Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Part 1

This is the story of my second pregnancy and first miscarriage.

I want to share my story because miscarriage is common (1 in 4 pregnancies,) but resources, stories, and support for such difficult events are so scarce. Women shouldn't feel alone and suffer in silence. I hope my story helps someone know what to expect and not feel alone, afraid, or ashamed, and give them the courage to reach out for support.

I won’t spare details. I won’t sugar coat things. There will be photos. If you don’t feel comfortable, do not read it.

Part 1

I found out I was pregnant almost a week before my missed period. We had been trying for only one cycle, so I was very surprised and excited it happened so quickly compared to my first pregnancy. I told my husband, family and close friends immediately.

Over the next 2 weeks I experienced bouts of spotting, on and off. I spent a lot of time at the doctors being tested and having ultrasounds, with the general message being “don’t get too excited, this is likely not a viable pregnancy.”

But at 6 weeks, we saw the heartbeat on ultrasound and everything looked healthy and perfect. They told me that the bleeding must have been normal for me, and they scheduled me for all my prenatal appointments and basically gave me the go ahead to relax.

6 week embryo with yolk sac; HB 124

The next two weeks I felt very pregnant. My tummy got pretty big (you show faster with each subsequent pregnancy) and I had some bad morning sickness that caused me to lose almost 10% of my body weight and was prescribed Zofran. But I was happy to endure it because I was told that sickness = high hormones = healthy baby. The morning sickness also convinced me the baby was a girl.

At 8 weeks I was able to find the heartbeat on my home Doppler. I checked it every 2 or 3 days. Despite my negative feelings and seemingly irrational fear of chromosomal problems at 5.5 weeks, I started to relax more and more each time I heard that sweet little pitter-patter.

With my first baby, I “came out” at 10 weeks. Generally once you hear the heartbeat, you are pretty safe to assume a healthy pregnancy. I had heart this little one’s strong heart beat so many times, and at 8 weeks I had a great ultrasound. Saw a cute little bean with arms and legs and a pattering heart... All seemed well. The midwife did note that I had a Subchorionic Hematoma (SCH) about 3cm cubed, but I remembered being told I had one with my first, and they generally mean nothing. So I ignored it.

8 week embryo with SCH visible upper right
When I was just about 10 weeks, I decided to “come out.” I told everyone I knew and posted a photo announcement on Facebook. 

The next day I couldn't find the heartbeat on the Doppler. The day after that, I took a nap and woke up in a pool of blood.  That evening an emergency ultrasound showed a perfect looking little 10 week embryo, motionless, with no heartbeat. Before the doctor gave me the news, I knew. I knew what to look for and it was not there. My baby had died inside me two days ago.

9 weeks 4 days embryo - no heartbeat
SCH has reduced in size by two thirds

I completely lost it. I don’t really remember the next few days. I was in a fog of constant sobbing and the dread and anxiety of carrying a dead baby. I wanted to run away from my body.

All I really remember was my little boy holding my hand with both of his most of that time. He is such a kind, loving boy. He was a huge comfort.  Since I had just “come out,” I also had to share the bad news with the world, too. I told with a Facebook post. I had feared that part… but it was not bad. It would have been much worse to suffer so badly while having to hide it from the world. Silent suffering is what I'm hoping others won't have to do.

My baby comforting me.

I don’t remember how long but a couple days or so of waiting for the miscarriage to complete, and nothing was happening, I decided I wanted to do something to help speed things up. My midwife called in a prescription for Cytotec, a drug used in early abortions and also to help full term laboring women dilate faster. My husband went out to get it for me and came home with craft supplies… and he spent the whole evening making a tiny satin-lined box for the baby while I waited for the Cytotec to work.

The box my husband made for the baby.

Unfortunately, nothing happened. Two doses 24 hours apart, and nothing. We scheduled a D&C, which was 7 days away at that point.

The next 2 days of waiting were torture. I was lightly bleeding, slightly cramping, nauseous, tired… and donning a big baby belly in maternity pants. I couldn't go anywhere, I couldn't go to work. I still had moments of feeling “normal.” I still smiled when my little boy did something funny, I still took his pictures, and I still giggled when I tickled him. I still laughed when my husband said something funny. But in between the little bits of normal, there was more heartache.

I made a mommy’s necklace, and that is a comfort for me to hold both my children over my heart. 
Crystal birthstones represent loss date and due date,
while my successful pregnancy has an initial and birthstone. 

Then things started to happen...