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I Had a Miscarriage at 19 Weeks.

I had a miscarriage at 19-weeks. Katie Stewart Wellness sitting on couch at home.

I wasn’t sure when I would write this. After a few days, I knew I wanted to write it soon. I didn’t want to have to dig up all these feelings and reopen the wound months from now. I hope my story will help other women feel not alone.

The first half of the blog is about the entire miscarriage experience, while the second half I share what I’ve been doing to cope better.

The Worst Experience of My Life

Last Tuesday, I went in to see my midwife for my 19-week prenatal checkup. Up until that point, everything had been progressing great. All the tests that were supposed to be negative were negative and all the tests that were supposed to be positive were positive. I’d heard my baby’s strong heartbeat at previous appointments and even saw him moving around at my 13-week ultrasound.

Going into my appointment last week, I had no idea my whole world was about to implode. I laid on the table while the midwife used the doppler so I could hear the baby’s heartbeat. I waited. And waited.

She told me she was having trouble finding it so we could move my anatomy scan (finding out the gender) from the next day to later this afternoon. I wasn’t too worried at this point as I figured maybe the baby was just hiding and I’d see the little beating heart on my ultrasound.

13-Week Ultrasound. The last time I’d see my baby’s heartbeat.

By the time I got to the front desk to rebook my ultrasound, the look on my midwife’s face had me quickly change from fine to worried. When I got in my car a few minutes later, I knew my baby was gone.

“1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage before 12-weeks. Between weeks 13-20, the risk is less than 1%.”

I paced around my house for the next 5 hours waiting to leave for my ultrasound.

I tried to write a blog on chicken soup. But I just stared at the screen for an hour. I tried to shower. But, instead, I laid in the bottom of the tub sobbing until the water turned cold. I read every forum on reasons why you may not hear your baby’s heartbeat at 19 weeks. Finally, my husband, Frank, arrived home from work to pick me up.

He tried to reassure me on our drive, but I knew what was about to happen. My 45-minute ultrasound appointment was over within 10-minutes. The tech quickly said we were all done and I can put my shoes back on and use the washroom. I asked if I could at least know the sex and she said with a sad voice, “No. Unfortunately, that won’t be possible today. Your midwife will follow up.”

I knew my gut feeling that the baby was gone was right.

My midwife called just over an hour later and said, “Unfortunately, as I know you’ve probably guessed, your baby is gone. Based on the measurements at the ultrasound, your baby most likely died two weeks ago.”

An hour later Frank and I were at the hospital with our overnight bags. Since I was so far along in my pregnancy, I would have to be induced and go through labour.

I was terrified.

Emotions scare me and make me very uncomfortable and I knew the ones I was about to face would be the absolute worst.

Nothing about this seemed real. Just yesterday I was adding baby names to my list and counting down the last two days until I found out if the baby was a boy or girl.

We were talking to our 2.5-year-old son, Jackson, about how exciting it will be to be a big brother. He was kissing my belly and saying, “Hi Baby.” We spent the past week talking with friends about being halfway through the pregnancy and trying to guess what day the baby would really arrive.

And here I was. Sitting in a hospital gown in a delivery room in the maternity ward.

How.

I didn’t have any symptoms, which I now know is called a missed miscarriage. I had no idea my baby was gone. How could I have not known…for two weeks? These are the things that ran through my mind as I waited for the doctor.

Our midwife talked through what was about to unfold while the obstetrician told me how this would all work. I would have to go through what a regular labour entails and everything that follows — but with no baby to snuggle at the end.

“The worst form of torture if experiencing all the symptoms when you know your baby is already gone.”

I would be given two misoprostol pills every 4 hours up to 5 doses either orally or vaginally. This would help open the cervix to allow labour to begin. It could take anywhere from a few hours to two days. My first dose was given at 10 PM.

It was one big horrific waiting game.

Usually, I’m all for natural everything. But that day I wanted anything and everything that could numb my pain — emotionally and physically. I was given morphine and gravol in the glute every 4 hours. I was hoping this would help me sleep, but unfortunately, I lied wide awake in my hospital bed all night.

My body slipped in and out of fever with uncontrollable shivering and cold sweats for several hours. I had 8 vials of blood drawn, an IV in my hand, and 4 rounds of morphine jabbed into my glutes. Every injection site ached. I prayed this would be over quickly.

The only saving grace was having the comfort of my midwife, the maternity nurses, and obstetrician. Their kindness and genuine care made a horrible experience a little more bearable. They checked on me every 45 minutes, talked with me, and sat by my bedside. Frank and I will be forever grateful to every one of those women.

Around 11 AM my cramps started to turn into contractions. I’d gone through labour before, so I knew what to watch for. I timed my contractions to see how far apart they were and how long they lasted. By 1 PM they were getting extremely painful.

I opted for an epidural because I couldn’t bear the physical pain on top of the emotional pain, too. I tried not to breakdown in tears as I held onto the nurse while the anesthesiologist inserted the needles. I knew we were in the final stages of this living nightmare.

I rested for a few hours until I started feeling pressure in my pelvis. I paged the nurses and before I could tell them what I was feeling it all started. I felt the warm rush of fluid leave my body and the pressure of the baby’s head about to come out. Within 5 minutes it was all over.

Having to push out my dead baby was the most horrifically heartbreaking experience that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I cried uncontrollably while the nurses tried to comfort me. They cleaned up the baby, wrapped him in a blanket with a tiny little hat, and handed him to me.

“It’s a boy.”

I held my son for the first and only time.

I stared down at my baby that I had spent almost five months creating. He looked like a normal baby, just a really small one. His eyes were open and his little nose, mouth, and ears were fully formed. His arms were curled under like he was sleeping. I could see his five little fingers and five little toes. I caressed his cheek like I did so many times with my first son. I closed his eyelids so he could rest in peace and told him how much I loved him and always would.

We named him Leo William Stewart and spent 20 minutes with him that I will never forget.

Coming Home

We left the hospital a few hours later and came home to a smiling Jackson getting ready for bed. He was so happy to see Mommy and Daddy and just wanted to tell us about his exciting day with Nana.

He had no idea what had just happened and I knew I had to be strong for him. Strong enough to get out of bed the next day to make him his favourite smoothie. Strong enough to have tea parties together and build his mega block towers. Strong enough to smile and laugh with him even though I felt empty on the inside.

I found myself being a better mother to him almost instantly.

It’s not that I wasn’t before, because I knew I was a great mom, but now I had a new realization. I was lucky to have Jackson because life doesn’t always go as planned.

I’ve spent the last week going through all the regular post-labour pains I had experienced in my first pregnancy.

The bleeding, the diaper-sized pads, the mesh underwear, and the horrible cramps as the uterus shrinks back down. My muscles ached terribly from all the jabs of needles. The only difference was this time I had to no baby to nurse. Just feelings of guilt, overwhelm, grief, and anger.

Even though 99% of miscarriages are due to abnormalities that happen at the time of conception, I still found myself playing the blame game.

“Did I eat something I wasn’t supposed to?”
“What about when I got the stomach flu a few weeks ago?”
“Did I do too many twists in yoga?”
“It’s my fault my baby is dead.”

I was finally able to push those thoughts aside and tell myself, “It was the baby’s decision. He wasn’t ready just yet, but will come back to me at a later time.” I know it sounds crazy, but for me, it sounds perfectly true.

The craziest part of this whole experience was a dream I’d had two weeks prior.

The same time they think my baby had died, I woke up from a dream (really a nightmare) one morning where I was in a hospital asking where my baby was. No one would tell me. My husband just stared at me with sadness. Finally, a nurse came up to me and said, “Your baby died. He was stillborn. Would you like to hold him?” In my dream, I held my dying baby. Today, the thought gives me chills. Was this my subconscious’ way of telling me my baby had actually died?

I’ll never know for certain, but I believe it was.

Coping with Loss

Unless you’ve experienced a miscarriage, you have no idea what it really means. I know I didn’t. I had friends and family members experience it and my heart ached for them. But I never knew how deep the pain was.

“I didn’t just lose a pregnancy. My child died.”

Coping with the loss of my baby has been extremely difficult. One minute I’m okay, and the next, tears are flooding my eyes. But that’s okay. If this has happened to you, know that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Let yourself feel the things you need to feel whenever it happens. Don’t hold it back.

Finding a support system is vital.

Of course, Frank and I have been massively supporting each other. We allow each other to grieve in our own ways, too. After talking with him about his pain, I now understand that for the dad their grief is silent. The focus is, of course, heavily on the mother because she had to deal with the miscarriage in a tremendous way.

Often, the dad’s pain can be overlooked and forgotten. If you are a dad reading this, reach out to other dads or find an online forum you can be anonymous in (if that’s easier for you). Your grief should be validated and understood as well.

As the mom, I found it extremely comforting to speak with women who have gone through the same thing.

I, unfortunately, know more woman than not who have had a miscarriage at every stage in pregnancy. They reached out to me and offered their support. It was comforting to know I didn’t have to go through this alone. If you don’t know anyone personally, or don’t feel comfortable talking with them, find a support group or an online forum.

I’ve also booked in to see my therapist who, lucky for me, specializes in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy) and miscarriage support.

Even though the last thing I felt like doing was eating, I know how important nutrition is to healing the body physically and emotionally.

After going through childbirth, your body loses a lot of blood and needs to build it’s stamina back up. I’m focusing on iron and protein-rich foods — both animal and plant-based.

Bone broths, pasture-raised poultry and beef, grass-fed eggs, collagen powder, spirulina, beets, and spinach became the biggest staples in my diet. As I always do, eating a rainbow of organic fruits and veggies flood my body with nutrient-dense support.

I know it’s easy to put nutrition by the wayside when you’re feeling like shit. But the food you eat can play a big role in supporting your emotional wellbeing.

Refined foods filled with sugar can increase the symptoms of mood disorders and your risk of depression. Two things that are best avoided when going through an emotional trauma like this. Eating my normal anti-inflammatory diet of organic produce, high-quality proteins, and good fats allows me to support my brain and heal my body.

I’ve continued with my prenatal supplements to make sure my body has all the nutrients it needs to have a strong next pregnancy. Probiotics, vitamin D, and a high DHA fish oil are my daily must-haves so they will stay in my routine.

I want to focus on balancing my hormones and boosting fertility as well.

For this, I’ve included the supplement, EstroSmart Plus, and have been using Clary Sage essential oil on the abdomen and bottoms of the feet twice a day. Alongside crampbark tincture and red raspberry leaf tea, the clary sage has also been helping with the post-labour cramps. I’ve been adding maca root powder to my smoothie every morning as it can help boost fertility through hormonal balancing.

To help support my emotions, I’ve been heavily leaning on my essential oils.

I diffuse the blends Console or Forgive throughout the day and have also been applying them to my pulse points and over the heart. Frankincense has also been helpful for relaxing my mind and keeping me from going too far into the dark place.

Unfortunately, my milk still came in. That was a sad day. To help reduce lactation and prevent mastitis (infection from improper milk drainage), I’ve been applying peppermint essential oil to my breasts morning and night.

Sleep has been hard for me.

My brain won’t shut off and for the first few nights, I got very little sleep. I’ve been taking magnesium and the amino acid, 5-HTP, before bed with a valerian root based Nighty Night tea. I also apply vetiver to the bottoms of my feet and pop it in the diffuser with the blend, Serenity. Now, I’m able to get some rest (most nights) which is vital for reducing emotional upset and healing the body.

Going forward I’m trying my best to focus on all the positive things in my life I have to be grateful for. A daily list of ten gratitudes is something I’ve practiced for years and have found it very helpful during this period of grief. While writing down things I’m thankful for is the last thing I feel like doing, it’s helped me see that there is a lot of good in my life to focus on.

Jackson is what I am most grateful every day — a happy, healthy, and sweet little boy.

But if you’re struggling to find gratitudes in your life, simple things like being grateful for a roof over your head or having clean drinking water are things to celebrate. Meditating on the miscarriage mantra from Louise Hays’ You Can Heal Your Live has become a very helpful part of my healing, too.

“Divine right action is always taking place in my life. I love and approve of myself. All is well.”

Having a miscarriage at 19-weeks has been the worst experience of my life.

I would never wish this grief upon anyone. If you’re reading this and have, unfortunately, had this happen to you…I am so deeply sorry. Know it is not your fault and you will get through this. I’ll be right there with you, taking it one day at a time.

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