Tuesday Nov 12th6:00am
Woke up feeling the need to get what happened yesterday on paper. Maybe it is something I will want to be able to look back on and read one day. Maybe this is something I will want to share with our future son or daughter. Maybe this is something I can share with others that had a similar experience, or are in a state of sadness – to help them know they are not alone.
Monday Nov 11th7:00am
I was walking out the door to go play golf at one of my favorite Charlotte courses with my dad and two uncles – a rare treat to get to play golf with my uncles. Bailey gets up from bed as I am walking out and says, “I’ll let you know how it goes.” What does she mean she’ll let me know how it goes? I knew she was going to the doctor this morning, but it was just to draw blood to figure out the gender of our baby – we were not supposed to get the results for several days.
On Sunday, Bailey experienced spotting and minor bleeding, a google search and call to the doctor’s office assured us that this could be common pregnancy symptoms. If it didn’t stop over the next 24-48 hours we would do an ad hoc ultrasound to check on the baby. Unfortunately, Bailey woke up with similar symptoms and wanted to see the doctor for an ultrasound before doing the gender blood work. She tried to convince me to still golf – but I was not going to let her do an ultrasound on her own (after what happened later in the day, I’ll never let her do an ultrasound alone).
Monday Nov 11th9:00am
We go to doctor’s office, check in and sit down. They ask for Bailey to come back up to the check in window to explain her symptoms to the nurse – I can hear Bailey faintly and I can see the nurse’s face. I can tell the nurse is attentively listening to Bailey, and I am attentively looking at the nurse’s face from my chair – trying to gather a reaction from her that may indicate if there is an issue or not.
This moment made the potential risk of loss real for me. Bailey was very clear and matter of fact, and the nurse had an attentive, info gathering poker face. I do not think the nurse had an answer either way in the moment based on the symptoms – it could just be normal changes during pregnancy, or it could have been signs of a miscarriage. But there was something deeper, and implicit in their exchange – I don’t know if it was super subtle body language, a slight change in posture, but I sensed that both felt like something was wrong.
The office had availability for an ultrasound at 1:15pm later that afternoon.
Monday Nov 11th10:00am
We drove back home. We rented and watched Toy Story 4 – we wanted to pass the time as quickly as possible. We did not speak a lot, just occasional check ins with each other on how we were feeling. Bailey was anxious and worried – she wanted to go into the ultrasound appointment expecting the worst. I was anxious, but hopeful. Sadness had not entered the equation yet. We ordered bacon cheeseburgers and fries from Shake Shack to try to eat the emotions.
Monday Nov 11th1:00pm
We arrived back to the doctor’s office and the nurse walked us back to the ultrasound room, where just two weeks ago we got to see the heartbeat of our future baby – that was such a cool experience to see the fetus a little over 1 cm long at the time with a healthy, flickering heartbeat – our creation.
The ultrasound began – it must have only lasted 2 to 3 mins in total, but the seconds felt like minutes. For the first three seconds, the nurse was looking for the fetus. During the search, I started feeling sad – what if our future child wasn’t even there anymore? The emptiness of the ultrasound screen was devastating. Suddenly a short glimmer of the fetus appeared in the top left of the screen, the nurse focused on it and then began to zoom in. As soon as we got a clear view of the fetus, even before she started zooming – I knew.
The flickering heartbeat we celebrated two weeks ago was no longer there. The room was silent for the next 5 seconds as it appeared the nurse was checking different angles, zooming in and out, and measuring the fetus. Bailey broke the silence and said what we were all thinking, “That does not look good.” The nurse gently replied, “No…I’m sorry it is not.”
I had a hat I could hide under. I put my face in my hands and just began to sob. My thought at the time was there was no use in holding back the tears, if I started sobbing now I could run out of tears before we left the doctor’s office. I’m obviously not an experienced crier, I found out that’s not how tears work – we cried on and off for the rest of the day, and I still can cry as I write this a day later.
The nurse kindly stepped out, gave us some privacy, and told us to take all the time we needed before going into a second room to meet with the doctor. Bailey’s first words were, “I’m sorry, it was my fault.” I told her to not apologize, it was not her fault – it just happens. She said she felt like carrying the baby was her responsibility and she failed. She said she felt embarrassed. We both felt like it was surreal, we were both still processing it and in shock. We began to talk about how sad it was and how sad we were. We cried and held each other.
Monday Nov 11th1:30pm
We walked down the hall where we met with the doctor. I remember the doctor being just as gentle and kind as the nurse, but I really do not remember a lot of this conversation. I think she was talking through statistics, assuring Bailey that she was not at fault, and answering some of Bailey’s initial questions. I had my hand on Bailey’s lap and I was buried in my own thoughts – I’m a super analytical person and processing the current reality was overwhelming. I was fixated on the poise of the nurse and doctor given the heartbreaking circumstances. I came-to when the doctor asked, “Any other questions?” and Bailey looked down at me. I couldn’t resist and asked calmly, “How often do you guys have to walk through this with patients? Every day? Every other day? Once a week?…” The doctor indicated the office has miscarriages multiple times per week, one in four pregnancies.
I then asked what was next for Bailey. The doctor talked us through three options for Bailey to complete the miscarriage. Bailey asked me what I thought, and I responded that we should take our time with this decision (in my scattered state I was completely missing the fact that Bailey still had our deceased fetus in her body, and probably wanted to complete the miscarriage as soon and as safely as able). Bailey decided on option #2 – to complete the miscarriage without surgery and with medicine at home (the doctor indicated it usually takes 24-48 hours).
Monday Nov 11th2:00pm
We get inside my car in the parking lot, and have the privacy again to sob some more. We start talking about next steps – we need to let our family know. We drive to the CVS to pick up the miscarriage medicine. En route, Bailey calls her sister to let her know – that was a sad phone call to listen to. We had just spent the last week with her sister and her family down at Disney, giving Bailey a hard time about not getting to ride the rides or drink alcohol. I could not make out what her sister was saying, but it put Bailey in a better place. Bailey then called her mom – a similar phone call, sad to hear the crackle in Bailey’s voice as she shared the bad news, but I could sense Bailey left the conversation feeling a little better.
We arrived at the CVS, it would take 15 mins to fill the medicine order – so we sat in the car. We called my mom to let her know. Bailey did most of the talking for us, I was too upset to form full sentences – my mom was ecstatic to hear we were expecting a baby when we told her a few short weeks ago. It was a relief to get through the call, my mom was going to share the news with the rest of the family so that we did not have to have this phone conversation over and over again with my four siblings.
Our time in the car in the CVS parking was a blessing – the initial shock had subsided, we’d shared the news with immediate family, and now could focus on each other. We both spoke kind and softly – we checked in with each other on how we were feeling. I am the glass-half-full partner in the relationship, the encourager, often the pacifier. In the car, we had this surreal role reversal moment – not sure how we got there, but Bailey started making these short affirmative statements. It went something like this:
Bailey: We are going to be okay.
Bailey: We are going to become stronger because of this.
Bailey: We will try again soon.
Bailey: We are going to be great parents.
Me: Yup. You’re right.
Bailey: I love you.
Me: I love you too.
We were on the same page. I don’t know where her affirmative statements came from (I have a hunch) but I was so in line with her thinking that I had nothing to add to each statement – I could only say “Yup.” We were both overcome with emotion – an hour removed from our most tragic experience as a couple and we were at least in harmony. We could start to grieve and heal together.
Wednesday Nov. 13th3:00pm
The rest of Monday and Tuesday was similar. We spent the time together in our apartment watching movies (to disconnect), checking in with each other, crying, getting text messages from loved ones. We were okay but both still had strong moments of sadness. An example for me was when I realized the hurt from the loss was going to take a longer time for me to deal with than I initially thought – sounds simple and silly, but that was a heavy realization for me. For Bailey, she experienced a flood of emotion when she realized the next pregnancy attempt would likely have added stress and anxiety – she said she was determined to not let this setback taint future efforts.
Our primary focus over the last two days has been on Bailey’s comfort and recovery, she started the miscarriage medicine Monday afternoon and we were praying for the her to complete the miscarriage – a big step for her to start the healing process physically and emotionally. As I type this (Wednesday afternoon), she thinks that she’s completed the miscarriage, we will go back to the doctor for an ultrasound in a few days to confirm that. We’re very thankful, Bailey is relatively comfortable.
How are we doing and where do we go from here? We’re still processing the loss of life, it will take time to fully process – we will always love and never forget our first little Schwartz. We are huge advocates of sharing sadness, embarrassment, and grief with loved ones or anyone who will listen. These negative emotions thrive when kept quiet and internalized, speak them out loud, share your feelings with others to allow room for love and progress. We are content with God’s timing and feel His presence. We know following Him requires patience – we will be patient. Personally, I feel love and gratitude:
I am thankful for and amazed by Bailey’s maturity – I love her, and my love for her is not conditional on our ability to have children.
I am thankful for the grace and kindness of our nurse and doctor.
I am thankful that I had planned time off from work where I could be with Bailey through this.
I am thankful for friends and family.
I am thankful for God’s comforting presence.
I am thankful we got to see a heart beat, I know not everyone gets to experience that.
I am thankful for Bailey – we are a strong team.
I am thankful to let the heartbroken know they are not alone (especially the one in four).
I am thankful for the opportunity and hope in trying for another baby.