Tuesday February 26, 2013 was a significant date. It marked the one-month anniversary of finding out I was pregnant for the first time, and it was the scheduled date for my first prenatal appointment. People talk about the Two Week Wait being a trying time, but I felt more impatient waiting for the first prenatal appointment. I was looking forward to it, but it felt like I had to wait so long for confirmation that my pregnancy was progressing normally.
This was a planned and much longed-for pregnancy. A combination of events precipitated by the 2008 recession — most notably, a loss of both stable income and health insurance with maternity coverage — meant DH and I had waited for a long time to be in a position to conceive. When I finally did, I stared in happy shock and disbelief at the second pink line that began to appear after only 30 seconds. I was pregnant, and in spite of my endometriosis too! After years of envying my friends who had had children, I was over the moon that it had finally happened to me too.
The mild cramping I felt throughout my short pregnancy was apparently related to my endometriosis, and proof that my uterus was stretching and growing. Perfectly normal, and I welcomed it as a new but familiar friend.
Then it stopped.
Uneasy, I called the hospital I had yet to visit and explained that I was concerned about an absence of symptoms. The nurse said that as I wasn’t experiencing cramps or spotting I shouldn’t be concerned. After a few days without seeing any signs of miscarriage, I put my feelings down to first-time first trimester nerves. I reminded myself that from here on in it was going to be a lifetime of worry and tried to push my short-term realistic worst fear out of my mind.
As the days went by, my sore boobs grew a full cup size and I began to relax a little. The absence of morning sickness only concerned me slightly. (I have since learned that DH privately worried about this.) I felt great, so happy, so positive, nothing could be wrong! We even started telling close friends and family. First thing in the morning, last thing at night, and the quiet moments in-between, I began talking to the little embryo, my hand over my lower belly, telling him or her to grow, and grow strong. A mantra for what I wished for my child: that he or she would grow to be a healthy, brave, smart, beautiful, and kind little person.
On our way to my first prenatal appointment I realized my boobs didn’t feel as sore. A couple of hours later, my worst fear was confirmed: the baby stopped developing a couple of weeks ago.
As soon as I saw the little blip in my uterus, I knew something was wrong. Not because I know anything about ultrasound, but because it looked smaller than I was expecting. Coincidentally, I found a friend’s ultrasound in the back of one of the many pregnancy books she so kindly sent me. Like me, she’d had her first ultrasound at 8 weeks and 3 days, but her baby had been larger.
Most crucially, there was no fluttering of the tiny heartbeat I had so hoped to see. Instead, I felt my own heart pounding in my chest as the blood drained from my face. Even though I was lying down, I felt like I was going to pass out or be absorbed by the table. I heard my voice ask hoarsely, Is this bad news? and felt DH’s hand reach over and squeeze mine. In that gesture, I felt his comfort and his own pain.
There was the yolk sac… there was the embryo, and over there was the corpus luteum on my left ovary. Not a blighted ovum, as I had worried, but it didn’t look like the pregnancy was viable. I should have been 8 weeks and 3 days, but it was measuring at 5 weeks and 6 days — an 18-day discrepancy suggesting possible Intrauterine Fetal Demise.
More tests were needed. Bloodwork to confirm my A-negative blood type, detect the presence of any antibodies, and track my hCG levels. A second hCG test a few days later. A second ultrasound in a week, by which time the tiny baby may have grown large enough to find a visible heartbeat.
Later, I traced the 18-day discrepancy to February 8, the day I called the nurse. I guess I am very much in touch with my body but am not sure if this is horrifying or comforting right now.
My first hCG results came back at 31,877 – high, but not so high to suggest a molar pregnancy. Three days later, the second test revealed they were falling: down almost 1,000, confirming ahead of the second ultrasound what I already know in my heart: see, if I really were only 5w6d, that would mean I would have conceived after taking 4 pregnancy tests on 4 consecutive days, before having a 5th test at Planned Parenthood, all of which came back positive. A single positive test, the doctor explained, could mean I happened to catch ovulation. But 5 test means it’s looking like it’s a missed miscarriage, and that’s that.
Unless nature takes its course, I will have an induced abortion to eliminate the risk of sepsis; a pill called Misoprostol. Contractions should begin between 1-7 hours later; if not, I take a second dose 48 hours later. A follow up 8 days later. I could bleed for a few days, or I could bleed for 2-3 weeks. It might be like a period, or it might be a gushing blood. But I should only worry if I go through one heavy duty pad an hour for four hours. Then it’s time for the ER. Either way, I could still require a D&C to make sure that all tissue has been expelled.
I don’t know how I am going to be able to cope with seeing pregnant ladies — including my SIL who is due with her second child in August. We were both looking forward to sporting big bellies together this summer. Having suffered 2 miscarriages and a molar pregnancy herself, she offered to talk and answer any questions I might have, but I can’t bear to take her up on her kind offer.
And the final slap around the face is that when I logged on to Facebook the following morning, the very top story in my news feed is from an old school friend of mine announcing that she is going to become a mummy in September. Fresh tears flowed, so I have logged out and deleted the apps on my phone and iPad. I must protect myself from further upset, however silly it may seem to others. The jealous monsters are here to stay for a while.