My husband and I have three living children, the first of whom was born in 2007. I
suffered a miscarriage in December 2010, but I went on to have a rainbow baby in 2012
and even a bonus baby in 2017 with no trouble. Still, I felt a longing in my heart for one
On December 8, 2019, I got a positive pregnancy test. I was excited but nervous. We
were expecting our fourth baby, the baby who would complete our family.
Photo by April Leiffer Henry
Around six weeks, I began experiencing the classic pregnancy symptoms, including
nausea and exhaustion. At my 10-week appointment, my homebirth midwife couldn’t
find a heartbeat with the Doppler, but she insisted that it was still early and everything
was probably fine. My lab work came back normal, and I was not experiencing any
bleeding or cramping.
My pregnancy seemed healthy, and I even crossed the 12-week threshold, ushering me
out of the so-called “danger zone.”
However, at 12 weeks, 3 days, on the morning of February 6, 2020, I was shocked to
see pink discharge when I went to the bathroom. I texted my midwife, and she asked if I
was having any cramping. The answer was no, but I reminded her that there had been
no heartbeat at the 10-week appointment. She offered to do a heartbeat check that
When I arrived at my midwife’s office, I felt nervous but hopeful. Much like the 10-week
appointment, there was no fetal heartbeat. I knew 12 weeks was far enough along to
hear a heartbeat with a Doppler. My midwife ordered me an ultrasound at a doctor’s
office the next day.
During that ultrasound, as soon as the technician placed the wand on my belly, I could
see my tiny baby. Way too tiny for 12 weeks. She spoke what I already said in my head.
“This baby looks smaller than 12 weeks.” She did a transvaginal ultrasound and
estimated the baby’s gestation to be 8 weeks, 6 days. “I’m sorry, I’m not seeing a
heartbeat,” she added. That was it. My baby was dead.
I started crying, and the ultrasound technician handed me a box of scratchy tissues. A
midwife met with me and gave me three options: 1) Do nothing and wait for “the
products” to pass naturally. 2) Take a medication that would speed up the process if
waiting sounded too tortuous. 3) Schedule a D&C at the hospital.
I thought I wanted option 1. I declined the medication but said I might change my mind. I
knew I didn’t want a D&C unless it was medically necessary.
I left the appointment and called my husband. He listened as I sobbed nonsensical
words into the phone. That night, I lay my head on my husband’s chest and released
many tears. All I could think was, “Why did my baby have to die?”
Three days passed, and there was still no sign of my baby exiting my body. I called the
doctor’s office and requested the medicine that would bring on cramping and bleeding.
The waiting was, indeed, tortuous.
I picked up the medication from the pharmacy that evening and planned to take it the
next day. I was scared and fought irrational thoughts like, “What if the ultrasound
technician was wrong? What if she was new, and she just didn’t see a heartbeat, even
though there was one? Maybe my dates were off?”
My rational self knew these questions were foolish. But my heart was breaking all over
again, and I was grasping for anything that could mean my baby was still alive.
I was still scared, but, on February 11, I took the medication. The first dose caused
some cramping, but no bleeding. The instructions said, “If no tissue passes within four
hours, repeat dosage.” About an hour after the second dose, I felt cramping and
something shifted. When I sat on the toilet, a gush of fluid came out. I saw blood and
clots in the toilet.
This pattern of cramping, then gushing continued for about the next two hours. It was
impossible for me to tell what was coming out. I couldn’t distinguish between clots,
tissue and uterine lining. How in the world could I identify if my baby was in the toilet?
It seemed like a lot of blood. A lot of tissue was passing quickly. I’m sure I flushed my
baby. I just don’t know which flush took him or her away.
My second miscarriage was shocking, and the grief continues to feel like a dull ache. I
will never forget this baby I didn’t get to meet. He or she will hold a piece of my heart forever.
Coping with the heartache of miscarriage can feel lonely. I Had a Miscarriage is a powerful companion for those who have experienced loss, with insight from both a personal and psychological perspective.
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