My nerves were shot as I headed to the doctor’s office. For reasons I couldn’t comprehend, I was nervous and worried about seeing Dr. Quinn, my ob/gyn. My fourth such visit in the last five years; a follow-up appointment for my recent miscarriage. The second time I had seen her after a D&C.
I hoped that when I arrived my nerves would settle. I tried deep breathing and positive thoughts, but none of that helped. Fear and worry crept up on me. I might find out what caused this latest loss once I saw the doctor.
Why was I scared? Why did I have such apprehension about this appointment? Simple. I knew it was my fault. I blamed myself. Seeing the doctor would confirm my greatest horror; that I caused our baby to die.
Only six weeks before this appointment, my husband and I headed for our 12-week ultrasound. Just four weeks earlier, we had seen our baby and its strong heartbeat. We knew that today would confirm that our baby was still growing and we would get to see its little face.
Instead, we discovered that the baby stopped growing at 10 weeks. The baby had died. We had lost our fourth angel.
As the shock wore off, I found myself doing the math; trying to figure out when the baby died. Had I done something to cause this loss?
At 10-weeks pregnant, I had gone on a girls’ weekend with my sister and mother to New York City. Did I do something in NYC that caused me to lose this baby?
Was it the soft mozzarella I ate at that Italian restaurant in the Theater district? It was tasty, but maybe it wasn’t pasteurized.
Was it because I walked, on average, 6 miles a day? My body wasn’t used to that.
Could it be that sip of wine my sister encouraged me to try? I should have known better.
Was it flying? I have issues with circulation, to the point that I have to take baby aspirin while pregnant. Did flying cut off the oxygen necessary for my baby to grow?
Had I been drinking too much caffeine? I tried to limit it to 200 mg, but maybe I did my math wrong.
I knew, in my heart, that losing the baby was my fault. It had to be.
A fourth loss was devastating. I had fooled myself by thinking I wouldn’t lose any more babies after having my two little girls, Ginny and Grace, after my first three losses. Apparently, I was wrong. Just by getting pregnant, I felt like I was playing Russian Roulette with a baby’s life.
I waited in the reception area a brief time before being called back by my doctor’s nurse, Michelle. She talked to me, expressing her sorrow at my loss. Then, she took my blood pressure. 148/98. My blood pressure normally runs 110/70. Not good. I needed to calm down.
As I waited for the doctor, I took deep breaths and tried to convince myself it wasn’t my fault. I would be held blameless for my baby’s death. I reminded myself that many things can go wrong in the first trimester and that miscarriage happens often. The miracle is when a baby does make it to term.
Then, I realized that no matter what the cause, I couldn’t do anything to change the result now. All I could do was wait to hear what my doctor had to say.
After several minutes, my doctor entered the room and gave me a hug. She has been with me through every loss, and has always remained optimistic. Then, she sat down, looked at me, and let me know that the results had come back from genetic testing on the fetus.
“Your baby was a girl.”
I laughed. I was astounded to learn that my instincts had been right. I had called the baby a girl since I was 5 weeks pregnant.
“It appears there were some extra chromosomes. It is difficult to know if those extra chromosomes were part of the baby or the placenta. However, there were other markers that suggest it was likely the baby. In particular, the baby had an extra chromosome 21, an indicator of Down’s Syndrome.”
Relief seeped over me. I could stop blaming myself. There was something wrong with the baby from the beginning.
The doctor then reassured me that the odds of this happening again were low, despite my age. I let her know that my husband and I planned to try for another baby. She smiled and told me to call her the moment I get another positive pregnancy test.
Part of me still worries that I will suffer another loss if I do get pregnant again. At 42, the odds are that I will lose another baby. But all I can do is hope that I will not deal with the heartbreak again. And, in until I know if another baby is in our future, I will love my husband and my darling girls.
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