Monday, March 24, 2014

Miscarriage: Fighting Fear and Harboring Hope

            “It is that turning [Jesus] wants for them, which is why he tweaks their fear. Don’t worry about…the things that can come crashing down on your heads, he tells them. Terrible things happen and you are not always to blame. But don’t let that stop you from doing what you are doing. That torn place your fear has opened up inside of you is a holy place. Look around while you are there. Pay attention to what you feel. It may hurt you to stay there and it may hurt you to see, but it is not the kind of hurt that leads to death. It is the kind that leads to life.”
                                                            ~ Barbara Brown Taylor in Home By Another Way  


            While Victoria’s death suctioned the life out of me and left me feeling certain the acute visceral pain of grief would actually kill me, news of this baby’s death left me anchored in an atmosphere of female inadequacy. My heart felt heavy, weighted down and resigned to being eternally wrapped in a ball and chain of perpetual sadness and defeat.  
            The following Friday, August 12—one week after the initial miscarriage diagnosis—I returned to Dr. Gordon’s office for the mandatory re-check. Although I’d experienced no further bleeding or cramping, I did continue to feel nauseated and fatigued. He attributed the fatigue to stress and felt the queasiness was the result of still-elevated hormone levels. He assured me, again, that it would take time. All I could do was nod wearily, smile weakly, and say, “Okay.”
            After discussing what to expect physically post-miscarriage, and when Chris and I could realistically, and safely, try again, he instructed me to go home, relax, and take a long soak in my spa tub.
            That suggestion surprised me. Hot spas or baths increase the risk of miscarriage. A previous neighbor had lost her baby after soaking in her backyard spa. His prescription sounded so good, so inviting. So…unnerving.
            Maybe I still wanted so badly to believe that I continued to carry a baby in my womb that my overactive imagination manufactured hopeful feelings that I might still be pregnant. I knew Dr. Gordon was considering the optimal prescriptions for my recovery from another loss, but I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t give up on my pinhead-sized hope.
            Just maybe they’re wrong, I thought. The pathology report hadn’t returned yet, so we didn’t know what kind of tissue I’d lost; and I had experienced the same problem during Victoria’s pregnancy. All of the doctors had been convinced then that I’d miscarried when I hadn’t. 
            It’s probably just leftover tissue causing my elevated hormone levels. I’m probably living in a dream world, here. But what if they’re wrong, and I do something stupid to jeopardize my baby’s life?
            Yet both Dr. Gordon and Dr. Landry concurred: I could expect to be nauseated for some time until my hormones leveled off. This was nothing to get excited or concerned about.
            I went home and tried to get back to life. 
            And the following night, even though we had to recognize our new loss, Chris and I had a wonderful date. Anticipating the birth of another child would have made our eleven-year anniversary celebration sweeter and more memorable, but we had so much to celebrate and so much for which we could be thankful.

            Despite my attempts to ignore it, my queasiness had worsened—not waned—as the days elapsed. I needed the relaxation of the soothing moist heat, but I still wasn’t going to climb in that hot tub. I could do that anytime. I don’t want to look back on this with a lot of what if’s floating around like sticky cobwebs in my mind. I’ll wait. Just a little longer. I’ll wait.
            Even if my tingling expecations were unrealistic, and I painted a pathetic picture of desperateness, I was going to cling to those vestiges of hope and maybes until someone proved me nuts.


            Four days later, the nausea was bad enough to prompt a call to Dr. Landry. He was out of town, but his partner patiently listened on the phone to me prattle on about my concerns. “If you are that concerned, we can arrange for a blood test to be performed which will show us your hormone levels. That should tell us if they are continuing to rise—as they do in a normal pregnancy—or are leveling off. There might also be the possibility of a remnant of embryonic tissue causing the hormones to increase, which would require a D & C to remove. Other than that...(audible sigh), I can’t honestly explain why you would still be so nauseous. You can have blood drawn, and Dr. Landry will call you with the results when he gets back on Thursday.”
            I needed that blood test if only for my own sanity, particularly since a second home pregnancy test lit up with those positive pink lines. Checking and re-checking; hoping and hanging on. The unknown drove me into an agitated state.
            The blood was drawn, and the days ticked off while I anxiously awaited Dr. Landry’s call. When I spoke with him on Thursday, before the results had returned, he sounded irritated at my insistence about the possibility that I might be pregnant.
            “Hormone levels can stay high for quite a long time,” he snipped. “And I refuse to believe you’ve had an immaculate conception!”       
            Confusion rocked my brain as I struggled with feeling as though I’d just been slapped through the phone for saying something stupid. Did I miss part of the conversation? I felt a sudden plummet of my intelligence quotient.
            “What are you talking about?” I muttered.
            “I refuse to believe that you miscarried, then immediately had intercourse and became pregnant again!” He was nearly shouting at me, and I felt my resolve and hopes slipping like sand through a sieve.
            That was not my definition of an immaculate conception but I assured him his version was impossible. Chris and I had declared a hiatus until everything was clearly back to normal.
            “Well, the blood tests are not back yet, “ he sighed in a tone mixed with fatigue and frustration. “I will call you when they come in.”
            I’m driving everyone nuts, I thought, including myself! Hang it up, Andrea. It’s all a pipe dream.
            Yet something deep within me wouldn’t allow me to hang it up.
            Languishing through another night of nausea, I stared all night at the ceiling fan. Just what did they find in that ominous little tube filled with my vital fluid? That precious red fluid harboring critical information about whether I still carried life within me…or not.


NEXT WEEK: God trumps human wisdom…

Until next week,

Thanks for joining me!