Last April, I shared the story of our first baby, Ellis Ford. Well, I’m here today to share the story of our second baby that I was blessed to carry for a short time…
Despite the overwhelming grief of losing our first baby, we were determined to try again. And we were blessed to conceive our second baby just over 2 months after the loss of our first. We got the positive pregnancy test on July 9th and spent the next 2 1/2 weeks in a weird dichotomy of feelings – utter joy and terrible fear. And our fears unfortunately came true on July 28th.
On this day we went in for our first ultrasound at what should have been 7w1d. Instead of a 7 week baby though, we had a tiny 6 week-sized baby with a slow little heartbeat. At that gestational age, a slow heartbeat isn’t necessarily a bad sign because the heart has just started beating. However, for our little one it didn’t continue beating for long. We went back in for a repeat ultrasound the following Monday and were told there was no longer a heartbeat.
We were told our options for passing the baby, and while we were glad that I was induced and delivered Ellis in the hospital, we decided to allow my body let go of this baby naturally and at home when ready. I was thinking it would take a week or two, but my body had other ideas.
More than two weeks later I still had absolutely no signs that I was miscarrying. In fact, I still had all the regular pregnancy symptoms. The waiting started to take a toil on my emotions though, so after talking to the OB (and getting another ultrasound that showed a now empty amniotic sac) we decided to try the medication route in order to induce the miscarriage. We went to the store and bought me some super heavy pads and some cheap, basic underwear to hold said pads, and then upon returning home, I took the medication (Cytotec, in case you’re wondering).
I started having some really mild cramps and light spotting, similar to what you might experience right before your period starts. But it never progressed past that stage, and 36 hours later the cramps and spotting had stopped completely. I called the doctor’s office, thinking that maybe I just needed another dose (when I was induced with Ellis, I was given two doses of the medication). Have you ever tried to get ahold of a specific doctor on an Army post? Ya, it’s not easy. Or at least it wasn’t here. I called and left a message with the receptionist, and when I hadn’t heard back in a few hours I called back and was told they had 72 hours to get back to me. I’m sorry, but in pretty much any situation that might arise during pregnancy, you’re going to need an answer sooner than 72 hours later. While trying to fight back tears, I told the receptionist my situation and she, very kindly, told me she would have one of the midwives call me back ASAP.
When the midwife called me back a little later, she informed me that the OB who was there (mine was off) wouldn’t give me more medication without actually seeing me, and they couldn’t fit me in. So basically our options were to wait it out until Monday when my doctor would be back in the office (this was a Friday), or to go to the emergency room. The idea of waiting, potentially for hours, in a cold, sterile ER and then having to endure another ultrasound that would reveal that our baby was (still) no longer alive was just too much for me to even fathom. So we reluctantly went with the “wait ’til Monday” option.
When I got ahold of the doctor on Monday (again, it was not an easy process) she told me she didn’t want to give me more of the medication, no explanation as to why. In fact, there really wasn’t even a plan presented to me at all. At this point my expectations were so low that I wasn’t even upset by this. I had already come to the realization that we were going to have to just wait for my body to do what it needed to do in it’s own time. And it did.
On Wednesday, August 30th, after about three days of spotting (or what resembled more like passing tissue than blood), the cramping really kicked in and the bleeding got much heavier. I know everyone’s experience is different, but I had heard from several people who had babies who were about as far along as ours when they stopped developing that their experience wasn’t much different than a normal period, just a bit heavier. This was not my experience.
I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance. I’ve undergone surgery three different times, and have had countless other medical tests and procedures, and the doctors have always had to force pain medications on me because I would never ask for them, even as a child. And when we lost Ellis, despite the doctors suggesting I’d likely need an epidural or some other heavy duty drug, I delivered him without any medications. But this was painful. The cramping came and went, steadily increasing and then decreasing in intensity, much like I would imagine a contraction would be like in a full term birth, likely just on a much smaller scale. I was very grateful for my training as a Doula, because I instinctively knew how to breathe and what positions to get into to make myself a little more comfortable.
When there was little to no break between contractions and the pain got really intense, I finally called my husband who had been at work throughout all of this to ask him if he could come home early. As soon as I hung up the phone, I felt a large amount of tissue right at the opening of my vagina. I quickly ran to the bathroom and caught this tissue (what turned out to be the amniotic sac) in my hands. I don’t know why, but as soon as I saw what it was I intentionally dropped it into the toilet. Then like two seconds later, I freaked out realizing I’d just dropped the sac that contained what was left of my baby (basically just DNA at this point I guess) in the toilet. So I reached in and grabbed it out of the toilet. Apparently you do weird, kind of gross, things when you’re in a compromised emotional state.
I didn’t know what the heck I was supposed to do with the amniotic sac, but I knew I couldn’t just flush it. Some doctors, from what I understand, will have you collect it and bring it in for testing so they can look for an explanation as to what caused the miscarriage. This was not presented as an option to us (like I said before, the OB I was seeing was very hands off and gave us basically no plan or answers). So, not knowing what else to do, I grabbed one of my super jumbo pads and placed the amniotic sac on it and left it on the bathroom counter. And then I took a picture of it. Again, apparently you do weird, kind of gross, things when you’re in a compromised emotional state.
My husband came home shortly thereafter. I don’t remember exactly what he did or what he said to me, but I remember feeling relieved that I wouldn’t be alone anymore. I continued to pass more blood and tissue over the next couple of hours, but the cramping was lessening. At some point, my husband asked me if I’d eaten anything that day (I hadn’t, or at least not much). So he asked what he could get me that sounded good, and for some weird reason, the only thing that sounded palatable in that moment was tomato soup. Oddly enough this is what I craved when I was in the hospital delivering Ellis as well. I have no idea why I would crave something that looks like blood in the midst of an event that involves so much blood, but there it is. So I ate some tomato soup, still in pain, both emotional and physical, but relieved that the hardest part was now behind us…
I shared a bit of the miscarriage process on Instagram stories while it was happening (just my feelings, nothing graphic), and I compiled them into a video to share here in case it’s something that could be helpful for someone in the future going through the same thing. Sorry if it’s a a little choppy… like I said it’s from my Instagram story.
When we went through this the first time I remember telling my husband, “I really hope we don’t have to go through this again because I don’t think I could do it.” But I did it. They say that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case. I think He gives you the strength when you need it to handle far more than you would ever be able to handle on your own.
I don’t share all of this so that people will feel sorry for us. I share it so that if someone else is going through the same thing, they won’t feel alone. I share because miscarriage isn’t talked about and I want to help change that. I share because our baby, Baby Pea, is a little soul and I want to honor and remember their short life, just as I honor and remember his or her big brother Ellis. ⠀
If you have children, whether in your womb or on the outside, please give them extra squeezes today. Children are truly miraculous gifts from God. Please don’t take them for granted.
In vibrant (but so very sad right now) health,