- We attended a funeral for Anthony's childhood friend
- The sellers for the house we were trying to buy hadn't said anything to us in almost a week
- At about 8 weeks pregnant I started spotting, the doctor and medical assistant told me not to worry as I had no cramping
- I started feeling very sick two days after I started bleeding
Thursday right before I left work I went to the bathroom...and there was bright red blood. My lower back also hurt, which worried me because that's where I tend to cramp during my period. So I called my doctor's office in a panic and asked them what to do, and they told me to come in right then for a blood draw to check my levels, so I did. It took less than 5 minutes, and I was told I would have my results the next morning.
It turns out I didn't need them.
I went home, Anthony and I went about our night time routine, feeling helpless and knowing we could only "wait and see". Like everything else going on in our lives up to that point.
Through all of this, the most frustrating thing was that we had to just keep waiting. We couldn't know, there wasn't anything we could do...we just had to wait and see. With the house we couldn't control the sellers, with the baby we couldn't control...well. Anything.
At 1:30am on Friday I woke up to go to the bathroom, and there was a clot. I knew it was over and in my overwhelming feeling of sadness, failure, and hopelessness, I felt there was nothing to do but accept it. To "keep calm and carry on", as it were. I went back to bed and told Anthony the news, and we cried ourselves back to sleep, while the dream and excitement of our first child washed away from us, leaving two sad, empty shells in the wake.
As I fell back asleep I thought that was it...that we would have to go to work that day (Friday) with the knowledge that we'd lost our baby.
I didn't have a clue.
In the next few hours I learned that I didn't ever truly understand what it would physically be like to miscarry a baby.
I mean...I'd had a few close friends and family miscarry, I've now read more than one or two articles about it wondering how "literature" describes it, because I could not believe my own naivete about what happens during the process. And though I do not fault any of my friends or family in the slightest for not giving me some kind of warning about what would happen, I was a little upset that I didn't have some kind of...I don't know...knowledge or preparedness...of what it would be like.
But I'm not that person who learns something and keeps her mouth shut. I'm just not. I never have been. And this is my blog, so I get to talk about it.
I won't say I ever trivialized my friend's losses because I didn't...at least not emotionally. In my head, knowing someone has lost a child has always seemed like a big deal to me...emotionally. (And it IS.) But I never realized what a woman can go through physically when they miscarry, and if I can't do anything else I want people to understand how it all piles up, physically and emotionally.
I will spare you the worst of the details, but I want to talk about some of it because of my lack of understanding. Because until I went through it any phrase about miscarrying made it sound like your body just goes through some cramps and a little discharge and that's it.
Well. That's not it. At all.
There's some gross girl talk coming up. If you have lost a pregnancy you might not want to read it, and that's okay. If your reason for not wanting to read is that you can't handle someone talking about having a period this next bit is going to be difficult for you, but you should strap on your big kid pants and muscle through a few uncomfortable paragraphs to read the rest of it because it's not all blood and gross.
That said...if you don't want to read it or know anything about it, for whatever reason, skip the rest of this post and pick up with me in Part 3.
I woke up again around 3am and went to the bathroom, and came back and told Anthony we had to go to CVS because I needed pads. Badly. We barely made it there and back (~15 minutes) before I bled through my tampon and pants. And I mean barely. (FYI...you shouldn't use tampons during a miscarriage, but they're all I had to keep my in the "safe zone" while I went to buy pads.)
Every time I moved I could feel discharge. My low back was also cramping badly, and it didn't take me too long to realize that the cramps were actually contractions, coming every few minutes, like clockwork. It got bad enough that by 5:30, between the back pain and the bleeding, I had planted myself on the toilet in the downstairs bathroom, practically unable to move without making a mess.
Anthony had woken my mom up when we got back from CVS, and then sat himself on the bathroom floor next to me, handing me wipes, both of us clueless as to what to do or how to handle any of it.
Another interlude to say: A lot of what I describe in this post is what physically happened to me...what I felt, and all the things that made me cry...but the truth is this happened to two of us. Physically, this happened to me. But emotionally Anthony and I were both left destroyed and raw. That day and the few months that followed weren't the prettiest. There was sadness and anger and we have gone through every emotion together. We are in a good place now, but we have held each other and cried together and fought and loved one another like never before. This tried us but it never broke us.
He has been my rock.
While I sat in the bathroom Hannah was texting me, telling me to go to the ER, that my bleeding sounded way too heavy. I did not want to go to the ER and sit there with what was happening. My mom was also unsure of what we should do, and finally suggested I call the doctor's office, saying "he's an OB. There will be an answering service."
So I called, and she was (of course) right. While I waited on hold for the woman from the answering service to get a hold of the doctor, I listened to the hold music. And because everything has to line up in life and make you cry harder when you're already crying, I listened to an instrumental version of The Beatles 'In My Life' play through the line.
It felt like the universe and powers that be were cocooning me. This was a song I listened to countless times after my dad died. A song that has pulled me through every hard or sad time I have ever faced. A song whose lyrics I posted as my parting words on the white board of my freshman college dorm the week before classes ended. I know every word of this song (and the interlude) by heart. Note for note. And I sang along to that instrumental music while I cried and waited for the doctor to come on the phone, understanding that even though I hated this and felt it was the most unfair thing to ever happen to me, it was happening and there was probably a 'reason' (or whatever). We just had to get through it.
But of all these friends and lovers,
There is no one compares with you.
And these memories lose their meaning,
When I think of love as something new.
Though I know I'll never lose affection,
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them,
In My Life, I love you more...
The doctor finally came on the phone and I burst into a fresh round of tears as I told him I just didn't know what to do, and I felt like I was bleeding a lot, and I didn't want to go to the ER and I just needed him to tell me what to do.
This is where I stop and tell you that Dr Daniel Pesavento (affiliated with Advocate Good Shepard in Barrington, IL) is hands down the most amazing doctor I have ever met. You read that right. The best. Even better than my beloved Dr Gent. From the start of our phone call to the moment I left the hospital there was never a question in my mind that I was Dr Pesavento's most important patient that day (and even if I wasn't, that's how a doctor should make you feel). He answered every question. He explained everything that was going on and what he was looking for. As I went from his office to the hospital, from ultrasound to day surgery, literally every woman I encountered told me he is their doctor too, and he is amazing, and that I was in good hands.
Every one of those women was right.
Dr Pesavento said the ER was an option, but if I could wait until 8:30 I could meet him at the office and he would do the examination himself, and then we could determine a course of action. That sounded much better than going to the ER and waiting around a bunch of people that wouldn't care about me that much.
While I was on the phone, my mom talked to my cousin Jennie (who was already doubling as my doula at this point, so we'll call her that here too), and she came over to sit with us. We spent those few hours at the kitchen table talking (well...I alternated between there and the bathroom). I did some coloring - because what else do you do in a time of crisis? - to calm myself down. Just before 8:00, my grandma came over too, which helped me because I knew she understood what I was feeling - even if the feeling was 50 years removed for her.
And at 8:00 my mom and Anthony and I made our way to the doctor's office.
When he did the exam he told me my cervix was still closed, so he said I'd have to go to the hospital for an ultrasound, because we shouldn't do anything without knowing for sure whether or not there was a heartbeat. If there wasn't, or if the baby wasn't there, he strongly advised a D&C because of how heavily I was bleeding, and he seemed very concerned that I'd been bleeding as heavily as I had for over 5 hours at that point.
When he left the room I called my manager, Steve...and as soon as he answered the phone I burst into more tears and couldn't talk. I had texted him earlier that I wouldn't be at work but I would call to explain, and I'm sure he didn't expect me to call with the news I had. He asked if I was okay, and it was moments before I could sob out, "No." I told him where I was, and what was happening, and that Anthony and I wouldn't be in that day. I said I probably wouldn't be in on Monday either. He told me not to worry about work at all, and that I didn't have to come back until I was ready. That made me feel a little better, considering.
Dr Pesavento came back in with my ultrasound script, and from that point on I felt like he ran Good Shepard Hospital, simply because of the speed with which everything progressed. At one point at the hospital they told me I would have to wait an hour for my ultrasound, and said something about drinking water...well I didn't think that was right, given the possibility of surgery. I didn't think they knew what was going on. So I called the doctor's office and explained to them, and only had enough time to clean up and go sit in the waiting room for thirty seconds before they called me back.
I was in and out of the ultrasound incredibly quickly, on the phone with the doctor a minute later as he explained that the ultrasound showed there was no longer a sac, and that my bleeding still concerned him so he would call and book an OR room by the time I'd be able to walk over to Day Surgery.
So the decision was to do a D&C, mostly because of how much I was bleeding.
As we made the walk to Day Surgery, I had a few house issues crop up. (Because why not.)
I had an email from my attorney with the "final" offer from the sellers of the house. I read it, scoffed, rolled my eyes, and said "fuck these assholes" out loud, and closed the email. To say it was insulting is an understatement. These people clearly thought I was an idiot.
I saw I'd missed a call from my agent, Barb, and she had sent me a text saying she needed to talk to me ASAP. I texted her back and said, "Today is not a good day" - and I'm sure she got the point because she told me it was fine and things could wait. Through the whole process I had literally been so on top of it with the house and the mortgage and everything, so NOT getting a response from me within twenty minutes, let alone one without an answer, was very out of character. I asked my mom if she could call her for me, and she said she would.
Once we knew what was going to happen and I was in the pre-op room...well honestly, I was relieved. Up until that point, absolutely everything had been uncomfortable and humiliating, and to say I felt like I had no control is a trivialization.
Aside: A few weeks ago (ironically at a baby shower) I told someone that the experience was humiliating, and she gave me this completely horrified look and said I shouldn't be embarrassed about losing my baby. The thing was...it's not losing the baby that was so embarrassing. It was the physical process.
I left this out above, but at one point I'd managed to get blood all over the floor in the bathroom at the doctor's office. Managed. It wasn't exactly like I could stop the flow. I also tried to clean it up, because I couldn't just leave it there, could I?
Twenty minutes (and a very uncomfortable pelvic exam later) another gush landed on both mine and Anthony's shoes as he helped me get dressed again. The same happened when I had the ultrasound. I had to sit on chuck pads everywhere I went during that very long morning, and I was very glad I'd chosen black pants when I left the house. I went through multiple pairs of underwear in the short trips between the doctor's and the hospital and it took me no time at all to go through the packs of baby wipes I'd taken from the doctor's office.
I want to be clear that I'm not ashamed I lost our baby. But everything was so humiliating because I had absolutely no control over what my body was doing. I spent 5 hours feeling like I was wetting my pants because there was no way to stop the flow. I felt like, as a potty trained adult, I should be able to control my body's expulsions - even though logically, as a woman, I know there is no way to control the flow out of my uterus.
But we live in a society where we're constantly told to keep our emotions in, stay level headed, control the situation and not let feelings go awry. Sometimes that's incredibly impractical and insensitive...but the conditioning of it doesn't stop us from feeling the extreme lack of control when we no longer hold the reins.
In short...I was ready for the physical part of miscarrying to be done.
(Part 3 will come soon, just wait it out.)