BABY #6 (VANISHING TWIN)
At this point in my story, I have now entered 2020. What an interesting time to be pregnant!
Pregnancy after miscarriage can be very difficult. So much so that I am working on a resource specific for Pregnancy After Loss in 2021.
A few things to note about pregnancy after going through recurrent miscarriage. The first trimester was HARD for multiple reasons. Of course, it is difficult to believe the pregnancy will actually take. I had weekly video chats with an online therapist to help me deal with these feelings of fear and also with my frequent doctor’s appointments. I still have the same obgyn I’ve had since the beginning of this journey, so I had to work through feelings of anxiety when it came to visiting the doctor’s office and especially ultrasounds. My therapist helped me with both some visualization techniques and breathing techniques that really helped.
I also found a mantra of, “today I am pregnant” and trying to actually enjoy the present moment really helped me! Because at any given moment, this was true and I tried to not think about the past or future, but instead, just enjoy this fact.
At this point, I also knew who I was ok sharing the news with early on, friends and family that I would be ok going back to and sharing bad news should that be the case. For me, I’ve found this is helpful to actually share early on so if the worst case scenario happens, I have others that know what I am going through. But I’ve found this is really important to think through on your own and decide with whom and when you want to share your news.
In addition to the anxiety and fear, there were 2 parts of the first trimester that were extremely hard to deal with –
If you are struggling with getting pregnant, this section may be triggering to read. But I think it is important to share how difficult this was for those of you who, after lots of struggle, may find yourself also not enjoying pregnancy and figuring out how to feel grateful, even when everything is still so hard.
This one was hard, especially after all the loss I have gone through. It is hard to complain about being pregnant when being pregnant is all I have wanted for the past few years! But even more so than with pregnancy #3, my morning sickness hit me HARD! I was in bed all day every day from about week 6 up until week 17 (with lingering nausea and sickness after this). I slept 12-13 hours per day and the moments when I was awake I was wrestling with extreme nausea and vomiting. I only left my bed to use the bathroom or shower, but found that both of these things would often trigger me to start throwing up, so I tried to just lay still in bed as much as possible. I had a few weeks in particular where it was really hard to keep down anything, including water. As much as I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy, it was SO hard to do so when I was so extremely sick and not myself, spending months in bed. And based on my experience with my 3rd pregnancy, I knew that just because I was so sick, it was no guarantee that this pregnancy would last.
If you are dealing with extreme morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), you may find this video I created helpful.
A Red Flag
We opted to do the 10 week chromosomal testing (and also found out the sex of the baby!). Unfortunately, when we got back the test results, the test was picking up an extra set of chromosomes which indicated either a vanishing twin or a high likelihood of triploidy. We immediately clung to the idea that it was a vanishing twin and our existing baby was perfectly fine. Of course, the thought that we had twins but lost one was also a lot to comprehend and came with a lot of emotions.
After looking up triploidy, I realized how grim this diagnosis really was, most of these pregnancies end in miscarriage and those that do make it to full term, the baby does not typically survive more than a few days. This was VERY devastating to hear. But we still thought that a vanishing twin could be to blame for the extra set of chromosomes showing up on our test. After a few days of very conflicting information and conversations with multiple doctors, we got the final word from my MFM doctor and she told us a vanishing twin was impossible in our situation. We had been looking at ultrasounds since week 6 and would have noticed evidence of a vanishing twin if that were in fact the case.
I started to grasp on to my mantra of, “today I am pregnant” reciting this over and over. Again, trying to enjoy the moment and not get too caught up in the future, but at the same time, trying to wrap my head around what, according to our doctor, was very likely the most devastating news to date.
Our next step was to do further testing in the form of a Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) test, similar to amniocentesis, but done early in pregnancy. During this procedure (done on my own while my husband waited in the car, thank you corona), the doctor and nurses reassured me that baby looked very healthy & happy. The doctor even commented that typically at this stage I would see signs of triploidy and he wasn’t seeing any of this. This was comforting, but still, the whole situation was very confusing.
The final test results took nearly 2 weeks to get back, so at this point, it was 2 1/2 weeks of hoping and praying for the best but planning and preparing for the worst. Ultimately, our test came back clear, no chromosomal issues detected!!!
While my doctors don’t have a clear answer for this, my husband and I believe there was a baby #6 somewhere along the way, either a twin or even possibly a very early pregnancy from the month before I got pregnant (since the baby’s DNA can stay in my blood for several weeks). So we believe that I had a baby #6 somewhere along the way, and while not a miscarriage, we lost that baby and count the baby I am now carrying as lucky #7.
What Helped Me
Because I was pregnant at the beginning of 2020, I used an online therapist through Betterhelp. She helped me prepare for things like doctors visits and ultrasounds, providing me with practical tools like breathing exercises I could do as I waited for my appointment.
My mantra was- “Today I am pregnant”, because it was true! This really grounded me into the present moment and forced me to appreciate my current state and not think about the past or the future. I tried repeating this to myself before any trips to the bathroom (if you have been through a miscarriage, you will know why this was particularly important!).
I had a choice during this pregnancy, live in fear or live in excitement. I had to remind myself that if this pregnancy did end in loss, it would suck. It would suck even if I was living in fear and “protecting” myself from the hurt and pain of a potential loss, just as it would suck if I was living in joy and excitement of pregnancy and then experienced loss.
This was a very intentional mindset and while I allowed myself to feel joy & excitement, this does not mean I did not have feelings of fear and worry.