We'll start with Monday and work our way through to the end result here on Thursday. Buckle up because it is a bumpy ride! (alright, as always it took me a little longer to get through this post than I thought it would... so forgive me an extra day (or three)...ok? also, and this is important!! after writing this I realize that it might be way more information than some people can handle. I need to write all this out, to get it out of my head and try to heal my heart, but if you are sensitive you really might not want to read any further. please be warned! )
I finally had my first appointment with the midwives. I had really been looking forward to this. I couldn't wait to hear the heartbeat and get some reassurances that everything was going well. We were able to have Al's mom come over so that we could both go together and not have to worry about the munchkins. We talked about lots of things with our midwife (or one of the 5 in the practice) and got reacquainted. Then the time that Al and I had really been waiting for was at hand. Time for the exam to see how big the good old uterus was... and hopefully hear the baby's heartbeat.
And we did! I can not explain to you how encouraging and beautiful of a sound it is to hear your little baby's heart beating away faster than the solid thump-thump of my own in the background. It is an amazing thing! It made both Al and I mist over and made me feel a high that I had forgotten felt so darn good!
And then it was time for some pushing and prodding. Well, ladies and gentlemen. Surprise! My uterus is big... by about 5 weeks too big. So it would be a good idea to go get a sonogram to make sure that our dates are correct(which I KNOW they are...) and to check to see if perhaps there is more than one occupant in said uterus.
I went from high to crash in moments. I had really talked myself into believing that the midwife would smile and be kind, while telling me that intuition isn't all it is cracked up to be, and that I was right on time for having one healthy baby. At the same time, I also felt a little vindicated, because I have been telling my hubby from the very beginning that I thought it was twins. I was too sick, too hungry, too tired... he just smiled and said... ok honey we'll see... but he didn't believe it... not until the midwife said it was possible. Isn't that always the way? At least in my house, I can tell my hubby something and then someone that he has deemed to have "authority" can say THE EXACT SAME THING... and somehow now he believes it. sigh. But either way, I went home and made an appointment at the hospital for a sonogram on Thursday(part of going to a birthing center is the fact that they are very low tech. I happen to adore that fact... but if I need any technology, I have to go to the hospital that they work with... which I don't like so much). To me it is worth the trip to have what I actually want at the center... but I digress.
I go home and start freaking out!! I call girlfriends and my yoga instructor wanting somebody, anybody, everybody to tell me that it will all be ok. If I am having twins it was meant to be and I will do just fine. I was freaking out over the hardship on my still healing body, the addition of two infants in one fell swoop... going from 3 kids to FIVE. Go ahead say it out loud... to me it sounds like a BIG JUMP!! I also felt happy because I had felt from from the beginning that this was true, and as scared as I was, it was also kind of thrilling. I went to bed early, got some sleep, and woke the next day feeling MUCH better about things. I guess I just needed a little time to accept that my gut had been right and that no matter what... I would be ok. I let myself feel excited about the prospect for the first time. I only had to wait until Thursday morning to find out for sure. I could wait two more days right? : )
Tuesday was a busy day. The hubby has Mondays and Tuesdays off every week so those are our super busy, get as much stuff done as possible, days. The cool thing about it is that most people have to work those days.... so any kind of paperwork/office type thing or shopping adventure we have to do is not as busy. In fact, I am probably one of the only people who doesn't like a 3 day weekend... because it messes with my ability to get more accomplished because more people are out and about and in my way! : )
So, Al and I ran around doing this and that most of the day. Then after getting the little ones down for nap, I had to go get Emily and take her to a doctor's appointment. While I was sitting in the waiting room I noticed that I had started to cramp a little. It wasn't too bad, and the day before during my exam my midwife had said I might get a little crampy and have some spotting. I thought it was a little strange that it was happening the next day... but then I needed to go talk with the doctor and got distracted by doing a few more errands since I was out without the little people.
By the time I got home it was late. The little ones and Al were a little grumpy and no one wanted to cook. We were in discussion of calling it a pizza night, when the cramping got worse. It became bad enough that I had to stop talking for a minute. I went upstairs to pee and when I was wiping noticed that there was a spot of blood on the tissue. I looked down into the toilet and noticed a quarter sized clot sitting at the bottom. Huh, well I don't know what that means... but maybe it's just from my exam. I put on a panty liner and went back downstairs to talk about food. I told Al what happened in what I could hear myself saying in too calm of a voice... it was my mother voice... I was scared. We decided on our take out food choice and I was headed out the door, when it started. A gush of blood. I ran upstairs and sat on the toilet. The liner was thoroughly soaked. When I wiped all I saw was bright red blood. I got up, put on a big super absorbent pad and called the midwife on call. By the time she called me back only 5 minutes later. I had felt another gush of blood. I went back to the bathroom and rocked and cried. I was scared. I knew what was happening, but I wanted very badly to hear it was something else. When I stood up again the water in the toilet was all pink and swirled with red. I got up and went to lay down on the bed and wait for the call back. Al came in and checked on me. He had in the last few minutes looked up a bunch of stuff on the internet. Oh the internet. It is the source of a lot of information, but not all of it is accurate, and a lot of it can just leave you more confused... or overwhelmed with too much information. He started telling me how it wasn't what I thought... it was this... or this... or maybe this...
I was so happy when the call back came just so he would stop talking for a minute. I know that he was trying to help, but it wasn't. I talked with the midwife for about 15 minutes. She went through the list of things that could be happening. Then she started to tell me what to expect if it was the beginnings of a miscarriage. I tried to listen, but as she was talking I had two more gushes, and my tears were falling hard and fast.
This is hard to write. It still hurts so much.
I got off the phone and had to tell Al all the things that she had said. I tried to tell him all the possibilities, but I knew what it was. I tried to tell him, I was so so sorry, but he wouldn't let me. He couldn't believe it yet.
The kids were still downstairs, hungry and wondering why Mama was crying. He had to be the one to rally... feed the kids... keep things as normal as he could for them. I actually don't really know what went on for the next bit of time, or for how long. I was embroiled in my own terrible sadness and pain.
The next few hours are a blur. I was going back and forth between the bedroom, bathroom, and hallway depending on where the kids were. I was trying not to be around them... because I didn't want them to see me so upset. I continued to bleed. I spent most of the time crying. Then I lost a large amount of fluid. It wasn't bright red... it was a weird orange color. It came in two large waves and it felt like amniotic fluid to me. It drenched my pad and was very wet and hot. This is where I totally lost it. The blood had been scary, but for some reason the fluid sent me over the edge. I sat on the top of the stairs and just wailed, while I rocked myself. Poor Al tried to comfort me... but I was inconsolable. For awhile everything stopped. The kids were in bed by then so Al took me downstairs. We burned a candle and said a prayer and laid down together on the couch. After maybe an hour or so I felt another release of blood. When I went upstairs to clean up I saw it was the biggest release I had had. There was tissue in the blood that looked to me like peeled sunburned skin or something. I was done crying. I had become completely numb at that point. I didn't tell Al about it. I just couldn't and I didn't see the point in giving him more unpleasant visions.
I went back downstairs and laid with my husband and watched tv until my eyes burned. I finally turned it off about 3:30 in the morning and just lay there in the dark, listening to my husband breath deeply and staring at our candle and wondering how I could hear the beat of my baby's heart and the next day this all could have happened. I was also scared that it wasn't over because except for the first clot there hadn't been anything size able, certainly not big enough to have been an 11 week fetus. I tried not to think about what tomorrow would be like. I might have dozed off and on, but I was up and cleaning at 5 AM. I just couldn't stand laying there anymore. I waited until 7 to call the midwife on call. I called and when she called back she listened to me and then asked if I wanted to come in and listen for a heart beat.
After the call back I still had a few hours before I went in to listen for a heartbeat so I fed the kids, folded some laundry... wandered the house... took a shower. Then it was time to head down to the center. I was a nervous wreck. On the drive I sporadically sobbed because I was so overwhelmed with everything that had happened. Would I hear a heart beat... had I lost both babies, one, either of them? I got there and no one else was there yet because the midwife had come in early for me, so I wouldn't have to wait to long. She called me back and asked me to tell her what had happened the night before. I gave her an abridged version... I had cramping and bleeding for about 6 hours. Can we please just get up on that table?
And so I did. My husband was home with the other kids... we didn't have anyone else to watch them and as much as I wanted him there... it just wasn't possible. He had to call off work as it was... otherwise I would have had to take them with me.... and I didn't want to have to do that!
As I lay on the table with the cold goo on my tummy listening, waiting, hearing nothing but static and my own heartbeat over and over again, the tears began to fall again. My midwife was so sweet. She held my hand and kept saying over and over.... it's ok... there's lots of places to look... don't freak out yet... I'll tell you when you can freak out... it's ok Ruth... it's ok...
and then it happened! ...the teeny tiny rat-tat-tat of my little baby hiding way in the back to the left. I don't think there has ever been a longer two and a half minutes of my life! It was so faint that she couldn't hear it well over my own... so she adjusted one more time and pow. There it was loud and strong and clear. Again my flood of tears came. My baby was ok. My baby was still alive in there -heart beating strong. The joy, relief, and amazement there like never before! I had another internal exam to check my cervix which was closed nice and tight if not spotted with some old blood from the night before. I talked with her for a few minutes about the possibilities of what happened... but until the sonogram there was no way to tell. I did find out something I didn't know before though, when a young fetus passes away it usually takes the body 3-6 weeks to realize this and expel it from the body. So that when most people miscarry in the first trimester their baby hasn't been alive for awhile... its just that because they are so small and there is not much movement felt yet, we don't realize anything has gone wrong. So if that is what happened it's possible that my baby's heart never even started to beat. It may never have been more than 6 or 7 weeks old when it passed away. I still had the appointment on Thursday and they get really busy so, I had to wait until then to find out. I called Al as soon as I started down the stairs and out the door. Crying tears of joy again, feeling more grateful than I can explain.
As I got in my car and continued to talk to him, something different began to touch me. It was grief. How could I possibly feel grief when I heard a healthy heartbeat? But what about the other baby, even if it was small and tiny, minuscule even, and never had a chance... I didn't know that. I didn't know.
The rest of the day I have to honestly say I spent mostly waiting for and wondering about the next day. I took a 4 hour nap in the middle of the day and tried to go to bed early.
Try as we might, every single friend and relative was unavailable, so again I headed to the hospital by myself. I had heard the heartbeat of one baby so I knew that there was one that was ok. I was anxious nonetheless. I wanted more than ever to see that all parts were in the right place and that the little one was doing well. I got to the hospital and went up to the 6th floor. The whole floor had been remodeled and was now a pediatric floor. YIKES! I got back in the elevator feeling confused and frustrated with myself. Why hadn't I asked.. now I might be late. When I looked up there was a very nice woman who asked me if I was ok(I must have looked as frazzled as I felt!). It turned out she was a doctor from another floor. She was very calm and reassuring. She knew they had moved the sonogram department but wasn't sure where...and thought it might be in a different building a few blocks away. She found an internal phone called over, found out where they were, let them know that I was in the wrong place, but that I was there, so please wait for me. After getting quick directions to where I was supposed to go, I walked as quickly as I could to get to my appointment. I had already parked in paid parking and didn't want to have to pay twice... so I just hoofed it. I got there in a few minutes and was feeling grateful that I have been walking so much! I was less than 5 minutes late... so not too bad. I didn't have to wait for very long before they called me back.
The tech was having a bad day and her negative energy was just filling the whole room. I tried to make small talk to distract her... but it was pointless, so I just sat quietly waiting. When she started the sonogram the first thing I saw was my little one floating around, moving
and kicking up a storm! Then I noticed the second distinct area which looked to me like a second placenta... but it was empty. What it turned out to be was a "small" (although it was 4 times bigger than the baby) hematoma. She barely focused on the baby at all. She took a few shots, and it moved in and out of the screen, but mostly she was just checking around. She didn't talk to me much, but when she came back from showing the Dr, who I never saw, she told me that the second area had not been a twin and that I could go home. I asked her several questions but was told to call my midwife and ask her.
Blah! This is one of the many reasons I don't want to have a hospital birth. I don't like the treatment I get there. I really appreciate being talked to like a human being.... a human being who has just been through something that was scary and fairly traumatic... not like I'm in the way for the next number who needs to be processed!
So, as soon as I got out, I called Al and told him that the baby looked good. Right on target for the dates and as healthy as they can tell at this stage. But that I was leaving with more questions than answers and I'd have to call him back. I called the midwife on call and she reminded me that I needed to come in for a Rhogam shot anyway, so we could talk then. I am Rh- and Al is positive... so I get routine shots at different stages of my pregnancy to help my body avoid producing antibodies that could kill the baby... this is especially important when there has been bleeding, and I had to get an extra one.
So, from what I explained to the midwife(they didn't have the report yet because I headed straight over after I was done) she thinks that the hematoma could have been caused by the loss of a twin. She says that there is no way to know for sure at this point and that she thinks I should trust my intuition. My sister (who is a doctor) thinks that is not the case and that the hematoma came from an emplantment issue that happened at the very beginning. I was left feeling confused. On one hand I feel so incredibly grateful that I have a healthy baby. On the other hand I'm not sure if I should be feeling the loss that I AM feeling. I have no desire to mourn something that never was, but it is very hard for me to wrap my mind around some of the things I saw and felt, if there was no loss.
I am finishing writing this out several days later now, and I have had a few more days to think about and absorb the events of last week. I am physically feeling several things that make me feel like maybe there was a twin loss. Not only was there the tissue and the fluid loss, but I woke up the next morning feeling much less pressure. It's hard to explain to anyone who hasn't been pregnant, but I just feel less pregnant than before. I don't have to pee as much. I'm not as hungry... or sick. I had thought that I was feeling flutters before all this started... I know that it was early to feel movement, but I felt them for a few days before the blood loss happened, things that were NOT gas, that really felt like movement. I haven't felt anything since Tuesday. Some of the things can be explained by a loss of pressure because I lost a lot of fluids that night. I lost 3 pounds from Tuesday to Wednesday morning. I had gained 6 pounds already, but lost 3 and am holding steady now. It is just strange because I feel sadness. I have been feeling loss, but at the same time feeling like I'm not sure what really happened. My husband wants to believe that there wasn't a twin... and maybe there wasn't. But I am having a hard time understanding how I would feel so completely different from one day to the next.
Basically, what I have decided is that regardless of how things ended up where they are now, my body has experienced a huge change. There has been a big change in the energy within my body, and whether there was an undeveloped embryo or not, I just have to let myself feel whatever my body needs to feel. I had a very sad day on Friday. I decided to let myself feel the sadness, and I am feeling much better now. Al and I burned a candle for the the loss and said whatever words we felt necessary and had some closure.
I have a healthy baby in my womb and that is the most important thing. Whatever got me to this right here, isn't as important as being here right now. I plan on continuing to let myself process and experience whatever it is that I need to, to come out on the other side, holding my newest addition in my arms many more months down the line.
This is a scan of the best shot I got from the sonogram. It is still so tiny, and doesn't look as "human" yet as it will at the 18-20 week sonogram, that is the usual scheduled one to check one the organs and functioning levels of them. BUT you can see a head profile and over the belly was a little bit of the hand that kept waving about.
Today I am grateful to have amazing midwives who supported and helped me through this entire situation!
I am SO VERY thankful to have a picture of my healthy little person growing inside of me.
I am thankful that, once again, my husband was everything I needed him to be inthe middle of a crisis, taking care of our kids and making us all feel cared for!
I am thankful, so very thankful for the children I have right now. They are the greatest gift I have ever been given, and I cherish them more than I can say!