I will start back at the beginning. I had been going through a "baby crazy" phase for several months. I even thought I was pregnant in December 2001, but I REALLY started to think something was up in April. My period was a no-show . . . for weeks! (My last period had been March 11th. I must have skipped April all together! I believe I finally ovulated around May 1st or cycle day 53!!) I kept taking pregnancy tests even though I didn't think I could be pregnant, but my body was sending me mixed messages. Test after test came up negative. Every time we took one, I told Joey I really thought I was (how else can you explain the lack of a period?) He always confidently said, "You're not pregnant." lol
I found out I WAS pregnant on May 17, 2001. (cycle day 68!) We were shocked and surprised, but happy! Joey really couldn't believe it until someone in a white coat told him, so on the last day of the school year, May 21st, we went to a clinic. I had already asked around for references beforehand because I knew the follow-up to a positive test would be to schedule a first appointment, and I just wanted to get started with a doctor I had heard good things about. I asked 3 different people and they all recommended Dr. Colyer.
We went in and a nurse named Sharon took my blood, then had me wait in the waiting room. Joey was supposed to meet me there at 4:00. It was 4:15 and he wasn't there! The nurse called me back and said "Yep, you are!" I made a little "Yea!" and smiled from ear to ear. Joey showed up a few minutes later. (He got stuck driving through construction.) I met him at the counter in the waiting room and said "We're pregnant!" My first appointment was scheduled for June 28th. It was official!
I was due January 23rd, 2002. I had a blissful early pregnancy with absolutely no symptoms, except a large appetite! I slept, ate and basically just enjoyed the first days of my summer. The only way I could tell I was pregnant was that my breasts were much bigger and tender, and I was tired. I reveled in my new state.
Six weeks later, we had spilled the news to most of our immediate family, and some close friends. We had heard so much about miscarriages, we didn't want tons of people to know, but we figured those close to us that would know about a miscarriage should know we were pregnant. Joey was very cautious the first couple of days and leery of making an announcement too soon, but pretty soon he was telling people left and right!
I had spotted a tiny, almost imperceptible amount a couple of times, but didn’t think too much of it. I had heard of implantation spotting and thought it was probably that.
May 31st, 2001 (6w1d) ~ I had spotted a teeny tiny bit a couple of times but had heard that it's usually nothing to worry about early on. I was doing an exercise tape and my friend Kara called. She's a nurse and I had mentioned the spotting to her before. No sooner had I spoken the words, "Well, I haven't had any more spotting, thank goodness." than I felt a little gush. I immediately went to the bathroom, still on the phone, and saw bright red watery blood. We were just about to hang up, so I didn't say anything, hung up, and went and immediately laid down on my bed with my feet up under two pillows. I was terrified. It wasn't enough for a pad, and seemed to be going away. I wiped several more times and it was mostly dry. Joey came home about 10 minutes later. I told him I was bleeding, and I had been exercising for about 20 minutes when it started. I just knew I had caused myself to miscarry, though it really wasn't anything that strenuous at all.
It then seemed like it totally went away. Within an hour or so, I got up to take a shower. (I knew we would be seeing the doctor the next morning.) While I was in the bathtub, it came back. I tried to hurry so I could get into bed. I about lost it when I stood up to towel off and I bled down my leg. No cramping. I don't think. Maybe a TINY bit. I've never had menstrual cramps, so I'm not real sure what they feel like, but nothing that noticeable.
I had Joey call the Emergency Room, basically for advice. The lady was very nice and reassuring, but mostly said 1) We haven't seen you, so naturally can't tell you much. 2) It sounded likely that I was miscarrying, and if I was concerned, to come in. I asked her if I was actually miscarrying, is there anything they could do to stop it. (I knew what her answer would be.) She said no; it was good that I wasn't passing tissue or clots, but I asked her if I could be miscarrying without that, and she said yes. I just knew I was miscarrying. We decided to go in first thing in the morning.
June 1, 2001 (6w,2d) ~ Bleeding had mostly subsided. We saw the doctor, he did an ultrasound, and we saw "cardiac movement" as he called it. YEA!!! We still had the little lima bean!! We were very surprised, but very relieved. He explained that I had what was called a subchorionic hematoma, or a pool of blood that was creating a separation of about 2/3 of the amniotic sac from the uterine wall, basically, a blood clot.
I could see two sacs, both about the same size. The baby was just a tiny little apple seed in the sac on the left. He did not know the reason for the clot and said that sometimes they go away on their own. When Joey asked him for a percentage, he said 50/50. I think he just didn't have any reason to go one way or the other. He reassured me about the exercise. He said he doesn't believe moderate exercise should be a concern. He believed the clot had been around for a while before this.
They also took blood for two days, and wanted to know my hcg (pregnancy hormone) and progesterone and estrogen levels. He said they could supplement the hcg and the progesterone if they were low. Hcg was low. It didn't dip, it just didn't rise as much as they would like. It was 21,000 the first day and rose to 24,000 the next day. He said it should have risen to about 36,000, or at least 29%. (I was administered hcg shots once a week until 13 weeks.) He told me to take it easy for 7 to 10 days, with full pelvic rest, meaning no intercourse or tampons. He asked if I was working. When I said no, he said that was a good thing. He said not to get my heart rate up and to take it easy. So I moved around the house on a limited basis, and always moved slowly. Ididn’t do lots of bending or anything strenuous. Joey even moved our bed into the living room, so I was closer to the kitchen and could watch tv. I slept a lot and had only brown spotting for a while afterwards.
One evening, I was lying on my bed, (on my left side as usual), talking to my Dad on the phone. Joey was on the line too, in the other room. I felt a little gush and started to get up to go to the bathroom, and blood poured out of me, down my leg and onto the floor. I was horrified. I stepped into the bathtub, where I just sat for a second, shorts still on, while my husband and father chatted away. With tears silently streaming down my face, I gathered myself, and interrupted in a calm tone of voice. "Dad, can we call you back in a bit?" We hung up and I said “Joey, come here!” He panicked because he couldn't find me. When he saw me sitting in the tub, with blood pouring out of me, sobbing, he said we're going to the emergency room. We drove with lots of towels, and after a terrifying and upsetting evening in the emergency room, I was admitted.
One week went by and only spotting. I was starting to think it was a one-time thing. Then it started again! Bright red bleeding, just like a period. This time, I passed a clot. Now I was absolutely convinced I was miscarrying. We went in and as the doctor performed the ultrasound, we braced ourselves for the bad news. Before the doctor said anything, I saw the little heartbeat rapidly flicking away on the monitor. Then the doctor said, "Well, you've got a very strong kiddo here.” I wrote ...
June 8, 2001 (7w,1d) ~ "My brother and sister-in-law and baby niece came to visit and it was so nice to see them. They were just here for a short visit, but we had a great time talking and enjoying Harper, my 4-month-old niece. She's really cute. Unfortunately, I began bleeding just hours after they left. This time I passed a large clot, (about the size of a half dollar.) I was absolutely convinced that I had miscarried. I told Joey. We both were just sure that this was it. Bleeding was pretty heavy and my lower abdomen ached with dull cramps. I was not prepared and only had one pad in the house. Joey went to the store and bought me pads (a first!) and some Pepperidge Farm cookies. He was so nice and thoughtful the whole time.
We called the doctor and told them I was passing tissue. We went in the next day, and I was AMAZED that there was a heartbeat!!!!!! They explained the difference between clots and tissue and apparently I had just passed a large clot of blood. (Blood can be pulled apart using 2 q-tips, whereas tissue cannot be pulled apart and is grey or pink in color.) The doctor told me to continue to take it easy and come back in if I passed any tissue.
We could tell he was genuinely surprised that we had an active kicking kid in there! The clot was bigger this time, but he could tell where it was attached, which was good news, because the umbilical cord was big enough to see, and the clot and baby were on opposite sides. However, for him to tell us we still only had a 50/50 chance of things turning out ok was very difficult. He said he couldn't explain it, and while he had seen lots of hematomas, he generally did NOT see them go this far. They generally dissipate on their own causing no problem, or they terminate the pregnancy. Anyhow, we were relieved and happy to see our little plum squirming around. The doctor said that by my 10-week ultrasound, we would have a pretty good idea one way or another how things were going to turn out, it will no longer be 50/50. I think that by then I will have had a miscarriage, which I'm leaning towards thinking is NOT going to happen, or I'll be out of the woods! My bleeding has tapered off to occasional spotting, mostly brown, (which is preferred because it indicates old blood.) Yea!! I am starting to feel much better about things. We're thinking positive!"
On June 28th, at my 10-week ultrasound, there were no new revelations. Baby was growing, as well as the hematoma. I wrote, “Here is a pic of our little peach at our latest ultrasound. He/she measured 38mm. Tiny huh? The baby was perfectly upside down, so I scanned one upside down making it easier to see! I think it's just adorable! By the way, I keep wanting to call it he!!” Some days, I thought, "We’re gonna keep defying the odds and get past this." Other days, I felt more like, "How can I get excited with these huge problems?” It was very hard. I was constantly torn and unsure how to feel. I counted down the days on my pregnancy calendar and wouldn't write down the next week's marker until the day it arrived.
The bleeding never fully stopped. It would come and go, but overall, as my belly grew, it worsened. I could never pinpoint it to activity. It was extremely unpredictable. I kept a meticulous journal and had some of my biggest bleeds after 12 hours of just lying in bed, only getting up to go to the bathroom. I just bled and bled and bled some more. It was horrible.
Eventually, I think I decided just to enjoy every minute of my pregnancy and be as positive each day as I could, since bawling and sinking into a depression would surely not grant us anything. Joey was always more guarded. He was very worried and naturally didn't want to get excited, then have his feelings crushed. We told everyone we were "hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst." But, I really think as the weeks went by, we started to imagine that we were just the exception, and we were going to have a healthy baby in the end.
Throughout the whole ordeal, I had many scary “This is it” moments. Each time seemed worse than the last, and each time, we were surprised to see that the baby was doing fine and growing perfectly on target. The pattern was often a decrease in bleeding for a few days, then like a dam breaking, I would pass a clot, sometimes as large as my hand, and have profuse bleeding that would eventually just quit. I’d bleed less for a couple of days maybe, then it would start again. Towards the end, every night I soaked through thick pads, even soaking towels underneath me. I never felt intense cramping. I felt perfectly fine physically, I just never stopped bleeding.
We made extremely difficult decisions as the weeks went by. Unfortunately, it is now a matter of controversy in my family, as well as some shame and guilt on my part, but we wrought with the decision of whether or not to continue with our trip to England in mid-July. We decided to go. It was not the same trip it would have been, we did things quite differently, but we still did something that was very important to us. I believed, and still do to some extent, that sitting on a plane and doing the same limited movement that I was doing at home was not going to kill my baby. I was even wheelchaired through the airports. A big part of me still feels it would not have made any difference whatsoever even if I had laid horizontal the entire 5 months, and yet sadly, a part of me does wonder if not going would have maybe changed things. I have a very, very hard time with this now, but we made the decision we made. We left on July 17th. A few days before we left, I officially started a pregnancy journal. I wrote...
July 13, 2001
"Today is the first day I have felt like I could really begin writing on this. It has been such a roller coaster so far! I ceremoniously tore the tags off some maternity clothes tonight because I'm officially 12 weeks! YEA!! We're still VERY concerned over the outcome of this pregnancy, but the more days that go by, and I don't write, the more likely it is that I'll forget what's going on from day to day. Despite the worry, I am so happy to be pregnant with this little baby, and now we can just hope for the best from here on out.
Finally, the time came when our doctor recommended we see a specialist. At nearly 16 weeks, (Aug. 7th) we had an ultrasound with Dr. Wickstrom, a female perinatologist at St. Luke’s in Kansas City. We found out we were having a boy! We saw it just as she was asking if we wanted to know!! I just can't tell you how proud and excited Joey was. He was getting more confident now. We had had names picked out for both a boy and a girl since before we were pregnant. His name would be Nathaniel Luke Dziedzic-Williams. (Luke is Joey’s mother’s maiden name, and Joey had a Grandpa Luke who he loved very much.) Nate’s growth was always exact to the day.
I found on the internet that hematomas almost always resolve themselves, one way or the other, by week 20. The size of the fetus by that point will usually squish out the extra blood, or in some cases, cause a more serious separation and end the pregnancy. I made contact with several women who had experienced the same thing and their positive stories encouraged me to hang on.
I was admitted for profuse bleeding and clotting on August 15th, (17w1d) and stayed for 5 days. I had lost so much blood that I had become anemic. (Not uncommon for me though.) I was given a blood transfusion, monitored for a day or so, then released. I was only home for a day when we went back. I remember being wheeled in and silently sobbing as the nurses who had sent me home the day before saw me as they were chatting in the lounge. I was back. I knew things were not getting better. This time, I was there for a week.
Then I realized that my growing stomach was contracting. It would be rock hard when I first woke in the morning. I actually looked forward to showing Joey each morning how noticeable my belly was. But when I described it to Dr. Wickstrom, she said, those are contractions. I started to understand that I was experiencing preterm labor. They were daily by this point. I started to time them. They were frequent, but very irregular. They were easily detectable on the monitor, but not painful at all. They felt like air was being pumped into my belly. I could feel it slowly clench, rise in pulses, then go back down. I was on Prometrium as well as Terbutaline and Hydroxizine. Dr. Wickstrom also prescribed 600 mg of Motrin as “aspirin therapy,” in the hope that thinning my blood would keep it from clotting, allowing the clot to reabsorb. The contractions usually calmed some from the meds, but eventually, they were not making any difference. A couple of times, they had to give me Magnesium Sulfate through my IV, and that helped twice, then it didn’t seem to work any more. So they started giving me sleeping pills and Demerol to “quiet my system.” The Demerol was weird. It made my legs spaz uncontrollably and I would often start weeping the second it entered my bloodstream. It also made me loopy and gave me slurred speech. I would basically just sleep, which was good.
On September 2nd, after about 3 days at home, I realized I was contracting about every 4 minutes, and this time my meds were not slowing them. I was scared. We went back to the hospital and I was admitted for the last time. For a day or so, they had me on the monitor a lot, and I knew things were taking a turn for the worse. A nurse named Tracy once got really big eyes and audibly gasped when looking at the monitor. She explained that Nate’s heart had just dropped quite a bit with one of my contractions, but it was back up. She called my dr. to let him know. For the next day or so, my bleeding actually decreased, but I sensed something was still very wrong. The contractions were not going away anymore, and the nurses had turned the monitor so I couldn’t see the readings. I could tell everyone was getting nervous. I was put on a catheter. That evening, it was late and I was pretty out of it, but the nurse was saying she was having a hard time finding Nate’s heartbeat on the hand held doppler. Joey had just left about an hour before to try to get some sleep. She said it might be a good idea if I call him to come back up. I basically called because she told me to, which I knew that meant it was serious and she was losing hope. I was bawling, and I could tell I woke him up. I said, “You need to come back up. I don’t think she can find his heartbeat." I was on so many drugs, that my view of things is a little skewed, but I asked the nurse again if Joey should come back up and she said yes. He did.
We lost Nathaniel at 20 weeks, 2 days, on September 7th, 2001. I have not been able to put into words all that is missing on this page. It's too painful. As we approach the four-month anniversary of the loss of our little boy, we have recovered a lot, but are full of so much regret that what we wanted so badly was taken from us. What haunts me the most is if I could have done something to save my baby son's life. I spent nearly seventeen days total in the hospital, for monitoring and rest. I was on many medications to control my contracting uterus. I bled profusely, including clots the size of the palm of my hand at least 5 or 6 times towards the end. I lost so much blood I became anemic in the last month and received two blood transfusions. Hospital bills totaled over $35,000. Thank goodness we have insurance. I lost over $4,000 in wages. And you know, I wouldn't care if we had come home with our little Nate. But, to have all this misery and no baby is horrid. I immediately wanted to get pregnant again, but I knew it was not a logical idea. We needed time to heal physically, financially, and most of all, emotionally. I am still anxious to get pregnant, but we are waiting until July 2002. I admit I am counting the days. It's important, however, because I don't want our future child to live in a shadow of our baby that never came to be.
Originally, I wanted so badly to get my story written and journal EVERYTHING that happened. I don't know why I was so obsessed with documenting all my thoughts and all the pain, etc. Now, I've come away from that a little bit, which I think has been a healthy step. It angers my husband somewhat that I continue this page, because when he sees me work on it, I often cry and get pulled back into all the "what if's" and the pain of what happened to us. He calls it "dwelling." I don't see it that way because it happened and I don't feel the need to act like it didn't. All in all, we've had a healthy grieving period, but if you read ANY book on grief, it will likely mention that men and women grieve differently, and that has shown to be true at times in our case. It doesn't make his way wrong or right, or my way wrong or right, but they are undeniably different. Thankfully, our relationship has been made stronger by what we have endured together. We love each other more than ever. If anything good can come of what's happened to us, it's that. Also, I feel that we are going to cherish our future children with all that is within us. I look so forward to that day when I hear a crying baby that we've made together and we can look forward to a lifetime of enjoying being a family.
Lots of love and best wishes,~Robin A page dedicated to the baby we lost.