Hole in my Heart* DISCLAIMER * Writing for me is therapeutic and while I struggled with the decision to open my laptop and "lay it all out there", I ultimately decided it is what I need to do. The below may very well be one of the most personal posts I've ever chosen to share in such a public format. For that reason, I want to both forewarn my readers ahead of time about it's subject - miscarriage - and ask that all comments remain private (if you want to get in touch with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). I appreciate your support!
Fortunately, despite all the health issues I had been dealing with a few weeks ago, this blog post's title is metaphorically speaking. I do not have a hole in my heart. In the literal sense at least.
Unfortunately, the events of the past few days have left a huge gaping hole in a place deep inside of me that can only be compared to effecting the most vital organ in our body.
On September 29th, 8 days after my 30th birthday and 13 months after we first began trying, I found out I was pregnant. On October 9th, I learned I should prepare for a miscarriage. One would think that 11 days is not enough to grow attached to something so small inside of your body. One would be wrong.
Thursday, September 29th
I feel a little different. I wait until my husband slips out of bed in the early morning for his run, then perform the ritual that has begun to overtake my life...peeing on a stick. I place it on the bathroom counter, brush my teeth, prepare myself for disappointment and peek at it with one eye still closed as if that will somehow skew the result (hide the "NOT" in front of the "PREGNANT" if it should appear?) But there is no "NOT". I pick it up and put it down a million times, instinctively resting my hand on my tummy. In one instant, joy. Complete and utter joy. Then a split second later, I'm shaking with fear of all that could go wrong. It is an unfortunate and unfair response for someone who has experienced infertility and having a child with a disability. However I quickly turn my thoughts to how I will share the news with Ricky, who will be returning any minute. The boys wake up first and I pour them a bowl of cereal with my shaky hands. The front door opens and I try to act normal. As usual, Ricky chases the boys around attempting to give them a sweaty hug, then he retreats to the bedroom to head for the shower. I follow him. I ask him nonchalantly what we had engraved on the inside of his wedding band, as if I couldn't remember myself. He touches his ring and replies "At Last" and our wedding date. I smile and say, "That's right babe. At last. It's happening for us."
I call the fertility doctor who emails me a lab slip to go get things confirmed with a blood test. We drop the boys at school and I go there right away. Four LONG hours later, she calls. "Congratulations, you're pregnant!" She tells me my "numbers" (HCG and progesterone) are both within normal range. Relief. I finally allow myself to feel excited, pushing the fear a little further back in my mind, although not gone.
Saturday, October 1st
We had been in Dallas since Friday morning for a golf tournament benefiting CCA. We stayed Friday night in a hotel, then headed back first thing Saturday morning, forgoing plans to attend a dear friend's inaugural Oktoberfest event. I had to go back to the lab to recheck my numbers, to ensure everything was proceeding normally. How can you not be fearful in this wait-and-see game of blood work and phone calls? I knew that because it was a weekend, I would probably not hear anything until Monday which killed me. I sent an email to my fertility nurse letting her know I had gone to the lab and asking what I already knew, thinking that if she somehow got the results before then, she'd know I was very anxious to get them and call me that day instead. I did not hear back from her Saturday. But it wasn't Monday either.
Sunday, October 2nd
My phone rang as we were getting ready for church. When I saw the number, I wasn't excited. The only reason the doctor would be calling at 9am on a Sunday, I thought, would be to deliver bad news. I was partially right. She informed me my HCG had doubled, which was good, but that my progesterone had dipped from 18.1 to 16.2. That number was still within "normal" range but should have increased. The decrease could have been insignificant, but to be on the safe side, she recommended I begin taking a progesterone supplement once/day. This Rx had to be filled at a specialized pharmacy downtown that didn't open until 10am. I stayed home while Ricky and the boys headed not to church, but to pick up the medicine that was hopefully going to "save" this pregnancy.
Tuesday, October 4th
Blood work reveals my progesterone had risen from 16.2 to 16.8. Doctor advises me to begin taking the progesterone supplements twice/day.
Thursday, October 6th
Back to the lab for a numbers recheck. I prayed with all my might that we caught the issue early and all was okay. Had a meeting at the Ronald McDonald House following the lab visit, then aimlessly walked around Target gripping my cell phone in hand. When it buzzed, it startled me. My heart pounded as I answered. "Hi Taryn, this is Keria from Dr. Burger's office" she started. I stood in the band aid aisle choosing gauze for Aiden's still unhealed groin incision when she told me my HCG was good, but my progesterone had only risen slightly to 18.1. I searched her voice for cues that would help me understand whether to be positive. She offered little more than to just continue what I was doing until my next numbers recheck on Tuesday. TUESDAY! I have to hold out 5 days to know more?
Friday, October 7th
Ricky and I discussed everything and were determined to be positive. The numbers went up, that's what they were supposed to do. And that's what they would continue to do. We began talking about life with 3 kids and when to tell the boys. "This is it, I really feel like this is it" he said to me the night before. We sat in the car that evening waiting for the photographer to meet us downtown for family photos. "Let's tell them" I said. "Let's tell the boys right now." We had stopped ourselves several times over the past week, hesitant to get their hopes up - allow our hopes to be up that much. But I had prayed about it and I felt like all was going to be fine. So we did.
That weekend I began to feel pregnant. I was so attuned to my body that I felt little twitches (my uterus expanding?) and the slightest waves of nausea snuck up on me throughout the day. Ricky would touch my belly and ask how baby was doing. The boys would say "Goodnight baby" as I tucked them in at night. I had finally succumbed to the happiness that is knowing you are making a home for a living, breathing human inside your very own body. I was on top of the world.
Tuesday, October 11th
I had made plans to drive an hour south of Austin with my neighbor Abbi for some shopping at one of the best outlet malls around. Abbi is also expecting and at just 5 weeks ahead of me, we were so excited to snag some off-season deals at the maternity store for when our bellies would be big in the spring. I completed my blood work that morning and headed to San Marcos shortly after. I figured the shopping would help me keep my mind off of the waiting for the results and honestly, at that point, I was not expecting anything but good news. I spent 30 minutes trying on clearance rack maternity clothes. In the dressing room, putting on the padded, fake "baby bump", I just couldn't believe it was finally happening. I liked how I looked with a belly. I had forgotten how beautiful I felt when I was pregnant 3 and 4 years ago. I felt a little guilty spending the money on maternity clothes - especially since it is so hard to shell out so much for articles of clothing you only wear for a few months - but I purchased my flowy tanks and summery tops as I asked what the return policy was, you know, just in case.
The shopping had worked up our appetite. Abbi and I joked about being two pregnant ladies in need of some food...like now! We headed to the car where I noticed a silver Camry parked next to us. "Look, it's Ricky. He followed us here to see how much money I am spending" I joked. Not two minutes later, my cell rang and Ricky asked if I'd noticed he was parked right next to us. He had driven to San Antonio earlier that morning, and was on his way home when he remembered we were going to be at the outlets right off the highway, so he stopped. We all had a good laugh when I told him what I had just said, and he came with us to Chili's for lunch. As we asked for a table for 3, my phone rang again. I stepped outside the front door to answer the call. "Hi Taryn, it's Keria..." I promptly cut her off and said "Yes, I know" before she dragged out her greeting. And then I knew. She was calling to let me know that my progesterone had doubled, which was wonderful, but my HCG level had dropped by over 100. "So I lost it?" "Yes, I am sorry."
She continued on to say that I should stop the progesterone and prepare for a miscarriage. Prepare? How in the hell do you prepare? I felt ill. We asked Abbi to drive my car home, the one with the bag of newly purchased maternity clothes, so that I could ride back with Ricky. I was numb.
The rest of the day was a blur. I went from one extreme to another emotionally. I felt like putting on my tennis shoes and running until I could not physically take another step, but also wanted to crawl into bed and not move for days. I wanted to rush home and get the boys from school - hold them, hear them laughing - but then the thought of seeing them and having to tell them the news seemed too much to handle. I felt angry and crazy and embarrassed. I felt broken.
Just a few days ago, standing sideways in front of my bathroom mirror, I'd lift my shirt to marvel at the life growing inside of me. My mind was constantly thinking about how amazingly blessed I felt to have gotten pregnant after wanting it for so long, naturally no less! I began thinking about if it would be a boy or a girl and how we would decorate the nursery.
Now, I find myself having to decide which underwear to put on that will hold the Alaska-sized pad where the life inside of me will be expelled. It's been 2 days since I've stopped the progesterone and still nothing. I pathetically allowed myself to fall prey to denial - maybe the last lab results were wrong, maybe I really am carrying a viable pregnancy. I know that's not the case, but this waiting is torture. I just want it done. Over with. I want the bleeding to begin so my healing can too. So my delusional thoughts that perhaps they were wrong can subside. I need closure. But then, I'm not so sure that will ever come.
I know I need to pick myself up and move forward but I simply don't know how. I cannot understand why I've had to go through this. It sounds so pathetic - why me? But I have to wonder what lesson God is trying to teach to me that I haven't already learned? I got through having a child with a rare syndrome. I am strong, I know, but how much more can a person take? Is it wrong of me to think that I've already dealt with my fair-share of struggles? Is it bad that I feel like getting pregnant easily and without complications is something that I deserve? Am I wrong for feeling that I am being punished? But for what?
I would have been 6 weeks on Sunday. Eleven weeks during Thanksgiving. Sixteen weeks on Christmas Day. I had already made the weekly notation in my At-A-Glance. I can't bring myself to check my calendar for upcoming commitments because of it. Perhaps I should just throw it away and start fresh.
As I type, I am beginning to feel small pains and cramps. I pray this is the beginning of the end and that the end is swift and smooth. I pray that I am strong enough to overcome this challenge and that it doesn't chip away at the person I am, leaving me bitter and un-whole.