NOTE: This is an old post. In honor of many friends going through this, I felt I should share my story, again, on a more public scale. And so, on the five year anniversary, I share with you the pain of the M word.
Saturday, April 9th will be a day I never forget. It’s a day that I feel that I must write about so I can truly express my feelings and thoughts. It’s a day that changed my life forever.
On Monday, April 4th, Eric and I found out I was pregnant. We had been trying for a while but knew that with irregular periods, ranging from 10 days in between to 58 days in between, that it would be difficult to determine when I would ovulate.
We loved being parents. And with a wonderful, happy, smart, beautiful child like Henrik, we knew we wanted to give him a brother or a sister. We wanted them to be close in age like my sisters and I are. We wanted them to be best friends. So when we found out we were going to be second-time parents, we were overjoyed. We Skyped our parents and sent our siblings and a few close friends texts to tell them the good news.
I had such a horrible pregnancy with Henrik that I wasn’t really thrilled about being pregnant again, but I’d do the bed-rest and the morning, or all day sickness rather, all over again. The end result is absolutely worth it. This pregnancy started out wonderful. I hadn’t felt sick at all, only a few smells were bothering me and I only had an aversion to eggs, but other than being tired (which I could blame on the 11 1/2 month old), and the extreme hormonal changes (sobbing while watching Finding Nemo) I was doing wonderfully.
After going to the art fair and walking around for a few hours, I felt tired. My body was telling me to sit down and relax, so I did. But there wasn’t any pain or any signs that something was wrong. A few hours later, I went to the bathroom and when I wiped, one dot, literally, one dot of bright red blood was on the toilet paper. I know that it wasn’t a lot but I instantly got concerned. I was about 7 1/2 weeks pregnant at this point and decided that a trip to the ER was necessary since it was late on Saturday night and something didn’t feel right. After six hours of waiting, three outbursts by me at nurses and the doctor for leaving me for so long without water, bathroom breaks and information, four blood tests, two ultra-sounds and a pelvic exam we learned that we were undergoing a "threatened miscarriage".
Medically, things weren’t adding up. The blood test showed that I was only 2 1/2 weeks pregnant, the ultra-sound confirmed that I was NOT 7 1/2 weeks pregnant because they didn’t see anything. Nothing. They were able to rule out tubal and etopic pregnancy. If I am only 2 weeks pregnant then it could make sense because even though I didn’t have a period, I felt that my body was getting ready to ovulate. IF this was the case, I could be experiencing implantation bleeding. The pelvic exam revealed that my cervix was closed, a good sign and meant that the baby could still be safe.
On the other hand, we could have lost the baby at 2 1/2 weeks, but I had taken a pregnancy test every week since March 24th and it was negative until April 4th. So why would it even show up as a positive test 7 weeks later? I wasn’t experiencing cramping, fever, or any pain whatsoever- also a good sign. But the ER doctor didn’t explain what all of these things meant. He left us saying, “it’s very likely this is a spontanious abortion... a miscarriage”. He then walked out of the room. A spontanious abortion!? WHAT? That's the best name they could come up with?
The M word. The naughtiest word I can think of. A word that has a connotation as strong as rape and murder. This word is worse. It means failure. It means ashamed. It means that you should be embarrassed for yourself because you didn’t wait long enough to tell people. It means that you didn’t take your pre-natal every day, or you drank a glass of wine before you found out you were pregnant. It means you don’t eat right, sleep right, or live right.
On Sunday, I woke up feeling great, no pain, nothing. But when I went to the bathroom and wiped, I instantly started to cry. Blood was everywhere. I knew that there was no way that the baby could be alive if I was bleeding that badly. Eric and I had a somber, tearful, scary day. We didn’t want to talk to anyone, we didn’t want to talk about “it”. We didn’t know what to do next except that we had to wait until Monday to talk to the OB about what happened over the weekend.
After forcing each other to talk about the M word. We decided that we’d take Monday off of work to learn what the doctor thought and just spend some time figuring out how the M word would change our life. Monday came, and we learned that while it absolutely could be a miscarriage, it could be implantation bleeding or something called a subchorionic hemorrhage. Which is not uncommon in pregnancy and doesn’t always result in miscarriage. The OB also was confused about the lack of period, the lack of pain, the lack of fever, and the lack of blood (while I thought there was a lot, I wasn’t bleeding like a miscarriage according to the doctor).
While this news was a gleam of hope, I desperately tried not to get my hopes up. But I wanted to. I wanted this baby. I didn’t want to be one of those women that had a miscarriage. I wanted my family of four. I wanted Henrik to have a brother or sister. I didn’t want to have to tell my close friends and family that we had lost the baby. I didn’t want my friends to feel sorry for me. I didn’t want people to tell me that they knew how I felt. And I didn’t want people to say, “I’m sorry”.
The doctor told me that I had to wait until next Monday, the 18th, before they could do more tests and check my blood levels and even do a possible ultra-sound. So here we sit. In a dreary, Tim Burton like nightmare, wondering if I am still pregnant. Do I feel pregnant? Am I ignoring the pain? Or am I really not experiencing any? After countless hours of research I can’t determine whether or not I’m having a miscarriage. I can’t get in touch with my body to find out. I could tell when I was ovulating, but I can’t tell if I’m with child. What kind of woman and mother am I if I can’t tell that I am pregnant?
Questioning and doubting, I look at my son. I see bright blue eyes and a smile that pierces my heart. He takes away my tears. He takes away my sorrow. And yet, he makes me want this baby inside me to be healthy and just like him. But then, he makes me laugh and I forget about the pain inside my heart.
As the bleeding comes to an end, I have the courage to talk to Eric. I tell him that I really believe that everything happens for a reason. Whether God has a hand in it or not, I don’t care. I believe that we were meant to go through this. At first, I didn’t know why. I couldn’t imagine why my body hated being pregnant. Wasn’t I a good enough mother to have another child? But then I finally snapped back into reality. Those out of body questions were killing me and I had to stop them. I realized that the M word was destroying my life. It was making me feel sorry for myself instead of being the strong woman that I pride myself on being.
If I truly believed that everything happens for a reason then I had to accept this scary time as something to learn from. And then, it hit me. While we wanted another child, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to love another baby as much as I love Henrik. I was afraid that I couldn’t have special bonding moments with it. I was afraid I’d have to take some love from Henrik in order to give some to the new baby. But then, I realized that that’s not how it worked.
In a matter of 5 days, I fell in love with this baby. I had to be in love with it since I was experiencing so much pain over the fear of losing it. I’ve learned that love doesn’t get divided, you just grow more. Just like the Grinch, your heart can grow 10 times the size in a matter of days.
This baby may not survive. And even though I have figured out the lesson that life has thrown at me, it doesn’t mean that I can’t be sad and grieve for a baby that I didn’t get to feel kick and squirm as it expanded in my belly. I absolutely can. And I am proud of myself because I realized that you can mourn and grow at the same time.
The naughty M word will not ruin my life. It will not run my life. It will not make me feel ashamed to talk about. The M word has changed my life. It will forever change my life. But it will not define my life. And this has made me realize that family and love are more important than anything in the world. Pregnancy is a scary thing and the looming fear of the M word make it even scarier. But I am not alone. 1 in 4 women experience this. 1 in 4 men experience this. 1 in 4 families experience this. And yet, we don’t talk about it as a society. Why? .
I know that there isn’t anything I can do to change this. I know I didn’t do anything wrong to cause this. And I know that knowing all of these things doesn’t make it easier and less painful. It does however, make me more powerful. I can take this M word and shove all the pain and grief it caused to me and to so many other women back in it’s face and refuse to let it force me into the dark, secret closet.
This is something Eric and I will overcome. It won’t happen over night, but we are prepared to take a stand against the M word and force it into the light. And as we nervously wait for Monday and those test results we are thankful for what we have. This has only brought us closer.