Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Red Coals of Sadness

I wrote this post just a few days after I miscarried. Writing it acted as a release valve for all the pain and sorrow I felt but felt too raw and exposed to actually publish it. Now, a month later, I feel okay about sharing it. I'm not changing a word of it, not even re-reading it so I don't get tempted to edit it, but I am finishing it. When I wrote it, we still didn't have the official results saying I'd miscarried. I didn't finish it that day because I had hoped to receive the call giving me the results at any time. It didn't happen until days later, and by then I didn't feel like writing any more about it.


Imagine the perfect camp fire for roasting marshmallows - there aren't many flames, just searingly-hot coals; concentrated pockets of heat.

That's how the sadness deep in my soul feels. Not a raging fire that looks intense but isn't really as hot as you'd expect. No, my sadness isn't easy to see, it's buried under partially-consumed logs; red-hot coals that slowly, quietly burning with an intense heat.

I've never felt such sadness. It's unexpected and, like a hot brand, will leave a permanent mark on my spirit. Like a brand, it will heal, I have complete faith in that, but I also know I will never be the same.

Last Wednesday, I stopped feeling sick. I read a few sources that said not to worry if you're not feeling morning/day/night sickness but to be glad you're one of the lucky ones. So, I didn't worry.

Friday morning, while walking around the track during my "wellness time", I started to feel a pain very similar to menstrual cramps...except I shouldn't be getting my period because I was pregnant. I walked slower thinking maybe I was overdoing the exercise.

When I returned to my office, I went to the bathroom and found blood on my underclothes. Even then, I didn't panic. The nurse at the base, the nurse in the health center, and several articles online had all said to call my doctor if I ever experienced pain or bleeding. Well, I didn't have a doctor yet, I would be referred to one the following Monday after the pregnancy orientation on base, so I called Steve. He said he'd call the base to see what we should do and would call me back.

While waiting for his call, I told my coworker what was happening and he said it had happened to his wife during their second pregnancy and all ended up fine, but he agreed that I should see a doctor right away just to be sure.

Steve called back. The base nurse said to go to the nearest ER since we didn't have an OB doctor yet. He was coming to pick me up.

We spent just over three hours in the ER; I had blood drawn to test my HCG level (the pregnancy hormone), a pelvic exam to see if my cervix was closed (it was, and the doctor was glad so it must have been a good thing), and an ultrasound. The end results were that the baby was too small at that time to determine if its heart was beating but the egg sac was present and looked good and my HCG level was where it should be for how far along I was. The ultrasound had discovered a ruptured cyst on an ovary, which explained the cramping and blood loss. Since they couldn't say for sure that the baby was still good, they told us to go back on base on Monday to have my HCG level tested again. If the level went down, it would mean I'd miscarred. If it was the same or higher, the pregnancy was still good. The nurse was very optimistic, sure that the pregnancy would continue and the little baby inside of me would be fine. They sent us home and put me on bed rest for the weekend.

It was a long weekend. I usually pack a lot of activities into our weekends, so it was kind of hard, but kind of nice, to not be able to do anything. I managed to do some homework Saturday morning, but the rest of the day was lazy and restful. My spirits were pretty good, mostly because of a loving husband who always makes me feel better.

Sunday, I awoke to a gray day and my spirits were just as gray, if not more so. I stayed in bed until noon because I felt an overwhelming sadness I didn't want to explain to Steve in case it made the situation more real. I read a silly but entertaining book but would occassionally have to stop reading because I had the sudden urge to break down crying. My body sensed something I couldn't know for sure. Eventually, I joined Steve in the living room where we played games on the wii, watched movies and football, and just enjoyed being together. He kept asking if I was okay, so I knew I wasn't hiding my feelings as well as I'd hoped. I told him I was worried and sad and then he'd hold me close and say all sorts of nice things.

Just before bed, I used the bathroom, and something came out on the toilet paper wad. Something that wasn't a blood clot; there had been a few of those throughout the weekend. I knew what it was but had Steve come in to look so he could give his opinion. He knew too. It was the egg sac. I had miscarried.

That night will be one I will remember. The pain and sadness were unlike anything I'd ever felt and hope to never feel again. However, I will also always remember the closeness I felt with Steve. We were parents who had lost their unborn baby before it was even identifiable as a baby, and that bond strengthened our love for each other immeasurably. I sobbed and he held me tight. We talked of our disappointment and sadness and hopes for the future and our love for each other. It was immensely bitter but twinged with sweetness.

The next morning, we had our appointment on base to get my HCG levels retested. Before sending us to the lab for me to get my blood drawn yet again, the doctor said he'd call later that morning with the results. To keep my mind busy while we waited, I made an appointment to get an eye exam and contacts fitting for that morning. I've been wearing glasses for 6 months because I didn't have a prescription for contacts. Following the appointment, we went home and waited.

Midway through our dog walk, I decided I didn't want to wait any more and called the base clinic. I was then told that they wouldn't have the results for up to 72 hours!!! I told them they were wrong and that the doctor had said he'd call me before noon. The nurse told me the doctor was wrong. The type of HCG test that he'd ordered had to be sent off base so it took awhile to get the results. I hung up the phone and lost it. Again, Steve just held me tight as I sobbed. Even though I pretty much knew I had miscarried, until I got the official results, there was this tiny glimmer of hope that we were wrong. That hope scared me.

Steve suggested we go somewhere else to get the test done again, somewhere that could get the result back in a couple hours instead of a couple days. I thought about it while we finished our walk, but in the end said no. I had spent too much time in the last week at the doctor, too many pokes in my arm, too much time in waiting rooms. Since we were already pretty sure what had happened, we'd just go with that and wait until the base called with the results.


We ended up not finding out the results for almost a week. A week of not being 100% sure, a week of hope regardless of being fairly sure that the pregnancy had ended. We finally went back to the ER to get a new HCG test since we found out after another call to the base that the test I had on base might take another week to get the results! The lab at the hospital had the results in 20 minutes. The miscarriage was confirmed. It was a relief to finally have the results and I felt we could finally start to heal.

Through it all, I have been grateful for my faith in God, for the love of my wonderful husband, and for the support and kindness of my family and friends. A month later, and I'm still amazed by how much the miscarriage affects me, the sense of loss that I still feel. I don't spend hours upon hours crying (thankfully) and can carry on like normal, but I feel the difference. I'm so thankful for the healing powers of time and for father's blessings that offer hope and guidance. And, whenever I feel down, I find peace in the arms of the man that I plan to love forever.


Mellissa Hunt said...

I'm so sorry for you loss. I wish I had magic words to make you feel better, but you do have magic Steve who seems to do a perfect job. :) It's great to hear that this trial and sadness brought you two closer. I love you, Julie!

Cardine said...

Thank you for sharing this. Every so often I try to put myself in the shoes of people who have lost someone really close to them, such as a spouse or a child or have another painful event in their lives, and I really think I can't quite comprehend the pain of these individual experiences. I am so sorry for the pain. I wish you as much love and peace as you can take.

Anna-Karin said...

Julie -- thank you for sharing something so very personal. I am so glad that you and Steve were able to comfort each other during this time. A spouse like that is priceless. Love you.

Therese said...

Hi...I found this blog randomly and couldn't believe I stumbled on something so raw and beautiful and sad by accident. I am so sorry. I hope this post really was a release valve. Thank you for letting me read it.

tearese said...

Thank you for sharing, even though it's hard. I'm so sorry you had to go through such an experience, and have the added stress of having to wait so long for your results. I hope you are doing okay.