Monday, November 19, 2007

The Story of My First Mis

J. and I started talking about having children years ago, but we were both still tied up in graduate school, submersed in our work, and not ready to sacrifice our independence. If felt good to think about waiting till the time was right, but we knew children was something we wanted. Despite our wants, I think most of our family believed we weren't the type to have kids. My mother talked incessantly about how we were too selfish to ever have kids, that we had established our lives and wouldn't be able to adjust -- shifting our attention from ourselves to our family. I never really resented that she thought that of us. I just thought it was fun that some day I could surprise her and tell her we were having a baby... And that we did it with our eyes wide open. Not true, I did resent her for saying that. But I knew I could be a really great mom some day. So her slight wasn't going to change my mind.

My grandmother occasionally warned me that my eggs would dry up. And my sister once felt the need to let me know that the rate of birth defects started to raise exponentially after that age of 35, so I better get to it. That was years ago. And I am only now 32.

J. and I joked about how my siblings wanted us to have kids so we could suffer with them. We imagined their envy of our freedom and knew we wanted a few years to be with one another- uninterrupted. J. and I have a very tight bond. We would spend every moment together if we could and very, very, rarely tire of each other. I have proposed to him on more than one occasion our surgical connection. He thinks its weirds. My alternative solution is to make clothes that we can wear together. He is not completely opposed. We don't fight and we share deep intellectual bonds to one another. Yes, I am selfish. I wanted him all to myself for a few more years.

It wasn't till fall of last year till we decided we would make a plan. We had visited friends in Pittsburgh who had a 3 month old. I couldn't stand watching J. hold her. He was so taken by her, and so was I. On the long drive back to Philly we decided. We would begin in the spring.
The funniest thing is I had this ridiculously, conflated plan to get pregnant in a particular month. Here was my thinking: get pregnant in April. Make job applications. Sneak in interviews before I start showing. Give birth in the winter. Have 6 months at home with the kid before my new and amazing and not in Philly tenure-track job starts in the fall. HA! I am such an ass. First I was assuming I would get a job. Second, I was assuming I could get pregnant on command and have the perfect, uncomplicated pregnancy. I could not have possibly been more wrong.

You spend your whole life trying to avoid getting pregnant - and I was really good at avoiding it. I had never once been pregnant, so I wanted to make sure I knew what was about to happen to me and be prepared for it. In the late fall I had a full physical and annual exam to make sure all my parts were in order. When I told my GP we were going to try she just said, " Great! Have fun!" I thought-- easy as that.

I had suffered from poor digestion and migraines for years, so I started seeing an acupuncturist. I had stopped medicating the headaches months prior, because the meds made me feel as crappy as the headache. Turns out the acupuncturist I was seeing, by coincidence, is particularly interested in pregnancy and fertility. So I thought I hit the jackpot when I told her I was there to get ready for pregnancy. With her, I went through learning how to track my temps for ovulation, lots of diet changes, herbs and weekly treatments. Now I know exactly when I ovulate. I have not had a headache in 5 months-- which rocks. But my digestion is still pretty jacked up.

Last, I purchased insurance. In my own stupidity and honesty, I admitted to the insurance company a history of migraine, which bumped up my premium terribly. I tried to tell them that I was no longer being treated for them, but they would not concede to drop my rates. I even ordered all of my medical files from grad school to prove to them that I was no longer being treated, but they only pointed to the "gap" in my treatment since I finished school. A "gap"-- is that what you call having no insurance? Of course there are no medical record for the time I was uninsured-- I could not afford to go to the doctor. I chose the best plan that I could based on my needs. I knew we were going to have a kid so I chose the plan with the best birthing rates and privileges. That puppy sang to the tune of $275 a month.

So here I was. All ready to go-- clean bill of health, fully insured, just tapping my foot until April rolled around. I couldn't believe my own impatience. I bugged J. every month leading up till april. I was constantly up to tricks, trying to get him to let us start early. Unfortunately, in my excitement, I had shared all that I had learned about my cycle and so he knew when I was up to no good. He really kept me in line because he, like me, believed that we would get pregnant and have a kid in no time.

It was an easy thing to convince ourselves of. I felt like I had a million reasons to believe I was exceptionally fertile. For one, I had been pretty responsible with birth control. So there was no reason to believe that I ever had any "accidents" that did not result in pregnancy. I only once had a contraceptive issue and used the morning after pill. I was responsible and in control of my body. Besides that, I am built like a breeder, at least according to the mythologies of fertility. I have big wide hips, big ass and boobs and a tiny little waist. There is nothing tom boy about my figure. That Venus De Milo had me fooled. I thought: curvy body, big hips = baby maker. The women in my family are pretty prolific - so I just assumed it was in the genes. But even more convincing was the rate and speed at which all of our friends were able to conceive. We had heard hots of "hole in one" stories warning us how fast it might happen. So we just figured that we are the same age, pretty health and had no reason to think we were any different.

April (late March actually) finally rolled around. I had been charting my temperatures so I had a pretty good idea of what was going on. Tried, no luck. We rolled in to month number two still optimistic. And after the long, impatient wait after ovulation, I turned up pregnant. The first test I took had a positive line, but it was super light. I spent hours online comparing it to images of other positive pregnancy tests. I toted it around the house all day and looked at it in disbelief. I wondered it we were crazy. We had tentative conversations that week - when would we tell people, what kind of birth did we want, how would we find a doctor. We were hesitant to acknowledge it, though I think that is pretty normal.

On my birthday, the last day of May, I started to spot. I was only 5 weeks, barely even pregnant. I panicked and called a recently pregnant friend who i knew had a spell of spotting. She was helpful, but pretty casual about it. In some cases it is pretty normal. I waited till morning to call the midwife that I hadn't even seen yet. It was hard to get care when you have yet to establish a relationship with an OB or Midwife. The midwives were helpful and ultimately sent me to the emergency room. By that time, I was full on bleeding and knew what was happening to me.

I arrived at the ER on a Sunday morning. I had put off going in on Saturday because we live in Philly, a place where ER's are notoriously busy on the weekends. The visit consisted of about 15 pelvic exams by about 10 different people (exaggeration.) J. had his first look at a speculum, which I think he may have been a little disturbed by. There was a lot of waiting, particularly for blood-work. My HCG level was a very low 25. There was little hope that this was anything other than a miscarriage.

After hours, I was finally taken upstairs to have an ultrasound. I was in a large room with the tech, who would not allow me to see the screen or respond to any questions. She was just there to take the pictures. I knew something was wrong right away. She was doing a regular pelvic ultrasound, when she suddenly jumped way up to my kidneys. I started to panic. Cancer was the first thing that ran through my head. What the hell do my kidneys have to do with my uterus?

Next came the vaginal ultrasound. I was really sensitive on my one side to the point that I winced each time she jabbed me. She spent a lot of time and I could not image what she would need to document so thoroughly. Thorough is great, but this was freaking me out. After she left the room I started to cry again. I was running through a list of a zillion things that could be wrong with me.

Not only was I loosing a pregnancy that I so very much wanted, but I was diagnosed with what is called a heart-shaped uterus-- medically known as a Bicornuate Uterus, part of a group of malformations called Mullerian Duct Anomalies. This blog chronicles my journey through miscarriage and misdiagnosis. I hope it will be a good read for those of you out there who are looking for information, just like me.


J. and I sat on this stoop, and for the first and last time made plans for this pregnancy.

1 comment:

Yodasmistress said...

I think we all assume it will happen for us. I had good reason to believe that 1 month was all it would take.