Sunday, October 3, 2010

The story of the ending

I want to write this and I think I'm ready to, but it's hard. I have the kleenex box parked right next to me.

Last weekend I started having brown spotting. I was concerned a bit but read in pregnancy books that it could be normal. By Tuesday it was getting heavier, but still brown and no cramping. I talked to my midwife and she said she wouldn't be concerned until there was red blood and cramping. On Wednesday things changed and there were a couple times of red blood. My nerves were rising and I was starting to fear the worst. Ryan has Wednesdays off and we were going to go to PCI together that day, but I was so on edge and starting to feel physically very weird so we decided to stay home and lay low. We went to dinner at my sister's that evening and things just continued to get worse. My sister knew what was going on and so she was freaking out on the inside too. She had a miscarriage scare with her 3rd child, but it turned out to be nothing and Lydia continued to grow and was born healthy. But just this past March she miscarried her 4th child at 12 weeks, with the baby only measuring 6 weeks. She was already holding her breath for me to just make it through 8 weeks. I think we all hardly tasted our dinner and just had big knots in our stomachs.

I went to the bathroom after dinner and there was more red. I knew what was happening. I walked out and told Ryan we needed to go. We walked to the front door and just before leaving I turned around and started crying and grabbed my sister. Her worst fear for me was happening and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Ryan and I drove home and I sobbed the entire way. At home I went to the bathroom again, checking to see if it had miraculously disappeared. But- just more red. I came out of the bathroom and clung on to Ryan in desperation with choking, heaving sobs. "I can't do this! I can't go through this!" The thought of the experience that was coming at me full steam ahead was so overwhelming that I literally hung on Ryan's neck, feeling like my body couldn't handle what was happening. He said we needed to go the ER. I didn't want to go because I hate hospitals and I knew it was going to cost us something we couldn't afford. Ryan's only concern was for my health and to get a real answer about whether or not our baby was still with us. So we went to the ER at about 7:30 Wednesday night.

We spent 6 hours in the ER, getting tested for stuff that was unnecessary and waiting in the coldest room on the planet for the worst news of our lives. I was already totally losing it emotionally and then was doubly traumatized by the tests and exams they were doing to me. All we wanted was an ultrasound to see if our baby's heart was still beating. The ultrasound tech isn't supposed to say anything to you about what they see. Only the doctor is allowed to tell you the results after they get the ultrasound report. But this lady slipped. Towards the end of the ultrasound she said "Well, if anything has happened to your baby, heaven forbid, just know that it wasn't your fault and there's nothing you could have done differently." For real lady??? Why don't you just tell me in plain English that my baby is dead??? It was another hour or two after that probably until the doctor finally came in and told us the news. On the ultrasound the baby only measured 6 weeks and there was no heartbeat. Then he rambled on about how usually they can see the heartbeat by then, but just to be sure I should follow up with my ob/gyn to get another blood test to see if my HCG levels are still rising or not. Why even try to offer hope at that point? The baby had died 2 weeks ago.

The doctor left and I fell apart all over again of course. What a horrible place to mourn. All we wanted to do was get out of there. It took forever to get discharged.

We came home in some numb daze. It was about 1:30am. I was so hungry and thirsty since they wouldn't let me eat or drink anything in the ER. Ryan made me some toast and as he brought it to me on the couch he totally broke down. He was thinking of the little flip calendar he got me for my birthday with the baby's development for each day (remember I mentioned that in an earlier post?). It had become a little ritual to read that each evening and laugh and smile about it together. Now it just cut us to the heart to see it sitting there on the table and to know we wouldn't be turning any more pages or celebrating any more of our baby's development. We held each other again and cried together.

I had a prescription for vicodin for when the cramping got really heavy but it wasn't bad yet so we thought we'd go to sleep. It was starting to get more uncomfortable though so I took some ibuprofen. We laid down and in just a few minutes I realized the cramping was really starting and it was getting bad so Ryan went and filled the scrip at Walgreens. I took one and we finally went to sleep.

Maybe an hour later I woke up suddenly with a sensation of a lot of blood coming out. I rushed to the bathroom and sat on the potty (sorry ahead of time for the details) and looked down at my pad and there I could see my baby- a little quarter sized blob of pinkish-grayish tissue. I still swear I could see the spine and tell which part was the head. This was completely shocking, to say the least. I went from being sound asleep to seeing my dead baby in about 2 minutes time. Then immediately I started to feel tingly all over, nauseous and light headed. All I wanted to do was lay down on the floor, but there I was sitting there with bloody everything. I called Ryan's name about 5 times and then he finally woke up to find me in the bathroom. He quickly brought me new underwear and I got them on with a pad as fast as I could. Then I laid down on the floor and I guess my body started to go in to shock or something.

Cramping- with the most intense pain I have ever felt in my entire life- started to take over my body without any pauses. I felt like I was going to faint and throw up and was having trouble breathing normally. Then my whole body started to shake. Ryan kept asking what he should do and if I could get up and go to the bed. I couldn't open my eyes and could barely speak above a whisper and kept saying I didn't know what to do and I didn't know what was happening. He said several times "I'm going to call 911!" and I didn't want him to because even in my delirium I was thinking how expensive that was going to be. Finally, with wisdom and a steadiness under pressure that amazes me, he decided to call 911.

I could hear him talking to the 911 dispatcher and explaining what was happening but it felt so far away from me and I wondered if I was going to make it through this and I just wanted the paramedics to get there as fast as possible. I was thinking "I can't believe this is happening to me" and it felt like an eternity. He kept checking that I was breathing and making me verbally answer that I was still ok, as the dispatcher was coaching him to do. I heard him open our patio door and I could hear the ambulance and fire truck pull up outside. Then about 4 paramedics were in our bathroom hovering over me (thankfully Ryan had put a blanket on me since all I had on the bottom were underwear). They picked me up since I couldn't walk and was still writhing in pain and put me on the stretcher and wheeled me out of our apartment. (I don't know how that stretcher and about 12 firemen/paramedics fit into our little apartment!) Ryan followed the ambulance in our car. Somehow I was so out of it I wasn't able to even care that he wasn't in the ambulance with me. They started an IV and gave me oxygen but said they wouldn't do any pain meds until the hospital.

So trip #2 to the ER. Ryan followed me in soon after I got there and I could see the relief on his face to know that I was going to be ok. (I'll never know really how scary it was for him to see me on the bathroom floor and not know what was going to happen to me.) They got me started on morphine pretty quickly and soon I was feeling much, much better. They ran some tests and I had another ultrasound to make sure that the baby had in fact come out. There was no explanation for what had happened to me, just massive amounts of cramping and pain and shock. This was at Banner Desert at Dobson/60 and we really want to praise the nurses and doctor and staff we had there. They were very sensitive and gentle and gave us choices about how we wanted to handle some things. I am very thankful for a positive experience with them during such a heartbreaking and scary time. All of the baby and the placenta came out clean and I didn't need to have a D&C, which we were very, very thankful about.

That afternoon (Thursday) we were finally cleared to head home. In a daze of heartbreak and sleep deprivation we finally came home to face the harsh realities of what had happened to us. Our baby was dead. I was not pregnant anymore. We were not going to expect a baby around May 11th, 2011 anymore. We were no longer going to track our baby's development each week and expect to see my belly expanding. We wouldn't be looking at baby clothes and brainstorming about names. We wouldn't go to an appointment with our midwife on Monday. I wouldn't spend my evenings browsing pregnancy books and baby websites. We wouldn't expect to hear our baby's heart beat in a few weeks or to find out if they were a boy or a girl around Christmas time. Ryan would no longer pray every single evening, no fail, for our growing baby. Ryan wouldn't be talking to my belly or saying "Bye babies!"(meaning me and the baby) when he left each day. We wouldn't enjoy dreamy conversations about what our baby would look like or what fun stuff we can't wait to do with them when they're older. I wouldn't think of my baby with every food, drink, vitamin, and exercise decision anymore. I wouldn't be breathing and pumping blood for my baby any longer.

Our baby is gone and will never come back and there is nothing we can ever do to change that. We will never get this baby back. We will not know if it was a boy or a girl or who it was going to look like or who they were going to grow up to be. It wasn't just the death of one life- it was the death of all that little life represented to us- all the hopes and imaginings and laughter and life. It wasn't just 8 weeks that this baby walked in our hearts and our dreams- it's been for most of our lives that we've dreamed of this baby. It wasn't just an "it" and a blob of flesh- this was our baby and we had let ourselves fall in love and bond and know this baby as much as we could in 8 weeks. For 8 weeks we had parented this baby as much as we were able.

And so we miss our baby deeply. We miss knowing that our baby is here safe in my womb. I miss that great amazement of knowing that a life is growing inside me and the responsibility of being as healthy as possible for them. We intensely miss just being able to talk about baby everyday. That had become the highlight of each day- the thing sure to make us laugh and smile. I miss seeing the delight on my husband's face when he'd put his hand on my belly and talk to the baby. I physically feel such an emptiness, like a big gaping hole in my belly, like I must surely look concave, since that's how it feels.

I feel very numb right now. The day times without Ryan here are so hard. My mom has been with me the past two days, but it doesn't compare to having Ryan here holding me and sharing in this heart to heart. We've put away the few baby things we had- the flip calendar and the big stacks of books and some other gifts my family had given us (except for this little Willow-brand figurine my sister gave me of a mother sweetly holding her baby with one of her hands cradling it's head. It's precious and somehow it's comforting to me to see it still and to know that even though I didn't get to hold my baby in my arms like that, that Jesus is). But there are reminders of our baby and just pregnancy and babies everywhere it seems, and I haven't even left the house in 5 days! That will be a hard thing about being back out and being around people. It's so weird to think of trying to just go back to normal life after this. I don't feel like I'll ever be the same. This has changed me forever.

We don't know what the road ahead will hold and it's scary to me. We want to keep trying to get pregnant again. This baby will always be special to us and we won't rush the timing on our mourning and healing, but we are still asking the Lord to give us the miracle of a baby with a healthy pregnancy that we can hold in our arms after 9 months. But to remember all that we went through just to get pregnant makes it overwhelming to think we may have to go through that again. Or will it even happen again? Was this a one-time thing? I could go on with what-ifs and questions and fears but I know I can't dwell on that. All we can do is give it time and trust in the only One who gives life and ask him for a miracle.

We're exhausted with sorrow and just clinging to each other to get through these deeply painful days. I know that we can't have expectations on ourselves for how fast we're going to recover and heal from this, and that not every day is going to get better, but that some will be up and then some will be 5 steps back again. I'm so thankful that Ryan is feeling this as deeply as I am. I can't imagine a situation where the husband didn't really "get it" and sorta just tried to make his wife feel better while she really struggled. Ryan is just as heartbroken and heavy with this as I am. We are closer and more bonded than we've ever been. I didn't know I'd be able to love someone this much. I've been drawn to look at our wedding pictures today, marveling at how we had no idea we'd face all this stuff when we got married! We both are amazed at how much more we love each other now than that day that we got married. In the midst of all this pain and darkness, we do rejoice in this gift of marriage and how the Lord has held us and grown us.

This is the length of a book now so I'll wrap up here. I don't know yet where God is in all of this. I don't really sense him or hear him. I know in my head that he's here and that he has a purpose, but I don't see any of it yet. I'm not mad at him or running away from him. I just feel nothing there. And that feels very strange. I'm sure that will change and go up and down throughout this process. But you can pray for that part for me- that I'd again sense that communion with the Lord, feel his comfort and hear his voice.

And just pray for both Ryan and I to not despair and to fix our hope on Jesus and to keep pressing through these dark days. We'll be spending this Tuesday-Friday up north at my family cabin (just the two of us) to get away, mourn together, have a little memorial for the baby in the forest, spend healing time among the fall leaves and let our hearts and bodies rest a bit. Pray for that time please.

I'm very thankful for the notes on Facebook and email I've gotten. I know it can be awkward when someone's going through something like this and you don't know what to do- so I'll just tell you that notes and cards and even voicemails (if I don't feel like talking I won't answer and a message would still mean a lot) are meaningful to me. Don't be afraid to actually mention our baby or the fact that they died or to be specific. And if I see you in person please do ask about it and just know that I'll probably cry, but that's ok. I know there are so many who love us and love our baby and that so many prayers and tears have been sown for this. Thank you and we love you!

Carrie (and Ryan)

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