Broken Hearts Club

I have debated writing this blog for months. Finally, it took a stranger whose blog post I spotted while mindlessly surfing the Internet to connect fingers to keyboard.

This mom blogger bravely described what it's like to have two miscarriages. In particular what struck me was this, "I wanted to write this out because going through this felt so lonely … Talking about it is painful and I understand why most women don't want to talk about it. I just hope that if someone else has to go through this they know that they are not alone."

She's not alone.

I should be preparing a nursery with a very pregnant belly right about now. But, in December, I miscarried. We had six hours left of an 18-hour drive after telling our family baby No. 2 was on the way when I began cramping and bleeding.

My husband and I left a message for the OBGYN, who I had just started seeing, but the doctor never called us back. I feverishly Googled my symptoms from my slow-as-molasses smart phone while my 3-year-old watched videos in the back seat of the car. Surprisingly, I found some hope from random online forums — including implantation bleeding and cervical sensitivity.

Deep down, however, I knew what was happening.

When I called my former OBGYN, who saw me through my first pregnancy, she directed me to the nearest emergency room. Because of a terrible flu outbreak, the ER administrators said my husband and son couldn't come in with me and I had to wear a surgeon's mask. I sat in the waiting room for four hours, compulsively going to the bathroom to confirm what I already knew. No one offered me sanitary napkins or even a pain reliever. When I was finally wheeled on a gurney to the ultrasound room, the news was anti-climactic. 

There was no heart beat.

I didn't start to cry until I returned to the ER exam room, where I called my husband to tell him the news. It took another hour to be seen by a doctor, whose bedside manner was plucked from the 1950s. "This is just nature's way of weeding out the mongoloids," he said.

Normally, I would have reprimanded him for being insensitive and horribly racist. But on this day, I stared at him like a blinking lizard, his scrubs blurred by my tears.

I waited another two hours before I finally left the ER on my own recognizances. A nurse tried to stop me.

"You should wait for the doctor's instructions," he said.

"I'm having a miscarriage. There's nothing I can really do," I stoically offered to his shocked expression.

The drive home was long and gave me too much time to process what happened. I vacillated between feeling numb to feeling sadness and even guilt. I kept thinking I did something wrong. Maybe the miscarriage was the result from inhaling cleaning supply fumes? Maybe it's because I work too much? Maybe it's because my uterus is old? Maybe it's cosmic payback for all of my bad deeds?

After our trip from hell, I immediately called my OBGYN (the one who called me back). The nurse answered and I heard the doctor grab the phone from her. "Heather, I am so sorry this has happened. Unfortunately, miscarriage is common and it's something we don't talk about enough. What do you need? Do you need pain medicine? Mood enhancers?" 

A wave of relief fell over me — finally, someone acknowledged that I was going through something immeasurably awful. During my follow-up ultrasound, this same doctor held my hand and reassured me everything was going to be OK. I will never forget her kindness.

As time went by, I opened up about my experience to other women. I was surprised to learn that many of the women in my life have lost pregnancies, and we shared similar feelings of guilt, loneliness and hopelessness. It's like I was part of a club. "The first rule of the miscarriage club is there is no miscarriage club."

The feeling of loss after a miscarriage is profound, and difficult to put into words. It took me months to find the courage to write this. I didn't want to risk sounding trite in a blog that anyone can see. But after talking with mothers and fathers who have gone through similar situations or worse, I realized what has helped me the most is to know that I am not alone.

That gives me hope.