|Somehow this picture just seemed appropriate|
Well, we got answers today. So, as promised, I'm back here to tell you all what's going on. But know that I do it with a tender heart. If you have horror stories, don't leave them in the comments. No matter how well-meaning they are, they will freak me out. So just help a sista out and keep your horror stories to yourself. Okay, with that said, here's what's going on.
The day after Christmas we found out I was pregnant. Hooray! Everything seemed fine. I felt fine. We were visiting family in Virginia at the time, so we went ahead and told everybody. That's what we had done when we found out I was pregnant with Olivia, so, ya know, no big deal. Well, of course it was a big deal, but I mean it was normal for us to tell everybody right away.
So we told Bryan's family then and there and we called some of my family on the phone to tell them. Everybody was of course happy and excited. Us included. The doctor's office had told me to call in as soon as I thought I was pregnant, so, since we found out in the morning on a regular weekday, I called in the day I found out I was pregnant and they scheduled me for my appointments with the nurse (you know, the one where they hand you a packet of baby info and tell you to take your prenatal vitamins) as well as an appointment with the doctor where he would do an ultrasound.
The appointment with the nurse was fine. She asked me if I was feeling pregnant. I had been feeling gross earlier that week so I said, "Uhh... yes." She told me to take my prenatal vitamins. Check. She handed me a packet full of baby information. Check. Took a pee sample and some blood, sent me out the door.
Then last week on Tuesday was my appointment with the doctor. 8 weeks pregnant. We had finally told Olivia ahead of time about my pregnancy. She was so cute. She kissed my belly and hugged it every night before she went to sleep. Every time she got sad I'd remind her about the baby in mommy's tummy and she'd get all happy again. So a couple days before my appointment Bryan told her about the baby show (ultrasound) and told her she'd get to see the baby on the baby show at the doctor's office. I came across the DVD of Olivia's ultrasound and showed it to her so she'd know what the "baby show" would look like. She was pretty excited.
All three of us went to my appointment--Bryan, Olivia, and me. The doctor asked me how I was doing. Any bleeding? Nope. Feeling okay? Yup. Then he had Bryan and Olivia come stand next to me so he could show us the ultrasound together. He moved the screen away for the first little bit. I remember thinking, "He probably does that in case it's bad news. Then he'll know before other people see it. No problem. Go ahead, doctor."
The tone in his voice changed. He turned the screen so we could see it. Bad news was coming, but it hadn't quite hit me consciously. He started pointing things out on the screen. "There's the pregnancy sac." And he kept trying to gently point out that he couldn't see a fetus. He was being so kind and choosing his words carefully, but I had no idea what he was talking about. Finally I blurt out, "I don't understand. Is there no baby?"
He shows us the abnormal shape of the pregnancy sac. He keeps trying to explain that I'm pregnant, but with no fetus. I keep feeling confused.
He turns the lights back on, tells me I can get dressed again, and says he'll be back again in a minute so we can talk.
I think back on that moment and more than anything I just feel so, so grateful that Olivia wasn't old enough to have any idea what was going on. She didn't seem phased by not seeing a baby in the baby show. But she was the only one.
I got dressed and the doctor came back. Olivia, who had missed her nap that day, was getting tired and squirrely. Bryan wrestled her while I sat with my eyes glued to the doctor and tried to listen as carefully as I could to everything he said. It was starting to sink in and make sense.
He said that what happened would be classified as a miscarriage. Part of the reason I was so confused was because I had always thought that I'd know if I miscarried. There would be blood and I'd know what happened. But I hadn't had any bleeding or spotting. At all.
The doctor said that what I have is called a "blighted ovum." What that basically means is that, technically, I am pregnant. There's a pregnancy sac and everything. But something went wrong with the pregnancy early on--like the genetics didn't match up right--and the pregnancy never started to form a fetus.
He said he couldn't be 100% sure just looking at one ultrasound, so he asked me to come back again in a week for a follow-up. But he was really open and honest with us. He told us that he was pretty sure he was right about it being a blighted ovum. He gave us a preliminary idea of what would happen next if it was--that it would either come out naturally, I could take some drugs to move the process along (he didn't recommend this in my case that day, but today when we talked he said it would probably be fine), or that it would need to be surgically removed.
He was so nice about it all. He sat and answered our questions for at least a half hour. Though, in the end, I went home with more questions than answers, if you know what I mean.
We made our follow-up appointment with the receptionist and then left.
I didn't cry. I didn't want to cry in the doctor's office. And I didn't want to cry like that in front of Olivia. It wasn't until later.
Later that evening, when I started writing an e-mail to our family and some close friends about what was going on, I just sat and bawled my eyes out. My heart was broken. Here I had been dreaming up a life with two little kids, a baby brother or sister for Olivia, what we'd name the baby, and then--nothing. It was all nothing. No baby. No sibling. No name. Just nothing. I felt so incredibly empty.
I cried over and over again that night. I was so sad about the lost hope of a child and so scared about what would be happening to me now. Everything I knew about having a miscarriage was that it was awful and painful and terrible and disgusting.
And I didn't know then what I know now about having it surgically removed and I was so scared about it. I thought it would be like having a C-section and I was terrified and angry. I thought, "All that pain and that whole traumatic experience, and there won't even be a baby at the end of it." The C-section I had had when Olivia was born wasn't a worst-case-scenario, but it was no walk in the park. It was a terrible experience and if there hadn't been a sweet baby girl at the end of it it would have been downright hellish. I kept thinking of having to be strapped down with my arms shaking and shivering and I just kept on crying and crying.
Later Bryan came up from studying and I told him how scared I was about it. He told me he had been looking it up online and that it wasn't like having a C-section. It wasn't supposed to hurt at all. And since they don't have to worry about a baby, they can put you under all the way. I hadn't thought about that. Then a day or two later one of my good friends who is a nurse stopped by and while we were talking about it she said that they don't even have to make an incision. They just do it vaginally. It's apparently a fairly minor process. Hearing those things helped calm me down a lot.
Then came the waiting. I should mention that the doctor had said that, if he was wrong and there was a baby inside, the reason he wouldn't have been able to see it at the initial ultrasound would probably be because we had aged the baby wrong and it was just smaller than we thought. There was some hope in that, I guess, but I knew in my gut and in my heart that the doctor's initial diagnosis would end up being correct. I had seen the screen on the ultrasound. The sac was plainly empty. And, while I'm not one to usually track my periods, I knew for sure when my last one had been. So the idea of it being aged wrong seemed very unlikely.
The problem is, my body still thinks it's pregnant. So I've been all over the place. Nauseated. In pain. Uncomfortable. Had no appetite. Had no energy. Not enough sleep. Congestion. And now it was all a constant reminder that it was all for nothing.
Despite all this, I was surprised how quickly I got over things--on an emotional level. I hope you won't think I'm heartless, but I haven't cried about the lack of baby since the day after we found out. It would be different--at least to me--if the circumstances were different. Mainly, if this was my first pregnancy and we didn't already have a child, I'd be absolutely devastated. I would worry that we would never have children, that I'd never have a successful pregnancy.
And, also, I would feel differently about it, I think, if it had been a regular miscarriage where a fetus had died. In that case, there would be the loss of an actual baby. (And, I know this is weird of me, but it just really grosses me out to think of having a dead baby inside my body. I told my friend that today and she laughed at me and told me I'm just weird. I think she's right.) If that were the case, I would be grieving a life lost, the death of a child. But in my case, there wasn't any death at all. It's just a lack of life. More of a lost hope than a lost life, if that makes sense.
So I sneaked into Olivia's room every night to give her extra kisses, and I got over things more quickly than I thought I would. I was still anxious to know what the next step would be, but I was past the grief. I felt ready to move on.
Then yesterday (Monday) I had this pain--sort of near the inside of my left leg joint (as you can tell, I'm really up on my anatomy) and the pain was getting worse. When I took a shower I was feeling around where it hurt and I felt a sort of lump. And then I really started freaking out. The next morning it was painful even to walk. I sat on the floor and cried while I changed Olivia's diaper. It just hurt.
I called the doctor's office. My doctor wasn't in, but they wanted me to come in and get checked out by one of the other doctors. Long story short, this other doctor did another ultrasound, confirmed that he still didn't see a fetus inside, and told me he didn't think the pain I was having was related to the pregnancy. And that was about it. He told me I should keep my appointment with my doctor (the one I had today--Tuesday) and basically sent me out the door. I was really frustrated about it. I guess it's good that it wasn't all something more serious, but it just seemed ridiculous not to leave with more information than I walked in with.
So now, today. Tuesday. I know this is posting after midnight so it'll say Wednesday I think, but it's still Tuesday to me. Anyway, today I went in for the appointment with my doctor. Obviously we left Olivia with a babysitter this time. I'll say first, that I woke up this morning with no pain. Whatever had been bothering me all week and especially yesterday, seemed to have gone away on its own. So I have no idea what that was about. The doctor doesn't really know either, but since it went away, we didn't worry too much about it.
Anyway, we went in, the doctor did yet another ultrasound, and confirmed his initial diagnosis. It was what I had expected.
He then told me I basically had three choices.
First, I could wait for the pregnancy to come out on it's own. He said it would feel like a really bad period with cramps and bleeding, and then it would be over. He said it usually happens pretty fast. The upside to this is that it happens naturally. The downside is that you don't know when it will happen. He said if I did want to wait, that he'd let me wait up to about 4 weeks. If it hadn't happened by then, they would insist on getting it out another way before it got infected or something and started causing other problems.
Second, he could give me some medications (he told me the name, but I forget now) that would help things along. He said it was kind of like getting Pitocin when you're in labor. But it's a different drug and, instead of helping your body push a baby out, it pushes out the miscarriage. The upside to this is that it still (sort of) happens naturally. The downside is that it can still be painful and, while you know a little better when it might happen, you still don't know exactly when it would happen.
The third option was to have it surgically removed. In this case, they would dilate the cervix and then go in and take out the pregnancy. The risks included anesthesia and the chance of puncture while they're getting everything out, but he said these were a less than 1% chance. The upside would be that I would know exactly when it would happen and then it would be over with. The downside would be that I'd have to go and and have the doctor do it and that it wouldn't happen naturally.
To be completely honest, I had already made up my mind about what I wanted to do before we walked into the doctors office today. I'm ready to move on. I just want to get it over with. The prospect of feeling like I have been for the past week any longer than I have to just sounded miserable. I asked him to schedule a time to remove it.
So I'm going in to have it removed on Thursday.
I'm not really looking forward to it. And I hate that I have to keep sending Olivia off with babysitters. But in my heart and in my gut, I feel that this route is for the best. Everybody is different, of course, but, for me, I feel that this is what's best. With the way things have been going and just knowing my body, I don't think it would be likely to come out on its own anytime soon.
The doctor said it could take up to a week to be fully recovered. Some recover faster, some take a little longer. But he said to expect about a week. Side effects could include residual cramping and bleeding.
I want to tell you why I'm telling you all this. Because this information is personal. Very personal. And some of it is a little gruesome and not very nice reading material. But I'm writing this for two reasons. One reason I'm writing it is because you have all been so kind and thoughtful over the past week and I wanted you to know what was going on. I didn't want you to be left in the dark with some mysterious answer about what's going on. I don't want you to keep worrying about me when you shouldn't.
But the other reason I'm writing all this--the most important reason I'm writing all this--is because I know I'm not the only one who will ever go through this. This is the post I wish I could have found and read that night I first found out. This is the information that would have calmed my nerves, told me what would happen, and help it all feel okay. This would have answered a lot of my questions. I think if I had read this I might not have felt so scared. I might not have felt so alone. I might not have felt so empty.
If you are going through this, know that it will all be okay. This will end. This problem, though it's overwhelming now, is temporary. You may not be right now, but soon you'll be okay. Don't let anyone tell you how you should feel. Feel what you do feel. If you feel sad, feel sad. If you feel lonely, feel lonely. And when you stop feeling sad and lonely, don't feel guilty for having the strength and the peace of mind to move on. It doesn't mean you're heartless. It just means that you trust God enough to know that he knows what's he's doing with your life and your body.
And know that I am thinking of you. You who is going through this. You who was just searching for "blighted ovum" looking for answers to a problem you don't yet understand. You who is feeling lost and confused. I hope through writing this you'll feel a sister walking you through it all. This is what happened to me. Soon I'll be okay. Soon you'll be okay too. I didn't give this post some clever title. I titled it as plainly as I could so that it will come up in searches and, hopefully, help you. I hope so much that it does. That it does help. That it brings you some degree of peace.
To everyone who's worried, please don't be. Things will be okay. I will be okay.
To anyone who still thinks it's okay to leave horror stories in the comments, again, please don't. I want what I've written here to comfort people, not freak them out.
And to all of you who have sent me e-mails, left comments on post, left treats and notes on my doorstep, babysat my daughter, brought meals, thought kind and hopeful thoughts, offered prayers on our behalf, and sent all your well wishes my way, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. I have felt it all. And it has all meant so much to me.
Things have been hard. But soon, it really will all be okay.
Edited to add: Click HERE to read about how the surgery went. It was really low-key and painless. Promise. :)