Thursday, April 24, 2014


The bleeding after this second procedure stopped quickly (I should have known when it didn't after the first). But it started again on Tuesday afternoon, since I'd been on an estrogen-progesterone overlap since the first D&E, for the Asherman's. Because even if you don't want another pregnancy, you don't want Asherman's filling up your uterus, either. I need to talk more about the medical aftermath of the bad ultrasound -- I've been wanting to get it out so I can start talking about the future.

But back to Tuesday: I obviously stopped the hormones after the craziness of the other night. So then I had the inevitable withdrawal bleed. And even though this one seemed totally within the realm of normal and not like it might kill me, it scared me anyway. So I couldn't sleep on Tuesday night -- I maybe got three hours -- because I was afraid that if I fell asleep, it could start getting crazy again, and what if I didn't wake up this time? 

Paging Dr. Freud: Sound like PTSD to you? Elemental, my dear.

So then yesterday I took H. to the dentist and while I was standing there listening to this dentist talk about how we need to somehow get floss to go in for a nightly jam with my four-year-old's back teeth, I started feeling dizzy and nauseous, not unlike the feeling I felt every day for 14 weeks when I thought I might be getting a baby out of it. And then when I got home, I felt hot and got a 99.4 reading on my thermometer.

Quick quiz: If anyone is going to get a post-D&C infection despite prophylactic antibiotics, who would it be? Yeah, that's what I thought too, so back we went to the hospital, this time to the OB's office. The last time I was there, I was 16 weeks 6 days. I asked the OB at that appointment whether I was over the hump, really in the safe zone, could I finally relax. And she told me absolutely, no need to worry about miscarriage anymore. And then they cut the scene and cued the sad music. 

Another ultrasound, and it looks like this time I'm ok. My lining is thinner than after a period, she said. Nothing else in there to cause trouble. And my temperature was still 99.6, but she doesn't consider that a fever. She said I'm probably just run down from the trauma and lack of sleep. It still seemed ominous, but there was nothing I could do but force her to run a CBC to ease my troubled mind, if only a bit.

I'm feeling better today. Temperature is normal, and so was the CBC. But how can I stop myself from watching for danger in every corner? How can I keep from mentally fast-forwarding to the ICU every time I have a symptom? It's so hard to know now when to pay attention to something, or when it's garden-variety neurosis -- the doctors, I have learned, do not always provide an accurate barometer on this.

I'm shaken. I can still see the plot, but it's about two paces ahead of me. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pretend There's a Happy Ending

It's a fight to keep above the current.

Progress is being made. Honestly the other night I was so terrified I'm finding more gratitude in small moments.

But there are traps everywhere. Let me look for a fun beach hat for the summer, I thought tonight in a sudden burst of optimism. A search on Pinterest for "beach hats" yielded a woman sitting cross-legged on the sand, adorable beach hat on her head, huge baby bump in her middle. That should have been me. How can I not be sad about that?

The whole thing is starting to feel more abstract. At first it seemed like a dream that he was lost, and now it almost seems possible the pregnancy itself was the dream.

Early on, there was a pregnancy fair at my local hospital. It felt a little bit like tempting fate, but we went mainly for the maternity floor tour. When we arrived, they handed H. a "big brother" sticker, and my first thought was that if something happened, that would be a moment that made me cry. That is true.

Upstairs, during the L&D tour, as I asked the nurse questions, I felt like an actress in a play about someone expecting a baby. It felt like I was asking for someone else. I thought it seemed silly, like make believe.

Turns out, I was right about that too.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boston Strong

I've been thinking about my beloved city, the toughest town I know. About how a million people came out for the marathon today, to show fear and evil a thing or two, even the people who had to relive moments that will haunt them forever.

I love that dirty water. They're my people. Boston stands for no whiners. It's about picking yourself up by your bootstraps, putting your running shoes right back on. And if you don't win it all, even if you lose in heartbreak during the last inning of the very last game, well damn it, you come back again next season and try something else. And the people who matter, the ones who sat with you through all the losses -- they'll be there to watch you win it all.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Horror Show

It's hard to say what my favorite part of Friday night/Saturday morning was.

Was it the actual hemorrhage part, where I somehow (according to my husband who had to clean up the crime scene bathroom situation at 4:30 a.m.) got blood on the walls, all over the sink, in the heating vent and on the door?

The part where my husband fainted after jumping out of bed, and I wasn't sure what would happen to H. if both of us had to ride in an ambulance?

The ambulance ride itself (just me), looking up at a teenage boy, a member of the high school paramedics program, who now, I'm fairly certain, can never unsee the sight of my bloody lady bits?

Maybe it was the number of times I was asked how many pads I was soaking an hour, when the bleeding so obviously could not be contained by any man-made pad.

Or how about laying in an ER room by myself, terrified, door closed and inexplicably no call button available, wondering what would happen if I started bleeding out and no one knew?

The part where they found clumps of retained tissue in my uterus and told me, unsurprisingly, that I was going to the OR?

Perhaps when I started crying on my way to said OR and my orderly told me a story of how she couldn't stop crying while she was pregnant?

I think maybe it was being brought to the maternity floor for recovery, where I was offered an ice pack wrapped in a tiny, artificially baby-scented newborn diaper. Hearing those newborn cries through the walls, and having my H. with me in a room where I'd pictured him meeting his brother.

Yeah. It's hard to say.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No Answer

I got the call I dreaded today. From the surgeon who did the procedure.

Pathology is complete. There is no answer. No clues were found. 

On top of this, they screwed up my testing so a karyotype could not be obtained. Since this was a PGD cycle, I'm told there's "only" a 2-3 percent chance the cause was genetic, within the margin of error of the original microarray. When you've previously been in the 1 percent for something, a 2-3 percent chance is not a comfort.

So maybe the answer was there and we'll never know. Or maybe there is no answer. Maybe it was just one of those things. Horrible things happen and sometimes we just cannot know why. 

We can't have this baby, we've known that for a month. The one thing that could have granted us a small solace, a way to wrap our heads around the loss too big to fit in a form we can manage, was an answer. And now we can't have that either. It feels so cruel. It feels like calling out for help and getting nothing in return. It feels like being left alone, for the rest of my life, with a pain I'll never understand.

It feels like losing him all over again.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I am told to plant a tree or get a bench outside and dedicate it to the one who was lost.

I'm sorry, but screw that.

I wanted to show him the snow, the stars, love.

I'm broken. I can't even breathe. What can a bench possibly do?

I am an unsatisfied customer. I want my money back. What was the point of that? He grew for 16.6 weeks. Never breathed air. Never knew joy. Did he know joy? I don't know. Did he know pain? Did he suffer? I can't stand the thought.

It's so abstract, so unsatisfying to grieve an unborn baby. There are no memories. Who was he? What did he look like? I'll never know. A pathologist knows. I can only guess.

When I think of the joy we almost had, how close we were to happily ending this seven-year odyssey I want to throw things, beat my chest, scream primally. All signs point to permanent damage.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Random Thoughts from the Bell Jar

Have you ever felt a sadness so visceral, so cutting, so arresting, it actually makes you anxious? I hope you never do. Because I now have, and it's hell.

Today I have the unpleasant task of changing my closet back from the maternity wonderland I'd just recently created in it, to -- what? A mishmash of patchwork outfits that will somehow fit this sad, confused body that's too small for maternity and too large for the skinny clothes I'd finally, finally made it back into 3.5 years post-H. So thank you, universe, for adding fashion emergency to the long list of total suckage I must face in the wake of fetal death.

There should be a service that swoops in and takes away maternity clothes, replacing them with loose but adorable items that tide you over until you can at least get your old body back, even if you'll never have your baby. If I suddenly come into money I may start one of those, along with a spa-like center for late D&Es, where you put on a plush white robe, have your procedure and then move into the massage/pedicure/facial treatment room with a glass of orange-infused water and a stack of glossy magazines. Much unlike the real D&E situation, which I am gearing up to finally talk about.

Grief brings so much material. There are so many things swirling around in my head, so much to get out.

This week I began to feel like I ruined my life with this IVF cycle. Because what it most likely left us with is embryos in the freezer, nowhere to put them (since my uterus is clearly the incubator of doom) and a loss I will probably never stop grieving. The last leg of our journey may be a completely unfulfilled longing and potential babies I may have to let go. I can barely type the words.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ask Me How I'm Grieving

People ask me how I'm doing and I'm genuinely unsure of how to answer them. Do you want the real answer, or the cocktail party answer? The real answer is: I'm alone in a deep sea of grief. Numb. It's your worst nightmare, a physical and emotional trauma with a beginning that replays relentlessly but no end in sight.

When I start opening up with those who don't need me to censor, I start to get the feeling they're sorry they asked. It's nothing they say, it's not that they're not supportive. But what is there to say? It's sort of like asking a lonely old person how they are, and wanting to flee as soon as they start rattling off their laundry list of ailments. I know as soon as I stop talking or texting with them, they'll go back to whatever they were doing, grateful for the relative monotony of their day, of folding towels, writing an email, cooking stew.

It's my nightmare, mine alone. I'm surrounded in every way, physically and virtually, by people who love me. But I'm the one in the thick, the only one who can wade to the other shore.

I'm afraid of who I may become. I feel like Miss Havisham, some Dickensian specter lurking in cobwebbed shadows, avoiding sunlight. I ventured out yesterday and couldn't outrun it: I cried at the smoothie shop, overcome in an instant with a crushing grief by one of the thousand thoughts of loss that lurk like mental divots.

When I'm not consumed by deep mourning, I'm filled with a blind rage. I mean, seriously, what the fuck. That maternity dress, the one I was going to live in this summer, bump out, adorable. Was it too much to ask? All the people expecting within months of me. I guess I dared to dream too much, that I could have the simple joy of sharing those moments with them. Someone asked me today if H. is my only. For me, at this moment, a lethal question. To most of the population, benign, innocent. Why wouldn't you assume I could just have more if I want them?

But here and there, a break. Pockets of joy. Just like I remember with the other losses, much harder work this time, but popping up. This morning I woke up to plans of an Easter egg hunt. It was so tempting to roll over and fall back into the alternative reality of dreams, where existence may or may not include intrauterine fetal demise. But no. I need to be a mommy, I thought. And somehow I summoned the will to get in the shower.

At the event, a dixie band played "On the Sunny Side of the Street," and it felt like encouragement in spite of all the families flocking around me with two, three, four kids, making it look so easy. "Grab your coat and get your hat, leave your worries on the doorstep; just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street...."

I'm trying.

So if you're wondering how I'm doing, there it is.

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