Friday, April 17, 2009

Answers (or not) and the road to therapy

Once the initial shock of our first miscarriage in July 2003 wore off, we waited the recommended three months before trying again. This recommendation isn’t standard anymore, but it was common back then. We got pregnant again right away (we are freakishly fertile). I don’t remember anything from my second pregnancy. Nothing. I don’t remember when I found out I was pregnant. I don’t remember who I told or when. I don’t remember if I had morning sickness or not. Nothing. I was so steeped in anxiety and denial, I have completely blocked out that period of my life. I don’t remember having the ultrasound that revealed our baby died. I don’t remember what the doctor told me, except that the baby was only 7 weeks and was supposed to be 10. I do remember deciding to go back to work for the rest of the day and scheduling the D&C for later that week (which was in sharp contrast to what I wanted to do after the first miscarriage – then, I refused to leave the clinic until they did the D&C). My reasoning was that I had started a new job that day, and I was adamant that getting back to work was more important. Denial. What I most vividly recall is the phone call from my doctor about a month after the miscarriage telling me the results of the chromosome tests. The baby didn’t have a chromosome problem that would have resulted in death. She also told me the baby was a girl. My heart broke at that moment. That’s when I cried. Cried, and cried, and cried.

My doctor ordered a battery of tests to determine if there was something within me that was contributing to the babies’ deaths. I succumbed to a round of blood tests. They were all normal, except for one test that showed a slightly elevated level of phospholipid antibodies, which meant my blood may have clotted too much for the baby to have survived. I also endured an exam to determine if anything was abnormal about my plumbing. This exam, a hysterosalpingiogram, involved injecting dye into my uterus and looking around to see if there were structural abnormalities. No problems there. Except for something that looked to the radiologist like a fibroid or polyp. When my doctor and I learned that, we both jumped to the wonderful conclusion that the mystery was solved! There was something in my baby-grower that shouldn’t be there and that’s WHY! I had a hysteroscopy to have the thing removed, and it turned out to be decomposed fetal tissue left over from one or both of the D&C procedures (Sorry to be gruesome – for me, it is what it is). Oh, well. Let down again. There was no explanation, except for the possible blood clotting problem. Thankfully, that had a cure – western medicine has treatments for that! We’d use medication for subsequent pregnancies.

So, we decided to take a break from making babies so we could take the time to heal – for me, physically. For both of us, emotionally. At some point during these weeks, I recognized and accepted that I needed professional help. This was a huge decision for me. I keep journals. I am extremely self-aware. I often tell others how important it is to talk about their feelings. Unfortunately, I had a very hard time asking for help. I thought I was supposed to handle everything on my own. Well, that wasn’t working. I had a supportive husband, loving family members, kind friends, and amazing co-workers who were really friends that just happened to meet at work. I needed more. I needed to talk to someone who didn’t know me, had no emotional connection to me, and would not judge me for all the awful things I was feeling. Like how excruciating it was for me to be around healthy, happy pregnant women, the hatred I felt towards women who had several children, or the rage I felt for this happening to me when I had done everything RIGHT. Or, how I felt my dream of becoming a mother was slowing dying and I could do nothing to stop it.

I put myself in therapy. Therapy sessions were strange at first. She sat in her chair with a notebook. I sat across from her on a couch in a cozy office with plants, books, and art on the wall. It didn’t take long to figure out that her role was to listen, and I needed to talk. So, I talked. I talked, and cried, and talked, and cried some more. Once I opened up, it came out easily. She never said much. She was silently supportive, occasionally outwardly sympathetic, and never judgmental. My therapist let me say whatever I felt, and I often didn’t know how I felt until I sat on that sofa and let it pour out. Those sessions saved me. Literally...saved my life. I continue to be in therapy, with a different therapist now. She helped me when I was struggling with fresh grief and anxiety after Tyler was born, and she has walked with me through the three miscarriages I have had since then. We all need help, in whatever way we can get it. I’m not embarrassed to say that I go to therapy. My therapist is in my bucket, and we need all the people we can get in our buckets.


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