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October 15, 2013

Pregnancy Loss Guest Post -- Steph

{Friends, this is Steph, she has been an amazing source of support for me, and I hope she can be for you too. Here is her journey with pregnancy loss. For all the stories, click here.}

Hello The Kavanaugh Report readers! 

I’m Steph and I blog about life over The Kat Almanac. Thanks for letting me share my story today.

My husband and I began our baby making process in September of 2009. The reasoning was we would like to have the baby in May/June so that my mom could come stay with us for the summer and help out. I was young. Healthy. Why wouldn’t it take just one time?

Well, it ended up taking time. A lot of time.

I had been charting for a few months before we started trying. I used ovulation tests. But the months went by and nothing happened. To complicate matter, my cycles were getting longer and longer. So instead of having a chance at a baby every month it was more like every month and a half to two months for us.

I went to my doctor  because I was concerned I was ovulating so late in the cycle. I was worried maybe I wasn’t ovulating at all. They did the blood tests and in fact I was ovulating just very late as I suspected. She mentioned putting me on clomid (to regulate my cycles? I forget now the reason) but it wasn’t covered by our insurance so I held off.

I know it sounds crazy to go to the doctor after only a few months of not being able to conceive but I just had this feeling that something was off. I’ve always been pretty in tune with my body and deep down I knew something was wrong. I was especially worried that there was enough time between when I ovulated and when my period came.

Despite my fears, in February of 2010, I got pregnant. There was joy. Tears. We jumped up and down. Finally I had those two pretty pink lines. I called the doctor right away to arrange my first appointment. They asked me when my last menstrual period was and I told them and they told me a date. I would be coming in at only 5 weeks. I expressed concern since I know I ovulated late that this was kind of early. The receptionist assured me that it would be ok.

So we had our first appointment. They walked us through all the prenatal stuff. Insurance stuff. Finally, time for the ultrasound. The doctor could see the sac on the ultrasound, but not the baby. She assured us it was probably because it was so early and that the sac was a good sign. She made an appointment for us at the hospital to have an ultrasound with one of their techs. 

So a week later at 6 weeks I went by myself to have a second ultrasound. Same thing. The tech could see the sac but not any baby. I asked the tech what that meant and she said I would have to ask the doctor. I didn’t see any need for alarm so I called the nurse and left a message. I had to go up to Temple, Texas for work about an hour away for the day. On my way home, the nurse called and asked if the tech had said anything to me. I said no. She continued that at this point that it was probably a blighted ovum and that the egg fertilized and implanted but never grew. So somewhere between Temple and Austin in my truck I got the news that my baby was never really a baby.

They gave me a couple options. I could wait to miscarry on my own. They could give me a pill to do it. Or I could have a D&C. I told them I had to think about it.

Being the researcher I am and the egghead Brent is, we immediately went home and looked up all our options for the D&C. One phenomenon that we came upon was misdiagnosed miscarriage. Women who were told early that they had miscarried but turned out that later they did indeed see the baby and had a heartbeat. 

We held out hope. I called the nurse and said we wanted to wait a bit.

That next week at 7 weeks, I had some blood drawn to see if my HGC numbers had declined to see if the miscarriage was imminent. They had skyrocketed like a normal pregnancy. A few days later, before we were supposed to leave for vacation to Arizona, I had another ultrasound. There was hope. So much hope. Maybe there was a baby in there.

But still no baby. My uterus and sac were growing like there was a baby, but still no fetus.

We left for Arizona and during the trip I started to spot. As bad as it sounds, it was sort of a relief. I had all the normal pregnancy symptoms. Sore boobs. Nausea all day. But no baby. It wasn’t fair. Finally this ordeal would be over. I would finally know. 

But at 8.5 weeks, I still hadn’t miscarried on my own. So wrung out emotionally from weeks of the back and forth I told B that I wanted the D&C. I just couldn’t take it anymore. Our dream was over.

A day later I had to get on a plane to Chicago to make the trip where I was supposed to tell family and friends I was expecting. Babies were everywhere. I didn’t want to think about anything baby.

Well, turns out I got pregnant again right away. No period in between. We weren’t really trying. Just kind of leaving it up to God to make that decision for us.

I was petrified. I think I waited 2 weeks to get up the nerve to tell B. There was no joy this time. Just trepidation. There was so much confusion with the first doctor I ended up switching to someone new for this pregnancy. I made sure that I came in at 8 weeks according to my calculations.

We had the ultrasound and everything was fine. We finally saw the baby. And a heartbeat. Finally, joy entered the equation. We started to get excited. We started to allow ourselves to plan. We booked a babymoon. B’s sister and her family happened to be coming to town and we were going to tell them in person.

I went about my daily routines elated knowing that I was finally almost a year later I was carrying a child.

At about 11 weeks I started to feel off. My hunger wasn’t the same. Other signs decreased. I just felt like something was wrong in my gut. I tried to shake it off. I soon had a bad dream that something had happened to the baby. Then that morning a tiny smidge of spotting appeared. I was almost paralyzed with fear. Of course it was Saturday so I called the on call nurse and she said that everything was probably fine and that spotting was normal. I pushed her and she said that I could come into see the doctor on call.

I had to go to the emergency room. Both the on call ER doc and the on call OBGYN mimicked the nurse: early bleeding is common. I maintained that I felt like something wasn’t right. The OB couldn’t find the heartbeat on the doppler. She said that is was common not to be able to hear it so early and that she was pretty sure she detected movement. 

I told them I was not leaving without an ultrasound. Because in my heart I knew my baby was gone. I know it sounds crazy to base a lot of this off a dream but it was just so real. I went into the ultrasound room and I remember not looking at the screen. I didn’t want to see because I knew that image would never leave my brain. I remember B’s face how happy it was when he saw the baby and the sadness that came over him when the tech told us there was no heartbeat.

Even though I knew, I was still in shock. I remember the ER doc and OB both coming in apologizing. It’s not something you want to be right about but I took their apologies. 

At that point, my life didn’t feel real. B’s sister was literally at the airport waiting for us to pick her up. I don’t know how I made it through that weekend but that Monday I had my second D&C.

The next year was a fog of just trying to get pregnant. I think the shock of two back to back pregnancies and D&C’s were too much for my body to handle. I’m not going to lie I was obsessed. Nothing else mattered except having a baby. Scratch that. Getting a baby to term was all that mattered. I sunk a huge amount of money into seeing an acupuncturist to get my lining back to what it was before the surgeries. I went gluten free (I had always had stomach problems and finally saw a GI doctor that specialized in gluten and celiac disease issues. Turns out people who have problems with gluten can also have problems getting and staying pregnant). 

But still we were without.

In June of 2011 I was on vacation in Florida and my cousin took me to the Shrine of the Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine. It is a place where women have come for decades to ask the Virgin Mary to intercede on their behalf for a healthy pregnancy. I remember sitting in that shine just praying that it would finally be our time soon.

Turns out, I was already pregnant.

And in February of 2012, we finally had our miracle. (You can read more about my pregnancy here and birth here). And you want to know something funny? That on call OBGYN that I saw in the ER was the doctor who delievered my son. Small world right? She wasn’t able to save my second baby, but she did save me from a C-section. Without her I wouldn’t have had the strength to push A out. Small world right?


I’m not sure what went wrong. The explanation that we got both times was “these things just happen.” Not being able to pinpoint why I lost the pregnancies haunted me. I may never know the reason. I still don’t think its fair that other people can get pregnant at the drop of the hat and my journey involved so much pain.

I’m not going to try to give you advice. I’m sure you have enough of that swimming around in your head. I just want to leave you with this: hope. Please don’t lose hope. 

Pregnancy loss is common. Too common. It’s not a group that I’m proud to be in. But the compassion of emotions that you feel for others as a result of your own experiences is profound. If anybody every needs to talk, I’m just an email away :)

Thanks for letting me tell my story.

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