Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Loss

I had a miscarriage in November at 11 weeks. This post is long, complicated, heartbreaking, weird, funny, and real.

This post covers many things, but what I really want from this is that it helps SOMEBODY. If one person learns something or feels less alone, it’s worth it.

Anyone who knows me knows I am an open book, an over-sharer, a chatterbox. So when I had a miscarriage in November, I was all of a sudden silent. Not because I was ashamed, but because I wasn’t really sure what to say. So, after a few months, I’ve gathered my thoughts, and I’m ready to share.

I got pregnant in August and we were super excited. I would be due at the end of May/beginning of June.

The first appointment I was supposed to be 8 weeks, but they told me that I was 6 weeks 5 days. I asked why, and they ensured me that my dates were probably off and it’s no big deal. That was extremely disheartening because I had been sick all day and all night, and now that end of trimester hump was even further away.

Now, this was my first curious moment, because, my dates weren’t off.  But, I pushed that aside because I mean, I don’t really know how all of the dating TRULY works…

When I was 8 weeks pregnant with Lucas, my sister in law had a miscarriage at around 20 weeks. Rocked everyone’s world. You hear it happen, but when it happens to your family, it’s just too real.
She went on to have a happy healthy baby later on, but a miscarriage that close to home, just changes every moment of your pregnancy. So for all of Lucas’s pregnancy I worried all the time. 

 This pregnancy I was determined to try to be more positive.

Something still felt wrong, but again, last time I second guessed everything for no reason.
I was super nauseous for about 5 weeks. All day, all night. Super tired. So much so that I told Justin, “This is the last time. I seriously can’t do this again.”

Funny, how life doesn’t care.

Weeks past, and around 9/10 weeks it got better. I felt better.

Then I got worried. Shouldn’t I still feel sick? Of course the pregnancy boards, assured me that that was about the time it got better for some. But….there was that one post about how sometimes that means it’s a missed miscarriage.

Missed miscarriages are especially scary because there are no signs. You just show up to your appointment, and bang, no heartbeat.

It’s one of the many, worst fears.

Of course, I’m rational, I play the odds, ….I’m just being paranoid.

Probably.

We were going to announce the pregnancy at my son’s 2nd birthday party to all of my family and friends. But first, the 11 week appointment.  I mean, I hadn’t seen the doctor since the last appointment 4 weeks ago, so…it’s always scary.

Right before I went to the appointment, I text my 6th grade team, “Wish me luck, this is the scary one.”

Again, I wasn’t THAT worried. I didn’t ask my husband to come. These appointments are usually boring.

I was only 11 weeks so it’s hard to find a heartbeat on the Doppler, and my doctor told me that before we started.  She didn’t find it.  She assured me that it’s really ok, and we would just do an ultrasound to be sure.

While I waited for the ultrasound to get set up, I did my blood work genetic testing. It’s blood work that can be done after 10 weeks, that tells if the baby has chromosomal abnormalities, but it also tells the gender. So now, I’m sitting there. Nervous. Doing blood work. I hear the nurses talking, I’m trying not to think. At all. Just don’t think. Look forward. I didn’t pray. I didn’t hope. I didn’t think. Because I knew that nothing was going to change what was going to happen….and it will probably be fine.

Probably.

I went back to the ultrasound tech. She started and I didn’t look. I didn’t hear anything, but I didn’t want to think. With each passing second the doom grew.

Then, she got up real fast and said she’d be right back.

I knew what that meant, but I couldn’t look.

She came back in and kept working. She asked, “How far along are you?” That’s present tense, ok, that’s good right? I said, “Shouldn’t we hear a heartbeat?” She just said, “They will talk to you about that later.”

Shit.

I looked.

I wish I didn’t. There was a baby there. He was big. But he wasn’t bouncing around and wiggling like Lucas was. He was still. His back facing me.

I looked away. I was silent.

This is really happening.

How does this happen?

I didn’t cry. I just sat there. I waited for the doctor to come in, which what seemed like forever waiting in silence. She came in and confirmed. She said some other stuff, I’m not really sure. I was only half listening. She said that the baby was measuring 10w5days so it had happened the day before….or today.

That was the worst thing I could hear. 

This wasn’t something that happened weeks ago. This happened…today? Yesterday? What did I do?
As I was trying to figure that out, she asked me whether I wanted to take the pill and pass it at home, or have a D&C. I didn’t know, I didn’t make a decision.

I went home, and just went through the day, silent. Saying as little as was needed. I of course told my husband, but we didn’t talk much about it. He knew if I wasn’t talking, I didn’t want to talk.
I knew the more I said, the easier it would be to cry.

I ended up sleeping with my son that night. I knew how this was going to go. I remember waking up like an hour after going to sleep, and my brain turned on. I started thinking and feeling, and it was horrible.

Why would the baby die at 11 weeks? If there was something wrong, shouldn’t it have happened earlier? What did I do that day? I keep my computer on my lap? Did it get too hot? I didn’t eat lunch that day because I was too busy. Was that it? Did I drink too much caffeine?

It was this heart wrenching pain that I really can’t describe, other than the feeling you would feel if …you killed your own child.

 Because in that moment, that’s exactly what I believed. The woman is solely in charge of the baby’s life for 9 months, so what did I do wrong? That love and beautiful child I have in Lucas, was squashed out. This baby didn’t get that, and that was my fault.

I knew it was not rational, but no one is going to tell you it was your fault, even if it was.
I just can’t explain the utter pain I felt, as I sobbed with the realization of the day. When you hear in history books about beating their chest in agony, that’s what I felt like. I wanted to rip my heart out of my chest because I couldn’t breathe it hurt so much.

Agony.

I just laid in the dark and sobbed…in silence.

In the middle of my hours of sobbing, something, told me to go downstairs and google it. I mean honestly, I really felt like something told me to do that. I walked downstairs robotically and before I knew it, I had come across a post from the UK, that was 4 years old: “I was supposed to be 8 weeks but I was 6 weeks 5 days.”

No joke. Just like me.

Every stranger, at least 8 women had commented, that their pregnancies had ended around 10-12 weeks.

What? Now, there was no explanation why, this happened to us but somehow I felt….less pain.
Maybe I didn’t cause this.

I’m not alone in this pain. Why would the dates being off, have a similar occurrence to a missed miscarriage around 10-12 weeks.

I had to go to work the next day, and thankfully I had plenty of my female friends to talk to. I unloaded on the car ride to work with my friend, and trapped myself in another’s office, to unload all of my medical questions.

My friends helped me heal. Almost all of them had a previous miscarriage. I definitely was not alone. Talking helped me heal. Reading helped me heal. Moving forward helped me heal.
Also, a thank you to my very long time friend who chatted with me on facebook messenger. You know who you are. Our similar stories were so helpful to helping the pain heal.

I went on to have a D&C surgery after a ton of advice from my friends, and I am glad I did. It was easy and as “painless” emotionally as possible.

There are a few things I want you to remember about your friends or family who have miscarriages. There is a lot of things after that are just insult to injury.  Not only did you lose your child…. You get to watch everyone around you have a great pregnancy, you get slapped with huge medical bills, you have weight gain that reminds you, it was all for nothing. Life goes on and you are expected to as well. It’s hard. So I don’t know what everyone needs, but just remember, regardless of how far along they are, how detached they seemed, it’s hard.

Now, I am going to give you my little slice of funny, but if you think you heard the whole story, you aren’t even close. (I told you this was long.)

The day before my D&C, I went upstairs to my room alone, because my husband’s smart enough to know, if I look sad, don’t follow me. I spoke to my baby. I told him I loved him, and I was sorry. That I was going to move on, but that didn’t mean I didn’t love him and miss him, and wish he was here.

Because tomorrow, he wouldn’t be inside me anymore, and that was hard. I told him I honestly didn’t know where his body was going to go, and I’m sorry, but I knew where his spirit was.
 I cried, and I talked, and I asked my family to watch over him. It was my time with him that was both tragic and loving.

 I went downstairs.

I put something in the laundry, and walked into the kitchen.
I stood in the middle of the kitchen, and then all of a sudden a bag hotdog buns flew off the counter onto the floor.

I mean, flew.

OFF THE COUNTER. 3 feet from the counter, on to the floor.

I just stood there. I laughed.

I can’t explain that. The thought that crossed my mind was…

The baby died on my uncle’s birthday and my great-grandparent’s anniversary. Both of whom, are no longer with us.

My uncle who was quite the character. I imagine him like most men, don’t know how to handle a woman when they are upset, slapped it off the counter, as his funny way of saying, “We are here for you.”

Again, it didn’t slip off the counter. There were 4 sets of buns, one flew off. Haha. If you follow my ghost stories, this probably isn’t surprising, and also rather fitting for my journey.

Anyways, I’m not done yet. About 2 weeks later, my doctor called with the results of the genetic blood test. This would have been the day I find out what the gender of my baby was. I didn’t expect what came first.

“The bloodwork came back positive for Trisomy 18.”

“Oh, ok.” I of course didn’t know what to say, but she asked me if I knew what that was, and I said I did. Some other things were said, but I don’t remember.

She then asked if I wanted to know what the gender was. (If you have been listening to my pronouns, I am sure you figured it out.)

It was a boy.

Honestly, that conversation changed everything. What was once horrible timing by God, became perfect timing. What once was the dream and heartbreak of this happy healthy baby, went up in smoke. And thankfully that thought that I in fact caused this, disappeared.

Because this pregnancy wasn’t going to have a happy ending.

Trisomy 18 is a fatal disease.

Most will die in miscarriage.

More likely in the 2nd and 3rd trimester.

Stillbirth is common.

Those that are born alive will most likely die within days of birth. It is extremely rare for a baby with Trisomy 18 to live past 1 years old, and of course if they do, severe challenges are ahead. Boys, even, have a higher mortality rate.

I had the missed miscarriage at my 11 week appointment. I wouldn’t have gone back until 15 weeks. The baby died the day before the appointment. If he had died 1 day after, I would have gotten the phone call…not knowing anything was wrong, that my baby had Trisomy 18, and now I get to wait for him to die.

I would have been told, even though my baby wasn’t dead yet, that he was going to die.
Now, to me, that helped. It didn’t change my love for him, but it helped me understand that there was nothing I could have done…and again, the timing was perfect. I miscarried, like normal, and had time to process before I got the news.

Getting that news AFTER a miscarriage, really isn’t devastating. The damage was already done.
Supposedly, it’s just a random cell error. Bad luck, probably.

Probably.

Most people just chalk it up to a normal miscarriage and never have testing done.
So all of sudden that anger of why me? And the anger of why even let this happen if it wasn’t going to work out, became: thank you.

Pain was going to be inevitable on this journey, but I was spared more by timing. Also, I’m glad this happened, now. He got assigned to us as parents. He gets to be a part of our family. I don’t wish this never happened because he deserved to happen. He got to skip the pain and go straight to the place without pain, for that I am thankful.

I’m almost done I swear.

But this is important.

Life is not black and white. There is an in between. I mean this sincerely, but if you didn’t know what trisomy 18 was, or what anencephaly is, maybe, just maybe, you aren’t informed enough about reproductive issues to be making laws…or even opinions on the matter? For the record, I don’t think a woman should be able to have an abortion just because she doesn’t feel like having a child. But things are complicated in life. Rare things happen. Laws forget about the rare things, because they are rare. But someone is on the other side.

I would have continued the pregnancy until the end, whatever the result may be. But I am telling you right now, I feel like I am a strong person, and I am not sure I would be able to handle the onslaught of delivering a baby and watching it die. I would never be the same. In this circumstance, you don’t get to pick if your baby lives or dies, it’s going to die. I would have faced it. Is it my call that a 15 year old should have to face that with trisomy 18? Is it my decision to tell a 40 year old woman, that she doesn’t have a lot of time left, but she’s going to have to continue this pregnancy deliver the baby in 9 months, and then she can start over, in a year after she watches this baby die??

I’m just trying to say…. Things are complicated. When laws start trickling down, other things get thrown in, and people forget that RARE still happens. I’m glad I had a choice between passing it at home and having to dispose of the body on my own and having a D&C at the hospital. I don’t want to call myself pro-life or pro-choice because I don’t think I know enough about the repercussions of being either.

So, maybe it’s ok to not know what should and shouldn’t happen to someone else. To just say, I’m not sure on the matter.

So, all I know is: I’m sorry life is complicated.

I’m sorry to:
My friends who struggle with infertility and had to make a new family plan.
My friends who have had miscarriages at 6 weeks, and my friends who have had miscarriages at 20+ weeks.
My friends who have had multiple miscarriages.
My friends who have PCOS and endometriosis.
My friends who are still trying, but not conceiving.
My friend who had cancer, and is adopting.
My friends who have tried IFV and it didn’t work.
My friends who want to have children, but they don’t have a husband.
My friends who have lost a child.

I’m so sorry. I’m sorry life is complicated, that life isn’t black and white. But, you aren’t alone. I am here for you. I love you.

We can’t control the world. We don’t know everything, so just love each other, and remember even though someone may be silent, it doesn’t mean they don’t feel pain.
Also, for everyone who suffers, and gets back up to keep living. You my friend, are a badass.

*For all my friends who brought me dinner, when I said I didn’t need it, who listened and shared their story, who texted me, when I said not to, who hugged me, when they weren’t sure….thank you.