Jenn
Mother of River
Miscarried on April 18th, 2010
Philadelphia, PA
This will ramble. A lot.

My pregnancy was oh-so-planned. We had been trying since the late summer of 2009. I practice the Fertility Awareness Method, which many people confuse with the Rhythm Method. Sooooo, not the same. FAM requires you to be in tune with your body. I did the morning basal temperatures, the charting, I got familiar with my cervical mucus and I peed on ovulation predictor kits. To some that may seem like too much. I think it’s incredibly important and empowering to know how your body works.

There are way too many young girls and women out there who do not have a clue how their cycles work. And so many say, “Oh, I don’t need to do that because I can feel when I ovulate.” You sure can, but charting helps you understand exactly how your hormones are working. My hormones weren’t working 100% correctly. I had a little low progesterone and some wonky cycles. It was frustrating as all hell, but I had faith that things would kick into gear…and they did. I got pregnant very early in February. I knew pretty much from the get-go that I was pregnant. This caused a major freak out for me at work one night when I was alone at the clinic and got locked out of the building in our enclosed kennel yard, in 1.5 feet of snow, a blizzard, no phone, with a disabled dog and my son. I ended up climbing the 8 foot wooden fence and jumping over it to get in the front door of the clinic. The whole time I thought, “I know I’m pregnant. please God, don’t let this hurt my baby.” I flipped out from it, pissed people off at work for flipping out, but I had reason. I was so worried and then so grateful that everything turned out okay at that point.

I took a pregnancy test on February 18th. That date is significant to us as it was the third anniversary of the day our Abigael kitty died. Don’t roll your eyes, she was a VERY special cat and will have a spot in my heart forever. I was elated that good news came on such a somber date and took it as a reminder that new life always follows death. I took three tests that day, mainly because seeing that second line was so exciting and because I had a bunch of tests I didn’t want to waste. And those lines were DARK. Nice and strong. And so, I was definitely pregnant. And excited. Being a mother is what I was born to do. We all know how much I love pregnancy and birth, babies and children. I love being pregnant and there isn’t anything about it that I take for granted. The nausea, tiredness, ligament pain, heartburn, constant peeing, constant not pooping – all that can suck. It does. But, I embrace it. During this pregnancy, I would frequently say that I was glad to have the symptoms. The tiredness and nausea knocked me off my ass and it was so hard to stand up or even keep my head up at work. But, I was happy to have those symptoms to remind me that my body was doing something magnificent. I enjoyed every moment of those weeks.

I got my bump early. I’m a skinny chick with no torso. I’m all legs. Since my torso is short, there is practically no where for my uterus to grow. I was huge with David and everyone swore he was 12 lbs. He was 7. With this pregnancy, my body saw those two lines and said, “well, time to move stuff around.” I got that wonderful bloating, my muscle separated (bitches) and my intestines shifted within the first 4 weeks. By 6 weeks I looked 5 months pregnant. That’s common with subsequent pregnancies. I needed maternity shirts pretty early as a lot of mine just didn’t make it over my flubber. I had to buy a couple of tops because I didn’t have much in the way of cool weather maternity clothes. David was a summer baby and I lived in tanks and dresses with that pregnancy.

And I was bad at work. As a veterinary technician, I have easy access to ultrasounds. So….I popped a probe on myself at 5 weeks. All you could see was a sac at that point, but I checked again at 6 weeks – twice – and saw a little nugget with a beating heart. I looked again about a week later and saw a much bigger nugget with a very strong heartbeat. I had one of the vets come in and count the heart rate for me to double check the rate I got – 150. Very nice. Very strong. Girl, according to the wives tale. I had a sense she was a girl. I was elated to see that flicker on the screen each time. And I told myself I was not going to do another ultrasound for a while. The jury is out on the safety of frequent ultrasounds. ACOG doesn’t support them routinely in the first trimester. A few days later I had my first prenatal with my midwife. I declined the 8-12 week ultrasound scan, telling her that I saw my baby looking perfectly formed with a perfect heartbeat. I told her I would do the 20 week scan.

That night, I went to work and felt like supreme shit. That was a good thing to me. As we closed up the rooms and got ready to leave, my mind nagged the shit out of me to check myself with an ultrasound. I told myself to eef off, that I wasn’t doing it again for at least four weeks. My mind wouldn’t shut up, though, so I relented. Just for a second, I said. I popped the probe on my belly. I saw my perfect little baby, already a little bigger than she had been 3 days prior. The flicker was gone. I moved the probe around and jiggled my belly, figuring I just needed to reposition. No flicker. I shut the machine off. I turned it back on. I looked again. No flicker. No heartbeat. I turned it off and went downstairs as everyone was getting ready to leave. I locked myself in the radiology room and tried the other ultrasound. Same baby. No flicker. I prayed hard to God and every Saint. I looked again. No heartbeat. I composed myself and left with my co-workers. A few sensed someone was wrong, noting that I wasn’t as talkative as usual. I said I was just tired and hungry. I got in the car, drove off and started bawling.

I called Mike and proceeded to freak him out. And then I felt my blood pressure plummett to the floor, my heart skip more beats than ever and heard the sound of white noise in my ear. I did my best to compose myself and to calm down. It didn’t work. My heart went nuts. My blood pressure barely made an appearance. Afraid of a cardiac event (I have heart issues), I had no choice but to visit the emergency room at [name removed] hospital. All but one of our experiences with [name removed] have sucked. They were great with my husband and the people in their billing department have always been so nice. I had two experiences there when I was pregnant with David. I have absolutely nothing nice to say about their maternity care. Nothing. Especially since their only objective is to keep women quiet and slice them open. Anyway, that’s where I went. My other choice was [name removed], but it had a bad reputation when it was [name removed] and I didn’t want to take a chance. I didn’t tell them anything about doing my own ultrasound as I knew they wouldn’t be nice about it. I explained all my cardiac symptoms, they hooked me up to an IV, an EKG and oxygen. They pulled a ton of blood. I asked them over and over and over and over and over to check my baby, but they refused. Mike was persistant and they refused. They said if something was wrong with my baby they “wouldn’t do anything about it anyway.” It was determined that I just had a typical syncopal episode and I was sent home. I tried to relax. I convinced myself that I was wrong…that I did something wrong with my ultrasound, that our machines sucked (my opinion and it does not reflect the opinion of my place of employment)and that I was anxious over nothing. I called my midwife the next day and she said to try to stay calm and to scedule a “real” ultrasound in a few days. I agreed. I called or texted Lauren who tried to calm me, explained that I’m not a trained ultrasound tech and that everything is fine.

I was okay for two days, but then I broke down again in the car on the way home from my parents. I begged and begged God to let me keep my little baby, to not take her away from me. I prayed hard. I told Him I needed Him RIGHT NOW because I was falling apart. Lauren called at that moment (10 o clock at night, I believe) and talked me through my anxiety and calmed me down. This would be the theme for the next four weeks. I would have these desperate moments of fear, sadness and lonliness where I would call on God to guide me and hold me and then Lauren would either call or text at that exact moment. If that isn’t God answering…I don’t know what is…

It took longer than expected to get in for an ultrasound. I don’t have insurance and one place was just completely confused as to how to proceed with someone paying out of pocket. I don’t know how that’s more confusing than insurance or how it’s atypical for her – there are over 50 million people just like me in this country. In the end, I had to wait two weeks to get the ultrasound. I spent those two weeks praying and asking everyone I knew to pray or think positive. I put myself on prayer chains/lists. I went to the [A Catholic Saint] Shrine and said a billion prayers and lit many candles. Everyone told me things would be alright. Everyone had a positive feeling. I was feeling positive. My symptoms were changing, but I brushed it off at that moment.

During those two weeks, the name River came to me. River is not a name we have ever considered, but it came to me while I was praying at the shrine. It literally came into my head as a sentence, “You will name this baby River. It can be for a boy or girl and is perfect since you aren’t sure of the gender. River.” I immediately shook that thought out of my head. I’m not thinking of any names for a dead baby because my baby is alive, I told myself. But, the name followed me everywhere.

The day of my ultrasound came. I stuffed my bra with a St. Jude prayer card, kept some medals in my pocket and two rosaries in my pockets. I had to take David with me as I was without a babysitter. The ultrasound was at [name removed]. I was so nervous, but I tried to remain calm. I focused on positive images. I just knew I would see my baby with her little heart beating away and that I’d feel a huge sense of relief. I knew I’d come home and change my Facebook status from “please pray for me” to “Praise Jesus.” I was technically 10 weeks pregnant at the time. The ultrasound chick was nice. Just doing her job, right? She kept the screen at my head so I couldn’t see it. She kept the probe on my belly for 1/2 hour, telling me she was also taking pics of my ovaries, my cervix and everything in the area. Ok. I expected her to finished taking her pics and then wheel the screen around so I could see my baby, but she took the probe off and said, “the first part is over now. Did your doctor tell you that there is a second part?” Noooooooooooooooo. And I had already mentioned 59897569 times that I didn’t see a doctor. I saw a midwife. I told her, “no,” and she rolled her eyes and said with flair, “Oh, they never do. We have to do a vaginal ultrasound.” I gave her my best “what the eff you talking ’bout Willis” face, cocked an eyebrow and said, “At 10 weeks? Why would you need a transvaginal ultrasound at ten weeks?” She said, “Oh, it’s very common. It’s our policy.” I KNEW that wasn’t true. Sorry lady, but I’m not your typical woman who sits there and let’s the medical profession walk all over her during pregnancy. I don’t lay their with my tail between my legs while you presume I’m too stupid to know anything about my own body. I said, “That’s not true. What’s wrong? What did you see that’s making you want to go vaginal?” She said, “No, it’s just policy. We always do this.” I normally would have been a major bitch at that point. I’m one of those patients. You cannot bullshit a bullshitter. I’ve been in this game long enough. But, something stopped me from being my usual bitch self. I think I was afraid of bad karma if I was nasty. I thought, maybe this is a test and I have to be humble and nice to this lady – because my baby is ok.” So, I relented. Mark that down in your calendars, folks, because that’s one of the last times I give in. I took off my pants and wrapped the sheet around my waist. Yeah, don’t forget my son was there. He stayed in a chair by my head and colored in his books. Such a good boy. It was so effing humiliating. I hadn’t shaved above my knee since the baby was conceived. K? She took another 20 minutes to do that ultrasound and then told me to get changed while she showed her images to the doctor. Ok. She came back in and said, “Okay, you can go home now. Our doctors will be in contact with your doctor.” Oh HELL no. Again, a prime opportunity for super bitch. I said, “I’m sorry. I don’t get to see anything? I don’t get to know anything?” She just stood their looking all stupid and stunned. Probably not used to having a patient actually advocate for themselves, such is life in the obstetrical world – your patients should be quiet little sheep. I said, “This is not cool. Something is wrong. I know this means something is wrong and I have to wait HOW LONG?” She said, “24 to 48 hours.” I said, “Hell no. Did you see a heartbeat. Can you even tell me if you saw a heartbeat?” She said, “I’m not allowed to tell you anything. Our doctors will call your doctor.” “MIDWIFE! I said that 100 times. I don’t go to a doctor…is my info even going to be sent to the right place? Why won’t you tell me anything? Why couldn’t I see my baby. This isn’t right.” Again, looking stunned she just stuttered, “O–Our d-d-d-d-doctors will call your doctor with the information probably by tomorrow. Here I can give you a picture.” And she printed out a picture. I looked at it and at her. She knew I knew. I left. I was so angry, scared, sad, anxious – you name it. I called Mike, my mom and Lauren. Everyone was frustrated for me. Lauren said maybe the tech was just a new girl who didn’t want to get in trouble by saying my baby was alright. Everyone tried to give me hope. I barely had a strand of hope to hang onto, but I clung to it for dear life. I called my midwife via her emergency number since the office was closed by then. Oh, she was so angry for me. So she called [name removed] to try to get information. They told her it could take up to 48 hours to send a report. She said she needed to know if my baby was okay. The lady said she couldn’t tell her anything, but that “they usually don’t send a woman home if something is wrong.” Ok, so I hung onto that and tried to relax. I looked at my ultrasound picture and thought maybe I was interpreting it wrong. You see, she gave me the picture showing the blood flow. There was no blood flow to or from my baby. Only around my uterus. And only a small pool behind my placenta. Still, I talked myself out of it. Maybe I was interpreting wrong. Maybe they can isolate the blood flow images to show only outside the uterus. Maybe that’s a sub-chorionic hemorrhage and that’s why she couldn’t tell me anything. A SCH is usually just fine. I went to bed.

When my phone rang early Thursday morning I was filled with dread. David had just been running around telling me that he was building castles with his sister. He had been talking about playing with his sister for the past two weeks. I answered and it was my midwife and I knew before she even got her name out. “It’s just as you expected.” She said the baby had died two weeks earlier, measuring 8 weeks and 1 day. So, she actually was measuring ahead because she died at 7weeks 6 days. There was nothing else visibly wrong. A small bleed behind my placenta, but not major and unknown if it was prior to her death or after. She told me what to expect, saying the miscarriage would most likely be just like real labor and could take a couple of weeks to happen. The placenta doesn’t take over until 12 weeks and that’s why many women don’t experience their miscarriages until then, even though the baby dies weeks prior. And so there it was. Confirmation. The swords were in my heart – piercing away. I was outraged. I was numb. I was hysterical. I called Mike, my mom and texted Lauren. Mike came home right away. I blamed myself. I blamed Mike. I blamed my job. I blamed God.

The following weeks were a rollercoaster. I immediately took off work as that would be the last place I’d want the miscarriage to start happening. I was very angry at first. I yelled at God. How dare He. Why would He do this to me. Why weren’t my prayers and the prayers of my friends good enough? Why did he let 16 year old crackwhores have babies they would abandon? What did I do to deserve this? Why didn’t He love me enough? Why didn’t He love my baby enough to let her live? Why? Why? Why? Why? Finally, what the EFF was His problem with me. Hadn’t I been crapped on enough? At the end of every angry session yelling at Him I would have an overwhelming peace.

I have no idea how I’ve gotten this far. Who knows if I would have survived this if I didn’t have David. Many times I have felt that I could just die right along with her if I didn’t already have a child here who depended on me. If this had happened with my first pregnancy there is a good chance I wouldn’t be blogging now. The grief has been unbelievable. It was hard to carry around a dead baby for two weeks, yet it was also comforting because she was still with me. I have prayed A LOT. It has been hard to hold myself up. I’m a strong woman in most circumstances and don’t usually take shit from anyone, but this is too much. I don’t know how I would even begin to live through this without my faith. No offense to those who don’t believe. But, I’d be doubly crushed without my faith. Besides, God sent me a text message. Haha. Seriously. I was laying in bed at 2:30 in the morning crying my little heart out. I was bitching at God again and asked Him, “Do You even hear me? Are You even listening?” A second later I got a text message from Lauren that said, “Thinking of you.” I swear, everytime I call God out I get a call or text from Lauren. That’s probably God slapping me upside the head saying, “I’m here, dude. Chill.” And Lauren – though she doesn’t know it – opened my eyes to a big DUH moment by saying, “God knows your hurt. He lost a child, too.” Lauren has been a total rock for me throughout all of this.

There has been a lot of anger, of course. Especially for people who think they know what’s best for my own body. I have heard more than once that I was just dragging everything out and that I should just submit to a D and C. A D and C is when they knock you out and scrape or suck (then it would be a D and E, right) out the contents of your uterus. Just like an abortion. Ok, no. First of all, I know what’s best for my body. Thanks. I’m an anesthetic risk. Heart. Hello. There is also a risk of infertility associated with the procedure. There is also the issue of me having a problem with my baby being torn up inside me, sucked out into a vacuum and tossed aside with biohazard. That is fine for some, but not for me. No offense to those who had that procedure and are fine with it. We all view things differently. I view all life as very, very sacred. For me, life begins at conception. Actually, I believe it begins before conception, but we won’t get into that. You are talking to a woman who will not kill a bug. We don’t get much more than spiders, stink bugs and those scary house centipedes here. Stink bugs are escorted outside. Spider and ‘pedes can stay as they both eat other bugs. I bless every animal I touch. I pray over every animal I hold during euthanasia. I pray over ever puppy or kitten born into my hands or placed into my hands after a c section. I bless every dead animal I see on the street. For God’s sake, I apologize to plants when I cut them – hahaha. See how crazy I am? But that should tell you how much I value life and why D and C wasn’t for me. There is also the issue of money. All the people who suggested D and C never offered to pay my hospital bills. No insurance, remember. I can only have insurance if I’m pregnant, so……… But it pissed me off to no end that people have been like that. And for future information – no grieving mother EVER wants to hear, “it’s for the best” or “God has His reasons” or “You can try again soon.” Another baby is always a joy, but NEVER a replacement. Another word of advice, it doesn’t matter when you lose your baby – it hurts like a mother fucking bitch. It tears your heart up in pieces. It doesn’t matter if you miscarry the day after your test is positive, at 5 weeks, 8 week, 14 weeks, 20 weeks, 28 weeks, 32 weeks, 39 weeks or at birth. It hurts like hell no matter when it happens. We grieve no matter when it happened. It sticks to your soul for the rest of your life no matter when that loss happened. So, saying, “well at least you weren’t very far and didn’t have a chance to get too attached,” hurts way more than it will ever help. I was very attached to my baby and I praise God for every minute I had her, no matter how short that time was. And note: I will not get over it. I’m sorry if that bothers you. If you have a problem with the length of time it has taken me to grieve and the way I have chosen to deal with this, I would love to invite you to kiss my ass and then go fuck yourself. I can’t even say this to most people because most people have not had the courage to say anything to my face. I guess that’s a good thing, because I would destroy them. The violence in me these past two weeks has been scary at times. And, yes, I realize that some people are coming from a good place and a place of concern. I get that. Although, why I have to “get that” and why they can’t get me is another thing. But, there are some folks who are not coming from a good place. There is a place they can go.

So, I officially miscarried this past Sunday. My midwife wasn’t lying when she said it would be like real labor. I didn’t take that 100% seriously. I mean, I read other women’s accounts and knew it could be awful. But other women had easy miscarriages. It’s like any other birth – some are easy and some are very hard. I had it very hard. I had a week of spotting and then light bleeding, so I knew it was on it’s way. By Saturday night, I knew it would happen within 24 hours. I was slammed into real life labor at midnight. Regular contractions. Back labor. I got into the tub to help deal with them. Everything about it felt EXACTLY like real labor – like when I gave birth to David. I had to move through the contractions, breathe through them and moan through them. I did my usual Hail Mary’s through the contractions (did this with David), which later turned into cursing. And I had the urge to push. Amazing, really, when you think about it. Here I am birthing a teeny little one inch baby and it’s just the same as labor for my 7 lb baby. It was not the home waterbirth I wanted. Like any other birth, I brought her into this world in pain and blood. I held her in my hand. If you are curious, I did save her and she will be buried among our flowers and trees. Before you think that’s weird, it’s actually VERY VERY common. Many mothers bury the babies in first trimester miscarriages. I never thought of that before. I pushed the placenta out. I thought I was done. My uterus wasn’t done as it sought to get rid of the blood and extra tissue, but the uterus can’t contract and expel as effectively as it would during a regular birth. The pain after I birthed her and the placenta was 5,000 times worse. I finally got to the point where I thought I could easily die. I wasn’t losing a ton of blood or anything, I just had tons of anxiety because I was still contracting hard and pushing even though nothing but a little blood was coming out. I called my midwife who assured me that what I was experiencing was normal and wasn’t concerned as I wasn’t light-headed, dizzy or losing tons of blood. She told me it was ok to go to the hospital if it made me feel comfortable. I didn’t want to go to the hospital and felt better after talking to her. But, that changed. I couldn’t eat or drink anything and felt dehydrated. I got myself anxious because I couldn’t take anything in and was scared I would faint. Of course, I worked myself up until Mike was forced to call 911. And ambulance came and took me. Mike stayed behind as it was 3am and David was sleeping. I didn’t want David freaked out. I assumed we’d go to [name removed], but they took me to [name removed] because it was closer and it’s a trauma center. They don’t have a maternity section, but the worry was hemorrhage, not whether I’d need to be scraped out. I puked on the nice paramedic guy. He said it was okay as long as it wasn’t poop. I was dreading the hospital since it never really had a good reputation. My nurse came in once I got there. Holy Christ she was so nice…and funny. They got me hooked up to fluids right away which is exactly what I needed. I asked for a pain med, too. Hey, I’m all about natural everything, but I did the birth and wanted the afterpains to stop so I could relax. They gave me hydromorphone. It doesn’t stop pain, it just makes you loopy so you deal with the pain better. I got two doses – very low doses. I’ve never been high. Apparently, I made a lot of weird phone calls to my mom,my dad and hubby. I told my mom to come over and feel free to dig up some of my flowers and plant them in her yard. High is not for me. I could never be a druggy. At least I got some sleep. They did an internal and swabbed a big clot away from my cervix. My midwife said that blood kinda clots after you pass the big stuff but the uterus doesn’t contract effectively enough to get it all out, so the blood and clots pool at the opening of your cervix and it causes more irritation and pain as your uterus still tries to push it out. Confused? Sorry. They did an ultrasound to check for extra retained tissue and all was clear. The pain subsided a bit and my bleeding slowed. I was fine to go home. I really needed those fluids. They helped so much. They pulled blood which all came back happy. OMG – they were so nice. What a different experience than [name removed]. I know a trip to [name removed] would have been terrible. These nurses and doctors were so nice. The ultrasound lady was so nice. Everyone was the best. It may not be the best hospital in the area (though they got rid of a lot of crap people and are trying to change), but that was one of my best hospital experiences despite the circumstance.

My mom and dad came up. Well, my dad had to work so he could only be there a little, but he brought my mom who stayed overnight, cleaned, cooked and took care of David so Mike and I could rest. Moms are the best. So, there. I’m recovering. Physically, I am kind of okay. The pain isn’t too bad, but I’ve realized that I can’t do as much as I normally want to do. Emotionally, well that’s a different story. It’s a trip. I have moments where I realize she is really, really gone. She isn’t in my body anymore….and that makes me so sad. I know for certain her Spirit is right here with me. I know that. I hold onto that as much as I can when the grief pulls me down. A wonderful mother who has also experienced loss told me it’s like navigating a ship through stormy seas. As time goes on, you learn how to sail your ship a little better. And I know I have to embrace my grief. I know for certain I will see her again. It’s too early to make sense of anything, though I try. I want to know how I can use this experience in a positive way. Lauren says I will be able to help mothers better because I have experienced loss first hand. I know some sort of maternity career is in my future and maybe this experience will help others. I don’t know yet.

River will never be forgotten by us or many of those who heard of her through me. Her name is forever carved into my heart and soul. I will carry her in my heart for as long as it’s beating. On the day it stops, I will carry her in my arms forever.

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