Miscarriages. Miscarriages suck.
Two weeks ago I wrote a post entitled “Poppyseed 2.0 is on his or her way!!!” It included a picture of the positive pregnancy test I took in our hotel in Las Vegas. It talked about how excited we were that Julia was going to be a big sister and how much fun it was to call our parents and tell them that they were going to have another grandchild! I kept the post in “secret” status, intending to publish it on this blog once we went public with our exciting news. I bought a new Pregnancy Journal, intending to keep accurate records of this pregnancy just like I did when I was pregnant with Julia. I even started thinking about what maternity dress I could get to wear to Ken’s cousin Paige’s wedding in March, when I would have been 21 weeks pregnant!
On Friday, December 11th at 7 weeks and 1 day, I had my first doctor’s appointment. I was nervous but so excited to go in with Ken, get checked out by the doctor, confirm my due date of July 28th (based on last menstrual period), and have an ultrasound to take a peek at the little baby and hear the heartbeat. They did all the usual things–had me pee in a cup, checked my blood pressure, temperature, height and weight and then I got up on the table for the ultrasound. Ken sat near my feet so he could see the ultrasound monitor. My excitement quickly faded away as I watched his face and the doctor’s face go from excited to disappointed to devastated. All the doctor found was an empty gestational sac. Given that I was 7 weeks from my last menstrual period, there should have been a yolk sac, a fetal pole and even a heartbeat but there was nothing but fluid. Tears started to stream down my face as the doctor started talking about sending me to Maternal and Fetal Medicine at the hospital for a second look.
I got my blood drawn to check my HCG and Progesterone levels and then we drove over to the hospital and checked in with MFM. As we waited in the waiting room, one new dad came out with pictures of his newborn baby on his phone to show his parents. One couple ran into a friend of theirs, excited to show off the ultrasound pictures they just got at their 13 week scan. My heart started to ache as I went through the possibilities in my mind: Maybe my unicornuate uterus just makes the baby harder to see on a regular ultrasound machine? Maybe the OB’s ultrasound machine was broken? Maybe it’s an ectopic pregnancy and I’m going to need surgery to remove my rudimentary horn? Maybe there really is no baby and I’m just crazy?
The ultrasound tech and the MFM confirmed the same thing: there was a gestational sac with a yolk sac but no fetal pole. No heartbeat. This pregnancy was just not viable.
The OB came in to let me know what my options were. From my time volunteering at Planned Parenthood years ago, I already knew what my options were. Option 1 was to wait and see. Eventually my body would figure out that this was not a viable pregnancy and would expel the “products of conception” on its own. This could happen tomorrow or 3 months from now. I did not want to sit around and wait with that kind of uncertainty. Option 2 was to take some pills at home and let the miscarriage happen at home. This would mean passing large clots of blood and tissue, having cramps for as many as 7-10 days, and waiting for the bleeding to stop. Option 3 was the quickest option: a D&C. I opted for that and had the procedure on Tuesday, nearly a week ago.
I have been blessed with wonderful inlaws, who came for the weekend, both to help with Julia and for moral and emotional support. My mother-in-law was able to stay through Tuesday night after the procedure. The procedure itself was fairly easy and the first few days were a breeze, physically speaking. I had minimal cramping and no more than spotting. Over the weekend things started to pick up and now it’s like I have the worst period I’ve ever had. I’m taking 600 mg of Ibuprofen every 4 hours to stay on top of the cramping. Emotionally, I’ve been a wreck. I’ve shed a lot of tears but I’ve been trying to hold it together for Julia and Ken. Staying busy and distracted helps but the moment I’m alone with my thoughts I get sad again.
I feel blessed in a way (cursed?) to have so many friends who have been through this before me, so it’s as though I’m joining a club I never wanted to be a part of. They have all offered their encouraging words and a listening ear. They’ve all warned me of what to expect both physically and emotionally. Luckily most of them have gone on to have subsequent healthy pregnancies, which gives me hope that I will also have another healthy pregnancy and that we will be able to put this awful experience behind us. I just hope it doesn’t take too long to conceive again and that anxiety doesn’t grab a hold of me for the first few months of my next pregnancy. I’ve read statistics that 85% of women who have a Miscarriage go on to have a healthy pregnancy the next time but I know that until we see a heartbeat I will be a nervous wreck. The OB did say that if I want them to, they can monitor me much more closely, with serial HCG and Progesterone draws and an earlier ultrasound to make sure the pregnancy is progressing appropriately. I think that will help give me a little more peace of mind.
Through all of this, Ken has been amazingly strong and stoic. I know this has been hard on him and he is just as devastated as I am. He also feels hopeless standing by watching while I go through the physical aspects of the miscarriage while also dealing with the emotional aspects, and he doesn’t know how to help (though sometimes all I need is a hug while I’m crying).
Though of course I am heartbroken right now I have tried hard to look for the bright side and I am keeping my eye on the light at the end of the tunnel. The timing of this pregnancy would not have been ideal. We will be moving to Harrisburg in early July, and it would be really hard to move and then have a baby a few weeks later. Professionally, my busiest time of year is from early July through early November so being away for 12 weeks during that time period would not have been ideal. If I get pregnant again sometime in early 2016, Julia and her younger sibling will be 4 years apart, which means she’ll be (hopefully) potty trained before becoming a big sister, and they won’t be in college at the same time, which will mean paying only one college tuition at a time. It also means that we’ll have 6 weeks in the summer when we can take a vacation with Julia before we become a family of 4, and we can go somewhere really fun for Julia, like Disneyworld or New Orleans, or maybe even Belgium! (We’ll have to plan a trip!)
So overall this experience has been horrible but I have hope and I feel confident that we will have another baby eventually, hopefully when the timing is better. In the meantime, we are going to try to make the next 7 months the best ones we’ve had yet as a family of 3 and we will try to do as many fun things with Julia that we can before she becomes a big sister, and we will focus on having fun as Team Levin: a 3-member team!