Monday, September 16, 2013

Pregnancy: What a Tangled Web We Weave...

I've debated for a few days about whether or not I would write this post. Sure, it's no one's business. But I have made a lifestyle out of over-sharing. It takes going through some losses to realize your coping mechanisms, and mine usually involve including people in my suffering and welcoming encouraging words. Additionally, I am a direct beneficiary of folks who share personal stories on the Internet. When I am experiencing something, I turn to complete strangers for similar stories and the comforting notion that I am not alone. When I was diagnosed with Diabetes, one of my first instincts was to blog about it - the good, the bad, and the ugly. It helps me, and I take comfort in knowing it may help someone else.

So, here's my story. Andrew and I have been trying to conceive for four months, which isn't really a secret. I've known folks who conceive quickly, and I have known folks who have tried for years. I had no idea what to expect for myself. I received my first positive pregnancy test on September 1. I was running behind for church, so I brought the test in the shower with me to await the result. I put it out of sight and then grabbed it before I got out of the shower. It read "Pregnant." I was immediately consumed with disbelief, but excitement because I know these things are rarely wrong. I told Andrew in the middle of his sleepy stupor, and we began keeping our secret. My parents were in Italy, and I knew I didn't want to tell anyone until I told them. They weren't coming home for another 8 days. So, I scheduled a doctor's appointment to confirm my results, and we received a heartfelt "Congratulations" followed by some very specific instructions on prenatal care; specifically, for someone with Diabetes. I was to keep my blood sugar levels under 90 fasting and under 115 two hours after meals. Excuse me, I thought. But I knew I could do it. She checked my a1c, which was 5.9%. We were both happy with that number. She did additional blood work to check HCG and Progesterone levels, both of which came back in the appropriate range for an early pregnancy. That was just the reassurance for which I was looking! Or so I thought...

That Monday, September 9, we told our families. Slowly after, we began to tell our closest friends. I had my first ultrasound and met with the Maternal-Fetal Medicine doctor on Wednesday (due to my high-risk status - thanks Diabetes). The ultrasound showed nothing. No sac. No embryo. Just an empty uterus and a thickened endometrium. The doctor cautiously talked to me about managing my Diabetes, but reminded me that he isn't comfortable until he sees an embryo and a heartbeat. He said, "because, you know, sometimes Mother Nature does things..." And so began my decline into panic-mode. I was getting another ultrasound the next day with my regular OBGYN - fully expecting for nothing to have changed. One thing that had changed - my emotions. My OB could tell I was worried sick. She told me not to worry until I saw her worry. She told me that I may not be as far along as they had thought, and that we would take additional blood work to check HCG and schedule another ultrasound in a week. The next morning at work, I wait for her phone call with my HCG results. 11:00 rolls around, and I have yet to hear from her. Around that time, I start experiencing cramping...nothing major, but typical female cramping. I went to the restroom, and, well...I won't get into the details. My doctor told me to call her if I had any spotting, large or small. But I knew what this was. Google and I are a lethal combination. I know just enough to be dangerous. I spoke with a nurse, who told me she would go pull my lab results and call me back. In the meantime, I told my boss what was going on and she encouraged me to go home. On my way home, the nurse called to tell my that my HCG had dropped significantly. She explained to me that I was experiencing a miscarriage, and she would have the doctor call me later.

A miscarriage? Isn't that something people experience on movies or off in a quiet room somewhere? Shouldn't that term be reserved for people whose bodies actually develop sacs and embryos? Had I really just gone from the pinnacle of excitement to the pit of disappointment? I was confused, sad, and frustrated, but mostly just deflated. Was I really ever pregnant at all?

I was. There is a such thing as a "chemical pregnancy". The body gears up hormonally for the pregnancy process, but it eventually recognizes that something is wrong. That something is often at the chromosomal level, and your body knows to stop the pregnancy process. Isn't that crazy? It seems that pregnancy involves systematic checkpoints whereby your body needs to give you clearance to proceed. I received no clearance, so the system shut down. The hormone levels dropped and triggered the miscarriage that occurred on Friday the 13th. And so began my process of untelling the people I had told. Of course, everyone was understanding, sympathetic, and encouraging. I struggled for a bit blaming myself for telling people before I was "out of the woods". Truth be told, I was just that excited. Also, my doctor told me I could tell people if I wanted to. She told me that she had a patient once who reminded her that the very same people she would tell are the people she would want support from if something were to go awry. And I am that girl, too.

I couldn't imagine spending my weekend in my bed sulking. I was sad, but I needed to grieve the ways I know how - talking it out, researching ad nauseam, and writing. It seems like generations of women hid these miscarriages that are obviously so commonplace. Sure, it is private. It is deeply personal. Sometimes it is even downright graphic, but it is a reality that men and women endure. I don't like to compare myself or my situation to others, but I know great women who have struggled. They have struggled longer and harder than I have by a mile. Some have had good outcomes and others are still praying for good outcomes. These women encourage me to put my situation into proper perspective.

The bright side, hey, I got pregnant! I always thought that would be the bigger battle. In fact, I wasn't even intimidated by my high-risk status. I know how to control my Diabetes. It was requiring me to use supplemental insulin, but I was doing great. I just assumed if I took care of myself and made the right choices that all would be well. The truth is...sometimes things just happen. My doctor, without me having to get the words out of my mouth, said "Jordan, I know you just want an answer. And I can't give you one." It's true. I am restless without answers or logical conclusions. How am  I supposed to solve the problem if I cannot find its source? Well, the thing is, early-stage miscarriages are common and usually due to no fault or condition of the parents. So, really, she meant it. She had no answer for me, but she assured me "we'll get there." And I trust that we will.

So, why did I share something so deeply personal? I'll be honest. For the most part, it helps me to bring you into my world. It helps me to hear even one person privately tell me, "I've been there, and I went on to conceive a child later." Heck, it even helps me to hear, "I've been there. I haven't conceived yet, but I am learning my options." I'm a community griever, what can I say? The other reason is for someone else. It is for the person who googles "Chemical Pregnancy" in search of some empathy and finds my blog on the 112th Google page. To that person - we are not alone. We are not without hope. We are not without support. We may be without patience, but we will learn it.

I was so hoping to share a happy blog post about our pregnancy in the coming weeks. I certainly didn't think I'd be sharing one like this first. But I like to keep my blogs honest and real. Hopefully, soon, I will be able to share with you some good news. Right now, I am just trying to cope with bad news the best way I know how - in community.


  1. I'm so sorry, my friend. Sharing does help! I experienced this also so I know the pain. Might I add, we went on to have a lovely son shortly thereafter. All my love to you and Andrew!

  2. hang in there friend. its a feeling you can never fully explain! if you need a baby to snuggle i have the perfect one for you :)

  3. I am so sorry to hear of your loss! I hope that your bravery in sharing your experience not only helps you further process but also helps someone else. Hang in there dear! I'm sure you'll have happy news soon!

  4. SHOOT. I tried to comment this morning but it must not have gone through. I am sorry to hear about this and am praying for you. I wanted to share someone else's blog - an acquaintance - but it someone who struggled for years to conceive and now has 2 kids and another on the way! She writes really honestly about her really rough times with the birth of her first and the many year long attempts to get pregnant with the second. Lots of raw emotion. Poetry. Ponderings about God. Etc. This is a super simple but favorite post of her aching to conceive and here they are today. Her blog is fun to read :)
    Love - Carly

  5. Jordan,
    So sorry to hear about this. I understand the yoyo of emotions when this happens. You are so right in sharing to help cope and to help others. You are so lucky to have instant access to friends via internet these days. I went through this over 20 years ago. After Carly was born I suffered two miscarriages, one being twins. It seemed like forever to get through it, but I went on to have two more perfectly normal pregnancies. I wish this for you, and I will pray for your comfort. Thanks for sharing.

  6. So sorry to hear this! I too had two early miscarriages last year before finding out I have a clotting disorder that requires blood thinners during pregnancy. You're right to cling to the fact that you DID conceive and conceive quickly! Prayers dear! It'll happen. ;)


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