Monday, March 26, 2012

Mommy Mondays: Remembering

Three years ago this week I was headed to my awesome small-town family Dr. for a run-of-the-mill appointment. It was my fourth baby, so I had literally been through TONS of these appointments before, and felt I had the protocol down pat.

-pee in cup (and now that I think about it, this little portion deserves it's very own blog post. If you've ever attempted this with other children in the room, you know why.)
-measure that monster belly
-and hear the heartbeat

And that about covers it. I was an old pro at the routine, and so my husband knew I didn't want him to get off work to come along with me. We've never had those "fancy people" things like paid sick leave and vacation time and stuff, so him getting off work for anything unnecessary was rare.

I dropped my kiddos at my bff's house and headed in for the same-old/same-old.

Or so I thought.

Pee went as planned. Measure went as planned. But heartbeat didn't go as planned.

You know where I'm going with this.

I was 14 and a half weeks pregnant and had already heard a strong heartbeat at 10 weeks, I thought for sure the nurse must be mistaken. She called in the Doc who poured more freezing jelly on my tummy and tried and tried and tried to hear a heartbeat with the little machine. Even when he couldn't find it, I didn't panic--If there's one thing my body can do really well, it's carry babies. I had had three uneventful pregnancies that had ended in big healthy babies. I had never struggled to get pregnant. I never threw up once from morning sickness. THIS GIRL COULD DO PREGNANCY, I thought.

Besides, I was already past the first trimester and I was showing.

Dr. reassured me that the baby could be hiding, but at 14 and a half weeks, finding the heartbeat shouldn't be this hard. He sent me to the hospital (which was about 15 minutes away) for an ultrasound. I used the office phone (I didn't have a cell) to call Dan, but I still told him not to leave work. I was certain things would be fine. I went confidently into the radiology office but that's when things fell apart.

The waiting room was full but a team of people seemed to be waiting for me. "Are you Maggie?" A nurse asked. They took me right back to a room and assured me their most experienced tech would be working with me.

I got into the room and prayed and prayed the baby was fine while the tech began the ultrasound with the screen pointed away from me. It was probably a short ultrasound, but to me it felt like the longest one I'd ever had. And after a few minutes of silence, I knew the baby must not be alive.

I let the tears run down my cheeks and finally asked, "Is the heartbeat not there?"

He shook his head no and showed me the screen. The baby had anencephaly--a disease where part of their skull doesn't form completely. The tech estimated it had died only a few days earlier.

I lied when he asked me if I was ok. And bawled and bawled while I dressed and made my way back to my car. I can't believe I made it back home safely because I was so upset. No one should have to face that ultrasound alone.

Finally I walked into my friend's house and crumpled into her arms. Dan had just made it there too, to pick up the kids, and I just let him hold me.

The rest of the day was kind of an adrenaline rush of letting everyone know we had miscarried, and explaining the situation to our three little girls. Because I was further along I also had to have a DNC a few days later.

I spent the next little while going through the motions of motherhood and life, but feeling disappointed and even guilty. I knew the surgery was necessary, but I couldn't fathom the idea of taking a baby out of me that wasn't ready to be born. I felt horrible for being so depressed when I already had three healthy children at home and some women couldn't get pregnant at all. For a few days I couldn't function. I even ran out of the room crying after I was asked to hold my girlfriend's baby girl.

But soon out of the woodwork came so many women telling me about their own experiences with miscarriage. And I must say, hearing their stories buoyed me up. I know for some people, talking about such personal wounds isn't comfortable. They would rather grieve privately, and that's completely ok. For me, talking about it was a comfort.

And honestly, I think that's one of my main focuses with this blog--buoying each other up. When I meet a woman who tries to put off a perfect persona, am I drawn to her? Of course not. I feel inferior and depressed and intimidated by her. But when I meet someone who isn't afraid to say, "Guess what? I didn't even shower today!" I instantly feel a connection to her. It's the same in the writing community for me. I love sharing in your stories of struggle and triumph in taking your books from simple ideas to full blown novels.

So I guess that's why I am sharing my miscarriage story for the first time on my blog. Because tons of women go through it. I think one of the best salves we have as women is to be able to share in our successes and our failures, our joys and our sorrows.

Oh and by the way, we went on to have a total normal pregnancy and little boy about a year later.

I don't have a cutesy question for you today, but have you had experiences where sharing them with others has helped?


Bonnie R. Paulson said...

This made me cry. I think what touched me the most is that you thought it had been YOUR fault. Isn't that a weird thing that us moms do? We blame ourselves when things out of our control go "Wrong".

I fail all the time. My problem is I don't like others to know it. I don't want to accept my own failings or limitations and I feel like talking them out makes them more real. And if it's one thing I can handle it's a fake world. lol. Hence the writing.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Maggie. I'm sorry for your loss.

Angela Cothran said...

I'm so sorry :( I've also been through this very thing (although not as far along as you).

I completely agree with you there is something so refreshing about people trusting you enough to show their vulnerability. We all know that no one is perfect. Why pretend?

Great post :) Thanks for sharing!

Emily R. King said...

I've been where you were. It was the heart beat missing, too. The doctor said it was a missed abortion and sent me home. It was heartbreaking, but I, too, had a healthy baby boy a year later.

It's amazing what women can endure!

DeAnne said...

Thank you for sharing this. I never knew! I have always thought so highly of you and I just love who you are :) I love your honesty and openness.

Rebecca H. Jamison said...

Sorry for your loss, Maggie. I lost my first baby at 10 weeks. I was so depressed. I spoke to some of my friends about it, and that was so comforting. I wish I'd told more people about it. One of my friends was doing a research paper where she collected stories of miscarriage, so I participated in that too. It helped me understand that all my feelings of guilt, jealousy, etc. were normal.

Leigh Covington said...

Oh man. So emotional. So heartbreaking and hard. But you're so right. Even with incredible husbands, I think we women need other women friends. There is something about sharing and understanding one another that helps us grow, helps us grieve and helps us keep moving forward.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Thanks for sharing this. Women go through so much to get those little ones into the world. I think it's so important to have friends to lean on and to grieve with. In anything in life, really. Thanks for sharing your experience. You're amazing. :)

Jessie Humphries said...

I haven't showered yet today! Are we best friends now?
But thank you for sharing. I think you are awesome. And btw, you wrote that story really well. I couldn't read it fast enough to find out what happened!

Nan said...

I lost my first pregnancy at 6 1/2 weeks. I had only known I was pregnant for about a week and 1/2. We had tried for a year with nothing happening. And it took another 2 1/2 years to finally have a baby. It sucked, I wouldn't have chose it, but it did help mold who I am.

And when I miscarried I couldn't talk about it much. I did talk to a good friend at work (who was close to my mothers age) and she had miscarried long ago. It helped a lot to talk to someone else about it who had gone through it.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Your story was heartbreaking! It made me cry, too. I haven't ever had a miscarriage, but my brother's wife got pregnant at the same time as me, and a few weeks later, we found out our due dates were on the exact same day! We'd have cousin-twins! When they found out that their baby was developing without a heart, it was devastating for me, too-- and I wasn't even the parent. I can imagine how hard a thing miscarriage is, and it definitely is easier to go through hard things with others who've gone through it, too!

Sari said...

I've been remembering that time in your life also--I sure love you and the great women you are. You exemplify empathy for others.

Anonymous said...

Dealt with a molar pregnancy when my husband was out of town. No waiting for him... Straight to surgery. It is so hard to be strong when you feel all alone.

Thank you