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. It was 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 and appointment. 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, six miles a day? My body wasn't used to that.
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 as recommended by the March of Dimes and my doctor, but maybe I did my math wrong.
I knew, in my heart, that losing the baby was my fault. It had to be.
I had fooled myself by thinking I wouldn't lose any more babies after losing three babies before having my two perfectly healthy little girls, Ginny and Grace. Apparently, I was wrong. A fourth loss was devastating. 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.
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, almost shocking myself with the sound. I was astounded to learn that my instincts had been right. I had called the baby a girl since I was five 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."
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 worried that I would suffer another loss if I got pregnant again. At 42, the odds were that I would lose another baby. But all I could do was hope that I would not deal with the heartbreak again.
Four months after this heart-breaking loss, we learned I was pregnant for the seventh time. I faced the pregnancy with fear and paranoia, but still some hope. Now, I'm six weeks away from giving birth. While I'm joyfully anticipating the arrival of our new baby, I still remember the four babies I lost. They will be with me forever in my heart.
This post originally appeared on Scary Mommy.
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