08 January 2019

Chemical Pregnancy: My Miscarriage Story

Many times in my life I have heard the term: the miracle of birth. (In fact, I think I watched a disturbing video titled that when I was 12.) I thought that phrase was a bit exaggerated. After all, babies are born literally every single day, there's nothing miraculous about it. It was completely ordinary, that's what living creatures do. Man was I ignorant about the human reproductive system and how many things have to go right in order to actually create a baby.

Getting pregnant with Natalie was a breeze. We started trying in January 2011 and by March 2011 we conceived. I knew that those results were not typical for most couples. We were certainly very lucky and grateful that it happened so soon for us.

Fast forward about 5.5 years down the road when we decided to start trying for our second child. We had been on the fence about the decision for a long time, mostly thinking we were one and done with kids. We finally decided in July 2017 we wanted to go for it.

I cheerfully made the assumption that it would again be super easy to reproduce this go around. It was the first time, right? Same two people, older and a bit more banged up than before, but we already made one human together with ease, why would another be challenging?

After three cycles with no success I got a bit discouraged. One mistake I feel like I made was telling people that we decided to starting trying for another child. I don't know why I felt the need to share that with a few co-workers, I guess because I thought it would be a quick process, but being asked repeatedly if I was knocked up yet was a big reason I threw in the towel so quick. I was like, well damn, I'm not pregnant, this isn't working, I quit. It was also embarrassing for people to know I yearned for another baby and my body wasn't producing one. I just needed a break from thinking about it, so we put trying on hold for a few months.

We resumed again in January 2018. February. We skipped Marched. Then April. I was obsessively taking pregnancy tests each month. I mean like 7 or 8 tests in a couple days span. (You can buy test strips in bulk for $20 bucks on Amazon.) I would get negative results each time, but whatever, they were cheap tests, probably not accurate, so I kept taking them thinking it was wrong and holding out for two pink lines. In April my period began right on time, starting with some typical light spotting. I had just taken a negative test two days before, so now here was my proof it wasn't a faulty test.

The spotting continued, followed by my regular time of the month flow for a few days, followed by more spotting for several days, then heavier bleeding, then spotting, then stopping, then a bit more bleeding and finally ending with more spotting. This lasted into May, on and off for about 3 weeks total. I was a bit concerned, but prolonged spotting happened to me in March as well, so I just figured it was something my body did sometimes and moved on.

I had been tracking my ovulation using an app called Ovia along with taking ovulation tests each month to know when my peak time to get pregnant was. At the end of May was when I knew I would be fertile, but life was super hectic at that time. My two year old twin nieces were staying with me while my sister Courtney was out of town for major shoulder surgery, so it was almost impossible to think about trying to get pregnant, let alone actually find the time to do so. When the opportunity somehow presented itself for us to have sex, we did. I didn't take an ovulation test that month, I just went with the hunch that the timing was correct.

Then came June. 6 days after I should have ovulated I was sitting on the couch watching T.V. while my nieces were napping and Natalie was at school, and I got super weepy on a scene with a baby in it. I've always been a very emotional person, but I paused and thought I was being overly hormonal, even for myself. An idea clicked and I got a surge of excitement. I went upstairs to take a pregnancy test. I waited, expecting the same outcome I had been getting each month. Then, very faintly, two pink lines appeared. I. Freaked. Out. I cried tears of happiness! So many joyful feelings ran through me! FINALLY I got my positive test!

Then the joyful feelings left, and logic set in. I checked my ovulation app to confirm dates.  I only had sex/possibly ovulated 6 days prior. I knew even once the sperm and egg meet it takes about 10 days for implantation to occur, and until implantation happens you cannot get a positive test. So it dawned on me: the on and off bleeding in April must have meant a miscarriage, and my body had just enough hormones left to give off a dull positive. But if there were enough hormones now, certainly two days before my period was due in April I would have gotten a faint positive too. Maybe I was pregnant after all! Maybe implantation happened freakishly quickly. OMG, what if I was having twins!? Twins produce stronger hormones than one baby, so it seemed feesable. But no, all the bleeding wasn't right. There was no way I didn't have a miscarriage.

This was the emotional roller coaster I was on for how ever many days it took me to get in to see my doctor. Back and forth between sheer excitement and happiness and then disappointment and fear.

I kept taking tests every day, waiting for the lines to dissipate, but they remained unchanged. I scheduled the appointment only revealing to the receptionist that I took an at home pregnancy test and it came back positive. When I went in for the appointment the nurse was friendly, asked me for a urine sample after taking my height and weight and then lead me to the exam room. She asked me if this was my first pregnancy, and I told her no, I have a 6 1/2 year old daughter. She congratulated me on my current pregnancy, asked about the medicines I take, took notes, and then left.

I waited, feeling nervous, for the doctor to come in. After an unusually long time, she finally entered the room. She greeted me, and then said, "So you took an at home pregnancy test and it came back positive?" and that's when my heart sank and I knew theirs said otherwise. I explained to her that I wasn't delusional, and I took many, many tests all displaying the same thing: two faint pink lines. I don't remember if I started crying then, or after she replied, "I believe you," but my god, I became a bawling mess.

I explained the whole situation to her as best as I could. The bleeding, when I would have ovulated, the negative test and how my period came on time. I asked if miscarriages can coincide with your period due date and she said yes. She told me the urine tests they use in the office look for a hormone level over 50, and we would do a blood test to check my levels. I just kept sobbing, even as the nurse lead me to the lab for blood work. I pulled myself together enough to not have tears rolling down my face when we got there. I remember having the sniffles hard when the lab technician was drawing my blood, and she asked me if I had allergies, which I lied and said yes.

Later that day, or maybe it was the next day, it's all a blur to me, my lab results were back. My hormone level was at 20, which could mean a super early pregnancy, or a resolving miscarriage. Great. Still no answers. I was told to come back in two days to see if my levels doubled or not. I did just that, and I know the results for that particular test took two days, because I went in on a Wednesday and I got the call while I was at work on Friday with the conclusion: my levels were now at 10, so that meant miscarriage.

I cried in the coat closet at work and a co-worker comforted me, one who knew I was trying for another kid. When I was off of work I had to make another trip to my doctors office for a Rhogam shot, since my blood type is A-. (It's a confusing medical thing that I don't even really have my head wrapped around, but if your blood type is RH negative and you're pregnant with a baby that has RH positive blood, the bloods can mix and this can cause an issue.) I didn't ask in detail why I had to get the shot after a miscarriage, I was told it would protect future pregnancies, so I just did it. I had to go back two weeks later to see if my levels dropped to 0. They did and the doctor gave me the green light to resume trying to conceive.

Statistics say that about 15-20% of recognized pregnancies end in a miscarriage. They say recognized, because  some women miscarry without ever knowing they were pregnant. I was almost one of those women, I almost didn't know I had had a miscarriage. Just like everyone's body adjusts from miscarriage at different paces, so does their heart. I wasn't glad I lost what could have been, but if it was bound to happen to me I was certainly relieved in the way it transpired. I could only imagine how heart broken I would be if I got more attached to the idea of the pregnancy being viable. In a less than ideal situation I knew it could be and often is always worse.

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