Posts Tagged ‘life after miscarriage’

Expecting Great Things: A Toast to the End of 2010

I believe in a God that can bless and teach through tragedy; not a God that causes tragedy. For me, 2010 was not a year of tragedy. It was a year of blessings in disguise.

I am a much happier person today that I was one year ago. The scary thing is that one year ago, I didn’t realize I was unhappy. I had a great job, great house, great husband, and I was making a great decision to procreate. Unfortunately, I was hinging my happiness on my great job, great, house, and great husband and the anticipated greatness of having a baby.

When losing just one piece of a ‘perfect’ life can send you spiraling downward, it quickly becomes very clear that not everything is perfect. You see, I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I had the miscarriage. This year, I discovered just exactly how dark my perfect life was.

When I look back on 2010 and ask myself, would I do it again knowing what I know now, the answer is “yes.”  I’ve come to realize that the experience of losing a child is one of the best things that could have happened to me. My miscarriage saved my life. Bear with me as I explain.

The miscarriage revealed to me just how small my world and my perspective had become. I always thought I was a person of faith, a person that believes God is good and that there is a heaven. This year, I discovered how ignorant I’ve been.

My short glimpse at motherhood, and my long glimpse at loss brought me to a place where I can say I know one thing for sure: there is a difference between thinking you are person of faith and truly believing that faith can save your life.

I learned this year that you simply cannot be a happy person without having God in your life. You can think you are happy. You can think you have it all together. You can have the perfect house, the perfect job, and the perfect bank account. Hell, if you’re lucky, God will let you live in that state of ignorance. I lived there for 30 years.

And then I was blessed. God used my miscarriage to reveal to me just how much I was missing out on and through my loss, brought me to a better understanding of what it means to be happy.

You might be thinking, “Wait a second sister. I’ve read your journal and there are quite a few places you sound hurt, and angry and bitter.”

Yep. Guilty. However, for each journal entry, and each minute, hour, day, week, and month of hurt, I’ve been blessed a thousand times over. I just had to open my eyes and look for it.

On many occasions, it came from you: words of complete strangers who read and follow my posts; women who send notes of encouragement and support as if they are my sisters.

In other instances, it came out of experiences that that only could have happened because I wasn’t pregnant: a trip to Colombia to help victims of abuse and prostitution; a white water rafting trip where I met a friend I can’t imagine ever not knowing; a new job that allows me to use the skills I’ve been developing over the past decade…

My husband and I are stronger as individuals and as a couple because of our shared experience. There is something about losing a life that you created together that strengthens the bond of marriage.

Those are just a few examples. I could write a book telling you about the relationships I’ve developed, the personal growth that has allowed me to take a deep breath and put my trust in God, and the happiness that comes from knowing that by this time next year, I’ll have even more light in my life…baby or not.

Holiday Musings from an Infertile

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…If you’re not getting photo cards from all of your fertile friends.

What happened to sending a card with a tree on the front? We got five cards today and all five cards had pictures of our friends and their babies. Awesome. One after another, I opened them up and by the time I was done, I was in a miserable mood. So much for glad tidings and joy.

Though it’s seeming more impossible month by month…if we ever have children, I am thoroughly committed to not sending cards with pictures of them, or me for that matter. The practice of sending a photo card is something I’ve only witnessed from families with children and seeing them is another reminder that I’m not in the club.

In my experience, sending these cards is not something that childless couples do. I mean, I have never seen a photo card with a husband and wife. E-cards from JibJab where my head is superimposed over a character like Ralphie from the Christmas Story? Heck yes. But a photo card that comes in the mail? Um. No.

Can you just imagine me and my husband posing in front of the tree in matching sweaters and then mailing that to all of our closest family and friends? I can see an aunt opening that and shaking her head, “What a shame about these two…Harry, run this to the bedroom will you? I’ll have to write them a letter and see how they are. Did you see this picture of Karen and her kids? What cutie pies. Here. Put this on the fridge. I can’t wait to show the girls when they come over next week.”

And that’s how we couples who are trying to conceive live our lives. We end up in a place behind all our twenty and thirty-something sisters, brothers, cousins and friends who are having kids. All around us, those we love and care deeply about show off their growing families, their lives, their fertile accomplishments in Christmas cards, and ornaments, and homemade gifts from Toddler This and Toddler That while grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, and the “club” of mommies and daddies talk about how special Christmas morning is going to be.

And us? Those of us not in the club? Well, we pretend not to notice and we pretend not to care that everyone else is getting all the attention. We pretend that getting cards of our friends and their kids is not a reminder of what we don’t have. We pretend that we’re not dreading the family gathering where someone says “I’m surprised you don’t have a little one yet.” We pretend that seeing just two stockings hanging from the mantle is A-OK.

Ah yes. Tis the season for pretending. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write emails to my friends telling them I got their cards and the family looks simply beautiful.

Life After Miscarriage: How does this story end?

It was November 14, 2009 when I took my last birth control pill. My husband and I decided that 2010 was the year we were going to have a baby. I went to the OB in December for my yearly well-woman visit and talked to my doctor about our plans to try to conceive. She wrote me a prescription for prenatal vitamins and said, “It takes most couples your age six to eight months of trying before the they are successful. Just have fun.”

We continued to use protection until January and in our first unprotected cycle were blessed enough to get pregnant. I was that woman: the one whom women who have been trying to conceive for years, want to punch in the uterus.

Here I am, a year later, a year after stopping my birth control pill, one unsuccessful pregnancy later wondering, “What the hell happened?”

I know I’m being a whiny little…ahem. I know there are women out there who want to punch me in my uterus and say “At least you were able to get pregnant once. That means you can do it again.” I know that I have no room to complain because we haven’t been actively and unsuccessfully trying for more than 12 consecutive months and therefore, I’m not technically infertile.

But I do wonder, what if my first pregnancy was my last pregnancy? How does this story end? Is it happily ever after as so many people try to reassure me? Or is it simply The End? How do I know if I’m on the last page of the last chapter or if I’m just in the middle of the book?

My mom is the kind of person who reads the end of the book before she reads the beginning. If the end is worth it, she’ll go back and read the rest. I wish I could skip ahead to the end of my story to see what kind of ending it has.

Life After Miscarriage: Who is that in the mirror?

There are days — and thankfully fewer and far between — when I look at my reflection and I don’t know who is staring back at me. I’m surprised by how “normal” I look.  I don’t mean that to be funny; it’s just that if what appeared in the mirror was a reflection of what was going through my mind, or my heart, then it would be ashen, bruised, exhausted.

My best friend gave birth a week ago. I was looking through her pictures and saw life in her eyes, color in her cheeks and a joy that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on her face. It’s the kind of joy that’s in your eyes and in your soul. Unmistakable. More than just a smile. What’s funny about joy is that you can recognize it immediately. But pain—well that’s a different story.

That’s because pain hides behind a smile and behind, “I’m good.” Pain hides behind normal. Pain won’t show up in the mirror.

You can hide pain and you can fake joy. I’ve gotten pretty good at both. It’s an exhausting existence though. Also exhausting is the battle between joy and pain when they exist in the same space. When I look at my friend’s pictures, I am simultaneously caught in her joy and suffocating from pain. It leaves me craving and dreading. Thirsty and saturated. Full and starving.

I want to celebrate and love and at the same time it feels treacherously deceitful to my feelings.

I pick up the phone to call her because I want all the details and I want to hear how she is, and how the baby is. I want to gush and God, I miss her.  But every time I pick up the phone, I freeze. My heart skips a beat and I’m reminded of what was lost and I can’t breathe. Joy. Pain. Joy. Pain. Joy. Pain.

I will call…soon. But at this moment in time, this is how I show love and joy:

Welcome to the world Aiden James and my sincerest love and congratulations to your wonderful parents.

Life After Miscarriage: The Place Where Pain & Grief Meet Closure

“Pain, you just have to ride it out, hope it goes away on its own, hope the wound that caused it heals. There are no solutions, no easy answers, you just breathe deep and wait for it to subside. Most of the time pain can be managed but sometimes the pain gets you where you least expect it. Hits way below the belt and doesn’t let up. Pain, you just have to fight through, because the truth is you can’t outrun it and life always makes more. Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy

This week should have been the week that changed my life forever.

The nursery doesn’t exist. There is no car seat in the back of our Altima. I don’t have closet full of tiny hangers or a dresser full of diapers. There is no bassinet, no baby monitor, no rocking chair.

There’s just me and my husband, and the ghost of our baby who was due on October 29. I’ve been waiting for this week not so I can forget, but so I can give closure to this pregnancy. It’s time and I am ready.

I feel strongly that the baby was a boy so I named my son. I wrote his name on his ultrasound picture and placed it inside his baby blanket (lovingly stitched by a good friend), along with a pair of booties, and his pregnancy date wheel. On his due date, I will write him a letter and sign it “Love, Mom.”

It’s not much but it’s my memorial to his time in my life. His tiny beating heart forever changed who I am and I’m grateful that for nine weeks, I was his. He will always be mine. My first. My son. Abraham.

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.

Life After Micarriage: Cyst Be Gone

Tomorrow is the day! I decided to have the surgery to remove this thing growing on my ovary. In honor of tomorrow, I wrote the sucker a letter.

Dear cyst,

It’s time we parted ways. You’re a little too attached to me. I mean, you’ve grown to roughly three times the size of my ovary. You are basically the size of a large Grade A egg. I would keep you around but unfortunately, I’m not competing in a state fair for the largest organically grown product. Tomorrow, you will be surgically removed, and you are not invited back. Thanks for playing. –Emily

Ah yes. The size of an egg – at least that’s what my Google image search for 7cm revealed. I’m horrified and, morbidly curious. I mean – I can’t grow a baby but I can grow a fluid-filled globe the size of key lime? That got me thinking…

Anyone that’s familiar with literature on pregnancy knows about the comparison of embryos and fetuses to foods. So here are some other comparisons: a large date, a small tomato, a red potato, a large strawberry. See, it’s not just the pregnant women who get to have all the fun!

My husband wants me to bring it home in a jar. I tried to explain that the surgery doesn’t exactly work like that. Thanks to the wonders of science, it will actually be sucked out through my belly button. Well, maybe not my belly button but some small incision near there. Either way, it’s not going to remain intact enough to store in a jar and put on display.  And even if we could keep it in a jar, it wouldn’t match with our pillows and couch.

Life After Miscarriage: The Enemy Within

There is no easy way to put this so I will just come out and say it. There is a 7 centimeter cyst on my right ovary.

 I got this news in the same room that I found out my baby’s heart was no longer beating and from the same person who told me that I had a missed miscarriage. God. I hate that room.

 I sat in the waiting room for about 35 minutes between getting the ultrasound and speaking with the doctor. I watched the ObGyn coordinator call newly pregnant couples to the back for their first appointments. There was one couple in particular – a husband and wife by the looks of it. The woman was just glowing with happiness. God. I hated her; I hated them.

 I overheard another woman scheduling her next appointment. The receptionist said, “Oh! Your 20-week appointment! That’s an exciting one!” God. Get me out of here.

 By the time I finally got to speak to the doctor, I was nearly in tears. She came in with nine images of my ovaries and said, “It’s pretty big.”

 I have a couple of options to deal with this thing. I can do the old ‘wait and see’ and hope it shrinks on its own. I highly doubt it. This cyst is big enough to have its own passport. I can take birth control pills to shrink it. Something about that option sounds counterintuitive to getting pregnant. Or, I can have surgery.

 The surgery is laparoscopic, outpatient, and fairly straightforward. I watched a video of it on You Tube. I almost vomited but I think that’s because I’m a bit squeamish. It didn’t really look that bad at all and apparently, there is no real recovery time. Aside from the risk of completely losing the ovary if the doctor makes a wrong move, and of course, death…I don’t really have a reason not to get ‘er out.

Life After Miscarriage: Just Where is the Grass Greener?

My husband and I went out for dinner the other night. We sat at a table for two overlooking the kitchen at one of our favorite restaurants. I sipped on a Cosmo and looked around, spying on the other diners. A few tables over, there was a young couple with a baby. The woman was giving the kid a bottle as her food sat off to the side. I swirled my martini around the glass, watching, wondering if she wished she was at a table for two sipping a cocktail and eating while the food was still hot. I asked my husband,  “Is the grass really greener on the parenting side of fence?”

It occurred to me that as jealous as I am of couples with babies, maybe, just maybe there are a few out there who are a teensy bit jealous of us.  Maybe that couple was looking at us thinking, “I remember when we used to go out to dinner and drink martinis and didn’t have to worry about where we were going to put the stroller, or if the baby would cry through the whole meal.”

Or maybe that mom who was standing next to me as I was buying my Size 0 pants the other day was thinking, “I remember when my butt used to fit into smaller clothes.”

Or maybe our friends who get up in the night to change diapers or feed a crying infant think about us sleeping in until 9:00 on the weekends and say, “I’d give anything to sleep past 4:00 in the morning.”

My girlfriend, a working mom of two, reminds me all the time that though the joys of parenting are great, there’s something to be said about being a youngish couple without children. I love it when she says things like “See what you have to look forward to,” as she tries to wrestle her toddler into a highchair.

The other day we were out at a coffee shop with her two and half year old. We were talking about ovulation predictor kits when she stopped mid-sentence, looked at her son and said, “Are you pooping?” We put our conversation on hold as she checked his diaper and carted him off to the bathroom. I stayed at the table, kept my eye on the plastic dinosaurs and the Buzz Lightyear doll, and started thinking, maybe life without children isn’t so bad.

I mean, we do have a pretty sweet life. I took a two hour nap a few days ago and when I got up, I poured myself a glass of wine. I sat on my couch and read Cooking Light and listened to the sound of silence. Not once did I think, “I really wish there was a baby crying for me to feed it this very second.” I also didn’t think, “It sure would be nice to change a diaper right now.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not changing my tune. I still want to start a family, and seeing pregnant women still makes my heart hurt. But I’ve decided, a baby isn’t going to make my life perfect and it’s probably not going to make me happy, especially in the short term. I don’t know how many people smile through a diaper blow out, a 2:00 AM feeding, or a colicky wail.

The whole subject of whether being a parent makes a person happy is hotly contested these days. A recent, controversial article in New York magazine cites numerous studies that show, statistically speaking, parents are less happy than non-parents. If I was a parent, this article would irritate the heck out of me. But as a non-parent, as a woman who has recently been through the trauma of a miscarriage, and as someone now on the verge of diagnosed anovulation, the article gives me strength to get out of bed, put on my size 0 pants, drink a Bourbon and gingerale at a table for two, and do it all with a smile on my face.

Life After Miscarriage: Time for an intervention

“We need to get you pregnant.” That’s how my doctor opened our last appointment. She knocked on the door, sat down across from the examining table, put her hands on her knees, leaned forward and said “I can help with that.”

So there I was, sitting with a paper gown around my naked lower half and thinking, ‘Woah. What just happened here?’

Yes, I do want to get pregnant…but how about a little “Hi, how are you? How have you been sleeping? How are your emotions?” My desire for emotional coddling was quickly overridden by the straight-forward approach though. After all, the whole reason I was at the doctor, was to find out what’s going on with my body and to figure out how to correct it as quickly as possible.

After recapping every blow-by-heartbreaking blow, including the fact that I was now on cycle day 44 with no sign of what I’m now calling ‘the second coming,’ the doctor and I agreed that there were at least a few things we could do right away.

First item on the agenda: blood work. “I’m going to test your thyroid function and your prolactin — both hormones can interfere with your body enough to stop menstruation.”

Second: Prometrium, a progesterone pill. “You’re going to take two a day for 10 days. Then you’ll get your period.”

Third: Cycle Day 21 blood work. “Come back on day 21 of your cycle. We’re going to test your progesterone to see if you’re ovulating.”

“And if I’m not ovulating?” I asked.  “I can give you something to help with that as long as you’re OK with a slightly increased risk of having twins,” she replied with a smile on her face.

So that’s the action plan. I’m still waiting on results of the initial blood work (much like I’m still waiting on my second post-miscarriage period) but I did pick up my prescription for the progesterone supplement. I don’t know when I’m going to start taking it though. I’m going overseas for the next week and I don’t want to be on hormone pills while I’m in a different country. The last thing I need now is to find myself hospitalized while traveling. No–that wouldn’t be good. So I think I’ll wait until I return. What’s one more week in the grand scheme of things?