Trying to conceive has been full of waits. Waiting to ovulate. The “two week wait.” Waiting for a year of trying to pass before seeing a fertility specialist. Waiting for Cycle Day 1 to have a baseline ultrasound. Waiting for CD 3 for Day 3 tests. Waiting for CD 7 to have an HSG. Waiting for CD1 to start stims for the egg retrieval. Waiting for the transfer. Waiting for the first beta. Waiting for the first pregnancy ultrasound. Waiting for the second pregnancy ultrasound. Waiting for confirmation of miscarrying. Waiting to miscarry.
The Missed Miscarriage
At our six week ultrasound we got the news no expectant parent wants to hear: no new growth since the last scan. The hardest part about learning that the life inside me ceased to exist was telling my family. They initially questioned the importance of me attending my six week ultrasound, since an ultrasound that early is not the norm. “Why not just wait until you are back in San Diego next week?” would have been a perfectly reasonable question to ask if I not had a FET (frozen embryo transfer). However, since I was on estrogen and progesterone support-medication that is necessary to maintain pregnancy after an FET-I was at risk for a “missed miscarriage”. This once foreign and mind-bending term became my top concern, since I could potentially unknowingly suffer a miscarriage and the medication would prevent bleeding.
Sharing the News
As I sat in the clinic’s parking lot with MH I called my mom first. It broke my heart to tell her; I could hear her crumble on the other end of the line as I shared the news. I told my sister next, knowing she would tell my father. Hurting one parent was hard enough, and I knew I would need her to bear the bad news so I could stay strong.
I didn’t care about telling everyone else that knew; I was still really proud and excited about our accomplishments: we got pregnant on the first transfer, I had responded perfectly to the medication, I had “textbook lining”, and I knew immediately after the transfer that there was a change within me.
I had been pregnant. Pregnant longer than I had ever been before, and I was pregnant just long enough to fall in love with being pregnant.
My Doctor’s Requests
It was difficult, however, telling our doctors back in Spain. Dr. J called me as soon as he received the report, and with urgency and genuine concern in his voice he said “Kelly, what is this I see about your scan? We are surprised! This is not the news we wanted to hear.” I felt like I had disappointed them. After a movie-like sendoff, with my doctors laughing and smiling, giving out hugs to my mom, sister, MH, and I in their office just days ago, this success story came to a screeching halt. They were all rooting for us-they told us how they celebrated our beta results, and how everyone in the office wanted to know if it worked. And now, there was disappointment and failure.
Dr. J wanted my hCG levels tested the following day just to be sure. I told him that I knew I was miscarrying, and that I no longer felt pregnant. Before I stopped taking the medication, though, he wanted confirmation with my blood work just to be sure.
Early the next morning I drove to the clinic for the blood test, and then took the long way home, driving up the road that runs along the ocean. Driving on Ocean Ave in the morning light with the windows down was one of my favorite things to do when I lived at “home.” And just as I used to, I took my time… but this time, I drove slowly for a different reason. I didn’t really want to drive back home on this day. I wanted to just keep driving.
Late that afternoon it was confirmed that my hCG levels had dropped from about 1200 the week before to 600. Dr. J called me personally to give his condolences, and to tell me what to expect next. He also reassured me that there was nothing wrong with me, and there was nothing that I could have done differently. “It was just bad luck,” he said, and I found a lot of comfort in that response. I was told to stop the medication, and I did so immediately. I hated the way the estrogen made me feel, and if I wasn’t using it to trick my body into supporting life, then I wanted it out of my system so I could have my body back.
Waiting for a Clean Break
I was told it may take a week to start bleeding, but I knew it would come sooner; I felt my body chomping at the bit to expel what no longer belonged inside me. Based on my experience with my mock cycle, I anticipated that it would take 72 hours to start to bleed. I begged the universe for it not start later… I hoped to physically miscarry before I got to San Diego, and my flight was about 75 hours away. More than anything I wanted to return home with a clean break from this dream-come-true-turned-nightmare; I wanted to minimize the harsh reality of coming home empty handed and get closure.
A Focus on the Positive
I also wanted to start focusing on the positive in the NOW. While I felt sad and a little numb, this “wait” wasn’t entirely a sad time. I enjoyed the company of my extended family, best friends, parents, brother, and sister. MH and I had tender moments in a new-found bubble of intimacy that was cradled by our dedication to each other and our future family. We also, along with my sister, had a memorable night of drinking rum and singing Prince songs as the top of our lungs while playing card games. There was bitter-sweetness in every moment; I embraced the paradox of longing and appreciation. With every inhale I was grateful for what I had experienced, and with every exhale I was creating space for the strength to try again.