Three years ago today we went to the hospital for a D&C to help my body heal after our miscarriage. I was risking going into sepsis if we didn’t do surgery as soon as possible. It had been weeks since we confirmed loss of life, but any child of mine, no matter how little they were, are stubborn to their core. Our tiny nugget was refusing to leave. A large part of me was clinging to thin air praying the reason the baby hadn’t passed was because the doctors were wrong, and the baby was still growing. I was naive. I was in denial. I was facing the deepest depression I have ever known. And I didn’t want to admit what was happening.
Here we were, driving to the hospital, because if we didn’t act fast I could be at risk as well. How was this happening? How did my body fail me? Why was this happening? What could I have done to prevent this? Did I kill our baby because I was scared of things changing? What did I do wrong? If this was so common, why does nobody talk about it? 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss? What the f? Why was I now a part of that group? I didn’t put my name on that sign up sheet. This is bullshit.
We drove to the hospital in silence. Michael had his hand in mine on my lap the entire way there. We said nothing. Tears poured down my face. I didn’t want to be crying. I didn’t want to be scared. I didn’t want to feel broken. But I cried anyway. I couldn’t help it. The tears were overflowing. I felt like I was drowning in the passenger seat. This couldn’t be happening. I will wake up any moment. This had to be a nightmare.
We pulled into the patient parking lot, parked, and sat for a moment more in silence while I tried to gather an ounce of strength to say something, to move, to feel anything other than complete and utter brokenness. Eventually, Michael broke the silence and asked me if I was ready. You could hear the weight of brokenness in his voice. Though it was masked better than mine, he was staying strong for me. It was my turn to be broken, he would take his turn later.
We grabbed our hospital bag, and walked, fingers laced together and his arm around me. We walked through the doors, down the hallway, paid an astronomical amount of money at billing, registered, then continued on to pre-op. Michael waited in the lobby for a moment so they could verify my husband was not abusive. I know this moment in time may be the only moment a beaten women could honestly answer that question and seek safety. But this question threw me off. I have never been asked that before, and here I sit, completely destroyed by why I am in even here in the first place…terrified of what is about to happen, and all I want in the world is him sitting next to me telling me it’s going to be okay and they need to first verify if I am one of the lucky ones who are not in fact being beaten by their spouse. Ouch. I cannot imagine.
Once I got through the paper work verifying who I was, and why I was there they went and brought Michael back to my pre-op room. I got changed into a gown, and then my IV was placed. I felt my heart rate climbing with every next step that the nurses were checking off down their list. This was routine for them. This was another surgery on the board. This was a “quick” one. This was just another day. To them. To me, this was hell. This was the worst day. This was what despair looked like. This was depression come to life in our little hospital room. This was something I would never recover from. I would recover physically. Not mentally. Not emotionally.
A chaplin came in to pray with us because this was a loss of life surgery. The kind older man asked if he could pray with us, and he held my hand as he talked to God on our behalf. He was sweet. He was kind. He had soft eyes. You need those requirements to be a chaplin don’t you? Kind, loving, loving grandfather looking? We prayed, I felt numb. I felt like a shell of an existence. We prayed for the little soul that was with us for a few weeks, but has forever changed my world. The chaplin left, and more nurses came. Then I met my doctor that would be doing the surgery. -She ended up being one of the main OB doctors we saw for the duration of my second pregnancy, with Zoe. I will forever remember the look of compassion, and sympathy on her face when she walked into our room. She, to me, looked like the most calm human being on the planet. Thank God for that, because one of us in that room needed to be, and it was sure as hell not me. The first time I saw her for my pregnancy with Zoe she remembered me from this day. She told me she never forgets the faces of her patients on the worst days of their lives. THAT, is a doctor you want on your team. I was lucky to have her on mine.- She explained to Michael and I what was about to unfold and what we should expect over the next few hours. Then she left.
Next was my anesthesiologist. He was tall and skinny. Oddly, I have no other memory of him in our pre-op room. Just that he asked me if I was ready, I kissed Michael as tears ran down my face, and told him yes. He gave me some meds through the IV that would, in his words, feel like a couple margaritas. Then my husband laughed. HE LAUGHED. He told the man that I was a lightweight and a couple margaritas would hit me hard. Then I laughed and the anesthesiologist laughed. He responded with something like, well I am about to have a pretty nice nap and we would be back in a little bit. Then my team rolled my bed out of the room. Michael walked with me until we hit the doors like what you see on Grey’s when you have to leave your loved one, Michael kissed my forehead and told me he loved me. At this point I was feeling those margs.
I don’t remember much more than that. I remember the giant OR lights that were terrifying and so damn bright. I remember the team moving me to the OR table. I remember the anesthesiologist cradling my head in his hands as he did something else. I couldn’t tell you what, but I felt safe. He was holding my head, and looked into my eyes and told me these words that will again, forever be burned into my memory. “I’ve got you”. In that moment, where I was drowning in an raging ocean of fear, his greyish blue eyes looking into mine, I felt safe. I believed him, and I was calm. At one point I started choking on something. (Some medical device I don’t know the name of, and won’t guess for fear of being wrong. ) They had to remove it and use a child’s size one. In my groggy state I asked the team in the OR if that meant I got a discount for using a children’s size. I may have been living through the worst day of my life, but I had my sense of humor intact. (I later verified this story with some of my team, because I thought I had dreamed it. I indeed choke, and ask for a discount on medical supplies in the OR.)
The surgery took only a few minutes. Michael was informed that I was out of surgery in recovery, but would be sleeping for a while and they’d come get him when I was awake.
I woke up a few hours later in a big room with other groggy and confused humans trying to figure out what century it was.
A large man was laying in a bed on the other side of the room and was angry that his male nurse was not sexy enough. He was still pretty groggy.
My doctor came in to check on me. She asked how I was feeling and apparently I responded with “I am hungry”. Good! My epetite was back and that meant I could stop on our way home and get something to eat! The doctor asked me what I wanted to eat. That was a weird question, because obviously I wanted Tomato soup and French Toast. What? I told her tomato soup and french toast? yeah…I did. Those are my comfort foods. But damn, not together.
I was working my way through the post-op check list of things I needed to do in order to go home. At ever accomplishment I asked for Michael. I asked for him before I was even aware I was asking for him. I needed my person to be by my side. I need him now. Eventually I got to the point where they were getting my discharge papers which means they got to go get Michael for me. One of my post-op nurses asked me what he looked like so when she went into the waiting room she would easily find him. . . In this moment. . . my HONEST-TO-GOD opinion of what my husband looked like was this. . . “He is my sexy asian!” The nurse giggled, and asked me to repeat myself. “What does he look like?” I was so confused. Did she not hear me? The meds must be messing with my words. I looked at her and said it again. “He is wearing a green shirt, and he is my sexy asian.” She giggled and said she’d go find him.
As it turns out, he was the only person waiting in the waiting room so he was not hard to find. But nonetheless she told Michael the story of how I described him, and he smiled. Because in that moment he knew that at least my soul was not taken when they took the baby. No matter how dark the next few days, weeks and months were, he knew that I was still in there. Even if it meant spending a lot of time and energy to heal, and go find her.
On the way home we stopped at iHop, so that I could get my french toast. I decided to skip on the tomato soup for the time being. When we got home, it seemed different. It was empty. Though nothing physically had changed. It felt weird. The neighbors were going on with life as usual. Time was not standing still for anyone else. It was missing the little human we had for the 11 weeks before now. Though that Tiny Nugget never made a physical appearance in our home, they left a forever impression on our hearts.
I have weird days now. Anniversaries of tragedy and heartache right next to anniversaries of celebration and overwhelming joy. Today is a weird day. I don’t want to forget where I was three years ago, because what we lived through three years ago has forever changed my outlook on life, parenting, pregnancy, children, temper tantrums, positive pregnancy tests, doctors appointments, (especially ultrasounds) and life. This day three years ago I wasn’t sure I would survive. I wasn’t sure I would be able to smile again, let alone laugh or figure out how to climb out of the ocean deep crevasse of depression I was wedged in. Three years ago I was afraid that my pregnancy ending in loss meant I would never have a child. I believed that this meant I was not worthy of being a mother. And I believed that for a long time. It took months of counseling and therapy to help my heart slowly beat again. It took months of my living through triggers, meltdowns, public panic attacks, crippling fear and depression for me to get to the other side of it. The side where you stand up. The side where you refuse to sink. The side where you fight for yourself again. The side where you realize this is not the end of your story, it’s just a dark detour. The side of tragedy where you see the rainbow coming as the storm begins to pass.
This day is weird. But I am forever grateful for the 11 weeks I had with our first child. I am thankful for the lessons he taught me in the short lifetime he had on earth. I am thankful for the person our baby helped me become. If it wasn’t for our loss, we would not have Zoe. Though I would do anything to get our first child back, or to know them, or to hear their giggle, I cannot imagine life without our Rainbow. She is our rainbow after the darkest storm I have ever faced.
If you have gone through a similar trauma. If you are apart of the shitty group that is 1 in 4, If you have lost…know that it is okay to talk about it. It is okay to say your baby’s name. It is okay to feel ALL. OF. THE. FEELINGS you have. It is okay to be in that dark place, as long as you get yourself out of it eventually. Don’t set up a permanent residence there. There is life after the storm. If you need help to get out of that depression, find help. Ask someone. Even if you don’t know where to go, ask someone close to you that you trust to help. Know that you are worthy of the family you are longing for. Know that YOU ARE STRONGER than these circumstances. Know that there is more after this part of your story. Sweetie, your story doesn’t end here. Your storm will pass, and that rainbow on the other side is beautiful. Immeasurably More Than you can Imagine.