Not the News I Was Hoping to Share
While this story has nothing to do with my diabetes, I’d like to share my experience in the hope that it will shed light on this extremely common circumstance. First, let me explain what happened and then I’ll share my thoughts and feelings.
In early October I saw a positive pregnancy test and immediately called my doctor to set up my first prenatal appointment. They weren’t able to see me for two weeks. During the interim, I only had one pregnancy symptom, which was mood swings for a few days. I mentioned to my family that I didn’t “feel pregnant.” While I was happy not to be experiencing the morning sickness I’d had with Sienna, it was strange not to feel as connected to the process as I had been the first time around.
Dennis and I went to see the doctor when I was seven weeks along. Just as we were starting to look at the ultrasound, I got this huge wave of excitement and thought that I’d finally connect with the pregnancy after seeing the baby’s heartbeat. Unfortunately, that emotion quickly changed as the doctor couldn’t locate the heart and commented that things didn’t look right.
Typically, I was told, they can see the heartbeat 80% of the time by 6 weeks. I remember seeing Sienna’s little heart beat at 6 weeks, 3 days. I could tell by my doctor and CDE’s expressions that there wasn’t much hope that we’d see the heartbeat the following week.
When we returned a week later, our suspicions were confirmed as the nurse practitioner also couldn’t locate a heartbeat and the baby’s size was unchanged. Also, the blood test from the prior week indicated an extremely low pregnancy hormone level, less than 1/10 what they’d expect.
During the week of not knowing, I did what we all do in the internet age, I googled “miscarriage” and learned a lot. Before this experience, I’d naively concluded that miscarriages only happened to women with specific fertility issues. It never even occurred to me that miscarriage was something to be concerned about, after all, my only prior pregnancy had been completely successful.
What I learned at dozens of websites was that 80-85% of miscarriages are single miscarriages, meaning that it’s the only one that woman ever suffers. Furthermore, one early miscarriage doesn’t increase a woman’s risk of having additional lost pregnancies; which means, in all likelihood, I’ll go on to have another healthy baby.
Early miscarriages are almost always a result of chromosomal abnormalities, which means the baby can’t continue to grow properly. Or, as my doctor said, structural issues can arise early on because, “It’s really hard to grow a heart.”
Not one to keep personal things to myself, I shared this news with family, friends, and co-workers and was met with various versions of “I had one too,” or “My (close friend, family member) had a miscarriage.” Overwhelmingly, the feedback I received was that single miscarriages are extremely common, which left me wondering, why didn’t I know this before?
You know what they say about the best laid plans? I meticulously planned my second pregnancy. You might say I “micro-managed” the entire process. The problem with convincing yourself that you control something as miraculous as creating life is that you miss out on the wonderful surprise and joy when you learn that you’re pregnant. In hindsight, it might have been mother’s intuition that kept me from “feeling” pregnant, but I suspect that all of my intense management also got in the way.
Although I can explain all of the intellectual angles of a miscarriage, my first reaction was tears and lots of them. Through the sorrow, I had a hopeful thought as we left the clinic and I said to Dennis, “We’re going to look back a few years from now and know that we were blessed with the children we were meant to have.”
We both hugged Sienna extra tight that afternoon. This experience reaffirmed how miraculous it is to create a life. We think she’s the most wonderful little person and it’s amazing to think that if we’d conceived a month before or after, we’d have a different child.
Looking forward, I’m changing my approach to baby making. We have conceived twice during the second month of trying, so obviously that part isn’t an issue I’m going to put away the conception calculators and due date calendars. I’m going to plan less and remain in awe of the amazing miracle of creating life.
Kelsey wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Diabetes.