Those of you who know me know, I’m fine! I’m always fine! I’m great! I’m happy. I’m upbeat. I use exclamation marks often! And I’m awfully good at sweeping anything that resembles uncomfortable feelings under the rug. Bye Felicia!
Earlier this week, Lou and I went in for an ultrasound to see what should have been our eight week baby fluttering on the screen. When the doctor let us know I was having a miscarriage, I responded as I typically do when I feel sadness.
“I’m fine. I’m sure the next pregnancy will be perfect.”
I then proceeded to ask her which pumpkin she had decorated, as our OB’s office always goes all out displaying their creative and beautifully decorated pumpkins in the lobby for everyone to vote on their favorites.
Sweep. Sweep. Sweep.
She recommended a D&C, a quick surgical procedure to remove the tissue and we scheduled the surgery for two days later. No problem. This would be a cinch. I’d move on and never look back. Lou and I left the office and headed for sushi while I made a list of everything I wanted to do before the procedure.
I was actually more focused on anxiety from being put to sleep than recognizing that I had lost another pregnancy. I stayed busy by playing with Ryder, cleaning the house, meal prepping for the days following surgery and going to a meeting. Even though I’m coming up on six years of sobriety, I’ve been told that when life gets uncomfortable, we go to a meeting and share what’s going on with other alcoholic women.
I’ve felt so surrounded by love this week with women from the rooms, women from the temple and dear friends reaching out to ask how I’m doing? Can they bring me meals? Do I need help watching Ryder? How can they help? Their love helped keep my heart warm in a time when I questioned If my heart is made of ice. And of course I assured them, “we are all doing just great!”
Sweep. Sweep. Sweep.
A week and a half ago, I got a call from the doctor. My numbers weren’t looking good. My progesterone dropped in half and my hCG (the pregnancy hormone) stopped doubling. Ideally, hCG doubles every 48 hours. Mine had only increased 20%. An ultrasound a few days later confirmed something was in my uterus. There was a chance baby could be two weeks behind and it was too early to see what the blob was and that human error could have been the reason behind my low rising blood scores. That would have meant I got a positive pregnancy test 5 days after conception. Science and logistics just didn’t add up, but I was told there was still hope.
I was put back on progesterone and instructed to return in a week to measure growth. The next day I got a phone call to report that another round of blood work showed a 20% increase and again two days later with the same news – far too low to be a viable pregnancy. I was told to take it easy and expect a miscarriage or another ectopic, but not to rule out the chance of a miracle at my ultrasound a few days later.
Let me tell you. It has been a real LONG and shitty week. I wish I could be more optimistic, but I’m just not a big believer in miracles. Perhaps my previous loss has jaded my thinking, or I’ve done FAR TOO MUCH research on the matter, but when numbers don’t add up, it’s hard to muster up too much hope.
The final diagnosis: A blighted ovum! What the what?? Quick science lesson. A blighted ovum occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus, prompting the body to respond appropriately and grow a placenta, but the gestational sac never develops an embryo. So while you get all the side effects of a normal pregnancy and blood levels respond as such, its not a viable pregnancy.
I had never heard of a blighted ovum, just like I had never heard of an ectopic pregnancy before I experienced one. However, I’ve come to learn they are quite common. In fact, they are the cause behind 50% of first trimester miscarriages. You or a friend of yours may have experienced the same. In fact, a close friend of mine shared with me that she too, had a blighted ovum. It just commonly gets swept up into the term “miscarriage”. (and just to give you hope, that same friend went on to have multiple healthy pregnancies.)
This morning, I woke up at 4am, took a quick shower and headed downstairs to unload the dishwasher and clean up the kitchen, because God forbid I come home from surgery to an untidy kitchen. Again, I was feeling fine! Shortly after getting checked in at the surgery center, the nurse handed me my gown, booties and hair net and directed me into the bathroom to change. Once inside, I broke down. IT HIT ME! Tears filled my eyes and this feeling of emptiness filled the pit in my stomach.
All this “Im fine” talk really caught up to me. I’m not fine. I feel partially broken. I thought I had done such a great job of protecting myself this go around and not allowing myself to get too excited or attached in case we had a repeat of my ectopic pregnancy earlier this year, which I shared about here.
When I got my first positive pregnancy test at 3 1/2 weeks, I didn’t surprise Lou with an adorable pregnancy annoucement.
When I called my doctor, she instructed me to get bloodwork every 48 hours for the first 8 weeks to ensure this wasn’t another ectopic. With each phone call she reported perfect levels and said my hCG, the pregnancy hormone, was doubling “beautifully”. Still, I didn’t celebrate.
I didn’t tell my best friends.
I didn’t start a Pinterest boards with ideas of how I’d decorate the nursery.
I didn’t start compiling a list of names we like or even revisit the list we put together last time.
I didn’t look directly at any double strollers passing by me or start thinking about baby items I may need for this baby,
I didn’t even tell my mother, whom I talk to once a day and tell everything to.
Not this time. I was so careful not to get too attached.
But I did. I got so attached. I don’t know what flipped the switch, but this time stings so much more than our last loss. I’ve walked through this before and I should know how to get through it again, but I feel heavy. And sad. Perhaps because my pregnancy levels are much higher than the last time and it’s a combo of hormones and grieving. Or maybe it’s because I’m loopy from anesthesia. OR maybe it’s just another big whammy and I’m finally processing both losses, but my feelers are working and they are so very sad.
I am so grateful for the two nurses who cared for me this morning. They witnessed me get hit with emotion and they both shared their personal and inspiring stories of their own fertility battles. One nurse then went on to have two successful fertility treatments after a year and half of not getting pregnant and the other experienced the same miscarriage and surgery as I did only to get pregnant with the first of her two children just a few weeks later. These women gave me hope and reminded me it doesn’t happen in our timing, but to continue to have hope.
They also told me so many patients go through the exact same thing and say the hardest part is grieving alone. Since miscarriages more often occur early in pregnancy, women have yet to share the news and feel they should take on the burden of loss solo. Their message was right along the lines of my my last blog post, The Secrets You’re Not Suppose to Share that it’s so important women reach out to other women and seek experience, strength and hope. One in five pregnancies end in miscarriage. Not just one in five women, but one in five pregnancies! That means we are surrounded by other women who are going through or have gone through this already and can hold our hands through it! One in five!
This also serves as a reminder for me to treat the world kindly. Those Facebook pregnancy announcements and newborn photos filling my stream look like rainbows and unicorns, but I’ll never know the struggle behind each women’s story and every one of these joyous reminders brings hope that it will happen again for Lou and me.
While I am filled with a jumble of emotions right now and feeling mostly anger and sadness, I do have some joy in this moment. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful, loving and supportive partner. My fears of Lou having resentments towards me for not being able to provide fertility have been immediately squashed which has actually strengthened our bond. I feel so lucky that he reminds me we are getting though this together!
My family and friends have reminded me how much love we are surrounded with and continue to check in on us and find out how best to show support.
Ryder – how do I even describe this miracle? I feel so blessed to have had such a healthy and easy pregnancy to bring us our precious child. There is so much healing in the sound of his laugh and I will cherish this extra one on one time we will get with Ryder before number two comes along.
Moving forward, my doctor reccomends I see a fertility specialist who will work closely with me and help us to achieve a healthy pregnancy. I do feel a sense of relief knowing we have a plan in place and feel grateful that science has made so many advancements over the years to help others like us to grow their family.
Keep us in your prayers and know, we will not give up! I am certain another child is in our future. And in the meantime, friends, please continue to share the joy and excitement of your pregnancy and new arrivals with us. We have accepted that this is part of our journey and will continue to share excitement in celebrating yours!