After our first miscarriage, I felt like the only thing that would take the pain away would be to get pregnant again. My body, hormonal and raw after losing the first baby, was craving it, needing it. My husband, motivated by some kind of biological urge to impregnate his wife as quickly as possible, agreed. It took us three months of trying, a short amount of time in hindsight, but to us felt like an eternity. Every period that arrived after we started trying again reopened the wound. When I would see the drop in my temp and the faint smear of blood, I would cry. The loss would feel so fresh, like it happened yesterday. The blood caused visceral feelings of pain, reminding me of the moment I realized I was miscarrying and losing our baby. After a few days, my resilience would come knocking, and I’d prepare myself for another hopeful month of trying.
I already knew I was pregnant again before taking the pregnancy test. I knew what the familiar flutter in my lower abdomin meant. The slight bloating and the fatigue had already kicked in. I had just gone through the first few weeks of pregnancy less than 6 months prior, and the symptoms were very familiar. Even still, my heart was pounding when I took the test, and then was flooded with mixed emotions when the word ‘Pregnant’ stared back at us. My husband and I just looked at each other. We weren’t sure how to feel. I was happy and relieved, but I knew how this could end.
I called my doctor and she said to come in for some early bloodwork to test my hcg, progesterone and thyroid levels. I made an appointment for an early 5-½ week scan. At the scan, we saw an empty gestational sac, when we should have seen a fetal pole and yolk sac as well. A flood of dread washed over me combined with crushing disappointment. I can’t go through this again, I said over and over in my head. My doctor said it could just be too early, and this happens sometimes. Even still, I went home and cried, reliving the grief of my past miscarriage, anticipating the grief of my next one.
I googled “empty gestational sac at 5-½ weeks” over and over, and kept finding happy stories of women that had seen no embryo, only to return a week or two later and see their little bean with a healthy, beating heart. It was so common, and slowly I started gaining hope. My feelings that I was just counting down to seeing the dreaded spotting and subsequent blood dissipated, and I started to feel optimistic.
I didn’t think I was capable of enduring a second miscarriage. I thought I’d break down and lose it, unable to go on, unable to function. When we finally received the bad news at our next scan, I was numb. I was afraid to look at my husband. I remained as hard as I could, even though tears started to stream down my face as I put my clothes back on. When we walked past the waiting room to my doctor’s office, I thought I heard a collective sympathetic “ohhhhhh….” as the tears hugging my face gave it all away. I still don’t know if it was real or imagined, but I rushed by the waiting room of pregnant bellies as fast as I could, head down.
My doctor told us that the fact that this miscarriage was a different situation that the first one was good news. It was less an indicator that there may be a problem, and more of an indicator that we may just be the victims of bad luck twice. Our first miscarriage, the heart had stopped beating at 9 weeks, this one, a blighted ovum. She said we could start with doing a blood karyotype on both my husband and me, to see if either of us carry an extra chromosome that we may be unknowingly passing on, and perform a blood clot test on me. She gave us my options for terminating the pregnancy.
I tried to go numb. I already knew what this would feel like. To truly grieve for a lost baby, a child I would never know, a little person I was hoping to hold in 7 months. I wanted to swallow the disappointment, move on, not acknowledge the aching heart. But it consumed me. I couldn’t run. Those same feelings came after me again. But this time, I was scared. Something wasn’t right.