There are some things you can never ever prepare for, the loss of your unborn child being one.
June 18, 2018 was the happiest day of my life! My first positive pregnancy test after nearly 3.5 years of trying… I would be a mom, my fiancé and I would finally be parents. The pain I felt when I found out this would no longer be a reality was excruciating and unlike anything I could have imagined. I wouldn’t wish this type of heartache on anyone.
As I type this I still cannot believe this happened. I would have been 12 weeks pregnant today, August 9, 2018. It has been hard to come to terms with, but I’ve found talking about it and connecting with other women who have been through the same thing to be comforting. Before my miscarriage I did not realize how common it is and that roughly 25% of pregnancies end this way. So while pregnancy loss is pretty common, it seems quite rare to hear much about it, at least I hadn’t heard very much.
What is a Missed Miscarriage?
Before I get into the details of my experience, I first want to define what a missed miscarriage is for anyone who may not know. A missed miscarriage (MMC) occurs when the baby stops developing, however the body does not recognize this has taken place. As a result, many women have no typical signs associated with miscarriage and even continue to experience pregnancy symptoms due to the remaining human chorionic gonadotrophin hormone (HCG) in their body. The discovery of a MMC is usually found during a routine prenatal appointment.
For me… I guess in hindsight, I had a few signs that something was going wrong. I kept details about my pregnancy in my notes on my iPhone and looking back I noticed I documented that my pregnancy symptoms began to fade toward the end of my 6th week. (I’ll explain why this is important in a little bit). At the time I chalked it up to having an easy pregnancy, as I had read many stories from women who said they never experienced morning sickness or any other typical pregnancy symptoms and went on to have healthy babies.
I also began spotting during my 8th week; nothing significant only very small amounts of brown blood when wiping. I initially panicked, but was reassured by endless Google searches that insisted it was just old blood and by my midwife who explained it was unlikely anything to worry about just yet as long as I didn’t have any extreme abdominal cramping/pain and/or heavy, bright red bleeding. From what I’ve found it can be normal for some women to spot during the first trimester.
Since I wasn’t experiencing any obvious signs of miscarriage I decided to hope for the best and to relax. My worries resurfaced however when I noticed dark brown debris within the spotting, almost like little ground coffee grains. I began to fear it was fetal tissue or tiny blood clots. Thankfully my first prenatal appointment was approaching and I would soon have some answers.
My First Prenatal Appointment
July 19, 2018 easily became the worst day of my life. An appointment that was supposed to be exciting, where I would hear my baby’s heartbeat quickly turned for the worst. My midwife began the ultrasound and as my mom quickly pulled out her phone to begin recording for my fiancé, who couldn’t be there due to starting a new job, I instantly sensed something was wrong.
I could hear no heartbeat and my midwife’s demeanor seemed a bit puzzled. She showed me the screen and explained that the baby appeared much smaller than what we should have been seeing. Based on my last menstrual period (LMP) I was 9 weeks exactly that day. My midwife seemed hopeful and explained I could simply have my dates wrong and may not be as far along as I thought, but deep down I knew my dates were right. My period was extremely regular and I had been obsessively tracking both it and my ovulation for years, so there was no doubt in my mind
She sent me for a STAT ultrasound at the radiology department in the hospital to take a closer look and also sent me for blood work to check my HCG levels. I left that appointment feeling completely numb. My mom tried her best to reassure me but I could do nothing but cry in the car on the way to the next ultrasound.
What Happened Next
At the hospital the ultrasound tech did both an abdominal and trans-vaginal ultrasound. She explained she would show me if she saw anything different and let me hear the heartbeat if found, she did neither. To make matters worst the tech was visibly pregnant and I couldn’t help but to envy her. I was happy for her but my entire body seemed to ache with sadness knowing I would not get to the stage she was.
Once she was done, she explained that the radiologist on duty would take a look at all of the images, contact my midwife with the findings and that I should expect a call from my midwife later that day.
Later, I did get that call from my midwife. She explained that my baby only measured 6 weeks 1 day and there was no heartbeat detected suggesting the baby had stopped developing at that time. Remember when I mentioned my symptoms fading at the end of 6 weeks? Now I can’t help but think that maybe that was the first sign that something was wrong.
Despite this news, my midwife seemed to remain somewhat hopeful and told me she would schedule a follow up ultrasound for a week later just to be sure as sometimes babies can measure behind and catch up. She also reintereated that my dates for my LMP could be off and told me to go for more blood work in 48 hours to confirm whether my HCG levels were rising or falling.
At this point I had very little hope, I knew there was no way my dates were off by that much. I’d heard of babies measuring maybe a week behind but 3 weeks had to be too much.
I screamed, I cried, I prayed for hours and hours and didn’t sleep for days. I still don’t sleep as well as I used to.
I went for more blood work Saturday July 21, 2018 and unfortunately the results did show my HCG levels were decreasing. I went to the follow up ultrasound a week later at the fetal diagnostic center where they confirmed I was indeed having a miscarriage. At this ultrasound there was no remnants of an embryo and only the gestational sac remained. The doctor on duty explained what to do next. I was given the option to have a dilation and curettage (D&C), use medication or continue the process naturally. After consulting with my midwife I opted for the medication to speed things along because my body was still being slow to react and I just wanted to be done.
Two days later I picked up my prescription for Misoprostol and began the awful process that is still ongoing as I speak.
With any bad experience it can be extremely difficult to find the good in it. In this case I am trying my damn best to focus on the positive. You may be wondering what good could have possibly come out of this, but for me it’s the fact that I now know that my fiancé and I can have kids. Before this I had never even had a positive pregnancy test. After 3.5 years of battling unexplained infertility we finally know we are fertile.
Truth be told though, I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over this loss. I will always wonder about the little individual I thought I would meet February 21, 2019. I will forever hold my little angel close in my heart.
I hope that my experience can help anyone out there who has gone through this or is currently experiencing it. Although this experience feels extremely lonely and isolating, know that you are not alone. Feel free to tell your story in the comments or ask any questions you may have. Miscarriage should not be treated as a taboo and I encourage you to talk about it. I will leave a few resources below as well that could potentially help.
In the future, I plan on blogging more about my trying to conceive (TTC) journey and my experience of having laparoscopic surgery and a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) procedure.
I will also do a detailed post about what my miscarriage has been like using the medication Misoprostol (Cytotec) if that would be helpful to others.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Sending you so much love and so much strength.