Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hey internet...I guess I should tell you, I lost the baby

This is a personal death story that I shared online in 2012. That was the story that enlightened me to the fact that people want to feel less isolated when it came to grief. I received countless private messages about how reading about my loss helped someone to feel less alone. Some were people I was extremely close to, but had no idea they had lost a pregnancy too. In my opinion, hiding our vulnerability and sadness is a lonely choice. -R

Hey internet...I guess I should tell you, I lost the baby.

March 16, 2012 at 9:54am

One of the downfalls of choosing to live your life openly and the compulsion to write about it is having to share the painful, gut-wrenching parts of your journeys along with the achievements and quirky anecdotes. This has never been more difficult for me than it is right now, but it's who I am, and it's who I want to be, even when being me is torturous, humiliating and sad.

Going against the classic advice of not telling people about a pregnancy until into the 2nd trimester is in direct opposition with my nature. I know very few women who actually abide by that rule anyway, although they may not announce it to the internet. This is probably wise, and while a part of me would do anything for a time machine and some discretion, I realize it wouldn't have mattered, I would have done it anyway, because the internet is where I express myself, Facebook is where I blog, and everyone knows it. How could I talk about ice cream and tortoises for a whole 4 weeks and not mention that, in other news, there was a OMG baby growing inside me!

Many years ago I went through a very dark time. My friends and family didn't hear from me, people who had been in my life for years didn't even know where I lived, no one had my phone number. I never went out and I didn't even show up for my best friend's wedding. Normally someone who had always lived loud and fast and painfully honestly, I became a ghost, in more ways than one.

The short version of that very long story is that I made a bad partner choice, and was sucked into a vicious, sick, abusive relationship that involved addiction and things I'll never speak of. I escaped that life by steeling my guts and reaching out to Sid, and my best friend, and every other person I had ever trusted in the past, even though I was scared they hated me, even though I didn't deserve their help. Once I was extracted, I swore I would never live my life in the dark again, or keep secrets from the people I loved, and who loved me. I survived by being brave enough to tell my story.

Not only did I survive, I prospered. I battled my demons, I took medication, I stopped taking medication, I went to therapy, and I did my own therapy. I fell in love with Sid all over again, became the mother I wanted to be and the friend I had never been. I decided what I wanted to do with my life, and I did it. I also decided to never live in the shadows, as a secret ever again, and to tell my story, light and dark, and I have ever since.

Some people find it naïve or narcissistic, some think I'm a fool. Others have told me they admire me, and have called me brave, and still others have wished they could live without fear of judgement like I do, even though that's far from true. I'm scared all of the time. I just feel compelled to tell my story anyway, to be a writer, and a blogger, and a village idiot and once in awhile say something to somebody else that means something.

That is why I didn't keep the pregnancy a secret. I was so god damned happy, how could I? My life finally got to a place where I could think about the things I wanted instead of needed, and being a mother again was what I wanted most of all. Not only that, Sid wanted it too! There would be no peeing on a stick and then preparing to see the terror in a guy's eyes as you hold your breath waiting to see if he would be angry and bolt, there would be hugs and kisses and pure joy! For a girl who never went to prom, or graduation, or had a sweet sixteen, or a proper wedding or honeymoon, having the man I love look into my eyes and ask if I would have his baby seemed to make up for all of those milestones in a woman's life that I seem to miss out on.

We tried for 2 years, as quietly as I do things. I mentioned it here and there, but I felt judged by some. Disapproving eyes accusing me of being too old, too poor, too crazy. Shakes of heads doubting Sid's ability to settle down, my ability to settle down, our lack of a marriage license. It put seeds of doubt in me, but I didn't let it stop me.

Then it happened. I was pregnant, two months pregnant in fact, by the time I realized it. I was doing it again and I was so happy and I cried those tears of joy and Sid held me close. After the shock wore off, we got busy coming up with names (we even decided on a girls name) coming up with ways to accommodate this new family member, getting Mars prepared to end his career as an only child, and I admit, fondling baby socks, reading all of the pregnancy books, and diligently rubbing cocoa butter on my belly with one hand while tossing pre-natal vitamins down my throat with the other.

This Monday, the 12th of March, at about 12 weeks along, I was to go in and hear my babies' heartbeat for the first time. I was so excited, I could hardly sleep the night before. I felt sorry for Sid that he didn't get to go, poor sap. I'd tell him all about it when I got home, how it sounded like a little bird heart, how it was finally real, and how cold and gross the gel was and how the exam was lame but it was all worth it, because I would finally get to hear that beautiful “whompwhomp” sound.

But that's not what happened.

First, there was the blood. I had noticed some very light, hardly noticeable spotting, but nothing that even blipped on my radar. No spidey sense went off at all, I was blissfully sure everything was fine. My OB did not share my blind enthusiasm. In fact, she turned downright dour, and immediately pulled out the sonar wand and began searching for the heartbeat. I strained, stopped breathing, listened with all my might....and heard nothing but that empty, sonar echo. My ebullience that I'm known for, my optimism, my joy, my happiness, it all imploded right then, in those 5 minutes. Something was wrong.

The rest of the week was torture, waiting for the ultrasound, weighing the possibilities. My uterus could be tilted. The baby could be much younger than we thought, and the heartbeat undetectable. The blood? What blood? There was barely any to speak of, a vague brown tint on toilet paper. This was just a mistake. A bump in the road. A scare. I would go to the ultrasound, Sid would hold my hand, and we'd grip each other in fear until the doctor said, “There the little bugger is!” and we'd laugh and cry and hug, and then get some Thrifty's ice cream and go home.

But that's not what happened either.

I laid on the table, and there was no place for Sid to stand near me, so he stood across the room, arms crossed and mouth covered. I stared at the screen, pretending to know what I was looking for, and the tech said, “There's the little cutie!” but then she got very quiet. She started pressing buttons and measuring and running lines across the bottom of the screen that looked very much like a sound monitor that should have been showing peaks and valleys of heart activity, but were as flat as the desert. Then she said she was very sorry, and she would send the doctor in to talk to us. The baby was dead, and possibly had been for a couple of weeks, as it had stopped growing at about 8 weeks, while its sac had continued, and was the size it should be for 13. The week it's supposedly okay to start telling people.

That was yesterday.

Today I have go in and find out how to expel from my body what in my mind was to be a beautiful, blonde, chubby baby girl that was going to put her tiny hands on my face and smell so delightfully good in my arms. I have to back up, remember that this was not a baby yet, and was never meant to be, and is now merely a fetus that isn't viable. I have to grieve something that never existed, and abort something I desperately wanted. I'm scared, and miserable, and confused. Every single time I use the bathroom I want to punch through the mirror, just to see some blood, because, where is the blood?? There is still none to speak of. In my mind, a miscarriage was dramatic, like in the movies. I would go into the bathroom and begin to hemorrhage, scream for Sid, and he'd have to carry me to the truck with towels shoved in my crotch to stave off the copious amounts of blood as he rushed me to the ER. I guess many woman do have that experience, and it's defiantly how it is on TV.

But that's not what happened to me.

Nothing is happening, except some brown tinted toilet paper and some cramps that my menstrual cramps would scoff at. I wouldn't even call it minor discomfort. One teeny cramp and a streak of blood and an empty, hollow sonogram echo is all I have.  This was a slow, silent death, so silent, I still feel like it can't possibly be true. My heart knows it is, but where is the proof?

Today they will examine me, check my hormone levels, and give me my options, which are basically wait until it decides to leave my body and suffer through that wait and the natural process of expelling, which could leave me open to complications and infections, take a medication to move it along, or get a D&C, something I swore I would never, ever do again after doing it intentionally when I was a teenager and practically having a nervous breakdown because of it. These are my choices, and my appointment is drawing near, and I'm terrified, because to be honest, not one of them sounds like any fucking fun at all....and I still have yet to get any Thriftys ice cream out of the deal. Did I mention my active imagination? The part of my brain that is protecting me is doing it's usual-Jokes about zombabies mixed with flashes of the very real horror that is having something no longer living inside my body, refusing to leave on it's own accord.

So internet, you who I tell everything to, this is what has happened, and this is where I am. It's a dark, scary place, a miserable painful place, but I'm not alone. My boys are taking care of me, my best friend is here, and my circle of wonderful women (and a few men) have circled the wagons around me and I do not feel alone, despite the solitary nature of this experience. I am strong, we will try again, and I will eventually be fine. I'm broken into about a million pieces right now, but I've cleaned up this mess of a heart before, with the help of my wonderful friends and family. I'm telling you, because I tell you everything, and this is part of everything.

I will be writing about it more, I'd imagine, once I'm not in the thick of it. I'll be writing to give comfort to others that have gone through it, and I hope some of you who have experienced this loss will tell me your stories, to help me through it now. Just writing this has been cathartic, and kept me from sobbing and gasping like a dying animal for about an hour, which has been a nice break. Be sure, I will be talking about the D&C procedure that I am sure to be experiencing in the next day or so to remove a fetus with no heart that was never meant to be my child so that I can get my health back and take care of the beautiful child I already have. Be sure I will be talking about a bill in Wisconsin was written to outlaw the very procedure I'm facing today, and how the current reproductive rights battle effects women like me, the women the "pro-lifers" want to pretend don't exist, because we blow their "slutwhore" reasoning out of the water. Be sure I'll be talking about that when I'm not so gut-churningly sad, and I'm using my anger to propel me out of this bed.

Thank you for listening, reading, and letting me be true to myself in front of you.

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