Life after a miscarriage. That’s the topic.
As you know, last week I posted a blog-reader survey, and I spent time this past weekend going through the answers you filled out. I’m so appreciative that so many of you completed my survey. And I got some great feedback. Some of it was very helpful and positive, and of course, some of it wasn’t. If you requested shorter blog posts, that’s going to be hard for me to do, because I’m naturally long-winded. But other than that, I’ll do my best to fulfill your requests.
One thing that stood out in the survey is that the overwhelming majority of you asked for me to continue with real-life personal content, even as the world of blogging seems to be moving away from that. That’s why I’ve decided to sit down and write this post for you. Fair warning, there will be some TMI moments. As always, this is my experience, and these are my thoughts. Also, I will share more detailed survey feedback soon.
Life after a miscarriage: A three-month update
For those of you who don’t know my story, I had a miscarriage and subsequent D&E surgery in October 2021. I was 8.5 weeks pregnant at the time of the surgery. It’s officially been just over three months since all that happened, so I thought it may be a good time to share an update on how I’m doing, as well as share a few things that happened post-miscarriage that I didn’t expect to happen.
Going through a miscarriage was something I never wanted to experience. But I learned — after sharing about my experience — that an overwhelming amount of you have gone through the same thing. Some of you had it way worse than me. Some of you have gone through it multiple times. And many of you have had at least someone in your life who has been through it. And there should be absolutely no shame, judgment or embarrassment about this sensitive topic. Miscarriages are absolutely not a reflection of you as a person, and that can’t be said enough. There is no blame. There is no wrongdoing. It just is. And I definitely needed to remind myself of that too. Now let’s do this …
How I’m doing mentally and emotionally after my miscarriage …
Here’s how I really feel …
I think about it just about every day and constantly wonder “if only,” but mostly, I’m fine.
First of all, I will admit that I do think about the miscarriage on a daily basis. And I often think about how I would feel or look or be performing at this very moment, if that pregnancy had continued. I often wonder how big my bump would be. I wonder if I would be feeling good teaching my classes, or if I would be slowing down or feeling anything I didn’t feel in my first pregnancy. I wonder if it was a girl or a boy in there (we had a name for a girl that I was totally set on, but didn’t have a name for a boy). I wonder if we would have started the nursery and made some changes to our house to accommodate a new family member.
In fact, the other day while I was taking a long and hot shower (not good for the environment, but something that my body and mind needed desperately while going through COVID), I was thinking about the tickets to “Hamilton” that Dave bought for me for Christmas. The show is later this year on May 11. And May 15 would have been my due date. These thoughts, while not gut-wrenching, are there. They are persistent. But at the same time: I truly DO NOT walk around sad all day and depressed about my miscarriage. In fact, I feel like I handle it very well and am very much okay, knowing that it wasn’t meant to be.
But if I’m being honest, the thoughts are there, in the very back, making an occasional appearance up front. I’m not dwelling on them though, which is a good thing. Yet, they are a consistent thing. And I can relate them to the thoughts that I have about losing my dad (which happened in November 2020). There is actually much more sadness there for me still about my dad than there is about my miscarriage. These are both instances of loss. And they happened only about 11 months apart for me.
I have doubt and uncertainty about the future.
*Disclaimer: I’ve never once talked about Dave and my specific plans for the growth of our family for the future, and that’s for a good reason. Not only is it very personal, but also I would never want to color anyone else’s thoughts, nor have you feel like you need to weigh in on our plans. Family planning is incredibly personal and unique, and let us remember that.
I feel like this is the most personal statement I’ve ever written on the blog for some reason. And my own mom (who is the resident editor who proofreads my posts) will likely say I’m getting too personal with this and request that I delete it (sorry, mom). But, I do not know whether we will try for more kids or not. I don’t want to have another miscarriage, I know that. And I don’t want to go through a struggle either. I like the way things are, because our small family unit is so cohesive, and we have such a good routine, and honestly, we feel complete. I sometimes see the future with a second, but then I’m not so sure if that’s really what we want or if that’s what a lot of people want us to want.
Because, over the years, I’ve had countless people tell me how you have to have a second child. Those people who have said that over the years are not trying to be rude or malicious. But I think people should be careful about pushing their opinions on others. And truthfully, so many of you have asked me so many times over the years (maybe the number-one question I get when I call for questions) whether we’re having another child. I have not addressed the topic purposefully, mostly because I would never want anything I say to alter your opinions on your own situation in your own life with kids. Because these decisions must absolutely come from within. And also, we haven’t been sure.
But back to me: Even though I know the miscarriage was absolutely not my fault, some part of me wonders if that miscarriage was a sign to me that something in me isn’t as healthy as I want. I have no reason to believe I’m not healthy though. I’ve had bloodwork done about once a year for the last few years to make sure I’m still balanced and healthy. And I’ve been very healthy, and I’ve had a healthy cycle, which is also an important marker. But when I went down the rabbit hole researching reasons for miscarriages several months ago, hormonal imbalances popped up, and we all know I had an issue with that for several years, leading up to getting healthy and pregnant with Brady. (More of my struggle with hypothalamic amenorrhea here.) Of course, there’s some major self doubt in there about whether I can have another healthy pregnancy. And once again, I don’t want a struggle.
And to be totally honest, one of the biggest things that I get concerned about is my “advanced maternal age.”I know they say that anyone giving birth over 35 is of advanced age, but I’ve been very aware lately of how my age (I just turned 38 in December 2021) may be a factor in my fertility health and chances moving forward. It’s not like I should sit around worried and in doubt for four more years before trying. Plenty of people have very healthy babies and pregnancies at 40 and beyond, and we’re seeing it more than ever. But I’d rather not have to be a case that doctors are worried about because of my age, if you know what I mean. Once again, these are my personal thoughts — that you guys want to hear — so I hope you will be kind with me, now that I’m sharing them. The future is truly up in the air. What I really don’t want is to have to be back on here writing about how I had another miscarriage, I’ll tell you that much.
I am not as affected by other people’s pregnancy announcements as I thought I would be.
Yet, it’s not all bad. There’s been growth.
When I was initially trying to get pregnant several years ago, I reached a point where I would get pretty upset when I saw people announcing their pregnancies on social media. Most of the time, I was not able to be happy for that person, which is an incredibly awful thing to admit. I hate to say it, but I was so fed up, and I was so frustrated with the years of healing I had been going through to fix my body that had yet to turn into a pregnancy. It wasn’t a great time for me. (And I know some of you can relate to this, because you’ve told me so. And here I am admitting it too.)
I was exhausted from it all, and I didn’t think it was fair that it was so hard for me to get pregnant, whereas some people barely tried. For those reasons, I wasn’t really able to feel joyful for other people for a while there, which was a reflection of my emotional state at the time. And I wondered if I would get into that space again after having my miscarriage. The answer is absolutely not. I am not upset by or jealous of other people who have successful pregnancies and go on to have healthy babies. And that is a really good thing.
I am no longer affected by other people and their journeys, because over the years, I’ve learned to keep my eyes on my own paper. I’ve learned that what someone else has, doesn’t take it away from me. The world is abundant, and I had been looking at the world with a scarcity mindset those years when I was struggling. The fact that I can say this now is something I’m so proud of, and I’m glad to see it’s come into play after my miscarriage. That’s growth. Props to me.
I’m even more grateful for the life I have and the people that are in it.
This one is another unexpected thing.
After everything we went through with my miscarriage, I had an absolute outpouring of love and support from friends and family in my life. I feel like it actually strengthened my relationships with some people too, who I didn’t even know cared. And also, I was reminded (not that I needed a reminder) of how amazing my mom is and how amazing Dave is too. They dropped everything and truly cared for me and helped me through. I saw more support from people after my miscarriage than I did after I lost my dad. Like a lot more.
You know, I didn’t need to have a miscarriage to realize I liked the people in my life. Not at all. But it was an event that let me see people and let people see me. And my people (my REAL people) showed up. I am really blessed to have all the people I have, especially my little family. I don’t have a massive network. I’m only one year into living in a new city and state, but wow, do I have a nice circle of folks these days. And healing from the miscarriage, grieving the loss and moving forward has opened my eyes (even more) to what’s right here with me. My loving family and friends. The life we are living right here, right now, with what we’ve got.
And I literally couldn’t love and appreciate this little guy more than I do …
Things I didn’t expect to happen after my miscarriage …
I think it’s also important to talk about some of the physical things that happened to me after the miscarriage …
My first cycle post-surgery was totally different.
Here I am talking about my menstrual cycle on the internet again, but this needs to be said. The doctors didn’t mention anything about it, so I wasn’t expecting it. I got my first menstrual cycle six weeks after my D&E surgery, and it was the heaviest and longest period of my entire life. I don’t need to give you details, but dang, I was not ready for it. I don’t know if that’s common or not. I looked it up, and apparently because your endometrial lining hasn’t shed in a while, a heavy flow can happen. It happened. But somehow, someway, my cycle has now normalized back to it’s mostly regular 28-day routine, now, three months later.
The pregnancy symptoms didn’t go away right away.
I wish I remember exactly how long it took for me to feel back to normal, but it wasn’t right away. I still had lingering nausea and slight taste aversions for at least a couple of weeks or more after the surgery. This is because the levels of pregnancy hormones were slowly decreasing, and the sensations still remained in my body. I wasn’t a big fan of this.
In fact, the decrease was so gradual, that I can’t remember the exact moment I woke up and thought — oh, I feel normal again. But eventually, I did. And boy, did it feel good to lose that uneasy slightly queasy feeling I had been carrying all day for several weeks. It must also be said that I immediately went back to sushi and wine and even scheduled all my grooming appointments that had been on the back-burner while pregnant (nails, hair, teeth whitening, etc.). A woman in pain needs to look her best, you know?
The cramps from the D&E surgery were terrible and long lasting.
I shared a little it about the discomfort and pain I went through after the surgery in my original post about it. But I have to say it again, because it was a lot. The cramps were atrocious, and they lasted with intensity for about a week, with lingering cramping even longer than that. The bleeding also continued for at least a couple weeks. I was hoping the procedure would set me back to normal so I could move on and forget very quickly. But the pain and residual effects (coupled with pregnancy nausea) was all less than fun.
I went back to teaching my classes about a week after the surgery, and I was still experiencing both cramping and bleeding. The funny thing is, both the surgeon and my OB/GYN told me I could totally resume normal activities the day after surgery. Absolutely not. That would not have been good, and I think that advice was misguided. I’m strong, I have a high pain tolerance, and I’m a trooper. But I would not have been able to resume everything the next day, and I wish they hadn’t told me that, because it was just not the case. I’m not sure if that was only me and my situation, but if you or anyone you know is ever in this position, I would encourage them to plan to have extra time to rest.
I had postpartum hair shedding.
Hair loss. This is actually a topic I’m going to delve into in a full post, so please let me know if you have specific questions. But it’s an issue I’ve been dealing with for quite some time, on and off. And I have to say I’m lucky that I started with super thick hair, so my “loss” may not look as bad as you’d expect, but it’s bad to me.
Here’s the story: In 2020, during COVID, when we lost my dad and were planning our cross-country move, I reached the peak of my all-time stress level and was losing my hair. (Apparently a lot of women have been going to their doctor during the last couple years of COVID time reporting hair loss, and it’s mostly from extreme stress.)
Well, I thought I had it all under control and my hair was on its way to returning to thickness by summer of 2021. Then, a couple weeks after my miscarriage, I noticed a lot more shedding, like extra clumps on my brush, a thinner ponytail and a patchier hairline. This was very alarming (and honestly, has caused some distress for me, because I’m very sensitive about it).
And at first, I didn’t think this loss was related to the miscarriage, until one day, I decided to look it up. Yup. Much like three months or so after you give birth, you start to lose some of that extra hair you were keeping on your head during pregnancy, you can potentially get a little bit of that post-miscarriage. It’s called the “telogen” phase of the hair follicle, and it means the hair falls out. Yuck. Total yuck.
I’ve bought supplements and products to support getting my hair back to fully healthy, and once I’ve nailed down what’s working best, I’m going to write about it. (I’m currently using this supplement, which my doctor recommended.)
This point had to be mentioned, because I feel like it’s a total slap in the face and something you’re definitely not told about by your doctor. Hat season, anyone?
And those are the big things I can think of sharing for now in my life after a miscarriage.
Closing thoughts on life after a miscarriage
I’m only three months out from the miscarriage. I don’t have all the answers. I only know what I feel and think at this very moment. On the whole, I’m doing very well. I’m moving forward, but not avoiding the pain and loss. I’m unsure about the future, and I’m hopeful that something will help me (us) know what is right and it will work out if it’s meant to work out. This is all still pretty fresh, so my feelings could always change. That’s the beauty of being human though, you can process and move on, you can change your mind, you can change your path — it’s all up to you.
Thank you for being here to read this post with me about life after a miscarriage, my blog-reading friends. And also, a VERY big thank you if you reached out to me or shared your miscarriage story with me over the last three months, because it sure has helped to ease my burden. I truly appreciate you and your willingness to open up, because it helps me be able to open up too. I wish you peace, my friends.
Take care of yourself. 🙂
Questions of the day
Have you dealt with any loss lately? How are you doing?
What’s one thing you are grateful for in your life right now?