Another day to stain my head and heart.
I was a nervous wreck getting ready for my OB appointment today. This was my regular appointment, scheduled 4 weeks ago. I was short with the boys this morning. Benny wasn't eating as well as he normally does. Sammy wasn't putting his shoes on fast enough.
The biggest thing I feared was that another bomb would be dropped on us today. I was terrified that my doctor would tell me something like, "You could be in danger if you don't terminate this baby and it doesn't miscarry by a certain week." My doctor already told me Friday that since I was so far along in the pregnancy if/when I did miscarry I'd be at risk for hemorrhaging and it could be life-threatening if I didn't make it to the hospital in time. Again, not something you want to hear.
I knew in my heart that while I couldn't bring myself to terminate the pregnancy, anything like some 'life threatening' news for me would tip the scales and make the decision all the more agonizing to go against. I seriously considered things like, "Could I give my life for my child's if it truly came to that? Wouldn't that be the 'right' thing to do?" My concerns primarily came from a lack of information. The time we spent with the specialist after learning the news last Thursday was brief. It was all thrown at us so fast. I really left that appointment with a wall of unknowns in front of me. They barely discussed much of anything.
Back in grad school I learned of a theory called, "Uncertainty Reduction." In a nutshell it says that we can't stand to be in a state of uncertainty. We will do anything we can to fill in the gaps of the unknown with hypotheses, even rumors if it helps us to fill in those gaps with the 'known'. Anything to reduce the uncertainty that we are feeling.
I think that in an effort to 'reduce my uncertainties' I was trying to consider all options. What if I found out I'd be in danger if the baby didn't miscarry? What if I couldn't try for another child? I've had 2 c-sections already, how many can a woman have? Could I trade the life of a potential future child for this child with the 'lethal' prognosis? (Have I mentioned that I have grown to hate the word 'lethal'? It was used so frequently in the last few days by medical personnel.)
So as we waited for an eternity--an hour in the doctor's office--those questions chased each other around my mind. The boys watched Dora's Pirate Adventure on the DVD player we brought in for them. Because he had only 6 hours of sleep last night, Alex dozed off and on in the chair.
I can't tell you how long and how agonizing that hour was. I wanted to tell Dora to zip it. She sang with such gusto it was making me sick, literally. I grew tired of looking around the office. The brown carpeting. The medical certificates elegantly framed on the wall. The statues of doctors holding babies. The family picture showing my doctor, her husband and 3 smiling children. The collage of baby pictures showing her twins. The stupid pyramid clock on the desk was annoying. It was sliced at angles and rotated by seconds, minutes, and hours. How could anyone tell the time on that clock?
Finally the doctor came down the hall and introduced herself to Alex. She said she wanted to get all of her other patients out of the way so she could spend as much time with us as we needed. That was nice, but I wish they could have just told us to come later. It was so hard sitting there for an hour with nothing but worry and Dora pummeling your head.
One of the first questions she asked us was about our preference. I told her that I just didn't think I could terminate. It might make all the sense in the world to do so, but it just didn't feel right to me. I knew I could never live with my decision if I did do that. I know many women make this decision and I respect them because it is such a difficult decision to make. But we all make our own decisions that fit who we are. For me, it just was not something I could do.
From there we talked in-depth about everything that could happen and when. What if the baby miscarried in the next few weeks. What if the baby went past 20 weeks, how he would 'come out.' What hospital I would go to for what procedure. I know poor Alex's head was spinning--go to this hospital before 20 weeks but go to that one after because they have a level 3 NICU. Go to Labor and Delivery at this hospital. Go to the ER at that one.
We discussed having a 3rd c-section if my baby made it to near full-term. How he could still pass away because the birth process is so traumatic. Would I hold him for a few hours or if the neo-natologist gave him a quick assessment that saving his life was not possible, or if it was, he would be rushed to Dayton Children's Hospital where they have surgeons standing by but I would not be if anything were to go wrong there.
We discussed his chances. We discussed all of the things wrong with him. There were four primarily: 1- thickness behind the neck which could signal different problems, but not necessarily mental difficulties like I first thought. In fact, at this time, they didn't see any specific brain or heart problems but it could have been to early to detect. 2- A portrusion in the abdominal wall--this is something like, "Omaphele" or something like that. It doesn't matter the exact word. I was happy to know that it was only the baby's small intestines which were outside but still enclosed in a sack, compared to other situations were some babies have all of their organs outside and no sack to protect them. I know it sounds strange, but sometimes you need even the tiniest of hope to hold on to. 3- Extra digits--not a problem. 4--A cleft lip and/or palate--again, something they could fix. I was happy that that was ALL they found. Again, you take what you can get and not seeing any obvious heart problems right away was something ever so tiny that I could hold on to.
At this point it was around 5:30 or so. We'd been at the doctor's office for almost 2 hours. Dora had finally been shut off. It was now time for my ultrasound to check on my baby. I told Alex that he could take the boys out since they wouldn't be able to handle much more.
The doctor came in while the technician was doing my ultrasound. I'm no expert but I'd like to say I've learned something from all of these ultrasounds. There wasn't a heartbeat. I knew it before they even told me. My baby was lying kind off all stretched out with one hand up by his face and the other down. His legs were stretched out. I kept hoping to see the little 'flicker' as I called it, I hoped to see the little heartbeat. They kept looking at different angles. The doctor came close to the screen. I asked, "We can't see the heartbeat, huh?" My doctor said, "No, Kim. I'm sorry."
Even though I knew this was possible, an onslaught of tears hit again. There was my precious little child lying dead in my womb. Never to be held by me. Never to be sung to Mommy. Never to feel Mommy's tears on his face as I told him over and over how much I loved him. Never to nurse at my breast. How could this be? How could he have died so quickly? And why on earth couldn't we have done the ultrasound first? Do you know that I actually apologized to the doctor for taking up so much of her time discussing options when it wasn't even necessary?
My baby had been so active last Thursday. His little ankles were crossed. He kicked his feet several times. He squirmed, wiggled and rolled. It was so beautiful to see. But today, he was limp. Lifeless. He looked like a child's doll just...lying there.
One thing touched me. My baby died sometime today. I hit 13 weeks today. My baby measured 13 weeks. That meant he was with me until sometime today. It gives me a small degree of comfort in knowing that. Maybe he died this morning. Maybe it was during our visit with the doctor. I'll never know but I am happy to know that he wasn't gone for long before we found out. I don't know why this brings me a small amount of peace but it does. Knowing when he died. I guess I feel closer to him somehow.
I asked one more time for pictures of my baby. They were so kind to give them to me. Again, they are not the best angle, nor as close up as I could like but they show my tiny little love in there all the same. I'll treasure those pictures forever.
I was the last to leave the doctor's office. Again, for the few nurses and staff who were left it was a hush as I exited. Glances and quiet that quite frankly I'm getting tired of walking through.
I had to yell for Alex in the boys from the parking lot. They were playing in the fall leaves in a small yard behind the doctor's office. The boys reached me first--smiles on their faces, colorful leaves in their hands and a joyous, "Hi Mommy!" echoing in the wind. Alex trudged up the hill behind them.
I told him, "He's gone." He looked at me. I said it again, "Our baby's gone." I could see the disbelief in his face. I knew he was utterly shocked that it happened so quickly. Before he took the boys out, I had told him how relieved I was that all factors were still equal, that I was so glad to learn that my life wouldn't be any danger or anything crazy if we didn't terminate, that no more bombs were dropped on us. He said that for him, nothing new came of today, it was all like last Thursday--hard all the same. Guess I shouldn't have thought like that because little did I know that the worst bomb of all would be dropped on me.
I go in to the hospital tomorrow for my D&C. I've always hated that word. It's disgusting and I don't even like to think about it. I took the option to be fully asleep during the 30 minute procedure rather than in a twilight sleep. I shudder to think what I would hear or smell if I was even faintly coherent.
Well, that's all for now. The final blow. Is my journey over? Oh no. It's just beginning. Trying to make sense of all of this. Trying to pick up the pieces and figure out what to do next. Trying to define a new 'normal' for us. Trying to conceive again. All of that is a journey that is yet ahead of me. It is the journey of motherhood.
Thank you again dear friends and readers for your support and prayers. It's helped me immensely. I do seriously hope that if you are going through any sort of crisis in your family, my words help you in some way.
I guess there's always a chance I could die tomorrow. The doctor told me that. Of course, it's slim but hah, you don't want to know what I think of odds anymore. If something like that were to happen? My prayers would be for a peaceful and loving life for my husband and precious boys. My joy would be knowing that I would soon be in Heaven with my darling infant son.
Until my next post, may you take one day at a time and may you celebrate each and every joy in your life--no matter how tiny!