12 July 2017

A Quick Recovery

I really am completely fine. "God handed me a gift, then took it away before I could open it. It tripped me up, but I didn't break any bones. I didn't even fall all the way to the ground. I caught my balance and kept on walking." I can't express myself verbally, I can only find words when I express myself in writing. I want to record two things today: That I'm okay. And this baby's pregnancy and birth story. Because that's all I have with this baby.

To be honest, I never really trusted my fifth pregnancy. I know they say that every pregnancy is different, but - whatever - not for me. Of my five pregnancies, I've been sick as a dog for three of them. We're talking regular vomiting, 8-10 Tums-a-day-heartburn, and insane nausea in the first trimester. I never forget for one second I'm pregnant. As soon as the first trimester sickness disappears, I've got a belly. And three times, I gave birth to a living child. For two pregnancies, I had no or, in this case, mild nausea and tiredness. Sometimes I felt so normal, I forgot I was pregnant. Both these experiences ended in miscarriages. So I've had my reservations since the very beginning. As I said in my last post, It was a surprise pregnancy, even now, looking back at my fertility charts, I have no idea how we pulled it off, but two days after my missed period, a pregnancy test showed up positive. At first I was really frustrated because I wasn't ready to be pregnant. I'm losing weight, I want to go on a trip somewhere fun for my 10 year anniversary in the spring. But I came to terms with it rather quickly, although I still worried. Now I can finally get my minivan! But I didn't tell many people. I better put some mulch down in the gardens when I hit the second trimester, before my belly gets too big. But that's not something I shared with anyone.
I am going on a girls' crafting retreat this weekend and I was too nervous to share the news, whereas normally I can barely keep being pregnant a secret. But I wasn't sure if I could hide the tiredness being in such close proximity. I was scheduled for my first prenatal visit at the doctor this week, so I called and asked if we could tack on an ultrasound.
"We usually wait until the second trimester. Why do you want one in the first trimester?"
I had a hard time putting it into words. "I just want to see the baby." I pulled out The Trump Card. "I've had a miscarriage before, and I would just feel better if I could see the baby now."
The big M-word put the nurse on high alert. She scheduled the ultrasound and ordered immediate blood work.

The blood work results came back on Wednesday. They were bad. I knew then.

My progesterone levels were low, so the nurse started me on some medicine, but my HGC levels (the pregnancy hormone) were really low too. She carefully explained that if the pregnancy were lost by a reason not related to my progesterone, the medication wouldn't be able to help.
I went in for some follow up blood work two days later. The results were dismal. The message the nurse sent me through the doctor/patient website portal included "What to do if you have a miscarriage" instructions. And so I waited to give birth to my second dead baby.

It's really tough, waiting to have a miscarriage. Every cramp, every twinge, every feeling of wetness triggers a bit of a panic. I tried to run some errands on Saturday morning, running to the bathroom every 10 minutes to see if the bleeding had started. I treated myself to some lunch, and since I was by myself, curled up in a corner booth near a window and got a chocolate milkshake. Comfort food. Emotional eating in preparation for what I knew was coming.

The bleeding started late Saturday afternoon, the contractions that night, but the real pain didn't start until Sunday morning. The pace-around-the-house, squat-down, close-your-eyes-and-focus-on-breathing contractions. I went to the hospital for my first miscarriage when we lived in Chicago and it wasn't the greatest of experiences, so I opted to stay home this time, especially since I had an appointment and ultrasound scheduled for Tuesday anyway. This time wasn't like my first. The contractions built and built and built and then they just ended. No obvious grand finale. No tissue, just regular bleeding and then the contractions diminished, going from anxiety-building, pace-the-house pain to frustrating, I-just-want-to-get-back-to-normal pain. "I guess it's over," I told Matt with a fistful of Ibuprofen. I avoided taking anything up until that point. It's hard to explain, but every moment was all I had left with my fifth baby. I wanted to experience it, even if it was painful. But after it became obvious that the contractions had changed purpose, it all just became too much to handle. I drowned my pain and collapsed in bed in a heap of exhaustion. By the time I woke up, the contractions were over.

I passed some tissue long after the contracts had ended, but I never had an obvious "remains of pregnancy" the way I did with the first - which was even only obvious in hindsight. First trimester losses appear to be very well destroyed by the body. I imagine this makes it infinitely easier to bear. My Tuesday ultrasound revealed an empty uterus. The doctor has no concerns. There is still a lot of bleeding, but the achiness has ceased.

I spent weeks in suspicion. I had four days to prepare. I locked myself away in my room all Sunday to recover. The pain is gone, the pregnancy tiredness is gone, I'm back on my regular supplements to ease my never-went-away-after-Theodore-postpartum-probably-just-regular-old depression. Other than a maxi pad, I feel totally normal. I'm 30-years-old. I've had five pregnancies. Two miscarriages. One child with Down syndrome who had open heart surgery. I think I'm really strong. I think I'm really good at handling life's curve balls. I'm back on the "not pregnant or nursing" bandwagon. I'm headed back to the gym tomorrow, I'm back to working on my writing, I'm back to the original plan Matt and I hashed out for Baby #4 (pregnancy #6?!). I do hope to get a minivan out of this anyway, though. Phew, three kids in a mid-size sedan is one difficult life lemon to swallow.


Amelia said...

Prayers Jacqueline, I'm so sorry for your loss.

FWIW, you mentioned how you weren't sure how this pregnancy occurred NFP/ fertility-wise speaking since you were TTA. I have read that the risk of miscarriage is increased when a baby is conceived outside "optimal" fertility window (which is the 2-3 days before ovulation and day of ovulation). Something like 90% of all viable pregnancies are conceived in that period of time. The risk is especially greater if conception occurs after ovulation since as the egg ages the risk of chromosomal abnormalities increases. There was some sort of study showing an increased risk of miscarriage/birth defects in woman who got pregnant while TTA and the theory is that they conceived after ovulation (thinking they were no longer fertile, but they actually still were) and the egg had started to age and was not as healthy. (Hopefully this comment doesn't come across as insensitive. I'm sorry if it does. It just strikes me as something you may be interested in).

Jacqueline said...

Ha, you're totally right, that is very interesting! Biology is mind-blowing.

Cindy said...

For some reason I just saw this post and I'm so sorry this happened! I pray healing for your body - and your heart.

Liz said...

Sorry to hear :(. We need to stop having similar life experiences! (Well, you know, other than the open heart surgery thing, etc.!) Prayers for you and Matt.

~ Liz

P.s. Next time you see your OB, it might be worthwhile to ask their opinion about blood work for blood clotting disorders. After my 3rd early miscarriage, I learned that's my problem and they don't like to test for it *during* pregnancy...and they don't typically test for it before the 3rd miscarriage...when you have an official diagnosis of "recurrent loss." :(. But by then, you've already had another, possibly preventable, loss. However, not sure how common blood clotting problems are. I do know that after 3 losses they automatically recommend treating for blood clotting, even if you haven't done previous blood work to confirm. Not that you wanted all of this information. Especially since it might very well be hormonal or genetic in your case. Sorry!