(Lab results in- to our surprise they were GIANT blood clots and not a secret twin. I’ve changed the title out of respect for all the women struggling with miscarriage)
These past weeks have been challenging. One thing about the first trimester that I never considered was that I may feel like crap. I was completely taken by surprise when I felt like I had been hit by the exhaustion truck AND when the nausea become a constant companion from the moment I woke up to the minute I shut my eyes (and sometimes even waking me up at night). I just never knew that the first trimester could be so shitty. And why would I? Women are so afraid of the potential for a publicly announced miscarriage that for the most part the first trimester is a SECRET.
After last Friday, I can understand why some women would rather not publicly share.
Last Thursday we had reached the 10 week mark. We finally had a fetus. I felt like crap ALL THE TIME but at least things were looking pretty positive.
Friday morning, my day off, I slept in until 9am, and got up to pee. Without any physical warning, no cramping, I looked down and saw BLOOD. And I mean, a lot of blood. It just kept coming. Within minutes I had passed at least a cup of blood… and clumps of kumquat sized, fetus looking flesh.
I cannot even begin to describe the despair and emotional pain that I was feeling in those moments. The complete sense of helplessness at stopping the death of the little bean we worked so hard to create. Alone, I had to sit there, sobbing hysterically and wait for the bleeding to stop. In the toilet was what was left of our baby. I held my pee so I wouldn’t be peeing on it’s remains. Seriously- imagine thinking that.
I called Andrew so he could come back from work and drive me to Emerg. I called the IVF clinic to make sure the ER was the right place to go. The nurse informed me that I would have to scoop up what I passed and place it in a baggie to bring with us to the ER. So. Once I stopped bleeding, I had to go downstairs, get a spoon and a small mason jar, scoop up the little clumps of fetus and put it in a jar.
Once at the ER we were treated really well (thank goodness). The physician looked at the jar of stuff we brought and did an exam. He declared what is known as a “complete miscarriage”- he was very certain the stuff in the jar looked like the remains of a fetus (I knew this- you could see features even) and that it didn’t look like anything would be left inside. Although devastating to hear it officially, I saw what was in that jar. It wasn’t a surprise.
The final step- getting an ultrasound to confirm that nothing was left in my uterus. After the actual event, this was the hardest part. Alone on the table with the technician I cried big silent tears as she moved the machine over my now empty of life belly. Not once did the technician acknowledge my pain or make any comments. She was awful.
An hour later we met with the physician to go over the ultrasound results. And… with a look of complete disbelief and confusion the physician shared that the ultrasound revealed a VERY HEALTHY and ALIVE 10 week old baby.
YEP- I was STILL PREGNANT. We looked at still shots of the ultrasound- there was a head, body and legs. The heartbeat was strong. In fact, every single thing about that ultrasound looked healthy, strong and beautiful. Andrew and I both cried. It was surreal.
The physician actually said he called radiology to make sure they had sent the correct ultrasound AND that if he hadn’t seen the jar that we had brought in, just from looking at the results of the ultrasound he would never have believed us.
Although the IVF clinic did not transfer two eggs, his only explanation was that the egg they did transfer divided (identical twins with two separate placentas). So a secret twin. It’s also possible this twin was either already dead at the 8 week ultrasound, and not looking for a second baby it’s possible they missed it.
The jar of stuff was sent to the lab for analysis, so I’ll likely have confirmation at my next pre-natal physician appointment.
A week later and I am still reeling and processing what happened to us last Friday. We are SO thankful that I am still pregnant and feel incredibly lucky. At the same time I am still feeling the grief and trauma from experiencing such an awful event. I no longer believe that miscarrying early makes the experience “easier”. The first trimester is filled with feeling connected, loving and bonding to the little life I was growing. It doesn’t matter that there was likely something wrong with the development, or even that I didn’t know this secret little twin existed, I keenly feel the loss.
And although I think we should respect how each person grieves and copes with that loss, I do wish we didn’t have to keep miscarriages a secret. It just feels to me that it’s an acknowledgement of the idea that this female thing is shameful. Unlike the death of another loved one where society allows for public displays of grief and provides real support.
In this spirit of sharing, and in complete acknowledgement that perhaps I would feel differently if it had not been a “secret twin” and I was no longer pregnant, I thought I would share my partial glimpse into the world of miscarriages.
For all those mothers who suffer silently- I am so so sorry for your loss.