John and I found out right before Father’s Day that I was pregnant. We were cautiously excited, as I have had an early miscarriage (6 weeks) before I had my daughter. Being high risk, I contacted the doctor right away and quickly got appointments with the maternal fetal medicine doctor. I had ultrasounds about every two weeks, and everything seemed to be progressing well. I had a subchronic hematoma and had some bleeding, but baby was absolutely fine through that. I bled for about 2 weeks and then it stopped.
We decided to tell some family and close friends once I was around 9 weeks (long story, but I thought I was further along then I actually was, they ended up later changing my due date). Unfortunately after that things began to take an uncertain turn. I went in for a routine ultrasound at 9 weeks 6 days, so almost 10 weeks, and discovered that my baby had an enlarged bladder. They let me know this was abnormal, but would most likely clear up over the next few weeks and they would keep an eye on it. However, if it didn’t clear up, it could be a much more serious problem. I had an appointment scheduled the following week with midwives, and then a follow up with the MFM in a month.
At my midwife appointment, I wasn’t expecting an ultrasound (I didn’t have nearly as many with my daughter), but they did one and I was pleased to see that the baby didn’t have a dark spot on the ultrasound, was measuring perfect with a strong heartbeat. I thought it had cleared up just like the doctor said it might. The next few weeks I felt very confident and everything seemed to be going well. I rolled into my appointment last week thinking nothing other than seeing my healthy baby on the ultrasound and doing some genetic testing to see if the baby was a boy or girl.
I was definitely not prepared for what I saw on the ultrasound. It became immediately obvious that the enlarged bladder did NOT go away, in fact it was much, much larger. It was so large that the baby’s entire abdomen was filled with fluid and protruding far beyond what it should. However, the baby’s heartbeat was strong and they were measuring right on target. There was also plenty of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby, which was a good sign. However, I was definitely shaken, worried, and cried a lot. I prayed that God would heal this child, and every time I went to the bathroom I prayed my baby would pee. I knew that God could do it, but I also knew that it may not end the way I want it to. I prayed for peace either way. God is still good in the hard times, even in the times when you can’t help but ask… why God? Why?
I made an appointment for the following week with the genetic counselor to go over the diagnosis, testing options, and potential treatment, as well as another ultrasound, and meet with the doctor. Overall, I felt hopeful going into the appointment, and was generally feeling okay about everything until we had the ultrasound. The baby’s belly was even larger than the last time, all of the measurements were behind what they should be, and there was much less fluid around the baby. But, worst of all, there was no heartbeat. “I’m sorry love,” she said, somberly, “I can’t find a heartbeat.” I said, “I know.” We determined that my baby had died sometime in the last week. I was devastated.
The doctor was very kind… I can only imagine that this is not an easy thing for him to do, but he had an excellent bedside manner, and even hugged me. He explained that this was not my fault. There was nothing I did or didn’t do that caused this. It is extremely rare (they don’t know exactly but it’s somewhere between 1 in 5,000 and 1 in 25,000), and unlikely that it would ever happen to me again. He said that normally around 6 weeks the baby’s urethra forms, and in my baby, it didn’t have an outlet. However, we didn’t know then because it wasn’t until the baby started to drink amniotic fluid around 9 weeks that it would show up on an ultrasound. And while they do have interventions that can help with this, they aren’t able to do them until the baby is at least 15 weeks old, and even so, if there is a total obstruction like my baby appeared to have (they think that the opening didn’t connect to the bladder at all), the likelihood that the interventions would work are lower. It would be more likely that the kidneys didn’t develop properly and aren’t functioning at all, if the baby were to survive birth then they would likely require dialysis and a kidney transplant before age 2. Additionally, this problem carries an increased 20% risk of having major chromosomal abnormalities. Unfortunately I just had the short end of the stick, and that’s all there is to it.
He said the good news is that I am fertile, and if I were to get pregnant again, I would likely not encounter an issue. Even though there is hope for a future child, there’s still the matter of delivering and healing from this one, and getting pregnant is not exactly easy for me having PCOS. There’s no way around it. It really sucks. I already felt connected to this child, loved this child, worried for this child, dreamt of this child, imagined life with this child. Waiting for the rest of the pregnancy until the day I could hold them in my arms seemed too far away. I wanted THIS baby. I am still in total shock. I just did not anticipate this in a million years.
The difference between my last miscarriage and this one, is that the baby is more formed and larger. I decided to go to the hospital early next week to be induced and expedite my healing process instead of possibly waiting weeks to miscarry naturally or have a D&C. It also gives me the option of seeing and holding my baby if I decide I want to do that. The nurses will also photograph the baby and put the pictures in an envelope in case I want them in the future. I’m honestly not sure what I want right now.
To be honest, I’m really struggling with this. I’m feeling a lot of different emotions, and mostly just waves of sadness, anger, jealousy, or just feeling stupid for getting my hopes up and being happy. And, I’m scared for this to happen again. I remember confiding to a friend saying, if I lose this baby, I don’t know if my heart could take it. But here I am, and I know that God will get me through it. I am stronger than I know. I don’t always have the best self esteem and I see my flaws more vividly than anything else. Sometimes, I forget that I am loved. And I will say that the outpouring of love from my family and friends has helped me immensely. So, thank you for that.
And for those of you ladies out there who have experienced this, I’m always open to talk if you need it. Like I mentioned, this is now my second loss, and talking to other women who knows how it feels has been helpful. Not that this is a club I ever wanted to be in, or want you to be in either.4