One in Four

12 09 2010

25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

This is a truly frightening statistic for a newly pregnant woman, particular an older (well, over thirty) woman who is counting her years left of probable fertility.  If you are generally a bundle of anxieties and superstitions, the fear is all the more intense.  Of course, I fit into all these categories.

Still, there’s no preparing for potential tragedy.

Three days after our first midwife appointment, I began a high-stakes day at work.  I had a meeting scheduled that involved lawyers from the state level, mediation agreements, tens of thousands of dollars worth of services on the table, and one very, very emotional “client.”  In addition, I would be running this meeting, and it would be the first time I worked with the Director.  So, witnessing my ability to chair a critical conference would be three different supervisors and several “peers” who have way more experience than I and therefore aren’t really peers but just more supervisors.

The two hour pre-meeting went fine, and we had a 10 minute break before the angry client arrived.

I went back to my office to use my bathroom.  And when I stood, I saw the water in the toilet bowl had turned red.

There’s no describing the instant horror; there was no moment of hesitation or confusion before devastation kicked in.  The body has a visceral reaction to blood, and even at just 6 and a half weeks pregnant, I think maternal hormones intensify that feeling.

While the feeling of dread was instant and unambiguous, I was lost as to what to do.  Hysteria had already closed off my throat and breathing was a struggle.

7 minutes until our meeting.

With no other options presenting themselves, I decided to go straight to my boss (my most immediate supervisor of the many there that day) and tell the truth – never mind that I was waiting until a strategic moment to tell her that I was pregnant, if I was no longer pregnant, timing didn’t matter.  I couldn’t concoct an alternative excuse for my present emotional state.

I took her into her office, gasping with huge, un-grown-up-like sobs.

She took it well.

“What do you need?  You need to call the doctor?  Your husband?  You need to go the hospital?  Do we need to transport you?”

But there were far more practical issues to handle.

“I need a pad.”  (This said with snotty, ragged breaths, not at all with any sort of pragmatic calmness.)

I stood in her office, crying and shaking, and watched through the window as she talked to the office manager, the custodian, my various coworkers, and, of course, the Director.  I had no idea what she was telling them, but they were tearing apart the health office.

She returned a few minutes later with a 4-inch stack of gauze.

“I’m sorry.  We don’t have anything else, but our office manager is on her way to the store now.”

I took the gauze and headed back to my office, with a promise to return just a little late to our meeting.

I spent a minute on the phone with my midwife, who had very little comfort for me.

I walked carefully into the meeting and sat down in an awkward manner, trying not to shift wads of gauze, and started the highly sensitive conference.

A few minutes later, the office manager poked her head into the doorway and discreetly indicated a plastic bag in her hand.

I left without excusing myself, but returned quickly.

What do you do when world drops a bucket of ice water on your heart?  How do keep going when “it happens all the time” means it’s happening to you?  When you know people will say “it’s better that it happened now instead of later on, you can try again, at least you weren’t too attached”?

I guess you just keep going and try not to hope for a different outcome.

The next three days were hope-and-despair-and-hope-and-despair, so that I was almost wishing the pregnancy would come to a definitive end just to end the up and down.

I didn’t bleed much that first day after the meeting.  Not at all the next morning, but then some in the afternoon.  Same the next day.

And then none.  And no cramping.  And then another day of no bleeding or cramping, then another.  Then a week, and I started to trust this little embryo again.  I started to believe in the pregnancy again, but with the demeanor of a dog that’s been badly beaten then given a bone: a fearful, anxious sort of belief in the okay-ness of the world.

A week later, I asked my mom to take the first of my weekly tummy pictures.  I swallowed the panic of superstition, because I want to celebrate the potential for life rather than the potential for loss.

Statistically, I might still be one out of four women.  Until the 13th week of pregnancy, those numbers hold true.  At 13 weeks, the chance of miscarriage drops to almost nothing.  5 weeks to go, and then new anxieties and concerns and waiting will no doubt take the place of holding my breath for 13.

The fact is that in choosing to become a mother, I am choosing to constantly worry about one thing or another (sending a toddler to preschool? allowing a 10-year-old to walk to school? giving a 16-year-old car keys? prom night? college?  I’ll never sleep through the night again…).  So the worry will never go away.  There’s no stage of this process where you think “Oh, now nothing can go wrong.”

So I guess I need to just live in the moment.  And, at this moment, I am pregnant.

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2 responses

12 09 2010
Jainey

Yay you!! Great post! It will all work out. 🙂 and if anyone ever actually says those things to you (again?!) smack them hard and say it was from me. 🙂

14 09 2010
Karen

Crazy, crazy day. I’m sorry you had to go through that! Nice pic! The pictures must not all come through when I get my e-mail updates. Seriously 8 weeks already? You’re almost there.

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