Missed Miscarriage: Occurs when embryonic death occurs without any expulsion of the embryo itself. There’s no known cause behind this type of miscarriage. On Labor Day Weekend 2014 I realized that my period was a few days late. For years I had issues with very irregular periods (or an entire year with no period at all) so I didn't think too much of it, but something in me told me to grab a pregnancy test that weekend just in case.
I was spending that weekend in Alabama with Travis. He had some family come down that we spent the day with and on the way home we stopped by CVS and I grabbed a 2 pack of Clearblue pregnancy tests. When we got home we both went to our respective bathrooms. I peed on a stick. Waited. And saw....
I peed on the other stick I was in total disbelief (which was also positive.) I ran to Travis's bathroom, banged frantically on his door, and told him to come out ASAP. He could tell by my voice the tests were positive. We met in the kitchen and I was in a state of shock. We had talked about wanting to get married and have kids .... down the line ... and suddenly it was all happening SO FAST. In the back of my mind I was always convinced I'd have problems conceiving with my thyroid disease and history of irregular/non-existent periods.
I paced back and forth, I remember holding my head a lot, and being legitimately speechless. Travis was completely cool and collected! Yes, it was happening quicker than we would have planned but we loved each other, we were old enough and financially secure enough that having a kid wouldn't be difficult in those regards, and it was something we both wanted.
Eventually the shock wore off. I had to head back to Pensacola to get back to work and over a lot of phone calls and text messages we started discussing how we would proceed.
We talked about getting married so I'd be covered on his health insurance and I could live on post with him after my classes ended in December. I hadn't been insured in nearly 10 years so this was a huge concern to me. I didn't want to get married though just because I was pregnant. I thought about it, a lot, and realized that in my heart I already knew I wanted to marry him. Our relationships trajectory was on hyper-speed but I vividly remember looking at him at the end of our first date (a marathon 10 hour day) and thinking, "this could be it." I just felt so comfortable around him, it was I had known him for years, and something in me just knew.
I was worried what my parents would think. We hadn't been dating very long, and I think they had all but given up hope of grandkids from me (at the ripe old age of 30.) Travis called my Dad and talked with him about it first, and then I remember calling my Mom on the way home from class one night. I don't even know if I said 'hello' to her before blurting out, "Mom, I have something to say and I'm really not sure how your going to take it. I'm pregnant and we are getting married."
Just like Travis reacting to the pregnancy she was 100% calm and collected about it! Reason #276 why I love my Mom. She may not always agree with my decisions in life but she supports me 100%, and she's the least judgmental person I've ever met. I felt so much better now that we had a plan to move forward with and both our families were on board.
I finally relaxed enough to start to get excited about the pregnancy. Holy crap I had a baby in my belly! It was the most amazing feeling in the world. I had zero morning sickness and aside from some sore boobs I felt pretty good. I got on Amazon and ordered a bunch of pregnancy books and started reading up.
As long time readers know I really wrestled with the idea of having kids or not. I spent the last few years in my 20's debating on if that was the path I wanted to take. Finally, I decided I did want the experience of being a Mom. Here's a post from September 2013 where I'm kind of torn still, and a post in August 2014 where I've realized I'm ready to become a parent. I had no idea that one month later it would be happening!
Travis and I started planning a wedding for Veterans Day weekend since his parents were already planning to come into town to watch him run his first marathon (we ran the Pensacola marathon together the day after our wedding.) I knew I'd need to see a doctor before then though. We decided to do a courthouse wedding so I could get into the doctors before my second trimester. That's how his Dad ended up acting as our unofficial officiant at the wedding!
Baby got to go on their first helicopter ride with us. Labor Day weekend Travis chartered a helicopter to fly me and some of his family that came down to visit around.
My first prenatal appointment was set for October 3rd, when I should have been 9 weeks along. Travis was able to join me for the late Friday afternoon appointment and after we met with the Doctor for a few minutes she brought me to the ultrasound room to get a dating scan done.
That voice in the back of my head telling me I'd have a hard time getting pregnant? She was screaming at me that day. Within seconds of the ultrasound tech finding the baby, and pointing it out to us on the screen, I knew by her change in demeanor that something was wrong.
There was no heartbeat and the baby was measuring only 6 weeks, 1 day along.
Travis and I were sent to wait in an exam room and when the doctor came in she started going over options. We decided to have another scan done on Monday to see if anything had changed before scheduling a D&C (dilation and curettage) if I hadn't miscarried naturally before then. I held it together until we got into the elevator and I started bawling. I remember calling my Mom as soon as we got to the car and telling her there wasn't a heartbeat, and that I'd be going in again Monday to confirm. We stopped by a gas station on the way home and I got swiss cake rolls and a coke zero. I had cut out caffeine since becoming pregnant so this was a 'treat.'
Monday came, and I had to go to the morning appointment alone. Baby was still measuring 6w1d and did not have a heartbeat. The doctor I had been working with was going to be off work on Friday but that was really the best time I could schedule the D&C (so I'd have the weekend to recover and not miss work) so I went ahead and scheduled it and one of the other doctors in the practice would perform it.
I remember waiting on the doctor in an exam room that was across the hall from the ultrasound room. I heard a woman and her husband listening to their baby's heartbeat for the first time. I felt numb. I had to drive back to Pensacola right after the appointment and go straight to teaching a class.
I researched everything I could on D&C's that week. It's an operation where the doctor goes in and removes all traces of the embryo. For some reason my body wasn't expelling it. The chances of a miscarriage are 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 (the statistics vary) and the chance of a missed miscarriage are 1 in 100.
The surgery sounded pretty straight forward. Recovery time varied tremendously with some women saying they bled for weeks after, and others saying they were fine the next day. Travis couldn't take off time from school to take me to the hospital so my parents were going to drive up from Fort Walton, pick me up at the house, and take me in. I was supposed to be in at 10 or 11 that day (I can't remember the exact time) but I got a call around 9 asking if I could come in ASAP.
I panicked, got ready as quickly as I could, and called my parents from the road telling them to meet me at the hospital. My Dad would just drive my car back and Mom would take me home after the surgery. I arrived at the hospital, alone, and waited. I think I preferred being there by myself. I felt more calm.
A nurse brought me back to a room where she told me to undress, put on a hospital gown/socks, and had my belongings put up in a safe.
I was sitting in the room alone for a few minutes when a cute older guy came in and wheeled me to an area where people were being prepped for surgery. This probably sounds stupid but I had no idea I'd actually be going into an operating room. For some reason I thought it would be done in a small office type area. In the prep area there was a team of about 5 people working on me. An anesthesiologist came in and started asking me questions and put an IV into my hand. It was excruciating. It took her a few minutes and I started to get anxious. A nurse gave me a'happy pill.' I didn't feel too happy. Suddenly my original Doctor walked up to my bed and asked me how I was feeling, and if I was ready. I was SO confused as she was supposed to be out that day taking care of her own child that had a minor surgery done. Turns out the reason they called me in early was because she came in on her day off to do my surgery. I suddenly felt like I had a family member there taking care of me and relaxed.
The happy pill started to kick in and I remember hearing that they didn't know my blood type so they took some blood to know that in case I needed a transfusion. They wheeled me into the operating room. It was just like on TV. There were huge florescent lights overhead , machines everywhere, and nurses helped lift me from my bed to the OR bed. They put a mask over my face, told me to breathe deeply, and I was out.
I came to in the same small room I originally got undressed in. My parents were there. Mom didn't stay in the room long (hospitals kind of freak her out) so Dad stayed with me. A nurse came in every few minutes to check on me. I ate crackers and drank some juice. About 20 minutes later I was released. I had to leave the hospital in a wheelchair.
My parents had brought a care package with them so when I got home we had lots of stuff to make quick meals for the weekend, magazines, and some of my favorite candles. Travis came home and brought me flowers. My parents took off, and I spent the rest of the weekend on the couch with Salem and Travis. This photo was taken the day after surgery.
I recovered very well. I was pretty bloated for a few days but bleeding was almost non-existent. The worst pain came from the tube they put down my throat. It felt like I had strep throat that week.
That Monday I had to go back to work. In my Human Growth and Development class we were covering prenatal development. I was lecturing on the periods of development my baby should have been going through. I remember that Wednesday going to my favorite park in East Hill between my afternoon and night classes. I laid down on the deck overlooking the water and just cried. It wasn't fair.
That Friday was my birthday.
Our wedding, and the marathon, were three weeks away. When I ordered my dress online it was from China and made custom to my measurements. I ordered it when I was still pregnant, and added in an inch or so around the bust to accommodate what I anticipated looking like at 14 weeks. By the time the ceremony came along I had lost the few pounds I gained while pregnant, and didn't have time to get the dress taken in so you can see how the bust doesn't quite fit (despite a push up bra and wearing chicken cutlets to fill it out.)
It wasn't fair. After the D&C it seemed like I was surrounded by pregnant women and babies. I never blamed myself for the MMC, because I know in my heart things like that do just happen, but I still questioned what was wrong with me. I didn't know why some women were lucky enough to have no problems with their pregnancy, and I had to carry around a dead baby for a month. Now that I'm pregnant I know that women struggling with infertility look at me and think it's not fair, and their right. It's not. I'm not special. I don't deserve this baby more than anyone else. Pregnancy loss and infertility is bullshit and I hate it. For myself and any other woman who's had to endure it.
During this period in the Fall I remember alluding to going through a hard time on the blog. This was it. The week between finding out I had a MMC and the D&C was a very, very hard week. I alternated between hating knowing that the baby was still inside of me, to loving it and appreciating the fact I got to keep it with me and take care of it just a little while longer. I remember talking to it at night while crying and just saying, "I'm so sorry little baby" over and over. The image of it's little lifeless body on the ultrasound screen will never leave my memory. Before getting pregnant a part of me thought losing a baby so early on wasn't that big of a deal. I mean, it was only 6 weeks old, how attached to it could you possible be?
I was a naive idiot.
As I was trying to cope with the loss I read countless stories and articles on MMC online. One of the best things I read said something to the effect of, "a missed miscarriage is terrible because it will haunt every future pregnancy you have and rob you of joy." Now that I'm pregnant again that statement rings true on a daily basis. I know that any day this pregnancy could end, without warning, and I'd have no idea. There's a subtle fear that lingers in me, and I have to make a conscious effort to push past it and be grateful for the fact that we got pregnant again just two months later. While at yoga teacher training one of the girls asked my roommate to feel me out about throwing a small baby shower for me. I wished so desperately I could have said yes, and relished the excitement in being pregnant, but I thought it would jinx things. I even told my roommate anytime I pictured the baby inside of me it looked exactly as the first one did - small and still.
Thankfully, at our 10 week appointment we went to the Monday I got back from training we saw a 10 week old baby with a big, beautiful heartbeat.
Life sucks sometimes. It's unfair. It's cruel.
It can also beautiful, and forgiving, and full of second chances.