6 week checkup

After you have a child you’re considered “postpartum.” I don’t know what the analogous word is for miscarriage, but at this point I am 6 weeks post-miscarriage. And still bleeding.

It hasn’t been constant and it hasn’t been much, but it’s clear my body is still processing the miscarriage. And like seemingly every other pregnancy-related symptom I have it is “not common but not unusual.” Just what every girl wants to hear!

To be fair, it’s better than hearing “yes, something is wrong, let’s schedule you for surgery.” Or at least that’s what I tell myself. I met with my midwife yesterday and was told the same thing I’ve been hearing the last 6 weeks: wait and see. Although at this point it’s more “wait it out.” Unless I start massively hemorrhaging or having other go-to-the-ER type problems, there’s not much left to see.

All my lab work and exams came back well within the range of normal, my body is just taking its sweet time getting all the pregnancy hormones out of my system. In the mean time my body is trying to ovulate, but not quite making it, so it’s in what my husband creatively described as a “race condition.”. Or in more concrete terms, it’s like a toilet with a broken flapper. It’s just constantly filling and flushing. It’s just as glamorous as it sounds.

I had a good cry at the midwife’s office. She reassured me that everything is normal and there is really nothing to indicate I can’t carry another child to term. I told her I didn’t believe her, and she said that was normal too. She expects the bleeding to resolve “within a few weeks.”  I’m trying to focus on all the awesome that fills the rest of my life, but it’s hard. As I come up on the due date from my first miscarriage (February 28) I’m trying not to obsess over calculating the earliest I could possibly have a second child (January 31, 2015), but it’s impossible.

So that’s my situation, a series of unfortunate events. Nothing major, nothing wrong, just a nice tidy pile of bad luck.


Now is the hard part

Three weeks ago I had my second miscarriage. It was very different than the first, in nearly every way. I was farther along, it was a home, and 3 weeks later I’m still not back to normal physically. Nevermind emotionally.

The reaction from friends and family has largely mirrored my own: how could this happen? One miscarriage is not so unusual, but two? Well, it turns out they’re not so unusual either. At least, not unusual enough to justify the extensive testing that comes with recurrent miscarriage, which is done after your third.

No one is surprised that it’s an emotional time for me. Now, at three weeks out, it’s starting to get hard. The remaining physical symptoms make it impossible for me to put the miscarriage out of my mind for more than an hour or so. But everyone else has moved on. Even my husband is pretty much business-as-usual at this point. Meanwhile I’m on my third package of maxi-pads, knowing full well that the longer this continues the longer it will be until we can consider trying again. I was originally due in February 2014, and now the soonest I could have another child is 2015. Or, from where I’m sitting, an eternity.

One of the hardest things to navigate at this point is well meaning friends who try to point out silver linings, or “at leasts.” At least you know you can get pregnant. At least you’re young and have plenty of time to try again. At least this will give you some more time to sleep in. At least you already have a child. They’re genuine expressions of sympathy, and they’re true, but to be honest they’re not very comforting. I have a hard time remaining gracious when people say them, but I know they just don’t know what else to say.

To their credit, there are a lot of silver linings. We’ve made quite a bit of lemonade from the situation, not the least of which is planning a family trip to Disney World. The first time I went I was pregnant with Bitmap, and couldn’t go on any of the rides. RevolvingDork is excited to take me on Space Mountain.

There’s a second type of reaction I get: people who are afraid it could happen to them. They want to know as many details as they can acquire politely. What caused my miscarriages? Is it something I did? Something I am? Is it likely to happen again? I actually don’t mind these, and try to be as forthcoming as possible.

Here’s what I know: having two miscarriages in a row is uncommon, but not abnormal. In most cases miscarriage is a way for your body to handle a fetus that wasn’t going to make it to begin with. It happens often enough that it’s well within the statistical realm of “bad luck.” Lacking other complications or signs of problems, most doctors won’t refer you to an endocrinologist until your third miscarriage.

My two miscarriages were very different. The first one was ‘missed,’ we only found out about it during the ultrasound, and was surgically removed. It was more or less painless, and I recovered within a few days. The second was exactly like going into labor. I had contractions for eight hours, my water broke, and then I delivered something. It was terrifying and painful and three weeks later I’m still wondering when my body will be done with it so I can move on.

We did genetic testing on the first one, and it came back genetically normal. I also had a lot of genetic testing done on myself, and all of that came back normal. Thyroid problems sometimes cause miscarriages, but mine is normal. Add to that a totally normal first pregnancy with a happy healthy baby girl (which itself rules out a few major causes of miscarriage), and it looks a lot like bad luck. I know I should be glad to hear there isn’t anything obviously wrong with me, but at the same time not knowing what went wrong doesn’t feel great.

I’m not sure where to go from here. My doctor, midwife, and husband all feel confident I can carry a child to term again. I waver back and forth. On good days I gather the strength of all the women who came forward to tell me about their multiple miscarriages. I look at the wonderful children they were rewarded with for their perseverance, and think “of course we’ll try again.” Other days the thought of going through this again is just too much to bear, and I start mumbling to my husband about maybe investigating adoption.

I know eventually I’ll start to feel more normal. The bleeding will stop and I won’t have such an ongoing reminder. When spring comes I’ll almost certainly want to try again, and if I do get pregnant I’ll be a neurotic mess for at least the first four months. Meanwhile I’ll try to focus on other things, like my business and my existing family. I have a lot of good things going on right now, and I haven’t forgotten them. But some days I just feel sad and crappy, and I think that’s OK too.


Loss and Hope

A few weeks ago I found out I was pregnant. I admit I wasn’t entirely thrilled at first, having hated being pregnant the first time around. But I slowly came around to the idea, and started getting really excited about adding another little blob to our family.

On Friday I went to the midwife’s office, and everything looked normal. Because I wasn’t exactly sure how far along I was, we scheduled an ultrasound to date the pregnancy. On Wednesday I popped into the hospital for a quick ultrasound. Forty-five minutes later we were still waiting for the “result” from the radiologist, which was a red flag to me, but I shrugged it off as paranoia. Then I got a call from my midwife, who let me know our fetus had no heartbeat.

In that moment I felt like the world ended. I went straight into denial. Surely it was a mistake, since the fetus was measuring right where we thought it would. I cried and cursed and begged the radiologist to admit that this fell within some sort of margin of error, and that everything was actually OK. At only 8 weeks along, they must have just missed the tiny heartbeat. There was no way it wasn’t there. I knew in my heart they were right, but I held on to every shred of denial I could.

I asked if I could see for myself, and the radiologist obliged. Back up on the ultrasound table, I could see our little proto-human, with its big head and lizard-like tail. The tech showed us where she looks for heart movement, and I recalled how on my 6 week ultrasound with Bitmap we watched her little heart beat furiously. Fetusaurus just had a black dot. She pulled up an overlay which showed blood flow, and my body lit up like a blue and red Christmas tree. Fetusaurus remained an island of grey on the screen, sitting serenely among the hustle and bustle of my insides. In that moment I acknowledged the truth: Fetusaurus was not going to grow into Baby #2.

I did a lot of crying that day, and have a lot of crying yet to do. But I’m also starting to get some perspective. Tragic as it is, these things happen. At this stage, we have no reason to believe I won’t be able to carry another child to term. We didn’t have to jump through any medical hoops to get pregnant, and my first pregnancy was totally normal (if unpleasant).

My friends have rallied around me and I feel truly blessed to have such a wonderful support network. Many of them are pregnant as well, and due around the same time I was. I thought I might feel some resentment towards their pregnancies, but it turns out I’m just happy to have some good news to contrast mine.

A friend of mine told me her mother had eight miscarriages before she was born. Eight. I can’t even imagine how one goes through that, but her mother maintains “I knew it was you every time.” The idea of a persistent soul trying to find a viable vessel is comforting to me. And makes about as much sense as any other religious explanation. So while it may not be Christian canon, I’ve adopted it for myself.

Baby #2 will have to wait a little longer to meet us, but I know it will eventually. I’ve learned over the years that families grow in a huge variety of ways. Some of them happen the old fashioned way, some require the help of medical intervention, and some are made through legal declarations. But as I wade through my haze of grief I know that this is a setback on the road to growing our family, not the end.


So this happened


While sitting in traffic on the way to daycare this morning, I got rear-ended. The guy behind me accidentally nailed the gas instead of the brake, which sent me careening into the car in front of me. Oof.

My first instinct was to panic. I had no idea what to do so I called the first grown up I could think of: my father in-law who also happens to be a police officer. He called up my local district and had them dispatch an officer to the scene.

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It took us about an hour to exchange information and get everything straight on the police report. Everyone was very pleasant, if a bit irritated about giving up their morning. My car suffered the most damage by far, having been in the middle of a automotive sandwich. I was able to drive it home (one whole block away) and I think we’ll be able to limp into the auto repair shop.

Bitmap was in the car and seemed unconcerned. She was strapped into her carseat which looks more like a NASCAR harness than a baby carrier. I have some whiplash, and a headache, so I went to the hospital to get checked out. They said I’ll be sore for a few days, and to watch out for signs of internal bleeding (yikes!) but I’m otherwise OK.

So other than the irritation of getting to spend the rest of my week playing phone tag with the insurance company, I’m OK. It’s just not how I’d planned to spend my Thursday morning.