Thursday, June 17, 2010

Remembering Joel: a story of miscarriage

I wrote this post yesterday but I hesitate to share it because miscarriage is not something we talk about. We avoid it if we can and only speak about it in whispers if it can't be avoided. Everybody knows somebody who's been through it but many women mourn in silence. Today I decided that I needed to post this, I have to share my story. So... without further ado, here is the post:

My son Joel would be turning three in July, if he had ever been born. I love my daughter more than words can say. I am so blessed to be able to hold her in my arms every day but my heart still aches for the child I could never hold. Joel, for some reason, has been on my mind a lot lately - more than usual.

I found out I was pregnant for the first time on October 28, 2006. The circumstances surrounding the pregnancy were not good. My boyfriend (Joel's father), had broken up with me the week before I learned I was expecting. I faced the fact that I was going to be a single mom and I embraced it. It didn't matter to me how my baby came into the world, I loved him from that first moment.

My first ultrasound was on December 11, 2006 when I was about 11 weeks along. It was there that I first began to fear that something was wrong with the pregnancy. The ultrasound tech went from bubbly and happy to serious and withdrawn after only a few minutes of looking at the ultrasound screen. She kept the monitor turned away from me so that I couldn't see it.

"This isn't normal" I thought to myself, "something must be wrong".

Finally, after several tense minutes I asked the tech, "can you see the baby?" She looked at me and didn't respond, finally after some deliberation on her part, she turned the monitor so I could see inside myself. What I saw was perfect and beautiful. What I saw was a blob with legs and arms, an amazing blob baby. What I saw will haunt me forever.

I didn't know then, as she turned the screen resolutely away from me, that my baby was dead inside me. Though my heart was hammering in fear and trepidation, I convinced myself that everything was fine. Sure, it wasn't how they depicted ultrasounds on tv and movies but I knew that movies often got a lot of things wrong. I convinced myself that the baby was simply measuring a little small, that the tech was concentrating on getting her pictures and measurements right and didn't have time for good bedside manner. I convinced myself that life could and would go on just as it was, that I was blessed and that my son would be too.

But, the harder I tried to convince myself that everything was fine, the more my heart insisted that I was lying to myself. I could feel it hammering inside my chest, screaming one word: dead.
"dead-dead, dead-dead, dead-dead"

The tech finished her work and instructed me to get dressed and wait in a nearby lobby. I waited for what felt like hours as my brain and my heart argued with each other. Finally, the tech appeared and told me that she had sent some information to my doctor and that she wanted to see me right away. My eyes must have asked all of the questions that I couldn't speak because the tech patted my knee gently and wished me good luck.

I walked to my doctor's office which was just across the street from the hospital where they'd preformed the ultrasound. I don't remember that walk, I don't remember waiting for my doctor. The next thing I remember is my doctor saying, "...there was no blood flow from the placenta to the fetus and no detected heartbeat."

I cried then and for what felt like forever. Someone called my mom to help me and when she arrived we cried together. The doctor gave me time to collect myself and then gave me my options. I could have a D&C that day or I could wait and let my body take care of things on it's own. I opted to wait. My head was still insisting that this was impossible, that if my baby had died I would've known, that I would never survive if the doctor's diagnosis was correct. I couldn't let them take my baby from me if there was a glimmer of hope that he was still alive and although there was no hope to cling to, I refused to let go.

I started spotting on December 21, two days after my ultrasound. The days before that first drop of blood are a blur. But, I remember finding the blood and telling my mom that it had started. That night, I went into labor and delivered what remained of my son. In the days following I wished that I'd saved something from the night, something to bury. But my mind was a haze and my only focus was getting through the pain, getting past the pain, getting it all over with.

I cried all through Christmas that year. Cried and mourned and just tried to get through each day at a time. I had to have another ultrasound after Christmas to ensure that all of the "tissue" had left my body. My mom held my hand and I looked away from the screen as a different tech did her job. After a few minutes my mom said, "there's nothing there" and I looked to see that she was right. My beautiful, perfect baby really was gone and I was empty inside.

The nightmares started that night. I can't describe them, they were really just graphic images floating in space. I would wake up with a hammering heart, trying to catch my breath. Sometimes, I woke up thinking that I was still pregnant, feeling my belly to see if it had grown only to be thrown back into realty when I remembered everything. Sometimes I would find myself wandering through the house, looking for something before I eventually realized that whatever it was I was searching for was not there.

I got better as the days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months but I never got over it. I am a mom to a beautiful, living girl - my daughter Allison will be one in November. But, in my heart, I am also a mom to a handsome, angel boy - my son Joel would be turning three in July, if he had ever been born.


Jessica Anne said...

That was a powerful post. Thanks for sharing. That took a lot of courage and I'm sure it will help a lot of women. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing :) I lost a baby at 10 weeks in the January just gone, he would have been due in around 6 weeks time from now. It's one of the hardest things to go through.

*** hug ***

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