Friday, December 2, 2016

my miscarriage story, part 3 -- I wasn't broken

The pregnancy test read positive in mid-January. Two pregnancy tests, to be sure. It was a surprise; I didn't expect to get pregnant again so soon. According to my doctor, my body wouldn't be ready until at least one full menstrual cycle and up until then, it can take some time for the body to reestablish the pattern. I'd had some spotting and even a span of days of flow-like spotting but it certainly didn't resemble what my cycle had been like before. So to have a pregnancy test come back positive -- yeah, I was surprised.

Excitedly, I made my prenatal appointment and marked the calendar. I remember feelings of anxiety but forcing them into the tiny box of doubt in the back of my mind. This time was going to be different, I told myself. Many women have had a miscarriage and then gone on to have successful pregnancies. I now fall into that category. 

image courtesy of irving penn

With my husband at my side, we sat in the observation room. The room of bad news and gloom. The room of tears and hurt and pain and questions. Not this time! This time was going to be different.

We waited and waited. Awkward small talk. Silence. More awkward small talk. Neither of us dared approach the elephant in the room. The "what if it's another miscarriage?" elephant. 

Finally, the nurse practitioner came in and we chatted about my history before the vaginal ultrasound. "You might feel some pressure," she said. The gel on the instrument was cool and then bam -- my uterus was on the monitor. I recognized the growth sac and understood the nurse was trying to measure it. What I didn't understand was the look, a muscled poker face, absent of hope and excitement, on her face. And then I understood. 

There was no baby. Again. 

"It's like deja vu," my husband whispered, holding my hand tight. Tears welled up in my eyes. I held them back as long as I could but finally they fell down my cheeks, uncontrollably. 

The nurse tried to explain and talk through next steps but I barked, "Can I just get dressed? I need to get out of here." I needed air -- the room was suffocating. I needed to cry, to let the tears rush. And until I was safe at home I wouldn't be able to.

I didn't wait long to put the physical aspect of the miscarriage into action, but it seemed holidays would now be scarred. My first miscarriage was on Labour Day; this miscarriage would be on Valentine's Day (are you kidding me?). While we typically don't celebrate Valentine's Day in a big way -- my favourite memory was heading up to Fairfax, dinner at a dive-y diner, and then Robocop at the theatre; the best part was I fell asleep halfway through -- it was still Valentine's Day, and would now have a giant blemish. Determined to go down in style, we made a reservation at Cafe Claude, our favourite french restaurant, and dressed up. I wore a sweet LBT and the pearls my husband bought me our first Christmas as a couple. ("A girl like you should have pearls," he said.) The miscarriage was off limits -- no talking or discussing it -- during dinner; it would still be there tomorrow.

Tomorrow came -- Valentine's Day 2016 -- my second miscarriage -- in 6 months. 

Physically, the pain and experience were the same. And I'm really glad I had the foresight to take notes during my first miscarriage; comparing notes was helpful. The biggest physical difference was my body. I looked different. I felt different. Even though I was pregnant for only a short time, my body had changed. And I could feel it. And see it. Every day it was a glaring reminder that this pregnancy wasn't meant to be.

The emotional impact was far different. I went to a very dark place. A darker place than I'd ever been before. Long texts of despair went out to a few people very dear to me; people that I could count on to hear me out and not try to sugarcoat what I was experiencing. 

My faith and relationship with Heavenly Father got a real shake-up; something I was not prepared for. Families and their importance are a big part of my faith and every Sunday it seemed someone was drilling that message home. I couldn't take it. I'd sit in church alone and depressed, quietly crying my way through the meeting, my mind full of questions, wondering if God was punishing me for a bad decision, wondering what the point of my existence was if I couldn't bear children. I had always wanted to be a mom and with these last two chances slipping out of reach I was scared. I was getting older and having a successful pregnancy would continue to prove more difficult. And here I was in a Latter-Day Saint congregation surrounded by young, beautiful pregnant women; women who already had a baby or two. What was so different about them? Why did they get children and I didn't?

Questions like that spiraled out of control and pulled me to a deep and dark place where I remained for months, until finally I emailed my doctor for help. I could no longer handle this pain on my own -- it wasn't working. My relationship with my husband was at odds all the time (he didn't understand what I was going through) and the tension in our apartment, because of my emotional misery, was obvious and uncomfortable; home was no longer a safe place.

Meeting with a therapist was the best thing for me. The woman was kind, thoughtful, unbiased, and sincere. And after a couple tearful visits, she offered the most important advice that stuck with me: I wasn't broken. I felt broken, because I felt different than before -- but I wasn't. I was hurting and in pain, and she reassured me of my allowance to experience these normal feelings. She also encouraged me to be patient with myself; to allow myself to feel the pain and darkness. Feeling all of this didn't mean I was broken. I needed to hear that. And I needed to hear that from someone that didn't know me, didn't have my history biasing what she said. 

After that session, I finally felt the curtain of darkness begin to lift from my soul. I was able to get on with my life -- I started exercising again, baking and cooking, enjoying my husband, and reestablishing my faith. Let me say, that while the pain was diminished, it wasn't completely absent. I'd still tear up at church, talking to friends and family about my experience, thinking about the future, and even for no apparent reason. 

A couple weeks passed and I found myself sitting on the edge of the dock at my family's Michigan lakehouse in sheer panic: another positive pregnancy test.

part 1  |  part 2  |  part 3  |  part 4
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