Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day

I'm still totally disconnected from my miscarriage. That is, I know it hurts the way you know your gums hurt as you run your tongue over them when the novacaine is still working. I cried over it, but it was like watching someone else cry and thinking, "that must be a relief."

The problem was that my miscarriage was so unintentionally hilarious, as such events often are in my family. Since I was 41 years old, breastfeeding, and had needed various reproductive technologies to achieve the 11 month old toddler on my hands, I was completely blindsided by this pregnancy, and felt distracted as I went about my day-to-day, booking my first appointment with my O.B. via whispered phone conversations in my cubicle. It felt unreal. I told my sister, my husband, and two work friends -- that's it.

So when the bleeding started, I told myself you can spot when you're pregnant, but it didn't stop. I had a nightmarish day at a bowling alley, pretending everything was okay as I chased my daughter out of the lanes, but it wasn't stopping; we tried to figure out how and when I could go to the ER without alerting my stepkids to a possible disaster. We finally settled on a plausible enough story about a bladder infection.

At the hospital, well ... the usual happened. Nobody from my OB practice showed up, because they are pretty much assholes. I explained my story to several people, but the information was never relayed to anyone else. "I'm pregnant. I am still nursing a baby at home and she's going to be hungry at 11pm." These two pieces of information baffled everyone: Was I talking about my baby in the present tense because I was pregnant? A nurse gave me a pregnancy test and told me I was pregnant, and began talking to me about What Pregnancy Is. I said yes, I know that: I think I'm having a miscarriage. She said, you knew you were pregnant? Then why are you here? BECAUSE I AM BLEEDING. Oh.

It was hours between each medical person coming in, and in retrospect I didn't need to be in the ER -- I was having a miscarriage, not a heart attack. But I didn't know that at the time. I was bleeding and ... see? I'm still second-guessing that ER visit. My sister, heavily pregnant, came to sit with me against my better judgement, and I fretted that she would catch something from the tubercular-sounding woman on the other side of the curtain from me, who was getting lectured by a doctor because she kept coming into the ER instead of going into drug treatment. I texted with a friend back East who understood exactly what was happening. I sat and sat and sat.

Oh, and one other thing: When I arrived at the hospital, I went to have a pee, and something huge came out of me -- huge enough to make me yell "Oh, holy SHIT!" -- and landed in my maxi pad. I'll spare you a description. It was a large, weird clot and I thought this would be valuable information. I folded the maxi-pad gently and put it in my pocket. I tried to show that stupid maxi-pad mess to everyone who walked into the room -- the nurse who gave me the pregnancy test, the doctor who was called out of the room mid-sentence, the ultrasound technician who couldn't find the baby but didn't know what to tell me -- and everyone was like "yeah, I'll have a look at that."

Finally, at about 2am, the ER was calm enough for the totally baffled doctor to focus. He was busily telling me that this happens all the time, you can't find the heartbeat because the baby's too small but my blood test indicated pregnancy so I was probably fine and should see my OB in the morning ... "Just one more thing," I said, Columbo-style, and pulled out the awful bundle from my pocket.

"Oh," he said, crestfallen.

"Uh-oh," I said.

"That's ... that's your pregnancy."

"You're sure? I don't see a baby in there. I looked."

"I'm sure. The baby was probably not viable for a while and didn't grow beyond ... " His eyes flickered to mine for the first time. "You said you're 41? Was this -- did you undergo fertility treatments to get this pregnancy? Is this --"

I cut him off. "It's okay," I told him. "I have a baby at home. This was a surprise. I'm okay."

He visibly relaxed. I felt like I should hug him, but there was one problem.

"I'm gonna put my pants on now, okay?"

I mean, it was just ridiculous. All those hours and I could have turned right around the minute I got there. Not blaming the ER -- they had bigger fish to fry. It was the absurdity of it all: me standing there pantsless holding a bloody maxi-pad.

I thought I was fine. I cried exactly twice: once when my mom made a well-meaning ill-timed comment, and once when my daughter fell off the bed and I blamed myself for obsessing over the miscarriage when I had this actual baby to actually care for. Which is, you know: it's the thing we do to ourselves, deny ourselves mourning because we should be tougher.

But I went into a frozen state and logged off almost all social media for about 4 months, which is -- if you know me -- insane. So it's doubly odd that I was surprised to find out, 5 months later, that I was 11 weeks pregnant. Odd? It's ... absurd.