Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thank You, Martha Beck

I saw you speak at the Madison, CT Library on April 11th (my birthday - yay!) and while you were signing my copy of Expecting Adam I mentioned that that book was incredibly helpful to me during my recent miscarriage. I'd like to explain...

One morning I thought I was getting my first period since weaning my second son (he's now 16 months old). When it didn't last longer than a few hours, I called my doctor to see if this was normal. She wanted me to come in and see her colleague that afternoon (her schedule was booked), because while it was possible that what I experienced was my period, but they wanted to see me to be sure.

Well, it turns out that I had a positive pregnancy test and an ultrasound showed a gestational sac. Since my last period was in March of 2006, and the sac was so small, the doctor had no way of dating the pregnancy. She sent me for bloodwork to get a better idea of how far along I was. So that afternoon and the following Saturday I had my blood drawn to measure my progesterone and HCG levels to determine (a) how far along I was, and (b) whether the pregnancy was viable.

My next appointment was Monday. I return to the doctor's office and she tells me that not only do my progesterone levels look great and my HCG levels are increasing appropriately, but their high level are indicative of twins. Mind you, nobody in my family has had twins. Well, one second cousin once or twice removed, but that was because her sister donated two eggs that were fertilized, implanted, and took, so that doesn't count. No twins by blood on my side, and none on hubby's side, either.

My head was spinning just a little bit. I went into this whole thing thinking I had passed a chemical pregnancy and here I sat, being told that I might be having twins. TWINS. I already have two sons, and now I'm going to go from two kids to FOUR KINDS in NINE MONTHS. Holy you-know-what. I think hubby's reaction sums it up perfectly: "Oh my God."

I had another ultrasound on Monday and the sac looked larger, a good sign, but we still couldn't see a heartbeat or signs of a baby. The doctor wasn't too worried because the office's ultrasound machine was circa 1973, and it was still early in my pregnancy (I figured I must have ovulated somewhere between Christmas and New Year's Eve, making me about five weeks along at this point). She wanted to see me in another week.

Another week, another ultrasound, still no conclusive evidence either way. Lather, rinse, repeat. Did this again for a second week, and the doctor decided I needed to go to the hospital to get an ultrasound done by the Seriously High Resolution Machine. Then we could get to the bottom of this mystery. My appointment was set for Friday morning.

During this whole time, I felt very "zen." Sure I was a little freaked about the prospect of twins, but if God thought I could handle it, then how bad could it be? It might be fun - and I just knew it was boy/girl twins. My cravings were completely different from when I was pregnant with the boys. Instead of pasta, bagels, and chocolate milk, all I wanted was McDonald's cheeseburgers and lemonade. I felt horrible all day long. I was breaking out. Hey, as long as there was at least one girl in there, it was all good.

As if I wasn't feeling "zen" enough, I happened to pick up a copy of Expecting Adam from my local library that Wednesday. I started reading it before bed and, as I am wont to do, started to devour it. I understood that feeling of being connected with the Divine, because during these two weeks, I felt it. I knew with every cell of my body that there was nothing I could do to change the outcome - pregnancy, miscarriage, boy, girl, twins, whatever - because it was all written by someone other than me. And no matter how much I want to believe I do (believe me, I did lots and lots of online research about how to "sway" your pregnancy attempts to favor conceiving a girl - diet, douche, sperm bath, supplements, you name it, I probably read about it), I have absolutely no control over any of it.

And then came the day before the Big Ultrasound. I didn't start freaking out until about 4pm, and then full-on panic mode set in. In hindsight, I think it was because I knew what was going to happen the next day, and my primitive reptile brain just didn't know how to let go.

Friday, the babysitter comes and I head to the hospital. I try to stay calm and positive while I waited my turn, smiling at the very pregnant women whose appointments were before mine. I found the sounds of fetal dopplers soothing, and hoped that I'd be back soon to deliver my bundles of joy. Yeah right, come on. I knew what was going on, but I thought I'd spend just a few more minutes in Denial. Besides, I didn't want to freak out any pregnant women by having a meltdown in the waiting area.

The maternal fetal specialist and the sonographer both remembered me from when I was in to deliver my second son, which was very flattering. They're wonderful, compassionate people and I was glad to see them again. Even when M and Dr. C could clearly see that the gestational sac was empty, I was glad it was they who broke the news. Dr. C simply said, "Well, that just sucks!" And M told me she was going to get me some water. Even though on some level I knew what I was going to see, it still was a punch in the gut. I still collapsed into tears. I cried for a few minutes and then, when I felt I had sufficiently composed myself, headed for the elevator.

On my way to the elevator, I ran into the doctor I spoke to originally, who asked how everything was going. I guess I hadn't fully composed myself because I just burst into tears. Dr. D gave me a hug and sat me down to talk for a few minutes. Like M and Dr. C, she was wonderful. She lost a son at eight weeks, so I know she spoke from a place of knowledge. She reminded me that a miscarriage - even one with no fetal matter - is still a loss, and needs to be mourned like any other loss. And she also reminded me that I am fortunate that already I know I can get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby, unlike so many women with fertility issues. Some people might be offended that she would say that, but she's absolutely right.

I had a D&C the following Tuesday, and it was blessedly uneventful. Well, except that I almost fainted when they inserted my IV. You know those medical types, you have to keep them on their toes!

It's funny. When I mention that I had a miscarriage, the first reaction from most people is an apology, and sometimes pity. I don't want to seem unappreciative or ungrateful for people's concern, but I really feel that I understand why this happened. Thankfully this was not the worst thing that has ever befallen me. We weren't trying to get pregnant, and I didn't see a heartbeat before I found out that I had miscarried. And, most important, I was delivered an important lesson from the Divine that has reaffirmed my faith.

Thank you, Martha Beck. You helped me integrate that Divine lesson into my being. I can't wait to see what you help me and my Stargazer find!

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