When I found out that I was pregnant, I was surprised, overjoyed, excited, and afraid. It didn’t feel real to me, and I kept worrying that something was wrong. The only real symptom I had was that I seemed to be a little more hungry, but food was distasteful. People kept telling me how lucky I was, and went on to tell me their pregnancy horror stories of vomiting for 7 months straight. I thought to myself how great it would be if I continued to feel this well – as long as everything was okay with the baby. I tried to convince myself over and over that this was really happening, and that I shouldn’t worry and just be happy. But I couldn’t shake the anxiety.
For two weeks I simultaneously anticipated and dreaded my follow-up appointment with the reproductive endocrinologist (RE). I wanted to see the baby again with my own eyes, and know that it had grown since before. If everything looked okay, I think I could have relaxed.
I brought David along with me this time. My doctor came breezing in and asked me several questions about my symptoms. I told her that I had mild cramping almost every single day, but she assured me that this was completely normal. I mentioned that I had started having a little spotting that morning.
We did the ultrasound next, and the baby was definitely there and it had grown. I was measuring at 6 weeks, 3 days – but wait, shouldn’t I be more like 7 weeks by now? But then we saw a flicker of a heartbeat, and my spirits lifted. It was a beautiful sight, and David squeezed my hand. The doctor turned the sound on, and I heard a regular heartbeat. Sort of like I hear every day on my patients. Hmm.
“Is that the fetal heartbeat?” I asked.
“Yes…” the doctor replied.
“Is that not slow?”
“It’s a little slow. I’m going to try it again.”
But no matter what, the heart rate was only in the upper 90’s. The slow heartbeat combined with my spotting and the fact that the baby hadn’t developed quite as much as it should have put me at an increased risk for miscarriage. I was given instructions to stop exercising, eat more (I had actually lost a pound), cut back on coffee and return in one week for another ultrasound.
I didn’t get anything else accomplished the rest of that day. It was hard not to let my mind take me to bad places, but I still hoped that if I just took it easy for the next week then everything would turn out fine.
The next morning, however, proved that nothing was fine. Instead of spotting I had outright bleeding. I called in sick to work, got back in bed, and waited for the doctor’s office to open – it was 5:30 a.m. When it did, the nurse had me come in to get my progesterone level tested, which is a hormone that helps maintain the pregnancy. She gave me some supplements, and when she called me later it turned out that my levels were low. I took a supplement, but by that time it was too late. Throughout the day, despite bedrest, my cramping and bleeding had only increased. I was – am – in the middle of a miscarriage.
Like the pregnancy itself, I had thought about miscarriage so many times but never actually thought it would happen to me. I had just started forming an attachment to little Gumball after hearing his heart beat for the first time, and the next day – he’s gone. I’m glad we got that experience, though. No one can take it away from us.
Physically I’m feeling extremely crampy, nauseous, and weak, but that’s nothing compared to the emotional distress I’m in. David gets mad at me anytime I start to blame myself, and I know he’s right. Still, it’s hard not to think of things I possibly did wrong, like drinking coffee and exercising too much. But what really happened is just that there was some kind of abnormality with the pregnancy, and it wasn’t safe to continue. I get that. But now we have to start all over, and that means fertility treatment. It’s devastating and overwhelming.
I’m trying to see the positive. Like the fact that I know it’s possible for us to conceive, so we do have options. Also that one day I’ll be able to support someone else who is going through this and be able to tell them, “I’ve been there.” I really, really like my reproductive endocrinologist, so I feel safe that I get to continue in her care. And of course, knowing that God has a perfect plan for me helps immensely, even if it has become a cliche.
But the truth is that this is hard – harder than I expected and I’m not really sure how to live a normal life right now.