Waiting to Miscarry: It Sucks to Be a Little Bit Pregnant


To quote one of my favorite infertility (and now pregnancy and parenting—yay!) bloggers, Julie, "It turns out you can be a little bit pregnant."

Despite the bleeding and cramping that signaled my miscarriage two weeks ago, I have not "passed" the pregnancy yet. I'm nauseated, hormonal, and exhausted, and I'm still gaining weight—all for no good reason. During last week's ultrasound, there was just an empty sac stuck in my uterus, where a 6-week-old growing embryo should have been.

The same thing happened with my second miscarriage. Although the baby had already died at eight-and-a-half weeks, I grew sicker and sicker, stopping everywhere to puke. I took that as a good sign, subscribing to the popular wisdom that "a sick pregnancy is a healthy pregnancy." But it turns out that for me, this isn't true. For me, a sick pregnancy is…any pregnancy. Even one that has stopped developing.

So the bleak December day after we learned at 10 weeks that our developing baby had died, I was scheduled for what they call a D&C with Evac. Which is just a nice way of saying abortion (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' diagram and explanation of the procedure is here ).

It's kind of alarming, the terminology associated with pregnancy loss. It's all some kind of abortion—you can have a threatened abortion, a spontaneous abortion, a partial abortion, or in my case, with these pregnancies that continue despite the lack of a living embryonic occupant, a missed abortion.

I don't care where you come down on the abortion argument; it's a strong, loaded word. It sounds like I missed my appointment at Planned Parenthood, rather than the reality, which is that my uterus just hasn't gotten the memo yet. It's still growing a placenta and preparing for a baby. I don't really blame it. Denial is the first stage of grief. But I'm ready to move past it.

Next Page: I've been here before [ pagebreak ]To end my missed abortion in December 2006, I reported to our local surgery center for the D&C, wept as I signed half a dozen forms, and was admitted. I took off all my clothes and put them in a big plastic bag with my name on it, and donned a hospital gown.

I had a terrible doctor back then who showed no sympathy when she arrived late to my bedside. "I can't believe my baby has died!" I said over and over as she waited, not making eye contact, for me to stop crying.

I finally did, after the anesthesiologist administered the Valium.

The one consolation, as my husband drove me home from the surgery center, was that I didn't feel pregnant anymore. I didn't need to stop at a gas station to throw up. Within a few days, I was up and around, reclaiming my body. Because I had been emptied of the pregnancy, I could devote my attention to the aches in my heart, and wrapping my mind around the idea I wouldn't be having a summer baby after all.

So I find myself in the same place again—sick with no baby to look forward to. My doctor did some blood work last week in order to see if my hCG numbers were dropping, which would indicate that my body was preparing to finish what it started. No such luck, my numbers were high. So is my chance of being wheeled into the surgery center for another D&C. This week, he's going to do one last ultrasound, then we will most likely prepare for the procedure.

This time, I'm actually looking forward to it. Although women do have the choice to wait for these things to end on their own, I just want to be done with this pregnancy. I want the physical misery to lift so I might devote my attention to my kids, and so, yes, my husband and I can start trying again.