Miscarriage at 9 weeks 4 days on November 10th, 2008
Whitby, Ontario, Canada
I’ve always known I wanted children. Well before I’d even met the man I wanted to have them with, they were wanted. And thanks to a lifetime of irregular cycles, my greatest desire soon turned to my greatest fear – that as much as I wanted children, I wouldn’t be able to have them.
So far, my fears have been realized.
I met my wonderful husband six years ago and we stuck to each other like glue from the get go. We talked about a future together and that future included the desire for children of our own. Since I already ‘knew’ things were going to be challenging because of me, we threw caution to the wind and decided to try somewhat early in our relationship. And we’ve been trying ever since.
We didn’t really start to worry until after our wedding and honeymoon in 2006. We figured that if things hadn’t happened by the time we got back from Europe we’d get the proverbial ball rolling and make an appointment with a fertility clinic. By then we’d been trying on our own for almost two years anyway, so there was no question that was the next step.
Many appointments and tests later I was diagnosed with PCOS and type II diabetes. Thus began month after month of different drugs, timed sex, IUI’s, and a litany of negative pregnancy tests. It just wasn’t enough, so we bit the bullet and decided our best chance was IVF.
Three and a half years after we’d started trying we embarked on our first IVF cycle. I was over suppressed, didn’t respond to the drugs, and was cancelled. We licked our wounds, regrouped, and tried again a few months later.
The second time things went better. Responded to the drugs like I was supposed to, 15 eggs were retrieved, 14 were mature, 10 fertilized and seven made it to beautiful five day old blastocysts. We transferred two of the little beauties back where they belonged and the waiting began.
Seven days after transfer I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to Zellers, bought some First Response tests, went to the bathroom and peed. And there it was, ever so faint. That elusive second pink line.
My husband was out so I spent hours staring at the stick, trying to convince myself that what I saw was real. When he finally got home he squinted madly as I thrust the stick at him but yep, he saw it too. Just shy of four years after we’d started trying, we were finally pregnant.
Our joy, sadly, was short lived. The very next morning I had some brown spotting and while I didn’t think too much of it, a friend suggested I contact my fertility clinic for some blood work. They asked me to come in immediately, and I did. A few hours later the pregnancy was confirmed but the real worry began. My beta was 7 so very low, and my progesterone was only 8. Miscarriage was, they said, imminent.
My doctor decided to try switching up my progesterone in an effort to help, so I began taking massive shots of progesterone in oil in the muscle of my lower back/upper butt cheek. Not fun. But if it worked, I’d do pretty much anything.
Every few days I was back in for betas. My numbers were rising, but not as they should be. Then they’d be on target, only to not double as they should the next time. When I was 6w4d I had my first ultrasound. I was measuring behind and there was no heartbeat, but it was still ‘early’ so we waited a week. At 7w4d a heartbeat of 89 was present (I’ll never ever forget that sight on the ultrasound monitor) but I was only measuring 6w1d. This was not going well. There wasn’t sufficient growth, the pregnancy wasn’t viable, and we began preparing for the inevitable.
At 8w4d I returned for yet another ultrasound. There had been no growth at all, but the heartbeat had increased. When the doctor turned to me and said , “this is not good news” any hope I may have had disappeared. I couldn’t get a D&C because even though there was absolutely no growth and we knew it wasn’t viable there was still a heartbeat, and no hospital would do a D&C while a little heart still beat. I was told I could wait for that heartbeat to stop or, if I wanted it to be over, I could go to an abortion clinic. I was gutted.
We were due back for yet another ultrasound at 9w4d but in the early morning hours of Monday, November 10, 2008 I began to miscarry at home. I awoke in the middle of the night after a very vivid dream in which I lost the baby, only to find it coming true before my eyes. I called to my husband from our bathroom and told him it was happening. He groggily got up, turned on the light, and quickly went to work stripping the sheets off the bed so I would never have to see what he saw. I’ll always be grateful to him for that.
When the bleeding didn’t stop we decided it was time to go to the hospital. I was soaking a pad every ten minutes and passing large clots – I needed help. When we finally arrived 25 minutes later I’d bled through my pad, my pants, and onto the towel my husband had put on the passenger seat of the car. I was mortified, scared, and embarrassed. I couldn’t emotionally begin to wrap my brain around what was happening…I was in too much shock.
The night hospital staff were amazing. They took me into my own room immediately and gave me peace and quiet. They expressed how sorry they were for my loss, and I believed them. They hooked me up to the IV and gave me drugs to make my uterus contract in an effort to complete the process, the very same drugs they used to induce pregnant women into labour. Oh the irony. And then it slowly started to hit me that our dream was really over.
An ultrasound the next morning (yes, I had to wait nine hours for an ultrasound) confirmed the miscarriage and ruled out the need for a D&C. I was discharged and we began to make our way home. I pulled out my BlackBerry to send a message to my boss telling her what happened and that I wouldn’t be in that day. We had an important meeting scheduled, and I needed to let her know that I wouldn’t be there. As I scrolled through my messages my eyes drifted to one from the person we were supposed to be meeting with. He was cancelling the meeting himself because his wife had had their baby the night before. I put my BlackBerry away and just closed my eyes for the rest of the trip home.
I took that and two other days off before I had to return to work, but I wasn’t ready. I had barely begun to grieve! But I had a massive presentation to prepare for, and I had little choice. So back I went. And I don’t know if I’ve ever really had the proper chance to grieve as a result.
Some days I give myself permission to play what if. To imagine what our lives would be like today if we hadn’t experienced that crushing loss. We’d have a 16 month old now. Our lives would be different in ways I can’t even imagine, though, because most of the time I can’t let myself go there - it’s just too painful. Too hard. It makes me too angry. And just too sad. I’ve spent an awful lot of these past six years being angry and sad.
We tried a frozen embryo cycle months after our loss and it wasn’t successful. We then tried another fresh IVF and it, too, didn’t work. A few more IUI’s in there for good measure didn’t do the trick either. So here I am now in 2010. 37 years old, six years of trying to conceive under my belt, $40,000 less in my bank account and empty arms without a child to hold.
Though I rarely talk about it publicly and I know so many others have lived through so much worse, I, too, am the face of loss. The loss of hope, the loss of innocence, the loss of all the possibility that was to be our child. And almost two years after that loss, I’m finally ready to show my face.
You can contact Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org