Devastated and Terrified

[Warning: Graphic Content]

The OB nurse told me that the spotting was probably just the hematoma they’d seen on the 8-week ultrasound but to come in for another ultrasound if the bleeding hadn’t stopped in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, I got a voice mail message from the administrative staff at the OB’s office. Your blood work came back showing you are a carrier for Fragile X, she said. Yes, I remember noting that the vampires had taken a million (okay, twelve) vials of blood at my last visit. We set up a meeting for you next Monday with a genetic counselor.

There was a pause and then, We advise you to stay off the internet.

Naturally, I looked it up on the internet. (Wouldn’t you?) I’d never even heard of Fragile X. And as I read, a bit of panic flashed across my heart: Fragile X, the #1 inherited cause of mental retardation… 50% chance of passing on the affected gene… my baby could be retarded.

Still spotting and therefore back at the OB’s on Thursday, the ultrasound tech unceremoniously stuck in the vaginal probe and fished around in there for a long time without saying anything. I knew something was wrong from the way she kept her face completely expressionless. Finally she said, I’m so sorry, but I can’t find a heartbeat.

It hit me quickly. As I cried, the tech continued to take measurements with the vaginal probe. Kyle sat in the corner in shock. The tech finally finished clicking away on the computer and had to ask me to unclench my vagina so she could pull out the wand.

(As an aside, those vaginal ultrasound wands are just awful. They’re basically hard plastic dildos that they lube up with that ultrasound goop, which makes them cold. You’re completely at the mercy of the tech and it really matters how well he/she wields the wand. More on that topic in a future post.)

They let us sit in the room by ourselves for a long time- much too long- and then the OB came in to discuss our options.

At this 12 week ultrasound, she said, the baby had measured 8 weeks 6 days, but the sac had measured smaller, something like 7 weeks. (Looking back, I wonder why no one thought to say anything about the 7-week sac at our 8 week ultrasound. Did they not notice?) They called it a spontaneous abortion or a missed miscarriage. I called it carrying our dead baby in my uterus for 3 weeks.

Because the baby was 9-week size, the OB gave me three options. I could “pass” the baby naturally at home; I could have a D&C (which is minor surgery to clear out the uterus); or I could take some medication to help speed up the natural expulsion of tissue. She gave me absolutely no description of what it would be like to “pass” the baby myself, and I didn’t think to ask because I was still in shock. She just said she recommended the natural route when the baby’s this small. Any D&C carries some risk of injury, albeit small, from the sharp instruments being used to poke around and scrape in there. A wayward pointy thing could puncture the uterus or bladder, resulting in scar tissue or something worse. The speed-up medicine does make you pass the tissue sooner but actually prolongs the pain.

At home I set about informing the myriads of people with whom we’d prematurely shared our good news. I could really only manage text messages and short emails like, Baby’s gone.

Once that was done, the terror set in. What would my miscarriage feel like? How soon would it happen? How much pain would I be in? How much bleeding would there be? How long would it last? How would I know if I was losing too much blood and should go to the ER? And most terrifying of all… what would the tissue look like?

Finding answers to these questions was extremely difficult. The internet was terribly unhelpful and even detrimental. There were so many horrible pictures and descriptions out there, many of which were obviously scare tactics by anti-abortionists trying to deter all those would-be baby killers out there. Like I have any fucking control over this. My What to Expect When You’re Expecting book had a short, pitifully uninformative chapter on the subject. I could find no blow-by-blow accounts of a miscarriage. Come to think of it, my mother didn’t even offer to tell me about hers.

Thank God I had my friend Lena, who’d had two natural miscarriages by now and was able and willing to describe everything to me in great detail. I’m so grateful to her for giving me much of the information I needed. She was so responsive and could communicate using the only medium I could handle, which at that time was Facebook messaging.

I canceled all my work for the next few days, claiming a “family emergency,” which wasn’t a lie. Then I sat at home, waiting.

The waiting felt so interminable that we actually went back to the OB on Friday morning begging for the medication to speed things up. (Throughout my long fertility journey, I’ve discovered that anticipation is what makes me the craziest.) The OB took a look and said that it looked like my body was trying to complete the process and she didn’t think the medication would really benefit me at this point in time. We set up a D&C for Monday in case it hadn’t happened by then. Really? Monday? I might have to wait THREE DAYS for something to happen?!

Back at home, I parked myself on the recliner, trying to distract myself with Netflix while I kept waiting.

I received two sympathy flower bouquets, which were brought to my door by a cheery, well-meaning deliveryman. The flowers made me realize that this wasn’t just a miscarriage to me; it was a death in the family.


2 thoughts on “Devastated and Terrified

  1. I’m so very sorry for your loss.
    You story has so many similarities with my own. I too suffered a missed miscarriage, discovered that I had been carrying our baby for 6 weeks unaware. The doctors also offered me the same three choices, and terrified of having to wait another week or more for my body to catch up, fearing that I would have to face this grief all over again, I opted for the medication to speed up the process.
    I also discovered, quickly, that the doctors didn’t prepare me for what this process would be like. They described it as having a heavy period with bad cramps. Now, after having gone through the pain of contractions, I feel rudely misinformed. I scoured the internet at that time trying to find out if what was happening to me was normal, and I found it served only to terrify me more, and I turned to What to Expect only to find that pathetic chapter that seemed to scream, you’re not expecting, you don’t belong here, we have nothing for you. I sought refuge in phone calls to my sister, a nurse , who did help to ease my fears as much as she could.
    I am so sorry you are going through this. This has to be one of the hardest things a woman can face.
    Please know that I am thinking of you and sending hugs and hope your way, and that I, and many others out here, can understand how you’re feeling. You are not alone.

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