As I have mentioned before, our first confirmed pregnancy ended in what is called a “missed miscarriage.” Before this happened to us, I had never heard of miscarriage being missed, nor did I even know what it was… but sadly we had to learn. According to American Pregnancy Association, a missed miscarriage is “…when embryonic death has occurred but there is not any expulsion of the embryo. It is not known why this occurs. Signs of this would be a loss of pregnancy symptoms and the absence of fetal heart tones found on an ultrasound.”
I had complications from almost the start. Around six weeks I found out I was pregnant, which I was sure that I was not (see Ovulation Sticks…how to pee into a cup). I took a test on the Tuesday morning, which was positive! On Wednesday I started spotting and went to the doctor the following morning. They sent me for a blood test and an ultrasound which confirmed the pregnancy, but my progesterone levels were way low. So a week later I was started on twice daily vaginal progesterone. I had occasional spotting, but generally it was after sex and it was never heavy. At our eight week ultrasound the baby was measuring around seven and a half weeks, only a few days behind so it did not worry us at the time. I had no issues, other than cramping, which the doctor chalked up to my low progesterone level and a “irritable uterus” (or contractions that do not cause labor).
At my twelve week appointment I mentioned to my doctor that I had noticed spotting after sex (which we had had earlier in the week) but otherwise no issues. My breast tenderness had disappeared and so had my nausea. She told me that the spotting was likely to do with a low laying placenta so I was to be on pelvic rest until an ultrasound could rule that out and that I was lucky to have gotten rid of the annoying pregnancy symptoms so quickly! They had disappeared around ten weeks, so I was feeling good. I was given the go ahead to stop the progesterone and then she got out the Doppler to hear baby’s heart beat.
She couldn’t find it…
I remember my heart sank…
She tried to tell me that it could just be that baby was sitting back to far or maybe moving around too much. She felt my uterus and told me I was the right size for twelve weeks, but no matter how hard she tried she could not find a heart beat. My doctor scheduled me for an emergency ultrasound and told me to drink up and head to the ultrasound location (damn HMOs and not letting the doctor just do the ultrasound in house!). I knew then that something was wrong. My symptoms were gone and they really shouldn’t be yet… she couldn’t find a heart beat… I texted my husband and my mum to tell them what was happening and headed to the location.
Now all of my prior ultrasounds I had been allowed to see the screen and see our baby. This time I wasn’t. The tech turned the monitor, turned off the sound, and hardly said two words to me. I left in tears. I remember calling my mum on the way home and just balling. I knew before the doctor called me that the baby had died, but my body had not figured it out. Why on earth it did not figure it out I will never know. I blame the progesterone, but I will never really know.
My doctor called shortly after I got home and told me what I already knew. The baby had stopped growing at around nine weeks, just before my symptoms disappeared.
I was scheduled for a D&C the following week and told to stay home from work. That night was my husband’s birthday get together, I had my first drink in a few months. Over the weekend I started spotting more, but it never turned into bleeding. Monday I went to the doctors office to fill out paperwork for my D&C and to talk with my doctor. They told me that they would test the baby to see what had happened, but that it was possible that we would never know. Monday night into Tuesday morning I was woken up by contractions. They were really strong, but enough to not let me back to sleep. I sat on the couch all night and let my husband sleep. I didn’t want to worry him and it was his birthday… I didn’t want him to spend it in the ER. I wasn’t bleeding so I felt like there was nothing the ER would do anyway (and I was right). I completed my pre-op blood work on Tuesday and then made my husband his birthday dinner. The contractions were getting worse and I did not think we would make it to the D&C on Wednesday. I was right.
Around 5pm on Tuesday my “water” broke. There is no nice way to describe what happened. It was like a heavy menses that would not stop. I went through heavy pads in minutes. I told my husband to eat his dinner (because it was done and damnit he was going to eat it!) and once he was done we would go to the ER. I wasn’t in any immediate danger and there wasn’t much that the ER could do anyway, other than a D&C.
We went to our hospital and checked into the ER. Friends of ours met us down there to give support and to keep my husband sane. I was lucky, I had a ER doctor that was nice as I have heard horror stories about ER doctors. I was passing clots and still bleeding heavily so they took me into a room and did an exam. Because of what was happening I had to deliver the baby. My husband was there the whole time and the doctor even commended him on being able to stay in the room with all the blood. He wouldn’t leave my side, I am certainly a lucky woman to have a guy like him. I have never felt pain like I did with those contractions. Maybe when I had my cyst, but my mind has blocked the pain from that as it has now from this experience. Because there was still a chance that tissue was left behind which could cause infection, they decided to continue with the D&C the following morning so I was admitted. My husband stayed with me over night… he spent his 29 birthday in the hospital. Not a good memory.
The D&C was not terrible. I did wake up slightly sore, but overall it was nothing in comparison to the actual miscarriage. I experienced bleeding for a few weeks afterwards, but no real cramping. At first I blocked the emotional pain because that is what I do best. My husband and I did talk about what happened, but I could not explain to him how I really felt. I felt like a failure as a woman. My “job” is to create babies and I could not do that right. What kind of a woman was I? My experience did lead me to seek counseling services and i benefited greatly from talking to someone about my loss, because it was a loss, a major loss. We had already been planning when my parents would come to visit and since the baby was due on Christmas Eve there were holiday plans that were now changed. I think that is what I did not understand about a miscarriage, its not only the loss of the baby, but the loss of what you planned for that baby. Now there were fears of it happening again and did we even want to try and get pregnant again in the near future.
With all of this happening I was really surprised to find out how many people had experienced the loss of a baby. Whether is was a miss miscarriage, a late term miscarriage, or just problems with getting pregnant… so many of my friends and co-workers had experienced a loss or multiple losses. I really think the hardest part for me was the look on peoples faces when they honestly did not know and they asked how the baby was doing. I felt terrible telling them what happened because they felt terrible for bringing it up.
If you experience a loss I would highly recommend seeking counseling services, even if it is just for a few sessions. Talk about the emotions you have as it relates to the loss, don’t ignore them. Your feelings are real and important and you need to heal before you try again. I’m not a religious person, so maybe your God or faith will help you in this area. To each there own. I just recommend highly that you get some support that is not just your family or significant other. They are wonderful, but they are also involved emotionally too.