The End of the Innocence

“You can lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence”

— Don Henley, “The End of the Innocence” (1989)

I think the most difficult thing about my first miscarriage, aside from the immediate emotional and then physical pain, was that, to quote Don Henley (and, really, who doesn’t love a good Don Henley quote??) it was the “end of the innocence” in my life.

Even writing this, I feel weird, because my life had not been perfect or simple up to then. True, I have a fantastic marriage, a (usually) challenging and fulfilling job, a supportive (if somewhat nutty) family, and by most accounts I am a very lucky person. I do not want for food, shelter, companionship, or love. I worry about things but I don’t really worry about things. I am very aware of how good I have it.

Yet I also have some major things in my life that are not so good. I have two chronic illnesses, clinical depression and ulcerative colitis, that kind of suck. My depression, thankfully, responds very well to Prozac and, if I am taking the proper dose, is completely under control. The UC is a little more prickly and requires lots of doctor visits, fistfulls of medicine (up to 40+ pills per day), regular colonoscopies, and usually lands me in the hospital every couple of years. The drug that has saved my life many times over, Prednisone, also has unpleasant side effects such as sleeplessness, bloating (doctors refer to it as “moon face”), and dramatic weight gain (which is hard to lose because it also screws up your metabolism for months after you stop taking it). Still, while I am the first to tell you that UC is not fun, I could still honestly say that “it could be worse.” Even when laying in the hospital being pumped full of steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and waiting for an early morning colonoscopy, I still felt that “happily ever after” would not fail me (yes, again a Don quote from the same song).

I can pinpoint the exact date when I found it would: Monday, October 2, 2006. Yom Kippur.

I was, at least I thought I was, 10+ weeks pregnant by this point. I was scheduled to have my first ultrasound. This was my first pregnancy and I was SO happy. I got pregnant after 5 months of trying, called my doctor, and was scheduled for my first prenatal appointment (yes, that fateful day when I willingly gave my demographic information to Enfamil, aka “Satan’s Henchmen.”) My husband went with me and, according to my doctor, everything looked good. I could schedule my first ultrasound at my earliest convenience.

I had a horrible feeling that something was wrong starting a few weeks before this. The books I had stated convincingly that all women fear that something is wrong and that this was “normal” and “to be expected” for a first-time mom. Well, in my case, my instinct was right. There was something wrong: there was no baby.

I started getting really nervous a few days before the sonogram, but I tried not to let it bother me. We told close family friends about the pregnancy; we bought a rocking chair. The morning of the scan, I distinctly remember walking through the parking lot to my doctor’s office repeating my mantra: “75% of pregnancies are fine. 75% of pregnancies are fine.” This is one reason why I was still “innocent” — I still thought that I could be on the winning side of the statistics. Everything would turn out okay, right? Everything (mostly) had before in my life. I would be in the 75%+ percent of women who saw the positive pregnancy test and then had a healthy baby. Why should I think any differently?

This is and was the worst part, for me, of miscarriage. The loss is awful, the physical pain is wrenching, but the hardest, and saddest part, is that it changes your world view. You don’t think “everything is going to work out just fine” again. Your optimism, your naivety, your “innocence” are replaced instead with pessimism, fear, and cynicism. You will never be caught off guard because you have changed and you will forever see the world through different lenses.

I sat in the office, waiting to be called in by the sonographer. My husband had joined me and we held hands, hoping to come out of that room with a pretty black and white picture of our shrimp-like spawn. I remember telling the sonographer how far along I was, having her smile, and tell me that I was far enough along to use the abdominal probe. I smiled. My husband smiled. She put the goo on my stomach and the room got very quiet. I knew. She quietly asked me how far along I was again, and then told me that she needed to switch to the trans-vaginal probe. I started to panic. I kept looking at the screen hoping to see a baby, or anything resembling a baby, but there was nothing. The sonographer was very quiet and just kept taking measurement after measurement. I asked her if there was something wrong. Still looking at the screen, she quietly replied, “there is not baby, only an empty sac.”

I remember that I started to sob and that I kept saying to my husband “I knew something was wrong.” Time seemed to stand still and speed up simultaneously. I literally felt my heart breaking. Somehow I made it into another room, and called my mom, who wasn’t home, my sister-in-law, and my mother-in-law. I needed to talk to someone who was a mother, someone who could understand how badly my heart was breaking. I was sobbing so much that I could barely talk. My doctor came in at some point and talked to me about a “blighted ovum” or an “anembryonic pregnancy” and about a D&C, but it is all a blur. I walked through the parking lot with my husband still sobbing and gagging (due to hormones and emotions) and somehow made it to the car, made it home, and made it into bed.

This was a Monday and the OR was not open for the D&C until Friday.

I cried until I literally could cry no more. I was sad. I was broken. I was defeated by life. It was indeed the end of my innocence.

The second miscarriage was also difficult, but I approached it, from the second I got a positive pregnancy test, as if something could go wrong. I did not let my guard down, lest I be sucker-punched again. I trust that the physical and emotional pains will heal but I do not believe I will every be the way I was before that day. Perhaps only holding your own healthy baby in your arms can help you believe that life can be filled with “happily ever afters.” I hope so, but that feels a wee bit too optimistic.

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June 18, 2007. Miscarriage #1.

12 Comments

  1. Tam replied:

    I am so, so sorry. I only got as far as a Chemical and it about broke my heart whe I lost it. I can’t even imagine your pain.

  2. Elizabeth replied:

    I am deeply sorry for you. I only got down as far as when you found out about adopting from china. It breaks my heart to see other women go through these things too… I have miscarried five times, and i’ve only now had the courage to tell anybody. I understand how you feel about enfamil– i was a skeptic to begin with (being 20 when the first happened) and never signed up, thankfully… or 4 missed babies later i would have had JUST ONE MORE REASON to kill myself. I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, i’m on antidepressants…i blame it on the miscarriages… and on myself. If you want a complete stranger to talk to, I would be happy to make this world a little smaller for you.

    I will hold your little one in my heart as i do my own.

    love, from one “orphaned mom” to another.
    Elizabeth.

  3. kona replied:

    So true. Once you have had the carpet yanked out from under you, how can you stand again with confidence? You can’t. You know from personal experience that not all pregnancies have happy endings. Of course, one hopes for the best when you get that BFP, but the innocence is gone.It is a heartbreak that leaves a permanent scar on your heart. You heal, but there’s a scar there nontheless. I’m sorry that you have had to go through this. It would be so nice to be blissfully unaware.

  4. Trish replied:

    Truer words were never spoken. It’s crazy because people hear about my miscarriage (I’m very out of the closet) or my infertility and they are so hopeful for me. Which is sweet, but almost angering. Sometimes I just want to scream “YOU DON’T KNOW THAT!” when they tell me that I’ll be a great mom someday. How dare they try to force hope on me. Don’t they know hope is the enemy?

  5. wowen replied:

    I completely understand that feeling of the ‘loss of innocence’. I used that same expression in helping a friend understand how hard it is to approach each pregnancy. I can’t be excited and pretend that everything will be ok just because I have a PPT. I have had 3 miscarriages since March of ’06 and am currently 7 wks 5 dys with my 4th pregnancy. No reason seems to exist for my losses. Everything seemed to be progressing normally with this pregnancy until last week they told us that the yolk sac may be somewhat deformed indicating a chromosome problem. We find out more this Thursday. I wanted to be innocent and try on that pregnancy bliss with this pregnancy but I don’t believe it can be regained. But, something I feel can’t be stripped away is hope and optimism. That’s what gets you through. It’s what gets me through. No matter how many times I struggle on this journey, I will not lose my hope and optimism. I’ve decided that innocence is the best of these 3 to have to lose. Losing this innocence motivates you to search for anwers, Dr.’s, theories, possibilities. I feel for you and send you hope to get you through.

  6. MommmyKnows replied:

    I hear you 🙂 Miscarriages are so difficult, all your hopes gone! I had 5 before I gave birth to a daughter, I figured she would be our one and only and didn’t give birth control a thought, so 12 months later we had a son. We now have 4 children and wanted to tell you there is hope and happy-endings. I hope you get yours.

  7. Anne replied:

    The “Loss of Innocence” rings too true and I’ve used it to describe of what happened to me. I’ve tried to explain to friends that the phrase “just like last time” means completely different things to them (baby on hip) and me (empty uterus and grief). I now have February 11th etched in my memory as the day that I lost our baby. We’re waiting for another pregnancy to come along, but we now realize that pregnancy doesn’t equal baby. I’m sorry about the Enfamil/Similac flyers – I used to sign obstetric patients up for those and I always wondered what happened if. We held onto the list for a month or two so that we could cross off names if anything happened after that first appointment. I’m thankful that I tried so hard to be sensitive and accomomdating to the patients that came into the clinic miscarrying. I know what it is like to be one of them because I am now one of them.

  8. Erin O' replied:

    Found you through art-sweet, and have enjoyed reading, though I’m terribly sorry for your losses. I understand what you mean when you talk about losing innocence — I’m in the process of trying to regain a little, or find some that’s hiding somewhere. I see it in my new sons, after everything they’ve been through, and I think maybe hope is possible.

    e

  9. Cat replied:

    This scene is almost exactly the same as our experience. I feel your pain intimately and understand completely that loss of innocence. You never look at another pregnancy or anything surrounding the topic the same. It changes everything from that moment forward.

    Sending you some good wishes and love today.

  10. Aisha replied:

    This is a delayed comment…. I just came home from the ER. I lost my baby at 10 1/2 weeks.

    You wrote: This is and was the worst part, for me, of miscarriage. The loss is awful, the physical pain is wrenching, but the hardest, and saddest part, is that it changes your world view. You don’t think “everything is going to work out just fine” again. Your optimism, your naivety, your “innocence” are replaced instead with pessimism, fear, and cynicism. You will never be caught off guard because you have changed and you will forever see the world through different lenses.

    Thanks for putting words for the emotion I struggled all night to find.

    I know you’re probably busy so no need to respond, but when does the pain ease? When do you start to feel better?

    • missedconceptions replied:

      Aisha,

      I am so very sorry for your loss. It does get better, I promise, but it never really goes away. I sit here with my 9 month old son and, if I really think about it, I can still tear up remembering my two miscarriages.

      It is awful. And nobody seems to talk about it, which makes it worse.

      There is a whole community of bloggers who have lost pregnancies and write very elegantly about it. It is a devastating loss, but you will heal. I could not really function emotionally for a month or so, but then everyday got just a tiny bit easier.

      MC

  11. Day of Atonement « Missed Conceptions replied:

    […] was on Yom Kippur, three years ago, that I learned of my first miscarriage and, a few days later, had my first […]

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