10 June 2012

Caitlin's Story

When I did the Infertility Awareness Week posts back in April I had hoped that friends would read our experiences and be prepared for the possibility of being in the same position. I didn't know at the time that our blog would be so well received, so well appreciated and that it would give others comfort and encouragement to share their stories as well.

Today I received a sweet message from my friend Caitlin, who offered to share her experiences with a missed miscarriage. I am honored that she would offer share her family's story on our blog and thankful for her willingness to share such a personal experience. The following is Caitlin's story.

What happens when you don’t know you’re on the rollercoaster

My husband and I were so grateful and excited at our seemingly easy ability to get pregnant. Before we ever began trying, I studied up on pregnancy the way some girls plan for their weddings, so I knew it often did not just come to couples. However, we had just given birth to our first, a beautiful girl, and within four months we were pregnant again! We had always wanted our children close together in age and were ecstatic to see our dreams coming true.

Because everything went so smoothly with our daughter, we saw no need to be cautious and shared the news of our second with everyone right away! We got the obvious “So soon?” or “Is this a congratulations situation?” but we quickly and happily assured them that this was a planned and prayed for blessing. We started discussing gender hopes and calculated our due date to be within a week of our daughter’s birth date!

We went to our first appointment like veterans, nodding politely when they tried to give us the “first appointment” speech and laughing when they offered “labor preparation” classes. I told the nurse right away when my ovulation date was, though she still calculated my due date based off of my last missed period. Then we met with our doctor who immediately did a sonogram to confirm gestation. I knew we were six weeks and three days along but was surprised when she said the baby was measuring a little over five weeks. She reassured us that this happens sometimes, perhaps my ovulation date was inaccurate, maybe the baby was just measuring small. We went home with a picture of our second baby, and I went home with an unsettling feeling inside of me.

For two weeks I would randomly pick up our sonogram picture and stare at it as I tried to justify the difference between my dates and my doctor’s. My husband begged me to stop worrying myself. We had another appointment in three weeks, and the doctor would have let us know if she was concerned. I tried to follow his laid back ease, but I just couldn’t shake this concern. When I tried to talk to my mother about it, she gave a similar speech of comfort and then suggested my weaker pregnancy symptoms meant I was having a boy.

Finally one day I was at the grocery story when I didn’t feel so well. I told my husband I needed to use the restroom and went into a stall only to find some very light spotting. I tried to seem calm, and my husband reminded me that I had once quoted the statistics of spotting during healthy pregnancies to him. I was causing myself undue stress. Had I felt any cramps? No. Was I gushing blood? No. See? You’re fine.

However, a week of light spotting took its toll on my ease and peace of mind. I called my OBGYN’s nurse and explained my concerns. She paused for a moment and hesitantly asked, “Do you feel pregnant anymore?” I felt tears choke me as I replied, “I don’t know.” She told me to come in immediately.

My husband got off work early, picked up our daughter from daycare, and met me at the doctor’s office. My doctor was off, but they got me in with the on-call physician and immediately took me into a room for a sonogram. I laid there as she moved the wand over my abdomen until we saw it on the screen—nothing. An empty, misshapen sac that measured less than the five weeks we had originally seen. The doctor gently explained that the sac was collapsing, and it appeared that the baby never grew past five weeks.

I couldn’t understand. I never had the cramping, the blood, the loss! How could she say the baby died way back then? I later learned the term “Missed Miscarriage”—when your body doesn’t recognize that the baby has died and continues to act as though you are pregnant. I was offered the opportunity to wait for my body to respond naturally and miscarry, but after realizing how long it had already been waiting, we chose to get medication to assist in the physical loss. I took off work, and we prepared for an emotional weekend. My husband stayed by my side the entire time.

The next week we found out that the medication had not properly worked, and my doctor finally decided to perform a D&C. While it was frightening to imagine surgery, I was grateful to finally be able to move on from an experience my body refused to perform. There seemed nothing worse than knowing your child has died but being unable to grieve and move on because it is still inside of you.

My heart breaks for any woman who ends up suffering from a miscarriage, and I hold a special place for those who experience missed miscarriages—blissfully planning out and enjoying the pregnancy of a child that they may find out passed long ago. The loss of a child is never an easy ride, yet it feels as though your own body has betrayed you when it doesn’t allow the process to continue. It took much prayer and crying and support to heal and move forward as a family. I pray that any other woman who finds herself in such a situation is surrounded by the same love that I was and that none of us ever have to ride this roller coaster again.

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