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The one that wasn’t

January 11, 2013

Before you read this, I’ll warn you that it is the story of our recent miscarriage. It’s long and some might find it depressing. I wrote it for anyone who needs to know someone else has been there and because I don’t think this sort of thing needs to be a secret. I’ll be writing more about it, but for now, this is just the story.

 

In early November, we found out that I was pregnant. We were hoping to have children fairly close together, but didn’t expect it to be so soon. It would probably be due in July when Alida would be 15 months old. When we told people, most said “you’re crazy” and we kind of agreed with them.

Almost immediately my milk supply dropped and I reached out to the ladies at our church. I was heartbroken at the thought of robbing Alida of my milk. She was only 7 months old. But, as I heard from the ladies, I was encouraged. I heard how close in age their children were, how they were best friends, how the oldest was too young to know jealousy when the second one was born. They reminded me that a sibling would be more of a blessing to Alida than a few more months of milk (if indeed those were our choices.)

I still felt like we were crazy, but became even more joyful at the thought of this little one that would join our family. I had very similar symptoms to my pregnancy with Alida – one day of nausea, serious smell aversion (rosemary this time), and extreme breast pain (now when breastfeeding.) I didn’t feel nauseated, but that didn’t come until later with Alida.

My first appointment was schedule for December 6. At this point I should have been almost 9 weeks. The midwife said my uterus felt about 8 weeks along, but since they only have a Doppler at their office, she was unable to find a heartbeat. She offered the option to go for a dating ultrasound, or I could just wait until my next appointment in January. In spite of the fact that there is no history of miscarriage in my family, I felt an urgency to know that there was something in there, so we scheduled an ultrasound.

The next day, as I lay on the ultrasound bed, we saw the gestational sac, but there wasn’t anything inside. The technician tried every angle and even did an internal ultrasound, but there still wasn’t anything. We met with Dr. Bootstaylor who told us, with hands pacing gently with his words, that only time would really tell us what was going on. Maybe my dates were wrong. If I was only five weeks pregnant than there wouldn’t be anything but a sac.

I felt that this couldn’t be. My symptoms lined up with the timing. But, I’m no doctor, and I don’t know my body perfectly. Maybe I was wrong. They sent me upstairs for bloodwork. If the hormones in my body indicated that I was eight weeks pregnant, then we would have a problem.  He said we were looking for results much less than 10,000.

The wait in the doctor’s office and the lab was long. I cried in fear and disappointment. I couldn’t keep it together.  I knew that whatever the outcome was, God was still in control, but I had grown attached to the dream of this little one. It was supposed to be the size of a grape by now.

That afternoon, I got the 24-hour stomach bug that was going around. It made me miserable in a different way and was a good distraction. As the weekend went on, Jonathan and I talked and agreed that neither of us were hopeful. I knew that there were times that nothing showed up on the ultrasound and then the next week there was a baby, but I also knew that many, many pregnancies end practically before they’ve even begun. As I nursed Alida on Sunday night, I realized that it no longer hurt, and the suspicion became stronger.

Monday morning, Dr. Bootstaylor called to tell me that my hormone levels were 38,000. It was a blighted ovum, which is an egg that never grows in spite of the fact that your body still thinks you’re pregnant. I was not surprised. After spending the weekend in a state of limbo, it was good to have confirmation. I asked him what happens next. I’d had no cramping or spotting. The only change was that my symptoms had disappeared. He told me I could take medicine to make it pass, or I could let it happen naturally. I believe in the body’s ability to do what it needs to do, and hoped that I could let it happen.

But, less than twenty-four hours later, I called the doctor to get the name of the medicine. I still wanted to wait. I knew that if my body did it, there wouldn’t be a mistake.  I didn’t want to wonder if I had waited, would something have shown up. But, I’m also not a very patient person. It was on my mind all day, every day. Every time I went to the bathroom, I looked for blood. When was it going to start?

Dr. Bootstaylor had also suggested I call the midwives to get their opinions. One thing I love about Intown Midwifery is that they are less concerned about the decisions that you make and more concerned that you make informed decisions. He wanted me to know all my options. So, on Thursday I called and talked to Anjli. She suggested that I come in to have my hormone levels tested to see if they were declining, as they should in a miscarriage. Or I could go to the ultrasound that I still had scheduled for the next day. That would provide me with more immediate answers.

The next day I went, and saw the same thing I’d seen the week before. The only difference was that the sac was smaller (around 6wks when I should’ve been almost 10wks) and they said it looked like there was blood in it. This, along with my lack of symptoms, gave me peace.

I spoke to the P.A. there who told me she had also had a blighted ovum. She had worked for an OBGYN before her current job and told me that she had seen people spot for up to two months. The patients would call every week waiting and wondering when it was going to happen. I knew how I was already feeling after a week, and could understand the feeling. I decided that if it hadn’t happened naturally by the following Thursday (Jonathan’s last off day before Christmas) I would take the medicine. It was bad enough not being pregnant anymore without having to remember this Christmas as the one where I spent the day miscarrying.

As many of you know, we announced our pregnancy online the day I went to the midwife. We had already told our family and many close friends because my theory is that if something were to go wrong, I would tell them anyway. I did not anticipate having to tell so many well-wishers that something had gone wrong. I struggled with feeling bad for making others feel bad. Then I realized that in this situation, the feelings of others are the last thing I should be worried about.

The up side of it being broadcast so widely was that we had many people reach out to us who have gone through this same type of miscarriage as well as other miscarriages. After the initial disappointment of not seeing an embryo, there were very few tears. We didn’t feel like we had experienced a death. The life had never begun. That’s better, right? We had never seen the little heart beating. Nothing had died. It had just never been.  What about those who lost a fully formed little person? How can we be heartbroken when we have such an amazing child already?

Maybe this was a second chance for Alida and me. My milk supply was almost back to normal. No more worries about where I was going to get enough breast milk to feed her or if I would have to use formula. She could get all of our attention for a while longer.

On Thursday, December 20, I took the medicine. I made sure Jonathan was home to take care of Alida in case I had to take the pain medicine and in case it was difficult emotionally. I had read about a few experiences and knew it might be very painful. It ended up being fairly uneventful. I felt like I was having a bad period, and was able to see when the sac passed. Yes, it is a little gross, but it’s life. Evidently it happens to millions of women every year.

When it passed, I didn’t feel sad or cry. I actually felt relief. I knew that my womb was now empty and ready for the next little one.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2013 20:47

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss but I’m glad that you could have such a great outlook about it and find peace. 🙂

  2. September 1, 2013 19:32

    This is so helpful to me. I’m currently awaiting a second ultrasound and a repeat hCG level. I’m hopeful that things will work out, but prepping for the worst.
    I felt a little crazy. I started out devastated, but slowly it becomes just wanting to know for sure what’s going on. I feel like I’ve already started to let go of my baby even though I know nothing for certain. I feel guilty about it, but, as you said, you can only mourn so much for the IDEA of an unborn child rather than an actual, honest to god, embryo that just ceased growing inside of you. I’m still sad, very much so, and I assume that once I know for sure, I will still be upset but with a sort of bittersweet peace within me. I intend to wait for things to happen naturally as well. If I don’t then I will always assume that there could have been a baby and that I prematurely put an end to it.
    Thank you for this. It mirrors my post beautifully. It’s good to know that we’re not alone.

Trackbacks

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