Five Hours

WARNING: This might be triggering for those of you have experienced the pain of miscarriage. <3

We had already been waiting for five hours. Five hours, just to get ultrasound results. Five hours in which we’d been moved to three different waiting rooms, seen many other patients come and go, and still heard nothing. Five hours in which the pain became increasingly hard to bear and no one would even give me a Tylenol until the doctor had seen me. Five hours in which my frustration, anger, and sadness mounted to a fever pitch.

We both sat on the ER bed, listening to the woman on the other side of the curtain explaining her symptoms to the doctor, saying, “It might just be the flu, but I need to know, because I work as a Costco sampler, you know, and my boss needs to know if it is contagious.” My legs were pulled up to my chest and I rocked back and forth, trying to breathe my way through the ripping, cramping pain, while Bri rubbed my back and I resisted the urge to rip open the curtain and punch that other woman in the face, screaming, “You think it’s just the flu?! Why are you here?! Why are you keeping the doctor from seeing me with your stupid flu symptoms?”

Five hours they made me wait to tell me what I already knew: I was losing my baby.

Earlier in the day, I’d lain on a bed in a dimly lit room while a sweet ultrasound tech with a raspy, comforting voice named Lindsay rubbed a wand over my belly. I couldn’t bring myself to look at her face. I did not want to see what was written there. I scratched at the corner of my eye and she asked if I was doing okay. Said, “I know it is not an easy thing.”

After that first abdominal ultrasound, the doctor elected for a vaginal one, as well. An intern joined us in the room as a camera wand was inserted between my thighs and craned around at all sorts of strange angles. I had a momentary, insane urge to laugh.

Five hours later, and I was still waiting for the results of that procedure.

The pain in my pelvis was escalating quickly, and I could feel strange pulses of liquid between my legs. They finally moved us into a private room. It was for eye exams, and Bri spent five minutes rifling through the drawers to see what treasures they contained, pulling out plastic-wrapped medical tools and reading out their absurd names. It helped to distract me a little as I bowed over in pain, tears running down my face. I loved my best friend, and I was so grateful that she had driven an hour and a half so I would not be alone, but I wished my husband was there, too. Instead, he was waiting by the phone, a province over, in the middle of an island, waiting for any news at all.

I went into the washroom. There was so much blood. My early pregnancy nightmares of oceans of blood washing over me were coming true. The doctor came in a minute after I returned to the room and confirmed everything I had known all along.

Miscarriage.

No fetal heart rate.

No development after 8 weeks.

As she talked, I noticed that the rippling pain in my abdomen had stopped. I wondered if it was over.

She told me a bunch of other things, too, under those eye exam posters, as I sat curled up in the opthamology chair. I couldn’t process much of it, or really do more than nod. Bri asked a few questions, thinks that made me think, Yes, that would be good to know. But I couldn’t process the answers.

Then we gathered our things and left.

I didn’t let myself cry right away. I forced myself to act calm, to keep my voice as steady as possible as I uttered any inane thought that entered my head. I didn’t let myself go until I was walking to my car, alone. The sobs clenched my heart and shook my core. I couldn’t breathe.

I lost our baby.

Bryan called as I was pulling out of the parking lot. I sobbed even harder at the sound of his voice. All I could get out was, “I’m so sorry.” To which he responded, low and fierce and full of heart-rending grief, “You have nothing to be sorry for.”

I know it’s not my fault. I know I didn’t do anything. But I still feel an awful lot like it’s my fault. I lost our baby.

Bri and I sat in Boston Pizza. The AC was on high. I tried to be normal. I might have even laughed some, I don’t know. Bryan called again. He was the one crying this time.

As we stood up to leave, I realized that the hem of my shirt was oddly wet. I looked down at my seat; it was drenched. My chest constricted and things slowed down as I swiped at it with a napkin; it came away bright red with blood. I stared at Bri, unsure what to do, my brain grinding to a painful halt as I hovered there. She waved a hand at me and said, “Go, I’ll deal with this.” I balled the bloody napkin in my hand and hurried across the entire length of the restaurant to the washroom.

The whole back of my pants were soaked in blood. I mopped at myself, crying again. I checked my reflection; it wasn’t even noticeable. But now that my pants had been off, they were cold and wet against my skin. Not damp. Wet. Would the pain and frustration and humiliation of this day never end?

I just wanted to go home.

It has been a few weeks now. I feel okay, considering. It hits me randomly every so often; as I bound up stairs without wanting to collapse with exhaustion, as I order a beer at a bar, when I notice pregnant women and tiny infants on the streets. Oh, right. I’m not pregnant anymore. But I’m coping with it better than I ever would have anticipated. Which brings a whole other slurry of emotion with it; why aren’t I more devastated? What is wrong with me that I am this okay about losing my baby? Am I a terrible person?

I am sad, and I am not, and I am okay, and I am not, and all of that is okay. There is no right way through this pain. There was a baby, and now there is not, and I feel horribly, thickly sad, and I also don’t. I don’t know if that will ever go away.

But one thing never changes: I wish I could have my baby back.

Five Hours

all of the feelings

wpid-img_20150818_125840.jpg

Well. The cat is out of the bag: we’re having a baby.

I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the whole thing. When we found out, I sobbed uncontrollably for almost an hour, completely overwhelmed with happiness and fear and anxiety and hope and basically every other emotion a human being is capable of feeling. I wandered around in a daze for the rest of that day: we went to IKEA and saw the movie Southpaw, but I barely remember any of that. Mostly what I remember is standing in the middle of an aisle in the IKEA warehouse, unaware of where I was, thinking, over and over, Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. 

Then I called my mother.

The sheer panic of those first few days has lessened somewhat over the last few weeks. The idea that we are going to have a baby, that we will go from a couple to a family of three, has become a bit more comfortable (though no less terrifying). We have told our family, our friends, pretty much everyone we know, and so I don’t have to keep it a secret anymore. When I am overcome with a wave of exhaustion so intense I can barely stand, I don’t have to pretend I’m fine anymore. I don’t have to make excuses.

I am happy. Very happy. This is, after all, exactly what I wanted.

But there’s more to it than that. Over the past few weeks, I have also been more depressed than I have been in a long, long while. There have been days when I have been unable to drag myself out of bed for more than a few hours at a time. Given the level of exhaustion I’ve been feeling, it has been hard to engage in many of the things that I like to do, which has been frustrating and demoralizing. There have been a million things that I feel the need to think about, now that a mini Cooper is on the way: is this the right place for us to be living right now, what do we do about the fact that our neighbor’s cigarette smoke is constantly seeping into our apartment, what kind of stuff are we going to need for the baby, what do I need to do in order to take fullest advantage of maternity leave, life insurance, a will, RESPs, the list goes on and on. Sometimes I lay in bed at night, with these thoughts and worries chasing themselves around my head like a dog with its tail, and it is all that I can do to keep from screaming. And I look at myself, curled into a protective ball under the blankets, and I think, “I should be happy.”

But I shouldn’t be anything. My therapist told me, “Pregnancy is an experience like anything else, and there is no should about how you feel. You feel the way that you feel.” And so I am practicing self-compassion again, giving myself permission to be how I am, whatever that may be, letting myself know that it is okay to not be okay. That maybe pregnancy won’t be a meadow full of flowers and rainbows for me, and that is okay. That it is okay for it to be whatever it is going to be.

I just want to embrace it while it is here, however it is going to turn out. I only plan on having two children, maaaaaybe three, so this is a rare experience, and I want to really experience it. I don’t want to spend the whole time wishing it was over. I want to be here, now, not only to be truly present for all of the ways in which my baby is growing and my body is changing, but to experience the last few months that Bryan and I have to ourselves. I really don’t want to squander that time. I want to spend it cuddling and talking and laughing and exploring the city and having new experiences and doing things we’ve always talked about but never gotten around to. I want to spend it planning how we are going to adjust our dreams and aspirations to the presence of a tiny person in our world. I want to spend a little bit of it pretending that a baby isn’t coming at all, and that it is really just the two of us for a while longer.

All I know is that this whole thing has come with a shit ton of feelings, and I am doing my best to lean into them. To be here and now, while I can be.

Mostly, though, I am just little-kid-on-Christmas-morning excited that I am going to be a mother. (OH MY GOD.)

all of the feelings

One Stripe

I remember my first pregnancy “scare.” It was scary; we have never yet been in a place in our lives where a baby would not mean near financial ruin and probably poverty, not to mention hitting pause on a whole lot of dreams we’ve got percolating. But it was more than that, too. It was a labyrinth of emotions, including fear, anxiety, tentative excitement, and a strangled kind of hope.

I walked around for several days in a haze of sick worry. I wrote a letter to the potential baby in my belly. I agonized.

I vividly recall the walk to the grocery store to buy a pregnancy test. The hot sun on my face, the weird unreality of the world around me, like that feeling when you’re a little buzzed and everything seems a little more like living inside a TV show rather than real life. I remember pacing anxiously, waiting for the three minutes to end. I remember the one stripe: not pregnant.

And I remember the crushing disappointment that flooded in after the relief.

This wasn’t just dodging a bullet, it was also the denial of something that I have always, always been sure I wanted. Now was not the time for a squirming infant with alien toes and unbearably soft hair and that indescribable baby smell. Now was not the time for sleepless nights and diaper changes and the entire restructuring of who I am and my place in the world. But being told that I wasn’t going to have that after half-believing I would was devastating in a way that I could barely comprehend.

I remember sobbing on Bryan’s shoulder, unable to control myself.

The desire to have children is something that I carry around in my chest every day, something that is sometimes so intense it’s suffocating. So intense it is a physical sensation of want. I don’t know where to put it. We are nowhere near ready to add children to our lives, and yet the want – the need – doesn’t fade with that logical knowledge. I can put it out of my mind for a while, but it always comes surging right back.

Some day.

Some day.

One Stripe