Today, I think, is going to be one of the hard days. It’s quiet. I have to be off work because of the surgery I had yesterday. And finally, there are no more distractions. No more papers to be signed. No more procedures to be arranged. Just me in the empty house with the loss hanging in the air.
I could not, for the life of me, explain exactly what compelled me to call the RE’s office first thing on Monday morning. I’d been released back to my OB after the fantastic ultrasound last week. When I’d asked Dr. D how likely I was to carry the pregnancy to a live birth, he’d told me that I only had a 5-7% chance of miscarrying at this point. We’d all been pleased and Arthur and I both started to look forward to an uneventful finish to the first trimester.
Sunday night, however, I had an eerie sense that something was wrong. Something beyond my usual anxiety about the pregnancy. I couldn’t figure out why, though. I wasn’t bleeding. I’d had a few small aches and cramps, but nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing, outwardly, seemed wrong.
However, by Monday morning, I simply couldn’t shake the feeling. Rather sheepishly, I called the RE’s office and asked them what to do. The nurse was very understanding and immediately told me that they’d go ahead and see me in a slot where another patient had cancelled. I’d get an ultrasound and hopefully that would reassure me.
I got into the ultrasound room, and the tech started the scan. As soon as the baby came up on the screen, I knew. The heartbeat, which had been so obvious before, was gone. All the features and the easily seen umbilical cord were suddenly gone. I could see the ultrasound tech react as well. “I’m going to go get Dr. E,” she told me. She handed me a box of tissues, and slipped out of the room.
Dr. E, who was the physician in the office that particular day, came in a moment later. “I’m so sorry,” he said, putting an arm around my shoulders. “I saw the images. I don’t see a heartbeat.”
“I didn’t either,” I managed.
“Would you like me to check again?” Dr. E asked. “I don’t think I’m going to find anything different. But just in case?”
“Yes,” I whispered.
Dr. E checked. There was still no heartbeat on the screen, still the same awful changes. The baby had stopped growing a few days earlier based on the measurements.
“I want a D and C,” I blurted out. I was numb, knowing in a few moments I would have to call Arthur and tell him the news. I had thought long and hard prior to even having the IVF about what I wanted to do in various situations if they presented themselves. “I don’t want to wait and not know when it’s going to start. We’re supposed to leave town this weekend, and the hospital there doesn’t take my insurance if something goes wrong.”
“That’s fine,” said Dr. E. “We’ll help you get that arranged with your regular OB/GYN’s office. Be prepared, they will probably want to do another ultrasound to confirm, however.”
I vaguely remember calling work, calling Arthur, calling my mother. Stumbling out to the parking lot. Driving home.
Dr. E thankfully called my local doctor’s office himself to expedite the process, which I’m grateful for. The local doctor’s office called me then to finish setting everything up. They asked if I wanted a second confirmation ultrasound. They were okay with either accepting what Dr. E had sent them or letting me check one more time. I opted for a final confirmation just so that I would be 100% certain there was no mistake.
So Arthur and I went to the hospital to have one last ultrasound. There were no miracles, but I’m glad that I opted to have it. It allowed me to move on and proceed to the surgery with no doubts, no regrets.
Yesterday, Arthur went with me to check into the surgery center at the hospital. I’d taken Cytotec to start the process. Our pastor came to be with us for a little while, which we were grateful for. Some friends came and sat with us. I was so glad to be in a hospital where I knew the staff and the staff knew me from my having worked there. Everyone was terrific. Dr. A, my regular OB/GYN, had agreed to do the procedure, which made me feel better to have my familiar and trusted doctor.
The D and C got started late, which is the nature of surgery schedules, as I well know. The Cytotec was causing me to cramp badly, and I started to get a little frightened. One of the reasons I’d opted for a D and C, guilty as I felt about this particular reason, was simply that I didn’t want to see the sac or the fetus or have to decide what to do with it when the inevitable happened. The nurses reassured me that even though I was starting to bleed, it would take some time for the miscarriage to complete and that I’d have the D and C long before that time.
Dr. A came in to talk with us and was wonderful and sympathetic. I had a quick technical chat with the nurse anesthetist about exactly what drugs he was going to use. I was grateful that he had opted not to use Versed, which can make me more emotional. Then I had to know whether he planned to intubate or use a less invasive airway apparatus called an LMA. I was glad to hear it was just going to be the LMA. The nurses wheeled me back, helped me onto the table. I remember whispering to one of them that I still had my underwear on because I was bleeding and she reassured me that they’d take care of it. The anesthetist put the mask over my face, pushed the propofol into my IV, which stung, and that was the last thing I remember until I woke up in recovery.
I had gone ahead and let all of our friends and family know through facebook that while I hadn’t told many people I was pregnant, that I had miscarried. I wanted, very much, to share that we had had a beautiful heartbeat. That it had been real. That we were very, very sad and that we had lost something we had wanted so badly.
When we got home from the hospital, there were so many messages of support and sadness. On facebook. Here at the blog. From church. There was a beautiful basket of flowers from one of Arthur’s relatives. So many people who grieved with us. And while, of course, nothing could take away the terrible loss, it helped. It helped to be acknowledged. It helped that so many people shared our grief and named it as such. Nobody dismissed it as “just” a miscarriage. Everyone treated it as an awful, awful loss for us. And I know that I am so fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life.
So now begins the long, slow process of healing. Of somehow making it through the next moment, the next day. Somehow.