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Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 6: The Garage Doors Of Fresno

On September 17, 2014, I went for a routine 8-week prenatal check-up. It was the only routine thing I would do for more than two months.

During this time, I e-mailed a small group of people. Some were aware of the pregnancy, some had plans with me that would need to be broken, and still others simply asked after my health on the wrong day. This is the sixth of 11 such messages. They have been edited to remove identifying information and inside references, but otherwise remain largely unchanged.

October 20, 2014
Dear Friends,

After my surgery on the 10th, I was told I should feel myself again "by Monday." To be fair, my caregivers did not specify which Monday. As of this Monday, I am finally starting to feel that things are under control.

Although recovery has been neither as quick nor as straightforward as I was lead to believe, it has never felt out of context. I understood that my hCG level, which had almost tripled in a short space of time, would likely change rapidly. Last Monday I was treated to several hours of mild-to-moderate uterine contractions; imagine the garage doors of Fresno slamming shut in waves. This was no more uncomfortable than what I felt after my first pregnancy, the key difference being that after my first pregnancy I had a beautiful baby and was awash in a fragrant bath of happy love hormones that made it very easy to ignore what was happening in my abdomen.

After a night spent under a heating pad, the contractions subsided only to be replaced by sudden puddles of inexplicable weepiness. "Inexplicable" may seem like an odd word here; a failed pregnancy should be a reasonable excuse for countless crying jags. What I mean is that the urge to sob uncontrollably would rise up out of the blue, not related to any internal or external trigger. Sometimes it would last just a moment or two, sometimes half an hour or more. I felt exhausted, shaky and disoriented. I seriously considered canceling plans as far out as this coming weekend because, as I said to my husband, "It's just so hard right now."

As confused as I felt, I had moments of startling clarity - or perhaps self-absorption. I thought about every time I've cried during this whole ordeal, trying to find a pattern to explain my sudden sadness. I cried on the phone when I told my husband there was no heartbeat. I cried with my daughter when she expressed such pain and confusion. I cried after my midwife confirmed the news. Then there was the day before my second ultrasound. I was riding the train home. A little girl in my car, about five- or six-years-old, was singing "Let It Go" to her baby sister and I could feel my heart break. I made it home somehow and put my daughter to bed. Then I sat on my couch and cried until I didn't have anything left in my head.

There have been plenty of tears since then, but I realize now that day on the train was the end of my grief over the loss of the pregnancy. When I cried after that, it was because I was frustrated or scared about how the pregnancy would end; because I felt isolated; or because I was simply tired of being the object of so much pity - the flat-stomached woman in the maternity clinic, the one all the receptionists offer tissues. None of this fits what I was feeling last week. That seems to have been the last gurgling of a pregnancy long-since gone down the drain.

Fortunately, after a second round of contractions and light bleeding late last week, my hormones began to calm. I can't say for sure everything is back to normal (whatever that means), but the volatile physical and emotional reactions seem to be over and done with. I still have my moments of stress and sadness, but that has less to do with the end of the pregnancy and more to do with my ongoing concern about the future of my fertility. The question of whether I'll have more children - whether that's feasible or advisable, whether it's even exactly what I want for myself and my family - has buzzed in the back of my mind for the better part of four years, and arguably would have done so even if the second pregnancy had progressed normally. The thought that, after a brief spell of expectation, I'm still no closer to knowing the answer is excruciating. But that specific kind of pain needs to be considered separately from the disappointment of the pregnancy itself.

I will have one more follow-up with the midwife on Friday and, hopefully, that will bring an official, medical end to this crisis. Then I can regroup with my husband and daughter and start the difficult work of understanding where we are as a family.

Thank you all again for your tremendous support. It has been a great comfort to know I can share these thoughts with you, as thorny and dark as they may be.

Much love,
nj

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Previously:
* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 1: No Fetal Heartbeat.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 2: Firing Squad Or Hemlock?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 3: Remember The Challenger.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 4: Mommy, What Does Bupkes Mean?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 5: D&Cs Suck.

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Tomorrow: Pathologists be pathologizing.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on January 27, 2015


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