Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Whole Story Without Regrets

A while ago, I had posted this incredibly ambiguous post about growing up and heartache and learning about letting go of things I can't control.  It came entirely out of left field for you readers unless you happened to be a close friend along for the ride at that point.

I wasn't sure I could talk about it, and a lot of people encouraged me NOT to talk about it.  Because culturally it's a faux-pas or some such.  But I am going to talk about it, because it happened to me, and it happens to a lot of women everywhere.  It's not something to be ashamed of.  It's something to grow from.

It's called miscarriage.  And it happens, and it isn't wrong.  It's just emotional and sad.

When I went to try on my wedding dress back in October, I was worried because I was a bit late in terms of my usual monthly plague, and I was seemingly gaining weight despite my dieting and exercise regiment.  I thought I was off because of the aforementioned diet and exercise thing... I mean, people can gain muscle and bloating happens when you retain water, of which I was consuming a small lake's worth a day.  I decided to try a pregnancy test anyway, just in case.  I had one from a previous freak out (because, well, I've never been a creature of habit, even on a chemical level apparently), and it said... positive.  Cue track of hysterical crying and uncontrollable stress-induced vomit.  I sent Bear out for some fancy digital ones while I took a long shower to calm myself.  I just wasn't trusting those pink lines.  One of them looked like it couldn't decide if it was supposed to show up or not, so I wanted a second opinion.  The digital age pee sticks arrived and I did my thing.  Apparently, they yell at you when they are ready to tell you the Big News.  I wasn't expecting this, which probably was funny in and of itself, but to be honest, nothing about this whole thing was funny at the time.  Of course, the digital things spell for you, too, and clear as day I was told I was "pregnant".

I called my mom.  I cried a lot.  I apologized for being a careless person.  I vomited every time I tried to say "pregnant" or "baby".  I repeated "oh no" and "but the DRESS" which was a ridiculous thing to fixate on, but it was easier than confronting the issue.  We drove to Planned Parenthood, because I was suddenly convinced that all pee tests were rigged.  Of course, they also confirmed it.  I thought my life was over.  I was mortified.  Totally lost and ashamed.  We weren't planning this, we were planning to get married!  And still the pee stick beeped and informed me of my imminent infant.

My parents were very supportive.  My whole family was.  Bear's family was, too.  It was almost like I tripped and fell into an alternate reality from what I was anticipating.  I was relieved, and beginning to get a little excited, too.  I wanted to make my body a healthy incubator, so I cut out caffeine, started eating right, and began the process of quitting smoking.  I was doing really well.  We moved the wedding forward by nine months (the number was ironic but not intentional) so I could still wear the dress I had just purchased.  Everything was going swimmingly.

Fast forward literally four weeks later.  I was with my mom at Target shopping for baby things for a friend's baby shower, when the cramps started.  These were no ordinary cramps.  These were "I can't breathe and my body is imploding" cramps.  I grabbed a rack of baby gear to steady myself and gasped.  Using a cart as a walker, I managed to make it to the car, and mom drove me to the ER.  They ran tests on my hormones and everything seemed good.  It was probably just gas.  Come back if things get worse.

Bear had come out to meet us and took me home.  He had to go back to the theatre and I stayed home to get some rest.  Sometime in the early hours of morning I woke up to the sound of my own screams.  I rushed to the bathroom where I realized I was bleeding.  A lot.  I called Bear.  He was on his way home.  I hopped in the shower, because I wasn't really being rational, and scrubbed myself.  I told Bear to go to bed when he came home, because I was probably overreacting.  Five minutes later, I told him to get up and bring me back to the ER.

An ultrasound, a lot of needles, and a scary moment where the heart monitor went practically flat later, I was told my body was rejecting the baby.  I went from freaking out about being pregnant in the first place to freaking out that I only got a month.  I had found out very early... two weeks in... and was just at eight.  But the fetus showed six weeks growth, and my hormones had dropped to about four.  It was ending.  I was a wreck.  I went through a lot of self-blame and torment over the whole thing.  I was quitting smoking, but I was at one a day, which I was told couldn't have been the cause, but I felt like it was.  I once ate deli meat, which apparently is bad due to some bacteria something-or-other (but didn't my mom eat ham sandwiches when she was pregnant?!).  I went through everything that I felt made the whole thing my fault.

I actually lost the baby in my own home, by myself.  I found a website about natural miscarriages and was reading other people's stories and advice and was willing myself to let go (and yes, a part of me mocked myself for becoming a desperate hippie and following calming chants).  I named the baby.  I wrote her letters.  I like to think she was a her because all my weird baby dreams were about girls, even though I thought I wanted a boy.  I cried a lot.  So much, I may have scratched my retinas with the amount of saline leaking from my eyes.  I didn't want to eat.  I didn't want to see people or think about the wedding.  My depression reached an all time low.

Work was really cooperative and supportive.  I learned a lot of people I know had suffered the same or similar situations.  I know I was only pregnant for a little over a month, but that doesn't negate the fact that it was still a loss to me.  I know that some women in my situation may have chosen to abort the baby, which is their own choice.  It wasn't mine, even though I was terrified of being a mom.  I am lucky to have the family I do (both sides), Bear, and supportive friends.  I am lucky to have access to the internet and sites specifically intended for women who are going through what I was.  It helped so much to know I was not alone.

I decided to write this post, because there are a lot of women in the world who have experienced or will one day experience the pain and sorrow of losing a baby.  Everyone reacts differently, and no reaction is wrong.  Grief is unique to each of us. 

What really opened me up was this post by Hue of Hue and Hum.  I saw the painting and knew somehow what it meant before I read about it.  I even wrote her an email thanking her for sharing her work and the message with it.  I realized that if that post helped me feel less isolated, maybe writing about my experience will help someone else.

So, I apologize for the downer subject matter, but I hope that this will help someone feel less alone if they need it one day.

The good news is one day you will feel normal again.  I don't wake up every day thinking about the baby I almost had, although sometimes I do think about it.  I don't break down crying every time it comes up.  When people ask why we moved the wedding forward, we tell the truth.  I married my best friend and one day we will try again, when we are ready.  The baby did what it was supposed to do, I guess, in bringing Bear and I closer together.  We know we are strong enough to handle anything between us.  I look back and marvel at how supportive everyone was, how I was never really alone in the first place.  Of course, at the time it's easy to get lost in the emotion and feelings of failure.  But I didn't fail at anything.  It just happened.  And it's my job now to move on with my life and remember that it's okay to be happy again, and it's okay to talk about the miscarriage.  It helped to shape who I am today, but it does not define me.

There's always tomorrow, with great memories to make, and smiles to share.

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  1. I'm so glad you don't feel guilty anymore. I've never gone through this but have had a couple of friends who have, and couldn't imagine it! I'm glad you have this little space in the Internet world and that you feel comfortable enough to post about it. I'm sending good thoughts your way!

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about this, but I'm glad you're able to push through it. Some people truly never recover from a loss so intense.
    I can't relate on quite the same page, but I've been told mutiple times I can't have children so some days I feel a little cheated. I work with special needs children for a living. I have so much love in my heart to give and the patience of a saint, and yet they don't think it'll ever happen to me.
    Sometimes life can feel so cruel, but it's just like you put in the other post you linked to... there are no short straws, it's just life. Like it or not.
    Good luck with your healing and growth. It sounds to me like you'll come out of this just fine.

  3. This was a well put together, and tasteful sharing.
    I'm glad it didn't take long for you to put it out there.
    This blog is like a scab we can all see getting better.

    Love ya.

  4. I'm so glad you wrote about this. It's much more common than people think. We women should all start talking more about things we're not "supposed" to talk about. Maybe we would ALL feel less alone.

  5. Awww. (hugs) You're brave for sharing.


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