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The Day I Had A Miscarriage

I never expected to fall completely in love with my baby-to-be five minutes after seeing the line on the stick, but I did.

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aarp, girlfriend, miscarriage, illustration
Andrea D'Aquino
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I never expected to fall completely in love with my baby-to-be five minutes after seeing the line on the stick, but that’s exactly what happened.

I also knew the statistics: 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the Mayo Clinic — and that number is likely higher because many people miscarry before they know they’re pregnant.

I diligently took my prenatal vitamins, rested, and stayed away from cold cuts, sushi and everything else I read on the internet that could possibly cause a miscarriage. And I checked every hour for blood — the ultimate sign of an issue.

So far so good.

But at my first appointment at eight weeks, the one where I was so excited to see the baby’s heartbeat, the doctor maneuvered her wand around the fetus. Time seemed to slow and the room blurred as she asked if I was sure that my dates were correct.

There was no heartbeat. There had to be a heartbeat. My baby had to be alive. I needed my baby.

There was no blood. There can’t be anything wrong.

She told me to come back in a week to see how things were progressing.

I was in a daze when I left the appointment. I knew my dates weren’t wrong. She should have been able to see that heartbeat. I couldn’t wait another week with a dead fetus inside my uterus for her to tell me what I already knew: My baby was no more.

I called my doctor and asked her to remove it.

“We don’t perform abortions here,” she told me.

Crying, I told her that I wanted my baby more than anything. But if she wasn’t viable, then I needed her out. My doctor hung up the phone.

I waited a week in agony. There was still no blood. I couldn’t concentrate at work; I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t eat; I couldn’t do anything but cry and wait.

At my next doctor’s appointment, she confirmed what I already knew: There was still no heartbeat.

I had three options: a D&C (dilation and curettage), which would be a minor surgery to scrape my uterus and remove the fetus; insert a pill called misoprostol, which would start the miscarriage; or wait until it happened on its own.

My doctor advised me to use the pill, as I would miscarry at home. She said that a D&C often causes scarring, although I later discovered that it rarely scars, according to the Mayo Clinic.

When I got home, I inserted the pill. Shortly after, I began to cramp. Now that I’ve had two children, I can safely say that those cramps were as intense as labor. But back then, all I could do was scream and pop the ibuprofen that my doctor suggested. (Most doctors prescribe a stronger painkiller, but my doctor, whom I don’t see anymore, didn’t.)

After a few hours of heavy bleeding and cramping, I went to the bathroom. Out came the fetus — a small, gray blob. I flushed her down the toilet and felt like my life was over.

And that’s when the blood started gushing out of me. I called my doctor, who said that if I felt like I was bleeding too much, I could go to the emergency room (more than one pad per hour is too much, apparently). My husband was at work. I didn’t want to go to the emergency room. I wanted to curl up in bed and die.

The blood just wouldn’t stop. I grabbed a taxi and headed for the hospital, but halfway there, I realized that I wanted to be anywhere but the hospital. I told the taxi driver to take me home.

About two hours later, the bleeding slowed to a steady stream. My miscarriage was done.

Yes, it was the worst thing that ever happened in my life. Yes, I still think about my child who never was.

Today, however, I have two living children. Two little girls. They know that before they were born, one baby didn’t make it. My 7-year-old told me recently that if my first child had been alive, then she wouldn’t be here. It’s true.

I’m OK now.