What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting Anymore.

missing-piece-heart-outside.jpgI wanted to take some time to share a personal story with you. One that is usually hushed, hidden, taboo, and held in deep secrecy: miscarriage.

Because this topic has been seemingly forbidden to secrecy, and with such a lack of information I had so many questions and curiosities. I also had an extremely difficult time finding information online that wasn’t sensationalist, morbid, nonchalant, or just plain strange. So, I decided to share my own journey in the hopes it will help someone else out there navigate through these waters, too. Some people may think I’m crazy to be such an open book about this, and so quickly after loss. But I wish someone else had been one, for me. So, thats why I’m here. You can check out my original Instagram post here, which really goes into the emotional side of things.

Before we get started, if you have had a miscarriage or are going through one now: YOU DID NOT DO ANYTHING WRONG. YOU DID NOT DO ANYTHING WRONG. Miscarriage is so, so common– nearly 3 million women experience it every year. That’s nearly 2.5 million more women than attended the Women’s March in Washington last year. Think about that.

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So now, we can begin. A few days ago, my husband and I got some of the most devastating news we never, ever could have anticipated receiving. On November 7th, I had positive pregnancy test. We are over the MOON! Since we had only just started our journey for a baby a couple of months earlier, we were both surprised and elated to have such good news, so soon. Yes, I jumped the gun and started a BabyList already– Dock-a-Tot, Honest Company everything, even stuff from my girl Lauren Conrad’s Little Market. We chose names. Visited day cares. Shared our early news with friends and family. Bought all the books- What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Bringing up Bebe, Good Dog, Happy Baby, the Expectant Father.

Our first prenatal appointment was on November 30th, where the baby was a little smaller than we had anticipated. It did have a heartbeat of 110 bmp – which in hindsight, was pretty low for a baby who should have been around 8 weeks but was only measuring in at 6. But his or her little ultrasound photo was proudly displayed on our fridge.

On Thursday, December 14th, I went in for another ultrasound, so eager to see my little peanut on the screen and hear that heartbeat “thump thump thumping.” But there was no heartbeat. Our little angel stopped growing a few days after our previous appointment. I unfortunately had come solo to this appointment, naively thinking it would be just a routine little check up. Obviously, it wasn’t. So getting home alone was a bit of an adventure. When Paul came home, we cried, we hugged, we wrapped our arms around the flank of our sweet Goldendoodle, Millie. We went out and grabbed a couple of bottles of wine, ordered pizza, and went to bed at like, 8:30pm. We were exhausted.

My D&C Procedure to remove the “tissue” (e.g. baby) was quickly scheduled for the following Tuesday morning. However, that left us with Thursday night, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to agonize over what was to come. So, we stayed busy. (Before getting into the logistics of the D&C, I hope you’ll find some distraction inspiration below, too.)

We decided to getaway for an evening at the beautiful Keswick Hall near Charlottesville, and did wine tastings at Keswick Vineyards, Castle Hill Cider, and Barboursville. We had our sweet 9-year-old Goldendoodle, Millie, with us along the way, which always makes everything a little easier and sweeter. The trip away was just what we needed.

We came home on Saturday to several bouquets from friends, family, and coworkers. My husband’s mother visited for some hugs and sweet thoughtful gifts. I finished wrapping Christmas presents while watching Hallmark movies. We went to Short Pump Town Center to bravely face the holiday traffic– which was totally worth it to get my CHANEL Hydra Beauty Micro Gel Yeux (an intense serum that is a must for puffy, tear-stained eyes. TRUST, ladies).

We also picked out a little pendant necklace with a ruby center stone— the baby’s would-be birthstone for July, The necklace will be a beautiful reminder of our first baby, that, while never joined us on Earth, is always here in our hearts. They carry these necklaces in all other birthstone colors as well.

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We worked out– hard. We also went to see Star Wars (B+), watch the Carolina Panthers game (A-) and had some wine. Lots and lots of wine (A+++). Which is A-OK in my book as long as it’s not a permanent self-medication, of course!

But now on to the not-so-fun stuff. I hope you’ll find some clarity and clear information so you know what to expect going in for your D&C procedure:

  • You’re going to cry. A LOT. It’ll come in waves– sometime you’ll be belting out Khalid on the radio, the next you’ll be weeping uncontrollably to an old Fleetwood Mac song. Embrace it. It’s your heart trying to figure out its way through this mess. My trigger songs? “For Once in my Life” by Stevie Wonder, “Fix You” by Coldplay, and “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. I’m ready to put Taylor Swift and Eminem back on the rotation!
  • You’re going to be sad. And not just for a few days. For a while. Find something to remember your baby by that you can keep forever, like my July birthstone necklace for Baby Logan.
  • The days before your procedure, you’re going to talk to a lot of nurses. Answer truthfully and be patient with them. They know you don’t want to be gabbing on the phone when you’re on the verge of tears every 10 seconds. But they’re doing their jobs to fast-track you so you don’t have to fill out that BS paperwork on the day of.
  • The day before your procedure, you’ll head to the hospital for some Pre-Appointment Testing (PAT). A few more questions, a few more tears, a little more bloodwork. Instructions on where to go and when for the next day will be laid out for you. Real bummer? No food or drink (even water!) after midnight.
  • You can wear whatever you want on surgery day, but you won’t be in it for long. Me? I opted to for a “treat yoself” pajama pant from Lilly Pulitzer. I have to say it was somewhat comforting to go home in something colorful and bright after such a dark day.
  • The night before, you’ll do your regular shower routine (hair, face wash, body wash, shave your legs, etc.) Then, you’ll need to wash with a surgical scrub they provide you. Rinse!
  • Before getting in bed, make sure you have fresh, clean sheets and fresh, clean PJs.
  • The next morning, take another shower followed by the surgical scrub. Rinse! Do NOT use any lotion, perfume, face cream, hair products, etc.
  • Do NOT wear any jewelry or body piercings.
  • Do NOT wear makeup.
  • On the day of, you and your husband or SO will be taken back to a private room. Here. you’ll change into one of those sexy little hospital gowns and don some flattering blue socks with the grippy bottoms. You do have a TV, though (yay for Fixer Upper reruns!)
  • You’re going to be in that room for a while, so bring your iPad, a book, or a few magazines. In my case, due to some complications with another patient, I waited from 9:30am-2:30pm before going back. I didn’t bring any books but I wish I did.
  • You’ll also get an IV (ouch!) to load you up with fluids. For me, I got a few other substances put in as I was suffering from a little anxiety.
  • They take your blood pressure– a lot.
  • Your team of doctors and nurses, including you anesthesiologist and OB/GYN will come back and check on you pre-op to answer any questions. They’re you’re greatest allies and kindest friends while you’re there.
  • Once it’s your turn, you get wheeled off to the operating room. I think you get some relaxing fluids in your IV, a mask and…. then…. night night.
  • I feel like I may be one of the lucky ones, but I woke up groggy, with only a little bleeding and a little cramping. On day two, I’m feeling even better.
  • After you’ve had some water and Saltines, you get transported back to another room. There, you see your hubby  (yay!!!!) and get to change back into your Lilly pajamas (again, yay!!). An attendant will wheel you out to your car, your partner will drive you home, and then you’ll be in and out of sleep pretty much through the next day.

Expect a LOT of love from friends, family and coworkers. Our house smells so beautiful right now with all of the gorgeous flowers.  It felt like every time we left the house, there was something new on our front porch from our AMAZING friends and family. I can’t believe how lucky we are to have so many go out of their way to make us feel special and comforted. We got cozy blankets, homemade soup, chocolates, wine (when I’m ready), lots of goodies from Trader Joe’s, and more support by email, text, call, Instagram and more than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams.

If you also choose to share your journey, you will be BLOWN AWAY by other couples who have been through this before and came out with happy, healthy babies. Your miscarriage isn’t the end- it’s a new beginning.

While some will know just the right thing to say, a lot of people won’t. And that’s okay. (Trust me: before I was baptized, as a Baptist, I coudn’t take Communion. So one time at a Catholic funeral of our dear friends’ sister, I panicked and put the communion wafer in my bag. I then told the grieving family over hugs in the receiving line I had the body of Christ in my purse. It was really the only thing of comfort I could possibly muster, which really wasn’t comforting at all. In any way. But I’ve been told the family still chuckles and throws that story around the holiday dinner table from time to time, so I guess my faux pas wasn’t all that bad. I’m all in for awkward, apparently.)

But in all seriousness, the bottom line is this is going to be one of the most difficult times in your life. But it will bring out the best in your truest friends. It will further solidify your rock solid partnership with your husband or SO. You’re gonna hurt. You’re gonna cry. But you’re GONNA get through this. I promise. I’m feeling stronger day by day.

Pray. A LOT. Ask your friends for help when you need it, and space when you need that too. Invest in a heating pad. Binge watch Netflix. Go see a therapist or a bereavement counselor if you’re having a particularly hard time.

And when you’re feeling a little better, go for a walk. Start eating as healthy as possible again. Be good to your body. You never know if there’s another baby around the corner ready to sign a 9-month lease in that womb of yours. When that baby comes knocking on my door again, we’ll be ready.

Don’t forget your partner is hurting too. Let them grieve, talk, vent, and be angry. Together, you are stronger.

And if you ever want to talk, or need help, or just want to vent, PLEASE reach out to me: sweetcarolinerva@gmail.com. I may not have all the answers, but I’m always here to talk to you and love on you. I’ve been there, I get it. I’m here for you.

God NEVER gives us more than we can handle. Ever. You’ll be okay soon, too. And when you’re ready to try again, God will give you that strength.

Warmest regards and LOTS of Love,

Caroline

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Wedding Wednesdays | Virginia is for Lovers Gift Bag Ideas

Almost two years ago, my best friend asked me to marry him on the steps of the Virginia state capitol. Soon, I was in full-blown planning mode dreaming up the details of our perfect, very Virginia wedding. Every detail of our wedding had a distinctly Virginia flavor to it, from my bachelorette party in Charlottesville to our rehearsal dinner at the historic Jefferson Hotel in Richmond to our wedding favors — yellow grits from Byrd Mill in Ashland. It was a “Very Virginia Wedding” indeed! (You can read more about our big day by clicking here and here!) [Read more…]

Throwback Thursdays // Revisiting “Caroline’s Plate” Column

Happy Little Friday, friends! Short work weeks are always welcome after a fun-filled holiday weekend. This week is no exception and has absolutely flown by!

Last week, as I was doing a little blog maintenance, I realized that my site was missing an “about me” section, which most bloggers these days have. So I created this “Meet Caroline” page, and take you back to where it all began: April 2009. At the time, I was single, working for a non-profit, and living in the Fan. I was craving some kind of creative outlet, so I began this blog as “Caroline’s Plate.” I think the tagline was, “a twenty-something’s take on life, love, and everything in between.”

I had so much fun writing about some of the things I loved most: music, food, fashion, DIY, interior design (not much has changed!) I also used this forum as a place to vent about bad dates, insufferable “man children” and what it was like to be single and living in Richmond, Virginia. Dating and romance quickly became the topic I was writing about most, and soon after, I was contacted by Richmond.com to see if I would write my column as a weekly for the local website.

I had so much fun doing that column. Every week, it was a new subject matter related to dating as a twenty-something. I shared personal stories and stories from friends; advice on cheap eats or holiday gifts for your new boyfriend or girlfriend. There was a survival guide for the Royal Wedding and a post on the Laws of Girl Code. There were even singles networking events called “Cocktails with Caroline,” which were awesome and a lot of fun.

After accepting a job as deputy communications director for the attorney general’s office in May 2011, it was time to bid my dating column adieu. A month later, I met my now-husband, Paul. And three years later, I’m still writing — only now, for Sweet Caroline. Not much has changed – I’m still writing about what I love. But I thought it would be fun to look back on a few columns that survived on Richmond.com. Enjoy!

The Royal Wedding: A Survival Guide

The Royal Wedding: A Survival Guide

The royal wedding of Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton is less than two weeks away (!). Ladies, the jig is up: it’s time to put away your Kate Middleton voodoo dolls, accept defeat and try to enjoy the hoopla around the Wedding of the Century. To ease the pain of lonely hearts worldwide (or at least here in RVA), we’ve devised a Royal Wedding Survival Guide fit for a princess (or prince). Cheerio!

Lessons Learned from Mom

Caroline's Plate: Lessons Learned from Mom

Growing up as an only child required a lot of imagination.  While my friends occupied their days plotting ways to get their little brothers in trouble or partaking in screaming wars over My Little Ponies, most days I had to entertain myself.  I spent hours upon hours in my tree house, pretending it was a castle and I was the princess.  I crafted elaborate tales about Barbie and her fairytale life with Ken.  And I’d find any opportunity I could to delve into my mother’s make-up and jewelry, playing dress-up and pretending to be her.

The Laws of Girl Code

The Laws of Girl Code

On Sunday night, thousands of teenagers and teenagers-at-heart flanked the streets outside of Manhattan’s legendary Radio City Music Hall.  They screamed, cried, and waved at their favorite celebrities clad in Marchesa, Dior, and in Lady GaGa’s case, some kind of strange, bloody, sea monkey ensemble. Music, Moonmen and madness ensued at the 25th annual MTV Video Music Awards, and as usual, the audience had to expect the unexpected.

Romantic Getaways on the Cheap

Romantic Getaways on the Cheap

The sour economic times have been, let’s face it, a bit of a fun vacuum. Gone are the days of frivolous indulgences and gas that costs less per gallon than a Starbucks Venti. In today’s world, we have to pinch pennies whenever possible, work even harder, and play even less. The possibility of jetting off to an exotic beach destination or cozy B&B just isn’t in the cards anymore. Or is it?

Best Outdoor Date Ideas

Best Outdoor Date Ideas

This past Friday, patios in the Fan were filled to the brim with Richmonders taking long leisurely lunches (or enjoying an extra-early happy hour) thanks to the beautiful spring-like weather. Saturday turned out to be equally as beautiful, and one of the few days of the year that residents of the River City don’t feel the need to complain about the weather.

For more column archives, click here.

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A Very Virginia Wedding

View More: http://violetirisstudios.pass.us/caroline--paul

It’s hard to believe nearly three weeks have passed since our magical Memorial Day weekend wedding! Paul and I had the best time the entire wedding weekend, followed by a week in paradise — St. Barth — on our honeymoon.

Now that some of the dust has settled, my name has been changed, and the thank-you-note process is well underway, I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some photographs and memories from our special day!

[Read more…]

Words | “though lovers be lost love shall not”- dylan thomas.

Richmond.com Column | The Royal Wedding

The Royal Wedding: A Survival Guide

Bitten by the royal wedding bug? This week’s Caroline’s Plate offers a survival guide for the royal wedding nutty and neophytes alike.

Click here to go to this week’s column!

Richmond.com Column | Romantic Getaways on the Cheap

Romantic Getaways on the Cheap

Check out this week’s Richmond.com column, where I offer tips for the savvy shopper looking to get away from it all.

Read the article by clicking here.

Richmond.com Column | Best Outdoor Dates

Best Outdoor Date Ideas

I’ve been bitten by the spring fever bug, and even though it looks like the cold weather is here for a bit longer, I couldn’t resist thinking about all the great outdoor dates here in Richmond.

Check out my picks by clicking here.

Richmond.com Column | Best Stories on Richmond.com

The Laws of Girl Code

This morning while browsing Richmond.com, I noticed that my article, “The Laws of Girl Code,” was featured as the #7 most popular article this year on Richmond.com! What an honor!

Click here to check out the rest of the list!

Thanks, Richmond.com readers!!!

Richmond.com Column | Best of Celebrity Couples 2010

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Richmond.com kicked off its annual “Best Of…” series today, including my column on the Best (and worst) of Celebrity Couples 2010.

Click here to read the entire article.

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