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MaKenzie Schienebeck

Mom Shares Miscarriage Story and a Message for Others Facing Loss

“To the families who’ve lost a child: You are not alone. Don’t stay quiet. Let the tears and thoughts out.”

It was June 2017. My husband and I decided we want to try for our third baby, so we headed to the clinic to get my IUD removed. We kept giggling with excitement in the office before the doctor came in. After it was taken out, we went on our merry way. Everything felt so perfect.

Just three days after my IUD was taken out, I got pregnant! Of course, I didn’t know until two months afterward. At that point I was feeling queasy, very tired and had food aversions. I grabbed a pregnancy test, headed to the bathroom and within seconds, two very strong purple lines showed up. I came out of the bathroom with an obvious smile on my face, asked my husband to come “check the tomatoes” in the garden with me and told him outside on our deck. The sun shined on us, the breeze blew and we smiled.

We scheduled an appointment the next day for a blood test to confirm we were pregnant. As we sat next to the doctor for the results, he paused and smiled at us and confirmed the pregnancy. We were SO excited!

Another appointment was made. We met with a nurse to discuss family health and heard baby’s strong heart on the doppler alongside our first ultrasound. Baby was a jumping bean with a great heartbeat! Once we got home, we hung the ultrasound on the fridge and told family and friends, just as we had done with our last two babies.

The excitement was unbearable. I couldn’t wait to snuggle my newest addition and have a baby once again! My belly was growing, I was glowing and everything in life felt right. I was proud to be growing a new life inside me once again. I’d rub my belly every day, talk to my baby, dream of my baby. My two boys would talk to my belly and tell the baby how much they loved him/her. My husband and I got a new crib, Pack n Play, bottle set, gender-neutral clothing, blankets, bibs, toys, you name it—we were ready to spoil another little gift from God.

On September 26, 2018, my husband and I went to our next OB appointment. We were a day away from hitting 13 weeks. (We were counting down the days to the 20-week ultrasound, when we could learn our baby’s gender.) We went in to see baby on the doppler. My doctor put some jelly on my belly and rolled the doppler around to find that little booger. She thought she heard baby a few times, but the doppler wasn’t being reliable and she assured me it happens a lot. Their in-room ultrasound machine was being fixed that day, so she asked if I would like to come back in a week or get an ultrasound the same day downstairs. We opted for same day.

Once in the room, the lights turned off and the ultrasound started. The tech measured all my organs and uterus. She then proceeded to scan our baby. We saw a precious little round head, a sweet little round tummy, feet, hands—all the good details. She pulled up the heart rate graph. I saw worry in her eyes, but since I didn’t know her too well I put it off. I looked over at my husband—and he uttered five words that shattered my entire world.

“There is no heartbeat.”

The tech couldn’t tell us that, but it was obvious. She tried three more times and it was a flat graph. My once joyful, jumpy baby’s heart that we had seen before was just sitting there, lifeless. I wanted to pull that ultrasound wand out of me, throw it at the wall, run away and go until I came to terms with the nightmare I was suddenly in. I cried. I have never felt something so painful in my life, and I thought I’d been through pain before. My stomach felt like it was ripped apart, my heart felt like it was blasted to pieces, my head hurt and my soul was shredded.

The tech had to call my doctor upstairs. It felt like an eternity. When we went up to talk, I couldn’t stop thinking of how I lost my baby. I felt like I did this. What did I do wrong? Why did this happen? How could I have stopped this? Did I ever want to go through pregnancy again?

The doctor explained our various options: We could let the baby come out naturally, I could take a pill or have D&C surgery. We opted to just get out of there and try naturally.

My husband and I were dismayed. How could this precious little baby, for whom we had so many hopes and dreams, die? Why? Why us? We never thought we would be in this situation—yet here we were. The world was gray. I was mad at God. I was mad at myself. I kept denying that the ultrasound was right. I felt like all we had to do was go back in and we’d see baby’s heart.

That night, I sat on the floor of our shower and cried. I stared off into space. I cried some more. My baby had been gone for two weeks before we got the devastating news. I had been rubbing my belly with a dead baby in it. I had to leave the clinic with my dead baby inside me. I had to sleep that night with my dead baby in me. I had to eat, drink, sleep, talk, walk and move on after hearing the news, all with my dead baby in me. As I write this, my baby is still inside me. I have to wait for my baby to come out, and I have no idea when it will come.

I walk by my baby’s room full of clothes, toys and what-ifs. We don’t get to celebrate birthdays or Christmas mornings with this child. The outfits, the crib, the toys—they all have to gather dust because we’re not going to be bringing a baby home in the spring.

Miscarriage is rarely talked about. We had planned to not say anything and just let family and friends figure it out, but we called family. I’m not going to live my life pretending this didn’t happen to us. I was one of the one in four women who experiences miscarriage. I knew miscarriage was awful, but you’ll never know until you go through it—and I really hope you don’t ever have to experience this pain.

I had planned to go to work two days after finding out. I wanted to be tough, to look okay, feel okay and act like I was going o be fine. But when the day came, I couldn’t bear to see anyone, couldn’t bear to speak. I have cramps and headaches. My body is trying to get rid of the previous baby I loved so dearly. I’m working on getting strong. I have two other miracles and a loving husband who need me.

It isn’t just mothers who suffer a miscarriage. Fathers, siblings and family members hurt too. To the families who’ve lost a child: You are not alone. This happens to more of us than we know. Don’t stay quiet. Don’t pretend you’re okay. Don’t act tougher than you are. Talk to others when you’re ready. Stay strong. Let the tears and thoughts out. Be mad, be sad. Everything will come into place. I’m here for you.

You can follow MaKenzie on Facebook and tune into her Journey to Change page, created to support families experiencing miscarriage.

PHOTO: Kristina Tripkovic