As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I scheduled an early ultrasound to make sure that the pregnancy was not another ectopic. On November 6, 2002, I thought I was about 6 weeks pregnant. John and I could see the fetus immediately - it looked so perfect, and so big! It measured at 8 weeks, 3 days.
But after a few minutes, the ultrasound technician said that she was so sorry - there was no heartbeat. It took a minute (and a couple of repetitions) for the meaning of what she was saying to sink in - and then, as John said, "it was like the whole universe turned upside-down."
The ob/gyn was more conservative than the technician. He ran some blood tests that day, and again on November 8th to see if the beta HCG level (pregnancy hormone) was doubling every 48 hours, as it would for a viable pregnancy. We were told not to get our hopes up. The first result was 97,294. The second result was 91,456. The pregnancy was not viable.
I don't think I've ever cried so much in my life as in those few days.
If you found this page because something similar has happened to you, please see all the many pregnancy loss and grief sites here.
While I waited to get my second blood test (Nov. 8), I spoke to a couple who had just been through this exact scenario, and were now pregnant again. They were waiting for their first ultrasound appointment. They were clearly nervous, enough to strike up a conversation. We talked about early pregnancy, sore breasts, easy tearfulness, and I recommended the Mayo Book of Pregnancy and Baby's First Year, as well as the whole line of "Girlfriends' Guide" books by Vicki Iovine. I told them that the ultrasound would most likely be ok, and it is the most magical and fun part of the pregnancy until the baby moves. Since the practice was running behind, we had some time to talk.
When I saw them later, they were grinning from ear to ear, and showed me the ultrasound pictures. The woman took me aside and said, "I think God put you here today to talk to us before we went in. It made a big difference - thank you!" While I am highly skeptical about God's inclination to put me or anyone else in a particular place for any particular reason, I would like to thank these two for allowing me to share in their progress from anxiety to joy. They were grateful to me, but I am more grateful to them than they will know.
I have also discovered that one of my close friends (who shall remain unnamed for reasons of privacy) has recently had the same experience, and was kind enough to share that fact and to express empathy from a place of real understanding. Thanks! ;-)
I have explored some of the internet resources, and this experience is fairly common. There are, thankfully, no implications about future pregnancies. In fact, this pregnancy showed that I could still get pregnant after the ectopic rupture. And I am glad that I got to see the little life this time, that I didn't have to make any difficult decisions, and that I didn't have to go through labor for a baby that had died much later in pregnancy.
On November 15th, the day our child Ben turned 2-1/2, I went to Northside Hospital for the D & C. It was scary, but not as awful as I feared. I was put under general anesthesia at 10:30 am and was able to come home at 12:30.
It has been heartbreaking, but we are thankful for our perfect little boy Ben, and hopeful about our future chances for another child, should we try again.
This little harp seal represents this baby's guardian spirit. Farewell, little angel - we love you forever.