Saturday, July 21, 2007

What is Blighted Ovum?

I started asking this question seriously when fellow blogger ROBERT sent me a link to the Priests for Life website that showed IMAGES OF FETAL DEVELOPMENT.

The picture to the right shows a 7-week old embryo, a week short of the stage my own baby was supposed to be in when I lost her. Another picture below shows an 8-week old embryo. My own Maia would have looked like this one when I lost her.

But this is really nothing but pure fantasy on my part. I was informed that I had an Anembryonic Pregnancy or what most probaby know as blighted ovum.

I had a rough idea then what a blighted ovum was. It meant that my baby stopped developing shortly after fertilization, or that she never started developing at all. I never had a baby that looked like these embryos in the pictures.

But it does not really matter to me. I believe in my heart, whether rightly or wrongly, that God breathed life into each one of us at the moment of conception. From that moment on, each child, no matter how briefly it had lived, had a soul, and this soul went up to heaven to be reunited with its Maker.

Oh yes! I had a second baby, and this baby is now an angel in heaven. Even if she lived for only a fraction of a second, what matters to me is that she had started living. Everything else is immaterial.

Seeing these pictures of these beautiful creatures of God made me want to learn more about blighted ova. This was what I learned:

"What is a blighted ovum?

A blighted ovum (also known as “anembryonic pregnancy”) happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop or stopped developing shortly after fertilization.

Cells develop to form the pregnancy sac, but not the embryo itself. A blighted ovum usually occurs within the first trimester before a woman knows she is pregnant. A high level of chromosome abnormalities usually causes a woman’s body to naturally miscarry.

How do I know if I am having or have had a blighted ovum?

A blighted ovum can occur very early in pregnancy, before most women even know that they are pregnant. You may experience signs of pregnancy such as a missed or late menstrual period and even a positive pregnancy test. It is possible that you may have minor abdominal cramps, minor vaginal spotting or bleeding. As with a normal period, your body may flush the uterine lining, but your period may be a little heavier than usual.

Many women assume their pregnancies are on track because their hCG levels are increasing. The placenta can continue to grow and support itself without a baby for a short time, and pregnancy hormones can continue to rise, which would lead a woman to believe she is still pregnant. A diagnosis is usually not made until an ultrasound test shows either an empty womb or an empty birth sac.

What causes a blighted ovum?

A blighted ovum is the cause of about 50% of first trimester miscarriages and is usually the result of chromosomal problems. A woman’s body recognizes abnormal chromosomes in a fetus and naturally does not try to continue the pregnancy because the fetus will not develop into a normal, healthy baby. This can be caused by abnormal cell division, or poor quality sperm or egg.

Should I have a D&C or wait for a natural miscarriage?

This is a decision only you can make for yourself. Most doctors do not recommend a D&C for an early pregnancy loss. It is believed that a woman’s body is capable of passing tissue on its own and there is no need for an invasive surgical procedure with a risk of complications. A D&C would, however, be beneficial if you were planning on having a pathologist examine the tissues to determine a reason for the miscarriage. Some women feel a D&C procedure helps with closure, mentally and physically.

How can a blighted ovum be prevented?

Unfortunately, in most cases a blighted ovum cannot be prevented. Some couples will seek out genetic testing if multiple early pregnancy loss occurs. A blighted ovum is often a one time occurrence, and rarely will a woman experience more than one. Most doctors recommend couples wait at least 1-3 regular menstrual cycles before trying to conceive again after any type of miscarriage. "

My interest on this subject lead me to the website of the Baby Center where bulletin boards were started dealing with the topic: MISCARRIAGE, STILLBIRTH, AND INFANT LOSS.

Finding this board was heaven sent. I do not feel so alone anymore. I finally found other moms who felt and thought and grieved for lost babies the same way I did.

For a while, I actually considered myself as some sort of freak because nobody at home could fully empathize with my loss. It was not a tangible loss, as they said. It was not as if I've actually held the baby in my arms.

Some people here actually think that they become parents only at the moment of birth. They do not realize that parenthood starts at the exact moment of conception.

They could not understand that I loved my baby from the first moment I knew that I had her. I started thinking of names for her, I wanted her to be another girl, I planned where and when she would start attending school ... I already had dreams for my baby!

Naming her and thinking of her as a girl and talking of my angel in heaven were even considered by some as some sort of sentimental b/s. Even my husband could not fully understand me.

But the mothers in the bulletin boards understand me perfectly. They have been through the same experience. Some are still going through it. I read of mothers' stories about losing their babies at 5th, 6th, or 7th week ... and they grieve just like any mother would for a baby that she has actually held in her arms.

Nobody there reading my sentiments will think of me as some sentimental, over-acting, attention-grabbing loser who is making a big deal out of something that some people would probably consider as an inconsequential, everyday, no-event occurrence. They understand grief and loss as only people who have been through the same pain could.

My daughter Abby also knew exactly what was going on. When I had my miscarriage and subsequent to that, my UNFORTUNATE ENCOUNTER with the lab technician who joked at having my dead baby urinated upon, her little heart got broken along with mine.

When the lab tech sent me a card saying how sorry he was for causing me more pain, she sent him back a LETTER him that he should say sorry to her little sister as well, because he also hurt her feelings. She even drew a curled up little figure (much like how 8-week old embryos look like in her book) with a halo and tiny angel wings.

Until now, she still wonders aloud what her little sister could be doing in heaven. She likes to think that she is happily doing anything and everything that she'd like to do, like eat ice cream all day long.

For a while, I struggled with the question WHY? Why did God give me great unexpected joy only to take it back so soon? Although I still ache every now and then (like when I'd see pregnant mothers or babies), I finally found peace in my heart by accepting that there is a reason for everything, that God has a grand plan for all of us, and that everything that happens to each one of us is part of that big puzzle, and that maybe, in the end, we will be privileged enough to know what that purpose or reason is.


damaris said...

I really appreciate your website, as I had the same experience, however I was further along then most approx. 13 weeks. I had no symptoms of a miscarriage, i never bleed or cramped. I found out that I had a blighted ovum during an ultra sound. I was devisted like yourself. I loved my baby from the second I knew I was pregnant. I still talked to the baby, even after I knew i had a blighted ovum, I just wanted the baby to know that I loved it.I'm glad to know the feelings I feel aren't crazy, and that other people feel the same way as I do.

damaris said...

I really appreciate your website, as I had the same experience, however I was further along then most approx. 13 weeks. I had no symptoms of a miscarriage, i never bleed or cramped. I found out that I had a blighted ovum during an ultra sound. I was devisted like yourself. I loved my baby from the second I knew I was pregnant. I still talked to the baby, even after I knew i had a blighted ovum, I just wanted the baby to know that I loved it.I'm glad to know the feelings I feel aren't crazy, and that other people feel the same way as I do.

Olga said...

Dear Damaris, yes losing our little ones is very painful and it is the kind of pain that nobody else could understand, except those who have been through the same.

Just as I was healing from my loss of Maia, I lost another baby. I was devastated once again. I wrote about it here in my blog, how I struggled to keep my baby within me for as long as possible despite knowing that she has stopped living and finally wanting to let her go just to put a stop to my pain.

But I learned from those two painful episodes in my life that pain, no matter how bad it was, does go away in time. A part remains but if we let ourselves, we will heal. There will always be some pain remaining, but it wont be so bad anymore.

We move on with our lives with the hope that God will finally grant us what we wish for.

I wish you healing and all the best!

Amanda said...

Hi, I went for an ultrasound today as for the past three days I have been having brown discharge with left lower abdominal pain. I am meant to be 12 weeks pregnant but found out the sac is empty and only the size of at 7 week sac. I am still lost for words, just can't get it around my head that yesterday I was looking forward to seeing my baby for the first time later this week and then to be sitting here know reading up on whats happening. Since this afternoon the bleeding has got darker and heavier. Im in complete shock and guilt as I never felt positive about this pregnancy, I had all the symptoms of morning sickness and sore breast even craving. I didn't even think that something was wrong when that all stopped two/three weeks ago, I ust thought I was lucky I had no more morning sickness. Im just in complete shock and numbness.
All the best to you, hope thing work out in the future.

Olga said...

Dear Amanda,

I'm so sorry for your loss. I know that you are hurting now although you don't feel it yet.

There were times when I felt numb too, as if I was a bystander watching this terrible thing happening to another person.

But when the tears come, just let them flow. Tears will clean our sorrow one bit at a time.

This afternoon, I cried for my two lost babies too. It happened when I was reading a fellow blogger's entry about today being her dead son's birthday. All of a sudden, I felt this tight grip on my chest. My tears made it go away.

As I wrote to Damaris, time will heal the worst part of our pain, although part of it will always remain with us.

Please don't dwell too much on your guilt. I read once that it happens to the best of us. In our search for answers for our questions about why this had happened, we'd tend to cast the blame on ourselves, clutching on the smallest excuses we could find so we could start bashing our heads for having been at fault one way of another.

Let us just put our faith on God and trust that our baby's loss happened for a reason.

I'm afraid that the next few days will be among the most terrible you'll ever have. I hope and pray that you have your loved ones with you to give your their love and support through this difficult time.

You can opt for a D&C if you like but that is an option that I did not take for myself.

I wrote in another entry how draining it was emotionally and physically for me.

I wish you great speed in the healing of heart, body and spirit Amanda.

Be strong.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I went for a scan last saturday, thinking that I am 8 weeks, they said that I had an empty sac. But I was given some hope, as I have irregular periods, and I dont know exactly when I concieved so there is a chance that I am still only 5.5 weeks to 6 weeks, I was asked to come again in another 3 weeks time.. that would be 1st week of August. I am going through hell these days, this is my first pregnancy, and i have thought of my baby as a person, i have thought of a name, and her first birthday... what i need to buy etc... every one else at home keep telling me, you are still young, you have more time, and this was ur first pregnancy, and that since its still very early i shouldnt be so upset.. but i am, i cried my eyes out during the weekend.. now i am counting my days until august. I have not had any bleeding or cramps... I really hope I can see my babies heart beat in 3 weeks.. no body understands why i feel so down, i was so comferted to read what you had written, i am not the only person who thought of of baby as human being from the time of conception..

Olga said...

Dear MS,

I'll pray with you that your baby is well and thriving inside you. Please try not to despair too much. Hope is not lost yet. Instead, put your trust in God on whom all things are possible. He's the giver of life and if He wills something, it will be done. I believe in that with all my heart. Don't stop praying. Move His heart, that He will grant you your dearest wish ... your baby's life. Have faith and be strong.


Anonymous said...

I have been trying to concieve for many years. March 6th 2008 I had and ectopic pregnancy that ruptured my left fallopian tube. I am thankfull though because I have a son who turned 8 yrs old on July 18th and the day before on the 17 I had a positive pregnancy test!! I was so happy. I had a blood hcg and my numbers were low but was told it was because I was really early. I went in 2 days later and they had increased!! Then I went in for an ultrasound last Tuesday and the doctor said all he could see was the gestational sac. I am a nurse and I could tell it was empty. He told me he was concerned that I could have a threatened miscarriage and I was confussed but I too have irregular menstral cycles so I'm unsure of when I concieved. I think I'm almost 6 weeks, however yesterday I began to spot, just light pink and now today I'm spotting more with increasing cramping. I really love my baby and I don't want to think that I could have a blighted ovum but now that I have read your page I really believe that is what has happened. I go to see my doctor on tuesday and he will do another ultrasound so I hope I will be able to see my baby and will be praying for a good outcome.


Olga said...

Dearest Nicole,

Today we Filipinos are mourning the death of our beloved President. This is really one of the times when we as nation, usually divided in so many ways, put aside our differences and stand side by side as we share each other's grief over our nation's loss.

Nicole, at this time, when things seem so low all around me, I will pray with you and for your baby and together, we shall implore God for a miracle. Let's ask Him to breathe life to your precious one.

At this time when the death of a beloved has cast a shadow over our nation, news of life will be an affirmation for me that death does not put a stop to everything good and true in this world.

Let your baby be that affirmation of life that we so desperately want.

Lord, please let Nicole's baby live. You have called back so many including our angels, please let Nicole precious one be the one who will make it to his mother's arms ...

Take heart Nicole.

You will be in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

Lolita said...

I am going through the same here. Yestauday I had my second ultrasound. I said that my sac grew but still no yolk sac and no fetal pole. I just keep crying, I am suppose 2 be 8 wks 1 but my levels and gestational sac are reading 6wks 4 days. I am so hurt. I hope that the baby turns up in the the ultrasound next week.

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