For a few weeks I have been struggling through something I finally feel ready to share with you, my friends.
At the end of November I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. A pregnancy had not been planned, it wasn’t in my life schedule. I had lists and calendars–pregnancy wasn’t on it. My instinctive reaction wasn’t welcoming. How could I cope with pregnancy and a baby on top of the whirlwind known as Des, work and pursuing post secondary studies?
Over the next few days, I grew excited. Babies are a gift, a blessing. It wasn’t easy for me to conceive, so this was a good thing. We would make it work. I began to envision the baby–would he or she look like Des? What would they be like? I found myself thinking about tiny baby clothes, the little socks that fit on your finger like a glove. Des played with his cousin and I imagined him doing the same with a sibling. Life was so bright.
Through the awakening excitement, I also became aware that something didn’t feel quite right about my pregnancy. I couldn’t articulate it well. I reached out to my family physician to express my concerns and I was dismissed, told that “every pregnancy is different” and “your body is just changing”. I waited three weeks for my first ultrasound, moving from excitement to fear. The day of the ultrasound I let myself hope that maybe everything was alright, even though in my heart I was still inexplicably and deeply worried.
At the ultrasound there was no fetal pole in my uterus. I felt almost a sigh of relief at knowing I wasn’t crazy. There was something off, but it didn’t end there. There was no viable embryo in my uterus, but there was a mass outside my uterus, near my tube.
The doctors were confused. What was the mass? From there I descended into a whirlwind of invasive exams and blood poking. I felt that I was accepting of what happened, but in retrospect, I was numb. After multiple ultrasounds, margins still weren’t clear, but the pain I had been feeling pointed to an ectopic pregnancy, heterogenic due to the second egg in my uterus which wasn’t viable.
The day the doctors became decided on my diagnosis, I was rushed into surgery a couple hours later. The operating team gave me such compassionate care, rubbing my arms, holding my hands and telling me they were so sorry about the final diagnosis. “It’s okay, these things happen,” I replied, trying to convince myself with my calm responses. Post operatively the surgeon told me the egg had implanted in my ovary (which is rare) and it could have been fatal if I had continued on without surgery. I had a D&C to remove the second empty egg as well. I went home two hours later, early morning on December 17th and I carefully lay down on the couch and stared at the Christmas tree lights.
Christmas passed by in a whirlwind. My coworkers knew what had happened and sent me the kindest messages. Other friends who were aware of everything kept checking in on me and showed me their love and compassion. My family supported me from the distance with gifts to make up for missed work shifts. We had a quiet Christmas with a few siblings, but Desmond’s elation at learning how to open gifts filled my heart up. I was okay. I was moving on. On December 26 I went back to work for a short shift.
But grief is funny. Suddenly in this past week, especially the past two days, I changed. My hormone levels dropping probably have affected me, but I began snapping at my husband, who has only supported and helped me through it all. Flashes of anger I couldn’t control came over me. Tuesday night I had a panic attack in a grocery store and had to walk out, shaking and trembling, deeply afraid for no reason. Last night I sat on the couch with tears rolling down my cheeks, unable to control myself. I fell asleep crying. This morning Des knocked my coffee over and I exploded on Matt without reason.
What am I mourning? Something that was never meant to be? Am I truly grieving, or are my hormonal changes affecting my emotional state? Can I feel sad about something I never truly had? Is the mourning for what might have been, the hope I had cherished? Or am I indulging in self-pity?
Therein lies the mystery and conundrum of being a woman, being a mother, being pregnant for even only 7 weeks. Everything is speculation. Specialists say women who suffer a miscarriage/loss can experience moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety after loss, even to the point of being diagnosed with PTSD. There hasn’t been much research done, because when you have your D&C and your levels return to normal, your medical care ends and you are often left to seek treatment for your emotional stability on your own. Or not.
I’m not sure why I’m writing this, except maybe to share my experience with you, which you may be able to identify with if you have gone through loss yourself. Maybe this is another way I grieve. Maybe I needed to write this to work it out in my head and heart. Maybe I need you to tell me I’m not alone and slowly it will hurt less. Maybe I’m hoping to open up dialogue about miscarriage and loss, normalize it so it’s not something we whisper awkwardly about, unsure of what to say. Maybe I’m over-sharing and this will make you feel awkward.
But if you’re quietly going through this alone, I’m there with you. I walk beside you on the same path. I feel your hopelessness and grief. Who knows where we’ll end up with our hearts. All my heart knows right now is fear and sadness, but life carries on and time heals along with love–the neverending love from my husband and son which has held me up. I pray we will one day be healed, or even just more whole.