Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The One That Flew Away

I’ve thought long and hard about this one.  I didn’t quite know how to approach it as it’s quite a personal experience and can be very different for everyone.  I worried about upsetting those who didn’t react the way I did and quite possibly offending others with my attitude.  I’m talking about miscarriage.  In particular, “my” miscarriage and by “owning it”, I’m hoping I will not be judged or criticized for my feelings.  I wrote a couple of different accounts of my experience.  This is my third.  The one I am going to share with you.  I’m still not sure how to go about it.  Do people want a medical account, a personal account, a partner’s account, or should I combine all three?  The one thing that did strike me was how differently people are affected by it.  My husband reacted very differently to me.  Some might be of the opinion that our reactions should have been reversed.  You see, my husband grieved.  I did not.  I had a miscarriage, it physically happened to me, so naturally I was affected by it.  I was very disappointed by our loss but I didn’t grieve.  I accepted that it just wasn’t the right time for us.
I have the utmost respect for Mother Nature and truly believe that all things happen for a reason.   I know this is how I was able to make my peace with my body’s loss.   
My husband surprised me with a very uncharacteristic statement after I had given birth to our first child.  He told me he hates pregnancy and cannot rest until both of us are safely delivered of each other.  Having had a very happy and healthy pregnancy followed by a normal and straightforward birth, as far as I was concerned, he was worrying and stressing unnecessarily.  I didn’t understand how he felt until I was expecting our second son.  And our third and fourth.  I spent the first trimester of each of those pregnancies on knicker watch, not expecting to find, but waiting nonetheless, for spotting.  Those little drops of blood that can signify all is not well in uturo.  Our first son was 10 months old when I discovered I was pregnant for the second time. 
On New Year's Eve I came belting down the stairs waving a freshly pee’d on stick at Mister Husband who was lying on the couch.  He leapt up, hugged me and kissed me and Only Child Screecher Creature looked on at the two nutters like we had lost it!  So on New Year's Eve five years ago, we discovered I was about 5 weeks nearer to birthin'.
Life went on and a month later I attended my GP for a routine check up. There was a locum attending and I found him to be quite unfriendly.  He made me feel silly coming in for a check up when I was only 10 weeks and hadn’t had a scan yet.  I told him I was just following my usual doctor’s instructions.
That evening I noticed some period like discomfort which I thought was odd but soon forgot about it as Mister Husband was heading off to a class.  Later on there was some blood and I knew by the colour what was more than likely happening.  
When Mister Husband came home, I waited until we were in bed before I mentioned it to him.  We were both very calm and matter of fact, both of us in our own way, accepting the inevitable even though there was no pain or anything like that.  Because I was lying down, the bleeding stopped over night but once I was up and about the following morning, it began again so I rang the GP.  I was dreading getting the locum but I was put straight through to the nurse and I explained what was happening. She said it sounded like a miscarriage or it could be a threatened miss.  Her advice to me was to go and lie down, take it easy to see if the bleeding would stop.  It never occurred to me to ask her what could I expect to happen if it was indeed a miscarriage.  Unfortunately I was to find out.  Mister Husband came home from work to mind our son and I took to my bed.  I managed to snooze on and off, the bleeding was getting slightly heavier but still no cramping.
At about 5pm that afternoon cramping started and I needed to get to the bathroom pretty quickly.  There followed a long and very uncomfortable 50 minutes where I passed an enormous and frightening volume of blood.  It was impossible to deny what was happening to my body.  The cramping was slightly stronger now and when I was able to, I got my phone and rang my GP.  The nurse had left for the weekend and I was advised to ring the hospital.  They asked me was I sure I was having a miscarriage.  I told them I had lost a lot of blood and passed several large clots.  Convinced, they told me to come straight away and be prepared to stay overnight. That stopped me in my tracks.  For the first time, I felt panicked.  “But I’ve got a baby.”  I blurted out. “And I’m breastfeeding.”  It was quickly established, by them, that my baby was almost a year old and all of a sudden their concern changed back to brisk business as usual.  How were they to know that I had never been apart from my boy and was fretting over it?  I hung up the phone and had a little cry out of sheer panic.  How on earth was I going to leave him overnight and for the first time ever!!  I think it was a delayed reaction to what was happening with my body. 
I was freaking out over his bath time/bedtime/defrosting expressed breast milk from the freezer, anything other than the task at hand.  Mister Husband had taken him for a walk so I rang him and quickly filled him in.  He engulfed me in a brief hug as soon as he came in the door.  I started to fling overnight stuff into a bag, still visiting the loo frequently.  By the time I was ready and had our son’s night clothes packed to bring with us so Mister Husband could get him ready for bed in the hospital, it took well over an hour to arrive at our destination. 
I didn’t think it was possible to loose any more blood, in fact, I thought the worst was over and the flow would have slowed down but I was wrong.  Maybe it was due to the fact that I was sitting down but it started up again and despite the provisions I had made for it, I was soaked within minutes. 
I had to get out of the car with what the medical profession called “pregnancy product” coming out of the leg of my trousers.  I walked like John Wayne in a Western, with blood everywhere, squelching out of my shoes and trailing behind me on the floor.  I stood there with everyone in A&E looking at the sorry state of me as I was told I would have to go to gynae upstairs.  I pointed out that I was bleeding heavily and was making a mess on their floor.
Someone found a wheelchair for me then and I was turbo speeded up to gynae where everything was cut off me, bagged and binned.  Nothing was salvageable.  A quick scan confirmed that the sac was empty and I was in the throes of a dramatic miscarriage!!   A doctor asked me if I had “saved any product from home.”  Surgery was mentioned in the event that the bleeding didn’t stop and a form was produced.  I didn’t get a chance to read it, instead I was shown where they had X’d the spot I was to sign.  A couple of lines above that there was some wording to the tune of “anything retained from surgery was to be property of the hospital and the lab.”  It was all very disconcerting but I knew that my pregnancy was over and signed the form.  A drip was magiced up from somewhere, a couple of bags of blood were on standby due to the amount of blood I had lost and I was given a nice jab in the bum to stem the bleeding.  I then had what was very similar to a mini smear.  All the while Mister Husband was told to stay outside in the corridor.  He had no idea what was happening to me.  All I had left behind in the car was a sodden seat and the last he saw of me was my back as they ran with me to gynae. 
Finally I was brought to a ward where I was re-united with a very scared and upset Mister Husband and our lovey, lovely boy.
I was still operating on auto pilot and as it was getting late, I asked Mister Husband to get our son into his night clothes.  We had been at the hospital for a while, he was tired and they were probably going to have to go home soon.   Things started to go blurry suddenly and everything started to sound like it was very, very far away.  I began to shake.  I could feel myself loosing all sense of what was going on, a very weird sensation.  I could hear Mister Husband calling me from afar.  I saw him grab our half naked son and run for a nurse.  Through my eyes this was all happening in slow motion.  The nurse got me to lie down which was easy as I was halfway there already. My blood pressure had dropped dramatically.  A couple of doctors came in to check my "bandages" and as the bleeding wasn't stopping they decided there and then that surgery was the only way to go.  So I was prepped for a visit to theatre for 10pm to have a D&C. 
I remember someone rousing me and when I opened my eyes a nurse was wiping a tear from my cheek.  I had no idea I was crying.  She told me everything went well and I would be brought back to the ward shortly.   I fell into a deep sleep despite the drip inserted in the back of my hand.    
I was in the car and on my way home by 11.30 the following morning.  The entire thing over and done with in less than 24 hours.  How fragile human life is.     
More than one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage for any number of reasons.  It is never anyone’s fault.  Although for some people, this is a mere platitude.  Some women grieve for long periods of time, often finding it difficult or impossible to even contemplate conceiving again.  And when they do, guilt wracks them.  For some odd reason, I scoured the Pregnancy Loss board on a parenting site I frequent.  I never felt like I identified with anyone there but I felt drawn to it nonetheless.  Once, Mister Husband asked me to stop talking about it.  He found it too upsetting.  And I think he addressed the problem head on with that statement.  Oftentimes the support out there is for the woman and the woman alone.  The men, the fathers to be, are brushed to one side and as in the case of my husband, they can feel the loss all too keenly.  This was driven home too in the hospital.  The nurse that was on the night shift came in to see me before she finished up and went home the following morning.  Mister Husband and Only Child Screecher Creature were there to take me home.  The nurse commented on how much better I looked after “my ordeal” the night before and reminded me that I had been in a bad way.  Nobody said anything to Mister Husband.   It was as if he hadn’t been a part of it.  When I became pregnant again, for the third time but with our second son, he couldn’t relax until the pregnancy was well under way.  He has spoken off and on about the miscarriage and once, when I was trying to figure out how old an acquaintance’s child was, he knew straight away.  Because, he said, their boy was born around the same time our miscarried baby would have been.  It was then I realised how much he had been affected by it.  I had all but put it out of my mind.  Of course, I was affected by it because it happened to me, but I had very much gotten on with my life and the pregnancy that happened three months later.  If I were to sit down and do the sums on my fingers, I would have that lost date of birth as well, but Mister Husband doesn’t have to think about it.            
People are funny and life is funnier.  Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason for the events that take place.  For me, I literally picked myself up, dusted myself down and got on with things.  I was back in the office on Monday.  But that’s me.  I still feel today that because I had an early miscarriage, I was able to cope with it.  I know for an absolute fact that had I been for a scan, saw the heartbeat and then for the miscarriage to happen, it would have been a very different experience for me.  A couple of people said I was lucky to have a child already as that softened the loss.  Maybe so.  But naturally enough, as it wasn’t my first pregnancy, I cannot possibly comment on how I might have reacted if that were not the case.  I’m not one bit religious, I prefer to think of myself as spiritual, but for me, it just meant waiting an extra couple of months before Screecher Creature No. 2 came into our lives.  Maybe, but absolutely in this case, some things are worth waiting for.

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