Friday, January 15, 2010

Things Change Part Two: The Miscarriage

Please read part one before reading this blog.

This part of the story gets a little graphic, so be warned.  I don't want to leave stuff out because I want you to understand what we actually lived through.
I showed the Austrian the test stick when he got home.  I was a ball of confusion inside.  We are still building.  I had my concerns about having a baby.  We had some more really long talks over the next 24 hours about how we would make this work, IF we would make this work.  I didn't allow myself to be immediately celebratory, because, let's face it, this wasn't planned, (At least WE weren't planning it...) and there were concerns... things that needed negotiating... things to consider.
I wanted assurances, if not insurances, and I needed to feel this out with the Austrian, AND with the Pyrate for that matter.   I know, a little late... But sometimes life hits you like that.  We don't have control 100% of the time.  Sometimes there's a design that we can't see clearly.  Sometimes we're distracted by other things... our own designs... or Christmas crafts and recipes... or rock concerts... You know what I mean? Of course you do.
So we talked it out.  The Pyrate approved.  The Austrian swore up and down we could do this and that he had faith that all would be provided, including the strength and wisdom necessary to adjust where adjustments were needed.  I let myself warm up and get happy that, after 12 years believing I would only have one child, I was about to begin the process of having a second.  The three of us kept it to ourselves just then.  Spent some time just feeling it out together, fantasizing out loud about what kind of big brother the Pyrate would be, playing out scenes of the Austrian's first few times changing a diaper and how his mouth was gonna be the reason the baby's first words would very likely be profane... imagining out loud what it would be like to have the sounds and smells of a baby in the house.  We looked at baby product websites and playfully critiqued all the available models of stroller.  We decided that the next week we'd start a registry on a really cool organic baby products website.  We talked about making a webflyer to announce the news to the world.  We did all of this in the first 48 hours after the positive test result.

I made an appointment with my general doctor because I wanted a referral for a new Ob-Gyn.  24 hours passed.  I started to feel worse physically.  Light cramps if I stood too fast or bent to deep.  Dizziness when I turned too fast or if something smelled to strongly.  I was getting over a cold and was coughing still from that, and suddenly during a fit of coughs felt that I was bleeding.
We rushed to the hospital.  By the time we got there, the bleeding had stopped and they couldn't find anything specifically wrong.  They ran the official blood test to confirm the pregnancy, did an ultrasound, and basically sent me home with the instruction to see my regular doctor as soon as possible, and to avoid all stress or strenuous activity.  That was Thursday night, the 7th of January.  Friday I felt a bit better.  I was scheduled to see my doctor that afternoon.  Then the Pyrate had a lil' accident and we had to rush him to the same emergency room to have his lip stitched up.  Stress.  I was supposed to be avoiding stress.  Yeah.  While the doctor stitched up my son's lip, I was sitting in a chair in the same room.  The smells of antiseptic, anesthetic, and blood creeped up my nose and I broke into a sweat.  The room began to spin.   The doctor was leaning over my son, sewing up his lip, and I heard him ask, "You alright?"   The Pyrate mumbled "Yeah" through his numb lips.  The doctor said, "I was talking to your mom. I gave her the option to wait out in the waiting room... we don't really like to have two patients at once to treat..."   I was so lightheaded I thought if I don't do something I would surely pass out.  So I got up, and walked across the room and got a cup of water, then sat back down in the chair.  The swooning stopped.   I was baffled.  I have never gotten the vapors in my entire life.  I have seen many disgustingly grotesque things in my life, growing up on a farm, you can't have a weak constitution.  So to be on the verge of fainting at the sight of my son's lip being sewn up was perplexing.  The doctor said it might just be because I'm pregnant and that I should get some rest when we got home.
That's what I did.  We called our parents that night to tell them the good news, that we were going to have a baby.  We called our siblings too.  That's it.  The visit to the emergency room told us there might be complications to consider so we didn't go completely public with it just yet. 
The next day was quiet. That was Saturday.  I was told by my doctor to be on complete bed rest, only getting out of bed to go to the bathroom.  My guys waited on me hand and foot... for the most part the entire day.
That evening, the Austrian and I were having an argument about something that happened that day.  It was one of those things... you know, the kind that happens repeatedly and gets under your skin because of the repetition.  Well, because of the fact that I was supposed to be calm, stress-free and still, the fact that this particular thing was happening in that moment was, to me, a double infraction.  So I was PISSED.  We argued.  I should not have gone there.  I should have just let it go.  It was just one of those stupid things and I should have just let it go for the sake of the baby, and my health.  I'll own that much responsibility.  I've never professed to be good at letting things go when I feel I am being wronged.  Chalk it up to that little girl spirit in me who forgets she's not a victim anymore.  Anyway, I was pissed, and let him know every which way I could.  When there was silence again, I lay there next to him in bed, and within minutes felt the warmth of blood welling up between my thighs.  A sharp, hot pain shot through my lower belly like someone had stabbed me with a hot butcher knife.  Then another.  And another.  The blood was flowing stronger.  Whatever I was pissed off about suddenly disappeared.  I was doubled, curled up in a tight ball, screaming in pain, bleeding profusely.  The Austrian jumped up and ran for a towel to put between my legs, then in a panic made this motion almost like he was running in place, not knowing what to do, go this way or that... waiting for me to tell him.  I told him to get my sweats from the chair behind him and that we had to go back to the hospital immediately.  I couldn't even stand up on my own, I was in so much pain.  He had to find my sanitary napkins and figure out how to put it in my underwear.  (that would have been funny under different circumstances).  He managed to get me dressed and half-carried me down the stairs to the front door.

Thankfully, the hospital is only 5 minutes drive from our house and a straight shot once you get down the hill.  He drove carefully, but ran every light.   When we got there, I told him I didn't think I could walk.  He had to remove me from the car to a wheel chair this time.  My knees were buckling under me as he got me from the car to the wheel chair.  By then I was moaning, sobbing, tears running down my neck, in so much pain, I thought my head was going to explode. I couldn't see straight. I felt like I was going to have to come out of my body to get away from that pain. And the Austrian needed me.  He was distraught.  I was talking to myself, telling myself everything was going to be alright, just breath Brig, (why can't he do this without my help?) calm down Brig, just breath Brig, calm down Brig.  Every now and then interrupting this chant to give the poor panicked Austrian instructions such as, "(omg...)You're going to rip my feet off if you don't put down the foot rest on the wheelchair for my feet.  You're dragging my feet under the chair babe!! Just breath Brig, calm down Brig.  That's good babe, thank you. Just breath Brig... (why is he leaving me sitting here and running around the car in a circle like he's lost?) Leave the car and just lock it and take me in.  Just breath, calm down Brig... tell them I lost a lot of blood, babe. Just breath Brig, just breath Brig... "  The poor guy, I don't think he'd ever been in such a situation before.  It was rather harsh.  I can chuckle about it now because I know he was just completely in shock and couldn't think straight.  They took me in and started a morphine drip.  I was upset, in pain, and very much afraid.  I had the Austrian call my mother.  You better know I must have been really concerned if I called my mother to drive for an hour to come all the way up to the north valley to hold my hand.  She came.  What a relief.  Mom's a retired nurse, so she knows how to comfort.  She's a pro at it.  I was so happy to see her.  Within minutes she had me laughing and much more calm and breathing deeply.

Eventually the pain subsided.  The same tests were run, and nothing was found.  They did an intra-vaginal ultrasound probe and a doppler procedure to listen to my fallopian tubes and ovaries to make sure that traffic was flowing freely through there.  After several hours of poking and prodding, and stabilizing my condition, the doctor came in and told me that my hormone levels seemed to be increasing in comparison to my last visit which means the pregnancy was indeed progressing.  he said, however, that it seems as though my body is rejecting the pregnancy and that it was very possible that I might miscarry.   I was to see my Ob-Gyn on Monday... two days later.   Meanwhile, again, complete bed rest, and... NO STRESS or strenuous activity.
The Austrian waited on me hand and foot, like I was too fragile to even lift a finger for anything after that night.  We were upset, worried, but reassuring each other that it was important to have faith and believe that everything would be okay.  I shared my situation with a circle of female friends, and to my surprise learned from their responses, that more than half of them had gone through this during pregnancy and some even got through it and had healthy babies. So we still held hope and faith that everything would be alright.  The Austrian turned into this prince of a man, with his shape-shifting self, reminding me to have faith, anytime he saw a look in my eye that resembled fear.
The next day we would just try to get through until Monday when we could see the new Ob-Gyn doctor to find out what exactly was going on.
The Austrian was my hero that Sunday.  My husband, sweet as he is, made me roasted chicken with herbs and orange zest, and mac n' cheese to die for.  We ate dinner and just waited. He lay next to me in bed, with his warm palm on my belly, and talked to the baby for 3 hours straight.  Telling it the story of his life, describing the town center in the little mountain village where he was born, promising to take him or her there for a visit next year, describing the fresh mountain air, the lake, the river that runs through town, listing the names of his family and describing each one's personality, telling about the little cousin Daniel who was waiting to play with him or her... I drifted in and out of sleep during this talk he had with our baby.  A peace came over me, a calm, like I was being hypnotized.  For a little while, I believed that everything was going to be alright.  That was just what I needed. 
Monday morning, first thing, we went to see this new doctor.  He looked over the records of our 2 visits to the ER and sat down to talk to us about the results of the tests the hospital had done.  He explained that although the numbers were indeed increased between the first hospital visit and the second, they should have doubled... from 6000 to 12000 in the two days that passed between, and that by now they should be somewhere in the 30,000 range.  He said that the tests from my second hospital visit showed 7000 when it should have already shown 12000, which tells him that the baby was not developing in a normal way, well beyond just risk for birth defect, and that he didn't believe that it would continue to develop at all, but that he would run another blood test to see what the present numbers were.  He said that the bleeding was due to my body's natural defense that would not allow the embryo to continue to stay inside me if my life was in danger.  That at anytime he expected that I would miscarry and that if it didn't happen in the next few days, he recommended surgically removing it to prevent further danger to my health.  He said I would know I was miscarrying because there would be large blood clots, and some bleeding.  Blood was drawn and sent off for testing.  We went home, held each other, and cried.  Then prayed, then decided not to give up hope until we had no other option.  I updated my circle of female support online and via text, and read their words of encouragement.  This helped a lot.  We called our family members and let them know the updated status of things, and then just waited out the night.

So we waited to hear from the Ob-Gyn the next day.  Andreas went in to work and waited to hear from me when the doctor called, and he should have called me in the morning on Tuesday, but he didn't.   Noon rolled around, and I got out of bed to go to the bathroom.  I sat on the toilet to pee, and felt a bit of cramping then two blood clots fall into the water.  I called the doctor's office and told the head nurse what happened.  She said that the miscarriage was probably starting, but that I could stay home and rest.  That I only needed to go in to the ER if I was bleeding heavier than my normal period.  Basically what's normal is one pad soaked in an hour.  She said the doctor was still in a meeting and that he would call me with the results of the test in a little while.  She said that if I pass another clot, if possible save it in a container so that they could run pathology on it.  This pregnancy was ending... just as abruptly as it began... just as I'd gotten attached to the idea.  My heart was breaking but no time for hysterics.

I went back to bed and called Andreas and asked him to come home just in case we had to rush to the hospital.   It took him about a half an hour to get home.  By the time he got here I'd gone through 3 pads (that's 6 times what is normal according the the nurse) and was in a great amount of very familiar pain again.  I could feel another clot inside me but I didn't want to pass it alone and I knew I could not catch it by myself.  So I just lay there and waited for him to get there. When the Austrian got home, I calmly instructed him to get a plastic container from the kitchen, and explained to him what we were about to do.  He got me to the bathroom, and onto the toilet and held the container beneath me.  Then out came this enormous clot the size of a large slice of liver or a steak.  My head was spinning.  I was crying, in pain, devastated, and watching him to make sure he wasn't losing it at the same time, because one of us needed to keep a level head through this horribly grotesque trauma.  He saw the look on my face.  He was reassuring me that he was fine, that he prepared himself mentally on the way home to face whatever was to come and that I should not worry about him, that this time he wouldn't panic.  He cleaned me up and got me back to the bed.  He called the doctor's office again and told the nurse what happened, put the container in the refrigerator. But wait, it was Tuesday, and the Pyrate gets out of school at 1:30 on Tuesdays and it was 1:45!!!  He rushed out the door to drive the 1 1/2 miles to pick up the Pyrate.  I reassured him that I would be fine. The Nicks (Nikki and Nick... friends of ours) were here cleaning the house and Nikki made me a cup of peppermint tea.
When he returned with the Pyrate, Andreas got me dressed and we went immediately to the emergency room after reassuring my son that everything would be fine.   He'd stay home with the Nicks and do his homework and have something to eat.  I didn't know I wouldn't be coming back home that evening.

When we got to the hospital, they knew me immediately.  This was visit number four including the one for the Pyrate's lip.  So I was taken back to a room immediately.  They kept me there again, for hours running tests, giving me morphine through an IV, and liquids.  I was partially miscarrying.  8 hours passed and they hadn't been able to get in touch with my doctor (he will not be my doctor for much longer... but that's another story... not really important here...), who finally called them back and said that I could choose to either stay there in the hospital overnight for observation, or go home, then come in to his office in the morning and either way he would perform the procedure that would completely remove all gestational tissue development from my womb because I was losing a dangerous amount of blood and that could not continue without harm to my vital organs.
I stayed there.  No way did I want to be at home bleeding out slowly with no health professional watching, and the poor Austrian being responsible for making the decisions.  I was still very weak, still in enormous pain, and couldn't imagine how I'd manage to survive the night without supervision and pain relief.  So I stayed.  They admitted me officially and got me a room.   The procedure (similar to what happens when you have an elective pregancy termination) would take place the next day at some point in the afternoon, depending on where they could fit it into the OR schedule.  The Austrian went out and got me a bean and cheese burrito because I was to have nothing to eat or drink until after the surgery and I hadn't had anything to eat that day except a small bowl of oatmeal at 7am and the cup of peppermint tea.   I ate half the burrito, and he ate the rest.  We sat together, and a bit of tv... the history channel.  Then I sent him home to make sure the Pyrate was okay, and make sure he got to bed.

The next day, 2 hours before the procedure, my Ob-Gyn doctor arrived and sat for a few minutes to speak with me about what would happen next.  When he left, many things ran through my head.  My mom was on the way.  My dad was called.  My sisters were called.  Then I thought of the Pyrate's dad, my ex-husband... who was in Germany and didn't even know yet that I was pregnant.  "What if something goes wrong???" I thought in my head silently... it would be pretty screwed up if he was not informed then all of a sudden got a phone call after the fact when something goes wrong.  So he was called too... all the way in Germany.  The gravity of making that phonecall was the last straw for me.  I was sad, yes, I was disappointed, yes, even devastated, but I was holding it together for the last 24 hours, pretty darn well, mostly out of pure exhaustion.  Processing pain is a tedious, and arduous task.  There really was literally no reserve energy for hysterics.  But the gravity of having to make that 'just in case' phone call to the father of the Pyrate, really hit home.  What would happen to my son if something happens to me?  What if they get in there and find something more serious going on and have to remove all my plumbing?  Had I even considered any of this?  No.  I'd been so busy trying to stay calm, trying to keep the faith, trying to not worry the kid, that I'd made no preparations and there was nothing I could do about it.  I would just have to believe that all would be fine.  I would just have to spend those last moments putting as much positive energy into my path into that OR as I could muster up.  I spoke with the man sent to transport me to OR, joked with him about being a better driver than my husband. The enormous male nurse who transferred me from my bed to the one I would be on during surgery had me put my arms around his neck as he moved me, and I told him how great a dancer he was and that we have to stop meeting like this.   I touched the anesthesiologist and smiled at him affectionately while I silently blessed him and prayed for his astute professionalism as he held my consciousness in his hands.  I touched the secondary doctor when he introduced himself to me and asked a few questions just outside the OR door sending faith infused energy through my fingertips and into his body.  I think he felt it because he gave me a funny look.   The anesthesiologist came back and asked me if I was still in a lot of pain.  I told him yes, and he told me not to worry and that would be over soon.  He put something in my IV and told me to start breathing deeply and count backwards from 100....99... 98....

I woke up in a noisy recovery room with a radio blasting "ARE YOU GOOOING TO SAN. FRAN. CISCOOOOO..."  and people moaning and groaning and crying and nurses rushing around.  I was crying.  I couldn't stop.  So I just lay there and let it come over me.  I cried for all the past week and a half when I couldn't let it out.   I cried for my husband's broken heart.  I cried for my own.  I cried for the Pyrate's.  He was looking forward to being a big brother.... I just let it go and lay there weeping openly and it felt good to just let it out.  A curtain was pulled and I was greeted by a friendly nurse who took my hand and asked me if there was any pain.  I told her there wasn't.  I felt absolutely no physical discomfort for the first time since the middle of  December when the nausea started.  I cried some more for the relief.  She said that in a few minutes she'd go get my husband and sneak him back here because she thought under the circumstances (miscarriage) that I might want the company.  When he got there, he and the nurse were talking back and forth in German, because on the way, she'd figured out he was Austrian and she comes from a German family.  The radio in the recovery unit was blasting "PLAY THAT FUNKY MUUUSIC WHITE BWWWWOOOYYYY..."    The hilarity was surreal...   I heard the curtain pull, and there he was, those green eyes sparkling, a careful smile on his lips.  He kissed me and told me he was so glad that I was safely on the other side.  He climbed onto the bed and told me he'd had lunch with my mom and the Pyrate at the local mexican restaurant near our house.  I quickly thanked him for that information seeing as all I'd eaten in the last 24 hours was a half a burrito the night before.  He hugged me and said it sounded like I was feeling better already.  We stared into each others eyes for a minute, and I started to cry again.  "I was thinking, maybe that wasn't Lou-Lou. Maybe we just needed to be reminded that we'd put that aside. Maybe we're supposed to use this to create an awareness of that part of us that we were at best ignoring."  He kissed me again.  We didn't talk much more about it that day.   I got back to the room, settled into bed, my mom and my sister were there.  We watched monsters of the deep until the Austrian realized how completely drained he was.  The Pyrate was at home and needed to look somebody in the eye and see that everything's fine.   So he went home.  My mom and my sister eventually went home, and I was left there alone with my thoughts.  I stayed awake all night long... until about 5am.  I got a text from the Pyrate's father in Germany.   He wanted to see if I was okay.  We chatted back and forth for a while.  He was very kind... shared more words with me than he probably had in the last two years.   I didn't expect him to express that kind of concern at all.  I'll take it without questioning it.  No energy to read into it, and it was nice.  I got a text message from my friend HT who said something so moving that it made me cry.  In the background on the tv was the news, a report about the earthquake victims in Haiti.  HT was saying something about me being sheltering by more love from more people than anyone else he knows.   People were screaming on tv, scenes of devastation everywhere in sight, reports of loved ones missing, some lost every family member.   I, on the other hand, am sheltered by more love from more people than anyone HT knows.  What a gift.
I thanked God for that moment and ever since that moment, I've been thanking God for every little thing.  I thanked God when I got out of bed on my own, with absolutely no pain,  to go the bathroom.  I thanked God for the graham crackers and ice cream the nurse brought me in the middle of the night because all they'd let me eat earlier was a bowl of broth and some nasty jello.   I thanked God for my husband when he arrived in the morning, sparkling green eyes and big grin on his face.  I thanked God for the view as we drove up the street I live on, and for the rose bushes as we walked up to my front door.  I thanked God for his strong arms that wanted to help me up the stairs even though I could do it again for myself.  I thanked God for that.
I thanked God for the smell of old pine needles in my house because our tree is still up due to all the "excitement" over the last 2 weeks.  I thanked God for my bed.  When the Pyrate got home from school, I thanked God for him too, while I held him extra tight and thought about the miracle that he is in my life.
That was yesterday.  Today I'm still thankful for all that I am, all that I have, all that I've experienced.
We will recover from this, and  now we know, that we want a baby.  That's something right?
We'll see what happens.  For now, I'm resting and looking forward to getting back to life!
I don't think I'll cry anymore about what happened to me this past week.  I thank God for that too.  I know folks who lost babies much further along in a pregnancy... several months even.  A week is nothing.    We can get through this.
Things change.   They do.  All the time.  All we have is now.  This moment.  I'm learning that there's no use in being afraid of what will be different in the next one.  What I do with this one is all that matters.  I learned from a friend who recently went through childbirth with her plans spoiled and some heartbreak involved.  When she wrote about those disappointments, she said, "I choose joy."   I remembered that this week.  It's not a hypocritical statement.  It's not either or.  Pain is inevitable sooner or later.  But what will you do when you face it?  Will you crumble under the pressure?  Or will you try to be still, breath through it, go to that other place in your consciousness?  When your hopes are dashed will you pick yourself up and keep moving or will you just give up and cower in a corner defeated?  When sorrow comes will you set up camp and decide to live there forever? Will you pretend like it's not happening and let it fester inside you?  Or will you use the moment, that particular "now" to show yourself what you are capable of?
I learned so much about myself in this last week.  I am full of God-power, a gift that lives in all of us.  I saw it in my man in ways I would have never imagined he could display.  I saw it in the Pyrate whose God-power never ceases to amaze me.  I saw it flowing in and around me between myself and the professionals in charge of my care, the people who were praying for me, the friends who shared their stories with me, the friends who simply spoke words of love and encouragement and sympathy, each one a gift.
So now, it's Friday again.  All that stuff is over.  Past.  I spent the last 24 hours together with the Austrian and the Pyrate... not answering the phone... not calling anyone... We haven't been alone through any of this.  It was good to be with them, take inventory of where we are... where I am.  A new day has come.  I am well.  I am recovering.  I am healing.  I am strong.
And things changing doesn't scare me any more.


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. It was amazingly brave for you to share your experience, and determine to progress, to 'choose joy'. You've made an empowering experience out of a trauma, and you may very well help others through that may need the assistance in letting go of similar wounds.

    Love&Blessings 'pon You, The Austrian, and The Pyrate

  2. Wow. Just wow. Thank you SO much for sharing with such honesty. Peace, friend. Peace.

  3. Brig, thank you so much for sharing that with us. I so admire your "God-power". It is our God-power that sustains us and gives us that joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. In the midst of our trials, we can still smile; we can still love; we can still hope; we can still have faith. And we learn to be thankful for those things that bring us joy. I've been there. I'm a mother of 1 angel, 1 miracle $3 million son, and a miracle newborn baby girl. I know that it can be hard some times to find that joy when you're going through, but you have to make-up in your mind to CHOOSE JOY! Thank you for choosing joy! Love you much --- as my mom always quotes, "life is fragile, handle with prayer!"

  4. I am going through so much in my life.. and I guess it was God's plan for me to read your Blog... I not only deeply mourn your loss... but embrace your perspective that has moved me to change the tone of my life to that of "JOY"... I choose it because in misery you think that your struggle is the hardest.. that your struggle is the worst .. and then you change your pov and realize that there are strong women out there that face challenges of faith and choose to embrace the lesson .. and I want to join those ranks ... many blessings

  5. Brig....what a powerful life changing experience. I too miscarried, within weeks of conception. I thank God for that life changing experience. My husband and I have been truly blessed with a beautiful vibrant baby girl. The miscarriage taught us to love, love, love and be grateful and thankful for all things that the Lord so graciously allows us to experience. Much love to you and your family....God Bless!!!!!


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