36 Weeks / 1 Year

17 08 2011

Jason and I have been married for one year now.  Considering that I’ve pretty much been pregnant for that entire year, that we still don’t have a baby, and I have another four weeks left of being pregnant, I think that it’s pretty damn impressive that we’re still on speaking terms.  Most of the time.

 

 





My Longest Post Ever, With Lots of Words In ALL CAPS

8 02 2011

So… My post-miscarriage mood was admittedly rather depressed and not very blog-worthy.  Added to this, I lost the charger for my camera around the same time.  With my creativity dampened and new photos difficult to obtain, I was rather uninspired to work on daily (or weekly or monthly) posts.

Then this happened:

New Year’s Eve morning, I got up to pee on a stick.  I’m getting awfully good at peeing on sticks, and this was a particularly good one, since it actually spelled out the results for me.  I kept the secret for nearly 18 hours and told Jason at midnight.  Awwww…

And the next 5 weeks were absolute hell.  It was a time of pure, unmitigated anxiety.  My thoughts, when looking at the little digital word, were “Hooray!” but quickly turned to “What if something goes wrong again?  What if I start spotting again?  Should I call the doctor?  Go to the ER?  Do I have to wait a year if I have another miscarriage?  Should I… OH MY GOD DID I JUST FEEL A CRAMP IN MY UTERUS?  WHY IS THIS HAPPENING… Oh, it went away… What if…”

We decided to go back to our hippie midwives.  Having just recently gone through early pregnancy with them, I held off on scheduling an appointment until 10 weeks, when we would have a good chance of hearing a heartbeat.  That 10 weeks would actually be this coming Monday (“Well, at least you’ll finally have a date for Valentine’s Day,” Jason pointed out, typically romantic).

Nothing ever does go according to plan.

Last week, I got a pain in one side.  It wasn’t unbearable, nor was it constant.  But it was consistent, and worrisome.  So I thought I’d just make a quick call to the doctor, maybe see her for an appointment, maybe, maybe qualify for one of those elusive early ultrasounds.  SEVENTEEN CALLS to the doctor later, as well as TWO BLOOD TESTS and FIVE DAYS LATER, I finally got an appointment – but only after my first true I’m-Pregnant-and-I’m-Psycho-Mad-Fit-of-Rage.  Really, the receptionist didn’t know what to do with me except have me come in.

Luckily, the receptionist didn’t have time to warn the doctor, or else the doctor is just very used to women pumped full of hormones, because he was very polite.  He said the word I most wanted to hear at the moment (ultrasound), which made me happy even though it was preceded by two words I’d really rather not hear ever (pelvic exam).  Jason earned the right to watch the ultrasound by first being present while another man prodded my hoo-ha.

Here is what we saw:

Well, maybe I’m pregnant or maybe I swallowed a Cinnamon Bear whole.  The doctor wasn’t entirely sure.  Okay, that was supposed to be our ultrasound picture, but I couldn’t get the scanner to work, so the CB is standing in until Jason has time to help me.  Jason was relieved, probably happy too, but his first comment on it was “I didn’t know what I was going to do if they told us you had squished another one.”  (Just so there’s no confusion, I didn’t really squish the first one, either.  I assume Jason knows that, but it’s hard to tell, really.)

Here’s the thing: I have been SO READY to be a mother.  I have spent so much of my life waiting to fulfill this calling.  And practicing.  Oh, lord, how I practiced.  Mother’s helper, babysitter, nanny, camp counselor-in-training… Years and years of experience, of chasing little kids and changing diapers and endless crying and I loved it all.  I even had eleven weeks of practice pregnancy, and only, like, 25% of women get to do that.  SO READY.

Here’s another thing: I’ve seen a lot of ultrasound pictures.  Thank you, facebook, I’ve seen dozens now, but I’d seen quite a few even before everyone posted theirs as their profile picture.  And it seemed sweet, a little snapshot of a baby growing in some woman’s womb.  Awww… But nothing more than that.

But let me tell you this: nothing, NOTHING prepared me for seeing my own baby’s heartbeat on that ultrasound machine.  NOTHING.  First, I felt relief as the shape of my little Cinnamon Bear showed up, and then I saw the flutter of the heart beating twice a second and I felt further relief because I knew my little Gummi Bear was alive and well, and then OH MY GOD THAT’S A WHOLE FUCKING PERSON RIGHT THERE.  HOLY SHIT, THAT’S SOME NEW PERSON.  And then more relief.  And then, OH MY GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?  And then joy.  And then, I’M NOT READY!!!  Et cetera, et cetera, for several hours.

So I’m humble now.  And no longer any more or less prepared to be a mother than any other mortal, whether she planned the pregnancy for twenty years or got knocked up her first time.

 

Here is a picture of my cat, because posts with lots of pictures are more interesting:

 

Also humbling: I never understood women who said they couldn’t help gaining too much weight during pregnancy.  Then, three weeks ago, my sweet little Cinnamon Bear took over my mind and made me want to vomit when I tried to eat broccoli.  Or any source of lean protein.  But the Cinnamon Bear was perfectly fine with me eating TWELVE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES A DAY… FOR A WEEK.  In case that doesn’t sound so extreme, let me point out that A) chocolate chip cookies are about 150 calories each, and B) oh, I did manage to eat some pizza each day, too.

Anyway, with all this on my mind, plus the reappearance of my lopsidedly-enlarging breasts (last heard of here), it was hard for me to blog about anything else.  And while I have no regrets about blogging through my previous pregnancy and my miscarriage, I wasn’t willing to announce this newest adventure until we had that fierce, fast, independent little heartbeat.  Which was going to be next week.  But is today instead.

Happy Heartbeat, Little Cinnamon Bear.

 

 

 

Oh, and here’s picture of the dog, so he doesn’t feel left out:





Doing It My Way

11 10 2010

So, with the threat of doctor-assisted miscarriage hanging over my uterus, I was determined to finish this pregnancy off before my appointment this afternoon through mind-over-body techniques.

This was before I read enough about the process to realize that some women experience near-painless miscarriages, others minor cramping, and some lucky ones get to have excruciating pain.

Last night, around 10pm, I discovered what category I fall into.  It was a quick phone call to Jason, who was out with friends: “Get home now.”  First phone call like that I’ve made, so he took it pretty well.

It was after midnight when I found myself walking laps around the driveway trying to ease my discomfort.

Something started scrabbling under the deck.

I thought of the three skunked dogs.  I thought of the coyotes we hear sometimes.  I thought of the dead deer (read: bait) hanging in the nearby garage.

Instead, out popped this:

Jason, upon learning of this intruder – who immediately found the deer and started tasting – stormed out of the house with a gun, ready to make kitty stew.

Then the kitten jumped into his arms.

The very hungry kitten stuck around, so we let him sleep in our house last night to avoid freezing to death.

In the morning, my cramps seemed to have subsided.  I made the very, very stupid decision to head to work.  Note to women out there: avoid driving an hour to work in the middle of a miscarriage.  I worked for a couple of hours before I realized I had to leave while I could still drive myself.

I got home and found Charlie and the kitten enjoying the sunshine together in the yard.

Did not so much care, as I was almost immediately stricken to the floor by an hour and a half of bone-shaking cramps.  I crawled and writhed around on the floor sobbing while Jason watched a movie and encouraged me to sit down and relax.

As the doctor said later that afternoon, it’s nice when the body takes care of things naturally.  Nice, she said, and traumatic.

I’m still recovering from my successful avoidance of medical procedures, and will be for at least another day.

But now I have some company while I do it (Charlie is busy “helping” with the deer processing).

Pre-Nap

Watching "The Simpsons" on Hulu

We’ll try to find an owner, but it’s a rather feral, unfixed male who was pretty hungry and has few social skills, so it seems like the kitty probably found itself a home.

Jason’s comments on cats previous to last night have been limited to threatening to kill them and relating the many Carbon-caused kitty deaths he’s witnessed.

But he’s the one that let it in the house.





The Love and Support of My Husband

10 10 2010

Yesterday, Jason returned from his vacation in the woods, and with him my sense of humor.

Jason and I are very different people, and have very different interests.  But we do have this in common: we enjoy making people uncomfortable with our outrageous and inappropriate comments.

When Jason got home, he asked if I wanted to head to the bar to watch the football game with a couple of his friends.  This is a perfect example of how we are, in many ways, essentially incompatible.  My immediate response was “No” because I wanted a quiet evening at home to (I have to admit this) knit.  And maybe read a book.

But Jason always gets his way in everything.

We headed out to the boys’ favorite bar, where Travis and Colin were already watching the game.  By “favorite bar,” I mean the bartender knows them well, and Jason and Colin have mugs on which their names are etched.

The bartender knows me by proxy, and therefore offered me water or soda – after all, I’m pregnant, right?

I ordered a beer.

The guys and I had some chuckles about this.  They suggested I order a shot.  I held out for awhile, but then Karen joined us via text (she’s out of town, but was getting game updates from her husband, Travis).  When Karen suggested a shot, I knew I had to do it.

Jason flagged the bartender, and without hesitation, she shook me up a shot of vanilla cream and vodka, which I quickly downed as the boys toasted “to the baby!”  (Travis toasted “to the next baby”)

Ah, yes, truly horrifying.

The bartender claimed she had figured I wasn’t pregnant anymore, but we all liked to think she had some doubts before we let her in on the joke.

Due to beer and vodka and pranking, I made a rare concession: I agreed to accompany Jason and Colin to a somewhat seedier bar for some late-night trucker breakfast.

Since I was already deviating from my typical veggies-and-organic cuisine, I went ahead and ordered two greasy breakfasts rather than choose just one.  Mmmmmmm… Biscuits and gravy, bacon, eggs, and pancakes, plus some of Jason’s gravy-covered hashbrowns and english muffin.  Oh, and it began with an appetizer of hot wings.

With four plates in front of me, I was reminded of a bet I have with one of Jason’s friends.  We have a standing date to meet at a famous breakfast place in their college town to have a breakfast eating contest.

“You’ve gotta get a picture of this to send to Josh!” I demanded.

Jason and Colin were game for this, and they each took cell phone pictures of me and my plates, still finishing up my pancakes.

Jason texted Josh the photo, along with this message: “This baby didn’t hang around, but if she keeps eating like this, you’re in trouble.”

Yes, an altogether inappropriate night.

It’s so good to have my husband back, and to have his support through this difficult time.

 

My first post-pregnancy beer was organic, because I still have to watch what I put in my body - for next time. Trucker breakfast was not organic, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, right?

 





Remainders

8 10 2010

So I am conclusively done with my first pregnancy.

But it’s not done with me.  My body is still processing the news.  That part takes time, and there will be more medical appointments in the coming days, and then, rudely, medical bills (anyone who has dealt with loss knows the shock of receiving those envelopes from the hospital and doctor’s office).  Tomorrow I will get my weekly email, and it will describe the twelfth week of pregnancy and what the baby would look like at this stage.

I have a small collection of baby items: a onsie, a romper, newborn pjs, a handful of books.  To my surprise, those tiny articles are not so much a reminder of what we are losing, but are simply waiting for a new little one to use.

The only gift that saddens me now is this:

This was Jason’s heartbeat present.  Long before we were married – when we had only been dating a few months, but when I knew that my future was with him – I chose this as his first baby gift.  This was picked out years ago, and purchased just a week ago, from the same store where I first spotted it.  It’s a symbol of the father I know he will be, one who will not only love his child but will take that baby on many unusual adventures, and a father who will share all he cares about with the next generation.

I was going to give this to him on Monday, the day I just knew we would finally hear the beat of the tiny heart in my womb.  An early birthday present for Jason, and a really early birthday present for our little creature.

I have the receipt, and I suppose I could return it and wait for a better time.

But I won’t.

I still remember walking into the local kayak store several years ago, when Jason and I were still new to each other.  I asked about their smallest PFD, and the guy showed me this life jacket, size 0 to 30 pounds.

I turned to my mom with relief, and said, “Well, now we can get married!”  I didn’t know if Jason wanted children, but I knew I did, and figured Jason wouldn’t object as long as he could take a baby fishing and rafting.

“Are you engaged?” asked the salesman, quite innocently.

My mom and I laughed hysterically.  “She just met him!” hooted my mom.

He thought we were crazy, I’m sure, so I got a lot of satisfaction walking back in last week to finally buy this gift for my husband and for our baby (yes, it was the same guy who rang me up).

There’s some sadness when I see it (most recently hidden beneath the bed, as hidden as it needed to be for just a few days).  But there is also hope.

It was crazy to imagine a future family with some guy I met on the internet, yes.  Maybe it’s crazy to hold on to a gift for a baby un-conceived at a time when conception isn’t even a possibility.

But I’ve always been crazy.  So I suppose this is just right.





Why People Wait to Tell and Why Maybe They Shouldn’t

7 10 2010

This is grief:

It’s a hysterical laughing-sobbing-choking sort of grief.

Soon after receiving the devastating news, I asked my mom to pull out the camera I always carry with me.

“I’m going to have to put this on my blog,” I told her.

“I know,” she said, without any surprise at my request, even though we were in the ER – hardly a place for photographs.  “I didn’t even want to go there.”

In spite of our sadness, disappointment, and shock, we had a clear realization of how ludicrous this photo shoot was.  But my mom took the photos anyway, even the one above in which I snorted and sobbed and laughed and snotted the sheets.

Just as she has photographed my belly for the last four weeks.

Just as she would have photographed my belly for the fifth time on Saturday.

Just as she photographed me posing with a fake belly.

This morning, in an eerie sort of repetition of five weeks ago exactly, I had an intense meeting at work, followed by a short break and then another intense meeting.  And during my brief bathroom break, I started spotting.

There was a significant difference between the two incidences.  I pondered the difference as I drove to the ER, and realized it came down to this: in five weeks, I had become a mother.

I know that’s a big claim for a woman whose entire experience with motherhood has been 11 and a half week of pregnancy.  But in the five weeks between episodes of spotting, my entire way of thinking had shifted.

Five weeks ago, I simply could not justify taking time off for myself, no matter how upset I was over the thought of losing a pregnancy.  Today, with much less spotting, there was simply no way I was going to keep working when my baby – my child – was at risk.  I walked into my meeting, apologized for being late, and explained that I was leaving.

I didn’t even call the midwife.

I called my mom and told her I needed to go to the ER.  I left a message for Jason, who was out of cell phone range on a hunting trip.  I drove, hoping a cop would pull me over so I could ask for a ride to the hospital.

At the ER, the doctor had no real concerns, but asked if I would like an ultrasound.  I was sure this time I wanted some clear answers.  I was not in a wait-and-see mode.  It didn’t matter that the amount of blood seemed insignificant, at just one and a half weeks shy of “safe,” I wanted to see what was happening.

In the darkened ultrasound room, with my mom nearby and Jason still entirely unaware of what was happening at home, we learned that the pregnancy was at an end.  There was no room for questioning.

It’s National Pregnancy and Infant Loss month – everything has a month nowadays, I know.  In fact, I think every month must be spoken for a dozen times over, there are so many causes out there.  Pregnancy loss, I suppose, deserves at least a day or a week.  I mentioned when I began blogging about my pregnancy that it might not have a happy ending – it hasn’t – but that it was important that women stop bearing the grief and horror of miscarriage alone.

It has been a hard day of hard phone calls.

It has been the end of many happy dreams.

It has not been harder because I shared my happiness and dreams with so many people.  And if nobody can take our pain away, at least they understand why I am so sad.  Bearing that grief alone would be no comfort right now.

I’m sorry that I have this sad, sad news to share with you all.  But please know that sharing my joy with you has made the past five weeks all the more joyful.  And also know that by reading this, you carry just the smallest weight of my grief away with you, and help make the unendurable a little closer to bearable.

Thank you for coming this far on a journey that is truly just beginning.





I Still Look Good in the Dark

18 09 2010

I’ve talked to women who took miscarriage pretty well, who said, “I knew it just wasn’t right, and that it was better to try again.”  This is a healthy take on losing an embryo in the first trimester, although it’s also common and perfectly normal to be devastated by it.  I fell into this latter category when I started bleeding in my 6th week.

Grief hit hard.  I didn’t lock myself away and give in to it, but nothing felt good or right for me during those three days when I thought the pregnancy was over.  I continued to work.  I went grocery shopping.  I walked the dog.  But everything was shadowed by sadness and disappointed, and of course, the almost painful hope that maybe everything would be okay.

In the middle of this difficult time, I made a late-night stop at the gas station.  The attendant was just a kid; he looked about 16, but maybe he was a little older.

As I got out of my car to pay, he asked, “Doing anything interesting tonight?”

“No,” I said, smiling, the secret of my mourning safe under the halogen lights.

After I paid, I came back out of the station store.  He was standing by the door, smoking a cigarette.

“So…” he continued.  “Nothing interesting at all?”

“Nope, pretty boring.”

“Oh, come on, it’s Friday night!”  He attempted to begin some friendly banter.

Finally, he broke through my cloud of self-centered thoughts: this kid was hitting on me.

My gas tank was filled a minute later, and, in spite of myself, I couldn’t help a wry smile as I drove off, imagining his horror if he knew I was old enough to be his (very young) mother.

And still hoping that I was soon to be the mother of someone else.








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