So last August or so was somewhat of a wild ride.
On August 8th, we took a pregnancy test. We already suspected that I was pregnant but I wanted to see the positive test result on our 4 year wedding anniversary. To no surprise, it was positive! We went on our anniversary date and enjoyed lovely conversation about what’s to come and I enjoyed a virgin margarita at our favorite Mexican restaurant.
With the excitement of expecting our second child I called to set up my first appointment. The midwives set me up for my first appointment on September 9th. Over a month away, and we had a family vacation planned before then. We didn’t want to tell anyone until it was confirmed so that was a little frustrating. As the weeks went on I felt larger and VERY pregnant. I checked my app. According to the app, my first appointment was going to be when I was almost 12 weeks. I called the midwives and explained what I was seeing on my app and how I was feeling. Not being seen before 12 weeks was very unsettling, and I just wanted to know everything was ok. That I definitely was pregnant and if so, how far along was I measuring. I thought I had mixed up the dates and I felt like I was further along than I initially thought. They agreed. I went in for an ultrasound on August 21st, which according to my app was almost 8 weeks. We were so excited and I even swore I could feel the baby move. I expected to see a little monster in there. Kicking away and everything!
I laid down. She placed the ultrasound scanner on my belly, and started looking around. There was a sack, but it seemed like there was nothing inside. She moved it around a little more, pressing deeper into my belly.
She said it could just be that I was a little early and that we should do a vaginal scan to get a better look. I got ready and she began to look. Probing all around.
No baby. No fetal pole. No.. anything. I asked her if it was normal. She said no. That there was always at least a fetal pole at 8/9 weeks that I thought my app had calculated, and that even at 6 weeks something would show up.
My heart sank. It was as if my heart was ripped out of my chest and thrown right there on the floor. Then the embarrassment and shame came pouring over me like a heavy, wet blanket. How much of a fool was I? I thought I was FEELING the baby! We did end up telling our family just the day before with excitement and joy. I was so cocky because we had only tried once. I was smug, and now, I felt like such a fool, and utterly heartbroken that our baby number two was just… gone.
The following Thursday I visited the midwives. She explained a thing called anembryonic pregnancy in which the cells never get past the embrionic stage. She said there is no known cause but that theory suggests it could be due to the baby not being genetically sound. That there was nothing we did wrong. I asked if there was ANY possibility of her being wrong. She explained that anything was possible, but that all the signs were pointing to this diagnoses. She explained that the sack size was that of 6 weeks, which is when a fetal pole definitely be visible. Especially since I underwent a vaginal scan which is very accurate. I accepted it, and we discussed DNC possibilities or naturally passing it on my own. But that it could take a while for my body to recognize that nothing is there. Like a false pregnancy. She told me it could pass while on vacation which was scheduled for the following week, or when I get back – there was no way to know. I couldn’t stop crying after the appointment. We hadn’t had lunch yet and I was crying right there in the bagel shop as we waited for our food.
The next week we were scheduled to go on our family vacation so off we went. We had already told the family I was expecting, so after this news we gave them the sad update. We had, fortunately, opted not to tell Maddy though, and I’m so thankful for that. I did a little reading on the subject, and it all suggested to tell little ones after 12 weeks, so that’s what we had planned. Because of that, we didn’t have to break any sad news to our little girl.
Still, vacation was strange, to say the least. People didn’t know if they could talk about it and it was pretty awkward at times. But I did make it a point to open up the conversation so people would know I didn’t feel weird about discussing it. I received nothing but amazing support and love in return. Especially from my sister in law that had experienced a miscarriage herself not too long ago.
As we struggle through times that are heartbreaking, I have learned that something is only taboo if you let it be. If you open up with those closest to you, you’re most often going to be met with love and understanding. I regretted telling our family we were expecting so soon, but my husband reminded me, “This is why you tell those closest to you. So you can go through all the good and bad with them by our side.” It’s so true. They have all been invaluable for emotional support and I could never thank them enough.
As all this was going on I did my best to remember what vacation was all about and to not forget that our little girl was ready to make memories, play in the sand, the ocean, and the pool, with her family and especially her cousin.
I tried to put my worries aside and enjoy our time together. Laughing and playing with her, trying to forget all I was going through. Her little heart would never be able to comprehend such sadness nor should she have to. It also helped tremendously that other family was around (we were a group of eleven) to play and laugh with her when I didn’t feel like myself. And I even took some time to pamper myself for a bit alone at a nail salon. Sometimes relaxation and a foot massage can work wonders for your emotional health.
As the vacation week went on, my pregnancy symptoms didn’t go away. In fact, they got stronger. Still feeling yucky in the mornings (the only morning “sickness” I got with Maddy as well) and my belly continued to grow.. and SHOW. I remembered the midwife telling me this was possible as my body still thought I was pregnant and that the sack could continue to grow. It was awful to know that I was going through everything for nothing. It was embarrassing as I tried to hide my growing belly that had nothing inside, which was especially difficult being that it was a beach vacation. And the fear of “passing” it any time, any where – I felt like a ticking time bomb.
Hope, Prayer, and Acceptance
Being on vacation did afford me the time to read though, and let’s be honest – obsess over what I was going through. I read forum after forum about Blighted Ovum and Anembryonic Pregnancies and a lot on the misdiagnosed miscarriage website. There was a lot of information out there, as with anything, but some of it gave me some hope. After reading one of the reasons a miscarriage can be misdiagnosed was a tilted uterus I immediately flashed back to a my doctor mentioning, somewhat nonchalantly, that I had one. Tilted and to the side. She said it was normal and never mentioned it again, so I hadn’t remembered until this moment.
I also obsessed over my app. After updating it with my pregnancy I believe it deleted my most recent period that was previously recorded. It wiped it out and just made all the numbers on the calendar pink, which made me think I was further along. I had a small piece of hope, but the midwife’s conversation stuck with me and I made sure I didn’t get my hopes up too much. “Size of the sac.” “We’d definitely see something” “Vaginal scan is very accurate.”
Needless to say, on vacation I wanted to drink my troubles away. “If there’s nothing in there, what can it hurt?” I thought. But I was sharing all my research with my husband as I went along (he was probably so tired of it, but is so wonderful and just listened to every word). He convinced me to not drink anything until the next appointment when everything was confirmed.
At the end of the day though, with everything I had read and everything I was feeling in my body and over analyzing, I knew that ultimately I was not in control. There was no amount of research or obsession over apps or analyzing of every hiccup I could do to change anything. The only thing I could do was pray. Every night, I prayed with all my heart. Every time it’d cross my mind during the day I’d quickly pray, “Please Lord, let our baby be there.”
When we got back from vacation I told my supervisor everything. I felt it was necessary because I had no way of knowing when I would “pass”, and I had so many doctors appointments scheduled. There was going to be weekly blood work to monitor the decline of the pregnancy hormone, possible procedures if needed, time off if I felt sick, etc.
As the days passed I thought long and hard about everything and ultimately accepted my diagnosis. So before my next appointment I made the decision to have a DNC. After our next ultrasound that would confirm the Blighted Ovum, and my next appointment for blood work to make sure my levels were going down, I was going to schedule the DNC. I decided to mitigate the guessing game. To just get it over with. To alleviate the stress on my emotions and on my body.
My husband and I waited for them to call my name for the ultrasound to confirm everything in silence. It was awful. It was sad.
I got ready and they put the gel on my belly. I watched the screen as she touched the wand to my womb quickly then took it off to readjust. The moment it touched the first time I saw it. After she re positioned, she moved it a little bit, pressing deeper, and then moved the screen toward us for a better view.
“There’s your baby right there.”
I sobbed. I was shaking so hard and crying so loud and I could barely breathe. There it was. She waited for me to calm down so she could see something a little better.
a healthy little baby,
with a perfect little heart beat,
measuring at 8 weeks 0 days.
My husband, the ever stoic, composed man, jumped up yelling, “There’s my boy!” I laughed, “Don’t get ahead of yourself there!” He’d like to see a day that he’s not outnumbered I guess.
So currently, I’m about 15 weeks and feeling good. To say it’s been an emotional roller coaster is an understatement. All while striving to keep a smile on for our little girl, and yes, still nursing through that ever painful sensitivity that pregnancy brings.
Humble & Grateful
I know women in my life that have gone through miscarriages, and my heart broke for them, but now, I have a new sense of realization of what that must have really felt like. How you had to be strong for your little ones. How you had to continue to go to work and pretend nothing was happening. How you had to endure the awkwardness of people around you that didn’t know what to say. How you had your heart broken into a million pieces as you received the news. My heart shatters for you, and my empathy for all of you grows infinitely. But even still I am aware that my seemingly inadequate glimpse into your grief is only scratching the surface of what profound grief you must feel. But I am left with a new sense of humbleness and most of all gratitude for this moment, something I’ll never be able to convey.