When Pregnancy Is Not All Bliss
Miscarriage, blighted ovum, imcompetent cervix- wishing they were not in our vocabulary?
Being pregnant is an absolutely fantastic, humbling experience. It should be a time of great joy and serenity, awaiting the birth of your own flesh and blood. For many women however, the pregnancy brings anxiety and problems, sometimes ending before it barely started. The symptoms and causes of miscarriages are many, especially early miscarriages. Getting pregnant after a miscarriage can be frightening. By telling my own story, I hope to help and encourage somebody else out there.
Both my husband and I agreed on not having children. Not that we did not like children, we loved them. Children were always close with us, and my husband was known for being able to put any infant to sleep. We just felt the responsibility was great, and we also wanted to do a few things together first. We married young, and felt there was no rush. Instead we pursued other interests, including traveling.
In the fifth year of our marriage we took leave from our jobs to go on the Grand Tour of Africa. We spent two months visiting three countries in East Africa. I fell in love with Ethiopia, and we decided to move there!
That is when we found out that I was pregnant! What a disappointment, I did three tests before it really sank in. The last one I did in the clinic and when the doctor saw me crying over the result he asked me if I wanted an abortion. This immediately dried my tears!
Within a matter of days I had turned from unhappy to happily pregnant. True, it would change all our projects, and it was not planned. But it was a baby! I started reading books, following the development of my child with pictures and charts. I would even sing to my stomach.
Since I did not have any problem with nausea, everything was going great. Until I started bleeding in the third month. The ultrasound showed the baby, but there was no heartbeat. They told me to wait a few days. The following day I got into labor and gave birth at home. I was still admitted to hospital, but it was just routine. To them, that is.
Picture by MATATLANTICA
A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. (Pregnancy losses after the 20th week are called preterm deliveries.) ...Most miscarriages are caused by chromosome problems that make it impossible for the baby to develop. Usually, these problems are unrelated to the mother or father's genes. PubMedHealth
A fantastic book!
This is the book I used to visualize the pregnancy week by week.
The Reason Behind Miscarriage
When I asked why this happened, they just told me it was very common. Most likely something had been wrong with the baby, they told me. Later on I got in touch with some organizations that give support to people who have experienced miscarriage. This helped me a lot. One of the key-things I learned from them was to allow myself to grieve. This was not just a brief pregnancy, this was my child.
For different reasons we decided not to try and have another baby immediately. But having tasted pregnancy once, it was in my thoughts. So when I found myself pregnant by "mistake" again after eight years I was very happy!
(Picture by /tinypatsy)
Help can be in professional form, or by talking to friends and family, or by reading other women's experiences. The important thing is to deal with the grief, not letting it take over your life.
When the doctor saw how nervous I was in my second pregnancy, he sent me to do an ultrasound. This, he hoped, would calm me down a bit. How I wish. Instead the ultrasound showed that I was pregnant, but the gestational sack was empty. This is what they call a blighted ovum. The conception takes place and the pregnancy continues, but the baby does not grow. When I was ten weeks pregnant they decided I should clean out the womb, there was no point in waiting any longer. Even today it is difficult to think of the depression I experienced.
The good that came out of this was that the doctor took me seriously and sent me for loads of testing. The result- nothing wrong with me!
(Picture by jjac_31456287)
A blighted ovum (also known as "anembryonic pregnancy") happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop. Cells develop to form the pregnancy sac, but not the embryo itself. A blighted ovum usually occurs within the first trimester before a woman knows she is pregnant. A high level of chromosome abnormalities usually causes a woman's body to naturally miscarry.
Planning a Pregnancy
This time we decided to go for it. By this time I REALLY wanted a child. I started eating proper food, and doing everything to be in good health. Like the other times, I easily got pregnant. Again I started bleeding in the third month! In the hospital they gave me some medicine, some hormones I think, and the bleeding stopped.
My doctor was really nice, each time he saw me he allowed me to listen to the baby's heartbeat. He knew how important it was to me. In the fourth month he discovered that my cervix was already open. Bed-rest, and again bed-rest. Very boring, but necessary. By the end of the pregnancy they said I could live normally, but by then I was so enormous it was hard to move around. My first daughter was born after a very short labor, sound and healthy!
My pregnancy bible! - This one really helped me
We wanted our daughter to have a little brother or sister, so we tried again. Yes! No. Another early miscarriage. I did not feel as down as the other times, but still, it was my child.
Life went on. We realized our plan and moved to Ethiopia. Three months later I was pregnant! When I went to the hospital for the first ultrasound they told me it was an ectopic pregnancy. I went home and made some research, and took the first flight to Europe. If I had had a second opinion, I would have saved a lot of money and distress. It was not an ectopic pregnancy, which can become very dangerous, it was "only" another blighted ovum. I had the D&C and went home again. The doctor said I should be careful now. I was getting on in age he said, like if 40 was ancient! But most importantly, my body had been pregnant five times, and needed a rest.
(Picture by IJsbrandtGA)
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a pregnancy starts outside the womb (uterus)...Ectopic pregnancies cannot continue to birth (term). The developing cells must be removed to save the mother's life. You will need emergency medical help if the area of the ectopic pregnancy breaks open (ruptures).PubMedHealth
What about you?
Have you, or anybody you know, experienced anything of this?
After a lot of serious thinking, I finally accepted the fact that I would have only one child. My wish had been to have many, but she would be fine. I loved her so dearly, and she was (is) a very affectionate child.
When I was late again, the test was negative. After a week I took another test- negative. So I went on a trip, touring Ethiopia. The last day of the vacation, when everybody went to lie by the pool, I slept. I was exhausted. Yes, I was pregnant.
Because of the negative tests, I did not get to the doctor until the third month. When he did the ultrasound there was not heartbeat. I felt numb. The next week the same. Another blighted ovum? I asked him to wait another week, and he agreed. That day we heard the heartbeat! He was as happy as we were, very nice doctor.
This time was very different from the other pregnancies. I was very sick, even lost weight. A few times I had to be admitted with drip.
What was the same was my weak cervix, this time accompanied with constant contractions. Again- bed-rest. At first it is nice to rest, but after a few months it gets very,very boring.
My second daughter was born after only two hours of labor, I almost did not make it to the clinic. Five hours later I went home!
Here are some useful links
The first one on the list is the one that helped me almost 20 years ago, I think!
- Miscarriageassociation in UK
Actively helping women and their families since 1982!
Discussion of different types of miscarriages and their causes.
Another great site that shows resons for miscarriage and if you might be at risk.
- American Pregnancy Association
What is a blighted ovum? Why does it occur?
- Daily Strength
Support group for miscarriage and stillbirth
- Miscarriage: Coping with Pregnancy Loss
Some normal reactions to the loss of a baby, and how to cope with it.
- Ectopic Pregnancy
What is an ectopic pregnancy?
Miscarriage tribute - Very emotional video
Everybody is different in emotional and physical make-up. Find out what will make you more comfortable - or comforted.
- Always get a second opinion. Always. Doctors can make a mistake, even with the best of intentions.
- Trust yourself and your feelings. Do not feel you are being a nuisance by asking questions or having fears. It is your body, your child.
- If the worst happens, ask for help or contact organizations that specialize in this field. To be able to talk to others or reading their experiences usually helps.
- Inform yourself. Read, ask questions, make research. Then, discuss it with the doctor. Knowledge and understanding make things less scary.
- Take care of your health. Especially if you want to try soon again to have a baby. But, in general, to be in shape helps you cope with everything much better.
- Even if a pregnancy is difficult, it is so much worth it when you finally get to hold your baby!
Every year, in October, parents (and others) all around the world keep a special memorial for the children they have lost, whether by miscarriage, stillbirth or after birth. You can read more about this here: INFANT DEATH AWARENESS