Be warned – the following post is real, raw and honest.
The day we were planned to start IVF, we surprisingly found out I was already pregnant! It was the best day ever. I realized something was up when on Friday, March 11, 2016, I woke up smelling Nick’s shampoo from the other room. It was so strong! It woke me up out of a dead sleep and I quickly hid my nose in the covers. The episode of Big Bang Theory (we had watched the previous night) about Bernadette’s insane sense of smell during her pregnancy popped in my head, but I quickly dismissed it and fell back asleep.
When I woke up, I decided if I had a pregnancy test I would take one to put my mind at ease. There was a glimmer of hope in the back of my mind as I never started my period, even after taking medication to induce one in preparation for IVF. I rummaged through the cabinets and drawers in our bathroom, but couldn’t find one. As I was about to walk out of the bathroom I heard “Check one more time.” I looked again and found one lonely pregnancy test in the bottom of a drawer. I took the test and within seconds, there it was, two lines – “pregnant!” In total shock, I just kept saying “What?!” “How!?” I snapped a picture and sent it to my husband, who had already left for work, with the little emoji with the big eyes and said “we need to talk.” Both of us were so happy and but still in complete shock!
I quickly sent an email to my nurse and off I went to the doctors to have my blood drawn to confirm. About an hour later my nurse called and said, “Well Kara, you’re definitely pregnant. Your Beta HCG levels are at 866 and Progesterone at 19, and we like to see anything above 15. Now we just need to figure out when.” We discussed the timing possibilities and came to a conclusion that our little miracle would be due November 17, 2016. I was so excited! I immediately went out to buy some flowers. I saw a huge display of tulips, which are my favorite, so I bought 3 different colors; pink, purple and yellow.
The rest of the day I experienced so many emotions. I was shocked and in complete bliss. I cried happy tears of gratitude expressing the relief that the six year infertility rollercoaster had finally come to an end. Not only was I pregnant, but coincidentally my friend Jenny from the blog post “Without Kids” had told us the day before her second transfer with IVF was a success and she was due in November! It turned out Jenny and I were less than a week apart from each other. We couldn’t have held more joy and happiness in our hearts.
My doctor continued to monitor me every two days to check blood work for HCG levels which were supposed to double every 48 hours. By week five, my levels were still continually on the low side, so they needed to check to make sure I wasn’t experiencing a tubal pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the uterus). Thankfully it wasn’t, and we clearly saw our little baby on the ultrasound in the right place. However, my progesterone level had dropped from 19 to 12, so they put me on some supplements. Over the next couple weeks they continued to monitor and check my blood work. There was growth on the ultrasound by week six, so the doctor decided it was ok to monitor me every week instead of every other day.
This was such an exciting and joyful time. We dreamed about names, we started reading pregnancy books, we window shopped in Pottery Barn Kids and Target. We held up baby girl and baby boy slippers and admired at how tiny and precious they were. We thought about how by Christmas we would have a baby. We laughed as we guessed “boy or girl” as we shared the exciting news with our immediate family and closest friends. Their joy and excitement were contagious. I scheduled a photography session to document our public pregnancy announcement for April. We started the paper work to reverse our IVF program. We began a baby registry. I had a dream the baby was a girl and I was holding her. We were attached and in love with our little miracle who was only the size of a blueberry. We wanted spring to last forever!
Wednesday, March 30th- seven weeks along, approached fast and we were excited to see the baby on the ultrasound again. The day before, my husband left a note in the shower to relieve me of worry and anxiety and to refocus my attention on the hope of what the ultrasound would show the next day.
My husband and I walked into the doctors office and got ourselves ready to see our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Nick prepared my iPhone to record the moment as I took a deep breath and said a quick prayer hearing “I am with you” in return.
As the doctor checked and starred at the ultrasound, she uttered the words I never wanted to hear: “We definitely should be seeing the heartbeat by now and I’m not seeing it, we’re going to have to talk about this.” Nick and I squeezed each others hands as we held our breath hoping there was a mistake or maybe she just needed to adjust the angle. The doctor checked one more time, then asked me to sit up. She said, “Kara, there’s no heartbeat, and we should be seeing one by now. The yolk sack is continuing to grow but the baby has stopped growing. So we need to talk about what to do.”
She explained that I had two horrifying experiences to choose from. First, was to let my body naturally end the pregnancy; which in her words “would be lonely, bloody, excruciatingly painful, and could take weeks to happen.” The second option was to schedule a Suction D&C; an out patient surgery were they would put me to sleep and use a suction to remove the “pregnancy tissue,” which could be sent to a genetic lab for screening. She looked into my tear soaked eyes and told me “there’s nothing you did wrong or anything you could have done.” She hugged me and told us to take our time and to email our nurse and let her know what we had decided. The nurse then gave us directions to the back exit, so we wouldn’t have to walk through the front office, and told us to take our time.
With the words “there’s no heartbeat” our world shattered into pieces; and there was absolutely nothing we could do to stop it. I grabbed Nick’s shirt and pulled him close and sobbed “I can’t tell people Nick, I just can’t.” My husband held me tightly, “I will take care of it.”
When we got home my heart sank even further as I went to my bed to escape the reminders throughout the house. Through my tears of agony I could hear Nick on the phone in the other room calling to let family and friends know how the appointment went. He didn’t cry, but I could hear the pain in his voice, and I could see the sadness in his eyes. About an hour after we had been home, Nick came into our room to let me know that my friend Sara had stopped by with a cake. I started to cry as I heard her knock on our bedroom door and say “I’m coming in.” She came into our room, got in bed with me, and held me as we cried and shared our sorrow together. She said, “I know God is good, but I would really like an explanation to this.”
The day continued and the birds still sang their songs as we grieved. The ultrasound pictures were still on the fridge, Nick took them down. The pregnancy app was still on my phone, I deleted it. The pregnancy books were still on the coffee table, Nick put them away. The paintings I painted for each week were still on my desk, I put them away. The note in the shower was still there, Nick erased it. The maternity tops I bought for our photos were still on my dresser, I put them back in the bag to return. The weekly emails letting me know how our baby was growing still arrived in my inbox, I unsubscribed. Everywhere I looked there was a reminder of our joy and miracle. I silenced my phone, I ignored text messages, I unfollowed friends who just had a baby or announced their pregnancy, and we scheduled the surgery for Friday, April 1, 2016.
As I’m writing this, another pregnancy email just reminded me: Today, March 31st, your baby is 7 weeks. The heart is beating. The hands and feet are poking out from our baby’s developing arms and legs. A loop in your baby’s growing intestines is bulging into his umbilical cord, which now has distinct blood vessels to carry oxygen and nutrients to and from their tiny body. I unsubscribed.
Friday came against our will, for what was the worst day of our lives so far. It was dark and it was pouring down rain at 5:45am. As we left our house I stopped at the top of our stairs, looked at Nick, and cried “I don’t want to do this.” He took my hand and arm and said, “I don’t either honey. One step at a time.” – The walk down the stairs, the 35 minute drive into town, waiting in the car since we arrived too early, getting out of the car, taking the elevator to the seventh floor, signing my name in, walking to the operating ward, and preparing for surgery. Each step was absolutely excruciating.
Every nurse and doctor expressed their condolences with care and compassion as they prepared me for surgery. Nick and I held each other tight and said goodbye to our little miracle. I was taken down the corridor through the operating room doors, while Nick sat in the waiting room. I can only imagine how he must have felt. Helpless, devastated, and clinging to hope as he thought about how I was feeling, and what I was going through, and how this all should have been the best year of our lives.
When I came to, I started crying and shaking and then the nurse asked, “Do you want Nick?” Nodding my head yes, she went to retrieve Nick. She told him, “She’s waking up and she’s upset which is normal, but come back and be with her now.” He took my hand, he brushed my hair, and tears blurred his eyes. Getting up from the recovery bed and seeing blood on the sheet crushed Nick and I as we knew what it meant; I’m no longer pregnant with our baby. Later Nick held my hand in our kitchen and told me, “It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Watching you wake up crying and aching for our baby. It was devastating and broke my heart.”
Not all miscarriages are over and done with in a day. Over the next week we both had to experience, and watch, as my body painfully began to recognized it was no longer carrying our precious baby; who just a few days ago brought us an immeasurable amount of joy. Night sweats from the hormone withdrawals drenched our sheets. The cramping that came in contraction style waves that kept us up until 2am. Eventually my cravings for san francisco sourdough, turkey bacon, mayo, mustard, avocado, cheddar cheese, romaine lettuce, tomato, and pickles sandwiches and strawberry milkshakes went away.
Sometimes we don’t know what to pray, or even how to begin a prayer, but thankfully in our time of utter weakness and despair we don’t have to. We can rest and trust that the Holy Spirit is praying and believing for us, Romans 8:26.
We may have only spent four short weeks with our precious miracle, but it was beautiful and changed our lives forever. Nick and I were a part of creating life which will worship God for all eternity; that is something we can hold onto. That doesn’t make it any easier. Sometimes after finally surrendering to sleep I am jolted awake wondering if it was all a nightmare, but quickly realize it wasn’t. When this happens, Nick holds me and gently says “God is close to us and He will pull us through this. You are not alone and God weeps with us. I am grateful for the time we got to spend together. We just have to wait a little longer to meet our baby.” I’m not as patient as he is; but I will choose to declare through my tears of sorrow, anger, and jealousy: “I trust you, God.” Through God’s grace and strength we will slowly heal and hold the good times, and bad, close to our hearts.
Our grieving happens at random times: Holding a blueberry in my hand while trying to make a smoothie, a friend simply asking “How are you?,” a pregnant woman walking by in Costco, someone asking: “Was it even a real baby?” or “Aren’t you glad you lost it now than later on?”, a baby crying, driving past the parking spot I used once for “expecting mothers”, and sometimes I even wake up holding my belly. I also think of all the times we have yet to experience: Nick’s birthday, May 13th, which would have been the end of our first trimester; August, when the baby shower would have been, Mother’s and Father’s day, going to bible study and watching Jenny’s belly grow; and the hardest of all November 17th, the due date….and many more.
Friends, heartache and grieving cannot be rushed. It is a process, a process which needs to happen and is a natural part of life; healing is in the heartache. There is no 5 step program to graduate from. It ebbs and flows in times most and least expected. One day we may feel acceptance, and then the next day we may feel the shock and denial of our experience. I understand it can be uncomfortable to watch loved ones hurt, but I invite you to click here, or on the image below, and educate yourself on what to say and not to say to those going through a miscarriage. Remember, miscarriage affects not only the woman who carried the miracle but, the man behind the miracle as well. Thank you for your patience, prayers, and time.