02 February 2016

The Emotional Rollercoaster of Pregnancy, Miscarriage, and Pregnancy

I'm in a Mommy Group on Facebook and I have a Mommy App too.  Between these two communities of women I have read my fair share of miscarriage stories. I have friends and family who have miscarried and had stillbirths. I felt very knowledgeable about the subject, but there are some things you cannot prepare for. While there are many blogs and articles about "what they don't tell you about a miscarriage" this is more of my, I may have known it, but I couldn't fathom it...well until it happened to us...or me...or us.

1. Who miscarried? That, right there. Are WE pregnant or am I pregnant? So in turn did WE miscarry or did I miscarry? I always say WE are pregnant, WE are expecting, but I couldn't lump John in on the miscarriage, so it was me. I lost the baby. The guilt you feel from that statement is immeasurable, and while you know you did nothing wrong, every time you say the words you will cringe, and apologize.

2. Saying the words. I could only do it so many times before I couldn't do it anymore, hence why this blog is almost 2.5 months in the making. So for our friends and family who knew we were pregnant, but never heard anything else-I'm sorry. It is not that we didn't want you to be in the loop. It's not that you weren't on our minds. It's that we couldn't tell anybody else. We couldn't type or say the words again. And for our friends and family who never knew about either, I'm sorry too. It's that line of "when am I sharing my life, versus oversharing my life." Well I will cross the overshare line a lot with this blog, I'm making up for lost overshares.

3. The options. There are three options you have once you learned the baby no longer has a heartbeat. You can wait for your body to pass it on it's own, you can take medicines to help the process along, or you can have surgery (either a D&C or D&E). I thought I was 10 weeks pregnant when we found out the baby was measuring 7 weeks and 6 days without a heartbeat. The thought that I had been carrying on and acting pregnant, when I wasn't, crushed me; it embarrassed me. I have read (and heard) that passing the baby naturally (with or without medicine) is cathartic. It is spiritually what a woman needs to grieve properly. I have also heard that it hurts like a bitch and you bleed for a long time. I didn't want to hurt physically when I was already hurting emotionally, so I opted for the surgery. I wasn't prepared for the empty feeling that comes after it though. One minute you have a baby in you, you go to sleep, and when you wake up you no longer have a baby in you and they are stuffing Pepsi and Ritz in your mouth. I was in no pain. I slept, but I wasn't that tired. It was painlessly, painful or painfully, painless.

4. Modesty is gone. They say you lose all modesty when you give birth. I agree. John held my leg while I pushed Mary out for 4 hours. He heard me fart when I couldn't hold anything in down there and he saw me go to the bathroom, finally. I would say it is a different loss of modesty when you miscarry. I am a very private person, so others may not have this issue, but for me it made everything worse. First I had to tell John I was bleeding. Then, when I called the doctor I had to describe the blood to them. The worst was before the ultrasound asking for an extra pad on the table, taking off your clothes while you are bleeding, or cleaning up after the internal ultrasound while you are a sobbing mess. When you "lose all your modesty" during birth, you have a prize at the end, you are holding your baby. After this though, there are no prizes.

5. What was going to be is no more. I read about women being sad after miscarriages. I imagined how it would feel, and how it would be easier to get over because it was an embryo, or fetus, not a baby with a personality yet. I never would have imagined the grieving John and I would both go through. I would break down in tears for days after, for weeks after. Our baby, who we call Baby #2, didn't have a personality, but it had a future. It had a spot in our family. We were going to welcome it in June. I was going to be a stay-at-home mom to my "2 under 2". We would be on our way to our large family and things would be perfect. And then they weren't. We had two names picked out for Baby #2, Jackson, who would be Jack after Grandpa Jack, and Bellamy, a southern name that was a mix of Belle (Laura's childhood nickname) and Amy, John's sister. We retired both of these names because I couldn't imagine naming a future child a name I had imagined for Baby #2. No one told me you could love something and know so much about it, when it was just a cluster of cells.

6. Politics. On that same note, you can grieve a miscarriage, and be so angry at the world that you lost your baby, but I wasn't prepared for how strongly I would still be pro-choice. I knew, but I had to warn John, that in the medical field I did not have a miscarriage, I had a "missed abortion." My wonderful husband tends to react first, think second, so I wanted him to have a chance to absorb that phrase before the doctor said it. To us an abortion is a choice, a miscarriage isn't, but in the medical world, and in insurance world, the procedure is the same. So while I was preparing John for the terminology, I should have been preparing myself for the bills. and bills. and more bills. Luckily, our insurance covers a missed abortion, but it got coded wrong and I had to spend many hours on the phone with Tricare and the doctors to get it straightened out. I know many women who are not that lucky and have to pay hundreds, or thousands of dollars for something that is emotionally devastating. Also, my procedure was technically elective. My life was not in danger. So if abortion procedures are deemed illegal, unless the woman's life is in danger, my procedure would have been as well. That is a slippery slope, and again, why (for many other reasons as well) I will remain pro-choice.

On a lighter note, I did know that I needed to cherish what we have already been blessed with. One week after my surgery I called up a random photographer and asked her if she had any availability for the next day. She did. She was amazing. These photos will forever represent to me what we lost, but also how much we have. In a few years we will have so many kids, or dogs, or neighborhood kids running around I won't remember these quiet times when it is just our small, perfect family of our sand loving dog, spoiled little girl, and a man who loves me more than I could have ever imagined. They are also a promise to me of what is the come...

The promise of what to come is a world that you don't read much about on the internet, getting pregnant after a miscarriage, in less than a month. After the miscarriage we were told to wait a couple of cycles, but it would not hurt if we got pregnant earlier. Well, surprise! However it is a bitter sweet world we are living in right now. Here are things I did not know going into this adventure:

1. Guilt. I was still grieving Baby #2 when Baby #3 implanted itself in my uterus. I felt guilty for being so sad I was pregnant so soon. Not that Baby #3 wasn't wanted or isn't already loved, I just felt I had more grieving to do and I couldn't get excited. I also felt guilty for the excitement I did feel for Baby #3, like I was insulting Baby #2. It's a completely irrational set of emotions that cause guilt no matter how you feel.

2. I've been pregnant for 5 months, with a 10 week old baby. Since we were trying to get pregnant with Baby #2, I have been living like I was pregnant since the beginning of September. I put on weight during those weeks. Then with feeling pretty blah after the surgery, I did not do much to get back into non-mom bod. Then I was pregnant again. It is really odd to "feel" pregnant for so long, when the baby is not far along yet. I have been a slug, a sloth, and am definitely not in any kind of shape. In turn I have been overly tired, had a lack of motivation, and been a bad wife, mommy, and friend. I'm so glad that Mary is too young to remember any of this, and I am so glad that John is amazing.

3. Forget cutesy announcements. They just don't go over that well. People are confused. For those that didn't know about the miscarriage, the date seems a couple of months off...or maybe not...that pregnancy stuff is confusing, right? For those that did know, they can't tell if you are clinging to the cute ideas of before, or was this new? Even when I tell people it is with a bit of trepidation, so I'm not setting them up for high expectations. "I'm pregnant, we're super nervous, so lots of prayers please, but we're excited, and nervous...we probably shouldn't even be saying anything this early...forget it..."  The fear would be there if we got pregnant the month after or a year later, I don't think that haunting feeling ever goes away, but it is definitely different when people don't know whether to count 9 months or 10 months or 40 weeks...

4. Pessimism reigns, and eventually, you have to let it go. I started bleeding at 6 weeks with Baby #3. This was just 7 weeks after my surgery, when I bled with Baby #2. I figured it was the worst and told John we lost the baby. I texted my friend and told her too. I was cramping and bleeding, neither of which are good in pregnancy. Luckily, the baby was measuring well, but it had a low heartbeat. I disengaged from the pregnancy. I figured it was over and I didn't want to get my heartbroken again. It turns out I have a subchorionic hematoma which causes cramping and bleeding. They are common after uterine surgeries (so I read on the ever reliable internet). I started bleeding again at 9 weeks, but Baby #3 is still measuring great and had a strong heartbeat. I am finally starting to feel safe and excited. It is scary to feel that way. Every day I worry that something is wrong. And every day I have hope.

I'm on a modified bed rest system to keep the bleeding at bay, so managing Mary isn't always the easiest, and I have to admit the emotions make it harder. But we ask for your well wishes, prayers, and thoughts. We ask for your excitement. And we ask for advice as I am getting my wish of "2 under 2" and realize we are crazy. 

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