It’s a scary word. A bad word. A word no one talks about. Unfortunately it’s now a word I’m far too familiar with: Missed Miscarriage. I actually get two “m”s – lucky me.
Yep, I’ve been keeping a pretty big secret the last three months. I was pregnant. 12 weeks last Monday. However, the pregnancy never progressed to 12 weeks. Though I still felt pregnant, the fetus had quietly stopped developing about a month prior.
Getting pregnant did not come easy for Derek and I. We started trying in January and, when it didn’t happen right away, my Type A personality tried to take control of something I had no control of. I tried acupuncture, I tracked my temperature, I drank fertile tea, I spent a small fortune on digital ovulation kits, etc. etc. I also toned down my running and relaxed on my eating habits. I put on 5-10 pounds hoping that would make a difference. As the months of trying wore on, I became more and more convinced something was wrong. Why wasn’t it happening for us?
After discussing our situation with a few friends, one of those friends recommended trying FertileCM. She stated that if she had discovered the magic pills earlier, it would have saved her thousands of dollars in fertility specialists. So in the fashion of trying any and everything I ordered FertileCM from Amazon and started taking the supplements in my next cycle.
That cycle was a long one. I usually ovulated on day 16, but when day 16 (and 17 and 18 and 19) came and went with no temperature drop or digital smiley face on the ovulation predictor kit, I began to worry. Again, my emotions went haywire and I told myself I would make a doctor appointment with an infertility specialist the next month.
Remember when I had my car accident? I think that’s when I hit the lowest of the lows in the terms of our TTC journey. I was stressed to the max with trying to conceive, looking for a house, working my job, and writing this blog. When the car hit me, my mind was going a million miles a minute. When I crawled back in bed with Derek and cried, I was crying for everything. It was as if there was finally this release and I needed to get it all out.
Later that evening I got a big sign that the FertileCM was working. I didn’t even need to take the ovulation test to know it would be positive. But I did and got an instant smiley face. I ovulated a few days late, but I did ovulate. I had a good feeling about this one.
Derek and I flew to Seattle the next weekend. We took a well deserved break from the stresses of our lives and just relaxed. It was exactly what we both needed.
I was too nervous to take a test when we returned. I told myself I would wait until my missed period date so I wouldn’t drive myself crazy taking 20 difference tests. That lasted about a day. 11 days after ovulation I got up and peed on a stick. Per my normal routine, I set the test down and took Maddie for a walk while I waited for it to set. I glanced at it when I returned, but I didn’t see the second line I was hoping for. I got dressed and ready for my run. Before I left, I went to throw the test away, but something caught my eye. It was faint – very faint – but after months of seeing nothing but stark white, I could see something different.
My sister had given me an extra digital pregnancy test a couple of months prior. It was the second test from the 2-pack she bought when she was trying. Turns out she only needed the one test (she got pregnant in the first month of trying) so she never needed the second one. I had other digital tests under the sink, but I wanted to confirm with that one. It took a few minutes to find it buried in a bag in the living room and once I found it, I couldn’t pee on it fast enough.
That’s all the proof I needed. I immediately ran to the bedroom and woke Derek up to show him the magic word. We were pregnant. Finally.
We made a pact not to get too excited just yet. It was still very early and anything could go wrong. I was 11 DPO (days past ovulation) and still 3 day away from my missed period.
The next week was torturously slow. Every morning I woke up and took another pregnancy test, watching the line get progressively darker. I continued with my normal routine of CrossFit and running, hell I even did a sprint triathlon the Saturday after my first positive. I felt great and started to feel a little more excited that this baby may stick.
On the morning of July 2nd (18 DPO) my worst fears came to fruition. I started spotting that morning. The whole time we were TTC, I had been spotting 2-3 days leading up to every period, so the instant I saw it I knew something was wrong. Call it mother’s intuition, but something just didn’t feel right.
I called my doctor that afternoon and, even though I was assured spotting was completely normal in early pregnancy, she agreed to squeeze me in the next morning for some blood work and an exam. I felt a little better after speaking to her and a few friends, but deep in my gut I knew this wasn’t good.
The next morning they took my blood and, again, the doctor did not seem very concerned. She told me it was the egg burying itself deep into the uterus and was probably hitting some pockets of blood in the process. As long as the spotting was brown in color, it was old blood and everything should be okay. I was told to take it easy, maybe step back from running for a couple of weeks, and drink lots of water.
I returned to work extremely optimistic. I even started daydreaming of ways we were going to tell my parents the good news when we saw them the following weekend. But the spotting didn’t stop. It turned red and I immediately freaked out. I left work, headed home, and just laid on the couch and cried.
They took my blood on July 3rd, the Thursday before the long Fourth of July weekend. The results would take 1-2 business days, which meant I wouldn’t know anything until Monday or Tuesday. It was probably the longest, slowest holiday weekends of my life and I hated every minute of it.
Every trip to the bathroom was met with fear. Fear that this would be it, this would be the trip that would verify what I deep down knew all along – this pregnancy was over.
I continued testing. Watching the second line stay dark and consistent. I knew if something was going wrong that the dark line didn’t mean much, but it made me feel better. I googled my little heart out and found myself on a roller coaster of emotion with each thread I found related to “5 weeks pregnant and spotting.” There seemed to be a 50/50 mix of pregnancies that were fine and pregnancies that ended shortly after. I didn’t know whether to be comforted or scared out of my mind.
The spotting seemed to stop on Fourth of July, then got worst the following day with the red blood returning for a brief moment. Sunday marked day #5 and another breakdown on the couch. I was a mess, a big emotional mess.
Finally, on Monday, I called he doctor’s office and begged for my results. All of my levels were high and looked great. She asked me to come in for an ultrasound the next day.
I went to the first ultrasound by myself. I was on pins and needles the whole time, afraid of what I might see. At this point I was just over 6 weeks according to my LMP, but around 5 weeks according to my ovulation date. The ultrasound tech wasn’t the friendliest and was straight to the facts the entire time. We saw a gestational sac with the start of a yolk sac. No heartbeat – not yet. She also noted my uterus was tilted back and divided. She showed me how you could see the pregnancy from one side of the uterus, but not the other. There was something in the middle blocking it.
The doctor saw me after the ultrasound and told me what I already knew. There was no heartbeat yet, but that didn’t meant the pregnancy wasn’t viable. It could be that the dates were wrong (which I knew they were since I ovulated late) and the heart just hasn’t started beating yet or it could be a blighted ovum. She wanted to see me in another week to confirm. In the mean time she still wasn’t concerned about the spotting and stated again that it could just be the baby burying itself deeper. I was given more instructions to rest up and go on as normal.
After a long week (one that included my sister’s baby shower), I was back the following Monday for my second appointment. I was convinced it was going to be bad news. I even took my work stuff from the office with me, in case there was bad news and I had to go right home. I was shaking – SHAKING – when my name was called. The spotting had stopped a couple of days before, but 10 days of spotting couldn’t be a good sign.
As soon as the ultrasound started, I began to feel some relief. The fetus had visibly grown and was measuring 6 week 4 days. I even got to see and hear the heart beat. My body immediately relaxed. Everything looked good, so they sent me home and told me they’d see me again for my already scheduled 8 week appoint at the end of July. I even got copies of the ultrasound to show Derek.
The nausea set in right around that point. I found it impossible to eat cooked vegetables and the idea of cooking raw meat made me sick. I sustained on a diet of french fries and smoothies. My breasts were also killing me, I was getting up to pee 2-3 times every night, and my sense of smell was on high alert. I was finally starting to convince myself I really was pregnant.
I was still too nervous to run. I stopped running when the spotting started and didn’t do much more than long walks with Maddie after that.
The eight week appointment was a little different than I was expecting. I thought I was going to have another ultrasound (especially with my spotting history), but it was really just a lot of paperwork and an introduction to the practice. They took a lot of blood, a urine sample, and did an exam to confirm my uterus was measuring at 8 weeks.
I had a ton questions, which they answered. First was a follow up on my ultrasound. I was told again that everything looked great. I asked about the spotting and running and she told me I was fine to run and continue with my normal exercise routine. I asked about my split uterus and she told me the second ultrasound presented a normal uterus, so they would need to take more photos before they could properly diagnose anything. I was told it would simply mean that I would be more prone to having a breech baby, going into labor early, and probably more ultrasounds at the end to confirm growth progression. Besides that, everything would be fine.
I left the appointment feeling good, but there was still something in the back of my mind telling myself I wasn’t out of the woods yet. Derek and I still hadn’t told our families we were expecting and I still wasn’t ready to tell them just yet. I didn’t want to get their hopes up, only to have to be the bearer of bad news later on. I wanted to wait until I was 100% sure it was happy news to share.
The next month flew by. Thanks to back-to-back travel, I was too busy with work to worry about much else. I went on like business as usual, minus my typical evening beer with the co-workers. Even though I didn’t tell them about the pregnancy, I’m pretty sure they were all able to figure it out when I started ordering water with every meal.
The 12-week appointment almost snuck up on us. I swear I had a little bump that was starting to show and Derek and I were genuinely excited to almost be out of the first trimester. Both of our moms are celebrating big birthdays in early September and our plan was to share the big news at each of their birthday celebrations. I hadn’t spotted in months and we didn’t see any reason something could be wrong.
Everything was perfect. Too perfect. Isn’t that how it always goes before something bad happens?
Derek went to the appointment with me. Thank god he was there. I needed him more than ever.
We were called back and headed straight to the ultrasound room. The ultrasound tech had me lay on the table and sprayed some gel on my belly. She warned me that the measurements she needed were usually a little difficult to get, depending on how the baby was positioned. She started the scan, but wasn’t getting the photo she wanted so we had to switch to the transvaginal ultrasound.
I started squeezing Derek’s hand harder. This wasn’t a good sign, but the ultrasound tech sounded optimistic and I still had high hopes for good news. However, as soon as the image popped on the screen, I knew something was wrong. The beautiful beating heart I’d seen 5 weeks prior was not there. The wiggling little fetus wasn’t there. The baby wasn’t there. All that was there was blank space. Emptiness. Nothing.
She didn’t have to say anything. I already knew. We’d lost the baby.
I immediately broke down. I was crying so hard, I was hyperventilating. They told me to breathe, but I couldn’t. Where was my baby? What went wrong? The screen is lying to me. This can’t be right.
The ultrasound tech gave us a few minutes to collect ourselves and get dressed. We were then escorted to a patient room where I continued to breakdown. Poor Derek had no idea how to comfort me. He was also in shock and looked so numb and helpless.
The doctor came and confirmed what we already knew. Some point after our last ultrasound the fetus had stopped developing and passed away. Most miscarriages are due to genetic abnormalities, which she assumed is what happened with us. However, since my first ultrasound did show a divided uterus, there is a small chance the egg had attached to the septum that divided the uterus, which would have limited the blood supply to the fetus. She would like to follow up in a couple of months to do some more testing and possibly refer me to an infertility specialist to remove the septum if that was indeed the issue.
In the meantime, I had absolutely no miscarriage symptoms and was still presenting with pregnancy symptoms. I was given three options: 1) wait and let the miscarriage happen naturally, 2) take three pill overnight to induce the miscarriage, or 3) have an operation known as a D&C to remove the miscarriage surgically.
I’d read enough about miscarriages in the past to know I wanted the D&C. Since I’d already carried the undeveloped fetus for so long with no sign of miscarriage, there’s no telling how long it would take for it to happen naturally. I also hadn’t heard the best stories regarding the pills. The D&C seemed the quickest, least painful option.
They scheduled me for surgery the next day. In the span of an hour I went from a happy mom-to-be planning her big announcement, to a woman-in-shock planning the removal of the pregnancy that was never meant to be from her body.
I was supposed to drive to my sister’s that evening, but that never happened. Instead Derek and I took the rest of the afternoon off from work and went home to continue to weep. We were both so exhausted. We needed sleep and a little breathing room to fully take in what just happened.
When you become pregnant, you begin to make all these big plans – we had plans for a baby room in the new house, we had plans for the March delivery date, we had plans for names – plans that suddenly dissolve into nothingness. Our hearts broke not only for the loss of our first pregnancy, but for the future we had already begun to plan for him/her, for the love we already shared in our hearts.
The hospital called that afternoon and did my pre-op over the phone. I was going to be put under general anesthesia for the procedure. My surgery was scheduled for 12:30 the next day. I was instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight.
I slept long and hard that night. I slept in later than I had in years, I didn’t see the point in getting up. We headed to the hospital at 10:30 to check-in and continue with pre-op. After general admittance, they took me to the back and prepped me for surgery. Derek was brought back and waited with me until I was wheeled back.
All of the nurses were wonderful and comforting. They offered their condolences and were very sensitive and respectful regarding the situation. They reassured me that I wasn’t alone and that Derek and I would be able to try again soon.
I was wheeled back to surgery at my scheduled time and the last thing I remember is someone putting an oxygen mask on my face. I woke up an hour later in recovery with the urge to pee pretty badly. I was told I had to pee before I could leave, clearly that wasn’t an issue for me.
I was told there would be minor cramping, but I felt fine. Minus a little spotting and sleepiness, I didn’t feel any different than when I arrived.
I was discharged around 3:30pm. The surgery was a success. It should still take a few weeks for my body to completely recover, but I am officially no longer pregnant. Mentally and emotionally, I think I still need more time to accept that fact.
On the way home we stopped for a cinnamon sugar doughnut and a bagel with cream cheese. I hadn’t eaten anything since the night before and that’s exactly what my body was craving.
Back at home, I went straight to bed and slept for hours. I’m now in recovery mode and need to give my body and mind time to heal. I couldn’t sleep the next morning, so I got up and started writing this post. Through all the tears, writing has always been part of my healing process.
Derek and I will work through this. Our pregnancy journey is not over yet. We’ll come through this stronger than before and more thankful than ever for the future that is still ahead. But for now we need our time to grieve. No matter what, this is still a loss and losses take time to recover. But through grief there is hope and I’m hanging onto that hope with every fiber of my body because without that hope, I’m not sure where I’d be.
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