To get this out of the way and prevent the paragraph-skipping your eye is going to want to do unless I just come out and say it, I’m going to just come out with it.
I was pregnant, and now I am not.
I found out I was pregnant about four and a half weeks ago. When I got an ultrasound at seven weeks, things didn’t look great. At eight weeks – last Thursday -- the fetal heartbeat was gone.
With that out of the way, I’ll now start at the beginning.
First of all, I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you right away. The reason I didn’t is because of exactly what happened. I couldn’t live out the joy and tragedy for a live audience. I’d planned to tell everyone after my seven-week ultrasound, if everything looked good. Since it didn’t look good, I kept quiet.
You might remember that Christina and I each took pregnancy tests before leaving for BlogHer in early August. I was on cycle day 23, and had ovulated around day 15 or so, if The Machine was to be trusted. The result of my test was negative. Not even the faintest line. I proceeded to the airport and had two glasses of wine to calm my flying jitters, then another on the airplane. Then another that evening at the expo, and then a giant margarita at dinner.
For the entirety of BlogHer, I was ravenous. I ate so much I gained two pounds in the few short days we were there. The first night I slept terribly, but the next two nights I dropped into a deep sleep and had strange, vivid dreams. By the end of BlogHer I felt deeply fatigued and when I got home, I crawled into bed and took a long nap.
I continued to feel extremely tired and have strange dreams. The night before I got my “big fat positive,” I dreamed I had a baby but kept forgetting to take care of it. In my dream, I awoke and remembered I’d left the baby in the living room, and I scrambled out of bed to get it. When I got there, a raccoon had somehow gotten into the house and scratched the baby’s face. I awoke – for real – in a panic.
My husband had forbidden me to take a pregnancy test until my period was abnormally late, and as it happened the date I took the test was on his 35th birthday. I used an EPT test and the plus sign showed up immediately. I started shaking. I looked at myself in the mirror and recognized sheer terror. I’d been trying to get pregnant for so long that I’d never actually envisioned a positive pregnancy test. My husband was elated.
More symptoms started cropping up. Nosebleeds, sore breasts, sensitivity to smells, cramping and nausea. Fatigue and crazy dreams continued to be a mainstay.
And then we went to the first ultrasound. I was seven weeks along. The ultrasound tech showed us the embryo and the fluttering heart. She congratulated us and sent us on to the doctor. We sat in the waiting room, grinning ear to ear.
And then the doctor congratulated us and told us the baby’s due date would be April 22 – our wedding anniversary. But, there was a caveat. She said the fetus looked to be only about six weeks, three days old, and the heartbeat was lower than she’d like, at only 80 beats per minute, so she had us schedule another ultrasound for the following week. She said it could be a fluke and she advised “cautious optimism.”
I already felt optimistic – after all, I’d just seen my baby’s heartbeat. So I smiled and asked the doctor if I could proceed with asking her the dozen or so questions I’d written down. And she said: “You know, let’s wait until your next appointment.”
At this point I realized two things. 1) My doctor is kind of a bitch. 2) She didn’t think the baby was going to make it.
I, of course, jumped on the internet immediately when I got home and found a study that concluded that six-week-old embryos with heartbeats of 80 beats per minute die within one week of the first ultrasound 61% of the time. Even if the heartbeat returns to normal, there is still a 25% chance of fetal demise in the first trimester after such a low heartbeat reading.
This was devastating news. I crawled into bed and cried.
We kept busy over Labor Day weekend. There was a lot going on and we met friends and family for various gatherings with smiles plastered on our faces. My symptoms had begun to fade. The nausea wasn’t nearly as bad. My breasts didn’t hurt at all. And then I started spotting very lightly. I warned my family not to be surprised if I delivered bad news after the next ultrasound. They’d all been so excited when we told them about the pregnancy. My sister is almost six months along and the cousins would have been close in age.
At the next ultrasound, a male technician stared quietly at the screen, perhaps deciding how best to word what needed to be said. I could see on the monitor there was no flutter; no heartbeat. I just stared at it, dry-eyed. My husband didn’t make a sound. The tech said he was sorry for the bad news and sent us on to my doctor, who sat us down to inform me of my options for the next, essential step.
There are three options. 1) Wait it out and miscarry naturally. 2) Insert a pill in my vagina to induce miscarriage. 3) A D&C (abortion) to remove the fetus.
All three are terrifying, but I chose the natural option. My doctor wrote me a prescription for vicodin and I imagine when the time comes I’ll pop a couple pills and spend some time on the toilet. She likened the process to a “mini-labor.” If it doesn’t happen on its own within a couple weeks, she wants to do the surgery.
I am ok, if by ok we mean that I am getting up in the morning and acting mostly human each day. I am a little shell-shocked, and pretty bummed out. I feel a bit of low-burning rage in the pit of my stomach, and I would kind of like to break something and maybe scream a little bit. For now I just sit silent, thinking about how this happened, what must happen next, and what should happen a couple months from now.
The doctor says we can try again once I have a normal period. This probably means we can try again sometime in November, providing I haven’t been committed to a mental hospital (I kid! You have to laugh, or you’ll cry). I admit the thought of trying again makes me want to vomit. But this is still so fresh, of course I feel that way. Also, I still have nausea from the pregnancy, to add salt to the wound.
The good news is that in all my google consults, I discovered another study that says women who get pregnant within six months of a miscarriage have a greater likelihood than normal of having a healthy pregnancy.
And the other good news is that throughout all this, we found out one important thing: I CAN GET PREGNANT. This is pretty astounding.
This is probably enough to have said about all this – more than enough, likely. I’ll be dealing with the fallout for the next couple of weeks and I’m sure I’ll write more about that. In the meantime I’m being as much of a hermit as I can and trying to feel sorry for myself only in the shower or when the lights are off and I’m trying to fall asleep. Miscarriage is something normal, something everyday, that has happened to almost every mother I know. I know this. They made it through and I will, too.