Tuesday, November 17, 2009

blood and silk

i remember last time the blood; dear God there was so much blood, and this time was no different. 
only it was different; let's just say that having to induce your own miscarriage does not exactly rank in anyone’s list of top 10 fun things to do. but it avoided the need for a D&C, and i did have excellent care; my mother’s presence was such a blessing and a comfort, and i am forever thankful that she dropped everything and just came. it is not something to do when alone. it was not easy; there was a lot of cramping and contractions and of course, the blood.
assuming most of the eyes on this blog are female (and apologies to those that are not!), i can safely say that we’ve all been used to seeing our own blood for many years, since that first momentous period. we finally got to use those pads that had been sitting in the hall closet for so long, those neatly wrapped packages that were like tickets out of girlhood into the mysterious world of women. it was only later that we realized menstruation was nothing to get excited about, and that every month Auntie Flo, or The Visitor, or whatever we called it would force us to rearrange whole parts of our lives to accommodate that cycle. and so somehow, with physical maturity that came long before any sort of other maturity, we first learned that blood was an inescapable part of our identity as women.
i am realizing again that this loss also is an inescapable part of that identity, and not just as part of this wise and strong community of so many women – and those that love them -- who remember their lost children long after others have forgotten them. it is also that these babies are literally part of me now, since in both cases, my body took most of them back, leaving behind to be expelled only that which nourished them for the short time they took over my body.
somehow both of my children are part of my wholeness -- yes, my wholeness -- because who i am authentically must include these losses. this is why i decided that i would never lie to people who ask if i have children; i have said yes, we had one but she didn’t make it; we remain hopeful for another. this weekend i found myself now saying yes, we had two, but they were lost and we remain hopeful. a few people don’t know what to do with this; they never considered that this was a possible answer to their innocuous question. but i have found that the vast majority of responses have been: i’m sorry, i understand; my second baby was stillborn, or my wife had three miscarriages between our living kids, or my nephew was lost at 21 weeks. and then we all remember our lost children together and it’s absolutely not tragic; see, that is the miracle, always there is a brightness and grace in the memory of a tiny person you loved being spoken back into a moment of existence.
of course i am grieving, and grieving hard. i’d like to write more on that later, but for now it is enough to say that i still believe in grace, which is as strong and delicate as spider’s silk.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

dreaming kelp

i found this lovely poem about lost children before i even knew i'd lose this Tummymuffin too. these last few days i've thought of the tiny body, before my body reclaimed it, as a dreaming kelp, serene and graceful, full of promise.

my love does stay, where now almost nothing is left.

EVERYTHING
by Sharon Olds

Most of us are never conceived.
Many of us are never born --
we live in a private ocean for hours,
weeks, with our extra or missing limbs,
or holding our poor second head,
growing from our chest, in our arms. And many of us,
sea-fruit on its stem, dreaming kelp
and whelk, are culled in our early months.
And some who are born live only for minutes,
others for two, or for three, summers,
or four, and when they go, everything
goes -- the earth, the firmament --
and love stays, where nothing is, and seeks.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Week Ten - Again

i've returned all the maternity library books...again.
i've filed away the "congrats on your pregnancy" cards...again.
i am putting away all the bigger bras and looser pants in the plastic bin...again.
i'm getting out the tampons/pads/ovulation strips/etc....again.
i'm back to kickboxing, surfing, and all the other physical stuff i couldn't do...again.
i'm drinking wine and eating sushi...again.
i've lost a baby...again.
there are a lot of things that are happening again; it's painful to have to re-live some experiences from the last time i got to Week 10 and had to say goodbye to a child of mine. at the same time, as horrible as it is to go through this a second time, there are a lot less surprises. there's a lot that i can expect, and i'm thankful for that. and there are some marvelous "agains" as well:
i'm receiving the most wonderful notes of encouragement from loved ones...again.
i'm finding out how incredible my husband is...again.
i'm discovering that our marriage can withstand things like this...again.
i'm healing in the company of good friendship and laughter...again.
i'm so surrounded by your prayers and love that feel so strong...again.
there's also a lot that is different about this time around. as i said in the last post, when i lost our first, Isabela, it was swift and unexpected, and i felt like i was losing someone i'd already started to get to know. with this one, it has been all foreboding and waiting and quietness. i don't know when i lost this Tummymuffin; i will never know how much of him or her developed before he or she went silent and my body started to take him or her back. and this endgame won't be quite as physically easy; because of how much time has passed, i have been advised by all the medical professionals who have treated me, including my TCM doctor, that i will have to use medical intervention. since everyone involved is trying to avoid a D&C, this means that tomorrow i will have to dose myself with a synthetic prostaglandin called misoprostol and induce the miscarriage.
this is a big, big "Not In Category of Again;" i have no experience with this, and while i have some idea of what to expect (which is not pleasant, so i'm not dwelling on it), every woman is different, so there is no guarantee of how this process will go. in a surprise twist, my mother has decided to get on a plane and fly out here and be with me through the experience, since Thomas won't be able to stay at home. i am nervous, but thankful.
thanks to all of you for standing by me through this storm...again.

*subsequent edit to post: since some readers are finding this blog to be an information resource about dealing with all aspects of miscarriage, including physical, i've written a detailed description of my experience with using misoprostol (Cytotec) to complete a miscarriage. you can find it here. i hope that it will help other women who have to go through a very sad and painful experience. my heart is with you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Week Nine - Limbo

am i really pregnant?
i'm used to the low-level nausea, the feeling that i just did three shots of Nyquil, the ridiculously sore yet alarmingly plump breasts, the stunning burps that just rip out of me whenever they want...in other words, physically, i'm still pregnant. but if the baby i carry is no longer a living embryo, then who -- or what -- am i pregnant with?
the diagnosis is that Tummymuffin stopped developing some time ago, and that it is only a matter of time before my body figures this out and expels what is left. sorry to be clinical about it, but i think it's easier to put it in these terms; i am still trying to wrap my head around this and it's not simple at all. as i am not willing, at this point, to use medical intervention to hasten this process, i am now in this bizarre limbo, waiting for the end instead of a beginning.
this is very different from when i lost Isabela; she always felt so alive and glowing to me -- i felt her presence inside and when i saw her shape and heartbeat on that first ultrasound, it wasn't really a surprise, as i'd somehow pictured her already. i think that's why choosing a name and personifying her as a real child, and a girl, was easy; she'd been with me for those weeks. her loss was a swift and shocking surprise; totally unexpected -- but i was thankful i'd known her for at least a short time.
but this? this is utterly confusing. i'm already mourning the loss of a baby i never really got to know. i'm around the same number of weeks as i was with our first, but there is a heartbreaking, panicky void as to who this second one was. i constantly wonder when Tummymuffin actually left me. and i constantly try not to think about what that answer could be. it makes me wonder if i ever had a Tummymuffin at all. was our confirmed hope & expectation of a child enough to actually "make" a real one? if the space between pure physicality and metaphysical existence is what we call "life," then it's a bigger, greyer, messier space than i realised.
i think what i'm most pregnant with right now is sadness.