Please don’t feel like you have to read the following info. It’s long and traumatic. It helps me to put my thoughts and feelings into words but if you aren’t comfortable with my oversharing of my medical trauma, infant loss, or if you are uncomfortable with women’s reproductive issues please stop reading.
I thought I was doing all of the things right. I waited until I was well past the 1st trimester to announce my pregnancy, I took my prenatal vitamins, followed my doctor’s recommendations, we talked about names, I bought a mini van, I planned a beautiful nursery, we did a gender reveal with my family, and we loved our unborn baby.
Everything was perfect until it wasn’t. I went in for a routine appointment at 17.5 weeks pregnant and found out my baby had no heartbeat. Not only did my baby girl not have a heartbeat, but based on measurements she had likely passed around two weeks before my appointment. This still weighs heavy on my heart. How did I not know?! How could I walk around for two weeks and not know!? What kind of Mom does that make me?
You would think that would be the worst of it, but this was just the beginning of my nightmare.
What Happened After Finding Out I Lost My Baby
During a 2nd trimester miscarriage where the baby isn’t born (is that the right word?) on his/her own you have two options… D&C or an induced labor and delivery. This decision was not one I took lightly. I’ll spare you the gory details, but know that this decision was gut wrenching for me.
I decided to go the D&C route which took place two days after I found out that my baby had passed. Why two days you might be wondering… Well you need a negative COVID test before you can go into surgery. Can you even imagine running around for two days knowing this information and being able to do nothing?!
I was told that the D&C was the safer, less painful, and quicker option. I was told that it’s an outpatient procedure 100% of the time. I went in for the procedure at 9am. Only to get to the hospital to be told that since I ate breakfast (I’ve never had surgery… how was I supposed to know I couldn’t eat?! NO ONE told me this info.) I would have to come back in 6 hours after fasting. Getting out the door the first time was hard enough. The 2nd time was the same nightmare all over again. Back to pre-op I go.
The procedure itself seemed to go well. However, I woke up in post-op having a huge panic attack and apparently making a huge scene (I don’t have full memories of this time just bits and pieces). So they get my husband (he wasn’t supposed to be in the post-op area but they made an exception to try to calm me down) who I had been asking for. Then they whisk me off to a more private area. My antics also distracted the doctors from what was going on with me.
In the more private area they handed my husband the discharge papers (again I have no memory of this as I’m in and out of consciousness). As the doctor is walking out, she checks my bleeding one more time. And it’s not good. Suddenly there are 10 or so people rushing in to fix things. Unfortunately, I have a complete memory of this and it’s traumatic. I don’t care to share all the details. But eventually after much to-do they get everything under control and decide to admit me to the hospital.
When admitted, they send me to a cancer floor. I think they just thought I was going to need some water and light monitoring and they were trying to spare my feelings and didn’t want to put me on the labor and delivery (L&D) floor. However, I was bleeding a lot. I knew I was bleeding a lot. I knew I wasn’t okay. Every time I told my nurse she would shrug me off (again she has no experience with my situation at all). I’m not trying to be dramatic here, but the thought of death crossed my mind more then once. I thought if I fell asleep, I would never wake up. And I felt like no one was listening to me despite being in a hospital.
Finally after complaining to 3 different nurses someone called L&D and they quickly saw my situation, transferred me to their unit to be closer to the doctors and have nurses experienced with my situation. Eventually, I received some drugs to help contract my uterus and stop the bleeding. And then a blood transfusion since I had lost so much.
My outpatient procedure tuned into a life or death situation. But the saga continues….
All of the above took place at IU Methodist Hospital downtown. It wasn’t with my OB whom I’m comfortable with or at the hospital I normally visit (IU North). After the procedure I contacted my doctor about being in a good amount of pain and he had me come in to his office for some testing. After an ultrasound it was found that I still had a good amount of blood still in my uterus. This is what was likely causing my pain.
This means I had to go back into surgery – back under anesthesia – back to the hospital. To say I was terrified to do this all over again would be an understatement. But I didn’t really have a choice… my options were wait and see if my uterus became infected (which would likely lead to a hysterectomy) or have the procedure done.
The good news is this 2nd surgery was much less traumatic and eventful. I did still wake up having a panic attack, but everyone fully expected that this time around which (at least in my head) made it better. I’m not sure my husband would agree as this time when I came to I was asking for my baby. My doctor took very good personal care of me and for this I’ll forever be grateful to him.
It’s now 6 days post my second surgery and I’m still in a good deal of physical pain. I hope time will heal this.
Right now I have no answers to anything. We did genetic testing early in the pregnancy and everything came back perfect. I had two ultrasounds before baby Ellie died and they were both perfect. All the blood tests I’ve had run after the fact have come back mostly fine but I do have a follow-up appointment with a hematologist due to some blood work that came back questionable. They will also do some testing on the placenta to see if that will give us some answers. However, I’ve been told it’s not likely to tell us much.
What you may not know, is that we have struggled with fertility issues to conceive all three of our children. It’s always been explained to me as unexplained [secondary] infertility. I’ve never had any real answers in that arena, so the not knowing is nothing new though still equally infuriating.
I know I need to heal now. I’m not really sure what that looks like. The truth is, I’ve been so consumed in trying to keep myself alive and stable that I don’t know that I’ve fully accepted what has happened to my baby.
There are daily reminders of what has happened – pain (both physical and mental), hair loss, a postpartum body without a baby to show for it, a half finished nursery, my son who asks questions I don’t have answers for and so much more. There are times where I’m fine and everything seems normal. Then there are times when I’m not.
I recently heard a quote that said “You need to write from a scar, not an open wound.” My wound is not healed but I’m writing anyway. I mostly write for me because it helps me to put it all down. But I also write for others so that they know they aren’t alone.
Did you know that 10% of pregnancies end in miscarriage? However, only 2% of all miscarriages happen during the 2nd trimester. How did I get so (un)lucky!? These numbers don’t make me feel better, but they do let me know that I’m not alone.
I have been working when I can. If you know me, you know I do better when I’m busy and that has not changed. I dream of the day where things are back to normal and I can just worry about the hustle and bustle of daily life and not which meds are causing which side effects and making arrangements for my baby to be cremated.
Many have asked me if I’ll continue doing the work that I do (I’m a newborn, birth and family photographer) given what has happened to me. The answer is undoubtedly yes. I can’t imagine doing anything else and all this has made me even more keenly aware of the miracle of life. Babies are perfect and there is so much that can go wrong in the process that we have no control of. When they do arrive, in all their perfection, they deserve to be captured, cherished, shared and loved on. If nothing else, I want to get even more involved in the birth world- possibly getting my doula certification and/or become even more active with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (infant bereavement photography) or something. Only time will tell how I will turn this experience into something more.
The good news is I’m surrounded by many who love and will/have helped me. My biggest blessings have been my family. My husband has had to take care of me in ways I have never wanted for him, but he has done it with love and compassion and understanding. We try to keep the adult conversations away from the kids. However, we did tell them that our baby did pass and they will not get to meet her. My son took it hard but he was comforted by his sister in ways I never thought could be done by a two year old. Our daughter has no idea what is truly going on, but she has an innate sense of what others need. She knows when we need a hug, or a laugh and she will deliver every time. My living kids are what brings me joy right now.