This I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect a miscarriage. If I were to worry about that, it would have been for the first pregnancy, or at the very least, for the first trimester. But a second trimester miscarriage never crossed my mind.
Yesterday I planned to go for a long walk when I got out of bed. I realized that I was ready for the exercise now that the nausea was over. (And what a miracle that the nausea was completely over without any remnant – this had never happened before in any of my pregnancies). But when I got ready to go, I was surprised to discover that I was bleeding some. This had never happened in any of my pregnancies either.
I began to think about how I would manage my life if I were put on bed-rest. I would have to hire someone to fetch the kids from school and to help in the evenings. I would probably be able to read a lot of blogs for once. I thought these kinds of things, but the thought that my baby was no longer with me never once crossed my mind.
(If you’re squeamish or expecting, there’s no point in reading anymore. But I need to write it.)
We dropped the kids off at my brother-in law’s who lives close to the hospital where we’re registered. We waited for a reasonable amount of time in the Maternity ER before being called in. And after having all the questions asked, the routine exams performed, the reassurance that the cervix was nice and tight (except for the blood), we went for the sonogram.
This delightful, active baby who was sucking his thumb and dancing up a storm just a couple of weeks ago was perfectly still. She couldn’t see any cardiac activity. I asked her to check the heartbeat with the sound system and there was just a roar. Nothing.
I still couldn’t believe it. I thought maybe the heart rhythm was hidden as it sometimes happens, but she said at 15 weeks, the baby is too big for that to be the case. Still she called in another doctor who confirmed it. The pregnancy had ended.
She started to go through what would have to be done – a D&C under general anaesthesia on Wednesday morning. A day operation where they would remove everything since it was unlikely at this late stage that my body would do this by itself.
We picked the kids up and told them the news at my brother-in-law’s. Young Knight cried from the news and from seeing his mother cry. Young Lady chattered on and on, rapidly trying to process things, “So did you really cry? With tears?”
Petit Prince chased the cat.
We went home and I sat on the couch with this oppressed feeling in my chest. I tried to process the emptiness that wouldn’t be filled with a soft downy head, a tiny baby in my arms, a fourth child that just seemed to complete this family. I always thought that having four kids was ideal (in spite of my fears and my complaining). I had no idea how to fill this emptiness. I kept waiting for the phone to ring and the hospital to tell us that the ultrasound equipment was, in fact, not functioning properly and that I should come in to double check.
The midwife didn’t think there was much risk of my having a miscarriage on my own, which is why an operation in two days’ time was proposed.
But that night when I woke up at nearly one o’clock with cramps that kept me awake for two hours, I began to think that perhaps I would have to call them in the morning and tell them that I wouldn’t be able to wait another whole day. I put on normal-sized protection, despite the fact that there wasn’t really much bleeding, and went back to bed.
And then at 3:00 I felt it, the first warm rush of blood. I woke Sir up and said we would have to go to the hospital because I was bleeding. I got up, leaving a trail on the floor all the way to the bathroom. And after standing indecisively for a moment, Sir directed me into the shower. That’s where I felt the first mass being expulsed.
I had no choice but to pull on it and when it fell to the floor – when he fell to the floor – I saw that it was my baby. I saw his little grey back and tiny butt and his absolutely tiny foot sticking out from the rest of the matter. I asked Sir to get me a bag so I could bring it with me to the hospital.
Then I felt another mass start to exit, accompanied by a stream of blood. When the room went white, I got down on my hands and knees and put my head against the cool floor. I added this to the bag.
I put some heavy protection and some sweat pants on and had Sir wake the children while I lay down. We had no choice but to take them with us and this was not going to be easy. Surprisingly they were full of courage and in a good mood. Sir dressed them and brought them out in the cold and dark and put them in the car.
I got up as well and felt more matter leaving me so I went back into the bathroom shower, which is where Sir found me when he came back in. I didn’t know how I was going to make it to the car, or all the way to the hospital for that matter; but I couldn’t leave those kids sitting out there in the cold and dark so I cleaned up the best I could and changed my clothes again.
We had decided not to call the firemen (what the French do instead of calling an ambulance) because they would take me to the nearest hospital, which is not the one that had my dossier. I wanted to go where people knew of my situation, where they had discovered the problem and had planned to operate. This hospital was a half hour away.
I was a little faint so I stretched the seat back, which felt better, and then felt more material come out when we started on our way. There was nothing I could do about it. We drove to the sound of Young Lady’s chatter and the Young Knight’s questions.
When we finally arrived, Sir parked us in the ER area, where they brought a wheelchair and accompanied us down to the Maternity ER. They saw me right away, which was fortunate. For once, the waiting room was empty.
Sir and the kids stayed in the waiting room while I had to strip and climb up on the same uncomfortable half-table that I had been on earlier. It was a mess. The midwife was pushing on my legs saying, “Relax! Relax! If you keep closing up, I’m not going to be able to stop the bleeding.”
I yelled back at her saying, “If you want me to relax, stop yelling at me!” I didn’t understand why she couldn’t go more slowly and stop jabbing things into me. (Later on, amidst the nurse describing to a second midwife the blood that was everywhere, she came to check on me. She was very gentle and said that I had hemmorhaged. That’s when I realized she had probably been as stressed as I was at the time).
She finally saw that the placenta was still partially attached, thus the continual flow of blood so she said she had to remove it. She was ordering the somewhat harried nurse to give her better light, get her pinchers that weren’t plastic but had some grip to them, etc.
And then I had to cough while she pulled at the placenta. This was oh-so uncomfortable and I began to miss the general anaesthesia I was supposed to have had. It went on for a session of about 10 minutes of coughing and resting before the speculum came out and she stated that she believed she had gotten it all. When they did an ultrasound, she said there were still clots but she thought the body would take care of that by itself.
We got me cleaned up and on a proper stretcher out in the hallway. They weren’t going to bring me to a room and couldn’t leave me in the admissions area, yet I still needed to be under their surveillance.
My cheeks had lost every trace of blood in them and I was nauseous and hot. Everything looked white. As she was putting the IV in, I closed my eyes gratefully until she slapped my arm to wake me, “Stay with me here!
After about 10-15 minutes of receiving this glucose solution (plus another medication to bring me back to life), I started to feel like a new person. I was freezing so I asked her to bring me something warmer than a sheet. The corridor was drafty. She was huffing and puffing as she cleaned the room and bagged all my stuff. I would need Sir (who had been released with the kids as soon as the danger was over) to bring me some new clothes.
So I slept in the corridor, grateful for my blanket. It was about five am. I was to stay there until 9 so they could survey the bleeding and decide whether or not I would still need surgery. Sir would bring the kids home to sleep and then take them to Centre for the day so we could have some time to handle all this. The kids were troopers, even on little sleep.
At seven, the moms started coming in – the ones in labor, the ones who thought they were in labor, the ones who were scheduled to be induced or have C-sections today. I remember. That was me at one time.
I heard the panting and labored breathing, the excited fathers, the galloping heart rates as they monitored the babies, even an infant’s loud angry cry at about nine.
I lay there as they walked by and mostly ignored me.
Somehow I wasn’t as upset as I would expect to be. I realized that everything had happened exactly the way I would prefer if I must go through this trial. Part of what had oppressed me yesterday was the invasion, the thought of going in after my baby and vacuuming him out limb by limb. They wouldn’t even be able to tell me if it was a boy or girl, so how could I find a name? I wanted to ask for them to check the heart rate one last time before they operated, but wasn’t sure they would do it. I wasn’t sure I would have the courage to ask either.
But this way, I felt like my baby made his own choice. I know, it doesn’t sound like a very reasonable thing to say. I felt like he was telling me, “I’m done mom. I’m going. You can let go too.” Even though my baby’s body ended up in the garbage with everything else, it didn’t pain me as much as it would have to go in after him. I had more closure this way. (A day after writing this, I have to add that I regret not seeing the baby’s face. I regret not asking for the body to take him home and bury him, if you can do that sort of thing. I wish I had had the presence of mind).
I’m still processing. Obviously. When I’m tired I feel despair and know that I need to keep an eye on my depression. It’s not that I don’t want to feel sad, it’s that when I’m depressed I don’t feel anything at all. And that’s dangerous.
I also feel like I ended my “career” as a bringer of life on a failed note. If I had miscarried and then went on to successfully bring a baby to term later on, it would not end in, what feels like, failure. But we hadn’t planned this pregnancy, and at my age, it would be completely unreasonable to try again. So this is the end of my career as a pregnant woman.
I can try to gather all the positive thoughts, like how I still have my three children, and that is no small gift. I can think about how we can go back to the plans we had before – to start doing activities that we can only do with children who are getting older. I can think about myself and what I want for my own life.
But truthfully, it pales next to a downy head, tiny fingers, sweet soft breath, a new life in the family. So I don’t know what to do with this emptiness.
Sir is handling it all well. He had less connection with the baby, as fathers often do (until the baby is born). He’s just glad I’m okay.
Then again, as he was driving home with the kids at 4 in the morning, he took the ramp to exit the hospital and thought, “man – these speed bumps are a bit excessive!” As the car went bumpity-bump, clatter-bang over them.
Then he realized he was driving his minivan down the stairs instead of the ramp.
He wasn’t able to back up either. He finally gunned it and the car went bumpity-bump-clatter-bang all the way back to the top. The kids were terrified (as was he), but as soon as he made it back up, Sir exclaimed, “Quel idiot!” What an idiot I am!
This made all the kids laugh and cry out. “Quel idiot Papa! Quel idiot!” So the little escapade ended on a light note.
As you can see, Sir is doing just fine with everything.
This morning as I was about to leave the hospital, I passed what I think was the last of the scary blood clots as soon as I stood up. Now I’m home lying on the couch feeling (physically) relatively well. I just have to watch for dizziness and take all the medicine and iron they gave me. But I don’t know when the emptiness will catch me unaware again, or how to fill it when it does.
As we were wrapping things up, I asked the midwife if she would look at the baby and tell me whether or not it was a boy or girl.
You’ve probably already guessed that it was a boy. His name is Alistair.