and i’ll rise up

it’s my birthday tomorrow. well, it WAS tomorrow when i started this but here we are now at 12:31am so i guess we can start playing the song now. let me preface, before i get into any of the meat here: this post is not a plea for “happy birthdays” or “have a great day” sentiments. nobody probably reads this garbage, and that’s ok – i’ve needed to get this stuff off my chest, and it’s been much too long. it’s actually quite fitting that i’m sitting down in front of the computer tonight, for the first time in over a year, to pour it all out on the eve of having spent, no, survived, another year on this earth. well, that and WordPress said my url would be sold to the highest bidder if i didn’t make a move. assholes. what can i say, i’m a sucker for peer pressure.

i’ve survived another year on this earth. another word for survival? suffered. survival is the same as suffering? that’s horrible, and yet pretty spot-on if i say so myself. if you had asked me 5 years ago where i’d be 5 years from “now” the last thing i’d tell you is trying to find myself and the meaning of life after losing seven pregnancies and bearing the sudden death of my sister, my sweet Angie. how is it that i get to take in this air every day and she doesn’t? what is that bullshit about. spoiler alert: i have ZERO answers for any of this. a year later and i’m still as blindsided as the day i started bleeding too much. or the afternoon where i saw my sweet baby with no heartbeat. or the night i got the phone call. and this last time, the morning i was wheeled into the OR for the last time, to sterilize myself so i never had to feel this pain again.  these are moments in time, snapshots in my life, that are forever seared into my being. moments that defined me, and shaped my future.

so what have i learned this last year? what profound advice can i give? i wish i had an answer for you. i would love to tell you “and i woke up to find it was all just a bad nightmare”. these last 365 days i’ve worked hard to survive, to come out alive. i learned my usual suspects are as dependable as can be expected: wine (nice, but fleeting, and those calories tho), ignorance (i’ll let you know how that goes when i snap out of it), and throwing myself into work (when i have a moment from my multiple jobs i’ll fill you in on that as well). but most importantly, i learned time doesn’t heal all wounds. it just makes the details more fuzzy so the images you recall are less repulsive. “time heals all wounds”. i hate how passive that sounds… like, if you wait long enough everything will be fine. fuck that, i waited years and shit only got worse. you want things to get better? take life by the horns and make it what you want. i learned that this year, REALLY learned that. to do so i had to come to some hard-AF decisions. for the last few years, when we lost baby after baby, amazing husband and i wrestled with our visions for our family. and after Angie died, it all became clear (although not right away, that would be too easy): no more what ifs, the shoulda woulda couldas faded away. what remained was the here and now, and nothing else mattered – i learned you had to cherish what you could hold. so i found myself having to let go of my most cherished dream – i had to let go of my heart. the one full of a dream of a beautiful messy house bursting with love, with children’s voices echoing down the halls, hand me downs, and the look in my son’s eyes as he looks at his brothers longingly. my life now had no matching christmas outfits. no rainbow after the torrential downpour. no perfect response when someone asked me “is he your only one?”

i had to let go of all the things i wanted for us… for me. that’s maybe the hardest thing i’ve ever had to do, in my life. harder than saying goodbye to my babies. harder than letting go of angie’s hand. i had to walk away from hope.

letting go of hope brought me to rock bottom.

and in many ways i’m still there. i still have all my maternity clothes packed away in the garage. right next to amazing son’s baby basinet. and the stroller. pack and play. his baby clothes. i still have a onesie i had bought for his brother, a darling little jumper with tags on it that tears at my heart when i come across it. two packages of diapers that “i was going to use for the next one”. i have some of Angie’s clothes hanging in my closet, they are too painful to put on. one still smells like her perfume, i can’t bear to wash it.  these concrete reminders of the intangible hopes for my life that doesn’t exist. one day perhaps i’ll be ready to part with them. will that mean i’ve gotten to the recovery stage? i don’t think so, i think time will simply trick me into forgetting the sharp pain.

that’s another word for survival: recovered. what the what? nope. not there yet. not. even. close. but if there’s anything that’s happened in these last couple hundred mornings, it’s been a survival instinct to make something happen – just DO SOMETHING. make it count, somehow, to someone. maybe that someone is you. or me.

i hope i’m on the road to recovery. i know i’m on some kind of road, my feet are actually moving (and not just because i’m running again although that helps a helluva lot) and though the hope is gone, what has settled in its place (although i can’t put a name on it) lacks the palpable heavy weight of the stress and anxiety i’ve felt these last years. this is my life now, this is what i’ve been given today. today, i’ve been given another day to breathe. given another year ahead of me. and this is the moment to grab it by the horns.  angie would want me to do that.

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“i’ll rise up. i’ll rise like the day. i’ll rise up, unafraid.

i’ll rise up, high like the waves. i’ll rise up, in spite of the ache.

i’ll rise up. and i’ll do it a thousand times again.”

-andra day

the end

there is nothing to say.

there are no words.

no words can change what has happened, nothing can change what i am feeling.

i am empty.

i see my legs move beneath me, climbing the stairs, walking here and there, but i do not really move. i am frozen in this spot.

i hear my voice leave my mouth, the words float up into the air. i don’t know what i am saying. i can’t remember.

i am a shell.

i wince with pain changing positions, turning, coughing, shifting. a swift reminder that this nightmare is real. my belly is swollen, it’s scars re-injured. this isn’t our first rodeo, you would think it would be used to this by now. but it hurts nonetheless. however the small bloodied incisions that appear on the surface don’t tell the real story of the hurt that lies beneath.

i can’t make any more tears. i will them to come but nothing happens.

i am empty.

the end started sunday night. i was at a dinner party with amazing husband when the pain began. what started out like cramps quickly turned into that all-too-familiar steady pain, and my old frenemy, rectal pressure.  in the back of my head, i already knew it was coming, i just refused to give in to the truth until it was staring me in the face. i was scared. rectal pressure was the give away in my last 2 ectopics. you see, when blood starts pouring into your belly, gravity helps it settle into a small space between your bowels and your uterus = rectal pressure. i felt like i had to go to the bathroom so very bad, but of course, that was not the problem.

i told amazing husband we needed to leave, and embarrassingly excused myself from the party after only being there maybe an hour. we walked to the car in silence. we had been “here” before, and we both were too scared to say it.  we drove home, and called best friend to come over and talk me down from the ledge. i was panicking. the pain was not abating, it was coming in waves, but not as bad as last time. i tried to talk myself out of it but there were 2 too many sensible people in the room. they were right in arguing for getting to the hospital sooner rather than later so i acquiesced. best friend made some calls to our friends in the hospital and when we arrived they ushered me right into the ED triage (there are bonuses to working in the hospital you frequent).  i explain to triage nurse what’s happening, they know my history from last time so they waste no time and before i can blink i’m in a bed waiting to see a doc. more friends show up in my room to show support. i have the best friends.

i get an IV, blood is drawn, and doc comes in.  i know him (hell, i know everyone in this ED), and when he looks up to see my face he is taken aback. “do you want someone else?” he asks. i laugh. “it’s all good, i know you’ve always wanted to know my insane infertility history.” my blood work shows baby is growing appropriately, HCG is 1557. (wednesday’s result was 327, that’s doubling every 2 days). he orders ultrasound. i ask for pain meds, the pain is not going away.

the pain does not go away, despite multiple doses. morphine. dilaudid. they just lessen it but it never disappears. i know something is wrong. my parents show up. god bless them, they are so nervous.

ultrasound time. i will summarize here, tech couldn’t find anything that showed an ectopic nor could she see anything in my uterus. she admitted with an HCG at that level she wasn’t surprised to not see a baby yet.  incidentally she found a 1.8cm x 1.8cm spot of free fluid next to my right ovary that she attributed to a ruptured cyst.

my sister in law is here now. i am feeling the love but inside i am dying with fear. doc calls on-call OB, they go through my labs, ultrasound results, vital signs, etc. and he says at this point there is no intervention to perform; there is no real cause for the abdominal pain. watch and wait they say. come back if pain increases or you start bleeding they say. plan is for repeat HCG and ultrasound on tuesday.

we live to see another day. i literally said that to husband. i am a fool. we left the ED breathing a tiny bit easier. i prayed to god harder than ever before. please show me mercy. please bless us and this baby. please don’t make me suffer this again.

i couldn’t sleep all night. every turn made me wince with pain. the pressure was growing, and i tried to sleep it off. i’ll be fine. the ultrasound found nothing, it’s going to be okay.  we woke up to start the day but i stayed in bed, exhausted. i had already told boss i was taking today off. amazing husband got amazing son ready for school and as he walked out the door to take him to school told me he loved me and would be back soon.

i figured it was time to get up and moving. all i had to do was make it to tomorrow, tuesday. tomorrow i would know for certain what was happening. i stood up, took a few steps, and the room started to spin. i quick sat back on the bed, took some breaths, and it righted itself. i stood up too fast, that’s all. i haven’t eaten much in the last 12 hours. i walked to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, went downstairs and plugged my phone in to charge.  OB called me, she got the message i was in the ED last night. she was concerned the HCG level wasn’t doubling like it should. wait, what? (she shared with me friday’s result was 1176) and she wanted me to re-do blood work ASAP at the same lab i always go to, and then come right to the office for an ultrasound. i told her i felt a little dizzy and the pain was still there but i could do what she asked. i walked back upstairs to change and i felt the blood drain from my face. something is terribly wrong. sweat started to drip down my back. i need to get my phone, i need to call for help. where is my phone?? 

it was downstairs. i had to walk down the stairs, holding onto the walls, and nearly collapsed and fell. i crawled to the kitchen, got my phone and crawled onto the couch to lay down. i called amazing husband and asked him to come home right away. he could hear the panic in my voice.  i text best friend to please come over and bring her blood pressure cuff. i need to know if i should call 911 or if i could make it to OBs office. i wanted so badly to believe everything was going to be alright. i was a fool.

within minutes they both were at my side, my blood pressure was fine and i told them what OB said. husband wanted me to go to ED but i convinced him i was alright and we should do the blood work and go to her office.  i’m not sure how i managed to stay upright for the next hour, walking and functioning, while i was bleeding into my belly. we waited an hour in OB’s office to have the ultrasound. for an hour i watched belly after belly walk in front of me, listened to these women ooh and ahh over their stats, and the only thing that saved me from face punching them was the fact i would’ve passed out if i stood up. i even had the pleasure of walking into the ultrasound room to see a nice healthy 13 week old fetus on the screen. congratulations to the chick who laid on this table before me. fuck off.

the tech inserted the probe (aka dildo cam), it had suddenly grown cactus spikes on it. i cried out in pain. and in an instant i saw a ton of black areas on the computer screen. black = fluid. she sighed, and that was enough to confirm our worst fears. we had lost the baby. there was about 400cc of blood in my belly. i couldn’t hear anything else. my ears plugged up, my eyes filled with tears and everything went black. amazing husband put his arms around me, his tears falling onto my face, and we were swallowed up in grief.  i said i couldn’t do this again God, what did i do to deserve this?? 

i was whisked to a room to speak with OB. i heard things like “emergency surgery”, and “remove your tube” and “dangerous”. i didn’t hesitate: i told her to take it out, that way i would never be in this situation ever again. i won’t ever do this again. you won’t be able to do this to me again God. we headed across the street to the ED to be admitted for emergency surgery.

the rest was a blur. more IVs. more blood work. more pain meds. doctors. anesthesiologists. surgeons. friends. tears. more and more and more. again, you think i’d be used to this already, but it was another lesson in pain. each time is exponentially more difficult to bear. the OR suite was frigid, i was shaking uncontrollably (chills and from fear) and the tears wouldn’t stop. they were going to take my baby. going to take my tube. the mask was placed over my face. “take some deep breaths”. everything went white.

some hours later i woke up, groggy and queasy. quickly scanned my surroundings and with relief looked over and saw amazing husband right next to me. he had tears in his eyes. we stared at each other silently.

it was the end.

there was nothing to say.

and here i am today. in a paradox. i am filled with emptiness. i move but i am frozen in place. i breathe but am not living. i am here. but i am not. whatever did i do to deserve this. where is god now?

all is lost

i will keep this short. the anesthesia and pain meds are still barreling through my veins and my thoughts are fleeting, foggy, at best. and i can barely muster the energy to type these next words.

the baby is lost.

my right fallopian tube is lost.

that one shred of hope i held deep down in my heart, it too, is lost.

though i am grateful this time to have not been faced with life-and-death gravity of previous ectopics, i am still living a nightmare.

i am beyond broken. and all is lost.

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#momofboy

honestly, i don’t even know if they were brothers. or boys, for that matter. they very well could’ve been all girls. but likely, they were a mix of sister and brothers,… after you lose as many as i did, chances are that 50% were probably girls and 50% were boys, right? because,… odds. but i’ve always dreamed i’d be a mom of boys, and for this reason i told him he had brothers.

i always dreamed i’d be a mom of boys. #momofboys was to be my forever hashtag. i envied every single one of the women who added it to their shocking-yet-hilarious facebook posts of boys doing stupid crap. i knew what i would do: i, too, would post it proudly at the end of every single one of my IG perfectly-filtered posts of my two sweet tiny “men” loving on each other, or maybe wrestling in the yard, or standing awkwardly in matching little league jerseys.  i’d be able to join that elite club of moms who wear lululemon activewear 24/7 at the baseball fields, while they scratch their heads marvelling at these crazy humans. i would easily fit in, throwing out comments like “i know right? i can’t keep these two from killing each other!” and then laugh that perfect “i’m just kidding, they are angels” laugh. while i silently wanted to down a box of wine, yes, a box, and hide in a corner.

i always dreamed i’d be a mom of boys. i pictured the early months where my older one would lovingly gaze at the baby in my arms, doting on him and wanting to be my helper… my big boy.  i envisioned myself chasing them all over the house, in one hand a bottle of 409 and a rag, and the other perhaps legos left on the stairwell needing a home, or some half-eaten snack discovered hiding behind a chair. i would have to wrangle them to stand still for the christmas photos, annoyed the entire time because we can’t get the f*cking shot, but later on that night chuckle to myself with a full heart at the comedic scenes that unfolded earlier.  a full heart who’s only problem that day was too many tiny humans needed extra love and hugs in that moment.

i always dreamed. that is the take home message. i dared to dream. dreams are important, they are extensions of your heart, your psyche. representations of your deepest desires. you should have dreams, it’s healthy to dream.  as a 20-something and even early-30-something you believe your dreams are absolutely within your grasp. this is your prime time, these are your years to find yourself, find a partner, and find a purpose in life. many women dream of having children. it’s innate: i am woman, i make the babies. we are born to create life and carry it. but we aren’t prepared, at any age really, to hear that we are broken. i wasn’t ready to hear it. and then hear it again. and again. there is no manual, no self-help book, no script to follow when you learn firsthand, that your body is more likely to kill your babies than nurture them.

there is no lesson in life harder to learn, than losing your own child.

i always dreamed i’d be a mom. and with that, a mom of more than 1 child. my dreams actually did come true – i am a mom of more than 1 child. seven children, to be exact. but only 1 that lives and breathes today.  i never thought i’d be the mom i am today.  the one who doesn’t talk about her other children. do you know how hard it is to answer the question “how many children do you have?” or “is he the only one?” … you don’t go “there.” you don’t freely open the jagged raw discourse of miscarriages and emergent surgeries.  it happened the other day at his after-school program. the director was telling me how much she enjoyed having him and his funny personality (cue proud mom moment) and followed it up with “will you guys have another?”.  you never go “there” with people, they aren’t buying tickets for your crazy train. so you smile politely and say “no, he’s all we ever wanted.” which is true, he is everything we hoped and prayed for. i don’t talk about my children that died. i write about them, sure. i try to honor them in whatever way i can. but i actively avoid leading any conversation with “let me tell you about my miscarriages”. that’ll ruin a good time, every time. i keep them locked away in a necklace, next to my heart.

i never thought there was the right time to open up pandora’s f*cked up box of pain. and then i told him about his brothers.

it was so natural, the way it came out. i had no intention of telling him at this age (5)… he’s too young. he probably was/is. i’m sure i’ll regret it somewhere down the road. but his question was the same one he’d asked a million times over and i’d always put it off, or distracted him so as not to have to answer it. it’d be bedtime, and we would be laying in his bed, cuddling. the conversation light, maybe talking about the events of the day (what happened at karate, who went on time-out today at school, because allll the kids know who went on time-out), or what lie ahead of us in the coming day. i’d stroke his face lightly, and sing to him gentle lullabies. his hand would reach for the locket around my neck, and he would hold it between his little fingers, bring it close to his face and inspect its contents.

over and over he’d ask me what’s inside the necklace. over and over i’d tell him “your brothers”.  i never could lie to him about this, i wouldn’t deny their existence, especially not to him. they were real. whether they took a breath or not, they lived… they existed. to me, to us at least.

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amazing son, my babies, and the angel wings on which they fly

12/4/2011

3/14/2012 (my rainbow baby)

2/8/2014

10/30/2014

4/9/2015

11/30/2015

1/5/2017

he’d ask why his brothers were around my neck to which i’d always reply “it’s how i can keep them close to my heart.” cue tears on three… two… one… there is no rulebook for this. usually he’d be satisfied with that and we’d go back to singing, or cuddling. tears would stream from my face like rivers, but i’d manage to keep them hidden from him. i’d kiss him goodnight, he’d nod off and hours later i would cry myself to sleep. i never shied away from telling him he had brothers. i just wasn’t forthcoming about where they went.

but not this night… on this night he was not satisfied. “why are they in the necklace and not here with me? i wish they were here with me.” and he looked up at me with these big brown eyes, eyes that pleaded with me to make a miracle happen. to somehow produce a sibling out of thin air. he’s asked for a baby brother or baby sister a hundred times over. but this time was different. choking back tears i decided in that moment to tell him, it just felt “right” when it never, ever, feels right.

“your brothers were too tiny to live with us, i loved them so much but God wanted them to be with Him instead.”

the big eyes only got bigger, i could see his mind racing. “my brothers died?”

shit. should i have said that? i can’t take it back now. i nodded. and followed it up with “dad and i prayed so hard for you, we wanted you so badly and God answered our prayers.”

“i wish i had a tiny little baby brother, but it’s okay.  you and dad wanted me real bad and God gave me to you. He wanted my brothers with him so he could love them. He and Tía Angie can take care of my brothers.” dagger meet heart.

oh sweet boy, you are wise beyond your years.

“yes sweetheart, Tía Angie is up in heaven playing with your brothers.”

dear God, if you’re listening, and you too Angie… please give them all a big hug for me right now. and please give me the strength to bear this. this mom of boy can only take so much right now, and i don’t dare tell him his wish will never come true.

i will be brave

i took 2 weeks off from my life, to pretend i was someone else. that what had happened was just a nightmare. i got to see sights. throw myself into work. and share just enough cocktails with friends i maybe felt one brick unloaded from the million on my back. and now it’s tonight. half past midnight. everyone in the house is asleep. except me. i can’t, my brain won’t shut off. it just spins and spins. what ifs and shoulda woulda couldas cloud my thoughts. as if any of that would change where i am today.

i am a fool.

i honestly thought that one day it would be my turn. statistics, you know. eventually the numbers play to your favor. after so many pregnancy losses, it would be my time. because, numbers, man. i started to believe this as truth after my 3rd loss. okay, well it will be next time.

and then the 4th loss. okay, that’s the last one, right? and then my 5th. this has to be it.

but just as i didn’t understand math then, i clearly don’t grasp it now. i am 1 for 7 in successes. 85% of my pregnancies end in miscarriages. eighty-five percent. here’s another way to see it (if you’re a sports fan): that’s a batting average of 0.143.

okay coach, i’ll be over here, riding the bench. forever.

remember when i, and you, and the rest of the sciency über nerds guiding my reproductive world believed wholeheartedly that i had my miracle baby with lucky #7?  the baby that finally travelled from one ovary to an opposite tube and somehow found my uterus and based on labs looked 100% perfect?

i think you should sit down right now. pathology results came in and they found chorionic villi in the sample of fluid from my bleeding belly.

fuck.

take a breath (i’m telling myself this). chorionic villi is fetal tissue. it is ONLY fetal tissue. fuck.

my baby didn’t stand a chance even after all that hemorrhaging ridiculousness. it was 100% ectopic. and now a team of doctors pore over textbooks quoting me the rare statistic of having an ovarian ectopic (which likely is the case) which you guys is like 1 in a zillion. because, why wouldn’t that happen to me?

thank you universe, for an epic joke. thank you for filling my sails with wind and then tearing them to shreds while trying to sink my ship in the meantime. just when i had just started to let out my breath, it was nearly taken from me.

and can i take just one minute to say what a cruel punishment the follow-up from this is? from any miscarriage? let’s just “forget” about the painful surgical incisions and persistent sore boobs aside (they have seemed to forget that i am no longer pregnant)… the worst thing in the world after losing a baby is having to return to OB for the follow-up appointment. where i have to sit in the waiting room chock-full of pregnants oohing and aahing over their bellies and complaining (YES! complaining!) about their backaches and swollen ankles and how the perfect bedding for their nursery was out of stock and it’s the end of the world. please someone kill me. i also have to have weekly blood draws to ensure my HCG levels return to zero. and i yearn for each result to scream “not pregnant” (which, when do you ever beg to not be pregnant on this journey) and yet the punishment refuses to abate. each visit to the lab, the tech sees what test they are doing and their eyes light up with what i interpret to be hope and happiness… their eyes and smiles might as well be their arms hugging me and lips wishing me well. one guy even congratulated me. thanks asshole. i’m more than 2 weeks post-op and my last level was still 66. really? when does it end.

it’s only natural i am again doing the “why me” dance. WHY. why me. why NOW. why. AFTER ALL THIS. why build me up only to suck the life out of me? i am angry. i am OH so angry. and why shouldn’t i be? every time i see two lines on a pee stick panic and terror ensue. i have forever been robbed of ignorance and bliss since, well, the beginning of time. instead of congratulations and planning nursery themes, i immediately begin bargaining with God. please God, show me mercy this time.  i am irrationally angry.

and i am such a fool.

you may be thinking “don’t think like that”, and want to offer up crap cliché like “if it’s meant to be it will be”or “don’t worry, you are young, you will have another one.” please, go take that somewhere else. anywhere, where no one who has lost a baby can hear you.  let me be angry. and irrational. and hurt. i am entitled to feel angry. i have to feel all of this if i am ever to stand tall again. hell, simply stand again. the only appropriate words to say to me are “i am so sorry.” and even those words might make me tear up, but they will not add to the hurt.

i have been brutally honest throughout this journey, and with that, surprisingly, people who read it  have come up to me and told me how brave i am. they say how strong i am to bare my soul. to be so honest. “i could never do that” they say.  but i don’t feel brave at all. especially when i am sitting in front of a computer screen at 1 am sobbing giant crocodile tears into the keyboard. truth is, i just can’t hold it in anymore and put on a happy face. i hit my limit years ago with lying to faces and pretending everything was perfect.  bravery has nothing to do with it, i simply have no reserve to hide the struggle.

it’s only right to show the truth. to shine a light on the bullshit that is infertility and my own bullshit journey. i will talk about it because NO ONE talks about it. so that those of you who are so lucky to have easy conceptions and easy pregnancies can gain an understanding that it isn’t so easy for others, and to foster compassion and sensitivity for their fellow women. their friends around them who suffer in silence. those who aren’t “so brave” as me (more like “so crazy”). and i also share so my people, those men and women who have lost, who are currently losing, who may never HAVE at all… know that they are not alone when they feel all of it is shit. all the wild curves and straight edges of this walk. it is all injustice and pain. but for most of my people there is a light at the end of this seemingly unending tunnel. i have seen the strong majority of my loss mama friends go on to have their rainbows. so keep your head up. your numbers are better than mine. they have to be.

you are so brave, they say.

please. i am a hot mess. and one day i will stop being angry, i think. and nothing makes sense to me anymore. well, except this. this made perfect sense.

they are forever with me, always.

❤ fly high my angels ❤

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it must be the right thing to do

 

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to say this week was hard might be the understatement of the year. hard doesn’t cut it. pretty much unbearable. prisoner of the house for a few days, waiting for the all-clear from doc to do something as simple as drive, let alone rejoin the land of the living. my body is bruised and battered, but healing slowly. stitches out finally, and finally rid of the sharp pains in my shoulders from the air instilled in my guts to clean out the havoc that ensued within. i can finally sleep laying down (yay!) however my ass is numb from sitting upright 24/7. (sidenote: i am forced to rethink buying that bed with the fancy remote-control head of bed incline for my golden years).  oh and i can get out of bed without wincing. it’s the small things, people. 

mentally, though, i remain a prisoner. numb. detached. i replay that night in my head and it feels very much like i’m watching my life on a big screen. it’s not me, I mean it looks like me in that bed but doesn’t register. i am disassociated. i truly believe it’s the only mechanism keeping me afloat right now. just keep swimming. survival.

so what am i to do? it’s been a week. just pretend everything is back to normal i guess. that’s what everyone else is doing so it must be the right thing to do. pretending it never happened. avoiding the giant elephant in the room. because no one wants to talk about it. or admit that it was terrifying and awful. i almost lose my life, we lose our baby, and everyone wants to pretend it never happened. we’re good. i’ll smile. we’ll be fine. people congratulate me on my graduation. they don’t realize the only thing i associate that night with is almost dying. nothing about that night shouts “celebration!”  and yet i force a smile. thank you for reminding me. oh yes, i am so happy. graduation is the last thing on my mind.

i shouldn’t fault them. why would anyone want to aknowledge what happened? and let down that wall, become vulnerable. say it out loud. and yet i do place judgment and resent them. i honestly think if i had simply been bleeding to death with no pregnancy involved this would be different. the elephant would cease to exist. my loved ones would feel more comfortable talking to me. but it isn’t that easy. it never is when it comes to this. god forbid we say it out loud. i want to scream. no rug is big enough to sweep this under.

so i am here now. it’s time to shower. put on makeup. leave the house. it is time to take the first step. my foot is raised and  balance unsteady. thankfully, weeks ago i booked a week-long work conference in New Orleans. and now it will serve to help distract me in the most needed time. i’ve been so distracted in my thoughts lately, at least now i can get lost in the crowd where no one knows me and i don’t have to pretend.

as i sit here in LAX, watching people shuffle here and there, i hear the chatter. see the constant movements. and marvel at how purposeful their movements are. their conversations lively. their smiles genuine, faces eager, awaiting their destination. for the good times awaiting them. the anticipation of memories to be made. and i see me in a window reflection. my smile is disingenuous.my face solemn. my movements aimless and slow. what anticipation i had no longer exists. i am robbed of everything.

escape. distraction. i welcome a change of scenery. c’mon Nola. help a sister out.

there are no more words

i’ve written, and re-written this post about a hundred times. i type, and erase. type again, delete. i first wrote a brief synopsis of everything, to save you the time reading this novel, but it doesn’t tell the story right. truth be told, nothing sounds “right.” i can’t explain everything that happened, because, well… it was a whirlwind. however there are some things i will certainly never forget. and since you have been with me since the beginning, it’s only fair to tell you how it ends.

friday night, in the middle of my graduation dinner surrounded by my family, i nearly passed out at the table. i had felt fine all day, it was graduation, i was ecstatic. and then all of a sudden at dinner i felt sharp abdominal pain. the room started spinning, cold sweat running down my back. i excused myself and, wobbly on my feet, had amazing husband help me to the bathroom.  there was so much pressure in my abdomen. maybe i just needed to go to the bathroom. gas pains, sure. i sat there in the bathroom stall for close to 20 minutes, but nothing happened except sweat and cold chills. i looked down, i wasn’t bleeding. but the pain was not abating. my sister came in to check on me, told me i look white as a ghost. she offered to take me to the ER. i laughed it off. she’s overreacting, i’ll be fine. after some time the dizziness stopped, so i collected myself and she helped me back to the table. but the pain was still there, constant pressure. i tried to explain to my mom and mother-in-law what i was feeling, as i couldn’t hide the look of discomfort on my face. we all forced a laugh, it was probably constipation from pregnancy and the progesterone supplements, and on and on. i’ll feel so much better once i can go to the bathroom. we laughed.

dinner was served. i took one bite. waves of nausea started to wash over me, the dizziness was back. i turned to amazing husband and said we need to leave. feeling guilty, as this was my celebratory dinner and here i am leaving it early, i apologized to my family and we headed home. the pain was getting worse. rubbing my belly constantly, we drove home in silence. he was worried, i could see it on his face. i was worried too, i didn’t know what was going on. we drove past the hospital on the way home and he offered to stop. i told him to keep driving. i’ll be fine. we got home, put amazing son to bed, and i laid on the couch.

but the pain was not abating. at. all. i was getting scared. i texted my friend, who had experienced lots of pregnancy-related GI issues, to get some advice. i thought about taking medication to help me go to the bathroom, you know, because it felt like that would solve it. and after some talk, she told me to call my OB.

looking back now, that simple text message saved my life.

i called the on-call OB. i briefly explain my symptoms, how early i am in pregnancy, and mention my history of ectopic. she told me go to the ER. she is now the 3rd person to tell me to go, and i don’t know, maybe because she is a doctor i finally listened? i think all along i knew something was seriously wrong, and i didn’t want to believe it. we woke up amazing son and got in the car, dropped him off at the in-laws and headed for the hospital.

on the way i turned to amazing husband and tried to break the silence with terrible humor. “one day we will look back on today and laugh about how i went to the ER because i couldn’t poop.” and we mustered awkward laughs and drove on in silence. deep down we were terrified.

the pain was getting really bad now, waves of sharp heat radiating through my belly. i was taken back into triage, vital signs were stable, told the RN what was going on and my pregnancy loss history. they drew blood right there to test HCG levels, among other things. ordered an ultrasound to look for baby, and sent me back to the lobby to wait. the ER was full. of course. no beds.

so we sat there. and sat there. nausea was back. the room was spinning. the pain was out of control. i was moaning, grabbing my belly. we sat there. and waited. it had been an hour now since we arrived. something is seriously wrong. i saw a man come up to me with a wheelchair and ask me to get in, we were going for ultrasound. finally. i stood up.

and the room went sideways.

the next thing i recall is hearing my husband yelling for help. i am slumped over in the wheelchair, being rushed into a room. i open my eyes and see a nurse, her eyes wide. she is on the phone with someone yelling “BP 56/31” “i need a room” the lights are brighter than bright, it feels like i’m flying through the hallway. i hear the paging system “code emergent, room 33”. the wheels on the chair are rattling. i am lifted into a bed and all i hear are people talking loudly and moving quickly. i am room 33.

my clothes are cut off. “you’re going to be okay hun””we have to start some IVs, this might hurt” “get me saline!”

i can’t feel anything. my hands are numb. where is my husband.

where is my husband??

i can’t see him. all i see are nurses. everywhere. all i hear is ringing in my ears.

i think am going to die. i am going to die. i am panicking. i start sobbing.

the doctor is here now. cold gel on my belly, she is pushing down with an ultrasound probe, hard. the pain is unbearable. she is staring at the screen, “i see lots of free fluid, i need blood!” i am getting more IVs. the pain. my belly. oh my god the pain. where is my husband? i am calling for my husband, i can’t see him. the doctor is back, “it looks like a ruptured ectopic.” husband is next to me now. his face, he is so scared. i am sobbing. i grab his hand and don’t let go. i am shaking so hard i am rattling the bed.

things are moving fast. people are in and out. so many people. i am feeling less dizzy now, the room is rightening itself. “pressure is better” i look up and see multiple liters of saline infusing, there are blood bags hanging, and finally i am getting some pain medication. sweet baby jesus, thank you. the ultrasound tech is here with her big machine. she has to do a transvaginal exam. the probe is no doubt coated with cactus spikes. everything hurts. i ask for more pain meds. please. “i don’t see baby in the uterus.” the air is sucked out of my lungs. all she sees is blood in my belly, from my ribs to my pelvis. my right ovary is swollen with clots. doctor asks me for my OB’s name, i need emergency surgery.

this isn’t real life. this can’t be happening. someone, please wake me up. now.

another doctor is here. on-call OB, the same woman on the phone who told me to go to the ER. i look at her and say “hey, remember me?” and we muster an awkward laugh. her face is serious. she is staring at the ultrasound screen, but not convinced of what the tech is telling her. my HCG level is 2100. we should be able to see where baby is. but all she sees is blood. she tells me i need a laparoscopic surgery (again), fearing ruptured ectopic. she needs to stop the bleeding. i beg her to save my only tube. she is calm, she has kind eyes. she promises me she will try her best. please.

i am getting more pain medication. please god make the pain go away. the room is less wobbly and my vital signs are better. but the reality is sinking in. this is going to end badly. my best friend is here now, i am relieved. there’s something calming about having her there, and i am thankful that husband won’t be alone when they take me away. i don’t want him to be alone in this.

they wheel me to OR. i say goodbye to amazing husband and tell him i love him. he is crying. i am a mess. there is lots of activity in the OR suite, i am moving, arms are being strapped to boards, and the anesthesiologist puts a mask on my face.

nighty night.

it’s 4AM. i am groggy, feels like i got hit by a truck. i am in my hospital room now. i instinctively put my hand on my belly, it is sore but not nearly as painful as it was. amazing husband is here. he tells me surgery was long, but i did well. OB told him she had to remove a liter of blood from my belly. ONE LITER. and when she finally could see my uterus and tube, my tube looked great. there was no overt sign of ectopic. tube was intact, she saved my tube.  what she did find was a hemorrhagic corpus luteum. (science lesson time: the corpus luteum is the remains of the follicle that put forth the golden egg; it purposely stays on the ovary and secretes progesterone for the baby’s development until the placenta is formed, at which time the corpus luteum disappears/bursts; it is not supposed to hemorrhage). mine had hemorrhaged and i was bleeding out. she told husband that baby was almost certainly in the uterus after all, but too small to see on u/s, especially with all the blood clouding the images.

oh my god. baby was actually where it needed to be! 

he left the worst part for last… the trauma to my body, the severe low blood pressure, the loss of the corpus luteum and the internal manipulations she had to do in surgery will almost certainly cause me to miscarry.

i can’t breathe. 

i looked at amazing husband, my eyes filling with tears. there was nothing to say, we let our tears fill the silence. went to bed, exhausted, begging dreams to replace the nightmare that had just transpired.

fast forward to today. after a record-breaking godawful mother’s day, i am numb. it’s like i was watching someone else’s life unfold on a movie screen. not mine. this is the stuff of lifetime tv movies. and then it hits me, no, this is absolutely my life. please don’t let me confuse you,  i am incredibly grateful for the support and timely advice of my friend to call OB. immensely grateful for the OB who told me to go to the hospital (and get over my stubbornness that i would be “fine”). and to amazing husband and all the hospital staff that saved my life that night, i will always be indebted. had i remained stubborn and stayed at home, i shudder to think of what would’ve happened in my home. would i have even made it to the hospital? these are thoughts no one should have to think. i’ve never been more frightened in my life. ever.

waking up today in my bed, as i turn and see my sleeping love next to me, i thank god that i have that gift of life. nothing is more important than being able to be here for amazing husband and son. nothing. and yet as grateful for my life as i am right now, i am beyond heavy-hearted. i am traumatized over these events. traumatized doesn’t even come close to describing this. there are no words.

we are losing the baby after all.

HCG fell to 1100.

how do we bear this? i am forever broken.

there are no more words.

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