• Hard Stuff

    Day 4: Reeling

    Previous Posts:

    Day 1: Raw

    Day 2: Restless

    Day 3: Resentment

    I’m not even going to beat around the bush about this. Today was the hardest, most mind fucking, messed up day I’ve ever experienced. If “trigger warnings” exist for a reason, I guess this is it. Don’t read if you don’t want to hear about bad shit.

    Today was the day I prepped for and got my D&C procedure. To those innocent and blessed individuals reading this that don’t know what that is, it stands for “dilation and curettage.” That is literal, fancy medical terminology for removing a failed pregnancy.

    For whatever godforsaken reason, I had to spend Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday gearing up for today’s procedure. By “gearing up” I mean “suffering through intense cramping and frightening bleeding.” Every damn time I went to the bathroom, it was like some cruel reminder that my body had failed me. My bathroom routine was cry, change my pad, cry, wipe, cry some more and then return to the couch.

    The heating pad became my best friend. The cramping intensified like my body was just following the manual for a miscarriage. It was textbook. Cramping, bleeding, repeat.

    I woke up knowing that by the day’s end, I wouldn’t be pregnant anymore.  There would be nothing left to protect, I’d have to abandon the habit of touching my stomach or examining my body to look for new symptoms. Soon, there’d be no symptoms. There’d be nothing.

    Some d&c procedures can be done in the hospital under general anesthesia. It’s not an insanely invasive procedure (although anything happening in that region is invasive if you ask me) nor is it very time consuming. It’s the reality of the procedure, of what’s being done, that probably makes it very appealing to be asleep during.

    At 10:30, four hours before the procedure, I had to take a medicine to help dilate my cervix. My aunt arrived an hour later and we visited like we normally would have: talked about movies and shows, played with Oliver and gossiped about annoying people. By 1pm, the cramps were all consuming. It felt like someone was using every ounce of  their strength to stretch and knot my insides.

    I took my medication an hour before the procedure, as directed by the doctor. There were pills for anxiety, antibiotics and pain reducers. By the time we got in the car, my legs were shaking uncontrollably . Ryan asked if it was because of nerves or the medicine and I had no idea. Probably both.

    I teared up in the waiting room, but when they brought me into the room…

    I broke down.

    It wasn’t an ordinary examination room. It was a “bad” room, reserved for bad things like this. It felt unusually large, cold, sterile and unwelcoming. This was a room no one wanted to be in. It meant bad things.

    I undressed, had the procedure re-explained to me and got into the all familiar gynecological position. Above me were two painted ceiling tiles, meant to distract patients from why they were laying there in the first place. It was some type of painted skyline that was presumably meant to be peaceful. Look up, stare at the illustrated sunshine and forget why you’re there.

    Not so much.

    To my left was my husband, quietly reminding me how much he loved me and rubbing my arm.To my right was my aunt, who probably thought she was going to remain in the waiting room and read an Us Weekly or something. I wanted her there though, which is such a selfish request. “Hey do you want to come witness this awful thing and be permanently scarred? No? Yes, you do.”

    I closed my eyes so tightly. Tighter than I have ever closed them. I gripped my hands together over my chest and tried to breathe.

    Move your toes.

    Flex your feet.

    Relax as best as you can.

    Take a deep breath.

    But I just couldn’t. The doctor was moving through the process for what felt like hours, but in reality was minutes.

    Here comes some more cramping.

    We are going to numb the area.

    Going to be a little uncomfortable for a minute.

    You’re doing great.

    Just a couple minutes more.

    Then the worst came.

    The noise.

    I knew what they were doing. Those reading this right now know what they were doing.  

    The noise will haunt me forever. It will be something that wakes me up from a sound sleep. A noise that will take a lifetime to get over. If I ever get over it.

    It was done.

    Just like that, twelve weeks of unconditional love, hope, promise and growth was gone. My little baby…and now my little angel. However completely f***ing corny that sounds.

    As much as I’m relieved that this final step is complete and we can begin the emotional healing process, I feel physically and emotionally empty.

    I woke up pregnant and ended the day…not.  

    I don’t know where to go next. I fear that I’ll be physically better in days, but mentally and emotionally stunted for however long it takes. People will move on. I’ll laugh again. I’ll get off the couch and play with my kids again. This will become a distant memory to outsiders. But I fear that I’ll put on a strong face, get back to my sarcastic ways and everyone will assume I’m okay.

    But I’m not. Not after today.

    This is Day 4. The worst day.

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 3: Resentment

    Day 1: Raw

    Day 2: Restless

    I’ve watched enough depressing movies about loss to know that one of the stages of grief is “anger.” I’m naturally an aggressively edgy person so it doesn’t take much to really piss me off (ex: people who count out their change at the cash register, people who litter, not being able to open cans or bottles without the help of a man, etc.). I suppose a miscarriage is a justified reason to be angry.

    In a world of instant sharing and false perceptions of happiness, my Facebook and Instagram was like a cruel slap in the face.It wasn’t as if I was envious of people, I was just bitter that they were carrying on with their lives while my life feels so incredibly sad. I’m self-aware enough to know that time marches on and one person’s hidden tragedy isn’t enough to spread worldwide sadness. I just couldn’t stand the duplicity: how could you extend your sympathies and then post a picture of your pet, post commentary about a TV show or upload videos of your workout. Misery loves company and I just really wanted a crowd.

    My best friend came over with her baby after much convincing on my part. She wanted to leave the baby at home, understandably worried that it would deepen and aggravate my emotions. But here’s the thing: right now, I’m not spiteful of her happy, healthy baby. That is her baby. Not mine. Never mine. I’m mad that my baby didn’t make it. It gets me nowhere to be mad at a great mom for having and loving her own. I want to love my own baby and I don’t get to.

    What does anger me are the people who have vanished. Perhaps, they’re at a loss for words or trying to avoid uncomfortable situations, but I’m not looking for the perfect words or even a shoulder to cry on from everyone. I’m looking for acknowledgment from those closest to me.

    Miscarriages are common, but it’s not common to me. Both of my grandparents are still alive. My blind, diabetic senior dog is still here. I’ve been lucky enough not to experience deep and powerful loss so this cuts like a knife. To someone on the outside, I can see how it could be minimized.

    It wasn’t meant to be.

    Something was obviously wrong.

    You can try again.

    You already have two perfect, healthy children.

    You weren’t that far along.

    Some people have it much worse.

    All correct. But while reading someone else’s story, she asked why pregnancy loss is treated so much differently. She said, “you would never go up to a widow at a funeral and say ‘you can just get remarried,’ ‘you weren’t married that long,’ etc.” That would be wildly inappropriate and you’d probably be punched right in the face and labeled as cold hearted, but people’s trivialization and dismissal of pregnancy loss is just as painful.

    I get that the right words are impossible in situations like these. I’m not asking for an explanation, a solution or even a well-thought out response, but I am asking for a sign of love from people that I love and from people that I thought loved me. If we share DNA or even a history of meaningful friendship then how can you go missing/ I feel alone as it is.

    I’m not angry by people that are happy right now, but I do detest people that ignore hard situations in favor of not making it awkward.

    Tough times show who the good people are.  

    • A best friend and coworker who appeared at our doorstep with dinner.
    • A cousin, who experienced her own tremendous loss, delivering a handmade card and beauty products as a reminder to take care of myself.
    • A new group of running friends sneakily leaving gourmet donuts on my porch.
    • A friend bringing over her kids to keep my own kids distracted and busy while we swapped our pregnancy loss stories over cupcakes.
    • Coworkers who I barely speak to, going out of their way to plan my class lessons, make copies and write up sub plans so I wouldn’t have to worry.
    • Our former babysitter and now family friend, bringing a cookie cake and potted flower over to brighten our day
    • Friends and acquaintances reaching out through text, calls, messages to let them know they’re there and care.

    People are good. People are really good. They’ve surprised me and restored my faith in humanity.

    I’m trying not to focus on the few that have disappointed me. The ones that I thought would be there, but aren’t. Those are the ones that make me angry. I resent them for thinking that we’re okay, that we’re strong enough without their support.

    It turns out we are strong enough, but it still stings..

     

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 2: Restless

    When people say that they were up all night long, I usually take that to mean they had intermittent periods of sleep. I assume they got some sleep. Some type of rest to re-energize them even if it were a few scattered, interrupted moments.

    I was up all night.

    By 2am, my restless body and busy mind gave up. I sat up in bed and began to cry, loud enough to wake up Ryan next to me. It was the deafening-type cry when your shoulders tremble and your chest shakes. The ugly, uncontrollable cry.

    By 4am, I was downstairs. My bed had become crowded with a husband, a preschooler, a dog and a cat. There was no space for my jittery, anxious body.

    I laid on the couch staring up at the shelves above me. Once again and unsurprisingly, I cried. Quieter this time, but heavy. The previous day’s events replayed over in my mind.

    No heartbeat.

    No heartbeat.

    No heartbeat.

    I deleted pregnancy apps off of my phone to avoid the weekly “Your Baby is the Size of a…” alerts that I had become so accustomed to receiving on Fridays.

    A lime.

    12 weeks is a lime. 2 inches long, half an ounce in weight.

    I circled the kitchen, periodically stopping to devour a frosted snowman sugar cookie. There was nothing on TV other than infomercials and televangelists.

    I texted friends, selfishly not caring if my middle-of-the-night text woke them up.

    “I can’t sleep. I want my baby.”

    By 7am, the house was stirring. I had to get Caroline on the bus, braid her hair, force feed her pancakes and disregard the fact that mom being in her pajamas on a Friday at 7am wasn’t weird. Ryan told them the night before. Caroline, full of compassion and intuitiveness, is much too smart to lie to. She wanted a baby. We all did.

    I did some writing while listening to a stranger’s uploaded playlist literally called “Songs for Sobbing.” They were right; I sobbed. Johnny Cash, Coldplay, Bon Iver, Fleetwood Mac…an eclectic mix of melancholic melodies and pained lyrics.

    The day moved like I was walking through molasses, but I guess that’s how it feels when you don’t have a night’s sleep to splinter your days. Days and nights have no discernable beginning or end. I felt like I wasn’t counting minutes, but was counting down to the next meltdown.

    The worst meltdown came in the bathroom. The most mundane task of peeing turned into an unexpectedly painful reminder of why my day felt so long. I was bleeding and even though I knew the source and the outcome, I was blindsided by its presence. I’m a woman after all. This is commonplace. Monthly.

    Not this time.

    Outside the bathroom, the kids were playing Legos and Ryan was preparing them dinner. I tried to stifle my cries, but Ryan slipped in to console me. This isn’t how I envisioned our marriage, even on our bad days. He’s seen me on my worst days, in my most vulnerable of moments, but this was different. Unflattering. Unpretty. Raw. Painful.

    It’s getting worse. It’s happening.

    It was as if my body heard the doctor’s confirmation and kicked it into high gear. Every ounce of denial disappeared.

    I still have two and a half more days of this.

    This is Day 2.

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 1: Raw

    It’s been a long, long time since I used this thing. Life got in the way as it usually does. So why am I writing again? Because I need this space right now. I need a safe spot to share, to vent and to release. Also because I’m experiencing something that 25% of women have or will experience yet no one talks about it. So I will. 

    Today won’t be remembered for a mild snow storm that extended my morning commute by twenty minutes. Today won’t be remembered as the time I accidentally wore my leggings inside out. Today won’t be remembered as the time I rarely had an hour to myself and selfishly watched the new season of “The Bachelor” before my daughter got off the bus.

    Today will be remembered as the day I lost my baby.

    Tomorrow was supposed to be the celebration of the end of my first trimester. A reassuring time when miscarriage statistics dwindle and parents are in the acceptable zone to safely share the news with the world. Given that this was our third baby and our first screening came back normal, we happily announced to those closest to us. I loved being surrounded by people’s excitement and eagerness. Now, I find myself clinging to those same people for grief and mourning.

    Days prior, I had started spotting. Uncredentialed internet doctors chalked this up to “old blood”, hormonal surges, cervical irritations and most of those supportive people I previously mentioned told me not to worry.

    I worried.

    The spotting intensified. It changed color. Cramping started.

    My doctor examined me, noting the source of the blood. She couldn’t find the heartbeat and like the doctor two weeks ago, she blamed it on my high-maintenance, severely tipped uterus. “Let’s do a quick ultrasound.”

    I knew. I think she knew.

    We sat in the dark ultrasound room and as soon as the probe zoomed over, it was confirmed. “Oh Allee, I don’t see any cardiac…” she said sweetly as her voice trailed off. My baby was gone, but yet I was staring right at its little profile. A profile that had changed and developed so much since our first scan. What once looked like a blurry ink smudge now resembled a perfect baby who had paused its short life. It’s static presence will forever be engraved into the deepest corners of my mind. A black and white image of a future I’ll never see, of a person I’ll never get to know.

    We went to a small room to discuss the next steps. I just stared at the floor as she explained the procedure to “remove” the pregnancy. “Take these pills an hour before the procedure, take these ones four hours before, cramping and bleeding afterwards is normal, have somebody drive you…”

    I left with a pamphlet on grief, envelopes of medication and an appointment card reminder to return in four days. On my way out, I passed a happy couple who was taking pictures of their sonogram to obviously send out to their friends and family. They looked overjoyed. A few weeks ago, I was that woman. Now I am the red faced, swollen eyed woman who just miscarried. A selfish part of me wanted to stop and lecture them to not rush to excitement, but a bigger part of me wanted to witness that contagious, unparalleled feeling of anticipation. We were both having moments we’d never forget, but were on opposite ends of the spectrum.

    I came home to an empty house, at my request. For maybe the first time in my life, I sat in darkness with no TV or radio producing background noise. I just cried. I sobbed, really. I stomped my feet. I yelled. The reality that I was still holding a lifeless being engulfed my every thought– caught in pregnancy purgatory. I am pregnant, but not expecting. I am a mom to three, but people will only ever see and know two.

    When I asked the nurse “why,” she said that miscarriages are common and is often the body’s natural way of stopping something that wasn’t developmentally correct. If miscarriages are so common then why do I feel so alone? When someone dies we announce it in newspapers and hold memorials, but here I am carrying my departed baby and I am nervous that people would find my mourning to be dramatic and brush it off as “sad, but common.”

    I feel as if I am simultaneously drowning in grief and suffocating with fear. I don’t want to face Monday’s appointment and I don’t want to face the future of trying again. I am at the bottom of a hill that I do not feel like climbing up again. My happiness was inside of me and now there will be a hole that I know many people share, but I wanted to be different. It sucks to be a statistic. 

    This is Day 1.

    As I lay down on the bed
    Try’na come to terms with what has just been said
    I don’t know where I should look or what to say
    Is this happening to us today?

    If I could then I would scream
    I’d wipe the tears off of my face
    Wake me up if it’s a dream
    This is more than I can take
    I’d give everything I own
    If someone else could take my place
    Will someone else please take my place?

    How can life be so unfair?
    I can’t breathe, in fact I’m choking on the air
    It’s all over, I can see it in on your eyes
    Pull my hand down, heavily I sigh

    If I could then I would scream
    I’d wipe the tears off of my face
    Wake me up if it’s a dream
    This is more than I can take
    I’d give everything I own
    If someone else could take my place
    Will someone else please take my place? — Take My Place, Lily Allen