Friday, June 17, 2011

naming the loss: our first pregnancy, part I.

[The next two posts will be about our first pregnancy, subsequent loss, and process of finding healing amidst a very lonely and quiet pain.]

You can read the second post here. 

We didn't intend to be pregnant.  Well, we did eventually intend to be, but maybe two years after we were married.  You know, so we'd know how to love each other well and we would have gotten to explore marriage, have hundreds of sleep-ins and deep conversations over coffee with no interruptions.  After two years, we'd feel secure in our ability to parent and we'd feel ready for a little seed to be planted and frickin' take over our lives forever.

I still think this would have been a good plan.  We had loved each other from very long distances through friendship and special friendship and even engagement.  We got married on our 52nd day actually in person.  (Not that we counted).  We deserved some quiet and close without children to worry about.

But in our honeymoon togetherness on Vancouver Island with rain and waves crashing on rocky beaches, nausea-inducing whale viewing, extremely yummy food, long road trips with ferry rides and the sweet relief of finally and forever - we somehow made a baby.

We didn't mean to, and we didn't realize it.  I was exceptionally emotional on our honeymoon, which is possibly explained by the surging and raging hormones.  Possibly.  But otherwise, it wasn't until we were back in Perth where we'd spend our first months of marriage and the day I expected my temperature to drop and Aunt Flow to arrive, my temperature began to increase.  And the next day also.  And the next.  This was very weird and atypical for me so we bought a little home pregnancy test, nearly positive it would be negative.  It was positive.

I immediately started to sob.  I really, really, really, in all of my natural family planning dedication and skill could not believe that we had made a baby on our honeymoon.  I was terrified.  It felt like we barely knew each other.  We needed time.  We really needed time.  We really could not be parents yet.

My best friend was wedding dress searching and I was supposed to go along with some other friends, so I put on my brave face, pretended my life had not just fully changed, and left my new husband and baby-daddy-to-be alone.  Then he sobbed.

That afternoon we processed together, for real.  We spoke what was on our hearts.  We cried.  We were afraid, and we decided to give that to the God who we felt had invited us to be together in the first place.  We relinquished the control of our fertility that we wanted, but no longer had.  We relinquished the control over our future that we wanted, but no longer had.  And something changed, drastically and wonderfully.

We felt joy.  We called our parents and my siblings and told them the shocking, crazy, abundant news.  They were all so happy for us.  We told a very few of our friends, through email or in person.  Very few.  They were all so excited.  And like that tiny little baby inside of me, our excitement grew and grew.

February 7th would be our 'due date'.  I borrowed maternity clothes from my friend and thought of baby names that could be possible.  I stopped in at a doctor's office just to find out when I should go in for any blood tests.  We bought expensive pre-natal vitamins at Chris' insistence.  "I'm going to be an over-protective Indian father, becca - you need to get used to it now."  We took a picture of ourselves walking to the pharmacy to mark the first day of the rest of our lives.

We decided to mostly keep this baby a secret until the second trimester - we hadn't thought that through, we just kind of thought that's what you do.  There were so many times we wanted to announce to the whole world that we had returned from our honeymoon pregnant.  Two weeks of this joyful dreaming, growing and changing - every thought coloured by our little baby that we loved but didn't yet know.

Then one morning I noticed a bit of blood, but it stopped so I didn't think much of it.  The next morning it was the same.  The third morning it appeared again, and this time continued throughout the day.  The bleeding became heavier, no longer could I consider it just spotting.  I called the doctor's office I had stopped in at, thinking they'd reassure me that everything was fine and it was normal.  They thought I should come in for a blood test.  I called Chris, crying, and he came and met me.  We caught the train, hopeful but scared, but really thinking things were probably okay.

The doctor was very kind and reassured me that sometimes women wake up in a pool of blood with the baby just fine.  He ordered an Hcg test and thought we should go for a scan the next day, Saturday, and probably would see a growing baby with a strong heartbeat.  The doctor had said to go on with life as normal.

By evening, my bleeding was still steady.  I was losing hope.  We sat on the couch in our little flat together and Chris sang "His banner over me is love" over our little baby and prayed to God to sustain it's life.  I'm pretty sure I just cried.

In the morning I drank my required amount of water and we caught the train to the only ultrasound place open on a Saturday.  We were pretty hopeful going in, and I was bleeding a bit less than before.  It was a young woman doing the scan and when she placed the magic wand on my abdomen, she couldn't see anything.  Just over 6 weeks she said it could be quite small and she'd need to do an internal ultrasound. Suddenly, our little baby appeared on the screen.  Our little seed, planted in my safest place.  But so quiet.  Not moving.  Just a little sac.

She didn't see the heart beating, she said.  It could be that you're not as far along as you think.  Or it could be a blighted ovum.  And then she said, "That's when your body thinks it's pregnant when it's actually not."  I still feel sickened by her explanation, which is entirely untrue and pretty heartless.  When she said it then, I couldn't breathe.  But still, she said, it's possible you're only 4 weeks along and everything is fine.  You'll just have to come in for another scan in a few weeks.

We took the train home, pretty stunned and confused.  What was happening to our little family?  We were really losing our baby?  It was unreal, nearly impossible.  Why would this baby invade our world for just a few weeks, and then just go?

That afternoon in our flat, death settled in with us.  I had the most excruciating, hopeless pain I've ever had for many hours, not even coming in waves like labour, but just staying with relentless intensity.  I bled heavily and sobbed and sobbed. I was afraid to take any kind of pain relief in case the baby was somehow okay, so I just laid curled on the bed, wailing into my pillow and writhing in disbelief.  Chris could only hold the hot water bottle on my lower back and pray quietly.  After a few hours we weren't sure if we needed to go to a hospital, as the pain and bleeding weren't letting up. Chris called a couple of our friends to come and be with us.  As they prayed for me the pain very much subsided and a terrible relief set in.  My friend Lisa stayed and we ate grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, watched television and didn't say too much.

A follow up blood test, a call from our doctor saying he was very sorry, but we had definitely lost the baby, extreme disorientation, hours and hours of sobbing, (mostly me in Chris' arms) and ten days of bleeding:  And that was our first pregnancy, ending on the 13th of June, 2009, at 6 weeks gestation and about 6 weeks of marriage.


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