We Can Do Hard Things: Experiences with Pregnancy Loss

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Some of you know that Syd had a miscarriage last November and that we’ve since continued to struggle getting pregnant. In honor of October being pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, we decided to open up a little bit more about it. We know there are countless others that have struggled/are struggling with similar feelings/issues. You do not need to struggle in silence.Please know that you’re not alone, and there are those that understand the pain and struggle of losing a child, no matter when that loss occurred. What follows is our experience with pregnancy loss, from Syd’s point of view first, then Dan’s.

Syd’s POV

Right around when Daniel was about to graduate, in December 2015, we started talking more seriously about when we wanted to have children. Daniel was still on the job hunt, so we didn’t feel financially ready yet. But then in January he got a job in Park City (we still lived in Provo at the time) and we decided we’d move up to Park City in March. We also decided that I would stop using birth control in January so we could start trying for a baby.

We were excited and a little nervous, as we knew our lives would change drastically when we got pregnant. But we felt good about it, and felt it was the right time, now that we were a bit more settled. A little naively, I thought that because it had taken us so long to decide to try for children, and because we felt right about it, we would get pregnant fairly quickly.

A few months after we started trying, I was late. Honestly, even though I thought it would happen fast, I was still terrified. I didn’t know if I was quite ready enough, mature enough, whatever enough to be a mother. So I prayed, and I had a nice, long talk with God about it, and I felt peace; I felt wrapped in God’s love, like he was assuring me that I would be a good mother. My period came a few days later, but I was mostly relieved at that point, though I remembered that feeling of Heavenly Father’s love and support for me.

Seven months later, we still weren’t pregnant. I had days where I was calm, collected, and trusting in God’s timing, but I also had many, many days where I was confused, frustrated, sad, and even sometimes angry at God. Every month we would try and we would wait, and sometimes I would be late, but we’d take that test, and every month was a big fat negative. And then my period would come, and without fail it would feel like a big middle finger to my face, like “nope, you’re still not pregnant, sucker!” (I’m sure the accompanying hormones didn’t help a bit either.)

Side note: I know that there are people who have tried for much, much longer than 10 months. But no matter how long the wait, it’s hard. Just because you have a friend who’s been trying for years and years, or who can’t get pregnant at all, it DOES NOT lessen your suffering and your struggling. You don’t say, “Well, I can’t be happy because so-and-so is so much happier than me.” So don’t say, “Well, I can’t be sad because so-and-so has been struggling with this for longer than me.”

Then, at the beginning of October, I was late again. I went to the store to pick up some pregnancy tests, and the next morning, with shaking hands, I took the test. Two lines showed up, and I started shaking even more. Here it should be noted that before this, I had planned on telling Daniel in some cute way that I was pregnant. But I couldn’t wait. I called Daniel into the bathroom, and held out the test to him. A big smile came across his face and he said, “really??” I just nodded (with a giant smile), and hugged him tight.

Finally. Finally, it was apparently the right time, and we were finally getting an addition to our little family. We were nervous, but so, so excited. We started making plans, we told our parents, and I started envisioning our lives with a new little human.

Then, on November 17th, we went in for our first ultrasound, when we would be able to hear our little human’s heartbeat for the first time. The technician started measuring and doing all of her checks, and we could see our little baby, and she said “Well, you’re definitely pregnant!” I breathed a sigh of relief and asked “Can we hear the heartbeat?” and she calmly said, “Yes, I’m looking for it now, but I can’t hear it.” At that point I started to get worried, but my mind went through all of the possible scenarios: maybe she just can’t hear it, maybe her equipment’s wrong, whatever to take my mind of the worst-case scenarios. But then the technician left to go get my doctor, and I turned to Daniel.

He also went through all of the possible reasons they couldn’t hear the heartbeat, but I knew that we should be hearing the heartbeat at this point (I was 10 weeks along). The doctor came in, and the only thing I remember her saying was that there’s no heartbeat, which is unusual at this stage, but that everything else looked fine. So she told us to just wait, and if nothing happened in a week, to schedule another ultrasound. I left the office crying and went home, to wait.

The following Tuesday, I started spotting and experiencing cramps, and I knew. I knew I was having a miscarriage. The spotting continued and the cramps intensified to Wednesday, and on Wednesday night we decided to go to a movie with Daniel’s parents, mostly to take our minds of everything. Well, that probably wasn’t the best idea, because my cramps got much, much worse during the movie, and I realize now that they were basically contractions. I kept squeezing Daniel’s hand during the movie and trying not to disturb everyone else in the theater.

As soon as the movie was over, I went to the bathroom, but the cramps/contractions just kept getting worse and worse and closer and closer together. After several minutes, Daniel’s mom came in to check on me, and I told her through my sobs how much I was hurting (sorry to anyone else who was in that bathroom with us). Eventually, I left the bathroom and we decided to go to the urgent care across the street so I could get some morphine for the pain. So Mike (Daniel’s dad) brought the car around, and we drove (in a BLIZZARD) over to the urgent care … which had closed five minutes ago. We drove (still blizzarding, still in pain every few minutes) across the street to another urgent care, which had also closed just before.

So our only option at this point was the emergency room at the Park City Hospital, 15 minutes away. But remember that A BLIZZARD WAS CURRENTLY HAPPENING, so it took us significantly longer, and I’m trying to not scream and cry every time a contraction comes. So now my in-laws have definitely seen me at my absolute worst.

We finally make it to the hospital, without incident thankfully, and we walk in. But of course, because this is America, before I can get any pain medicine they have to check me in and get all of my insurance information. So I’m in a giant amount of pain, and Daniel has to get out my insurance card and ID and meanwhile I’m about ready to scream “Just give me some damn morphine!!” Thankfully, one of the workers decides Daniel can get my insurance stuff entered in while I get wheeled back. So they bring me a wheelchair and Evie comes with me while they wheel me down the hall. But then the nurse says something like “Oh, you’ll have a baby for Thanksgiving” and Evie realizes that she’s wheeling me towards labor and delivery and has to whisper to the nurse “she’s having a miscarriage.” She apologizes and we wheel back around to head for the emergency room.

I get into the room, they give me the gown. I change, and I lay down on the gurney or whatever it’s called and suddenly it passes. The pain’s gone, and I relax. (This is intentionally very vague. I don’t want to go into details, and you get what I mean. I miscarried.) So when the doctor comes in, I still ask for some morphine, and they check me, and decide they’ll still do an ultrasound to make sure everything was passed. But remember how there’s a blizzard happening, and it’s like 11 pm at this point? So the ultrasound tech had to come all the way up from Salt Lake IN A BLIZZARD and so we spent a lot of time in the hospital room waiting. But we called my parents (who had already known that there wasn’t a heartbeat so were expecting this) to let them know we were okay, etc. Long story short, I had miscarried.

Now it’s October, nearly a year later, and we’re still not pregnant, and the waiting and trying has gotten even harder. The hard days are significantly harder, because I should have had my baby by now. Mother’s Day, our due date, Father’s Day all came within a month of each other, and those were the hardest days. There are still days when I have peace and acceptance, but there are a lot of days when I just don’t understand. I know God has a plan and has his own timing, but I just want to be let in on the plan, just a little bit. Today’s a hard day. Tomorrow might be easier, and a day will come (I hope) when I will get to hold my baby, and when all of this pain and heartbreak will be worth it. But until then, even though it’s sometimes the actual worst, I will try to be patient and wait on the Lord.

Dan’s POV

When Sydnee and I got married we knew that we did not want kids right away. I still had a year and half school and there were things that we wanted to do to grow and build a good foundation. We had always tentatively talked about starting to try after I graduated.

Graduation came and went and we started trying. Things were frustrating as the months of negative tests went by, but we realized that maybe it would just take some time. Our patience (especially Sydnee’s) was wearing thin, however. I remember a particularly emotional week when Sydnee’s period was several days late. It hadn’t come but she kept getting negative tests. We had a really emotional conversation and prayer after which Sydnee went to the bathroom and discovered her period had come. It was like a punch to the gut, but at least we knew.

Finally, one fall morning Sydnee took a test and called me into the bathroom. She was pregnant. We were so excited. Before Sydnee and I had met, I had an experience where I had a profound feeling that at some point in my life I would have a son and that his name should be Jacob. Sydnee and I had talked many times before about this and about names we would want for a girl. While I was just excited that we were pregnant, in those early days of Sydnee’s pregnancy I often wondered if this was Jacob who was on his way (not that this really means anything, but all my older siblings all have kids and all their firstborns are boys, so if we followed family tradition…).

We also immediately started freaking out. Sydnee immediately started doing research on natural birth, midwives, etc. We both had made the earlier mistake of looking up the costs of childbirth in the US (literally, we want to move to UK just to have children, but that’s a discussion for another time) so I immediately started thinking about insurance etc. Mind you, this was all in the first day or two of knowing that we were pregnant. We decided that we wanted to tell our parents fairly early, partly to get advice on all that stuff. Sydnee told her parents one evening over the phone and we told my parents one day while I was helping them take pictures for their missions papers (Instead of saying like , “1, 2, 3” or “say cheese” I said something like, “smile because you’ll have a new grandchild in June!”).

Sydnee had gone to the doctor, who confirmed she was pregnant and had given her some initial advice. She had an ultrasound scheduled for mid-November. By that time Sydnee would be about 10 weeks along and we would be able to hear the heartbeat. It was also perfectly placed the week before Thanksgiving, so we were planning on telling our siblings on Thanksgiving. Sydnee was definitely pregnant; she got super weird food cravings and oddly wanted pickles all the time. Luckily, however, she did not get any morning sickness.

The day of our first ultrasound and appointment came. I left work and walked over to the doctor’s office across the street. They pulled us in and Sydnee got up on the table and got ready for the ultrasound. The tech started the ultrasound and up on the screen was our little nugget. I was excited but almost immediately something did not feel right. Sydnee asked if we could hear the heartbeat and tech said that we should be able to but that she didn’t hear anything. My mind started going a million different directions. The tech got the doctor and she said what I already knew in my heart. We had lost the baby.

The doctor explained that sometimes this is just what happens but that if we wanted to try for another ultrasound at the hospital just to be sure, we could. We were both devastated. We both went back to work and decided we would discuss the prospect of going to the hospital for another ultrasound that evening.

It was hard for me to see the point in getting another ultrasound. The doctor had seemed pretty definite. But we still discussed it and in a moment of indecision, pushed off making a decision about it. Then, the following Tuesday Sydnee started spotting. She was miscarrying. The spotting and cramps continued over into Wednesday. Wednesday evening (the day before Thanksgiving) my parents invited us to see a movie with them. We debated going, but Sydnee wanted to get things off her mind. So, we went to go see Moana. As the movie was starting Sydnee’s cramps (what we were now realizing were more like contractions) got worse. I remember my Dad offering to take us home, but we wanted to stay (note: I look back on this and realize that we were pretty naïve. But at the same time, I don’t think either of us realized how intense a miscarriage could be). Throughout the movie Sydnee would silently clench my hand and sob into my shoulder every few minutes (to this day, it shocks me that she can watch Moana and not have PTSD or something).

The movie ended and we sat all the way through the credits. Sydnee went into the bathroom. She was in there a long time. I finally told my mom to go in and see how she was and my dad went to go get the car (It should be noted, that up until this point it had not really snowed in Park City. But that night, we got a HUGE blizzard. It had started just before the movie but was getting progressively worse).

My mom came out of the bathroom. She said that Sydnee was miscarrying in the bathroom and that we should probably go the urgent care center.

At this point, I am not exactly sure what happened but my mom went back into the bathroom and I went to see if my Dad had gotten the car. When I came back in, I had somehow missed that Sydnee and mom were in the lobby of the theatre at some tables.

I have never seen Sydnee so shaken. I had no idea what to do. So I just held her and told her to breathe and told her that she would make it through the pain. We got into the car and drove across the street to the urgent care center. It was 9:05. The center had closed at 9:00. I frustratingly banged on the windowed door hoping for someone. No luck, so we drove over to another urgent center across the street (please remember that it is blizzarding outside). Also closed. The remaining option was to drive to the Park City hospital. Normally a 15-minute drive. But with the blizzard….we slowly crept along the highway. I felt so helpless. At one point Sydnee told me there was nothing that I could do to help. So I just held her and let her clench my arms and hands as the contractions continued. It occurred to me that this must be fairly similar to what would be happening if she was about to give birth. The difference is that in that situation, there is hope and excitement with the arrival of the baby. Knowing that all this pain that Sydnee was experiencing was for a miscarriage made it all that more emotionally painful as a husband to watch.

After what seemed like an eternity we ended up at the emergency room. We walked in and I told the woman at the window that my wife was miscarrying and needed help (Sydnee, writhing in pain, said something about morphine). They asked for Sydnee’s ID and insurance card. A woman in our church congregation came out. She works at the emergency room and said that we can take care of the insurance stuff later and Sydnee got whisked off in a wheelchair, with my mom accompanying her. I got the ID back and they pointed me to the direction of where Sydnee went. Except it took few minutes to find her. I came to learn later that nurse had thought Sydnee was going into labor and delivery.

Sydnee got changed into a hospital gown. She got onto the bed and after a few more minutes of intense pain she took a breath and looked at me. “I think it’s over”. I checked for her and yes, she had finally miscarried. She was still in some pain so she got an examination, drugs, and the doctor wanted us to get an ultrasound just make sure everything passed.

Due to the blizzard, it took a couple hours for the tech to get up to the hospital. She finally arrived and started to help Sydnee cleanup for the ultrasound. Now, not to be to explicit, but I said that I had to check for Sydnee when she thought it was over. She definitely passed the beginnings of our child and it was hard to watch the tech clean everything up and toss the sheets into the hamper. She even asked, “were they wanting to save any of this for tests or anything?” Taken off guard, I stammered, “No.” I know it wasn’t our fully formed child, but it was still hard to see it cleaned up and placed into bio waste bin.

Thanksgiving the next day was a bit difficult. I had been excitedly planning how I was going to tell my older siblings that their baby brother was going to be a dad. Instead I had to figure out a way to tell them about the miscarriage.

When we found out we were pregnant, we were filled with hopes and dreams about our baby. With the miscarriage, all those hopes and dreams disappeared. It’s hard to explain the feeling of losing something that wasn’t quite tangible. We still haven’t been able to get pregnant. And we’re just now reaching the point where doctors will start looking into it. I know what we’ve been through pales in comparison to the struggles of other couples, but that doesn’t make this any easier. Mother’s Day 2017 was supposed to be a day of joyful anticipation. Father’s Day 2017 was supposed to be my first as an actual father. Randomly we get emotional at movies, TV, social media posts, advertisements, etc. surrounding pregnancy and children.

Shortly before we got pregnant last year, I had a feeling that I would need to support Sydnee a lot in this because it might be a long time before we had a child. I think I am just now beginning to understand how we both need to support each other through hard times. I didn’t realize how much closer we could become until the night before last Thanksgiving. This whole experience has taught me that together, we can do hard things.

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