Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On the follow-up appointment and dead baby blogs

Yesterday I had my follow-up appointment with the NP at the OBGYN office. I was given a clean bill of health and am now just waiting for my period. The NP asked me "how I was doing" and I wanted to say "you mean aside from the dead baby?" I knew she meant well though, and she was asking me that to find out how I was physically and emotionally doing. So my answer was that I'm doing okay. Not great. Just okay. Some days are worse, some are better, but in general I think I'm healing.

On another related topic, I've been reading a lot of blogs involving miscarriage and loss. I think my husband thinks I'm psycho. When he walks in and sees me reading one of them he makes a sarcastic comment like, "Ooh, fun stuff." When I tell him about one of the stories he'll imply that it's not healthy for me to be reading those kind of things because it will just make me more worried the next time I'm pregnant.

Last night I felt the need to explain to him why I read them. It's because you women are the only ones who have been through what I've been through. My husband has been through it in a way - he's very sad that it happened and he wanted the baby as much as I did, but it's much more personal for me. It was my body. I read the dead baby blogs to validate my feelings. I want to know that I'm not crazy for being sad, and there's no reason that I should already be "better" just because my body has healed physically.

I read a blog of a woman who said that she's afraid that if she starts acting like everything is okay, then everyone will forget. I can relate so much to that. I can walk around like a normal person every day, but that doesn't mean it's over. There is still a baby that I loved and wanted that will never be. I don't want it to be the elephant in the room that no one can talk about. I had a miscarriage. No child before or after that child can replace it. So I don't want to talk about it incessantly or obsess about it. I just want people to remember.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Baby books

It occurred to me yesterday that I had come very close to starting a baby book for the little person that was growing inside me. I got two for my first baby so I had a spare book. I thought it would be nice to start writing in it early to record those "early thoughts" and excitement of the beginning of a pregnancy. I had the ultrasound pictures of the blob that I was given when the blob was 8 weeks and 6 days old. I would have put those in too.

I never got around to it...and now I'm so glad. Because what the hell do you do with a partially filled out baby book belonging to a baby who died? It's not like I could throw it out, and I certainly couldn't use it for another baby. So would it just sit there forever on my bookshelf and remind me of what I lost?

When my son woke up from his nap yesterday afternoon, I went into his room and scooped him into my arms, and held him really, really tightly, and I cried.

And then last night, I got out his baby book and I added the things that I had been "meaning to get to." I added some pictures we took in the hospital after his birth, and I taped our medical bracelets in, and I added pictures from his first birthday and wrote about the cake I made for him that looked like his favorite crab rattle.

And I know it won't keep him safe, but I feel better knowing that more of his life is recorded.

Then there's the second baby book that I never did write in... It's still sitting on the top shelf of the bookcase in the spare bedroom, empty. I hope, I hope, I hope I get to write in it someday.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Better check those iron levels

** TMI WARNING** This post is not for those with weak stomachs...

So, I've stopped bleeding. I feel a little weird about broadcasting that to anyone who wants to know, but the way I see it my blog would be totally uninteresting to anyone who hasn't had a miscarriage or lost a baby anyway, so you've all been there. So there ya go. Consider yourselves the (third or fourth) to know that it's been about a week and a half since my D & E and I have successfully stopped bleeding.

Of course, in the process of the "spring cleaning" of my uterus, there was one particularly exciting day of cramping, huge clots and lots of gushing blood. I was not expecting that at all and I'll admit that it freaked me out. I'm a pretty level-headed person, but all the "call the doctor immediately if..." lists said that if you passed clots larger than a walnut shell or bled through more than a pad in 1-2 hours, to call in. I called, while sitting on the throne after having lost several major clots, and was asked if I could hold. Can I hold? Suuuuuuuure. Why not? I may be hemorrhaging, but the polite thing to say is "sure." So I was on hold. For 5 minutes and 48 seconds. Are you kidding me? I hung up and called back and my call was luckily answered immediately by someone else and I was NOT asked to hold this time.

I spoke with a nurse for literally 25 minutes (which is when I knew that they were at least a little concerned) and they scheduled me for an ultrasound the next morning at 8:30am. Long story not-that-short, the ultrasound showed that everything looked normal and I had only one clot left, which I then lost a day later.

Now it seems that I've stopped bleeding. That makes me really happy because it gives me hope that my body is now going to begin the process of making my uterus hospitable for another try at a baby. (Of course, we'll wait the recommended one cycle before we try again, but it's a step in the healing process for me.) Keeping my fingers crossed that I *really* get my period in 4-6 weeks...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fraud

The truth is, I feel a little like a fraud. Here I am with one healthy baby and one miscarriage. Those odds are 50/50.

When I look up miscarriage on the internet, I find thousands of stories of women who have had two, three, four miscarriages, and no healthy children. I feel guilty. Guilty for feeling as sad as I do that I lost this baby, and guilty for being in the same category as these other women who have had so much more sadness than I have. I can't even begin to comprehend the sadness of someone who has undergone fertility treatments and then miscarried. Their pain must be multiplied a hundred times over.

So I find myself apologetic about my miscarriage. When I tell people about it, I tend to say things like "you were so much further along" or "there was clearly something wrong with my baby" (this to a mom who had an incompetent cervix and lost a perfectly healthy baby at 5 months.) I'm not sure what it is that makes me do this. Not sure why I can't just allow myself to feel whatever I feel.

And the strangest thing is that I'm not even sure what I feel. I wanted this baby. I loved this baby. Do I cry when I think about it? Sometimes. Do I cry for no reason? Sometimes. Do I feel like the world is over? No. What's the "right" way to feel? Hmmm... that's a tough one, Dr. Freud.

I'm comforted by my beautiful son. I'm comforted by the thought of trying again. But will I still feel that same guilt? I'm scared that if I get pregnant right away that I'll be "out of the club" of women who have miscarriages. At the same time, I'm afraid I'll be the crazy pregnant woman who second-guesses every little thing about the pregnancy. Why am I not nauseous? Why do I have more energy? Will I hear the heartbeat at the ultrasound? Should I rent a Doppler so I can hear it every day? I should be enjoying the pregnancy in ignorant bliss, but that will be impossible now that a baby had been taken away. And the worst part is that not many people know about my miscarriage so they'll think I'm even MORE crazy when I worry. So do I tell them? Do I explain why? Or do I just suffer in silence with the guilt of "only" having one miscarriage? Having one miscarriage isn't that bad in comparison to lots of others, but I can tell you, it's not that great either. :(

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The end of one thing and the beginning of another

Miscarriage is a strange thing. It's different for everyone, but for me it was like losing something before I ever had it. It's a little like living between two worlds. To me, it wasn't really a "person" yet (we hadn't named it or anything) but at the same time, I feel like I lost something that was part of my family. Does that make any sense? When I think about this baby that will never be, I feel like I want to write a letter to it about how much we loved it and were looking forward to welcoming it to our family. When I think about writing it, I think that maybe I'll write it and then stow it away for when the baby is old enough to understand it. And that's when I remind myself that though there may be other babies, this baby will never be. Note to self: I guess there is a denial stage.

I have a beautiful one year old who is the light of my life. I have a loving husband who I adore and we're living the American dream (dollar by dollar, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, but living it nonetheless.) We got pregnant the second time without too much effort and were thrilled to watch the ultrasound screen that showed the beautiful and strong heartbeat (160-something beats per minute) at 8 weeks 5 days.

Everything seemed normal to me. I had no bleeding, cramping, or spotting even. I was still having morning sickness, cravings, hormone headaches, and was very, very tired. I was looking forward to the date, a couple of weeks in the future, when I would be moving into my second trimester and would be able to share my happy news with people outside of my family.

Then at the 11 week ultrasound (which I went to alone because it was supposed to be a simple screening for Downs Syndrome), the ultrasound showed that the baby was only 9 weeks 5 days and had no heartbeat. Smack. There it is. This can happen to me too. Not that I EVER took my first baby for granted - I know how fragile life is, and I only breathed a little easier about him when I knew he had passed the cusp of viability. But no matter how much one prepares oneself to potentially be in that 15 -25% (depending on who you're listening to) whose pregnancies end in miscarriage, I don't think you can ever be ready.

So the day after I found out, I was scheduled to leave for a week of vacation in the next state. I thought I could wait until the Monday I came back to have my D & E. My first reaction was maybe to ignore it and "not let it ruin my vacation." Turns out that's a whole lot easier said than done. Grieving is hard enough. Then add the knowledge that once the D & E is done, you'll have to start grieving all over again. My husband and I drove home mid-week and I had the procedure so that I could start moving on.

All that being said, I've been thinking a lot about God lately. I went to church for my entire childhood and was confirmed in junior high. I rarely go to church now, but I still consider myself a believer. So now that the reality of miscarriage is here, I feel at least a little comforted by thinking about the fact that this baby just wasn't meant to be. It sucks that my husband and I had to fall in love with it before it was taken away from us, but I believe in fate. I did not do anything that made this baby die. My body is capable of growing a baby, so that leaves the conclusion that there was something genetically wrong with the baby and it would never have been able to live outside of my body if it had been born. This is the thought that helps me to sleep at night. (Maybe the thought of the Ambien on my bedside table helps me to sleep too, although I haven't taken one yet.)

So where does that leave me? Bleeding. Fun stuff, right? For those who have gone through it, I'm sorry. This is no fun. For me, one of the worst things is that I'm looking forward to trying again, and the timeline seems endless. Bleed for a couple weeks... Get your period within 4-6 weeks... Babies come when they feel like it, I guess, but I was hoping to deliver before or during the summer (I was due in March) so that I wouldn't have to have a newborn in the dead of winter. And did I mention that I should be three months pregnant?

Ironically, I just realized that today is the day. Today is the first day of my would-be second trimester when I should be making excited phone calls to friends and relatives. And instead, it's the one week anniversary of the day that the remainder of the pregnancy was suctioned from my uterus, and I'm sitting here thinking about the timeline. Six weeks brings us to late October. My doctor says I can try again once I get the first normal period (all doctors have different recommendations) so that brings us to November. (That is, if I even get my period within 6 weeks. I read someone's blog last night who has had two miscarriages and both times didn't get her period until the 7th week.)

So IF the stars align, and IF I get my period in the prescribed timeline, and IF we get pregnant easily, MAYBE we'll have an August baby. Hmmm... What will be harder? Grieving the loss of something I never had, or worrying every day about a possible new little person growing inside me? I've been wondering how women who have had "missed" miscarriages (like mine was, with no sign of trouble) can sleep at night carrying another baby without wondering if its little heart still beats in rhythm with hers.