Our Baby’s Story
I’m still processing everything from the past month of my life. But ultimately how I live life is the same way I grieve: out loud. I don’t shy away from talking about the hard parts of life and by sharing my life experiences — both good and bad — they help me to connect with people, feel loved, and document my life. There have been so many times when someone has shared a story of their personal trial that then helped me in dealing with my own trials. I don’t know if sharing our baby’s story will help anyone, but I know that it will help me and honestly that’s why I’m doing it: because losing a baby is hard enough without having to worry about what others will think if I talk about it.
I was pretty open with our secondary infertility struggle to get pregnant with our second baby. In between our 2 kids we had a miscarriage at just before 6 weeks in January of 2018. It was hard and frustrating and honestly my strongest emotion amidst that miscarriage was anger. I was angry with God prompting us to have another child and then it taking a year and half to get pregnant just to end in a miscarriage. I had to work through those emotions and it took having our second baby to love and hold to finally really get through them all.
This time is so different. My strongest emotion is sadness and grief, not anger.
Our second kid, Martha, was born in Finland. And having her in a foreign country, with no family around, bad postpartum depression, etc, etc, etc was so hard that I immediately said there was no way, no how that I going to do that again before we moved back to America. But time seems to make you forget how hard things were and when thinking and praying with the thought of how long it took to get our second baby here, we ultimately felt like we shouldn’t wait. We could start trying and if it took a long time to get pregnant again, then we’d be happy we’d started early, and if it happened sooner, then we’d trust that God would arrange the pieces to have another baby abroad. We decided that we would go straight to a fertility doctor this time and I’m so grateful we did. When we were seeking fertility help in South Carolina we were left with a lot of unanswered questions and with a lot of doctors that didn’t seem to care to find out the why behind our struggle and instead just put a band-aid on it with Clomid… Which I guess worked because we got a baby out of it. But this time I miraculously got the most empathetic doctor I’ve ever met in Finland. She was totally cool to just do something similar to what we did before but also suggested we do a ginormous blood screening test to see if we could find anything helpful. I think they took like 15 vials of my blood throughout my cycle and 3 ultrasounds. It was crazy and like 1200 Euros (luckily insurance paid for the whole thing!). When I went in to see her for the results, every single thing came back normal except one thing- my AMH hormone level. AMH measures how many eggs are left in your reserve in your ovaries. This number came back so low that I basically have the same amount of eggs left as someone in their 40’s. I’m 28. It seems like without medical help the likelihood of us having 2 more babies like we had always hoped for, is basically zero. Even with help it may not be possible because of time. Why didn’t they do this test in South Carolina?!?! It took me a bit of time to mentally process this but I’m so glad we found this out because now we can adjust our plans and do what we can in the more limited time we have left. Knowledge is power. I started taking a drug similar to Clomid called Femara as soon as I could. It was terrible. Literally every side effect I could have gotten, I got. Hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, insomnia, hair loss (worse than postpartum hair loss that is still going strong!), migraines, cramps, etc. Luckily most of the symptoms (except the hair loss) subsided after about a week. I was so grateful to see that second blue little line on a pregnancy test after only the first month on the medicine. I had pure joy. I didn’t care that this would likely mean we would have our third baby in Finland or that it may prevent us from moving back to America till a bit later in the year than we had hoped for. Getting pregnant so fast when it took so long for us last time was a miracle that felt nothing except happy. I pushed aside all my fears of a miscarriage because we felt God’s hand in it and felt so at peace from the start of trying this time.
But fear crept in when I started to bleed, and on exactly the same day I started to bleed with my first miscarriage. I was so anxious and scared that I went right in to my doctor and got an ultrasound and there was no baby to be seen- my uterus was simply full of blood. We spent the next 2 days grieving and in tears and learning to cope with the horrible news. But anytime you have a miscarriage you get a blood test, then 2 days later you get a second blood test to gauge the change in hormone levels. In a healthy pregnancy, the hCG hormone level doubles every 2 days. If it goes down, you are likely having a miscarriage. I stopped bleeding about 24 hours after I started which was very different than when I had miscarried before. So I was now sad and also confused. But I’m grateful for my doctor who said she’d call me with the results of the blood tests and I was looking forward to her call to ask about the bleeding that had stopped. When she called, the first thing she asked me was, “Are you still experiencing bleeding?” and the second was “Are you having any pain?”. When I said “No.” to both she told me my numbers had doubled! She told me she thought there was a chance I could still be carrying a healthy baby and told me to go to the women’s hospital to get checked. I was so grateful that she would take the time to call when it was a holiday weekend and she was spending it away at her summer cottage. I was excited again! I went in that same day and was so nervous- What if there was still no baby there? Would I be devastated all over again that I had gotten my hopes up for a possibility of still be pregnant? But what if there was a baby there!? Would it automatically mean we are in the clear or is there still a chance it’s a miscarriage? I knew that at under 6 weeks pregnant even if there was a baby to be seen it was likely there would be no heartbeat, due to the gestational age. Anyway, the doctor that did the ultrasound was fresh out of med school. She saw a baby and it was measuring exactly how it should and as I suspected, there was no heartbeat yet because it was before 6 weeks. She said it looked fine and there was nothing to really worry about. I asked a question and she didn’t give me a very sure answer so I didn’t ask the other questions I had. It was frustrating but I was so happy there was a baby! What a crazy rollercoaster of a week it was.
The day after that happy ultrasound we went to Latvia and Lithuania for the Midsummer weekend. When we awoke on our first morning I started bleeding again. This time heavier and with lots of clots which is more similar to the miscarriage I had a few years ago. Once again I thought for sure this was the beginning of the end. But this only lasted about 4 hours and then totally stopped. I was so confused and worried. When we got home from our trip on Monday I went back into the doctor to ask questions because I was an anxious wreck. This time I was just over 6 weeks pregnant. My amazing doctor was so sweet and supportive and encouraging after the ultrasound. Our baby was still there, AND there was the most beautiful little flutter of a heartbeat. Yay! The reason for my bleeding was that the placenta implanted directly over my cervix and it had slightly detached creating a sub-chorionic hemorrhage. My doctor said it was very small and that I would likely have a healthy pregnancy but that I also would likely bleed throughout my whole pregnancy because of it.
I went home from this appointment riding a cloud. I was so happy. I was so relieved. I was so grateful. Seeing the baby’s heartbeat calmed my nerves. I felt so much positivity and I was convinced we were going to be able to grow and keep this baby. The ultrasound picture of our baby went promptly on our fridge. My doctor wanted me to come back in a week for another check because at just over 6 weeks, she couldn’t measure everything perfectly how she would like to at a typical first doctor’s visit. The next 8 days were totally fine. I had no bleeding, I felt pregnant more with each day. The morning sickness was all day, the exhaustion in full swing. I was so excited for the next appointment and particularly excited Kyle could come with me this time and could finally see our baby too. There was no sign at all that there was a problem. None. Zero.
Well, obviously it was not a good outcome. Our doctor was quiet, and it took a very long time for her to say anything. But she told us that there was no longer a heartbeat and that the baby was no bigger than last time. I knew when looking at the baby there was no heartbeat before she said it based on all the other times I’ve done an ultrasound. The baby’s heart had stopped beating sometime between the 2 ultrasounds.
Again, we were blessed with such an empathetic and loving doctor. She took her time, letting us ask questions and to help us understand what would happen next. She herself has had miscarriages. We were in shock over the news of the baby. We left her office and and held each other and sobbed in the waiting room part of the office. Some nice nurse had pity on us and let us go in an empty room to ourselves where we just sobbed more. It was so unexpected after such an intense rollercoaster of a month where we honestly thought the ups and downs were over.
But my body still thought it was pregnant. The placenta creates all the hormones and was still fine. Everything was developing and progressing as it should in a pregnancy except the baby wasn’t growing anymore. I still totally felt pregnant. I was still nauseous. I still had the physical symptoms but yet I knew I wouldn’t get the prize of holding a baby at the end of it. It wasn’t fair.
A few days later the women’s hospital called to have me come in because I hadn’t started miscarrying yet. I was so nervous for the appointment because Kyle wasn’t allowed to come with me because of the coronavirus restrictions. Before the appointment I had this thought in the back of my head that maybe, just maybe, the baby’s heartbeat came back. This whole pregnancy has been anything but normal and I wanted to keep a piece of hope that the rollercoaster would continue. I knew medically and logically it made no sense that a stopped heart would start again, but I also believe in a God of miracles and that if it was supposed to be, He could give us that miracle. At the appointment in order to be able to convince myself to take the medicine to make my body miscarry I really needed to see there was no heartbeat again. During our appointment earlier in the week I was in so much shock that processing what I was seeing wasn’t good enough for me to have the confidence to end the pregnancy. I was really grateful, even though it was hard, to see our baby still didn’t have a heartbeat. They had me take a pill to help soften my cervix to allow for the process to be easier. 2 days later at exactly 8 weeks pregnant I took the medicine that made me actually miscarry. It was a very mixed emotions experience. I was excited to not feel pregnancy symptoms anymore. But, I was sad because my very, very limited time I’d had with my baby was ending.
I knew the pain that came from taking the medicine would be bad when they gave me pain medicine stronger than they gave me after having a c-section here. I had it planned in my mind to be more than I actually thought it would be in hopes that I had over hyped it. It was 10-20x worse than I thought. It felt like I was literally in labor to the point that if I had got to choose pain, I would have chosen to have another c-section over what this felt like. I’m not going to share many details of this because they are too graphic for my blog, but I will say, as a couple, we experienced a lot of firsts during that very bloody, very painful, hell-ish day and our love grew even more for each other.
I don’t know much about this baby but I’ve felt like calling it a boy continuously so I’m going with it. I 100% know that this baby was a fighter. He made it through a lot of trauma in the few weeks he was growing. He got a little heartbeat and grew as much as he could. And I loved this baby with my entire heart the whole entire time I’ve known about him. It’s really interesting because Kyle is the optimist of our marriage but during this trial I’ve joined him in his optimism. Our first miscarriage happened so fast after finding out that we didn’t have a chance to really make plans. But this baby happened when absolutely nothing was going on because of covid stuff. All our plans had been cancelled. This baby turned into our entire plan. I had imagined being pregnant with this baby on the rest of our Europe adventures. Taking him to Ireland this month, walking the beaches of Greece with him, etc. This is why this loss seems so much harder than the first one. I’m so sad, and I’m grieving the loss of this baby that we wanted to bring home. But I’m not angry. I’m not mad this happened. I did that last time and it took me a long time to feel okay. So instead I’m choosing to use my Savior to help me feel peace. It’s amazing the peace I’ve felt. I don’t really understand why this happened but I am looking at what I can learn and how I can grow from it instead and I honestly can say I’ve felt peace amongst our grief and sadness. I have peace that one day I will look back on this and understand a little more why I needed to experience this and my husband and I both have felt God prompting us that someday another baby will join our family.
Even with this confirmation, it’s hard not to proceed with caution because 50% of our pregnancies have ended in miscarriage. Those are not the most optimistic odds when thinking of trying again so choosing hope is harder to do. We feel our family isn’t complete yet and I guess ultimately we are willing to endure whatever trial is thrown at us to get another baby here.
Our baby would have been due on Valentines Day. Kyle lovingly referred to him as our love child and I think the 2 of us will always have a little piece in our heart for him.