Read Part One here or else this is going to get off to a very weird start. Warning: This post is going to get a little gross and graphic (and depressing), so if there happen to be any guys out there reading this and it makes you uncomfortable, to that I say: TRY BEING A GIRL AND DEAL WITH IT IN REAL LIFE, you freakin wuss. Also, as I mentioned in the previous post, humor is my coping mechanism so if that appalls you, you may want to exit now.
Last Monday I noticed a light brown color when I went to the bathroom. I called the nurse on Monday and she told me not to worry, that brown means old blood and it’s a common sign of “implantation.” That means the egg is burrowing its way into my uterus lining. Weird, right? She told me brown was fine but to call if I started seeing bright red. Well the light brown gradually turned to a very dark brown/black and then I started seeing clots. Some of the clots had spots of bright red. I cried on the toilet. For some reason, crying on the toilet always makes a situation seem so much more hopeless. Unfortunately I know this from experience. If I have a bad day at work, like the time I found out one of my clients died, I go in the bathroom stall and cry because I don’t have a door in my office. I also cried on the toilet this time when I had a negative pregnancy test. So now you know about my propensity for crying on toilets.
That night, I read an online pregnancy forum, and a woman mentioned that her clots weren’t big enough to be a baby. At that moment, I thought, “Oh God, am I supposed to be looking for a baby??” I knew from tracking my pregnancy that it was supposed to be only about the size of a blueberry, but surprisingly already looked a miniature baby, only without fingers and toes yet. Is that what would I would see? And what would I do if I found it? Now that’s an awkward conversation to have with your husband, because if a baby does come out, it’s his baby too, so does he want me to wash it off and stick it in my pocket and come show it to him so we can have a proper burial? This stuff was getting very science fiction very fast and I was in way over my head in finding the emotions to deal with this .
I called the nurse back on Friday morning to tell her about the new developments. She still acted hopeful that everything was fine, but I could tell there was doubt in her voice this time around. I had read the websites and knew that most likely this was the beginning of the end of my very short pregnancy. She told me to call the emergency line if things got worse over the weekend.
The worst thing about all of this was the timing. The nurse had told me to “take it easy” over the weekend. Well this weekend happened to be my best friend’s wedding.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to “take it easy” when no one knows I’m pregnant and I have no visible excuse for sitting on my butt while everyone else works their tail off to get things decorated and ready? Maybe I should have worn an ankle brace or something? And the few people there that do know I’m pregnant (because my best friend didn’t realize it was still a secret and told them–either because I forgot to tell her or because she was so busy trying to plan a wedding and forgot) don’t know anything is wrong because I don’t want my best friend to find out what is really going on and put a dark cloud over her happy day. So I have to put on a very happy face while strangers congratulate me on a pregnancy that I’m pretty sure is ending and then run around like crazy putting flowers into vases and steady my husband as he climbs onto stools to hang stuff and also be the person she vents to while she is stressed to the max, all while my heart is slowly breaking in two with each bathroom trip because the symptoms just keep getting worse. And as I watch her walk down the aisle, I am so conflicted with happiness and sadness at the same moment that I thought my heart might burst from confusion. And at that point, I decide eff it, I’m just going to have a good time and forget about my worry, frustration, and disappointment and stop thinking that somehow I can control the outcome. So I dance, which is the first love of my life, by the way. And I pick up the adorable little girl who wants me to hold her even though I’m not supposed to lift anything. And I stay until midnight cleaning up like a matron of honor is supposed to do. I have a good, exhausting time.
Sunday night I call the on-call doctor to discuss my symptoms. He tells me they can switch my appointment from Tuesday to Monday. I ask if it could possibly make any difference in what is happening. He compassionately but honestly tells me no; it would just be for answers. I already know what the answer is. Since a change would mean that Day had to cancel more patients and try to reschedule his other ones, we just decided to keep it on Tuesday. It was the right decision.
I leave work on Monday afternoon because I can’t focus. I tell my boss that I might not be in the next day. She is very supportive. Monday night I started having lower back and stomach pain. Tuesday morning Davison and I head to the doctor’s office. As we sit and wait, I watch all the pregnant woman pass by and tell Day I might try to punch them in the stomach on the way out. (Disclaimer: I don’t condone violence against pregnant women. They can’t help their perfect uteruses (uterii??).) They take us back to the ultrasound room. As instructed, I unbutton my jeans, pull up my shirt and she puts hot jelly on my belly. She tells me she is going to try to avoid sticking a wand up my vagina (not her exact words). I appreciate her approach very much. She hasn’t rubbed the wand on my stomach for 5 seconds before she says, “this isn’t going to work.” And I realize this day is going to be as difficult as it can possibly be. She hands me some tissue to “clean up” and tells me to go empty my bladder. I come back and go into a closet to undress from the waist down. I wrap a paper gown around me and go climb back onto the bed and put my feet in the stirrups. God bless this woman who doesn’t feel like she has to get up close and personal with my lady parts and instead tells me to put my hand under the gown and “guide” the wand in. I grab my husband’s hand as she puts pressure on my insides. Nothing. She tells us she can’t see the sac. Now I have seen a good bit of ultrasounds in my day (friends’, relatives’, etc.) so when she shows us the screen and there is just one big blur, I know that that’s not good. I don’t cry. She says that there’s a lot of “stuff” in there and it’s possible that it’s too thick for her to see. She says she is going to let us talk to the doctor. I get dressed and they take me to another room while we wait.
The doctor comes in and tells us that it is a miscarriage. I don’t cry. She is very sweet, reminding me that it wasn’t anything I did and that they usually don’t recommend a fertility specialist until after 2 or 3 miscarriages. She tells me to expect 2 weeks of bleeding, one week heavy, one week light, and six weeks of spotting. And there will be cramping. She still wants to examine me. I get undressed a second time, climb up, feet in stirrups. Feeling dejected and like a lab rat at this point. She is not as timid as the first lady and gets very personal with my privates. Forceps then hand. I’m squeezing Day’s hand again. She says that my body is responding appropriately and she expects that everything will resolve on its own. Come back in six weeks. She also adds “it just sucks,” which I really appreciate. She tells me I shouldn’t go back to work that day or the next. I get dressed for the second time.
On the way out, I hand my paper from the doctor to the lady at the checkout desk. She examines it, puzzled, and asks what my next appointment is for so she can put it in the computer. I tell her it’s to make sure I’ve miscarried properly. I still don’t cry. Her face fills with sympathy and she tells me how sorry she is. She tells me she miscarried too and eventually our bodies get it right. She now has two kids.
The minute we get to those double doors that lead to the parking lot, I turn on like a faucet. We walk to the car and I realize that people can see me but I can’t stop. We go through a drive through for lunch and I keep crying. I have to text friends and family to give them the news. I stop crying before we get home. Day doesn’t leave my side and I’m so grateful for that because I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts for very long. I don’t cry again until we get into bed that night. He holds me. I have a heating pad for the pain. The next morning I wake up and feel like I’m bleeding heavily. I go to the bathroom and see a large pinkish clump. I realize this is probably the baby. Luckily it doesn’t look like a baby at all because it is surrounded by hard pink tissue. Thank God I didn’t try to back to work too soon because I can’t imagine seeing that somewhere other than my own private bathroom. I stay in bed until noon and Day stays there with me. After that happened, the bleeding began to subside. My pain became much more tolerable. I’m guessing/hoping the worst is over.
And that, my dear friends, is what my miscarriage experience was like. Yes, it’s difficult to talk/write about, but if we are more open then maybe we won’t feel so alone when it happens. We won’t be so scared and we won’t have to troll pregnancy forums to find others who have shared our experiences because we will know a friend we can call. There’s a lot more of us out there than we realize.
Let me also say that in no way do I compare my experience to women who experience the loss of a child after it is born or even later in their pregnancy. I did not know anything about my baby. It did not have a name or a sex. I hadn’t begun to talk to it since it couldn’t hear just yet. I never felt a kick. It didn’t really have any characteristics that I would attribute to a personality, other than it didn’t particularly care for meat. Therefore, I don’t feel like my grief is the result of a loss of a child, although there may be others who do feel that way. My grief is more disappointment, hurt, lack of understanding. I was ecstatic about having a baby. I daydreamed about being a mother, making memories, teaching my child about life. My grief is more like having a dream shattered. I know that dream can be rebuilt, but at the time it doesn’t feel that way. I imagine that this pain will grow deeper if I experience another miscarriage. I know there is a one in four chance that this will happen. That is terrifying. But it’s also life. If we never risked heartache, pain and disappointment, we would never know love or success or even friendship.
And after all is said and done, here is what I know about myself:
I am strong. I am resilient. I will make a damn good mother.