Friday, January 11, 2013
My Body Is Broken
I'm not sharing this unpleasant experience because I want sympathy or pity. Rather, I want other women who suffer through miscarriages to know that they aren't alone. According to the American Pregnancy Association, of the approximately 6 million pregnancies that occur in the United States each year, 69,600 or around 12% end in a miscarriage. When you factor in advanced maternal age and a history of previous miscarriages--factors that unfortunately affect me-- the chances of having an unsuccessful pregnancy increase. This definitely doesn't make me feel any better about my circumstances but knowing these facts now, something I was unaware of the first time around, does make me feel less alone.
I suffered my first miscarriage shortly after Glenn and I had excitedly announced my pregnancy to our families and close friends. We had been married for less than a year but given our age, had decided to immediately start our family. We had been so excited to learn that we were expecting and had already begun to make plans for our new arrival. Good friends had gifted us with a few small baby items that I was eager to use. Up until this point my biggest medical issue had been having my wisdom teeth taken out while I was in high school so I thought I was healthy and had every reason to believe that I was experiencing a normal pregnancy. And then I received the devastating news from my doctor that the fetus was not developing normally and my body would soon begin to miscarry.
I remember laying on the couch in our living room for over a week vacillating between tears of physical pain and tears of emotional agony. No one could ever have prepared me for how difficult this experience would be. I felt alone, angry, and ashamed that perhaps I had done something wrong and had directly caused this to happen. I tried to remember when I had drank my last glass of wine and I ruefully recalled stopping by Pet Smart, on my way to my check up, to purchase a 50 pound bag of dog food. Eschewing the assistance of the eager clerk I had hoisted the heavy bag into the back of my SUV. Logic would dictate that this had not caused my miscarriage but in my confused and saddened state I sought out any explanation regardless of how unfeasible it might be. I was hesitant to share what was happening with anyone, but having already announced the pregnancy I had no choice. Reactions were mostly sympathetic but one so called friend told me that I must have done something to cause this to happen since things like this just didn't happen to good people. While I had been wondering the very same thing to myself, hearing the words spoken aloud ripped open the wound again. I stifled back my shock, pain, and tears and vowed not to talk to anyone else about this. (A year later when this very same friend had her own miscarriage I quietly dropped of a care basket filled with homemade goodies and pampering items on her doorstep. She never knew who gave it to her and while I knew there was no way that these items would heal her wound I also knew that she deserved kindness and caring during this tragic time). After I week of self pity, I picked myself up, packed away our precious baby items, and tried to carry on. But gone for good was that carefree assurance that we would easily have our family. My perspective on life had changed forever.
Earlier this week as I lay on the exam table at the --- only in Albania--- named Petal Gynecological Clinic looking at the enlarged ultra sound image showing my now empty uterus, I reminded myself how lucky I really am. I am already the mother to a happy and healthy three year old. This is so much more than millions of women can say. I have a loving and supportive husband who has been by my side, both physically and emotionally through all of this. I have access to quality health care (although I wondered how true this was at that exact moment since this particular clinic seemed to lack heat), and I knew that physically I would once again come out of this situation in one piece. I told myself that this time, since I hadn't even know I was pregnant, I hadn't had the time to bond with my unborn child. That should make things easier, right? Perhaps I am jaded but despite the language barrier between myself and the doctor I told myself that this time wasn't going to be as bad as it had been in the past.
Maybe my experiences have hardened me. Rather than wallowing in my pain and self-pity I immediately picked myself up and carried on as normal this past week. I popped some extra strength ibuprofen, went to work, socialized with friends, and hosted two dinners in our home. I've spent time with Sidney each evening and given him an extra hug and kiss each night. Tomorrow I will attend a baby shower for dear friends and rejoice in their health, happiness, and good fortune. As has been the case with each of my losses, I will mourn them and never forget them but continue to appreciate what I do have. That is all I can do. The wonderful thing about life is that it carries on. It isn't always easy but our experiences only make us stronger.