I don't consider myself to be on the extreme ends of being a public or private person. I like to think I'm middle of the road and keep most of the gross personal stuff that happens to me to myself. That's why I've debated writing about having a miscarriage since it happened last July. Sometimes you want your personal business to stay personal. That wasn't how it all went down, and even though it's a really touch subject for some people, I think writing about it might give me some closure and more likely, help those of you who may have experience one or more in your past. So here it is... I'll try to spare you the gory details.
First off, what helped me most through this whole process was meeting other moms before I even had Ada who had had miscarriages in their past. Statistically, they say 50% of women have a miscarriage sometime in their lives, but many of them happen before the woman even knows she's pregnant. According to my Doctoress, it's closer to 70% and maybe even higher. The pregnancy books will all tell you that it tends to happen in the first trimester, i.e. the first 12 weeks. Mine was 1 day shy of hitting the 12 week mark.
The other thing that helped me was reading Blink by Malcom Gladwell that taught me to trust my gut instinct above all else. Listen to that little voice within that tells you something isn't right. Something about the pregnancy felt funny to me, so much so that I hesitated to tell my co-workers and bookclub, and several of my close friends. I also kept putting off getting my blood work done. It just didn't seem like the pregnancy was going to stick. Unfortunately I was so excited when the pee stick turned into a plus sign, and I didn't have the funny feeling yet, I immediately told my mom and Rick's mom and they can't keep a secret if it would save the earth from impending doom... they are just way too excited about having more grandchildren -- which I don't blame them for. They are grandmas after all and that's what grandmas do. I'd be ticked off if they weren't excited. So, everyone and their mother (in our families anyway) knew we were pregnant from the get go. Yikes.
For many women, a miscarriage just happens and they don't even know about it until they go in for an ultrasound or an appointment to hear the heartbeat and the Doctor has to give them the "I'm sorry mam, but this pregnancy isn't viable. You've had a miscarriage." or something similar to that I imagine. For people who don't know how common it is and can't name off 10 people they know that have had one, that can be more than overwhelming.
It was different for me, and way more gross. (WARNING: If you're squimish, skip to the next paragraph). I started spotting just a little bit. Called the Doctoress. "Statistically, you should be fine. If you heard the heartbeat at 8 weeks, your chances of miscarrying are about 10% so go home and rest." I tried to be optimistic but it wasn't really helping. I was a basketcase. Really quite worried. I rested. Spotted a bit more a few hours later. Then about 2 in the morning I woke up to the worst cramps I have ever felt in my life. At 4:30 am I called the Doctoress' emergency help line, paged the Doctor on call and he told me "If you start bleeding heavily, go to the Emergency Room and have them call me." Sure enough, not five minutes later, Niagra Falls started, only it was red and clumpy. It was awful. Beyond awful. I kept my wits about me since I knew what was going on and actually had read about something similar in a novel, Luscious Lemon by Heather Swain, about a chef who got pregnant and miscarried while her boyfriend was out of the country. I knew to look for the embryo to pass (or whatever they call a baby at 12 weeks) and when I saw it, I considered setting it aside for the Doctor to look at but that creeped me out and I was bleeding so much I didn't care enough to deal with it at that point. I was beyond the whole "I just lost the baby" and was now into "Holy shit, that's a lot of blood."
Thankfully, we have a neighbor upstairs that goes to work at 5 am and his wife doesn't work. I quickly got my husband to run up to their door and wake her up to come watch Ada while he took me to the hospital. I'm barking orders from the bathroom while he is trying to get someone to watch Ada. He's not the fastest person in the world (at least in my mind when I think I'm bleeding to death) so it took longer than I had hoped. He got me pants and an old bath towel and went to get the car. Our neighbor came down and I explained she should avoid the bathroom carnage at all costs and just feed Ada a banana and some milk when she gets up. Our neighbor was super nice, and sorry for our loss and just said she'd take care of Ada and not to worry. Thank God for the angels in our lives right?
So we get to the hospital. They check me out. Yep, that's a lot of blood. They transfer me up to the baby floor and do a D and C - often wrongly called (by me) a DNC since that's what it sounds like. They go in, clean everything out and poof, you're all better. You just have to wait for your blood work to say your body no longer thinks it's pregnant and "reset" before you can try again. It's a bit like hitting control alt delete on your computer... but not.
Then I just had to take it easy for a few days. My only side effect was killer headaches, which I solved with caffeine. A coke a day and lots of chocolate and tea. It was totally manageable. Luckily, we were set to go to Lake Geneva for my Aunt's annual birthday vacation at the lake. My whole family was there and was very supporting. I got the best hug from my dad I've ever received in my life - I'll never forget that he pulled me in close, rubbed circles on my back and held me longer than usual. That's big for a guy who doesn't openly show affection. I know he loves me but he isn't one to show it much so when he does, it's really powerful. From that moment on, I knew everything was going to be okay.
Now for the funny part. I'm an optimist, remember? I'll find the silver lining in anything.
That neighbor from upstairs that watched Ada while I was at the hospital, remember her? Well, it turns out that she's never babysat before, doesn't have nieces and nephews, and is pretty much clueless when it comes to kids. I think my instructions upon leaving were to just "keep her safe and alive". Thankfully, she has a wonderful mom and lots of friends who know about kids. My thanks goes out to all of them for answering her calls (I assume most of them are on the east coast so it wasn't that early for them) as she frantically looked for answers as to what to do when Ada woke up. Her mom thought Ada might wake up pissed off and wonder why there was a stranger in her house, but she doesn't know Ada. Here's our neighbor all worried, waiting for Ada to wake up and then Ada starts to stir. Krissie goes in and is met with, in typical Ada fashion, all smiles. Ada's bouncing in her crib, holding on to her Yertle the Turtle and happy as a clam. Nothing like what Krissie expected.
I'm not sure how the diaper change went down, but I assume just fine. Then it was time for Ada's banana. Krissie spent a few minutes mincing the banana into small pieces so that Ada wouldn't choke, just as her mom and her friends had advised, only to be shocked again. Ada grabbed the rest of the banana Krissie wasn't chopping and shoved the whole thing in her face. Gone in an instant. That's my girl! Who needs to chew?
The look on Krissie's face when she told me the story a few days later was hilarious. She told that story for weeks, and surely still does. It was so cute. I'm thankful that she now thinks all kids are cute and wonderful and happy-go-lucky. Boy is she in for a surprise when she has kids of her own.
Moral of the story: Miscarriages are natural, common, and our body's way of protecting us or ending something that just isn't right. Instead of allowing them to crush our spirits, accept them for being a mysterious blessing. It's not an easy view to take, but one that I found to be easier to accept and survive with in the long term. And know that you aren't alone.