Updated: Oct 2
My worst fear came true. My life changed in a heartbeat.
This isn’t going to be a neat and tidy piece of writing because, to be honest, my emotions are raw as fuck. I had a missed miscarriage late in the game and I’m heartbroken. It wasn’t something I had considered possible given that we had multiple early ultrasounds with a fetal heart beat and an ultrasound at 8 weeks showing a healthy beating heart, at which point the risk of miscarriage is less than 1.6% . The last time I heard her little heartbeat was at 10 weeks. Unfortunately, going in for my first second trimester checkup didn't turn out as I expected.
Missed miscarriages are different in the sense that I had zero symptoms other than just feeling like something was off intuitively right before finding out. I felt pregnant and had all of my pregnancy symptoms even after the baby died. No bleeding. No cramping. Just more energy which I was told was normal in the second trimester. My body just wasn’t ready to let go.
Nature is Cruel
I went in for a routine ultrasound and will never forget being told she couldn’t find a heartbeat. I could see my baby on the screen, but she was just floating there and her little legs weren't moving. They wanted me to wait to see if it was a mistake and go in for a follow up a week later.
I knew something was fucking wrong at that point. I responded with my typical no overt emotional response, just absorbing information and my new reality for the time being. As a result of so much severe trauma in my life, I have been conditioned to be somewhat ambivalent in regards to death. I am the one cool and collected in a crisis. I don’t break until after and it usually manifests as self destruction more-so than anything else.
Alex attempted to comfort me saying it must be a mistake, pointing to the fact that sometimes babies are positioned in a way where belly ultrasounds can’t pick up the heartbeat, but I told him to stop giving me false hope. I also intuitively felt the baby was gone... I texted my best friend and just waited to get confirmation for what I already knew, while crying sporadically and intensely through the week.
I continued to work as a much-needed distraction, all the while knowing that my baby was most likely dead inside of me. How can life go on in such a robotic fashion while I sit here losing my baby? It’s a feeling I never want to experience again. The problem is I cannot be guaranteed that it won't happen again as many of you know.
Things were rough for me and Alex in this transitional phase of being pregnant, to not being pregnant with no baby to hold. He lost his shit a couple times because he tends to cope through self-directed anger, whereas I passively self-destruct with old learned behaviors. Rest assured, we are in this game of life together and both a work in progress to be our best selves. A deep understanding and acceptance of each other's healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms is what anchors our relationship.
We were both in an immense amount of emotional pain. We held each other every day and grieved what we knew. I wanted to hold on to the possibility that it could have been a mistake, but my damn brain is too logical for my own good. Not sure if it can even be considered logic though, or just a hefty amount of data points that tell me most things don’t work out like I have planned and I tend to get lemons more often than not.
The following week we went in for the second ultrasound to confirm. They told Alex he needed to wait outside due to COVID and I burst into tears as he left upset. Normally I can control my emotions, but this time it was too much for me to handle. I felt so alone and didn’t want to hear the final words by myself. I finally just told the receptionist all I wanted was for my husband to be here with me and she apologized for the COVID guidelines.
To my surprise, they conspired to sneak Alex through the back entrance and meet me in the ultrasound room. I will appreciate their kind gesture and rule-breaking for eternity. As she gelled me up, I told her that I knew my baby was gone and to not feel like the bearer of bad news. The tech confirmed there was no heartbeat and told me the death was likely chromosomal due to the thickness of the neckfolds. The only absolute would be to send the baby off for testing, but her expert opinion was enough for me to briefly stop blaming myself.
I cried uncontrollably for another three days waiting to meet with my midwife/obstetrician to see what my options were. They recommended either wait and see, or Misoprostol, a synthetic prostaglandin that induces uterine contractions. After asking a bunch of questions about the two options, I chose to go with the medication. I won’t go into details here, but I had contractions and it was painful as fuck due to how far along I was. I was warned of the pain so I stayed glued to my bed for a couple days during the process, obsessively reading what I could have done wrong.
“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd - The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”
― Fernando Pessoa
At first, I was upset with myself for even announcing my pregnancy to the world. I followed most recommended guidelines and waited until after my risk was around 1%. The heart rate was strong and healthy, I had multiple ultrasounds, and we did genetic testing for sex — it was a baby girl.
The baby was developing perfectly and had such a strong little heart. Then one day it just stopped. They said it most likely hit a wall in the developmental process due to genetic abnormalities. Standard genetic testing, unfortunately, cannot test for every possible outcome. I didn’t and still don't want to tell anyone. Babies aren’t supposed to die, I was hurting and disappointed, and I didn’t want anyone else to feel the discomfort I was.
I ate all the food, slept all the sleeps, quit drinking all the coffee, and still lost my baby. I didn’t even exercise because I was scared of overdoing it due to years of chronically overtraining. As I always say: know thyself. I was trying to do everything perfectly as most A-types do.
The doctors told me it was a rare occurrence and that there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent it. Still, I blamed myself. Nature can be cruel. Miscarriages are typically due to genetic errors that we just cannot control. More often than not it occurs within the first several weeks as many of you that have previously been pregnant have been warned.