Monday, July 22, 2013

breaking the taboo

"an experience that had been masked or concealed, whether because we feel it shameful to acknowledge we somehow 'failed' as women or as mothers, or because 'women's issues' are seen as unworthy of public space or dialogue."

Is this why we don't talk about miscarriage? I recently went through the pain and heartbreak of a miscarriage. I'm choosing to share my experience for three reasons. 1.) To help break the taboo. 2.) As a way of grieving and finding closure. 3.) To share my experience in an effort to reach out to other women who have, are or will experience a miscarriage. 

First of all, miscarriage feels like such an impersonal term for such a deeply personal experience. I have to admit that the few times I'd heard of people miscarrying, I didn't realize how intense the emotions are that come with losing a baby. I didn't really even think of a miscarriage as losing a baby. I don't really know what I thought, but I shrugged it off as not such a big deal. And then it happened to me. And it felt like a really big deal. A big deal that I wasn't supposed to talk to anybody about. 

If I had to describe a miscarriage in one word it would be "lonely." Here you are experiencing this traumatic thing (at least to you) and you have to go on pretending like nothing is happening, that today is normal. You're supposed to act normal. Act is a very key word here, because nothing about a miscarriage really feels normal. That's probably why many women, me included, are a little bit in shock and denial for a bit. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I was in the middle of a family reunion, away from my home. I had to put on this face for people I hadn't seen in two years and not talk about this trauma I was feeling and going through. I say fortunately, because it was a distraction where I wasn't left for hours at a time in my own sad thoughts. 

But, experiencing this has blessed me in some ways. I feel blessed with empathy and understanding toward others. I now reserve judgement and bite my tongue when it comes to other couples' reproductive decisions because you just never know. As hard as I thought it was to keep my pregnancy a secret when people would suggest I start thinking about adding another, or when they'd start naming my unannounced, unborn - it was so much more difficult in the aftermath of losing a baby. 

I've been blessed with more humility, apparently I'm not that reproductive wonder I thought I was! 

I've been blessed with peace and a closeness to my Savior and God. 

However, I'm still in the grieving process. You have to grieve the hopes, the dreams, the visions in your head, your expectations, and yes, even that very tiny little baby. Because even if you didn't feel the baby inside you, it was there, your body knew it was there. Your heart knew it was there. Just like your body knew when it wasn't and so did your heart. By the time the actual miscarriage happened, I had been blessed with peace. I’ve been comforted and have found perspective. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for that. I still have moments of sadness and disappointment, but it’s not overwhelming. I still feel a bit awkward. A bit lonely. I mean, I haven't figured out what to do with the first sonogram photo, nor have I had the heart to throw away my positive pregnancy tests. And the next heathy baby we welcome into our family will always be considered baby #3. But, at the same time, I have hope and am optimistic for the future. 

For those interested, the rest of this post will be excerpts from my journal with more of the details.....Thanks for reading. It feels good to get it all out there. 

Before we get into the journals I just want to say I'm grateful for my knowledge and testimony of the gospel and the blessings of peace and comfort and perspective that I have found during this difficult time.

July 6, 2013
Back on May 21st we found out we were pregnant again. I was pretty surprised, yet not at the same time. Here is what I wrote in a journal entry on May 23rd intended for Baby #2:

“On Tuesday, May 21st I found out I was pregnant with you. I'm still a bit in disbelief!

We'd been talking about maybe adding another baby to our family soon. I think Heavenly Father had been placing it in my heart and mind since January. Finally, in April, I felt comfortable with doing away with any kind of birth control. And now, here I am, six weeks later, pregnant! I really have felt like this is Heavenly Father's plan for our family. We are so excited to meet you and add your unique spirit into our family.

I wasn't really sure that I was pregnant. In fact, when I took the test I was pretty sure it would come back negative. On Mother's Day Sunday, the 11th, I had taken a test and it had come back negative. I decided to take another one, because I felt pretty sick on the 19th and my period still hadn't come!

When the test showed two little lines indicating pregnancy, I was at first shocked, a little in disbelief, and then overjoyed, humbled and slightly overwhelmed! I cried. Your dad wasn't here, he was at work and school. So, I told Ella, when she got up from her nap - but she's still too young to have a clue what I was talking about.

I didn't tell your dad until about 9pm that night after I got home from a Young Women's activity (I am the Personal Progress Leader for our ward). Earlier in the day I had designed a little print with an oven and a heart in the middle and the wording, "We're Due with Baby #2!" . That night I told Eric I was designing something, but I needed somebody else's opinion. So I handed him my computer. It totally didn't even register with him! After a second of looking at it, he said, "So what's your goal with this?" And I said, "To tell you I'm pregnant." It was so funny! Then it registered for him and he was so happy!”

During the last several weeks I was excited, happy, yet trying to figure out how to welcome another child into our home. I was also apprehensive and nervous, anxious for my first doctor appointment. I think most pregnant women worry about miscarriage or that something is wrong - but my fears felt a little stronger than usual, which seems strange since I’d had one very healthy and normal pregnancy and baby already. However, on June 26th I started experiencing some bleeding. At this time I figured I was around nine weeks give or take a week. I called the Doctor’s office and left a message (it was after hours) because my first appointment wasn’t until July 24th.

The next day the bleeding had stalled and the doctor’s office returned my call. They had me come up for a “confirmation visit” to see that everything was okay. At the office they did an ultrasound. I was measuring 6 weeks and 2 days and there was no heartbeat. My heart sunk, but my doctor was really optimistic. She sent me up to get my HCG levels checked and had me schedule another appointment to come back and hopefully hear the heartbeat. However, after the appointment the bleeding came back, only heavier and I had lots of cramping. At this point I was pretty sure I was going to miscarry. It was then I started to grieve. Friday evening and Saturday morning I passed what looked like some uterine lining along with bleeding. Saturday morning I went in to do a second round of blood testing and waited to get the confirmation from the doctor. During those few days I was pretty sad, I cried a lot. I mourned this baby, I mourned over the loss of our hopes and expectations and excitement. Just a few days earlier we had discussed when and how to start telling people. That Thursday a shirt came that we had ordered for Ella that said “Big Sister.” It was hard for a few days.

I had been craving meat and hadn’t been very nauseous and had felt like this little baby was going to be a baby boy. After the bleeding had started I had this vision of a brand new baby in the hospital, all wrapped up, and it wasn’t Ella, it was a baby boy. I don’t know if that means we’ll have a boy someday, but that vision made my heart ache and break.

Saturday afternoon the doctor called me to confirm that I was in the beginning of a miscarriage. I told her about the tissue and she said I would likely “pass” everything during the weekend - an hour of terrible cramping and then a bunch of tissue would pass and then some period like bleeding for a week or so after. I cramped and passed some tissue and continued to bleed through the weekend. However, it wasn’t until Tuesday, July 2nd that things really happened.

We were in Prineville, Oregon for the Lougee Family Reunion. We had just gone hiking up around Brennan Palisades and Eric and I got back in the car. Immediately I started feeling terrible cramps that I think were actually a form of uterine contractions. I experienced terrible cramping and very, very heavy bleeding for the next three hours. During this time I also passed a substantial amount of tissue.  Eventually the cramping and bleeding let up and I was able to sleep that night. Wednesday morning I passed whatever was left and have only had light bleeding and cramping since.


Katelyn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alexa Lougee said...

Katelyn! I did not mean to delete your comment. Your words were sweet and supportive. Thank you so much!

tchutchins said...

I am so sorry, we really should get together as we have been going through the same thing at almost exactly the same time!! Mine happened just a week later, 4th of july weekend, and I am still not back to normal.
This is my 3rd miscarriage, but the only one that has occurred without a D&C, so I am new at this, and not liking it one bit!
I agree that it seems there is no one to talk to about it! It is such a sensitive subject it's hard to put into words the feelings and emotions you go through.
On a positive note, I obviously have more children, so keep your head up even though sometimes it is hard. It is comforting to know that Heavenly Father is in control and knows what is best for us!
Way to go for being brave and expressing what you have gone through I am sure it will be a strength to many!

Hilary said...

So very sorry for your loss, Alexa. I personally havent experienced a miscarriage, but with how quickly you bond and attach to that little baby in the days after a positive test, i can only imagine the intensity of your pain. I appreciate your courage in sharing your experience.

PBJK Ussery said...

I really appreciated your candid thoughts and feelings. I think your expressions are shared by many of us. Thank you for so eloquently describing this experience. I've been through it 3 times, myself. However, only the first one effected me the way you described. And it was prior to carrying a baby full term. My worst fear was not having that ability. As you know, I have now carried 4 babies full term without complication (except that they get huge and don't come on their own...). I'm so grateful for the peace that came to you and know how timely Heavenly Father sends His love and peace! You are amazing. Such an example to all who associate with you, in person and via blog. Thank you again. I needed your words today. I hope the healing continues for you. And what a wonderful blessing to know that we will have the opportunity to raise these children in the future! Loves to you.

Kate said...

I am so overwhelmed right now. I just wept reading this. I have not experienced what you have but having Charlie being a "threatened miscarriage" for 20 weeks and bleeding and cramping that whole time I began to get a slimmer of understanding of what women go through when we miscarry. My heart aches for you. You are a mom the moment you become pregnant and so grateful you were bold in expressing your feelings. I, also, was upset going through that period because miscarriage for some reason is looked at as no big deal by some. The ER workers just told me "no big deal... you will have another." It is a big deal. Its real and its hard and you need to mourn. And... you should not feel like you have to hide those feelings of loss. Of course you will have more but like you said, your next child will be #3. You have given a voice for those who couldnt express. Just know that your little one is waiting to be raised by you, his dear sweet momma, in the eternities. You are a strong, loving, expressive woman and so glad to call you my friend. xoxo