Life After Miscarriage: Recovering from Surgery and More

In February, I had planned to spend a day or two in the hospital in October. Funny how things work out. Or don’t.

Walking into the hospital, my husband and I both realized that had it not been for the miscarriage, we could have been walking that same sidewalk at the same time but for a very different reason. “Right around this time, right?” my husband said. “Yeah, it should have been any day now,” I replied as I stared at the Maternity sign that hung just below the Registration sign.

As I laid in pre-op, my hands folded over my flat stomach and hubby by my side, I was surprised by how unemotional I felt about the fact that I wasn’t there to have a baby; that if things would have turned out differently, we would have been giggling nervously in anticipation of our newborn.

Without a crack in my voice, I recounted the details of my miscarriage to the pre-op nurse who asked three times if I had a dilation and curettage. “So they never went in and scraped?” she asked, adding hand gestures as if I was suddenly going to remember that I had a D&C when in fact, I did not. “No. It was a missed miscarriage and I took Misoprostal.”

“So they never went back and looked inside? They never cleaned you out?” For heaven’s sake lady, are you trying to get me to crack? Once we cleared up all the details and she determined I was healthy enough for anesthesia, the conversation turned to my People Magazine and how healthy Michael Douglas looked as he stared from the cover.

Just like that, my eight-month-long saga, one that I’ve told many times and in various emotional stages — my story – was nothing more than clinical pre-op details. Not worthy of People Magazine, just a medical chart.  And you know what? I felt the same way. I felt so far removed from my miscarriage story, even in spite of the obvious irony of being in the hospital so close to my due date.

The surgery gave me permission to be the patient with the ovarian cyst instead of the patient who had the miscarriage. Describing my miscarriage, I was describing someone else. That was her story. The person having surgery – that was me – and boy was I glad to be me for once.

I’ve gone from, “I just had a miscarriage,” to, “I just had surgery.” It’s less emotion to reconcile with. This is a much easier place.

I’ve gone from dealing with a pregnancy loss to dealing with an ovarian cyst. For right now at least, I get to be the person recovering from surgery, not the person grieving from a miscarriage or trying to conceive after a loss. The best part? I. Feel. Free.

For months, I’ve grieved over losing my pregnancy and obsessed about becoming pregnant again. Isn’t that I what I’m supposed to do? Isn’t EVERY conversation supposed to be about my miscarriage and getting pregnant? Isn’t the white elephant ALWAYS in the room? Isn’t the world revolving around ME? I’ve felt like there was this unwritten expectation that I will get pregnant right away and that with each passing month I didn’t, I was letting the world down. I’ve felt like it’s wrong of me NOT to obsess over becoming pregnant again.

I’ve been looking for a way to let go without feeling guilty. I’ve been looking for an out. I’ve been desperate for a rest but didn’t want to admit that I was tired. Of course, now that I’ve had surgery, I don’t have to. For the next month, I don’t have to think about my temperature, or charting my way to conception. I don’t have to neurotically pee on sticks, or obsess about my cycle day.  For the next month, I get to focus on healing. That feels good. I think it’s what the doctor ordered back in April but I’ve decided to finally fill the prescription.

Is Fido’s flea collar safe?

According to a California study, nearly half of all pregnant women live with pets.  In of itself, having furry loved ones around is not a problem, but what about the use of flea treatments or flea collars?  Of course you can find lots of information regarding feline’s litter boxes and pregnancy, but very little has been made known about whether or not Fido’s flea collar poses a problem.

The best route is to inform your OB/GYN if you are using a specific flea control product so you can be advised as to the specifics of their safety.  Even better is to eliminate the flea products that are potentially categorized in the “high toxic” category in  favor of treatments that contain “boric acid.”  This pesticide is about as harmful as table salt, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  What makes boric acid even more attractive is that these types can be sprinkled onto carpets and other textile surfaces.  The ingredient works to dehydrate the annoying bouncy pests and their eggs, leaving Fido and you pest-free and healthy!

What’s Gonna Go Wrong?

What’s gonna go wrong?  Something has to go wrong, right?  I can’t possibly have a perfectly healthy baby… Why?  Because.  Just because.

 

Pregnancy is a perfect time for incessant worriers to feel normal again, because most other pregnant women are also worrying too much. Fears come into your head, like…

 

  1. The baby will be missing an important body part.
  2. One of the body parts will be all messed up.
  3. There will be some terrible defect, and we’ll spend the rest of our lives taking care of him or her.
  4. The prescreening tests we had done were wrong.
  5. I got hammered before I knew I was pregnant and have definitely caused permanent damage.
  6. I stood in front of the microwave for too long when making dinner last week – what have I done??
  7. I accidentally got impregnated by the mailman and didn’t even know we had sex!

 

Whatever the worry is, it may spend a lot of time worrying you.  And what’s worse: there’s nothing you can do about it.  But the fact is that your chances are extremely likely that your baby will be perfectly healthy. 

 

So what to do about these fears… Talk them out with other mothers; write them down, so you take a real look at them, instead of watching them swim around in your head; and every time a worry hits you, take a breath – one night of boozing won’t hurt your baby, a session with the microwave won’t hurt your baby, the prescreens were probably correct, and you would know if the mailman came to dinner, because your magazines wouldn’t arrive all torn up.

Life After Miscarriage: Eight Weeks Not Pregnant

Early June will mark 8 weeks since my miscarriage. Eight weeks was how long my baby lived inside of me. In eight weeks, nearly all the organs in my baby’s body had started forming.  Its eye lids were sealing shut. It had hands and arms, and legs. It had a beating heart. And then, it was gone.

So here I am, 8 weeks not-pregnant. It’s almost like a dream; something that I’m sure and certain seemed so real but there’s nothing that exists to prove it to me.  I would question whether it all happened, but the empty place in my heart tells me it did.

My best friend is well into the second trimester of her pregnancy. She is exactly where I would have been. She sent me a message the other day after hearing her baby’s heartbeat for the first time. When I opened the message I simultaneously had two reactions. The first was one of excitement for her; her first true sign that life exists inside. The other reaction was one of sheer shock.

Since the miscarriage, it hadn’t occurred to me that pregnancy ends in anything other than a miscarriage and here, in my life, written in a text message on my phone, was an example of how it does.  

That was a confronting moment and I spent a few seconds whimpering and trying to stop my face from contorting into the expression that ends with tears and gasping.

I couldn’t do it. I cried on my husband’s shoulder, soaking it with tears and begged him to help me understand why. “Why not us? Why not our baby’s heartbeat? Why did this happen?”

He didn’t have an answer. No one does and believe me I’ve asked: doctors, nurses, friends, and yes, God. The same thing I hear over, and over, and over again is “Everything happens for a reason.”

OK. I can buy it. I get it. It makes sense. But what’s the reason it happened to us? Answer me that and should I be fortunate enough to have a successful pregnancy, I’ll name my firstborn after you.

Pregnancy Forums: Good or Evil?

Back in the old days, preggies were surrounded by their sisters, mothers, aunts, grannies, and other women who had been pregnant before.  These women could share their experience, guiding the young preggies into the pre-natal world of so many before them.  But today, many of us are alone.  Either our families live far away, we are the first of our friends to have a baby, or we are still seeking more camaraderie for this difficult and wonderful time.  Enter the Internet!  Hooray for the Internet!  It has solved all of our problems, answered all of our questions, and offered us hours of procrastination.  The Internet is also a great resource for preggies to learn about their bodies, their soon-to-be babies, and commiserate about everything in between.  Or is it?  Who are these people from who we’re learning everything we need to know about pregnancy?  Are these new cyber-friendships good for us, or eeeeevil?

 

If you go onto any pregnancy forum right now, you’ll find one woman asking “if it’s normal if…”, while another woman demands everyone share their “belly pics”, and another titles her post, “My Worst Nightmare Come True”.  Here’s where the forum can be helpful – the “Is It Normal” woman is probably asking a serious question, like “is it normal if I’m bleeding out my ears”, or “is it normal if my butt fell off?”  All is probably well and good if every woman responds with “yes, my butt falls off every day!”  If every woman is not experiencing this, perhaps our ab-normal woman should call the doc. 

 

What’s wrong with the belly pics?  Not much – except sometimes they’re not terribly flattering photos, but that’s neither here, nor there.  However, women go onto these forums are there to be one of the following:

 

Altruistic (there to help)

Pros: they’re helpful!

Cons: they sometimes do it to feel better about themselves by being superior

 

Selfish (there to get help)

Pros: they post questions that end up being helpful to others

Cons: they frequently sit on the sidelines, feeling less-than

 

If you’re the altruist, you might post your pic, because it’s fun.  If you’re the selfish type, you’ll probably just check to see what other people post, so you can feel bad about how big, or small, your belly looks.  So if you’re in love with your belly, no matter how it looks, you’ll be happy to see all the other bellies.  But if you’re worried that you’re too big, or too small, you may feel worse after checking out everyone else’s. 

 

And what’s wrong with the “My Worst Nightmare” woman?  Oh, everything.  If you’re the altruist, it’s a perfect opportunity for you to feel proud of yourself and how you don’t have the same terrible problem “Nightmare” lady has.  But worse, if you’re the selfish type, you’ll use this post as the perfect opportunity to freak out about something that’ll probably never happen to you.  After all, pregnancy is an excellent time to contract hypochondria. 

 

So what’s good about a Pregnancy forum? It’ll give you a bunch of ladies you can talk about the nitty-gritty with, the yucky-mucky with, and the sticky-icky with.  You can ask questions for your own wonderfully selfish reasons, or be a supporter for those who are dealing with the ups, or the downs.

 

But if you end up feeling like your days aren’t fulfilled, unless you receive a cyber hug from “Mama-to-Be from Mississippi”, then it’s probably time to sign off.

Top 10 Most Unpleasant Things About Pregnancy

Arguably one of the most beautiful things a human can accomplish, pregnancy can also be one of the most unpleasant.  While few women will experience all of the below, the majority of preggie ladies will certainly have the joy of experiencing some of these unpleasant, and sometimes gross, products of pregnancy.

  1. Varicose veins

Most commonly on the legs, they add color and radiance to your lovely stems.

The bright side? You were probably going to get them with age sooner or later anyway.

  1. Irritability

Uncomfortable for you, uncomfortable for your loved ones.

The bright side?  At least this time you have a valid excuse!

  1. Constipation

Prunes and more prunes.  And water.

The bright side?  Sometimes it’s better than the alternative…

  1. Incontinence

You have to pee so badly that – oops.  Adult diapers anyone?

The bright side?  You can relive that element of your life as a baby, so you’ll be more in tune with your little one when they arrive.

  1. Swelling

Everywhere.  Ankles, face, feet, fingers, etc.

The bright side?  It may make you feel fat, but you don’t have to diet to get rid of this weight!

  1. Vomiting

Usually in the 1st trimester, it can be uneventful to practically barbaric.

The bright side?  You enjoyed that bowl of Cheerios so much, that we’re gonna show it to you again!

  1. Night sweats

Like you woke up in the tub.  Only you’re still in bed.

The bright side?  You’ll sweat out some of the toxins from that fast food you had for dinner.

  1. Gas

As if you couldn’t button your pants already!

The bright side?  You’ll be able to introduce your man to a whole new side to you (if you haven’t been so frank already).

  1. Discharge

And you were planning on simply sneezing…

The bright side?  It’ll feel like the easiest (though longest) period you’ve ever had

  1. Hemorrhoids

Either causing pain, itchiness, or just make you feel like you’ve got a rock squeezed up there, they might make you dread going to the bathroom.

The bright side?  Are you crazy?  There is no bright side.  Go to the drug store.

And after all that… The bright side?  You get an awesome baby in the end, and all you had to do was walk around with bulging blue lines on your legs, yell at everyone who looked at you funny, not go poo for four days, while peeing your pants a few times, wear clunky orthopedic shoes for your big fat feet, hug the toilet like you were back in college, wash your sheets every morning, fart your way through breakfast, feel like you’re wearing a wet diaper, and apply cream to your you-know-what-in-the-rear multiple times a day.

Exercises to Prepare For Labor

If you are like most women, chances are that by your third trimester, you have lost that honeymoon feeling that enveloped you most of your middle months.  With your growing belly, swollen limbs and a lackluster supply of energy, what’s a mom to do for exercising?   As with any exercise program, it is essential to consult with your medical practioner prior to beginning.  Once you have the green light, here are a few exercises to try at home or at the gym which will help keep you in shape but help your body prepare for delivery.

Exercise #1: Side to Side lunges.

Why we love them: lunges really open up a pregnant woman’s hips and pelvic area, creating a wider cavity for baby to navigate through during the birthing process.  This move also provides stretching for the leg and back muscles.  Place your legs farther than hip’s width apart and hold the back of a chair or table to keep steady.  Sway from side to side, deepening the leg bend gradually (but never more than 90 degrees.)  Think of the movement as really exaggerated slow dancing from junior high!  Train up to 30 lunges on each side.

Exercise #2: Wall crouches.

Why we love them: similar to the side lunges, wall crouches help open up the pelvic cavity as well.  This is an extremely great exercise to perform the last couple of weeks and is especially helpful in preparing the pelvic floor.  For moms to be who have back complications, this exercise is heaven for the back!  Slide down a wall until your crouched down a the bottom.  Try to get your knees pointed slightly outwards like a ballerina plie, keeping your feet flat to the floor.  (Try to think of how young children can crouch on the ground to examine a bug; that is the crouch you are going for!)  Hold for up to five minutes.

Exhibit 100E: Female Homosapien Post-Miscarriage

I never thought I’d be so anxious to get a period. Yes, you read it right: anxious, not eager.  I’m starting to get jumpy here. Before the pregnancy, I was regular to the hour. It was actually kind of creepy. Now, I’m on day 35 of Period Watch. Yep – it’s an official event with official lingo.

I’ve adopted some of the National Weather Center’s lingo to help liven up the waiting. “Watch” actually means, conditions are favorable though no actual signs have been spotted. “Warning” means that there’s been an actual sighting.

Indeed, conditions are favorable. It’s been more than 20 days without bleeding and my last ultrasound showed no remaining products of conception. Plus, I really, really, want to get it. What’s not favorable about that?

Getting old Aunt Flo will be the first sign that my body is back in business. The second sign will be getting another one within a reasonable time frame.

I feel a bit like I’ve become my own science experiment. Watching, waiting, observing; adding variables like vitamins and folic acid: “Let’s see what happens if I take these.” And then, subtracting other variables: “If I don’t wear a pad, and I wear white pants, will karmic forces intercede?”

Soon I’ll be sampling my own cervical mucus and comparing it to pictures on the internet. But hey, it’s in the name of science! Exhibit 100E: Female Homosapien post-miscarriage.

Come to think of it though, when you’re trying to have a baby, conception is really more science than it is romance. If you look for information on trying to conceive, then you’ll probably come across three of the most popular topics:

Temping: the process of monitoring your basal body temperature to detect the subtle rise indicating ovulation is imminent or occurring. A decline in temperature after a slight elevation usually indicates the egg was released and not fertilized. If the temperature stays elevated, it could indicate implantation of a fertilized egg.\

Cervical mucus: I wasn’t kidding when I said I was going to start sampling it. Otherwise known as CM, cervical mucus morphs throughout the month from sticky to creamy to slippery and thin like egg-whites. It’s the slippery thin stuff that helps sperm swim and when you see it, it’s time to get it on if you know what I mean.

Charting: the process of recording temperature and cervical mucus among other signs throughout your monthly cycle. There’s a whole system of checks, and circles, and squares and letters and morse code involved with charting (just kidding on the morse code part – but it’s almost as complex)

All of that is well beyond my reach at this time though. I’m still waiting for my monthly cycle to make an appearance for the first time since January.  I’ll give it two more weeks until I start to panic. In the meantime, I think I’ll go buy some white pants and see if I can tempt the universe.

Why Your Pregnant Thoughts Matter

Let’s face it; when you are pregnant, your thoughts can be all over the map.  Your hormones are in full swing and so are your moods and its hard to get any forewarning when they might go up or down.  But new research suggests that what you do concentrate on or about just might matter to that growing baby inside your belly.  A recent study has shown that what we as mothers do while we are pregnant will have life-long effects on our babies.  This  is not cause for moms to panic; in fact, this information should be used to empower moms into being conscious of what they do and think during their pregnancy.

Scientists now know that a pregnant woman’s moods (and the corresponding chemicals produced by those moods) can have profound impacts on her baby’s brain development while in the womb.   If a mother is chronically stressed during pregnancy, the hormones secreted during those elevated stress periods will send “messages” to the baby’s developing brain which will gradually adapt to being in a “stressed” environment.  This newly formed baby’s brain will be better suited to react quickly and a dampened ability to remain calm.  If a mother can consciously spend time focusing on the joy of her pregnancy, or in other words “think happy thoughts” then  the development of her baby’s brain will be reflective of serenity and calmness.

So what is a mom to do?  Even taking five minutes a day to bring awareness to your thoughts and streamline them into positive feelings will manifest positive outcomes in your baby’s brain development.  Having a rough go at it?  Not to worry; put on your favorite music, treat yourself to a favorite food or nourish yourself in a way that gives you those good feelings.   This conscious approach to caring for your baby in the womb will be just another gift you can give your baby.

Questions After Miscarriage: Where Do I Find Support?

Between social mediums like Facebook and Twitter and websites like Craigslist and MeetUp, connecting with people who have similar interests and experiences has never been easier. Don’t believe me? Head on over to Meetup.com and try this experiment. Search for “working moms.” There are more than 3000 groups worldwide that meet under that topic. Now try “stay at home moms.” More than 4000 groups meeting!

Try this same experiment with “pregnancy loss” and you’ll likely receive the same message I did: “Sorry, no matches found for ‘pregnancy loss’ within 100 miles of your zip code.” Well I’ll be darned.

Not having luck with finding local support groups, I decided to head to a bookstore to look for books about coping with pregnancy loss.

The woman at the service desk in Barnes and Noble looked nice enough and I thought I could trust her with my secret so I said, “I’m looking for books about miscarriage.” I waited for her to grimace or flinch under the weight of that awful word. I had imagined her look of pity. Instead, I got nothing. I might as well have asked her where I could find the dictionary section.

She led me to the back, far corner of the bookstore. I followed her thinking, “How appropriate. A corner where I can browse through my tears for the perfect book on how to cope with the loss of my unborn child.”

The section also had books about other taboo subjects like menopause and anxiety. We were able to find exactly one book. One. “Really?” I asked. “There’s no other section? Maybe near the family planning area?” She offered to go check the inventory while I stood there and scoured the shelf thinking maybe she missed it.

For all of the information on conception and pregnancy, there is a fraction of information available on the topic of miscarriage. A search for pregnancy books on Amazon yielded nearly 24,000 results. A search for miscarriage books yielded 901.

The woman came back and said, “I can order one for you.” I declined.

At home I logged into my local library website, something I was avoiding because I have overdue fines from the prenatal yoga DVDs I checked out and was late returning. The library carried a small selection of books (more than I thought they would considering it’s not a well-funded or large library). “Oh good,” I thought, clicking on the first title.

“Due on May 13,” flashed on the screen.

“What? Whaaaat?” I clicked on the next title. “Due on May 13.” The third title: “Due on May 13.”

The library had 3 books and they were checked out! There was a woman, somewhere in my locality, who had checked out these books. Where is she? Who is she? Will she be my friend?

Desperate for a connection, to hear from other women who have been through this experience, I continue to search for local support groups and to lurk on online pregnancy loss boards. I have what seems like thousands of questions. When? What did you do? How long did you? What did your doctor say? What were your HCG levels? How long did it take you to? How did you? Who did you? What did she say? What about?

I don’t know where I’ll find my answers, or my comfort for that matter. It just seems that I shouldn’t have to look so hard.