Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Heart Never Forgets

“You’d think I’d be use to this by now.”

Those were the words I spoke to my doctor ten years ago when she told me she didn’t think “this baby” was going to make it. The day was Wednesday, August 5, 1998.

I was just past 10 weeks and in for a routine prenatal visit. Everything had been going well – I had increasing morning sickness; my beta hcgs looked good; my pants were getting tight. I had some crampiness – but took that to mean I was overdoing things a bit in the summer heat, perhaps dehydrated. I spent a weekend during one episode of cramping resting, drinking lots of water and that seemed to help. I had no spotting – nothing to indicate anything as being wrong.

There had been one day – just a few before that day, that I remember realizing I hadn’t thrown up that day. I felt pretty good. My first thought was “ There goes Jessi’s baby sister.” My next thought was that morning sickness, or rather: morning, noon and night sickness, sometimes was cyclical for me and it wasn’t uncommon for me to have a couple good days in the midst of the bad ones each week. In retrospect – it does feel like a bit of foreshadowing, my immediate first reaction that of losing the baby. However, given my track record at this point, that would not be an unusual reaction for me. I was in my 7th pregnancy and had only delivered 2 living children. The fact that I was sick at all, had no spotting, the good betas and seeing the flicker of a heartbeat just a few weeks prior as well as a tiny kick gave me reassurance. Later, it would feel like I had only been grasping at straws.

My OB tried with a Doppler first – though, at 10 weeks, it would not be unusual to be unable to detect the sounds of the baby’s heart beating. She shrugged it off and said she didn’t find it surprising, but to not cause me any worry and make me wait until my next visit, she offered an ultrasound. I have seen several ultrasounds before and should have realized something was different about this one. I think I did – but was unwilling to let myself process the reality. What I saw was a baby, still, arms down by its sides, head lowered and the dark hole where its heart should be beating away – but no flutter. I didn’t let myself panic. My OB muttered something about wanting another look, but with different eyes and a bigger, better machine. The fact she wanted it right then really should have sent me into an emotional state – and yet, still I sat calmly.

I was sent to the Radiology Department. The radiologist asked the nurse attending him if she knew what a fetus should measure at 10 weeks. She didn’t know – I answered, “About 3 inches long.” Still, I was calm. They were quiet. They wouldn’t show me the screen. They printed some pictures, handed them to me and told me I was to return with them to my OB’s office and she would talk to me.

I sat quietly in an exam room – waiting for my OB to return. She asked me if I had had any bleeding? Cramping? I mentioned some cramping – though no bleeding. Then she told me – the bigger, better ultrasound hadn’t changed what her little in-office piece of crap machine had shown her. I told her I should be used to this by now, and then I crumbled.

My OB left me alone – and I sat in that exam room and felt completely alone. In those few minutes I begged, I pleaded, I prayed; “Please let this be a mistake! I can’t do this again – I don’t WANT to do this again!” Then, “I need a hug. Don’t leave me alone – I can’t bear this on my own.” For the briefest moment, I felt a sense of peace, a warmth settle about my shoulders . . . and then it was gone. I composed myself and walked out to the desk to face the things I had to do next.

My doctor asked me twice if I was able to drive myself; if they needed to call someone. I declined. She handed me a piece of paper with the time and date to be at the hospital for my d&c; the do’s and don’ts; the watch-for’s and “call-us-ifs”. She said, "I would go over all this with you, but . . ."she stopped; I knew the drill. I asked for the u/s pictures. The girl at the desk looked perplexed. She looked at me and then at my OB. My OB said “Give them to her – all of them; just keep one for the file.” Those pictures were all I was going to have – all I would get.

I had started a Mother-to-be scrapbook calendar - afterward, I never started another one again, out of superstition perhaps. I wrote in it that I found out I was pregnant on June 26, 1998 and that I was "excited, happy, scared, nervous" - in that order, and that is exactly how I had reacted - initial excitement turning quickly to fear. Under health concerns I had written: "Carrying to term".

This loss, my 5th , was the catalyst for delving deeper into world of infertility. Following my d&c, I had an HSG – a horrible and painful experience that left me bleeding and sobbing in the bathroom afterward for a full 20 minutes until the nurse knocked on the door to ask if I was okay. I went through the whole infertility workup for the second time, with chromosomal analysis for dh and myself. The answers, were frustrating, because there were none – just the same suspicions from before – luteal phase defect, maybe some clotting/immunological issues – but nothing definitive. The pathology report noted a blood clot in the placenta; whether pre- or post-mortem, they could not say. Certainly it could have led to her demise – she had been termed a ‘genetically normal female’.

The following year I joined an email support group. I was newly pregnant again and falling apart – fearful and anxious. I knew I needed to be able to talk to someone, but someone who ‘got it’. One of the ladies there became a friendly correspondent, though it wasn’t until several months later we found we had an eerily similar common bond.

On the very same day I was told my baby no longer had a heartbeat – she sat in a similar office and was told the same thing. Two days afterward – she was scheduled to be induced and I was to have my second d&c, on the same exact day: Friday, August 7, 1998. This common bond cemented a friendship that has lasted over 9 years now – through emails, letters written by hand, Christmas cards, occasional packages. Over the last couple years there was a little drifting apart. The email support group we belonged to was something my needs had moved beyond; life goes on; people get busy and sometimes you lose track of each other. And then one day, there it was, an email in my inbox from a familiar name. We had both started blogging about the same time – neither of us knowing the other had started a blog. A lucky coincidence? Perhaps. Though, I have a feeling that somewhere, there are two little girls who know that there are some people in this life who were there when we needed them, and who should never be forgotten.

In loving memory of two little girls – Her precious Katie & my sweet Carena ~i~ ~i~


Never in my arms – forever in my heart


Mrs. Spit said...

Thinking, praying, waiting until heaven with you.

MrsSpock said...

The first time I met my husband's parents was at Christmas 3.5 years ago. My future FIL had too much wine, and I guess the fact that his son brought home his girlfriend for the first time made him think of grandchildren. He asked my husband if he knew he had an older brother, and then started crying. Nearly 40 years before my MIL had miscarried at 16 weeks and delivered a perfect little boy. 40 years later they both will still cry if they talk about it. The heart never forgets.

Julia said...

Heartbreaking story. And such a connection you and Loribeth have.

loribeth said...

Julia, my friend, one of the silver linings in the dark cloud of this whole experience has been the wonderful people I've met along the way, some IRL, some in cyberspace. THANK YOU for all the support you've given me over the years. I have been thinking about Carena today. I am sure, & I am sure glad, that my little girl has a friend, wherever they both are. (((BIG HUGS)))

CLC said...

I can't see. My eyes are overfilling with tears for both Carena and Katie. Hugs.

Isn't it pretty to think so said...

so you mean, I'm not going to get used to it, either? I was hoping it would get easier. So sorry for your losses.

Kristin said...

Aweee make me cry already. It's a journey ya is overall.