Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Causes: Pregnancy Loss-Miscarriage.

First, I am writing this on May 2, 2014, so whatever may happen in the future (more babies!), keep the date in mind. 

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

As many of you know, Trevor and I lost twins in June, 2011.  It was really sad and difficult, especially so since he had already left to begin his year long deployment to Kuwait.  So, after our loss, we were not able to try again for about 10 months. 

I wish I could say that was our only experience with pregnancy loss/miscarriage, but I can't.  I had my IUD removed in January 2014 and we planned to wait a little while to actually try for baby number 2.  We both felt more comfortable letting my body sort itself out after the IUD removal first.  Trevor is set to graduate with his undergrad in December 2014 (edit: now spread out to May 2015), so we were comfortable with a due date anytime after his graduation.  Once we were in okay territory for that, it all happened very quickly.  We are both grateful it seems we are quite fertile (getting pregnant on the first try three times in a row now), and glad we have a "bright side" to all of this.  We know many do not have that blessing, and it is very much so a blessing.  However, there is no "normal" or "non-sad" way to lose a pregnancy.

On April 21, 2014, the day after Easter.  I got a very faint positive pregnancy test.  My period was due the next day and I did not plan on testing until after that day because I was worried about a chemical pregnancy (finding out you're pregnant then your "period" just comes anyway, so a very early miscarriage).  Testing or not wouldn't change anything, I just would rather not know I was pregnant if that were going to happen.  I had the tiniest bit of spotting, which I know can be quite common, so I wasn't jumping up and down yet, still nervous my period just might come, but hey-I was pregnant!

On April 22, I started bleeding a little more, but still very light and not what I would consider a period.  I'm not a big "pee-on-a-stick" person usually, but I was just so antsy to figure out if I was pregnant and going to stay pregnant, or if my "period" would still come.  Long story short (very long, lots of peeing and trips to the Dollar Store--very accurate tests for $1, seriously), I went through 13 pregnancy tests in less than a week.  They were very faint at first, then negative, then very faint again, then started getting darker.  This whole time I was still spotting and trying to remind myself that is very common.  I started having symptoms (queasy/uneasy feeling and very tired) which I took to be a good sign.  Over the weekend (April 26/27) the symptoms continued and the lines on my pregnancy tests got notably darker (a sign the hormone detected by the tests was increasing).  My bleeding hadn't picked up at all and even had moments where it seemed to be stopping, so on Monday, April 28 I decided I should call and schedule my prenatal appointments.  While on the phone with them, I mentioned the bleeding in the event they wanted me to come in sooner.  I ended up speaking with a doctor and she ordered blood work to check my beta HCG and progesterone levels.  I am familiar enough with those things that I knew what to expect at this stage.  We have an online patient portal, so I actually saw my results before the doctor called me.  It didn't look good.  My HCG was 38.1 and my progesterone was almost 0, which is what you would expect during your period, definitely not during a pregnancy.  The biggest indicator, however, is whether or not HCG is doubling, so I'd need to go back in two days for follow up blood work.  It was possible this was very late implantation and that would explain the low numbers, but it didn't look good.  I was so torn--I didn't want to be naïve and get my hopes up when I knew the reality of my lab results.  However, if this baby did pull through and everything went fine (even if I needed progesterone supplements or something), I didn't want to look back and remember giving up or writing it off.

So we waited...more.  The whole week prior was so wishy washy with the spotting and confusing tests, not knowing if this baby would stick or not.  Plus I was having symptoms and living as if I were pregnant (I was...still kind of am I guess?)-no drinking, taking all my vitamins, exhausted and sleeping when I could, strong sense of smell... It was all happening.

On Wednesday, April 30, I went in for my follow up blood work.  Ideally, my HCG would have doubled (so 80+ would have been a good sign) and I'd have more progesterone.  However, when I saw the results, it had gone down to 37 (from 38.1 two days ago).  I knew what this meant.  There is no coming back from dropping HCG levels.  To be honest, if it was going to drop, I wish it would drop faster.  I'm still tired (although that is quickly getting better) and would like to just get it over with.  Hopefully the drop picks up soon and there is no major drama since it was so early on.  If things had gone the other way, I would be 5 weeks pregnant, so this is a very early miscarriage.  From what I've gathered, it will be like a heavy period, maybe some cramping that is slightly worse than usual (I don't really get any usually, so we'll see).  Not a fan of the waiting.  My periods are totally predictable so I don't love this unknown.

Final edit on October 1, 2014: I'm 21 weeks pregnant with a baby that appears perfectly healthy (yay!).  On May 6, 2014 my HCH was down to 1.1 (checked again to help rule out ectopic) and I never really bled much.  I had the few days of spotting I already mentioned, then another couple days of spotting and that was it.  I'm guessing it worked out that way because it happened so early.  Full disclosure: I was advised to wait a couple months to try again, but honestly I might not have even known I was pregnant had I not tested when I did.  So, we decided not to worry about it.  After all this, I was going to wait to test, but on June 2 I had diarrhea (never ever happens to me) and on June 3 I just had to know...positive!

Hugs and comfort to those of you who have experienced pregnancy and/or infant loss in any way.  It is a sad thing, hard on entire families, that doesn't get much attention.

Some wonderful organizations supporting those who have endured losses:
The Jameson House
Faith's Lodge
Molly Bears
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
Silent Grief

Click here to read about this series and see the other posts.
Click here to read about our first experience with pregnancy loss.

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