Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Six Years Ago Today

Six years ago today I woke up. The day was bright, but my heart was not. I made a doctor's appointment for late morning to be examined because I was bleeding, not just spotting, but bleeding. Six years ago today I miscarried. I was thirteen weeks, one day pregnant.

Over a month earlier I started spotting. I went to the ER and it was there that the journey began. I had an ultrasound and it was then that I found out that I was carrying two little blessings! I saw two little jellybeans wiggling on the screen and two little hearts thump thumping away. Jim and I began to tell our friends and family of the twins. Evan's response was, "two babies? We'd better call the doctor!" He was not quite two years old at the time! Over the next few weeks we rejoiced in the fact that we were going to grow our family VERY quickly! I joined online groups for moms of twins. I went to a Mothers of Multiples group meeting (where all I learned was how to play Bunco). I researched what I would need double of and even went so far as to purchase a twin stroller and matching car seats for our little bitty bitties. I found a good deal and was confident in my body's ability to carry twins.

On the morning of my twelve week gestation mark I remember waking up and literally breathing a sigh of relief. Miscarriages only happen under twelve weeks, and so I woke up glad to be carrying the twins and naively looking forward to continuing to carry two babies. My goal was to carry them till February figuring I'd deliver sometime in the middle of February. My due date was March 3 of 2003. 3/3/03 :) I figured that since I'd hit the 12 week mark with two in utero that it would be smooth sailing from then on. Of course, I might deliver early, but surely it would only be a little early. I never imagined that I would be anything more than a mother of twins with an older singleton (and who knows who else after them!).

August 23 was a Friday. I was shopping with my girlfriend when I felt a little gush. I went to the bathroom with my heart in my throat. I think I knew then that it was the beginning of the end. I called the doctor's office as soon as they opened on Monday morning and requested (probably not so politely) to be seen at the first available appointment. I dropped Evan off with friend Kelly and went to the appointment. After a few questions by the nurse practitioner I hopped upon the table for her to try to find a heartbeat with the little doppler thing. She didn't find one. She also didn't offer any trite answers like, "its still early" or "sometimes the baby is hiding". She simply got on the phone with the ultrasound department and made me an appointment.

I went out to the ultrasound desk to register knowing in my heart that one of the babies was gone. Surely we would find one little jellybean wiggling around on the screen. The ultrasound tech (the same one who discovered the twins) squirted the goop on my belly and began the exam. She kept the screen turned away from me the entire time so I merely watched the ceiling waiting for her to tell me that one of the babies was dead, but that there was still one dancing around in there. After a while she turned off her machine and said that she had to go talk to the doctor. At that point I was fairly certain that they were both gone. It's always a bad sign when they have to go talk to the doctor and don't talk to the patient. They sent me back to the waiting room and after a while I was called back to talk to the nurse practitioner. She told me that both of the babies were gone. They measured seven and eight weeks gestation, so had evidently died several weeks earlier. My body just hadn't gotten the message. She told me to go home and just "let nature take it's course" but that if I started bleeding too heavily or wanted to have a d/c to get it over with to come back in and they'd take care of it.

Not sure what else to do, I went home and started making phone calls. Jim was at in service gearing up for a new school year. I called the secretary at the school and left a message to have him call me (this before our cell phone days). I called my mom at work. I called Kelly and asked if she could keep Evan a little longer (she graciously did). I called my best girlfriend Mel. That afternoon turned into a little bit of a blur of tears and wandering the house wondering what to do next.

Eventually Jim picked Evan up from the sitters, we had dinner and settled down to our evening. That evening turned into a blur of cramping, contracting, hemmoraging, a call to Kelly to come to the house to stay with Evan, an ER visit, a plummeting through the floor blood pressure, questions, pokes, IVs, prods, a stretcher ride to the OR with my hands holding my soon to be empty belly, a gentle nurse anesthetist stroking my cheek as I went under the anesthesia and finally, waking up in the recovery room not pregnant.

Because it was late (around midnight) when I went in I was given a room on the post op floor for observation. Because of the trillions of liters of fluids they'd pumped into me in the ER I slept very little and kept my night nurse hopping with my requests for a bedpan every hour on the hour. She was great. She brought in two little white keepsake pillows and some trite poetry someone had donated to the unit for women in my situation. She talked with me or let me talk or just went about her job quickly and quietly. It really is true what people say about the nurses, they run the hospital. A bad nurse would have made the situation all the more unbearable and I am forever grateful for the good care I had from the nursing staff.

The next morning I woke up (can it be waking up if you never really slept?) and the doctor came in to chat. He actually pulled up a chair and sat down at the bedside which I think was a really caring thing to do. I asked if they could tell if the twins were identical or fraternal, boys or girls. He merely shook his head; adding to the questions that would plague me for months to come.

My physical healing came pretty quickly. The doctor did such a good job with the d/c that I was physically back to normal within a week or two. Naturally, the emotional healing took a little longer. I cannot say that I can pinpoint when I felt better, but as time has a way of doing, it healed all things, including the loss of twins.

So, now six years have passed since that one event. I have learned some thing as a result of that experience. I believe I have learned not to take a healthy pregnancy for granted. I have gone on to have three other healthy, happy, full term babies. If the twins had lived I would not have the spunk of a 'Tater, the fun of a Toby or the blessing of an Avery. I belive I am able to comfort other grieving mommies with the comfort I have received. The outpouring of support after the loss was just tremendous. I have a box full of cards, notes and keepsakes. I am honored to be called upon for advice when friends have other friends experiencing loss. I am glad to be able to give them suggestions on things to do and say and not do and not say.

Should you find yourself on the grieving end of a miscarriage, please know that the hurt and pain does get better. I will not tell you that "at least you can get pregnant", "at least it was early", or "there must have been something wrong with it". I will tell you that while you may never get "over it" you will get through it. You have to take the time to grieve this loss in your life, however that looks for you. Cry, write a letter to the baby, talk to someone, read books about grieving mommies, plant a tree or make a donation to your hospital of some keepsakes for other mommies who are leaving the hospital with empty arms. Take some time to grieve. And eventually, you will be able to string one good day after another until the loss fades to a memory.


Monica said...

Bless you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for the loss of the twins.

Your story helps me in several ways- I'm a postpartum nurse and often care for moms who are having their first babies after miscarriage(s). Also, my newly married sister just lost her baby last month. It's been heartbreaking.

Gramasheila53@aol.com said...

"The span of life is not measured by the span of its years" (Wisdom 4:8)

Isaiah 49: 13-16, 20, 23)
Shout for joy, you heavens, exult, you earth! You mountains, break into happy cries! For the Lord consoles his people and takes pity on those who are afflicted. For Zion was saying "The Lord has abandoned me, the Lord has forgotten me". But does a women forget her baby at the breast, or fail to cherish the child of her womb? Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you. See I have carved your name...and theirs... on the palms of my hands. Once more they will speak in your hearing, those children you thought were lost. You shall know that I am the Lord and that those who hope in me will not be put to shame.

Grandma and Grandpa miss them too.

Tooz said...

You truly have been blessed with your friends and family. Thank God for them. Like Monica, I, too, am sorry for your loss. I remember Everett telling me about it, way back when it happened. How very sad.