Kelsey Murphy helps you redefine success to create a business and life you love. As a Business & Life Coach, Kelsey has worked with Fortune 500 companies, like Facebook & Twitter, industry thought leaders like Marie Forleo and her BSchoolers, as well as celebrity nutritionists, coaches, and other brilliant humans creating meaningful businesses and lives. Her coaching work has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, LiveStrong, Living Healthy, LaurenConrad.com, and more. When Kelsey’s not coaching, you can find her hosting the Whiskey & Work podcast giving her wise (and sometimes comical) advice on navigating the waters of business, life, and relationships. But on her other card, it might say snowboarder, eater, dreamer and fresh-air-addict.
In This Episode, You Will Learn:
- The three options Kelsey faced when a heartbeat wasn’t found.
- How she and her husband processed the loss differently.
- What she did and did not want to hear from others during the grieving process.
- Why she doesn’t suggest sending flowers to someone experiencing a miscarriage.
Create beautiful, engaging social media in 5 minutes a day – www.RiseUpCreatives.com
Connect with Kelsey and other resources:
- The Whiskey & Work Podcast
- What A Miscarriage Feels Like: My Story – Episode #59
- Emily McDowell greeting cards
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Well, Kelsey, thanks so much for taking some time to hang with me today. I really appreciate it.
Aw, thanks so much for having me on. I’m so pumped to be here and have this conversation.
Yeah. Well, it is obviously a very sensitive conversation, and I really appreciate your vulnerability of being willing to share it. Not only with your audience, but also ours as well. But take me back to 2018 to the moment when you learned of your pregnancy. What was that moment like? Were you trying to get pregnant? Were you not? Did you already have kids? Take us through that moment.
Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great question and a great place to start actually. We did have one kiddo already, a little girl. And we were enjoying her, and trying to enjoy our time with her as much as possible before saying, “Okay, are we really ready for two?” Because we’ve heard that one is like none, two is like ten.
How old was she at the time?
She was about two.
Yeah, so we were very careful about waiting and deciding when we wanted to try. But we both had kids older, so we’re both older and we knew that our window was closing. So when we decided, it was actually we took a trip to France, my husband and I did, for about two week. And it was very terrifying for us to leave our child at home. But it was his very best friend who was going to get married out in France and we were like, “We have to do this. We only have one kid, she’s very young. She probably won’t remember, this may be kind of a final hurrah.”
“This won’t scar her.”
Exactly. “This is our chance, the window’s closing.” So we were like, “Okay, let’s do it.” We had talked about starting to try on that trip in France, “This is going to be our big thing. We’re doing a big trip and we’re going to start to try when we’re out there.” So it was very fun, right? Very adventurous, and fun, and exciting on paper. And we went and we started trying in France, and then we came back and we found we were pregnant.
By the way, could I just say that that whole metaphor of, “We’re trying.” We know what you’re doing. That’s awkward. That’s just awkward. I mean, just to be awkward here.
I know, right?
“We’re in France, we’re trying.” Okay, awkward visuals.
Yes, I know. Especially it’s amazing when you meet strangers and you have the conversation, “Ooh, are you trying to have kids?” I legit met you twenty minutes ago and you want to know about my intimate life. Okay, I see where we’re going. It’s become normal almost.
Yeah, yeah. So you get back to the States, you find out you’re pregnant.
You were excited then, I assume?
Oh, my gosh, over the moon. We felt so lucky to be able to get pregnant so quickly. Because I think when you get older, especially when you start to have kids or try to have kids when you’re older, you think, “I’m ready. I waited. I sowed all my oats. I did all my things.” And now that I’m ready to have kids, I’m ready n ow.
Yeah, you’re really old. I mean, you are old, like twenty-eight?
Well, I’m thirty-six. I appreciate that though, twenty-eight is very kind of you.
I don’t know about old.
No, but when you decide, you’re like, “I’m ready now.” And you think that it’s going to happen so quickly, and it often doesn’t. The average time is at least six month.
And so we had kind of expected it to take a little while. So when we got pregnant right away, we just were elated, over the moon. We had no scares, we had no miscarriages before, we just didn’t expect anything bad to happen. It was the most exciting thing. We told people very early on, because we were in France and everyone knew we were starting to try, and it was this big joke and it was so fun and all our best friends were there. And so when we went to the first ultrasound, we were at about six weeks and we got a picture of the baby, and it was a very strong heartbeat, so we sent it out to all of our friends. Because we were like, “We heard the heartbeat and we saw the baby, everything seems really positive.” We never even thought to be conscious or careful of it. And we sent out this picture to just the friends that we went to France with and we’re like, “Look! We have a French baby, this is so exciting.” We had such a fun laugh at it. Yeah, so we were over the moon.
That was at six weeks, things were fine. At what point did things seem like, “Okay, things are not going as planned”?
Yeah, so that was about six weeks. And we didn’t get in for another appointment until about a little after ten weeks then, almost eleven weeks. And when we went in to that eleven week appointment, we brought my little girl, my little two year old. And my husband and I were there, and the doctor took a look and she immediately was like, “Let me just listen for the heartbeat.” And immediately was like, “I need to do an ultrasound.” And I think my husband at that point said that he immediately was like, “Oh, my gosh.”
So she was just using a stethoscope at that point?
Yes. Yeah, she was using a little doppler.
Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So she was using a little doppler trying to find the heartbeat, and she was like, “Huh, maybe the baby’s hiding. You’re really small, maybe the baby’s really small. Let me just do an ultrasound instead.” So she pulls the ultrasound machine in, and she does the ultrasound and she just kind of stops and says, “This is not looking the way I want it to look.” And I immediately knew, my husband, I think he knew probably ten minutes before that when she couldn’t find the heartbeat. And my sister and a lot of other friends of mine have gone through miscarriages, so it wasn’t an absolute shock as in, “Oh, my gosh, this could never happen.” But I think that you just never think it can happen to you.
We have this idea that these things happen to other people or it’s the exception, when the statistics are pretty high, there’s a significant chance it could happen to you.
We just never went down that route, so we really didn’t prepare that much for that. So when she had said that, I was about eleven weeks and you’re almost at that twelve week mark, which you’re in the safe zone at twelve weeks. What she had said is that the baby had probably stopped growing at about seven weeks. So that was really hard for me to hear, that I had had that baby inside me for the last three, four weeks. And I was also very sick. That was also the worst part about it. I was throwing up every single day. I was incredibly sick and I was growing, my belly was growing. Because it was my second pregnancy, so your belly pops a lot faster.
So I was having all the normal pregnancy symptoms, and everyone always says, “Oh, you’re sick? That’s such a good sign.” Where apparently it wasn’t a good sign for me. Apparently my body thought I was pregnant, so it was reacting as if I was pregnant. So I was getting all the crappy symptoms of being pregnant, while then finding out that actually for the last four weeks, you haven’t been pregnant. So that was a big shock to my system. It was like, “Oh, wow. I almost feel kind of tricked. I thought that this was going on in my body, and actually this stopped happening a while ago.”
Wow. One of the things you just said was that miscarriages are so common. And I think the statistics are so out there a little bit, because I’ve read to ten to twenty percent, some people think it’s even higher because women perhaps don’t even realize that they’re pregnant and something passes. So I know for my wife and I, when we miscarried the first time, we were very young. We were probably mid-twenties, and we had already had our daughter. So it was our second pregnancy, and we had not been around a lot of people that had miscarried. For us it was, “Wow, does this happen to a lot of people?” And then all of a sudden, people start popping up going, “Oh, yeah. That happened to me,” or “Oh, yeah. That happened to me.”
Did you find that? Obviously you were a little older, but people started saying, “Oh, yeah, that happened to me.” That you didn’t even realize that they had had a miscarriage? Or were people more open with you about it?
Yeah, that’s a really good question. I don’t think it’s easy for people to be open about it. It really can be a devastating experience, and it’s a loss. And so it’s something that people have to grieve, and then when they finally move on from the grief, they have to give themselves time to then be able to speak about it. So often when you’re hearing about peoples miscarriages, it’s much later after they’ve gone through them. And they’ve had time to process them and they’re comfortable speaking about it. And even at that point, it’s not something where you want to raise your hand and be like, “Hey, this is dinner table conversation.”
So I didn’t know a ton of people, but I think because I was a little bit older, my sister had gone through one and she was very private about that as well. I probably only knew about it because I was her sister. And a few of my best friends had gone through them, so they had confided in me. And their best friends, and best friends, because we were all kind of in our mid-thirties, had experienced them as well. So I was lucky in the fact that I’m by nature an over-sharer, and very transparent, and very vulnerable, and I think that breeds vulnerability.
And so when I get vulnerable about whatever it is that’s going on in my life, like my relationship with my husband, or some hard moments I’m having with work. Whatever it is, when I get really honest, I think people feel the safety of being honest as well. And so I think that I can facilitate those conversations to go a little bit deeper. So maybe because of my personality, I felt like I had a couple more people come out. But once I went through the miscarriage, and I was very vocal about my miscarriage. Oh, my gosh, the amount of people that have come to me and told me that they’ve gone through that, or that they’re going through it in that very moment. I’ve had so many people, I will literally get daily emails or daily DM’s from people being like, “I am in the middle of this right now. Thank you so much for sharing your story.” Or, “Thank you for opening the conversation.”
And I think that it’s a trick one, because while I do want there to be a lot of openness about it, and I do want people to be able to talk about it, I also want people to know that you don’t have to. It is a grieving process, and if you’re not comfortable talking about it right away, don’t. Don’t feel like you have a duty to speak about it, but know that there are so many other people going through that. And the community that you can feel, and the connectiveness that you may need during that time is a hundred percent available.
The whole pregnancy conversation is so sticky. It’s everything from don’t ask if somebody’s pregnant. And then like my wife and I, we tried for a couple years before we got pregnant, and every baby shower was just a tear fest for her. It was just so brutal. And so you want to celebrate, and then at the same time you’re sensitive to those that can’t get pregnant. And sometimes when you are pregnant, some people want to share every possible problem that they have experienced; every single person that they know that has had a miscarriage, and then you’re at home freaking out going, “Oh, my gosh.” It’s a sticky thing.
It’s so tricky.
Yeah, but I think that the vulnerability is so powerful, like you said. So you’re in that doctor’s office, you’ve been given this information, what’s next for you? Like what’s going through your head? Did they offer options at that point? Take me through the next steps.
Yeah. Well, that’s the crazy thing about it. We’d been through one pregnancy, and so we kind of assumed we knew the ropes. We knew what we were doing. Definitely your first pregnancy and your first kid, you have no idea what’s going on. Everything’s very exciting. Every week you’re like, “What’s happening to my body this week?” And you learn a lot because you’re very absorbent and you don’t know anything, it’s brand new. And so when we got pregnant with the second, for us it was kind of like, “Okay, we know what’s going on here. We don’t have to prepare for these doctor appointments, we’re just going to show up.” And we did.
What I didn’t realize was miscarriages are not black and white. They are not like, “Oh, you’ve just miscarried, here’s what we do next.” There’s so many different options of what you can do next, and so many different things happening inside your body. And based off what week it is, or what’s going on with the baby, or what’s going on with the sack and everything, that they give you so many options. And what’s crazy is that you just heard that this baby inside of you is no longer viable, and then they’re giving you three or four options as to what to do next. You’re just like, “I can’t even hear you right now.”
Head is just spinning.
Yeah, “I can’t take in any information.” And we loved our doctor. We still do. So we were very lucky in the fact that we felt very connected to her. Which I think is kind of a rarity sometimes, not everyone feels that close with their doctor. So to have someone not only deliver such devastating news, but then also say, “Hey, here are your options.” And we had to make a decision fast, you’re closing in on a window where you’re going to lose some of these options soon, “So think about it but call me at the end of the day.” I need to be able to breathe first. I’ve got my two year old sitting here next to me who’s been kissing my growing belly for the last three weeks and saying goodnight to the baby every time that I putt her down to sleep. I don’t even know where to go and now I have to think about how you’re going to physically remove this from my body.
It was really intense and also I’m a highly emotional person, and highly sensitive, but I’m also very pragmatic. So both of those, I think they weren’t reconciling. They were both fighting to be heard. So part of me was trying to allow the emotions to happen, and the other part of me was trying to allow my logical brain to kick in and say, “You have to make a decision.” And I think I went into very much a momma bear mode in that moment, and was like, “I need to decide what to do for my next baby.” I decided right then and there that we were moving on and we’re so lucky we got pregnant. We’re so lucky we have one child.
The idea of getting pregnant is something that I don’t feel like I have to be so nervous about, and that alone is a blessing. I feel like I’ve seen so many people struggle to get pregnant, so the fact that we were able to do it so quickly and we already had a kid, that was what I was choosing to focus on. And so I was like, “If I focus there, my next place to focus on is that I need to take care of my body for the next pregnancy. Because we’re going to try again. We definitely want more than one kid. I don’t know when we’re going to try and I don’t know when I will be emotionally ready to try, but when we do, I need to have my body prepared for that.” So then I just instantly went into, “What is the best route to take the best care of my body?”
Okay. And it sounds like they offered you several options. Would you mind just briefly, you don’t have to get into all the medial details, but just the three options that you were given? For someone who’s listening that perhaps hasn’t gone through this, so that they’re informed.
Yeah, of course. So I was given the option of letting it pass naturally. Which is just basically your body will quote/unquote “expel” it. We don’t know when. We don’t know how.
And that could take even weeks then?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I had had this in my body for the last four weeks, and it hadn’t kind of expelled it yet. So they were like, “You can wait and we’ll just keep checking in weekly to see if it does it naturally.” Which I was like, “Okay, can I get some more information around that? What does that feel like? What does that look like?” But they had not a ton of information, and I didn’t have the wherewithal to ask all of those questions. Nor did I want to really hear the details at that moment. But that was the first option.
The second option was almost to induce that kind of labor. So when you kind of get to that eleven, twelve week mark, the sack that was around the baby and the place that the baby had grown was fairly large. And so your body was going to have to almost go through a little bit of labor to expel it. And so the option was to either allow your body to do that naturally, which I think of course all of us want to do. Someone says you can do something naturally, yes, we’re going to want to opt for that. The next option though was to induce it. So to take some pills or to insert some things into your body that would help you to speed up the process.
But it would still be passing it naturally. It basically would be like if you were to induce labor. And then the third option was a D&C, and that window was closing for me. But the DNC would be to go in and to surgically just go in and remove it. She’s like for lack of a better term, you go in with a tool and just pull everything out. So you would go under, it’s a fifteen minute process. She was like, “Go home and think about which route you want to take.”
And D&C, do you remember what that stands for?
I will butcher it if I say it.
I’m going to look it up. I’m going to look it up right here, because my wife has had three of them.
Dilation and curettage.
So it’s basically just to remove tissue from the inside of the uterus is the definition.
And so when presented with these, they’re very different options. One’s a surgical option, one is naturally to let it pass. The doctors have no information as to which one really is better for you. And what was so interesting was because I was almost hitting that twelve week mark, she was kind of looking at me being like, “Does one of these sound better than the other?” And I was like, “I’m so sorry, I can’t answer that right now. How much time do I have, because I don’t know anything about these options that you’ve given me at all. I don’t know what a D&C really entails.”
We had a C-section with McKenna, our first, and before going down that route, you have plenty of time to research it. You have plenty of time to understand what you’re getting into, what that’s going to look like, what the recovery is, what the risks are. I think it’s a lot easier to make those decisions when you’re well informed. So not only are you having an emotional spike and a loss, but you’re also then trying to comprehend all of these options.
So ultimately, how did you make that decision?
Well, we left the office and she had said, “Get back to me as soon as you can. If you’re going to go the D&C route, we’re going to get you in as soon as possible. If you’re going to go the other routes, I just want to be in contact with you and monitor it just because you’re so late in the process.” So we left, and I remember just sitting outside of the doctor’s office with my husband. My daughter has no idea what’s going on, and I am just sitting there with tears streaming down my face. I wasn’t hysterical. I wasn’t as hysterical as I would have thought I would have been.
I definitely felt like I needed to be strong and make a decision moving forward for us. Not out of a puff up my chest be strong, but as in, “You’re going to crash. You will cry. You’re going to grieve this for a long time. It’s not just today, it’s going to be a process. If you can hold it together to make the best decision for your body and your family and for your next child, that’s your best option just for now.” So we sat outside the doctor’s office and I remember McKenna was running around, and I was just sitting on the bench and Colin, my husband is just trying to occupy her. And was just like, “What do you want to do? Should we get food? Should we go get dinner? Should we go home and cry? What do you want to do?” I was like, “Yeah, let’s pick up some food and go home.”
We went home just in absolute shock. Put her down for bed, and we started talking about it and researching the options. I started to text a couple friends, and that was one of the hardest parts for me about the miscarriage, was telling other people. Because it breaks other people’s hearts. No one wants to hear that and it breaks their heart for you. So their response back, I almost felt like I had to nurture them and I had to be like, “It’s okay, we’re all right. We’re really positive and we’re very grateful we got pregnant, and we know we’ll get pregnant again.” But I almost felt like I had to put so much energy into making sure that they were okay. That I was like, “Ugh.” For a while there, I just didn’t want to talk about it because I just didn’t want to have to tell other people and see the look on their face and break their hearts. Which is a very natural thing I think for people, they love you, they don’t want to see you in pain.
But I texted a couple people to get some information. Like, “Hey, I know you went through this,” or maybe a friend went through this, and so some information started trickling in. I will tell you, the decisions I made, I made every single decision. I decided at first, we’re going to pass it naturally, that’s it. And then I started to read up on what would happen if it didn’t pass naturally, and how long it could just be inside my body. And then the process if you missed the D&C cutoff time and it hadn’t passed by then, and so the more I talked to people, they were like, “You don’t want to wait. You could be waiting a really, really, really long time. And the longer you wait, the longer you can’t start trying for your next pregnancy.”
So then we decided we were going to put the prescription in and we were going to help induce it. So we call and we say that’s what we’re going to decide. And she’s like, “Okay, great.” And then I start hearing stories about what that’s like. And people just start talking about how that is the most painful, horrific experience they’ve ever had, “If you ever have the option between that and a D&C, absolutely do the D&C.” I think this was over Labor Day. The prescription was in, I had it. I decided not to take it, and it was a Friday. And I was like, “Okay, we’re just going to do the D&C.” And my sweet mom was like, “Just do the D&C. Just take care of it. I want you to be able to move on.” She was just like, “Don’t prolong this. Don’t go through that pain if you don’t have to.”
So I was kind of reluctant to do the D&C, because I had had a C-section. So there was already scar tissue in my body and I knew that it was just going to create more scar tissue, so I was trying to avoid it if possible. And then just the more and more information I collected, the more I heard honestly, the D&C is so safe and it’s so minimally invasive. And they can do it in a way that just makes this grieving process a little bit easier. It’s done, you can move on. Which all still sounds horrible, right? So I’m desperately now on Friday trying to call my OB’s surgery scheduler and get in as soon as possible for the next Tuesday or whatever it is, to get on to her schedule for a D&C. And I couldn’t get a hold of her, she had left for the weekend because it was Labor Day weekend. She had left and she was on vacation, and her surgery scheduler was leaving but she was still in the building, so I was trying to track her down.
All of a sudden felt this panic like, “I have to get on the schedule. I have to get on the schedule!” It was almost like I needed that closure. I needed to know what was going to happen. And so I finally get a message in, and they’re basically like, “Listen, we can’t put you on the schedule without the doctor’s approval. We can’t get a hold of the doctor. But this is a priority, we’re going to call you first thing Tuesday. We’re not going to leave you hanging, trust me. Be prepared to come in Tuesday, we can help you out.” And I was like, “Okay, all right.” And so what was interesting was that weekend, we were planning to go up and see my husband’s family up in the Bay Area. We left and we flew up there, and the second we landed, my body started to pass this.
Yeah. I started to bleed and I was like, “Wouldn’t that of course just happen?” You spend so much time trying to organize and project manage your life and your body in a pregnancy, and your body’s like, “Hey, I’m going to do my thing. You can project manage all you want, but this is out of your control.” And so that started to happen, so I started to actually pass and go through the miscarriage process before that D&C ever could potentially happen on Tuesday. So that all happened to me Friday night.
And you ended up having the D&C on Tuesday, is that correct?
Well, I actually ended up lightly and heavily bleeding throughout the weekend, and then on Monday actually, we flew back. And that Monday I actually started to pass it more naturally and I went through heavy, heavy labor contractions. I actually ended up in the ER late Monday night because my cervix, I guess it was so swollen and my body was trying to pass everything, it couldn’t. So I went and this is very graphic, so I will not go into too many details but I did end up going into the ER at midnight on Monday. They went in and they manually went in and removed it. So I didn’t actually go through the D&C.
I didn’t go through an actual surgery, but an OB had to come in and go in and help remove everything. And then I went in the next morning, my doctor called me right away Tuesday morning and was like, “I heard you want to get in for the D&C. I’m seeing ER reports last night. Come in, let’s take a look and see what’s going on. If we need to, we’ll perform the D&C.” And I came in and everything was gone. She did the ultrasound and it was complete. There was nothing up on the ultrasound. The ER experience was kind of traumatic for me, because I hadn’t gone through labor contractions with McKenna, it was a scheduled C-section. So I didn’t know how intense labor contractions were.
I did feel like when I went through the C-section with McKenna, I kind of missed out on a rite of passage. And I feel like I got that now, and I have so much love and respect for people that go through intense contractions. Because it was literally to the point where I was in the back seat of the car with my husband driving to the ER where I was just hysterical and, “Oh, my gosh. This is straight out of the movies.” You can’t move, it’s so intense. The contractions of your whole body, you can’t breathe they’re so intense. And so it was a little bit of a traumatic experience, going to the ER and having everything happen. And so when I slept that night, I didn’t realize that that was it. That was the end of that process and now it was time to move on in this grieving process.
So when I went to the doctor the next day and they did the ultrasound, they were like, “Nope, you’re good to go. You don’t need the D&C.” It was almost disappointing to me. I was almost like, “Oh, wow.” That’s when I really started to grieve. That’s when I really was like, “Oh, there’s nothing inside of my body anymore. That is that over. You actually have to move on now.” And that’s when I called up my counsellor. My husband and I called up our counsellor. We’re like, “This is going to be sad. We feel it now. We feel the weight of it and this is going to be a sad process.” And so that’s when we started the grieving process.
And I still definitely chose to look at it from the point of view of, “I’m so grateful. I have this little two year old running around me.” I couldn’t be more grateful in that moment for McKenna. Just seeing here was like, if nothing else happened in the world, if we could never get pregnant again, I’m so lucky that I have her. And I’m so lucky to go through a miscarriage process with a child. That I feel like, I’m very, very blessed and lucky. I’m very lucky that we got pregnant so quickly. So I had to focus there. It was a choice.
I knew every day getting up the next few days was like, you get to choose what you focus on. It doesn’t mean you ignore the sadness, it doesn’t mean you power through the sadness. We would sit on the couch and cry every night, probably for thirty minutes. and then we would move on. We’d be like, “This is horrible. This is so sad.” And then we would focus on her, and we would focus on us, and we would focus on our time together, and he would pour me a glass of wine and we’d be like, “We can do this. We have each other and so many great things.” But it was a process.
For sure. When we had our second miscarriage, I was actually in the Grand Canyon with a friend, and my wife was with our daughter who was several years old in Santa Barbara visiting a friend. And I get a call at around midnight or something like that, maybe two in the morning. And it was from my wife’s friend saying, “She’s having a miscarriage. You need to come right away.” So I’m in the Grand Canyon, she’s in Santa Barbara. I have a friend who lives in Costa Mesa, Orange County. If you’re not familiar with the geography, listeners, those are not close together. So we literally drove through the night back to Costa Mesa, and I dropped him off. And then I drove straight to Santa Barbara to be with my wife.
My wife was sixteen weeks at that time, and she like you — I don’t remember. I assume they induced her and she had to deliver the child. And so I think the thing that is so confounding in a lot of ways, is the ways that the husband or partner deals with the situation, versus the woman. And I think when you’re in that situation, there’s a tendency maybe to feel like, “Well, how should I feel? I should be feeling this.” How did your husband — it’s just one experience, right? It’s not the right way. How did he feel? Did he feel it? Was he more just there with you, but he didn’t feel it necessarily? How did he walk through that process with you?
Yeah, you know what? That’s such a good question, and it was such an interesting experience for my husband and I. Because my husband and I tend to be on the same page with a lot of things. We enjoy life in the same ways, we have very similar humor. We find the same adventures fun, we both are on a fantasy football team together. We do a lot of similar things. We follow a similar path and we react to things very similarly. And I think this was the first time in our relationship where we reacted so differently, and we had such different experiences. And I wasn’t expecting that at all. I just expected as normal, we’d kind of bounce off each other, be slightly different from a male and a female perspective, but for the most part we would go through similar process. And we didn’t. We didn’t at all.
It was harder for both of us in different ways, but I think that I was maybe a little bit more prepared for it, because as a woman who wants to get pregnant, I’m thinking about that all the time. I’m doing tons of research on it. I’m talking to my girlfriends about it 24/7. It’s very front in my face. Every month we don’t get pregnant, I know the statistics of what’s happening. I’m calling up my OB and asking her. And so those things just were very front of mind for me. And I also am a little bit more of an over-sharer than my husband. I connect with people by sharing and by talking about things. And while he has such a high emotional intelligence, and he is a fantastic communicator, he does like a level of privacy.
And as we went through this, because the grief I think was a little bit harder for him at the time, it was a little bit more unexpected. And people do say this, sometimes when you have a child and you miscarry after you have a child, that miscarriage feels very much like your second child. It is not just a baby, or a fetus, or a twelve-week. It is a child. You’ve already envisioned what life is going to be like with your second child. And I probably didn’t let my brain go that far. I just probably in self-preservation mode, hadn’t quite gone that far. And I think he probably had gone a little bit further than I had.
So the grieving and the devastation, I think for us, was different levels, and the way that we were working through it was very different. So when I would talk about it, he was like, “I want you to do what you need to do. I want you to talk about this if it’s helpful, but I don’t really want to talk about it.” Which for me was shocking because he’s so communicative, we talk about everything together. I’m very lucky in the fact that I have a husband that will talk that much with me about things. And he was like, “I want to go through this process in a healthy way.” And we were like, “We’ll go to some sessions and make sure that we’re creating space for each other and staying close, and connective, and supportive during this.” But he’s like, “I don’t want to talk about it in the way that you are talking about it.”
I was like, “I’m so glad you’re telling me that, because I would never have guessed that. We’d be talking about this every night if I didn’t know that from you.” Because he’s so supportive, so when I would cry or I would tear up, he would be like, “How are you feeling? Do you want to talk? What do you want? What do you need?” And he’s very selfless like that, so he’d say, “What do you need?” When the whole time, I didn’t know in the beginning that really what he needed was just a little bit of space from it. He needed a little bit of space to kind of grieve and to move on a little bit from it. And that grieving and that space and that moving on, he was just doing it in a bit of a different way than I was. So I just thought that was so interesting. I never would have expected that, and it’s hard to know how two people are going to grieve when you’ve never gone through a loss like that before.
Right, that is so good. Yeah, that’s so powerful to just be able to talk with each other about what is going on, what each other needs, not assume a certain way. I know for me, I actually probably had — I don’t want to say opposite, just different. In that I was so concerned about my wife, and once again, “How are you doing?” She was feeling all of this huge amounts of loss, and I wasn’t feeling that much.
And I think that maybe more common for guys.
To not feel as much because I wasn’t carrying the child. I wasn’t feeling the things, but I was just so concerned about her. And so my feelings were less about the loss of the child, and more about her and, “How are you doing? How are you getting through this process?” The thing no matter what, is husbands, partners need to be supportive, however that looks like.
That’s obviously the point. So I’m glad you guys were able to process that and figure that out.
For men and women who haven’t gone through the process, what would you encourage them to say and not to say? Or to do and not to do? Because I think so many people are just like, “I don’t even know what to say. I’m sorry? I’m sorry.”
What would you suggest?
Yeah. Oh, man, I feel like I’m definitely not an expert in this area. Please, don’t take my advice and run with it.
Maybe what you didn’t want people to say to you? Or maybe what you did want people to say to you?
Yeah. Well, I think what’s so interesting. Again, you don’t know how people are grieving. Especially if you would have looked at my husband and I, I think that you probably would have assumed the opposite. You would have assumed because I was so connective and caring of the child. Like right now, I’m seven months pregnant and I have a baby in my belly right now. And when I feel the baby kick, I feel very connected to the baby. And I think that at this point in the pregnancy, I probably let myself feel more connected to the baby than my husband does, right? Because now I’ve been carrying it.
I’m going to tell you a crazy thing. I’m looking at you earlier, and I said to myself, I go, “I think she’s pregnant.”
Oh, yeah. I just said it. I don’t know, I was just looking at you and I’m like, “Maybe she’s not. I don’t know.” I just had this sense. It’s so funny. Wow, good for you. Congratulations.
Yes. Yes, yes. Thank you, yeah. We waited a while. We had to wait a while to start trying again. I definitely wasn’t mentally there. But when we did, we were very lucky to get pregnant pretty quickly.
Did you go back to Paris?
We didn’t, no.
Okay, all right. No French baby.
Definitely not as fun of a story. No, but we waited almost a whole year. So we waited a whole year to start trying again. But I feel more connected to the baby I think, than my husband probably does right now. Because I’m feeling the baby kick on a daily basis. I’m talking to the baby. I feel so connected, so in theory you would have thought the way that our grief process would have gone, is I would have felt more connected to the baby. And I don’t know what it was, it may be our personalities. And it may just have been situational. But I also think that sometimes with parenting, at least what I’ve noticed is — and I just thought of this as you were explaining your situation and what you went through, is I do notice sometimes as parents and in relationships, sometimes when someone is overly caring, or overly involved, or overly concerned, it almost gives the other parent an out to kind of relax a little bit.
If someone’s doing the sleep training, it’s like, “I know you’re going to handle most of this. I know I don’t have to be as on top of it because you’ve got this,” and vice versa. And I think men and women tend to gradually choose things that they’re going to be a little bit more on top of, or just they care about a little bit more as the parent. Which kind of gives the other parent the option to relax a little bit, like, “Oh, I know that dad is going to be all over the soccer games.” Or, “I know mom is always going to make sure the lunches are ready.” So I think as parents, we naturally kind of overcompensate in certain areas. And I always wonder if maybe because I stepped straight into that momma bear role, “I can’t focus on being too upset and devastated about this. I’m going to focus on moving forward. What this means for my body for the next pregnancy.” I wonder if that almost gave him more room to take on the sadness for our child.
So you just don’t know how people are going to grieve. So how to respond to someone where you don’t really know the innerworkings of their grief is really, really, really tricky. But I will say, I have a really good friend, Emily McDowell, and she writes empathy cards. And I love talking to her about grief and empathy because I very much agree with what she says. And she has these cards that I think just describe exactly how you should respond to someone so perfectly. And they’re basically like, “There is no normal after this. There’s no way forward that I can help you with, but I will be there and I will be there with snacks.” It’s very much like, “This is sucky, and I’m not going to try to give you advice through this. But I am here for you a 110%, whether you want to go and get a drink, or whether you want to cry and watch a movie. Whatever you want to do, I am here for you.”
And I think that whether it’s a miscarriage, it’s whether someone’s going through recovery, these really intense things that are really hard to go through that you don’t know how to respond to, just letting someone know that you’re there and not trying to problem solve for them. Not trying to have pity for them, just showing up and being like, “I’m here for you. I’ve got your back and I know that it’s not going to be the same moving forward. I know that it’s going to be different. I don’t know if it will be horrible. I don’t know if just will be crappy. I don’t know if it’s going to be quick or long, but I’m here. I’m here for the ride and I’m here for whatever you need,” and showing up in that way. For me, when people showed up for me like that, was the best thing possible. And I have learned to show up for people in that way since that experience.
I think the main thing that you’re alluding to is that unsolicited advice is not real helpful.
Just so many things that people want to say in terms of advice in a positive intent, can end up being real hurtful.
Yeah. Yeah, and I don’t think anyone ever tries to be hurtful.
I think in life in general, we probably over-advise people. They’re like, “Oh, yeah. I hate my job.” It’s like, “Well, have you tried this? Have you tried this?” “I actually just wanted to vent for a second.” Or there’s so many funny memes out there about moms who are like, “Oh, gosh, my kid wouldn’t sleep through the night. I’m so tired.” And they’re like, “Did you try this? Did you try that?” “I just wanted to complain for a second.”
So I think that you have to know the person. You have to be willing to approach it with, “Oh, man. That sucks. How are you feeling?” Always I’m a big believer in question-based conversation, because it creates a space for people to guide you and lead you to where they really want. Because if you’re like, “Oh, yeah. That sucks. How are you feeling about that?” And they’re like, “It’s driving me crazy, do you have any thoughts?” It’s like, “Okay, there you go. Now go for it and give your advice.” Or like, “It’s driving me crazy and I just really need a coffee.” It’s like, “Cool, let’s go get a coffee then.” You can really create that space for someone to come to you with what they need. But if you can’t get there, if you naturally want to go into advice, I would say take a step back. Just think about creating a container of space for people, and letting them know, “I am here for you a 110%. Whichever way this coin falls, whatever you need, I’m here.” I don’t think anything else could be more valuable than saying that.
I know you said the one thing that you did not want was flowers. Why is this?
Oh, my gosh.
I love flowers.
Oh, my gosh. My husband and I, we crack up about this now, but at the time. Because no one knows what to do, and you have such loving support, right? But then they send you flowers and you have these beautiful flowers sitting on your counter and you’re like, “Cool, those are my miscarriage flowers.” It’s just a constant reminder that these beautiful flowers are going to remind you of the sympathy of your miscarriage. Where you’re like, “I don’t really want to think that.” One of my very best friends sent me one with a mug. It was a mug with flowers in it, and so we eventually threw away many of the flowers right away. And then we were like, “Well, we have this mug. Should we save the mug?” He’s like, “Are you going to drink coffee out of your miscarriage mug?” “Um, we’re going to toss that.”
So it’s so good intentioned and I can laugh with all my friends about it because they love me so much, they had no idea what to do. They’re at a loss, and I probably would have done the same thing. But I’m like, “Maybe you could send food.” Wine is a little tricky because some people are like, “Well, you can drink now.” It’s like, “No, no, no, no, we’re not there yet. I can’t. Wait until I celebrate the fact that I can drink and I can get to that place.” A card. I love Emily’s empathy cards. Just a card being like, “This sucks, I am here. Let’s go to a movie.” Or a text or something thoughtful that’s showing up for them in a really meaningful way. But yeah, I would avoid the flowers.
Well, I do want to point people to, and I’ll link in the show notes to the episode where you really went into detail in terms of the medical process that you went through, through the miscarriage. I don’t know about a trigger warning, it’s a queasy warning for sure.
There’s a lot of details in there. There’s a lot details. Yes, it’s very informational.
It’s very informational, and I want to make sure that people have access to that, so we’ll link to that in the show notes. But as I mentioned in the intro, you are a career strategist, you’re a coach, and you obviously have your own podcast, which we will point people to that, The Whiskey & Work podcast. But I also want to make sure that people have access to a planning tool. And I’ve downloaded it, it’s great. It’s very detailed. Tell us about this free planner, it’s a business planner. Why would it be helpful for someone?
Yeah. Yeah, so it’s funny. With the miscarriage, and with learning how to be a wife, and learning how to be a mom, and learning what I want my life to really look like in adulthood as we start to move forward. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what that meant for me with work. I wanted to create a lifestyle where I could really be home with my kid and I could show up at her field trips whenever they were available, and I was the mom that could take her to school and pick her up. And then I also had time for myself to be there for my husband, and to cook him dinner, and to iron his clothes, and to do all these things that I had always envisioned I wanted to do.
But as I go older, I also realized I really like my career and I really love working. And I love having that thing for myself. And not just any career or a hobby on the side, I wanted a successful career where I was bringing in a solid amount of finances, and I felt really proud of it. And it was a thing where if I wanted to, I could go fly and go to a girls weekend away and have a glass of champagne and feel really good about this multi-faceted life that I wanted. And I had always heard that really you can only have one or the other. You could be a stay-at-home mom, or you can have a really successful career, and I just never really bought into that.
So I started doing a lot of research and trying to figure out what I wanted to do for my own business. Which is when I stumbled upon coaching and go into life coaching and business coaching, and helped people with career transition coaching. And then I built this business where I was able to do that. Where I was able to work my twenty hours a week and still be there for my kid. And only work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and have this epic business. I wanted people to see that it was possible and that they could do that. I started to get so many questions about it like, “How did you do that? I don’t need to make a million dollars, but I would like to make six figures.” People are talking about, “I want to leave these really impressive corporate jobs to be home with my kids, but I still want to do something that I feel really proud of.”
And so I started just talking to people about how I plan my business, and how I plan my life, and it really kind of goes back to the exact way that I managed my way through the miscarriages. I really choose what I want to focus on, and I’m really intentional and conscious about simplifying that. So that I can move the needle and really give that the time and the dedication it deserves, so that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on it, I don’t feel like it’s getting wasted away in the distractions of life. It’s not just this kind of muddled idea, it’s a very focused idea, it’s very thoughtful and it’s rooted in the things that I actually care about.
So I plan my business that exact same way, and it’s a very holistic approach. I definitely start backwards. I start from the lifestyle I want, and I create my business model around that lifestyle. And then I plug it into a twelve-month planner, and then I get really conscious about how that shows up on my weekly iCal’s, and how I make time and create space for that. So yeah, I started talking to people about how I did that, and they were asking so many questions that I created this very specific guide of, “This is how I do it.” This is the process that you can follow to get really, really focused. Know exactly what you want to lean into, so that you can see that needle really move and not in a hundred hours a week. You can see that needle move so that you can create that lifestyle that still allows you that freedom with your kiddos, or future kiddos, and things like that.
I love it. And you know, even though it’s titled How to Plan Your Business, the way that you approach it, it really is accessible to someone who just wants to think about life.
Not just their business itself. And so I would suggest if you’re listening and you’re like, “Well, I don’t have a business. I don’t want to start a business.” I’d say download it because I think that there are a lot of things that you can learn from this guide. So all you need to do is go to www.kelseymurphey.com, and then there’s a black button right in the center that says, “Free planner” and you can download it, and it’s quite easy. And of course we will link to your Whiskey & Work podcast as well, so people can check that out.
Kelsey, thank you so much just for being vulnerable and sharing about your experience. I’m so excited that you’re pregnant again, that’s super fun. Do you know boy or girl? Are you waiting to find out?
It’s going to be another girl. It’s going to be another girl.
Okay, super fun.
Yeah. I know.
Girls are great.
My daughter is twenty, so she’s awesome.
I love it. Well, thank you so much for having me on. I love the conversations you’re facilitating. I think it’s really important work that we’re doing out there. And the fact that you’re creating this space for these conversations. It’s scary to have these conversations. Whether it’s about miscarriage, or it’s about anything else that’s a trying thing in life that we’re trying to figure out how to move through and we’re dealing with our own insecurities and our own confusions, navigating those waters is really tough. So I just love the work you’re doing. I love that you’re opening up that space, and it was an honor to have this conversation here, so thank you.