My pregnancy began under fairly stressful conditions. I had undergone surgery to remove endometriosis, and my OB/Gyn encouraged me to start a family soon because endometriosis almost always worsens over time. My partner and I started trying to conceive. Two cycles later we felt blessed when we were pregnant! My pregnancy preceded normally, mild morning sickness, tiredness and breast tenderness. I also felt intermittent period like cramping which I called about and was told not to worry. I booked my first prenatal for the 11th week, although this seemed late to me.During my 7th week I noticed that my breasts were not growing larger as quickly as they had. In my 9th week I felt very ill and had diarrhea and a general feeling that was not good. The next day I started spotting bright red blood. I was terrified although I knew that many pregnancies had spotting and was considered almost normal.I went to the ER for evaluation and treatment. We were seen very quickly and the doctor did a pelvic exam. The news was good. My cervix was closed and the hormone levels right. I requested an ultrasound but was told it would be inconclusive. I was told to go home and have bed rest for four days.
We went straight home and to bed, and I stayed there which seemed to help, as the bleeding grew darker and eventually almost stopped. I called my OB’s office first thing Monday morning. The receptionist said that sounded good but to come in for a follow up the next day.
The next day, my OB told me that I was probably miscarrying. My hormone levels were actually low and the only way to confirm the miscarriage was an ultrasound that should have been performed at the hospital.
As soon as we got home I went for a long walk with my dog to encourage the miscarriage to start. I did not know if that was the best thing to do but had been left without any instructions. I decided quickly that I wanted this to occur naturally if possible as I had already had surgery less than six months earlier. With in a few moments of walking the bleeding started with mild cramping. It felt very much like a period. I ended up vacuuming my house and tidying up, as I wanted to keep moving to encourage things along. Approximately 4 hours after the ultrasound the heavy bleeding and cramping pain began. It was very painful and the cramps made me “huff huff” with my breath. They seemed to come regularly every two minutes or so and lasted for about a minute and I could usually feel large amounts of tissue and blood pass. Approximately 20 minutes into this I felt very cold and “shaky” and vomited. I called my partner during this stage as I was very scared and wanted to go to the ER.
We ended up waiting in a crowded waiting room for over four and a half hours. This was a very trying time as babies and pregnant women surrounded us. I tried not to show any feelings, didn’t cry, and we kept walking around the hospital to keep things going. I soon needed a change of pads and asked the nurse for one as well as what the baby might look like. She was kind and told me it would look like blood clots, probably no baby to be seen. I asked her if I should save what I passed because I had read in books to do that and she said no, just to come and tell her. I felt better and went to the washroom to change and saw what I felt was the fetus–it did look like a blood clot, the size and shape of a bean with white bits showing here and there. Approximately a half hour later I was overwhelmed with this panicky sensation that I did not want to leave my baby in the garbage can. This lasted for quite awhile. My partner reasoned with me that the garbage had already been changed and it was okay to feel that way but there were no other options.
Towards the end of the four-hour wait after watching people who looked less ill than me go into the treatment area I started crying and it was hard to get myself under control again. Twenty minutes later we had a room and shortly after that we saw the doctor. My boyfriend remarked I should have done that two hours earlier.When the doctor came into the room, he did a pelvic exam and said that he was pretty sure I had passed all the remains as I had stopped bleeding by then, so we could go home and follow up with our OB. I asked if I needed the D&C or if it was okay to wait it out naturally. He said it was probably fine at this point but to follow up with my doctor the next day and not eat anything until I spoke with him just in case.I felt groggy and weak, so I called my OB. He said this was a common occurrence and if I felt okay I could rest for a few days and follow up with him in two weeks. I felt uncomfortable with that but agreed and hung up.The next day I felt ill and tired and just horrible. I called my OB and told the receptionist I thought I needed an ultrasound. By the next morning the cramps were almost unbearable so we went to the emergency room. The doctor said it was old blood (it wasn’t) and put me on antibiotics and to follow up with my OB, the one I could never get a hold of. I did the ultrasound that afternoon although this time they would not release the results, but promised to send them to my OB.The cramping and bleeding worsened until I passed a lot of tissue in the late afternoon. It was frightening and painful but I guess I knew what the ultrasound had said. I could not get hold of my doctor and could just not face going back to the ER. My antibiotics were making me ill so I stopped taking them. I tried all week to get in touch with my OB because I was frightened and missing classes and needed a letter from him.
On Friday I went and saw him and finally got my ultrasound results (a full week later). I told him about the tissue I passed and handed him a list of questions he hadn’t been available to answer. He said that I probably was fine and answered my questions. At the end of the visit he said “I’ll see you when you are pregnant again,” which really hurt me. I felt the entire time I was left to go through this on my own.
I wish this were the end of the story, but a full month later I learned from my general practitioner that I still had pregnancy hormones and he thought there was retained tissue from my miscarriage. He then referred me to a different OB/Gyn at my request for follow up. I was desperately trying to catch up in a hard computer course at college and began fearing I would have to drop out entirely.
My new OB/Gyn was very kind and understanding. He gave me a full exam, an ultrasound and then performed a D&C in his office to remove the fetal sac that was remaining. He also talked to me and Adam about the problems with our medical community that we had been exposed to. The D&C was horrible and VERY painful because I do not respond well to local anesthetic. It was very quick, though, and although it left me feeling pretty yucky, sore and emotional all over again for almost two weeks, it was necessary. At my follow up appointment a week later an exam and blood work looked good so we can finally put this behind us. We plan to start trying to conceive again after two cycles and this time will have an excellent OB/Gyn to support us during whatever the future holds. We hope that is a healthy pregnancy ending with a healthy baby.
What I have learned from this experience is to take charge of your own health, even though it is very hard to do so during a time of crisis. Feel free to demand good care if you feel you are not receiving it.
Our first pregnancy started out on a great note. We conceived the first time we tried, and we knew how lucky we were that “it worked.”
In between six and seven weeks I started spotting. The doctor advised me that, as a precaution, I should stay home from work and relax for a couple of days but not to worry because any brown spotting is not dangerous and was, in fact, very common.
On Saturday morning I stood up but had a very intense cramp that was strong enough for me to have to sit down again. After a few seconds it went away, and I went to the washroom. When I got there all I could see was blood, bright red blood everywhere. I immediately screamed for my husband to come and help. He called the hospital and told them what was happening and to see if I would have to wait a long time to be seen if we came in. They said that if it was a miscarriage that they couldn’t help me anyway so I would most likely have to wait. We decided to get in the car and drive to a neighboring small town because we knew we would be seen right away. On the way there I felt two big gushes of blood come out of me.
The doctors saw me right away and did an internal exam. He said my cervix was still closed, however, it was not as tight as he thought it should be. He said he felt that I was indeed having a miscarriage, that there was nothing they could do to stop it, and, unfortunately, I would have to wait to see my own doctor and order an ultrasound on Monday. On Monday I had to go in alone. They would not let my husband come in with me. I told the technician what happened on the weekend and that she wouldn’t find anything because I’d already lost the baby. A few minutes later she said, “Did the doctor say you had a miscarriage?” I told her yes.
Then she said, “Well, You’re still pregnant!”
I asked her if it could have been twins and I lost one. She said that is rare but it is a possibility. Since, I hadn’t had an ultrasound earlier, I had no proof that I’d been pregnant with twins.
The rest of the pregnancy was difficult, but on July 22, Kathleen Marie was born. I wouldn’t understand that I had indeed lost a twin until the next pregnancy.
A year and a half later We became pregnant again. When I was 14 weeks pregnant, I started spotting (brown, just like before). The doctor said not to worry. I was the right size, everything felt fine, I was feeling pregnant and being sick so not to worry.
Christmas Eve morning I woke up to bright red bleeding. I immediately called the doctor and said “I’m coming in and I AM HAVING AN ULTRASOUND TODAY — I DON’T CARE WHAT DAY IT IS. I AM NOT GOING THROUGH THREE DAYS OF UNCERTAINTY AGAIN.”
I went for an ultrasound, again they would not let my husband come in, and the technician would not let me look so I knew that was a bad sign. They could not see a heartbeat or a “fetus.” He said that the fetus had probably died several weeks before, but my body had continued to think I was pregnant and continued to nourish a placenta. He said we could schedule a D&C or I could wait and hope it happened on its own. I was terrified of the thought of a D&C and it was Christmas, besides I thought of what happened the first time and so we opted to wait.
On Boxing Day, just before dinner, I started getting some cramping and the bleeding had gotten worse. I figured this was par for the course so I didn’t say anything to our hosts (who up until then had avoided the topic like the plague anyway.) While we were eating, I began to realize that these cramps were happening at regular intervals and that they had gradually gotten worse. I then said to my husband, “I’m in labor.”
Things progressed to the point where I was having to do ‘labor breathing’ in order to get through each contraction. The bleeding all at once started to get much heavier so I thought we’d better go to the hospital. I had a contraction that had lasted about 45 minutes with no let up, and I was in tears with the pain. It was unbearable.
In a matter of seconds, this long, unbearable contraction climaxed (for a brief second or two) and ended. Immediately I felt three huge gushes which, in an instant, threw me back to sitting in the bathroom some two years before. It was exactly the same sensation. I said to my husband, “Oh my God, this is it. This is exactly the same. We’ve lost another one.”
There’s no way they can tell me that my first pregnancy wasn’t twins. That big cramp and the gushes were the same!
Once inside the hospital I was examined and as I stood up so that I could change my blood-soaked clothes, I could feel a big ‘something’ coming out of me. I couldn’t control myself any longer. I thought for sure it was the baby coming out and I was bawling. I could see a ‘clot’ about the size of the palm of my hand before the doctor whisked it away to pathology. She later told me that it was most likely the placenta.
We were told to wait three months until we try again. I wanted to try right away because I think that having another baby is the only thing that will make me feel better. Because I now know that I’ve lost two babies already, I am seeing a OB/Gyn to monitor me more closely. He has guaranteed me that we will start earlier ultrasounds next time I get pregnant so that if there are any problems we know right away. I probably be terrified anyway, but at least I’ll be able to see the baby progress on the screen and have some sense of peace.
We have named our two babies and my husband and I each wear a pendant with their initials on it, and we will plant something in the spring to remind us of them. We now hold onto our belief that we have two very special angels that we will see some day.
Mother of Kelly and Gabriel
Update: Mel had another healthy baby in January 2001 and a third in November 2003.
Feel free to add your First Trimester Story in the comments to share your experiences with other women and help us learn about the many ways we endure and cope with our loss.