I am not posting this post to draw sympathy to my situation – nor do I wish to make others feel like they HAVE to share their experience. I’m just putting it out there – this is what I’ve been dealing with the last few months. Doctors tell you that “miscarriage” is even more common than full term pregnancy – but you actually can’t know, or can grasp how common this is until you actually start talking. And sharing. So, this is my story. I’m sorry it’s long – I didn’t intend to write a book – and sorry that it may ramble on at times. But it’s still raw – and sometimes a little icky – but it’s from the heart.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve written and re-written this post. I have cried. And I have laughed. I have culled parts and expanded parts – only to erase it all and do it over again. It has been one of the most difficult things I have ever tried to write about, all the while the voice in my head muttering “Don’t write that – it’s too much detail.” “People will be uncomfortable.” “That’s not enough – write more detail.” “What were you thinking writing that!”. I started this post weeks before Rick Hansen’s daughter shared her heartbreaking story. Her words gave me courage to continue writing. I’m not competing with her story. That’s not what pregnancy loss is about – who has had the toughest loss. It’s not a competition. Every story, every feeling, is important.
I found out I was pregnant at the end of January. I waited – wanting to post the happy news that all people trying for children want to post: “We’re pregnant!” “We’re expecting!” “Little [insert cute nickname] coming [insert date]”. But, instead, I never got to make that post. My pregnancy ended around the 6 week mark, but it wasn’t until the Easter Weekend that I experienced and went through the physical-ness (new word?) of a miscarriage. Our little Jellybean would have been due October 2015. Since March I’ve had to watch, friend, after friend, after friend (yes, three friends total ……. so far) post that their wee ones are arriving October 2015 while my wee one will not. After seeing October baby #3 announced, my heart ached that I’m would not be joining the “Fall 2015” club. To my dear, sweet friends, believe me when I say that I truly am happy for you. I am! But I’m also sad. Please, please don’t stop posting about your babies, or feel that you can’t talk to me about your little ones. I LOVE babies. Babies make me happy – even if they aren’t my own. But know that a teeny, tiny part of me jealous. Very, very jealous . . . . and kinda hates you right now . . . just a little =)
My husband and I started trying in January 2013. After about 6 months of negative pregnancy tests (and only 2 or so periods) I went to my doctor. After a “normal” physical exam, and then sending me out for some blood tests, he called me and said that, he would schedule an ultrasound – just to make sure everything was ok and that there wasn’t anything going on that wouldn’t be picked up during a normal physical. I wasn’t able to get in for one until the fall. Other than having to pee like a fricken racehorse, i was feeling pretty good about the whole thing. The ultrasound technician kept asking if I had ever experienced and abdominal pain over the last little while. “Nope” I kept answering. “I don’t even get cramps really during my period. I guess I’m lucky that way.” Her persistent questioning about possible pain should have been my first clue.
The day after the ultrasound my doctor called me. I had a dermoid cyst on not one, but BOTH of my ovaries. Huge ones. 6cm and 11cm. I had alien babies growing on my ovaries. So, off to the specialist I went, where I was told that I was first on the list for surgery in 2014 as all 2013 dates had JUST been filled and that there was a chance I might lose one, or both of my ovaries. Excuse me, WHAT???? BOTH?? After a good cry, and a few days to let things digest, I called the specialist and asked if I could do anything, like egg harvesting, to keep the chance of having children. She sent my results to yet another specialist, and called me to reassure me that the cysts would just peel off my ovaries, and that she felt very confident she could save both ovaries. Whoo hoo!
Fast forward to January 7, 2014. Surgery Day. My first major surgery of my life. Scary to say the least. But it all ended well – both alien babies were removed, and both my ovaries were saved (I remember asking “Do I have both my egg dispensaries?” when I woke up). Such a relief!
After the surgery it took awhile for my cycles to get back on track. Each month, the days between periods got shorter and shorter – a good sign. Ovaries were working, and things were returning to normal. The specialist even high-fived me when she asked me if I was having regular periods and I said yes. I even started doing ovulation tests. But still, no pregnancy. I went on Metforim, and was prescribed Clomid. I also had a Hysterosalpingogram (try saying that three times fast!). Results from that were good – normal. (and yes, my hubby was tested too – all his soldiers are normal).
And then towards the end of January, I started spotting. So I said what I had said every other time I started spotting, “If I don’t have my period by the weekend, I’ll take a pregnancy test.” Every previous time, my period either started the day I said that, or a few days after. Or, the pregnancy test was negative, and it started later that day. But this time – it was positive – didn’t even take the full 3 minutes or so to show the wonderful + sign. I saw it in about 30 seconds. I started crying – and shaking. Poor Josh – I came out into the living room holding the pee stick, and crying so hard that he thought I was going to tell him someone had died (he thought I was holding my cell phone). Ha!
So. Frickin. Happy! It had worked. We were pregnant! We got books. We told our families and some select friends. Then I went for my first ultrasound March 3rd. According to my “LMP” (Last Menstrual Period) I should have been at the 9 week mark. “You are definitely not 9 weeks. More like 6” is what the ultrasound tech said. Not uncommon to not be as far along as doctors estimated. I got to see the screen once. Looked like a little jellybean. The results from that ultrasound – they couldn’t find a heartbeat, but there was a yolk sac – which was a good sign. A second scan was booked for 10 days later to make sure everything was on the right track. March 13. Friday the 13th. Oh boy.
Josh came along for this one. I had this feeling that someone should be there with me – just in case. After the scan, I went an got Josh (he wasn’t allowed in – but from all the other women getting scans that day, that wasn’t abnormal). Then the consulting Dr. came in. “Still no heartbeat. And very little growth. If you haven’t miscarried already, you will in the next two weeks”. Fuck. You. – is what I thought as I burst into tears. I don’t remember much else, else other than her saying something like my doctor might want to order some blood tests to “be sure”. And she was telling me all of this because she didn’t want me leaving with “false hope”.
False hope. Even if it’s false, is having a small smidgen of hope a good thing, is it not? Even someone who is fighting a disease – don’t they hold on to a small ounce of hope? Sometimes a little bit of hope is what keeps you from going off the deep end. My small smidgen of hope was the blood tests. Lets wait for the blood tests to see what my hormone levels were like. My smidgen of hope fading as, after the 2nd test, my doctor told me they were dropping, when they should have been doubling. Third test all but confirmed it. My levels were dropping by about 1000 units a day. Shit. So this is really happening. I’m miscarrying. The little bit of hope that I had been clinging too – holing on to the edge of the pool – it slipped out of my hands and I felt myself going under. I think this was my lowest point. The part of me that wanted the doctors to be wrong had lost. Big time. I tried to be strong. Tried to believe the other voices in my head saying “at least you know it’s possible – you can get pregnant”. But when you feel yourself drowning, it’s hard to pull yourself back up.
It was around this time that I saw my first “we’re due in the fall!” post. My first thought – and this is going to sound horrible – it was “She stole my baby!!!”. “WTF?” I then said to myself. “OMG! No no no! I did not just think that!? Did I? I’m not a horrible person, how did this thought ever crossed my mind?”
No, she didn’t steal my baby – I know this – she was just lucky this one stuck. And I was jealous.
Then I started going through all the questions that every women must ask when this happens: Why? Why me? Why now? Why THIS pregnancy? How is this fair? All that we’ve gone through, and to have it all taken away from me? What the hell!!! I don’t deserve this! What did I do to deserve this? What could have I done differently? I’m a failure! I’m so ashamed. It’s all my fault!
But by the time I went to see my doctor, I had stopped trying to beat myself up about it. I wasn’t my fault. My doctor even used those words “Don’t beat yourself up about it.” Nothing I did caused this. It sucks to hear it – but this happens more than people realize. But it still didn’t feel real. It was almost April, and I still hadn’t had an bleeding. None. Not even any spotting.
But then my doctor referred to the Early Pregnancy Clinic at Women and Children’s hospital. By the time they called to book my appointment, I had started to spot a little. Just a little, but it was enough. Enough because it helped me come to terms with what was happening. By the time I had my appointment it was slightly heavier, but not much. I had a third ultrasound – and, unlike the other two, I was allowed to see it from start, to finish. My little jellybean was still there, but it was much, much smaller, and she could tell that the yolk sac had been absorbed back into my body. I learned some interesting things about post-operative ovaries (they’re not always where they’re supposed to be!) and my uterus had shifted over to the right for some reason. Weird, but nothing she hadn’t seen before. But the most important thing in my mind that she told me was a the confirmation that yes, I was miscarrying. I talked the nurse afterwards, and went through my options. Seeing as I was already bleeding, we decided to see how things went naturally, and if I needed to, I was given drugs to “help” things along. We would leave the D&C procedure as a last resort.
I went home with a pee cup – to save any material that might be the pregnancy – and a pregnancy test to take 3 weeks after to confirm that I was no longer pregnant.
Good Friday. Probably the worst day, physically, of this whole ordeal. Started like any regular “period” day. But then the cramps started. Holy Shit – the cramps. Now, I’m one of those lucky women who rarely – very, very rarely – gets cramps during her regular cycle. And even when I do, it’s more like a little pinch or a poke. NOTHING like what I went through that Easter. I even texted one of my friends “If this is what labour’s like – I’m fucked!”. Seriously. But with my husband bending over backwards to make me comfortable (including getting me drugs! Yay T-1 pills!) I got through it (and also realized I hope I NEVER have to take those pills that would have helped it along. Ever. No way! )
Three weeks later, I took the pregnancy test. Negative!!! It feels weird to be happy about a negative pregnancy test. But it meant that no D&C was necessary (everything had been expelled) and we could move on – and wait for my next cycle before starting trying again.
Before going through this miscarriage, I had only known a handful of people who had also gone through some sort of pregnancy loss – whether early on, or very late in the pregnancy. After opening up to some others, it’s amazes me how common it actually is. It’s also crazy how many people think that really, the miscarriage, somehow, was there fault. My husband found this article for me about miscarriage myths. I think if I had read this article, I might not have slipped into the deep end of my emotional pool. I agree with every single point point. But knowing that all the things I thought caused miscarriage – matter how irrational – well, I was not the only one who thought them. That things I had felt and thought were commonplace, normal.
At the same time, knowing now that miscarriage myths are so prevalent – makes me a little sad. Why is it that talking about miscarriage seems to carry such a stigma? We talk about disease, terminal illness more openly than we do miscarriage. Why is it so uncomfortable? I know that talking about it openly is a personal choice – but sometimes I feel like people are scared to talk about it – scared to offend anyone by talking about it and what they are going through. The support I have received on this journey from my family and friends has been priceless. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
But this is not the end of my story. Not even the final chapter. After all this, I have retained a small, smidgen of hope. Hope that I’ll be lucky enough to get pregnant again. Hope that if there’s another miscarriage in my future, I’ll still be able to hang on to that pool edge and not drown. Hope that by reading this, I have given someone else the courage to talk more openly about their experience. Hope that miscarriage will stop being a woman’s dirty little secret.