I had planned not to be an “over-sharer” in this pregnancy, but the need for prayer, support, and understanding has trumped that, so I am going to share with you all what’s going on in our lives.
I knew pregnancy was an emotional rollercoaster, and fully expected to have plenty of ups and downs, but nothing could have ever prepared me for this week.
Tuesday (August 23), Jake and I went for our baby’s first ultrasound. Earlier that week, I broke down in tears and poured out to Jake just how much weight that ultrasound carried for me. I wanted to hear my baby’s heart and get that confirmation that there was indeed a living, breathing, growing child inside my womb, and that this really wasn’t some dream or fantasy. At my last doctor’s appointment, the prenatal exam (August 4), we had determined my due date to be March 30, which made me 8 weeks and 5 days pregnant on the day of the ultrasound…plenty far enough to see a clear embryo, fetal pole, and clear heart beat. A few days before the ultrasound, at the height of my anxiety and nervousness, I googled “8 week ultrasound pics” so that I’d get a good idea of what I should expect to see. When we finally got called back into the ultrasound room, I could clearly visualize an 8 week embryo appearing on the screen, yet my nerves never subsided. When the ultrasound tech pulled up the image, I knew immediately what I was seeing wasn’t the same thing. She said there was definitely a baby, but he/she was very, very small. My brain literally came to a screeching halt. Like someone through a wrench in a gear. I immediately began digging for some inclination that the furrow on her brow meant something, but our tech remained sweet and encouraging, yet blatantly vague, which made my fears continue to grow. She explained that it was too small to get a heartbeat, so that affirmation I’d so desperately anticipated slipped right out of my fingers. As I got ready to go back to talk to my doctor, I clung to the picture thinking and rationalizing what might be going on. The tech had said most of the time when a baby is smaller, the dates are off. So I kept thinking to myself about our conception, and that instead of conceiving sometime between the 1st and the 5th, it must have been between the 11th and 17th, which would account for the difference in size, or so I hoped.
When I came into his office, he immediately explained that his intentions were not to be a naysayer or to be negative or to scare me in anyway, however, he expressed his desire to be sincere, honest, and thorough. he explained that the baby’s size was very, very concerning, and that we definitely should have seen more. I asked about the dating mix up, and he expressed that while we may have been wrong by a week or two, we could not have been off by three- since that means I’d have had to conceive after I had already had a positive pregnancy test- which just wouldn’t have been possible, of course. I knew then where this conversation was going. He explained very sweetly that, while he was NOT diagnosing me with a miscarriage (I think I literally winced at the word- one that I had not even dared whisper up to this point), he did, however have a great deal of fear that the baby had simply stopped growing and stopped living. My question was, where do we go from here? I had done enough research to know that a D&C was out of the question for me- I wanted more confirmation that it was over before that- and the doctor readily agreed, telling me that we were not beyond miracles, and of course, we needed more information to find out what was really going on with the baby. I left utterly deflated and crushed.
We left the office with an appointment for Friday morning for blood work to determine if my HCG levels were still rising and still consistent with a viable pregnancy. He wanted to do a quantitative which would give a more accurate number, and give them some idea of how far along my body seems to say it is, and we scheduled a follow-up ultrasound on the 9th of September, a full 2 weeks away. With no cramping, spotting, bleeding, or trauma, he left me the thought of remaining realistic and concerned, yet he encouraged me to be optimistic and hopeful, too. Trust me, that balance almost impossible to find.
Sharing that news was the most heart-breaking thing.
Wednesday, I woke up having one of those “Was it all a dream?!” moments. Reality that I might have had a miscarriage felt like a rotten taste in my mouth, and I felt overwhelmed with heart-sick fatigue. I explained the situation to my students, sharing that I was pregnant and that we were having some problems telling if the baby had passed away or if it was okay and still growing like it’s supposed to, and that it would mean I’d be needing a lot of tests, which would mean I’d be out of school some. They were so, so supportive and sweet. My co-workers immediately reached out to me, and so have our family and friends. Wednesday night prayer was the most powerful thing as friends and church members gathered around us, laying their hands on us and lifting us up. Jake and I talked on the way home that if we had not found First Baptist, who knows how/if we’d handled this. I mean, spiritually… our relationship with the Lord has grown and strengthened so in the last year, I know now that I might not have had the strength to stand and hear the news that I may have lost my child, or maybe not, and it was just too soon to tell. How can one live in such limbo without coming undone, especially when they lack the strength that comes from knowing and trusting Him fully. Wednesday was hard. My eye lids looked a lot like vanilla wafers (that swollen look I get when I cry) when I went to bed.
Thursday was an “up” day. After spending Wednesday digesting Tuesday’s news and opening myself to the idea that I might have to endure a miscarriage, I found myself switching back and forth between moments of stoic, peaceful acceptance and sheer misery and debilitating grief. I looked at my cell phone after the kids had dismissed that afternoon, and saw my doctor’s office had called that morning. I called them back immediately. I was elated to hear the nurse say my blood work taken on Tuesday after my ultrasound was “perfect.” Right on tract, she said. I stuttered, and said, “Wait. Are you saying the doctor doesn’t think I’ve miscarried?” and she explained that while it wasn’t clear just yet, the rising HCG levels was a very positive sign that it was not. I almost melted right there. I shared with my team, several of which were still at school that day, and left feeling that Friday’s blood work just HAD to be good. I mean, this rollercoaster (up-and-down, up-and-down) just couldn’t continue, right?
I went back today, Friday, for my blood work. I took the whole day off, thinking that if it took three hours to hear back from the lab, there was no point in going the 40 minutes to work just to sit on my hands for 2 hours, followed by the fact that who knows if it would be good news or bad news, and if it did turn out not-so-positive, we knew I’d be in no shape to deal with seventh graders, of course. After two unusually painful sticks, the sweet lady who drew my blood told me that it’s be 3 o’clock before we’d have any results. Ugh. No way could I handle waiting around that long, alone. So I went to work and told everyone I just didn’t know my results. My principal was so thoughtful to suggest I go ahead and plan go home early, just so I could learn my results in private, rather than have to face the hundreds of what’d-they-says coming from everyone. I thankfully agreed, and left my class with our school’s teacher assistant and headed out to my car. I got in my car, turned the air on and the radio down, and right as the clock changed from 2:59 to 3:00, I pressed “send” and called them. Being on hold is so hard when the possibility of your child’s life hangs in the balance.
Eventually a nurse named Lori picked up, and I immediately recognized her from earlier calls. She’d be the first nurse I told I was pregnant when I called to schedule the prenatal appointment. The familiarity was comforting. She explained that my levels had not doubled. I went from 39,000 on Tuesday to about 40,000 on Friday. I heard the tone of “not-so-good” in her voice, and my heart sank. Not content with letting that be the end of the conversation, I started asking her questions and discussing the whole situation, and then she seemed to have an epiphany. I asked her how I could have had “perfect” results Tuesday, and bad results on Friday? She got to thinking that the nurse/doctor who looked over my results (since mine was out of the office- his daughter was having surgery) might have gotten confused about the month difference between the HCG score of 187 at the end of June and the 39,000 on Tuesday, not noticing that the large amount of time between the two numbers. She immediately said, “Okay, before I say anything else, let me ask him what he thinks about those results.” I was so grateful. I couldn’t stand anymore speculation. After what felt like an eternity on hold, she came back and said that the same doctor who described Tuesdays results as “perfect” said that after about 5-6 weeks, HCG levels begin to level off, taking longer to double. I had read that after you reach the 6,000 mark that it could take more than 4 days to double, which makes sense in my case. The doctor who was in today, the same doctor who looked at Tuesday’s blood work, said that he thought the jump from 39,000 to 40,000 was promising, and my heart jumped. While he agreed I’m not out of the woods yet, and the possibility that I may have miscarried still exists, he said he did indeed see a fetal pole on my ultrasound, which dated the baby to be 5wks 5days, and he recommended a follow up ultrasound to see if we could finally see a heartbeat, which is usually evident after 6 weeks. I told the nurse I had one scheduled for the 9th, but the doctor on call said he thought it needed to be a week after the first, so we could get answers sooner. We’ll look for a heartbeat and compare the growth from Tuesday’s ultrasound with one exactly one week later and see if we can spot any signs that it is still living and growing.
That leaves me with where I am now. I feel a little more hopeful, yet still terrified. I have had so much prayer, love, and encouragement from soooo many people, I’ve been totally overwhelmed. I’ve found myself on my knees more than ever, and closer to God than ever. I have never had to pray for God’s will knowing very well that His will might just be something I don’t think I can deal with, but I know beyond any doubt that He will sustain us through this trial. I’ve come to the conclusion that if it is His will that we miscarry, it will be for a divine and holy purpose. It will teach me something, prepare me for something, so that He can use me to empathize with someone later or minister to someone in need. He will use the situation to bring glory to Him through me because of it. And if that turns out to be the case, I find comfort in the fact that the little life inside of me had a purpose and fulfilled God’s will for it without ever having to set foot in a sinful world.
God’s using this to bring me closer to Him, and I’ve never had to trust Him more. I have faith that we will be okay regardless of the outcome. I’m so thankful for the promising news so far, and I am waiting anxiously in hopes that next week’s ultrasound will be good, too.
Thanks for praying for us, loving on us, calling us, emailing us, Facebooking us, and keeping us surrounded in hope. it has meant so much. I will update everyone as I can. I love you all, and I am grateful for each one of you.