Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Miscarriage

I guess I should start at the beginning, which was actually several years ago when R and I decided that the optimal number of years apart between our two hypothetical children was two years. I should also remind you that R gets summers off, so having a child at the end of May or beginning of June is optimal so he can get as much newborn time in as possible.*

*Some of you may recall that Mr. Man was SUPPOSED to arrive June 1st, instead of the 18th. Kids, ruining plans before they are even born. SMH.

Okay, let’s fast forward to the future. Months before the Great Conceivening (that’s a word now, just go with it) I started to freak the f out because toddler, we has one! And it’s exhausting and how can I possibly keep up with him when I’m pregnant??!? And I promptly started researching all the pros and cons of child spacing and re-rationalizing our decision. We decided that there was a brief window when we would try to get pregnant (aka the Great Conceivening), and if that didn't work we’d wait a year.

And we were smug in the limited likelihood that it would actually happen, cause come on, every couple we knew had trouble getting pregnant the second time. You see where this is going, don’t you?

Yeah, the Great Conceivening was totally successful, like immediately even though we didn't really try very hard because toddler/lack of sleep/company/life/etc.

So then I was pregnant and I was an overtired mess, insisting that we keep going over all the reasons why two years apart was great because I was suddenly like, “Mr. Man is still a baby, WAHHHH!!” Of course, I’m still nursing a couple times a day (which, by the way, OUCH pregnancy-induced nipple sensitivity!), and (surprise surprise) my ramped up hormones didn't help.

And we waited and told no one because we wanted to go to the first doctor check-up before letting anyone know. In the meantime, we rubbed my bloated belly and laughing about my cravings for Indian food and tried to make it real. Like this is really happening. In less than eight months we’ll have a second child. Our last baby.

The morning that we were going to go to the OB I started to have serious cramping and spotting. I think R and I both knew what was going to happen. We’d already been marveling at how the minimal nausea I was feeling passed so quickly. I didn’t seem very hormonal. In small ways, we’d both already voiced some misgivings to one another.

Let me just provide the key events of our visit:

  • We did the normal pregnancy/doctor stuff, 
  • I was careful to mention the cramping and spotting – hoping for and receiving carefully worded reassurances,
  • the nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat, 
  • a transvaginal ultrasound administered by a palsied and semi-retired doctor** confirmed that the egg sack was measuring weeks smaller than it should, 
  • and we left knowing I was almost certainly going to miscarry.

When we left the office the secretary, who knows us, called “congratulations” across the waiting room. Every face in the room turned to look at us while we exited quickly. Many of them were smiling, surely misinterpreting why R had his arm wrapped protectively around me. I know the office assistant meant well, she didn’t know what was transpiring, but over the next several days that word came back to me. Sometimes with anger, other times with sadness, I thought about how she should know better. So many early pregnancies end the way mine did.

 So our second pregnancy ended in ten painful and messy days. They were filled with rationalizations (financially waiting another year will be really good), avoidance, and a heating pad. R and I talked about why we were disappointed and realized that sharing a second child with those we love ranked highest on the list; an especially poignant sadness as two of our very close friends are both pregnant – actually one just gave birth today. Our children would have been within 6 months of each other and that would have been special. Sadly, I know that there will always be a part of me that looks at these two little boys and wonders how our child would have fit in.

Then, something unexpected happened. I ovulated a short time after the miscarriage and we had to make an immediate decision: should we try for a baby next summer? It was a complicated decision. We’d now rationalized why 2 years apart was optimal and why waiting another year was really for the best. Sure, the baby would be born in July rather than May, but that was still doable based on our work schedules.

Ultimately, we decided to wait. But I mention this decision because it was truly a gift (straight from my uterus). The decision was no longer definitively made for us. We had a say again, which was immensely cathartic.

I wanted to share this story. I know many women who have gone through a similar experience. In fact, both of the women I mentioned who are expecting/just had a baby miscarried in the past. Actually, almost every child-bearing woman I know has miscarried. Some feel deep pain from the experience, some worried they would never have a child, some felt that they were failures, others accepted the event and moved on quickly. There is no right way to feel, and, I suspect, that how each of us feels about the experience changes.

It is amazing that each of us are here; so many people born through an immensely complicated process of splitting cells and pieced together DNA. I’m grateful that, no matter how sad or disappointing it may be at the time, our bodies usually recognize that something is wrong early in the process. That most babies that make it to full term are healthy and complete. 

I just hope that our next attempt at adding to our family has a happy ending.

**There is comedy in every situation if you look for it. Having a doctor enter a room with what is basically an ultrasonic dildo in his continuously shaking hand definitely helps to relieve some of the tension. Though it did not do much to increase my confidence in the procedure as I lay flat on my back covered by a paper robe. 

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