Thursday, November 12, 2015

On miracles, Part I...

A little over a year ago, on October 13, Trevor and I went in to see our baby for the first time.  There was no heartbeat.  No fetal pole.  So much excitement, love and hope…all snuffed out in an instant.

I had found out I was pregnant on September 22, 2014.  It was unexpected.  Not because we didn’t want another baby, but because I had experienced a whole host of health problems after the D&C at the end of March 2014.  Apparently, a lot can go wrong after/because of the procedure, and I was starting believe that having more children was not in the stars for us.  In fact, I had gone to the doctor that day because my period was more than 50 days late.  At first, in early September, I was optimistic this meant I was pregnant, but three negative pregnancy tests over the course of next few weeks put a damper on that idea.  I was distraught and desperate for answers.

So, imagine my surprise when a routine test at the office suggested that I actually WAS pregnant.  I was floored. 

Still, my doctor was very guarded, and warned me not to celebrate too soon.  The results from my initial blood work weren’t promising, and there were several indicators that suggested this pregnancy wasn’t viable.  I was devastated, and couldn’t even bring myself to tell Trevor what was going on.  I have a very vivid memory of driving north on Abrams Road bawling my eyes out.  I honestly didn’t know if could emotionally survive another miscarriage.  It felt like drowning.  Like I couldn’t get enough air no matter what I did.  Nights were the worst.  I couldn’t sleep, and spent hours weeping about the babies I’d never meet on Earth.

Over the course of the next ten days, I had a lot of blood drawn and tests run.  At first, nothing looked good, and I kept waiting for my body to miscarry naturally.  Then, out of the darkness, a glimmer of light, but – being the catastrophist that I am - I refused to put any faith in it.  I just couldn’t get my hopes up, and have them dashed.  I was in survival mode.  In fact, it took my Gynecologist announcing that she was releasing me to the care of my OBGYN to even start to consider that this pregnancy might actually pan out.  Somehow, despite blood work that initially indicated that this pregnancy wasn’t meant to be, everything magically rectified itself and – ten days later – looked perfectly normal.  My Gynecologist said it was a miracle, congratulated me and asked that I send her regards to Trevor.  Only then did realize that Trevor had no idea anything was going on.  I mean, he knew I had gone to the doctor and that she was running tests.  But that I was pregnant, he had no clue. 

I ended up writing him a letter because I couldn’t figure out how to tell him in person. 

Our pregnancy confirmation appointment was scheduled for October 13th.  I finally allowed myself to relax and feel excitement.  And then…nothing.  For the second time in six months, an ultrasound failed to register a heartbeat where one was supposed to be.

I don’t remember much about that appointment except crying and feeling extremely angry.  I was so mad at myself for being stupid enough to believe this time was going to work out.  For getting Trevor excited.  I remember hating myself, my body…everything.  I remember thinking that there were now going to be two babies in Heaven that I would never get to see, hold or rock.  For some reason, my doctor wanted to redo the sonogram in a week just to make sure before ordering another D&C, which just made me even more furious.  Why?!  Why make me wait?!  It made no sense.  So what if my HCG levels were over 90,000?  I thought he was torturing me.  He did a Total Loss Panel, gave me written instructions for what to do if/when I started to miscarry naturally, and then told me he wouldn’t medically intervene for another week pending another sonogram…just in case.

Trevor took the whole “just in case” nonsense as a reason to hope.  So, I turned to Google.  And while there were instances where heartbeats appeared after the seven week mark (when, previously, only an egg sack was visible), many of the stories were much more depressing.  So I called my OBGYN’s nurse and asked her what she thought.  Being a nurse, she couldn’t say one way or another, but told me to prepare myself.  No heartbeat and no fetal pole were not good signs.  That said, she made a point of telling me about the miracles she’d witnessed after years of working in an OBGYN’s office.  Babies that weren’t supposed to live, pregnancies that weren’t supposed to be possible.  She had seen one earlier that week, and encouraged me not to lose hope.  At least not yet.

I wasn’t sold.

So, I called my regular Gynecologist and asked her what she thought.  After all, she had been involved since the pregnancy was first discovered nearly a month earlier.  She had run all those blood tests and knew my history.  She also knew that things didn’t look right with my initial bloodwork, and started telling me about molar pregnancies, blighted ovums and genetic mishaps that sometimes just happen.  I’ll never forget the way she gently explained that – while miracles do occur (she had been a practicing OB for years and had seen her fair share) – too many things weren’t adding up with this pregnancy.  “I’m so sorry,” she said.

The rest of the week was spent in a fog.

The following Monday (October 20th) my follow up ultrasound was scheduled.  I wouldn’t let Trevor go with me because I assumed my body would not miscarry naturally (it didn’t before) and another D&C would be necessary.  Knowing I would need him home with me for a few days post-surgery, I figured the most responsible thing would be for him to work up until it was scheduled.  That way he would be away from the office as little as possible.

Trevor hates to miss work.

I arrived at the appointment, sat alone on a bench and waited.  Even though I had ordered Trevor not to come, part of me secretly hoped he’d be there waiting anyway.  The office was running behind, and time seemed to be moving abnormally slowly.  Finally, Erin, the sono tech, called my name and led me back into the offices.  When my OB’s nurse, Deandra, saw me, she asked where my husband was.  I shrugged and responded with something along the lines of “what’s the point”. 

“Yes, but you shouldn’t have to go through this alone.”

I wanted to tell her that I couldn’t bear to see the light and excitement leave his eyes again.  When we lost the other baby earlier in the year, I remember that moment.  That horrible moment when Trevor realized what had happened.  He was so happy.  We had just been joking around five minutes before in the exam room, and then it was just…just over.  Our baby was gone.  Trevor has always wanted to be a dad; always wanted a bunch of children.  And even though I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to be a mother before becoming one, Banner was such an amazing blessing.  I was hooked.  I wanted to become a mother for a second time.  I wanted Banner to have a sibling.  I wanted Trevor to have the family he always dreamed of.  But my body wasn’t cooperating.  The idea of disappointing Trevor for the second time in a year - because of ME…because of my dysfunctional body – made me physically sick.  He tried to be so strong for me when we lost the little boy in March.  I never even saw him cry (although he later admitted to breaking down once when he told him mother what had happened).  Knowing that I was about to disappoint him all over again…well, it was awful.

But I said none of those things to Deandra.  Just blinked away a few tears and continued to follow Erin down the hallway.

I walked into the sonogram room, undressed from the waist down and got on the table.  The tech did her thing, and for one last fleeting moment I allowed myself to hope.  But, sadly, I saw nothing on the screen and heard nothing on the speakers but silence.  And so I started to cry.

It was happening.  It was really happening.  Again.

“Everything looks great!”


“The baby.  Good, strong heartbeat.  152 beats per minute.  Everything looks perfect.”

“Wait.  What?”  I started to sob.

“Here, let me turn on the sound.”

And suddenly that amazing whoosh, whoosh, whoosh sound filled the room.  Erin pointed out the now visible fetal pole and a rapidly beat heart.

“My baby?  My baby is alive?”

“Yep!  And measuring just over seven weeks. I’ll print out some pictures for your husband.”

Sometimes emotions can be just as jarring as gees on a rollercoaster.  Even now, as I think back to that day, I remember the jolt.  It had a noise; like a deep thump from within. Like a train stopping suddenly and reversing directions.  First you hear the squeaking of breaks.  Then the first whomp as the wheels begin to turn in a new direction.  Except, instead of a train, it was my heart.  My physical heart.  I swear it stopped beating that day, if only for a moment.

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