Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

At 17 weeks pregnant, we lost our baby girl.

Caution: Very sad posting ahead. When done, be sure to read my Advice Following Miscarriage.

I have sat down to right countless papers for my undergraduate and graduate work. Very rarely was I excited about the topic, APA formatting or the citations needed. Never did I have something so personal to share that I dreaded putting into words. But this blog is supposed to be about life's ups and downs not just vacations we take so.... 

No Heart Beat. Fetal Demise.

These were the words I was told at my routine appointment three days ago when the archaic-looking cassette recorder my doctor uses to listen to the heartbeat didn't pick up anything. "Oh, she's not in the right place. I just had too much pasta in Italy," I thought. The doctor went from being jovial about President-elect Trump to dead silence. He took me down the hall to a room with a sonogram machine. I had to sit there awhile, alone, while the antiquated machine was roused from its slumber enough to start making annoying noises. I still felt like I knew everything was alright, because I hadn't had any signs or symptoms; no bleeding. He would be in here soon, and realize that it was all okay. Still, my heart started to quicken and my palms became sweaty as little shards of what this could mean shot through.

When he re-entered the room, I couldn't see the machine and so I remained fixed on his face, searching his expression for a sign it was all okay. More concern only took over and the silence became deafening. Then he turned to me and said "There is no heart beat. She stopped growing about two weeks ago. Her gestational age is showing 14 weeks." Yet I was 17 weeks. "I'm going to need to send you for a second opinion." Oh good, maybe these machines are too outdated and another, more expensive machine will tell us everything is okay. But of course that was wishful, desperate thinking. "Ummm, is there a chance she's just very still; sleeping?" I asked. "No. There is no heartbeat." 

"So a second opinion is just a matter of procedure?" I asked. "Yes, I'm sorry." He talked about me needing a D&E as I gathered my belongings and was ushered into the office assistant's desk to call my husband. Because of course this was the day I left my cell phone in the car. I called my husband and through tears and gasps said "You need to come here now." Panicked, he said he would get coverage for his class and be there right away. I neglected to tell him why or maybe I thought it was implied. He drove to me not knowing if there was a problem with the baby or if the problem was with me.

Devastated, I remained on hold the entire time I was waiting form him, trying to schedule the second opinion ultrasound. The soonest they could get me in was 4 hours from then. My husband called our IVF clinic who told us to come right away. Before we left, the doctor's staff told us that not many doctors perform D&Es. We could either go to doctor R. whom I had a very bad experience with years prior (botched/failed IUI) or, Planned Parenthood. I'm not going to either one of those was the last thing I said when we left.

Our IVF clinic ushered us into a room right away, but then we were waiting in there for what seemed like forever. My husband still held out hope, and so did I, in spite of the facts. My IVF doctor told us the same thing: there is no heartbeat and she stopped growing about 2 weeks ago.

That was when I last saw her on ultrasound. The day before our trip, I went in to have her spinal cord looked at and saw her moving. I saw her flip from one side to another, like a fish. I saw her respond to my stomach being pushed on. She could hear us, our voices and Baby A, Trevi barking and our laughter. Then sometime in the last few weeks the muffled sounds she was hearing fell silent, and no one knows why.

Immediately we began questioning everything we had done, starting with the trip. Carrying baby A, softly jumping on the bed with her. Drinking a cup of coffee every day. We were told time and again it would not be any one of those factors or even all of them. That a normal pregnancy can not just withstand such activities but thrive. Remember, babies whose mothers even abuse drugs usually make it though the pregnancy, or we wouldn't have drug-addicted babies born, someone told me. 

All signs point to this baby not having the genetic makeup to continue to grow and progress and join us in the real world out here, like we so desperately wanted her to. We will ask for genetic testing to be done on all 24 chromosomes, at the recommendation of my IVF doctor, and hope that this will give us some answers.

This is all a horrible nightmare. We thought we were in the clear. We were out of the first trimester. One round of genetic testing came back clear, and she was growing normally.

I was, and am, beyond devastated. Right next to me is the pink bonnet I was crocheting for her, a quarter finished.

It's not just this baby that has been taken away from us and our family. It is the loss for Baby A who was going to have a sister, and a best friend for life. It is the love we have for her now and the knowledge that would only continue to grow infinitely. I was starting to see her going through all of Baby A's stages and was beyond and thrilled to put her in some of her clothes. I began ordering her some outfits here and there and I would look at the doll-like clothes and imagine her in them. I placed an order about a week ago that hasn't even arrived yet. My husband will have to open it and send it back.

She's still with me now. And it is the strangest feeling in the world because her prefect little lifeless body is all curled up and safe. But our time together, at least in the physical realm, is coming to an end. My D&E procedure is scheduled for today, just a few hours from now. I want the procedure to take place and at the same time, I do not want to give her up. It is one of the worst trials I have been through and we sure seem to have had our fair share in these last few years, our first few years of marriage.

I have to remember one thing. On the way to that appointment, I called my husband and told him how happy I was. How perfect I felt our life currently was, and that it was not any one thing I could put my finger on. She was a huge part of that, because we were growing our family, but there were other things bringing me joy too. I have to remember that those other positive aspects are still there, though they are dimmed by the shadow this sadness is casting. I have to remember how lucky and blessed we are to have Baby A, a happy, healthy almost 20 month old. I imagine going through this and not having her, like many couples do.

It's too hard to see right now in the thick of it, but there is a reason for this. Her little life has had, and will continue to have, meaning.

23 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness I am really at a loss for words because none seem to mean enough. I am hurting for you deeply right now and so very sorry for the unexpected loss of your little one. Praying for you and your family. This just shouldn't be happening.

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  2. No words. I am so sorry for your loss of your baby girl. Will pray for your family.

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  3. Megan, You don't know me and I just stumbled on your blog from another today, but I read this through tears. I lost my twin boys at 20 weeks several years ago, and my full term son at 3 weeks old a year later. I deeply understand your pain through this and I'm so, so very sorry for the loss.
    I realize this may be the most intrusive comment ever, but I simply was pulled to say it: please know you are able to request to have your baby transferred to a funeral home and cremated or buried, even at 14/15 weeks of growth. I've had so many women tell me over the years they didn't know this information and wished they had, I just couldn't not tell you in case you didn't know.
    My heart aches for you and these coming moments. I will be praying for you and this day <3
    Diana

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    1. I read this a little too late.............but fortunately, my husband had looked into it and suggested that we get her remains about an hour before my appointment. Thank you for mentioning this. He also contacted a funeral home. I am so sorry that you know this through experience. No one should have to. Love to you.

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    2. Diana - I incorporated your advice into a posting because so many who suffer miscarriage do not know. https://www.fertilityauthority.com/blog/megan-swanek/2017/2/14/advice-following-miscarriage

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  4. Been thinking and praying for you all day, ever since I read the update on Instagram. My heart aches for you. Sending much love.

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  5. There are no words to ease your pain. Sending you and your family virtual hugs, and prayers for your hearts.

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  6. My heart is breaking for you as I read this. I lost my son almost 3 years ago at 22 weeks, praying for you! There is an amazing perinatal loss group at Hoag in Newport that is open to anyone, it helps so much with the healing process

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    1. Thank you - baby A was delivered at HOAG and my doctor's office is right across the street. I will look into this.

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  7. Oh sweet lady! I'm so sorry. May you find solace for what there is no answer and May you find comfort where you need it most. Hugs -Ivf mama to ivf mama xxx

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  8. My heartfelt sympathy for the loss of your much longed for baby daughter. So hard to understand why these things happen. Prayers for you and your family.

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  9. Oh Megan, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you

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  10. Megan,
    I am so, so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine the heartbreak. Please reach out to us on the other side of the screen if there is anything we can do. Love, Kristin

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  11. First off, I am so sorry for your loss. While I will not ever tell another woman "I know what you're feeling" because the fact is we don't, I can absolutely relate...Reading your update I couldn't help but become short of breath and teary eyed. Maybe PTSD in some form. I lost my 2nd child at 13 weeks, 5 days. We had just made it out of that "scary first trimester" and felt relieved like you mentioned. We, like you, had heard a strong heart beat the month before and have sonogram photos of a thriving baby we saw moving around on the first sonogram. I showed no symptoms of my childs death. It was at my second OB appointment sonogram that showed no more beating of the heart. I can also relate to what you meant about having her, in her physical form, with you and the torn feeling of going into the procedure to remove her from you. The way I looked at it back then and even now, 9 years later, is I believe God let my body hold my baby just a little while longer before we had to officially say goodbye for now. I went through a hellish two more months after D&C due to an inexperienced doctor (who left the placenta attached and lead to a new doctor and second D&C) so I'm so glad that you stood up and said no to the botched doctor touching you again. I am also so glad you are doing the genetic testing. I had a lot of that unfounded guilt about "what did I do to cause this?!" The testing did help with getting the answers of "why" and taking the unnecessary burden off of me. I know many other mothers don't get to have that testing because they naturally pass their babies. That is where we learned his sex also. Our baby had a trisomy chromosome deformity. In the best case scenario for his defect he probably still would not have survived birth, and if so he would only have lived days, if that. I still miss him everyday. We talk about him in our home in a very natural way. We did go on to have a daughter a year after his death. She is healthy and strong and knows of her sibling that we lost also before her. God Bless you and your family through this difficult time and as you begin to heal and move forward. xo ~Tracey

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    1. Tracey - Thank you for sharing your story and your strong words of support. I would say that you very much do know what I'm going through. Did you name him? Our chromosomal testing came back normal so unfortunately, no answers there. But I have to tell myself there could have still been a lot wrong that would not show up on that. I am encouraged that you had a daughter after, and that you still speak of him. A friend told me that she is with my Mom, her Nana...and that brought me some comfort.

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