Hello blogging world. It’s been months. Sorry about that. Again with the not keeping up stuff. I suck. SO, I’m finally read to talk. Maybe. Doesn’t matter because I have to talk. Type. You get it. If you don’t want nitty gritty details of the inner workings of the female body….mine specifically….close the window and don’t read any further. Also, buckle up, this is going to be a long one.
These last two months have been a whirlwind. September was suicide awareness month. Despite that, my husband and I both lost friends to suicide. It was a trying month for both of us. I made a difficult trip home to say goodbye to a friend I’d had for 20 years. It’s difficult to come to the realization that I’ll never again see his face or hear his voice. I’ve called his voicemail 2 dozen times just to get that last dose, but it doesn’t seem to help. For that reason, I quit calling his phone. My first night back in SC, living on base, 10pm was hard. At 10 PM they play TAPS over the loud speaker. It broke my heart hearing that for the first time since my friend’s funeral. It still breaks my heart a little every time, but it’s getting better. Recently I watched the Finn-centric episode of Glee and realized just how angry I was at my friend for doing what he did. The thing is, I have a deeper understanding for depression so I know what that feels like. I know the hopelessness and feeling like that is your only way out of a shitty situation that you are forced to call “life”. On that note, it does get better. I’m living proof that it gets better. Happiness is out there for you. It’s difficult to see it and only gets more difficult if you leave yourself untreated whether by medication or counseling. I promise, though, it does get better.
Now, onto October. On top of being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s also Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness month.
I’ve been struggling with this for the last 6 months. Struggling on whether or not to actually write this or to just let it be. Especially this month. It has been in the back of my mind since October 1st, and I think it’s time to tell my story. Some of you that know me may know it, but for those of you who don’t let’s start from the beginning.
Back in February, I sat down with my hubby and told him that I wanted to come off birth control. After talking to my doctor he told me basically what I already knew…that it would take 6 months to a year for my body to regulate and for me to get pregnant, especially since I’d been on some form of birth control for the past 8 years. I told him I wanted to give my body a fighting chance to get regular so we could jump aboard the baby-making train when the time came. We were both comfortable with this decision and intended on using protection until the time came. February was to be my last pill pack. The way the pills were set up, I had short cycles. Week 1 was ovulation, Weeks 2 and 3 were nothing and Week 4 was shark week.
At work, we had a floorset near the beginning of March. After which, I had an unusually difficult time getting back on a normal sleep schedule. I had started developing migraines and I didn’t have much of an appetite. Not that I was getting sick, I just flat out wasn’t hungry. After doctor googling myself (because that’s what us anxiety ridden folk do), I chalked it up to just my body regulating hormones and weening itself off of birth control. A week and a half passed like this. Unable to sleep, unable to stay asleep, oversleeping, feeling utterly exhausted, and migraines. I was chatting with my mother and she asked how I was doing. I told her “Good except for this damn headache that won’t go away and the fact that I can’t sleep.” She laughed and jokingly said “maybe you’re pregnant.” I told her “Jesus mom…I’m not pregnant. I JUST came off birth control.” She laughed again said she knew and was just teasing me, but then followed it up with “The only thing that tipped me off about your sister was a headache. Well, that and a missing period…but mostly the headache.” I repeated myself insisting I wasn’t pregnant, she laughed again, our conversation went on as normal.
By week 2 with the constant migraine and sleeping issues, I had began to develop a little nausea. I also noticed that I was eating candy. I don’t generally eat candy unless it’s shark week. Again, I thought “nah…It must be PMS”. At 2 and a half weeks I went grocery shopping and my mother’s words and contagious laughter popped up in my head “maybe you’re pregnant”. I remembered the intimacy and the ovulation that started the next day. As I walked down the aisle with all the feminine products I laughed quietly to myself and thought “I’ll get a test anyway. I know I’m not, but screw it.” I went about my business and finished my grocery shopping.
I got home and unwrapped the pink stick, peed, and went about my duty of unloading groceries. When I had finished, I went back into the bathroom to throw the stick away and noticed not one, but TWO lines. I began to panic. “What the FUCK!?” I said out loud. I sent a picture to my friend that works in the clinic and she called me immediately. We discussed the candy, the headaches, the recent feeling of nausea, the trouble sleeping. I texted my husband and told him “Maybe I”m seeing things. I mean it’s pretty faint, but it’s there” He told me to leave it on the counter and he’d look at it when he got home. I was at work by the time he got home and he texted me saying “I don’t know why you thought you didn’t see two lines. It’s definitely there”. I came home, saw what he saw, two dark pink lines. Holy. Fuck.
That following Saturday, I tested again. It came up negative. We both breathed deep and decided that a test at the clinic was the only way to solve this. I made an appointment for April 1st. If I was pregnant, I initially found out at 2 1/2 weeks. I hadn’t even missed my period yet. That’s early. That’s crazy early. Possible, but early. Over the weekend I had worked myself up to it being a big fat NO. I went in, had my blood drawn, and they sent to me to the exam room, and told me to undress for my yearly exam. The doctor came in three separate times. First to ask me how late I was, “Only a few days at this point.” Second to ask me my symptoms, “Craving for candy, inability to sleep, migraines, and more recently nausea and tender breasts.” The third time she came in, she told me to get dressed because there was no need to do the yearly exam. I started to get angry. I thought she was just putting this off. As I got dressed I thought “she must have a reasonable explanation for this.” After I was dressed, a child started to cry in the room next to me, and I lost it. I pulled myself together just in time for her to walk in the room.
“So the test came back positive…”
“Yeah,” I said, thinking she was asking a question and not making a statement. “I had a positive and a negative home test.”
“No, honey. I mean the blood test here came back positive. You’re pregnant.”
“What the fuck!?”
“Is this just some really cruel April Fool’s joke?”
*laughter* “No, it’s not. Do you want to see it?
“uh, Yeah…Can I?”
*grabs paper* “See there where it shows the test?”
*points* “Right here where it says positive next to that number?”
“that’s the result.”
I started sobbing and just repeating “oh. my god.” and “holy fuck” and “wow…” I finally told her “I can’t be more than 3 weeks. That’s early to find out, right?” she agreed with me. I repeated my three phrases over again, she gave me tissues, asked me if these were happy tears, I nodded. I told her I had JUST come off birth control. I told he the date of the last pill I took. She laughed and called me Fertile Myrtle. Congratulated me and gave me script for prenatal vitamins. She referred me to a doctor that in a previous post I referred to as The Devil Clinic.
I rushed out to The Children’s place and bought a pink onesie and a blue onesie. I set up a display on the kitchen table for my husband to see when he came home for lunch. We laughed and cried. It was a strange moment filled with a lot of “Wow” and “huh” and “oh my god we made a baby”.
I received the referral and called The Devil Clinic. They initially refused to see me because I told them I had a pretty good idea of when I conceived but I wasn’t entirely sure. They said that since I wasn’t sure they didn’t want to see me for another 3 1/2 weeks. This being our first child, I didn’t know any better and just agreed to it. Over the next few weeks, my symptoms intensified. An attachment grew. We started planning things. We traded in the Camaro for a Subaru. We plotted how we were going to tell people. The more my symptoms intensified the more we began to wonder if perhaps I was further along than I actually was, but figured we’d find out at my first appointment. Meanwhile, under the impression I might be further along than that, we started to tell a few people.
One day I woke up feeling like utter shit. I curled up on the couch and watched TV, waiting to leave for work. I went to the bathroom and noticed some spotting. I knew spotting was normal, but this being my first pregnancy, I got scared. I sat on the couch wondering if I should call. I had a cramp, nothing intense, nothing more than the usual pregnancy cramps I had been experiencing. It didn’t raise any major flags in my mind until I passed a small clot. Tiny actually, but it still scared the shit out of me. So I called The Devil Clinic. I explained that my appointment wasn’t for another week, but that I was concerned. They cleared room for me on the schedule and got me in.
I went in, peed in a cup, they took vitals, and that my friends, was the beginning of a downhill slope. We sat in the exam room patiently waiting the doctor’s arrival, when a nurse came in. She asked me when my last menstrual cycle was and I told her. To which she responded with a cold “Well, I’m not sure why you thought you were pregnant because your test came back negative.”
I froze. For a second, I swore my heart quit beating. I told her “Uh, because I had a positive test.” She said “Was it a home test? Some times those things can be faulty” I came back with “It was a home test and a BLOOD test thank you. I am pregnant.” She came at me “Well, you’re not so I’m not sure what to tell you. Maybe something got screwed up? Should we proceed with a PAP smear?” I struggled to find words until I eventually started sobbing. This fucking woman had the nerve to tell me I was lying. My husband sat in the corner, silent. The nurse came over patted me on the knee exactly three times, stepped back and crossed her arms and asked again if we’d like to proceed with the yearly exam. I glared at her. Then she suggested that I continue to take the prenatal vitamins anyway even though I wasn’t pregnant, and according to her, never had been pregnant. I asked her to explain why I had been experiencing pregnancy symptoms if I never had been pregnant and told her if she was sitting there telling me I wasn’t pregnant, then I wasn’t going to be taking the horse pill that was my prenatal vitamin any longer. She suggested that I made the symptoms up in my mind and my period was just late. She told me that even thought I was never pregnant that taking prenatal vitamins is a good thing to be doing anyway especially if we were trying. She wanted to talk to us about options on what we can do to conceive. I looked at her, still sobbing and said “Are you really wanting to talk to me about conceiving right after you told me I lost my child!?” She said again I had never been pregnant and suggested for the third time that we do the PAP Smear. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?” I yelled. With that she said “well maybe I should give you guys some time. Let me know when you’re ready to do your yearly exam.” She left the room. My husband held me. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t stop shaking, and I couldn’t stop crying. This wasn’t happening. I didn’t make this shit up. There’s no reason a blood test would come back positive unless I was pregnant.
I had my husband call my work and tell them I wasn’t coming in. He came back in and was followed by the nurse who asked, again, “So are we ready to do the Pap Smear then?” I looked at her and said “NO! We’re leaving. I need to leave. I can’t be here anymore.” She patted me on the arm and said “We’ll just write this off as a nurse’s visit. Just keep trying. You’ll get pregnant eventually.” My husband supported my walking all the way out. Once we reached the curb outside I collapsed. He lit a cigarette for me and we sat on the curb. I sobbed “I want to go home. HOME home. I can’t….I can’t be here.” When we got home, I had the support of a few friends who came and brought me booze. I kept a brave face until they left, but once the door shut behind TF, I sobbed all over again.
Over the next few weeks I went through a shit storm with the Devil Clinic suggesting that I made the pregnancy up, telling me I wasted their time by doing an ultrasound, refusing to give me results of tests, lying to me, and lying to my PCM. Only one doctor through that entire experience there ever questioned what was going on. Sadly, I never saw her face again to follow up with her. The whole visit with her all she kept saying was that the timeline didn’t make sense and neither did my results. Still, she never shared my results with me. The day after my initial visit, I spiked a fever, I called my on base clinic and they suggested I see the civilian clinic. When I called them, however, they wanted nothing to do with me and told me I was probably just getting sick or it was the stress of the situation. Again, with this being my first pregnancy, I didn’t know that a fever could mean infection and I should go to the ER. So, I took their word for it and sat it out. Later that day, my PCM called me back and asked me how my fever was doing. I told her it was about the same but I took some Tylenol and had called the OB. The following day I got 4 calls asking me about how my ER visit went. I was confused. I didn’t go to the ER. No one told me to go to the ER. I didn’t know I was supposed to. My PCM and her nurse were LIVID. My PCM called me 3 days in a row to check on me to make sure my fever had broken and I wasn’t sick, but I never heard back from the OB about the fever at all. In fact it was never mentioned in my notes that I had called, and it was never mentioned that I said I had a fever. The only visit that was mentioned was when I went in three days after the bleeding started and the doctor did a physical exam. They didn’t notate in there that it was a physical exam to make sure everything was okay. They only notated that it was a routine PAP smear. There was nothing in there about our discussion on the doctor’s or my confusion. There were no notes about my negative urine test but blood test that showed hCG still in my system. We had to dig for that information. It wasn’t anything neither I or my PCM or new OB knew about until a month and a half later.
During the ultrasound visit, the tech kept saying things like “I think I see…” and when I said “what?” she said “oh nevermind.” She asked me if anyone had shared test results with me and when I told her no one had she offered to tell me. I said “Yes, please do.” She took one look at the paper, said “hm” and then never told me. I asked three more times and each time she changed the subject. In my mind all I can think is that they were covering their asses. The originally told me I wasn’t pregnant, only to find out that I still had hCG in my system so did everything they could to cover up their mistake instead of admitting to it. The day of the ultrasound I had just gone to the clinic on base per the request of my PCM to get blood drawn since the civilian clinic wasn’t communicating with them. After the ultra sound was finished, which I still don’t know the results of, whether she found anything in there or not, the tech told me to go get blood drawn there. We told her no because we wouldn’t ever be returning to the clinic. Her demeanor immediately turned sour and she told us that we had just wasted her time. She shoved some papers at us and told us to check out.
I finally got into the OB/GYN I wanted, and we went over everything start to finish. He was utterly baffled and completely disgusted by the way I was treated at The Devil Clinic. We discovered that by the time they had taken a urine sample from me, I had started miscarrying, making my pregnancy non-viable and an overall negative on their scale when they ran a qualitative test. Had they taken the time to do a quantitative hCG count on my urine instead of a qualitative, they would have seen that I still had hCG in my system. Instead, they didn’t want to deal with anyone that couldn’t give them business so they were as cold as possible to me. When I had my blood drawn at The Devil Clinic, they did quantitative, but never shared my results. My new OB/GYN was able to get down to reality of it and figure out what exactly was going on. I had a missed miscarriage. The fetus had probably stopped developing a week prior to the bleeding. That was when my symptoms started to get less and less. I asked him why I would still be having headaches and tender breasts. He told me that it’s still the hormone in my system screwing with my body and we just had to wait it out. He dug out the results of my blood test that my PCM took the week of my ultrasound and discovered my level was at a 3 that week. He took a blood sample in his office and it was at a 0. His anger and that of my PCM at the situation matched my outrage. How dare they tell me I was never pregnant? How dare they tell me I made it up? She vowed never to refer someone to that clinic again.
The whole mess finally sorted itself out. We discovered I was 6 1/2 to 7 weeks pregnant when I miscarried, which under normal circumstances is about the time women usually find out they are pregnant. My (current) OB/GYN was amazed that I found out as early as I did, but said it wasn’t impossible. The bad part about that was that if I hadn’t taken the test, I would have probably never known I was pregnant and would have just chalked it up to a late period because I was coming off of birth control. Conversely he congratulated me on being so in-tune with my body so that the next time I were to get pregnant, I would (ideally) know right away. We discussed the fact that fertility is obviously not something that we have to worry about because obviously I can get pregnant. (By the way…I got pregnant after 4 days with no birth control). We discussed previous diagnoses of PCOS and endometriosis and how these may cause problems. We talked about the RhoGAM shot and when that needs to be given. Lastly we talked about how we needn’t worry about this miscarriage until or IF it happens for a second or third time. I was able to go home for 2 weeks. I spent most of my time with my friends and paid little to no attention to my family. For that, I feel like an asshole. When I first had the opportunity to speak with my father, I explained to him the reason I came home was because I wanted it to stop hurting. I came home because I felt like I was suffocating. There was and still is an empty room in my house that was once plotted to be a nursery and I could barely walk up the stairs without wanting to set that room on fire. I needed to see my friends, and I needed to heal.
For a week I was practically catatonic and emotionally broken. I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t go more than 30 minutes without breaking down in tears. I blamed myself repeatedly even though I knew and know it wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t help but think “what if I had done this instead of this” about every little thing. No amount of comfort in the world could or can bring my baby back. Even sitting here typing this now makes me teary eyed. I would have been due in December, within days of our anniversary. Sometimes I have to tell myself that it was probably for the best. That there was and has to be a reason it happened, but that doesn’t make it hurt less. It wasn’t just me that lost a child that day, it was my husband too. He made himself be so strong for me and I will forever be grateful for that. He shouldn’t have had that sitting on his shoulders, but he did. I also feel the need to thank my wonderful co-workers. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful support system at work.
If there was anything to be learned from this, it was that we were a lot more ready for parenthood than we originally thought. The thought of being responsible for another human being is terrifying, but in that exact moment of finding out he was going to be a father, the joy on my husband’s face was undeniable.
In reality it wasn’t necessary to tell my story, and I’m aware of that. The reason I did it, though, was to give myself a little extra closure to a situation that still sucks every once in a while, and because it is the month for pregnancy, infant, and child loss awareness. I guess I’m also hoping my story may help someone else somewhere out there in their healing process as well. Six months later, my life continues and I’m doing quite well, my husband is doing well, and our life has returned to normal. It’s been a trying couple of months, but I’ve come to the realization that loss does happen regardless of what point you are in your life.
In regards to both situations of loss, I’ll say again that it does get better. It may take some time, the road will be rough, you’ll encounter stupidity and ignorance, but there are positive circumstances waiting for you on the other side. You just have to take it one day at a time.
Edit: A week after the miscarriage we ordered Chinese food and my fortune was this:
That night the hubby called his father to tell him what happened, and his father said the same thing without knowing what I had just pulled out of my fortune cookie. It brought me some comfort. It’s still hanging on our fridge