If you haven’t read Sunday’s post, please do so before reading this one. This week’s blog posts will be back-dated journal entries of what I experienced over the last 11 weeks regarding a pregnancy that will end in miscarriage.
June 29th, 2012
After facing the news head on and putting on a brave face for Benjamin (over the phone, since he was still traveling), I wallowed. I went and got a pedicure in the middle of the afternoon. I ate an entire bag of cheese flavored Pirate Booty. I called my mom and cried and cried. Then I called my sister (a doctor who has experienced 2 miscarriages followed by 2 beautiful daughters) and cried and cried some more. The next night my brother called me because he had been thinking about me so much, and although I told myself I was done with crying, I cried some more. Despite not being “a crier”, I just couldn’t stop the waterworks. It was cathartic. It was exactly what I needed to do. There’s no way to sugar-coat it. This sucks, no matter how this story turns out, or how strong of a person I am.
I put myself on self-imposed “bedrest when possible”. Sometimes that meant running around after Owen and tossing him into the air a million times just to see him grin and squeal (hey, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do), and other times it meant laying on the couch in our living room for as many hours a day as I could stand. I napped when Owen napped. I stopped working out and even walking very far in the heat. First trimester exhaustion + bedrest + fear of moving = a match made in heaven. Ha.
Today we drove up to New Hampshire for the first half of our vacation week (Owen’s daycare is closed for the week of 4th of July, so we decided to get out of town over those days we weren’t paying for school). On the drive up I tried my best to put my nausea behind me and be at peace with the situation, whatever happens.
All of the clichés are 100% true. This is out of my control. There is no substitute for time. The best thing I can do is be good to my body. This helplessness blows.
I am not nearly as Zen inside my head as I seem on the outside.
July 5th, 2012
Ultrasound day. (You know, for what feels like the millionth time). To be honest, this 8-day wait couldn’t have come at a better time. The last few days were chock full of fun, activity, good food and in-laws who couldn’t wait to take Owen off my hands for a few hours. I napped. We took walks. We went whizzing down a mountain on a zipline. We went to an amusement park. Then we drove to a friend’s beach house for a few days. We walked down to the beach and waded in the ocean. We grilled delicious burgers. We laughed at all of the silly things our 2 year olds said. In short, it was the perfect way to pass the days. They practically flew by.
And yet, still, in the back of my mind during all of these activities, was the dread. The dread of what we would see in today’s ultrasound. The scenarios I played in my head over and over again of the various outcomes. The questions of “Am I still pregnant?” every minute of every day. It was exhausting.
We drove home from the beach a little earlier than we planned so we could make it in time for my ultrasound appointment. Though Benjamin was home this time, we didn’t have time to find a babysitter for Owen, and frankly there had been enough disruption in his schedule with staying in different rooms and late bedtimes, etc., that we decided Benjamin should stay home with Owen when I went to get my results. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fully concentrate if Owen was there, and frankly I didn’t want to have to temper my emotional response knowing that he’d probably be freaked out to see me crying. So, reluctantly, I headed to the appointment alone. Again.
When I went in, I told the ultrasound tech (the same woman I had seen for the other two ultrasounds) that although of course I was hoping for a positive change, I was as prepared as possible for bad news. I know it isn’t her job to deliver that news, and I hoped that my candidness and composure would help her feel less awful having to tell me that the pregnancy wasn’t viable.
As she started the procedure, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. After what seemed like an eternity, I asked her if she could tell me what she was seeing. She said, “I see a flickering heartbeat. You are measuring 6 weeks and 1 day.”
6 weeks and 1 day. Ouch. I had measured 6 weeks at the last ultrasound (a week ago) and by the calendar I was nearly 11 weeks along. I knew what she was saying without her having to say it.
“What is the heart rate?” I asked her. I summoned every ounce of strength to keep it from wavering. I guess there was still a tiny part of me that thought, maybe this can work? Maybe my dates are still just off? “67” she said quietly. She had said enough. I knew what the nurse was going to say. I had done my research.
Surprisingly, I was ok. I think having the information that something was wrong for so long helped me to come to peace with the outcome. I had prepared myself for “Oh my goodness! What a wonderful surprise! You are measuring 7.5 weeks and everything looks great!” and also the opposite, “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat”. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was a continuation of this nebulous wait-and-see period. That was harder to receive than I expected.
When the nurse/midwife came in, she discussed what happens next. In short, nothing. Even though it is clear that this pregnancy is not viable, they/we cannot “do” anything until the heartbeat stops on its own. Once the heartbeat stops, I will have three options. 1) Wait and see if my body expels the tissue on its own, 2) take a medicine to induce a miscarriage at home or 3) schedule a procedure (D&E) to physically remove the tissue from my body.
But until the heartbeat stops? Nothing. I literally sit around and wait for the tiny beating heart inside my body to stop.
Wow. I thought I was as prepared as I could be for today’s appointment. But I really hadn’t considered the possibility that the outcome would be to just… wait. And do nothing. Even knowing that the life growing inside of me is not going to be growing for very much longer.
So we scheduled an appointment for next week. It feels strange and uncomfortable to be wishing that we don’t see a heartbeat at that point, but at least we will be able to move forward and try again after that. Until then, we wait.
I’m scared. I’m scared of what a miscarriage will feel like. I’m scared that it will happen when I’m at work or commuting on the train. I’m scared that it will hurt. I’m scared that it will take us a long time to get pregnant again, and now we’ve “wasted” so much time from when I wanted to have a sibling for Owen. I’m scared that my fertility struggles aren’t just a part of my past, as I thought they were. I’m scared that it will happen again. I’m scared I won’t be able to relax and enjoy future pregnancies out of fear. I’m the most scared there won’t be any future pregnancies.
I know how common early miscarriages are. I know that most women wouldn’t even have had 1 ultrasound at this point in their pregnancy while I’ve had 3, so perhaps I should consider myself lucky. I know that one miscarriage (and even 2 or 3) does not have an impact on future fertility. But it still doesn’t change the fact that this is so, so hard.