This is a painful post to write. Two days ago we went in for our 12-week ultrasound and found that we no longer had a baby. The ultrasound screen showed an empty gestational sac that had not developed past about 7 weeks. I knew immediately upon seeing that empty black blob that it was over.
Prior to this point, we thought everything was developing properly. As this was our first pregnancy, I thought I was lucky for not having morning sickness and other symptoms common in the first trimester. Only a week prior at week 11, Dan and I went to the birth center to listen to the heartbeat. The midwife thought it registered 170 for a split second and she assured us not to worry even though we did not hear that steady thumping heartbeat. She also commented several times that she heard the baby swishing around in the amniotic fluid, so we simply thought that the baby was positioned in such a way as to make the heartbeat difficult to find consistently. After all, she heard it for a moment, and then she heard it moving around so much.
We were asked to return in a week (week 12) to try to hear the heartbeat again. Coincidentally, we also had a nuchal translucency ultrasound scheduled for this same day immediately after the second try to hear the heartbeat. We returned for the week 12 heartbeat and again heard nothing. The midwife gave us no indication that anything was wrong, so away we went for the ultrasound.
Again, as soon as I saw the screen my worst fears came true. There was nothing there. No baby arms, no baby legs, no baby heart. I cried on the ultrasound table while the exam continued. The ultrasound technician, Brian, was incredibly nice. His objective attitude combined with sympathy for the event truly made the experience better than it could have been. He gave us several tissues and advised us to consult with our midwife for next steps.
That evening, we came home and I went straight to bed at about 4:30. I didn’t sleep well and woke up at 2am for a few hours. During this time, we researched options. Our midwife recommended acupuncture to help my body naturally eliminate the uterus. Honestly, at this point I was a little fed up with naturopathic mumbo jumbo and just wanted to get on with things. The idea of sitting home waiting for the baby to come out on its own two days before Christmas was not a pleasant one. We decided to pursue a dilation and curettage (D&C).
As our midwife does not perform D&C procedures, I called several gynecologists in town. Every one wanted to see me for a new patient consultation and start from scratch. This I understood. however, no gynecologists had any open appointments for at least two weeks. We live in a small town, there are not very many to choose from. Finally this morning, we decided to go to the emergency room. Sounds dramatic, but it was the only option that I could find to get into see an actual OB-GYN in a reasonable amount of time.
This entire pregnancy we have been avoiding the medical establishment at all costs. Ironically, today’s visit to the ER was the most satisfying patient-doctor interaction we have experienced thus far. We were given two options: a D&C or misoprostol. A D&C is a surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated and the contents are removed via suction and scraping. It requires anesthesia of varying degrees. Misoprostol is a drug that is inserted into the vagina. It encourages the cervix to dilate and facilitates the body’s expulsion of the uterus.
We opted to try misoprostol first, as this seemed like the least invasive choice. That decision was made three hours ago. As it write this, I am waiting for the misoprostol to take effect.
We are hopeful for the future. The gynecologist feels that our chances of conception again in the near future are very good. She sees no medical reason that I will be considered high risk. Through this process, I have been amazed at how many women have come forward and shared their similar experiences. As I was checking in at the ER, describing why I was there caused me to cry a little. The admitting nurse offered me a tissue and said that she had been through the same thing. Just 30 minutes later, my gynecologist shared her personal experience with misoprostol. Finally, on my way home, I received a call from a co-worker who had heard the news of the miscarriage. He (yes he!) left a voice mail sharing his condolences and his own experience with a miscarriage just a year earlier. This particular co-worker delivered a healthy, lovely baby girl just one week ago.
It is Christmas. There is hope. The journey continues.