What Might Have Been: My Blighted Ovum Story #PregnancyLoss - This West Coast Mommy
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What Might Have Been: My Blighted Ovum Story #PregnancyLoss

pregnancy and infant loss awareness ribbonOctober 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. One in four women experiences a pregnancy loss, and I am one of them. For the first time in three years, I’ve decided to talk about my own experience of pregnancy loss.  Up until now I just didn’t have the strength to talk about it publicly, but I feel like it’s been long enough that I can share.

One sunny September morning three years ago, I was eight weeks pregnant with my second baby. I went in for an early ultrasound, and I remember how excited I was knowing I would soon get to see and hear my baby. Everything had been going as normal, just like I remembered with Tee, with the exception of a bit more morning sickness. I took comfort in the research that showed that women with more nausea were less likely to miscarry.

I laid down on the table, felt the cold conducting gel on my belly, and patiently waited for my chance to see my little bean and hear the heartbeat. The measurements seemed to be taking longer than they had with Tee’s ultrasound. The tech asked me if I was sure of my dates. Maybe I was only six weeks and not eight weeks along as I thought? No, I assured him, I knew how far along I was. He kept scanning, and finally he told me that he couldn’t see the baby, but that it was possible that I was too early along to tell. He asked me to come back in a week for another scan. I must have looked terrified, because he hesitated then told me if I was able to wait, he could do a more accurate transvaginal exam on his lunch break to look again.

I cleaned up and walked out of the room. Chris, who had been waiting with Tee, took one look at my face and asked me what had happened. I told him what was going on, and of course we waited. We went outside, and I laid down in the sunshine on the grass and closed my eyes. I don’t remember thinking anything at that moment. I just wanted time to stop, for things to be like they had been only 30 minutes earlier. We returned to the lab, and I got back on the table holding Chris’ hand as the tech did the second exam. He looked and looked, but still could not see the embryo. He told me he would send my results over to my midwife, and I should call her today for an appointment.

I was very quiet as we got into the car. I remember Chris saying something like not to panic until we’d talked to the midwife, but at that point I already knew. I leaned my head on the car window and let the tears stream down my face as we drove home. I knew I would never hold this baby in my arms.

The next few days were a blur. I tried to be normal for Tee’s sake (she was only 19 months old), but I cried a lot. My midwife sent me to get my hCG levels checked. On the first test the numbers were so high, I had a momentary hope that maybe I had in fact made a mistake in my dates. Maybe I really was still pregnant. But then over the next two days the numbers dropped and there was no denying it anymore. This was likely a blighted ovum, a type of miscarriage where the embryo dies very early on or doesn’t develop at all.

anembryonic-pregnancy-blighted-ovum

My midwife laid out the options: to wait for a natural miscarriage or to induce one with medication. It was too emotionally wrenching for me to wait the days or weeks it could take to miscarry naturally, so I opted to take the misoprostol. It was raining the day I laid on the couch with a hot water bottle as the cramps started. I went to the bathroom and felt the sac slip out. I just sat there and cried for a while. The next day Chris and I buried our tiny little might-have-been under the apple tree in our backyard.

Is it “Real”?

Some people might tell you that a blighted ovum is not a “real” pregnancy, so it’s not a “real” miscarriage. That there was never a fetus so it doesn’t count. I tell you that’s a crock of shit. Loss is loss. When I miscarried, I mourned more than just that baby. I grieved for the loss of my hopes, dreams, and expectations. I felt broken, like my body had failed me. Even after that ultrasound, I was still experiencing nausea and tender breasts – my body was still telling me that I was pregnant, and that itself felt like a betrayal. Three years later, I’m in tears as I write this. I still remember how it felt to be told that there was no baby in my womb. I remember the emptiness and the grief. Don’t tell me it’s not a real loss.

One of the hardest things about pregnancy loss is how alone it makes you feel. I kept this a secret. I didn’t tell anyone at work. The only reason my in laws knew was because we had told them about the pregnancy, so I had to tell them I’d lost the baby. I never told my father, and I only told one friend who had experienced a very similar loss just a few months before me. In a way, I appreciated that it was early enough that I could keep it private. Hardly anybody knew about my pregnancy so I didn’t have to face questions like, “When are you due?” after having lost the baby. At the same time though, I felt so alone. Chris tried, but he didn’t understand. I don’t know if any man, no matter how loving, supportive, and empathic, can truly understand. Babies don’t become real to their fathers until they’re born, or at least until they can feel them kick. But this baby was real to me from the moment I saw those two little lines on the pregnancy test.

Saying that this wasn’t a real pregnancy or a real miscarriage is another way to erase my experience, my grief, and my baby who never arrived. It makes women feel even more alone and isolated. Don’t ever do that.

Our Rainbow Baby

And then when I got pregnant again two months later, I was petrified. What if I miscarried again? I had a lot of anxiety and tears until I felt this little one move inside of me. Happily, this time everything went as planned and Kay, our rainbow baby, was born the next August. Every year around this time though, I feel that same sadness and wonder what if. I know that if we hadn’t lost this baby, Kay would never have been born. I can’t imagine not having her in our lives, and I would never do anything to change the family we have now, but I can’t help but wonder who I missed out on loving.

Meeting Kay for the first time

Image Credit: Courtesy of Dr Ali AbouGazia, Radiopaedia.org. From the case rID: 23455

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36 Comments

  • I miscarried in March of last year with an ectopic pregnancy. I lost one of my tubes because of it because I got strep and couldn’t take the medication they wanted me to take. For two weeks (at least) I was followed with blood tests every other day to make sure my levels were dropping…they didn’t, and instead fluctuated until finally I ended up in the hospital having emergency surgery. I also now have a rainbow baby, born in July of this year. I am incredibly thankful for both her and my son (6), but also can’t help but mourn the loss of the baby I never got to meet. Sending love and healing your way.

    • Thanks, Melinda. I’m so sorry to hear about all that happened to you. I don’t think we ever “get over” it, but yes, those rainbows in our life definitely help us heal. I think I appreciate my youngest child more now, knowing how things can go wrong. Hugs and healing back to you.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sitting here in tears reading it.

    I have had several miscarriages, including two that happened within hours of finding out I was pregnant. The fact that I “barely knew” didnt make it any easier to deal with, like you said, the moment I knew I was pregnant, that baby became my child. Not my embryo, not my “maybe-one-day-baby”, but My Child.

    I had one loss that was especially traumatic to me, and I remember talking to my doctor about it, and he said to me that upon conception, the mothers and the baby’s blood will mix, and even though the majority of the baby’s blood cells will be gone within hours of giving birth, a few cells will remain in the mothers blood stream forever. So from the moment of conception, we are changed, on a cellular level. That baby will forever be a part of your body, and it will forever be a part of your heart.

    Ive always found comfort in that

    • Oh, Jaymi. I wish I could give you a hug right now. I know many mamas go through this over and over. One was so difficult, I can’t even imagine the pain that comes with multiple miscarriages.

      I didn’t know that about the blood mixing. Thank you, that is a comforting thought. And it reflects the truth – as soon as we know we’re pregnant we’re changed forever.

  • I had the same experience in January of this year. Unfortunately, a lot of people knew so I had to go through telling a lot of people that I lost my baby. I’ve had a really hard time dealing with it for months. I’m happy to say that I’m now in my 2nd trimester with my rainbow baby. I have A LOT of anxiety and it’s much harder than I thought it would be. I can’t wait for movement so I can be reassured. I just keep thinking something is going to go wrong and I cry with relief every time my doctor finds the heartbeat.

    • I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Like you, after my miscarriage I was really anxious to see and hear my next baby as soon as possible. I hope things continue to go well and that you’ll be holding your happy, healthy rainbow in your arms soon.

  • Sorry to hear of your loss.

    I’ve learned on this baby loss journey that just because others might not think they are real, it doesn’t change the fact that your child was and is very much real.

    I didn’t blog about the loss of my son this year. I know he knows that I’m thinking about him. Today and always.

    Besos, Sarah

  • It’s a bit traumatizing. I’ve had 4 and I’m only 24. A lot of people still don’t realize how common it is, so I’m glad there’s awareness efforts!

    • That’s heartbreaking. I’m so sorry to hear about your losses, Melissa. You’re right, many don’t realize and that makes us feel even more alone even when we’re not. Hugs to you.

  • “Some people might tell you that a blighted ovum is not a ‘real’ pregnancy, so it’s not a ‘real’ miscarriage.”

    Pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus. End of story. When the pregnancy ends does not matter. The pregnancy is still real. People are such jerks about pregnancy loss sometimes. When I lost my first pregnancy to a miscarriage, I could deal with the loss. What really ticked me off was the way that other people responded. I wanted to punch so many jerks in the face when they said similar things.

    • Exactly, Heather. I think some people are so uncomfortable with pregnancy loss that minimizing it helps them feel better. But we know different. I’ve been following your pregnancy journey this time around, and I’m so happy for you!

  • My heart goes out to all who have suffered a miscarriage and even the comments that occur afterwards which can be very hurtful as well. Some people just don’t know what to say but in most cases, it is nice just to be there for them and not say anything except that you are sorry 🙁

  • Not sure if you are still reading this.. but I write this today.. Five years since I was told I losrt my little girl.. and Five years tomorrow I gave birth to my tiny angel. She was 19 weeks gestation. I had seen her heart beating on a monitor, I had seen and felt her kicks. I had even heard her heart beat racing to its own little drum. But because I was only 19 weeks, I was told, she was a miscarriage, and technically ( in the words of the nurse ) Medical waste. ( Yes I had a massive argument about that)
    Now I wont go into the terrible things I feel shouldn’t have happened, But I do remember it all as if it was yesterday and to this day I still regret not having the strength to hold my little girl. But there are some things a mother should never do and thats see her angel sleeping before her. But even after five years, I still get very upset, I still mourn her and we still send balloons to heaven for her birth date. Even her little Rainbow Sister knows of her, and is aware of how her big sister is in heaven looking after her.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can’t even imagine how painful it all must have been for you. Yes, the grief eases over time, but it never goes away entirely. I wish I could send you a hug. I love that you keep her memory close and celebrate her birthday the way you do. That was sort of the intent behind this story – to recognize my baby’s existence, no matter how short, and to never forget.

      I also want to add that before having my own children, I was a social worker in a maternity hospital. That meant I occasionally counselled women in similar situations as yours. Any nurse who would use those words to you is clearly in the wrong field entirely. I hope she either learned some empathy or moved on.

  • I’m going through this as we speak, I can say GOD has lead me to your post it hurts so bad the pain I am feeling at the very moment, u just lost my grandmother and laid her to rest on August 7,and then on August 11,2015 I lose my baby my heart is broken.I have been trying for about three years with my husband to conceive, but I guess it’s not my time as yet.I thank you for sharing your story as you stated earlier pain is pain and loss is loss again thank you for giving me some hope to one day I myself may have a rainbow shining in my yard.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about all the losses you’ve experienced, and I’m glad you were able to find some small measure of comfort in my story. I really hope you find some peace and that you and your husband have a baby to fill your hearts sooner than later. Blessings.

  • I came across this on Pinterest tonight and it really hit home for me. I lost a pregnancy on March 8, 2012. I have been fighting with the loss since then. We named the baby Aren and I mourned ‘him’ something fierce. Almost exactly 2 years later we welcomed our rainbow babies (yes, twins) on March 3, 2014- we also have a now 6 year old. I was getting better with the loss until my husband and I decided to try just once more for a fourth. I always wanted 4 children and unfortunately my regular ob up and retired on me. On September 18 (which just happened to be my due date with Aren) my new doctor told me that since the egg never developed with Aren is wasn’t a real pregnancy or miscarriage. Nothing was ever there. That day I felt as if I was losing my child all over again. (On a side note all of my pregnancies were medically helped along since I can’t conceive on my own). I have been telling my self that maybe the doctor was right. But now that I read this it gives me hope and comfort to know that I was right in feeling that I had really lost my child. Thank you for sharing your story. it has meant the world to me.

    • I’m sure people think that they’re being helpful when they say things like that, but I don’t think it is for most women. Your feelings of grief and loss are real, and to dismiss them like that is so hurtful. It sucks to be part of this sisterhood, but I’m glad you found some small measure of comfort in my story.

      Thank you so much for your comment. Knowing that others are reading and getting something out of my story means more than you know and makes it all worthwhile. Blessings to you and your family.

  • I ran across this in a Facebook search. Thank you so much for posting this, it really helps to read experiences of others and know I’m not alone. I found out today I miscarried, also a blighted ovum, and I agree it’s a loss just like any other. For me I went in today expecting to get an official due date and instead was told my baby didn’t make it. The rollercoaster of emotions you experience in just a matter of minutes is overwhelming. I too should have been 8 weeks along. I had no symptoms that anything was wrong, no cramping or spotting so since I thought it was a routine appointment I went alone. After they did the ultrasound I just sat there unsure of what to do or say and wished so badly I had my husband with me. We had told our families after the positive pregnancy test so we had to let them know about the miscarriage, which I don’t regret as honestly I would have wanted them to know either way. I am however glad we didn’t tell our 7 year old son as I can’t imagine how hard it would be to try to explain to him what happened. Everyone, including my husband, keeps asking how I am feeling and I don’t know what to tell them, what is “expected” of me to say. The only feeling I have been able to really process yet, other than sadness, is emptiness, I just feel so very empty. My doctor wants me to wait a week now to see if things will happen naturally and it kills me knowing that my body is still carrying my baby that will never be. Sorry to have written so much, just feels therapeutic to be able to express these things to someone who has been there and gets it. My heart breaks for all of us who have had to go through this! Life truly isn’t fair sometimes.

    • I’m so sorry to read about your loss. My heart hurts for you and all the rest of us. You’re right, life is terribly unfair sometimes. Like you, I didn’t know what to say when people asked how I was doing. My husband tried to be supportive but he just didn’t (couldn’t!) understand. That’s why I wrote this post, and I’m so happy you found something in my story that helps even the tiniest bit. I hope for healing and comfort for you.

  • My daughter was just given the news that she has a blighted ovum. The pain and hurt in my daughter’s face is something I will never forget. I have cried with her and by myself for hours. I feel so helpless. I wish I could go back and change it. Make our baby whole again. I mourn for my baby and I mourn for her baby. I know that she can have other babies but this baby will forever be missed.

    • Lola, I’m so sorry. These losses can have such a profound impact on the entire family, not just the parents. Thank goodness your daughter has you there to just cry with her.

  • Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve had two losses…one at 15 weeks and one at 18 weeks. I still haven’t been able to write about them. I’m currently 22 weeks pregnant. Previously I thought that a new pregnancy/baby would make things easier. It does…marginally, but not as much as I expected. Perhaps one day, I’ll be able to also share.

    • Shona, I apologize for the lateness of my reply. I don’t always get a notification when someone leaves a comment and I didn’t see this until now. I’m so sorry for your losses. I have no idea how the pregnancy you’ve mentioned here in June is going (I think your due date would be around now). All I can do is earnestly hope that you’re doing well. If you see this reply, please know that I’m thinking of you and wishing you all the best.

  • When I lived in England 10 years ago, I had the same experience. I’d never even heard of a Blighted Ovum before – until I lay on the table and they told me there was no baby anymore. Nor did I know how common it was to miscarry. Nobody EVER Talked about it 🙁
    I can relate to nearly EVERYTHING you wrote. Thank you for sharing. It is so brave, and it helps to know I’m not alone. xxoo

    • Thank you, Sarah. Like you, until this happened I had no idea what a blighted ovum was either, and no idea how many other women had been through this kind of loss. Talking about it publicly was hard, but the responses I’ve gotten from other women with similar experiences has made it so worth it. We are not alone.

  • Thank you for sharing. My heart aches for everyone who has commented on this page. I found out that I had a Blighted ovum the day after Thanksgiving. I started to spot more heavily so I had my husband take me to the ER .. I was 13 weeks, but after hours and hours of waiting I got the most unexpected news.. When the dr came in and she told me I had a BO and everything about it and it was 4 am I was just blind sided. I felt so weird and after she got done talking she asked how I was doing and I just started BALLING. I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t understand why… I wanted that baby so badly. I loved my baby. It was my baby. And it was my first so I told EVERYONE! It has been almost four weeks since my d&c and i still am so empty and heartbroken. I just wish this feeling would go away. I find my strength when I pray. Times seem ok one min and the next I’m down. I just really want my baby so bad!

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Tabby. I remember how much it hurts, but I can say for me the sharp edges do soften over time. I hope you can lean on the support of your friends and family to help you through. Blessings to you and your family, especially during the holidays.

  • i came across your blog. I also just went last month through a miscarriage of a blighted ovum. I am 45 and found myself pregnant. We were not even trying, we had just assumed i would never get pregnant. It was a shock at the beginning and then joy for me and my 55 year old fiance. We couldn’t help it but telling several of our friends about our pregnancy and it happened all so fast, we were excited looking at bigger houses and family cars. Then the day for the ultrasound came and there was no baby. I was so disappointed and felt so much as a failure. I was offered a D&C right away but i decided to wait, i didn’t want to accept this at first. My mind knew what i was seeing in the ultrasound but i had hidden hopes in my heart that there could be a mistake. There was no mistake, i had an ultrasound the next week and still nothing, also the gestational sac was collapsing and my hormone levels droping. I ended up having a natural miscarriage at home the next week. It was very painful. The doctors said there was nothing that i could do or not do to change the outcome. But at my age, I felt like a old broken down old woman. Sometimes i feel, people doesn’t believe my grieving since there was no baby, I sometimes don’t even know how to feel. But there are days as today that i am so sad and angry. I feel like nature played a bad joke on me. I don’t know if i will have a rainbow baby, i will just have to move on.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Alejandra. I agree it’s hard not to feel betrayed by your own body, no matter what the doctors say, but I have found some relief in knowing how common this is, just a matter of chance really, nothing I did or didn’t do. You touched on something that really resonated for me – how it’s not just the loss of the baby, but the loss of those dreams and expectations that we immediately started building the moment we discover we’re pregnant. I hope that time and the support of your family can help soften the sharp edges of your grief.

  • Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m struggling through my grief over my own blighted ovum and hearing your story has helped tremendously. Thank you.

  • I’m crying as I read this, I went through it too. We named our baby to help give us closure. We named him Leonidas. We had him removed via D&C, it was heartbreaking. After that I got pregnant again and had a chemical pregnancy. After that we got pregnant again and had a rainbow baby who is 4.5yrs old today. Our rainbow baby was my 3rd child. I’m currently pregnant with my 6th child and it’s so stressful waiting for my 7 week ultrasound a week and a half away to see if our baby has a heartbeat. We are praying and hoping our pregnancy will be a normal one. It’s our last baby. Thank you for sharing your story, it means a lot to me to read this and share your pain because I felt it and understand it and I have never met anyone else that has experienced it. So thank you again for sharing.