I Got Pregnant with a Paragard IUD: My Miscarriage at 6 weeks
Trigger warning: this is the story of how I got pregnant with a Paragard IUD: my miscarriage at 6 weeks gestation.
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A miscarriage is a challenging phenomenon, but then grief always is. When you are graduating college or celebrating the birth of your baby, you shout it from the mountaintops. We live in a world where we publicly discuss every aspect of our life to redundancy. When you miscarry, you walk alone. You may walk with your partner or mother or friend, but you do it quietly and with trepidation.
You don’t get twelve weeks of leave for a miscarriage. There is no public funeral to say goodbye to that tiny soul. You walk in a fog until it gets easier, but moving on is complicated and painful. A miscarriage alters your outlook permanently because from now on, pregnancy is always tainted with fear.
Our Miscarriage Story
That night, my husband and I were going out to celebrate and my best friend agreed to watch our baby. I never worried about the fallibility of birth control because I had a copper Paragard IUD. The failure rates for the IUD are less than one percent! However, my period was on its twelfth day. Intrinsically, I knew that something was not right and I took the remaining digital pregnancy test from our last baby.
The timer slowly rotated and I assumed it was taking so long because it was negative. My toddler ran out of the bathroom so I hurriedly chased her. My husband and tot went to the bathroom a few minutes later. No one mentioned anything, so I figured all was well and I still needed to shower. I turned on the water and undressed. Before hopping in the tub, I cast a glance to the laminate countertop and it shouted in clear black letters: PREGNANT.
I turned off the hot and cold faucets, pulled on my clothes, and sat on the floor in shock. In a few minutes, I had to find the strength to stand up and walk out to the kitchen and tell my husband.
I don’t care who you are; bleeding for twelve days does not instill positive feelings in anyone! I knew that the cramping, bleeding, and IUD set me up for failure. We dropped our toddler off with my best friend on the way to the emergency department. This night had taken a terrible turn.
The Emergency Department
Upon arriving at the department, I carefully recited the symptoms. I had an IUD, light to moderate bleeding for twelve days, developed a foreign cramping in my left lower pelvis and tested positive on a home pregnancy test. They quickly escorted us to a private bay in the emergency room. The lab technician came in cracking jokes and drew my blood in a rainbow of tubes to assess my situation. Next, transportation came to wheel me down the cold hallway to my ultrasound.
The ultrasound technician repeatedly jammed the transvaginal ultrasound into my cervix. The discomfort is tolerable when you are eagerly awaiting seeing your baby’s tiny heartbeat and little wiggling limbs. When they avert their eyes and quietly tap on the ultrasound machine, you know that there is no good news. After arriving back, the ER physician told me that they believed they saw something growing on my left fallopian tube. The amount of pregnancy hormone (hCG) in my blood showed that I was pregnant, but we would expectantly manage the situation and I should visit my obstetrician the following Monday.
Holding Out Hope
We visited the OB two days later on a Monday and had my IUD removed. Based on my last menstrual period, I was 6 weeks and 3 days pregnant but the level of pregnancy hormone was too low to see anything conclusive on ultrasound. This means there was no definitive answer whether it was ectopic (outside of the uterus) or an intrauterine pregnancy. My husband and I left hoping for a viable intrauterine pregnancy. However, the next day we received the call that my hCG was dropping by several points from our weekend ER visit. There was no way this could be a “normal” pregnancy.
For the next ten days, the hCG levels dropped appropriately. No one prepared me for the pain, and I am a healthcare professional. I was on hands and knees screaming on the floor as the pain came and went. It was a Wednesday night, and I did not want to leave the comfort of my house. However I was terrified that I would wake my children, or worse yet, would not wake up the next morning. I went back to the emergency department with my mother.
My hCG had dropped and there was a 4 cm area on my left tube that appeared to be where an ectopic pregnancy had grown. The ER doctor and my OB were pretty sure that I was having a tubal miscarriage, meaning my body was passing the ectopic pregnancy without medical assistance. It was 5 am and time to face my small children and miscarriage head on with only a mild pain pill.
That Friday, I had another blood draw, only the hCG went up 9 points. I am 9 weeks after my period and I’m in an ectopic pregnancy limbo where if it trends up again, I have to get methotrexate. This is a drug given in ectopic pregnancies that is a chemotherapeutic agent that makes you feel terrible but will prevent the growth of the ectopic.
Twice a week, I experience the painful stab of the needle entering my arm in a sterile, cold space as we follow the pregnancy hormone down to 0. There are always pregnant women sitting in the lab, taking their glucose test with their big glorious bellies. The lab technician told me all about his wife entering the second trimester as he sees that my only order is for hCG. In fact, I see the large bellies of pregnant women everywhere now.
How do you Move On?
I cry at the most inopportune times and don’t know how to get past this. Presently, I just have to have faith that the universe will provide.
People say, “you could always try again” or “you have enough kids anyway”, but I don’t want to try again. I want that baby.
But I don’t want to try again. I want that baby
I’m one of the “lucky” ones. Usually, an ectopic is found when a woman is being wheeled back for surgery, about to lose a tube. But I don’t feel lucky. I have a lot of guilt losing this pregnancy. Between the IUD and the unplanned fourth baby, I don’t even feel like my friends suffering a miscarriage can relate to me.
While my baby did not leave a resounding impression on this earth, the impression left on my heart is significant.
Please leave a comment of support. Help me fight the lonely stigma attached to miscarriage.
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.”
—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451