If you read my book Feed Your Soul, or have coached with me in the past, you know that my life is an open book. I use my experiences to teach life changing lessons as I am learning them. I miscarried 2 months ago and know what I learned through this trauma can help you find deeper meaning and strength in the obstacles you are facing now. So here we go...
Both my husband and I were laying in bed and Jordan had just fallen asleep. Now I’m going to share something with you I’m not proud of, which is if my husband happens to fall asleep before I do, I nudge him really hard to wake him up. Then, when he wakes up startled thinking something is wrong, I simply say, “you know I need to fall asleep before you, so please play with my hair until you hear my breath pattern change, and then you can fall asleep.” I know, it’s a miracle he hasn’t left me yet but I’m a great cook and I have many other redeeming qualities that allow me to get away with something like this.
That night I couldn’t fall asleep because I started having cramps. I was 8 weeks pregnant and cramping is a normal part of a pregnancy unless, you know, it isn’t.
The next morning I woke up and the cramping was still there, only stronger. What was absent was the intense nausea and depletion I had experienced throughout the entire first trimester. It took me a while to piece the two together, realizing that this was the first day in over a month I hadn’t woken up and wanted to vomit.
Lesson #1: You can’t control or change the events that happen in your life, but you can change what they mean to you.
Not only would this lesson support me in processing the miscarriage as a whole, but waking up feeling “normal” made me realize something in hindsight. For the six weeks of intense nausea, I said to myself many times, “I just want to feel normal again.” I see now that the first trimester would have been at least a bit easier if I attached a different meaning to what I was feeling physically. Feeling like crap meant I was pregnant and growing a human! Did I have moments of intense gratitude for feeling like shit? Yes, but a lot of the time I was feeling so sick and depleted that I let that feeling consume me without controlling the meaning my mind gave to it.
Lesson #2: When we are in any type of pain or discomfort, it can create a block that doesn’t allow us to see the very gifts within the pain. That’s ok. We’re human. We get to choose again.
“I feel like shit” vs “I feel pregnant” is a powerful reframe. Perhaps you are feeling stressed in your job and not seeing the gifts of being employed. Or going through something challenging in your relationship (romantic or family) that wouldn’t be there if you didn’t have people who you cared deeply about and vice versa. Whatever you are experiencing right now that feels negative, are you willing to look at it differently so that you can see the gift?
Ok, back to the story. I was nervous about the cramping, but I was about to give a lecture so I needed to focus on the task at hand. What was the subject, you wonder? It was on how to process negative emotions and trauma so that it doesn’t live in your body and make you sick. Some would say ironic and a bit twisted to give this lecture while I was simultaneously miscarrying, but I like to think the Universe was preparing me to use my own tools in a deeper way than ever before.
I went to the bathroom right before the lecture and I saw a little blood on the toilet paper. Just like cramping, spotting can be normal throughout pregnancy but something about this felt deeply troubling.
My mind started. “Something is wrong. Maybe nothing is wrong. What if something is wrong? This can’t be happening to me. I’m so healthy! This isn’t part of my plan. Ok, this could be totally normal. But it’s probably not. I’m about to present a f*cking lecture - I have to get my shit together!”
My midwife connected me to an OBGYN so I could get an ultrasound and get some answers. I couldn’t get an appointment until 4 pm and as the hours passed, I saw more and more blood every time I went to the bathroom. I knew deep down that I was miscarrying, but I was still hoping, by some miracle, that I was still pregnant.
As I sat in the waiting room, I couldn’t control my tears. There was another woman who was about 8 months pregnant, waiting for her weekly check-in. I felt so disconnected from what she was feeling. I was so jealous of her. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t control my emotions and was basically hyperventilating (ever try crying while wearing a tight mask?). I could tell she felt bad for me which was only making me feel worse. When they called her back into the exam room, I wished it were me, with that big round belly, waddling down the hall with nervous excitement.
Remember, I have a toddler so I’ve gone through this experience before. I sat in this very office almost 3 years ago to get my 20-week scan where they told me everything looked perfect. Jordan and I walked out with that little black and white photo so totally in love with this little baby we hadn’t even met yet. Now I find myself sitting in that waiting room wishing I could just disappear.
The Nurse Practitioner called my name and I headed into the same exact room I was in for my 20-week scan with Tillie. It is so surreal, going through similar motions. Lay on the table. Lift up your shirt. The nurse squeezes jelly on your lower stomach, and the seconds between the screen lighting up and the nurse telling you what she sees feel like a lifetime.
What happened next is something you most likely have experienced in your life. I was so extremely vulnerable and the nurse was so disconnected and robotic. After telling me she saw no evidence of a pregnancy, she asked if I was even sure I got a positive pregnancy test. I told her that not only did I get 10 positive pregnancy tests, that I also experienced 6 weeks of morning sickness, insomnia, fatigue, and smell aversion.
Her response to me was, “Oh, well that could just be the hormones. You probably had a blighted ovum. (This occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but doesn't develop into an embryo. It is also referred to as an anembryonic pregnancy and is a leading cause of early pregnancy failure or miscarriage.) So technically, no baby ever grew from the fertilized egg. Either way, we won’t ever know, so do you have any questions?” She told me my uterine lining was nice and thin and that I would probably bleed for only 1-2 more days (the opposite was true: I bled for 14 more days including passing extremely heavy clots).
She made it seem like I was never pregnant. She watched me break down with a look as if I was grieving over something that didn’t exist. She then gave me the fakest, most robotic “I’m sorry” she could muster and within 20 seconds I was laying in the room by myself, staring at my empty uterus on the screen.
Lesson #3: Never underestimate the power of kindness and vulnerability, even when it makes you feel uncomfortable. Look people in the eye, touch them if you can, hold the space for others to process if you have the opportunity. This is the gift of human connection. Doing this for strangers can be just as powerful as with those you love.
Ask yourself, “who in my life could use more kindness and empathy”? I’d like you to check with yourself first. Most likely it is you who could use this connection with your “self”. Only then can you extend this kindness to others with wholeheartedness.
A deep shame came over me. For two months we talked to something that wasn’t there. Every night I slept with my hand over my uterus. We watched the baby app week by week. I was counting down the days until I reached the second trimester. I felt like a fool. I felt like I hated that nurse. My body was in physical pain. My heart was broken and I was alone. Jordan was texting me like crazy since he couldn’t come with me (COVID policy). I texted him, “no baby,” which was all I could muster. I paid for my appointment and ran out of there as quickly as I could.
I decided to take the stairs to avoid the elevator, and when I got a few steps down I just collapsed, ripped my mask off, and started bawling. There were so many emotions flooding my system it was overwhelming. I was angry, sad, shocked, embarrassed, exhausted, lonely, and empty. It’s such a sad feeling knowing you lost something inside of you, while also trying to comprehend that the thing you lost might never have been there to begin with.
Lesson #4: Practice seeing others in the highest light, even when they don’t act the way you want them to. I don’t know what she had going on in her life, but I am going to believe that if she could have shown up for me, she would have.
Think of someone you are struggling with right now. Can you hold them in the highest light? How does it feel to believe that they are doing the best they can?
To be continued...