“Everything was perfect. I saw our baby 4 times — every time a strong heartbeat; a perfectly round, big head; perfect hands; and perfect tiny feet. Then came Monday. 15 weeks and 2 days. The day my husband was going to finally get to see and hear our baby’s heartbeat. I couldn’t wait for him to love this baby more, and finally see it on the screen moving and not in a picture. But that isn’t what happened…
We got to the office; I gave my sample and waited. I got called back for a weight check, blood pressure check, and to go over any symptoms or concerns that week. The doctor came in with a student; I didn’t mind she was there. He used the Doppler but nothing. That’s happened — not uncommon for larger women. So, I got the ultrasound and I was excited. So excited!
The ultrasound tech comes to get us, and I lay down as she talks to me about the due date. I was actually a week ahead of what I thought. I got more excited and mentioned to both her and my husband that I could actually change the ultrasound for the gender to this week. That gets my heart soooo excited! I pulled my pants down and tuck in the paper like blanket. She put the warm gel on my tummy and used the wand. As soon as she put it on my stomach I saw the baby. ‘I need you to use the restroom. You’re quite full.’ I joke and say, ‘I am, and I can see it.’ Giggling. ‘Yes, but honey, I’m not seeing a heartbeat.’
Those words crushed me. I tried to not cry in the room. I tried my damn hardest not to cry in that room. To be strong for my husband and to be strong for myself. I thought, ‘Maybe she’s wrong? Maybe she’ll use the transvaginal and see it?’
I went straight to the restroom, the one I’d used every single time I came into that office. I broke down as I was washing my hands. All I could do was look at myself and be sad. Sad I had this baby and it didn’t make it. Sad because I knew I’d felt strange and said nothing in the weeks before. Mad because my body had betrayed me. Betrayed me in the worst way. Going back to the room it was quiet. It was only a few feet, but it felt like a mile long walk. Because I knew as soon as I got back in there, I was going to get confirmation my baby was no longer mine.
I was informed they thought the baby’s heart had stopped beating a day or two after my last appointment. The appointment I saw the baby, heard the heartbeat, and saw its perfect tiny feet. The appointment where ‘everything looked perfect.’ That was 13 weeks and 2 days. Almost to the 2nd trimester. I’d been carrying my lifeless baby for two weeks before knowing it was gone.
My husband, by the way, is so strong. The strong one in our relationship. This is by far the hardest thing we’ve had to go through in our 8 years together. Not to mention, trying for 6 and ending up getting pregnant right after our wedding. A couple weeks to be exact. He held it together and I think it was because of me. I’ve caught glimpses of a red-eyed man but didn’t say anything. I know he is grieving also, and he will do it in his own way. Either by including me or doing it alone, and I’m not mad either way. He lost a child also, and he deserves to do whatever makes him feel better.
The doctor came in after a few minutes and confirmed. He was very apologetic and made me feel very comfortable. He explained this was in no way my fault. I did not do anything to hurt the baby. This was just Mother Nature. He explained the baby could’ve had a chromosomal defect, and my body recognized the baby wouldn’t have made it through birth. The next part of the conversation stunned me and made me cry again. The procedure I needed in order to get rid of my baby: the dreaded D&C.
The doctor said this was needed because for two weeks, my body hadn’t realized I was no longer supporting a live baby. My body thought I was still pregnant and was releasing hormones to support a viable pregnancy. He proceeded to tell me he could get me scheduled as soon as the next day. I wouldn’t want to wait because eventually my body would start to realize and go into a natural miscarriage, which would be more traumatic than healing. I understood. I thought it through and decided to go with it. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I would no longer be pregnant. Tomorrow I’d have to go to an outpatient surgery center and have my baby taken out of me, because my body had failed me. To be honest, after I thought about it, the more I was afraid of being put under. A completely normal fear.
The whole rest of the day I felt crampy and constantly went to the bathroom — checking and praying I wouldn’t have to look down and see my baby, who was the size of a lemon, in a toilet. I don’t think I would have been able to handle that. My husband and I came home, and as soon as he did we left. We got lunch and went to the movies. We needed to just be with each other, but not at home. Not at the home where we were going to raise our first child together. Where we had the room picked out for the nursery. The home that had every ultrasound image plastered on the fridge. The home where I realized as soon as we got there, no baby would be coming home in just 5 short months.
We chose to see ‘Jumanji: The Next Level.’ The beginning was funny, but through the middle I got 2 calls. The first was a number I didn’t recognize so, click, straight to voicemail. The second, the hospital name. I quickly started walking all the way down the stairs, because we sat all the way at the top, and answered. It was a nurse calling to do some pre-screening for the anesthesia and answer some questions about health history and how I was feeling. That conversation took about 25 minutes. After that I decided to check the voicemail. It was another hospital representative calling to tell me my out-of-pocket cost for the procedure.
I called back. What kind of debt was I going to be in? Thankfully, I have insurance. The cost of the whole procedure was well over $13,000. With insurance I would pay $600. Not bad. After each conversation, we ended up missing about 40 mins of a 2 hour movie, and I was getting a headache so we left. We went to Pet Smart and got dog treats, while looking at all the lizards and birds they had. The rest of the day was spent at home. I tried to take a nap, and my husband worked on his truck with my dad.
That night we went to dinner with my best friend and her fiancé. It helped me to talk about it. It still helps me talking about it. We spent the next two hours sitting at a restaurant table talking. I was having some cramps, worrying the whole time that once I got home this process would be starting. We said our goodbyes, she wished me good luck, and we went home. Home to get ready for tomorrow. We cleaned, got myself some clean blankets, set up a spot in the living room, and I tried to go to bed. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink past midnight, so I just lay down. Only I couldn’t sleep. I had been up since 7 a.m., cried so much that day, had a headache, and was worried about being under general anesthesia. I was also still cramping, and any position just wasn’t comfortable. That whole night I would end up waking up off and on to use the bathroom, pray, check on my husband, and watch TV. It was miserable. The wait was miserable.
The day of the procedure, I woke up at 8 a.m. to a FaceTime call from my mom. I lay there for another 30 minutes before I called her back. We said very few words. She told me she’d meet me at the hospital and she’d see me later. I love my mom. She’s amazing and will make a fantastic gramma one day. Along with my mother-in-law, who also came to support my husband and I. I don’t think I could live without these two amazing women. They’re strong when I’m not. They’re there for anything, and they make me want to be the type of mother who is there for her child through the best and the worst. I can only hope I’m a mother like them when we do get our baby.
I went to do some laundry, take a shower, and try to distract myself from the 11:30 a.m. time we needed to leave by. I watched ‘Family Guy’ and sat around. Watching the clock. It was time to get dressed. ‘Take the dogs out, Shelby,’ I thought. ‘That will give you a few more minutes before you have to leave.’ And it did. It gave me 10 minutes because the dogs had been out that morning and didn’t need to take long. But it was 10 extra minutes before the ride to the hospital. And we stopped for gas. So 5-7 extra minutes on top of that. As we headed to the hospital, I went through all the stations on the radio multiple times. I said very few words to my husband, but he rubbed my back and was just there for me.
We got there and met my mother-in-law, my mom, and my aunt. I immediately got pulled back for papers I needed to sign, and I broke down. I was scared, and seeing the words on paper made it more and more real. The nurses were amazing. They gave me the option to go straight back to pre-op, and then my family could come back after I was ready. I cried on the way to the room. I was hugged by an amazing nurse and told, ‘You are in the best hands. You are not alone in this.’ Such encouraging words. I was told to change, put my belongings in a plastic bag, and the doctor and anesthesiologist would be in to talk. Meanwhile, another nurse came in, and I broke down again. She was talking about my pregnancy and asking questions, which I didn’t mind. I love talking about my baby. It was my first pregnancy, and I was so proud. But scared because now I was losing my baby. We talked and she got me ready — my vitals, my IV. Then, the doctor came in.
He could tell I was nervous. And I cried. Again. He was wonderful. He explained everything, the time it was going to take and how he was so certain it would go smoothly. Next the anesthesiologist. He was my fear, more than not having my baby be so close anymore. I didn’t like the idea of being put under. So, if you can guess, I cried. I got so much information about how I would be under for 1/2 an hour, and I was a 0 on the ASA scale. It’s a score of 0-4 on how dangerous it can be for anesthesia (0 being nothing at all and 4 being the highest risks). You have no idea how well that worked and made me feel better. I still requested something to calm me before getting put to sleep. He left and my family got to come back for about 10 minutes.
I was being strong and didn’t cry. At first. I was telling them I was okay and not so nervous. But because I was there for a D&C, they had a packet they had to go over before I went back. A packet that’s sitting on my kitchen table. In this packet are pamphlets about miscarriage and how to mourn the loss of a child, because that’s what it is. I lost my child. I didn’t get to physically see my baby or hold my baby, but I loved it nonetheless. Another paper has poems about loss. And a paper about where to go for support groups online or a physical group. That’s when I started to cry again. Because I wanted my baby. I wanted for this to be a mistake in so many ways. Even though I saw multiple ultrasounds that showed my baby did not have a heartbeat the day before, I wanted them to check and be wrong. But they weren’t. She went over it and had me sign more papers. After she went over it all, they were ready.
I cried with my family and said my goodbyes. We all cried. I told them I loved them. I told my husband I loved him and would see him soon. After they left, I calmed down and got a relaxing drug through my IV. I remember asking when it would take effect because I was fine. (HAHA) We got to the OR and I asked about the giant lights and laughed so hard I snorted. My last memory is getting on the OR table and having a mask placed on my face. The last thing I said was, ‘This mask isn’t all the way on.’ The next minute I woke up laughing in recovery. They told my husband laughing wasn’t something they’ve seen a lot after this sedation, but it was a relief because I was okay and not overly crying. I had a coke and some crackers and got to leave after my vitals were good and my bleeding was minimal. We left after 45 minutes. I got food and went home.
Just like that it was over. 2 hours. 2 hours is how long it took from pre-op to surgery to recovery. The procedure itself was about 15 minutes. I was carrying my baby that morning, and then, after a 15 minute procedure, I wasn’t.
I’m healing and I’ll be okay. I’m trying to be positive and strong for everyone, and for myself. I refuse to go into a depressed state. I refuse to let myself start worrying about not being able to get pregnant again. I refuse to let this control my life. All I can think is my baby is hanging out with its great papaw Herby, waiting patiently for mommy and daddy. I’m not going to give up on life. Or trying to become a mom.”
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