Sunday, July 18, 2010

Miscarriage February 18th, 2008
Denise, stillborn at 10:32pm on May 18th, 2009 at 25 weeks
Miscarriage September 7th, 2009
Southern California

DH and I got married in September 2006, and decided that we both wanted to pursue our fitness and bodybuilding goals for one more year before settling down and having kids. We were both competing for most of 2007. It was our agreement that I would stop competing until I had our first baby, since the low bodyfat I maintained was not really condusive to getting pregnant. So, my last competition was July 2007, and we started TTC shortly after my cycles returned. It was fun, the whole anticipation of trying..and to our surprise, I was pregnant by January 2008.

We waited the 9 weeks for my first appointment and I was upset we didn't get an ultrasound or doppler check. My OB waits till the 12 week appointments to do those. So, DH and I went home and were elated to be pregnant, but something just didn't seem right. I finally called my OB and he told me to come in. Sure enough, my first ultrasound ever, revealed a dead fetus, which was about 9 weeks gestation. I had a D&C the next day, and we moved on, although heartbroken.

We TTC for 9 months with haphazard cycles, and it just wasn't happening. I saw my OB and he prescribed provera to induce my period and Clomid to be taken a few days after my cycle started in December 2008. I started the provera and never got my period. I called my OB freaking out and he told me to take a HPT..which, somehow, someway on a 51 day cycle, I ovulated and was (gasp!) pregnant! Due date September 5, 2009. I saw my OB at 6 weeks and there was already a heartbeat!

At 8 weeks, I started bleeding. Heavily. Alone. My DH was at a dinner with a client, and he was not answering my calls. I called my OB. We agreed that I was probably miscarrying again and that the best option was to go into his office first thing in the morning to confirm. Lo and behold, despite the massive bleeding, there she was..moving her flippers and not even phased by the heart attack she gave me. The OB chalked my bleeding up to "old blood" and a stretching uterus. I was sent home on limited bedrest until bleeding subsided. It stopped thankfully, but returned again at 12 weeks. Again, the U/S showed a fetus measuring right on track..still no cause for my bleeding was found.

The rest of my pregnancy was uneventful. At about 17 weeks I really popped out and thought I felt little movements, but now I am not so sure. The movements were what I imagined braxton hicks might feel like, however, I had nothing to base it on, other than the fact that my abdomen would get realy hard for a second and then relax. I mentioned this to my OB and he said it was too early for me to feel movement. Most likely, it was my uterus stretching and muscle spasms (?!) We made it through the BIG U/S and found out "it" was a girl. We picked a name out for her and started referring to her by name to one another. She was right on track, had a 3 vessel cord and all her fingers and toes and heart chambers. Nothing but a healthy little girl.

We had no reason to think that she wouldn't make it in our arms alive. At 23 weeks, the doppler check showed a strong heartbeat, and my growth was right on track.

We went on blissfully pregnant for two more weeks and I realized at 25 weeks that I hadn't felt anything other than that tightening in my abdomen yet. Nothing. No movements or flutters like everyone always talked about. I tried not to worry, until I went on a walk with my mom and she aksed me "Are you sure those aren't contractions?". She also said that I looked "smaller". Needless to say, mom put the bug in my ear, and later that very night, I swore I lost my mucus plug so I made a call to my OB the next morning when I got to work.

I took a lunch hour appointment so that I could close our office down and go (I was the only one working that week, my boss was out of town). I called my DH and told him not to worry about being stuck in his meeting. I told him that I would call him after the appointment and tell him "You wife's just crazy". My OB fit me right in. He cut to the chase, cervix was closed. Check. Fundal measurement was good. Check. BP was slightly elevated ( Heck, I was nervous!). Check. Doppler. Static. 2...3...4..5 minutes of the doppler and my OB and I joke that she is really being onry, hiding. Still not thinking there was any way she was gone, my OB said we should go get an Ultrasound to see what was going on. I felt guilty because her dad wasn't going to get a peak at her. He loved seeing her do gymnastics in my womb. As soon as the OB put the transducer on my belly, there she was.

A little. Lifeless. Girl.

My OB didn't need to say a word. I think I might have said " Oh F%$k" or some other profanity that would have embarassed my mother..My OB hugged me and said he hadn't lost one "this far along" in at least 10 years. Sheesh, I was now on the wrong side of the statistics two times in a row. First a miscarriage, and now a fetal death (I hate that term). He told me to get dressed and call my husband. He would arrange for L&D to be ready for me at the hospital. I looked at him and said, " But I have to get back to work, I am the only one running the office all week. I can't have a baby yet." He told me to call my husband and then call my boss and tell my boss that I was not going to be in to work the rest of the week.

Somehow, in a haze, I dialed my DH at work. I think I said something like, "She died". "Who died?". "She died, our baby." Of course, he was on his way in an instant. I waited in the lobby of the hospital for him and went through registration. I went to the pick-up area in front of the hosptial and called my boss. No answer. I left a message. My husband came in and hugged me. No tears, because he is the strong one. I wailed like a baby in front of strangers, and I didn't care. I had to get another ultrasound so they sent me to a crowded waiting room. I went up to the desk and the lady told me that I needed an appointment. I blurted out, " My baby died. I have to go to L&D and they sent me here for an ultrasound....I really have to have an appointment?" The girl must have felt bad, so she ushered me into the dimly lit ultrasound room where a tech confirmed that she had passed. She offered us a photo, but OMG, I am going to see her face to face in a matter of hours.. A picture of my dead baby, no thanks. Right after that my boss called. I shared the news. He being a M.D. himself, said not to worry, this was out of my control, and he would arrange someone to cover my position at the office.

DH and I walked up to L&D. I felt the stares, the looks of pity already. I bet they flipped coins on who was going to have to deal with me. I can imagine it must be hard dealing with my type of situation as a nurse. There is no easy cheery way to handle an infant loss, and thankfully, one of the nurses assigned to me had lost 4 children herself, and shared her story. I started pitocin at about 5 pm. Sent hubby out for dinner and to grab clothes for us ( Birth plan? bags packed? YEAH RIGHT. I was only 25 weeks, no way I was that organized!). Turned on the finale of "Dancing with the Stars". I had been watching it all season since my favorite Olympic gymnast, Shawn Johnson was competing. Smiled a little amidst the chaos. Those abdominal cramps were happening again. A nurse tells me that they are contractions..Holy hell, BATMAN, those were in fact contractions as far back as 17 weeks! I was right! The contractions get stronger to the point that I couldn't give a flyin f%$k who was dancing the samba anymore.

DH came back with fast food for himself. The smell was nauseating. Thank goodness he ate fast. I was in agony at this point. The nurse then checked me and I was 2 cm dialated within 4 hours. Not too bad. I withstood the contractions for another 1/2 hour before I told the nurse that I was " Sorry to be a pu$$y ( yes, I used that word! Sorry again, mom!) but I need an epidural NOW." Within minutes the anesthesiologist was giving my convulsing body an epidural. The nurse helped me lay back down, and the anesthesiologist started to clean up his cart. Right then my water broke. I've never seen anyone wrap up their belongings and hightail it so fast, but that anesthesiologist did. All of a sudden, as the nurses went to clean up my water break, I felt her coming. I couldn't stop her. My OB was nowhere to be found. For a second I freaked..but then reminded myself that no one cared, she was dead anyways. And so, with the help of two nurses, and a short push, I delivered our baby girl at 10:32 p.m. on Monday, May 18, 2009.

I held her. I stared at her. I made DH take a photo or two of her. He was not as comfortable with the idea of holding and seeing her as I was. I didn't get it, but we are two different beings, and if he didn't want to hold her, who was I to make him? I held her body till it went cold, probably about a half hour. My OB finally made it and delivered my placenta. We had to decide on whether to do genetic testing ( not covered by insurance). We had almost opted to sign the consent when my OB took a look at the baby and said, " Look at this. Look at her umbilical cord. Poor thing twisted it so much that it frayed ". And there it was, a REASON for her death. Not that it made it any better, but at least I wouldn't have to wonder. We opted to forgo the genetic testing.

The next few hours into the next morning were a blur. I met with grief counselors. They pushed things on us that my husband and I thought were silly. They kept telling him that it's okay to cry, and that he didn't have to be strong..but they don't KNOW my husband, and to this day I have seen him shed tears only a couple of times. He did what he had to for his family that day, and he stood strong for US. He made the arrangements for the mortuary and her remains. We had to pick a name for her death certificate. The name we had planned on giving her meant a lot to my husband, so much so, that he did not want to name her what we had planned. He wanted to save the name for a child we could watch grow. So, last minute, we were playing the name game, for a dead baby. We decided that the middle name we had picked would be a suitable first name for her, so she was named Denise. Someday we hope that Denise has a little sister that we can give Denise as a middle name to in honor of her big sister.

I remember being wheeled out of the hospital in ugly granny panties and hospital pads. They pushed me right through the halls that were alive with the screams of women giving birth and the faint whimper of babies in the nursery. I saw families in the hallway staring at their good fortune, and all the while, I was being pushed right through it in slow motion. My dream didn't pan out. I was that girl, with the bad luck..Again. I think the hardest part of the ordeal was being wheeled out with empty arms and knowing I was going home without a baby, to a home that was waiting for a baby.

I immediately cleaned out my baby stuff. My co-worker was expecting a granddaughter within a few weeks, so I had her come over and gave her all the dresses I had purchased. I gave her burp clothes I had made. Anything I could give away, I did. I just didn't want it in my house anymore. I also packed up my maternity clothes. I shoved myself into my regular jeans just days after delivery. I felt fat, ugly and empty.

My husband returned to work the next day, and I just wanted to be alone the first week after delivering Denise. I went back to work just 10 days after, and had to face patients who had last seen me with a big ol belly..and wondered if I had had her yet. How does one explain the death of their child in utero to someone? It was hard. The questions...The looks..The silence. That went on for about a month with patients..Each day I would look at our schedule and prepare myself for the ladies who I knew would say something.

I found message boards and blogs in my freetime. I scoured the internet for articles on grief, and coping as a couple. I met other women who had been in my position. Some recently, some years ago. They all gave me peace and comforted me while the flooding of emotions got the best of me.
In August, I started provera and Clomid again. I got 3 positive tests at the beginning of September and then proceeded to miscarry (at a Dodger game, none-the-less), and that loss has been something that I have sort of downplayed since the magnitude of losing Denise was much greater, and still so fresh.

December 2009, after a bad visit with my OB ( he didn't want to put me on Clomid again), I got a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist. My 3rd loss earned me the label of "habitual aborter" Lovely term, I know. I also have Graves' disease which has been controlled by radiation and thyroid hormone supplements since I was 20 years old. Both these conditions qualified me for a consultation through insurance. We met with Dr wonderful in January. He concluded that we are both healthy, we have conceived successfully 3x in 2 years and that perhaps I have trouble ovulating. He suggested a quick U/S to check out my tubes and ute, and we'd probably be started on Clomid to help things out. NO BIG DEAL. YES!

Then he does the U/S. Dr. Wonderful asks me if my paps have all been normal. Thinking to myself, " OH NO CANCER!", I say yes, sheepishly. He then says, " Well, I don't know how this was missed, but you have either a septate uterus or a bicornuate uterus. You have two horns to your utuers." He went on to explain that this could have caused my multiple losses depending on where the baby attached to my uterine wall. The septum divided my uterus in half and limits growth around the 5th and 6 month. I underwent diagnostics for the next 2 months, both an HSG and an MRI to determine which anomoly I had. In late February, it was determined that I had a septate uterus, and there was a surgical procedure to resection my uterus and give us a flying chance at fetal survival past 6 months on future pregnancies. There are women who can carry in a septate uterus, but the magnitude of my septum was quite grand, so Dr Wonderful suggested I have surgery. I had surgery on march 23, 2010. Followed by a few week break from the TTC madness. To say the past year has been stressful would be an understatement. We met with Dr. Wonderful in June to discuss our options for starting TTC again, and we are currently under watchful eye of Dr. Wonderful with the help of some fertility drugs and ultrasounds to monitor ovulation.

It's been a year since I lost my little girl. In the past year, I have attempted to do good things in her memory. If I can make just one woman who is going through loss feel so not alone, then I have made a difference. I try not to be a "victim", and often remind myself on hard days to soldier on, one foot in front of the other. There are days where grief hits me like a wave..whether it be from watching a TV show where someone is having a baby, or walking through the mall and seeing children playing in the fountains while mothers sit and watch while sipping coffee. Jealousy has been the most difficult part of this journey. Friendships have changed. Some were lost, some were strengthened, and new ones were formed. I feel left out of conversations about kids, births, and just plain being a mom. I guess I can only hope that one day, I will be officially elected into the mom club, not just an honorary member.


Antoinette said...

I see your comments often on other blogs and I have to say reading your story hear is so different. The way you write is really inspiring...and kind of makes me feel like I know you...I pray Dr wonderful brings you that rainbow!!! GOOD LUCK....

Julie said...

i, too, experience jealousy as my dominant emotion lately. i'm so glad your RE has given you some hope, and i wish you a beautiful rainbow baby soon!

Dana said...

Wow, your story is heartbreaking. I'm glad that you have found Dr. Wonderful. Your story is beautifully written and I know all of your little angels are so proud of you.

I hope that you get your rainbow baby soon!

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