On Monday February 25th, I woke up bright and early. I was officially 11 weeks pregnant and I was gitty about our ultrasound that afternoon. It had been three weeks from our last ultrasound, so I couldn’t wait to see how much baby had grown. Since that ultrasound, I had begun to show and felt some twinging and pulling on my sides… but no cramps which was a good sign. My morning sickness was slowly starting to subside as well. I looked it up to see if it was normal for morning sickness to taper off around 10 and 11 weeks. Apparently, a certain percentage of women say their morning sickness ended around this time of their pregnancy. Charles and I were also excited because after this ultrasound we were going to make the public announcement about our sweet baby. I went to class that morning with Charles, and then went to my internship meeting, I let my internship coordinator Danielle know I would have to leave a little early to make it to my appointment at 2pm. When I left for my appointment, I let Jeanie know I would be texting her soon with baby’s newest glamour shot. Since Charles had class all afternoon, my parents picked me up and we headed to my appointment.
When scheduling for this appointment, I was informed that both of my OB’s office ultrasound machines were down and I would need to go to Out-Patient testing instead. Out-Patient testing was located on the opposite side of the hospital. When I arrived in the office, I remembered coming here when I was fourteen. I was having issues with my gallbladder and also had to have an ultrasound. This gave me a little comfort knowing it was a familiar place.
When they called me back, my mom and I headed down the hall to the ultrasound room. My dad decided to run a couple errands while we were at the appointment. When I walked in the tech asked me my name and birthdate,
“So, what brings you in for an ultrasound today? Is it your first ultrasound?” He asked.
I explained to him that I had had an 8 week ultrasound at the Alternatives Clinic. I went to that appointment on Tuesday February 5th and was 8 weeks and 1 day, however baby was measuring at 7 weeks and 4 days. The tech listened as I laid back on the table and lifted my shirt. My bladder was full again but not nearly as much as my previous ultrasound. The tech put the warm jelly on my belly and placed the wand back and fourth. He grew quiet for a minute which made me slightly nervous, but I just told myself he was looking at my ovaries and then he would move on to baby. My mom sat next to me watching the screen and asking questions about any tests I should have done. The tech continued to stay quiet.
He zoomed in on baby and I saw her again for a second time. She was starting to look like a baby. I could see the outline of her head and body. She was so tiny but had grown so much. The tech asked me again when I had my last ultrasound. I found it really strange that he kept asking me questions but he didn’t really answer any of our questions. I then saw him check the heart beat. He brought the measurement scale up on to the screen and I didn’t see anything. That was weird.
“I’m sorry… I’m having some issues” He said nervously. Oh great, this ultrasound machine isn’t working either, I thought. “I’m going to go get our radiologists, because I am seeing that the baby is only measuring at 8 weeks and 5 days.” He said then left in a hurry.
My mom and I both looked at each other. My first thought was, good baby has grown…. but wait, I’m supposed to be close to 11 weeks, not 9. I immediately got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something was wrong.
“See, I told you you’re having twins!” My mom said jokingly. On the way to the appointment I asked my mom how she would feel if it was twins. She said she would just laugh because that’s how life goes sometimes. I continued worrying about baby. Maybe she’s disabled. Maybe she has a serious health problem. Maybe she’s a dwarf. Maybe there is twins and one is just hiding behind the other and one is taking the other’s nutrients. Maybe everything is fine. There was one thing I knew for certain, I wasn’t having any bleeding or cramping so baby was still alive… I thought.
The ultrasound tech returned with the radiologists behind him. He introduced us to the doctor and he shook our hands and sat down. “Hi Kaylee.” He looked at me with pity eyes… why was he giving me pity eyes? “So, we took a look at your ultrasound and it seems that the fetus has died. Their was no heart beat. I’m very sorry… I know this isn’t an easy thing to hear.” I stared at him. He was lying. This was a sick joke. I’m still pregnant. My baby didn’t die. “I do want you to know that it’s nothing you did. More that likely it was due to a chromosomal abnormality and the baby was just unhealthy.” I continued to stare at my doctor. My breathing quickened. I felt something touch my hand that startled me. Turns out it was my mom holding my hand and crying. Was this really happening?
“She fell a few weeks ago on the ice. Could that have caused this?” My mom asked with a cracked voice.
“More than likely not. In early pregnancy such as this it’s usually something wrong with the baby. 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. So, unfortunately everything has to go perfectly right for there to be a healthy pregnancy” He said. I could tell he was trying to make sure I didn’t blame myself… too late.
“So, when did the baby die?” My mom asked. That was my question too.
“At 8 weeks and 5 days.” He said matter of factly. We were concerned that if my baby had been dead inside me for approximately 11 days, was that going to make me sick. The doctor didn’t seem too concerned about it since they caught it now. When the doctor left, I was grateful. I was done talking to him anyway. Even though he was just doing his job, a part of me hated him. He just gave me the worst news of my life, and I wasn’t about to be nice to him. When he was gone I got up and went to the bathroom. My mom wanted to hug me but I didn’t want to be hugged. I knew if she hugged me I would start to feel it, and I didn’t want to. At this moment I just wanted to be. I wanted be in this state of shock where I didn’t feel anything. But more than that, I wanted to rewind time. I wanted to go back and make sure I did absolutely everything perfectly in my pregnancy… but according to my doctor that wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
When I returned to the bathroom I was hoping it was all a dream. Sadly, no. My mom was still crying. From this point on I blocked everything out. As I write this and try to remember, I really can’t. My mom tells me that the tech was very shaken up and said he was sorry, he wasn’t expecting this at all. He shared with my mom that him and his wife had lost two babies… one at 6 weeks and one at 7 weeks. My mom also tells me that I called into work and got the night off since I was suppose to go in at 5pm. I guess I also texted Charles and told him what happen. Looking back I probably should have been more gentle than I was, but in this state of shock I was not thinking clearly.
Somehow, we ended up at my doctors office. I have no recollection of how we got there. I do remember going up to the front desk of the office.
“Can I help you?” The receptionist asked. I stared at her. I opened my mouth but nothing came out. I started shaking. I couldn’t speak without crying, and I didn’t want to cry. So I stood there with my mouth hanging open probably looking like an idiot. My mom came up behind me and told them why I was there. They told us to have a seat and I would get called back. I sat in the waiting room feeling like every pregnant belly was staring me in the face. This was not fair. I couldn’t sit there. I couldn’t sit still because I knew all my emotions would hit me. I went to the bathroom. When I returned they called me back. Thank goodness.
We followed the nurse down the hallway to our exam room. She asked me for my name and birthdate as I stood on the scale. I then sat on the table and stared at the floor. This is not happening, I repeated in my head over and over again. Shock and denial were what comforted me in this moment. The nurse asked me about any medications I was on.
“Prenatal vitamins…. well I guess not anymore obviously!” I said with a passive aggressive tone. I didn’t know why I was so rude to her. She didn’t do anything wrong, I was just mad. She explained that I could still be on them if I wanted to. Some women just take them as vitamins whether they are pregnant or not. She then came over to me and took my temperature and my blood pressure. She asked about cramping and bleeding and I told her I had had none. She then looked at me with sad eyes. These weren’t the same eyes that the radiologists gave me. These were empathetic, I’ve been where you are and it hurts eyes.
“Can I give you a hug?” She asked. I nodded my head yes even though I knew what was coming. She hugged me and held me and I felt it. My world shattered. Everything I had hoped and prayed for was gone. This pain was unreal. It hurt. My baby was gone and I didn’t even know it. I sobbed in anguish and cried all over her scrub top. She held me tight for a long time. She said she had been there and even though I wouldn’t believe it now, I would get through this. After she left I met the doctor on call. He was very clinical and not at all compassionate. He said he was sorry but his tone and body language said he didn’t care. He gave me three options. He said I could allow my body to pass my baby naturally, I could take a pill that would speed things along or I could have a D & C procedure where they remove baby and the dead tissue. I chose to have a D & C.
When I got ready to leave the exam room my mom gave me a hug. She said she loved me. I melted into her arms and sobbed. I couldn’t believe this was happening. As we left the office I walked through the waiting room. Tears shed down my face as I felt like I was moving in slow motion, and yet all I wanted was to get out of there. I wanted to get away from the constant reminder that I was still pregnant but my baby was gone. As I walked past the pregnant women in the waiting room one of them locked eyes with me. She grabbed her belly that looked to be about 6 months along and covered her mouth. The emotions of shock and devastation came over her face as she looked at my tear stained face. She knew. I kept walking. Even though no words were exchanged I can imagine that if I had stopped she would have said “I’m sorry and I’ve been there too.”
“There is no love without loss. It’s a package deal.” – Brad Pitt