Our miracle…then loss

We had been trying for kids for well over a year and finally went to a fertility clinic to see if there was a problem. We went through all the tests, which admittedly were mostly for me, and the day we got our results, we announced to the physician that we were pregnant. We were so extremely thrilled…but also shocked, as so many times we took the pregnancy test only to have it be negative. When we saw the first ultrasound at 6-weeks, it was amazing to see our baby and see that tiny little heart fluttering. We finally had proof positive that we were really pregnant. We chose to only tell our parents, not to jinx anything, and we had always heard to keep things to yourself till the end of the first trimester. Our parents were thrilled beyond belief and we were anxiously awaiting the day when we could share our happy news with our friends and the remainder of the family.

The pregnancy was going fine, with no problems at all. Since I’m a chronic pain sufferer, we had really planned this, because prior to getting pregnant, we had seen an endocrinologist and made sure that the meds I was taking were going to be ok for our baby. My only symptom was nausea and vomiting, but its hard to say whether that was morning sickness or my regular illness associated with the pain meds.

On Sat Aug 14th, 2010, I went to the bathroom and had some brownish blood when I wiped…this continued throughout the evening and eventually turned to red blood. I wasn’t too concerned as it was mostly after I peed and wiped, but by 11pm I called TeleHealth and the woman on the line insisted that I need to go to emerg within 4 hours. By about 1:30am it had increased a bit and just to be sure we went to our local emergency room. After waiting for 3 hours, we were seen by a physician who assured us that everything was fine, probably just some light spotting. He indicated that next time we should really go to the hospital on the other end of town, as the hospital we were at doesn’t have Gyne’s on staff [which made me wonder why the nurse/clerk at the window didn’t tell me that 3 hours ago…we could have gone to the other hospital already and waited there]. He did an abdominal ultrasound, and although he couldn’t see anything, he assured as that it might be just too early for an abdominal ultrasound [we had just started our 11th week…we were just days from ending the first trimester…]. We left the hospital and I was confident that all was ok…in fact, I felt really surreal. I really believed that after all the difficulty we had getting pregnant, and with all my medical problems right now, this was the one glimmer of happiness that we had and it wasn’t ending!

The bleeding stopped that night, and I spent the entire sunday in bed or on the couch. Mid-day I even had a really bad bought of nausea, so I took a nap, had some food and rested. My mom came over and we were chatting about staying in bed until next week, when I was scheduled to go see a high-risk OB. I felt a little trickle, like a period…I went to the bathroom and noticed that the bleeding had started up again. I was standing in the hallway telling my husband that the bleeding returned when I felt a huge gush – I started bleeding profusely. By the time we got to the hospital, I was overfilling overnight pads every 30-45minutes. The entire ride was surreal and I kept believing that they could somehow help me. We got to the hospital and I was admitted immediately – the triage nurse asked me, while I was sobbing uncontrollably, whether this was a wanted pregnancy. Would it make a difference in my care if it was/wasn’t? I remember feeling furious that she was wasting my time with a stupid question like that instead of helping save our baby!! We were taken back and it took a long time for me to be seen. No one explained to me what might happen or what to expect, and looking back, I know, I’m 100% sure, that I passed the entire gestational sac in the bathroom – at the time, I convinced myself that this was another clot. I thought about calling the nurse, but who wants to look at that? I wish I had called someone, or my husband, I wish I had retrieved my baby, I wish I had the courage to call someone…but my thoughts were fuzzy and the entire things seemed so surreal. Each time I asked whether there was any chance that this was not a miscarriage, but they weren’t sure, they didn’t know… they didn’t do anything for me, they didn’t even try! I’ve read of using progesterone…or at least fess up and tell me that this is definitely it! The care we received was ok, but not spectacular. I was subjected to 5 very painful pelvic exams, and a good friend who is a physician asked why 5…I don’t know. I know that the first exam was done by the ER resident, and he didn’t want to do it, but the attending insisted. The nurse told me this, as she was siding with the resident, explaining that Gyne was on their way down and they would need to do a pelvic anyway. So looking back, I also question, why so many exams? So I could be a great training tool? I felt so extremely violated. I not only lost our sweet baby, but also had 5 different people poking around in your most private area… During a shift change, my new nurse proceeded to tell her colleagues about her bubbly 22 month old, while standing 5′ away from me. I started to cry again. None of the physicians or nurses were overly sympathetic – a few residents tried to say the right thing, but there was no sincerity behind it. Only one male med student came down to apologize on behalf of the female resident, who had used the term “spontaneous abortion” to describe what was happening – I really appreciated his care and concern. He actually put his hand on my shoulder and spoke to me, not at me. I know that these people see this all the time, I’m not the first or the last, but a little empathy goes a long way, a few kind words or expressing condolences would be nice. In retrospect, no one spoke to us about what to expect, how we might feel, or to even ask if we wanted a priest called, which I would have loved. This wasn’t treated like a death at all.

A few days later, we went to the Pregnancy Clinic at the hospital and were lucky enough to meet a wonderful physician. He was kind, sympathetic, caring and gentle! The internal ultrasound he did was not painful for the first time. I had miscarried naturally, with the use of cytotec, at home. Taking the meds was emotionally painful, just knowing what their purpose was… We had a follow up the next week, and this time had the misfortune of meeting someone else, who had us out of there in 4 minutes flat. There was no discussion of next steps, no discussion of when we might try again, nothing. I was told they’ll check my blood work and if its at a good level, that’s it. This particular physician was not gentle with me at all, my husband felt that she didn’t really want to be there, definitely not anymore than us. I had hoped that there might be talk of some support, or perhaps mention of a support group, but there was nothing. So we left, stunned and hurt. I called the Clinic a few days later to get my blood results, as no one had called, and I asked about a support group. I was told that there was a counselor I could speak with…that was almost 4 weeks ago. I’m just frustrated because if I had chosen to have an abortion, the medical system would be tripping over itself to help us with counseling etc., instead, we got nothing. When the counselor called, 5 weeks later, she informed me that she was unable to help me, as we “didn’t lose a child per se” – that hit me like a smack in the face, I just couldn’t believe a medical “professional” saying this!

Our parents were devastated, and the rest of the family and close friends kind of shrugged it off. They didn’t know we were pregnant, so it wasn’t a big deal to them. Some members didn’t say anything, others supposedly asked my mom about me, but no one bothered to actually send us a condolence card. It just seemed like not a big deal to anyone. I did speak with 2 good friends who also lost their babies, so it was comforting in that respect, but I can’t really talk to my extended family as its pretty clear that there is no interest there.

Luckily, I don’t have any feelings of guilt..at least not too much, as I did everything as correctly as possible…yes there is a chance that the pill I took before I knew I was pregnant could have been an issue, or the acne cream I used back them…. As I’m currently not working, I really took it easy. My husband did everything: changed the litter box, took out the trash, lifted heavy items, cooked dinners, etc. I simply rested, ate well, went for walks. I didn’t do anything that could have possibly led to this – I just wish I knew why we lost our angel. I don’t understand why they can’t do some tissue sampling on the placenta to see if there was a genetic abnormality, or what? I’d at least like to know the sex of the baby, but instead, we got absolutely nothing…but I don’t understand why they sent tissue to pathology if they won’t do any testing on it. If its a money issue, I would have gladly paid for it!

I didn’t really want to talk to anyone for weeks on end. I avoided the phone and I didn’t go to see friends. I tried to get out for a walk each day and do a few small things around the house. I still cry every day. I made a memory box for our baby, we framed the ultrasound and have it hanging in our room, and had a memorial service on our anniversary (it was very private, just us and our parents). I write a lot, so that helps…but I cry at the drop of a hat and that makes people uncomfortable. No future baby will ever replace this angel and it actually annoys me how people seem to think I’m making a big deal out of nothing. Most people have expressed that its been over a few months so I should be getting better…but I don’t even know where to start to get better. I feel bad for my husband because when he comes home from work, we don’t go out, we don’t do much…he commented that I don’t laugh often enough, so I just feel bad that he comes home to such a sad place.

I’m not angry at God, as I have a very different perspective than most people. I really don’t subscribe to the mindset that God controls everything and simply “let” this happen. We, as people, have free will…but there is also good and evil in the world. God doesn’t cause wars or accidents or bad things to happen…instead, He weeps along with us in our suffering. The loss of our baby was a very sad time and God tried to stop it, just as did we, but sometimes, evil wins and God weeps along with us for our loss. I do understand more about God’s love and what it meant to lose His only son…I can relate to that now. I’m also not afraid of death at this point, as I have something to look forward to – seeing our baby. Now, don’t worry, I’m NOT suicidal. I could never inflict that kind of pain on my husband and mom…I guess I’m just more at peace with facing death someday.

But having a strong faith, still doesn’t help me adequately understand why it happened to us. The anger is definitely there. So much money has gone into women’s health, into perfecting abortion procedures, but there isn’t the simplest care for miscarriage support, for research into why this happens so often, to figure out a way to somehow help a threatened miscarriage. Sensitivity training is a must here, as I really felt like we had been treated poorly by most of the medical staff. I received no bereavement leave from work, I was legally not entitled to a mourning period…nothing. Why did they not tell me what to expect? Why couldn’t I take my baby home to have it buried? Why didn’t anyone call a chaplain…or ask if we’d like that performed. So many ‘why’s’

I’m just not sure how to move past this, how to get back “to life”. I really feel like I need to live “harder” for the life that our baby won’t have, as s/he will never experience any of that, but I don’t know how to start…

Joanna

Please feel free to visit my blog at:
http://www.constantly-in-pain.blogspot.com

Joanna

A mid-30's Catholic female, lucky enough to be married to her best friend, Freddie, since 2007, mom to an angel baby and chronic back pain sufferer of almost a decade.

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