The Poppy Seed

poppy seed

I waited three days before I had my fiancée take me to the emergency room.

The pain started on my lower right side on a Sunday morning.  I hadn’t had a normal period in over two months and had just been prescribed Provera to jump-start my period.  I called my doctor on Monday morning to complain about my cramps, which had increased greatly since Sunday morning.  They said it was due to not having a period for a few months and that it was normal.

Since I was told that the pain I was experiencing was normal, I went to work.  I debated calling out sick due to the pain but I felt that there was no way I could call out because they needed me.  I remember working on reports that Tuesday afternoon curled up in ball on my office chair while my boss stared at me.  She never asked if I wanted to go home, she just asked about my schedule for the day.  I finished my reports and completed an assessment and then left for home around 4 p.m.  I cried for the entire 40-mile commute.  I was in the most agonizing pain I had ever experienced.  I finally had enough and around 11 p.m., I had my fiancé take me to the emergency room.

When the doctor asked me to describe my pain, I told him that it felt like there were tiny elves stabbing me with knives.  He said that it sounded awful – and it was.  At this point the pain had spread down my entire right side.  The doctor ordered a morphine drip for the pain — thank goodness for morphine.  I finally felt relief for the first time in three days.  The doctor stated it could be one of three things based on my symptoms: appendicitis, (which is what I was convinced it was), an ovarian cyst, or pregnancy.

How could I be pregnant?  I hadn’t ovulated for over two months, (according to my gynecologist).  During those two months, my gynecologist, who interestingly enough specializes in infertility, performed multiple pregnancy tests and ultrasounds to rule-out pregnancy.  They were all negative.  Based on that history, I was certain it was appendicitis or a cyst, but never pregnancy!

I supplied them with a urine sample while waiting to have a transvaginal ultrasound and a CT scan with contrast.  The ultrasound tech came in first and spent several minutes taking all sorts of pictures and moving that giant wand all around.  During that time, the nurse brought in the contrast and instructed me to start drinking it.  I only took 2 or 3 sips when the nurse came back in and said I could stop drinking it.

I asked her why and she bluntly said “you’re pregnant.” 

My fiancé’s eyes popped out of his head and we both just stared at each other.  The doctor came in and confirmed that I was pregnant and voiced his concern that based on my symptoms it could be an ectopic pregnancy.  That diagnosis would require admission to the hospital.  It would also mean an additional transvaginal ultrasound but this time with a different machine that had the ability to confirm an ectopic pregnancy.  I no sooner learned that I was pregnant when I had to decide how to end my pregnancy.

I could either opt for emergency surgery and the loss of my right fallopian tube and possibly right ovary or treat it medically with 2 injections of methotrexate and preserve my fertility.  Since I was approximately four weeks pregnant I decided on methotrexate.  Following the injections, I was sent home to wait…

It took a month of bleeding, discomfort and weekly visits to my gynecologist for hCG blood levels before I was given the all-clear that the pregnancy had completely dissolved.

A month after my miscarriage I went to a bookstore to find something on the topic of pregnancy loss.  I had been feeling so alone and extremely depressed and I just wanted to know that all of my feelings were valid and to find hope that I would survive this loss.  I couldn’t find anything, so I approached a woman who worked there and as the words were leaving my mouth, I felt overwhelming shame and embarrassment.  I was then told that those books were not carried in the store and I would have to look online.

A few days after the book incident, I realized I had NOTHING to be embarrassed about.  I didn’t do anything wrong.  I didn’t deserve to have a miscarriage.  I didn’t deserve the physical or emotional pain, but above all else, I didn’t deserve to have my baby die.

A lot has changed in the year since my miscarriage.  For starters, my fiancé is now my husband.  Secondly, I have learned a lot about society and myself.  For example, I have learned that I am worthy of people’s care and concern.

I have learned that when feeling my most vulnerable, people often speak without thinking and are capable of saying hurtful things.

I have learned that empathy is a rare quality in people when it comes to pregnancy loss, especially if the pregnancy was unplanned or if you were unmarried.

I had my miscarriage three months before my wedding but because I wasn’t married at the time, people believed it was less painful emotionally and that it didn’t need to be addressed.  If this experience has taught me anything it’s that women who go through such a tragedy need an advocate to speak on their behalf and spread awareness of the aftermath of pregnancy loss.

I have since developed a loud and powerful voice and am using it to educate the public on the importance of recognizing the loss, expressing empathy regarding the loss, and providing comfort after the loss.

My baby was the size of a poppy seed, which is ironic considering the poppy represents remembrance of immeasurable sacrifice.   Therefore, I am hoping to help break the silence surrounding pregnancy loss by sharing my story of immeasurable sacrifice in remembrance of my baby and all the babies who have died before they were born.

— Anonymous

Photo credit: adapted from caribooooou | Flickr

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