I Remember the Silence of the Tech
After 2 years of marriage, my husband and I decided it was time to expand the family. We were young and healthy, and up to that point, lucky.
After 6 months of trying, I talked to my OB. We ran some tests, couldn't find anything major. She sent me to an endocrinologist, he agreed- no reason I shouldn't be pregnant. After 18 months, we started working with a reproductive endocrinologist. More tests, loads of bloodwork, and after a few more months, we were ready for our first IUI. Just waiting for my cycle to start again. But it didn't.
To my absolute shock, after 22 no's, we had yes. I was pregnant, all on our own. We stayed with the reproductive endocrinologists' practice for most of the first trimester, so we had a few sonograms. I was nauseous, so delightedly nauseous. We saw a heartbeat. Everything seemed fine. Everything was fine. We went in for my 18 week appointment on a Monday morning; the last Monday in June 2008.
Everything was typical until the doctor went to find the heartbeat with the Doppler and couldn't. He assured us that this happened sometimes- babies turn in strange ways- but sent us for a sonogram at a different office (insurance didn't cover hem in his office.) I thought we might get to find out the sex a little early. I remember lying on the table with a TV screen above the tech's head, showing the sonogram. I remember the absolute stillness of that image.
I remember the silence of the tech. She excused herself to get the doctor, but I already knew. I told my husband that image was very wrong, and that he should grab the box of tissues on the desk and pass them to me because I knew what was coming. I don't actually remember the doctor saying that we had lost the baby. I remember them asking us to wait in a separate waiting room, silent and in total shock, while they called my OB, confirmed the loss and asked them what to do with us. They sent us home to await further instructions. I remember my legs buckling on the way out of the building, and wailing through an alley to the car. I remember watching my husband cry-the only time I have ever seen him cry- as he called our parents.
I remember briefly talking with my OB, and his referring me to a specialist for a rather intense version of D&C. I was (and in reference to my loss, in many ways, I still am) in no man's land here. My loss is classified as a late miscarriage. A loss in the first trimester is miscarriage, a loss after 20 weeks is a still birth. Late miscarriage is medically and sometimes emotionally a place between. I'd gotten just beyond the promise of a new baby, but not quite all the way to baby.
On Wednesday of that week, we met with the specialist. He was older, very kind, wore a bow-tie. His whole office seemed to understand that I was grinning like an idiot and saying thank you every 15 seconds because my only other option was to crumple into a ball on the floor. He examined me, told me this wasn't my fault (but I argued him down in my head- of course it's my fault. I was supposed to protect and grow this life, me alone, and this life is not growing. I have failed it.) I was scheduled for something like a D&C (my fetus was too large for a regular D&C) the next day. I couldn't sleep.
Around 11, I began cramping. At 1, I woke my husband up. He called the doctors, and they said if I was bleeding, I should come in, but cramping was normal. I learned a lot about what would be my pattern of labor that night. At 7 am, I delivered a deceased 18 week old fetus in my bathroom. We gathered ourselves up, called the doctor, who asked us to bring the baby in to the hospital with us. I never got to see him.
They wisked away the kitchen towel he was in to some lab somewhere. The doctor came back and said that they couldn't test his tissue to determine what happened. We would never know. I say 'he' but we never knew that either. I spent the day in the ER, not eating or drinking in case I still needed the D&C. Getting both the right personnel and equipment to examine my uterus and make sure that the whole placenta had been delivered took the vast majority of the day, and eventually I was released, empty in every single way.
The next few months were dark and hard. I was hard to be around. I have wonderful family & friends who listened to me, but my world had lost all its color. I am lucky that people loved me through that period in my life. The following year we got pregnant through IUI, were monitored like crazy, and 4 days after my first child's due date, i gave birth to an amazing baby girl.
I now have 2 surviving daughters. But the defining moment of my adulthood, of my marriage, and arguably one of the bigger influences on how I parent is the loss of my first child. I will never be the same for the experience of carrying and losing him. In between my first and second pregnancies,
I was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder. Turns out, according to a european study I found after googling 'loss at 16-17-18-weeks', thyroid disfunction during pregnancy can result in late miscarriage. And if, say, your thyroid levels don't spike or drop in your doctor's office, they may not see it as a/the problem.