Losing a Baby in the Second Trimester


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I've opened and closed this blog a hundred times. I started to write it then stopped. Started, stopped. I teeter between put it all out there and I hate it all out there. I've sat in this dark hole. Depressed and broken. I've been in this hole before. For different reasons obviously, but it's not an unexplored dark hole. Depression, anger, not giving any fucks...it's all kept me from sharing. And who wants to hear about it anyway, right? Nobody else talks about it, why should I? 

Well, here I am again, the blog is open, I'm typing. Let's see what happens...

Luca was filming the sonogram as I was trying to understand what we were looking at. I saw the panic creep over the doctors face, pushing harder into my belly with the transducer, shift on her stool... panic, shift, push, shift, panic... Something's wrong. 
Something's wrong. Luca stop filming. What's wrong. 
"I can't find a heartbeat"...
I couldn't breathe. The room went black. I started sobbing. Somehow I knew it without knowing it. 
A reality so harsh, I was sure my own heart would stop beating as well. Check again!! Check. Again.
The scratching silence of the ultrasound was deafening.

We had less than a 1% chance of losing our baby.
About 2-3% of pregnancies are lost in the second trimester - much lower than in the 1st trimester. Once a pregnancy gets to about 20 weeks gestation, less than 0.5% will end in a fetal demise. 
We were 19 weeks; in our 5th month.
We felt secure. We were confident. We were having a girl. Names were lined up.
Our baby was healthy. My womb was healthy. Pregnancy was uncomfortable but easy and going well. 

The next hours felt like clips of a movie; the scene changing, the people different, but I have no idea how I got there or what my role was. I was admitted to the nearest hospital. 
I was given a COVID test upon arrival. Despite no symptoms, I tested positive. This meant my room was suddenly a danger zone, condemned to the outside world and Luca had to leave. He managed to stay a few hours - I was scared. We were scared. Being alone didn't feel like an option. We didn't have a choice. 

In the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, a natural miscarriage is no longer an option. The baby is too big and the uterus too fragile for a D&C. Therefore, a woman must go through labor, and deliver the baby. If you're like WHAT!? She has to DELIVER the baby!? Yes, we had a similar reaction...

I was first (on Monday) given a pill which softens the cervix. After 24 hours, I was given a new pill which, within 45 minutes would launch me in to full force, 10 months pregnant, you're having a baby, contractions. In natural labor, the contractions build up slowly, but in induced labor they start NOW and they are STRONG. If you can imagine maybe what thunder might feel like if it were a thing and not just a sound, it probably hurt like that would feel. The contractions started at about 3mins apart, to 2mins apart, and then 1min apart. During this time I was on the phone with mom, no doctor in sight, and she too, insisted, you need a doctor in there now

We hung up and I called Luca (who was just outside the room/ward - remember he couldn't be with me due to testing positive for COVID). I'm having contractions, they're 1min apart, I'm pretty sure I'm going to die, please call and get them to get a doctor in here. At 5 months we hadn't had any lamaze training so we were relying on a YouTube video Luca found to breathe through this nightmare. Finally finally finally (about 90 minutes total) a midwife arrived (doctors don't deliver babies in Italy, midwives do). She quickly introduces herself - thank God she speaks English, assesses the situation, realizes it's happening NOW, and calls for prep/equipment into the hallway to the other nurses. Keep in mind, I still have my pants on at this point and my room is condemned. 

I've been pacing through the contractions but now she needs me laying down to see if I'm dilated. I'm only at 1cm and/but she can feel the head. She's talking me through the contractions which are now maybe 30sec apart. 1min. Forever, I don't know. It hurt so fucking bad. We go through a few more and she asks, "Do you need to pee? Can you pee?" Do I need to pee?! This is not my priority right now...
She says, "If your bladder is completely empty or you try to pee, this can happen faster."
You don't need to tell me twice, help me up! Sadly, I just wanted it over.

As soon as I get up, liquid splashes out of me. I say, "I didn't pee". My water broke. So she grabs me a towel and we waddle to the toilet (where, BTW, she has put a specimen collector, just in case). And thank goodness she did. I sit, she tells me to push like I'm peeing, and so suddenly, shockingly, our dead baby came plunging out of me in to the collector. I'm sorry to be so graphic...
We grabbed each other, I'm sobbing. Both in relief and sorrow, and Jesus Christ, that just happened. I couldn't look. I could't feel. I felt so frozen in shock and how, how did I even get here! How is this possibly happening right now!?

The midwife is calm but I could also tell how intense the situation was for her as well. She's telling me, breathe, breathe. Maybe she was also telling herself! ...The baby is connected to you; we need to get you back to the bed. She reaches for the towel and wraps the baby holding her below me as we waddle back to the bed. She races back to the door/hallway and yells: I NEED SUPPORT!! I don't know what she yelled, but obviously we weren't equipped with what we needed. We sat there for what felt like forever, breathing... she's out. It's over.

I was on a bit of a high, grasping huge gulps of air, crying tears of relief to Luca over the phone, it's over, it's over, she's out, I'm okay. The reality of it all was on standby. I found out later he too was sobbing tears of relief, scared to death to lose his wife, from the hallway of this maternity ward. We both thought I was going to die. 

A nurse finally arrived with a table full of tools. They cut the umbilical cord and took her. I didn't want to hold her, I was too freaked out but I did look at her. Guys, she was beautiful. She had these tiny little eyes and nose, she had my skinny little lips. And her fingers...she had fingernails. My God. My sweet little baby. This tiny little human. It was unbelievable. I'm so sorry that I couldn't give her life. I cry writing this. I cry reading this. I'm so sorry. 

So ultimately they take her away because we have decided to do both a medical biopsy and a funeral for her. I regret not holding her. 

I push out the placenta, a quick check, and it's all over. The midwives leave. A few minutes later a nurse arrives to "clean me up". And now I'm alone. And I stay this way for 2 and 1/2 more days. Completely alone.
I'm still shocked that they left a young girl who just delivered a dead baby alone for so long; clearly they didn't have my mental health history handy. 

A tech would randomly drop off meals and a nurse brought a little red pill that brought with it almighty pain a few times a day. I actually started to refuse to take this unless they brought me a pain pill with it. 
I asked for soap, for water, for pain meds, for ATTENTION. It would be hours before seeing anyone again. I would call Luca and cry. He would call the nurse station and scream at them. It was absolutely the worst, most traumatizing days of my life. I was so shook, I couldn't even mourn. I don't even know, just so much pain and loneliness and anger. I finally could have been released on Weds but they didn't have an ambulance available (I had to be taken home in an ambulance since I was COVID positive) so I pained through another night. 

Thursday, I fell into the arms of my husband. 

We've cried so many tears. Asked so many questions. We've been filled with anger. And sorrow. And desperation for answers. It hurts so much and I don't even know how we will ever get over it. 
And the what's next!? Jesus, that's even more difficult. We don't have the luxury of jumping in bed together and boom, we're pregnant. We went through 4 cycles of IVF to get here. Failed embryo transfer after failed embryo transfer. That's no longer an option for us. We don't know what the next chapter looks like. Or, if having a family together will ever come to fruition. That's a hard pill to swallow. Much harder than allllllll the ones I've taken up until now. Luca holds me, but we are a family.

The fuck the world that fills my soul is scary. Pregnancy announcements, babies being born, happy new parents. The hatred is sharp. Misguided. But real. Don't get me wrong, I'm still happy for you but fuck if I'm not screaming dying in pain for myself. 
But don't feel special: It's not just the baby making world, it's sort of a universal, raging kind of anger. For everything. Anything. Anyone. And it sort of feels like nothing can go right... Or left! I'm just stalled at the bottom of a dark pit, pissed off. 

I guess it's getting easier but honestly, I think my heart has just gotten colder. 
Tumultuously, I'm kinda cool with just being angry and shitty about it right now. 
But that's not entirely true either. I'm working on things. Obviously Luca was sent on on a mission soon after our loss. We were lucky to spend a week away together in the Dominican Republic and I've been in the states. We are working with a therapist and considering our options. We have established a new mantra for the universe: show me how good it can get... so we're hoping she shows up for that one. 

Looking on the bright side is tough when you're this deep in a hole. Your eyes have adjusted so the light hurts. It hurts to be happy when you're sad. But I'm trying. We're trying. And just for the record, losing a baby in the second trimester SUCKS. It has literally sucked a portion of our life and happiness away that we can never get back. 

I'm so appalled that there isn't more information for this kind of loss - because this happens to a LOT of women/couples! Since we've lost our baby we've been opened up to a whole world of loss that happens in the second AND third trimester. Life is such a cruel bitch sometimes.  
I don't know... pregnancy is all ooh aww but it's SO full of fear and angst. It's not just 3 months of worry; Until you are holding that baby, crying in your arms (and really not even then), are you in the "clear". 
I have lost faith in the beauty of pregnancy and can honestly say, this is not a path I want to travel again. 

Thank you for bearing with me through this pain. Waiting for me. Supporting me. And loving me through. You all know who you are. Those who send hearts in place of words. Those who listen, free of their own ideas and suggestions. Those who DON'T say "try again". Those who understand my silence, change of subject, or misguided anger. Those of who don't show pity, instead, support. Quiet support. Distractions. Check-ins. Texts and calls. The financial support. Simple hugs. Shared tears. Nights out. And nights in. Thank you. And to those who share this kind of loss; I'm here too. 

Epilogue

I'm back in Italy, Luca and I reunited. I have finally started crawling out of my deep, dark pit. There are still moments of sadness, anger, and frustration... I imagine me physically climbing out of this hole but every now and then I lose my grip or grab unstable ground and slip down. I'm strong enough to catch myself though and determined enough to keep climbing. I don't see light at the top, but I see opportunity. I see a new life with two people who have so much love to share. 
I think the universe will guide us in the right direction. 

We also got the medical report back. Nothing is 100% fact or certain but based on the evidence, our loss was due to a partial placental abruption. This means the placenta partially separated from the inner wall of the uterus depriving the baby of oxygen and nutrients. Like most things that have been discovered in my life, we're lucky we discovered it when we did as this can be very dangerous for the woman. 
It's most common in the last trimester of pregnancy and it often happens suddenly. There's nothing I did wrong and there's nothing I could have done to prevent it. It just happens. Unfortunately, the likeliness of it happening again, and again, and again is also highly likely. That hurts.

I didn't know if I was going to share all of this or not but something told me today, post it.
This is our reality. And maybe through the stages of grief, I've reached acceptance...
Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.