After my son was stillborn, I spent the following months searching for answers as to why this happened. Still in shock, and grieving deeply, I couldn't think of anything else but my baby who was gone and thought that maybe if I could just figure out why this happened to me, I would somehow feel more at peace with it. I bought tons of books on Amazon, since I didn't want to leave the house with a postpartum belly. I wanted to avoid the real world and not have to answer the question "Where is your baby?" So I stayed home and buried myself in knowledge. I read, and read and read some more. I read books on stillbirth, miscarriage and even more on diabetes and pregnancy. I read books on loss, on grief and on moving on past the tradegy. I felt like I was doing something by learning as much as I could, and I felt that I was arming myself with information so I could ask the best possible questions to my doctors.
Of course, I also went to appointment after appointment. Initially, the doctors told us that there was nothing wrong with the baby. He looked perfect, there was no knot in the cord or anything else ovbious that they could see. We requested tissue samples, but could not go through a full autopsy after seeing our perfect little boy, and the doctors all agreed that they usually don't give much information. There was nothing that looked oviously wrong and they didn't know for sure what had happened. Our baby had passed all of the prenatal tests with flying colors. I had 6 ultrasounds and a fetal echocardiogram during the pregnancy. I was heavily monitored as a high risk patient. The only thing that looked wrong was the placenta. And that's where the problem started. After seeing my endocrinologist, my regular obgyn, the high risk obgyn, and yet another obgyn that specializes in infectious diseases, I finally got some sort of an answer.
Although the doctors were clear on saying that they didn't know for sure, it was most likely the placenta that failed and led to the stillbirth. From 5 weeks into the pregnancy, I had bleeding episodes. Some were just spotting, some were more severe with large blood clots. I went to the ER multiple times, but the baby always checked out ok. They did ultrasounds to make sure there wasn't a tear, but the bleeding still continued on and off till about 26 weeks, four weeks before the stillbirth. The placenta was also tested after the delivery, and it had signs of aging and calcification. It just didn't look normal and was very difficult to remove with the D&Cs. With all of this information, the doctors agreed that the placenta must have never implanted properly, and that it was tearing away, causing the bleeding. At some point it must have just failed to support the baby, because one day I felt him kick, and the next day there was nothing.
The doctors all also agreed that "There was nothing you could have done. This was not your fault." and very importantly, "This had nothing to do with your diabetes." Somehow, even from hearing this from multiple specialists, I still didn't quite believe it at first. I knew there was a correlation between diabetes and stillbirth, but that risk was higher for uncontrolled diabetics and babies that go past term. My last A1c in the pregnancy was 5.3, and all of my organs were functioning perfectly. Even though I knew it wasn't my diabetes, I still felt guilty. What if that one high blood sugar the day before he died caused the placenta to fail? What about the many lows?! Was my control too tight? But over and over my endocrinologist explained that these highs and lows only lasted for very short periods and would not have had an effect on the baby. Plus, my control was similar to what I had with my firstborn son, and he was born at 39 weeks with no problems at all. Finally, I had to agree that this had nothing to do with diabetes. It was not my fault or the fault of my crappy malfunctioning pancreas.
Even with my "answer" about the failing placenta, I still wanted more tests done. After all of my reading, I learned about blood clotting disorders that could cause late term losses. I had bleeding and passed clots, maybe this was the problem? So I requested that my obgyn give me a full thrombophilia workup, and my high risk ob did a lupus anticoagulant panel (to rule out the possibility of another auto-immune disease that can reject the fetus). These tests all came back normal, except for one. Turns out that I have a mild form of the bleeding disorder called Von Willebrand's Disease. As if i need another disease to worry about! In this disease I'm also type 1, which is considered very mild. I have an upcoming appointment with a hematologist next month to discuss it further, but from what I read on the Internet, it's a genetic disease in which you don't clot properly, and can bleed too much. With type 1 many people don't know they have it and don't have many symptoms. However, I bled all throughout my pregnancy. What if it was due to VWB? I'm extremely curious and actually looking forward to my appointment, just to know more about this rare disease. I'm also very glad that I read so much and pushed my doctors to do all of those extra tests, because I don't think they would have done them otherwise.
I'm glad that diabetes didn't effect my pregnancy, because there is no cure for diabetes and if I ever want to get pregnant again, I don't have to worry that it will cause another stillbirth. I still can't believe that I sit here with only one child when I carried two, and that I'll never get to know my precious baby Stone. I'm mad at the world that I have the bad fortune to not only have diabetes, but to have also have this awful thing happen to me. I'm angry and sad at the unfairness of it all. I'm torn apart from the pain, but numb to it at the same time. But I'm so lucky to already have my Little Man. He is the only thing getting me through this. I'm so lucky to be alive when in another era I would have surely died from complications during childbirth (let's be honest, in another era I would have died long ago from diabetes). Modern medicine can do a lot for people, and a ton for diabetics, but it can't prevent all tragedies. I thought I had my fair share of tragedy these last few years, but I guess fate had other things in mind. I just hope that in the upcoming months and years, I can remain healthy and always keep informed and educated about my diseases. It doesn't solve every problem or stop bad things from happening, but searching for answers kept me afloat during the most difficult time in my life and I'm grateful for that.