***A few dear friends have noticed my lack of posting. While nine months out of the year, a gap in my writing is most likely attributable to laziness, the months between September and November are a little more complicated than that.
Every year, September marks my month of triumph. (I have two babies born in this month and it marks the anniversary of when Scoot and I started dating.) October marks my month of hope. And November marks my month of devastating loss. Oh, and my birthday. Awesome, no?
So to the few of you who have been coming here expecting to find something new, I apologize for the delay and offer the first part in my explanation about why this is such a hard time of year.
I want to point out, if you’re pregnant, you should stop reading now. Seriously. If you’re offended by swearing, this post might not be for you. And if you’re grossed out by medical stuff, you might want to check back later for a post full of sparkles and unicorns. No offense will be taken, I just wanted to give you fair warning.***
When we found out that our second baby, B, was a boy, Scoot and I reconfirmed our plan to have another child. My philosophy, at the time, was, “If I’m meant to have a girl, I will and if not, it’s because I’m meant to be the mother of boys.” And so we were decided. We’d work out timing later but we’d have one more. His/her name would be C (quite frankly the one name I’ve been coveting. I can’t explain how much I want to use this name).
Not long after I stopped nursing/pumping for B, I got my first post-pregnancy period (September 21, 2007). While I was always regular, my cycles were long so I wasn’t totally sure when to expect my next one. Five weeks later, after not menstruating again, I took a pregnancy test. Sure enough, I was pregnant.
Who what? We had just had a baby. Oh my God, they’re going to be less than two years apart. Poor B. D will be so excited. Let’s tell D. How are we going to pay for three of them in daycare when we’re already paying $1,600 per month now!?!?!? What about our contract on that house that we’re building? Will it be big enough? Oh sweet baby Jesus how am I going to tell my boss (who is married but has no kids)?
These questions bring me shame now.
I called and made my appointment to see a nurse practitioner (at a new practice because we had just moved from DC) for the eight week heart beat check. I started feeling nauseus. Woo hoo! Here we go again. Excitement replaced my initial fear. I couldn’t wait to finish making our family.
I went in. I should have been somewhere right around eight weeks. I reported that I’d already been feeling better, that the nausea had subsided a bit which surprised me because with my previous two pregnancies it just started getting bad at nine weeks. I wasn’t really clicking with the NP but we went on and did the sonogram to find the heart beat.
Huh, she said. I was measuring under seven weeks. Was I sure I had the right date? Well, I informed her, I track these things in my Blackberry so I’m quite sure, thankyouverymuch. Not to mention the fact that my last period came while I was watching the boys in a hotel in San Ramon while Scoot went out to celebrate his best friend’s last night before his wedding, which was held on September 22nd. And because I wasn’t expecting it, I had nothing with me and so had to pack up a four year old and a one year old in a car and drive around a town I’d never been to to find a grocery store open at 10 pm to get some *ahem* supplies. So don’t question whether I’m sure! I said I’m sure!
The NP said she couldn’t see the heartbeat. My pregnancy was either unviable or I had the date wrong. Yup, she said it just that casually. (Despite my lifelong exposure to the medical community, it took me a while to translate “unviable” to “miscarriage.” When I figured it out, well, it sucked.)
She set an appointment with a doctor for a week or so later. We’ll just see if that sucker grows in the next week. If not, I was going to miscarry. Oh, and a miscarriage starts with blood so if it happens between appointments just grab some pads and ride the crimson tide, she said in not quite that way. Oh but don’t panic if you experience some spotting because that’s normal after a pelvic exam. O.K. Sounded simple. Apparently. To her.
Confusion. Despair. Denial. Anger. What the fuck? I’m 28 years old. I’ve had two perfectly normal pregnancies. This isn’t a miscarriage. It can’t happen to me.
So I started rationalizing. Every day I’d refer to Dr. Google and every day I had some new explanation for what was going on. And the waiting, oh the waiting.
The waiting period included Thanksgiving weekend. My parents were out of town. We were to go to Scoot’s family’s house. Spending time there would include spending time with his brother and sister-in-law, two of my favorite people in his family and, frankly, two of my best friends. The only glitch? They were pregnant too, with their first, and we were to be due at exactly the same time.
It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to see them, it’s that I didn’t want my presence to make anyone else uncomfortable. I wanted them to be able to rejoice with family, not walk on eggshells around us. So I had Scoot call our family and tell them that we weren’t sure if we were coming. After thinking about how awful sitting around the house for four days would be, we called back and said that we were coming but could they please, please not talk to me about it. The whole thing was about as uncomfortable as you’d expect but man, my sister-in-law earned my undying love and gratitude when she quietly asked if I was ok and let me know, in her always genuine way, that she was there for me. She was the only person there who could even come close to putting me at ease, and she tried her hardest.
When we went in to the doctor the following week, he confirmed my worst fears. The baby was still in there. And still measuring right around seven weeks.
“You know, my wife and I have been through this. I recommend you just have a D&C. That way you can get on with trying again.”
What the hell is a D&C? Oh, it’s a surgery that requires general anesthesia? Yeah, I’m in no state to make a decision about that now. What the fuck do you mean “get on with trying again?” I JUST FOUND OUT I AM CARRYING A DEAD BABY AROUND IN MY UTERUS.
Needless to say I was not blown away by this doctor either. So I urgently made an appointment for a second opinion with a different practice. On my birthday.
When I scheduled the second appointment, it was in part because I was still flirting with denial but by the time I got to the office for the appointment, I knew what was coming.
“Congratulations,” the nurse who took my weight said.
“Thanks, but I’m having a miscarriage.”
“Right now?” she panicked.
“Nope. Not yet.”
“Uh…[Extremely uncomfortable silence]…I’m sorry to hear that. Have you been here before?”
“Nope. First time.”
“Then how do you know?”
“Been to another asshole doctor. He says it’s inevitable and wants me to abort the baby.”
Yeah. I feel awful for the nurse that had to deal with me that day. Luckily the doctor was awesome. He agreed that I COULD have a D&C if I wanted but there was no medical reason to do so at that point. If, he told me, anything became worrisome, I could decide to do one then.
So I started asking the important questions: “Am I still officially pregnant? Can I eat sushi? Lunch meat? Caffeine? Alcohol?” He assured me that I could stop acting pregnant. Oh, and Happy Birthday.
We went out to dinner that night to “celebrate” my 29th birthday. I didn’t talk much. We explained to D that even though there had been a baby in mommy’s tummy it wasn’t going to survive. For a four year old, that boy sure demonstrated an amazing understanding of what was happening. And of course he was his usual empathetic self. He told me that it would be ok. I really wanted to believe him.
The next day I had some spotting, but like the NP said, it isn’t all that unusual after a pelvic exam. I went to work. That Friday evening, however, things started to change. Slowly at first. Bleeding. Some cramping. Diarrhea. More bleeding. And more. Bigger and bigger clots. And then pain so bad I was balled up on the floor crying hysterically, yelling for Scoot to keep D away so he wouldn’t have to see me like this. They were both panicked. We all were.
I called Scoot’s sister. She was in Palo Alto, a two hour drive from Sacramento. She dropped everything and jumped in her car, calling his aunt and uncle to watch her own kids and picking up Scoot’s dad on the way.
Thirty minutes later Scoot, my boys and I pulled up to the emergency room.