice for us. The procedure was honestly great, all things considered. It was outpatient and quick. Something I did not know was that when you wake-up in post-op you will likely be bleeding. A lot. This was honestly the worst part for me because I just didn’t know to expect that. The first things I remember telling my nurse after I woke up were, “I’m sad because we aren’t leaving with a baby but I know we did the right thing” and “I think I’m bleeding”.

Physical Symptoms

Unfortunately with this type of miscarriage, there are rarely any definite answers as far as what to expect. Really anything is considered normal unless you show signs of infection like fever, swelling, tenderness to the touch, etc. In the weeks between our ultrasound and the D&C my physical symptoms were pretty minor. Aside from my pregnancy symptoms fading away, inconsistent mild cramping was really all I had. No pain, bleeding, or spotting at all, but because we didn’t know if I would miscarry naturally or not, we had everything I would need on hand in case anything started.

After the D&C it took about a week and a half for my symptoms to stop. After the procedure, I bled for two days, and after that, it would come and go. I was pretty sore and crampy as well but that started passing on day four post-op. It was about six weeks from the time I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage until my first period came back and a full month from the time I had the D&C. Everyone’s body responds differently, this was just my experience.

Emotionally Coping

I wish I had the right words to say here. I wish I could tell you that it’s not so bad and you’ll feel like yourself again soon, but I can’t. Everyone responds differently physically and emotionally. Every day you wake up wondering if you’re going to miscarry, if that cramp was normal, if you’re bleeding will come back, trust me, I get it. After our first doctor’s appointment, Tyler and I both bawled. I spent the first three days after that ultrasound in bed. I’ve been through a lot in life prior to this and thought I was pretty tough, but this wrecked me. As much as I was confident that the Lord had a plan and a bigger purpose in this, my heart has never felt more sad. I fell asleep crying. I woke up in the middle of the night crying. I woke up in the morning crying. I cried at least once a day for a solid two weeks. I just didn’t feel like myself. Part of that was also hormones because your body is trying to figure out what the heck is going on. I don’t have all the answers about what this will look like for you, but here is what I can tell you.

I can tell you that however you feel is normal. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to processing a loss like this. There is no way to fully explain to someone else how it feels to lose your baby that you saw on a screen but never held in your arms. There is nothing like this experience.

I can tell you that this season will pass. I remember telling Tyler how I knew in my head things would get better, but emotionally I felt like this would never end. The lack of answers about why it happened, what to expect, and how long my symptoms would last made me feel like I was literally stuck in this phase of miscarriage forever. But it’s not forever mama. Eventually, you won’t feel quite as sad. Eventually, you’ll be able to exercise again. This won’t last forever.

I can tell you that you have to choose to move forward. After three days of being in bed depressed, Tyler and I ran out to grab dinner. Tyler knew it wasn’t going to be good for me to keep being depressed in bed every day, and so did I. I knew I had to choose to physically get up out of that bed otherwise I was going to spiral. It was hard. Really hard. It felt like a victory just to stand up out of bed. Brushing my teeth and changing my clothes, that was a huge win. It’s okay for things to feel hard, it truly is, but don’t let yourself fall into a season of something worse than what you are already going through. You have to choose to get up. You have to choose to move forward. You have to choose to live your life. And you know what? You are strong enough to do it.

I can tell you there is a purpose in this. It likely won’t make any sense while you are in the middle of it. It will be hard to understand why this happened to you, or why it keeps happening. Tyler and I have both talked about how much closer we are because of our loss. Maybe that was the purpose. Maybe you need to learn to trust in something bigger than yourself, maybe that’s the purpose. All I know is that someday you will see the purpose in your pain, and your baby is having a healthier, happier life in heaven with Jesus. They will never know the pain of this world. They will never know heartbreak or sadness or disappointment. They will never know loss. That is a BLESSING.

Final Notes

So to anyone reading this who is going through what we went through, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you know this pain. I’m sorry your heart is broken. I’m sorry this has to be part of your story. But you know what? I’m glad you found yourself here because now you know that you aren’t alone. You are not the only woman who has experienced this type of loss. Your questions, your symptoms, your emotions, all normal.

Anyone reading this who is struggling with infertility, my heart goes out to you. Everyone’s journey is different and all I can say is even though we might not have the same exact story, the desires of our hearts are completely identical, and your time will come.

Anyone reading this who has not had to walk this road, be thankful. If you are a parent, hug your kids a little tighter today. Appreciate the late-night diaper changes, the crying with scraped knees, and the teenage attitudes. Those moments that you overlook are the moments some people dream of, so don’t let them pass you by.

And to our sweet baby girl, I hope you’ve found ballet shoes and a hairbow up there. I hope you take afternoon walks hand-in-hand with Jesus. You will always be loved from this side of heaven.