It started exactly a week ago: Friday night, I was getting into the bath and noticed the faintest trace of blood. It looked like 'old' blood, and I didn't think anything of it - spotting is common, after all, in the first trimester, and you could hardly even call this 'spotting'.
Except by Saturday afternoon there was blood every time I checked. Still a dark colour, but enough that I was starting to worry. That evening I called Health Direct and was put through to a doctor who advised that, if I could, I should go to the emergency department for a scan. I called Womens and Childrens and they echoed what the doctor had said - and added something about needing a shot of Anti-D. Somehow, despite the multiple handouts I had been given during my first pregnancy, I had never absorbed the fact that Anti-D is also given to women who appear to be miscarrying. I left Chris to handle the bath and bed routine for Geli and raced into the hospital, thinking they could help the baby.
But as soon as the ultrasound came up on the screen, it was immediately clear that there was nothing to be done. The doctor skirted the issue: "it looks a little small for this far along... measures nearly 7 weeks," he said. I asked about the heartbeat, and he confirmed what was already obvious. There wasn't one. I would have to come in on Monday for a more detailed scan, to make sure. It didn't look good. He was very sorry. He handed me a box of tissues and a tentative diagnosis of missed miscarriage.
I had another ultrasound on Monday, which showed that the embryo was actually even smaller than originally thought - barely 3 mm long, the size it would have been at 6 weeks. As embryos usually shrink at the same rate they would have continued to grow, it meant that something had gone wrong at least a fortnight earlier, probably more. For some reason, my body had taken this long to work out what had happened - although, retrospectively, I think of every moment I was asked how I felt and jokingly said 'suspiciously' well. That if I hadn't seen the positive test, I wouldn't believe I was pregnant. Perhaps, actually, my system knew all along.
I was sent back to Womens Assessment for a consultation with another doctor, which was possibly the worst part of the whole long ordeal. Because I was measuring 'nearly' 6 weeks, having no heart beat wasn't, objectively, evidence enough to confirm a missed miscarriage - there is often no visible heart beat at that gestation. Was I completely sure of my dates? My doctor hadn't done a recorded urine test, so they had no way of knowing if I really conceived when I said I did. I showed them the picture on my phone of my positive test, taken in late April, but of course, "we can't know if that was really yours". Protocol said I had to come back in another week for a further scan, to see what had happened by then. I couldn't stand the idea of this all being drawn out another week
knowing how long it had already been, and worrying the whole time about
leaving the house in case the bleeding chose that moment to start in
earnest. But she was reluctant, emphasising their concern about not interfering with a viable pregnancy. "I know this probably all sounds so weird," she said, "but we do get some cray-crays in here." The implication that I might be deliberately trying to get rid of a healthy baby, while grappling with the fact I was carrying one that had already died, was extremely hard to take. I think bursting into tears was finally convincing enough; she booked me in for a D&C in two days' time.
Yesterday was Thursday and thankfully, I was first on the surgical roster. For the 24 hours before I had moderately heavy bleeding and bad cramping as my system tried to get into gear to expel the tissue on its own. I was about 95% convinced it would all happen on Wednesday night. But there was only more and more steady bleeding; by the time I was being checked in for the procedure, my blood pressure had dropped from Monday's 130/80 to 100/60. But the D&C went as planned and, after a few hours of severe cramps (possibly caused by the misoprostol I had to take beforehand), I immediately felt 300% better. This morning was the first day in several weeks I didn't wake up completely exhausted - instead of leaving Geli with her plate of toast and collapsing on the couch, we ate together and then read books, played with her dolls and ran around outside. Despite all that has happened, it was at least some consolation to have so much more energy for Geli.
But emotionally, I feel pretty tapped out. After two months of planning and adjustment and preparation, it is an extreme shock to realise that baby you've been imagining will never exist. It all ramped up over the course of the weekend as the news begun to fully sink in, and on Monday night particularly I was just inconsolable for most of the evening. But as I started to feel physically worse, I began to move past the sadness and accept that this was an inevitability - there was clearly something wrong from very early on, and the tiny embryo that I lost this time could never have been the baby I had pictured. By Wednesday I felt so ill and uncomfortable that I was just anxious for it all to be over. I can't guarantee that I'm completely done with tears, but for now I think I'm coming to terms with it. It is very sad, and I know that this Christmas will be hard as my due date rolls around - but there was nothing that could be done, and at least I am healthy and healing, with my family and friends there for me every step of the way.
So, goodbye baby, even though you were no bigger than a grain of rice. I will miss you, the way I pictured you, especially come the end of this year. Thank you for teaching us that we're ready to do this; we will try again, a little down the line. But I'm sorry that it wasn't you. I'm sorry it's over.