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After Miscarriage: The Big Follow Up

I’m convinced that the universe is conspiring against me. The day I first found there was a problem with my pregnancy my doctor was delivering babies. The day I didn’t see a heartbeat on the ultrasound screen, my doctor was on vacation and my husband was en route to San Francisco for a business event. The day I actually had the miscarriage, my hubby was in Washington, DC.  When the nurse called to schedule my two-week follow up appointment, it made sense that she said, ‘Ohhh. Gosh. The week we need to get you in is the week the doctor is scheduled for jury duty.” Come on universe! Really?

I digress, however. Today, I want to share my follow-up appointment saga.

Because my doctor was out fulfilling her civic responsibilities (and for the record, “I have to deliver babies” is not a valid reason to be excused from jury duty in the great State of Ohio), I had to select, from among more than a dozen, another doctor in the practice. “Do you have a preference?” the scheduling nurse asked.

I requested the doctor a friend recommended and didn’t hold my breath for anything special. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by the women who walked in the room and said, “It’s hard coming to our offices and seeing so many pregnant women and babies, isn’t it?”  

Let me be really honest here. Her compassion wasn’t unprovoked. The nurse who called me in from the waiting room had the gall to ask “How are you?”

Well, after sitting in a waiting room full of glowing women in various stages of pregnancy, I was undeniably not OK. Through gritted teeth, I basically told the nurse about how sucky my life is right now.  She was lucky to walk away without bruised shins.

I guess my reaction was a bit startling because she led me to a room right away and the doctor was knocking on my door within a matter of seconds. I can only imagine what the nurse must have said. Probably something along the lines of “We’ve got a situation in Room 2. Take your tranq gun.”

Wiping my eyes with the back of my hand and uncurling my lower lip, I nodded in acknowledgement of the doctor’s question and thought about apologizing for my emotional behavior. I decided against it and let her make the next move.

The doctor was blessedly calm. She’s what my friend would call ‘granola.’ You know. The type of person to wear Birkenstocks with socks and play an acoustic guitar after dinner and before reading Organic Gardening on her soy sheet set.  In other words, exactly what I needed. (By the way, I have no idea if this doctor wears Birkenstocks or gardens organically but I would be willing to bet yes.)

We chatted for a bit and she jotted down notes as I recounted the events that landed me in that room on that day. She answered all of my questions, did an internal exam, ordered blood work and said, “There’s no reason to wait if you want to try again. You can start with your next cycle.”

“Let me clarify,” I said. “You mean, as soon as I get my period, I can stop using protection?”

Nodding, she said, “Yes. Your next cycle.”

For the first time in weeks I smiled. I was overjoyed. “Thank you. Thank you for your time and your patience.” I hurried out of the room nearly knocking over the nurse I initially almost knocked out. I went to the lab to have my HCG (the pregnancy hormone) draw and then made the good news call to my husband.

The excitement of that visit lasted just over 24 hours. I got a call the next day from my doctor’s nurse. “Your HCG is still at 13. We need to make sure it gets to zero. Can you come back for more blood work in two weeks?”

I was devastated. I am devastated. How can this be? I’m not pregnant but the pregnancy hormone is still in my blood?

“It can take some women a long time to drop to zero,” the nurse explained over the phone.

“Well, what if it doesn’t drop?” I asked.

“We have no reason to believe it won’t,” she said. “We just like to make sure it gets to zero.”

Through more probing I was able to find out that some women require an “intervention” if the numbers don’t continue to fall. The nurse didn’t care to elaborate on what exactly an intervention entails. Left to my own imagination, I pictured a cold hospital room and machines that beep. I hope I don’t have to find out.

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4 Responses to “After Miscarriage: The Big Follow Up”

  1. janet janet Says:

    I know what you are going through, I was seven weeks pregnant with my first one. On Monday I went to my doctor, everything looked fine to me on the sonogram then the doctor came into the room and told me there was no heartbeat. I was devastated and still am. I went back three days later to get blood drawn, to check hormone levels. Seeing all the pregnant women in the waiting room was more then I could take and I started to cry. Everyone keeps telling me to try again as soon as possible, but like you they said my hcg levels might take months to go back down to zero. It’s extremely hard.

  2. Emily Emily Says:

    Dear Janet,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. And I want to say thank you for sharing your experience. I know there are so many women out there who are going through the same thing and when one of us chooses to share that vulnerable space, we create awareness about the reality of the loss and the needless isolation we feel as we experience it. You’re in my thoughts. -Emily

  3. Heather Heather Says:

    Emily, I just went through a miscarriage too, i’m about 7 weeks “unpregnant” as you put it, after being 10 weeks pregnant. I came across your blog while looking for support online. You have a real talent for describing everything that has happened to you in such a creative, entertaining way. It has really been a blessing for me to read your blog. I have read a ton of stuff online and none of it was near as helpful as what you’ve shared. I love how your expression of emotion is becoming a ministry to others and bringing comfort and hope to them.
    My hcg levels are still 22 and i’m still bleeding a lot (and at 7 weeks after!no D&C!thats what happens when the dr. is on vacation for several weeks during all this- i see you can relate too!), but the dr says just be patient! which as you mentioned is so hard when i’m ready to get back on track to having that baby!
    Best wishes to you and your family! May it grow in years to come!

  4. Kim Kim Says:

    I had a miscarriage at 18 weeks. I had started bleeding two days before going into labour everything was okay. Baby had a heartbeat. Two days later went to another hospital to find out im 5 cm dialated. Went into labour and had baby Rylan at 8:10 Pm heart still beating till 11:40 pm. Nothing was wrong except my blood type.. I found out i have the rh factor and so my body regected my baby boy. I have a couple of questions down for my follow up but am looking for more. Anyone have suggestions?

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