Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Over

I was spotting Wednesday, bleeding Thursday afternoon, cramping Thursday night. But then it all faded away. Friday morning the cramps returned in earnest and I was truly in labor – there's no other word for it – until the early afternoon. Luckily J~ was able to get away from work to be with me throughout. B~ (my stepson) was at a friend's house. The timing was good.

It was exactly three weeks after I'd gotten the bad news that pregnancy hormones were not increasing rapidly enough for this to be a viable pregnancy. Three weeks sounds about right to me. I mention this because so many women are convinced by well-meaning professionals that their interventions, either surgical or medical, are needed to help things along. I know it's hard to wait on a miscarriage, but in my opinion, the time is precious. It allows the body to gently switch hormonal gears. It provides space to think and to grieve, assuming you can let yourself be in that space, in that physical window of time before the menstrual cycle and all of life's busy routines crowd a very real loss into obscurity.

And then there is the reassuring miracle that our bodies know what to do. Even if all the tissue isn't expelled at this time, the next cycle will wash the stray bits out. That has been my experience anyway, and I trust it. After all, women have been having miscarriages for thousands of years without ultrasound and drugs, let alone surgery!

I don't mean to make light of the pain, because there is pain. My sister-in-law, whom I supported through a late first-trimester miscarriage, said her pain was no less than the pain she felt as she labored birthing her children, except that it ended at the point that she would normally begin to feel the urge to push.

For me, there is also comfort in seeing what comes out with my own eyes in the privacy of my own home. As I have always done, I collected the mass in a plastic container and took it to an area with good light. I invited J~ to join me if he wanted to see, which he did. (This next part is graphic, so skip the next paragraph if you're squeamish.)

This time there was a mass of deep red, what I took to be placenta, about four inches long and an inch or so thick. Attached to it was a wrinkly white tube which I eventually understood to be the mostly-deflated gestational sac. At one end there was a chickpea-sized bubble where fluid remained. After consulting with J~, I broke this open to find a half-inch long translucent little tadpole. A splotch of blue-black blood lodged in its center — the heart? And a second, much smaller dark area seemed to be in the head. Perhaps the beginning of eyes?

It was reassuring to see this, to understand that my body had built and tried to preserve a little cocoon for this creature though the sac had mostly given way. I don't know what went wrong, and I suppose I never will. But I'm glad to see that for some time anyway, things progressed in at least a semblance of the manner that they should.

I'm still bleeding, still cramping, though with less intensity and frequency as the days pass. And I'm beginning to feel better, more and more like my old self. Deep breath. Phew.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ten Weeks Not

First off, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time and showed so much heart in sharing their stories and opinions. I take it all to heart. J~ and I read and discuss your comments together. It helps. It really does.

The other day I ran into a woman I know, an acquaintance who also happens to be a doctor. I took a deep breath and stopped her to ask if she knew an RE she could recommend who specializes in miscarriage. She didn't even know what an RE was, but of course asked many questions, and before I knew it I'd stumbled into that conversational cul-de-sac I have come to truly hate.  

Have you considered adoption?

Why must everyone ask this? It's part of why I find it so difficult to seek answers and support. Do people honestly think I haven't thought of that? Don't they realize that what they're saying, on some level, is, Have you considered giving up? 

You wouldn't ask an overweight neighbor, Why don't you just go on a diet? If someone stopped you on the street to ask for directions to Joe's Restaurant, you wouldn't say, Have you considered going to John's Restaurant instead? even thoughthe food at Joe's is greasy and over-priced. Wouldn't that be considered rude? Why is this different?

Okay, okay, I'm venting. I know people care and are just trying to understand. My anger isn't with this individual, or with anyone else who broaches the subject. It's just way too flip of a question about way too tricky a subject, and I hate how little sensitivity is built into our societal consciousness. It hits a very raw nerve. Perhaps it would be better if I just got angry in the moment, but instead I take on the role of educator, ambassador for all of us in this hidden realm of pregnancy loss. I make the mistake of answering with depth and feeling. I bare my soul. I told this woman, If my husband and I were ten years younger, if he didn't already have a child, I bet would be looking into adoption. If someone left a baby at our doorstep, or if J~ was saying he wanted to adopt, I'd probably be thrilled. I'd be nervous and I'd have to think about it, but I'd be thrilled. But this is not where we're at.

She was still looking at me with puzzlement and concern, so I went on to talk about the teenage abortion I never wanted to have, my fear ever since that I'd never get to have children. And just when I was about to admit that, at this point, after this many failures, I feel like I want the experience of a healthy pregnancy more than I want the child, I deflected her questioning expression by bringing the subject back around to my quest for help, to my fear of asking. To how much courage it took for me to stop her in passing and ask these revealing questions in the first place, let alone call up strangers on the phone. Because, let's face it, I've been wanting good medical support for a long time and have felt completely overwhelmed and discouraged about seeking it out.

And then she gave me some really good, simple advice. She suggested I let myself have my emotions but keep that separate from the work at hand. Make a list of tasks and do what you need to do

So I did. I sat down with J~ and went over his work schedule. I made some calls. And I made two appointments at times when he is free to come along, one with each of the major fertility clinics in the state. (I can't go out of state without paying out of pocket, so this is where I'll start.) Of course neither clinic wants to see me until I'm no longer pregnant, so both appointments are in July. Hopefully by then I'll be a clean slate, so to speak. Hopefully I won't be writing again next week at "Eleven Weeks Not."

At least for the time being, I'd like my body back.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Nine Weeks Not

Still waiting. Feeling less and less pregnant, though there are moments when I feel nauseous and tender. Strange how these little surges tease up hope, even when I know there isn't a chance.

On the other hand, the very fact that I got pregnant again raises my hopes.

Supposedly I was done trying, but very soon after I found out I was pregnant, I found myself thinking, if this one doesn't work, I might want to give it one more go. I told J~ my thoughts, and he agreed, he didn't feel quite done either. Another year, we agreed. We'll give it one more year.

I'm not sure yet when the clock starts on this One More Year, but certainly we're in the grace period now, while I'm waiting to miscarry, and probably for a cycle or two after that.

In the meantime, I am collecting inspirational stories - there are a nice bouquet of them in the comments of the previous post - thank you all so much!

Anybody else? I'm particularly interested in women who miscarried repeatedly in their thirties and then had a successful pregnancy after forty. I am learning that it happens much more frequently than I previously imagined. Details are welcome and encouraged!

I'm also on the lookout for good medical support. Long time readers might recall that I went to an RE two or three years ago, the only one I could find in my state (Connecticut) who focused on miscarriage. This doc had an air of defeat around him which I found troubling, though I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I got his form letter several weeks later announcing his retirement.

I'm also going to start charting again - I'm suspecting a luteal phase deficit and I want to gather evidence. I'd love to hear about any natural approaches to remedying this, if any exist. I have Clomid-phobia, though progesterone is looking less scary these days...

As for my age-old ambivalence about having children, it isn't exactly gone. I am clear in my desire to succeed at pregnancy, but the next part, where I give myself over physically, mentally, and financially to raising a child, that's harder to wrap my mind around. I really want to cross that bridge. I can imagine the triumph and joy I would feel to have done so. But the landscape on the other side? It still looks pretty darn challenging.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Waiting Game

What a strange thing to be pregnant, yet not. Queasy, sore, bloated, tired. Waiting for the tide to change.

Top that off with running into an old miscarriage-survivor buddy in the store this afternoon - she's pregnant and glowing. I am hopeful for her, but it's bittersweet.

In some ways, this pregnancy's demise has been the easiest to come to terms with yet. After all, I've got lots of practice, and a rich life to fall back on. But I'm forty now. The future doesn't exactly glow with the promise of a shiny new possibility. I am having to face reality in a way I haven't before.

I talk a good game about moving on, but the truth is, I had my life crammed overfull of commitments and distractions. This time in life's waiting room is my free pass, an opportunity to disentangle, weed out the overflow and come back into harmony with the life I want to be living. If it takes a while to move through it, so be it.