Hey, it’s Chelsea—I’m the co-founder of Looni.
A version of this story appeared in Vogue in February— however I wanted to share a more personal version with our Looni community.
And just like that, on December 23rd, I was bursting with joy as I clutched yet another positive pregnancy test. I was dumbfounded that it had happened so quickly, especially given that I not only had endometriosis, but also now only one fallopian tube. This was my fourth pregnancy test of the week; the first three had been negative, so I really wasn't expecting it to be positive. I immediately went for a blood test to check if it wasn't another ectopic pregnancy, and was relieved and overwhelmed with excitement when I found out that the embryo was sitting in the right place. Finally, this was my moment. I'd had a rough road getting here, but it would all be worth it now that my little soul was close by.
I was meant to go to Costa Rica, and went around in circles trying to decide whether or not to go. A scan to check for a heartbeat could happen imminently in NYC, whereas I'd be nine and a half weeks by the time the next scan was available in Costa Rica. In the end, I decided it would do me good to get away, so off I went. The wait for the scan was excruciating, but I found comfort in how well and truly pregnant I felt: my breasts were so tender I couldn't bear to sleep on my front, I was exhausted, and so ravenous I could've eaten a horse. The laundry list of pregnancy symptoms quelled my anxiety.
As I lay on the medical exam bed, and the male OBGYN softly asked me to hold my breath, there are no words to describe how shocked I was when he uttered the words, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but your baby stopped developing three weeks ago." He went on to tell me that one in four women experience missed miscarriages, whereby the baby stops developing, but your body still thinks it's pregnant. I really struggled to comprehend this. How could my mind-body connection be so disjointed?
The next few days were some of the darkest moments I've ever experienced. The pain was crippling. I felt like I was drowning in grief, and I didn't feel like life was worth living without my baby. Everything triggered me—from the sight of another pregnant woman to a little child playing on the street—and everywhere I turned, I felt like other people's babies were being shoved down my throat.
I was scheduled for a D&C procedure on Friday to remove the fetus, but on Thursday afternoon, at around five o'clock, as I walked down to the beach to watch the sunset, I started to bleed heavily. The blood began to gush down my leg, and intense cramping happened immediately. There was nothing in life that could have prepared me for the physical experiences—what I saw and felt—over those first few days of miscarrying without the procedure. The bleeding was so heavy I had to wear incontinence diapers; the cramping was so severe I could barely breathe. I stared down into the toilet bowl at clots so large they looked like floating jellyfish, and on the second day, something came out that looked different from the other clots—and I write this because I wish someone had told me—I am sure I saw the fetus pass. I just wanted to expel everything from my body so that I could reach the other side of this traumatic experience. I lay on the bathroom floor, weeping in agony, and just wondering how my life had changed so dramatically in the course of a few days. By day five, the cramping had subsided, and I did my own little ritual to honor the loss of the soul.
Through this pregnancy loss, I learned that I was more resilient than I ever thought I was, that the female body has an undeniable wisdom we often take for granted, and that ultimately trusting in divine timing can often be our greatest tool during our hardest moments.
[end of Part Two]
🩺 SCIENCE AND SPIRIT 👁️
🧑⚕️ from Looni’s medical adviser, Dr Stephanie Colantonio
Signs of a miscarriage include vaginal bleeding (although it is normal to have some early spotting after implantation), clots, cramping, pain, and loss of early pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, and breast tenderness. Bleeding and pain can indicate a serious problem like an ectopic pregnancy and should always be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Most of the time, the cause of a pregnancy loss is unknown. Many factors can contribute, including genetic problems, structural abnormalities, issues with egg or sperm, hormone dysregulation, blood disorders, immune disorders, infection, environmental exposures, and nutritional deficiencies. If a person has had three or more miscarriages, it is important to check labs and have a pelvic ultrasound to try to understand why it is happening.
A range of emotions may emerge following a miscarriage, from grief, sadness, and loss to judgment, shame, or self-doubt. All feelings are valid, but please believe that it is not your fault. Be gentle with yourself, accept support from loved ones, nourish yourself with nutrient-rich foods, herbal infusions, and deep rest, and allow yourself to feel whatever needs to be felt. Connect to your womb.
A miscarriage is a precious loss. Although the art of grieving is somewhat lost in modern society, it is important to feel this natural, human emotion. In The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise, Martín Prechtel writes,
"Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses…If we do not grieve what we miss, we are not praising what we love."
So if you are journeying a miscarriage, to soothe, give yourself permission to grieve.
Far from being an illness to be overcome, grief is a great, slow moving healer to be welcomed with respect.
When you lose someone, Doctor Grief arrives at your home. He closes the doors and windows. He sits beside your bed and asks a hard question: What is really important to you?
He hears the answer in your weeping. Another hard question: Where is your strength?
He sees your strength in your tears. He asks for more tears. And again, more tears. He washes you again and again in your tears.
Will this never end, you wonder? Patiently, patiently, Doctor Grief cleanses your sorrow.
After what seems like eternity, he stands, bows with grave respect, and slowly walks out the door, which he leaves slightly ajar. On your doorstep, you see flower and a brightly wrapped package with your name on it.
From Plant Spirit Medicine : A Journey into the Healing Wisdom of Plants by Eliot Cowan.