A little over a week after we got back from our trip to Europe in February, I found out I was pregnant. We had decided to start trying during our travels, but I had no idea it would happen so quickly. As I told Zach while we were discussing our future and walking along a river in Schruns one night, “This could be a very long process. It can take months and sometimes years for women to get pregnant.” … Apparently it can also happen immediately!
A few days before we returned to America I started to have some weird symptoms. My boobs were really sore, I was having what felt like some light pressure in my uterus, and it just seemed like my hormones were a little out of whack. I was expecting my period to come soon so I figured it was probably just that combined with all the traveling that was making me feel different, but of course I still googled “pregnancy symptoms”. One of the first and most common signs of pregnancy is sore boobs. That was never a typical PMS symptom for me, and after I read the next symptom which was “uterus pressure or light cramps”, I started to wonder.
My period had been a little irregular since going off birth control, so I wasn’t exactly sure when to expect it, but I had an idea. I took a pregnancy test around the time I thought would have been my first missed week, and sure enough it came back positive! I started shaking. I couldn’t believe this happened so quickly. I was terrified, shocked, and overjoyed all at once. I ran in to wake Zach up, we had a celebratory moment, talked about it all morning, and then went to work.
Talk about the hardest secret EVER to keep. All I wanted to do was tell people, but I knew I couldn’t. I was obviously very early in the pregnancy and women usually wait to announce the news until between 8-12 weeks because miscarriage is most common before 12 weeks. We decided to keep it a secret, even from our parents, until we knew for sure it was a viable pregnancy.
A very long 2 weeks went by and my hormones were going crazy. I could feel my body changing daily and I was so hyper aware of every feeling, emotion, and symptom. Remember when I mentioned in my recent intuitive eating post about how I have been listening to my body more than ever recently? Well this was one of the main reasons why! Getting pregnant was so interesting in terms of my mental state with my eating disorder. I had a few moments of panic thinking “what if I binge during pregnancy?” but then I realized I felt this unexplainable sense of calm. I had a completely new relationship with my body within just days. It was a feeling of love, respect, and kindness. I wanted to treat myself as kindly as possible to allow this baby to grow in the most healthy environment possible.
On my day off when I was almost at 6 weeks, I was hanging out with Zach and my sister in law when I went to the bathroom and noticed I was bleeding. When I saw it I immediately knew. I had read tons of stuff on google about how spotting is perfectly normal between weeks 5-8, but this was not spotting. I panicked, immediately called my doctor, made an appointment, and told Zach. We hadn’t told my SIL yet, but I knew I was not going to be able to keep it together for the rest of the day without her knowing, so we decided to let her know what was going on. I was a panicked and emotional wreck. Zach was struggling too, but he kept it together really well around me which was very helpful at the time.
After my appointment with the doctor, I sat in my car alone and cried uncontrollable tears. I hadn’t gotten my test results back yet, but I just had this feeling in my gut. I knew it was a miscarriage. I tried to talk myself through it, remembering what the doctor said about how common it is and how there was nothing I could have done differently, but it was hard not to wonder why it happened.
It took a little over a week for the miscarriage to be complete, and I won’t go into details, but that is something I hope I never have to experience again. It’s painful, emotional, messy, and taxing on the body. I feel lucky that mine happened so early (6 weeks) because I can’t imagine going through that with a baby that was any further along. I have heard stories of women who spend days or weeks in the hospital and others who have to get surgery. I am so grateful that mine was fairly “easy” and happened early on so I was able to recover relatively quick.
That all happened about a month and a half ago. I have had some time now to process the whole thing, work through my emotions, and get back to feeling “normal” again. I decided to write about this because I know there are so many other women out there who deal with pregnancy loss and need a relatable voice during the hard times. Thankfully, I have many friends and family who helped me through mine, but not everyone out there has a great support system. This blog will always be a place where I share personal and often very private information in hopes of reaching out and helping others who are struggling in similar ways. Sometimes, just reading another person’s story is comforting. At least I know it is for me.
It’s crazy how your mind can shift in just a few short weeks of being pregnant. I was already in the baby mindset and caring for my body in a completely different way than ever before. I knew there was still a chance it wouldn’t work out, but it’s hard in that first few weeks to not daydream about the future and all the exciting changes to come. I wanted to stay positive, grateful, and try not to think about the negative things that could happen because I wanted to keep my stress low. Unfortunately, I was still dealing with some stressful events at the time, so of course I wondered if that had anything to do with the miscarriage.
My doctor assured me that there was nothing I could have done differently, and that it just meant that the pregnancy wasn’t viable from the get go. I’m sure she is right, but it’s hard to not have the “what if” thoughts. What if I was too stressed? What if I ate something that I reacted badly to? What if I was exercising too much? What if I consumed too much caffeine or the wrong kinds of teas? All of these are reasons I googled that could increase the chance of miscarriage. But eventually I just forced myself to stop. I knew I couldn’t think like that. I knew I had to STOP GOOGLING. There was no sense in worrying about what I could have done differently. The fact was, during those few weeks, I was treating my body with more love and care than ever in my life. I was eating intuitively, trying to get tons of sleep, meditating, and doing as much exercise as felt right. Yes I was dealing with some stress, but it wasn’t anything astronomical and I just had to accept the fact that this time it just wasn’t meant to be.
I don’t know what kind of God I believe in, but I know that he/she just decided it wasn’t my time yet. Something I am so sure of now is that this was all meant to be a huge learning experience for me. Although it was devastating, I feel grateful to know that I am able to get pregnant and I have such a stronger appreciation for the entire process. Since my miscarriage, I have developed a love, respect, and awareness of my body that I never had before.
I keep thinking about how incredibly smart our bodies’ are. It’s amazing that my body knew to reject a pregnancy because it would not produce a healthy baby. I am so thankful that my body is smart enough to work through that complicated process and I realize now how important it is to LISTEN to what it is telling me. I have spent my entire life ignoring my bodies’ signals, numbing the feelings with food, restricting, over exercising, bingeing, doing whatever it took to look a certain way and never listening to the cries for me to stop. Now I realize how stupid all of that was. I am slowly learning that my body is an incredible machine. It can do amazing things and it is WAY smarter than I have ever given it credit for. My self love and awareness has reached a new level because of this experience, and I am truly grateful for it.
Patience is another huge lesson I have learned from this miscarriage. With pregnancy, nothing is instantaneous. There is no immediate satisfaction. You have to wait for EVERYTHING. You wait to take a pregnancy test, then you wait weeks and weeks until you can hear a heartbeat, then there’s months of waiting while the baby grows. There’s waiting with a miscarriage too. I had to wait a week to get my results confirming it was happening, then wait for another week to make sure my hormone levels were all the way back to 0. Now I have to wait who knows how long until I get my period again and go through 1 complete cycle before we can try again. Then we will have to wait after we try again to see if I miss another period, and then the waiting process continues ALL. OVER. AGAIN.
So. Much. Waiting. It’s honestly been the hardest but best lesson for me. I have learned through all of this that I am not a patient person! I know it’s an important lesson for parenthood, and if I am lucky enough to get pregnant again, I will be sure to continue working on my patience as I know this will be key to my success with having a child. I think a lot of my impatience stems from my binge eating disorder… or vice versa. I need that instant gratification. That immediate pleasure seeking feeling. I need the comfort of the food to make me feel better right away. But with pregnancy, not only was there no chance in Hell that I would binge to numb my feelings, but I also couldn’t cure the uncomfortable waiting feeling with food because it wasn’t going to give me any of the answers I was waiting for! This was one of the first times in my life when food wasn’t an option or a solution, and I had to start exploring other ways to address my anxiety and other emotions.
The weird thing about all of this was that I LOVED it. I loved that food wasn’t the answer. I loved being forced to dive into my emotions, my thoughts, and my responses. I loved trying new things like 4-7-8 breathing, meditating, going for a walk, watching a show, or reading. I’ve always known that I need to continue practicing strategies to help find ways of dealing with my emotions instead of turning to food, but this was the first time in my life when I really felt FORCED to do it. Like there was no other option. I was not going to hurt my body or that baby with a binge, so I had to do something else to work through the feelings.
It’s one thing to practice these anxiety and stress relief strategies daily when you are feeling calm and mindful, but it’s totally different to ACTUALLY do those things in the heat of the moment, when your cravings are loud, your anxiety and stress are high, and your feelings are all over the place. Meditating in the middle of a room of people when you feel anxious is a completely different experience from meditating in a calm quiet space every day as part of your morning routine. It was so nice to be able to use these techniques that I have been practicing for so long and know which ones I could turn to and try in order to help my mental state during this time.
I want every women out there who has gone through a miscarriage to know that you are not alone and that there is nothing wrong with you. Our bodies are smart. They are strong and resilient. They certainly aren’t perfect and sometimes things just don’t work out. It’s completely normal. In fact, nearly 1 in 4 known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Whatever happened happened for a reason. I truly believe that. This was meant to teach you something and for you to learn and grow from it.
I also want anyone who struggles with disordered eating to realize the importance of listening to your body. If you are in a similar stage of life as me and looking to start a family, this is something I am learning is crucial in my recovery. It sucks that it took this experience for me to finally have that “aha!” moment, but it has already made a huge difference in my life. Intuitive eating is tough, like really tough, but its worth the struggle to give your body the respect and love it deserves. It will be a learning experience. It will not be perfect. There will be ups and downs, steps forward and back, mistakes made and lessons learned, but your body, mind, and future baby will thank you for it in the future.