Sometimes when I hold S or E in my arms, I mourn the babies that never were. I hold them close and tell them that they are very, very loved and very, very wanted.
I am still having migraines, usually 2-3 per week.
I still throw up in the morning, usually 3-5 times per week.
I have awful sciatica, which means I can’t walk very far. My lower back is either sore or in spasms. I pee every hour.
I had to do the 3-hour glucose test this week. My sugars are on the low end and I often feel lightheaded. I flunked the test. How can I have hypoglycemia and gestational diabetes? I can not add in carbs but I need to increase my calories with more protein.
She-beastie is breech. They can’t schedule a version until 7 July. If I go into labor before that date, I have to have a c-section. In the meantime, I am doing all I can (chiropractic, acupuncture, laying upside down) to encourage her to turn.
My house is a disaster. We had construction done and the results looks fantastic (first floor laundry!) but the dust and dirt are everywhere. I want to clean, but between the migraines, sciatica, and S, things are happening at a snail’s pace. The cleaning ladies are coming for a “deep clean” next Wednesday but that means we have to de-clutter so they can actually clean stuff.
We went way over budget because the previous owners of our house did things on the cheap and we had to fix a bunch of important stuff, like plumbing and electrics. It needed to be done, but we had to take it out of our savings.
I still have a ton of research/writing to do for work and almost no motivation to do it.
My brother got married last weekend. I had to wear a purple maternity dress. ( I think I will save for future dress-up play.) The rest of the wedding party was blond, tan, and scary skinny. I am none of those things. It was an awkward fit.
All that being said, I still realize what a gift pregnancy is. She’s breech, but she’s healthy. I ache, but only because I have a baby within. I had to do a non-stress test in the same room where I first found out my first pregnancy was non-viable. I could feel my axiety increase as I stepped across the threshold, even though I had been in once before when I was pregnant with S. This time, Mr. MC couldn’t come with me, so I was by myself and I was struck by my journey. Before, my heart had broken in this room. Now, I was listening to my baby’s heartbeat and marking her movements. The nurse said her accellerations were “perfect;” before, the ultrasound tech could only tell me “there is no baby.”
I remember when Princess Diana gave birth to Harry and the media quipped that she had fulfilled her duty of providing the royal family with “an heir and a spare.” At the time, I thought it was a very odd thing to say but an even odder way of thinking.
I was talking to my friend the other day and she brought up her step-sister, who had a series of miscarriages before ultimately giving birth to her daughter.
The step-sister now wants another child because — and I am paraphrasing here — you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. She said something about never knowing what could happen and wanting to have more children because she lives in fear that something might happen to the one she had. My friend was horrified and said she just could not understand how a 21st-century mother could think like this.
But I do understand. Two miscarriages taught me to be this cynical.
I don’t worry about Baby S (who isn’t really a baby anymore!) constantly or obsessively, but I do know, first-hand, that shit happens. I want another child because I want another child; I want to have children that can grow up together and learn from one another. Yet I understand what this woman was saying. You lose a pregnancy and you see how fragile and delicate life is. You see how your hopes can be shattered in a minute. In my case, I do not think I will ever completely let my guard down. I try not to let this fear for Baby S overpower me or color how I raise him, but it is always there. Always.
To get to this point in my life, my heart had to break in half. Twice.
I had to have a D&C to remove dead embryonic tissue from my uterus. Twice.
I spent most of my third pregnancy terrified that it would end without a healthy baby. When I wasn’t worrying about that, I was throwing up.
I fall more in love with him every day.
Yes, it was worth it.
I am even considering doing it all over again eventually, which, although I am still a cynical bitch regarding all things pregnancy, I think is the ultimate gesture of optimism.
“Are you pregnant?”
I hated this question because I always wanted to clarify what was meant by “pregnant.” Do I have HCG in my system? Is there something in my uterus? Is there something alive in my uterus? Is there something alive in my uterus that will eventually grow into a healthy baby?
And, if one were to answer yes to all of the above, how long would it stay that way?
“Is this your first baby?”
Yes, Baby S is my first baby.
“Is this your first pregnancy?”
No, this was not my first pregnancy. It was my third.
If you have ever had a miscarriage, however, you know that being pregnant and having a baby are not the same thing.
“Is this your first?”
Well, it depends on whether you mean pregnancy or baby. When people ask me this, I usually just say “yes” because I assume they mean child.
“I am very sorry that you lost a baby.”
I don’t feel like I lost two babies. I lost two pregnancies. It was crushing and sad and awful but it is not the same kind of loss as a still-birth or a child that dies very young. I never got to hold or see my child; the idea of a baby was completely an abstract concept. I lost the hope, joy, and potential that a baby represents, but I did not lose a baby.
“You got the baby you were supposed to have.”
What do you say to this? I had two embryos die in my uterus, had the insides scraped out, bawled my eyes out, etc…, just so I could arrive at the “right” baby? Baby S is here, yes, because I had two miscarriages. The particular sperm/egg combination was unique to that month. Yet, without knowing why the other pregnancies failed, I do not know how to process the idea that those pregnancies were somehow wrong or “not meant to be.”
Anyone want to add anything else?
The fucking yeast isn’t gone.
Now, just to add to the fun, I have the beginnings of mastitis.
Antibiotics can cause an overgrowth of yeast; yeast makes your nipples burn like hell; burning, yeast-infected nipples crack and split; nipples get infected; a course of antibiotics is given to stop the infection.
Does anyone else see a real problem with this?
I am taking both the anti-fungal and the anti-biotic simultaneously and swallowing as many pro-biotics as I can. I am also trying to cut out (or at least down on) sugar, as sugar feeds the nasty little wee-yeasties.
Two years ago, I went in for my 10-week ultrasound and discovered I had a blighted ovum. Today, I am watching my son try to suck on his thumb and blogging about pains in my boobs. All things considered, life is good.
UPDATE: And now, due to the anti-biotic, the yeast is back with a vengeance, even though I am still taking the anti-fungal. Baby S and I are both now back on the topic anti-fungal. I can’t win, I swear.
Yeah, it kind of sucked. I am glad we went but … still. There were about twelve couples, including some teen-agers and their baby-daddies, plus our fearless instructor, who knew her stuff but was not very animated. Most of the couples were bland but some — like the guy who read a novel during class and the woman who came to class in sweats and pearls (and, yes, they were together) — were downright annoying.
I know that as a third-trimester pregnant woman, I should probably still not be so bitter. Sitting in this classroom with all these super-pregnant woman still got to me. It was obvious some of these couples were excited to be parents; it was also obvious some were not. Yet, presumably, all were there with healthy pregnancies. Life is not fair: they had not had miscarriages, let alone two in a row.
We did the “intense” course, which was Friday for three hours and Saturday for eight hours. It was exhausting, even though I found the subject matter interesting. It was nothing that I could not have gotten from a book, but Mr. MC and I had fun making snide comments (we were not rude; the instructor laughed with us) about the cheesy class material. “What are some things that will help moms relax in early labor?” “Whiskey?” “What should moms expect during the transitional phase of labor.” “Someone to bring her whiskey?”
The only really, really sucky part, however, was the tour of the birthing facilities and the postpartum floor tour. This is what I had been looking forward to the most as I had not yet seen one of the fancy new “birthing rooms.” They were, admittedly, very nice and without the huge bed in the middle, looked like a really nice hotel suite. The tub is not big enough for birthing, but plenty big for laboring in, and it was immaculately clean and filled with lots of muscle-relaxing jets.
After the birthing rooms, we walked past the nursery en route to the postpartum rooms. As luck would have it, there was an hour-or-so old baby in there getting her first bath. I could not believe how utterly beautiful she was. Mr. MC and I just stood there gawking at her with a handful of the other mothers. Everyone else in our group, however, was bored and whining. I wanted them to be in awe of this beautiful, healthy baby, too. Did they know how amazing and miraculous this little life was? I had two pregnancies that never resulted in one of these. How dare they sit there and complain about being bored? Fuckers.
Where I really lost it, however, was the tour of the postpartum floor. I have been hospitalized here twice: previously after my first miscarriage/post-D&C debacle and once this pregnancy with the hyperemesis. I guess I did not realize how much being there, especially with all these ungrateful idiots, would affect me. When I was admitted with the hyperemesis, I was so sick and drugged that I barely knew where I was. I felt a little sad, but mostly the nausea and migraines were so overpowering that I did not have time to think about the last time I was on this particular floor. This time around, however, it really hit me. It was really hard to contend with a flood of emotions about my previous pregnancies while at the same time listen to couples twitter on about whether the room they stay in will have a private shower.
Luckily, we were able to find a secluded corner where I could bawl my eyes out.
Does this resentment for annoyingly naive pregnant women ever go away?
They plowed our street today about noon, leaving me with plenty of time to get to the OB’s office for my ultrasound.
The enire time I was at her office, I kept reliving the blighted ovum of yore. Same parking lot; same appointment time; same room; same sonogram machine, same sonographer. (For miscarriage #2 I only had my sonograms at the hospital so I am sure that anxiety will come later.)
This time, insead of an empty sac, we had an actual baby. An actual baby with a heartbeat (176bpm), moving arms, and a squirmy body.
Old wives’ say lots of puking and/or a high heart rate mean a girl. It’s too early to tell (and what the hell do old wives know anyway, right?) but I have both of those. We will name her, if it is a her, after my husband’s bubbe; if it is a boy, we will be kind enough not to name him after a Jewish grandmother.
I am having my “first” (like this is the first time and M.D. will examine my bajingo) OB appointment on 31st of January, and the nuchal-fold test — that I specifically had to request?? — sometime later that week.
Holy fuck — and I didn’t even need to kill the snowplow man.
WARNING: This is a TMI post. You will not be able to un-read it, so if TMI-y things tend to bother you, do not keep reading.
I knew about the sore breasts, the fatigue, and the nausea. I did not know about the constipation. It is in all my books as a “symptom” but I thought with my history of ulcerative colitis that I would cancel out the constipation and end up somewhere around normal. I was wrong.
It turns out that the progesterone capsules I shove up my bajingo twice a day can cause constipation. Even more dramatically, Zofran — the drug that allows me to only dry-heave my way through the work day instead of barfing myself silly at home — also causes constipation. The two of them teamed up and it is not pretty.
The only other time I have had this happen was post-miscarriages when I was pleasantly doped up on pain medicine every four hours. I took Colace (a stool-softener) then, too, and while I was uncomfortable, I was not physically miserable. This time, I fear I started the Colace too late.
I blew out my boh-poh.* I can barely walk and can only lay down in certain positions. I am bleeding and I am seriously considering putting an ice-pack on my ass. Why was I not warned that this could happen? With colitis, I thought not going to the bathroom for a day (or two?) was good news; this was not good news. This is horrible. Awful. Painful.
I am now taking fiber, Colace, and drinking lots and lots of fluids. Prune juice will make me ralph, but milk-of-magnesia is looking better and better. Hopefully, something will work and my boh-poh can heal.
My third ultrasound is tomorrow morning. Did you know that when you are very nervous you tend to clench your boh-poh? Why, neither did I until today. I have been practicing “conscious muscle relaxation” that I learned years ago in yoga. I am sure this is exactly the situation my teacher intended it for.
*My four-year-old friend Maya taught me this word. Some of you may know the same anatomy by the terms “butt-hole” or “anus” but I prefer “boh-poh” — it has a nice ring, eh?
I intentionally booked all my appointments and meetings for this week. First, being this busy helps to take my mind off of the ultrasound next Monday. Second, if I get bad news at the ultrasound, I can fall apart and not have to reschedule anything.
I know. I am such a freaking optimist.
After two miscarriages, the best I can do is realist. Things might be fine but they might not, so it is best to just try and take things as they come.
It is amazing to walk around campus and realize that everyone I see, even if their mothers were not wanded, was at some point a healthy first-trimester pregnancy. They had a head, a body, and a strong heart. They grew and developed and grew and developed and were born. This process is such a normal thing — every child or adult you see is a testament to its success — but it feels like it is continually out of my grasp. I have never had a “good” ultrasound. I had an early ultrasound after I started spotting in pregnancy #2 to ensure that the sac was in the uterus. I also had a 5 and something-week ultrasound with pregnancy #2 that showed a sac and yolk sac, but it was too early to see anything else. Those were the “okay” ones; every other ultrasound I have had either showed an empty sac at 10+ weeks or an embryo with a very slow, non-viable heart rate. I think realistic is pretty good, all things considered.
My boobs are still killing me, the gaggyness is getting more pronounced, and if I don’t eat or if I smell something funny, I get hit with nausea. The Plan is still working, even though I freaked out this morning when the test line was a wee bit lighter than yesterday. I forgot, however, that I got up and peed in the middle of the night; when I took another one this afternoon, it was back to being very dark. How can a 6-week pregnant uterus make you have to pee so much? It must be the hormones more than the physical weight, right?
On a totally non-related note, I heard a rumor that tonight is the last “Office” recorded before the writers’ strike. (Sniffle)
I have been playing phone tag with my allergist’s office for days. I have not been in to their office since this time last year, when I was a few weeks pregnant with pregnancy #1. I finally spoke with them today to find out why they are not refilling my vial of immunotherapy drops. Apparently, it is because they want me to redo all of my skin testing.
Me: “Why do you need to redo all of my skin testing?
Office Lady: “Well, we just want to make sure that what is being put in your allergy vial is still what you are allergic to.”
Me: “Why would it have changed?”
Office Lady: “After the baby is born, sometimes the mother’s allergies change — new things can pop up and other things can disappear? Pregnancy is a very powerful thing!!”
Me: “So I hear. Don’t worry, I had a miscarriage. And then another one a few months later. I am quite sure I was not far along enough either time to change anything.”
Office Lady: “Oh, er, uh, oh, ummmmm, I am so sorry. (Dramatic pause; quite sure I am able to hear a pin drop in background.) Ummmm, can you stop by tomorrow to pick everything up and just meet quickly with the nurse practitioner? We obviously need to update your records.”
“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.
REFRAIN: [to the tune of “Wild Thing”]
Dem -er -ol
You make my cramps stall*
You make pain management … grooovy
Oooohhhh, Dem -er -ol
Dem -er -ol, I think I love you.
*I know that Demerol, unlike NSAIDs, doesn’t really stall the cramps. I know that it just interferes with the perception of the horrifically painful cramps, but at a certain point, I don’t really care what is happening biochemically, just that I am not in pain. Besides, it is difficult to rhyme words with Demerol.
D&C #1, Part A (October 2006):
I found out at 10weeks that I had a blighted ovum (i.e. anembryonic pregnancy = no baby but everything else). This was a Monday. On Friday, I was scheduled for a D&C. I came in on Thursday and cried all through pre-registration and the requisite bloodwork, and then came in bright and early on Friday for the procedure. The highlight was definitely the general anesthesia. Awesome stuff, especially the concoction they give you en route to the OR which is filled with sedatives and pain medicine. I woke up. I was no longer pregnant with a sac. I ate a cheeseburger. I went home.
D&C#1, Part B
Nine days later, I start really cramping and bleeding. Bleeding right after a D&C is normal but starting over a week later is not. I had nothing at all right after the D&C, so this was especially dramatic. I was sent to the ER, by which point I was in a considerable amount of pain and the bleeding was getting worse. Not knowing what to do with me, they did a ultrasound to rule out an ectopic and then pumped me full of NSAIDs (no Demerol this time, folks). I felt a little better. The bleeding slowed down. I didn’t have an ectopic. They sent me home.
D&C #1, Part C
Two days later, eleven days after the original D&C, everything really went downhill. What I thought were painful cramps before were nothing compared to what I had now and I was continually bleeding as well as passing golf-ball sized clots. Back to the ER. By the time we reaching the hospital I was really screaming/crying, and they took me right back to a bed this time instead of making me languish in the waiting room. After THE. MOST. PAINFUL. PELVIC. EXAM. EVER. (by a doctor I only remember as “Dr. Bighands”) and another ultra sound, the doctors determined that I must sill have placental tissue in my uterus that was missed in the D&C, Part A. The pain was agonizing and the three doses of morphine did nothing to help (yes, THREE doses of morphine didn’t touch the pain.) The ER doctors decide to call in an OB consult.
The OB surgeon, who was a tiny little woman with tiny little hands, told me that Dr. Bighands didn’t do any measurements, except to note that my cervix was dilated (NO! really??), and she would need to repeat the pelvic exam. I think my hysterical crying was her first clue that this was not going to be easy, so she told me she would give me pain medicine and make sure I was “comfortable” before doing the pelvic. She gave me a concoction of Demerol and Zofran (Demerol can cause nausea). (REFRAIN)
I was admitted, put on a Pitocin drip, and left to “expel” whatever was left in my uterus in the privacy of my own hospital bed. I could have pain meds whenever I wanted (REFRAIN) and I was promised that this would be the end of it. Some nurse sent something I had “expelled” to the lab that was identified as placental tissue, so I finished the course of Pitocin (just to be sure), walked around the maternity ward (where they put me) and looked at the happy mothers and their sleeping babies, and then went home.
I was told this was “bad luck” and that it had no bearing on any future pregnancies. Riiiiiiiiiight.