My partner and I have been together for over 6 years. In February 2021 we decided to start to try and have a family. As we are a bit older (mid 30’s) we decided we didn’t want to wait any longer.
Backstory- When I was in college, I had a large ovarian cyst (it was filled with 2 liters of fluid- envision a football in your abdomen). It engulfed part of my ovary on one side, and my entire Fallopian tube on that same side. As a result, I now have 1 full ovary and 1 Fallopian tube on one side, and 1/3 of an ovary on the other side. I was told by multiple doctors I wouldn’t have an issue getting pregnant, as I still had a full “working” side.
In our 1st month of trying, we were so excited to find out I was pregnant. I felt SO blessed, and so lucky. Our baby was due in December of 2021. My first trimester was going so well. I had all the typical symptoms. At what I thought was my week 7 appointment, I went to my 1st appointment. We saw a glimmer of a heart beat. I felt a bit uneasy because my doctor told us that I was measuring around 6 weeks (not 7 like I had calculated). He explained that I possibly got pregnant prior to the date I had in mind, and that it was common. I felt uneasy about it, but there wasn’t much to do. Everything looked great, what difference does it make if it’s one week off from what I had thought? He told us to come back at 10 weeks.
The next few weeks went along without a hitch. A few days before my appointment, I woke up to some very light spotting. As I hadn’t spotted at all during this pregnancy, I panicked. I called my doctor- they said it was most likely typical symptoms of the 1st trimester, but if I wanted, I could come in a few days earlier to check everything. I went to the appointment alone, certain that everything was fine, somewhat convincing myself that I was fine, and didn’t need my partner. During the ultrasound I could tell something was wrong.
My doctor asked what my current symptoms were- it was only then I realized that the majority of my symptoms had disappeared. My boobs weren’t as sore, smells weren’t bothering me as they once were…I only had some slight acid reflux. I sat there spewing any symptom I could think of, trying to convince myself (and the doctor) that the more I came up with, the more he’d respond that everything was fine. It was then I was told that the baby stopped growing sometime right after my 6 week appointment, and that I had miscarried.
Thanks to this page, I have now learned that this is a missed miscarriage. Although the baby died weeks prior, I was technically 10 weeks pregnant. To no surprise, my body for 4 weeks didn’t want to let go of our baby. I recently read another mama’s post was so sadly relatable- “learning that my baby was dead, for weeks inside of me, while I carried on with a normal life almost broke me.”
As I had minimal symptoms of a miscarriage, my doctor said I could take a few days to see if my body naturally miscarried. If I didn’t, I’d have to take 2 separate pills so my body would “empty” my uterus. I had heard horror stories about these pills, so I expressed to my doctor how hesitant I was. He explained the risks of not taking the pills (if I didn’t naturally miscarry)- sepsis. My dad had sepsis numerous times over the last few years, and nothing more needed to be said. There’s no way I wanted to risk my life with sepsis. So, a few days later when I didn’t have any symptoms, I picked up the pills (I wasn’t given the option of a D & C, unless the pills didn’t work).
I cried while reading the outside label of the medications “Do NOT ingest or touch if pregnant”. Knowing you are, and have to, do what’s necessary to “dispose” your baby while he/she is still inside of you is something I literally cannot even describe into words. Doctors, friends, family, anyone at all can try and describe what happens to you when you miscarry, but until it happens to you you have zero idea of the horror you are about to experience. The next few days were some of the most horrific days of my life.
Between the psychological loss, the pain, and the inability to control the constant contractions of my uterus, it was unfathomable. I looked down once while on the toilet, in horror of the amount of blood and clots (the size of golf balls) I was seeing. The contractions of my uterus were an out of body experience. I trembled in bed for hours on end. I can imagine the contractions were similar to giving birth, but instead I’m at home, with absolutely no pain killers, and literally watching my body get “rid” of my baby. This went on non stop for almost 24 hours straight.
My partner was so worried about the amount of pain I was in, he admitted weeks later that he almost called our Mom’s to have them come over in the middle of the night because he felt so helpless in relieving my pain. My doctor said I should have got my period back within 4-6 weeks, but if I didn’t after 2 months to call, and he’d prescribe me meds to get back on track. I finally got my period back after 3 months. Looking back on it, I wish I didn’t wait that long, but I was so tired of having to take pills for something that I had hoped my body would do naturally. It was also so frustrating not being able to try again during all those months.
Finally, in the Fall of 2021, we started trying again. We were so thrilled to find out in January 2022 that I was pregnant. Our rainbow baby was due in October 2022. I figured this time had to be different. 1 in 4 pregnancies right? I felt great this pregnancy. I had symptoms, but not as major as the last one. I started buying pregnancy clothes. I got a beautiful donated crib that was being given away by a local mama. I refused to not “prepare” for the baby. Lots of people don’t wait- why should I? I went to my appointment at what I thought was 8 weeks (I couldn’t bear to go earlier as I really wanted to see a full strong heartbeat this time). I found out I was only measuring about 5 weeks pregnant. I was convinced again something was wrong. I tracked my ovulation, and the dates weren’t making sense to me. I was terribly worried.
My doctor tried his best to reassure me. He took blood work. My progesterone was so high- he reassured me the pregnancy was going as planned. I scheduled my “real” 8 week appointment. At 8 weeks my partner and I went to the appointment together. I felt so excited to finally see a full heart beat. When we got to the room, our doctor was so excited for us. Ever since my 1st miscarriage anytime I have a sono now I keep my eyes closed. Too scared to look at my doctor’s face, too scared to see a baby that is smaller than it should be. The silence while you wait is painful. My anxiety is so bad that when they take my blood pressure I tell them to wait until the end of the appointment, as it’s highly elevated prior to the ultrasound. My heart feels like it’s going to literally pound out of my chest. Although I couldn’t see his facial expressions this time, I could tell a change in the doctor’s tone occurred. It got quiet. He asked the nurse to turn off the music playing in the office next door.
I knew it. Something in my gut knew something was wrong. He again, asked me if I had any symptoms. I literally thought I was living a dream. This cannot be happening again. I went silent. I was stunned. Is this a horror movie?! I said I had slight spotting over the weekend, and cramping, but didn’t think anything of it. He couldn’t bear to even say the words, but told us I miscarried, again. He was so shocked. He had tears in his eyes. In hindsight, the pain over the weekend prior was pretty severe, but after having a brain surgery at the age of 9, and a large ovarian cyst removed at age 20, my pain tolerance is pretty damn high. I realized the pain over the weekend was me literally losing our 2nd baby.
My doctor left the room, and I stood up and slammed my fists against my thighs and screamed. I was so mad. Mad at my body. Mad why I couldn’t make this work. Mad I couldn’t get past this damn 8 week mark. I knew in my heart that my gut was right- my babies weren’t growing according to plan, and that’s why they kept measuring so small, although I knew I was further along in my pregnancies then what was measured. My issue wasn’t getting pregnant, it was keeping these sweet babies safe inside of me.
We were then led to the maternal fetal office next door, to get a more elaborate ultrasound to confirm what we already knew. The office staff starting asking me what insurance I had, and all these questions while I had tears steaming down my face- I couldn’t even think straight. I couldn’t even look at the paperwork clearly because my eyes were so full of tears. We had the ultrasound, everything was confirmed. I asked my partner to take a picture. I knew in the moment I couldn’t look, but I wanted to make sure that when I wanted to, I could look at our baby. There was no heartbeat. The baby died sometime around week 7.
We went home hoping my body would naturally do what it had to do, so I wouldn’t have to take the pills again. Somehow thinking the pills were “way worse” than a natural miscarriage- boy was I wrong. Instead of 48 hours of awfulness, the “natural” physical aspects of the miscarriage lasted for days and days and days. I tried to stay busy, and go to work as a distraction (tell me again why we don’t have grievance days for miscarriages?!) . Now instead of being home in my own bed, I was sprinting to the bathroom at work with uncontrollable clots pushing out of me. So horrible that some that were so large, they dropped in the toilet making the bloody water splash all over the floor. I was scrubbing blood up from the school bathroom floor. (Enough said).
One day at work the pain was so bad I sped home not sure if I’d even make it. Even with a massive pad on, blood leaked through all my clothes and all over onto my car seat. I called my partner and had him meet me at the front door because I knew I wouldn’t be able to fumble for my keys because of the amount of pain I was in. I sat on the shower floor (with my partner halfway in and out of the shower standing over me with the door wide open clothes soaked in water) crying and crying and crying watching the blood and massive clots pour down the drain. I said, “I don’t think I can do this again”. I couldn’t fathom it. This “natural” miscarriage was even worse than the damn pills. I laid in bed for days, depressed as ever. I laid in bed so much that I pinched a nerve in my cervical spine causing numbness and pain down my left arm- 3 months of physical therapy later, I was still dealing with the physical effects of my miscarriage.
A week after my miscarriage I returned to my GYN, to make sure my uterus was “emptied” and that I didn’t need a D and C. Being told your uterus is emptied, twice, after having your sweet baby’s inside of you is the most gut wrenching news you can imagine. In the interim I followed up with my PCP, had blood work drawn, and learned I was severely anemic and needed to be put on iron pills from the amount of blood I lost from the miscarriage. A few weeks after our miscarriage, we returned to the maternal fetal medicine doctor to have a more detailed look at everything to make sure nothing was amiss. Having to go back to these offices is damn painful. I don’t think many people think of that. The memories, the rooms, the office staff working there, everything comes flooding back. I’ve now had confirmed miscarriages in each room at my GYN’s office.
Thankfully, everything was cleared by the maternal fetal medicine doctor. He recommended that I take progesterone and baby aspirin as soon as I got pregnant again. (There was no evidence showing I didn’t make enough progesterone in my first two pregnancies, but he told us that there isn’t any harm in taking it. The baby aspirin is recommended for anyone over 35). I was hopeful they would do genetic testing, but they said they don’t unless you have 3 or more miscarriages. It made me wonder what was so special about 3 miscarriages, versus 2. How much loss does one have to go through to get answers that they may be waiting for?
We decided we weren’t willing to wait for that, and went to see the top fertility specialist in the city (NY). He did full work ups on both of us, including extensive genetic testing, an HSG, and a Basal Antral Follicle Count test, etc. My doctor warned me to take Advil before the HSG and I found that to be strange, but did so. Not knowing until my train ride into the city (and googling the type of test I was having) how freaking painful the dye injection can be. I laid on the x ray table and literally whimpered in pain as the dye was injected into me. All I kept telling myself is if this is what I need to do to have a baby, I’m gonna damn well do it. I learned after it was more painful for me because of my one fallopian tube missing- the dye had no place to go. Thankfully, the test came back normal. All of our genetic blood tests also came back normal.
Prior to getting our results, I thought I’d prefer to have something “wrong” so I could make sense of my miscarriages. Also, so they could potentially “fix” the problem. But yet what if something is wrong and they can’t fix the problem? Then what? How sad is that? You want something wrong with you for answers, but yet having nothing wrong is supposed to be a blessing? Our fertility doctor told us as soon as we were ready, to start trying again. His recommendation was 3-6 months of trying, and if we weren’t able to get pregnant again, or had another miscarriage, to do IVF with DNA testing. It’s super hard to accept needing IVF, when you are able to get pregnant on your own. People think of IVF for those who can’t get pregnant, not for those who can. Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% fully supportive of fertility treatments, but it really sucks to accept needing help when you can get pregnant on your own. Not to mention the expense of fertility treatments, the medications, appointments etc.
I asked the doctor about taking progesterone and baby aspirin if we were to fall pregnant again and he said “sure”. He said it doesn’t do any harm in taking it, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. What’s funny is that prior to all our testing the fertility doctor said that most doctors automatically recommend this, instead of doing full work ups (genetic testing, x rays, egg count etc), and he personally feels like it’s like “throwing spaghetti on the wall”. Why recommend something if you haven’t even dismissed any other issues through extensive testing? For some reason the spaghetti on the wall analogy will probably never leave my head. Hopefully one day our little one can throw spaghetti on the wall.
Fast forward to July 2022, I had some odd pregnancy symptoms but nothing major. I wasn’t supposed to get my period for another 5 days, but figured whatever. I’ll take a test. Not thinking anything of it, I took the test and started texting a friend. Randomly I looked over and saw a very very faint 2nd line. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I started yelling “there’s a line! That’s a line. That’s a line!!!”. I cried and literally brought the test to my face to hug it (pee and all I didn’t care haha). I had to keep wiping my eyes because I was so shocked that there was a second line. I was elated, and shocked.
I went to my 1st appointment at 4 weeks and 5 days. As I’ve had 2 miscarriages in a row, and I’m over 35, I’m considered high risk. They did an ultrasound and everything looked typical for 4 weeks. A 1 inch cyst was found on my right ovary, and the maternal fetal medicine doctor said it will be a watch and wait situation. Hopefully it doesn’t grow, it gets smaller, goes away on it’s own- otherwise I’ll have to have surgery to remove it while pregnant. He put me on progesterone twice daily, a daily baby aspirin, and was told I’ll be seen every 2 weeks. I was told no exercising or heavy lifting until at least 12 weeks. The next couple of weeks went OK. I continued to take the progesterone twice a day, and had some days worse than others with pregnancy symptoms. I kept wishing and praying I’d vomit every morning, for validation.
At 6 weeks and 5 days I went back for my 2nd appointment. My partner came with me this time. I was so anxious the night before I hardly slept. The ultrasound tech brought us in, and I asked her if she’s able to tell us anything while doing the ultrasound or do we have to wait for the doctor afterwards. She said what I figured- they can’t report anything. I kept thinking how the heck am I going to get through this each visit. I laid back on the table, and had to pull my mask off my face to catch my breath. I was on the verge of a straight up panic attack. My heart was beating so hard and fast out of my chest I thought it was going to explode. My partner was staring up at the screen the entire time. I couldn’t bear to look. In my head I apologized to our baby “I’m so sorry I can’t look right now, but I promise if you come to the Earth side I’ll stare at you every day of your life”.
The ultrasound tech kept telling me to hold my breath, and relax. At times I had to have a “re-do” as I was so panicked I couldn’t even hold my breath. At the same time I kept thinking, “Well, I’ve never been asked to do this before. This has got to be good right?!” All of a sudden the machine lets out the sound of a loud and strong heartbeat. My closed eyes opened so fast and exploded out of my head. I whip my head (that was once looking at the ceiling), towards the big TV screen on the wall. There’s our baby, there’s our strong heart beat. I start crying hysterically. My partner (who’s situated on the other corner of the room) and I look at each other, and he gives me the thumbs up. We both know it- everything is good. The doctor came in shortly after and reported that not only was everything looking amazing, the cyst on my ovary was also gone. The baby also has a strong heart beat of 127, and is measuring exactly at 6 weeks and 5 days.
I’m currently sitting waiting for my 30 week appointment with my gyno, and for once, I’m not as crazy anxious as the other appointments. Maybe it’s because I’m past the dreaded 12 week mark, maybe it’s because I got good news back from the DNA results, or maybe the constant validation of a growing belly is my baby’s reminder to me that everything is going to be ok…
Photos taken by Daniel Sayo.
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