I’m not sure why I haven't been able to write about this. I'm not even sure how this is going to go… but here goes. This is a longer post because I feel like it's important to share details. I know miscarriages are common, but I also want to emphasize how horrible they are. I hope that by reading this you feel a little less alone or can console someone who is going through this. I realize every miscarriage is different but they all hurt and the one thing that helped my mental state was finding out that other people around me, even close friends, had had miscarriages, too.
December 4, 2018 was my transfer day. I rested and 11 days later we got the best news we had gotten since we found out we were pregnant with the girls. It worked – we were pregnant! I was so relieved and so happy and thought we had finally made it!
We couldn't stop smiling. We wanted to tell everyone – especially the girls – but we didn't. We changed our travel plans as we had planned on going to Puerto Vallarta that winter break and the doctor had advised us to avoid any areas with Zika outbreaks. At this point there wasn't a hesitation on our end; we didn't want to risk anything so we were Hawaii bound! (Not that we suffered at all. I know how lucky we are to be able to travel; it was just a change).
That trip to Maui was probably the most relaxed I'd ever been on vacation. I was done "working hard" to get pregnant, I was FINALLY pregnant! I was able to sleep in, lay by the pool all day, go on beach walks, eat A LOT of chocolate covered pretzels and best of all NOT worry about when this pregnancy was going to happen!
We came back from vacation and had our six-and-a-half (there's that half again) -week appointment to hear the baby's heart beat. On a side note – it’s amazing how many appointments you have when doing IVF. We were only six weeks in and we had already had two ultrasounds!
We knew this was a crucial day since there was a possibility that there wouldn't be a heart beat.
"Congratulations! There's the heartbeat and everything looks exactly how it should look by week six.”
My eyes welled up but for the first time in that office they were very happy tears.
We called the girls in to the room. We couldn't wait to tell them any longer. They were ecstatic to say the least and we didn't stop talking about the baby from that day on. I told them not to tell their friends yet but that we would go and tell my parents in a fun, clever way. We ended up decorating T-shirts and since my dad calls the girls "chiquitas" we decided to write "chiquito/a #3" on my shirt. Mimi and Abi (that’s what we call them) were so happy… we all were. The sense of relief was felt throughout the house. We all felt at peace.
The time came for our last check up at fertility center #2. Week 8 was the week when we would "graduate" from the doctor and then began to have all of our appointments at our regular OB. I had already scheduled mine for January 31 at 11 in the morning. Then she would be able to scan for the baby's sex. We had probably already spent over 50 hours at this point just talking about the gender reveal party and boy/girl names.
It was just Nick and I in the room this time as the girls were in school. I had come down with a horrible cold (probably the worst I had ever had since I could remember). The doctor already knew this though, since I had previously called the office in panic mode about the severity of the cold. So when the doctor asked how I was, I said "good" and he smiled.
The ultrasound began. The doctor didn't say anything for what seemed like an hour and I started to get really nervous. I looked at the monitor and knew it didn't look right. I knew what it was supposed to look like at that point and it didn't. My heart sunk. “It doesn't look good Erin. I'm so sorry."
I felt like my world collapsed. I couldn't breathe. I reached for Nick standing to my left and grabbed for his shirt to avoid from falling off the exam bed. My legs were still in the air but nothing mattered in that moment. Nick was crying too but I could tell he was trying to keep me afloat physically and emotionally. I felt like I couldn't walk. I couldn't talk or say more than two words which were "now what?"
Of course no one had answers that day. My favorite nurse hugged me in disbelief. We had just seen the heart beat! I didn't understand!
We walked out the back door. I had to drive myself home since Nick and I met there and he had to go back to work. I'm honestly not sure how I managed that, but I did, I had to. My mom came over but I quickly asked her to please leave. I needed to be alone. I also didn't know what I needed.
I don't remember much of that week, I'm not even sure how I managed to get through that to be completely honest. Mornings were the worst for me. I woke up now having to go back to my non-pregnant routine. I knew I could go to my favorite yoga or Pilates class. I could eat whatever I wanted. I could have WINE again. I didn't have to put progesterone shots in my ass anymore.
But I didn't want any of that back. I wanted to have to check the time to take my estrogen. I wanted to keep my reminder set on my phone for those progesterone shots. I wanted all of that back. I needed to wake up from this nightmare, this very vivid dream, just like the ones I had been having, but this one didn't seem to pass.
I had to take Misoprostol and initiate the miscarriage. This is pill that you shove into your vagina to help initiate the miscarriage so that you bleed everything out at home. The doctor also wanted me to try and collect any tissue that came out when I bled. He wanted to test it so that we could see if the embryo was abnormal. Since we didn't test our embryos from this retrieval, he was assuming the miscarriage happened because the embryo was not normal.
I "took" the pill and waited. *WARNING* The next few sentences are graphic. I bled A LOT the next day. Every two minutes I felt "stuff" coming out (mucus, blood, tissue) and I ran to the bathroom to sit on my little hospital grade toilet cover that allow me to "catch" and collect whatever the doctor needed. Literally softball-sized tissue was coming out of my body. I had to put it in a sample cup. I remember sobbing every time I had to do it. It was like mourning the embryo every time I bled out.
I finally stopped shedding what seemed like pounds of blood and mucus and I took what I had collected into the doctor. Relief! Now I could start to focus on the next steps. I didn't let myself mourn because I knew I just wanted to keep pushing.
Once inside the exam room, I took my pants off and lay on the exam bed with my feet on the stirrups. "I’m sorry, we need you to take Misoprostol again. You still have a lot of tissue left from the pregnancy. I guess it all didn't come out the first go around."
I felt like breaking down again, and I did. I couldn't imagine doing this again! Was this normal? It's like having two miscarriages when all I wanted to do was move on.
Back at home, I pushed the pill into my vagina again only this time I bled much sooner and WAY more. I bled over night (instead of the next day as anticipated), which meant I was not prepared and believe me you have to be prepared when this pill takes effect. It was pitch dark and everyone was sound asleep. I woke up to a puddle of blood under me. I freaked out but ran to the bathroom and pushed so that the rest could come out. I changed and lay a towel down in bed hoping that was it. Boy, was I wrong. I soon found myself in another pool of blood having to run to the bathroom, once again attempting to collect whatever I could per the doctor's request.
I remember feeling mad at him. I wished he knew what this felt like. How could they put people through this?
I went through FOUR pairs of pants and underwear that night. I didn't sleep and lost so much blood that I couldn't walk the next day. I just wanted out of this nightmare.
None of what I had collected was testable. I felt like screaming and the tears welled up again. To this day, the doctor still thinks that the miscarriage happened due to the quality of the embryo (which was unknown), but we will never know.
I waited two more months for my HCG levels to drop to zero. Apparently this was very rare; most women’s levels drop in four-six weeks. Then again, most people don't have to shove two misoprostol pills up their vagina and bleed for weeks.
Almost three months later, levels dropped to negative (which is good because that meant we could start to move into another transfer cycle), but I was still bleeding. I came in for a hysteroscopy. I guess it was protocol after such a trauma on my uterus (and mind and body and family). The procedure would look at my uterus; my therapist could help with the rest.
I took the pain medicine since this procedure was painful. I got into the exam room and there we were once again. Two minutes later the doctor pulled the camera out. "I’m so sorry… it seems like there are still traces of tissue from the pregnancy. We need to perform a D&C right away."
I felt like my heart stopped. Or did it? I don’t know.
After three months of bleeding, of facing the miscarriage every day, I now had to do another procedure! I could have done this from the beginning! Again my eyes flooded with tears as I exited through the back door.
We scheduled the D&C for two days later. It was quick but now I had to wait another month and a half before moving forward. I was so tired, physically and emotionally. I still am.
But time has passed. Time has healed what seemed like could have never be healed. I still feel pain from that trauma, I still can't talk about it too much and it still feels like it was just yesterday, even though it's almost been a year. But I'm stronger because of it and I know now that I will always come out from under whatever life throws at me. I'm a true warrior!