This is a heartbreaking experience of baby loss through Delayed Miscarriage in times of COVID.
Delayed or missed miscarriage is when the body continues to feel pregnant without knowledge of the state of the baby.
Earlier this year, close to my birthday in February 2021, we found out that we were pregnant.
It felt like the perfect birthday gift that I could have asked for. I was excited and tried to pay attention to every aspect of how the body changed.
Was there a movement, was my skin different, was I sleeping differently. I felt perfectly healthy and stuck to taking long walks to stay active.
My husband and I lived outside India. My husband had to travel to India but planned to be back to attend my 12th-week scan.
I never liked the idea of being alone in the house, but this time it felt different to have the company of my baby.
And, I use the word “baby,” irrespective of what the medical community may ascertain based on its age.
I talked to the baby while at home or taking a walk, or just deciding what to buy at the supermarket. It was great and continued to be.
I met my midwife for my first appointment and had my first set of blood and urine tests. All the tests indicated good health.
A couple of days later, I noticed spotting.
Extensive googling indicated how common it was in the first trimester, but I wasn’t convinced. I reached out to the hospital to get it checked immediately.
After an anxious wait, the nurses assured me that my urine and blood indicated I was in perfect health, and spotting was extremely common.
They advised me to have a scan to reassure me, but that would only be the next day. I prepared myself for the night and tried to distract myself. My husband, on the very same day, took his COVID test to be able to travel.
I woke up around 4.30 am after a night of vivid dreams and texted my husband to check on the results. He said he didn’t have them yet. Hours passed, and we discussed that all would be okay and we’d stay hopeful. Then the longest day awaited us.
My husband phoned me and told me that he’d tested positive.
It felt like a blow, but we hoped that the worst was behind us. I boarded the uber with a heart full of hope and got to the ‘Early pregnancy unit.’
During the wait time as I scanned the room, my brain wanted to expect the worst and imagined seeing the word ‘MISCARRIAGE’ everywhere. But I chose to bury myself into my book and pray.
They called me into the scan room.
For someone who had never even visited a gynac in her life, this was a first.
The obstetrician did the initial scan by warning me of cold jelly and confirmed there was a baby. Fantastic! Impatient as I was, I asked -“Is it healthy?” but she could only confirm based on an internal scan.
As my heartbeat accelerated, My mind remained unaware of the irony that awaited.
The obstetrician uttered the words that every expectant mother dreads- “I’m sorry there is no heartbeat.”
I asked her to check again and understand what was happening.
She brought in another nurse and confirmed that the baby measured seven weeks and four days. How did I then feel pregnant until my 10th week? This was a delayed miscarriage.
The body continues to feel pregnant without knowledge of the state of the baby.
A moment of sadness and learning firmly packed into one massive blow. Tears that trickled down my face didn’t match the pace of thoughts that crossed my mind. I wouldn’t stop with the questions, and the obstetrician clarified that a nurse would see me and explain the options available to me.
In that moment, I had to understand that there were more expectant mothers for her to attend to. I was assured that I’d be seen immediately and to wait outside.
As I waited, there was a newborn child in the unit that continued to wail relentlessly.
I wasn’t annoyed by it like one was on a flight, but it seemed like a cruel joke. It seemed like the voice of my baby that I couldn’t hear in its last moments.
The tears would pace, but time wouldn’t. I waited for 25 minutes to be seen by the nurse and, for the first time, appreciated the relativity of time.
The nurse explained my options
1) Waiting for my body to naturally miscarry,
2) Inducing the process with medicines, or
3) Surgically removing all the pregnancy tissue and fetus.
The doctors explained all the factors, the risks and also encouraged me to make a choice in my own time.
I opted for the natural course and my appointment was booked in 3 weeks’ time
It’s only been a week, and I feel like I have lived another lifetime.
I’ve experienced my first contraction ever, appreciated how incredible our bodies are, just how fantastic women are.
I have also learnt that grief is not comparable, and it is something that we live with. We cannot judge as to which event at what time leads to what amount of grief.
My grief is not more than someone who experienced this at, say five weeks or lesser than that of someone who experienced it later in the cycle. It is just…grief. I did not understand this, before my own experience.
As any couple would, we kept this pregnancy a secret while waiting for the first scan to tell our closest friends and family. Life had its own way of getting us there.
With my husband COVID positive and stuck in India, we continue to embark on this uncertain journey that will hopefully lead us to acceptance.
While the physicality of the miscarriage hasn’t fully happened yet, I remain confident that the body will do what it needs to in its own time.
I remain eternally grateful to the friends and support that we’ve received at this time.
While I continue to pray and hope that my husband recovers from COVID and is able to travel to be there with me, I am so glad that there is so much love and support in the form of this tribe.