During this series "A PART OF US" I'll be sharing our fertility history in hopes that it can inspire those who may be going through a similar situation. In each post I'll be going through the steps we took during our journey that ultimately guided us to our diagnoses and where we are today. Part 1 is about our first pregnancy and our first loss.
Warning: This post talks about pregnancy, miscarriage and infant loss that may be upsetting to some. Please feel free to skip if you're not feeling up to it today.
On New Years Day, January 1st 2015, we found out we were pregnant with our first child. I remember sitting on the couch that morning and thinking that my breasts felt a little more sore than usual for PMS and I decided to take a pregnancy test. To my absolute shock it was positive! I had a negative one the day before. I walked into the kitchen and held the test out for my husband to see. I was crying so I don't even remember if I said anything to him. We had been trying for about 5 months and each month that passed seemed like an eternity. My girlfriends always got pregnant so easily so I had been frustrated that it wasn't happening right away. I look back now thinking of how naive I was. How the process of conceiving a child is actually so incredibly complex. How 5 months of trying is actually a very short amount of time.
We had our first ultrasound on January 31, 2015. There was a beautiful strong heartbeat and baby was measuring right on schedule 7w5d. The moment we saw our little baby on the screen was everything we ever dreamed it would be. They printed out a picture and off we went to celebrate.
We decided to tell our family pretty early. We are very close with our family and it didn't seem right keeping things a secret. We invited everyone out to dinner at a local restaurant. We had prearranged for a staff member to bring over a high chair once everyone was already seated. It worked out perfectly. My mother in law asked "Are we expecting a baby?" and we replied "not until September!" Everyone was so excited for their first grandchild.
Everything was going smoothly. I felt nauseous and fatigued but otherwise was feeling fairly normal.
On the morning of February 16, 2015 at exactly 10 weeks I woke up with some bleeding. Honestly, with this being my first pregnancy I really freaked out. My husband was already at work so I called him and we decided that I would head to the Emergency Room to make sure everything was still ok. He called my mom and she picked me up so I wouldn't have to drive.
The ER doctor did a bedside ultrasound and said everything looked fine but that they would book me for a more detailed ultrasound later that day. They explained all of the perfectly reasonable explanations of why I could have first trimester bleeding. I went home and rested with my feet up until it was time to head back. My husband came home from work early to come to the hospital with us. I remember laying on the bed staring at the decorations on the ceiling. I remember thinking they were probably there to distract women going through a miscarriage. And then I remember when she told me the heart beat had stopped a week and a half ago. I was devastated. Words really can't explain the feeling you get when you hear that kind of news. I had to go out of the room and tell my husband and mom who were anxiously waiting outside. The radiologist rushed my ultrasound report to the Maternity Clinic next door and I walked over to discuss the results with the on-call Doctor. The results that we already knew.
With this being my first pregnancy I really didn't know what to expect after that. She told me that I was a candidate to use a drug called Misoprostal to induce the miscarriage from home and avoid a D&C. I was told it would cause menstrual like cramps and bleeding similar to a period. I was given no other options and didn't know the right questions to ask. We went to the pharmacy, picked up the prescription and started the heart breaking process that night.
"Misoprostal is a medication used to prevent and treat stomach ulcers, start labour, cause an abortion, and treat postpartum bleeding due to poor contraction of the uterus."
Here is what no one tells you. Misoprostal can cause horrific contractions of the uterus. You may be told "you'll pass a small amount of tissue". Seems obvious, right? In reality, you'll spend the next 12 hours having difficult contractions to complete the evacuation of your baby. Let's not forget about the placenta which, incase you didn't know, often continues to grow despite a stopped heartbeat until reaching full size at approximately 12 weeks. In my case, after I thought all was done, I went on to pass the placenta a full four days later leading to a very distressed call to my OBGYN.
And what about the adverse effects of Misoprostal? The adverse effects can include: nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, hotflashes, fever, uterine hyperstimulation, uterine rupture, and hemmorhage. I'm honestly not trying to scare anyone. However, there just isn't very much information out there on this particular drug that is made available to the average patient. I had no idea what I was in for.
There is no "good way" to have a miscarriage. It is an incredibly painful and emotional process regardless of how it happens. However, it's important to know that you have a choice of how you want to treat the physical process. Ask what your options are. Make a list of the Pros and Cons and what feels right for you. I for one, hope to never have a Misoprostal induced miscarriage again. Others may opt for it, and there is no shame in that! Several OBGYN's I've spoken to since then have agreed that it is not the best option available and can be very traumatic. Another thing that no one told me about was how long the pregnancy hormone, hCG, takes to come down. It took a solid 6 weeks for mine to drop down to a normal level. Getting your cycle back is a painful reminder of what you no longer have and it's normal to go through the grieving process all over again at that point.
If you have never been through a miscarriage it's difficult to understand the immense grief that comes along with it. You are not just grieving the loss of your baby's life but also the future that you had been planning. A mothers love doesn't just stop on a dime. You carry that love with you in your heart for the rest of your life. You also carry that loss with you. It's ok to be real and to be authentic with your grief. You need to do what feels right for you even if that makes other people uncomfortable. If that's talking about it, great. Find someone who you can trust to talk to. If you prefer to keep it to yourself, that's ok too. You can do everything right, but sometimes things don't go the way you want them to. That is not your fault and you are not broken.
Miscarriage is often not discussed and considered taboo. And if it is discussed, people get awkward and don't really know what to say. Often they just "grief ghost" you completely. If you know someone who is going through a miscarriage, it's ok to just sit with them silently. You don't have to try to find the words to make them feel better. My husband and I go on to have our beautiful son after this loss followed by more miscarriages down the road. Not sharing or talking about them is like hiding what has become a huge part of our lives. I'll be sharing our journey with you through this "A PART OF US" series in hopes that it can inspire even just one person who is going through a similar situation. I'll be going through the steps we took in our journey that ultimately guided us to our diagnoses, surgery and where we are today.
It is estimated that between 15-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. It is a club that I wish no one has to join. But if you do, I hope that sharing and reading others stories will help you get through those difficult moments. We are all in this together, after all.
"When you are pregnant you are either talking to your baby constantly in your mind or thinking of things relating to your baby. That is why it is like falling through a trap door if they die. One moment you are in this avid dialogue, the next moment silence. I think it may be the loneliest feeling in the world." - Zoe Clark-Coates
X - Caelin