I don’t know who or what our baby would have become throughout his life, and that’s something I will always think about, but one thing I do know is that he was a fighter. He was determined to cling on as long as he could and not let go. In a strange way that gave us the sense that he knew just how loved and wanted he was, but it also meant that we endured a sense of suffering and pain that we have never experienced before, that went on far longer than it should have done, and has tested the boundaries of my mental and emotional well-being, almost to breaking point.
(Please note that throughout this post I will always refer to the ‘baby’. We are aware that at 7/8 weeks the embryo is not formed enough to be considered a baby, however it was still our child that Dave and I made together, and therefore it will always be our baby and that is how we prefer to think of him).
My last post left off with me still testing positive for pregnancy and still not having passed the miscarriage. We attended the Fertility Clinic on Wednesday where we got blood tests to check for the presence of the pregnancy hormone HCG, and a scan. The nurse confirmed once again that she couldn’t see anything on the scan, but we weren’t expecting anything. Despite my positive tests, we knew our baby had gone and I had started bleeding on the Sunday although it was very light at this point. But later that afternoon when the nurse phoned back with my blood results, the question became has he really gone? Or is he still hiding somewhere in my body. When someone miscarries their HCG level should start rapidly declining until it reaches zero, however mine was showing as 1800. This was far higher than the clinic would have expected so the indication was that there was still a pregnancy somewhere in my body. We were told to attend the clinic again the next morning at 8am for a scan, this time with our doctor. However, during that evening and throughout the night, I began to bleed very heavily and I couldn’t help wondering if this was the miscarriage happening, but without knowing really what to expect, it was hard to know.
At 8am the next morning we met with a nurse and our doctor, who gave me an extremely thorough scan. Internal scans are never pleasant things but usually they are only slightly uncomfortable, however this one was very painful. I could tell she was desperately trying to find something that would explain why my hormone level was so high. During the scan I could feel the blood pouring out of me and I started wondering how our life had come to this. It all seemed so surreal. After the scan we had a chat with our doctor who expressed her concern that she wasn’t seeing anything in my womb that would indicate a pregnancy. Her fear was that the pregnancy was growing somewhere else, i.e. my fallopian tubes, and that what we were experiencing was in fact an ectopic pregnancy. She said the only thing she could do would be to refer us to the Early Pregnancy Unit within the maternity hospital. We were taken immediately down there where we met with another doctor.
She explained that they would need to repeat my blood test to check the levels again but the protocol was to leave 48 hours between tests, so an appointment was made for us on Friday at 11.30 (today). She also expressed her concerns that if indeed I had an ectopic pregnancy my tube could rupture at any moment, which can make you extremely ill and can become life threatening. She therefore suggested that I stay in the unit overnight until my appointment the next day. My first reaction was definitely not. Despite feeling pretty worried about what she was saying I felt like an emotional wreck and knowing that I would have to stay in the unit all night by myself without Dave was more than I could take. The unit itself is very nice, the staff are lovely and even better you get a room to yourself, but a hospital is a hospital, they’re not nice places to be and I felt like if I had to stay there I might just finally break.
I mentioned all this to her and since we only live about 20-30 minutes away from the hospital she agreed that I could go home on the understanding that I had to go straight back in if I started to feel unwell. She gave me a list of symptoms to watch out for and then thankfully we headed home.
It never ceases to amaze me how mysterious the mind and body can be because low and behold on the way home I started to feel really unwell. By the time we got home I was experiencing just about every symptom the doctor had mentioned. I spoke to Dave and my mum about it and they suggested I should go back into the unit. I really pushed against the idea; I know that home is the only place I wanted to be right then, however deep down inside I was terrified of the risk that I could potentially become really ill, and I knew Dave would feel better if I was in the right place. So we packed a bag and headed back into the unit. I felt absolutely exhausted as I haven’t had a proper nights sleep since we first found out about the miscarriage on the 18th of September, so I lay down on the bed and managed to have a snooze for an hour or so. When I woke up I felt a lot better and the pain in my stomach seemed to have eased off. Both Dave and I were bored and the sun was streaming in through my window. I couldn’t have felt more depressed being stuck in there so I sat for the next 20 minutes convincing Dave why I thought it was a good idea we just went home. He was reluctant so I went and got a nurse and we had a really good talk with her who suggested I had maybe just panicked after speaking to the doctor, and as long as I promised to come straight back in if I started to feel unwell, she was happy enough for us to go home.
I was never so glad to get home to my own house and crawl into my own lovely bed. I actually had a really good nights rest and this morning we set off for the hospital again to get my next blood test.
As messed up as it sounds, at this point we were praying for a miscarriage. That would be determined by my hormones levels dropping by 60% or more. If they stayed the same as Wednesday’s level or indeed went up, we would be treated as an ectopic pregnancy. The two treatment options for this are either an injection or surgery. Of course I immediately thought the injection sounded the much better option, however it was not without its own concerns. The nurse explained to us that it was actually a chemotherapy injection and is used to get rid of the baby wherever it may be in the body. The downside is that you’re not allowed to get pregnant for 3 months after receiving this injection, because obviously the drug is very powerful and could do real damage to a foetus. Although at the moment getting pregnant again is about the furthest thing from my mind, I felt hesitant about being injected with a drug that is used for the treatment of cancer. I’m very much of the opinion that you shouldn’t put things into your body that you don’t need, and the thought of this this injection scared me.
At this point the surgery was sounding the better option, and I felt that at least they could also have a look at my blocked fallopian tube while they were in there, and possibly reveal more to me about its condition with regards to our fertility issues.
We were hoping of course that we would not have this horrible choice to make. My heavy bleeding had also continued and without going into too much detail the horror of what was coming out of me in the bathroom was something I will never forget.
I was told to phone at 5pm today for my blood results, but by 4.45pm I was a nervous wreck so I phoned and was told that my levels had reduced to 190, an 80% drop, therefore they could confirm it was definitely a miscarriage we had suffered and there was no baby left inside.
The relief we felt was profound. You know you’ve reached a very bad place in your life when you’re actually praying for a miscarriage, but it was the lesser of two evils and meant that we could finally have some closure from this horrendous time. I was told to repeat a pregnancy test in 2 weeks just to make sure it was negative, but other than that I was discharged from the ward and didn’t require any further treatment.
Without a doubt this has been the worst time of our lives. I have no idea how we’re even going to begin to process everything we have been through in the last couple of weeks but writing this I’m sitting in a mess of tears, so I guess things have possibly started to sink in. As of now I’m still in pain, still bleeding and that may continue for a few weeks yet, but at least we have a conclusion. For that we are so very grateful.
Overall we feel proud that our little bean tried his best to stay with us; I’m sure he enjoyed his little game of hide and seek that definitely kept us on our toes but unfortunately this experience has made me question whether I can ever put myself through IVF again. Its way too soon to be thinking about another round, but nothing is worth compromising your health for and this week for the first time I felt really scared about what could potentially be happening inside my body.
I don’t know why Dave and I are being punished like this; tested some people say, but I really couldn’t say whether we have passed the test or not. One thing is for sure though, and that’s our love for each other which always holds fast and strong. Nothing in the world will ever compromise that.
As we left the hospital yesterday we saw a couple leaving the maternity ward for the first time with their newborn. I couldn’t stop looking at their faces full of happiness and joy as they prepared to take their little one home for the first time. I wanted to scream. I don’t know if that will ever be us. If we will ever get to experience that. Life can be so cruel sometimes, but we must learn to try and recover and move on, in a world that for the moment, I don’t understand.