Friday, September 08, 2006

Two Steps Back

The Short Version

What I Did On My Summer Vacation
  1. Re-learned the joy of good chicken curry.
  2. Prepared for Ethan's surgery.
  3. Watched The Polar Express and Toy Story a combined total of 14 million times, therefore cementing my love of Tom Hanks.
  4. Went to over 20 doctors' appointments.
  5. Added a few new sites to my regular blog reads.
  6. Researched the world of handicap vehicles.
  7. Took CG on a trip to Mystic, including a failed visit to the Mystic Aquarium. (Remind me next time that CG's favorite part of any trip is the local McDonalds.)
  8. Started the process of enrolling Ethan in school for this fall.
  9. Had a miscarriage.
  10. Ate a dozen chocolate chip cannolis.
* * *

The Long Version

Jete and I planned a family, albeit haphazardly by some accounts. Granted, both of our children were the product of "surprise" pregnancies. But it worked for us.

Late last year, I got bit by the baby bug. Ethan had recovered from his surgery, and removing his cast had marked a butterfly-like transition to big boy. CG had long left babyhood behind and become a toddler. For the first time in my life, I realized that I wanted to have a baby - on purpose. After stifling my feelings for a few months, I decided it wasn't going away. Jete and I talked, and decided to do what all those wacky kids are doing these days: Try.

We considered the timing, and decided to start trying at the beginning of the year. Never having done this on purpose, we didn't know how quickly it would happen, if at all. We couldn't assume that things would go smoothly. If we learned anything at all from the past five years, it's not to take anything for granted. Life can be very messy.

But by early May, I was pregnant. According to my calculations, I was due exactly on Ethan's fifth birthday. Initially, this made me uneasy. Bad memories and all that. Instead, I decided to look at it as a happy sign. What a wonderful birthday gift for Ethan: a new sibling to share it with.

I'm a math girl. Naturally, I worried about miscarriage. The odds are 1 in 4, maybe higher. I'd never had one, and I was in my third pregnancy. I couldn't shake the feeling that the odds might catch up with me someday. But we had an early ultrasound to confirm dates, and saw the heartbeat. The odds drop dramatically at that point. I tried to relax.

Once I entered the second trimester, we started to settle in. We slowly told some of our coworkers. Still, I wasn't ready to talk about it here. We couldn't talk in permanant terms yet. And we were nowhere near ready to discuss names. Names are something we always save until after The Big Ultrasound. We like to 1) make sure the baby is healthy first, and 2) find out the gender, if possible. Only then can we start feeling slightly confident about the future.

It seemed like forever before The Big Ultrasound came around, but it finally did. It fell in the middle of a crazy week - the same week as Ethan's surgery. We had appointments four out of the five workdays that week: an anesthesia consult, the ultrasound, a follow-up with my OB-GYN and Ethan's surgery at the end of the week.

On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, we arrived for our ultrasound. I was somewhere around 19 weeks at that point. I watched as the tech took several measurements that read between 14 and 17 weeks. She quickly told me I could use the bathroom and left to get another doctor. She had never shown us the heartbeat. I knew immediately that there was nothing to show. The baby was dead.

We waited as she got a doctor, then watched as he led her through check after check, making sure the diagnosis was right. They wouldn't tell us anything until they were 100% sure. Finally, they told us that the baby had died sometime in the past few weeks. They couldn't say when, and they couldn't say why. Most likely, we will never know.

We went to my OB-GYN's office to discuss our next steps. Because I was so far along, it was dangerous to wait for nature to take its course. But because of my previous c-sections, inducing was too risky. My best bet was to have a D&E to complete the miscarriage.

My doctor wanted to schedule it for two days later, on Thursday. I would be given general anesthesia and would definitely need at least one day to recover. I told him about Ethan's surgery, and he told us to go forward with it as planned. We could have the D&E the next week instead.

We called our parents to let them know and asked them to do the trickle down calls. I sent a mass email to all of my friends and co-workers. Everyone had been so excited, anxiously waiting to hear what we were having. I couldn't bear to get the happy phone calls later that night. I couldn't handle telling the same story over and over again.

Three hours after my appointment, I started cramping and spotting. It was almost as if my body had waited for us to find out first before doing what it had to do. I spent the next few days at home, terrified that I would start hemmorhaging at any moment.

Ethan's surgery was a breeze. It took even less time than the doctors had originally predicted. He slept it off for three days with almost no pain. The weekend came and went in the blink of an eye.

On Monday, they inserted laminaria to help dilate the cervix. On Tuesday morning, I woke with severe cramping, coming and going every few minutes. I thought, "This is what labor must be like." I'd never been in labor before, and I didn't see what the hype over natural childbirth was all about. I was miserable, exhausted and completely drained. I just wanted it all over with.

At the same time, I was terrified about being put to sleep. My only experience with general anesthesia was Ethan's birth; a rapid, emergent event where I was strapped down and forced to breathe the drug through a mask. The entire time, I was frightened that I was going to die. I didn't want to go through that again.

This time, things were different. They gave me medicine through the IV that made me sleepy. Then I don't remember anything else until I woke up back in my room. It was almost pleasant in comparison.

My physical recovery was faster than I expected. I was exhausted, but not really sore. Somehow, I thought it should hurt more.

Emotionally, I've been okay most of the time. Maybe it's my catastrophist nature that helped prepare me for this ahead of time. Maybe it was my terrifying experience with Ethan's birth that put this into perspective. I'm not really sure.

Ten days later, I find myself disappointed more than I'm sad. Annoyed more than I am angry. Feeling things, but in subtle shades.

I'm irritated that we wasted this entire year, hoping, making preparations, taking tests, going to appointments, all for nothing. One step forward, two steps back.

I'm disappointed that things didn't go the way we planned. That there's no need to choose a name anymore. That Ethan won't have someone to share his birthday with.

I'm irritated that I was so jaded by Ethan's birth that I almost expected a terrible outcome.

And of course, I'm afraid. Afraid of never knowing what happened. Afraid of what people think. Afraid of January coming. Afraid to get pregnant again. Afraid to not get pregnant again.

We will try again. We aren't ready to close the doors on our family just yet. If things don't work out, we're ready to accept that, but we won't know until we try. Besides, we've got more fight in us still. We may have been knocked down a few times, but we're up again, ready to go.

In the meantime, I find inspiration in the incredible women who have been through this before; in some cases, time and time again. I know I'm not alone. In a strange way, this experience makes me feel more connected to the world; a part of a bigger and more chaotic system.

And as I'm sure you all know, in chaos, there is order. Sometimes, you just have to take a few steps back to see it.


sarah Furlough said...

I have been following your blog for the past couple of months, and I have admired your strength and courage. My heart breaks for you, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts are with you.

Kath said...

Dear Mete, I just found your blog and am so very sorry for your loss. Wishing you healing and strength. How I wish you didn't need quite so much strength.

I just read Ethan's story and am very moved. You've been through so much.

Julie said...

Oh, Mete.

Words fail. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Meredith said...

Dear Mete, I am so sorry you experienced this. It is such a cruel cosmic joke that it happened in the 2nd trimester. I had 2 miscarriages myself - both before I got pregnant with my son LM who is now 19 months and my only child. For the first one, I experienced what you did except at my 14 week ultrasound (had a heartbeat at 8 weeks) and had a D+C. It is never easy but I found so many people in real life and online who experienced it and in some sad way, it was like the secret sisterhood. There was some good in feeling that I was not alone. You aren't alone either.

I hope that things start going your way and that you never have to experience a miscarriage again.

My thoughts are with you.

M&Co. said...

I am sorry for your loss. Peace.

Billie said...

I am very sorry for your loss and I feel sad for you.

I cried when I read your post. It struck me how you mentioned being so jaded by Ethan's birth that you expected a bad outcome. I think about that a lot. It is just so unfair.

I wish there was something I could say, anything, to make you feel better. You are in my thoughts.

Amanda said...

I am so, so sorry.

Erin said...

Oh Mete I am so sorry to hear that. Keep your strength and positive attitude. You are a true inspiration.

Lisa said...

I am so very very sorry. I had a m/c at 14 weeks a couple of years ago and it was so so hard. I understand what you mean about the fear of trying again, and of not trying. Thinking of you.

Gwensarah said...

I'm sorry Mete. I understand your emotions though and honestly, I really feel that someday Ethan is going to have a little sister even if she won't share the same birthday.

Doris said...


hugs. I'm sorry for your loss. I too lost a baby well into my 2nd trimester. It happened to me in 2001. Seems like yesterday.

sheilah said...

I am so so sorry. I don't think I have commented on your blog before but I have read your archive and you are a very strong woman. Good luck. I wish you courage.

rajdiver said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. I can not even begin to imagine how hard it's been for you. I haven't read your blog in a while so it's a shock to read this now.

My prayers go out to you.