Nope. This isn’t “Part 2” from my previous article “What to Expect When You’re Miscarrying” as unfortunately, lightening struck twice in a row for us and we are dealing with another loss again.
Trying to be proactive and prevent a miscarriage:
First of all, we gave it about 6 months from my last miscarriage to heal before trying again. I asked the doctors to run all sorts of blood work or test for anything strange before getting pregnant again. Do I have Zika?! Bird Flu?! The Plague?! But, they declined. “Your chances of miscarrying twice in a row are no greater than miscarrying the first time.” OK doc. I’ll believe ya since you have the medical degrees. Just like the last time, we got pregnant right away. I even took a test 2 days before my missed period and it was positive. Hooray! I emailed my doctors and they ordered blood work the following day.
Breakdown of the tests and numbers:
My progesterone level was 26.8 and HCG level was 41.7. For those of you who are not familiar with these, I’ll throw a quick overview at ya. Progesterone is a hormone released continuously in the body. It can be almost 10x the normal amount when pregnant. Doctors monitor it to assess infertility issues you may be having, or your risk of miscarriage. My medical chart states within 10-44 is within average limits for progesterone during the first trimester of pregnancy. I interpreted my 26.8 within the normal range. HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is a hormone your body produces when you are pregnant (it’s what causes a positive prego pee stick test!). HCG numbers vary greatly in women. They have a crazy range for what is considered “normal.” But bottom line, both progesterone and HCG work together to sustain your pregnancy and help your baby grow.
Due to my previous miscarriage, the doctors wanted to monitor me closer during this pregnancy. Three days later my HCG level was tested again and came back at 128.1. One week later my progesterone level result was 22.0 and HCG was 1,627.00. An ultrasound for dating and progression of the pregnancy was then scheduled. On my husband’s birthday, we had our first ultrasound. I should have been 5 weeks along, but there was no heartbeat. They stated it may be still too early in the pregnancy and to give it more time. This gave us hope.
They scheduled another ultrasound at 6 weeks, which also confirmed no heartbeat. This time, the news hit like a brick wall and I uncontrollably shook and wept. The poor ultrasound tech tried to comfort me and state it still may be too early. But, I knew better. The doctor also came back to confirm there may be a problem with the development of the pregnancy and ordered more blood work that day. My progesterone was a little lower at 15.1, but my HCG was rocking at 7,373.00. However, he went over the ultrasound pics and explained the minimal development. There was likely a 90% chance this was going to end in a miscarriage. He liked to leave the other 10% for miracles, but wanted to prepare us for the worst and make us aware of our options if we miscarry.
The Options all Sucked:
The options presented to us if we miscarried:
1). Wait it out. Pros: Let mother nature take its course and your body naturally work it’s way out. Cons: It could take days, weeks or even months and during that time, your placenta and every thing keeps growing to prepare your body for a baby that isn’t there.
2). Drugs to induce a miscarriage. This is basically a pill to cause you to bleed (no, it’s not the abortion pill) and it may/may not cause you to miscarry. It states it has a high effective rate of causing you to bleed (then causing your miscarriage). The side affects can vary from person to person.
3). D&C: this is basically the same procedure as an abortion where they suck and scrape the insides out.
Mentally Preparing for the Imminent Miscarriage:
I asked for personal time to grieve, mentally prepare and weigh my options. This is what I felt like I needed the most at the time. My husband honored my wishes and he and our son went up to our parents for the weekend. During this time, I read A LOT about recurring miscarriages, numbed myself in front of the TV with Netflix and power-cleaned our house. Vacuum lines on the carpet are a form of therapy for me.
A third ultrasound at week 8 was scheduled and once again, confirmed 3 times in a row no heartbeat and zero development. Because I had mentally prepared myself for this news, I did not cry and was just in learning mode. My body showed no signs of a miscarriage and my HCG numbers were continuing to rise at over 10K.
The nurse emailed me later that day asking which option I would like to proceed with for the pregnancy. After asking 309458340985 questions, I went with option 2 of drugs to induce bleeding/cause a miscarriage. Having been through it naturally before, I knew what it entailed. Since my body was also showing zero signs of miscarriage, it may have been a while before it realized there was no baby to support and I did not want to wait for the inevitable. I would have gone the D&C route, but, they wouldn’t test the material since this was only my second miscarriage. The doc also mentioned I was a good candidate for option 2 since things hadn’t progressed very far yet. He advised after week 8 it may get more difficult and painful if I waited for it to occur naturally.
Let’s get this miscarriage over with and move on:
I could write a book on how the drugs went/didn’t go, but, I won’t. There’s a lot of scary stories out there of women who were sick, nauseous and throwing up from the pills, but, I didn’t have that experience. I had a few rounds of major cramping. It felt like I had a period from hell, but honestly, with a few Ibuprofen, it was tolerable. I bled for almost 4 weeks and it took about 12 weeks for my HCG levels to return to zero. I know. Super long f’ing process.
What I’ve learned:
From the insane amount of articles, blogs and YouTube documentaries, your progesterone levels should really be stable when you are trying to be pregnant, and they shouldn’t be yo-yo’ing. Low-to rise HCG levels that aren’t doubling early in pregnancy is a possible indicator the pregnancy isn’t going well and you may miscarry.
If you look at my numbers above, the HCG was low to rise and was not doubling early in the pregnancy yet it seemed to finally catch on and rise (too late). My progesterone also may have been a little unstable. However, this isn’t the case for all women. I know women that had barely any HCG levels (by the way those are the women that suck and have ZERO pregnancy symptoms) and they pop out perfectly healthy babies. If you have pregnancy symptoms, be grateful; it means your body is producing hormones to support your pregnancy!
Just remember every woman is different and you never know what may be your personal battle or greatest success.
Women who get pregnant (therefore no fertility issues), yet have recurring miscarriages are the most frustrating cases for doctors. My doctor, as well as most women from the ridiculous amount of googling I found, stated miscarriages are not defined as “recurring” unless you have three or more in a row and then can qualify for additional testing to see what may cause the miscarriage. Umm. Are you kidding me? You want women to go through this 3 times before getting some answers?
With that said, I’m stating it is OK (when you deem the situation appropriate) to say, F U to statistics, people with medical degrees and insurance companies. This is your body. You’ve lived with it for X number of years. You know it better than them. And can defy odds or be a variable they throw out in their data analysis. For them to say, “the chance of miscarrying a 3rd time in a row, is no greater than miscarrying a 1st time” is completely bull s*** to me. Dude – there’s a f’in pattern here. I’m a firm believer the definition of insanity is doing something the same way and expecting different results. If you don’t like the outcome and the way things are going, take it upon yourself to change the formula in the equation to get a different result.
So, we are working on changing the result. When asked if I could go on the pill and off again to try and stabilize my hormones, I was given another standard medical line. “Your chances of miscarrying going off the pill are no greater than the chance of your first miscarriage and we recommend women don’t go on and off the pill.” After absorbing that textbook line, I decided to go back on the pill while I heal from this miscarriage. This was my way of taking a different path and not staying stuck in a rut. If we go off the pill and miscarry again, at least I will know we tried a different path to get a different end result. So, stay tuned for that result.
Biggest learning experience: I am more grateful.
After my first miscarriage, I was super jealous, annoyed and down right angry with people who had pregnancy announcements. Especially when my cousin and his wife announced the due date of their baby was the same date as ours would have been. (OMG what are the odds?!)
For this go around, when the third ultrasound confirmed there was no heartbeat again, I reluctantly went back to work that day. I wasn’t motivated. I was feeling sorry for myself that things weren’t going right. And I made a statement to myself, “God, can you just please give me some good news today? I need something to go right.” Barely finishing those thoughts, my cellphone buzzed in my hand. I looked down, and it was a text message from a friend, canceling her dinner plans with me that night because her water broke and she was going into labor 2 weeks before her due date!
Me six months ago would have flipped out over that text. But, instead, tears of happiness filled my eyes. This wasn’t good news. This was GREAT news. I’ve had to remind myself of my personal motto, “Celebrate successes, offer encouragement through failure and surround yourself with those who are healthy for you!” Two weeks later, we got to celebrate her success. I held him in my arms for almost an hour while he slept and I stared into his innocent face. I was genuinely happy for her that she had such a healthy baby and felt more at peace with my situation and what I do and don’t have control over.