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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Day My World Came Crashing Down--4 year anniversary

***trigger warning*** This blog is about miscarriage.

I realized that I have never written about That Day, the day I found out that my baby was dead, at 14 weeks 3 days along. I've written about the day after, researching my options and trying to decide whether to be induced or whether to wait it out to allow my body to go into labor naturally or whether to choose a D&C. I've written about the path to healing. But not about what happened That Day.

Four years ago today, I thought everything was fine. I was pregnant with my fourth baby, and my oldest child was four and a half years old. I had a regular prenatal appointment at my house with my midwife That Day. My last prenatal appointment had been at 8 weeks 3 days along. I had asked my midwife if we could stretch the next prenatal appointment a bit farther than the usual 4 weeks between visits because I had a busy schedule around that time, and she accommodated me.

The first part of my checkup went normally: blood pressure, pulse, weight, urinalysis, my midwife asking me how morning sickness was going and whether I had started to feel better yet. (My morning sickness had been normal, with queasiness starting around 6 weeks along and lessening around 13 weeks. My pregnancy hormone levels were high and healthy.)

Everything was fine until my midwife got out her Doppler to listen to baby's heartbeat. She couldn't find it right away, but I wasn't alarmed. She tried to reposition it to see if she could hear it from a different angle, but still couldn't locate it. I still wasn't worried. I figured that it could be possibly still be difficult to find the heartbeat on Doppler this early. My midwife wanted to get me an appointment for an ultrasound right away. Like, 3 hours later. I was a bit taken aback at the seeming urgency for this, but went along with it, knowing that I would feel much reassured after seeing that baby was fine when I had an ultrasound.

At first, my husband Rick said that he wasn't sure if he would be able to take the afternoon off. Neither he nor I understood the seriousness of the situation. My midwife said that if he couldn't come, she would go with me, because I should not go to that appointment alone. Uh oh. That doesn't sound good. Rick managed to hurry home and we got the kids into the car and rushed them off to my friend's house so we could go to the ultrasound alone.

I remember that it was chilly and drizzling that day--same as today. I remember being on the interstate nearing the hospital, thinking it was so surreal, still thinking that everything was fine. I remember thinking that we would look back on this afterward and think, "Wow, that sure was a close call. Pretty scary. I'm glad everything was OK." I just didn't get it.

We didn't have to wait in the lobby for long. They took me and Rick back to the private ultrasound room. The ultrasound tech started the scan--and my heart sank right away. She moved the transducer around, but my baby didn't move. There was no heartbeat. And I've seen enough ultrasounds to have a general idea what babies look like at different gestational ages on ultrasounds; this definitely wasn't right. My baby not only didn't move, but was way too small. The ultrasound tech said she was sorry, but there was no heartbeat, and the "fetus" measured 8 weeks 5 days. She left to get the doctor to confirm. I was shocked. My world was crushed in an instant.

The doctor was very matter-of-fact and sort of cold. I don't remember his exact words; they cut too deep for me to record them at the time. He was quite casual about it, saying that 25-50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, often before the mother even knows she's pregnant. That may be true, but it didn't change the fact that my baby just died. MY BABY DIED. Whatever else he said involved the words "product of conception," the first of many times I would hear that phrase from medical professionals over the next few days, unfortunately.

I cried. Rick held my hand. Then we did the Walk of Shame as they ushered us quietly out the rear exit. I was embarrassed because I realized that it was more for the sake of the other pregnant mothers in the waiting room, to spare them from having to see me shaking with sobs, rather than to spare me from having to see other pregnant women.

We made our way back to our van. I had no idea what to do next. We called my friend who was watching our kids to let her know what had happened, and she said to take as much time as we needed. Rick and I took a drive for a few hours, talking it over and calling our family and a few close friends to tell them the news. Ironically, the sky cleared and the sun came out. The rest of the day was beautiful.

This happened on a Thursday, so I knew that I was pressured for time to decide what to do. If I decided to wait it out for my body to miscarry naturally, I would be in no hurry, but who knows how long until my body got the memo. I had not had any cramping, bleeding, or any other miscarriage symptoms yet. But I wanted this over with. My baby was gone already, so it didn't matter to try to have the "best birth possible to keep baby safe." I could not begin to seek closure while my baby's body was still in my womb, and waiting could potentially take weeks. I was also frightened of what a natural miscarriage could be like. I wish I had known more people who had been diagnosed with a "missed miscarriage" like mine, who did choose to wait it out, because I might have chosen differently had I not been so afraid. I felt rushed because if I didn't make my decision that night, I'd be forced to wait out the weekend and would not be able to have a D&C or induction until Monday. I didn't want to be cornered into a decision because I was pressed for time.

I would never be the same person after That Day.


  1. Thanks for sharing your story. Such a sad anniversary and I'm sorry that happened to you! I can relate, I had two miscarriages almost exactly like that- "Missed miscarriages", Waiting for my body to get the memo. The first I waited for my body to get the message- it took forever and I hated the feeling while I waited. The second time I opted for a D&C. It is a devastating thing and I wish nobody had to go through with it but you telling your story will hopefully help others (and you!). Prayers...

  2. Thank you for opening up this part of your life and sharing this. I feel like sharing loss will help other Mother's who have been told similar things, such as you were, realize that their feelings and hurt are as real as their baby was. Your loss was Real and I feel for the sad people who do not realize this. Love and Prayers

  3. Hugs, Sarah. Thank you for sharing your intimate story. I know how devastating that day is. It's forever ingrained into the mind:( I am praying for you during these tough weeks ahead.


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