Saturday, February 28, 2015

Smile Though Your Heart is Aching

It is a story that started on February 3, 2015. It is a story that would change its ending at unexpected times. A story filled with sadness. Agony. Heartbreak.

It is also a story of strength, love, family, and friendship. Finding beauty in the pain. Seeing it through to another day. I know I am strong. I know I am loved.

I now know what it is like to lose someone. Someone you love unconditionally and eternally.

You see, on February 3 I was happy. I was giddy. "Life's A Happy Song" was playing on repeat in my head; especially the line "I can't seem to wipe this smile off my face."  At 2:30 pm I was going to see my little nug. My eight week old baby. My fourth bird.

But I knew. I knew as soon as I saw that small, little baby it wasn't good. There was no heartbeat. The baby stopped growing at 6 weeks and 2 days. Here I was, exposed, vulnerable, and in shock. They kept checking, there was silence, but we all knew.

Those moments replay in my head at the most random of times.

I went in so cocky, so sure everything would be fine. I even told Marc there was no need for him to come with me, just another check-up, we've done this before. How foolish was I?

They tell you it's the chromosomes, the body's way of knowing something isn't right. Well excuse me, there is nothing wrong with MY baby.  My baby's fine. My baby is perfect. Don't talk shit about something I love so much.

I'm supposed to protect my baby. At the very least I'm supposed to keep it alive. And I couldn't. I couldn't put a band-aid on it, no Tylenol, shit, I'd give my baby Gabe's seizure medicine if that will help.

But nothing would help. Nothing could change the outcome.

Heart broken. Shattered. And a piece will always be gone. I know that for a fact.

"Thank God it happened so early."

"Thankfully I already have three kids. Can't imagine this happening the first go round."

The things you tell yourself so you don't go insane. So you don't fall in to a deep depression.

When such a tragedy strikes the doctor pulls you in to his office.  Gives you three options: you can have a natural miscarriage, you can take one of two medicines to jump start the miscarriage, or you can have a procedure done, it's called a D&C. They give you all these options right after you've learned your baby is dead. I stared straight ahead and the words met my ears, but I didn't process it. I didn't have follow-up questions, didn't have a thing to say. I left saying I didn't want surgery.

I knew I had to call my mom but I couldn't call her while she was at work. So I'd wait. I picked up my kids at my friend's house and she knew. She could tell by the look on my face something was not good. Not good at all. She hugged me.  Many times. Even after knowing I hate hugs. HA! Sorry, have to add humor somewhere. It was nice to have someone to lean on because standing was not an option at that moment.

Then my mom texted me, "Is everything ok?" And she knew. Moms always know. So I had to call her at work, the one thing I didn't want to do. And I cried. Deep, real tears. Not the stupid tears you get when someone breaks up with you, or you don't get the job you want, those tears you cry when you think life is so hard but really isn't. These were tears of death and depression.

And the thing is, you have to repeat this story. You have to go over the details time and again. But it is my fault. I decided with this pregnancy I was going to tell my closest of peoples early because I was SO excited. I was having my final baby and it was glorious. I was so happy. We had names picked out, the doctor and I agreed on a c-section date, I knew who the Godparents were going to be. I told work I couldn't come back next year.  My brain was filled with baby things, it was all I could think about. So I told people.

Now I know why people don't.

Huge daggers stab in to you every time you repeat the words "there was no heartbeat", "it stopped growing."

But you know, saying it is nothing to feeling it. To think about what's going on inside your body is not a pleasant experience. I, choosing so, walked around with a dead baby for two weeks. But in a sick way I needed that experience. It gave me a chance to stay pregnant a little longer, mourn the death of my bird, and come to terms with that was happening.

When you choose to go the natural route, they give you a time limit. Makes sense, dead baby can't be in you but for so long.  So I scheduled my D&C for February 19. Baby #4 and I had two more weeks together before the eviction would be forced upon both of us.

Every day I waited. Every day I thought it would be the day.  It never happened. So on February 18th I went in for my pre-op work. Had an ultrasound to confirm what we knew, gave my blood and money to the hospital, and then went out to lunch with my husband.

And then we got home.

It started.

It started right after my in-laws left, Marc was busy with something, and there was macaroni boiling on the stove. Miscarriages start at the most inconvenient of times. It doesn't care that you have three kids to take care of, food to prepare, fights to stop, that life keeps going.

What I didn't know is that miscarriages mimic labor. The pain is real, but minimal at first. And then it intensifies. It becomes mind numbing. At least with labor you end up with a smoochy baby that you can snuggle and smell. I was going to end up with a whole of nothing.

And of course this would happen the night before my surgery. A surgery I didn't want but finally mentally prepared for.

I couldn't believe what a turn this had taken.

It started at 3 pm, it ended at 5 am. It ended with me crawling out of the shower, curling up on a very soft, pink robe, and going to sleep. It was the best sleep I had gotten in about two weeks. A weird sense of calm came over me. I knew it was over.

The pain Marc felt all night I cannot imagine. Yes, I went through physical pain, but I cannot fathom what he felt as he watched me wither around. That guy loves me. A lot. And I knew how lucky I was to have someone stick by me in such horrible circumstances. After Gabe's seizure he kept one eye open every night to make sure our baby was ok. On this night he kept one arm on me to make sure I was ok.

I woke up the next day and called my doctor's office to see what was next. Should mention here that Thursdays are his surgery days, so he is not in the office, he is at the hospital busy with surgeries. So getting a hold of him is quite difficult. So the nurse told me to come in for yet another ultrasound, this is number three by the way. The third time I'd see a uterus with no baby. Not heartbreaking in the least! So the two ultrasound techs told me there were was still some blood/tissue left but it was right at my cervix and I'd probably be passing it soon. You see, you can't leave anything behind, it can cause sepsis and sepsis is scary as shit. Never EVER read about it at 3 in the morning. Bad idea. Anyhoo, they finally get ahold of my doctor and everyone decides they'll cancel the surgery and give me one of those two medicines to jumpstart contractions to get everything out. Ok, fine, give me the meds. Take them for two days and notta.  Nothing. I have another ultrasound that Monday, yep, number four, which shows not everything is out. Fucking fantastic. So they give me the other medicine to jumpstart contractions and warned me it'll get bad. It'll be like what I experienced the week before. So he refilled my pain meds and sent me on my way.

I stayed awake all night waiting for it to begin.

It never did.

Of course it didn't. This is the case of the never ending miscarriage. Again, I found out on February 3, this is now February 24. I was done. Miscarriage won, Emily lost, I finally said perform the D&C ASAP. Somehow, someway, they had an opening for Thursday, February 26. It'll all be done. It'll all be over.

As a side note, because this fact cannot be lost, my paternal grandmother died on February 17. Days before my originally scheduled D&C and a day before my miscarriage. So my parents came down the night of my miscarriage but my dad had to leave the next night to attend the funeral. It was a pretty fucked up time I tell ya. My poor father lost his mother and his grandbaby in the same week. My mom and dad had to be apart during a pretty sad time. It's amazing how strong they both were for me. Their pain never showed, they put it all aside for me.

My mom stayed with us for five days. I never had to worry about my kids or my dog, she took care of everything so that Marc could take care of me. I cried, again, when she left. That sucked. But she gave me so much I knew she had to get back to her life.

The poor lady had to turn around and come back days later to take care of all of us again. Luckily my dad could come this time. Thank God for them. I would not have made it through this without them. They took care of my kids, cleaned our house, bought groceries, watched movies with us, loved us unconditionally. It's amazing how your age does not determine your need for your parents. At 34 I need them now more than ever.

I also have to thank Marc's parents, Barb and Steve. They checked on us multiple times a day, took care of kids when needed, and Barb drove me to appointments when I needed her to.  Family is the best, aren't they?

Again, so many people were saddened by this, but they never let me see it, they only worried about Marc and me and the kids. We have the most incredible people in our lives.  I didn't know people loved us so much and were so willing to take care of us. It's been a beautiful revelation.

Something else that needs to be mentioned is that it snowed the night before my final D&C. So at 5:45 am I was out shoveling the snow with my husband and father so we could get to the hospital on time. What are the chances?

I'm telling you, I've never been through such a fucked up situation. And I should probably apologize now for the profanity I used, but this is real life and these are my words. But I am sorry.

After Gabe's seizure I floated for a week. I told myself to breathe, to put one foot in front of the other, and just stay in the zone. I had to convince myself to press forward.

Same thing happened with this. I pulled a Scarlett O'Hara and kept telling myself to worry about it tomorrow. I did the very adult, very mature thing of ignoring what was happening. I just didn't think about it. I focused on everything but this.

The only problem is that it still creeps up. It boils to the surface and you can't do a thing but let the tears out. I only did this privately though. Who needs to see a depressed, crying lady? No one. The answers is always no one.

Day of surgery I was super nervous. I've never been put to sleep before. This was my first time. I am happy to say everything went well. They woke me up and that's really all I cared about.

I was in the little holding cell where they keep you right before surgery and all I wanted to do was cry. I wanted to cry for every sad thing I had ever felt. I wanted to cry for all the moms that had been in this position before, all the moms that wanted to get pregnant and couldn't, and the moms that lost babies. Every sad thing that had and could happen was filled in my tears. But I had to stop them. I couldn't be put under while crying. So I turned off the water works and tried to find my center. Tried to be grateful that the day was finally here when this nightmare would be over.

Here I am days later exhausted. My parents returned to Charlottesville and it's back to real life. I have to face the real world, no more hiding. No more laying in bed ignoring everything around me. I have to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get back to life. I can do this, right?

To everyone that was there for us, thank you. You'll never know how much you helped us.

And to my little baby, wherever you might be, I love you little nug. You were perfect for 6 weeks and you brought so much joy to so many. You'll always be my baby, my fourth bird, the reason I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

Here is a song that helped me a lot.  It's quite beautiful.

"Smile" by Nat King Cole