Sunday, April 14, 2013

Awaiting an Inevitable Miscarriage

This was not how I wanted to be spending my spring break.

Matt and I found out April 2nd that our family was growing.  My husband had been speculating for days that I was pregnant, but I was trying not to get my hopes up since it was still pretty early.  When picking up a prescription for one of my kiddos, I also picked up a pregnancy test.  And lo and behold, it was positive!

We decided to keep it a secret for a while.  I'm horrible at keeping secrets (like I give presents before people's birthdays because I can't wait), but this was such a sweet time with my husband because of all of the giddy texts, wishful thinking, and planning.  Part of our reasoning for keeping our news quiet was we wanted to wait until the end of the first trimester to tell our preschool-aged daughters, but it also meant we hadn't shared the news with our closest friends or relatives either.

It's a good thing we decided to wait.  At the first ultrasound, the baby measured small.  Well, I told myself, I guess I could have been wrong about dates.  What the technician didn't mention during that first ultrasound was the heart rate was also slow.

I went back the next week for a follow-up ultrasound.  The less than warm technician asked why I was back.  Ummmm.  Because I was told to come back?

The baby measured even further behind at this ultrasound, again with a slower than acceptable heart rate.  The doctor said there was a 5% chance the baby will make it.  5%.  That's just enough to ensure that I didn't go get a beer.  Actually, Starbucks sounded nicer.

We went back for a third ultrasound.  The baby's heart rate should have been well over 100, but measured at 50.  Just like before there was nominal growth.  The doctor said the baby was "incompatible with life."  It was a hard pill to swallow.  Up until that point I had held onto the idea that I was wrong or that we would be having a baby with a heart condition.  I could handle that.  My sister has a congenital heart defect that hadn't been detected until after she ran her first marathon as an adult.  She had a full repair in December of 2012 and although she's adjusting to the changes it's brought to her life, she's fine (fine-ish???).

My doctor said to go two weeks with conditions such as mine is rare, but to go three weeks was "uncharted territory."  It was sweet and traumatizing at the same time that the baby was holding on.  So now what?  We kept doing what we've been doing.  We waited.

I pretended to not be pregnant but keep taking my prenatal vitamins and avoiding caffeine.  I tried not to get too focused on that 5%, on the hope that the baby would survive.  I knew in my head not to get attached.  I felt like my uterus was hospice for a baby whose days were numbered.  Because I realistically knew that I wouldn't be bringing a baby into the world in six-ish months, I was even less inclined to share the news with others.

The waiting was tormenting.  We'd go back the next week for yet another ultrasound...and then another and another.  As much as I was looking forward to this experience being over and being able to move on, it brought a lot of guilt.  Was I hoping for my baby's heart to stop beating?  That just didn't seem right when we were hoping so much for the pregnancy test to be positive.

So there we sat, awaiting the inevitable.  The fourth ultrasound was scheduled.  Every other ultrasound appointment had a wait time of five minutes.  Of course, ultrasound #4 was the longest wait.  All of the adorable round-bellied women finding out the genders of their babies left the waiting room with glee-filled smiles.  Matt and I sat, waiting our turn, waiting to see if our baby was still alive.

The fourth time, we had a different technician.  When entering the room she informed us that she was limited in what she could say.  She did, however, turn the monitor towards us.  We didn't need a doctor to tell us...we could see it on our own.  There was our baby, still mildly fish-like.  There was our baby...but there was no flickering.  There was no heartbeat.  Confirmed after another excruciatingly long wait by our OB-GYN, it was officially over.

Four long weeks of awaiting an inevitable miscarriage were over.  Although I knew it was coming and had had four weeks to prepare for the news, knowing our baby was gone was heart-wrenching.  There had always been that 5% in the back of my mind.  I had been lying to my husband and said I wasn't believing the baby would make it.  I had been lying to myself.  How could I not hope?  How could I not hold onto any chance, regardless of how remote?

I'll be sharing a little bit more of the story for a few posts.  My reasoning is one to fill those nearest and dearest on what we've been going through.  Perhaps more importantly, in all the sleepless nights of the past four weeks, I think I've read every blog, message board posting, etc relating to miscarriage.  They brought me understanding and comfort, and I wanted to pay that forward.