My Experience with a Blighted Ovum – the 3% of all Miscarriages

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First of all, I am sharing my story so that I can heal but also so that others  may learn as well.  There is little to no info online about the Blighted Ovum – and what info there is,  it’s from an unreliable source or there is limited info. I also want to write in order to reduce the taboo around talking about miscarriages.

While reading through this – please take care of yourself. Stop reading and take a break if need be. Disclaimer – I am not yet a licensed professional. Even if I was, I still would not put out anything on here that is protected by a counseling license. This is my personal reflection. However, it has impacted me professionally.

Related, I  hope that no one finds me at fault and that you don’t judge me. If so, kindly excuse yourself from my site.

 

Now. The more I say “Oh, I’m recovering from a pregnancy loss” – it seems it is getting easier to say. However, there is still hesitation behind it.

Over the last year or so, any time that I was late on my period and I did a pregnancy test, when it came up negative; that was the growing indication that I was disappointed. Plus it became clear to me that I *wanted* to get pregnant and have a baby. Earlier this year, I had my last period on March 3 and had my IUD removed on March 7. Then my husband and I started “trying.”

In the first week of April of my scheduled period – I was late. I waited 5 days and went into Women’s Health Clinic at the VA. I took a pregnancy test and at first they said it was negative. However, after waiting a few more minutes, the line came up. I was pregnant! 🙂 My due date would be December 9.

That was on Wednesday April 4. Since I was so early, rightfully so, my Women’s Health provider wanted me to com back to test my levels (an HCG Quant test). On the following week, I went to the lab and got my blood drawn. I found out that it was about 121 or so (within the pregnant range).

Of course I was excited – this is what we planned for! Gradually, I started to feel more feminine and get in touch with accepting that I’m pregnant and I’m going to be a mother. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still scary to begin to grasp the notion when a woman is pregnant and a baby is on the way. I know that might sound counter-intuitive. However, I know any woman who has been pregnant will agree that at the very beginning it’s still scary.

In the following weeks through the rest of April and most of May as well, deep down, I knew something wasn’t right.  It was my intuition. I remember not feeling nauseous – ever, and not feeling THAT moody, and not feeling all that sick either. I still had some uneasiness in my belly but it still didn’t feel right. All of the physical symptoms aside, I felt in my heard and in my INFJ intuition – something didn’t feel right.

Nonetheless, I joined the BabyCenter app and posted how I felt physically. Someone replied “Oh, you’re having a boy!” (and her experience while pregnant with a boy) For some reason it made season as I read story after story of other women get sicker with girls. So then I tried to convince myself that I was having a boy.

As an INFJ, I know that one has to trust their intuition.

I recently found my Pregnancy Journal. I started it in week 5 in April 8-14 – “mostly sleepy, staying hydrated, and laying down as much as I can.”
Week 6 in April 15 – 21 – Sleepy, all the time sleepy, occasional brown discharge, & constipation” (That brown discharge may have been my first sign but it is common to get it and still have a normal pregnancy.). My week was hormonal, boresville, average,and went by fast.” Also during week 6, “Thinking & missing Grandma.” (will talk about that significance after this recap)
Week 7 in April 22-28 – feeling mentally irritable, lethargic 98% of the time, lots of gas, feeling yucky today, and lots of naps! My week was productive, hormonal, boresville, and frustrating.”
Week 8 in April 29 – May 5 – Lots of constipation (helping – lots of water, walking, Wendy’s Chili), zits on chin, soreness and muscle spasms upper back (It’s important to note here that I have a history of hip dysplasia and back pain.) I felt lazy, hormonal, and sleepy, and tired. I also noted on this week – “Mom knows – such a relief! She said not to worry and that my health is first! 🙂 ”

On the next page are a few questions of what to ask the OB provider – What about traveling to Kentucky? How will my hip dysplasia affect my pregnancy? Vice Versa? (Note to self – take Hip MRI!)

On the following page, there is a spot the paste the first ultrasound photo. I remember looking forward to that. I am the kind of person to keep all of the ultrasounds. However, I would never get a copy of that ultrasound to go on that page. I probably don’t want to save it either.

After that — There are no other comments or writing of any kind in this journal.

At the beginning of April, my grandmother got sick, had trouble breathing, and had to be hospitalized. She started getting diagnosis after diagnosis – pneumonia and Chronic Heart Failure. Prognosis was not good – she was dying.

During my week 6 or 7, I told Grandma on the phone. I wanted her to be the first to know why I wasn’t able to make it and hold her hand while she wasn’t well. I told her the news – Unfortunately, in her experience, she said “Be careful, your might not be able to handle it and might cheat.” (This is nothing about my husband and more about her experience.) She also added “Well, yeah, you’ll need to see the doctor.”

What doesn’t make it better is that my mother was taking her grief out of me. She basically called me a jerk for not jumping on a plane to see Grandma. She would say “You need to come see her!” And proposed all kinds of modes of transportation, including a greyhound bus. It’s really hard for me to separate myself when people are assertive towards me; especially when it is someone that I love. Within a week or 2, I sat next to my husband and did a video call with my mom and Dad to inform them that I was pregnant. They seemed excited from what I can tell, and from what I remember.

It is important to note that this was my maternal grandmother that was dying, and all of my communication was with my mother, and I was pregnant – hoping to be a mother myself. So that connection became very clear to me.

As Grandma started dying more and more thru the end of April and beginning of May – I remember talking to a friend of mine on Facebook Messenger. She gave me a sense of comfort at the time and said “Sometimes a soul has to go in order to make  room for a new soul.” So it sucks while my Grandma is dying but there is hope that I’ll be bringing a new soul into the world. That helped at the time. For a little while. And then we I started having complications, that phrase didn’t help either.

This year, Mother’s Day landed on Sunday May 13. My Grandma died on the night of May 16. Her heart couldn’t take any more. She couldn’t give any more of her heart and her heart couldn’t do any more for her either. I was able to video call with my family who were in the room with her when she died —

I am so grateful that technology and especially Facebook video is available. My mom, aunts, and cousin Annie put me on speaker and I told Grandma (who physiologically has a too big of a heart) – “Grandma, you’re heart is too big and you have lived and loved with your whole heart and whole courage. You have lived and loved with courage. I Love you. We love you.” I watched my family put hands on her as she took her final breaths. It was like I was there with them and with her in those precious moments. I hugged the phone to show I was hugging all of them.

“Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” ― Brené Brown.”

My first appointment with OB was on May 10 – I was 9 weeks, nearly 10 within a few days . Another sign that something wasn’t quite right is when the Nurse Practitioner couldn’t find a heartbeat in the clinic. The baby’s heartbeat usually starts around Week 7 from what I have found. So I knew I should find something. Even though she was using a handheld doppler, I still felt like she should have found a heartbeat. She didn’t and she blamed it on the heart being behind my pelvic bone. However, I remember her not spending a lot of time on it either.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get an ultrasound that day (supposedly their tech doesn’t work on Thursdays) and it was scheduled for the following week. I had to cancel that ultrasound when my Grandma died. I rescheduled my ultrasound for the same day of my return.

During the weekend, I ordered a Sonoline B Baby Doppler. It arrived before I left and I took it with me. Even the couple times that I looked for a heartbeat and that was more than 10 weeks – no such luck. Of course, I didn’t torture myself trying and trying – I think I only looked once or twice, and yes, I even put a small pillow under my bottom to help. I left it alone and figured I would be having an ultrasound soon enough.

My first ultrasound was on the afternoon of May 22. I was 11 weeks and 3 days – or so I thought. During that first ultrasound, I remember looking at the ultrasound technician and saying “show me my little gummy bear.” She didn’t show me anything. There wasn’t anything to show. She didn’t say much either, literally, she said “let’s follow up next Tuesday.” uhh…ok. But what did she see or not see?

The following Tuesday on May 29 for my 2nd ultrasound – she actually verbalized “There’s nothing there.” After cleaning up, my husband and myself were escorted to another room to meet with an OB MD. She confirmed what my intuition had been telling me, and told us how a fetal pole did not even develop.

A blighted ovum is like how some folks say “it’s like someone is checked into the hotel room, and it’s ready; but no one is there.” So my body had prepared for the pregnancy, and the HCG hormones were fine. My uterus had created a gestational sac, and there was other fluid, but nothing else. It’s as if my body already had an abortion/miscarriage, but missed it. At first, I tried the “waiting” approach to let my body run its natural course.

I have no hesitation to admit that I immediately started to blame myself. I had a pregnancy in 2012 and that ended in a medical termination as well. So I thought I was getting punished. I have read numerous stories and other women who have felt blame for their blighted ovum or miscarriage. Trust me when I say that this is a special kind of punishment.

Through the months of April and May, I had been doing an action research project by spending mindful time in nature and reflecting on it. When I got my blighted ovum diagnosis, I worked on ways to actively let it go – mentally and emotionally, using the therapeutic aspects of nature. On Wednesday May 30 while at the park, I stood next to the trees for the same mindful time. I wanted to feel the presence of the air and watch the breeze run through the trees while spiritually letting go of this pregnancy. When I thought it “worked” is when I watched these white puffy clouds flow from the trees though the air and on to the ground. I really felt a sense of peace and hope. Here is a small art piece I did:

Was it this easy? To let it go? Not so much. Little did I know then that my “letting it go” would go on for another 2.5 months.

I returned back to Kentucky in the middle of June for a few days – the 22 thru the 25 or so. One of my aunts (who found out from my parents, yes I know, it is not their place to tell anyone), mentioned to my husband that she wanted to tell me Congratulations. He told her what happened and her being a nurse, she understood, and didn’t approach me.

When I returned again, I made an appointment with the OB clinic. While I’m all for “waiting and letting the body do its thing” – nothing had happened. I had not had any bleeding, spotting, or discharge of any kind. Isn’t something supposed to come out?  Of course we checked my HCG levels again and it was .02. Ok, what gives? So I got the Misoprosotol/Cytotec. Now, where something should be growing, I am putting a pill in there to clean it out. I used 2 different doses and still, nothing happened.

Every time I went back to OB to follow-up, I had to do another ultrasound. So I had to get out of my mind and reinforce that I’m not expecting any kind of living being – we are just looking at what is left in there (pregnancy tissue, etc).  Since waiting didn’t work, and the medication didn’t work – I kept thinking, “Wow, this thing really doesn’t want to come out.” As much as I didn’t want a D&C, it seems I didn’t have any other choice. Oh, I also tried a variety of natural herbs too – Maca Root, Black Cohosh, Evening Primrose – nope, none of that worked either.

The first time – my D&C was scheduled for July 24. However, the previous day, the hospital (Lovelace westside) moved my surgery time to an earlier time (That’s ridiculous!). It took lots of mental preparation and scheduling to get to that day and time. However, my other concern is when my previous ultrasound from the previous visit a week or 2 weeks before – it showed no gestational sac. Well, then why are we doing such an invasive surgery with no sac? Eventually, I found out it was because of 4 mm of conception tissue that remained. Hold on, let me go get a spoon!

Nonetheless, I ended up getting more Misoprosotol. (When I picked it up the 2nd time from the pharmacy, someone different handled the prescription and called me up to ask “What are you using this for?” I felt ashamed and mad at the same time. Plus the diagnosis was on the prescription too. I stared blankly with a near flat affect and said “I had a miscarriage.” It didn’t work at first per se, and I did an another dose 12 hours later, but I did bleed for 11 days. Ooh, we finally got it! Right?! No.

Also, at some point around this time, a good friend who I look up to and admire announced that she is pregnant on Facebook. I immediately thought “Why does SHE get to be pregnant?” It caught me off guard. Woah, this is someone I admire. True, but I had built resentment. That is OK and I knew to honor that feeling.

I went back on August 7 (remember my last period was March 3!). The ultrasound still showed “smuck” in there. (Those are the doctor’s words and perhaps she didn’t think I would know clinical terms. Trust me, I would’ve liked a better clinical team with better bedside manner, patient education, and handoff. I know some things about medicine – I was a medic in the Air Force.)

The doctor did say that there was additional tissue. So am I pregnant again? So we ran more HCG levels that day and the next day.

On Thursday, August 9, I was scheduled for my D&C. When I was in Pre-op, they couldn’t find the bloodwork and I hadn’t seen my OB doctor yet. I didn’t want to get sedated and on my way to OR if there was any possibility of being pregnant again. However, I know subconsciously, I still wanted to be pregnant. The urine test was negative. Ok, let’s do this thing!

This past week, I had my 2 week post-op follow-up on Thursday August 23. They said there was a little conception tissue still leftover so “I’m glad we did this.” We chit chatted for a bit. And then I was done. No follow-up and no more ultrasounds. So I’m done?

I was in the car with my husband that evening and started weeping. “This has been 6.5 months. I know you don’t like me to cry but that’s it. It’s over? It’s finally over?” He didn’t know how to respond. He didn’t need to respond, but I just needed him to be there.

Recently, I have been trying to sell a diaper bag with a ton of baby essentials that I got at 2 different baby expos. Yes, I could keep it, and we will try to get pregnant again. However, my mind and heart had already assigned that stuff for that baby – the baby that never was. I hope to get it to someone that can use it! (Plus we are moving across the country from New Mexico and that’s one less thing to move.)

Grief has no timeline or deadline. I suspect that when December 9 gets here -I’ll weep again.

As part of an Art Therapy directive, I have painted a paper mache box blue to represent depth and lined the inside with white felt to represent purity and sacredness. There is a bit of orange on the inside of the lid to represent hope. The charms above will go inside the box for their souls. I may try to bury it someday or do an informal moment/ceremony – we’ll see.

I should say my loss was harder due to my maternal grandmother dying at the same time. Plus, this pregnancy was planned. I talked to a business contact a few weeks ago and caught myself saying “Or God or whoever is in charge must not have had it planned.”

For any ladies reading this with a prior history of pregnancy loss – what have you done to honor the souls that came to be but never came into physical form? Do you make art or write? Comment below or send me an email using my Contact page. (Men Ok too!  You’re allowed to grieve too!)

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