Thursday, July 7, 2016

A post I never thought I'd have to write


This is the story of my miscarriage.  It's not graphic, but it is raw and may be upsetting to some miscarriage survivors.  Please know this before reading. Thank you. 

It still doesn't seem real. I guess that makes sense, since I really don't feel much different than I did a week ago.  How cruel is that?  I'm sitting here in a body that still thinks it's pregnant.

But I'm not. As hard as it is to accept, I'm not.

I can't remember what my last update was, but I know I posted an 11 week update so I'm sure I included something about the fact that my 10 week ultrasound went ok. The SCH had grown to 7 cm but the baby looked good and had a good heartbeat, 173. The ultrasound tech wasn't happy that the hemorrhage had grown and she actually talked to the doctor before letting me leave, but ultimately I was just told to take it as easy as possible, even more easily than I had been, for the next week.

I took that seriously. I cancelled dinner plans with my dad and arranged for Adam and my mom to run errands I had planned to take care of. I worked during the day, but didn't walk around much and when I got home I spent nearly all my time resting on the couch.

Tuesday morning my ultrasound was scheduled for 8:45 am.  Adam went to work and I planned to go in after my appointment.  I'd been having so many ultrasounds, I just went by myself.  I felt anxious, but mostly just worried about the SCH.

Jennifer, the ultrasound tech, called me back. We were pretty familiar with one another at this point, and we both commented how we hoped the situation was improving today.  We got to the room and I lay down and exposed my tummy. I laughed a little when she put the gel on my stomach, because I'm numb there from AJ's C-Section.

The picture came up on the screen.  I commented how it still looked scrunched. The previous week, the baby was half-turned, sort of on it's side-not profile but not face on either. Then I said I thought the hemorrhage still looked huge.

And then I saw...or rather didn't see something.

"Can you see the heartbeat?" I asked.  Surely I was just missing it.

But she didn't answer. And I knew from the ER ultrasound tech that when they don't answer, that's bad.  I think I started hyperventilating, but I was trying to stay still because maybe I was wrong.

After a few minutes she just said she was so sorry.  I cried. I asked questions too, but mostly I just cried.  It's such a blur.  She stayed with me until I got somewhat under control, and then she went to call the doctor, who was in surgery for the day.

I wiped off my stomach and got up to get my phone. Then I made the hardest phone call ever. Adam didn't answer the first three times I called.  When he finally did, I think I just sobbed out that the baby was gone. Of course I had to repeat it. I told him what happened and all I can really remember him saying was that it wasn't my fault.  I told him I didn't know what was going to happen and that they were calling the doctor.  I asked him to come home and he said of course he was.

Someone, a nurse I think, came in and talked to me a little. She hugged me and let me cry. After awhile I knew mom was going to be getting worried that I hadn't called or texted about my appointment, so I had to call her and tell her the news. She had the kids, but she said she was coming right over. The nurse assured me that they could watch the kids so they wouldn't have to know what happened yet.

They spoke to Dr. A and she wanted me to go in for a D&C later that day.  She said she was worried about me bleeding too much if I miscarried at home, because of the large hemorrhage.  I could go home for a few hours and be at the hospital surgery center at 1:00 pm for a 3:00 surgery.

Mom arrived and the nurse distracted the kids while we finished up. I composed myself as much as I could and we left.  Tyler knew something was wrong, so once we got to the car I had to tell him. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. My sweet sensitive baby boy, he started crying immediately.  He had so been looking forward to having a new little baby.  What a thing for him to have to know about.  To know that sometimes babies don't come home.  I told him that God needed his baby brother or sister to come and be our angel in heaven.  Then I just hugged him and told him I was so so sorry.  Agony.

On the way home I called Angie and Michelle. When I got home, I called my boss. They were all horrified and so very sad for us.

The hours passed so slowly. It felt horrible to sit there doing nothing, and yet I didn't want to let go of those last precious hours I would have to be close to my sweet baby. My little fighter...

If the hours at home were painful, the hours sitting in the hospital bed were unbearable. The kids came back and they were a good distraction.  I had a very lovely nurse who spoke very kindly. She told me she had suffered several miscarriages herself. I think she said four, but I can't remember now.  Finally she became pregnant with twins, but sadly she lost her little boy. She was able to carry her daughter to terms, thankfully, and when her daughter was 7, she went on a mission trip to the Ukraine and met a very special little 7 year old boy whom she later adopted. Kind of her second chance to have the twin boy she lost.

I was given a whole bunch of paperwork. Some were consent forms and the like. But there was also information about support groups, memorials, keepsakes, etc. They gently presented with the the options they offer in terms of burial. They told us that we could request our babies remains and arrange a private funeral. If we chose not to do that (because of course, that's very expensive), they offered a twice yearly group memorial service and communal burial of all miscarried babies. I was heartbroken and touched that there was an option like that.  The service will be in October and we will have an opportunity to attend and have our babies name read out and put on a ribbon wreath. I am glad that I will eventually have a place I can visit to be close to my baby. I'm very grateful that they offer this.

Later, I met the anesthesiologist. After that, Dr. A arrived. She held my hand and told me how sorry she was.  We asked a few questions and she answered as best as she can. We asked if there was any way to be sure what had caused this. She explained that there are really no guarantees, even with chromosomal testing, although we could choose to try that if we wished.  She said that her honest opinion was the my SCH may not have been the cause of the miscarriage, but perhaps was a side effect of some other problem, possibly a chromosomal problem with the baby. She said that would explain why the SCH was not improving. That sometimes there is something wrong with the baby and so an SCH forms and the baby can survive for awhile, but ultimately the problems are too severe. We chose to request additional chromosomal testing in the hopes that if nothing else, it might help us learn our babies gender. I felt stupidly guilty, because I know the testing can be expensive, but I just knew in that moment I would regret it if we didn't try. Dr. A did warn us that sometimes the tests come back inconclusive (if an insufficient amount of living tissue is collected), so we may not get any answers, but I wanted to at least try.

Eventually it was time. They had me give my glasses to Adam, which made me feel even more helpless, since my eyesight is very poor.  Adam gave me a kiss and they wheeled me away. The sweet nurse stopped and got me a warm blanket. Then we entered the OR.  It was smaller than I'd expected, but I guess that's because this was at a surgery center, not the main hospital. The sight of the operating table and all the equipment, the bright lights and the fancy padded stirrups--it was all too much. Entering that room, especially for this particular reason, is the most vulnerable, raw feeling.  I was quite literally preparing to put my life in the hands of strangers and allow them to do something unthinkable.

The very worst moment came next.  They had to ask me to confirm my name and tell them what procedure I was having done. Logically, I understand why they have to do this, but the sheer act of having to actually speak the words out loud was so cruel and so painful.  I started to cry, of course. At first, the nurse tried to calm me, telling me to take a few deep breaths. But I think she could see I was beyond that, so she just told me to let it out. I did, but there really wasn't much time for tears. I moved to the table and I remember hesitating, not wanting the lay back under that huge harsh light. But of course, there was no turning back. I lay down and allowed them to stretch out my arms and attach their monitors. There were two nurses and the anesthesiologist in the room, and they started chatting, trying to distract me, I'm sure. The second nurse was hooking me up to the heart monitor, and she was commenting on how so much technology is wireless now, but not this stuff.  She joked that she was going to come up with a wireless version and go on Shark Tank and sell it to Mark Cuban. I knew what she was doing, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

And that was it. They gave me some medication in the IV and then settled the mask over my face and asked me to breathe deeply.

When I woke up, I was back in the room we'd waited in. My nurse offered me water right away and told me everything had gone fine. After a few minutes, she brought Adam back. Dr. A had already talked to him. She said that by the looks of things, I would have started miscarrying naturally that evening. She found a large clot and quite a bit of new active bleeding on my cervix. Somehow that made me feel a tiny bit better, reassured me that it had indeed been over, beyond a shadow of a doubt (you play terrible mindgames with yourself, like should I demand another ultrasound just in case. This showed me that there really had been no hope). 

I guess in a way, even though how we found out the baby was gone was totally horrible, it was "good" that it was discovered that way. I could have bled too much, it could have been dangerous, and I most certainly wouldn't have had Dr. A taking care of me. Also, I think if I had started bleeding, I would have tried to convince myself that the baby could still be ok, that I knew I had a hemmorhage...And if I had ended up in the ER (assuming it happened after regular hours), I could have been surrounded my strangers and with a doctor I didn't know performing my surgery.

I was groggy, but alert.  I told the nurse I was feeling crampy, so she gave me some medication.  The very best thing was that she'd covered me in this blanket-thing that had warm air running through it.  Honestly it was so nice.  The operating rooms are freezing. I always wake up feeling cold and shaking. That blanket was amazing. The nurse talked kindly to me and helped me drink some water (so thirsty) and eat some saltines so I wouldn't feel nauseated.  Once I got that down we waited awhile for my pain medicine to kick in. Adam went to the hospital pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions and there was some confusion because the doctor had forgotten to submit the one for pain medication. Since the hospital pharmacy was getting ready to close, they ended up calling it into Kroger for us to pick up. Then the nurse unhooked my IV and the stupid leg squeezing-blood clot preventing things (Did I mention they put those on before surgery? They are annoying), and let me get up, clean up, and get dressed.  By then I wasn't in pain, just sore and weak.  Adam helped me clean up and dress and then he went to get the car. The nurse took me outside in a wheelchair and that was it.

My physical recovery has gone well.  I took one pain pill that evening and I think another one or two the next day, and then I just switched to Tylenol. I wasn't cramping much, but I did have some soreness from the procedure, but not too bad. Really it was sort of appalling how little physical pain I felt. Going through something so traumatic, I would have thought it would hurt more. Although I guess it's fair, really, since the emotional pain was quite enough to be dealing with.  Tuesday night was rough, because I didn't sleep.  At first, I was just running through the day's events in my head. I wasn't overly emotional about it, but my brain just went over and over it.  Eventually though, I started to get upset. I finally got out of bed and went downstairs and turned on the TV. I still didn't sleep, but I watched Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen and just didn't think for awhile, which was better.

Wednesday, Adam decided to stay home.  He was taking things pretty hard and I think he was pretty drained.  He rested and later went to Goodwill for a distraction (he buys things there to sell on Ebay).
I stayed on the couch and didn't do much.  My sweet coworkers and my sweet friend Bonnie sent me flowers, and so did our favorite Kroger cashier Tina. My friends called and texted and were incredibly sweet. My mom was very understanding and let me talk when I needed to--she knows a similar (even worse) pain from when my sister died as a baby.  And my boys were there to hug and hold.  Tyler had some pretty sad moments and I've been trying to shield him from the worst of my grief lately. 

Thursday I decided I wanted to do something.  I went out with mom and the kids and we went to Michaels Craft Store. I bought a photo box and some decorative items. I put the best ultrasound picture on the inside of the lid and decorated it, then stored the few items I have in it--my pregnancy tests, more ultrasound photos, cards from the flowers, etc.  It felt nice to have something for the baby.

My mom also got me these crazy beads that you can use to dry flowers in the microwave, and this resin you can use to make paperweights.  I'll take photos of the things I made and put them up in another post, with pics of the memory box too.  It was nice to be able to preserve the flowers that I was sent.  My mom did the same with some of the flowers from Nicky's funeral.

Friday, Adam was off work again. I stayed at home, just feeling the need to be alone. I talked to Angie on the phone, but aside from that I didn't sit brooding.  I watched TV (binged watched the Glee Project on the Firestick) and then drove to McDonalds and thoroughly enjoyed a Big Mac.

Saturday and Sunday I ran my normal errands and rested.  Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were spent arguing with Comcast because our cable, internet and TV went out--I can't even get into that. We cooked chicken, hot dogs, veggies, and smores on the grill on Saturday and Angie came over.  Monday we did some small fireworks with the kids.

Tuesday mom was supposed to have a doctor's appointment, (They cancelled it an hour before) so I didn't get into work until 10:30 am. The day was difficult, dotted with teary moments when my various coworkers came in to offer their sympathy, or a new sweet email arrived. But it felt good to be busy and focus on normal things.  I'm slowing catching up on my work, although I'm not rushing.

Wednesday was interesting and awful for different reasons. I was getting ready to go into work (Adam was going in late to meet the Comcast technician, again I can't even TALK about that), and I decided I needed to try to look more human--I hadn't been doing much in the way of make up and hair and all that in weeks.  So I decided to pluck my eyebrows.

And I sliced my cornea with my tweezers. Yeah, not kidding.

Long story short, it was my left (bad) eye (see post about it here), so it wasn't affecting my vision much, but it HURT.  I rushed off to Immediate Care and confirmed that yes, I had scratched my cornea. Luckily, this can heal on it's own in a few days.  But there isn't much else to do for it. So away I went, with antibiotic drops and instructions to take OTC pain meds and return in 2 days for a recheck.

The pain was pretty bad, plus it made me extremely sensitive to light and gave me a killer headache. But I really needed to go to work, so I managed.  My eye got pretty swollen and looked pretty awful and was tearing up all day.  So that was fun.

That afternoon was also my follow up with Dr. A.  I was dreading it. It was hard to go back there, where I found out it was over. And of course I was worried about seeing pregnant women or babies.  Luckily the waiting room was totally empty and I was called back pretty quickly. Unluckily, their walls are ridiculously think and I heard the healthy heartbeats of living babies over the dopplars TWICE.  OUCH.  The Medical Assistant was in the room the first time and I could tell she felt bad. She tried turning up the radio. I plugged my ears and cried.

Dr. A was great. We went over everything, just so I could hear it again, mostly.  No test results yet, hopefully in a week or so.  She seemed to think I was recovering well and told me what to watch for, reasons I would need to call them.  She encouraged me to look into the support group the hospital offers and consider seeing a counselor for awhile.  She told me to wait until I have a normal period to try to get pregnant again, which is fine because I'm not ready for that.  But she did say that with my health issues and age, she encourages us to try sooner rather than later.  And she reminded me that I have had two healthy pregnancies (of course, I have had two NOT healthy pregnancies too, so idk if that makes me very confident).

She didn't need a follow up appointment unless the bleeding doesn't stop or my period gets concerning (she said I was on the edge of being far enough along that they worry about not getting everything, so to speak).  I forgot until afterward that someone had mentioned that they would want to do blood tests to watch my HCG level drop, so I called today and left a message about that.

So yeah, that's where I am now.  It's Thursday. My eye is much better today.  And my heart is hurting, but I'm getting back to life.  I know it's going to take me a long time to come to grips with this. I know that I'm going to have a lot of worries, fears and anxiety if we try to conceive again and even more if we succeed.  I know I am always going to grieve my precious baby, my little fighter.  Dr. A said the baby was really strong to have survived so long with that hemmorhage. 

So now I wait, wanting answers, not wanting answers.  Once we hear back, we'll come up with a name. That's important to me.  We'll go to the service in October.  I'll probably check out the support group next week.  Work offers 5 free counseling sessions, so I might start with that too.  I'll so some things to remember the baby...I want to get a necklace once we pick a name.  Maybe a stone or statue for the yard, or plant a tree or something after we move...

I'm taking it a day at a time.  I know my blog doesn't reach many, and maybe this is something no one wants to read.  But I've read miscarriage stories and I wanted to write mine. It was horrible, but I have to remember it.  Briana---Blogger doesn't really let me REPLY to comments, thank you for always reading, commenting, and being so sweet.  Anyone else who reads, those who ready but don't comment, thank you for the thoughts and prayers.


blessedone said...

So sorry for your loss....hugs! I lost my baby girl at 17wks so I know how you feel. I'm glad you have your boys to give you lots of hugs.

blessedone said...

So sorry for your loss....hugs! I lost my baby girl at 17wks so I know how you feel. I'm glad you have your boys to give you lots of hugs.

ChickinNH said...

Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry for your loss. I couldn't help but shed a few tears for you and your sweet baby while reading and am sending you strength and peace. Big hugs to you.

Melissa Long said...

Thank you both for your comments. I'm sorry for your losses as well. *hugs* all around.

KelBel said...

I am so very sorry. Thinking of all of you and sending love your way.

ADSchill said...

Sweetie, I'm so very sorry. Nothing makes it better or okay. Time will help and the love of your family and the love for that baby. many hugs.

ADSchill said...

Sweetie, I'm so very sorry. Nothing makes it better or okay. Time will help and the love of your family and the love for that baby. many hugs.

Brianna said...

Oh, Melissa, I wish I could just give you a big hug. It sounds like you are doing everything you can to honor and remember this baby, and for that I'm grateful. I just wish you were honoring and remembering living milestones with this baby as he or she continued to grow.