Last week, at my 3rd check-up, I received some devastating news: the baby’s heart beat had stopped. Nothing could have quite prepared me for that moment. I went into the appointment thinking I would find out the gender of the baby and brainstorming what kind of gender reveal party I would have.
What happened next was the craziest whirlwind of events. I think I was just numb and followed the directions of my OB-GYN. I went to the lab and got 15+ vials of blood drawn, my Dr. called off duty doctors for a second opinion appointment, and also scheduled an emergency D&C surgery for the next day.
Having a late miscarriage + my good health history made the entire situation more confusing for me and my doctors. I had no problems getting pregnant with my daughter and the pregnancy/birth was all normal. There were no signs from the previous ultra sounds, first trimester check or blood work that something was wrong.
Dilation and Curettage (D &C):
I was 17 weeks and 2 days into my pregnancy when I found out about the baby’s heartbeat. By the measurements, my (now team of) doctors predicted that the baby had died around 15.5-16 weeks. The baby was about the size of a grapefruit and too big to naturally pass. My only two options were to give birth to the stillborn baby or get a surgical procedure called the D&C.
My doctor asked when I would be comfortable getting it, and I said in a few weeks. She told me as politely as possible, “No”, and scheduled something for me the next day. Waiting any longer would have put me at risk for infection, especially since the baby had passed at least one week before.
The surgery itself was painless. I was under anesthesia and given a lot of pain medication before and after. I rested at home after the surgery and was told by everyone to stay in bed for the next 2 days. Not because I was in any pain, but because my body would think it had given birth.
Coping after loss:
The first few days after I found out, I cried a lot. I found it comforting to just allow myself to grieve and let myself feel the full emotional spectrum that comes with losing a baby. I imaged what he/she would look like, what he/she would have been like, what it would have been like to hold him/her just once…
My husband was awesome. He let me talk about it and cry about it whenever I wanted. Friends sent food and lots of love. The most interesting and comforting thing about the miscarriage was how many people around me began to share their own stories of loss. Many described their emotional and physical journeys, as well as what happened after (births of healthy babies). I found that there was this sisterhood of mothers who had lost a baby or many babies. This new community helped realize that I was not alone and miscarriages happen far more often that people think~ many just don’t talk about it.
The first few days after surgery, I still had morning sickness and phantom symptoms of the baby moving. My abs hurt a lot following the surgery since my organs and uterus were returning to their original places. Three days after the D & C, my milk came in. This was the biggest surprise of all. I was only 17.5 weeks along yet my body thought it had given birth. Online, there were many forums that gave me options on what to do: take medication to dry it up, hand express until it dried, or pump & donate.
It’s been one week since the doctor appointment and surgery. I’ve completely accepted the loss and am figuring out my body one day at a time. I took a pregnancy test and it came out positive. I think it will take a few weeks for my hormones to run its course and for my body to realize it is no longer pregnant.
I was super sick and physically tired when I was pregnant. Within a matter of days after surgery, I started to feel like my old self with lots of energy. I’m doing my best to eat healthy foods, drink a ton of water, and exercise.
From this experience, there were a lot of lows but also a lot of highs. I’ve never felt so loved and supported from the community around me. I’m hopeful for the future, for more babies and also sharing my own stories with women who experience the loss of a baby.