i should have

I should have a newborn.  I should be on sick leave (my University doesn’t really have maternity leave for faculty) and tending to my fresh baby.

I should be in my 3rd trimester getting ready for my June due date.  This baby’s due date couldn’t have been more perfect.  I should be getting all kinds of pregnancy attention from strangers and friends alike.  I enjoyed basquing in the limelight when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I loved being pregnant.

I should be 18 weeks and 2 days pregnant.  I should be feeling my baby move, and he should be responding to me in utero.  I should be enjoying my pregnancy with my best friend who is also pregnant, about 14 weeks by now I believe.

I shouldn’t have medical bills that I don’t understand.  I shouldn’t be waiting nervously for late menses so that I can schedule a HSG.  In fact, I shouldn’t be having menses at all!  I shouldn’t be grieving daily for three lost pregnancies, drinking heavily, sleeping poorly, putting on weight, avoiding exercise, stressing about the past, stressing about the future.  This shouldn’t be my life.  This shouldn’t be anyone’s life.

The Cost of Miscarriage

It’s been a while since I posted last.  I guess it’s that time in the semester where I’m so busy teaching, advising, and attending events that I have no time for anything else!  Plus, I had a major job during a “Super Regional” conference that took place in my town last weekend.

I have received a couple of bills from my 2/23/08 miscarriage:

LEVEL 4 HOSPITAL SERVICE

  • Recovery phase 1 lvl 2 per hr $419.25
  • Path group 3 122.00
  • Venipuncture x 2 26
  • ABO group 38.50 (they had access to this info)
  • RH type 31.25 (I told them I was RH+)
  • Antibody screen 83.50 (???)
  • CBC 48.25 (narrowly avoided a transfusion!)
  • surgery major 1 1207.00
  • set up for surgery 641.50
  • anesthetic 42.50
  • propofol 80.11 (damn, that had better have been good stuff!)
  • lidocaine 7.50
  • sevoflurane 231.20 (now, THAT better be good stuff)
  • metoclophramidercar (say that 3 times fast) 16.38
  • dexamethasone 16.38
  • fentanyl 16.38
  • hydromorphone 16.38
  • ondansertron x 2 32.76
  • fentanyl 16.38 (again?)
  • recovery/observation 75.00
    GRAND TOTAL: $3168.22

That’s what a curettage (following/during miscarriage) costs you (or more).  When it’s all said and done I’ll owe $650.29, plus I received a $97.00 bill for the follow-up with the OB.  It should have been a $15.00 copay, but since they coded it maternity, my insurance company isn’t paying for it, claiming that it’s covered under my global (maternity) copay.  THANKS FOR THAT NICE SWIFT KICK TO MY BROKEN UTERUS.

Still, nearly every moment of every day I remember what I have lost this past year.  And there’s no hope yet of moving past it.  There’s always tomorrow . . .

Inexplicably tough days

Why has today been such a tough day?  I really can’t explain why I am so down in the dumps.  I think there are enough “reasons,” but I must not give in to them.

This morning I woke up somewhat disoriented because DH’s alarm clock is CRAZY.  So, I thought I was already late for the brunch we scheduled with friends, and somehow that set the tone for the rest of the day.  On our way to our friends’ home we stopped at a local bakery.  I ran into a midwife/herbalist who had been helping me before her mother fell ill.  It was the first time we had talked since my miscarriage.  That continued to establish the tone for the rest of the day.

We proceed onward to our friends’ home.  These are our best friends in town.  My girlfriend is now 11 weeks pregnant, and it’s really really tough.  Of course I am thrilled for her and relieved that all is well with her pregnancy.  But I’m also mad as hell.  It’s a hard place to be – for both her and me.  We had invited another couple to brunch who are considering a move to our town.  They have 2 kids, so of course there was lots of talk about kid-related issues, and my friend’s pregnancy, and whether or not we were going to have another baby.

I had a good conversation today with a friend of mine who has been down a different but no less significant miscarriage path.  She forwarded some threads to me that she thought would be helpful.  I decided to put them off until later.

We returned home from brunch and all decided to nap.  I couldn’t.  My brain started processing MISCARRIAGE MISCARRIAGE MISCARRIAGE again.  It wouldn’t stop.  My heart was breaking all over again right there in the bed where my DH & I have tried and hoped for three babies.  We were planning our upcoming homebirth just days before my last miscarriage.  We believed.  We trusted.  We were deceived.

I went upstairs to my computer to work on some outstanding projects.  Instead, I turned to the multiple miscarriage threads that my friend recommended.  I was quickly overwhelmed.  I am meeting with a different OB (one who spends 2 days a week seeing fertility patients) on Tuesday.  I am starting to panic.  There is so much that can contribute to recurrent miscarriage that is not easily found.  It’s also quite possible that no definite cause will be found.  Then what do I do.

I cried.  I cried more than I’ve hardly allowed myself in the past 6 weeks.  Tears were streaming but I was silent.  Don’t want to wake up my slumbering family.  And what might happen if I actually let loose?  I’m terrified to go there.

I stepped into a nastly little debate on-line today about whether or not women who have had cesareans have actually given birth.  It grieves me that women can be so mentally and emotionally damaged from their childbirth experiences, and while I am empathetic, I can’t relate.  Especially not on a day like today when I have been reminded over and over again that other people get pregnant and carry babies to term just fine.  No, cesarean surgery is NOT an optimal way – even when a life-saving mechanism – to have a baby.  But I’d take another cesarean over the madness and hell I’ve been in for the better part of a year.

I feel like I am starting to lose ground.  Perhaps this upcoming visit to the OB is stressing me out.  Perhaps my professionally-insane April is starting to weigh on me already.  Perhaps being behind on so many projects has more than caught up to me.  Perhaps I’m starting into a new phase of grieving.  Perhaps I’m afraid to get over these losses.  But one thing is for certain:  I am not who I want to be right now.

“Childish” Wisdom

The other day I was alone with my daughter and marveled over how “perfect” she is.  “I am so lucky to have you!” I proclaimed.  She replied, “but not lucky about our baby?”  I was shell-shocked.  How did she know to connect my thankfulness for having her with my regret in losing her siblings?  “Mommy, did our baby die in your tummy?”

Today I was telling her that we were about to go to her great grandfather’s funeral.  “Honey, our Dad-dad is in Heaven with God.  Dad-dad died.”  A few minutes later she asked, “Mommy, are you going to die?”  “Not for a long long time, sweetheart.”  And I kissed her forehead.  That seemed to satisfy her for the moment.

The wisdom of a three year old is awesome.

Easter Thoughts

Today is a great day.  We made it to Mass on time . . . early even.  Our daughter was fairly well-behaved during the service (though I was hardly able to pay attention to the readings or the homily).  Friends came over for brunch.  The kids enjoyed the egg hunt.  It’s cold but sunny.

I was just reviewing the readings for today and yesterday and want to share two of them:

Col 3:1-4 

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

This makes me think of my babies that were never born.  I can’t really explain the correlation, but today – and every day – I think of them.

Ps 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

R. (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a holocaust, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

My heart is not clean.  I need to keep this psalm with me and read it many times over.  I believe I have been asked to sacrifice.  Perhaps I still need help finding my contrite and humble spirit.  We’re taught not to blame God for bad things that happen.  We’re taught to give him thanks and praise for the blessings we receive.  This is awfully unfair.  My hope and prayer is that God will reveal something that gives me peace about this awful time in my life.

Grief Is

I found this poem today at MDC.  I just have to share it here.

Grief is a quiet thing
Deadly in repose.
A raging horror, a thunder of abuse.

Raucous -
Demanding -
Incomprehensible -
Tearing all that one has ever loved.

Hopeless,
Forlorn,
Fear-ridden and misunderstood;
Ceasing a moment, and through the years,
Returning…to destroy.

To rage
To curse all that is happy -
Or contented,
Or trusting.

To threaten every beauty that is true.

Grief?
It’s a quiet thing.

- Melba Colgrove, from How to Survive the Loss of a Love

Indeed grief is a quiet thing.  In real life when someone asks, “How are you today?!” or “How are you doing?” I am compelled to answer, “Just fine!” or something similar.  People don’t seem to really be asking me if I’m doing better with the expectation that I might actually tell them how hard every day is.  People don’t understand that it’s not terribly easy to just be fine after a pregnancy loss much less after three.  They don’t want to hear about it – not really.

Recurrent Miscarriage Update

I had a follow-up appointment yesterday with the OB who performed the needed curretage a few weeks ago.  I can’t say that I really learned anything helpful from the meeting. 

Pathology on the baby came back normal though apparently no chromosomal analysis was done.  I hadn’t realized that the pathology would only rule out ectopic or molar pregnancies.  I already knew from the ultrasound that neither of those were concerns.  So that was a costly dead end.

Chromosomal abnormalities?  Perhaps, so she recommends testing for both me and my husband.  I assume that we will go ahead and do that.

Progesterone deficiency?  Perhaps, so she recommends taking Clomid when I’m ready to conceive again.  I was not previously aware of using Clomid to treat potential progesterone deficiency or apparent “luteal phase defect.”  Since I ovulate on our around the 15th cycle day, I don’t think LPD is my issue.   However, I’m not ruling out some sort of hormone imbalance.  When I’ve had HCG levels tested, those numbers have been just fine.  But I’ve never had my progesterone level checked, and this OB wouldn’t do it anyway even after Clomid treatment.  I find that odd.  What if the Clomid wasn’t quite enough to sustain the corpus luteum until the placenta takes over?  Wouldn’t it make sense that I could still possibly need progesterone supplementation even after conceiving on Clomid.  (Remember that I have no conception problems; I’m just “failing” to sustain pregnancy right now.)

Immunological problems?  Not suspected though I am inclined to disagree.  I have a history of endometriosis, depression, low energy, and adult onset acne, for instance.  My mother has rheumatoid arthritis which is an auto-immune disease.  I rarely feel particularly “great,” but then again, given what I’ve been through this past year it would be hard to identify a great day even if it was right under my nose.  I found the Reproductive Immunology Associates’ information on miscarriage prevention to be interesting, encouraging, disheartening, and overwhelming.  I will pursue some of these ideas with local care providers.

Next month I will follow-up with another OB in town.  I may also go see an endocrinologist who has been recommended.  There are evidently fertility specialists as near as Spokane, so perhaps I should be contacting them?  I have so many questions, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find answers.  That’s perhaps the scariest part.  At this moment I think I could deal with being told that trying to conceive again would not likely be successful for X, Y, or Z reasons.  We do have one incredible child, and I might be inclined to consider adopting from abroad.  But to have to deal with the unknown is what really worries me.  Three miscarriages in a row “just” bad luck?  How will I overcome that “diagnosis” if it is the most likely deduction?

Time will tell.  Each day is different.  Some days are ok and some are not.  I am living moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day.  Planning ahead for anything is excrutiating.  But “ahead” will come whether I like it or not, whether I can deal with it right now or not, and whether I can deal with it then or not.