My husband and I hadn’t even been married for a month when I realized that I was pregnant. We didn't have sex before we were married, and we conceived on our honeymoon. Call me old-fashioned, but I knew he was THE ONE and I didn’t want anything messing it up. OK, maybe I promised God my chastity after my second child was born if He would just promptly point me in the direction of my one true love. (Please don’t judge!)
Anyway, because I had been pregnant before, I picked up on the signs right away. The first test I took said "not pregnant" because it was too early, but when the second one I took was positive, I was not surprised. And of course, in our newlywed elation, we told everyone we knew and even some people we didn’t know.
At the time, my husband and I were stationed in Pensacola, Florida. I was in the Navy Reserves and he was an active-duty sailor. He worked at Naval Hospital Pensacola, so naturally, we went there for prenatal care. They confirmed my pregnancy, and I saw a provider — an intern with only minor experience in OB-patient care — in the family-practice ward of the hospital.
The intern referred me to the OB-intake lady, and I gave her my history, which included a blood clot in my son’s placenta, a previous miscarriage, and a family history of blood clots and miscarriages. Clearly, I was at higher risk, but I soon learned that she falsified my paperwork so she wouldn’t have to do her job and refer me to an actual OB doctor right before the holiday, so I was stuck with my inexperienced intern in the family practice ward.
A couple days later, I started spotting. We made an appointment with the intern, we did hCG tests, and he told me everything was fine.
And then, the next afternoon, I started spotting more heavily. Again, we made an appointment, saw the intern, and he did more lab testing, a pelvic exam, and told me that I was fine.
And this cycle continued for days. When we couldn’t get into an appointment, we visited the ER. I was literally at the hospital every other day with an appointment or in the ER.
The day before I miscarried, I was again bleeding, and my HCG levels had fluctuated so much in the past weeks that the intern suggested that we had conceived twins, lost one twin, and I was still pregnant with the other twin. He also did an ultrasound that day, and I saw my baby’s heartbeat. He put me on bedrest.
The intern consulted one doctor this whole time to help with the ultrasound, but the remainder of the time, he did not consult an OB doctor once. He had no idea what was going on with me, but he had too much pride to call the OB ward and ask for a second opinion as to which tests he should run or how to find me some answers and peace of mind.
The next day was New Year’s Eve. Instead of celebrating, I was lying on the couch with my husband while researching hospitals that had the best prenatal care in Pensacola because I wanted our baby to have the best chance of survival.
When I started bleeding that evening, I asked my husband to take me to West Florida Hospital instead. I told him if Tricare gave us an issue about paying the bill, we would just tell them that we felt it was serious and it was closer than the Naval Hospital, which was the absolute truth.
The whole way there, I prayed. I kept asking God just to let me have this baby, and I promised Him the world.
We checked in, and right away we were whisked to a triage room. The doctor came in shortly after some blood was taken and told me what the plan was. The only bed they had that would accommodate a pelvic exam was in the mental-health wing, and he asked if that made me uncomfortable. He said that I would be absolutely safe and that none of the patients would be out of their rooms during this time, and I agreed to go there because I just wanted answers.
During the exam, he showed me what had been our baby and expressed sympathy for our loss. I had miscarried our child, shortly after midnight. I will never forget the tininess of our baby, and my only regret is not asking to see him or her more closely.
After the exam, I was swept back to our room in the ER. My husband and I sat there, holding each other in shock until they brought me to ultrasound to confirm that I was no longer pregnant. After that, they would start the discharge process; there was nothing more that they could do.
I cringed as we left the ER around 2 a.m.; I could feel the nurses giving us sympathetic gazes on our way out. I couldn’t wait to be somewhere where no one else knew what just happened to us. I wanted more than anything to go back in time and get a do-over, and I cried the whole way home.
Once in my bed, my husband and I just held each other. We were still both in shock and couldn’t believe that all of our hope and joy had been stolen from us that night. We hadn’t had a chance to discuss how much we’d like to have children at that point in our marriage, but now, I wanted it more than anything. At that point in my life, my only desire was to have another baby with my husband.
Over the following weeks, we faced reliving our pain each time we had to retell the miscarriage incident story. When my friend became pregnant a few weeks later, I even found myself avoiding her because I wasn’t sure if I could emotionally handle it.
I think the hardest people to tell were my children. It isn’t easy to explain pregnancy loss to your five-year-old son with Asperger’s. Our biggest comfort during that period of time was a bear sent to our family to signify our pregnancy loss through Project B.E.A.R. We named our bear Milo and he traveled all over with us for a long time, from Disney World to Pennsylvania to South Carolina and beyond. Our younger son is now nine and still sleeps with Milo.
As for my husband and I, I wouldn’t say that time heals all wounds, but as we grow older together, I have found that our experience is easier to cope with. Some of that has come from reaching out and helping other couples coping with their own pregnancy loss experiences.