April 21, 2011

My Miscarriage

I want to preface this post by saying that this IS NOT about my current pregnancy. It is about my first pregnancy, which occurred in November 2010. I purposely backdated this post (it's really May now) so that it would not appear on the front page of Bloomin' Babies and alarm people. I feel like it's important to get my story on here though for those going through similar, particularly since I referenced this blog when I was going through my loss, so here goes...

Please be warned that I am going to speak frankly, and sometimes graphically, about the experience. If either of those things bother you, please scroll on by this post. For those living through a miscarriage, knowing the nitty gritty details is important...and this post is for them.

I got my first BFP on November 9, 2010. For a few glorious days there were the first few signs of pregnancy. The slight nausea, super smell, exhaustion beyond words. That all changed around 2am on November 12.

I was woken up around 2am by excruciating cramps. They whipped around my right side, felt like they were following my abdominal muscle. The pain was so intense that it woke me from a dead sleep and had me crying out in pain. The cramps moved like lightning. There were two or three waves of them, then they disappeared. I never felt another pregnancy symptom after that moment. Not one.

The next morning I felt totally normal...which made me really uneasy since I'd been exhausted in days prior. Around noon, the spotting started. At first it was brownish red, by bedtime it was pink. When I woke up that morning, there was absolutely no question what was happening. Bright red blood. Lots of it. This was on November 13th, a Saturday. Since it was a weekend and we had company in town, I wasn't able to get to the doctor until Monday morning. I knew there was nothing they could do to save the pregnancy at that point, so I didn't feel it was urgent for me to get checked out. Nature was taking its course.

On Monday the 15th, I was able to reach my doctor and they got me in as soon as they could. By that time I was passing clots in addition to the heavy bleeding. Cramping was present as well, though it was never horrible, moderate mostly. There was tissue passing as well, including **graphic warning** the embryo. I'd never heard nor read that they embryo would be recognizable at the gestation I was (5w1d). It passed completely intact within its amniotic sac. That was the single image of the whole miscarriage that was burned into my brain. It literally looked like the 5 week image from the Pregnology website (www.pregnology.com), except with the sac. All told, it was about the size of a ping pong ball.

At my appointment on Monday, the doctors office was awesome. I didn't realize this until I went in for my current BFP, but they got me in immediately (so I didn't have to sit amongst the visibly pregnant ladies) and brought me in to a neutral exam room (as opposed to the one with Tinkerbell stickers in it I went into for this BFP). They asked me to describe what I'd experienced and I could tell by the look on the doctors face that my thought of miscarriage was right...especially when I described the embryo. She did a pelvic exam and confirmed an open cervix & heavy bleeding. The diagnosis given was "partial spontaneous abortion". (Don't even get me started on how awful it is to have the word 'abortion' given to you when you are having a miscarriage...) She said the 'partial' part was because it was still ongoing. She gave me paperwork to get an ultrasound done to confirm the progress of the miscarriage a few days later. They needed to make sure all of the "products of conception" got out so that there were not further problems down the road.

The ultrasound a couple of days later was not AT ALL like I'd imagined my first ultrasound would be. For starters, I kicked things off by warning the tech that things were a bloody mess down there when he asked me to get into the johnny. I have no idea how I held myself together in that ultrasound room. I think being a scientist helped...I found it fascinating that he could tell what was my ovaries, see the fallopian tubes, even see the bleeding. Physically there was some discomfort, particularly when the vagcam bumped the cervix. As it turned out, I was experiencing the best case scenario for a miscarriage. I completely fell apart when I got out to the car.

The doctor saw me again a couple of days later and confirmed that I'd now experienced a "Complete Spontaneous Abortion". My bleeding lasted 7 days total, with the worst happening in the first 3-4 days.

There were all sorts of aches that went with the miscarriage that caught be by surprise so I want to be sure to mention them. For a couple days in the thick of the miscarriage my cervix and uterus felt really irritated. For about a week after that, my ovaries just ached and ached.

My cycle returned exactly on time, 29 days later...though as charting post miscarriage would show, the ovulation date and length of my luteal phase changed post miscarriage (changes in your cycle are common, as it turns out). For the first couple of post-loss cycles, things were haywire physically. One month my boobs ached excruciatingly during the 2ww. Another month my ovulation pains were intense (I occasionally feel them, but never more than a twinge...this was waaay more than a twinge).

Emotionally during the whole miscarriage experience I just felt broken. When I got the BFP it felt like it was my job to protect this little life and I'd failed. I felt like I was apparently incapable of doing something that women have been able to do since the beginning of time. There was an incredible amount of fear that subsequent pregnancies would have the same ending and that this was the first sign that we would have a much more difficult road to having a family. I'd never realized until I was experiencing it how incredibly hard it is to go through even the earliest of miscarriages.

I realized that most likely there was something wrong with the baby from the moment of conception (~50% of all miscarriage prior to 6 weeks are due to chromosomal abnormalities rendering the baby incompatible with life). Thing is, hearing that there was probably something wrong with the baby and it was probably for the best wasn't comforting. My first thought when I was told that (and I'm being completely honest here) was, "Great, so you're telling me we can make little mutant babies..." Hearing that there was likely a chromosomal defect to my 34 year old eggs was far from a comfort.

One of the only things that really gave me comfort, was thinking of the people I know who had a loss of their own and had gone on to have one (or more) healthy babies. People like my friend K, who had a late 1st Tri loss and went on to have three kids. Or my friend S, who had a chemical pregnancy and at the time of my loss was 20 weeks pregnant (she's since delivered a little girl). Or my mother, who had a miscarriage just before she conceived my youngest brother. The hope that their stories gave me is why I'm sharing my story with you. I feel that its important to talk about pregnancy loss. Its important to remove the taboo. Its important for those going through it to know that they aren't alone, that this is (unfortunately) quite common...and most importantly that it is in no way their fault.



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