Andria (1)

 Andria

Mom to “Juliet”

April 30, 2015

Indianapolis, Indiana

Luke and I were expecting a baby on Thanksgiving Day 2015 (well, the 24th but my ovulation was two days later than a 28 day cycle so the 26th if being exact on Thanksgiving Day).  We were excited.  A little nervous maybe about cultural response to our big family, but so happy to meet another little one.  I was leery about the pregnancy though…I can’t really put my finger on it since I had normal symptoms and no abnormal ones.  I just felt like there were so many things that could go wrong (which has always been true of pregnancy) even though I’ve never been a nervous person while expecting a baby.  I ordered natural nail polish…that I didn’t like very much.  I got protein powder just for pregnancy which cost too much in retrospect.  I ordered a home use fetal doppler monitor so Luke and I could find the heartbeat and hear it the same time (normally I get to hear it solo at appointments because he is watching the other kids).  Worried pregnant lady things like that.  We tried to find the heartbeat several times, but at 9 weeks, we still couldn’t find it and that made me even more nervous because, even though the doppler I got was cheap, Luke’s education as a Emergency medicine physician was not and he knows how to use one.  I put it all out of my mind while Luke and I enjoyed some time away in NYC together without the kids.  Then I had an appointment on April 30th around 11 weeks after we arrived back home.

Jenny (my sister) stopped by the day before my OB apt and she asked if I was excited to see the baby since I had an ultrasound scheduled.  I remember telling her I felt nervous and that the baby would have no heartbeat.  We talked about how I’m older now and know more stories of pain and know things don’t always go right, so that’s probably why I was nervous.  Which is true.  But I think that God was giving me a little heads up for sanity sake.  On the morning of my appointment, I didn’t want to go alone which is super rare.  Normally, I enjoy the break away at appointments.  I asked Christian (my 6 year old son) if he wanted to go with me and he was really excited about it.  Little trips out alone with mommy usually mean a treat from a coffee shop or at least a lollipop. :)  The ultrasound was first.  It was a an internal one, so the picture was very clear and the screen on the wall was quite large.  I saw the baby right away and was like “see, there he/she is…it’s okay” but I’ve seen several 10/11 week ultrasounds by now and noticed the yolk sack looked too large.  It was about the same size as the baby.  Also…everything was very still.  I noticed she came back to the heart several times and left the sound off when she finally did the baseline check on it.  The line was flat along the bottom.  If I’d never seen an ultrasound, I may have needed to wait for the news, but I asked if she had checked the heart just then and she quietly said “yes” and nothing else.  She checked my ovaries and said they looked good…I think she just wanted to say that something looked good.  Then she very simply and professionally said that the baby measured 8 weeks and 3 days instead of the expected 11 weeks and unfortunately didn’t have a heartbeat.

At that moment, shock really helped.  I told Christian, who was playing a game on my phone, that we needed to go to the other room to see the doctor without crying and told the ultrasound tech thank you, stating that this must be a really sad part of her job.  She smiled sincerely and said it was the hardest part and slipped out to give me space.  I didn’t think of it at the time, but I should have asked her for a picture of the baby.  Maybe I still can, I don’t know.  I assume they are respectful of the little person and wait for you to ask instead of handing you a picture of your baby who is no longer living.

The doctor was in surgery so Christian and I went down to the coffee shop for about an hour waiting to see her.  It was actually nice to sit with him and I texted family to let them know.  Christian hadn’t said much so I thought maybe everything had gone over his head.  But when we got down to the coffee bar, he told me I should eat something… for the baby, since it wasn’t growing anymore.  Awwww….sweet boy.  That made me tear up.  Explaining things to him was what I needed to hear and making my mouth say things like “mommy can’t do anything else now” and “God loves our baby so much, it will be okay” were very therapeutic, so I’m glad he came even though it was a lot for a six year old to handle.  I called Luke and for the first time nearly lost it.  I tried to hold it together, but talking to someone that loves you breaks down the barriers and lets the emotions out.  I got a call that the doctor would be back soon, so we headed back up to the office.  A nurse that didn’t know our baby was gone got my weight and blood pressure (which was high).

Once I got to see the doctor, she was so empathetic, I got really emotional again toward the end of the talk.  She gave me the sweetest hug, I really appreciate the servant heart of a good obstetrician.  Even though after ten weeks, a procedure to manually remove everything is recommended, she was very supportive of me trying to let things progress more naturally at home if that’s what I wanted.  Since it had been nearly two and a half weeks since the baby’s growth stopped and I wasn’t progressing on my own, I needed to take medication to kick start things to reduce the risk of infection.  I’m normally not into taking medication if I can help it, but I knew that with Luke’s schedule and our big family, there were benefits to knowing when things would happen.  So I filled the script on the way home and planned to take the medication the next day when Luke had a whole day off and could monitor me.

Warning: The next part of this long bit of writing is my experience with cytotec.  I don’t plan on being graphic but be forewarned that it is medical type information and I bled a lot.

I had texted Laura, my sister in law, and she texted back that they would make the three hour trip down…like right now….if it would help.  She’s an amazing person that has experienced early pregnancy loss in her own life, so I really wanted her to come for support.  So they were packing up and headed our way a couple hours after getting my text message.  When they arrived, the kids played outside….it was a beautiful evening.  I decided that I really wanted a tree or a bush and started to become consumed with the idea that I must have a proper place to put my child if I actually saw anything close to him or her during the miscarriage process.  At only about an inch big and very fragile, I didn’t think I would, but I was very worried about it and apprehensive about taking the medicine in the morning.  When morning arrived…I stalled a bit.  Laura and I returned a dress I didn’t wear in NY because it was too cold, returned some library books that were overdue and recycled some batteries I’ve been meaning to for a while.  You know…little things that don’t matter that make you feel much better to have done.  Then we headed back.

I took the first dose as directed at 10:45 am (3 Cytotec/misoprostol orally) without pain meds yet which were Tylenol with codine.  I thought I would wait until I needed the pain medication, but since my baby wasn’t at risk anymore, was quite sure I would take them eventually.  The first round caused mild cramping feelings but nothing very painful.  After the second dose 4 hours later at 2:45pm the cramping definitely increased and I took one of two pain pills recommended.  The whole process was sad enough without feeling the cramping, so I was glad the doctor sent me home with that prescription because some don’t.  The pain meds worked really well for me, I felt a lot of pressure and a little bit uncomfortable but for the most part fine.

I was experiencing a lot of blood loss by this point (about a pad and hour plus fist sized clotting), but assumed it was normal based on a few accounts I had found online.  There weren’t a lot of first hand accounts to read though, so I was a little in the dark about what to expect.  The papers the doctor sent home with me said to call the nurse if I was bleeding more than a pad or two and hour and I felt okay all things considered.  I drank a lot of water and herbal tea that day to stay hydrated.  I knew that at the peak of this process the blood loss would be more extreme and that wasn’t cause for alarm…but how was I supposed to know when the peak was?  How long do you continue to keep calm and carry on without worrying?  My uterus tried to clot off the flow, but since the miscarriage wasn’t complete yet, my uterus couldn’t contract down like it should to stop the blood loss.
My body did NOT want to let go of this pregnancy…at all…this went on for hours.  The directions on the bottle of the cytotec said to keep taking doses every four hours and one more dose after the heavy bleeding started…So I took another dose before bed at 11:45 as my last one which is supposed to help the uterus stymie the blood loss after the miscarriage supposedly finished.  Out of curiosity, I weighed myself before going to bed at 12:00am.  I wondered what the difference in weight would be in the morning.  I went outside stalling until I could take my last dose of pain meds before bed.  I sat out by the tree we had planted that day for the baby.  I had a good cry and got some feelings off my chest talking to the baby.  One of those feelings of guilt was that I ever felt any kind of worry over sharing the news we were expecting another baby.  Now that it wasn’t happening, I could more easily see that I was so ashamed I would ever be shy about this little child of ours.  I said sorry… I admitted that it was my own pride that made me worried about everyone’s opinion of a seven child family…that I didn’t want people to think I was a mindless baby factory or that I was having kids because I felt obligated to because of some idea or group or something.  Sitting by that tree loosing something so precious put it into perfect perspective for me, and I just couldn’t believe I would be timid about loving something so perfectly wonderful as our child no matter what number it was or how big our vehicle had to be (It still stings because I’m crying while typing it out it makes me so upset).

At this point I had been heavily bleeding for nearly nine hours.  I had trouble sleeping because I had to get up and go to the bathroom to clean up so often.  I finally fell asleep at 1 am on a disposable pet training mat and a size 5 diaper with the table ripped off lining my underwear so I didn’t ruin our bed sheets and woke up again at 4:30am to clean up…again.  I didn’t know it then, but it was the end of the constant bleeding.  The medication had worn off and I wasn’t directed to take anymore and was glad not to.  I felt really weak and very nauseous.  I drank a bunch of water that I had by my bed and kind of scooted down the steps to get some protein bars down in the kitchen.  I wasn’t sure if I was just really tired or if I wasn’t doing so hot.  When you aren’t feeling awesome…it’s hard to find a rational answer to the question of “am I okay?” because generally you’re not thinking clearly.   I laid on the hard wood floor in our room for a while after feeling dizzy because the cold floor felt good on my skin.  I had told Laura I would call her phone if I needed anything and had it with me…but I texted Luke at his overnight shift at the hospital since he was awake.  I told him I was afraid to sleep because I was scared to bleed anymore but was really really tired.  It was hard to convey how much I was bleeding…how do you measure it exactly.  I just said a lot which wasn’t very helpful.  I sounded lucid enough in my texts I guess because he said I could sleep if that’s what I felt like doing and call if there were any changes or I would call Laura if I felt light headed again.  I also knew how much bleeding in general was too much but again…I didn’t know what the peak point was when it was okay for it to be that much.  So I went back to sleep.  By 7:30 am I woke up again and was so happy to realize I had slept okay and that I wasn’t bleeding anymore-at all.

I headed to the bathroom for a celebration shower.  I turned the water on to warm it up…but a second later the sound of it started to drift away-far away…crap… I have passed out once before after delivering Noah, so I quickly sat down on the toilet and put my head between my legs to get some blood in my head.  I was feeling okay in that position and managed not to pass out for the moment.  I formulated a grand plan to reach over and turn off the water, then I would scoot to my bed and phone.  No go…I got the water off somehow but ended up on the floor in a not so graceful tumble and ended up sleeping there passed out until I heard the garage door open a half hour later which meant Luke was home from his overnight shift.  I assumed it was around 8 am when he normally gets back.  I thought about moving since I had woken up but figured I was pretty comfortable on the cool tile floor and that Luke would be up soon to sleep and he could help me back to bed safely.  He didn’t want to bother my sleep though and took care of the boys downstairs keeping them quiet for about a half hour or so before coming up.  By that time I had woke up again and was annoyed that the pointy corner of the trim by our shower kept poking my arm (I wasn’t totally with it, because I had tried to move the corner out of the way to get more comfortable if I remember right) so I figured I should make my planned venture to the bed on my own.  It seemed like planning for a ten mile bike ride.  I didn’t risk standing all the way up in case I would black out again.  I got a towel and scooted across our wood floor to the bed.  I ate another protein bar and drank some more water and then curled up to sleep again.

Luke came up shortly after I got in bed and quietly came over to check on me thinking I was sleeping.  I opened my eyes to see his very worried face looking me over.  He said I looked terrible…I think he said I looked dead actually.  I was very pale from all the blood loss.  He started pinching my finger nails and doing other things that gauge if you have any blood left in you I would guess.  And then I told him I think I had passed out in the bathroom and he looked really concerned and maybe frustrated that he hadn’t been there with me to help.  It was really my fault I hadn’t taken my phone with me into the bathroom though, that’s what I was supposed to have done per our plan of care the night before.  I needed to use the toilet though and was in a hurry to get there.  Also, the process “usually” takes about 10-12 hours or less if the blood flow is heavy right away, so we didn’t think I would be in critical stages that long into the night.

Later that morning, I got on the same scale I had used the night before at midnight and it read that I had lost several pounds (not ounces, not grams…pounds) and that was after drinking water and eating two protein bars.  I looked like a ghost as a result and kind of felt like one too-empty and detached from reality.  I knew my mother/my mom and my family were praying for my recovery and was like…okay…I’m not bleeding anymore…downhill from here-and suddenly I really wanted to eat cheeseburger from Five Guys.  Laura was like an nurse floating around, listening to me talk about my feelings, monitoring my would have been second attempt shower, but she told me to take a bath instead, you know…since standing hadn’t working very well last time I tried it.  She ran to Five Guys to get me a cheeseburger too.  All the kids and daddies were at the boy’s soccer game, so the house was nice and quiet.  When Luke got back, he needed to sleep off his overnight shift but I could tell he wanted to keep tabs on me in case I went down hill again.  I was feeling weak but much better thankfully.  Eating the burger made me a little queasy but really hit the spot all at the same time.  My anemic body wanted it…my poor traumatized tummy didn’t want to digest it.

The rest of the day I basically sat on the couch, drank water, took my vitamins with iron in them and ate when I felt up to it.  Walking around the block would have felt like climbing Mt Everest.  But by the next day with a full night of sleep, I felt about 70% myself and even took that walk around the block with the two little ones.  It’s amazing what the human body can do when demands are placed on it.  I didn’t go to church Sunday even though I felt pretty good.  Monday rolled in and I started bleeding again.  Luke said it was normal to bleed a little bit for the week following…but it didn’t seem normal.  It was bright red when it should have been a darker healing color red.  I was still clotting too, which should have been a huge tip off that my uterus wasn’t able to lock down fully.  I so wanted things to be over that I convinced myself it was fine and since the blood loss was way less than when I was on meds, I just plodded on hoping for the best.  I didn’t want to consider that fact that I may still need a D&C after all I had been though already…so I didn’t consider it.

Tuesday rolled around.  It may sound crazy but…I went lap swimming (slow paced to be sure).  It makes it seem like I was feeling amazing (and not bleeding)…but I really wasn’t feeling awesome.  I just wanted to float in the water and forget my pain for a little bit and craved the feeling of doing something normal.  I remember thinking that lifeguards were necessary and appreciated their presence.  I used an internal medical silicon device for the bleeding while swimming (DivaCup), which caused a lot of cramping.  In retrospect, I think swimming was the best thing I could have done at the time.  When I got home, I miscarried.  I’m sure I was at risk for infection at that point after being in the process from Friday to Tuesday, so I’m very thankful I was okay and that I didn’t get a fever or other symptoms of infection.  I’m sure my immune response would have been pretty lame after all the blood loss and stress.  After I flushed the toilet, I felt relieved it was over and was coming out of shock again.  For a second I though my uterus may be inverting and coming out of me when I tissue passed.  Totally freaked me out and shook me up.  It only took about 48 hours for me to regret not burying whatever that was even though it looked nothing like a baby by the tree we planted.  It was a place to fixate my guilt I think.  I wondered where the baby was and felt bad for not honoring it’s body better.  It was a healing step forward when I admitted to myself and my heart that nothing would make me feel better because I wanted my baby a live and well…so nothing I would have done would have fixed that.  Even if I had buried the baby…I would still feel the loss and the incompleteness of the whole situation.  Nothing in and of itself fixes that…time and loving your baby for what he or she was will slowly make things bearable.  But the only way to have no pain is to forget and I didn’t want to forget my little one so I would have to accept the pain.

Something that surprised me was, as soon as I was out of survival mode…I felt all of the emotions of loss much more strongly.  I felt alone.  I felt sad and didn’t want to be cheered up.  Luke trying to make things feel normal or asking me to do anything normal around the house (like if he mentioned laundry) I felt angry that he wanted me to be normal.  Even though I was feeling fine, and even though he was doing the laundry and just needed help putting it away.  It was the fact that I didn’t want things to go back to normal yet because it made it seem like the baby we lost was less important or…I don’t really know honestly.  They were crazy emotions.  Or another example was Ashton (my sister) and I grabbed sushi for lunch when she was down to see me and even though it was great being able to eat it without worrying about the baby-I was super sad that I didn’t have to worry about the baby.  I was alone.  It was just me now.  Every time I didn’t have to worry about the baby anymore, I felt an intense alone feeling.  I got mad in retrospect about Luke not coming up to check on me after arriving home when I passed out in the bathroom too.  Not because he did anything wrong…but because it made me feel more alone and isolated. Plus, that memory would have been special of him helping me and I was grieving the lost opportunity of that too.

I had a dream about a week after miscarrying that our baby (a little girl with light hair 😉 was in a nursery and there was a radiation warning.  I was told I had no time to go get our baby and we locked down in an underground bunker.  A month later we emerged and I went straight to the hospital to get our little girl.  The nurses there said she had died just a day earlier and I had missed holding her.  A nurse pulled out a file and handed me pictures of the baby dying of radiation poisoning.  It was awful.  I remember one of the pictures she had a sweet little bonnet on to protect her fragile skin.  The nurse asked me where I had been.  I didn’t answer but in my mind knew I had been fending for myself.  Then she said she had held the baby for me while she died…that she herself (the nurse) was sick with radiation poisoning but may survive.  Guilt.  Fear.  Pain.  More guilt.  Longing to hold my child.  loss.  Fear of uncontrollable health risks,  all in a sad vivid dream.  My mind mulling through my emotions.  But at least I’m feeling them and I refuse to ignore them.  I won’t ignore the pain.  Our little child is too important for that.  I’ll grieve for him or her even if it hurts.  Even if it hurts a lot.

I think the baby was a girl…but I’ll just have to wait to find out a little longer than I had originally planned.  But as it turns out…it will still be Thanksgiving day.  Major major… drop to my knees thanksgiving to my King and God who loves me.  No matter what the days hold, He loves me.  The fact that I don’t understand everything is what faith is.  I still believe God is good.  Not because everything in my life is good.  But because my faith sings to my heart that He is.  He can’t change or be anything else but good despite the labels and confusing things we come up with about Him here on this broken confusing earth.  I raise my hands in worship.  I thank God I got to carry that little beating heart from six and a half weeks when it started, to eight and half weeks when it stopped.  A little beating heart for two weeks.  It wasn’t long enough for me…but God isn’t worried about death like I am.  He’s conquered it already.  And while He allowed this pain, I’ll never let my flighty emotions convince me that He caused it.  I don’t fully understand that, and that’s okay.  I’m glad it was just pain for me and not my little one.  I hope it didn’t hurt when his or her little heart stopped.  But even if it did, I know that the God I serve would comfort that pain so fully, it would be instantly forgotten and never thought of again.  So sweet baby…I so wanted to meet you, but I’ll wait.  And I’ll never be shy about telling people I had the honor of carrying you, even for just a little while because you are something to be so happy and proud of.

 

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Comments

  1. I just went for my first ultrasound yesterday and the doctor told me that there was no heartbeat. I am going to the ob today. Reading your story made me cry but also made me realize that it is ok for me to cry. I may not have had a lot of time with my baby but I loved him just the same. Thank you for sharing your story. I pray that this is the last miscarriage that I have (I had one in October at 6 weeks) because I do want more children and I pray that God blesses us with more. My daughter is 1 and I love her immensely but we want more children to fill our home and our hearts. I will never forget this baby and I will always love him.

    • Dear Noelle,

      I hope this is the last loss for you as well and that you feel God’s nearness during such a hard time. I hope your physically well the next few weeks. Hugs to you and your family.

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