When a couple experiences a miscarriage, the grief can come from any number of things. Seeing pregnant women and babies in public, hearing news of a pregnant friend or family member, having baby items that you've purchased around the house- the list goes on. It would seem the sources are endless for bringing back that pain as freshly as the day it happened. One thing that can cause immense sadness is when the hospital bills start rolling in from the D&C or labor process. When a woman is trying to heal in the months after a miscarriage, the walk to the mail box can become a heart-pounding experience.
I had a miscarriage last fall- my first one. The pregnancy itself was a bit of a surprise as we were not actively trying, but not preventing either. I was over-joyed but also, a little scared. My kids are seven and five. We had emerged from the baby and toddler years and the idea of going back was somewhat daunting, but we were embracing it. We started discussing names right away and made a list of all the baby items we would need to buy again since we had already sold everything from our first two kids. We were happy and excited- the nerves faded fast.
After a short time, I realized that I didn't "feel" pregnant and asked my doctor for a blood draw. The number was a little low so I had to repeat it several times. It was rising slowly and I was concerned, but according to my doctor, it was too early for an ultrasound. He said we might not see anything considering how low my numbers were and then, I would only have to endure another ultrasound later on. As long as there was no bleeding, I would have to wait. It was pretty much the worst- a roller-coaster. Not knowing whether we should be excited or preparing to grieve made for an awful stage of limbo. Many tears were shed in our house last October.
After almost a month of wondering, right before I would have been nine weeks, I started to bleed. Ironically, I had my first ultrasound scheduled for the next day. To be honest, it was almost a relief to have an answer after all the sleepless nights wondering if the baby would happen and if so, would they be healthy? We had the ultrasound the next day to confirm and discovered the baby had stopped developing around five weeks and the present yolk sac was "abnormally formed." Like I said, a concrete answer was a bit of a relief but of course, we were sad.
My doctor advised a D&C for the next day as he was concerned for me to miscarry naturally and not pass everything on my own. The procedure was easy and free of complication. I had a difficult few moments right before going under for the surgery- gasping and crying, worrying it was my fault and that my initial doubt over how we would handle a third child was the reason why the universe took our baby away. Ridiculous, I know, but our thoughts are not always rational during this process.
My physical recovery was quick and we tried to move on. Luckily, we had held off on telling the kids so the only grief we had to deal with was our own. All told, we handled it quite well- we have two healthy children and the scary process of this pregnancy told us we were not going to try again. The question I had wondered over for years- whether to have a third baby- was at last put to rest. Knowing the baby stopped growing so early also helped a little- I had no vision from the ultrasound screen of our child to haunt my nightmares. Besides some residual anxiety and nerves over the entire situation, I came out of it ok. That was, until the bills started rolling in.
It took over a month for the first statement to arrive. We have an insurance plan with low monthly premiums and a deductible. Once the deductible is met, everything is covered. By year's end, even if we had to meet that deductible, the low payment still means we come out ahead. That said, the bills were a bit shocking for many reasons. The amount and also, the fact that it brought the shitty feelings back. The sadness and the pain. Seeing the line items on the bills with words like "products of conception" was a nice little stab to the gut. And knowing we would spend all this money and have no baby to bring home was a special kind of heart-breaking. I remember joking over my c-section bills and that my kids were worth $40,000 even if insurance hadn't covered it all. This was just depressing- nothing redeeming about it.
I did not expect for the bills to be the thing that prevented me from completely moving on. Just yesterday, we received the one from the hospital. The procedure was almost three months ago. I know any medical procedure has to be paid for but it stings so hard in situations like this. It's not a gall bladder removal- it was our baby. Having those feelings flood back months after the fact isn't fun. It's not that I don't already think of it often, but having it thrust in my face is like a slap. I'm not sure where I am going with this but I do think it would be nice if the anesthesiologist, obstetrician and hospital could have somehow gotten the bills all out on the same day. Having this scab torn off over and over is kind of awful and I wish it could have happened all at once. I even got a bill on Christmas Eve. How merry.
Overall, I feel fortunate. It was an early miscarriage and I have a lot of support. I love my two beautiful children and I know I am luckier than many. I just wish I could move on emotionally without these stupid statements coming in the mail and ruining my day. I wish the same for all of us who go through this process of grief, and then regular life rolling in to mingle with it and make it worse. Of course, it has to happen, but understanding that doesn't make it any easier to check the mail.