Well, crap. That’s right: I said it. And it doesn’t make me a bad person. Just an honest one.
When I told my husband I was taking a test, I could already see the fear in his eyes. Our hands are plenty full with little Owen, and we didn’t really want this expansion right now. But Jim, being the ever-supportive father that he is, focused on how great it would be for Owen to have a sibling (we knew he was having a great time spending Thanksgiving weekend with his cousins) and how we can totally do this!
But this is what I keep thinking: OMG. We’re pregnant. Again. And Owen is only 14 months old. I took two tests just to make sure. Both positive.
I thought about doing one of those cutesy Facebook picture announcements. You know, the “Big Brother” t-shirt on Baby O, or a fourth pair of tiny shoes in a row. Then I thought: no. You don’t have time for that. You’re about to get morning sickness. And you need to buy another car seat. And you need to save some money! And for the love, go take a nap!
So this is happening. We’re going to have two children under the age of two. And I just got used to sleeping through the night again, oh sweet bliss…
The 24-hour sickness kicked in fairly early this time around and my gynecologist asked me to come in for a blood test to confirm the pregnancy. But something wasn’t right. After I went in for three blood tests in the course of one week in December, and was asked to schedule an appointment with my doctor’s office to discuss the results, I had an inkling it was a miscarriage. We learned that I was experiencing a blighted ovum, a form of miscarriage. Basically, an egg attached to my uterine wall but no embryo started growing. I wondered: was there ever a baby there? And how did I feel about a baby never potentially being there? Unsure. Confused. Relieved.
I had to make a decision: wait out the miscarriage with 24/7 morning sickness, or get a D&C. Dilation & Curettage is a surgical procedure where they remove tissue from your uterus. In not so pretty (and definitely not P.C.) words, it cleans out all that trying-to-grow-a-baby tissue.
I had a really difficult time deciding what to do because a D&C would require surgery with anesthesia – super scary (in my eyes) – and expensive. No one has super positive experiences in hospitals. You’re there because something is not quite right. And I just felt that unsure, queasy feeling in my stomach every 15 minutes all day every day when I remembered I had to make a decision. Jim supported me either way. He didn’t show much of his emotions through the whole process because he knew I’d have a more difficult time coping with the choice – and he didn’t want to give too much influence. But Jim leaned toward the surgery because my 24/7 “morning” sickness would be gone. At the fear of making too light of the situation, I was as miserable as a kid who ate too much candy Halloween night. You know, the whole stomachache-wanna-curl-up-in-a-ball-and-fall-asleep-until-the-pain-passes kind of Halloween night.
Ultimately, I decided I couldn’t handle the sick feeling any longer. I scheduled the surgery for December 30. But as each day came and went, I got more and more overtaken by this sick feeling. I couldn’t think straight at work, and I’d set up shop on the couch when I got home in the evening. I felt completely out of myself – and yet completely stuck inside my body, unable to get away from the pain. So I called the doctor’s office in desperation and got the surgery rescheduled for December 23. Merry Christmas to us.
We only told a handful of people what was happening, including our parents, my sister who was taking care of our one year old while we went to the hospital, and a dear friend who I asked advice for choosing surgery or waiting it out (when you miscarry, your body will typically pass everything, but no one knows how long that will take). We didn’t want to tell many people because we didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. And I really couldn’t deal with sympathy from people. The roller coaster “gut drop” feeling was too much for me, over and over again. Especially when I was struggling to feel deep remorse for losing a child. But I knew I wasn’t avoiding coping with the miscarriage that was happening. I was quite clear in knowing that I was going to be OK.
The morning of surgery, we left at 5:30 am and started the process of signing forms at the hospital. The most horrifying part was one particular piece of paperwork that stated I would like any remains of my unborn child buried with all the other unborn children in a group grave that has a memorial service once a year at a cemetery in town. This was really difficult thing to read and sign, because I thought of all the parents who were wrecked by losing a child to miscarriage. Tears started to well up because Oh.My.God. People are losing their baby and signing paperwork about where the remains will be! I tried to “lock it up,” as they say, and not let the feeling get to me. I gulped deeply, took a deep breath in, and forced myself to concentrate on signing my name. I tried not to feel.
The morning of December 23rd, the 7:30 am procedure was fairly quick and simple. It took me a bit longer to get out of the fog of the anesthesia, but I was home before noon. And 100% myself again within two days.
When I was having those initial blood tests in early December, I was hopeful it would be a miscarriage. Because the first time I had a baby, I nearly died.
We weren’t planning on a second child. I can’t say my husband felt the same, but I was thinking of never having a second child. My first pregnancy and birth were hard.
I was sincerely 24/7 sick for 8 of the 10 months, and I was induced 10 days early because I was suffering from a rare form of preeclampsia, called HELLP syndrome. Basically, my liver started to shut down and my blood wouldn’t clot.
Our doctor told Jim he almost went home with a new baby and not me. And little Owen spent 10 days in the NICU. Needless to say, it was not my favorite way to spend 10 months of my life.
I didn’t really like the baby stage. Some people love to breastfeed, and snuggle, and listen to the coos. And it’s not that I hated it. But I just wanted this child to sleep when I slept (through the night), and be a bit more independent, and answer me when I needed to know, “Why the hell are you crying?!” I basically wanted a 4 year old. Someone who could tell me what he wanted, eat the same food as me, and use a real toilet. (I really don’t mind diaper changing, but it’s still a perk if you ain’t doing it.)
I know why they make you watch that baby shaking video in the hospital. You think, “I could never do that! What awful parent would do that to your child?!” Then it’s 4:0 am. And you’ve slept a total of 3 hours. And you cannot figure out why that child is crying again. You’re not like yourself. It was like an out-of-body experience when I felt the urge to shake. So I put Owen down. And closed his bedroom door and went to my bedroom and closed my door. And just breathed. I needed space from the noise and 2 minutes to get everything back together before I walked in. I never thought I would feel that way. But I did.
I know people will say: But pregnancy and birth only lasts 10 months. And you get to spend that lifetime with your child. Uh…not if I die in labor next time. And I’ve got a chance of it happening again. While my doctor and I know what symptoms to watch for, that doesn’t mean I’ll survive it twice. And then I don’t have a whole lifetime to spend with my child.
Miscarriage is a horrible tragedy that happens to more couples than it should. And I recognize it is truly devastating for those couples. I’m not trying to downplay just how real that pain is for many, many people. But that’s just not how I felt. When I heard we were no longer having a baby, I was relieved. Like a huge weight off my shoulders.
I wouldn’t be sick for 10 months of pregnancy. I wouldn’t breastfeed for another 9 months (that’s how long Owen and I gave it a “go”). I wouldn’t have many sleepless nights (again, our kid was sleeping through the night when I stopped breastfeeding). I would just get to be me again. And I wanted my body only for me – not to share with a developing human. And I didn’t want to take care of two children, especially by myself for the 3 months my husband is a soccer coach. Owen was a really easy kid. But even then, it was still hard. And I had a feeling the second one was going to be a needy train-wreck. And I didn’t want that.
I wanted to live. And I was relieved.