Monday, May 26, 2014
Pregnancy after Miscarriage
The first time I got pregnant, I presented B with a gift as soon as he got home. It was the positive pregnancy test wrapped in a baby blanket with a baby book. We celebrated continuously from that day on. I might note that this is the only time when gifting someone with something that you've peed on is socially acceptable.
The second time I got pregnant, I videotaped Peanut handing B the positive pregnancy test as they lounged on the bed before bath time. He was surprised, Peanut was oblivious, we were excited. A week after that I had my first miscarriage.
6 months later, I was pregnant again. I felt really good about this one. I put a Big Brother shirt on Peanut the next day as an announcement for B. We celebrated with a smile and a hug and phone call to the doctor to set up an appointment for a positive confirmation. Our baby never developed to the point of a beating heart. At 10 weeks and 1 day, I had the D&C that made that miscarriage complete. Although the first miscarriage seemed more emotionally draining on me, this one was harder on B. It might have something to do with me going through surgery. Maybe loading me up post-op gave him flashbacks from cancer treatment?
I always think back to this year as "The year of lost children." I was driving home from work one day when the phrase popped in my head, and it has always stuck with me. I had 2 miscarriages in 6 months, one of my best friends miscarried, a lovely blog friend had lost dear Little Roo at 20 weeks pregnant, a dear friend and family member lost her twin boys at 23 weeks pregnant and my neighbor lost their 10 year old son. And by lost I really mean that these children were snatched from everyone's grasping hands, while we were left standing there stunned and reaching for air.
In December when we found out we were pregnant again, we were about to get in the car to drive from Sacramento to Orange County after visiting family for the holidays. It had been a year since the last pregnancy. After 2 years of trying and 2 miscarriages, this one seemed less a victory and more of a waiting game. We talked about it quietly a while during the drive but we didn't make any plans.
There are a great deal of very obvious reasons that miscarriage sucks. Obviously. One of those reasons is that it robs you of the pure joy and excitement of finding out you're pregnant. Post-misscarriage pregnancy announcements are made with disclaimers. "Yes, we're so excited, but we'll just wait and see!" " We're pregnant…keep your fingers crossed this one will stick!" "We're pregnant, everything looks good so far…."
I caught myself giving almost apologetic looks when I told people I was pregnant. I'm not sure why. Clearly we were excited, but maybe we didn't want to be too excited, just in case?
I spent the first couple months obsessively checking my underwear, the toilet and the toilet paper for blood every time I went to the bathroom. Aches and pains from a growing uterus were deeply contemplated. Is this the beginning of cramps for the next miscarriage? Eventually, I eased up. The first victory was the ultrasound showing us the baby's heartbeat. Every ultrasound after provided an exhalation when I heard that little heart still beating.
Countless people told me that the never-ending amount vomiting during that first trimester was a good sign. I tried to remind myself that as I kneeled over the toilet daily. I felt the first flutter at a mere 13 weeks and good consistent movement at 17 weeks. Ultrasound after ultrasound and things have looked perfect. But still, B hadn't recovered. I was truly surprised by this because nothing seems to fase him. He is perpetually calm, like the house is on fire and he's cruising through picking up a couple things on our way out, calm. Like maddeningly calm. I could always tell that he was still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
After each appointment I would beam at him and say, "Don't you feel better now that x,y,z has passed?" He'd say yes but he's really waiting for the next big milestone. Before that huge 20 week ultrasound, where they find out all the nitty gritty like complications with the fetus, we had a talk about how to handle any problems we might find.
I'll be honest, I think that we were both expecting something to be wrong. Perhaps some terminal fetal condition. He just wanted me to be OK and to survive whatever happened. I just wanted to carry the baby as long as possible, even if the baby didn't make it. I feel like my one job as a mother is to keep my child alive as long as humanly possible, even if it means going through an entire pregnancy just to say good-bye. Every month I'm pregnant is another month this baby is being comfortably carried by his mommy. I respect the fact that not everyone feels this way and understand that people have their own decisions to make.
In the end, everything looked perfect and we found out we were having another little boy. I feel good and I think that B is breathing easier. Still in this post-misscarriage pregnancy we have little goals. 26 weeks and the baby will have a really good chance at survival, 30 weeks and we're golden.
I'm 25 weeks along now. B can feel the baby move all the time, Peanut is talking about his baby brother and I'm happy to chat with strangers about this big baby belly they're all noticing. Perhaps it hasn't been as big a celebration as I would have liked but it's hard to celebrate when you are walking on eggshells. Now I feel comfortable and things are feeling real and we're getting more excited by the day!
~~~added after Little Dumpling was born~~~
At 30 weeks and then at 35 weeks, I reveled in the whispers I heard when passing people, "Look at her, she must be due any minute now!" I was a gravity defying giant and loved that it proved my baby was alive and well. Just five days before his due date, our little dumpling arrived, with 10 perfect little fingers and 10 perfect little toes.
I still think about those babies who we loved and lost--- I always will. I wonder who they were and wish I had the chance to know them.
But life would have been different.
I look at my husband and two beautiful boys and can't ask for anything more than the perfect that I have now.
~All photos were taken by Adrienne Gunde during my pregnancy with the Peanut!