Welcome to birth trauma stories Podcast

Lauren's Miscarriage Journey: Part 1


Written by Lauren Samson, co-founder of Mental Push Plan

*Please be aware this blog post shares specifics of trauma related to pregnancy loss.

I felt equal parts desire and dread in putting my words and pain to paper. There is no feeling like wanting to confront grief and loss while simultaneously wanting to completely ignore it. My greatest comfort comes in the beatitude - 

“Blest are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” 

For to mourn is to love. You can’t have one without the other. It is the natural response to the loss of something you love, even if it was something or someone you never even met. 

What follows is my experience of pregnancy loss. It is the deepest, most intense grief I have ever known and it truly pains me to know that so many other birthing people have also known this grief.

My first pregnancy was joyful. It was uncomplicated, low on discomfort and the birth was as near to my preference A as I could have hoped. I felt so alive in my birthing power. I turned to my husband (Mitch) not 5 minutes afterwards and said, “I’d do that again.” 

By the time our son, McCall, was 12 months old we decided to start trying again. We’d heard it can take longer to get pregnant your second time around so we thought it might take us awhile. But much to my delight after two months we were expecting. I was a bit nervous about having two kids under two, but knew we’d figure it out. It was around Thanksgiving we found out and were beginning to think about fun Christmas present ideas to tell our family the good news. 

During my first ultrasound the tech told me she could see the yoke sac but not much else. She told me it was probably just too early to detect anything (week 6) and that I should come back next week.

So, I did. I came alone because of COVID protocols. The second ultrasound wasn’t able to detect any changes or see any type of embryo. This wasn’t something I was told directly, however. The tech said something vague and then she said she would see if any of the doctors were available for a consultation. 

I sat in an exam room wondering what was going on and started to think, “Should I be worried?” 

One of the OBs in the clinic came in and told me that based on the ultrasounds it looked like this wasn’t a viable pregnancy and gave me options for speeding its termination. I was so completely shocked by the whole thing that I just remember mumbling that I didn’t want to do anything and tried to leave as quickly as I could. I all but ran out of the office.

I clearly remember walking in my front door from the appointment and into Mitch’s arms and starting to sob uncontrollably. It was a while before he could get any words out of me. Finally, I was able to stammer, “There is no baby.” 

As I came to grips with the news over the next few days, I was almost able to convince myself they were wrong and that miraculously there would be no bleeding, no loss. I’d go back to the doctor and they’d tell me they were wrong. That’s not what happened. 

Prior to Christmas we told our families of the loss, some of whom we hadn’t even shared the pregnancy news with in the first place. Telling my dad was the worst. Seeing tears in his eyes broke my heart all over again. Yet, I didn’t want my sullen, depressed mood to be a surprise over the holidays, so we took the time to tell everyone what was happening. 

It wasn’t until Dec 28th that my body finally recognized the loss and started to bleed, 11 days after the second ultrasound. We were up in the mountains for New Years when it began. 

Carolyn (co-founder of Mental Push Plan) and her family had come up to join us and while it may not have been the New Years they were envisioning, I’m so thankful that they were there.

The bleeding wasn’t painful but feeling the large globs of tissue fall unbidden from my body was eerie and distressing. 

I was bleeding for hours and very heavily at that. After several hours I began to worry about the volume. I called the after hours number for my clinic and had a very unhelpful chat with a male doctor who basically said, “It’s hard to say.” 

We decided to go to bed and wait a bit longer before deciding whether to go to the hospital. Around 1am I woke up and went to the bathroom to check. When I sat down and pulled down my leggings I felt a huge gush of blood and freaked out. I stood up to call out to Mitch and that’s the last thing I remembered for several minutes. 

I found out later that I had collapsed on the bathroom floor. Mitch and Carolyn rushed in to find me and try to sit me back on the toilet. They said they saw my eyes roll back into my head and that I was completely dead weight. When I came to, I was again lying on the floor and heard them talking about whether they could carry me to the car or if they should call for an ambulance. 

All I could mutter  was “no, no, no”. 

Not because I didn’t want to go to the hospital or because I was in disbelief of what was happening (though I suppose there was some of that), but because I didn’t want an ambulance. Well really, I didn’t want to PAY for an ambulance (I won’t get on my soapbox about the US healthcare system here). But the decision was really out of my hands and my husband and friends made the absolute best choice under the circumstances. 

The ambulance arrived and I was wheeled out into the snow.

I have never ridden in an ambulance before. It is an extremely surreal experience. I remember looking up at the lights and the swaying of all the equipment and thinking, “This cannot be happening.” Thankfully, I was conscious and starting to be more aware of things after they started an IV. It was a short ride and then I was bustled into a room in the ER. 

There were no other patients and in Dec 2020 it was still very much the thick of COVID (pre-vaccine), so I was glad not to be taking attention away from any other patients. The doctor, nurses and staff were all very good at being gentle and keeping me informed of what was going on.

Turns out there was a piece of tissue stuck in my cervix that was preventing the process from completing on its own and was allowing the bleeding to continue. The doctor completed an emergency D&C (dilation and curettage). All-in-all, I was discharged around 3am and what might have killed me 150 years ago was no more than a 2-hour ER visit. 

Modern medicine can be truly incredible. 

Well, for the body, the mind is another thing. We have become quite adept at fixing bodies but we still aren’t very good at supporting the healing of minds. The physical bleeding stopped, but the emotional pain continued. 

The trauma of how my pregnancy loss unfolded was certainly the scariest part of the whole experience. I was upset about the pregnancy loss, but tried to find comfort in the fact that it was a blighted ovum (when a gestational sac develops without an embryo). So I could get away with comforting myself in saying, there never really was a baby.

This was not a very effective tactic. 

I also “knew” that pregnancy loss was common and thought of it as just really shitty luck. My mom came to town soon after and I got plants, cards and calls from my close friends. My husband and I were very open with others about our experience. Not only to get the support and love we needed, but also to be an example of sharing with others about a very personal loss that often gets swept under the rug.

In fact, Mitch never really understood the whole “wait to tell people until after 12 weeks” thing. We get it now. Waiting gives you the option to share what you want. Yet it also can also bring with it the hurdle of having to share awful news that you could just keep to yourself. There is no right answer. In my experience, sharing with others was helpful. Especially, when one loss became two.

Lauren has her PhD in sport & exercise psychology and is the co-founder of Mental Push Plan, a company that delivers mental tools to women along their birthing journey. They offer the Mental Grief Plan specifically for women who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. Use the code TWINKY for 10% for the entire site.