Sunday, 9 October 2016

An Unexpected Anniversary

Warning: This is a pregnancy/miscarriage post. Although I try not to be too graphic, some things I just say the way they are. Use your own discretion in reading.

Today, Friday, September 30, was our first anniversary. Today we were planning on making our big pregnancy announcement. That plan got flushed down the toilet this week, sadly, quite literally.

We got our positive pregnancy test September 6. Except we didn't know it was positive at first. We got a super faint line in the positive window of our home test. My husband Henry and I had eagerly looked at it together. No?? Really?? But there was a faint line and I had read a faint line means I'm pregnant. But we weren't sure. So we waited awhile and headed to a different pharmacy for another test. The same thing, except this time it was a little darker. "Well, I guess I'm not" I said and shed some tears of disappointment.

I tried to accept this, but kept thinking. I went to my laptop and did some research. I went back to Henry and happily told him he was indeed a Daddy! I had baked apple pie that day. It would provide solace if it was negative, or serve to celebrate if positive. So we celebrated with coffee, apple pie, and ice cream.

I called the midwife to ensure I was right. She thought my test was likely positive. I did ask about the uterine cramping I was having. She did say it could be an indication the pregnancy wasn't viable, but we hoped for the best. I was a Mommy!

Cramping persisted, but without a trace of blood, easing my fears considerably. Besides, I had read this was common and normal.  However, we held off with sharing the news with family or friends for awhile, just to be safe. My first bouts of nausea came within two days of the positive test, but were generally eased by snacking. I had a break for about a week, and then the nausea and lack of appetite came back much stronger.

A few days prior to this, on September 16, I started to spot on and off pretty consistently. Although I had uterine cramping for a couple weeks, it didn't intensify with the spotting. I had checked my temperature the morning I got concerned and my temperature had dropped considerably. I broke into a heap of tears, convinced we were inevitably miscarrying. Henry tried his best to comfort me and then went to Google, his go-to solution when he has a question. His conclusion: drop the thermometer. Many pregnant women experience temperature drops and end up being completely fine. I took the advice, knowing that I had a temperature drop two days before our positive pregnancy test and it went back up the next day.

I did take it easier, trying to avoid anything too strenuous. I went about my lighter daily work, or at least until the nausea got worse a few days later. I endured the morning sickness, trying to eat, but thankfully didn't have to vomit once. Then a week ago, I had no nausea and could eat easier. Yay! I went about my day, was washing some dishes, when I felt I should really go to the bathroom and check. My spotting was red now. I called Henry immediately, seeing when he could be home. I tried to hold tight and not assume the worst. But it was hard not to. I got through to the midwife, and she suggested a trip to a doctor's office to get an ultrasound. At 6 1/2 weeks, they should be able to detect a heartbeat, which would give us reassurance.

Okay. A few deep breaths. Try to hold the tears. Start drinking to fill my bladder. Off to the doctor. After the longer than expected initial background/intake process, which was putting my bladder in a lot of pain, I squeezed Henry's hand as we got to see our tiny baby up on a screen, baby and sac measuring only approximately 7mm. Although the doctor could not detect a heartbeat, he thought the pregnancy looked good. The baby did measure a little small for how far along I was, and he figured that was why he couldn't detect the heartbeat.

It was enough to reassure us. He prescribed some progesterone to stop the bleeding and strengthen implantation, advised me to avoid any strenuous work for the next few days, and come back in a week to check again, on our anniversary. But we ended up seeing him again sooner than expected.

I went home, took it easier, leaving more strenuous tasks for my husband. I felt pretty good overall. The next morning, I had severe bowel cramping and some diarrhea. I tried to adjust and used my better judgment for some things. The cramping slowly eased over the next couple days. Monday, we had a rainy day, so I couldn't do my laundry. I busied myself with some other lighter things that needed to be done. Tuesday morning, I was able to go in and have my first appointment with the midwife. Although it wasn't a full prenatal appointment, we talked about how things were going, filled out some paperwork, etc. Before I had left home in the morning, I did some light housework and got a couple loads of laundry on the line. But somehow I felt like I needed to be a little extra careful.

Towards the end of our visit with the midwife, I was having some abdominal cramping, assuming it was just because of a full bladder. We had our appointment en route to some business matters, and we stopped for lunch. I made my way to the bathroom quick, getting pretty desperate for relief. But the blood clots I lost in there unsettled me a little. We had lunch and went about business. But the cramping didn't ease up. I felt like I had my period. Although I had had frequent cramping, this felt different. But I had to remind myself not assume the worst again.

I tried not to worry too much, but then got a message from a family member, asking how things were going. We chatted pregnancy stuff, but after mentioning the clots/period cramping combination, she was definitely concerned. I didn't want to believe she was right. Having left my jacket at the midwife, we stopped there later in the afternoon on our way home. I mentioned what I had started to experience a few hours earlier. Not good. Go home and lay down. I shed some tears and she gave me instructions as to what to do and what not to do. With tears still in my eyes, I went back to the truck and informed Henry. She didn't want to give us false hope...

We went home. Henry held me as I cried, but had to go back to work. I went to bed and cried more, but had to get up to distract myself with something else. What we had been afraid of was likely about to happen. I was already thinking through all the what-nows, and changes to our almost perfect plans we had made around our baby. Henry was still hopeful that evening. He was confident it was okay, and that there would be a heartbeat when we went back to the doctor a few days later. I tried. I had already given up all hope, but I tried to hold on to it again.

We prayed together that evening and went to bed. He opted out of working late on a home project, knowing I needed him beside me. I tossed and turned for hours, not being able to sleep well. And then it started. Around 3am, I began to get extreme radiating pain through my entire abdomen and in my back. I felt like my bowels were tearing apart. I could hardly sit because of the pressure it added. Henry called the midwife. I was likely experiencing a mini-labour. Tea and warm baths to help the process along. The intense pain soon subsided and were followed by the contractions the midwife had mentioned, anywhere from around 3 to almost 10 minutes apart, varying in intensity. We did the best we knew, having had no labour preparation. Henry supported me and held my hand through the pain.

After a few hours, the pains eased, exhaustion took over and we slept for a couple hours.  When the pain started in the night, I told Henry that I couldn't physically or emotionally handle being alone for most of 14 hours the next day, as he had a very full work day. He took the morning off of work, but as the day progressed, it became clear he couldn't leave me alone for more than a few minutes at a time. So he helped me "labour," made me breakfast, brought me lunch in bed, made cups of teas, and did whatever else he could.

In the afternoon, we were ready to let go. Henry took my hands and we prayed. We just let God have it, and asked for the baby to come soon, to be able to know it when it came, and be able to bury it. We hadn't been specific enough in regards to the pain, it seemed. Almost immediately the contractions came more frequently and more intense, with very few breaks from the pain in between. I took another bath, hoping this would bring it to where it could come out. After a fair bit of screaming, I finally conceded to taking a couple Advils to try ease the pain. It could be a few hours yet.

It was more. I kept "labouring." It eased off at times and we got a couple more hours of rest late afternoon. When we went to bed at night, I got a few drowsy hours before the contractions began regularly again. Soon my husband had to get up and hold and support me through them again. My screams came half from the pain, half from the frustration of how long we had to endure. The utter exhaustion and lack of sleep wasn't helping either. I had already started thinking Where is God? First He takes our baby, then leaves me alone to suffer for so long.

Close to dawn, we caved. We decided it was time to go to the hospital for some other pain relief. We called the doctor first and he met us at his office for another ultrasound, to see how everything was coming out. He explained that the fetus had pretty much dissolved and come out in pieces. We didn't have the chance to hold or bury our first, tiny child.

Although everything was progressing well, (as far as a miscarriage goes), the doctor did recommend the hospital for some pain relief through IV. It would help more than a pill. So off we went, got checked in, I donned a lovely gown, and endured the pain of getting the IV in, and then the initial nausea, and temporary blurred vision of the pain reliever. We spent the day there, mostly doing nothing, but we were able to have a break from the contractions and get a little rest. In the evening, we were sent home with a prescription for some other pain relievers, and we were also relieved to be able to spend the night in our own bed.

We had a good night and I was able to sleep through most of it. I was up early, not able to sleep more because of everything on my mind. My phone started going off shortly with some anniversary wishes. Although thankful, it was hard responding with the news that we had just lost our baby. Although we otherwise wouldn't had much time until later in the weekend to celebrate it together, it was still far from the anniversary we had anticipated.

We had had doubts about how the pregnancy was going to go. (This added to our hesitation in sharing the news earlier.) But nothing prepared us for what a miscarriage was really like. We had no idea going through a miscarriage at 7 weeks would mean such a long, intense "labour." I have not had the chance to give birth to a full-term, live baby, but I do know my husband has never seen me in such prolonged, intense pain. We had hoped to be able to see and hold our baby; we never got to. There was stuff that came out that we wondered if it was part of it, but we couldn't really tell for sure. As much as I dislike the thought, our baby more or less just got washed down drains, the toilet, or thrown in the garbage.  We had read a little about miscarriages, but in the end, the experiences of women are vastly different. All we know is ours, with the only child we have had so far.

Today has been better. There have been emotional triggers, just thinking about it, thinking of telling people, or hearing the cry of a baby while we were in the hospital. But for the most part, I'm cried out, at least for now. With the medication, the pain is now very bearable, and I haven't been in bed for most of the day. I'm taking it easy, allowing my body to heal, hoping next time we can keep it.

I still consider myself a Mommy, even if I never got to hold my baby. My husband has been an awesome Daddy. He has taken amazing care of me. Even though our day was not what we had hoped, I rejoice in the year we've had together, and the suffering has deepened our love. This will probably always be on my mind every time our anniversary comes, and it will be when May 16 rolls around and I wonder about the baby we could have had. Was it a boy or a girl? We don't know. (I was convinced it was a boy, and Henry that it was a girl.) But in writing this, I know he or she will not be forgotten.

Currently, I'm doing fairly well. I have recovered physically faster than I had expected. I have unexpected emotional lows at times, where Henry needs to be there for me, hold me, or take me out for a walk. Spiritually, I have wrestled with questions. God said "No" to our prayers, when we prayed for a healthy pregnancy, and when we let go during the miscarriage. Can I accept that? Was the miscarriage really God's will? Can I still be a Mom? I don't know if I will get the answers, but I believe that in time healing will come.