On the blog

In this blog post, I am talking about miscarriage. If this topic or those related to pregnancy are sensitive to you in any way, please do not feel obligated to read any further. I think it’s important to share this stuff–the stuff that makes us human, I mean–but that doesn’t mean that stories like this are for everyone at any given time. 

I’m sure no one would blame me if I choose to keep this private, but I decided to share for a few reasons.

The first is that I believe my baby’s life, however short, is worth honoring and celebrating. I want to tell you all about this baby because I love this baby. They are now a huge part of our little family’s story. 

My second reason for sharing is to hopefully help at least one person in this situation feel less lonely. I have several friends and family members who have, sadly, walked this road before me, and I have clung to their encouragement and compassion like life rafts over the last few weeks. I guess I hope that this might serve the same purpose for someone else out there. 

The decision to try for a third baby was not one that Tyler and I took lightly. In fact, we went back and forth on it for years, weighing the emotional, logistical, and financial implications on our family. 

A big part of this was that the newborn/baby phase was hard for me. Both of our girls struggled to gain weight for the first several months of their lives, making it an incredibly stressful and emotional time for me. On top of that, we had Charlotte and Emmie almost back to back. Having the girls 20 months apart has paid off so beautifully now (truly, I would not change a thing), but it was difficult in those early days. 

All that to say, I was nervous for many years about what it would look like to bring another baby into the family. You might say I was dragging my feet, unsure if I could really handle it. Tyler has always been so supportive and never tried to convince me in either direction. 

And in a small (perhaps somewhat twisted) way, I think we both felt that to try for another baby would be overplaying our hand. 

Our family, our life, felt so perfect in so many ways. Here we had these two healthy, vibrant girls. God has given us so much. Did we really need to open the door to a potential heartache? 

After a lot (and I mean a lot) of conversation, prayer, and simply enjoying our life with Char and Emmie, we finally got to the place this past year where we were both excited about the idea of growing our family. I felt a peace about it, one that I hadn’t had in years prior. 

I was, of course, nervous. We both were. Overall, we felt that it was the right thing to move forward in faith that God was going to bless us in whatever way He saw fit. God is sovereign, and all that. 

We found out that I was pregnant when we got home from Spain at the end of May. 

I actually secretly took a test in Lisbon a few days before my missed period (I’ll admit that I thought it would be a much cuter story if we found out in Europe), but I sort of messed up the test (don’t ask) and it came out negative anyway. 

We landed at LAX a couple of days later and arrived back home in San Diego at 10pm. I took a shower and decided to take a test before I went to bed, just to see. 

I was surprised and confused to see what was possibly the world’s faintest line in history, so I left it on the counter and sent Tyler in to inspect it for me a few minutes later. I hadn’t mentioned any of this to him before this point, so he freaked out. I wish I had filmed it.

I continued to test positive that week and made an appointment to see my doctor for what would be the 7 week mark. We felt so lucky and so happy. 

We told Charlotte and Emmie about a week after we found out. I know not everyone would have done this, but we chose to for a few reasons. First, I did not want the girls to be wondering why I was laid up on the couch for the next few months. 

Second, Tyler and I both felt that they should be the first to know before we told anyone else in our family. We knew it was a risk but decided that it would be worth it to bring them along for the journey, whatever it held. 

The girls were SO excited. It was so beautiful. The first thing out of Charlotte’s mouth was, “I am way too young to take care of a baby!” We said, “No, sweetheart, we will take care of it.” And she said, “NO, I WANT TO.” She launched immediately into logistics, peppering us with questions about the timeline, carseat situation, sleeping arrangements, and my birth plan (not kidding). It was never “mom’s baby” but rather “my baby” or, when generous, “our baby.” 

Emmie’s greatest joy in life is (and always has been) babies, so she was absolutely on cloud nine too. She became very attached to my belly and would give the baby kisses multiple times a day. “Mom, this hug is not for you, it’s for the baby,” etc. 

Seeing the girls be so enthusiastic made our hearts swell. Tyler and I couldn’t wait to watch these two take care of “their” baby. 

I felt sick and tired almost right away. 

However, in the days leading up to my first appointment, I began to feel less sick and tired. I took that as a bad sign and sort of spiraled. By the time we walked into our appointment, I was SO anxious and had convinced myself that something was wrong. 

To our shock, my doctor found the heartbeat almost immediately. Tyler and I both had tears in our eyes as Dr. Cobb told us that everything looked great and assured me that fluctuating symptoms were very, very normal. 

After all of the stress leading up to that first ultrasound, we were so relieved. I felt a huge weight off my shoulders. And while we were still nervous (7 weeks is still obviously very early), we felt that having seen the heartbeat meant we were “in the clear,” as much as we could be at that point anyway. 

We relaxed and started nesting (it always happens to me way too early). 

Following the first appointment, my symptoms grew stronger and more consistent which I took as a good sign and tried to be grateful for. My little bump began to grow, and I had already started complaining to Tyler about none of my clothes fitting. 

I scheduled my next appointment for the 10 week mark. I was mildly anxious for the appointment but not nearly as stressed as I was before the first one. It was more the feeling of wanting to get the box checked off as opposed to being nervous something bad would happen. 

Tyler and I drove up to Escondido together last Monday for my 10 week appointment. We chatted for a while with Dr. Cobb until I suddenly had a weird feeling wash over me and asked him to get on with the ultrasound. 

As soon as he placed the doppler on my stomach, I could see that we had lost the baby.

The little bean that had immediately started flickering on the screen last time was now very, very still. We were all silent as he tried a few different angles, but the screen remained still, as if it was frozen. Finally, he measured the baby. He or she had stopped growing about a week prior. 

Tyler sunk into his chair and started sobbing. Dr. Cobb said, “I’m so sorry guys” probably 100 times. 

I turned to glass, unable to cry, think, or breathe. If someone tipped me over, I would have shattered into a million pieces. 

Dr. Cobb gave us a few minutes of privacy and then came back in to talk through everything. He explained that there was nothing we could have done, and that, basically, it was likely just really bad luck (he said it more eloquently than that). 

He started to talk about some options for moving forward. He said we could wait it out and see if my body started miscarrying naturally, if we wanted to. Otherwise, he could prescribe Cytotec to administer at home by myself or schedule a D&C in the hospital with him. 

I blinked at him and said quietly, “Can you please just tell me what to do?” One thing about Dr. Cobb is that he hates telling people what to do, but I think he could see I was desperate. 

He sighed and explained that, at this stage, to pass the tissue at home would be very, very intense. The D&C, though an ordeal to go to the hospital and be put under, would at least be quick and painless. 

He gave us the day to process everything and think about it and said he would call me that night to talk about it more. 

If this had happened at our first appointment, it would have made so much more sense. At the very least, it wouldn’t have been such a shock. But since we had already seen the heartbeat three weeks prior, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that the baby didn’t make it. 

Tyler and I drove home in silence, clutching each other’s hands with tears streaming down our faces. It didn’t feel real. 

After talking to a few friends and family and Dr. Cobb again later that day, I decided to go with the D&C. 

The idea of going through the process at home by myself seemed untenable. I am squeamish and sensitive, the absolute definition of “faint of heart.” I remember everything, and I just knew that whatever I experienced would be ingrained in my mind forever. 

My instincts told me that to be unconscious was the most merciful decision I could make for myself. 

We would have to schedule the procedure at least a week out anyway, and that would also give my body time to start miscarrying naturally in the meantime–although for some reason I just had the feeling it wasn’t going to. 

Telling Charlotte and Emmie about the miscarriage was the hardest, saddest thing I have ever had to do. 

We told them when they got home from preschool later that day. Tyler and I sat them down on our bed and told them that the doctor checked on the baby and found that the baby had stopped growing. We told them that the baby wasn’t going to make it and that we weren’t going to be able to bring a baby home after Christmas like we had planned. 

It was, actually, so much worse than I thought it was going to be. 

We held them as they both sobbed uncontrollably. Charlotte cried out, “Why doesn’t God want us to have a baby?” and Emmie kept yelling, “I WANT MY BABY BACK.” 

Charlotte laid in my arms, and we cried together for a long time. Emmie went straight to anger. In a fury, she tried to barricade herself behind our door with a laundry basket. She said, “I just want to hide,” so Tyler made her a fort next to our bed where she stayed for an hour. 

They both eventually calmed down, and we spent the rest of the day cuddling, crying, and answering a lot of questions. 

I do not regret telling the girls about the pregnancy, but having to break their hearts with the bad news was an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It made an already devastating situation even harder. 

Waking up the following morning was excruciating. The reality of losing the baby had finally begun to set in. All I could do was sort of wander around the house and cry. 

Every day that first week felt like groundhog day. I still felt nauseous and tired throughout the week which made me even more sad. 

My family descended upon our house in shifts over those first few days. My mom played with and loved on the girls. My dad power washed our yard and sharpened my knives. Each of my  sisters brought dinner and spent way too much money on flowers from the rich mom shops in La Jolla. My friends sent gorgeous bouquets, gifts, treats, and DoorDash gift cards. Never in my life have I felt so spoiled. 

After a lot of waiting, we finally heard back from the hospital. They scheduled my D&C for this past Tuesday, eight days after we found out that we had lost the baby. 

This was a lot of days to wake up without closure. Last week, I would have said that I wished we could get it done sooner. I really did feel like I couldn’t begin to move forward without the finality of the procedure, especially given the fact that my body never did show any signs of miscarrying naturally. 

On the other hand, having this excruciating limbo time forced me to grieve and just sit in my sadness, move through it without rushing. 

If the surgery had happened just a few days after finding out, I see now that might have been too much, too fast. Also, I would have been an absolute wreck at the hospital. By the time this Tuesday rolled around, I think I was more “ready” to tackle the day and not as fragile as I would have been last week. 

Tyler drove me to the hospital at noon on Tuesday, a few hours before the scheduled procedure time. My mom and sister stayed home with the girls. 

We sat in pre-op together as the nurses prepped me for surgery.

I have to say that it was all a lot more serious and sterile than I thought it was going to be, what with the IV, wheelchair, shapeless grippy socks (a sensory nightmare for me), and the incessant battery of questions about my medical history. 

At a certain point, it all started to freak me out. Then, I had the brilliant idea to pretend I was there for a juicier reason, like, for instance, a boob job. I thought, “girls go under the knife every day of the week for normal, fun reasons.” It sounds silly, but this actually helped me so much. 

The nurses made Tyler say goodbye around 2pm and wheeled me back towards the OR. He waited to cry until I was well out of earshot. 

They brought me into this eerie, antiseptic stand-by room and had me lay on a gurney that was lined up alongside an entire row of empty gurneys. An old episode of Friends played on the TV in front of me which was both the first and last thing I wanted to be watching at that moment. 

I layed there for what felt like an hour in my dumb socks and silly hair net, wishing they had let me bring my Kindle, when finally Dr. Cobb stopped by. 

We went over the plan a million times, and he promised we would chat again before I went under. He left to go scrub in, and the nurse said, “We just love when Dr. Cobb comes in here with his superhero cape.”

The last big hurdle for me was meeting the anesthesiologist. I waited nervously for him to come in, praying that it didn’t end up being either of the two miserable old men who messed up my epidurals. Fortunately, an adorable, fit-looking guy who couldn’t have possibly been older than me bounced in and assured me that, yes, he would “stay alert.” 

Finally, they rolled me into the OR. There were about a million people running around in caps and gloves and all of these awful looking devices and various carts. 

I didn’t mean to, but I started to cry (I had made it so far without!). Dr. Cobb came over and kept giving me dad-like arm squeezes and saying “everything is going to be fine” and “you’re ok” a bunch of times while everyone buzzed around me. Then, my cute anesthesiologist told me it was time to relax, and that was that. 

I woke up in a surprisingly peaceful way in the recovery room. They told me that the procedure went well. I was still so, so sad, but I felt a lot of relief to have it behind me. 

My recovery has been tiring but, for the most part, fine. I had some light cramping and a tiny bit of bleeding the first night following the procedure, but it was all very manageable. 

A few days after we found out about the loss, Tyler gave me this beautiful bracelet with tiny diamonds on it and a red garnet stone in the middle to represent our little strawberry baby–strawberry because, according to the internet, that was how big he or she was when they stopped growing. 

Also, I don’t even think Tyler realized this when he bought it, but garnet is the birthstone for January. The baby was due on February 2, but you know I was going to push for a week 39 induction. 

My parents lost a baby too. My brother, David, was stillborn on his due date. This loss happened before I was born but was woven heavily into the fabric of our family’s story. I was actually my family’s own “rainbow baby.” 

My mom’s friend gave her this little gold baby ring after David died, and she’s worn it on a chain around her neck every day of my life. Before my D&C this week, my mom gave me my own tiny baby ring for our tiny baby. It has a small star-shaped diamond on it which reminds me of our little baby up in heaven, probably goofing off somewhere with my brother and the rest of our loved ones we’ve said goodbye to. 

Char and Emmie have been so sweet and such troopers through it all. They still have lots of questions, and we do our best to answer everything as truthfully as possible. It is an unbelievable thing to watch a child work through something as hard as this. “Mom, how do you spell, ‘the baby stopped growing’?” 

My heart breaks knowing how much this hurt them, but I also feel really proud of the way we have navigated this as a family. As hard as this has been, I think it would be harder trying to shield them from our sorrow. 

I think it’s okay–good, even–that Tyler and I got to walk them through this. I wish I could make it all go away, but, ultimately, we aren’t doing them any favors by pretending real life doesn’t exist. 

After all, enduring hardship builds empathy. I pray that God uses this tragedy to instill a sense of compassion, tenderness, and thoughtfulness in our daughters. 

Tyler and I have been able to have some really amazing conversations with the girls about heaven and how precious life is, and that is a gift in and of itself. 

We have also discussed the idea of praying for a “rainbow baby” with them which they both, of course, latched onto immediately. We explained how Tyler and I were both the “rainbow babies” of our families. This is another tough thing to navigate, as we can’t make any promises and do not know what the future holds. I don’t really have the right answer here, but we are doing the best we can. 

We are all still really, really sad. On Tuesday night, Tyler told me that it felt like a small piece of his heart had died, and I think that is the perfect way to describe it. We will never get that little piece of our hearts back. 

One of the hardest parts is all of the “what ifs,” wondering who this baby might have been. We declined to find out the gender following the D&C because, frankly, it would have killed us either way. 

Tyler and I have said to each other at least once a day since it happened that this would have been a million times harder if we didn’t have the girls. At the end of the day, we have two healthy daughters at home. My heart aches for those who have gone through this any other way. 

I know God has a plan for us. I also know that we might never be able to make sense of the “why” here, but I don’t necessarily think we need to. 

Tyler has, as a surprise to exactly no one, carried us through this. He has served each of us selflessly and wholeheartedly, balancing work and heartache and meals and bedtime and my recovery and communicating with our loved ones when I didn’t have the strength to. He calls himself my chief of staff, but he’s actually my whole entire world. 

Walking through loss has forced Tyler and I to cling to each other in a way that we haven’t had to before. I feel endlessly thankful that he is the person I wake up to each morning, the man my daughters get to watch take care of me. 

We are closer as a family than we were a few weeks ago, and that is something to be thankful for. We trust that God is holding us, and our baby, in His loving arms. 

Above all else, we feel so blessed. I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world. We have our gorgeous girls, our faith, and each other. This has been very, very hard, but I have so much to be grateful for. Our family is, in my eyes, already complete.

Okay, if you made it to the end, thank you. This was probably incredibly depressing, but I hope it might provide some sense of solidarity and encouragement to those who have or will experience the same thing. If that’s you, please know that you aren’t alone in this. I don’t have many wise words to say yet (she’s fresh), but I do know that much. I am sending you so much love. 

The Summer of our Strawberry Angel Baby

Parenthood

I write about travel, books, and beauty (and everything else, kind of). I live in San Diego with my husband Tyler and our two little girls, Charlotte and Emmie. 

I'm Ruth

hey there

must reads

Get my top 10 travel tips straight to your inbox.

Sign up here

© 2024 RUTH NUSS | All Rights Reserved | BRAND AND Site by Alisabeth Designs

It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?

Sign up here to receive my Friday morning newsletter.

Keep me posted!