Written by Lilian
We had our second miscarriage this year and it broke our hearts into a million pieces. Being our second we understood how common they are with statistics showing that 15-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. If you’ve never had a miscarriage the likeliness of you knowing someone that’s had one is equally as high. Someone in your life who had a miscarriage may have decided to never share it with you because sadly the conversation is still taboo or they may have chosen to wait until they had a baby and deal with the agony alone until then. It’s a saddening reality that most couples struggle with alone. What you are about to read is a very graphic and personal account of our 2nd miscarriage, we’ve chosen to share our story to support anyone that had a miscarriage or anyone with a friend that experienced one. I sincerely appreciate your willingness to learn about the pain, emptiness, frustration, confusion and loneliness that we endured. We truly hope our story will help you heal and regain hope.
On Dec 18th we found out that we were expecting. After experiencing a miscarriage in July 2016 we were over the moon to be with child again.
On Christmas Day, we shared the news with our parents and grandmother because collectively they’d been praying and wishing for us to bring them a grand baby for nearly a decade.
On Jan 7th, one of my best friends Ola came to town and we met her for brunch. After our meal she announced that she was pregnant! We screamed in the restaurant and giggled about the beautiful coincidence. We were overjoyed, to know that my best friend since grade 4 would give birth in the same month as me was like winning the lottery! We fantasized about pushing strollers together and now our dream was going to come true. What more can a mommy-to-be ask for?
On Jan 10th Justin and I went to my first ultra sound appointment and heard the babies heart beat. With each beat our eyes filled with warm puddles of joy. We are having a baby!!! In the evening after President Obama’s farewell speech we shared the ultrasound photo with my siblings through WhatsApp, along with the caption: A new leader is on it’s way this summer. 🍼
On Jan 27th, Chinese New Year, we shared the news with Justin’s siblings in person during a celebration dinner. We broke the news to Justin’s 10 year old nephew first and watched as his siblings reacted to the good news. Benjamin you are going to be a cousin!
When we reached the 12 week mark, we began sharing the news with our closest friends. They were so happy for us, our smiles were permanent.
On Feb 27th our happiness was jolted. I woke up and saw a tiny spotting of blood. I contacted our midwife and she assured me that it was normal to see light spotting.
The next day, we met our midwife in the morning, she used a doppler ultrasound to hear the heart beat. The room was mute, the divine sound of our babies heartbeat was no longer blossoming through the speakers. Our midwife booked us an emergency ultra sound. Everything is probably fine, we just want to make sure we hear the heart beat today. I returned to work until we received the phone call, each second that passed felt like an hours.
By early afternoon we arrived at the ultrasound office. The technician was welcoming and friendly. As I watched him probe, I noticed his smile disappearing. “Is everything okay?” He didn’t answer me, instead he put down the wand and walked out of the room. When he returned he escorted us into a dark little room where a doctor was staring at 3 TV screens with an ultrasound image. The doctor cleared her throat and quietly spoke, “I’m sorry to tell you that your babies heart beat has stopped.” I instantly collapsed into Justin’s arms and cried uncontrollably. They showed us to an even smaller room and we cried together until our bodies ached. We were shattered and it was impossible to see through the tears. No one will ever know how much we’ve cried since that day.
The drive home was painful, seeing a pregnant women and her daughter cross the street nearly destroyed us. The feeling of unworthiness poured over us like a tsunami. When we reached home we made an appointment to see our doctor who kindly connected us with a reputable gynaecologist.
Each day I continued to bleed. On Mar 2nd we visited the gynaecologist and since we were 17 weeks into the pregnancy he immediately scheduled us for a D&C on Mar 10th at the hospital. Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated and a special instrument is used to scrape the uterine lining.
Justin and I made a decision to continue going to work everyday, in fear of falling into depression if we were left alone with our thoughts even though in retrospect it was inevitable. In the evenings we took turns questioning ourselves and prayed to God for answers every night before bed. The pain in our hearts was unlike anything we ever experienced, our vision for the future was blurry and our hearts were broken. Instinctively we dove into Netflix Comedy Specials to distract our feelings. The jokes were healing until our mind drifted off into space and we’d missed the punchlines. We also read and escaped into books by Paul Beatty, Rachel Cusk, Hanya Yanagihara, Lucia Berlin and Simon Rich.
On weekdays we listened to Hot 97 Ebro Morning Show during our commute. After work we developed a routine of going for long walks together and on weekends we went for hikes. Light House Park and Quarry Rock for the obligatory usie. We also became enamoured with plants and turned our living room into a little jungle.
Mar 10th we booked the day off work for the surgery. Happy Friday! Do not consume food past midnight and no liquids past 7am. When we arrived at the hospital Justin pulled out a Fig Bar and began eating it in front of me. “Babe, of all the moments to eat a fig bar you are choosing right now?” He smirked with his mouth full and together we laughed and remembered the episode of Seinfeld when Kramer busts out the Junior Mints. Although I was scared to death I knew that Justin was going to be with me every step of the way. After the surgery the surgeon confirmed that the procedure was successful. If you see spotting it’s fine, if you see heavy flows of bright red blood or feel a fever then come back to the hospital immediately. The painkillers and antibiotics may make you feel constipated.
Over the weekend we saw spotting and I was ‘backed up’ as Justin likes to put it.
On Monday, Mar 13th we went to the doctors, our gynaecologist is unavailable until the 30th of March. No bowel movement and spotting is still happening. Our doctor tells us that, “if it’s only spotting then you are fine. Try Metamusil and if it doesn’t work we’ll need to book you for an x-ray.” We get home and the Metamusil works, a shit is had.
Mar 14th through 29th the spotting continues.
Mar 29th we go in for an ultra sound to double confirm if our D&C was successful.
Mar 30th our gynaecologist explains our ultra sound results. “It appears that you still have remains in your uterus, you need to have another D&C or take misoprostol (labor inducing pills).” We opt for misoprostol since we are told that we only have a bit of remains left. Misoprostol are tiny hexagon shaped pills that you place inside of your mouth against the walls of your cheek to dissolve. Once dissolved the little itty bitty pill finds a way to expand your cervix and fuck you up on so many levels. Your body feels like absolute shit and you live on the toilet for 3 days straight. Simultaneously I’m taking antibiotics to reduce the chances of infection. For 75% of the weekend I was on the toilet, for the remaining 25% I was in fetal position experiencing the worst cramps of my life.
April 5th we go in for another ultra sound to confirm if the remains were expelled after my weekend on Misoprostol. The technician presses against every part of my lower belly. With each push she turns her head from side to side while staring at the screen. “I’m sorry to tell you but you still have remains.” Our hearts break again.
The next day we see our gynaecologist, he says that we have two options to choose from. He can perform a D&C on me in his office or make another appointment for a D&C with anesthsia at the hospital. With the understanding of the urgency for the removal we opted to do the D&C in his office right there and then. A student was with him, looking over his shoulder as he froze my vagina with a needle and scraped at the walls of my uterus. I t was nothing like having your mouth frozen at the dentist, I felt every single thing. It was the most violating experience of my life. I laid wide awake screaming for it to be over. Justin held me tightly, his eyes filled with sorrow – he encouraged me to stay strong while the gynaecologist promised that it would be over soon. When it was over I saw remains in two little piss testers covered in blood. For the rest of the weekend I saw very minimal spotting and began to accept the opportunity to move forward. “It’s over, the physical pain is over.” I held Justin tight and thanked him for giving me strength. The next day was a Friday, I was relieved to have a weekend with Justin without remains. We celebrated Justin’s birthday early with his nephew, brother and sister-in-law who made him a delicious mango cheese cake from scratch.
On Justin’s official birthday, Tuesday, April 11th, I woke up feeling weak and dizzy. I went to use the bathroom and just like in the movies a fountain of blood came pouring out of me. Am I having my period? I felt anemic and forced myself to eat liver for breakfast. The dizziness turned into the chills, fever symptoms. Justin checked my temperature and it read normal. I called in sick and rested until we had to go for our final ultrasound appointment in the afternoon. All day I had the chills and spots of bright blood. We get to the ultra sound appointment and my name is called. The technician is different than the one we had before, she tells us that ‘husbands are not allowed in the room.’ This made no sense, Justin was always allowed in the room. The technician shunned him from following us like a bouncer at the club when it’s over capacity, I was infuriated and terrified. She escorted me into the familiar room. I lay down and immediately the chills returned in full force. I advised the technician of my status, “I’m not feeling well, I have a fever and will need to go to the doctors right afterwards.” With no regard to my statement she promised to be quick and squirted a cold glob of gel onto my lower tummy. While moving the wand around she made faces at the screen with each twist and turn just like the previous technician. “Do I still have remains?” She doesn’t answer me, instead she puts away the external convex probe and asks me to remove my pants to perform a vaginal probe. I explain that I can’t have anything inserted in my vagina because of my recent D&C. She huffed in frustration, declared that she’d be back shortly and told me to stay put in case she needed to probe again. As required my Blatter was full for the ultrasound and the ability to hold my pee was wildly discomforting. I explained again that I was not feeling well but she ignored my plea. With my stomach exposed and cold gel drying on my stomach I waited 45 excruitiating minutes passed before she returned to the room.
I thought she forgot about me completely and struggled to get up and message Justin to rescue me. As I called Justin the technician returned and said that she needed to do another check. I explained that I really wasn’t feeling well again and with the same tone as the first time she said that she’d be quick. She pressed against my Blatter more, tears rolled down my face and I cried for God to save me. I was the weakest I felt all day. When she was finally done she said, “There. Done…you still have remains. I’ll send your results to your doctor.” Each word from her mouth shattered me into pieces, by now I had no more words for her. I ran out to Justin with my last bit of energy and burst into a loud cry. The mothers, fathers and children in the waiting room were silent. Justin rushed me out of the waiting room and to the hospital. The doctor and gynaecologist saw me immediately. “You have remains, we have to do a D&C on you right away.” I went in for surgery immediately and when I woke up the gynaecologist was standing in front of me. “Lilian, you’ve been through a very rough couple months and a terrifying day. You lost a lot of blood. You went into septic shock but thankfully your husband got you to the hospital in time. We will keep you here for 3 days to make sure that your temperature doesn’t spike again. You’ll be on antibiotics and if you feel any type of pain just let the nurses know and I’ll be here right away.” For the next three days I slept in the hospital. The gynaecologist and nurses were wonderful. The neighbouring patients were very kind and helpful. Next door to my room there was a patient that screamed “Bugger rat!” for all hours of the night repeatedly and then in the morning she would sing, “Mama, Oh Mama, Mama I love you” over and over again. Between the neighbouring screams and my constant trips to the bathroom with my IV bag sleep was impossible but for the first time I felt like this might be the last surgery.
Following the surgery we had a follow up appointment with the gynaecologist from Burnaby hospital. She confirmed that I had no remains and 3 weeks later I had a very healthy period.
A message for my husband: Justin thank you for being next to me everyday and wiping away my tears. Swapping out my hospital food for Whole Foods is just another reason why you deserve the best husband of the year award. Thank you so much for saving my life on your birthday. You sew my heart together with every kiss and hug, I love you more than you will ever know and will never give up on our journey to parenthood.
Special thanks to our parents for checking in and delivering soup to us every week while enduring the saddening loss of family members. Thank you to our siblings, cousins, friends and coworkers for keeping us company and sending us flowers. Thank you to the doctors and nurses at Burnaby Hospital for your care and attention.
Ola, thank you for constantly checking in on me, you gave me hope on my darkest days. From the other side of Canada you lifted my spirits and helped me talk through my feelings. You listened and loved unconditionally. I am forever touched by our friendship and grateful for everything you did.
Last but not least, thank you for reading our story. The details are not easy to write and even more difficult to read. To those of you that experienced a miscarriage, you are forever in our hearts and minds. Understand that there is no right way to deal with the aftermath of a miscarriage so don’t feel pressure to do anything that your heart and mind doesn’t agree with. The sadness we feel from the loss of our baby will never fade and accepting that reality is what helps us manage life today. How you are supposed to feel tomorrow doesn’t need to be determined today, allow yourself to feel for as long as you need. If you are reading this as a friend of someone who’s had a miscarriage, don’t hesitate to reach out to your friend. Yes, it will be difficult to find the right words to say (there are none) listening means more than any words.
With love, support and hope!