Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

In October 1988,  President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  "When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called widow or widower.  When parents lose their child, there isn't a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the US and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, still births, birth defects, SIDS and other causes".  October 15th has since become "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day". 

This isn't going to be an easy post to write and I imagine for some it may be equally hard to read.  As joyful as I am about Baby's O impending arrival (we get to meet him in 6-8 weeks!) I have to be honest about the mixed emotions I am experiencing right now.  The fact that this is happening around Infant Loss and Remembrance Day is not lost on me.

Our journey to parenthood prior to surrogacy was a rocky one with lots of sadness, loss and disappointment along the way.  During the nearly four years that Jason and I were trying to conceive, we experienced three miscarriages and one chemical pregnancy (which is a very early miscarriage before a pregnancy can be seen on an ultrasound).  Each loss was devastating, even the very early one.  I actually documented my second loss right as it was occurring because a local radio show was asking for listeners to share their infertility story at the same time I was experiencing the miscarriage.   If you are interested, you can read what I wrote at that time here.

With Baby O on the way, the heartbreak from those losses was finally starting to fade.  Until this past Sunday that is.  I woke up at 6am Sunday morning with intense cramps.  I couldn't remember ever having such a painful period.  I tried in vain to go back to sleep but mostly just writhed in pain, feeling nauseated and miserable.   Jason slept through most of it but finally woke up around 8am when he heard me moaning.  I told him that I could never have a baby because I couldn't even handle these period cramps.   I began pacing, lying on the bathroom floor, dry-heaving- I didn't know what to do with myself and didn't know what was wrong.  Finally, around 9:30, I felt a severe cramp and then TMI WARNING: I expelled a large clot.  Soon, an all-too-familiar sensation began happening.  I began bleeding.  A lot.  It was at this point that I began to think that maybe this wasn't a just a period. I thought back to the last time I had a period and realized it had been over a month.  I had been late back in August  and remembering thinking that I could be pregnant, but then I started spotting so figured that I wasn't.  Now I was beginning to wonder if perhaps I had been wrong.

After soaking several pads, I finally called the doctor and she encouraged me to watch the bleeding and if I soaked more than two pads in an hour I should go to the ER.  Not again!  I really, really did not want to have another hemorrhaging episode and did not feel like spending time or money at the ER, especially when I wasn't even certain what was happening.  Poor Jason had plans to go to a Falcons game with his buddy from college who was in town visiting.  I know he certainly didn't want to spend his Sunday in the ER either.  I told Jason that if it came to that, he could still go to the game.  "I know the drill" I told him.  I was surprisingly flippant about the whole thing.  More annoyed then anything. "Have fun with your friends. I'll be fine," I told him.  If I had to go to the ER, I knew I didn't want to be alone, but we agreed his mother could go with me if it came down to that.  When the bleeding didn't subside, I called the doctor again and ultimately asked her if she could just call in  a prescription for methergine, a medication I had taken in the past to stop the bleeding.   She agreed but insisted I go to the hospital if the medication didn't work.  I promised that I would and just hoped that that I wouldn't have to.  While at CVS picking up my prescription, I also picked up a pregnancy test.  I didn't really think it would show anything- I figured if I was pregnant, it was probably too early for it to even register on a pregnancy test. But figured it couldn't hurt to see.

When I got home, I took the methergine and then, out of curiosity, took the test.  I was floored with how quickly the results showed up.



I was also floored by my reaction.  ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?!?  WE GOT PREGNANT ON OUR OWN?!? WHEN WE WEREN'T EVEN TRYING?!? AND NOW I'M LOSING THE PREGNANCY?!? IS THIS A SICK JOKE?  I couldn't believe it.

Thankfully, the medication seemed to do the trick and the bleeding subsided.  Physically, I was doing okay. Emotionally?  That was another story. It is still really hard to wrap my head around all of this.  Unlike my other miscarriages, this one didn't feel like a loss because I had no idea that I was even pregnant to begin with.  But it does feel like just another reminder that I have a crappy uterus.  What is wrong with me?  Why can't my body do what so many woman have done from the beginning of time?  Did I REALLY need this reminder?  Wasn't the hemorrhaging after the last D&C enough?   

Yes, I know I have a baby on the way and I am ever-so-grateful for that.  But I'm not going to lie- I've always still had a fantasy that we could get pregnant on our own and that somehow, without all the treatments and the meds, I would carry our miracle baby to term.  So I guess I do feel a loss- a loss of my hope and fantasy of experiencing pregnancy and childbirth on my own.  And I'm left with that oh-so-familiar feeling of being broken.

Monday was a surreal day.  It started with our regular 8am ultrasound appointment for Baby O.  He looked great and I was of course pleased, but I was still reeling knowing I had to have my own u/s later that day to make sure the pregnancy had passed.  If it hadn't, I would no doubt require a D&C.  I had my u/s that afternoon and thankfully, the tech said she couldn't detect anything in my uterus other than some clotting.  I was relieved.  When I met with my OB/GYN she did an internal exam and was very surprised to see pregnancy tissue.  She asked me if she could do an endometrial biopsy.  Ugh. I had this procedure after my last D&C and it was brutal.  It basically means scraping the uterus to try to get out any leftover "products of conception".   Jason likened it to getting the seeds out of a pumpkin.  Lovely image, but actually quite accurate. The procedure is done without anesthesia (though I think she used some lidocaine) and although brief, its incredibly painful.  I knew doing this would save me from having to do a D&C so I agreed.  During the procedure, the doctor told me that based on the size of my uterus, she presumed I was probably about 6 weeks pregnant.  Ouch.  That stung.  She also suggested that Jason consider getting a vasectomy, as I cannot be on birth control due to a history of a blood clot. She wanted to prevent me from getting pregnant again. I had a hard time digesting both those pieces of information.

To think that I was six week pregnant without even knowing it was really mind-blowing.  I spent so many years charting my menstrual cycles, timing intercourse, obsessing over pregnancy symptoms, wishing, hoping praying to get a positive pregnancy test and now, when I wasn't trying to get pregnant or paying any attention to my cycles or symptoms I find out I am six week pregnant?  Or should I say was six weeks pregnant.

The vasectomy piece was troubling too.  Once Jason got over the initial queasiness about the surgery, he was surprisingly okay with it (as long as he can do it during March Madness so he can watch basketball while he's recovering).  "What if something happens to me and you re-marry and want to have another child?" I asked. "I'm not planning for that contingency," he replied.  If I'm being honest, I think I'm actually less okay with the vasectomy idea than Jason. If he gets a vasectomy it means that I can never get pregnant again.  Which I know is the goal.  No one wants me to experience another miscarriage.  But the thought of me not being able to get pregnant again...of that fantasy never becoming a reality...that is hard for me to accept.  I'm sure I will be able to in time....I still need to process it all though.

It's been a little tough as well because Jason and I really aren't on the same page with all of this.  He doesn't seem too upset or affected by this latest miscarriage. He doesn't really get why this is so hard for me.  I think men have a much easier time compartmentalizing.  It's very matter-of-fact for him- the fact is, I can't carry.  I feel like for me, I have to grieve that fact all over again.  I have to let go of that fantasy.  For Jason, we are still getting Baby O and this was always his end goal.  For me, Baby O was the end goal but I still wanted to experience that means to the end.   I guess since he is a guy and was never going to be pregnant or experience delivery he doesn't feel like he is missing out.  For me, this loss just opens up old wounds and reminds me of what I can't do. 
  
I'm really, really glad all this happened last weekend and not this upcoming weekend. This weekend is Baby O's baby shower.  I would hate to have missed it because I was miscarrying! I'm pissed that this all had to happen now because it definitely taints my excitement about the weekend.  But I'm going to try and shift gears and focus on all the good and positivity ahead.  Once again, I'm left with those conflicting feelings that I first discussed on my "I'm on a Boat" post -  of gratitude and anger, of feeling robbed and feeling blessed.  I'm furious at my body.  I'm sad that I'm so broken.

Yesterday, after I got home from work and tried to process everything that had happened over the last two days, I was looking on FB and saw this much-needed post from one of the mothers in my Intended Parents FB group.  Monday's are days where members are encouraged to post what they are grateful for.  Here was her gratitude post: 

Grateful Monday: (love this!) as I sit here nursing my son to sleep at the close of the day, it's obvious to me what I'm most thankful for. I'm thankful for what I've been given, despite what's been taken away. I'm grateful for my healthy little boy, who loves me, even if I'm a little less whole. This is the only way he knows me, and in his eyes I'm not broken. I'm just mama.

In about 8 weeks (minus the nursing part) I know that I will be feeling the same way about Baby O.  That's what I'm going to try to focus on...

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