I've debated all morning about writing this post. At first I thought it might be helpful even healing, then I thought, "that's stupid, no one needs to hear every nitty gritty detail" and then I realized the only thing holding me back from sharing is fear. And I'm tired of being fearful and feeling like I'm alone in this. If you're here for a design related post, please come back tomorrow.
So here's our story, but it begins a couple of years ago. It begins with two people so in love and a conversation that went something like this: "I really want to have kids. Do you? Yes, of course. Do you want to maybe not try to try but be open to the possibility? Gamble with fate for a little while? Yes, let's do it, but we won't really be trying, we'll just be not trying."
That was two years ago and a year after "not trying but kind of sort of trying" I went to the doctor and explained that I was a little concerned that after a year of unprotected sex, we hadn't gotten pregnant. My doctor at the time said, "well, maybe you should 'try' to do it at the right time. I wouldn't worry until you have been timing intercourse properly for a while."
Fast forward another year. Now I'm starting to get a little worried. "Not trying but kind of trying" has turned into charting my temps every morning, getting to know my cervical mucus better than anyone probably should, peeing on sticks mid month for ovulation hormones, peeing on sticks at the end of the month for pregnancy hormones. A lot of peeing on sticks and a lot of worry. Before leaving Athens, I went to my doctor and explained my concerns...again. This time she suggested it was time for fertility testing (not exactly what you want to hear at 28 years old) but I had read enough to know that we were having problems. The question is, what kind of problems and how far are we willing to go to get pregnant?
So that brings us to present day and imagine my surprise when we had a positive pregnancy test last week. And by positive pregnancy test, I mean a dozen or so positive tests taken over a four day period, different types, different brands, different times of day. All positive. Can you imagine our excitement? We were so happy. I started a pregnancy journal right away, I made a list of 'must have' maternity clothes for the winter, I bought and started reading What to Expect When Your Expecting, What to Eat When Your Expecting, What to Expect the Baby's First Year among other books. We called our closest family and a couple of our best friends and announced the good news (I've never heard my sister scream so loud). I made an appointment with the birthing center (for today actually) and was planning on attending a doula meeting. I started a regiment of pre-natal vitamins and DHA. I paid close attention to every symptom. High temps on the chart? Check. Sore boobs? Check. Upset tummy? Check. Missed period. Check. Frequent peeing? Check. Pure joy? Double check.
And then the day before yesterday I noticed a little spotting. I also noticed that my temp that morning had dropped a bit. I called a friend for reassurance, consulted a couple of books and reassured myself that everything was OK. Besides, we had been trying for so long and we wanted this baby so badly so surely everything would be fine. Surely.
Yesterday morning my temp had dropped even lower and I started cramping so to reassure myself, I decided to buy a pregnancy test just to make sure things were ok. I decided on a digital test this time because I knew seeing the words "PREGNANT" instead of a silly line would make feel better. Instead, all I saw was a big, giant, heart breaking "NOT PREGNANT." And that's when I knew. I was having a chemical pregnancy, or in other words, an early miscarriage. A chemical pregnancy is a miscarriage that occurs prior to the embryo's development of a heartbeat (at which point the embryo becomes a fetus). Early miscarriages happen in 50-60% of first time pregnancies and because they occur so early, many women don't even realize they're having a miscarriage. All of that to say, that early pregnancy loss is incredibly common. But frankly, does something being common make it any less painful? Car accidents are common. Does that make dealing with them any easier?
So I panicked. And I was alone. B was at work an hour away and I didn't know what to. I called my sister who happened to be in a meeting and she saw my name come up and knew something was wrong (twins are funny like that). I could barely speak through my sobbing and she excused herself from the meeting. She cried with me and then told me to call a doctor. The only problem is that we just moved to a strange place where I don't have a doctor or a support system in place. I had never felt so alone before. I called my doctor in Athens who told me to start calling OBGYN practices and try to get an appointment immediately. I could barely talk on the phone I was so upset but I called. And called. And begged. Finally a nurse spoke to me and told me to go to the ER. She asked me, "Do you have someone that can drive you?" And I said, "No, I don't have anyone!" B was an hour away working on site and didn't have his car with him. She said, "Drive slowly and be careful." I didn't know what do but I remembered my nice neighbors that we had dinner with a couple of times. I called them and asked them if they could take me to the hospital. They were at my house before I could even finish my sentence. The cramps were getting worse and although I knew there was probably nothing anyone could do for me or my baby (and yes, I realize the "baby" was only a group of dividing cells at this point, but this was MY baby, MY group of cells, MY future child) but I hoped beyond hope that something could be done.
But nothing could stop the inevitable. We sat in the waiting room for two hours. My neighbor sat with me while her husband drove an hour to pick up B who was anxiously trying to get to me. I cried to the registration people at the hospital. I told them that I didn't want to miscarry in the waiting room, I wanted to go home and why weren't they doing something faster? I think I was hysterical with hormones and a broken heart. I made a fool of myself. I have never felt so humiliated. I'm not one to cry in public, I always thought I had more dignity, more pride than that. It didn't matter though. In that moment I cried without shame for the loss of our baby.
Finally, finally B arrived at the hospital and held me as I cried. My eyes were almost swollen shut at this point. We were brought back to see the doctor who callously told me that I was no longer pregnant. Perhaps I had tested "wrong." Maybe I had a "faulty batch of pregnancy tests." I lost any composure I had left in that moment. I told him there was no way I had tested "wrong". I brought my chart with me that he didn't want to see it. He made me feel stupid and small and worse, he made feel that I had no reason to be upset. He told B and I after a grueling physical exam that we should see a fertility specialist. He told me he wasn't trying to "upset" me but that my blood test had only shown an HCG level of "3" which was not enough to sustain a pregnancy. He then told me he needed to do a sonogram and without asking, the nurse pulled out a catheter and said, "have you ever had a catheter before?" Why yes, you unfriendly bitch. I have had a catheter before and there is no way in hell that I'm going through that, and for what? The doctor looked annoyed and explained that they had to make sure it wasn't a tubal pregnancy. That it could be life threatening and they needed to do further tests. I was blabbering at this point. Totally incomprehensible. I couldn't speak, I was so furious. At this point, B threw them both out of the room and told them he needed to talk to me. He came over to where I lay, grabbed my hand and told me kindly, "you are a strong woman and that guy is a total dick. You have to hold it together for a just a little while to get through this. We will not do any tests you are not comfortable doing. Remember, you are a strong woman." The nurse came back in and I told her they could do a sonogram but no catheter. The doctor acquiesced and decided he could do a vaginal sonogram which doesn't require the bladder being full. Thankfully it was not a tubal pregnancy. The miscarriage would occur naturally. The doctor wrote me a prescription for Vicodin (seriously?) and without smiling and offering no comfort, told B and I that we could probably have a healthy baby in the future.
A woman from the midwifery birthing center called me while we were awaiting test results at the hospital. I told her we had lost the baby and I wouldn't need to tour the center after all. She was so kind and her voice so soothing. There was just something about her that calmed me. It's as though she instantly understood. She offered me something the doctor couldn't. Sympathy. In that moment, listening to her voice, I knew it was going to be OK.
It was a long night last night and it's been a long morning. B hid all of the pregnancy books in the house so I wouldn't have to look at them. My eyes are still swollen and my voice raw from crying. I'm really not sure where we'll go from here. Right now, I'm just trying to feel this. To grieve and be sad and to be ok with my hurting, aching body. I know we'll try again. I'm going to seek out a good doctor, one who's understanding and cares about the loss of even a 5 week pregnancy. Even though, at times, I feel terribly alone in my grief, I know I'm not alone. I know that so many women have struggled through infertility and miscarriages and loss. I'm writing this because if you're one those women, I hope you know you're not alone either. There's strength in togetherness, in womanhood, in sharing our stories. There's strength in hope, even in the midst of pain and sadness. There's strength in knowing that we will be parents one day, even if it doesn't go exactly as planned. I take comfort in the love and support of our family, friends, awesome neighbors and in the love that B and I have for each other. For now, it's enough. It has to be enough.