|I knew other women had it worse, but I was still depressed.|
Photo via DepressionHelp101.com
If you remember from my Mommy 101 post, one thing I learned the hard way about dealing with infertility was that simply getting pregnant wasn’t the hardest part. I never realized staying pregnant was involved too. My infertility journey didn’t end simply with getting pregnant; in fact it was still only beginning.
Early ultrasounds do not show you very much. In fact, doctors typically cannot pick up a heartbeat until the 5th or 6th week, sometimes even later. They first look for a gestational sac but just because they see that doesn’t mean your pregnancy is viable. Next they look for a fetal pole but that still doesn’t mean your pregnancy is viable. Finally, they look for that little blip. That’s it, right? They find the heartbeat and nothing else can go wrong, right? Big, fat WRONG.
With my first pregnancy, I had blood work done five times. Each round had to be 48 hours after the one before. My reproductive endocrinologist checked various hormone levels but most significantly looked at my HCG levels. In a normal pregnancy, these levels double every 48-72 hours. When my results were only barely doubling every 72 hours, the ultrasounds started. I had three ultrasounds. Each time the results were the same. He easily found a gestational sac but never found more. Each time he told me it was “just too early still” and that I likely ovulated later than I thought.
By 6 weeks along, I asked for the truth. My HCG levels stopped doubling; in fact they almost stopped increasing completely. Nothing new was showing up on ultrasound. I wanted to believe with all my heart that there was a baby inside me but the doctor stated simply, “It’s a chemical pregnancy. It will not progress.” He gave me the options of letting it pass naturally (which could take days, weeks, or maybe even months) or to schedule a D & C to clear out my uterus. He suggested the D & C as he felt starting with a fresh lining would give me the best chances to try again sooner. I took his advice and scheduled the surgery.
It was a simple surgery. I was sedated through an IV and treated at an outpatient facility. The surgery itself was physically not a big deal. I was left with cramping and bleeding just as if I was experiencing my monthly cycle but the emotional part was far worse. I felt constant guilt wondering if my baby would defy odds. Maybe she was alive and the tests simply were wrong. I mean, I felt pregnant. My breasts were sore and I was nauseated. I already had cravings and bloating that gave me a cute little bump. I even had a glow. Surely, by agreeing to this, I was killing my unborn child. On top of that, the bedside manner of the nurses was pathetic to say it nicely. I was required to pee in a cup prior to my surgery. When I inquired why, the nurse stated it was to ensure I wasn’t pregnant because the IV sedation would harm the fetus. Another nurse when trying to comfort me said something along the lines of “at least you never saw the heartbeat. That’s when moms really get attached to their little ones.” As you can imagine, these statements did not sit well with me.
I fell into a depression as my pregnancy ended. I turned to eating my feelings. I rarely talked to anyone about how I felt because I didn’t think my feelings were rational. It was not in fact a viable pregnancy so I had only fallen in love with an idea, not a baby, right? I would take baths as hot as I could physically stand simply to feel pain in a different way than the emotional wreck I’d become. I tried to convince myself that other women were going through far worse losses than I was but it didn’t matter. I missed my baby and there was nothing anyone could do about it. The next several months just blurred together.
I’m not sure when exactly my husband and I had sex after the D & C but I know looking back on this time that we had to have because I woke up Christmas morning, just 2 months after the surgery with sore breasts, nausea, cramping, etc. On a whim, I took the extra pregnancy test that was under the bathroom sink. I didn’t even bother using first morning’s urine. It was positive. How was it positive? We hadn’t taken any medicines or gone through any treatments. We weren’t even trying! I didn’t tell anyone, not even my husband at first. Finally almost 10 hours after taking the test, I told him. By this time, things were bad between us. The depression I felt from our first loss had placed a large wedge between us. I was scared that he wouldn’t care we were having another baby but I was wrong -- he was just as excited as I was.
With it being Christmas Day, there was nothing we could do so we simply did everything we could to ignore it. My RE’s office was closed for the week because of the holidays so I contacted my primary care physician who ordered the blood work. The next morning, he called and stated my HCG levels were only 13 (a pregnancy is not considered viable until they reach 25). I told him it was still early. I told him we’d retest in a few days. He told me it wouldn’t be worth it and that he wouldn’t get involved like the RE had. He said simply, “You aren’t pregnant.” I went out and bought another pregnancy test and took it right then, two lines quickly coming up on the stick. I WAS pregnant. Why was he giving up already? My mind raced. I didn’t know what to do so I just waited and I cried. I prayed. And I cried. I held on to every ounce of hope. And I cried.
Three days later, my mom and I took the day off together to go shopping. During breakfast, I started having the most gut wrenching cramps of my life. I quickly retreated to the bathroom where I discovered I’d lost my second pregnancy. I walked out and told my mom, both that I was pregnant and that I wasn’t. That was the hardest day of my life, passing the pregnancy naturally. It was worse than any type of bleeding or cramping I’d ever experienced; worse than the ovarian cysts; worse than after my D & C.
They say tragedy or loss will either bring you closer or drive you apart. My husband and I clung tight to each other at first but as my husband healed and I didn’t, we stopped understanding each other. Our communication became almost non-existent and with that our dreams of having a family were crushed. We decided we could no longer try to get pregnant because we didn’t think our marriage would last. The infertility had ruined our marriage. If we had any hope of saving it, we had to remove the most stressful factor: trying for a baby. So that is what we did.
You can contact Heather by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Posts From This Series:
The Journey To Getting Pregnant
Surviving The Challenges Of Infertility
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