Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Tragic "Norm"

Today, I get personal. I get real. Real like I've never gotten here. While this is my business blog and I usually just boast about my gorgeous clients and all of the fun we have together, today will be different. Today, I will be writing (and hopefully discussing later), about subject matter that I am too much of an expert on. I have more experience than anyone should ever have. I am way over-qualified now and there's no turning back. This post is dedicated to loss. Specific loss. The loss of a baby. Or babies. Or, if it makes you feel better, the loss of a pregnancy.

While I often showcase my amazing little girls here, as well as on my Facebook page, I never tell about the babies who were here before them. It's not a good business tactic. You know, it's not cheery and fun to talk about what you don't have anymore. So I push it out of my mind, bringing it up once in a while with my husband, and possibly dropping the term "miscarriage" in random conversations with friends. But they were here. Inside of me. Growing there like normal little babies. Until I lost them. One around 9 weeks (although I carried it until close to 12 weeks), and the next around 6 weeks.

I was a statistic. My babies were statistics. 1 in 4. We were in that category. Miscarried.

No one had a reason. No one knows why it happens. It just does.

Two years later, I had two monkeys to hold onto. My husband and I dove headfirst into parenting with these two peanuts being 14 months apart. But still, not a single day went by without me thinking of my other two babies. How old would they be? What would they be doing right now? Were they boys or girls? What if they were here with us? What if...? And I would swallow back the tears. Again.

And on the rare occasion my husband and I would have a moment alone where we weren't already half asleep and covered in snot and poop, we would talk about those babies. And he would hold me. Because that's all he could do. And we would cry. And then he would take me by the hand and lead me to where our girls were sleeping (usually right in the middle of our bed), and we would watch them breathe. Their chests going up and down. And all was okay again. Peace.

Three weeks ago, something felt weird. My body just didn't feel right. Not bad. Just "off". The next day, we found our family of four was going to be a family of five. Wow. We weren't expecting this. But we know, you don't ask questions, you just roll with it. We have had enough tests in life to know you don't look back. And another baby? Oh.My. How I love those babies. And the hubs? Oh, he loves those babies too. So, we were going to have a baby. In a tiny house that the four of us are already too big for. But it's a baby. And that baby would be sleeping in our bed anyway (Yes, we co-sleep. Say nothing of it and I won't say anything about abandoning a baby in a giant empty room by itself all night), and we already have a van. So all we needed was a car seat and some diapers and we were good to go. No problem. We were ready.

Due to our previous losses, we didn't tell. We waited a few days to tell any of our family and we certainly were not going to tell our kids. You see, when you experience these great losses, you have the unfortunate side of not only grieving yourself, but also watching your loved ones grieve for you. It is that much more painful to go through. I can't stand watching anyone hurt, and if there is a way that I can shield them from the pain, I will do it. So when we did tell our immediate family, it was only after two rounds of blood work and five positive pregnancy tests. But they were also sworn to secrecy, as we couldn't handle the thought of any of our nieces and nephews knowing this early.

Last Friday, we went to have our ultrasound and meet my new doctor. We went into this appointment like we went in to all of them. Expecting the worst. We had prepared ourselves. Our brains and hearts were already on guard and ready for disappointment.We headed to the ultrasound room, where I popped up on the table. I took a few deep breaths and the hubs held my hand, both of us squeezing tightly. The tech walked in and began the ultrasound.

She was silent for a few moments. Longer than she should have been. I could tell she was searching. I knew. In my heart, I knew. So did the hubs. I felt it in his breathing. Her first words were "I'm worried about this spot right here. Do you see this?" Yes. We saw that. Right there. We saw that baby. She saw that baby. Our baby. Our 5th baby. There it was. Growing perfectly. Getting big. Right there in my left fallopian tube. She flipped the switch on the sound. There's the heartbeat. The perfect heartbeat. Beating like a drum. Like music. She apologized as I sobbed and turned it back off. She said it was necessary. It was. I asked her to turn it back on. She showed me the circulatory system. Lighting up perfectly. Everything flowing exactly the way it is supposed to. Perfect. Everything about it was perfect. And I sobbed some more. She turned it all off and went for the doctor.

This was my first meeting with the new guy. He was coming in to schedule my surgery. To tell me to head to the hospital right now. No stops. No going anywhere. They were waiting for me. I was like a ticking bomb. About to rupture at any second. Because my fallopian tube was housing our 5th baby that was growing rapidly just as it should be around 8 weeks. "What can we do for you?" he asked. I wanted the picture. The picture of our baby. The ultrasound tech happily obliged. And I wasn't going straight to the hospital. I was going to see my other two babies first. I was going to look at their faces and try not to scare them. I was going to hug them and kiss them. And then I would go to the hospital.

And that's what I did.

I stayed in the hospital that night by myself. I instructed the hubs to take my girls out and spoil them rotten. Just as I would do. Just as we always do. When they came to visit me that night, they smelled of the Hibachi grill where they ate steak and they were headed to the mall for a late night flip-flop shopping spree. And probably for a cookie. You can't leave the mall without one.

The next morning, I headed to surgery. When I woke up, I was less a fallopian tube, half of an ovary, and a baby. It was gone. Just like that. The perfect heartbeat. The perfect circulatory system. Gone.

Now what? Where do we go from here? Another recovery. More questions. More anger.

Here's what I want to know: Why are more women not sharing about this? Why did I not know when I "miscarried" my first baby that this was "normal"? Why did I only know of one or two people who had a loss like this? Why has no one ever told me of their ectopic pregnancy? I know lots of people!!! Not one of them has ever told me a story like this. Yet all of the doctors promise me this is "normal". And if it's so "normal" WHY is it "normal"? This should not be something that happens in 1 out of 4 pregnancies. This should not happen in 1 out of 50 pregnancies. Why is there no solution yet? All I hear is how common these situations are, yet I have spoken with NO ONE who has had these things happen to them.

Is no one talking about it because it's taboo? Is it a subject no one wants to hear about? Does it make you uncomfortable to read about it? If it makes you uncomfortable to read about, then shouldn't we be discussing it? Shouldn't we be researching this? Is it possible with all of the technology and science out there that one day we will be able to pick up that perfect baby with that perfect heartbeat growing in that tube and implant it in a healthy uterus? Why can't we?

Here's the thing about all of this. I didn't know. We didn't know. Even my family (who is heavy on nurses and other various medical personnel) didn't expect anything like this. Not with any of them. Both "miscarriages" and an ectopic. A mystery. It's just the "norm". It's just what happens. But to me, it's not acceptable. As a society, awareness should be spread. We hear about infertility. They have drugs to help. They have procedures to help. Or at the very least, give hope. There's been research. Developments. But where are the developments on housing a perfect embryo when it implants a few centimeters from where it's supposed to? And why do I know no one who has had this happen before?

Tragic. A "normal" tragedy.

I would love to open the discussion on the blog. Please comment below with your thoughts on the subject. I welcome ALL stories on the matter and would love to hear your input. 

xx Megan


4 comments:

  1. Oh Megan. My heart breaks for you. I don't know why people don't talk about it more. It hurts I suppose, you don't want to dampen other people's bright, optimistic views of pregnancy perhaps. All I know is that when I lost our triplets (at about 8.5 weeks, although my body carried them to 12 weeks) I felt alone, I felt damaged, I felt wrong. Just a few weeks prior there had been 3 tiny little babies with 3 tiny little beating hearts that I had seen flickering on the screen and then they just stopped. It took a long time for me to realize that this is something that happens a lot, and you're right. It shouldn't. I am so very sorry for your earlier losses and for the loss of this most recent precious child. ((HUGS)) Mama

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  2. I cannot even imagine what this feels like. I have one child, and I have no plans on ever having any more. Nevertheless, I understand the sense of what the biological clock feels like; when it is ticking, knowing that the expiration is in the somewhat near future. Though I am satisfied with my one and only, I still have reservations about making the decision not to have any more. I am digressing though. If it is any comfort at all I know you are most certainly NOT alone on this. I have known too many women, mainly my age or younger, who have had the same issues as you have. There is no answer, and I don't think this is a new problem. I also think it should be talked about more, so that more action can be taken to prevent this. Being your sister, and their aunt, I miss the ones who did not arrive. However, I do have the bittersweet feeling that if they earlier had, I never would have gotten to meet and experience the girls, and for that one reason alone, I am thankful. I couldn't even imagine it any other way. I know that you know that, and I know that it doesn't help or change things, but it's the only silver lining I can find. And I also know that it doesn't take away that loss. I think the best thing to do is to talk about it. I think that there are so many people who silently go through this and some can even see it as a "failure" of some sort. Keep talking. Keep honoring the ones you did not get to meet, and try not to get too caught up in the "what ifs". There is nothing you could have done to change the outcome. Just keep talking, living and playing with the chickadees who were bound and determined. Love the post you made, and Love you:)

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  3. Megan, you are a strong woman, and your blog has given me courage. My grieving never goes away, but I've found that time has a way of making the episodes less frequent, and I hope it is the same for you.

    People should speak up! I know why people don't. It is difficult. I lost my first baby late in my pregnancy. I put my life into that baby. It was due to a prolapsed cord. I went from dialing 911 to waking up in the hospital after an emergency C-section and then was given some of the worst news of my life. The day I left the hospital was also his funeral.

    I think that anyone who has lost a baby can relate. A part of our future slipped by and perpetually broke our heart along the way, and with few - to no - reasons or answers. I've been thinking about your blog and I think that I am hesitant to speak up because I don’t want to impart my suffering on anyone. But I am now thinking…. If people that are hesitant like me DO speak up, more people can connect with their sympathy, and that may be what it takes to start the discussion and lead to change.

    I was also surprised as you were by how many people came to me after and shared their stories. The empathy and love helped me recover. But now that I think about it - they may have inadvertently set the precedent for me. Part of me being uncomfortable talking about it today might be because they didn't talk about it to me until I was grieving. After reading your blog, I am spending time wondering how it would have affected me to know these stories before and while I was pregnant.

    Something else people don’t talk about is how the recovery has huge bumps in the long road. I didn't realize what I had lost with that first baby until I had my second baby who is full of life and sweet as can be. No one can describe the joy of having children. Once I realized this joy, I also realized what I had lost.

    Things need to change. Sex education, which our stories are a part of, shouldn't stop at the birds and the bees. It should continue throughout life. These stories need to be shared with boys and men as well. For every mother that has lost a baby, there is a father that has lost a baby. The way we are raising our children and the relationships we have with our friends and family are making a difference.

    I feel your frustration with the medical industry too. As with every issue having anything to do with women, it will take too long, and too many people will suffer before change happens, history is strewn with examples :(! I try to have hope. It seems progress has been made with the increased awareness of postpartum depression, with infertility as you mentioned, and women and men are now aware of the “c-section industry” found within so many hospitals and doctors’ offices. I have hope that our generation is different and we do not shy away from becoming advocates. I am grateful for you putting this out here. Thank you.

    AW

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  4. Thank you for so honestly and openly sharing your experience. I am truly sorry for the loss you and your family went through, it is heartbreaking all around. And you are right, there is not a dialog about the normal tragedies that occur everyday to expecting families. I have recently joined a group of doulas, who are trying to dramatically change that. Their goal is to give families a place to talk, a community to connect to, and the support that only another parent who has been through a loss can give. I hope that you continue to share your experience. Maybe, just maybe, it will help someone else know that they are not alone in what they are going through.
    My best,
    Marian Williams - Doula Spot

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