I’ve referred back to the days when Doug and I were “broke and happy.” I don’t mean to imply that we are now rich and miserable; we are neither. But experiencing and surviving something so devastating together, I feel, can take even the most passionate, delirious, us-against-the-world, stupidly in love couple, and tame it somehow. The miscarriage and its accompanying emotions and decisions tore us out of our honeymoon phase – too soon, I might add – and settled us into the comfort and contentment of a long-term partnership, instead.
Back to the story.
The pretty, redheaded ultrasound tech called one of the doctors in to read the scan, to make sure there was no fetus growing in one of my fallopian tubes, which would have been a whole other nightmare. There wasn’t. But, this doctor said, my hormone levels were indicative of early pregnancy, and we didn’t know how far along I was, so it was possible that nothing had grown yet. She advised me to come back in a week for a rescan and a blood test and that we would go from there.
It was too late, however. I lost most, if not all hope at that moment, and a few minutes later found myself sitting in the hallway of the hospital, crying. Doug tried to comfort me, saying our baby was just too small to see, but I knew. When it’s your body, you know.
I tried, though, to stay brave and hopeful throughout the next week, while Doug and I were on the east coast visiting family and attending a friend’s wedding. I read the pregnancy book the midwives had given me from cover to cover. I took it easy and drank lots of water. There are pictures of me at Gettysberg with one hand on my stomach.
At the next ultrasound appointment, the black hole in my uterus had grown slightly, but was still empty. And there was another, smaller black hole on the other side now, this one also empty. Again, the doctor was called in – a different doctor than the previous week. This time the story was that if they were twins, they would grow more slowly than a single fetus, and since we still weren’t sure how far along I was…
I told this doctor that, if there was no baby in there, I did not want to miscarry on my own. I didn’t want to deal with the cramping, the bleeding, the days of work I might have to miss. So if there was no hope, I told her, I’d like to have the thing vacuumed out, please. She told me she’d call me when my bloodwork was back from the lab, so we could see what my hormone levels were doing, and that we’d deal with that decision (surgical verses natural miscarriage) if and when we had to.
A few hours later, one of the midwives called, saying my hormone levels were still rising, and that the doctor wanted me to schedule another ultrasound and blood test for the following week.
Then the whole scene repeated itself. Three. More. Times.
For six weeks, I lived in a state of non-pregnant limbo. My entire heart and body were telling me that there was nothing to hope for, yet I couldn’t convince these doctors (a different one each time – since I’d been assigned to the midwives and not a specific OB, I just got whoever was on call that day) to give me an abortion. Because if there was still a chance that something could grow, we didn’t want to kill it, now did we? Meanwhile, my digestive system was violently revolting against the misdirected hormones coursing through my blood stream. Meanwhile, I couldn’t drink, work out, have sex, take painkillers, or lift anything at work, because I didn’t want to trigger the natural miscarriage I was trying to avoid.
After the fourth ultrasound, the fourth doctor agreed to schedule the D&C surgery, then consulted with another doctor and decided we should wait “just one more week.” After the fifth ultrasound, the fifth doctor came into the room where I was waiting for the verdict and said that she was so sorry, but it looked like the pregnancy wasn’t viable. I think she expected me to be upset, but I had done my grieving a month before, and by now was devoid of all emotion, save a strange mixture of anger and relief.
We scheduled the surgery for the following Tuesday, September 16th.