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Bright Star

MY MISCARRIAGE STORY



What inspired me to finally be able to write was anger. Sadness came quickly and easily. It lingers still, but I can mostly go about my daily life.


My body feels my own again, and I’m able to exercise heavily to drown out the noise in my head. I can go out with my friends and have a genuinely good time because they know what happened, and I can feel their love. I know that if I start crying in a crowded restaurant, they won’t care or be embarrassed—luckily, I haven’t had to do that specifically.


I felt so surrounded by love when I lost my baby, but no one ever talks about the sadness that still lingers months later, when you don’t want to bother anyone with your pain when everyone thinks you’ve moved on.


And I have moved on, in a way. Time makes the experience a memory. I barely remember being pregnant anymore. Of course, I remember the morning sickness and feeling crappy as a concept, but I’ve forgotten the specific feeling of it.



PREGNANCY

My husband and I had been trying for a few months. I wasn’t too worried. I had been on birth control for ten years, and I knew it would take a while to get out of my system. My body at first felt strange not on birth control, but suddenly I felt like a teenager again. My desire did not feel muted like it had while taking hormones.


The first symptoms of being pregnant I didn’t really recognize. I ate a little more than usual, but assumed it was PMS. A few times, I was warm when it was not warm to anyone else. I didn’t feel like drinking alcohol, but that’s not abnormal. But what got me suspicious was something I thought was only in my head. A few years ago, I had gotten laser hair removal. They had mentioned that it was possible to have some hair regrowth with pregnancy. When I got out of the shower one day, I noticed hairs on my legs I didn’t remember being there before. I wondered if I was pregnant, but my period wasn’t due for a few more days.


My period being late isn’t something that happens. I’ve always had regular and on-time periods. So when my period was five days late, I knew I was pregnant. I took a pregnancy test on a whim to confirm while my husband was at work, and that second line lit up. I called my husband immediately. He gets quiet when he’s excited, and I could hear the emotion welling up. I also decided to tell my immediate family—they were thrilled and were already discussing nursery designs.


It took some time to feel real.

I didn’t have morning sickness at the beginning. I did have some slight implantation bleeding, which scared me, but I was assured everything was all right by my doctors. They recommended I take thyroid medication, as my levels were elevated, so I did immediately. My baby continued to grow.


Around six weeks, the morning sickness came in full force. I could barely eat; I was exhausted and slept all the time. I was constantly thirsty and drank 100 ounces of water every day without trying. I tried to lightly exercise when I could. Mainly, I tried to stay calm. I’m anxious, but I did not want to worry about miscarrying or something wrong. I wanted my baby to grow in a relaxing environment. I did cry a few times.


I’ll be honest; I hated being pregnant.

It felt like daily torture. I know this lessens some around the second trimester, but I was physically miserable. I was ready to do anything for my child, even endure months of feeling awful. I was gagging at normal smells and crying that I couldn’t eat chicken without retching. I accepted it eventually. At nine weeks, I had a day where I felt exceptionally terrible. I could barely get out of bed and only ate broth and rice. I begged the universe to let me turn a corner soon. I was hoping that my morning sickness would start to decline at ten weeks.


Lo and behold, later that week, I was hungry again. I was so excited my appetite was back, but I didn’t overdo it. My husband left to go on a camping trip with friends and asked me if he could tell them; I said yes; we were almost at ten weeks and had a doctor’s appointment that Tuesday. I relaxed that weekend and relished that I could eat — although I was still scared of most meat.


When our Tuesday appointment came, I felt at ease. At no point did I think something was wrong. Or if I did, I chalked it up to my anxiety and ignored it. This was my first ultrasound, so I did not know what to expect. When we got in there and saw my baby’s little body on the screen, it finally felt like I knew them.


For one small moment, I felt a mother's love for their child for the first time.

Then as quickly as it came, it was ripped away. The baby did not have a heartbeat, the ultrasound tech told me. I didn’t understand. Couldn’t she find it? When she said the pregnancy would not continue, I understood. My baby was dead.



MISCARRIAGE


The questions started rattling off in my head. When did my baby die? Was it last week when I felt exceptionally awful? Was it when I could eat again? The doctor told me the baby had measured at ten weeks, but they couldn’t say when the death occurred. She assured me nothing was my fault. I didn’t do anything wrong.


I never felt that I did anything wrong, but I wanted to know why the universe took my baby away from me.

I know now my question will never be answered. The one thing I now cling to is that there was a good reason—I would never want my child to suffer needlessly. Just like I sacrificed feeling normal to carry my child, I would sacrifice the devastation and loss of my child, so they never had to suffer. My baby died in the safety of my womb, and I would take on the consequences forever and a day for them.


The doctor offered me three options—let the miscarriage happen naturally, take a pill to force it, or have a procedure where I would be lightly sedated. I knew I would not be emotionally able to handle the pregnancy loss at home. I chose the procedure. I then had to wait two days.


Those two days were horrendous. The thought of carrying my deceased child in my body fractured every moment. I called my best friend in Amsterdam and cried behind closed doors. I have never been more depressed. I tried to enjoy the luxury of eating whatever I wanted again, but I couldn’t. I sobbed to my therapist on my laptop screen and told her I just wanted to move on. I wanted the baby out of me. I’ll never forget those days as the worst of my life.


I told a few other close friends I was pregnant, and I also told them about my loss. Their love and care helped me those days. My best friend from growing up — whom I’ve known since I was eight — cried while I could hear her infant son cooing in the background. She told me any unhappiness I felt cut into her like a knife, and she wished she could take away the pain for me. She checked on me every day, for weeks afterward, despite being busy with her children.


I could feel my husband’s devastation, my family and their devastation. We all felt the loss, which I felt comforted by, but I still felt alone. They reassured me plenty, but I was the one who had to go through the physical loss.



THE PROCEDURE


The day of the procedure, my husband took me to the hospital and waited. The staff was kind and reiterated I did nothing wrong. They were slightly delayed, so they let me have my phone eventually. Not before I had cried sitting in the procedure room alone, of course. I took the time on my phone to read poetry, and all I could hear in my head was Keats’ “Bright Star.”


“Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art —

Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task

Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask

Of snow upon the mountains and the moors —

No — yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,

Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever — or else swoon to death.”



I don’t know why those words resonated with me — perhaps it’s because it’s one of my favorite poems, and I memorized it in college. But I think my child is my bright star, and I would keep going and soldier on for them. Of course, I’m aware that is not the poem’s original intent, but the words were — and still are — comforting.


Eventually, the doctor came in and once more assured me none of this was my fault. He was kind and told me everything would be quick and I would feel little to no pain. The drugs kicked in quickly, my anxiety lessened, and I felt no pain. The nurse had me eat and drink water when I became more aware.


Before I knew it, my husband took me by the hand and led me through the hospital. His calm and quiet presence has always been a source of solace for me, especially on this day. He slowed his impatient nature to walk with me to his car. I told him it was okay to return to work once he took me home. I was just going to sleep it off anyway, and I did after a big lunch.



POST PROCEDURE


I bled for a long time. The two weeks after the procedure, I bled more than I had expected to. This stagnated my mental and emotional recovery.


I was reminded every time I went to the bathroom, something I began to dread.

The anger that I felt was at the universe. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? The answer to that question is exactly what my doctors reiterated over and over again — nothing.


I wanted some space from the loss. I tried to go out, have a cocktail, eat sushi, and have oysters, but it was hard. My friends knew it was hard but still supported me. I cried in my hairstylist's chair because I had told her I was pregnant — I wanted to wait until the second trimester to color my hair — and I saw tears well up in her eyes.


We, as women, don’t need to be quiet about this.

Miscarriage is something only we get to experience, and there is something supremely comforting about friends, or even acquaintances, who understand during this time. My mother and sister, of course, were supportive, but I would not have expected anything less from them. We all know the statistics; miscarriage is common but often not discussed. Nevertheless, I am not afraid to talk about it.


It took me a couple of months to write about it because I needed to process it first. I needed to move a safe distance away from my miscarriage to be able to communicate my experience.


I needed to go to a concert and be squished in a large crowd; I needed to have three glasses of wine; I needed to wear tight pants without pain; I needed to feel like myself again.


I was lost for a while there — and although I have not entirely found my destination yet, I feel a bit stronger. I feel proud of myself that I feel stronger.

Will I try again? Probably. I currently need some time off from being pregnant. It was hard for me. But I still dream and hope for my child, and I hope they will come to me again in this life. If I have to wait to meet them in the next life, that’s okay, but I know we will be together someday, one way or another.

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