“I am so sorry, there is no heartbeat.”
These 8 words are the last thing any expectant parent wants to hear. But unfortunately, it is said way too many times. One in four woman experience miscarriages in their lifetime. I’m not afraid to say that I am that one in four.
Today would have been the due date of our first baby. October 15th. It was going to be an amazing day. One day before my dads birthday. But instead, I am at home, still sore from the surgery on my uterus. Still a mess 9 months later.
I’ve been feeling very alone in this journey lately and although I try my best to stay positive and hopeful, I am still hurting. People see posts of me smiling, standing strong and encouraging others, leaning on my faith that everything will be okay and automatically assume I am in a good place. I think what I am trying to say is that it is important for people to understand that I can be strong and hurting immensely all at the same time. I thought this would be a good opportunity to put it out there, so no one would have to wonder or guess what my heart was feeling. I wanted to tell you my story and also, to hopefully raise awareness about miscarriages and to offer my support to anyone else going through a difficult time or struggling to deal with miscarriages or recurrent loss.
Pregnancy No. 1
The first time we got pregnant, we were so excited. We could not be happier. This was going to change our lives forever. Having a baby meant putting a pause in our travel plans for a little bit. But as soon as I saw the positive pregnancy test, I was overjoyed. I was ready to give everything up to have that child.
I found out on February 11th and I thought it was going to be a perfect gift to give to Ryan on Valentines day. I could barely contain my excitement. I went to CVS, got a “Congrats on being a dad card”, put the pregnancy test into the envelope and into a gift bag and gave it to Ryan the night before Valentines day
“I made something for you Ryan”. I smiled so hard when handing the bag over to him. Ofcourse, he took the card out, threw it to the side and began fishing into the bag to see what I made him. But there was nothing else in the bag other than the card with the pregnancy test. He opened it and his mouth dropped. He was shocked, he had absolutely no idea. “I’m going to be a dad?” he said. He couldn’t believe it. It was such an exciting and happy night for us!
At this point I was about 5 weeks pregnant. We talked about when we were going to tell our family and close friends. Keeping this news from our family and friends was so hard. We had Ryan’s family over for dinner Friday night and ordered some Chinese food from our favorite Chinese restaurant. We customized some fortune cookies with a message that said “ Prepare yourself for a surprise that takes 9 months to arrive.” Everyone opened their cookies without suspecting a thing. Ryan’s brother, giggled when he read his. We asked him to read it aloud and then Ryan’s mom read hers. It all said the same thing. They then finally realized what we were trying to tell them. There were lots of happy tears and hugs that followed, in addition to me stuffing my face with lots of lo mein.
The next day we told my family who are scattered around the US, Kuwait and India. Everyone was so happy for us.
Ryan’s morning routine went from a kiss on the forehead to a kiss on the forehead and a kiss on my belly for our growing baby. The next couple of weeks, I was downloading all possible pregnancy apps to check the progress, called my OBGYN for my first check up, and began taking my prenatal pills. Every day when I would have a moment to myself I would hold my belly and talk to our baby. We already loved it do much. I did not even know it was possible to have that kind of love for something so small that was not even born yet.
Things Took a Turn
Everything was progressing well per my pregnancy apps. Until week 7. I started spotting a little. Two days went by and the spotting only got heavier. I started to google what I was going through and if it was potentially having a miscarriage. All the articles I read advised to call the doctor no matter how small the bleeding was, so I did. They sent me for blood tests with a gap of two days in between to see if my HCG (pregnancy hormone) was dropping.
At this point, my spotting turned to bleeding and I started to feel sharp stabbing pains in my lower abdomen. My breast soreness started to go away and my heart was full of fear that we are going to lose this baby. I could not focus on anything. All day my heart was pounding, I felt nauseous to my core and all I could think about is if we are losing this baby or if this is just a little scare. I prayed and prayed and cried so much. I begged God for me to not lose this baby. We wanted it so bad.
I had two blood tests taken two days apart and we were waiting for the lab results to come in. I also happened to have my 8 week ultrasound scheduled for that Friday morning. That Thursday night before, the sharp stabbing pain became more intense. So intense that I was rolling on the floor in pain. What was happening to me? This cannot be normal. We just wanted to know what was going on. Reading all these article on google and self-diagnosing was driving us crazy. I could not take any pain medication like I normally do when I have cramps. So, I tossed and turned in bed, crying my eyes out from the pain. I went to the bathroom every 15 minutes because I could feel my bleeding getting heavier. I tried to cry as quietly as possible so I didn’t have to wake up Ryan.
Down the toilet
At about 2:30 am, I was sitting on the toilet seat and all of a sudden felt the whole amniotic sac pass. I looked down into the toilet and knew it was over. I couldn’t be quiet anymore. I fell to the floor and began crying hysterically, shaking in fear, pain and sorrow while I looked into the toilet bowl. I couldn’t get myself to flush our baby away. This was it. Our baby that was growing in my for the past 2 months, now just sitting lifeless in the bottom of the toilet. Ryan came over to me and hugged me and had to drag me out of the bathroom. My head was pounding, I was throwing up from crying so much and from being in so much pain. It was over. This pregnancy was over and there was nothing I could do about it. I was numb. My body was cold and I just laid on the bed in state of shock hoping this was just a bad dream. But, how could it be a dream if I hadn’t slept one bit in the last week?
8 AM Doctors Visit
This visit to the doctor was pointless. I didn’t even want to get out of bed but I had this little slither of hope that maybe I didn’t actually miscarry and this was just some sort of crazy thing that happens during pregnancies and everything is okay. But the Doctor did an ultrasound and confirmed that she could no longer see a gestational sac.
I had no reaction. I was lifeless like a zombie. There was nothing I could do. In my head I was just angry and sad. Mad at God and mad at life. Mad at myself. Why did I work out so much? I didn’t want to gain too much pregnancy weight so as soon as I found out I was pregnant I started working out more. Why did I carry that heavy box? To make things worse, it was the middle of tax season. Did the stess cause this? Did I spend too much time working? Did I kill our baby? What did I do? This is all my fault.
The Doctor wanted me to continue getting blood tests till all the HCG hormone was out of my body. They needed to rule out the fact that I could potentially have an ectopic pregnancy where the fetus implants outside of the uterus, which could be dangerous for both me and the baby. So, the next few weeks I continued to get poked by needles. I used to be scared of them. Now I am so used to them.
The Two Horned Uterus
At the appointment, the doctor identified that I have a uterine abnormality. She explained that a uterus is supposed to be pear shaped but mine was shaped like a heart. There is a septate wall that is in the middle of the uterus that makes it look like a heart. This wall is fibrous and doesn’t have blood flow and is not strong enough to hold a baby if the embryo attaches to it. She explained that although there are many reasons miscarriages happen, some of which are unexplained, having a septate uterus meant, I have a higher chance of miscarriage, not just in the first trimester but a higher chance of a 2nd trimester miscarriage. I also have a 90% of pre term labor which means my baby would be premature and I would have to have a c section because there wouldn’t be enough space for the baby to turn.
Wow, I had no idea. I knew I had a heart shaped uterus but I thought that just meant more painful periods. I never thought it would affect my pregnancies. I asked the doctor what could be done to fix it. She told me my options and I chose to go with the least invasive option – an MRI, to get a better idea of how big this septate was. So I did the MRI, paid 600$ out of pocket because insurance didn’t cover it. The results from the MRI said that my septate was so insignificant that it didn’t bear any risk. What a relief that was. But what a lie it was indeed.
Pregnancy No. 2
Knowing that I had nothing to worry about based on the MRI results, we wanted to get pregnant right away. We didn’t know if it would take us long to get pregnant because of my uterus so we wanted to start trying as soon as my body felt it was ready. We got pregnant pretty quickly, within 2 months of trying. This time the experience was so different. When I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t know if I was happy or scared. When I peed on that pregnancy test I was shaking. Every second, all I could think about was am I going to lose this one too? Will this one be okay?
I called the doctor and they wanted me to come in earlier this time to ensure everything was going smoothly. So I scheduled my first ultrasound for 7.5 weeks. This was going to be right after our 3rd anniversary trip to Europe. This couldn’t have been a better time to find out. I would be nice and relaxed on vacation with no stress of work. In Europe, I did a lot of relaxing but also a lot of walking. Now and then I would feel this random sharp pain in my abdomen but I read that it happens when the uterus is explaining. Ofcourse, again all I could think about was if I was having a miscarriage. Every time I peed, I would wipe myself so hard and stare at the toilet paper to see if there was any trace of blood. But, there was no bleeding at all. This made me feel so much more at ease.
At my 7.5 week appointment, we got to hear the heartbeat of our little baby. 180 mph, a strong heartbeat. The Doctor said everything looked great and the baby measured a good size. I recorded the heartbeat so I could send it to our family. I couldn’t stop crying in happiness. I listened to it every night. This was our little baby’s heartbeat. At week 8.5 we were relaxing at Cape Cod with close friends who we told about our pregnancy. Again, we did a lot of relaxing on the beach. Ryan made sure I did not carry anything heavy or stress myself out. I did a very light Zumba class that week and started to feel light cramping again. Maybe I over did myself today. I need to take it easy I told myself. Every morning I woke up I would touch my breasts to see if they were still sore. And they were. Still no bleeding so I knew everything was okay.
The scare at Trader Joe’s
Once we were back from vacationing at the cape, we were grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s. Suddenly I felt this big blob in my underwear. OMG. What was that? I rushed to the bathroom and I saw a big blob of blood. My heart sank and I began crying hysterically. I tried to get myself together to go out and tell Ryan. I finally was able to tell him what was going on crying in the middle of Trader Joe’s and we left right away. We called the doctor and again they ordered blood tests two days apart. But after that day I had no more bleeding. The bleeding stopped and there was no pain.
The doctor called a few days later with good news. She said my HCG levels were rising and everything looked good. I was about 9 weeks pregnant then. This was longer than my first pregnancy and we were so happy to hear that everything was okay. Only three more weeks to go and my miscarriage risk would be low. We just wanted to get to week 12 already!
At this point the doctor wanted to have a 10 week checkup. I took a shower that morning, sang happy songs to my little baby, put on one of my favorite summer dresses, had a smoothie and hopped in my car. I felt my breast again that morning and they weren’t very sore anymore. But, no point worrying. I’m going to get to the clinic and the doctor will tell me everything is okay, I reassured myself. “Can you save your maternity clothes for me please”, I texted my sister before I backed out of the garage.
When I got to the doctors office, they took my blood pressure, took a urine pregnancy tests and then took me over to the ultra sound room. The doctor asked how I was feeling. I went alone this time because Ryan had a work meeting that morning. The doctor was explaining that at the next appointment they could potentially tell the sex of our baby. OMG, I was so excited. I already had so many plans for our baby. What their room was going to look like, how I was going to dress them, we even started picking out names.
The doctor put on her rubber gloves and then took a look at the ultrasound. She moved the transvaginal ultra sound around and got very quiet. “Oh dear” she said. I just started at the ultrasound screen. She looked harder and turned the sound of the machine on. She then looked at me and said “I’m so sorry there is no heart beat.”
I lost it. Just broke out in tears. Why is happening to me? “Are you sure,” I asked the doctor as she hugged me tightly and tried to calm be down. She left the room to get the other doctor to take a second look and I texted Ryan right away telling him there was so heartbeat. The other doctor came in and did a second look. He said the same thing.
The doctor explained to me that what I experienced was “ missed miscarriage” this is when the baby has stopped growing or died but there are no miscarriage symptoms such as bleeding or pain. At this point I had three options.
- choose to let the miscarriage end naturally and wait for me to start bleeding and pass the baby out.
- choose whether to take medicine to bring on the miscarriage more quickly.
- choose to do surgery to take the fetus out
I decided I did not want to go through passing the fetus naturally like I did the first time. I just wanted this to be over as quickly as possible. So the doctor scheduled an emergency surgery called a Dilation and Curettage (D&C) where they took the fetus out and cleaned out my uterus. If the emotional and physical pain was not enough, after the surgery we were slapped with a $13,000 bill from the hospital. Insurance only covered $8,000 of it so we had to pay the remaining $5,000.
The doctor also explained to me since I’ve now had recurrent miscarriages they would like to refer me to a fertility doctor/ reproductive endocrinologist who specializes in recurrent pregnancy losses and uterine abnormalities. I was ready to do anything to just have a baby again. After a couple of weeks, we got an appointment at UConn fertility clinic with a Reproductive Endocrinologist who explained all the reasons for miscarriages. He explained that while the MRI showed a small septate, he wanted to do another procedure where he would see a better picture of the inside of my uterus. He was worried that I have a bicornate uterus instead of a septate uterus
Bicornate vs Septate Uterus
Bicornate uterus are also heart shaped but don’t have a septate wall. It is harder to fix and the whole uterus needs to be taken out of the body which is very risky. The doctor explained that if it was a bicornate there would be nothing he could do to help. So we prayed that my uterus was a septate uterus and not a bicornate. The procedure was scheduled a month later. When they doctor pulled up the 3D ultrasound of my uterus, the nurses in the room were all very excited.
“ We are sorry we don’t mean to be this excited but we don’t see these very often.” The doctor was amazed and explained that I have a very significant septate, covering the majority of my uterus. He told me that with a septate like this, I have a 85 % chance to miscarry. The good news was that he could operate and take the septate out. And this would bring the risk to 15%. We were so happy. This was the best news we had gotten in a while. The fact that there was a solution to the problem just made us so much at peace.
The surgery was scheduled for October 7th. They were going to operate with three incisions in my stomach and abdominal area. After my surgery last week, the nurse called the next day and explained that the doctor was able to accomplish everything he wanted to. Which means the surgery was a success. But, we will only know until we get pregnant again if it really worked.
Today, I am hurting
Today is October 15th and it’s my 2nd day back at work. While it still hurts when I bend down to pick something up or try to put my shoes on, we are just so happy and thankful to God that with today’s medicine and technology we are one step closer to getting pregnant and staying pregnant.
This year was a whirlwind for us. Not one day goes by where I do not think about our babies in heaven. Some days I’m okay, some days in a mess. Almost every night I still cry at night when I would pray. When I would pray for my angels in heaven and pray that they send down a perfect little baby for us to raise on earth. Some days I think about how many months pregnant I would be today. Like today, October 15th, our first baby would have been due.
So today, I am a mess. Today, I am not okay. Today, I am crying myself to sleep. I know there is no point about crying about the past. And no matter how strong I look and how much I smile, I’m hurting. I’m in pain, every day. So I’m sorry if don’t want to hang out around you and your kids this week. I’m sorry if I don’t want to leave the house. I don’t meant to be anti social. I’m just hurting. I don’t need you to tell me everything will be okay. I just want to cry.