October is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. Today was are sharing a reader essay on miscarriage. We are happy to be able to provide a platform for women to share their journeys with pregnancy and motherhood because all stories deserve the chance to be shared. Read more essays on motherhood here and check out these tips for talking to a friend who has had a miscarriage here.
I found out I was pregnant on June 8th. Two weeks later I wasn’t.
Between June 8th and June 9th I took five pregnancy tests that said I was pregnant. But I was “all in” after the first. I looked up my due date (Feb 16th), I planned out my whole pregnancy, figured out when the last time I’d be able to fly was, my last day at work, and mapped out my maternity leave. I was so excited that we made this baby in France! Should we give this baby a French name?! I told my husband (and a few close friends) that weekend. I just KNEW I was pregnant. The whole next week I was living in a new pregnancy bubble. Girlfriends started confessing that they were newly pregnant and I wanted to say, “It’s sooo early, but me too!” My subconscious kept reminding me that – “Girl, it’s really early, a lot can go wrong, we’re not out of the woods”, but I wasn’t listening. I had a super healthy and happy two year old and an easy pregnancy with him. I was going to be FINE.
On Father’s Day I started bleeding.
The next day I made an emergency visit with my OB that I hadn’t even met yet. I had moved and needed a new doctor, new doctor’s office, and new hospital. But I wasn’t due to have my first doctor visit until July 2nd so my “new regular doctor” wasn’t available and now I’d need to meet with another doctor on her staff. It was a little overwhelming to be going through something for the first time with someone brand new.
I peed in a cup, put on a gown, and told this stranger that I was bleeding. Not a lot, but it was bright red. She informed me that this was very normal, but when she looked at my chart and saw I was O- she said, let’s do an ultrasound and look around. (Because I have negative blood there’s a good chance my second baby will have positive blood since my husband is positive and my son is positive. The scary thing there is that if any positive blood from an embryo mixes with my negative blood, my body could attack it. With baby number one I had been given the RhoGam shot between 26 and 28 weeks of pregnancy and again after delivery to prevent this).
The urine test she did in office said I was pregnant, but as she moved the vaginal ultrasound wand around my uterus it proved to be empty. She could see where the egg had left my left ovary (the path that it took), but she couldn’t actually get a good view of that ovary which meant that there was a chance I was having an ectopic pregnancy and a good chance I would miscarry. I knew right then that things weren’t going to go in our favor. My husband took it as the data was inconclusive. It was SO early. I was 6 weeks 2 days. Early. But I had my first ultrasound with my son at 6 weeks 4 days and you could see him. The OB said, “at this point we need to consider this an abnormal pregnancy. Let’s take blood and check your HCG levels.” I got my blood taken in the lab downstairs and then went home and literally fell asleep. I was EXHAUSTED. My boobs were so sore. My hormones were all over the place. I MUST be pregnant.
On Tuesday I got my results back that my HCG levels were at 1000. This meant nothing except to be a bench marker if things went down. On Wednesday I got my blood taken again. I had high hopes. I was feeling pregnancy symptoms, I hadn’t bled again since Sunday, all good signs. On Thursday my doctor called while I was in a meeting and left a VM. I couldn’t even check it on my own. I had my girlfriend at work listen to the VM for me. It was the OB asking me to call her. Not a good sign. I called her from the bathroom and she said my levels went from 1000 to 700. I was losing the baby. I started crying.
What she didn’t understand is why I wasn’t bleeding. So again, she was still worried I was having an ectopic pregnancy and to stay near emergency services (no remote hikes for me). After hanging up I dried my eyes and walked straight into a two hour meeting. I must have been in shock. After the meeting I sat down at my desk and thought, “I can’t be here.” I told my boss, “I think I’m having a miscarriage” and I went home. I called my husband from the car and he came home from work too. He brought me Wendy’s, we sat on the couch and cried. And just like that, I started bleeding.
This is what no one told me about having a miscarriage. I imagined it to be this one, intense, terrible day. But it wasn’t for me. It was a slow bleed for eight days. I had a little bleeding Thursday and Friday. I sat at work with a pad on, quietly losing a baby no one even knew that I had. The most bleeding happened Saturday and Sunday. On Monday I had a return visit to the OB. She did another ultrasound. Turns out it was an intrauterine pregnancy, not ectopic. And everything looked really good. Meaning- my body did everything naturally so I wouldn’t need to have a D&C. She said the bleeding would stop by the weekend (meaning the 23rd). We had determined that my date of conception was the 23rd of the month before and I sat stunned at the rollercoaster of those thirty days.
Since I had a successful pregnancy, was able to get pregnant again really quickly, I’m under 35 and healthy, my OB has no reason to believe that I won’t have a successful pregnancy next time. I can start trying right away she told me. The reason for the first miscarriage? Luck. 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and I just fell on the wrong side.
Currently I’m finding solace in my friends who have also gone through pregnancy loss. Misery loves company and I hate that I’m in such good company. It was reassuring to me that I wasn’t the only one frustrated over the $457.70 bill for a baby that never was. Or that I can’t add “miscarriage” into my ovulation app. Or how isolating of an experience this can be. I am also finding joy in my friends who are still continuing their pregnancies even though I am sad that I am not able to continue with mine. I can feel and am feeling both sets of emotions.
And we will try again and I will have another baby. There is no timeline on this journey through motherhood. If being a mom has taught me anything it’s that you have to get rid of your preconceived notions of how things will go and throw caution to the wind. It’s both extremely frustrating and amazingly humbling. And I can’t wait to do it again.
Written by Melissa Nunez