Without Compassion, We’re All Lost Babes #1000Speak

Today – February 20th, 2015 – is my due date.

As a birth doula, I know that due dates are not really a reliable standard of time. When I’m hired and given a due date, I consider myself on-call with my bag packed for the whole month surrounding it. Anything could happen.

But I’m here, I made it to February 20th in one piece.

I can just imagine it now, my precious little surprise greeting me and the rest of the world. Gracing us with their innocence and wisdom and poop and neediness. Seeing his or her eyes for the first time, as they realize that they’ve known me their whole life – they just didn’t know it until today.

I can just imagine it.

But only just.

Because today is my due date, and I am not pregnant.

**Trigger Warning**

I started bleeding 3 weeks after the tests had confirmed that we were going to be parents, 1 week after we told all of our friends and family.

To lose a baby is very common, I know, as if that eases anything.
Not as common, however, is the way in which we lost our baby.

It wasn’t really a baby to begin with. Hold on, hackles, technically it’s true. My body experienced a “blighted ovum”, which means that the egg and sperm never fully met up properly, although it traveled into my uterus and convinced my hormones that things were clicking along quite nicely. I felt everything a woman feels in the first trimester, all the while an empty sac of tissue was floating around inside of me like a lava lamp, without a care in the world.

My body was so convinced it was pregnant that it would not miscarry. My traitorous, confused body would keep changing and growing unless it was convinced otherwise. And chances were, if I let it continue, I might not be able to get pregnant in the future.

I was forced to choose between a surgery and a drug called Misoprostol. I’ll never forget the doctor who gave us this choice. She was a smaller, older woman – I figure she’s been a doctor for a long time, probably been the bearer of bad news for countless people.
Yet, she had tears in her eyes as she hugged us and tucked the envelope of pills into my hand that she’d smuggled out of the lab because she knew we couldn’t pay for them.

Nothing like the doctor who confirmed my pregnancy at the beginning, whose clipboard-scanning first words were, “And do you want to keep it?”

Compassion.

I chose the drug out of fear and familiarity: I have never had surgery before, and I know how to take pills.

Within half an hour of swallowing them, I vomited them and my sandwich into a bucket in the living room.

I grimaced when I realized the only other option left to me. I took the 4 remaining pills out of the envelope and awkwardly pushed each one inside my cervix, hoping that they wouldn’t get lost somewhere. (I never took Biology, and vaginas are so mysterious.)

Steve held my other hand and kept his red-veined eyes on my face the entire time.

Compassion.

How ironic, I thought, that the way this “pregnancy” started is similar to how it will end.

I didn’t know if or when the pills would start to take affect, so I put a pad on, and we cuddled on the couch watching TV, petting the cat. Anything to ward off the thoughts of Death and the Unknown that were facing us.

We went to bed, and I felt okay. Maybe I’d done it wrong.

Hours later, I was awakened by the greatest pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. My whole body shook as I made a hunching crawl down the stairs to our bathroom. I felt like an atom that was about to split in half; I had no control.

For the next hour, the bathroom was my home. I kicked Steve out; I wanted to be alone. I didn’t want him to see how I was being melted down in an offering to a cruel god that was only appeased by blood, sweat, tears, shit and vomit.

In a haze, I remembered the other pills. The Tylenol-3’s. I reached out for them like a life raft, barely taking a moment to read the instructions. An eternity of 20 minutes passed, and finally I felt a tinge of sweet relief. I was able to gather the strength to take some toilet paper and reach down between my legs.

The pink tissue of my not-baby had to be collected and taken to the hospital for analysis. Something cold and hard and clinical came over me, and I stopped crying as I stared at the mass that had been propelled from me so violently.

Do what has to be done. And try not to be a crybaby about it, would you, please?

I put the pieces of myself into a pad and a ziploc bag. Took a shower. Stared at my face in the mirror. There was nothing in my eyes. I had just ended my very wanted pregnancy. Shouldn’t I be falling apart?

Compassion.

We’d been assured that the whole “process” would take 24 hours or less. My body continued to shake, rattle, roll and bleed out for 3 weeks.

After going to the same doctor in desperation, she welcomed and treated us even though we weren’t technically her patients. After using a clamp the size of bigger-than-my-pelvis (Steve faithfully holding my hand without even a swoon), she found the source of the problem: the sac had gotten stuck, of all things, inside my cervix – causing my uterus to contract and bleed nonstop in attempts to get it out.

I wish I had chosen the surgery.

I hated my body. I grit curses in my teeth against it daily; first ya can’t hold onto a pregnancy, and now ya can’t get rid of it? Friendship over.

Tylenol Codeine was never not in my system. When I ran out of pills, I tried not to buy more. The following 3 days of fever, aches, shakes and self-loathing persuaded me that maybe I SHOULDN’T buy more.

In the midst of all this, Laurie Works dropped everything in her life to come be with us for a weekend. Work, new boyfriend, long flights – didn’t matter. It was time for poutine, Parks & Recreation, laughing and crying about the shittyness of it all.

Compassion.

When we fell into each other’s arms at the airport, we didn’t let go for a solid 60 seconds. When we came up for air, there was a man and a woman standing near us with their hands raised and fingers spread.

“That’s a 10! 10 out of 10 greeting right there.”

It made me think of that end scene of Love Actually. Airport Arrivals truly are one of humanity’s finer ideas.

What a beautiful weekend. There was no pressure on me to do anything, and the one thing I really wanted to do was have a funeral at the beach.

So we did. We found the perfect balloon, tied some love notes to it, and then waded out into the water to let it go.

I watched and watched and watched that balloon sail away until I could watch no more. Sometimes I feel like I’m still watching, still waiting – but for what, I don’t know.

Compassion.

After Laurie returned home, my life became a series of goodbyes.

Monday: deleting the pregnancy apps and resetting the Period Tracker app on my phone.
Tuesday: calling the the local midwifery clinic and letting them know I would no longer be needing their services.
Wednesday: packing the maternity clothes and newborn onesies away.
Thursday-Sunday: getting lost in Netflix and my bed, trying to forgive ignorant people who said, “Well, you’re young, you can always try again!”

Steve could no longer take any more time off work. His first day back, he came home, laid down on the living room rug and cried into the fibers. I laid next to him, all out of tears for the day. I whispered to him that I’d gotten the call from Starbucks in Smithers; our prayers had been answered, I’d gotten hired, and it was time to move back to my hometown.

And now here we are. Not exactly the way we thought we’d be, but we’re still here. I am so grateful.

Next week, I’m getting a tattoo that commemorates our loss. As always, he’ll be there, holding my hand and watching.

Next month, I’m going to start donating my time and food once a week to a program called Meals For Moms. It will help me to know that I’m helping feed exhausted families with new babies, and in turn, helping those new babies.

Being the village.

A Help Boomerang.

Amen.

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27 thoughts on “Without Compassion, We’re All Lost Babes #1000Speak

  1. Carly. This is Ken speaking, confessing to you that my wife and I went through this twice in the span of a year. We went through all sorts of fertility treatments — we have one daughter, and we needed fertility treatments to make her happen — so we thought for sure it would work the second time. When, after a year and a half, first of Clomid treatment and then injections of something else (she would know, I can’t remember the name) the test turned up positive, we were relieved and ecstatic. We started picking baby names, and preparing our home… and then the bleeding started, and we learned the term CHEMICAL PREGNANCY. Like you said – your body’s convinced it’s pregnant. The hormones start being produced. Maybe there’s even conception, but no implantation. I tried to look at it coldly and clinically, because, in some strange way, that was how I dealt with it. “You weren’t pregnant,” I’d say. “I’m sorry, but you weren’t.”
    Except that for her, she really was. Conception began for her in her heart and mind, biology be damned. I wasn’t trying to be cruel — I was trying to cope with the loss as well, and if I had to rationalize that there was never going to be a baby; that there was no real baby to mourn, then that’s how I got by.
    And then it happened a second time, a few months later, and I held my wife and wept with her. Because there was no baby again. It was like Lucy holding the football out for Charlie Brown and yanking it away at the last moment. And a bloom of compassion rose in me for her, because I lacked the perspective — that it was her own body that was betraying her. I know that I’ve felt that way about other things — migraines, depression — and it’s a terrible feeling. But that her body was seemingly refusing to give her a child — I couldn’t understand that at all. All I could do was listen, and try to understand, and exercise compassion.

    • Ken. I am so very sorry for what you and your wife have experienced, and yet I treasure that you chose to share your story with me. You reflect my fears that my body may lose another one the next time we try to have a child. The Charlie Brown analogy is perfect. We all have our ways of coping, don’t we? Hubby and I chose not to get lost in substance abuse, but that didn’t stop us from listening to songs that glorified that option and living vicariously through them. The other day, hubby reminded me that he ALSO remembered what this month would have been, even though we hadn’t talked about it and he hadn’t read this. It was good to be reminded, and it’s good for me to have your perspective too, so thank you.

  2. Our stories aren’t that different, though I experienced a missed miscarriage. My body hadn’t figured it out either. I opted for the pills as well. Wretched experience.

    My heart is with yours. Much love.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss. You lost all the hopes and dreams for this baby, and you lost the future you had been planning. Do not let anyone tell you it is not a loss, giving you a medical reason. Take the time to grieve, find a way to commemorate the loss, find a place for it in your life. It never goes away, but time does help. 21 years ago March 18, we lost our unborn daughter at 26 weeks and although we did go on to have 3 healthy children, I will never forget that date. ((Hugs))

    • You are very wise. We are commemorating our loss with a tattoo session tomorrow, which I’m really excited for. I’m so sorry for your loss – 26 weeks is enough for it to look like your baby; that must have been so difficult. And you’re right, that date will forever be fixed with me. Hoping the other children are in our future like yours have been.

  4. My sweet friend, you are amazing. I’m so in awe of your words, your pain, your determination to do GOOD and use those hurts to help. Thank you for this post and for your beautiful heart. I’m so glad Laurie was able to come and look after you a bit.

    *sigh*

  5. I understand EXACTLY how you feel and I’m so sorry for your loss – and yes, no matter what unknowing people might think or say it is a loss. I was so traumatized by the whole “bring the TISSUE in to be analyzed” thing that when I expressed to my doctor how that had made me feel, he started a compassionate loss group at the hospital for women who had experienced miscarriage. He’d just never considered it before. Brave post. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thank you so much for letting us in and share your incredibly personal and very, very sad loss. I haven’t had that experience myself but my thoughts and love are with you. xx Rowena

  7. Oh my heart –
    You are such a beautiful soul. You truly are.
    I am inspired by your drive to help others in the face of your incredible pain. I cannot even fathom a loss greater and an experience like that. I’m so sorry. So sorry.
    I wish so much good for the both of you two love birds. (that picture oozes love birds and I love it…this got creepy…sorry.)

    • Haha, not creepy at all! I’m glad we come across as lovebirds because that’s how we feel. And I’m thankful that that hasn’t changed even in our loss. Thank you for reading and sharing your warm thoughts.

  8. I’m so, so sorry for your loss. My first pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage which the nurse referred to as, “A baby that wasn’t a baby.” She thought somehow that she was being helpful but I’ll never forget how ashamed it made me feel. I know that a lot of women miscarry but it doesn’t ever need to be downplayed and brushed aside. I only know Laurie though blogging but it’s obvious that she’s an amazing friend. And you’re amazing for sharing your heart so eloquently.

    • I can’t believe the nurse thought that would help you! I am sorry to hear of your loss. And yes, Laurie is quite the amazing friend, although she doesn’t believe it sometimes. Thank you for being here with me.

  9. I’m so sorry doesn’t sound like enough, but I am. So sorry. This is so heartbreaking. I am struck by your determination to do something to help new moms after everything you went through. That is incredible.

    • Thank you, Gretchen. I know that those meals are something I would want right now had things gone differently. Sometimes it’s definitely easier to wallow in my own grief, but I have found that helping someone else above myself has ALWAYS benefited me in return. Thank you for reading.

  10. I don’t know what to say except that I hold you in love and light and set you free upon a prayer. And yet I must say that your words, your words cut through like a knife. I might not have been that brave to tell this story. God knows I am struggling with pain of my own loss. Loss of a parent, though no way comparable to the loss of a child. A loss, none the less. And no, no one can understand. Words don’t seem enough. The world does not seem enough. But know that time is the greatest healer. Time. Love and hugs. You are a beautiful soul. God bless.

    • I’m sorry for your loss as well. Sometimes my chest aches at the thought of losing one of my parents – I don’t think it should be any easier. Thank you for sharing some of yourself with me and being here.

  11. Pingback: The Story of Poppy | she's a butterfly, pretty as a crimson sky, nothing's ever gonna bring her down.

  12. Pingback: Baby Button Needs You To Stop Praying For Him Now | she's a butterfly, pretty as a crimson sky, nothing's ever gonna bring her down.

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