Love + Loss

It's been a while since I've posted because I was busy, preoccupied, and didn't know what to write. 

To cut to the chase --

In June, we found out I was pregnant. By July, I wasn't anymore. 

A photo from the week we first saw a positive test -- our little family of {almost} four.

Alex and I have been planning on a family since we met. We both knew we wanted to be parents, and it's been both a long road getting here, a quite a sudden surprise at the same time. We are somewhat traditional people and we like doing things "in order." First marriage, then the house, then kids. 

As you know, we closed on our house in April, so the next thing in the agenda was growing our family. After we closed on our house, we set to work renovating it right away {more on that later}, and then a month later, we got pregnant on the first try! 

Cue the confetti!

The two week wait {TWW is TTC (trying to conceive) jargon for the time between when you *can* get pregnant, and when you can find out if you are -- see also: torture} was really hard for me because it was my first experience with trying to figure out if I was pregnant, and beciause I was reading into all the signs. I knew something different was going on with my body {the bloat is very real, y'all}, so a couple days shy of my missed period, while my parents happened to be in town visiting, I took a test. 

It was so very faintly positive, that I could barely tell, and I think I was in such shock, that I didn't really believe it at first. Alex was in such deep denial that he tried to tell me that my body was falsely producing HCG because I was so convinced that I was pregnant -- like some kind of reverse hypochondria. {Back to 7th grade health class for you, sir!} I just couldn't believe it had worked so easily for us, I felt so surprised. I had experienced spotting on the day I ovulated, around the time of implantation, and off and on throughout the two week wait, which made me uneasy, so I just kept testing, trying to see if the lines on the tests would get darker.

I was on such a rollercoaster of confusion, I must have taken 20 tests. Some looked super positive, but the digital ones came back 'not pregnant.' {Side note, those digital ones require a lot more HCG to register a positive than the dye tests, so early detection is not really a thing.} 

After a week of testing, and feeling pretty sure I actually was pregnant, my parents left town and I made an appointment with my primary care physician to confirm it. Around that time, I started having faint brown and red spotting. I remember sitting on the couch in the living room just outside of my parents guest room before they left, debating whether to wake them up to tell them -- I was so excited, but felt so anxious about the spotting and was wondering if Dr Dad could offer some advice. I ended up not saying anything because I wanted to wait until closer to 12 weeks to share some good news.

On the drive to the doctor the next morning, I was shaking with nerves. Was I pregnant? Wasn't I? Why was I bleeding? Was this normal? Is this just my period starting or something else?

When I arrived the office of my primary care physician, I immediately took a urine test -- that test confirmed what I believed -- PREGNANT. {insert about twelve different shocked emoji faces here} I slapped Alex across the thigh with the book of taped-in pregnancy tests I had brought with me. "See??"

I also had blood drawn to calculate how far along I was. {During he first several weeks of pregnancy, your HCG levels will double every 48-72 hours, so this is a pretty accurate way to determine how many weeks you've been pregnant.}

I had to wait overnight for the blood test results, but I did get the chance to grill my doctor with about a hundred questions regarding pregnancy, calculating due dates, false positives, and the fact that basically since ovulation, I hadn't stopped spotting. It really worried me, but every doctor I spoke to told me that it's really normal and not to worry. 

Still, I couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't quite right.  

The next day, Alex took off on a business trip, and I tried in vain to get some work done while I wanted to the doctor to call. When they did, the short answer was yes, I was indeed pregnant, but my levels were low, showing that I was about 3 weeks along, not the five I was counting on. So they had me come in for another blood test to make sure I was progressing, and to assuage my fears about the spotting. 

I was out walking Bucket, when they called with my second round of results. The test came back with levels nearly quadrupled. Great news! I called Alex while huffing and puffing up our hill, sobbing "I'm so excited!" I marched my butt right home, and finally got the first positive on a digital test, something I had been dying to see for a long time.

Proof, at least to me, that I was absolutely, 100% pregnant at some point in my life.

The next couple weeks progressed and I started to feel more confident in my pregnancy as the spotting subsided. My breasts became tender and swollen, I craved a pickle for the first time in my life, and I was just. so. tired. 

Towards the end of the month, things changed. The spotting came back, light at first, but when then it became red and a little heavier, I started to feel really concerned. 

I tried to push my fears aside, and enjoy a little early Independence Day party we were throwing at our house. I had spoken to a nurse at my OB's office and she assured me that it was indeed ok to spot during pregnancy {probably the fifth medical professional I'd talked to who gave me this advice}, and that I should just look forward to my July 11th appointment, and enjoy my impending vacation anyway.

We threw the party. I drank fake wine, ate a cheeseburger, laughed with my friends, and actually did forget about my worries for a few hours. But when I woke up the next day, everything was different. In the morning when I went to use the bathroom, I passed a large clot, which really alarmed me.

It took everything in my to keep from crying. The anxiety, the worry, the wondering if I was pregnant, if I was losing it, not knowing anything for sure was really too much to take -- I felt like the stress was going to burst out of me.

I hadn't been able to get in to see my OBGYN, and when I called them while sitting on the toilet dripping blood, they told me they wouldn't see me for this matter until I had been seen for my first {8 week} appointment on July 11th. I was so frustrated and confused and frozen in not knowing where to go or what to do. I decided to go to the walk in clinic at my PCP on that morning, because there was no way I was about get on a plane, and relax on vacation without knowing what the heck was going on.

I told Alex I was fine and would feel better once I had more information. But, as we pulled out of our driveway, I remember being overcome with fear and worry, and just not being able to hold back the tears anymore. I felt my face crumple under my sunglasses and the sobs just moved through me. Living in the not-knowing was so painful and scary, that all I wanted was news -- good news, or bad -- I needed to know what was going on with my body. Feeling this out of control, this in the dark, this confused and alone, was excruciating for me.

At check in, when we arrived, I had to utter those painful words out loud for the first time: "I think I'm having a miscarriage." Even through the sunglasses hiding my tears, I couldn't make eye contact with the receptionist. My hand shook as I filled out the paperwork.

We saw a very nice male nurse practitioner we had never met before, because everyone was out on holiday. He told me things didn't look good, but not to give up hope.

He ordered more blood work and sent me to get an ultrasound for the first time. I had a transvaginal ultrasound, which bordered between extremely uncomfortable and painful, which also scared me. Having not felt much, if any, pain during the entire experience, the sensation of a small cramp as the wand probed around trying to find the pregnancy, triggered some primal fear. I knew at my core, that something was wrong.

The tech couldn't disclose the results, but to my untrained eye, I couldn't see much of anything on the screen. At 8 weeks, I expected to at least hear a heartbeat. There wasn't one. 

We had a trip planned for the 4th of July, so we knew we'd have to wait to hear back about the results until the holiday had passed. So, I strapped the biggest maxi pad I could find into my underwear and boarded a plane for our east coast vacation. 

The next few posts show me trying to enjoy a beautiful few days up in Maine, while secretly bleeding, waiting for results, and worrying about my pregnancy. 

---

In the past, when I have experienced something challenging, sad, or even awkward, I find that sharing it with others has been a deeply healing step. It's like I can unburden myself by giving a tiny bit of the pain away to someone else. I want to thank you for reading this and for holding space for me during this time. Being able to write my experiences down, and share them publicly, has made me feel so much less alone. I don't share this story to gain sympathy, but rather in hopes that I can remove some of the stigma around pregnancy loss, and make someone else feel like they too, are not alone. XO

1 comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Annika, and I'm so sorry for your loss. When I shared my own experience with miscarriage it helped me heal so much, so I'm so proud of you for not keeping it a secret. And, as I lay here feeling my rainbow baby squirm around inside of me, I am filled with so much hope for you guys and your rainbow baby that is to come! I'm always around for a chat or a listen if you need it! <3 <3

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