Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Curves Ahead...

The following post was written on January 12, 2015, between 4:05 and 4:57pm.

I acknowledge that this was written over 2 weeks ago.

I cannot, will not, and do not apologize for its tardiness. It took me a long while to want to post because, well, this is a difficult topic for me.

Now, you're probably wondering why it is titled "Curves Ahead..." Because, that's what it is... The biggest curve I've ever faced, in my entire life, up to this point...

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It's been 2015 - "The New Year" - for nearly 2 weeks.

I haven't written here or even addressed what I had hoped to become "loyal readers" in over 2 months. Well. There's a reason for that, I guess... I was waiting.

But what was I waiting for? Well, 6 days after my last blog post on November 10th, I discovered something... Something I would proceed to keep a secret for the next 6 weeks. Make no mistake, I was excited about this discovery, but still, I kept it a secret from 99% of all the people in my life.

So what could be such a big discovery, and why would I need to keep it a secret? Well, my life, my husband's life, and the lives of those closest to us changed - what we happily thought would be forever - on Sunday, November 16th.

I woke up early, and knew I was "late" - about 10 days late, to be exact. This was not always an uncommon occurrence, yet I searched for the last pregnancy test I had in my medicine cabinet. My thought was - I'll just make sure I'm not pregnant, so I thought nothing of the result as I placed the cap on and laid it on the ledge of the tub. Lo and behold. Three minutes later, there were, indeed, two pink lines.

After hyperventilating and nearly passing out in my bathroom, I prepared myself to tell Frank. We were both over the moon. We shared our news with our parents that day, and I made an urgent appointment with my doctor for Monday afternoon.

Why the urgency to see the doctor? I have a condition called PCOS (poly-cystic ovary syndrome). Which meant the pregnancy could be ectopic (basically, not in my uterus and not a viable pregnancy). It also meant that we were told we could have trouble conceiving naturally. I felt an intense sense of pride knowing we might have done it on our own! After the longest week of our lives, lots of blood draws, and 3 ultrasounds, I found out this was a viable, intrauterine pregnancy on November 21st. Yes! There was an actual baby growing inside me!

On Thanksgiving we shared the news with Frank's sister, her husband, and his aunt. The next day we shared the news with my sister and her husband. Everyone was thrilled, as I had hoped they would be.

On Wednesday December 3rd I would see the doctor again, and have another ultra sound. I saw my little raspberry-sized baby, and watched the quick heartbeat flicker on the screen - however, due to a mistake in the machine supplied in the exam room, I wasn't able to hear the heartbeat. I was told I was 8 weeks 3 days pregnant, and given a due date of July 12th. How fitting, as it was Grandma Lu's birthday. I got a printed picture of Baby Sal, and couldn't wait to get home to show Frank.

The previous 2 weeks, and the 2 weeks that followed were not easy on me. I was nauseated constantly, especially in the evening, around dinner time. My loving husband understood my constant need to be eating something. He never once complained when I didn't have it in me to even look at the food he wanted to eat. I lived mostly on cereal, cream of wheat, soup, and grilled cheese. Then, suddenly, out of no where, around December 20th, I was suddenly able to eat almost anything. I thought, Oh! Thank heavens! This must be the end of morning sickness!

We had planned to tell our respective families on December 24/25. I had made adorable little "count-down" gifts for each set of grandparents, and while our parents knew, we would have them open the gifts in front of our families as a way to announce the news to everyone. Of course, our families were overjoyed, just as we had hoped they would be.

I began scheming cute ways to tell my best friends. Designing fun images to text to them, and preparing myself for the squealing I was sure I would hear when they called me to confirm the news.

I went through the week of New Year's Eve/Day with ease. I didn't have a large appetite, but I also didn't have any nausea. I was looking forward to Friday January 2nd,  I had an appointment for an NT Ultrasound. This is the scan they preform to distinguish any possibility of chromosomal defects in the baby. I was confident the scan would be clear, since I am young and mostly healthy (aside from my weight).

I never could have anticipated the news I would receive. As the technician placed the wand to my belly, I instantly knew something was wrong. The baby didn't look the right size, and there was no flicker of a heart beat. She measured, and measured again, and again, and again, and again. She removed the wand and heaved a heavy sigh. She let me know the baby was only measuring about 9.5 weeks, and there was no indication of heart activity. She asked again how far along I should be. I said 13 weeks on Sunday. She let me know she needed to consult with the doctor that was on duty in the department. I was left alone, in a freezing cold room. I stared at the clock, it seemed as though the second hand was moving backward. I tried my best to hold it together. It was, perhaps, the longest 10 minutes of my life.

When Dr. Crites arrived, I knew the worst had been realized. There was no more baby.

She was very gentle. Held my arm compassionately, and explained the baby had passed away.

She let me know I could go home and wait for my body to take care of things on its own, or I could schedule a procedure called a D&C. I was petrified of what would happen if I just let it happen naturally, so I made it abundantly clear I wanted the procedure as soon as possible. I was able to schedule one for Monday December 5th. I'd had an appointment for January 8th that I needed to cancel. It was at this appointment I had hoped to finally hear the heartbeat...

I quickly cleaned myself off, asked where the nearest restroom was, and moved through the motions like a zombie. I kept my composure until I was in the safe-haven of my car. After all, I was alone. I had told Frank he didn't need to come with me, as he couldn't come into the room, and the scan could take over 45 minutes.

He was my first phone call, and my next 6. He was still sleeping. I tried desperately to reach him, but with no success. I finally called my mom. I cried and cried with her on the phone. I finally pulled it together to drive home. I called Frank another 17 times, with no answer. I sped home at nearly 100 mph up 101. I just needed to get home. I needed someone. I needed my husband.

When I arrived home, I gently went into our bedroom to find him snoring. I asked him to wake up. As he rolled over and looked at me, it was clear he knew something was wrong. I told him there was no more baby. He grabbed me and held me for a long time while I sobbed into his chest.

We both pulled ourselves together enough to have a small conversation about the situation. He called his mother, and I called my best friend to cancel our afternoon plans. I was so devastated I couldn't think or see straight. I spent the next few hours in agony. Retreating inside my head, trying to think of a way to manage the grief.

Then I realized, the only way I know to handle grief is with distraction. I did the dishes and called my best friend and asked her to take me shopping. Naturally, she obliged. Later, I would have another supportive outing with Janet, my Mother-in-law.

Frank continued to retreat into his brain to process everything, and I would continue to reach out to others for support. Constantly texting my mom, my best friend, Frank's Godmother. Frank was always by my side while I was at home, and frequently squeezed my hand reassuringly, laid his arm over me as we slept, and did the only thing he knew he could, protect me from myself.

What I had been waiting for, waiting to share with you, with the world, was no more.

Saturday morning, January 3rd, we discussed our plans for the day. We decided to just lay in bed together until it was time to get ready to go. We binge-watched Californication, and laughed together at all the right parts. We were going to his parents house for dinner, and we would get up and force ourselves to get ready around 1:30pm.

At around 9:15am I began having some minimal cramping, but Dr. Crites had been very clear: I only needed to contact the advice nurse or visit the ER if I had heavy bleeding along with the cramping. So I simply tried to ride out the pain with Frank by my side.

-- WARNING: This is a bit graphic --

Apparently, my body had other plans. I felt an odd gushing sensation around 12:15pm. I  got up to run to the bathroom, expecting to find blood on the bed sheets, but there was just a clear fluid. By the time I reached my bathroom, there was blood everywhere. Frank was immediately at the door, asking what he could do. I just wanted to talk to Momma Lynn. So he dialed her number and handed me the phone. The general consensus was that I needed to go to the hospital immediately.

Armed with a towel in my pants - I was bleeding through a pad in under 60 seconds - and my traumatized husband, we set off for the ER at Kaiser Santa Clara. Momma Lynn and Janet would meet us there.

Standing was proving to be a challenge, so I asked Frank to go in and tell them the situation. When he arrived at the car with the wheel chair, he let me know there was no one waiting, and they would get me into triage immediately. I had a fainting spell shortly after the IV was inserted, and knew my blood pressure must be low, as well as my blood sugar. The last thing I'd had to eat was a hamburger at 7pm the night before. Of course I was so concerned about Frank, I never stopped to really think about what was happening to me.

As soon as I was brought into a room, I would learn my blood pressure was alarmingly low - 62/28. The nurse immediately hung fluid and helped clean my legs - they were covered in blood, as I couldn't clean up by myself before coming to the hospital.

When the resident doctor came in, he explained an ultrasound and an exam would need to be done to see the progress of the miscarriage, and then they would notify the OB on-call. After the exam - which was terrible -  I learned I was bleeding a lot, but not into my belly, which was originally a concern. Next, the OB came in, followed by the attending. They were both exceptionally understanding, and didn't make me repeat the experience over and over again. I asked again for some pain medication. My blood pressure was finally high enough, so I was granted some morphine.

The OB did another exam, and explained I had 2 options. I could have some medication to manage the bleeding, and another medicine to keep my uterus contracting, go home, and let my body take its course. Or they could perform the D&C in the room and I could go home that evening. Yes, how about option 2, thank you very much. I had never wanted to do this "natural" option to begin with. But there I was, hooked up to an IV and bleeding much more than anyone ever thought.

The nurses and 2 OB's swarmed the room to get me ready. Everyone was incredible, gentle, patient, sympathetic, and diligent. Sedated with fentanyl, fitted with oxygen and a heart monitor, the procedure took just under 30 minutes.

Momma Lynn, Frank, and Janet were all allowed back in the room after I was cleaned up and I spent the next 2 hours coming out of the conscious sedation offered by the fentanyl. My nurse, Kim, stayed with me for most of the time. While Frank went to the pharmacy to get my prescription antibiotics and square away the bill with registration, Kim talked to me and helped me feel as much at ease as possible.

After a shaky start - I wasn't able to stand for longer than 5 minutes with out feeling dizzy and tired - I was able to dress myself and use the bathroom on my own. Kim helped me clean up before putting on my pants, and I got to wash my hands. I knew my blood sugar was also low,  which was the main cause for the dizziness, I was allowed to eat some jell-o and crackers, and drink some apple juice.

At about 6:15pm, I walked over to the wheel chair by myself and sat down, proof that I was ready to go home. Kim said her goodbye's and offered her sincerest apology. Frank wheeled me out of the hospital. Man, I just wanted to go home and sleep.

Just 2 days prior I'd had a dream that Baby Sal was a black-haired, brown-eyed tiny boy. I was certain the next time I left the hospital in a wheel chair, Baby Sal would be in my arms.

The last 10 days have been an intense roller coaster. The kind I so desperately want to disembark. But this is my life, our life. So I ride it out. Leaning on my family, my husband, my friends, for support. I've reached out to several women I know that have experienced the devastation of a miscarriage. I can't always fathom why women keep these types of experiences a secret. But in the past 10 days I've learned many of the women in my life have experienced this same loss.

I'm an open person, so keeping this locked inside my heart is impossible for me. Speaking matter-of-factly about the experience and situation has helped me in many ways. In addition to finding others to help support me, I've learned a lot about myself, and my grief process.

In the wise words of a very strong and awesome woman "You will never think of this and not feel sad. You will just get better at managing that sadness."

I don't believe "time heals all" - I am always sad when I think about Grandma Lu and Papa Jim, my best friend Dave, Uncle Art, and all the others that I've lost along the way, including the very first Baby Sal.

But just like all the other times, I'm managing, and getting better at it with each and every passing day. This isn't something I want to "get over". It's simply something that we will "move around". It will always be present in our lives, and I will always grieve for the first baby I loved but never got to meet.

They say God only gives you what He believes you can handle. Well, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't mad about this, angry with Him for dealing me this bullshit hand. I've known for most of my life that I should be, needed to be, a mother. And while I know we're young, I still think this is complete shit, and I know I will be angry for a long time. But Someone, Somewhere, has a plan. I hope His plan doesn't include any more strife for at least the next 12 months. I feel like I need, like I deserve, something good.

I want to thank everyone for reaching out, for offering support, and guidance. I couldn't have managed this ordeal with out our families, Momma Lynn, Janet, my best friend Laura, my cousin Susan, my co-worker Shannon. And a very, very special thank you to Doctors Lau, Sullivan, and Obenauf, nurses Tracy, Francis, Michelle, and Kim at Kaiser Santa Clara. Those women deserve a medal for being so amazing to me during my brief stay.

And to all the women reading this who have experienced the same trauma, I'm sorry. I grieve with you. And I understand that words don't take anything away. But just as someone promised me,  I promise you, you'll learn to manage.

I will close this, what is probably the longest blog post I will ever create, by notifying you of one more thing: I'm not writing this for you, your sympathy, your empathy, your attention, or any feeling from you at all, really. This post is for me. This post, this story, is a part of my grieving process. I know it's a difficult read. If you made it through to the end, Thank You. But I don't want you to feel obligated to reach out to me, to comfort me, to say anything at all. You don't need to contact me. Just offer up a little prayer, send a good vibe, smile to yourself when you finish. Because when I do finally get to leave the hospital in a wheel chair, holding a Baby Sal in my arms, I want that baby to only know a world of smiles, and good vibes, prayers, and tiny wishes. Because that's what that baby will deserve. And I can't wait to share that story with you.

Absolutely.

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