Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Way I Do It

I would be seven months pregnant now with my first pregnancy. Or almost 11 weeks with my second. I was thinking about that in the shower last night – how different things could be right now (but aren’t). So I resign myself to more (seemingly endless) waiting. I’m impatient and angry and really, really sad, but in the real world, where the days keep unfolding one after another whether I want them to or not, there’s not much I can do about any of it. So as the world (my job, my parents, and even J, despite the fact that he is most certainly traveling this path of grief and hope with me) makes it clear that I have no choice but to pick up the pieces and keep going (or at least fake it), I’ve been thinking about how I do that. I did it after the last miscarriage and here I am, trying to do it again.

Though at the moment I’m moving forward with anything but grace, I’ve been thinking a lot about an email my mom wrote me after the first miscarriage. It was a long message, filled with everything from empathy to humor to inspiration, but it’s this thought of hers that keeps coming back to me: “I have come to the conclusion that life is mainly one long struggle for survival and what makes us human is the grace with which we navigate the paths we are given to travel.” This is the sort of view that I’m striving for. At the moment, I’m hopelessly far from achieving it, but at least it’s out there.

Meanwhile, in the messy day-to-day, I have ways of coping. I realize that others in my situation do this very differently and obviously there’s no right answer. We all grieve differently and find different ways to keeping going; this is just the way I do it (or rather some of the ways):

  • I quit Facebook. I actually did this before I got pregnant the first time, because (among a million other good reasons) my “newsfeed” had become a long list of pregnancy announcements and baby pictures. We had been trying for two years at that point and I couldn’t take it. I’m glad to say I’ve stayed away ever since.
  • I didn’t let myself believe the second pregnancy would work out
  • I threw out the “Your Pregnancy, Blah, Blah” book the doctor gave me, but kept the ultrasound pictures from both pregnancies.
  • We didn’t name the fetuses and I don’t have any regrets about this. They both stopped developing around 8 weeks and while I do have quite a lot of reverence for the fact that I was (however briefly) carrying the beginnings of two lives, they weren’t yet individuals to me.
  • We read books aloud, watch lots of tv-via-Netflix, and keep a bottle of wine nearby; distraction is key.
  • I accept that some amount of denial is inevitable.
  • I also accept that the sadness goes on longer than anyone around me expects it to.
  • I try to walk the often elusive line between hope for the future and an acceptance of the bleakness that is the current moment.
  • I tell some people what we’re going through, but keep it from others.
  • When I’m angry, I yell at J because he’s always here to take it, but I also love him more now than I ever have.
  • I’m not sending holiday cards or gifts this year and I’m not feeling guilty.
  • We’re simultaneously looking into adoption and options for future pregnancies.
  • I started this blog, but so far I haven’t shared it with anyone who knows me in real life, except J.

Your list probably looks different. This is just mine and as much as anything could work for me right now, it does.

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Filed under Future, Life, Miscarriage

The First Time

The first time I was pregnant, I thought I was being cautious. After all, we had been trying to get pregnant for a year and a half, had been given a few reasons to worry (infertility, PCOS, less than ideal sperm), had been to an RE, and were using Clomid. So when I saw that positive pregnancy test after so many months of waiting, I wanted to feel pure joy/excitement/optimism, but I knew I should be cautious instead. We knew about things not working out the way we planned; why should this pregnancy be any different? I decided we couldn’t tell anyone but my parents until after the first trimester. I avoided thinking about nurseries or baby clothes. When I never experienced morning sickness, I worried a lot, despite the fact that my doctor said that could be perfectly normal. Even though we saw a heartbeat at six weeks and the doctor was confident, I was just as nervous for our second (nine week) ultrasound appointment. And rightly so, because that’s when we heard those horrible words: “I’m not finding a heartbeat. It looks like you’re having a miscarriage.” And then our world fell apart, right there, with me lying on that table. I couldn’t breathe. I remember so clearly the way my mind struggled in those first moments to even conceive of the fact that we weren’t having a baby. I kept thinking “wait, no – this cannot be happening – they just need to look more carefully,” as if I could just think hard enough to change the horrible reality that was unfolding in front of us.

In the aftermath of that first miscarriage, it became clear to me that as cautious as I thought I was being during my short (but really long) five weeks of knowing I was pregnant, I wasn’t being cautious at all. I knitted things, for one: a little green baby bonnet with a button that looks like an orange (a favorite from my mom’s button jar since I was practically in kindergarten), a mobile with little bunnies in striped shirts….. I even started a baby blanket. What was I thinking? We talked about names. We engaged in those “this time next year….” conversations. In short? We were not being cautious. I thought we were, but I was wrong. Actually, that was the most innocent, joyful, optimistic pregnancy I would ever have. Until (of course) it wasn’t.

So when we started trying again afterward and I (completely shockingly given our history of not being able to get pregnant for nearly two years at a time) got pregnant that first month, we were truly cautious. I didn’t knit, we didn’t talk names, we told people (so that we’d have prearranged support if we had another miscarriage), and every statement we made about the future we wanted so badly began “If we really get a baby at the end of this….” or “If this all works out…..” or “Assuming this doesn’t just end in another miscarriage….” People we talked to thought we were being unnecessarily negative, but I knew we were just being cautious. When we saw the heartbeat at 6 weeks, I did my best to live in and enjoy that moment, but I didn’t allow it to lend any hope to the future. And when, after nearly three hours of waiting in the emergency room, it was confirmed that I was having a second miscarriage, my world didn’t fall apart. Don’t get me wrong – in the moment when the emergency room doctor confirmed what I already suspected from observing the ultrasound tech’s face as she searched the screen, I felt myself sink slowly into the deepest sadness I’ve ever experienced and I am not far removed from that place now. In most respects, a second miscarriage is very much worse than a first. After a first miscarriage, everyone tells you that you’re no more likely to have a second than any random woman is to have a miscarriage. After a second miscarriage, they don’t say much. My world, however, didn’t fall apart, because as awful as it was to hear those words, it was familiar. I knew what to expect physically, emotionally, practically, spiritually. I knew about stepping into that dark place. And about the loss of hope. About the blank slate that my life would become again, at least for a while. I don’t want to know those things, but I will never not know them again.

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Filed under Miscarriage