Thursday, July 23, 2009
And then I wasn't
I was pregnant. And then I wasn't. Two weeks ago today my husband and I headed to my first pre-natal appointment, half-way through the ninth week of our first pregnancy adventure. Due to schedule constraints this first appointment came a couple of weeks sooner in my pregnancy than my doctor normally sees pregnant patients, which was just fine with us. We had looked forward to this appointment for weeks already, feeling that seeing my doctor would somehow make it more "official," paving the way for us to share the good news with family in August, then with friends and the congregation. Everything seemed fine: plenty of first trimester symptons of the healthy and the unpleasant varieties, and plenty of excitement and hopes and dreams of (finally!) being pregnant and anticipating parenthood. We couldn't hear baby's heart beat on the Doppler, though Dr W wasn't worried about it - "it's still so early," she reminded us. She could just see baby on their in-office ultrasound, and sent us home with smiles, joy, and another appointment scheduled 4 weeks out. Two days later, I slept in on a lazy Saturday morning, but quickly discovered that things were not okay: blood where there should be no blood. I headed downstairs and told my unsuspecting husband, through a faucet of tears, that we needed to call the doctor. The office staff told us to go to the Emergency Room and that they'd fax over any needed records. The short drive to the hospital, only a few miles away, felt like a hundred, as we held hands and cried and made nervous jokes, not wanting to jump to conclusions. When we arrived, I headed inside while he parked the car, and the waiting began. After the physical exam (thank God for good ER docs), we were cautiously optimistic. "Maybe I'm just a paranoid first time pregnant lady," I said. "Neurotic like me. Let's hope so," the doctor replied with a smile. After another hour-plus which felt like ten, they wheeled me down for an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech was very nice, but the bearer of bad news, "I'm sorry, but I don't see a heart beat. I'm so sorry. And the baby is smaller than it should be for almost nine weeks. It looks like growth stopped at about six weeks," she told us. Our hands gripped each other's even tighter, I thought I would be sick, and my heart broke inside my chest. I have no idea how long it will take to mend. Last week was a living nightmare. After two doctors visits on Monday - one with my regular doctor and one with an OB/GYN I'd never previously met, we decided on the pharmaceutical option to help my body do what needed to be done. Who knew it could take so long. It wasn't pretty or fun, but after a week+, most of the physical ordeal is over, and my body no longer thinks it's pregnant. The emotional ordeal continues. Unfortunately, too many people who don't know what to say (because there is nothing to say, except "I'm sorry," or as my best friend from sem put it "Dammit!") end up saying things that not only don't help, but hurt. It is a real struggle to remember that people are trying to be helpful when all I want to do is scream and say "my baby died, and it's not okay!" I have found some soul sisters online, and in the book the OB gave me - people who have put into words the raw emotion so close to the surface in me. Considering the statistics on miscarriage/pregnancy loss, it's amazing how little it's actually talked about. At the same time, I'm not that surprised - our "fix-it and forget-it" culture doesn't do grief very well, and giving people the time and space they need to mourn is especially difficult when we have such a low tolerance for pain, maybe even more so when it is someone else's pain and we are helpless to change it. I am learning again it is okay not to be okay.