Yesterday at 13 weeks, we went in for a routine checkup, and found out our baby was gone. The irony is that I think I was finally at the point where I was feeling confident. We had told most of our family and friends last week since we had reached the “magical” 12-week mark, and I had found the heartbeat via home doppler several times. I’m still processing everything and I’m kind of in shock. I mean, who loses a baby at 13 weeks for no apparent reason?
Our appointment started out very normal. It was our first meeting with our new OB (last appointment had been with the nurse practitioner), and she went over our history, talked about both our previous loss and our successful pregnancy, and talked about our plans for this pregnancy as far as any testing, delivery plans, etc. At the end of the appointment she pulled out the doppler to check for the heartbeat. When she didn’t find it right away, none of us were terribly worried at first. I know it can be tricky to find. But the longer she searched, the more concerned I started getting. She kept yapping away about something and I honestly have no idea what she was saying — I just kept listening for that unmistakable galloping sound. A few times I glanced over at D and I could see he was starting to worry too. Finally she said she was going to grab the ultrasound machine. I had this overwhelming feeling of dread, but kept trying to tell myself it would all be okay — and hey, on the plus side I’d get to see my baby again, right? We weren’t due for another ultrasound until 20 weeks, so I kept trying to convince myself this would be a nice surprise.
But as soon as I saw the baby on the screen, I knew. Just 4 weeks earlier at our 9-week ultrasound, baby was dancing around on the screen, waving its arms and legs. This time the baby was very still. And there was no flicker in the middle where we should have seen the heart beating. The doctor didn’t say anything for a few minutes, while she got different angles and measurements, but I knew it was over long before she said anything. She finally confirmed there was no heartbeat and that’s when I broke down. She pointed out that the baby was measuring right on track — 13 weeks and 1 day, so it had to have happened in the last couple days. I already knew this, since I had just found the heartbeat via home doppler three days prior. She kept talking, pointing out other things — like how the shape and position of the baby meant that the death was recent, yada, yada… I honestly wasn’t listening. I just wanted to run out of the building. My baby was gone. What else mattered?
As it turns out, losing a baby at 13 weeks is more complicated than losing a baby at 7 weeks. Whereas before I was given three options: wait to miscarry naturally, induce with medicine, or a surgical D&C, this time the doctor said our only safe option was a D&C, due to the size of the baby and the amount of bleeding that would come with losing a second trimester pregnancy. I really hate the idea of another D&C, especially after all the complications we experienced last time. But my doctor assured me my experience was rare. Then again, so is miscarrying in the second trimester, water breaking before labor starts and too much lipase in your breastmilk. I seem to end up on the wrong side of statistics a lot. Unfortunately, with the long holiday weekend, we can’t even talk to the scheduler until Monday. I was instructed to head to the ER if I start bleeding over the weekend.
So here we are, in a state of limbo. Still carrying my baby, and still feeling pregnant. Still looking pregnant too. Mostly all that fits me right now are maternity clothes, but they’re just too painful to wear when I know my baby is gone. So I spent most of the afternoon yesterday cleaning out my closet and packing all my maternity clothes away again (I had just unpacked everything last weekend and put most of my regular clothes in storage, so I got to spend a few hours swapping everything out once again). Everything I own either feels tight and uncomfortable or shows off my belly, which I can’t stand to look at right now.
It just sucks. Who loses a baby at 13 weeks? And why? The doctor had no explanation. She said it was most likely a chromosomal abnormality, but everything I’ve read online says most chromosomal abnormalities are more likely to cause first trimester miscarriages. Why did baby develop this long? The doctor will do some testing on me after my D&C and see if she can find anything like an autoimmune or blood clotting disorder, which can sometimes be the culprit of late miscarriages. She also said we have the option of having the baby tested for chromosomal abnormalities after the D&C, but that it’s expensive and usually not covered by insurance. I’m not sure what we’ll do, but I’m leaning toward not doing it. What would it tell us, really? Either the baby had an abnormality and there’s nothing we can do to prevent that from happening again, or the baby was healthy and its death was just senseless.
It was really hard to have to break the news to everyone yesterday, but the support and love we’ve received has been overwhelming (in a good way). I guess that’s the silver lining to having told so many people. Interestingly, a lot of people have offered to watch Theo for us, but to be honest, he has proved to be a beacon of light in this dark time for us. His innocence, silliness and even his tantrums have been a reminder that life goes on, and he’s provided some much-needed distraction. Although he had just learned the concept that there was a baby in mommy’s tummy, and loved to pat my belly and say “baby” and then kiss it. He did that this morning and it was like a knife through the heart. I’m glad he’s young enough that he’ll probably forget soon enough. My 9 year-old niece, on the other hand, was excited about a new cousin and I can’t imagine the job my sister-in-law had trying to explain this to her.
I had been keeping weekly entries for this pregnancy in secret and I’ve debated whether I should publish them. I think I am going to. As hard as it is to look back on, it’s still an important part of our journey. So if you’re interested, you can scroll back as far as April 30 for my first update about this pregnancy.