Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No easy way to say it

I miscarried. It was a shock, a terrible time, and pretty painful. Fortunately, Bill was able to be there for me so I had great support, plus our funny animals kept me smiling, and I had a nice home to recuperate in so that kept me from feeling too sorry for myself despite the tough circumstances. It was a loss for us and it hurt, but I realize that right now is the best I've ever been in life, I have everything I need except this one thing, so now is not the time to give up and feel bad. The hardest part has been telling people. It brings up the emotions all over again but as time passes it gets easier. Because I wrote about the pregnancy on my blog, a lot of people found out which meant even more people to tell when I miscarried. I may not write about future early pregnancy on my blog which is unfortunate, I know there are some readers out there who are trying like we are and could benefit from knowing about the ups and downs we experience with this process.

Below is the story of what happened when I miscarried. I am sharing this for the couples out there who are interested in fertility. Do not read if this type of thing is upsetting to you or if you don't need to know because I do going into detail.

About an hour after swimming I noticed a small amount of blood when I went to the bathroom. Of course I panicked and thought I swam too hard so I called my Dr. immediately, the nurse said it was common to have some bleeding and not to worry unless there was cramping or continued or increasing blood. I took the next day off from work and had mild cramps all day (like light menstrual cramps) and still had trace amounts of blood. I didn't worry except I was urinating frequently (at least every hour) and my temp was up so the next day I called the Dr. again and they asked me to come in to test for a urinary infection. They had me come in to the exam room and just to be sure they tested for the baby's heart beat with an instrument they used outside of my stomach. There was no heart beat so they did an ultrasound. The baby was still there but it was slightly smaller than my last ultrasound (two weeks prior) and there was no heartbeat. The Dr. told me the baby had stopped developing and that I would miscarry soon. Just like that, it was done. It felt awful. There is nothing like sobbing in the Dr's office, you know you aren't the first or the last and that they deal with this daily, but it still feels like your world is standing still. Fortunately, I like my Dr's office very much and there were hugs and even some tearing up from them and I was so appreciative of their kindness.

The Dr. gave me some options, I could do nothing and pass the tissue like a menstrual period which could be painful and potentially upsetting to me and could take several weeks, or I could take a medication that would cause my uterus to contract to expel the tissue which could be painful and there is a risk that you won't pass all of the tissue and get an infection. Or you can have a procedure called a D and C where they scrape your uterus to remove the tissue for you. There is a small chance (less than 5%) that the Dr. will puncture your uterus doing a D and C. You can have a D and C in the Dr's office or you can have one at the hospital where they put you under and you sleep through it.

I decided to think about it over the weekend which made for a terrible weekend. I felt fine over those two days because the pregnancy hormones were leaving my body (I thought I was feeling good because the 1st trimester was ending) so my energy levels were coming back to normal and I was no longer nauseated. On Monday, Bill and I went in to the Dr's office together where she did another ultrasound to confirm and yes, it was the same. We decided that in order to move on we would have the D and C in the Dr's office. I was suffering from depression and dragging it on would have been torture to me. I was also worried about infection because my temperature was spiking frequently and I was still urinating a lot so the D and C was the right thing for my health.

The Dr and nurses were so lovely to me and Bill was there the entire time, chatting away with everyone to distract me. They gave me Vicodin for pain and some other drug for anxiety, the D and C took 15 minutes or less but it was very painful. Fortunately, we had opted for an ultra screen (genetic testing) so I had significant blood work done at week 10. The results came back a few days after the D and C and it showed a very high probability of fatal Down's syndrome, a common chromosomal problem that causes miscarriage. There is some comfort in knowing the cause, that it wasn't something I did or could have prevented. The odds for this type of problem go up at age 35 but the good news is that I was able to get pregnant in the first place so there is hope for a next time.

The day after the procedure was harder emotionally than it was physically but late that night I woke up with terrible cramps. I had to take two Vicodin to go back to sleep but that was it for pain. I have had small amounts of bleeding and I should get my cycle back sometime after 4 weeks. For now, I'm taking it slow, I took a week off from exercise but I'm getting back into it with a goal to lose about 5-8 pounds over the next 5 weeks. I am letting myself recover mentally by not thinking about the future or the past, just living in the now.

Bill and I grew closer through this, you can't wake someone up in the middle of the night and ask for help and not love that person more in the morning.

We're spending time with friends and may plan some extended weekends to help the time pass, it takes time to get over these things and that's about the only thing that will heal me emotionally. It was hard to tuck away the pregnancy books for another time, hard to get my old clothes back out of the garage, and hard to see my body change back so quickly. But... we spent the weekend with our friends, interacting with their kids and it wasn't upsetting at all. It feels good to be normal again.

Miscarriages are very common, there was a stigma around them in generations past and women wouldn't talk about it. Women today are more open and that helps quite a bit when something like this happens to you. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and it is painful for everyone who experiences it.

I'm surprised by how well we are doing, we were able to make each other laugh during the worst of it and I think we're going to be fine here in a while. It will just take a bit of time. Thanks for listening.