Yesterday my worst nightmare became a reality. After two years of struggling to conceive, I found out my baby is not growing. I don’t know when it stopped growing. I have always read things like “it was measuring a week behind,” but the doctor didn’t say anything along those lines. I actually don’t remember a lot of what she said, except that this was likely going to end in miscarriage. Then the nurse, the woman who called me excitedly with my beta results, came in and gave both my husband and I a hug and said “I’m so sorry. We were so close.”
When I woke up yesterday I really didn’t feel pregnant anymore. I haven’t had many symptoms, but I just chalked that up to the fact that it was early (6 weeks.) I had been extremely anxious all weekend about the first ultrasound, because I’d never been to that point before. We drove to the clinic through the strangest spring snow storm and the parking lot was completely full. We had to wait about ten minutes for someone to leave. I was called back almost immediately and intake nurse took my height, weight, and blood pressure and explained that if things go well then I’ll be sent home with a magazine about how my baby is growing and a guideline of what not to eat and drink. We then were escorted back to the ultrasound waiting area and sat mostly in silence while images of new babies popped up on a screen in the hallway. After 30 minutes had gone by I thought “I can’t be waiting this long just to hear bad news. Everything will be okay.”
After an hour of waiting for my ultrasound I was called back. I got situated on the table and the technician inserted the wand and explained that she would be able to tell me what she saw. After a few moments of silence she said “I’m having a hard time seeing anything so I’m going to check your ovaries now.” I felt the familiar motions of the wand and knew when she had stopped checking my ovaries and had gone back to my uterus. It was painfully silent in the room as I squeezed D’s hand tightly. Tears began to stream down my face as I asked what was going on. She turned the screen to face me and said “I’m not finding anything in your lining,” and showed me where, at the very top of my uterus, it looked like there was a tiny black dot. “It’s too small.” I began sobbing and apologizing, thinking that this has to be the worst part of this woman’s job, and wondering how often she has to deal with situations like mine. Judging by her slightly confused and upset face, not very often.
She left the room to let me get changed and from behind the curtain I said “it’s over,” through choking sobs. D, ever the optimist, said to wait to hear what the doctor said, although he later admitted to crying throughout the ultrasound when neither he nor the technician were seeing anything on the screen. We were led to a consultation room and a doctor that I’ve never met before came in to explain that nothing was found, that they would do blood work to confirm this, but I was going to have a miscarriage.
In a very strange way, I felt some relief in that moment. Relief that it was happening now, and not much farther into my pregnancy. That feeling is completely gone now as I wait to begin bleeding. Everything that I thought and said yesterday that was optimistic is now gone. I was told we can begin trying as soon as I get my “period,” except that it isn’t a period, it’s the remains of a dead baby that needs to be expelled from my body. And the worst fucking part of it is having to wait, and not knowing when it is going to happen. Every time I go to the bathroom and it hasn’t started yet, I feel angry. I’m angry that not only has my body betrayed me by not allowing this embryo to grow, that now that it has stopped growing it won’t get rid of it.
I’m going to say something here that I haven’t said out loud, and haven’t even admitted to myself. When the nurse called to give me my beta numbers yesterday, they were 1040 (edited: after seeing my chart yesterday, it was actually 1432), which she said was too low for six weeks pregnant. I’ve read here that the low range starts at 1080 for six weeks. There is this tiny part of me that wonders, “what if Sweet Pea keeps growing?” which I know is naive and unhelpful. I just can’t allow myself to think that, because I cannot continue to be devastated. I’ve stopped my progesterone and know that I should begin bleeding soon. They’re going to check my hcg levels again next Monday to make sure they’re dropping appropriately.
When I was at the clinic yesterday the intake nurse mentioned how busy they were, and that they had 16 intrauterine pregnancies (I’m assuming these are non-IVF babies) these past two weeks. I can’t help but wonder if I was the one unlucky woman in that group. I’m sure statistically there had to be one, and it just happened to be me. After reading several conflicting statistics about miscarriage, the one that seemed consistent is that 5% of women miscarry twice, and 1% more than two times. I wish I could say that this fact is comforting, but I have a hard time with it because there are no guarantees.
The most difficult part about all of this is the decision to keep trying. I know that I have to keep trying, because I don’t want to give up on myself and my baby, but I know that there may be more heartbreak involved. This is so scary, but I know that my future baby is worth fighting for. I’m making myself vulnerable, and therefore opening myself up to the possibility of both love and suffering. Isn’t that what we all do throughout our lives?
Now I wait to be able to start again.
ETA: we took to calling this embryo Sweet Pea, as we thought it was cute. Now that I think about it, though, it died at about the size of a sweet pea. No, naming it this did not cause it’s demise, but…I suppose in retrospect I won’t be calling future embryos nicknames that relate to size.