I don’t know if a lot of you guys know this, but I went through an ectopic pregnancy a few years ago. I lost a baby and I decided to talk about my experience, how everything happened, and what my emotions were like. I also want to give some tips if you have gone through a miscarriage or if you’re going through miscarriage. I’ll include some of the things that I did that helped me cope, and some things I wish I would have done differently. If you have a friend or somebody that you know that’s gone through a miscarriage, I talk about some things that you can say (and things you shouldn’t say), and ways to help them when you’re not sure what to do.
I am going to go into detail on a story about something that I went through. I don’t want to leave any of the details out because I think it’s important, especially as women for us to come together when we’ve experienced grief or pain or loss. Even if you are a man listening to this, you probably have a woman in your life that has gone through miscarriage at some point. If you have followed me for a long time, you probably remember this story. But if you haven’t, you might not know this. I don’t talk about this a whole lot anymore. I’m not embarrassed about it. It just doesn’t affect me on a day to day basis like it used to.
I remember it very vividly. It was Christmas 2014 and I lost a baby from an ectopic pregnancy. I’ve actually always wanted like four babies. And so after had Phoenix, she was born in March of 2013. I remember thinking, I just wanted to complete our family as fast as possible. And so we decided to try for a third baby. Usually I can get pregnant pretty quickly. Not to be insensitive if you’ve had a hard time with fertility, but I got pregnant with Lincoln the first time we tried. We got pregnant with Phoenix the first time we tried, and then this baby I got pregnant right away as well.
We had gone home for Christmas and I was only eight weeks pregnant. Normally I waited to tell anybody until I got to the 12 week mark. But with this one, this third pregnancy, I thought, well, you know, even if I had a miscarriage I would tell everybody anyways. And so we had gone home for Christmas, we lived in Texas at the time where we didn’t have any other family members there. I’m from Idaho, so when we went home, we told our whole entire family at Christmas time and it was a big deal. I remember we had Christmas dinner and our whole family, extended family, everybody was there and it was so exciting and everybody was so excited for us!
I went home the next day, and I had a little bit of spotting. There may be some sensitive or TMI aspects to this story, but I’m just telling all parts of the story. I had spotting with my other healthy pregnancies, so I really didn’t think that much of it. I got back home and I started having more spotting, more than usual, and it was more red than brown. I just remember texting my husband at the time and saying, “Hey, can you come home a little early today? I’m just going to go get this looked at because I’m kind of worried.” But I wasn’t that worried. I really wasn’t. I asked him to come home and watch the kids so I could drive myself to the doctor’s office.
I just remember it so clearly. I drove myself to the doctor’s office. We lived in a smaller town in Texas. It’s called Lumberton, Texas. I drove myself there and they had to do a vaginal ultrasound. If you’ve ever had one, it’s not very comfortable. It’s like a big long wand looking thing. So the lady started doing the ultrasound, and I had done them before, and I just remember her face. She stopped being chatty, and she said, “I don’t want you to freak out but I can’t find a heartbeat and I can’t find the sack that the baby’s supposed to be in.”
They were able to confirm that I was indeed pregnant. They said if I was having an ectopic pregnancy and it ruptures, that’s the number one case of maternal death because you’ll bleed out basically instantly. They wanted me to go to a bigger hospital, but they didn’t want me to drive myself because if it ruptured while I was driving I’d get in a wreck. So I took my first ambulance ride ever from Lumberton to Beaumont where the hospital was more advanced.
They again did the ultrasound and they couldn’t find the embryo anywhere. They wanted me there the next morning because a different ultrasound tech was going to be there, so they had me stay overnight.
For the second ultrasound in the morning, I was there for about an hour. It was actually kind of painful. They were probing that thing all over the place inside of me. In that ultrasound, they found that the gestational sac was not in my uterus where it is supposed to be. It was on my left Fallopian tube, which is an ectopic pregnancy. I remember specifically, the paper that they printed off, it said the fetal head, thorax, and abdomen are clearly seen. The crown rump length measures 1.9 centimeters corresponding with about an 8.4 week gestation date. However, there’s no fetal heart activity. Observation for six minutes shows no fetal heart monitors. There has been fetal demise.
They basically told me that I was going to have to go in for emergency surgery. The doctor was wonderful. Dr. Sherman, I remember her, she was so compassionate and she just said, “Look, we’re going to try and save your Fallopian Tube.” So I went to surgery, they put me under, and I remember being really emotional when I woke up in the hospital alone again. I stayed the night by myself to the night before in the hospital because I had no family there and my husband had to stay home with our two kids. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it. I just remember being so scared and alone in that hospital room that night. When I woke up and the doctor came in, she said, “I’m so sorry, but I wasn’t able to salvage your Fallopian tube. We had to surgically remove your entire left Fallopian tube.”
Otherwise, everything else with the surgery was successful. They did it laparoscopically, so I had three cuts in my abdomen. One inside my belly button, one basically right where c-section scar is, and one right in the middle of my abs. It felt like a whirlwind. It really did. It felt like a blur. I remember the doctors saying I can’t lift weights for four weeks. I can only do very light walking. And it was such a whirlwind of emotions for me. Before I experienced a miscarriage, I remember thinking that a miscarriage was sad, but it’s not that sad. It’s not like losing a real baby.
Oh my gosh, how my perspective changed once I actually went through it, you know? I remember feeling so sad for that loss of that baby. It was a real baby. It wasn’t just a cluster of cells. I had planned for that baby. I was excited. I told our whole family, we start thinking about our family and how it was gonna look like with three kids, you know? And now all of a sudden I had to tell everybody that I had lost this baby and I was really sad and depressed. I remember being in the hospital and then in the nurse coming in and saying, “Can I bring you some food?” And I just, I refused all food. She tried to bring me ice cream, but I just kept being real teary-eyed and just said, “No, I don’t want it. I’m not hungry. I’m not hungry. I don’t want anything.”
Going Through the Grief
They discharged me from the hospital, I went home, and it was so weird. It’s almost like right after you have a baby. I always tell new moms, be prepared for lots of the highest highs and the lowest lows. I remember coming home spending a lot of time by myself because my husband still had to work. He didn’t get time off for that and I had my kids. I started going through a phase where I said I was going to focus on what I actually am thankful for. In fact, I blogged during that time and I’m so grateful I did because I have my notes from that experience, which I probably would’ve forgotten had I not written it down. In those deep moments of sadness where I’d just sob and sob, I had to tell myself to be thankful.
Thankful that it was caught before it ruptured. I could have died. If I had gone to the ER in Idaho or Utah, I would have had the surgery away from my home in Texas. My husband would have had to go back to work. So I wouldn’t have had him there. I would’ve been with a doctor that he didn’t know. I remember being thankful for the wisdom of my doctor. If I remember correctly, they first found a mass on the right side, which ended up just being like a cyst. And so that’s where they would have gone to explore for surgery. So I was grateful my doctor had the prudence to wait and do a second ultrasound in the morning where they did find the baby on my left tube. I remember being thankful for my friends in Texas that brought meals and who came and just prayed with me. I was thankful that my husband was given two days to work from home to stay with me, so I was thankful his boss allowed him to do that. I was thankful for my husband who was hurting too, but he grieved in his own way, but he was there. I was thankful that I was able to shower, just cause showering and blow drying my hair made me feel more like a normal person again.
I just remember being so sad, like just immersed in grief, and then I would go through moments where I could focus on having a lot to be thankful for and grateful for. Then it would turn back into these like deep, deep, deep sad moments where I would get sad and angry. I remember scrolling through Instagram and seeing everybody celebrating New Year’s and I remember thinking, I don’t care. Next person, I don’t care about you. Next person, you and your stupid happy family. Next person. I just remember scrolling until I would just have to put my phone down because every single freaking person I followed seemed happy. I remember feeling just angry and sad.
I kept passing blood clots and every single time I passed a blood clot, I would feel like a wave of sadness again that this had happened to me. I was so angry about this stupid reminder of what just happened to my body. Nobody told me that I was going to wake up at 2:00 AM sobbing, but I couldn’t cry because my incisions hurt so bad every time I cried and flexed my abs. Have you ever tried to cry while not flexing your core? It’s basically impossible. During the surgery they had to pump my abdominal cavity full of air, so it left me like massively bloated for days. I actually gained 10 pounds when I was in the hospital, even though I wasn’t eating because I was retaining so much water and I just felt and looked puffy. I remember just being so sad. I’d cry all the time. I hardly wanted to get out of bed. I was not taking care of my other babies. I just remember thinking like, there was nothing wrong with that child. The only thing that was wrong is that it implanted in the wrong spot in my body, but like that baby’s gone.
I remember being angry that I lost a Fallopian tube. You can still have more babies with just one Fallopian tube, but it’s harder to conceive. People would come check on me and I remember feeling annoyed and then I remember feeling mad at myself for feeling annoyed because they’re just trying to help me. My family would call cause they felt kind of helpless all the way on the other side of the country and I just remember thinking I didn’t want to be part of family gossip. I didn’t want everybody talking about me right now. I knew I was being immature and dumb, but that was how I was feeling. I remember feeling mad. I couldn’t pick up my kids because of the stitches and I just was so sad all the time. I’d go through these waves from being like thankful and accepting that I had to deal with it, to being angry and sad and mad.
A couple of days later I started getting this severe pain. I couldn’t figure it out. So I went back to the hospital and I remember thinking I should probably buy lottery tickets right now. I’ve had so much bad luck come that something lucky is bound to come my way. My stomach was super protruded. I was still passing like grape and kiwi size blood clots. So I drove myself to the ER at 2:00 AM while my husband stayed home with the kids. They ordered a blood draw and a CT scan. The CT scan came back and it turns out I was passing kidney stones. I remember sitting in that hospital bed asking why this was happening to me. However, I was glad the CT showed there was actually something wrong with me so they didn’t think I was only there for pain meds. I basically had to settle into a different mentality. It is what it is. I remember wishing so desperately that I could go back a week and just change everything that happened, but I couldn’t. And I just remember saying to myself, life goes on now. Life goes on. And you know, I have two kids that I have to take care of. I had to suck it up.
Out of nowhere somebody would say something or somebody would ask how I was feeling and I would just start getting teary eyed and I would start crying. I’m sure I made people feel uncomfortable because I didn’t know how to handle this. I’d never gone through something like this before. I remember when it got to the point where I wasn’t doing the big ugly cries anymore, it was just silent tears that would just flow down my cheeks. One time I sat at a stop light and I was just crying silently. I was just so sad. I didn’t know how to handle the sadness. So I shared this while I was going through it on my blog, and I got such an outpouring of support and one of the best pieces of advice that you guys gave me was that it’s okay to feel the emotions as they come.
It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to need to be alone and lock yourself in the closet if you have to. It’s okay to leave your sink full of dishes. It’s okay to let your kids watch TV all day right now. It’s okay to feel the way that you’re feeling and the emotions that you’re feeling. So I did. I mean, I tried to do some other things. I got an avocado tree as a gift from a friend, and I planted that. In a weird way it made me feel better so I could at least nurture and tend to this plant. It was kind of a bad decision because the tree ended up dying, though it happened months later when I was more healed from this. I had a couple songs that I liked to listen to. Music was really helpful for me. There was a song called Broken Vessels Amazing Grace by Hillsong. There’s a song called Glory Baby by Watermark, another song called Held by Natalie Grant. Those songs really, really helped me work through it.
I went to my one week appointment with my doctor and she asked how my pain was, and I said it was better, at a 2 or a 3. I was still bloated and couldn’t really flex, but I was looking better. At this point, my mom called to ask how she could help. I told her I could use help with the kids because I still couldn’t even pick them up. I bought her a plane ticket, and this ended up being the last time I saw my mom (more on that story here). But she came out, and she was wonderful. She cooked meals and played with my kids. In hindsight I was so glad she was there. I don’t know how I would have felt had I known that it was going to be my last time seeing her, or if that would have changed anything.
The Emotional Trauma
I went in for my two week appointment after the surgery and I remember telling my doctor that I was getting these anxiety attacks. Normally I’m just a calm, even keel, happy person. But after the surgery, if both my kids would cry at the same time I’d freak out. Or if the gas light popped up when I was driving on the freeway I would start to get anxiety. Seeing so much blood when I went to the bathroom was giving me these like, panic attacks. I couldn’t calm my breathing down and my heart would start to race. My throat would tighten up. I remember feeling like I had to plug my ears and walk into the other room. I’ve never experienced anything like that before.
I was telling my doctor about this, and she told me there was a good chance that I could be suffering from some PTSD after the whole experience. She suggested meditation and yoga, and she also encouraged me to talk to a counselor. I found out that our insurance actually paid for counseling sessions. If you’ve experienced anything like this, or even if you haven’t, that’s something you might want to check into if you’re having any struggles. A lot of insurance options will pay for counseling.
After that two week appointment, she told me to wait at least three to four months to try to have another baby. Then she said there was about a 40% chance that I’d have another ectopic pregnancy. Again, I went through those phases of feeling angry. This isn’t fair. There’s not one reason why this should have happened. I’m not overweight, I don’t smoke, we don’t have a history of this in our family. There’s all these risk factors and I didn’t have one single risk factor. Then, I started experiencing fear. I was so afraid, and I remember going back and forth between never wanting to try again for another baby so I never had to go through this again, and wanting to try again. I remember thinking if there’s a risk of this happening again, I’m going to learn to be okay with having two babies. One of the things that really helped me was to write it down, share it in the moment, and to get the outpouring of support from other moms who had gone through the same thing.
My husband handled it very differently than I did. I was emotional and crying and, and he didn’t show very much emotion. At one point I remember even getting angry, I was like, “Do you even care? Do you even care that I lost this baby, that I had to have this surgery?” And I was unfairly getting mad at him. And I do remember there was one night where I locked myself in the guest room, crying, feeling sad for myself. And he came up and I was like, “Get out, don’t talk to me. You don’t understand.” And he broke down. He said he was just processing things differently, that it had hurt him too. It was the first time that I saw him really break down and recognize that he was struggling too. He just coped with it in a different way and he had to be stronger. He had to take care of the kids, he had to work still.
It took a while for those incisions to heal. I couldn’t work out for four weeks and I was only allowed to walk. So I walked everywhere. I said I needed walking for my mental health. I was also frustrated because our medical bills were so expensive. I remember we had to pay the deductible for both years. Our out of pocket expenses were almost $6,000, which, I mean the medical bills themselves were almost $50,000, but we were responsible for about $6,000 of it. I remember being so angry because I had both my babies with midwives at birth centers, so both births only cost me like $500. I remember thinking that losing this baby costs me so much more than what having a healthy baby would cost me.
My sneaky sister sister put our P.O. box address online and told people that I was struggling. Oh my gosh, I still get emotional thinking about this. I got literally hundreds and hundreds of cards and gifts and little pieces of jewelry in the mail from you guys sending, books and notes of encouragement and just saying like, you’re not alone. I’m getting emotional talking about this. These were just strangers that reached out. Knowing that I wasn’t alone in that pain. That really, really, really helped me survive and get through it. I mean, emotional survival.
I also went through weird phases where I felt so betrayed by my body. I remember feeling almost like actual hatred, like a feeling of hatred towards my body. Why did my body have to do this? Why did this have to happen to me? You know, grief is a funny thing. I was volunteering at our church, a lady came in, and I she told me she was pregnant. I was so excited for her and asked what her due date was. It was a couple of days before or after when I was supposed to have my due date. I remember having to excuse myself and I went to the bathroom and I just started crying. It wasn’t her fault, it was my own emotions that I was trying to work with. There were times where I would be walking through the grocery store, or working out at the gym, and these people would see me with my two cute kids and they’d have no idea of the pain that our family just went through and that we have a third child in heaven.
What You Should and Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who Has Experienced a Miscarriage
I remember wishing I could walk around with a sign on my back saying, “We just went through a really hard, even as a family, please be sensitive to that.” Of course that’s not realistic. But I remember there were a lot of people that didn’t know what to say. I wouldn’t have known what to say had I not gone through it. If you know anyone who has gone through this, here are things you shouldn’t say:
- Sometimes people would say well at least you’d have two healthy children, just focus on them. I would roll my eyes every single time and I’d be like, okay that’s the worst advice you could have given me. Yes. I love my children. Of course I love my children, but I also loved this baby too. I know it’s said with good intentions, I know nobody meant to be unkind. I think a lot of times when stuff like that happens, you just don’t really know what to say.
- Don’t say look on the bright side and don’t compare their pain to somebody else’s. Don’t say things like “Well, at least you didn’t have to go through… x, y, and z.” That really minimizes their feelings and what they are going through.
- Some people said to me, “Everything happens for a reason.” Four or five years later I’m still not sure if I can see that. I still don’t see why it happened, but I am able to see that I was able to recover from it. In the moment, it’s not great to hear that it’s God’s plan, or that it wasn’t meant to be. That made me feel like this person doesn’t get it, and I’m not going to talk to you about it anymore.
- Even saying things like, “You look like you were never pregnant,” are not helpful things to say.
If you know anyone going through this, this is what you can say:
- I’m so sorry for your loss
- I’m here for you
- Remember, you’re not alone
- Be gentle with yourself
- I’m thinking about you
That’s it. You don’t have to say anything. Just say, “Hey, I’m thinking of you.” Just knowing that I wasn’t alone was so helpful for me. I remember somebody said, “I love you so much and I imagine you feel like crap right now, but I just had to remind you of how wonderful I think you are.” It’s nice to be reminded that you have friends around, and that you have people that are thinking about you. I appreciate the people who reminded me that grief doesn’t have a timeline and that I should take all the time I need. Some people said, “I want you to know that if you want to talk about your loss anytime I’m here, I’m always here. Even if it’s two in the morning and you’re crying and you’re emotional, you need somebody to talk to.” I had friends that would come over to my house, which was a disaster, and they had no judgment, or they’d wash my dishes for me, or they’d bring healthy meals like fresh fruit instead of cheesy casseroles. I wanted healthy food that I knew would make my body feel better.
Knowing You’re Not Alone
This topic is not something that I talk about all the time anymore and it’s not because I’m ashamed of it or I forgotten about that pregnancy or that baby. It’s just that time really does help heal and I can talk about it now without getting too emotional. I get emotional thinking about how I felt during that time, thinking about the grief that I felt, the loneliness that I felt, the sadness that I felt. That’s what makes me feel teary. I guess I just wanted to record this podcast, not because there’s a big life lesson, but just to share and just to let you guys know that if you’ve gone through it, you’re not alone. We all go through different kinds of grief. Maybe you’ve not lost a baby, maybe you’ve lost a parent, maybe you’ve lost a loved one, or even an animal. It sounds weird to compare an animal to a baby, but you know, loss is real no matter what situation you’re in. I think that giving yourself permission to not be okay is good. Seeking out counseling and therapy to help you work through it is good. Allowing yourself to feel all the different emotions is good. Those are all things that will help you process the grief and the pain.
I think miscarriage is one of those things that so many women go through and nobody talks about it. Surrounding yourself with other women and sharing, and just accepting help is good. When people offer to help, take it. Say, “Yeah, I do need help.” Ask if they can come tidy up your house, ask if someone can bring a box of frozen waffles to your house for your kids to have breakfast, ask for some fresh fruit, ask if someone can watch your kids while you go to a doctor’s appointment. There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it. Crappy things just happen to good people sometimes. This is one of those things that happens and there’s no reason. There’s no explanation. I wish there was, but it just happened. So the best thing I think we can all do is, as a community and as a tribe, is to come together and love each other during those hard times.
I don’t have a program or anything for people going through miscarriage, how to actually survive or cope with that, but I do have a pregnancy training program that goes through the first, second, third, and into the “fourth” trimester, which is a really vulnerable phase right after you have a baby. I was grateful for my miscarriage experience when I wrote that book because it gave me so much more compassion for people who have experienced loss. I wanted to understand the science behind anything I was doing that may have caused it. It wasn’t because I was exercising, it wasn’t certain foods I was eating. Nothing like that contributed to it. And so I made sure to put a lot of that science into my pregnancy training programs because I think that information is power and the more knowledge and information that we have, the less scary pregnancy can feel. So if you have experienced any kind of loss or if you are currently pregnant, I do have a really good pregnancy training program that’s sensitive to those situations.
That’s pretty much my miscarriage story. I believe I did experience some PTSD and I wish I would’ve gone to more counseling because I think that triggered me to become a little emotionally unstable for awhile. I just thought I was fine, that I could handle it, that I didn’t need help. That’s one of the things with hindsight, I can recognize that I should’ve gone to more therapy. I think going through the loss, having my mom there, I think it triggered some weird stuff in me. But we can’t change the past. All you can do is learn from it and hopefully do better next time.
I do want to know if you’ve gone through something and you feel comfortable sharing, so leave a comment on my social media. I’d love to create a tribe of support around people who have experienced similar things.
If you’re going through something like this, or you have in the past, know you’re not alone. Take care of yourself.
P.S. I also talk about this topic on my podcast, to listen click HERE
Here are some of my original blog posts from years ago when this happened: