Friday, February 25, 2011

Mom to Baby Shay
Miscarried at 8 weeks
Redding, California

A week before Christmas, I was on the internet looking at baby names. My husband asked suspiciously, “You’re not adopting any more pets, are you?” “No,” I replied, “I think I’m pregnant.” He laughed. I was on the pill and hadn’t missed a period or experienced any signs of pregnancy, so it certainly didn’t seem likely. Despite never being pregnant before, I insisted that I ‘felt’ pregnant. Three days later I took a test and saw a positive.

On one hand, our circumstances weren’t great – my husband didn’t have a job, and my job was unpredictable and didn’t provide insurance. On the other hand, we had enough love to share with ten children, and would do everything we could to give this little baby the best start possible. I was a little scared – I knew that miscarriages happened, though not to anyone I knew – but I just couldn’t help it. I instantly fell in love with my child.

Despite our excitement, my lack of insurance made the pregnancy stressful. At week five, the first doctor I saw refused to confirm my pregnancy and even suggested I’d already had a miscarriage, despite no evidence to support this. I went home and cried, then made an appointment with a different doctor, but I couldn’t get in until my ninth week of pregnancy. When I noticed spotting and some uterine pain around week eight, my only option was the ER.

My husband and I sat in the ER for nine hours in an odd state of worried boredom. I eventually had blood and urine tests that confirmed my pregnancy, and a pelvic exam that told us my cervix was still closed. During the ultrasound – my first ever – the tech refused to talk to me, and I was too scared to ask any questions. It wasn’t until the doctor came in our room with a serious expression that we knew something was wrong. “Well, there’s a baby in there,” she told us, “but it has no heartbeat.” I made a brief attempt at holding it together, but there was just no way. I sobbed through the rest of the information, while the doctor told me I’d probably miscarry at home in the next week.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Over a week went by, and not only did I not miscarry, but I still had strong pregnancy symptoms. I knew I needed a D&C but dreaded my baby leaving my body, since I knew it was our last time together. I called at least five doctors’ offices in town, trying to get help, but no one wanted to see me without insurance. I was finally able to get an appointment at a women’s health clinic who normally did abortions, but was wonderfully supportive of me after my loss, and even agreed to do the D&C at very low cost.

I was also relieved to finally get some answers at the clinic. The ultrasound tech actually talked to me, telling me the baby had been reabsorbed, but the sac was still growing, which explained my continuing pregnancy symptoms. It also meant I managed to experience a missed miscarriage and a blighted ovum in one pregnancy. Still, the idea that my baby wouldn’t become medical waste was comforting to me; instead, she literally became a part of me forever.

The clinic only used local anesthesia for D&Cs, so I was awake and in pain, but my husband was there to hold my hand the entire time. I was in the recovery room when I got more bad news: there was some tissue remaining and I’d have to go through the procedure again. This time, the pain was excruciating. My wonderful nurse told me that my body didn’t want to let go of the pregnancy, and the idea that my body wanted to protect my baby got me through the pain. (She herself had gone through three miscarriages and a stillbirth, so I was in good hands.) Recovery was awful, too; I experienced labor-like contractions for five days, which seemed particularly unfair since I didn’t get a baby as a reward in the end.   

The physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain I’m still trying to navigate through. It’s definitely the worst thing I’ve ever experienced, and my heart breaks for the women who have to go through it over and over again. As part of the grieving process I decided to name my baby Shae. While of course we don’t know the gender I really felt like I was carrying a girl, and Shae was one of the names on that first list that seemed to fit. As of writing this, it’s been a month since we lost Shae, and although it’s not as dark as it once was I’m still wondering if it’s going to hurt this bad forever. Reading stories of women who have gone through similar situations has been such a huge help to me, reminding me I’m not strange or alone, and I really appreciate Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope giving me the opportunity to share my story with others like me.  


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