Friday, January 15, 2016

The Story of a Miscarriage

I haven't thought about this story in a long time until I came across an ultrasound picture yesterday. I debated what to do about the picture. Part of me wanted to toss it, but another part urged me to hold onto it. I put it back in the box not knowing what to do with it. This morning while working on my Swedish practice, the thought came to me that I needed to write about this. In an effort to expand my creativity and my creative life, I recently committed to following the impulses and writing in the moment. For better or worse, here it is.

Five years ago, near the end of 2010, I was pregnant with a tiny little peanut. Life was full and happy with me. I had five healthy children. My husband's career was going well and we were preparing for an eventual move to Saudi Arabia. I had energy and strength and felt better than I had in years. Brent and I were constantly in delight at the new life I carried inside of me. Jonathan was still pretty young-barely a year old. I was delighted that he would have another sibling so soon, knowing how nice it is to have another playmate.

I felt really good. My lupus was under control and my thyroid was being managed carefully by my doctor. My husband was frequently gone, working in Saudi Arabia. His schedule was often tenuous. I never knew when he would call me and tell me had to leave the next day to work in Saudi Arabia. But I was there at home, a stable and steady presence in our home. We were good all around. The kids had finally settled into their school and were thriving. Brooke was in preschool and was finally potty-trained. She was happy and energetic. Jonathan was home with me and was seriously the most fun ever.

During the first trimester, after months of holding onto our precious secret, we told our children about the new sibling they would have that coming summer. They were delighted and Brooke began praying for a sister.

I started making appointments with all the necessary doctors. I lined up a visit with my ob/gyn and scheduled my appointment with endocrinologist. My first visit with my ob/gyn went great. He performed an ultrasound and we rejoiced at the tiny blob we saw on the screen. He gave me the necessary referral to the perinatologist and I went on my way. A couple days later, I called the perinatologist to set up my first appointment. They have a really busy office so it took some doing but I finally had an appointment. Two days later, the receptionist called me back and said she had made a mistake. She rescheduled my appointment for several weeks earlier so I would be seen during the first trimester.

When my appointment arrived, Brent was once again in Saudi Arabia. My friend was scheduled to pick up Brooke from preschool. Jonathan and I drove to the hospital. Because the office had squeezed my appointment in, we had to wait for several hours. I wasn't concerned though and spent the time reading. Jonathan played and was content. When my turn finally came, I got ready for the ultrasound. The technician squeezed the warmed jelly onto my belly and began to run the monitor over my swelling belly.

As she rubbed the monitor around, she got very quiet. Unable to find the thrumming beat of a heartbeat, she finally stopped and said she needed to get the doctor. I sat there, halfway in shock, not sure I really understood what was going on. The doctor quickly came into the room and pulled me into a deep, sympathetic hug. She explained that they were unable to find a heartbeat, meaning that our little tiny life had ended. I had no idea of what to say or to feel. I sat there with my 14-month old son--grateful for his presence but feeling totally bewildered.

I left the room and walked to my car, knowing I had several calls to make. First and foremost was wondering how I could reach my husband. Because of the time difference getting a hold of him during the day was difficult. We managed to talk in the early morning and late at night. I also had to make arrangements for help just in case he couldn't manage to get home in time to help. I also called my ob/gyn to get guidance on the next steps.

Making calls was difficult. It was really hard not to break down in tears while I explained what had happened and what I needed. People didn't know I was pregnant, so to have to explain my pregnancy and then subsequent loss was hard. I called my mom, my visiting teacher, and my doctor. My doctor scheduled a dnc at the hospital for the next Tuesday and told me what to do if I miscarried before the procedure.

These calls made, I finally arrived at my friend's house to pick up my daughter. I started crying as I walked into her house. She hugged me tightly as I blubbered. Brooke was happy to see me but confused at my tears. We drove home and I started calling Brent on skype. Fortunately, I was able to get him rather quickly. It broke my heart having to tell him the news over that medium. I asked him to come home right away. He started making arrangements.

That evening, I gathered our children around and explained what had happened. They were so sad. It was a genuine loss to them. I spent time composing emails to teachers to explain what was happening if the kids started acting out.

Life went on the next couple of days. I tried to get things cleaned and organized at home. I worked on laundry. Brent managed to get a flight home--many friends at work offered rides and help to him. He arrived home early on Saturday morning. I was so grateful to have his secure presence. Together, we spent the day working on laundry and spending time with the kids.

That evening I woke up to a popping feeling. Blood started to flow and I barely made it to the bathroom in time. The contractions started and I lost the fetus rather quickly. I could barely look at it, because I felt so sad. What I did see was a perfectly little formed tiny body that fit in the palm of one hand. The next four hours were rather horrible. I bled and contracted painfully for several hours. Brent coached me through the whole experience, comforting me, easing my pain as bed as he could. Finally, things slowed down and I was able to sleep.

We slept right through church, something we have never done. We simply had no energy to do anything else.

The next day I saw the doctor and he said I looked pretty bad. He did another ultrasound and said I still need to go to the hospital. I had lost a lot of blood and still had a lot of tissue remaining in my uterus. He told me it would take a long time to feel better because of the blood loss. He recommended a blood transfusion following the procedure at the hospital.

He had requested that we keep some tissue or bits from the fetus so they could send it to the lab for testing. We had a tiny jar with our little baby in it. Later, the results were inconclusive. My lupus definitely did not cause the miscarriage. Looking back, I regret doing that. I wish we had kept the little body and had a little burial to remember the life inside of me. It hurt me thinking of scalpels cutting into that tiny body.

On Tuesday, I went to the hospital to get my uterus cleaned out. I was grateful for the nurses. More than one nurse came into my little cubicle, squeezed my hand and expressed their sorrow for what had happened. It was seriously the kindest thing to hear their expressions of sympathy for me. They put me under and did the procedure. I spent the rest of the day in bed, getting two blood transfusions. I read Stephanie Plum books to keep my spirits up. It was just the medicine I needed to lighten the sadness I felt. Getting the blood transfusions helped tremendously. I felt so much better. I had energy, strength, and felt warm! That evening I returned home to my family. I spent the rest of the week resting and regaining my strength.

I could see so many miracles in the experience. I know it is strange to say that, but they happened, making me feel that God was very much with me during the experience. The first is that my ultrasound appointment was moved up several weeks. Without that knowledge I wouldn't have had time to get my husband home to help me. Secondly, my husband got home in time to help. I bled so much that there is absolutely no way I could have managed without him. I still shudder imagining what would have happened if my children had found me in the bathroom unconscious in a puddle of blood on the floor. I'm not exaggerating when I say that is what would have happened. I had lost enough blood that I almost passed out multiple times. Thirdly, I am grateful for the miracle of having friends who jumped to our rescue. Finally, I was blessed to get a blood transfusion.

A lot of people want to find a reason or meaning for things that happened. In this case, I never felt that urge. It just happened. I don't think it happened for any particular reason. In the time following the miscarriage, Brent was gone for most of the following year going back and forth to Saudi Arabia. We didn't try for another baby that next year because we had no idea when we would actually make our move. I knew, because of my health conditions, that it would be extremely unwise to give birth in Saudi Arabia. (That and my parents would have been really angry at me for having a baby there.) We spent a glorious 18 months in Saudi Arabia. At the end of our time there, we become pregnant. I almost lost our little Winter baby during that first trimester. Fortunately, both of us managed to hold on, and she was born at the end of January the following year.

I spent the entirety of my pregnancy with Winter trembling in fear that I would lose her. I worked very hard to not be anxious, but that always hovered in the back of my mind. I also felt anxious the first year of her life.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened in that other pregnancy had survived. I would have had a much older child than Winter. But then I can't remember dates anymore and I don't want to dwell on it. I don't think of the experience very often unless prompted. While sad, I don't feel heartbroken over the loss. Everything is OK. And it was OK from the time it happened. I was cared for and watched over by Heavenly Father, family, and friends. I have six amazing, healthy, fun kids.

This experience strongly impacted my marriage. My husband was deeply compassionate and sensitive to me. Together we weathered the miscarriage. I had absolute trust that he would protect and help me as my body contracted over and over again, expelling blood and tissue. He cared for me tenderly and sweetly. We were able to express our sadness together. But we were also able to move forward together. I feel like it was one of those refiner's fire moments where you start to really grow and be refined together. In the years since, I have reflected on those moments in the bathroom as I labored and he cared for me. Even though it was an awful moment, his tender ministering to me was deeply sacred. When I think about my husband's character, or our marriage, one of the strongest images that comes to my mind is of him helping me as we labored and lost that evening.

Having experienced my miscarriage has helped me feel more empathy to friends who lose a baby. I also learned to recognize God's hand in helping weather a storm. Mostly I feel blessed for the life I do have--for its richness and depth.


1 comment:

Handsfullmom said...

This is beautifully written. I am glad your experience contained so many tender mercies. I lost a ton of blood with my miscarriage and it took me six weeks to feel normal again. It made me think of the blood that poured out in Gethsemane and how that must have been for the Savior