Trigger warning: Miscarriage. This is the story of how I got pregnant with a Paragard IUD: my miscarriage at six weeks gestation in February 2018.
I am a certified nurse-midwife with 13 years of nursing experience, but this is not medical advice. Please consult your medical professional if you’re concerned that you’re pregnant with an IUD or experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. This is simply my “I got pregnant with an IUD” story.
What are the symptoms of a miscarriage with an IUD?
There are some early symptoms that you are pregnant with an IUD that you should know about. If you are experiencing these copper IUD pregnancy symptoms, you may be pregnant with a Paragard:
- Check for the presence of an IUD still in place. You should be able to feel the strings.
- Irregular bleeding, light to moderate brown bleeding for twelve days
- Foreign cramping in one side of the lower pelvis
- Positive on a home pregnancy test
These Paragard copper IUD pregnancy symptoms may not mean you are miscarrying, and you should seek medical care IMMEDIATELY.
My Pregnancy with a Paragard Story
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 on social media. But when I miscarried, I was alone despite an incredibly supportive network. I walked with my partner, parent, or friend quietly. I couldn’t be pregnant without fear, and I couldn’t have fun without guilt.
A miscarriage is a painful phenomenon, but then grief always is. Your job doesn’t permit you twelve weeks of leave for a miscarriage. There is no public funeral to say goodbye to that tiny soul. Going through a miscarriage feels like walking in a fog, alone, without shoes on. However, moving on is complicated and painful, and it alters your outlook permanently because from now on, worry taints pregnancy.
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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.
Seriously- the Paragard has a very low failure rate of less than one percent (an average of 0.18% per year per the CDC). This failure rate is as low as female sterilization rates, also known as getting your tubes tied. In other words, getting pregnant with a Paragard correctly in place is VERY rare.
However, at this time, my period has lasted twelve days so far. I had lots of brown bleeding and odd lower pelvic cramping. Intrinsically, I knew something was wrong and took the remaining digital pregnancy test from our last baby.
Pregnant with a Paragard IUD
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 went to the bathroom a few minutes later and didn’t mention the test results, so I figured all was well.
I still needed to shower, so I turned on the water. Before hopping in the tub, I glanced at the laminate countertop, which shouted in clear black letters: PREGNANT.
I turned off the 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 and IUD set me up for failure. We dropped our toddler off with my best friend to depart for the emergency department. This night had taken a terrible turn.
The Emergency Department
Upon arriving at the department, I carefully recited the early miscarriage IUD symptoms. I had an IUD, light to moderate brown bleeding for twelve days, developed 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 cracked jokes and drew my blood in a rainbow of tubes to assess my situation. Her cheerful demeanor contrasted drastically with the mood in our room. Next, transportation wheeled 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 eagerly await seeing your baby’s tiny heartbeat and little wiggling limbs. When they avert their eyes and quietly tap on the keys of the ultrasound machine, you know that there is no good news.
After arriving back in my room, the ER physician told me they believed they saw something growing on my left fallopian tube. When a pregnancy implants outside the uterus, it is an ectopic pregnancy. The most common place for an ectopic pregnancy is in the fallopian tubes, between the ovaries and the uterus.
The amount of pregnancy hormone (hCG) in my blood showed that I was pregnant. Still, we would expectantly manage the situation, and I should visit my healthcare provider the following Monday.
Pregnant with a Paragard: Holding Out Hope
We visited the obstetrician two days later, on a Monday, and had my copper IUD removed. Based on my last menstrual period, I was six (6) weeks and three (3) days pregnant, but the pregnancy hormone level was too low to see anything conclusive on ultrasound.
This means there was no definitive answer whether it was ectopic (outside the uterus) or an intrauterine pregnancy. My husband and I left hoping for a viable intrauterine pregnancy, but reasonably sure it would be a tubal pregnancy. However, we received the call the next day 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 my 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 following day. I went back to the emergency department with my mother.
My hCG had dropped, and a 4 cm area on my left tube appeared to be where an ectopic pregnancy had grown. The ER doctor and my OB were pretty sure I was having a tubal miscarriage, meaning my body passed 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. Shockingly, the hCG went up 9 points. It’s been nine weeks after my last menstrual period, and I was still in an ectopic pregnancy limbo. If it trended up again, I needed to receive an injection of methotrexate, a chemo drug that makes you feel terrible but will prevent the growth of the ectopic pregnancy.
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 zero. I see glowing pregnant women everywhere- something that has never bothered me.
The lab technician told me about his wife entering the second trimester as he saw that my only order was for hCG. Pregnant women sit in the lab, taking glucose tests with their big glorious bellies. A girl from high school shared the due date that I should have had. The grief strikes unexpectedly.
How do you move on from the miscarriage of an unplanned pregnancy?
I’m one of the “lucky” ones. Usually, doctors find an ectopic 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 for 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. However, they are phenomenal, and I know they absolutely support me.
I cry at the most inopportune times and don’t know how to get past this. Presently, I 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.
Being pregnant when you were actively trying to prevent pregnancy with a copper IUD is confusing. I was so conflicted by my grief. While my baby did not leave a deep impression on this earth, the impact left on my heart is significant.
I am blessed with a lovely family and four children despite this experience. However, the grief took a long time to get past. Even now, it strikes me at random times.
I got pregnant with an IUD.
Have you ever experienced a miscarriage with an IUD? Help me fight the lonely stigma attached to miscarriage. Please share your IUD pregnancy stories below.
I am currently going through something similar. I am 6 weeks pregnant with a copper IUD stuck inside me. My period was 5 days late and i took two pregnancy tests, both of which were positive. I went to the ER where they confirmed my pregnancy, but the ultrasound was inconclusive because it was too early on to see where the embryo had implanted. I took 3 additional hcg readings over the next week, all of which increased three-fold over a 48 hour period. Doctors are telling me this is good news. I have an ultrasound in about 5 hours that should confirm an ectopic or intrauterine pregnancy.
Now Im terrified that Im gonna have to make a decision. This is my first ever pregnancy. I have been so careful my whole life. I want a baby, but I dont want to deal with a horrific miscarriage at 18, 20, 24 weeks. Or a baby delivered 10 weeks early that has to spend months in an ICU.
I’ve been reading all I can on this topic on the web (there’s not much), but all I find are the horror stories. Has anyone heard or experienced any positive outcomes in situations like these?
Lindsay, I am so sorry to hear that. Please let me know how your ultrasound went. I have successfully delivered a baby with an IUD that remained in place, it was in the placenta!
I found out we were pregnant with a Mirena IUD 2 weeks ago. Based on my provider’s quick action, I can tell you it’s not a common thing they see. They removed the Mirena that day and signed me up for 2 ultrasounds and bloodwork every other day through the end of the week and weekend. Unfortunately my hormone levels were way too low and I started bleeding that weekend. I have no idea how far along I was since my periods weren’t regular on the Mirena, but most likely around 5 weeks. In the short time we knew that we were expecting my husband was already looking at names, a new car, etc, to prepare to become a family of 5.
Anyways, the point of my comment – there is literally nothing out there about this kind of situation. I don’t feel like I can relate to any other miscarriage stories and I do feel like it was my fault because it most likely was not a chromosomal abnormality that caused a miscarriage. It feels like the world is moving on without me and I’m just stuck behind, expected to be better, grieving, but not sure how I “should” feel. And nobody asks, which makes it terribly lonely.
I am so sorry for your loss and I appreciate you sharing your story 💕
Rebecca- I am so sorry for your loss. While I understand many with a miscarriage feel lonely, it’s the oddest feeling of guilt and solitude. I’m happy to chat any time you need to- I’m on all the social channel and it’s still something I think aboutz
Omg I thought I was reading my own experience I lost my baby because of the paragard they believe the baby implanted in an unsafe place my water broke baby came out after weeks of on and off pain no one could explain on the left side as well. So sorry for your loss they believe mine was 7 to 8 weeks and it’s not easy and no matter what it feels like no one understands
Yes- and then people think you didn’t want to be pregnant anyway so it’s not a huge deal… but it is!
Yes, writing and sharing helps! That is such a beautiful name! We named our son Tyler. And thank you!! Sending lots of hugs.
Right back at you. Your baby mattered and so do you!
Im so sorry that happened. I feel your pain. I lost my son due to the paraguard at 18 weeks. My iud couldn’t be removed because he would have died with the removal. But it kept migrating inside while he grew and it killed him anyway. It’s been two years. It’s been so very hard. We had a rainbow baby in February. A girl. Although she makes my life happier…it does not make my loss easier. I wanted my son so much.
I am so sorry for your loss. Writing about it really helped me. We named her Magnolia. Blessings on your rainbow 🌈 baby.
Good post! Thanks!
Thank you for reading.
It’s been 18 years since my 2 miscarriages. I was married to an abusive husband at the time and he caused them by his violence, then mocked my pain when I lost the babies and mocked my pain when I mourned them. The pain is still there, sharp, unrelenting. The regret that I did not leave that monster sooner. The regret that he made my children suffer for so many years. And I can’t forgive him, that simmering hatred and disgust taints me, but I can’t let go. These two little souls did not fulfill their destiny. When the pain and tears and memories come back, I tend to just shove them back so that I don’t get overwhelmed. It never goes away. I miss what could have been.
I am sorry you had to go through the pain of losing a baby, planned or not. I am sure that, like me, you often think of him or her. The one consolation is knowing we are not alone and this lonely feeling does unite and support us in some unseen way. Hugs.
I am so sorry that you had to experience the trauma of the loss of your babies and the abuse of someone who was supposed to love and care for you. I hope you can find solace in the fact that you are not alone. The hardest part is wondering who they would have been. I hope someday you are able to stop shoving it back and cope with your emotions so that you can mourn the loss of those little souls. I am so sorry that anyone mocked your pain.
I just found this… You I guess I mean. I am too, suffering right now and have been for a long time. But silently, as you say. My very first pregnancy ended in a second trimester miscarriage. After that I couldn’t seem to get pregnant. Once I did, 3 years later, it was a terrible pregnancy in and out of the hospital. Alas I bore a son. He is amazing. After him I had several more miscarriages… Our beautiful son was diagnosed with Autism at only 1 and a half years old… that’s about when we found out I was pregnant again. Fear is not even a word I could’ve used at that point. Fear for another miscarriage. Fear of bringing a disabled sibling into the world… I carried to term and had a gorgeous baby girl. Our son is 7 and our daughter 5 now. Both very smart in their own ways. Though I’ve suffered miscarriage since. I got the Paragaurd IUD in 2014. I was done. I am tired of the pain. Yet I’ve had this lingering hurt inside about these weird “periods” I get sometimes (sometimes being about one per year since getting the IUD actually). I will get subtle pregnancy symptoms. Deep cramps… Clots like I’ve gotten when I’ve miscarried. I don’t tell family. I have tried to tell friends. No one seems to actually hear what I’m saying. I have this nagging feeling that the copper iud isn’t preventing pregnancy but more like killing it off? Irritating the lining of my uterus so that the fertile egg cannot implqnt or does not stay implanted for long before dying off from the harsh inflammation caused by my IUD. I feel stuck. I feel sad. I understand you <3
I’m so sorry you’ve had such a rough time of it! Please talk to your provider if you’re having issues and concerns. I am sending healing vibes and light your way!
So sorry to hear this! I have also suffered 2 miscarriages and it is a very lonely place. Hugs
Thank you for sharing. It feels less lonely hearing other’s stories.
*hugs* I’m so sorry for your loss C*. Thank you for sharing your story and the start of your journey as you process and grieve this situation.
May your little one’s memory be eternal. I’m so sorry.
I appreciate it, Magda.
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