Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Am the Face ::trigger warning::

I haven't written here in awhile... a LONG while in fact.  After Lily was born I was convinced that I could do it all.  I could be a good mom, a good employee, a good wife, a good friend AND a good blogger.  I mean, so many other's did it!  After J went back to school when Turtle was 6 months old, I soon realized that something had to go, otherwise it would be my sanity that left.  Honestly, it was well on its way out the door.  Thankfully, with the help of my mom and my bestie I was able to retrieve it.  My house is a disaster and this blog is all but forgotten, but my life is fulfilled. 

So why am I writing here today?  This has always been a sacred place for me.  A place to explore feelings.  A virtual therapist's couch even.  It's also a place to record important experiences and possibly even make a difference in someone's life.  I've always tried to be real and honest.  I've talked about my Bi-Polar disorder, my struggles over Turtle's birth and our short lived breastfeeding experience, among many other topics.  Today I am here to be real and honest about a subject we don't often talk about.  

This time last year I had no idea I was pregnant, and it would be another 2 weeks before we found out.  Obviously, you haven't seen any pictures of a new baby, so you know where this story is going, but I have yet to write it down.  Today, October 15th, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day seems like the best time to finally do just that.

Just over two years ago, we found out we were pregnant.  In typical Mama Turtle fashion I freaked the eff out.  Going from having baby fever to "what have we done" in the few seconds it took that second pink line to show up.  Also in typical fashion J was completely calm.  Yes, life was crazy, I was living my dream job and giving way over 40 hours a week to it, but that was ok!  We could do this.  I quickly became came extremely excited.  A couple weeks later we saw a heartbeat on the ultrasound, and we started making plans.  What room would the baby have?  Would Turtle move before then?  We gave away all of our gear!  What would we need?  I spend most of my pregnancy with Turtle convinced something bad would happen. Having done this before I had a much more calm and optimistic outlook on the whole thing.  Well, as calm and optimistic as I get.

A few weeks later, at about 10 weeks pregnant, while at work I started to bleed.  It was a Friday afternoon so I called the doctor's office immediately.  They listened to my description and assured me that it was common and didn't sound like anything to be worried about.  They told me if this, that or the other started happening to call them back.  Cool and optimistic Mama Turtle vanished in that instant, though.  As the weekend progressed I started to see the signs they had mentioned.  I didn't call back because I knew if I were miscarrying there was nothing they could do about it.  We had a big event planned at work, so I did my best to put on my party shoes, a happy face, and keep plugging on.

That Monday morning though, I finally called the doctor.  I told them they had to get me in and someone had to tell me something, or I was going to lose my mind.  They were able to get me in that afternoon and it was one of the longest days of my life.  J had been assuring me that everything was most likely fine, and I was hoping he was right, so I didn't insist that he go with me to the doctor's office.  That was a mistake, but hindsight is 20/20.  

One of the things I'll be forever thankful for is that the ultrasound tech told me right away.  If I'd had to wait for the doctor to break the news there's a good chance I would have had a stroke while waiting.  They put me in a room and the OB came in to tell me what they wanted to do next.  I could barely concentrate, and I remember very little of what she said.  They wanted to do surgery.  I consented and they scheduled it for the next morning.  

I'm not sure how I got to my car, but I sat there for probably an hour.  I called my mom and texted my best friend. Then I messaged the only person I was close to and knew had been through this situation.  My supervisor at work knew what was going on so I texted her to say I would be going dark for a few days.  I texted my day care provider and 3rd grandma to Turtle to say I would be a little late picking her up.  And then I just sat there and wailed.  I remember thinking it was appropriate that it was dark and raining so bad I couldn't even see out of the windshield.  My life changed that day.  I changed that day.  J was at school that night, and I will be forever grateful for our day care provider who let me and Turtle hang out at her house for a while until I was confident I could care for Turtle on my own.

I took a whole 48 hours off of work, and honestly if my mom hadn't been here and insisted I take that much, I probably would have been back earlier.  I just couldn't think about it.  I ran a thousand miles an hour for at least a few weeks.  I hadn't told everyone we were pregnant, but I had told a few people.  I couldn't bring myself to say the words, "we lost the baby" so I pawned the task off on other people.  Beyond the difficulty of saying the words, there was the horrible look that washed over peoples' faces when they heard the news.  A look of sadness, and pity, and panic.  They didn't know what to do, and I felt the need to assure them I/we were ok.  But *I* wasn't ok.  J was wonderful and supported me the best he could, but he hadn't created a bond with the baby yet, so he wasn't experiencing the same thing I was.

I will admit, in those early days, I felt like I didn't have a right to grieve.  Our miscarriage was so early.  Our pain could not compare to those who suffered later miscarriages, still births or the loss of an infant.  J assured me I was allowed to feel however I felt, and to grieve as much or as little as I wanted, but it took a long time to absorb that myself.

As the weeks turned into months I found myself crying more instead of less, but that was a good thing.  As the pain began to dull, I found myself able to break the loss into smaller pieces, pieces that I could process.  I no longer felt like the darkness of the loss would overtake me.  I began posting about it on social media and was overwhelmed by the number of people I knew who had gone through this.  Why did I not know this about these people?  Why was it something we only shared once someone else had been inducted into this tragic order?  

There's an understanding in my culture at least (white middle class) that you should wait until after the first trimester to announce your pregnancy, at least to the majority of people.  This becomes a double edged sword, though.  Yes, this saved me from having to announce on Facebook that we'd experienced a loss, but it also meant that I grieved alone.  It meant I had fewer people to reach out to that weekend when I was unsure what was going to happen.  Do I plan to bombard every pregnant woman I meet with my tale of miscarriage?  Absolutely not!  But I do plan to be open and honest and to talk about it enough, that if someone I'm close to goes through it, they know I've walked that path.  Even if all they do is read my tale and know they are not alone.  

One of my life's guiding principles can be summed up in Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote, "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."  I know I'm not the first to walk this path, but I do hope to leave a trail... a trail of hope and survival.  

I am the face of early miscarriage. I am the one in four.