The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
But when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head and I cried.
I dreamed I held you in my arms
But when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head and I cried.
- You Are My Sunshine
* Word of Caution: In my eyes, this is more about our AngelBaby, our family, and our faith getting us through it; and though I make every attempt to be vague in graphic details, and only share the bare minimum (in order to explain the ensuing health crisis), this is a story of miscarriage, and therefore you should only continue reading if you think you can handle it *
The next step was telling the family. My Mother was visiting her family in Germany, and sadly I had to tell her over the phone that her first grandbaby was no longer with us. She was understandably upset but was astounded by the idea that I was even attempting to miscarry naturally, versus have a D&C done. To be honest, I was surprised that I had decided to go that route as well. I never believed myself to be strong enough to handle seeing the actual evidence of loss - but I felt like because it was early on, and our baby only measured six and a half weeks, that it wouldn't be too hard on my body.
I was so very wrong.
The Next Five Days
Nothing really happens. And in a way, I tell myself that maybe it's our baby trying to say how much it had wanted to stay. That in fact, it's a good thing that he/she refused to leave for long. Not only did its body stay long after it died, but even my body refused to expel it. Maybe that was supposed to be a comfort to me about the next baby - knowing that my body wouldn't let go of a "sick"/"dead" baby so easily, so why would I miscarry a healthy baby. Somehow, through prayer, meditation, and cramps, I made it through with just the lightest bit of spotting, expecting that maybe that was going to be it. That I simply wasn't far enough along to really have a lot going on down there.
Meanwhile, my husband tried to think of anything that might help distract me (hoping that the light spotting was also no indication of worse things to come). And a dream I had since I was teenager was made true by my wonderful husband. That Monday, we travel an hour and a half to a Pomeranian breeder and pick up my beautiful furbaby Anubis (read more about him here) *we had already begun researching dog breeders before we became pregnant, but decided to hold off in order to save money for the baby*
Afterwards, we went to a pet store, while I cradled this new life inside my arms. It was the best dog therapy one could ask for, and I clung to him, as he clung to me. But something felt off. My cramps felt worse, and when I went to the bathroom, I saw bright red blood. We made it home soon after, and I spent the rest of the day in bed, or in the bathroom, finally needing to take the pain medicine I had been prescribed.
First Visit to the ER
But by 2AM I was still bleeding, even heavier by now, and though I passed large clots, I really had no idea exactly what I was passing, so I finally woke up my husband and told him that I was going to the ER (because I was told that if I bleed through a maxi pad within twenty minutes - which I was - I should get checked out). He wanted to come of course, but my Mother wasn't coming back until the next day, and I needed him to stay with my brother and Father (who has a TBI and dementia), and of course our new puppy. Besides, I figured I was just being paranoid, or even not possible thinking straight from the pain - surely, I'd get sent right back home.
The ER was a fifteen minute drive away, and I soaked through my clothes. I was admitted right away, and an ultrasound was done, as well as my very first IV ever administered (I'm so scared of needles, that even my ears aren't pierced). From 2AM to 5AM I passed more clots, and finally the placenta (though at this point the ultrasound results weren't in, so I didn't know if what had just come out was in fact my baby). The ultrasound technician had forgotten to hand me the call button, so when that had passed, I didn't know what I was possibly looking at, and the machines around me started whirring as my heart raced and I yelled for help. Two nurses rushed in, and one told me to look away, while the other swooped the tissue away to "be sent to the lab for testing" (I never did see any sort of results for that testing, but maybe she thought it was the baby, too, versus just the placenta, and they didn't run any tests on the placenta?). Either way, that was the part where I broke down, not knowing if what I had just witnessed was my dead baby being carried away, or something else.
Luckily the doctor came in soon after, and explained that it was just the placenta, and according to the ultrasound, I had passed the baby at home (seeing as they had the previous ultrasound results from Thursday, where the baby was still visible). By now, I was borderline anemic, but my vitals were coming back up, and besides expecting a bit more bleeding (and some possible more clots), it was safe for me to go home. I still wonder if he simply didn't realize I still had some placenta in there - or whether he just assumed I'd pass that, too. It seems that everyone involved was hoping that the worst was over, the entire time I was miscarrying.
I called my husband, and we took both cars home. We made sure everyone was where they needed to be (Dad in adult day care, and brother at school). With my husband tucking me into bed, I slept away that horrible night, thinking that it was all finally over. That evening, I'd be back at home (after picking up Mother from the airport), and we'd start building our way to a new normal.
But I was wrong again.
Second Visit to the ER
During the day, I looked pale, and was very weak, but the bleeding had stopped. Around eight in the morning, I had a fallow up appointment that had been arranged the previous Thursday when we had first found out that our baby had died. With only three hours of sleep under my belt, after such an emotionally and physically exhausting day, I should have just canceled, but I felt it was best to be checked out once again by a doctor, or at least midwife, to make absolutely sure that it was all said and done.
They said that they would take blood at the appointment, but expected it to be low, because of the blood loss hours before - and when my veins didn't want to give up any, I swore to be back that afternoon, before I headed to the airport, so they could try again (promising to drink lots of water in the meanwhile). Then I went home, and supervised a cleanup of my Mother's house by her cleaning lady, before finally sleeping some more. Everyone from the midwife - to the nurse - to the cleaning lady believed I had survived the worst, and once my husband came home from work, I was just glad to have something to do: going to get the lab work done, and picking up Mother.
She still couldn't believe everything that had happened, and wished I had just gotten a D&C, and to be honest, by that point, I had wished it, too. I could have spared myself, my husband, and my family a lot of worry had I simply done it and gotten it over with, instead of needing to go the ER. But for now, I just wanted to go back to my own house, after having gone my entire miscarriage at my Mother's house. I wanted to be in familiar surroundings, and introduce my puppy to my cat, and snuggle with my husband, and grieve properly for our baby - not wait for him/her to pass, or be distracted by health issues.
Finally, around eight or nine we get home, and after setting up my Father in his room, we headed upstairs, plopped down in our bed, and watched a movie on the laptop. It was a decent distraction for a while, but the cramps that had escaped me since the ER visit that morning, began to come back - worse than before - and I barely made it to the bathroom. The warning was to go in, if I bleed through one maxi pad in twenty minutes: now, I was bleeding through one in five. The cramps came in waves, and I could barely breath through them. My husband tried to comfort me, but we both knew something was seriously wrong, and we headed to the ER again, arriving around eleven.
By the time we go there, I felt so faint, I could barely stand, and the cramps interrupted me from even being able to give them my name (but luckily I was still wearing my ID bracelet and they simply scanned that, while shoving me in a wheelchair). The pain was so intense, that I cried, and cried, and cried some more, while a nurse tried giving me an IV (but also trying to take an insane amount of blood from my veins for testing). He tried to tell me to breathe, and I kept apologizing for not being stronger, but he and my husband reassured me that it would all be okay. After several minutes of morphine I felt able to breathe again, but even with the pain medicine, I could still feel my stomach tightening, and cramping (though much milder by now).
One nurse had suggested to my husband that my uterus was having actual contractions, trying to expel something that had been left behind - and she was right on the money. I had been bleeding for about two hours by then, and my levels showed me to be anemic, and with no signs of stopping, I was signing waivers for a blood transfusion, when finally, the bleeding slowed down to a stop. But between the exam and another ultrasound, the staff realized that a part of my placenta had remained behind, and that a clot was forming around it now, that had grown to be around 3.7 cm in a very short time (seeing as I had been bleeding so intensely in order to expel it, the fact that I was no longer bleeding, and forming a clot around it, meant my body had stopped trying to expel it, and I was now at risk for an infection).
I blame the blood loss, but even with the doctor telling me that I needed to have the placenta removed, I was actually telling him I'd wait another day, and see if I couldn't expel it later at home. He must have known how to handle tired, in pain, exhausted women, because he simply asked me to listen to a second opinion (which I agreed to), before calling the OB surgeon. Even though I wondered if I should try to go home, I couldn't argue with two medical professionals. They had taken care of me so well, so far, and really, my judgement wasn't probably too sound (between blood loss, and morphine). So I agreed, and within minutes I was wheeled back to surgery. Finally I was going to have this D&C that I should have had from the beginning - if only I had known then, what I knew now.
I'm sure I wasn't close to death or anything, but I had never required surgery before, so if anything, I could honestly say, that at point, I had never been sicker in my life. After some pre-op intake, and prayer with my husband, I was given a sedative, and next thing I know, it's about forty/fifty minutes later, and everything is done. For the first time that evening, I didn't know where my husband was, and it turns out they sent him to a waiting room for surgery patients' family members . . . and promptly fell asleep. Bless his heart, he was just as emotionally exhausted as I was, but had to spend eight hours at work, and had not gotten to sleep any since the night before (add on top of that, his own grief for our loss, and the worry over my health). I certainly couldn't blame him, for his body wanting to give out, because mine certainly did.
We both thought I'd go home soon, but my blood pressure had dropped to 89/54, and they admitted me to the hospital overnight (again, something I had never experienced before, and just proof of how sick I really was. Everything was finally said and done, and I still required a hospital stay). But around 11:30 (just over twelve hours after arriving), I was finally discharged, and went home, with a bag of medicine: iron supplements for the anemia, something to make my uterus shrink, antibiotics to prevent infection, and some ibuprofen for pain/cramps.
In six days, I went from learning my baby had died, to being wheeled out of a hospital. And still, I prayed to God, thanking him for allowing me to see another day. Grateful that me and my husband had another chance to try again (after the doctors recommended waiting three cycles, due to "the trauma to my uterus"), because it.could.have.been.worse. I could have lost something to infection, I could have gotten sicker. Had I lived a hundred years ago, I probably would have just gotten weaker and weaker until I died, leaving my husband a widow at twenty seven.
So even though things seemed about as worse as they could be, I wanted to thank God for the opportunity of beginning a new chapter to my life. It didn't mean I was healed all the way. I still had my grieving process to face. But with all the physical health dilemmas over with, we could finally work on the emotional toll of our loss.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.
Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” - Mark 5:34 (NIV)