Further Down the Rabbit Hole

The rudeness of our first OB prompted me to get a second opinion. I couldn’t deal with her and her miracles. I needed someone to tell me the truth or at least act like they cared. I called into work and made an appointment with a different practice where one of their female doctors was on the Best Doctors list. She wasn’t available, but I got a last-minute appointment with a male OB-GYN. I’d never seen a guy for “those” appointments, but I didn’t care.

He easily spent 40 minutes with me. He performed the ultrasound, not a tech. He confirmed that our baby wasn’t developing correctly. He made sure that I understood everything he was saying. He was horrified at the way the first doctor had treated me. When Pete arrived at the end of my appointment because he couldn’t get off work, the new doctor explained everything to him again too. I was told to wait two weeks to miscarry naturally, and then we would go from there. When I wasn’t at work I was in bed, willing my body to let go of this baby and begging God to make it happen soon. Pete inadvertently made Nanny’s corn chowder, the ultimate comfort food. It was one of the only things he could get me to eat.

Torture is when your body thinks its pregnant but your mind knows you’re not. You’re still exhausted. You still throw up in the bathroom at work when the woman with the overbearing perfume walks by. But you’re grieving and carrying double secrets–you were pregnant, but now you’re not. How do you even bring that up?

Friend: “So how have you been?”

Me: “Not good, I’m having a miscarriage.”

Friend: “What? I didn’t even know you were pregnant! Why didn’t you tell me?”

I had a couple of those conversations. They’re awkward. No one knows what to say.

Meanwhile, family members and friends are announcing pregnancies left and right. You don’t want to shit on their parade.

I waited every day for two weeks to lose the baby and it never happened. So we went back to the doctor and he did another ultrasound. This time, there was no almost-baby in my uterus. I had a blighted ovum, something no one hears about until they have one. The baby (embryo) gets reabsorbed into your uterus but leaves the embryo sack attached to your uterine wall. I was sent back home to wait another week to miscarry what was left of the pregnancy.

To say that I was angry about our situation is an understatement. I couldn’t hold back on how I felt. I had to miss a meeting at work when I had my second appointment with the new doctor. I came back the next day to a snotty email from someone in the meeting that said it wasn’t “acceptable for me to just not show up” for that meeting. My manager was in the meeting. She knew where I was, which is what mattered. It was all I could do to not type back, “Sorry to inconvenience you! I’ve been busy finding out that I’m miscarrying.”

“How are you?” was a loaded question. Trivial work tasks didn’t matter–don’t you people know that I’m miscarrying?? That my heart is bleeding?? Because I couldn’t trust myself to speak in public, Peter had the privilege of listening to me say things like:

  • “I am carrying around a dead baby. How is that even possible? I didn’t even know it could happen! How is our baby dead inside of me??”
  • “I’m having a miscarriage! Right here, in front of everyone!”
  • “How the eff am I getting a baby bump when there is no baby in there? Are we being punished? WHY ARE WE BEING PUNISHED?!”

He was a saint. He held me when I cried, gave me the perfect amount of space, and listened to all of my ranting without judgment.

The days dragged on. At 11 weeks and no miscarriage, we discovered that the (very small) baby bump was there because a mass had developed in my uterus, causing my uterus to keep growing. This is known as a molar pregnancy. Our doctor was dumbfounded.

“We were all here at the last ultrasound, right? We all saw that there was nothing there. I’ve never seen this happen before,” he told Pete and I.

He pulled my charts and sure enough, my uterus was empty at the last appointment, just like we all thought.

Molar pregnancies are complicated. They’re usually just tissue with parts of a baby in it, and have to be removed by a D&C. But they can also lead to cancer. Because there were so many veins connected to my “mole” I needed to have it removed immediately. I had a high chance of hemorrhaging during the procedure–was I okay with getting a blood transfusion? If it came back cancerous, I would have to start chemo.  If my pregnancy hormones didn’t lower in an appropriate amount of time once it was removed, I would need to have blood tests every week for six months and start a low-dose chemo if the levels weren’t reducing fast enough.

The D&C was scheduled for the next day (a Friday) because the mass had grown so quickly.

There wasn’t enough time to be scared. I was drained and I just wanted to be done with it. My parents wanted to come up, but I wouldn’t let them. It was out patient, and I was sure that I would be back to work on Monday. We had already scheduled to redo our floors (in preparation for the almost-baby, of course) that weekend weeks before we knew this was happening so there was no where for them to sleep. Pete would be there so it should be fine.

The procedure went great, and there wasn’t as much bleeding as our doctor expected. But no one tells you the pain from a D&C doesn’t start until a few days after the procedure. I was told it was like “period cramps but a little worse.” I spent a week out of work, curled up in a ball on the couch. I couldn’t walk or sit up. When I called the doctor see what level of pain equals “severe,” I found out that the “mole” hadn’t been cancerous and I was probably having contractions. It wasn’t normal but it happened sometimes if there was more tissue in my uterus than they expected. He promptly called in a pain killer that made the rest of that week a lot more tolerable. A week after my procedure, alone in our house, I passed the rest of our pregnancy on the toilet.

It took 11 weeks, but at least there was finally closure.