Imagine laying on a cold table with a probe inserted inside your body, without your husband (because of COVID-19), while an ultrasound technician tells you those dreaded words every pregnant woman fears above all else: “I don’t see a heartbeat.” She nervously leaves to get the doctor and you wait there alone for him to confirm that your baby has died.
On Christmas Eve 2020, I found out I was pregnant with what would have been our second child (fourth pregnancy). It was unplanned, and must have happened when I weaned my 8 month old from nursing. I was in complete shock, as my husband and I had been going through an extreme amount of stress and making babies wasn’t on my radar. Nor was birth control, since I hadn’t gotten my cycles back. Once I processed that the tests, confirmed by my OB, were in fact positive, I was really happy. I began researching double strollers and joined a “2 under 2” group on Facebook. The thought of giving Emelia a sibling only 16 months younger and 1 grade below her in school made me very excited. See video below where I told my husband we were expecting.
Nothing, not even my previous losses, could have prepared me for the ache in my gut after being told “this just isn’t a good pregnancy.” I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage and blighted ovum, which means my body is working perfectly to sustain the pregnancy because it hasn’t gotten the memo that the fertilized egg either never developed into an embryo, or became an embryo but got reabsorbed by my body shortly thereafter. With this type of miscarriage there is a chromosomal issue with the zygote (fertilized egg) and it can’t go on to become a viable fetus. What we saw on the ultrasound was an empty gestational sac, and with my hCG levels well above 30,000, we should have seen a yolk sac, fetal pole, and a flickering heartbeat inside the gestational sac.
Unlike my previous pregnancy losses, where I found out the bad news while my body was in the process of becoming “un-pregnant,” this time I’m still very much pregnant. My hCG hormone levels are still doubling every few days because my body thinks it’s growing a baby. I still feel nauseous and hormonal and achy. There is nothing worse than the gut punch reminder of a super positive pregnancy test or feeling queasy to remind you that your body hasn’t caught on to the fact your baby is dead. Or the not knowing how many more days or weeks you’ll have to remain pregnant with nothing. I’m not pregnant with a baby, I’m just pregnant.
I was given three options: 1) wait for my body to recognize the loss and expel the gestational sac via a “period”; 2) take the abortion pill to induce the uterus to expel the sac; or 3) have a D&C to remove the sac, which is surgery under general anesthesia. I opted for #1 for now, as I don’t want to put my body through trauma if it can recognize the loss on its own. It recognized the loss of Baby Lia within a couple days of her passing, and recognized within a week or two that my second pregnancy was not viable. I’m hoping my body catches on fast this time as well.
Despite being thrilled about this pregnancy, I am ashamed to admit that there were times when I wished this loss on myself. My 9 month old still wakes up at night as much as a newborn. During 3 a.m. scream fests, I wished not to be pregnant. How could I possibly add morning sickness, acid reflux, backache, and another baby waking multiple times a night into the mix? But I didn’t mean it — I was just tired. The guilt I feel for wishing this upon myself is unbearable. I know you can’t “wish” a pregnancy away, but that doesn’t take away the guilt of momentarily hoping for this God awful pain.
I told myself that if I had another miscarriage, it wouldn’t be as hard this time because I have a living baby in my arms. I was wrong. Boy was I wrong. The pain stings just as bad as the first time, despite happening much earlier and in a much less traumatic way. I look at my baby girl and it breaks my heart that I couldn’t carry her little sister or brother. And I have to be strong for her, not stay in bed and put the covers over my head for two weeks. I didn’t believe this when I was childless going through my losses, but having all the children in the world cannot ease the pain of a miscarriage. I already have a beautiful baby and wasn’t 100% ready for a second, but my heart is completely shattered. My body betrayed me and a vision of a family of 4 was given to me and then ripped away.
While it is comforting having Emelia as proof that my body is capable of conceiving a healthy child, my odds of miscarriage have also significantly increased since I got pregnant with her. My doctor informed me that at my age, my odds of miscarriage are 35% every time. Thirty five percent! I don’t know if I can put myself through this pain again. Although the timing is far from ideal right now, waiting longer to have Baby #2 just means the likelihood of going through this heartache again increases. There is simply no telling how long it will take to miscarry this pregnancy, how long it will take to get pregnant again, or how many more miscarriages I will go through before (hopefully) conceiving a healthy child. My biological clock keeps ticking, the age gap between Emelia and her future sibling keeps increasing, and by the time Emelia becomes a decent sleeper I may have to start all over again with restless nights. I’m just exhausted. And I feel a constant ache as if someone punched me in the stomach.
There are truly no words to describe the feeling of still being pregnant after your baby is gone. And I truly believed that my losses were behind me and that it was all happy ending from here on out. I thought Emelia would be my only rainbow baby and my next would be the “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow. Reality is hard to swallow. RIP Baby Forbes #4.