Monday, November 20, 2006

Healing and Black Friday

Thank you for all of your well wishes. They mean the world to me. It helps to know I am not alone in this. Thank you to all the MOF's and others who have sent emails, called, and just generally been there for me. I can never thank you enough. I am doing better. I've even had a few days in a row now where I haven't shed some tears. I'm healing and moving on, slowly but surely.

Sometimes this whole thing seems surreal. I asked Mark the other night if I was ever really pregnant or if it was it all in my mind. Yes I had eight positive pregnancy tests over the course of 10 days (I'm a test-a-holic - Dollar Tree tests are cheap and great!). I had all the signs of pregnancy - tiredness, nausea, sore breasts (which I never got with Camden). I saw my baby on an ultrasound (with no heartbeat, but with definite form). But it was all over so quick that it doesn't seem like it ever really happened. There is no reminder of my pregnancy. No baby to hold and say goodbye to. No ultrasound pictures to show this baby existed. Nothing except the empty feeling in my heart and in my womb. Every morning I have to wake up and remind myself that no, I am not pregnant anymore. I have to remind myself that it wasn't a dream. I have to remind myself that our baby existed and has now said goodbye.

I have learned I am more emotionally fragile than I think I am. I think I'm doing great, handling things really well, and then somebody says something, or does something, and I find myself crying again. Like the other night when Camden came up and handed me a baby doll. As I looked at that little doll, I realized I wouldn't be having a real baby anytime soon. Or the counselor who stopped me in the hall at school and said, "Congratulations! I hear you are expecting again." And I had to tell her I had lost the baby. The worst was a parent who came into my room after school last week. He got on my case for being behind on grading. Even though I explained I'd had a personal emergency (I never told my students I was pregnant or that I miscarried) that caused me to take three days off of school, that wasn't good enough for him. He proceeded to tell me the students shouldn't have to suffer not knowing their grades because I was having personal problems. As soon as he left, I broke down. How I wanted to tell him I would give anything to have not missed those days, to still be pregnant.

I see my doctor today for the follow up of the D&C. The appointment actually scares me. Knowing I am walking into a room full of pregnant women, knowing that just a few weeks ago I sat in that office full of hope. Knowing I get to ask for all my fertility drugs all over again. I don't want to go. I think because I don't want to face another part of the reality. But I need to start one of my medications sooner rather than later, so I will go to get that.

We're going away for Thanksgiving. We're heading to my hometown in Idaho. I am looking forward to getting away. I look forward to relaxing with my son and my husband. And I get to shop at real stores and eat at real restaurants! It will be a much needed break.

I'm excited to start our Christmas preparations and shopping. Black Friday is a huge fun thing for us! We're those crazy people standing outside a store at 4 am. We go every year and love it. I've already started making my shopping list looking at the various Black Friday sites out there. I know many people who hate that shopping day, but it's a thrill for us. So if you see a frizzy haired woman with a gigantic husband going crazy at sales in Southeast Idaho, it may just be me. For now, I'm signing off until after Thanksgiving break. I hope each of you has a great one and have a fun Black Friday!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Saying goodbye to baby

My mind has been a whirlpool of thoughts since Saturday. I'm amazed at how you can go from joy to sadness in such a quick time. I warn you, the full account of my miscarriage may not be pleasant to read and it is very long. But it is healing for me to share it.

This pregnancy was much easier to obtain than our adventure in conceiving Camden had been. It only took six months and three rounds of fertility medications, which was a miracle to us. Six months may be trying a long time for some, but for us, it was quick. We were thrilled when we found out we were pregnant again and prayed that all would go well. From the beginning, I had peace this pregnancy would work out the way it was meant to. I always thought if there was a problem with a pregnancy, I would know it deep inside. I never had an impression or feeling of miscarriage with this pregnancy until the week it happened.

I was supposed to have my first doctor appointment Monday, Oct. 30. The doctor always does an ultrasound at the first visit, so I was excited to know if everything was ok with baby. After waiting in the waiting room for an hour, we were called back to the examination room. I had my blood pressure and weight taken. We were just waiting for the doctor to come in when we saw him rush by. Twenty minutes later, his nurse came and told us he had been called away on an emergency and wouldn't be back that night. We were thisclose to seeing the doctor! We rescheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 8th.

On Wednesday, the day after Halloween, I woke up with a very realistic dream. I dreamed I was spotting. It was so real I actually got out of bed, went to the bathroom, and checked for blood. The next morning, I told Mark about the dream. He looked at me and said, "I dreamed the same thing last night." Now for Mark to remember what he dreams is pretty unusual. There are only a few occasions in our years of marriage that he has remembered what he dreamed. So for him to dream the same thing as me and then remember it freaked me out. The next morning, I woke up after dreaming I started to bleed. The combination of the dreams sent shivers of fear down my spine. I still felt peaceful, but was seriously counting the days until my appointment, until we could see that heartbeat and know all was well with our baby.

Although the dreams were giving me a scare, everything in the pregnancy was textbook perfect. I was a little over 10 weeks. I was still feeling gaggy and tired. I had to pee more. And my pants were all getting tight in the lower belly. I had no cramping and no spotting of any sorts. My temperature was still high (yes, I was still charting some). Nothing pointed to a problem of any sorts, except those pesky dreams.

On Saturday, I napped when Camden napped. I woke up a few hours later after a beautiful dream. I won't share the details of that dream, but if earlier dreams were pointing to a miscarriage, then this dream points to future hope. The dream was so beautiful and peaceful. And then I went to the bathroom. As always, I looked at the toilet paper, checking for any signs of trouble. And this time, there was a single spot of red.

A single spot of red. That's it. As the reality of that spot sunk into my head, tears came. Mark was at work and I wondered what to do. Wait till our appointment later in the week? Call the doctor on Monday? Go to the emergency room? I knew spotting was entirely normal in a lot of pregnancies and it could happen for many reasons. But my fear was strong. I called Mark at work, bawling on the phone. He raced home and we made the decision to go the emergency room together. We knew there was nothing they could really do for us there, but they could at least do an ultrasound. We had to know one way or another. The thought of waiting through the weekend worrying was not an option either one of us could mentally handle.

I felt really stupid in the emergency room. As the nurses and doctor asked questions and ran tests, I felt I was wasting their time with a silly concern over a single spot of red. They didn't make me feel that way, but I felt foolish being in there over something so minor. They did a urine test in the hospital and there wasn't even a hint of anything on the toilet paper. The doctor told me they had called an ultrasound technician in and we would know shortly. As we waited, Mark and I talked quietly. Mark kept telling me we would see the heartbeat and all would be ok. I told him I had to prepare myself for the worst. I honestly hoped for the best, but had to realize the possibility that we might not get the news we were hoping for. I prayed that I could handle whatever we found out.

The ultrasound technician finally came to get me. He was the father of one of my students. We discussed his son and his grade through the beginning of the ultrasound. He wasn't too pleased to learn his son was failing and had been lying to him about his grade. I apologized for ruining his night with the news, but he'd get to ruin my night in just a few minutes, so I guess we're even.

He did an external one first, but because I am fluffy, we had to do an internal one. As he started looking around, he wasn't even looking for a baby or a gestational sac, so I thought there may not even be signs of pregnancy in there. I asked him about it and he said he was saving that for last. He needed certain measurements of my ovaries and uterus, so he would do those first and then look for the baby. Finally, he started looking at the baby in the sac. I knew right away. With Camden, I'd had an internal ultrasound done at 8.5 weeks and we had seen clearly a gummy bear looking baby and a flashing heartbeat. This time, I could see the gummy bear looking baby, but there was no reassuring heartbeat. The room had gone quiet. I told the technician, "I already know there is a problem." He looked at me and said, "I'm so sorry." He pointed out the head, which I already recognized, and then showed us where the heartbeat was supposed to be. He told me the baby measured about 8 weeks along. He then stepped out of the room to give us some time alone.

Although I had been mentally preparing myself all the way down to the ultrasound room, seeing the cold reality on the monitor shattered my control. Mark and I sobbed in each others arms. When we returned to the emergency room, the doctor came immediately in. She discussed our options with us. We could either wait for this to happen naturally or we could have a D&C. Mark and I knew we wanted a D&C. I could not emotionally handle waiting for the miscarriage to start on its own. The emergency room doctor had already been in contact with my doctor's office and he was out of town until Tuesday. The other doctor in his practice would be willing to do a D&C that night or I could go in Sunday or Monday and have it done. (I have to explain quickly that I live in a small town with another small town a half hour away. Each has a hospital. There are about 2 OB's in each town. I choose to go to the OB in the other town because I like him so much, but we went to our local emergency room. We probably should have gone to the other town in hindsight.) I asked about having it done that night in the hospital I was at. She called the OB on call and came back and told us he refused to come in because "it wasn't a true emergency." We decided to wait until Monday to have it done instead of going through another emergency room.

Sunday was a blur of sadness and dealing with the loss. Camden helped so much. When we came home Saturday night, he raced right up to me with a huge smile on his face and just hugged me. That was one of the most healing moments. We received blessings from our home teachers and I made arrangements to take the next three days of school off. It was a weird dichotomy that day. I still felt pregnant and my body still thought I was pregnant. I had very little spotting all day and no cramps whatsoever. If not for that single spot of red on Saturday, there would be no indication of a problem. At times I thought the ultrasound must be wrong, but then the haunting stillness of the image on the ultrasound would come to my mind. I had a very hard time, gagging at dinner and realizing I was not going to get the outcome I desired.

Monday I called the other doctor in my OB's practice. He got right on the phone with me and scheduled me for a D&C that afternoon at 1 pm. The procedure was actually not bad at all. The hardest part was the confirmation ultrasound they did. Part of me hoped that this time there would be a heartbeat, but again, the baby measured at 8 weeks and was still as can be. To add salt to the wound, my ultrasound technician was pregnant. I'm sure it must have been as uncomfortable for her as it was for me having her do that ultrasound. The staff was wonderful. When I came to in the recover room, a few nurses started talking about pregnancy. I don't think they knew what I was recovering from. Another nurse quickly shushed them. The whole thing was over and done quickly. I entered the hospital at 1 pm and was on my way home by 4 pm. I am very grateful for the OB getting me in and done so speedily. When he came to discharge me, Mark and I expressed our gratitude for everything. We told him how the OB in our town had refused to come in and do it on a Saturday night. He looked astonished and said, "That's what an on call doctor does." I was very grateful for that attitude and for not having to wait any longer. As hard as it was to know I was going to lose this baby, it would have been even harder to have to wait for several days to get the D&C or to have it happen on its own.

Physically I have recovered quickly. Emotionally, well, that's another story. I thought I was handling things really well. I had complete peace during the time of finding out, waiting, and then having the D&C. It wasn't until Wednesday that the full weight of the loss finally caught up with me. It's the reality of a lot of things. I'm not having a baby in May after all. Who knows when I will get pregnant again? Will I lose another baby? Is this going to become a pattern? How long will it take to get pregnant next time? It's knowing that to develop as far as it did, my baby had a heartbeat at one point. What caused its heart to stop? Rationally I know there is nothing I did to cause this, nothing I could have done to stop this, nothing that could have saved my baby this early on. But occasionally I find myself analyzing everything I did around 8 weeks along that could have killed my baby. It's the feeling alone. Besides MOF"s and a few family members on Mark's side, nobody has called, or sent a card of sympathy, or told me they are sorry, or anything. I feel forgotten and alone in my grief and pain. It's the wondering if I lost a son or a daughter. What would this child have been? It's the loss of a brother or sister for Camden, a child for Mark and I, a dream we had. It's also the loss of innocence as I will never feel completely safe in a pregnancy again.

Right now I hurt. Right now I am giving myself permission to be sad, to cry, to feel the emotions as they come. And I wonder how exactly to move past this. It's very healing to talk to others, to hear their stories, to see how they healed and moved on.

I've had a lot of MOF's offer to be there for me to talk to, but to tell the truth, I don't know how to reach out right now. So I'll be honest. I want to talk to you, I want to hear your story, I want to know what it was like for you, but I need you to take the first step. Please email me or IM me or post a message to me on one of the MOF boards. I want to have that contact with you, but I don't know where to start.

I'm very grateful for the blessings and peace I have received during this time. I can see the Lord's hand in all of this - in the diagnosis, in the day of waiting for the D&C, in having the D&C taken care of so quickly and so smoothly. It may have not turned out the way I wanted it, but I know there is a reason. This is hard, but in all honesty, it hasn't been as hard for me as the infertility was. Infertility took such a toll on me as a person, my spirit, my testimony. Unlike the infertility, I haven't been angry, resentful, or mad about this miscarriage. I haven't questioned "Why me?" because the answer to that is why not me? Why should I be spared pain and suffering? And so many people have been through so much worse. I haven't questioned what I did to deserve this or what I did so wrong that my baby would be taken away. Those are thoughts I had with infertility, but I haven't had with this. And for that, I am very grateful. I'm grateful it hasn't taken a toll on my testimony or my relationship with God. I'm sad and I grieve. There have been many layers to that grief already and I know there will be layers to come. But I am at peace that it was meant to be this way. I'm scared to try again. I'm scared of what it will take and how long it will take to get pregnant again. I don't get pregnant easily. And I'm scared I will lose another. But I have peace that I can overcome my fears. I know that I am not alone. I know my tears are noticed by my Heavenly Father. I know He knows how much my heart hurts. And I believe that in time I will understand the purpose for this loss. I believe in time my joy will be as great as my pain.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Dream Deferred

I'm losing this baby. I started spotting today and so we went to the emergency room. An internal ultrasound showed the baby died at 8 weeks. I'm supposed to be a little over 10 weeks today. Our dream shall be deferred for a little bit.