This post is going to be fairly personal. I wanted to share what it was like to be pregnant after going through a miscarriage and then dealing with uncertainty. I have talked with a surprising number of women who have had similar experiences and feel like this topic needs more attention since it isn't often discussed. While components of miscarriage are unique to each person, the similarities connect us.
I am a pretty even keel person. I don't get my feathers ruffled and approach life in a fairly pragmatic way. After my miscarriage, we waited the appropriate amount of time that my doctor recommended before trying to get pregnant again. I was determined that everything would be normal.
Here's the thing, after you have had a miscarriage you have a degree of innocence stripped from you. You recognize that not every pregnancy equals a baby at the end. It's something you can't shake. I remember being afraid when I was pregnant with Jack, but there was no real understanding of what that fear might equate. Now I knew, with full certainty, that there were multiple outcomes to becoming pregnant and not all of them are happy. Furthermore, the starting over is exhausting. If I hadn't miscarried, we would be getting ready to have a baby around Thanksgiving... instead I am only 16 weeks pregnant.
When I first discovered that I was pregnant with this child, Daniel and I were both excited. But as the news settled in, I began to feel apprehensive.
I told a friend (who had had multiple miscarriages years ago) and she was very supportive and encouraging. She would regularly ask me how I was doing. I didn't have many symptoms in the first 9 weeks and there were days that it was hard not to feel panicked. Telling her helped assuage many of my fears.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I started spotting around 7 weeks. This sent me into a bit of a tailspin. I became convinced that I was going to miscarry again. I don't cry very often, but I found myself sobbing in the shower, praying to God that I wouldn't lose this baby. Praying for peace. The fear is palpable when you have already lost a baby.
I understood that miscarriage wasn't my fault, but that didn't stop the doubt from creeping in. What if I could have done something different. What if? What if? What if? There was also the little voice that would tell me I wasn't really fit to be a mom to two. That I was failing at mothering. So much doubt in myself and in my body.
After several days of spotting, I called my OB and she offered to see me that day. Thankfully Daniel was home and we were able to drop Jack off at a friend's house for the afternoon. Going into that OB appointment was terrifying.
The ultrasound tech called us in right away. I wasn't sure what to expect since I was 7 weeks pregnant. Also, this was the place I had previously learned that I would miscarry. Daniel held my hand tight as the tech started the scan.
I held my breath as we waited to hear the heartbeat. When we heard that quick ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, it was all I could do to not burst into tears from happiness. She then showed us what appeared to be a couple of clots in my uterus. She didn't know what it was, and while it was worrisome, we were just grateful to see that heartbeat and an early glimpse of our little one.
My doctor let me know that I might continue to spot, but that I shouldn't be concerned unless it was bright red. We discussed exercising and agreed that I needed to work out for my own peace of mind, and slightly modifying would help me feel in control. We scheduled a follow up ultrasound for 9 weeks and prayed that the clots would absorb back into the uterus.
At 9 weeks, we went back for a follow up visit. Again, the ultrasound tech saw us immediately. Since we have spent a lot of time with her (through the miscarriage), she asked if we wanted her to tell us – good or bad – what she saw. We both agreed that we needed to know, regardless of the outcome.
Again, we saw a strong heartbeat and breathed a collective sigh of relief. But, the blood clot from 7 weeks no longer appeared to be a blood clot. It was a mass that was the same size as the baby and it had its own blood supply.
So, what do you do with news like that? We called the mass the "roommate" and my OB told me not to Google. In the information age, that was like asking me not to breathe. I don't know if it was because of the miscarriage or just the unknown, but I would find myself awake in the middle of the night, googling every symptom I had, desperate to discover what might be in my uterus... what might be wrong.
Before I left the doctor's office, they drew my blood and then we were off. Two days after the discovery of the mass, we went on vacation. My OB told us to go on our vacation. Live our lives. Do what we would normally do. There was nothing we could do to prevent whatever was happening. She said that we could only wait and see.
Vacation was a good distraction for me. Being with my family helped ease my fears. This was the week I also started to have some morning sickness. Nothing like being in the bathroom gagging while your family eats breakfast.
A week after vacation, I was at the 12 week mark and feeling good. We had reached the second trimester and the risk of miscarriage dropped. I was feeling some serious relief. And then I received a frantic call from my OB. The blood test I had before vacation came back with really high hormone levels. She wanted me to come in for a secondary blood test.
I didn't think much of it. Daniel didn't even go into the doctor's office with me – he and Jack had gone to Starbucks to pick up a coffee for me. The nurse drew my blood and then took me back to a patient room and told me to wait for my doctor.
What was going on? I didn't even have Daniel there for support. My OB came in and explained that the high hormone levels, coupled with the unknown mass, were worrisome and she wanted me to see a high risk doctor right away (it was Friday and we scheduled the high risk appointment for Monday).
I asked her to shoot straight with me. I wanted to know what was going on. I told her I had done some digging of my own and none of the information was good. She asked what I had found and I mentioned molar pregnancy. She agreed that this was her biggest concern as well. We discussed that I didn't have the classic symptoms for molar pregnancy and the ultrasound mass hadn't looked like a mole, but we needed to rule this out.
I left the OB, thankful for the update but numb about what this could mean. My OB had said that termination would be the only option if it was a molar pregnancy. This was shattering. We had made it to 12 weeks, I should be in the safe zone and now I might find out it was over. It was a very hard weekend for me. On Sunday night, we asked our small group from church to pray for us.
On Monday, Daniel took off work to go to the high risk OB with me. I was so nervous. He squeezed my hand tightly while I lay on the table and the ultrasound tech went to work. Right away she found the baby and the heartbeat. We were elated.
Again, I tried not to
cry. We explained about the mass in the 9 week ultrasound. The tech
looked and looked and couldn't find anything. She brought in the high
risk doctor, who also looked, and nothing. All we could see was a baby and hear its strong heartbeat.
We had been praying for peace and resolution and that is what God provided. There was no mole, no mass, no clots, just a baby with a strong heartbeat that was measuring the appropriate size.
My first trimester was a huge roller coaster ride. The doubt, the fear, the guilt, the uncertainty, the peace. I know I would have found peace, whatever the outcome was, but I am so thankful that things continue to be on track.
Starting around the 10 week mark, I finally started to experience some serious pregnancy symptoms. While typical symptoms like morning sickness are no fun, it was good to feel pregnant and not worry as much. Now that I am 16 weeks, I am feeling good again.
If you know someone who has been through a miscarriage, I would ask that you just be supportive and encouraging to them. It isn't their fault. Let them talk if they need to talk. Give them a hug, if they need a hug. Talk to them about normal things, let them know you care.
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