Friday, May 22, 2009

How to Have a Miscarriage in Eight Weeks or Less

(Warning: This is a post about miscarriage.)

Step 1: Get Pregnant

I couldn’t believe I was holding a positive pregnancy test. It was a Friday. Normally my drive home from work is like an arrow from a bow; no errands, no shopping, a straight shot to the bulls eye; my house. That day in traffic three things occurred to me. My period was due. I had no period symptoms. I could use a snack. I exited the highway and headed to the drugstore for pregnancy tests and chocolate.

My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for four months. The ratio of foreplay to penetration in our lovemaking had taken a turn for the worse (less foreplay, more penetration). We were over it. I was frustrated that the process was taking so long.

But now the digital display said, “Pregnant”. My bluff had been called and I was scared. I didn’t feel ready to be pregnant. I called my husband away from the contractors installing new wood floors in our house. He was shocked. We sat on our bed while the contractors worked, Mr. Shocked and Mrs. Scared.

We went to dinner and I had water instead of Diet Coke. We called the baby TPB; tad pole baby. We talked about it all the time. My husband sent flowers to my office and when people asked if it was our anniversary I coyly answered, “Oh, he sent them just because.”

Step 2: Start Bleeding

It was another Friday four weeks later in a bathroom stall in my office. The toilet paper was tinted the lightest pink. I stared at it in my hand. I studied it in disbelief while I sat on the toilet with my pants around my knees. I wouldn’t have noticed it if my body, particularly my lady parts, hadn’t been acting differently the past few weeks. I wouldn’t have noticed it if I wasn’t eight weeks pregnant.

I walked back to my desk somewhat dazed and did what anyone with Internet access would do in this situation. I started Googling. “Bleeding while pregnant.” “Bleeding in early pregnancy.” “Should I be worried if I am bleeding while pregnant?” “Miscarriage.” “How do I know if I’m having a miscarriage?” “Early miscarriage signs.” “How to prevent a miscarriage.” I turned my computer monitor so that no passersby would see what I was doing as they walked by my cubicle situated annoyingly on a busy footpath in the office. I couldn‘t find a website to tell me “It‘s all OK. You are overreacting. Your baby is fine, and by the way it‘s a boy like you always wanted.”

I went back to the bathroom. White. Maybe I hadn’t seen pink after all.

I tried to work. It was a big day. It was an exciting day. It was a morale building day. A barbeque was planned. Tables and chairs had been set up in the parking lot. We were given hats to wear.

Smiling and hatted, I stopped by the restroom again just to be sure. There it was like a bad rerun. Pink. Definitely pink. I called the doctor, but of course the first trimester of a pregnancy is ruled by fate and not science. Nothing could be done. I should go to my regularly scheduled eight week appointment on Monday and call if it got worse.

The lost weekend began. Lie on sofa, go to bathroom, wipe and look. Repeat. White and pink, white and pink, hope and despair. By Monday my crotch was raw.

Step 3: Have Ultrasound

Hope springs eternal. On Monday morning the bleeding had stopped. I signed in for my afternoon appointment at the doctor‘s office. My husband came along for his first gynecological doctor’s appointment. I explained to him that he should stand near my head and not look below my waist. I didn’t want him developing any gynecological equipment related sexual fetishes.

I filled out the patient questionnaire. “Why are you here today? Pregnant? Check. Bleeding? Check.” I waited as obviously pregnant women, who probably were not bleeding filed in and out of the waiting room. I excused myself to use the restroom one last time before my name was called. Pink again. Darker. Possibly Red. Bad Sign.

A nurse called my name, weighed me, measured me, asked me to pee in a cup, and put me in an examination room. The nurse walked in and chirped, “Well, you are definitely pregnant, the test turned positive right away!” She proceeded to tell me that we would be receiving a pregnancy care package before we left. My husband and I stared at her blankly. She looked at my questionnaire where I had indicated my bleeding and I think an “oh” escaped her lips as she excused herself from the room and saying that the doctor would be in shortly.

We waited and played the maybe game. Maybe it would be OK. Maybe we were worried over nothing. The doctor came in and performed an internal exam while my husband squeezed my hand thinking I was in pain. The doctor gave us hope, she said my cervix was closed and sent us off for an ultrasound.

It was my first ultrasound, my only point of reference was television shows where ultrasound jelly is applied to rotund bellies and happy couples find out, “It’s a girl!” This wasn’t like that. This was an internal vaginal ultrasound which was quite a surprising experience if you aren‘t aware such a thing exists. I was penetrated and I waited, and waited. Even with my inexperience in reading ultrasounds I know what nothing looks like. I was waiting for something, anything to show on the monitor suspended from the ceiling, as long as I was still being probed there was hope. My silent ultrasound ended. No baby. No dead baby. Nothing. Blighted Ovum.

I felt like a fool. I felt like my body tricked itself into thinking it was pregnant. I felt like I had a mental illness. It had to be mental; physically there was nothing. How do you lose nothing? How do you feel pain for nothing? How do your mourn nothing? How do you ask for sympathy and empathy for nothing? Even today, two years later, I am reluctant to call this a miscarriage. I haven’t earned it. Others lost something. I lost nothing.

We were not given the promised pregnancy care package. Instead we were given options, the miscarriage trifecta; go natural, take a pill, or D&C. I wanted this to be over as soon as possible. I scheduled a D&C for Friday.

Step 4: Start Bleeding More

Thursday night it happened. It started with bleeding and cramps like a period. Then it intensified into more bleeding and stronger cramps like a bad period. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I made an appointment for a D&C to ensure this didn’t happen. I was paying money to ensure this didn’t happen.

Two simple instructions swam through my mind, Number one: “If you are bleeding through a pad an hour call the exchange.” Number Two: “If you pass any tissue, save it for analysis.” This was my blueprint for how to have a miscarriage, but in my analytical mind nothing is simple. I started new pad at 6:45 pm and watched and waited.

There seems like a lot of blood. Is it enough blood? Do I count the blood that drained from me as I sat on the toilet? Do I call, do I not call? What happens if I don’t call? What happens if I do? What did they mean by tissue? Things seem to be getting stringier and clumpier. Is this what they mean by tissue? How am I supposed to collect this?

Suddenly I experienced a moment of clarity, a revelation, an immediate acquisition of knowledge I never wanted. I passed a quarter sized piece of tissue and there was no more questioning. This was a miscarriage. This was what it was all about. I collected that piece and another piece of tissue I passed in the night. Later I was told that it was placental like tissue, but it was something. It was validation.

I went to the medical center the next day for my D&C. I was angry that I had to experience this loss twice, once naturally and once medically.

Step 5: Have D&C

My first hospital gown. My first IV. My first surgery. The nurse was empathetic. She told me her own miscarriage story. She was sorry this had happened to me. The procedure was pretty much a non-event. I remember walking into a room and waking up in another room. I wanted my husband. I cried. A different nurse told me that she was thirty eight and she and her husband were trying to conceive and having a hard time. She told me she was sorry this had happened to me. Everyone was sorry. I was sorry too. It was all over, the finality weighed on me.

Step 6: Repeat Step 1

This is where I have been stuck for almost two years. We’ve tried ovulation kits, endless sex, pills, tests, IVFs, and nothing to show for it. I don’t remember what it is like to feel pregnant. I used to worry about having another miscarriage. Now I wonder if I will ever be pregnant again…and I worry about having another miscarriage. We will never celebrate the first trimester of a pregnancy again, with flowers and nicknames. We know better now.


Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

What a powerful post. Thank you for sharing it.

Blighted ovum or not, for weeks you believed it to be a baby. It absolutely qualifies as a loss.

I hope that what you said in your last post comes true and that by the next anniversary, you'll be pregnant.

Take care.

Abbie Burnham said...

Hi, Megan,

I've had two miscarriages now, one blighted ovum and one not (heartbeat all the way to 10.5 weeks), and I have to say that emotionally they felt no different to me. As a mother, I carried both babies for about the same amount of time, and just because one didn't develop as far as the other doesn't make him not count.

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm so sorry that you lost your baby and I'm hoping for better times on your horizon.


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry you had to go through this. There really are no words to make this easier, and I'm not sure that it does get easier with time, you just get used to dealing with it. Thinking of you, and hoping like hell that you're pregnant, next anniversary.

Melissa Griffin said...

Im so sorry you had to experience that. I have never met anyone who had the same thing as me. I had a blighted ovum 2.5 years are right, you are morning something but nothing...Im jsut sorry you had to experience this.

Nic said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It was a loss, you believed you were pregnant and so you lost that. I hope that you get pregnant and never go through this again.

areyoukiddingme said...

I wish this hadn't happened to you and your husband. I hope you never have to go through it again. I hope the hope-o-meter jumps up to 5 soon.

(I'm pretty sure my 2nd loss was a blighted ovum, but we never got to find out. It sounds almost exactly like your experience - except for the fact that I sort of knew from the start that it wasn't going to go anywhere)

Michelle said...

You definitely have something to mourn, blighted ovum or not. I know exactly how all this feels and it is one of the worst feeling in the world. I am sorry you had to go through but thank you for telling it!

Jill said...

Thank you for sharing this story. ((hugs))

just me, dawn said...

I am so sorry. we too celebrated our first pregnancy (ugh, and honestly our second) now we know we won't be celebrating....we'll be praying. ((hugs))

Anonymous said...

:( thank you for sharing. this was very moving.

on a lighter note: i remember sitting with b in the RE's office and looking at the pile of condoms. i said, "why do you suppose they would have condoms at the office where people who are infertile go??" then i realized that they were for transvag US! and that was what i was going to be having. i was totally shocked! this was 3 years ago. i remember that first US like it was yesterday. that was when we were told that there was a sac, but no baby...and led to all of the molar pregnancy drama, chemotherapy, IUIs, IVFs, more drama.

it's no fun. i'm sorry.


Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. It breaks my heart that you had to experience anything like it.


UnicornMommy said...

breath I tell myself. The air is catching in my throat. tears threaten to fall and my heart aches.

You just put into words what I have been unable to with my two m/c. the first one was just as you explained it. the second I am told was chemical. either way they both sucked and left me with a piece of my heart missing.

I hope you get your little one. No one should endure that type of loss without feeling the joy as well.

Bluebird said...

I'm so sorry.

Anonymous said...

Oh Megan, you had me holding my breath while reading this. You just captured so well the out-of-control and frightening nature of something happening to your body and your baby that you are not in control of.

I so wish for you that you will finally get dream of a successful pregnancy. So many people take it for granted, it just seems so unfair.

HaleyMarieOlson said...

Such a moving and unfortuately too familiar post. Thank you for putting in to words what I have been trying to explain to people the past two years. Others don't understand that it isn't something you go through and then just forget. It lingers and it is painful long after the procedure is over. I am so sorry you had to go through this, and I am praying you get your happy ending.
Lots of hugs!!!

Bethany Lenhart said...

That was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing, it brought tears to my eyes. Hopefully your happy ending is near!

sunflowerchilde said...

This was a powerful, beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it.

Valerie said...

I've been there too. I understand the confusion/frustration taht accompanies a blighted ovum.

Only recently, a medical doctor put it into perspective for me..."you were pregnant...and there was a baby." If you believe that life begins at conception then it does not matter "when" the pregnancy terminated...5 days into it or 5-weeks...or 5-months. You were pregnant...a new life had been created the moment that egg and sperm united. Unfortunately, something went terribly wrong and cell division stopped sooner rather than later.

It was a loss and it is RIGHT to grieve. As far as "when" to begin celebrating...only your husband and you can decide. I will tell you this...our most recent loss at 11-weeks was just as difficult as our blighted ovum loss only more so...not b/c we were further along, but b/c we had chosen "not to tell people" and now I had to grieve alone. I don't know if that makes sense, but with the blighted ovum people were disappointed for us and gave condolences, with our latest loss, I mourned alone. Not so helpful emotionally. Just my thoughts.

Loss is loss. It's always hard.

B MoM said...

I'm so sorry that ANYONE has to go through that. I had 2 MCs last year...consecutively. It was horrible. You're right, we'll never celebrate the first trimester the same ever. I envy women who at 6 weeks pregnant can start buying baby items and maternity clothes.

Laura said...

I'm reading your post after just returning from an ultrasound that just confirmed that I will miscarry for the third time. My heart goes out to you, and to so many others who have experienced what we've gone through. You're in my thoughts!

Kate said...

Oh Megan.
These experiences become part of the fabric of who we are, things we know that we cannot un-know, things we experienced and cannot stop dreading. But I also know, with all my heart, that my desire to try again is big enough to hold up in the face of such immense heartache, and I know yours is too. I wish on you success, soon please, and somehow, joy in that, consuming joy, the kind without caveats and without worries. I know better, I know success will come with worries that it will happen again. But I wish on you peace and happiness, in spite of, along with the worry, because you deserve it. you do. we all do. thank you for sharing your heartbreak with us, and I hope next year marks a very different kind of time, a very different kind of story. warmly, kate

Anonymous said...

Big hugs

Paula Keller said...

Wow. That was so incredibly like my experience in January, except maybe for the IVF. I nodded the entire time I read it. I hope neither of us has to ever go through that again. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I feel emotionally scared from it. The part about never being able to experience that joy of the first trimester is so true. I truly hope that both of us does in fact acheive pregnancy again, and can look back on this after having given birth and find some redemptive quality to it. You know the stupid saying, if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger.

Tiger said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I have had 3 miscarriages(2 perfect little babies and 1 blighted ovum) and all I morn. I am so sorry you had to go threw this. ((Super Hugs)) I am praying for you! said...

I'm so sorry.

barrenisthenewblack said...

thank you. I too am so so sorry and I felt the same way

Anonymous said...

I cried as I read this. Thank you so much for being honest. I'm scared too of both, having a mc and never seeing a pregnant line again. Sigh. Thank you for your honesty. I am so sorry for your loss.

Tara said...

What a powerful post.

I am so sorry for your loss and my heart aches with you. I had a "chemical" was the same heartache to me.

Many hugs...Praying for you this cycle...I am in the same boat with you. Waiting for retrieval.

Liz said...

Brilliantly written. Heartbreaking to read.

Anonymous said...

This was such a painful subject, really well written; you put the story into small enough pieces to wrap your mind around. The whole experience became too big for me to express in words, and so I just stopped talking. This post says what I was feeling in my head - thanks.

Alison said...

My heart just hurt reading your words. I'm so sorry, although you've probably heard that too many times now to mean anything. Praying for rest and restoration for you. And, of course, that unexpected miracle.

Bookerson said...

You could have been telling my story. Blighted ovum or not, you were pregnant. I wish the best for you.

Rachel said...

Keep trying. Keep hoping. I've got my fingers crossed for you.

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