Confession

I hear/see this phrase a lot: “I’m/You’re so blessed to be able to stay home with my/your kids!” You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would honestly say that being a stay-at-home parent is ridiculous, stupid, or pointless. But many are eager to pity those who work outside the home when they have children. Allowing someone else to take care of your children all day long is a travesty, a great disservice, just plain awful. It’s so sad that you can’t afford to stay home with the children you chose to have. Why have kids if you spend your entire week somewhere they aren’t, letting someone else raise them?

I’m going to put something on the table that virtually no one wants to hear and no one is ever brave enough to say: I’m so blessed to be able to have a career outside the home.

Before you scroll to the bottom to leave an angry comment, hear me out.

No, my situation is not perfect. Yes, there are times I should be spending more positive energy on my children. And yes, my house suffers because most nights I just don’t freaking feel like doing the dishes, starting the laundry, or sweeping the floors after spending an entire day responding to and sending emails, answering calls, writing articles and press releases, and attending meetings. Allow me to point out, though, that many stay-at-home moms I know admit publicly that they, too, struggle to keep their house clean and find the energy to fold the laundry, and don’t always utilize the hours they are at home with their kids in a positive way. But they’re physically home with their kids and that’s just…right. What a blessing! (And it truly is.)

The truth is–and this is important–I LOVE WHAT I DO. I love having a career. I love working in an office. I love my coworkers, my field of work, and my life. Some Mondays I am actually excited to get out of bed because I get to go spend an entire day in an environment where my professional skills are valued and my opinion matters; where for eight hours I get to ask all the questions I want, listen to fascinating stories, and then retell those stories so others can enjoy them, too. I feel blessed to do what I love and love what I do, and ON TOP OF THAT have two well-behaved (most of the time) children and a happy, monogamous marriage.

The other side to that truth is–and this is also very important–I LOVE MY CHILDREN. I love having a family. I love coming home to two beautiful little girls as excited to see me as if I’d been abroad for a month and had just come home. I love their creativity, their intelligence, their senses of humour, and watching their amazing minds develop. I live for weekends. In addition to finally having time to run errands, work in my garden, and clean my bathroom, it’s also time for me to spend extra quality time with my family. More talking, more crafts, more going to fun places like the children’s museum, the zoo, the playground, and the beach. I have the opportunity every evening and weekend to really focus on my kids because during the weekdays it’s my time to enjoy the other part of my life. The other part I love just as much as being home with my children.

The old adage claims ‘different strokes for different folks’ and although sometimes I struggle to live my life as though that’s true, it really does explain why people make different choices from each other. Why some moms do everything in their power to stay home with their kids and others revel in the opportunity to work somewhere outside of that environment.

So yes, some moms are blessed to stay home with their children. But that does not preclude me from also being blessed, though my lifestyle is pretty close to opposite of theirs.

I, too, am blessed to have the life I have.

Followup

On Friday my doctor called and left a message. “I just got your pathology report back and I wanted to talk to you about plans for this weekend and next week. So if you could give me a call back as soon as possible, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!”

Honestly, I had no idea what a pathology report was. I mean, I figured it was test results, but I didn’t know what had been tested. The fact that she wanted to talk to me urgently about “plans” for the weekend and days following worried me. It’s never a good thing when your doctor has immediate plans for you and you haven’t even been consulted yet.

I stood in the kitchen, leaning against the sink. Hands shaking, I dialed her cell number and listened to it ring. I almost hoped she didn’t answer.

But she did.

“I’m so glad you called back. Your pathology report shows that the tissue retrieved during surgery did not contain fetal cells. This happens frequently because they get a large sample of tissue and can’t test every cell, so if the small portion they do test doesn’t happen to be part of the fetus, the test will come back negative. I am very confident I removed all product of conception during surgery, but just to be sure, so we don’t risk infection, I’m going to call in some prescriptions for you. We’ll also do an ultrasound next week to make sure the uterus is clean.”

I think I said “okay” about 16 times as she spoke, and that was probably about it. She prescribed some cytotec to clean out anything left behind, and added a week to the two-day antibiotic round she’d originally prescribed.

I hung up the phone feeling nothing but dread. I had opted for the surgery, in part, to avoid cytotec and what it brings with it, and here I was being told to use it anyway.

By the next morning I had decided that four more days wasn’t going to kill me (most likely), and that, based on the confidence my doctor had that she had been successful in removing all “product of conception,” I was likely going to be just fine between then and the ultrasound. If something showed up on the ultrasound we’d revisit our options and I’d do what needed to be done at that point.

My ultrasound was scheduled for Wednesday morning. Husband decided to come with me for moral support. Of course, as luck would have it, both girls got sick on Tuesday and we had to keep them home on Wednesday, meaning I would have to go to the ultrasound alone. Again.

I wasn’t too bothered by this, actually. I’ve done difficult things on my own before and then found comfort in the care of others afterward. This would just be one of those things.

All Wednesday morning as I prepped for work, sat at my desk with one eye on the clock, and drove to the clinic, my mind was trapped in the room in which I’d had my last ultrasound. It was grey. All of it. The floor, the walls, the ceiling, the window covering, my gown, the equipment…even the doctor’s face. The only other colour was black–my doctor’s clothes.

I pulled into the clinic parking lot with my heart pounding. I didn’t want to do this again. I walked up the slight incline to the clinic door. I don’t want to do this again. I pulled open the door and walked inside the lobby, built and decorated in the late 1980s or early 1990s with pastel pinks and teals and awfully cheesy faded posters on the walls. I don’t want to be here. Not like this. Somehow I held my voice steady as I checked in at the desk, and I managed to sit down near the edge of the room, looking out the windows and ignoring my shaking hands. This sucks.

Baby registry, pregnancy, and newborn magazines glared at me from every flat surface in the room.  A young woman probably pregnant with her first stood at the desk scheduling her weekly appointments from now until her due date, June 6. She laughed and chatted with the receptionist. I looked away and focused on the television.

Morning TV talk shows are drivel.

I heard my name from the doorway to my left. Automatically I rose from my seat and walked toward the voice. A woman close to retirement age led me to the scale, her office, the exam room. Her glasses were really big. They were probably new around the same time the clinic was. Maybe before.

A gown. The table. A paper sheet. Stirrups.

“This will be cold…” said Big Glasses. Like your voice?

I stared straight at the ceiling while she did her thing. My head naturally wanted to turn to watch the images on the screen beside me. Every other time I’d done this there was a squirming baby, a beating heart, a little face and arms and feet. This time, I didn’t want to see. I didn’t want to see The Nothing.

One hot tear crawled down each side of my face and tickled the inside of my ears. I pressed my teeth into my inner lip so I could focus on that pain instead.

Though it probably was quite short, the ultrasound felt like it lasted forever. Finally it was over and I sat up. She left. I dressed. I sat in a chair.

I waited.

Twenty minutes passed. Thirty.

A poster on one wall showed the developing fetus each month of pregnancy. Another advertised 3D ultrasound imaging. They should have a room free of this paraphernalia, just for people in a situation like mine. 

Still I waited.

Big Glasses had called me “sweetie” when she’d left me and her voice was tender. Did that mean she saw something? Was she trying to make me feel comfortable before I got the bad news? Was that pity in her voice?

Finally, the door opened. A woman I’d never seen before walked into the room with one of the brightest smiles I’ve ever seen. Not because her teeth were unnaturally white or shiny, but because the sentiment behind the smile was real. She meant that warmth and care and approachability. She meant every iota of it.

My gut ached. I had no idea what she would tell me. For half an hour I’d sat expecting and imagining the worst case scenario–she hadn’t gotten it all; I could pay for another surgery or take the cytotec and go through the hell I’d tried to avoid at home.

“There’s a scant amount of fluid in the uterus, but everything looks good.” She asked about any bleeding I’d experienced, if I’d taken the medications prescribed, how I was feeling. Her energy surprised me. Everyone else in the office seemed to find it too big an effort to smile and instead chose to hone their focus on everything business. But this doctor…her reddish blonde curly hair was pert and she was shorter than me (that’s saying something). The smile never left her face for a second while we talked in that dim exam room, and her posture was open and friendly toward me–a patient she had never met before.

My emotions were stormy at best–I couldn’t decide how to feel in that moment. Again, the numbness. I almost couldn’t even smile. I felt frozen and stiff and overwhelmed.

raindropsWith a cheeky twinkle in her eye she leaned forward as though she were sharing a secret and asked, “When do you think you might try to get pregnant again?” It wasn’t an inappropriate question, and she asked it as though she were my best friend–and in that moment, she almost was. Honestly, I appreciated her approach. I told her I wasn’t sure. “We haven’t talked about that yet.”

Business concluded, she opened her arms like a happy grandmother and gave me a sincere hug. She wished me well and opened the door, pointing me toward the lobby.

In a daze I checked out at the desk, then pulled open the door to the sunshine. Though I fought hard, there was no stopping the flood blurring my vision. I managed to get into the driver’s seat before completely losing control. I sat there in the parking lot, surrounded by trees and singing birds and all things spring, crying for a reason I wasn’t sure I understood.

It was over.

But the relief battled with the devastation of finality, and I cried because the war had to exist at all.

Aftermath

I’ve never been truly depressed before. I’ve had down moments and I’ve spent some time crying in the past. But last week it occurred to me that this is what it feels like to be truly clinically depressed. No motivation, no energy, wanting to sleep all the time, crying at the drop of a hat alternating with moments of complete lack of emotion of any kind, snapping at people because you’re just plain cranky and when you realize you’re treating them poorly you start crying all over again, feeling in a misty haze as you wander around pretending to be normal. Anger alternating with extreme sorrow. Then just not caring at all.

Or maybe that’s not depression. Maybe this is just grief.

I want to talk about this, share it, post about it on Facebook…but I feel so selfish being this anguished about an 8-week-old fetus when I know people who have lost babies and children they felt, knew, loved. It’s hard not to feel inferior. Like I’m being ridiculous to grieve like this and dwell on something so common.

Then there’s the jealousy. Every baby picture hurts my heart because I simultaneously want to squeeze and hug and kiss all over them…and want to cry and scream at the cosmos for taking that reality away from me this time.

And after that I feel guilty because I have two amazingly smart and beautiful and sweet girls who are my world. I should be focusing on them, not the baby we’ll never know. And I can get pregnant again. We will have that third child. Some people had not only the reality of a child they loved reversed, but the dreams of any future children dashed in one fell swoop. So I feel guilt for not being grateful for what I have and spending so much time mourning what I’ve lost.

This isn’t my first bout of guilt since that awful grey Thursday. The first round came a day or two after finding out there was no heartbeat and it came in the form of, “What did I do?” Did I drink too much coffee? Did I work too hard while visiting a pregnant friend to help her prep the house for her baby? What about that one Sunday when I spent an hour or two raking and bending and picking up debris and squatting and kneeling? Did I overdo it on the carbs this early? Was it because I forgot to start taking my prenatal vitamins until I was six weeks along? What did I do to hurt my baby when I should have been protecting it? How did I kill my baby?

And now we’re at 11 days since we found out we lost our baby. And I’m smiling. And laughing. And feeling joyful again. The sun came out on Saturday and it was the first really sunny sky since The Day had happened. I hadn’t realized what an effect the rainy grey and dreary days had on my psyche until I saw the sun in all its glory. Sunday was a happy day–I did an on-the-job interview, worked in my yard, went grocery shopping, got coffee, watched my kids play outside, read a book, and went to a graduation party. I laughed and joked and talked and smiled. It was a pretty normal spring Sunday. The first day I didn’t feel numb or close to tears. 

Image: staythecourseblog.com


It’s strange…there’s a little feeling of guilt in me over that, too. I feel like I should be sadder for longer than I have been. Not that I’m “over” what has happened, nor am I any less affected by the reality of what it all means. But the fact that I once again feel genuinely happy in my life is both hugely relieving and a little guilt-inducing, like I’m not honoring the baby like I should. Like I put on a “woe is me” show to garner sympathy and then jumped right back into being me. Like it was all an act. Or like I dreamed it all. A horrible, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking nightmare of a dream.

There’s no perfect answer to how I “should” be feeling. The only truth is that I’m feeling how I feel and that’s just part of the journey. A journey that has changed my life.

My Miscarriage Story, Pt. 6: Telling Little Miss

Telling Little Miss

Today we went to church. I knew she’d probably be there, so for the entire drive there I silently prepped myself to see my dear friend who is due within two weeks of when we were. She’s tiny and beautiful and I knew she’d be showing, now at 10-12-ish weeks. I had been thrilled to be expecting alongside her; pregnancy is always more fun with a friend who shares the journey with you, no matter how many times you’ve done it before. Two friends here in town and a close relative all announced pregnancies within two weeks of our announcement, and I was so excited to be in such good company. I dreamed of baby get-togethers while on maternity leave and my child having a cousin so close in age to get to know.

But today wasn’t dreamy. I knew it would be hard. So I gave myself a mental pep talk as we neared the church. Within moments of entering the building I saw her. She smiled at me, looked me in the eye, and told me it was good to see me. We hugged. I could see in her eyes that she was sincerely glad we’d come to church that day, and though her words were simple, I knew in her heart she meant so much more with that hug than just “welcome to church, my friend.” And I loved her for it.

I managed to hold myself together for about 30 seconds before I quickly shuffled to the door and dropped our church bag on the bench outside. My vision blurred with tears and through muted sorrow I heard my 4-year-old. “Mommy, what’s wrong? What is it, Mommy?” I looked down at her beautiful blue eyes, her brow furrowed in concern as she peered up at me. “What’s wrong, Mommy?” she demanded, pushing her way in front of me and touching my arm intently.

She needed to know. I had wanted to tell her for a week–well, “wanted” is a misnomer–but had never felt the moment was ready. Now here I was with her full attention, and as worried as she was, she was adamant that I tell her why I was crying.

So I just said it.

“The baby that was in my tummy died. And that makes me sad.”

The tears spilled down my cheeks as Husband put his arm around me. I sat down on the bench and Little Miss fell against my chest, tears dripping down her own sweet face now. “I’m sad, too, Mommy,” she said quietly.

We made it back inside with dry-ish faces, though Little Miss didn’t want me to leave her in her classroom. So I sat there with her, and she climbed up on my lap. She didn’t sing the songs and though I tried I found it very difficult.

When her class was over we went into Miss Bennett’s classroom. My sweet pregnant friend approached Little Miss and complimented her ensemble for the day. Instead of saying thank you, Little Miss blurted out to her, “My mommy was going to have a baby, but it died and now she’s not having a baby anymore.” I heard it, saw the tears in her eyes, and couldn’t choke back the sob that instantly rose to my throat. I dropped what I was holding, fell to my knees next to my sweet, precious daughter, and held her tightly as we cried. My friend grabbed us tissue and helped Little Miss dry her eyes.

People were walking past us; we were in the doorway of the classroom, in front of a busy hallway. I didn’t care. One mom asked if anything was wrong and I didn’t want to explain it so I smiled and said, “We’re okay.” I don’t think she believed me.

As we knelt there on the floor, a soggy tissue in my hand, we talked–my friend and I. Little Miss interrupted and with eyes full of innocence, said, “Mommy, you should have gotten the baby out before it died!” Somehow I explained to her that it was only “this big” (holding my fingers an inch and a half apart) and could never have lived outside my tummy. That it didn’t grow like it should have. That we’d try again.

We made our way to church, where a member sang special music that pushed me to tears again. A song I’ve known since I was a teenager.


People say that I’m amazing

Strong beyond my years

But they don’t see inside of me

I’m hiding all my tears

flower
They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down

They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around 

I drop my sword and cry for just a while

‘Cuz deep inside this armor

The warrior is a child

 

Little Miss has hugged me many times today, and told me this afternoon, “I’m sorry the baby died, Mommy, and I’m sad for you.” I hug her back and kiss her sweet soft cheek and say, “Me too, sweetie. But I’m ever so glad I have you.”

My Miscarriage Story, Pt. 5: Today

 

Today

Today is the day after. I opted to stay home from work today to give myself extra recuperation time based on stories and advice from friends who sent me heartfelt messages of love and support, all with stories of their own. I’m glad I made this choice. I’ve spent my day on the couch doing a little bit of work but mostly browsing Facebook, chatting with dear friends who never shared their experiences publicly but want me to know they understand my pain…and blogging. I’m a writer. I need to get these feelings out on “paper.”

Today it’s raining. I’m alone at home, practicing self-care with coffee, gourmet chocolate-covered Oreos (a birthday gift from a friend), a heating pad, Morten Lauridsen, and Tylenol with Codeine. My back is killing me, probably from so many hours spent sitting in the same position in a hospital bed yesterday. I’m stiff and slow-moving.

Today I read a friend’s graphic story of her miscarriage at 16 weeks–the pink and lifeless baby at her bedside in the dark of midnight, sobbing with her husband, being told the scar tissue was too much and she’d never get pregnant again, heavy bleeding for a month, almost dying herself. Perhaps I shouldn’t have, but I did a Google image search for what a baby looks like at 16 weeks. I imagined my friend looking at that precious baby–and yes, it looks like a baby–lifeless in her hands. And I sobbed.

Today I did something I don’t recommend this soon after the loss of a child. I did another Google image search. I lost my baby at 8 weeks and I searched for what a baby looks like at 8 weeks. I wanted to see what it was I’d lost. What I’d had taken away from me. What I’d never had the chance to know or hold or kiss.

Today I sobbed…am sobbing.

Despite the early loss, it was still my child. As a Christian I have hope of seeing that child someday; perhaps an angel will place him/her in my arms–a perfect, beautiful, precious baby. Someday.

Today one of my best friends in the world met her beautiful baby boy. Tomorrow another of my best friends will meet her precious baby boy. Two other friends and a relative announced their pregnancies around the same time we did, and have due dates within weeks of ours. I’m thrilled for them. I’ve smiled at pictures and congratulated them. And I want to snuggle their babies. But I’ve also cried. That sweet baby in the photo is what mine should have grown to be. They get to hold their babies. They get to hug and kiss and rock their babies. Mine is dead. And while I know my experience is not unique–many thousands of women have been through something very similar to this–that doesn’t change the fact that right here, right now, something is missing in my life. Someone is missing. And that baby-shaped hole will never be filled no matter how many children I have.

When I was researching what having a miscarriage was like, one aspect that was blatantly missing was the stories. I couldn’t find the stories I wanted to read from women who had been through what I was experiencing. I wanted to know what to expect, what others had felt, and that it was going to be okay. I wanted to know I wasn’t alone.

Apparently miscarriage isn’t a topic many people talk about. Perhaps it’s because no one knew the child. Maybe it’s because it’s messy and no one wants to talk about the blood and guts and gory part of this horrendous experience. Maybe there aren’t very many people like me who want their deepest, darkest feelings aired in public for all to see. Vulnerability is never comfortable. And grief is as vulnerable as it gets. A friend of mine who has been through this three times said, “As parents we feel the need to protect our babies, no matter the age, and to lose them feels as though somehow we didn’t do our jobs well enough.” And perhaps that misplaced feeling of self-blame contributes to the lack of stories available to those of us experiencing this nightmare.

Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that I couldn’t find what I needed to get me through a very dark time. And that is why I’m blogging all of this. I hope that by putting my story out there, when another mother searches desperately for hope and help as she sits in a darkened room with her grief and piles of soggy tissues…she’ll find it here.

Another friend who has been where I am said, “It’s not easy, no matter where in pregnancy the baby was lost. It’s as real as any other death, except with other deaths, one can be grateful for knowing the person. Here, so much potential is lost, and you didn’t even get the chance to know who you’re mourning, and that’s part of what hurts so bad, too. The loss of a new future family to imagine, the loss of innocence, the loss of life you’ve created together.”

Her words brought me to tears because she’s absolutely right. Her words mirror what another friend said to me when I shared the news with her privately the day after. She said to me that it may feel like nothing now, it may feel strange to mourn a person I never knew, but the baby isn’t the only thing we’ve lost. We’ve lost all the dreams we had for a future as a family of five. That baby was part of our future that was unexpectedly and dramatically ripped from us. All the plans we’d made that would take place after November 23, 2014, included a newborn baby. Holiday travel. Maternity leave. Buying a second vehicle. None of that matters now. When we head out west for Christmas it will be just the four of us. There’s no longer urgency on procuring another vehicle or moving Miss Bennett in to share a room with Little Miss. Paying extra for the premium insurance plan this year turned out to be essentially pointless.

And we still have to tell Little Miss. At school she talks with her friends about how her mommy is having another baby. She makes comments to us about “when the new baby comes.” She’s excited about sharing a room with her little sister so the new baby can have the other bedroom. She’s already picked out names–one for a boy, and one for a girl–that we should call the new baby. And we have to tell her there is no new baby anymore. We have to explain to our 4-year-old what death is. I will cry. She will be sad. And we will all grieve together.poppies

One thing I want to accomplish with these blog posts is legitimacy. I want any mother who reads these to understand that she is not alone, and that everything she’s feeling–grief, anger, jealousy, disappointment, even numbness–all of it is legitimate and normal. The physical road is different for everyone in this situation, but many of the emotions are similar. We can stand together and cry together because we understand each other. The loss is real, no matter when or how or why it happened, and there’s nothing anyone can do or say that can fix it.

Right now I can’t write the future of this story. I can’t predict how I’ll feel in a month, a year, a decade. So if you’re looking for the “it will all be okay” ending, I can say it because I believe it, but I can’t say it from experience. Just minutes ago I texted one of my best friends, “I am not okay.” Because today…I’m not. Today, my heart hurts. Today, I’ve done more than anyone’s fair share of crying. Today, I’m broken.

poppies

But today is not the end. Today is not all there is.

And I am not alone.

 

My Miscarriage Story, Pt. 4: Surgery

Author’s Note: This blog post is the story of my experience choosing and having a D&C (dilation and curettage) following a miscarriage. It may or may not be something everyone wants to read, and it’s perhaps a bit more graphic than some may feel comfortable reading. If you’re interested, read on. If not, scroll to the bottom for a link to the next part of the story.

 

Surgery

When the doctor offered this outpatient surgery option as one of three possibilities the day we found no heartbeat, I immediately rejected it. Surgery is a scary thing anyway, but to imagine having surgery on one of the most private, miraculous parts of my body was absolutely out of the question.

I had originally opted for the Cytotec. At least then I’d be able to schedule the pain and bleeding and experience it in the comfort of my own home. But after hours of research and talking with other women who had gone that route–and learning that Cytotec was also called ‘the abortion drug’–I couldn’t do it. And I couldn’t just wait around for nature to run its course, either. Every day that went by with nothing happening my anxiety level grew. I hated not knowing. I hated that I was waiting on my body to do something it may or may not ever get around to doing. I hated the idea of having to flush my own baby down the toilet.

So I began to look again at the D&C option. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go this route, so I talked to Husband and on Sunday evening, lying together in the dark while he rubbed my back and ran his fingers through my hair, we decided to look into having the surgery.

It took two days of phone calls, figuring out insurance coverage, and playing the mediator between the clinic, the hospital, and my husband, trying to make sure I understood everything enough to communicate the facts so we could make an informed decision. Did I mention I was working full-time throughout all of this? I had plenty of distractions to keep me from feeling anything at this point.

On Tuesday afternoon the clinic called and told me my surgery was scheduled with the doctor I’d requested. I was to check in at the hospital’s outpatient surgery office at 8:30 Wednesday morning for a 10 a.m. surgery.

At 8:27 Wednesday morning Husband and I checked into the waiting room. A little after 9 a.m. a white-haired lady with big glasses and a sweet smile led me to my pre-op room.

It was cold. The thermostat said 70 degrees but I would’ve placed money on it being closer to 60. Or maybe it was just nerves. They gave me a plastic bag with handles that said “Patient Belongings” and told me to put all my clothes in there. I had to take off all my jewelry, including my wedding ring, and don the ever-loved hospital gown with the gape in the back. I laid on the bed and the nurse covered me with a heated blanket (I now want a blanket heater installed in any house I live in from here on out) while I settled in to watch “Dogs 101″ on Animal Planet.

Two nurses came in a few minutes later to start my IV and get my electronic pre-operation paperwork done. She told me my doctor was running a bit behind because she’d been called in to deliver two babies already that morning. “Babies sure do have their own schedules!” the nurse cheerfully said as she tapped away on the computer. “They sure do…” I offered with a smile, thinking to myself that she probably didn’t really realize what she was saying to a patient who was about to have what should have been a baby sucked out of her like a dust bunny from under a bed.

Husband was escorted in and we waited. The anesthesiologist came to discuss procedure with us, answered questions, and left. Husband read Terry Pratchett in the corner while I tried to stay comfortable in the bed, now watching “Animal Cops: Houston.”

I was strangely calm. We were here, this was happening, and I didn’t have to worry about my body doing anything naturally, being caught off-guard with massive bleeding and cramps, and traumatizing my children with the whole experience. In a few short hours it would be done. This chapter would end and we could start the next part of the grieving process.

My doctor came in and did her thing on the computer, then explained exactly what was going to happen: They would put me under anesthesia, prop my legs up in stirrups, insert a speculum in my vagina, and use a tubular vacuum-like machine to suck out all the tissue from my uterus. Then she would gently scrape the walls of my uterus to make sure all the tissue was gone to avoid infection. The process of prepping me and then waking me up when it was over would take much longer than the actual procedure.

When the nurse came to wheel me to the operating room Husband kissed me and then we were off. It was kind of a fun ride, honestly. I mean, who doesn’t want to tour around a random building while reclining in a bed? Beats walking, that’s for sure. The huge door to the OR opened, the nurse tied her mask around her head, and pulled me into the room. I glanced around; the walls were grey, the floor was grey, the ceiling was grey. Large lights hovered above a tiny narrow bed and everyone in the room wore blue. All I could see was their eyes.

I joked with them that they needed some pictures or something, like at the dentist where they have nature photos pinned to the ceiling. They laughed and agreed as I scooted onto the tiny operating table. The room was freezing. Even more than the pre-op room. I saw the leg props with stirrups where they’d place my feet for surgery. If I thought too much about the room and how cold and unwelcoming it was, and what exactly was about to happen, I’d panic. So I ignored it. They covered me with another heated blanket and put the oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. “Deep, slow breaths,” they said, then they explained they were administering the anesthesia.

My legs were tingling. I heard muted voices and soft sounds of people walking down a hallway and opening and closing cupboards. Someone was next to me. I forced my eyes open but they would only stay open for a moment. This happened several times before I could keep them open long enough to see where I was. My throat was parched. Outside my room a clock on the wall said 12:20. There was a vase of daffodils on the desk where a nurse sat at a computer. Another nurse with dark hair and beautiful, friendly eyes, smiled at me from my bedside.

Every five minutes or so I opened my eyes again and looked at the clock. All I wanted to do was sleep but I felt the need to force myself awake. With my eyes half-open I mumbled something to the nurse about what was on my legs. She explained what they were called (three letters, but I don’t remember what they were) and that they were to keep blood clots from forming. I don’t know how much time passed before I said, “I already asked about what’s on my legs, didn’t I?” She kindly explained again and I said, “That’s what I thought you said.”

I asked for a drink and the nurse offered me ice chips, then spoon fed me a few times. I enjoyed them with my eyes closed. I felt like I could sleep for a year. At some point Husband came in.

The nurse helped me into the chair next to my bed where I rested and sipped some cranberry juice. I could keep my eyes open now, but I felt like they had not only taken the contents of my uterus during surgery, but somehow also my entire supply of energy.

When I finally felt up to getting dressed and going home, someone told me it was 2:00. I was incredulous. I felt like I’d just woken up. I think the combination of extremely low blood sugar (I hadn’t eaten since 8:45 the night before) and the after-effects of the anesthesia were contributing heavily to my lack of energy or alertness.

The nurse helped me into the wheelchair and together she and Husband walked me down to the hospital entrance. Husband went to get the car and the nurse and I chatted about how beautiful the building is. I asked her about her shift length and she shared she enjoyed having weekends off. I climbed into the car, the nurse wished us well, and then we left.

For the rest of the afternoon I sat on the couch in an exhausted daze; we ate our Taco Bell food and watched an episode of “Psych” during which I fell asleep on Husband’s shoulder. I felt nothing. Just exhaustion.

After sleeping the afternoon away I felt fine all evening. My brain and body were a little more sluggish than usual, but overall I felt good. There was no cramping, no bleeding (I hadn’t bled at all since leaving the hospital), no pain at all…and emotionally I felt completely normal. The relief of knowing I didn’t have to sit around unknowing and unprepared anymore was immense, and I reveled in it. That night I went to bed telling myself they’d taken all my hormones, too, so the crazy emotions of pregnancy wouldn’t contribute to sudden outbursts of tears anymore. I could control myself and my emotions again. I was moving on.

Even so, a few hot tears squeezed beneath my lashes as I pressed my head into my pillow. I wasn’t even sure why.

 

My Miscarriage Story, Pt. 3: A Birthday & A Decision

A Birthday & A Decision

Last year I turned 30. Such a momentous occasion warranted a notable celebration, so I got together with one of my best friends and we went to the mall and got my ears pierced–something I’d wanted to do since I was 18. Then we took Little Miss and Miss Bennett with us to get Blizzards at Dairy Queen and enjoyed the ice cream at a local park before playing on the playground. The next evening some other wonderful friends hosted a party for me–my first (and so far only) Dinner in the Dark party. We blindfolded ourselves and ate our meal without being able to see. We played dinner party games and laughed. A lot.

This year was different.

My family sang to me and gave me a container of one of my favourite sweets: candy corn. We skipped church in favor of a family bike ride in the local beach town on Lake Michigan. We played on a playground and then, because it was much colder than we’d hoped, we ate our intended picnic inside while drinking the best hot chocolate in the state, made from warm, melted dark chocolate and milk.

But despite the beautiful sound of the waves on the lake, the gorgeous blue sky and fluffy white clouds, the fresh air and exercise we desperately needed…between every moment of enjoyment was a gaping hole of fear. Would the bike ride initiate the miscarriage process? Would we have to rush home with me sitting on a towel in the car until I could get to the safety and security of our bathroom at home? Would our children be terrified by my cries of pain? What would the “tissue” look like? Would it look like a baby? Could I actually bring myself to flush it down the toilet?

Questions with absolutely no answers. Fear with absolutely no relief.

During all of this I had absolutely no time to feel grief. I didn’t feel the need to cry. I was completely disconnected from the fact that I had, in fact, lost a child. My brain told me it was “tissue” like the doctor said. A “product of conception.” Her technical jargon actually helped me maintain the numbness and focus on the terror I had of the event itself.

I somehow made it through the day, almost forgetting it was supposed to be a special day. I don’t even remember what we did in the afternoon. We put the girls to bed, watched some episodes of BBC’s “Robin Hood” on Netflix, and then went to the bathroom to get ready for bed.

I was brushing my teeth when it happened. I barely spit the toothpaste out in time before I collapsed against the sink, sobbing. It came completely out of nowhere–I felt absolutely nothing until that precise moment and it all came bubbling up in a split-second.

Husband was there next to me in an instant, and we stood together in the middle of our ocean-themed bathroom while I cried. After a few minutes when I’d calmed a little, he took my hand and led me from the bathroom into Little Miss’s room. We brushed the hair out of her face and kissed her cheek and watched her as she rolled over and mumbled into the covers. Silently, we left her room and went to Miss Bennett’s. It was like she was waiting for us because she immediately stood up and reached for us. We held her and kissed her before putting her back to bed, wrapped in a snuggly pink blanket.

We have two beautiful, sweet, healthy girls. Every day we love them and we hold them and we kiss them. Every night we pray that we’ll sleep well and be safe and healthy and happy. And we are. We are happy.

I went to bed that night and dropped a few more tears on my pillow. The next night Husband and I had a heart-to-heart in the dark and decided that a D&C was the way to go for us. On Monday morning I called my doctor.