I’m just going to cut straight to the chase here because I’m so friggen tired and don’t have the energy to create any sort of interesting or witty introductory paragraph. This is the long version of the story of my third miscarriage. Feel free to skip it if your life is awesome and you don’t want me to drag you down into the muck which is the home where I live.
Oh and I should probably warn you all that some parts of this story are graphic and potentially triggering (if you didn’t get that already from the title of the post).
I guess it started on Friday morning of last week. I went to the bathroom and wiped away the tiniest speck of blood. I’m talking so little blood I couldn’t even tell definitively if I was looking at blood or just odd coloured crinone. Nonetheless, next time I was speaking to the nurse I mentioned it to her very nonchalantly. Given her previous reaction to the news I was bleeding, I figured she would brush over it again like it was no big deal.
“Oh no!” she cried. “Oh no! Go and get another hcg test right now and step up your crinone to 3 per day.”
“Really?” I asked, extremely hesitant. “I’m not sure that kind of reaction is warranted?”
I had wanted so badly for my progesterone levels to be checked, but the idea of taking too much progesterone also scared me. But the nurse was insistent so I very reluctantly did as I was instructed. My hcg level came back that afternoon at 14,800 which was a great number.
That night, I woke up at about 3am. I was lying on my stomach and when I tried to roll over I found I was stuck to the bed sheets. I was extremely confused at first, then I realised that I was leaking breast milk. I have prolactinemia (read this if you want more info) so unfortunately I am no stranger to breast milk.
I’d been pulled off the medication that stops me from lactating when I fell pregnant, because the doctor explained that the pregnancy hormones would be able to regulate the body to do what it was supposed to do. Hence my fear and surprise when I realised my breasts were leaking. I knew that wasn’t normal for six and a half weeks pregnant. But of course I couldn’t phone anyone at the clinic because they don’t open on weekends. And all my damn problems seem to happen on weekends!
Other than the leaking breasts, I felt totally fine all weekend. No signs whatsoever that anything was wrong with my pregnancy. I even started looking at nursery sets online and started making a list of things I would need to buy over the coming months.
Come Monday morning, I called the clinic and explained that I was lactating. The nurses seemed confused and asked me to repeat my hcg test again, but the doctor said it was fine and told me not to worry. He explained that some women fall pregnant again while they are still breast feeding so it won’t hurt the baby.
Mid morning, the nurse called to let me know my bhcg level had risen over the weekend to 25,300. Once you start to get really high numbers they stop doubling every 48 hours and they start looking for 72-96 hour doubling times. She said my levels looked perfect and not to worry at all.
Monday afternoon, I went to the bathroom at work. I’d been having morning sickness and constipation. These were symptoms I was actually really excited about, because they made me feel like I was really pregnant. For the first time ever I was really truly pregnant and I was going to go all the way and I was going to be a mother. I was on cloud nine. I’d even sent my husband a text message that said I have morning sickness THIS IS BRILLIANT.
I tried to go to the bathroom, but my constipation was still a problem. I decided to give up trying and go and buy some prune juice on the way home from work. And then, out of habit more than anything because I hadn’t actually gone to the toilet, I ripped some toilet paper off the roll and wiped.
And there was a streak of pink blood on the paper.
I sat there for a second, staring blankly at the toilet paper, and then I laughed and said to myself “Would you look at that! The constipation has made my bum bleed.”
Yes that’s right. I was so delusional about being a mother that my initial reaction to blood streaked toilet paper was that my bum was bleeding.
A few moments later I came to my senses and wiped my front. That time, there was considerably more blood on the toilet paper. Enough to make me worried. I pulled my tights up, pushed my skirt down and raced back to my desk to get my phone out of my handbag. I went out into the hallway and called my clinic in a quiet space where none of my co-workers could hear me.
“Sadie what’s the matter?” asked the nurse.
“Um…I’m bleeding.” I said breathlessly. “Like proper bleeding.”
“How much bleeding is proper bleeding?” she asked.
“Like when I wiped it was on the paper.” I replied feebly.
“When you wiped how much blood was there? Like the size of a $1 coin? A $2 coin?”
“No it was much larger. It saturated the toilet paper.” I explained.
“Okay.” the nurse said. “Here’s what I want you to do. Go to the bathroom now and give yourself a dose of crinone. Then come straight up to the hospital. We’ll be waiting for you and we’ll bring you straight in when you arrive so you won’t have to sit in the waiting room.”
I hung up the phone, rushed back to my desk, snatched my handbag out of my drawer, muttered something extremely cryptic along the lines of “I’m leaving. I have to go.” to my very confused co-workers, and then rushed to the bathroom with a crinone clutched tightly in my hand.
I ran into the bathroom, locked myself in a cubicle and pulled down my tights. The little bit of blood was now a steady trickle and it was bright red. It dripped all over the floor before I could even stop it. So then I was crying and trembling and trying to wipe it up off the tiles before someone else came into the bathroom. And I was trying to hold my shit together. But all I could think or say was “No no no no no no no this is not happening to me.”
Thankfully the hospital was only a ten minute drive way. I phoned Doug when I got into the car. I was sobbing when I told him I was bleeding and on my way up to the hospital to get checked out. He was at a meeting across town but promised to try and get to the hospital as soon as he could.
I cried hysterically the whole drive. I’m surprised I didn’t crash the car. I was crying so much I could hardly see where I was going. I was hyperventilating and shaking and just in total shock. And then I remembered that I hadn’t shaved my legs that morning, because I’d decided to wear black tights. That made me panic even more. I wasn’t prepared for a scan. The doctor was going to touch my prickly legs!
When I arrived at the hospital, a nurse came out to meet me. She took me straight into the bathroom to clean myself up and put a pad on. The trickle of blood had actually slowed down, much to my relief.
Then we went into the scan room. She helped me take my tights off and sit comfortably as possible on the exam table, before the doctor arrived.
“It’s okay Sadie.” the doctor said, entering the room. “It’s going to be fine. This blood is probably coming from your cervix okay?”
We started the scan and immediately I saw my baby on the monitor. He looked so healthy and fat and happy. I could see his heart beating strongly. He’d grown so much since I saw last him. The doctor smiled and told me my baby looked pretty cool.
“It’s all okay. There’s some blood sitting in your cervix, and a tiny pocket of blood sitting above the baby’s head in the uterus. You see the little bit of blood?” the doctor said, pointing at the screen. “Your baby is protected from that bleed because it is tucked away in the gestational sac. The baby looks totally fine. You need to go home and rest. This bleeding will stop soon.”
I was awash with relief and gratitude. My tears became happy tears. My baby was okay.
“Could this have been caused by the extra progesterone? Or the lactation?” I asked.
“Not at all. Don’t even worry about that.” the doctor said.
He then reached down to grasp both my hands and help me up off the bed. As I stood up, I felt a sudden rush. I looked down and there was blood gushing down my legs. It looked like someone had popped a blood-filled water balloon inside my vagina. It was puddling on the floor, and also seeping underneath the table.
“It’s okay.” the doctor said again, trying to keep me calm. “The nurses can clean that up. Just don’t you worry. You need to go home and rest.”
The doctor then put me back down on the table and turned to mutter something urgently to the nurse. She rushed out of the room, and came back moments later with a needle in her hand.
“This is anti-d.” the nurse said, smiling broadly. “This is a drug that will help stop the bleeding. It’s going to help you, okay? So don’t you worry.”
And that was when I knew something was actually really wrong. Because doctors give me anti-d when I’m miscarrying. If all I had to do was go home and rest, why was the anti-d necessary? And why was the nurse blatantly lying to me, and smiling like a freako? I knew anti-d couldn’t prevent or even mildly slow bleeding.
Moments later, Doug arrived at the hospital. By that stage the pain was so bad I could hardly move. I felt like someone was ripping my insides out. The doctor insisted I go home and stay very still in bed, and to come back and see him in 36 hours. He insisted the baby was fine. Fine, fine, fine.
Doug half carried me back to his car and put me in the passenger seat, then rushed up the street to feed the parking metre where my own car was parked. He promised to come back and get it after he got me home in bed. It wasn’t until we were on the road that I looked down and realised my leg was covered in blood where the nurse had stabbed me roughly with the anti-d needle.
Once I got home I tried to lie in bed. I really did. But there was just so much blood. It was flooding everywhere. It was going all over the sheets. And then I felt something weird. A heavy sensation. Like there was something stuck in me.
So I hobbled into the bathroom, sat down on the toilet, put my hands out, and caught this gigantic piece of bloody tissue as it fell out of my vagina.
“Oh fuck!” I shrieked. “Oh fuck oh fuck! I saw the baby on the ultrasound an hour ago! What the fucking fuck is this that just fell out of me?!”
Doug came rushing into the bathroom and almost passed out at the sight of my blood covered hands, and the blood all over the floor.
“Get out!” I screamed, horrified that he was watching this happen.
“I want to be here with you.” he argued.
“Are you kidding me? Get out get out!”
“Okay!” he cried. “I’m going!”
Next thing I knew, I could hear clunking noises and I looked out the bathroom window. Doug had a shovel and he was out in the backyard frantically digging up the gardens. Yes, he was digging up the gardens. It was certainly an interesting way to deal with stress and anxiety.
Thinking fast, I cleaned myself up and rushed down to the kitchen to grab a Tupperware container. Then I went back up to the bathroom and locked myself inside. Over the next few hours, I passed chunk after chunk, which I carefully placed inside the container. Then I felt something really huge. It was almost so huge I felt the need to push. And then there was a big splash, and I looked down into the toilet, and a giant red lump was in the bowl.
Oh God. I thought. That one looks very big and important. I think I need to pick it up before the toilet water ruins it.
Without even hesitating long enough to take off my wedding ring, I plunged my hand into the bloody water to retrieve the lump. It was much larger than the other clots. It definitely had the mucus plug attached. It was fully formed and looked like a smaller version of the mucus plugs women lose when they’re full term. And then there was a whole bunch of other stuff. Tissue that had real definition to it. It was white, and veiny. Somehow, I suspected the worst of it was over.
I went calmly over to the bathroom window. “Doug I think I just passed the baby.” I called down to my husband.
“Oh okay.” he called back, continuing to dig frantically with his shovel.
I put the chunk into the Tupperware container with the others, placed the container inside a cardboard box so it was hidden, and then went downstairs and put it in the fridge. Then I went back upstairs, cleaned up the bathroom and had a long shower.
After that, the bleeding slowed down significantly and I was able to finally hop into bed. Doug also came inside and cleaned himself up. He was shaking and crying, he looked really shattered. He came and lay next to me in the dark, and our poodle Arnold snuggled up so that he was lying across my tummy. It was almost like he knew something was very wrong.
“I don’t want you to feel alone tonight.” Doug said. “If you can’t sleep please wake me up. I want to be there for you.”
I didn’t think I was going to be able to get any sleep at all, but in reality I’d lost so much blood I fell into a deep sleep almost immediately and didn’t wake up for 10 hours. When I woke up the next morning, the blood had turned brown and slowed down to a trickle again.
I called the nurses station to inform them, and unfortunately ended up talking to my least favourite nurse. I imagine she was hired because she is aesthetically pleasing, rather than good at her job. Nevertheless, I explained the situation to her.
“Well that sounds very positive.” she said.
“Um…sounds positive?” I managed to eventually splutter.
“Yes we see this happen sometimes. Women bleed in early pregnancy when there is a clot in the uterus, and then after that they just go on to have healthy normal babies.” she said. “Your hcg numbers were rising so perfectly. I’m sure nothing is wrong with the baby.”
And let me tell you right now, had that stupid nurse not made such a ridiculous comment, she would have saved me 24 hours of desperately hoping and a lot of subsequent heartache. She advised me to keep up with my medication, stay resting in bed and come in the next morning for my scheduled appointment.
Doug tried to tell me over and over that the baby was gone, but I kept on quoting the nurse’s words at him. She was a trained professional so surely she knew what she was talking about!
But this morning at my appointment, when the doctor scanned me we saw nothing but an empty uterus. Well actually, not empty. It was filled with a shit-load of blood. A whole whoppin’ amount of blood just waiting to come gushing out again. Blood, but definitely no baby.
“I’m so sorry Sadie and Doug.” the doctor said, reaching out to hug me. “The baby is gone.”
Doug was crying again, but I was totally calm and emotionless.
“The baby isn’t gone. I know where the baby is.” I informed the doctor.
“Errr where is it?” he asked, confused.
“It’s in my fridge, in a Tupperware container.” I responded matter-of-factly.
“You kept the tissue you passed? Oh good girl. Very good girl.” the doctor said, clearly impressed. “Go home and get it, and then bring it back to the pathology lab. They can do genetic testing.”
After I cleaned up and got dressed, we met up with the doctor again in his office. Doug slumped back in his chair, tears rolling down his face. It took me a few minutes to notice I was sitting polar opposite to him. I was leaning forward intently with my elbows rested on the doctor’s desk.
For twenty minutes, the doctor and I discussed my case. He offered me a D&C, because he said I have a significant amount of blood left in my uterus. But we eventually decided to let me bleed naturally first, and then check in a week to see if I actually need the D&C. I’ve had so many surgeries lately and he doesn’t want to put me under a general again for no real reason.
He also said I can now officially add “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss” to my list of infertility titles because I have lost three babies. But this is the first one we’ve actually been able to collect for genetic testing, so perhaps it will shed some light. Though the doctor did stress that only 1% of RPL can be explained.
The doctor kept shaking his head and saying he couldn’t understand how a healthy young woman could go through eight cycles of IVF unsuccessfully. He encouraged us to research preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) testing, but stressed we need to talk to scientists first because it does cost tens of thousands of dollars and there are risks involved. We definitely don’t have tens of thousands of dollars. The eight cycles we’ve already been through have depleted our savings.
Then the doctor and I discussed moving forward with my ninth cycle of IVF, trying to pick up more eggs than last time, and all the testing he wanted to repeat on me just in case all the doctors who have tested me previously had missed something obvious and important.
“Can we please not do this?” Doug suddenly piped up. “Why are we talking about moving forward with another IVF cycle? I just found out a couple of minutes ago my friggen baby died. Can’t I grieve this baby before we start talking about the next one?”
“I agree mate.” the doctor said. “You need time to grieve and I need you to keep seeing your counsellor. But I’m also trying to help you. I’m trying to move you in the right direction. Your wife is young and healthy. This shouldn’t be happening to her and I’m trying to figure it all out.”
“What’s the point?” Doug asked, throwing his hands up in the air. “We keep doing this. We do it over and over and over again, but it always ends the same way. No baby. No baby! Why should we keep doing IVF if we aren’t going to get a baby?”
“Your wife is 28 years old. Eventually something different will happen, and you’re going to get a baby.” the doctor argued.
“But don’t you understand I don’t want to talk about this right now?” Doug snapped. “You don’t have any answers for us right now. So let me just grieve okay?”
By this stage I was reeling. I felt completely torn between the two men in the room. I wanted desperately to tell my doctor to ignore every word coming out of my husband’s mouth and to start prepping for the next cycle. I didn’t want to mess around, or sit and wallow in my misery. I wanted to push forward, full steam ahead. I wanted to try new drugs, do everything different. I wanted to do something.
But on the other hand, I wanted to comfort Doug. I could see he was hurting badly. He was taking the whole affair so much harder than me.
“Okay mate.” the doctor nodded. “You go home. Take Sadie home and put her back to bed. You take as much time as you need to grieve. And in a week, or a month, or six months, or whenever you feel ready, you give me a call. And only then will we move forward.”
I was secretly furious, but had to kind of go along with the new plan. I knew if I tried to rock the boat my husband would start bawling his eyes out in the doctors clinic.
So instead I said nothing and left the clinic. Doug insisted that he wanted to go back to work, so I drove home alone and collected the container from my fridge. The plastic box that contained my baby. My baby was in the friggen fridge.
When I arrived at the pathology lab, and explained to the specimen collector what was in the bag I was holding she actually took a step back and screwed her face up.
“Are you serious? Ew!” she said.
“Well I don’t want to touch it. Is it in a sterile container?” she asked.
“No.” I replied coolly. “I didn’t have time to go out and buy a sterile specimen jar while I was miscarrying my baby, sorry.”
“Why are you being so calm about this?” she asked. “This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.”
“It isn’t exactly a fun experience for me either, lady.” I said.
Then she made me label the container myself, and she passed me the barcode stickers to place across the side of it. While she passed them to me, she made sure to face the other wall so she couldn’t catch a glimpse of anything. I wanted to scream at her that she was being stupid. I mean people bring poo in jars to pathology clinics all the time! What’s the big deal about some blood and tissue?
Finally, she passed me an opaque pathology bag, made me place the container inside and then seal it up. Only then, when the container was safely tucked away, would she look at me.
“Put the bag on the table. And then you can leave.” she said. “Just leave now.”
After I left I was completely shaken up. She hadn’t even said she was sorry for my loss. She had just been rude, and bizarre. I briefly considered making a complaint, but it was the same pathology lab that I complained to last time. And I’m still waiting on a response from them…
So instead I just went home and watched television. I watched Good Will Hunting, and then made myself some lunch. I didn’t cry. I still haven’t cried.
My baby is gone. Nobody knows why I bled out because the pregnancy itself looked healthy and perfect. I am more infertile than ever. Nobody has any answers for me. I will probably never have children. My life has pretty much lost all meaning or purpose. But whatever. It happens. C’est la vie?
I don’t really have anything else to say. Doug is so upset he is hardly speaking to me. He doesn’t blame me, he is just devastated and dealing with it really badly. Being at my house is like living in a funeral parlour. Which I guess it kinda was for a while, given there was a dead baby in the fridge. Well actually, that would probably make the house a morgue.
I’m going to go back to work tomorrow because I don’t have any sick days left. That ought to be a hoot. I explained the situation to my boss and she was very understanding, but there’s no reason for me to sit at home doing nothing. I may as well be at work earning money.
It feels like my whole life is over, and nothing good will ever happen to me again. But strangely enough the sun came up this morning and it’ll undoubtedly come up tomorrow as well. The world keeps spinning, whether I like it or not.
I don’t really have anything else to say so I’m just going to end this blog update as abruptly as I started it.