Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mom to Dumpling lost in December 2008
Perogee lost in April 2009
Snowflake lost in May 2009
Canadian Embassy, Moscow

Still a Woman?

In December 2008 I experienced one of the greatest horrors a woman can experience. People say that it happens sometimes or that it just wasn’t meant to be, they try and find the words to express their sorrow and their grief of the situation, but nothing no matter what anyone says can heal the hurt that is caused when a woman loses her baby, if even only by miscarriage. I was only 5 weeks along when I started bleeding, at first it wasn’t a sign of alarm for me. I had bled briefly with my first son early on, and besides his arrival being 5 weeks early, my pregnancy as with my second was typical, healthy and uneventful. I never in a million years would have thought that I would or could have a miscarriage. I after all was healthy, a tad overweight, but I ate fairly well, took my prenatals, rarely drank (certainly not after I found out I was pregnant), didn’t smoke, and was barely yet 32, still quite young. I took for granted that sometimes things just happen, and what I do has no say and no control over the situation. It was confirmed nearly two weeks after my visit to the doctor, and 18 days after I initially started bleeding that indeed I had miscarried early on, before a heart could even form. I was crushed, especially since it was the Christmas holidays and we had already told the boys and all our friends, but I recovered rather quickly, taking it as a sign that this was not the one we were meant to have.

When I became pregnant again only a month after my miscarriage, I was overjoyed and sure that this would be the one, my chance for a baby girl. We told no one this time, not wanting the same grief that came with a loss in case things didn’t work in our favour, and of course not wanting to break the kid’s hearts a second time. Unfortunately these things can’t be hidden for long, and slowly those closest to us found out one after another. Things seemed to be going well; besides the nausea and the fatigue that had overcome me, I was sure it was a good sign. At 8 weeks I called the doctor’s and was given an appointment for 2 weeks later. At 9 weeks, although the nausea was still present, I seemed to be getting my energy back. I was able to clean the house in the evenings, and could stay awake past 8:00pm. At 10 weeks I went into my doctor’s, and after an hour stay in the waiting room I was finally seen, same routine as usual, brief history and change into robe for an ultrasound, all this only to be told that the same thing had happened again. The baby had died approximately two weeks prior (around the same time I had made the appointment), and there was no longer a heartbeat. I was scheduled for surgery for the next day. It was a blow for me, it had happened so close to the Easter holidays, a time which brought renewal and new life, and I was so sure that this time I would carry a healthy baby, so sure I had even bought maternity clothes for my already swollen and bloated belly.

I researched all night the procedure I was to have the following afternoon. The next morning I could think of nothing more then what would take part that day. I was terrified of everything. Would I feel anything, would there be pain, what would it be like falling asleep with the anaesthetic, and would I wake up?

When we reached the hospital half an hour early I was taken in right away, brought up to my room, given my gown, an over sized bathrobe, and a pair of slippers. My medical history was taken right away by the anaesthesiologist, and I was given a sedative right away to help me rest, a welcome thing since I couldn’t think of anything other than what was soon to happen, and tears once again began to flow. I began to wonder if I was doing the right thing and if maybe my baby just hadn’t formed yet and it was too early. After a brief sleep, I was awoken to be taken to the surgery room. Lights flooded the room and people surrounded me. I could see my doctor behind his mask, and he gave me a gentle pat before the anaesthesiologist put me to sleep. After only a few short breathes, everything that happened from the moment I was wheeled into surgery and awake in my room is nonexistent for me. Tests on the fetus after the d/c revealed that the cause for miscarriage was chronological, the fetus just wasn’t healthy, and that was that.

Two days after surgery my family and I left for a scheduled trip to Poland and Prague. On the flight there I started bleeding heavy, apparently normal, but I had apparently been ill informed, sought less information regarding the procedure and after effects, and not asked enough questions before hand. I had thought that the d/c would alleviate the bleeding and cramping associated with the last miscarriage. When the day after surgery I was only spotting and felt fine, I thought that all was good. By Friday night, shortly after our flight I was in a world of pain and handicapped by cramps. Aspirin became my new best friend the following days after, helping to get by the bus rides and long tours. My oldest son I suspect knew something was up, his curiosity got the best of him and he asked me one day why I was taking so much Aspirin, my answer to him was only that I was having a lot of backaches. I hated lying to him.

Now a week later my mind is so full of everything. My self esteem has never been at such a great low in my life than it is right now. I feel fat, and although I know that I was in essence just pregnant and there is a reason for the weight gain, having no baby now makes it so not worth it. As if it, the extra weight is inexcusable. While in Prague, and really all of Europe I feel as if I can’t compete with all the women that don’t seem to have that extra inch body fat to spare. I feel that somehow I have let my body down, that even though it is not my fault that I somehow can no longer carry a baby.

We have a cleaner come in once a week to clean our house and although it’s easier to just tidy throughout the week and not worry about the stress of having everything perfect, I feel as if I no longer have any control over my surroundings and my home. I see the little things that make the house look that much better, like having a shiny sink, or pristine stove top and I feel like anything I have put into the house before hand was not good enough.

I feel for my youngest who is having a hard time adjusting to school and his new life in Moscow, like as a parent I haven’t been able to help him. I stayed home the first few months after arriving in Russia with the sense that hopefully he would be adjusted to mommy being home, and of course he has, how could he not, he’s still a mommy’s boy, and I sense always will be. However he has trouble focusing in school, staying on track, and making any solid friendships being so much younger than the rest of the students in his class and those he hangs around with. His maturity just isn’t the same as those that are a year older than he. His teacher sends notes home weekly on how he did this or that wrong, and I can’t help but ask myself what I’m doing wrong as a parent and how can I help him. When he’s home, I see some of what she’s doing, and admittedly I get frustrated as well, but I also see the side of him where he is smart, and can focus on something he truly enjoys. I see the side of him that gives up on things if he feels he can’t do it, or if he’s learning something new.

I feel a distance from my husband, who wasn’t there for the appointment with the first miscarriage, and again had to work and couldn’t make it to the appointment for the news of yet another miscarriage. I am annoyed with him for leaving me at the hospital only minutes after receiving my sedative before I could get some rest. His excuse was that he just couldn’t handle being there. I wonder how I was supposed to feel knowing what I was about to go through, knowing that I couldn’t run from it, or keep my head from it. I’m angry that his job has always taken focus and priority. He changed career goals back in 2001 so that he could be home more, instead it was much of the same, tour after tour and course after course, always gone. Coming to Russia was suppose to be yet another new start, when we could be together and when he could leave work if needed to make appointment if had be. Instead he has been left to take on more work, and again we are left to deal with the aftermath of an overworked and nonexistent family member, seeing him only when his calendar allows.

Do I want to try again? After all that my husband and I have been through, after all we have endured to get to the place where we are right now, it only seems right that add another member to our family.

I left off here, not really sure what to think of the question. After almost 2 months of posing it, here I am again.

I never really did get to answer this question, although Ron and I did have a discussion a couple days before I got some interesting news. He had decided that he was done trying; we had two healthy boys that we should be happy with, and he was heartbroken and didn’t know how he could handle another loss and me I decided I wasn’t quite done trying. I was beginning to settle into the idea that these things happen, and sometimes they happened more than once, I was ready to accept that. I was determined to add a third child into our family, boy or girl. I reminded him that I came to Russia to be with him, and did not like it as much as I thought, or at least did not like the inconveniences that came with it. We were making good money and had worked hard in our relationship to make it as good as it was at the time, and we had prepared and planned to have another baby. The timing of it could not have been more perfect. He had agreed, wanting to wait three months for my body to completely heal, but agreeing on the month the doctor had suggested was OK.

All I remember was going to the doctors for my post op check up and him telling me that I had ovulated a few days ago and should be expecting my period within the next few days. A few days came and went, and after a few days past and what I thought was my period starting right on the day the doctor had thought it would start, it didn’t. It was indeed just some spotting, barely even there. I started feeling dizzy and lightheaded, much the same way I had felt when I was pregnant last. A quick test confirmed my suspicions, the spotting had been implantation bleeding and I was very early on. I was sceptical and had a right to be. I told no one, except for my best friends back home; even now I regret that decision. An early doctor’s appointment for confirmation led to high levels of HCG in my body, something that I never would have thought twice about, most people believe that high levels are a sign of twins, but something led me to Google to do my own research. The results I found were scary and unreal, twins, maybe, but mostly, not. Everything I was reading had to do with Molar Pregnancies, so complicated that one would have to be on birth control for a year after d/c and may even develop a rare form of uterine cancer that can spread if not treated on time. After two blood tests, both of which came back with high levels, and two ultrasounds, one from the Russian doctor who couldn’t read the results and one from my regular gynaecologist, it was confirmed I had a molar pregnancy. The news, after reading up so much on it the last night before did not shock me much. We had known that no matter what, this pregnancy would be more difficult having only gotten pregnant a couple weeks after the last d/c. I had thought though, the difficulty would lay with a weakened uterus and more precaution would have to be taken. I never thought after all I had been through in my healthy body that I would be facing so much more of a challenge in front of me. Ron, again away on business had missed both doctor’s appointments and of course the d/c which had to be scheduled right away due to it spreading and the complications if left untreated. He made it back to drive me home from the hospital. I can barely face my doctor anymore, having had dreams of him being some mad scientist doctor and taking my healthy babies away. I know that is not the truth, after all I completely miscarried natural the first time, and saw the ultrasounds both other times.

Tomorrow is the start and a new and difficult year long road. It is the day I start my birth control and the end of trying to conceive until next spring. I begin regular blood tests and doctors appointments, waiting outside the waiting room looking at all the healthy pregnant moms with their bellies.

And after all this I wonder if Ron will even want to try again in a year, if we’ll have our baby that we actually try for when times are as good as we’ve taken care and worked so hard to make them. If he’ll again say that we should be happy for our two boys, that he can’t handle another loss, that we’re getting too old, and that the boys were old enough to do for themselves and we could finally start doing things on our own without having to worry about them so much.

I think about all this next year can bring health wise, what if my levels don’t drop the way they should, what if the d/c was incomplete and I have to go in for a repeat, and what if not all the mole was taken out and it metastasizes and becomes cancerous.

I wonder if I will ever enjoy sex the same way again, knowing what it has brought to me.

I think about this summer and how much we have to do with the boys, but also how at the end of the summer when the boys are a couple weeks away from being back in school we should be holding our first angel in our arms, and how that time will come and how I will feel when it does.

The due dates are etched in my mind, August 12, October 21, and January 27, and the dates of forever losing them, December 23, April 1, and May 18. I have a fear of losing them for fear of forgetting the babies I will never hold, and yet were the babies I planned for and yearned for.

I fear for the feelings of guilt, anger, sadness, helplessness, and loss of faith that I hold so close to me now and wonder if it will ever stop. If the tears will ever forever leave my eyes.

Tuesday, May 26, it is my Post Op appointment with my doctor and surgeon, and for once he holds for me a small piece of good news. The pathology on the placental tissue shows no molar, it was just another stroke of bad luck, and I held in me another chronologically unhealthy baby. Instead of the year long wait, we only have to wait 2-3 months, preferably 3. Only a week after our first baby’s due date is the day that we can try again, bitter sweet to know that this will be a journey that has taken us well over a year and have yet to complete.

Many years ago when I was a young mom, living in a new place far from what I had known as home for all my life I had a padre tell me that maybe God’s plan for me was to be a mom, to stay home and take care of my family. Since that time I have lived as a military wife, going through job after job at military base after military base, volunteering when I could, and even leaving home for six months to do something different, I worked outside the home whenever I could trying to find me and the person I felt I was meant to be, to earn my own money, and to contribute to the household in some way. Now here I am 10 years after seeing that Padre, a little bit older, a lot wiser, wanting to settle down, and work from home. Help my kids with school; be there to help with homework without the stresses of the day wearing on me and the tiredness of outside work resting on my shoulders. To make sure they have healthy meals and snacks to eat at the end of the day. I have realized that maybe; just maybe this is God’s plan for me, for us. Or at least it was.

Does God’s plan change as ours do in life? I scream to him and plead to him that I am ready, ready for him to behold me another child.

Still a Woman? – Part 2

It’s like actually going through the process of having a baby. Everything is the same; waiting for the milk to dry up, waiting for hormones to go back to normal, waiting for the dizziness and fatigue to go away, and mostly waiting for my sex drive to return. It took 4 weeks for my HCG levels, otherwise known as the pregnancy hormone to those that aren’t aware to return to 0; they went from whatever they were Pre-Op (I never did want to know the numbers than. Thinking my pregnancy was Molar at that time, I thought that if I knew what the numbers were that seeing an increase in them, or just a small decrease it would scare me into thinking the unthinkable and unimaginable), to 483 one week Post-Op, to 83 the next week, and finally down to normal. I waited a week to get my “normal” results. I went in for my usual “blood donation” on the Monday, and waited the usual two days, Thursday I called the doctors as I hadn’t heard anything, and was told not to worry, the doctor would call me back with the results. Imagine that, don’t worry. At this point I’m still in “Molar Mode”, what if the pathologists made a mistake? What if the results were wrong? Friday came and went, and so did the weekend. Monday came, I called again. Eight hours later I got a call back from Daria, the assistant to my doctor and in some senses my angel. Daria was there through the last two miscarriages every step of the way. She watched me cry, and felt my pain. My HCG levels were back to “normal”, AND not only that, but we could start trying again, trying again after only 5 weeks. Trying went from one year, to three months, and now almost right away. All of a sudden things were moving too fast. I don’t know why, well I do, but I was scared.

The news wasn’t as happy as I had wanted or thought it would be. In essence it was over, there was no miracle waiting, negative numbers meant that there really wasn’t a more baby anymore. The loss of this pregnancy has hit me harder, and I am having a harder time getting over it, it’s been six weeks now, and I still feel anger and I still cry, although not as frequent. I know that I wasn’t at the time of the call, and am not now ready to try again; although that doesn’t mean that my dream is over yet, it just means that for the next few months, the initial few months will be a time for recovery, a time to get healthy, a time to spend with my family without the worries of becoming and staying pregnant.

OK men, it may be time for you to turn the page as the talk has turned to ugly “Aunt Flo” returning for her monthly visit.

I bled from my second d/c for 19 days, mostly spotting, but none the less I wore a diaper for 19 days. On day 19 I started cramping and I knew that something big was about to happen. Within a couple hours I felt a small leakage, and upon using the bathroom noticed a small clot…..after that, It was all over, 19 days of reminders of what my body was recovering from. On day 22 I started dreaded Aunt Flo. At first I thought she was going to be late, she came the second day into my pill, no real warning, I hadn’t got any major cramps, no breast tenderness, and I was no more a bitch, no more moody, and no more impatient with people’s stupidness than I have been in recent weeks. This should have been another joyous moment for one that wants to start trying for a baby again, it meant that my body was working normally again and doing what it should be doing. Instead though, having my menstrual cycle brought back memories of my first miscarriage. I don’t know why, but all of a sudden I felt like I was reliving the pain and shock of losing my baby the first time. I felt cold and angry, resentment towards everyone that had a baby, was expecting a baby, or spoke of baby. I’m left here wondering what is a normal amount of time for one to live with the grief of losing a baby? When should one expect to be back to normal? Doctor’s sometimes caution against trying for at least six months, until one has fully grieved and recovered from the loss. I’ve moved on, and

I feel normal, but I cannot forget, never. Losing apart of one’s self, something that you planned for, named, something that was a part of you can never be forgotten. Instead I plant flowers; Forget Me Nots to remember my Dumpling, my Perogee, and my newly named; it just came to me writing this, Snowflake as all that appeared on the screen was a snowstorm.
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