Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Tests

I have an appointment for an ultrasound in a couple of hours.  Basically, they want to make sure that everything's out.  I really don't want to go, and not just because of the hassle of traveling with a broken leg. I don't want people intruding on my private grief with medical interventions and monitors and instruments and writing it all down in their records.  I'm irrationally angry at the OB-GYN practice overall.  Maybe if I'd had a great experience with that midwife, I wouldn't feel that way.  I almost feel like she cursed me or something!  (I know this is not the case--I just feel resentful at her.)  Anyway, I don't want to go today, and they sure as heck better not tell me that they have to do a D&E anyway.  And I'm sick of this stupid cast already.
Stupid everything.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Empty Subject Line

I guess I'm not done writing about this. I don't really feel like talking about it much right now, however.

Exactly a week ago I sat in the chair in which I currently sit, telling my husband that I had been feeling better for several days. In fact, it was the best I'd been feeling, I said, in probably four years! A little time off of work for once in my life, getting to the second trimester, my bronchitis fading, etc. I had big plans for starting to re-weave a lot of trailing ends of our lives.

In fact I had enough energy to take a shower, finally get a nut for the broken manual mower so I could make a start on that lawn, and spend a few hours doing bills and online stuff. Heck, I didn't even need a nap! Then I had a few hours left before everyone got home. I was heading downstairs to finally tidy up the place (for once) and make dinner.

That's when I stopped for a bathroom break and discovered I was bleeding.

My first feeling was simply cold terror. I was shaking when I called TheLimey and told him that I was bleeding, and I was scared. As we went through the process of calling the doctor, making an emergency appointment, asking someone to watch Limelet, etc., it became more a sense of fatalistic sorrow. It seemed like I knew the minute I first saw the blood that this was going to be the end. I wept and begged the little life to stay with me, and promised to by more attentive to it than I had been. As if the problem had been that force of my will was what sustained it, and I hadn't been focused enough.

I did still feel a twinge of desperate hope just because no one would definitively say that I was miscarrying. I wished we could have the the ultrasound that night, but was not surprised that nothing was available until the next day. But as the evening progressed and the bleeding increased and became redder, the hope disappeared. And by 1am I knew for certain that was that 7:30am ultrasound would show nothing good. It was a great comfort lying snug between my husband and son, but I knew the morning would be a sad one. I slept only a few hours that night.

We brought Limelet with us to the hospital for my tests, simply because it was too short notice to arrange child care for so early in the morning. I think we also sort of wanted to huddle our tribe together for warmth. TheLimey stayed in the waiting area with him as I went to have the ultrasound.

This was completely different than any previous ultrasound. It was so awful lying there knowing the tech was examining images of something dead instead of the bouncy little fetus we saw with Limelet. I went to the bathroom and sobbed between sets of ultrasound. It didn't matter to me that the tech couldn't tell me anything, because I already knew. We went back the the OB-GYN to discuss the results and I dully followed the usual routine, blood pressure, etc. At least they didn't weigh me yet again.

The doctor was kindly, and I tried to be polite and not too sullen with her, but she couldn't tell me much I didn't already know at that point. I mainly wanted to know how much bleeding would be considered too much, and some other practical things. She wanted to make sure that I would return for aftercare, since I rejected the D&E, at least initially. I felt a little bit like she wished I would just have the D&E and get it over with, but I was really not interested in doing that unless I absolutely had to. I asked about canceling my prenatal appointments, and she wrote it on my exit slip. "Cancel prenatal appointments." It was right there with the office code for miscarriage. In quite large print.

The receptionist took the slip and entered something into her terminal, muttering to herself in a perky tone of voice, "So, cancel, the uh..." and then asked with apparent puzzlement, "So, you won't be coming in for your first trimester screen Friday?" I could have smacked her for being so dense and insensitive but settled for just saying "No."

We got breakfast at the McDonald's drive-through and ate it at home. Both of us kept hugging and patting and stroking Limelet and reiterating to one another how grateful we were to have him. Then TheLimey took him to day care. I was relieved that at least Limelet would have a sort of normal routine for the day, with people he likes, who weren't miserable.

TheLimey was initially going to take a nap and then get back to work, but soon saw that that wouldn't work for either of us. We took a nap (a shocking three hours, nearly), and then a walk together around the neighborhood. It was a lovely afternoon. We got coffee, since now I can have coffee. Afterwards we picked up Limelet and played with him in the back yard.

I felt disoriented and melancholy. I only hoped that the miscarriage itself wouldn't be too many days away, and that I wouldn't require surgical intervention. I was supposed to call after it occurred for another ultrasound to make sure there was no remaining tissue. I hoped to spend some time over the following weeks walking around town, being outdoors, driving around the countryside, going to the library, and so forth. I could begin to keep house and take some of the load off TheLimey. I knew at some point I had to start thinking about work, but couldn't even approach that topic yet. Too many complications.

I felt alternately okay but sad, and just plain sad, bursting out crying every time something reminded me of my, our, hopes. The maternity blouses, the baby carrier, the groceries I bought with prenatal requirements in mind. I felt stupid for having got them, like buying presents for someone just before they break up with you.

That afternoon I told my body that it was okay to start again. I felt like I had stopped the progress the previous day by being scared and, I guess, overtly asking it to stop. If I'd had any sense, I'd have waited until the morning when I'd had some sleep to give the go-ahead. But perhaps it would have happened as it did regardless.

I've already detailed the process in my last post. While it was occurring, I didn't have time or energy to feel sad. It was enough to get from one contraction to the next, just as in birth there's no time to feel happy until it's done. I coached myself through the contractions, telling myself through each one that I could do this, I could do this.

In retrospect I find it extremely strange that we insist upon birthing mothers having attendants--it's practically a law--but we're expected to miscarry alone? This is awful. It's the same painful process, but with a lot more blood, and no pretty little baby at the end. It's sad, scary, and shouldn't have to be lonely as well. After an hour, the contractions got worse (as I described), and it actually felt like transition. Perhaps it was. If I'd had someone with me, I probably wouldn't have broken my foot when I fell. If I ever have a friend who's going to miscarry, I'm offering to stay with her.

Because of my broken foot and the need to get that taken care of the following day, TheLimey had to take even more time off work. We were both stressed and exhausted, and I was so disappointed about so many things at once that my mind could barely even function. Let alone process the trauma of the previous night.

This broken foot meant that I couldn't spend the next weeks and months just getting myself together and figuring out...everything. Recovering from the miscarriage. Getting the housekeeping in order, finally. Getting our lives organized. Exploring this city where I've lived for a year now. Exercising once again. Repairing my environment and myself. Taking some weight off my husband's shoulders. Instead, I'd be stuck for the rest of summer in a cast, my husband stuck with doing even more work than before, not less.

The miscarriage feels tragic, but the broken foot feels like a personal insult.

This article is pretty right, although I'm not a "mother without child." I do wonder what the hell it is about our culture that makes this something to--as the author describes--hide and soldier through and clean up. The hell with that. Yet another thing for us to pretend doesn't hurt.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Frank Account of Natural Miscarriage at 11-1/2 Weeks

WARNING: This is a graphic account of my personal experience of a natural (i.e. non-surgical) miscarriage. Do not read it if you feel uncomfortable reading about biological events, blood, or pain. Also don't read it if you are having a normal, healthy pregnancy because you will worry unduly. Go look at Babies-R-Us or something fun.

I have had the miscarriage naturally as was my first inclination. Even if they had scheduled me for the D&E the next day as they wanted, it would have been too late as it occurred the night after the ultrasound. I didn't really get a chance to look up information about it that evening, but I pretty much knew how it would happen.

I had bleeding and mild cramping during the day, which became increasingly stronger and closer contractions from about 10pm to midnight (any kind of labor just has to happen when you need to sleep instead of when you're rested, right?) I had taken two Advil but don't think they really did much. While lying down I did some pelvic tilts as that was something that actually helped when I was in labor with Limelet. I asked TheLimey to take over watching the sleeping Limelet, as he (Limelet) was sure to freak out if he awoke and realized I was not where I usually am, and got up from bed.

I went into the bathroom and almost immediately passed some tissue. Although the doctor had warned me that sometimes people are able to identify parts of fetal remains, I never saw anything like that. Just what appeared to be various blood clots. This is probably a mercy. I spent another hour having strong and painful contractions maybe every 30 seconds or so. I used pelvic tilts and some pushing to help diminish the pain, with moderate results. It got so I could tell when the pain would diminish because I would hear a little trickle of blood at the peak of each contraction. I felt grateful that no one had yet moved in to the townhouse on that side, as they probably would have thought someone was being tortured over here, once a minute or so. (I guess in a way, I was.) My sense of time was very similar to being in labor, but I had a clock right next to my head so I did actually know how long it all was. In between contractions I would read a few lines of of a novel.

At 1am the contractions started getting stronger, closer together, and more painful, though I had expected the opposite. I could also hear that Limelet had woken up and was crying and screaming for me, which was very distressing to me, but it couldn't be helped. I started feeling very faint and sweaty, and tried to put my head down as far towards my lap as I could in order to keep my blood pressure up. However, after all that blood loss it was not enough, and I did faint, and fell onto the floor.

I don't know how long I was out. Probably not too long. I was actually having a pleasant dream and did not want to wake up. What awoke me was pain in my ankle, which was twisted into an awkward position. I managed to wake up enough to move it--it still hurt--and then I simply lay on the floor for a while with my face pressed against the cool tiles. The contractions did begin to abate slightly at that point, thank goodness, though they were still quite painful. I found my book and used it for a pillow.

After a while I was able to get up again. Well, as far as the fainting went, anyway. I couldn't stand on my right ankle.The bleeding had slowed and was no longer trickling out with each contraction. I washed my face and hands and drank some water. I got an overnight pad and returned to the bedroom (I had to crawl), where Limelet had quieted down and was starting to nod off with Daddy. Though normally I don't nurse him at night, I decided to make an exception this time. I thought that if nursing after birth helps to stop bleeding, then nursing after miscarriage might do the same. It's the same process, after all. (Yes, I'm one of those hippie types still nursing a toddler! And man has it ever turned out to be useful a lot of times.)

I knew my soccer-coach husband would take care of my ankle. He propped it up and wrapped it in an ankle-shaped ice thing that he keeps in the freezer. I sat up and held Limelet because I my ankle was propped up, and was still having too painful of contractions to sleep anyway. I probably dozed for a few hours that night. The contractions slowed greatly during the rest of the night.

The next morning I discovered that I could still not walk on my ankle, and after a day spent at various doctors and labs it turned out to be broken. So there's a risk you don't hear of.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bad News

I began bleeding yesterday and had an exam that evening, then was scheduled for an ultrasound at 7:30 this morning. I knew it was bad even before they started, and I was right.  The pregnancy is lost, although I have't completed the miscarriage yet.  The development stopped at about 9 weeks (or 7).   It's not going to be fun, that much I know.  I may end up deciding to do a D&E, but I have to look up the info first.  I don't like surgery, either.