Friday, July 19, 2013

And Then He Looked At Me and I Was Pregnant....

*UPDATE: The official epilogue to this tale can be found HERE.*

I didn't intend to write about this. And while everything was taking place I certainly wasn't thinking, "I can't wait to put this on the blog later." But I ultimately decided to for two reasons: 1) I'm what some might call a "writer." While I've never been published outside of the self-published blogosphere and accidentally leaving my journal on the kitchen table, I've enjoyed writing since I learned how. And when my mom told me writing was a great way to, "get things off your chest; unload onto the paper," I was hooked. And B) The slightly narcissistic thought writers have that what they have to say and what they've been through might help someone, even in the smallest way possible. In short, this is therapy for me, and might maybe possibly one day help you.

Disclaimer: This is long and turgid. (That's what she said.)

Jacob and I had specifically planned out when we would start trying for Zoey 2.0. We didn't take into account how long it would take to get pregnant because we were pretty confident. And like going into trying for Zoey, we agreed that if it happened the second time around, that would be great; if not, that would be great, too. But we didn't have to wait very long.

WHAM BAM! (Literally.) I was pregnant just as we started trying. I knew it almost immediately;I started to notice certain things long before I'd ever pass a test. One thing I've noticed about my body over the years is that it works like clock-work. It responds exactly how it's supposed to on medication, responds exactly how it's supposed to when I stop, is almost exactly on-time in Woman's World, and just generally does what it's supposed to. So when I was late for surfing the crimson wave by a few days, I subjected myself to the worst three minutes a woman will ever experience. No matter how you want it to turn out, taking a pregnancy test are the longest, most tortuous minutes ever. It happened to work out that I did it appropriately on Mother's Day.

Taking into consideration what happened before Zoey (got a positive pregnancy test then - what is known in the medical community - "possible-miscarried" a week later), we were cautious and decided not to tell anyone. Of course, we broke down as the weeks went along and told our parents, close friends, and bosses (30-year olds going to the doctor every month?) but weren't officially calling it until we heard the heartbeat.

My pregnancy with Zoey was pretty textbook and the early parts of this one were looking like it would be the same. Each pregnancy is different, and this definitely was, prompting me to hope extra hard this would be a boy. I dealt with morning sickness but not to the extent with Zoey; for the first 11 weeks, I threw up every morning between 5 and 6am; my body would wake me up so I could dry-heave. Different from Zoey, however, I was SUPER hungry. As the weeks went by, my span between meals couldn't exceed one and a half hours so I became Snack Girl. Around 11 weeks, I stopped throwing up and I thought, sweet; this is what they meant by the morning sickness sometimes suddenly stops. I certainly wished I had been that lucky with Zoey where each meal was trial and error.

I was excited that I felt...well....alright. Pretty dang good, in fact. I had been to the doctor for my initial appointment where they go through your medical history and then you give them tons of your bodily fluids to test. The nurse decided she wanted to try and listen for a heartbeat but stressed at 9 weeks it was still considered too early but thought since I'm so thin she'd have a good shot. She searched for a while and couldn't find anything but reassured me that we were looking for something the size of a gummy bear so not to worry; she was certain we'd hear it at the next appointment when Gummy Bear and I would be 14 weeks. Almost exactly one week after I stopped throwing up - 12 weeks - I started spotting.

It was very little, and very brown so I thought it was from being wifely to my husband the night before. Like most anyone with a medical question, I posted my spotting inquiries on and hit up google. I also called my nurse. All sources said that since it was brown, it was old blood, therefore nothing to be worried about. She said almost anything can pop the blood vessels on the cervix, from intercourse, to walking up stairs quickly, to even coughing. She said if it gets to be like I'm having my period and severe cramping, they'd tell me to go to the ER, but as of now she isn't worried. Her words made me feel better and I even thought the next morning that it was starting to stop. I really wanted it to. I didn't have any sort of spotting with Zoey and you can imagine how pleased I was to have something to be worried about. The next morning, I felt relatively well. I was my usual hungry-every-hour self, and my boobs still hurt, probably more so from constantly groping them to make sure they were still sore. My pregnancy barometers. I discreetly groped them as I walked to the bathroom a few hours later.

There it was. Bright red. And not from where I accidentally clipped myself with scissors a night or two before. Trembling, I hastily planned my lunch hour which now included a trip to Same Day Care. With shaking hands, I told Jacob what was going on and he met me there. I will always regret going there and not just calling my OB.

We waited in the waiting room for over an hour. I was literally the last patient to be called and I got to witness every receptionist's lunch-hour. If you've ever wondered who is at a Same Day Care in the middle of an afternoon on a Wednesday, it's the elderly. So you can imagine my surprise when one receptionist stopped and asked, "You're still here? They haven't called you yet?" "You're next!" She announced when she came back from checking. I looked around the empty waiting room; thanks, Captain Obvious.

When we finally did get called, it was to a nurse who conducted her activities like she was bagging groceries at Wal-Mart. She turned out to be nice enough but was rather brutish, and ended up trying to find the baby's heartbeat with a Doppler that was literally tuning in radio stations.

After the nurse left, the gum-chomping, bleach-dyed Physician's Assistant came in to basically tell me it was too early to do anything but take a blood sample to check my pregnancy hormone levels, then re-take it two days later to see if they've gone up or down. I told her I'll give on the blood tests but we haven't heard the heartbeat and I'd really like to try. At 13 weeks, I needed to ease my fears and try everything so I wouldn't have to wait another agonizing two more days.

Nurse Wal-Mart tried first with her radio Doppler, the PA came in with her own, then an OB nurse came in with her own and referred to the Radio Doppler as "that ghetto thing." The OB nurse tried for a minute while she asked us questions: "You're sure you're 13 weeks?" "You haven't heard the heart-tones yet?" Jacob told me later that he could tell from the look on her face when she was asking those questions that it wasn't good. That evening, the clinic called me with my blood test results: my hormone levels were too low for being 13 weeks; they would need to triple by testing on Friday for everything to be ok.

The next morning I decided I would call my OB nurse and see what she had to say about the situation. By then, the bleeding hadn't progressed to Auntie-Flow-ish but it hadn't stopped or changed either so I figured, what the heck. As anyone who's ever put a call into their doctor knows, it's just one, long, frustrating game of tag. By the time I actually spoke to my warm-blooded, human nurse, I had started cramping. They weren't anything serious or debilitating but I noticed that I didn't have them when I woke up and suddenly they were upon me - and getting gradually stronger - by late morning. So when I finally spoke to the nurse, her response was, "Let's have you get over to the ER. Do you have someone that can take you?"

My heart jumped and suddenly I was more excited about my impeding doctor visit than the burrito I had just picked up for lunch. Jacob dropped me off in front because given the previous day's events, we had no idea how long this was actually going to take. I walked in the front, sure I had actually walked into the lobby of a very nice hotel, had my vitals checks, and was directed to a room of my own where I was to disrobe and wait patiently amid the anguished moans of my neighbor.

I spoke to more people about my woman parts and their inside activities than I've probably met in my entire life, most of whom already knew what was going on but wanted to make sure I knew and understood what was going on. The ER nurse took more of my blood and gave me more of the we'll-test-your-pregnancy-hormone-levels-blood-test schpeel and said the doctor might want to do an ultrasound, at which point I started sobbing and basically begged for one because I just needed to know for sure what was going on. I didn't understand why I hadn't gotten one already. Hormone levels, schmormone levels; if there is no heartbeat - a pretty quick check, as long as you're holding the proper equipment and not a hand-held radio - then we know exactly what is going on. If there is, we go from there in determining why I'm bleeding. My babycenter birth board cohorts - and people I know in real life - didn't understand, either, as they have all had the pleasure of immediate ultrasounds if they found themselves suddenly bleeding, even if it was much earlier than 13 weeks.

The "small" ultrasound machine was wheeled into my room and turned on by itself 10 minutes later. Shortly thereafter the doctor came in and gooped up the excess of stretched-out stomach skin that I have learned to live with from Zoey's pregnancy. He wheeled around my stomach, punching various computer keys that made it beep, but saying absolutely nothing. When he was done, he told me very matter-of-factly that I had a blighted ovum, an embryo that implanted but stopped developing because of a chromosomal abnormality due to a bad sperm or egg. It happens about 50-percent of the time, most often before women even know they're pregnant. It was especially disheartening for me because I seemed to be getting further along in the pregnancy, which was because a placenta had developed and was producing the pregnancy hormone. When I "possible miscarried" before Zoey, it was around 5 weeks; supposedly I had crossed into the safe-zone this time around.

The doctor wheeled out the machine and told me someone would be back later with the "big" ultrasound to make sure I didn't have any abnormal pregnancies or other complications that would hinder me from miscarrying on my own.

We waited about an hour in between each doctor, nurse, ultrasound technician, orderly, and discharge nurse but they all determined I would be ok, would be able to get pregnant again, assured me it was nothing I did wrong or way I could have prevented it, and that I didn't have any complications. I expected there to be pain - and, quite honestly, I expected the majority of the pain to be emotional - but I wasn't quite prepared for what was in store.

Doubled-over in pain as we reached the parked car, memories of the Rules of Labor popped into my head (don't go to the hospital until your contractions are so painful that you can no longer walk and/or talk through them) and I realized this is theoretically what was happening. I chose not to think of it that way. As it turned out, I didn't have much time for thinking. The pain took everything I had.

The week as a whole sucked on an entirely new level of sucking. Already dealing with feeling in a rut, having a miscarriage was not something I was prepared for (like anyone ever is). Luckily, we had already planned to go out of town that weekend to visit my parents in Pinedale, Wyoming. A change of scenery could not come at a better time.

I hadn't really thought about what the pain would be like, but even if I had, I think I would have been horribly surprised. In the car on the way to Wyoming Friday night, I was in so much blinding, nauseating pain that my hands went numb passed my wrists (I don't know why), and - out in the BFE middle-of-nowhere - Jacob was determined to find me a hospital. For over an hour, lightening bolts of pain stabbed at the top of my upper thighs, abdomen, and lower back, sometimes like a violent ocean, wave after wave crashing over me. Other times it was like the amusement park wave pool, blessing me with a few minutes of reprieve.

We knew getting to a hospital wasn't actually possible and would probably result in more time driving than it would take to just get to my parent's house. In a later discussion, we learned the closest ER is about 150 miles from Pinedale.

After a few hours, the pain eased - or the ibuprofen finally kicked in, although it was about a day late - and Jacob and I were able to relax. For the rest of the weekend, I'd spend most mornings writhing in pain. Sleeping was never an issue because gravity wasn't working against me. As soon as I'd get up to use the bathroom though, I'd be drowning in squeezing, stabbing, sharp pressure. After a good hour, or so, the pain would ease and my body would respond to the ibuprofen, among other self-medications I was using in vein. The pain often tricked me into thinking there were things I could do to alleviate it or make the moments pass faster, but the next one would come on stronger and harder and faster and basically laugh in my face (or uterus) at my feeble attempts to control it. Once it was all over, I'd be exhausted.

People ask me, "Is it just like the worst period ever?"

No, it's a miscarriage. It's emotional and physical pain you never thought possible. It's like labor, but completely unproductive except your insides getting ripped from you bit by bit, which you get to witness in the form of clots. It's fear things are going ok, and fear things will be ok from here on out and you'll never have to experience this again. It's a dark sadness and deep anger that on top of knowing you're no longer pregnant, you get to be reminded every 30 seconds by searing pain and every time you need to use the bathroom (which is about every 30 minutes). It's uncontrollable sadness that is not only the result of the pregnancy-hormone come-down, but the sudden and indescribably different sense of loneliness. You've read it in all of your books, online birth boards, and heard it from the doctors and nurses; and you believe it when they tell you it's not your fault and that it was for the best, but that doesn't ease any of it.

While I've passed the pain portion of the program enough to not actually need ibuprofen, I still do experience abdomen-twisting cramps, especially when I treat what's happening like I'm just having a normal period. But I've learned even that doesn't play a big role, I can start literally gushing at a moment's notice no matter my activity level. General bleeding can last about one to five weeks but God only knows when it will stop, so only a little bit longer of being the dogs' best friend and having to clean up crime scenes in the bathroom.