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Blessing #2
by Jennifer Snell
>Hello, my name is Jennifer Snell, and my husband is James Snell. This is a special birth story to honor my second pregnancy and an educational story for those who may not know about some of the more specific complications that can happen during pregnancy.I hope you will read it. If anyone else is going or has gone through the following, my heart goes out to you.

My husband and I were happy at the time with our son, Joshua, who is 17 months old. But we soon found out that I had developed heavy endometriosis and might have trouble conceiving in the future. For my health and for the future of our family (we originally wanted to have three kids), I underwent successful laparoscopy surgery (procedure where abnormal tissue or tubes are unblocked), on February 16, 2001. In March, exactly one month after the surgery, I went for prenatal counseling and found that we could start trying then if we wanted. We had wanted to wait for Joshua's second birthday instead. I went off the pill the end of March, and within two to three weeks, we were pregnant! (By the way, if you're trying and the home tests keep coming up negative, go get a blood test. I took at least 6 to 7 home tests, all negative when I was actually pregnant. It was just too soon in the pregnancy to pick up the HCG hormone. The doctors told me I might have the flu!) We were very happy of course about the news but a little nervous since it was so soon. Our family and friends were very happy and understood why we were continuing our family right away. We were excited.

April coasted by with just slight nausea, headaches and the usual "aches and pains" of early pregnancy. I was elated! My first pregnancy I had 24 hour morning sickness, weight loss and probably every other symptom in the book for the first trimester. I thought, maybe this time it will be easier!

Then came May. I started to have terrible cramping. My pain was not normal. Cramps from round ligament stretching (the abdominal muscles that stretch to be able to support your growing uterus during pregnancy) feels different for every woman and indeed might be stronger in subsequent pregnancies but is considered very normal. If you're concerned however, talk to your doctor. What made my cramps different, though, is that they felt like menstrual cramps. Sometimes sharp, surface pain and other times it was very deep, pelvic aches, like first stage contractions. Ouch.The pain was very spasmodic, quite colicky. I would sit in a chair and would not be able to lift either of my legs above my waist. I started to worry that the pain might not be normal. After all, all you really have to draw on was the last time you were pregnant. With instructions, I rested at home with a heating pad on my abdomen and Tylenol. This helped and the cramping started to become less intense. I was having cravings, nausea (without vomiting - although you can have a perfect pregnancy with or without morning sickness) and breast tenderness. I still felt pregnant.

The month of May came and went, then June. The cramping returned even worse and on June 6, 2001 after I had vacuumed and put my son down for a nap and visited the bathroom, I learned that I had started to spot. (By the way, in a NORMAL pregnancy ordinary housework and even picking up your kids will not hurt your unborn.) I emotionally told my husband and we called our midwife. I was told to stay calm, that in about 20% of first trimester pregnancies women spot and still have normal babies. This "normal spotting" being attributed to the placenta attaching to the uterine wall. I had never heard about that, another reason for me to write this story.so other people can learn also and possibly, be comforted.

My midwife did a couple of swab tests to check for infections and a urinalysis. Everything turned out negative, no infections. This was a good thing; however, at my supposed point in the pregnancy (approximately 10 weeks) we should've been able to at least pick up a heartbeat. I had a vaginal ultrasound that showed an irregularly shaped gestational sac (it should be nice and round, mine was more rectangular) with a very, very tiny circle inside. So small that we weren't able to tell just what it was. Plus there wasn't a heartbeat. I was sent to have a specialized ultrasound in hopes of seeing what was in the sac. The doctor who did the ultrasound suspected that I had a "blighted ovum" and that I wouldn't have a normal pregnancy. A blighted ovum is when an egg is fertilized and attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo doesn't develop further. Cells develop to form the pregnancy sac, but not the embryo itself. There may be no bleeding to signal a problem; later, though, the woman may notice a brown discharge. You may not realize you have a blighted ovum until your doctor fails to detect a heartbeat or an ultrasound reveals an empty gestational sac. A blighted ovum can be the result of chromosomal problems. In some cases, the egg or the sperm may be of poor quality. Usually, the treatment for this condition is to wait for the woman to pass the sac on her own (from my experience, this is the harder and most painful way to go) or to perform a D&C.

I was devastated. I'm the type of person who tries to read just about any book I can get my hands on about pregnancy and birth, so I knew what a blighted ovum was when the doctor told me. I was crushed, I went home to tell my husband and we spent June 6th, 7th and 8th at the doctor's for ultrasounds and monitoring. (June 8th was supposed to be the day that my husband and I were going to hear our baby's heartbeat originally.) All the while, the spotting turned to heavier bleeding, brownish-red to purplish-red. I started to lose that pregnant feeling. Monday, June 6th, 2001 I went in for another vaginal ultrasound (the only way to see clearly) and my doctor could see a small circle inside the sac (that the specialized doctor missed because he had done an abdominal ultrasound and not a vaginal - but that's another story). He told us not to get our hopes up but that he has seen women in my situation with exact symptoms deliver a healthy baby. Upon finding this small grey circle in the uterus, my doctor explained that if they went ahead and did a D&C, and that small circle that no one knows what it is, turned out to be a small embryo, that it would be deemed an abortion. This was not an option for our doctor nor was it okay for my husband and I. So, on June 11th, the day I was supposed to have my D&C, we simply went home to wait instead. We were told to come back on Wednesday, June 13th. If we didn't hear a heartbeat on Wednesday we would take it that there just wouldn't be one and have the surgery. Then my husband and I could start trying again for our family in a couple of months.

On Wednesday morning (13th), my husband and I went back to the doctor again. We requested another vaginal ultrasound to check for a heartbeat, which turned out to be non-existent. Our doctor asked what we would like to do. I said that I wanted the D&C if there weren't any signs of a baby in there. We set up the surgery for the following morning and we would need to be at the hospital at 6:15 a.m. We went home to try to rest.

That night, from 6:30 to 11 p.m., I started having awful contractions. Every 1 to 2 minutes they would come, so I tried to take a Tylenol but it didn't work since the pain was so great. My body was trying to miscarry on its own. I knew what was happening and was scheduled to have surgery in the morning anyway so I figured if I could relax my muscles enough to get some sleep maybe my body would be able to pass it on its own, because then the pain would stop. So I took a benadryl and was eventually able to fall asleep. Then I woke up at 3 a.m. because I had bled all over the bed and my clothes. I knew it would happen soon so my husband changed our sheets, I changed my clothes and we went back to bed. The pain had lessened at this point. We woke at 5:45 a.m. and left immediately for the hospital, a ten minute drive. My surgery was scheduled for 7:30 but was actually done at 8:20 a.m. because there were other emergency D&C's needed that morning also. The surgery went smooth and recovery is, so far, being relatively gentle on me. That was all on Thursday the 14th.

It is now Friday the 15th and I have recovered well. Emotionally however, it will take quite a while, I'm sure, to heal. This pregnancy just wasn't meant to be and though it stings, we must not question God's will in our lives. I thank God for letting me know another little life. We are so thankful to be able to have more kids and for all the wonderful blessings in our lives. Thank you all for listening.

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