October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. This month I remember my sweet angel baby Jordyn that we lost so suddenly in March of 2016.
It’s taken me over a year to publish this story that I wrote shortly after we miscarried. The details were too graphic, and the pain was still fresh. I knew when I wrote it that I had the intention to make it public, but couldn’t bring myself to do it yet. I share with you something that is so deeply personal and vulnerable because I want those who haven’t walked through miscarriage to understand what miscarriage entails, and I want those who have walked through it to know you aren’t alone in the details.
Here is my story, raw and unpolished:
The last beat of his heart sounded while my body cradled his; at one point two heartbeats from within the chambers of my body, and then one; when his last one faded, mine continued, rocking him into heavenly slumber. Perhaps I was sitting laughing with my husband unaware of this event when it occurred. Perhaps I lay dreaming of holding him. It still haunts me that such an event occurred without notice, without pause. Life continued as another one passed.
Three weeks ago, I heard his heartbeat for the first time in an ultrasound. It was beautiful and strong. I was given “Congratulations! A healthy baby!” and sent home. Life continued. We dreamed. We prepared. We hung my pregnancy clothes.
Sunday night while I slept, I dreamt that I was forced to move into a new home. This new home was anything but welcoming; it was dark and cold. A murder had been committed there, and left. I was faced with the task to clean it up by myself before I could move in, and tell no one of what happened. The feeling of heaviness, of darkness, of fear, of suffering was full upon me faced with this morbid task. I would be forced to live in that house with the memory of what I saw. Trembling, with a cleaning pail and rubber gloves, I entered the cold, dark, quiet house anticipating what I was about to see. Entering, I gasped and fell to my knees weeping, body parts illuminated in pale light.
I then awoke to intense pain in my lower body, and headed to the bathroom. I sat down, and found blood in my underwear. Just a spot. Being 11 weeks pregnant, I immediately began weeping uncontrollably, although unaware of what it fully could mean. Blood isn’t good. Gathering myself, I stumbled into our room where Tucker was asleep. He awoke hearing my sobs and asked if everything was okay and when I didn’t respond, he got up and followed me into the bathroom where I showed him — he embraced me while I wept. Tucker reminded me that we didn’t know anything yet – and there was so little blood. In that moment, I felt so helpless. I couldn’t check on my baby. I couldn’t comfort him. And if it was miscarriage, I was powerless to stop it. I ended up staying up most of the night in tears. Tucker and I went to the living room around 3am and tried to watch a movie to distract us – and wait. Wait to see if more blood came.
That morning, no new blood came. We called the doctor and I described what I had experienced and she told me that it was nothing to be concerned about – that a small amount a blood was normal and to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Suddenly the dark gloom lifted, lingering, but lifted. I excitedly told Tucker that everything would be okay and I rubbed my belly, smiling, cradling my baby. We couldn’t have been more happy to hear our little child was still there and okay, although I was still having some painful cramping. I told work that I was “sick” and stayed home tending to Tali and going about a semi-normal day.
Things took a turn for the worst around 9pm that evening (my daughter was already in bed asleep) – it was sudden and unexpected. I had invited my mother over to watch The Bachelorette, and shipped Tucker off to be with my dad to watch the game. The evening was beautiful and uplifting until that telling moment I’ll never forget: I laughed and felt a rush of fluid come — and continue to, every time I moved, every time I talked, with every step. I immediately knew – and my heart sank deeper than I’ve ever felt before. All hope drained from me, all the light was gone. I knew our baby was no longer alive. A heart no longer beating – that seconds ago I took for granted that it was. And my body still held onto his lifeless one.
Tucker wasn’t home and I texted him to come home, and told my mom I was tired and needed to rest. I stayed strong until she left because I wanted to first process the emotion with my husband. I was already wearing a pad just in case from the previous incident, and now found myself paralyzed with fear and sadness. I couldn’t look, couldn’t check – I didn’t want to face what was happening. I went to our bed and curled up in the fetal position, and absolutely fell apart. I wept uncontrollably as more blood continued to come – it never let up. Tucker came home about ten minutes later and found me in the bed. He immediately curled up behind me and wrapped his arms around me, comforting me, holding me, a moment of knowing silence hung in the air. I told him between sobs that I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to see. I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to look. While sobbing I continued to repeat it. But, I knew I had to or I would get blood on my pants and bed. He helped me to the bathroom as my body continued to painfully contract. I felt the same anxiety as I did in my dream Sunday night, and I wasn’t prepared to face it. To see blood. I wasn’t prepared to see the proof of what I feared. A nightmare that I couldn’t wake from. I sat on the toilet and saw that the pad was full of bright red blood – new blood — a sign of miscarriage. My whole body began shaking as I now faced what was happening. It was real. My baby was gone. My womb held no life, but just a body. I continued weeping, sobbing. And I sat… as blood continued to pour out along with tissue with each sob.
I sobbed for so many things: for the loss of hope. For the loss of opportunity. For the loss of memories I expected to make. For the pain. The pain of labor. For the graphic nature of this moment. For the unknown: the image of my child’s body floating somewhere, unknown, unseen, in human waste, in a cold dark sewer system, forgotten, abandoned, rejected by the body. Dear Lord, I just wanted to hold him. I just wanted to hold her once.
I fixated on this idea. Where is my baby? Where is my child?
Tucker ended up calling my doctor and we ended up at the hospital because the pain became unbearable. When I arrived, there were happy faces. There were people awaiting news in the waiting room of a blessed new life. The nurses tried to reassure me that my symptoms didn’t necessarily mean miscarriage. But, I knew. I knew before they knew.
Once we were admitted, they asked about the clots I passed. They asked if there was evidence still left in the toilet that I used. They asked about my pain. They hooked me up to machines. They used an ultrasound machine. They entered my body and used an internal ultrasound. The privacy of that moment, the vulnerability of that moment felt invaded by machines and strangers and objects. The loss of life corresponded with a loss of privacy — and the peaceful, familiar space to pause and process and reflect and pray was gone.
They turned the monitor away out of my sight, and walked out to discuss. They confirmed no heartbeat, and with that, the last bit of unrealistic hope I had was crushed. They told me that “stuff” was still passing and that they needed to ask my doctor if I needed to stay overnight, have a surgery, or wait it out.
Instead they offered me a pill and had us go home. We drove slowly. We cried. We stopped for food to delay return. We walked into the house, and I didn’t want to say anything to my parents that waited with my daughter. I had no more words.
We arrived home that night around 2am, and a few hours later, Tucker had to get ready and go to work – life, responsibilities, and time continuing forward, unforgiving of human life or suffering, leaving no room for rest or processing.
Having no experience with miscarriage, and not having spoken to a mom that went through miscarriage, I didn’t understand that my body was in labor. I didn’t understand what “surgery” entailed. I didn’t know what my little pill was. I didn’t know that the “stuff” spoken of was my child. To me, my child was never just “stuff” — nor was his remains. When I went to the hospital, no one educated me. No one spoke about options. No one asked me what I wanted. No one explained what would happen next.
Three days later, my child arrived into the world. That morning I had thought about going to work because processing the pain alone at home was worse than continuing in routine tasks. Luckily, I decided to stay home one more day. I didn’t know that that “stuff” that would pass on its own was code for my child’s body. And, I had no idea that when you miscarry, you labor and pass your child — depending how far along — whole and recognizable. That afternoon my body started painfully contracting and I left for the bathroom. Something larger passed, and all the pain I had been feeling suddenly and immediately lifted and was gone. In fact, I felt peace. I immediately recognized the meaning of this moment. I knew what had happened and what I passed. I was so unprepared. No one told me this would happen. No one told me what to do next.
I couldn’t bring myself to flush the toilet. I couldn’t bring myself to not look upon my child’s face. But I sat, frozen. Am I crazy? Am I crazy to want to hold him? Is that not what I wanted? I had fixated on not knowing where my baby was, and sobbed over the idea of him each night. Isn’t this a redeeming moment?
I retrieved his sweet little body, and kept him. I held him. And for a moment, all life paused. My angel. I told Tucker the news, and we decided to buy a Japanese Maple Tree and burry our beloved under the tree. We named our child Jordyn Eden, and said our final goodbye that weekend — peace came over us. Closure came. And closure came as I spoke to other mothers to find out that this experience, and how we sought closure, was common. Other mothers, in utter shock, flushed the remains and then felt guilt and shame, never feeling that they had the chance to say goodbye. For these parents, some sought closure by writing a letter to their loved one and burying it instead, or perhaps placing rose petals into the water that the baby was born into, and sending it away the same way their child left them. Either way, there is no wrong way to say goodbye. There is no closure that comes close to ending our pain or mourning. There is only acceptance, and reflection, and prayer, and community, and faith, and moving forward when everything in us wants to go back, go back to that beating heartbeat, to the double lines on a pregnancy test.
We enter into a community of motherhood we never expected to or wished to, but in it we found love, and peace, and hope, and remembrance. Although to so many people this little life never was, to us they were, and they are, and they continue, even if only in our heart.