Wednesday, April 21, 2010

empty arms

*Warning* This post was written in several sittings. It is very long and emotional. Please don't feel obligated to read it. As with all of my posts, it was written more as therapy for me than anything else.

So, you know I haven't been blogging very often and you might even realize that the last 9 months have been a difficult road for me. But up until now, I haven't shared the details of this road I've been on. I honestly thought it was better to keep it to myself. I didn't want to put my burdens on the shoulders of anyone else. I'm not one who seeks sympathy or pity. I don't like to ask for help. I don't like how doing so makes me feel weak.

However, I feel that I'm at a point where it will not only be liberating to share, but reading my journey might give someone else hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

If you've read my blog for awhile, you know that in September, I was in a car accident, hit by a man who ran a red light and almost t-boned my car. Although I was not physically hurt and my car was fixable, it was terrifying. Terrifying, yes, because it could have been much, much worse than it was. But also terrifying because I was pregnant.

Yup, I was pregnant. And my husband and I couldn't have been more excited! I was not very far along, only about 7 1/2 weeks, and hadn't even seen my doctor yet. But as I'm sure you can imagine, I could not have cared less if I was okay after the accident, all I could think about was the baby. And so, even more terrifying things ensued. I was put in a neck brace, strapped to a backboard and taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

Have you ever been strapped to a backboard, while wearing a neck brace and been taken away in an ambulance? It's really scary. There were 2 EMTs and a police officer all asking me questions at the same time and I couldn't see any of their faces. All I could see was the ceiling of the ambulance. Terrifying in and of itself, but then there was the chaos inside my head...

We got to the hospital, and because they had been unable to reach my husband yet, I was by myself and the tears started. I'm not talking a few tears here, I'm talking about a hyperventilating, ugly cry. The emergency room doctor determined that I was okay and told me they'd like to do an ultrasound but that because I was not that far along, the baby should be protected inside me and not to worry. Yeah, okay...I'm not going to worry. Typical man.

Despite this, I started to calm down...until my husband showed up. He was crying, I was crying and he wouldn't let go of me. Then they wheeled me away for the ultrasound. My fear turned to excitement and then quickly back to fear.

The ultrasound technician didn't say anything to me for the entire 20 minutes that she was performing the ultrasound. Nothing about what she was seeing, not a comforting word, nothing. Silence. And you didn't have to be an ultrasound tech to see that there was nothing on the screen. My heart sank.

After waiting a ridiculously long time, the doctor came in and told us that they didn't see a pregnancy on the ultrasound, but that they wanted to run some blood work because it just might be that I was not as far along as I thought, and that it was just too early to see anything on the ultrasound.

They did the blood work, we waited another ridiculously long amount of time, and the doctor came back to tell me I was pregnant but, from the numbers, I was only 4-5 weeks. Intellectually, I knew this was impossible, but I allowed my skepticism to be brushed aside and agreed to follow up with my doctor on Monday so that he would let me leave that wretched hospital.

Then, the roller coaster of blood work began. My hCG levels went up, but not at the rate they should have, then they went down. I miscarried and my doctor gave me another ultrasound. But wait, then there was a second implantation site. Apparently, I had been pregnant with twins and it looked like I had only lost one. My hCG levels started going back up, but again, not at the rate they should have. A few weeks later, I lost the other twin as well.

My emotions were up and down every other day. I knew it wasn't because of the accident, but I wanted to blame that man who hit me anyway. I was seriously struggling. I had never experienced a lower low. I really can't explain in words the emptiness I felt inside. And at that point, the hospital had more of my blood than I did. My hCG levels were going down abnormally slowly. It took 4 months for the pregnancy hormones to completely leave my system, when it only should have taken a few weeks.

4 MONTHS! Which brings us to January. At this point, I had pretty much dealt with the sorrow, depression and extreme emotions. I won't go into the details too much more than that, but I can tell you that it was an extremely difficult and trying time for me. So, my body was finally back to normal and my doctor gave us the go-ahead to try again if we wanted.

Miraculously, I became pregnant again right away. However, just a few days after I found out I was pregnant, I was pretty sure I was miscarrying again. Two rounds of blood work later, we saw that my hCG levels were going up, but just like the first pregnancy, they were not going up at the rate they should have, so in we went for another ultrasound.

This time, the ultrasound tech finished and told us that my doctor was not in but that she was going to have the other doctor in the practice come in to discuss the results with us. We knew something was wrong, only it was much more serious than we had expected.

My pregnancy was ectopic. And right there in the doctor's office, with this strange doctor we just met 30 seconds before, we had to decide whether I wanted surgery to remove the pregnancy from my left tube or a shot of methotrexate (chemo) to dissolve it. And we had to decide now. Decide how to end this pregnancy - that happened to be growing in the wrong place - but that to us, was already our child. We were heartbroken.

To me, both options had their down sides, but the methotrexate shot seemed less invasive. So off to the hospital we went, where they had me go to the labor and delivery ward. They said they administer the shots there so it feels like a safe environment, but if I'm being completely honest with you, it's the last place I wanted to be...

I sat there for a ridiculously long period of time (much like my emergency room visit a few months earlier) waiting for the results of all my blood work to come back, so they could confirm it was safe to give me the shot and determine how much to give me. As I sat in that room on the labor and delivery ward, there were babies crying and being wheeled down the hallway past my door. There were pregnant women in labor walking the hallways, preparing to give birth to their babies. And as I was sitting in this room listening and watching, it felt like the farthest thing from a "safe environment." It felt like cruel and unusual punishment.

The nurse finally wheeled my cart in. A cart not containing a child like everyone else on this floor, but with the two shots that would end my pregnancy, one destined for each cheek (and no, I'm not referring to the cheeks on my face.) She asked me if I wanted to put on a gown, and at that point, I was so ready to escape the torture that was that hospital room, I declined and just dropped my pants.

The shots didn't hurt necessarily, but pretty quickly everything started to go black and I was seeing stars. The nurse wanted me to stay for a little while, but after a glass of water and with my husband practically carrying me, we got the Hell out of there!

This time around, the physical pain was much worse than the emotional. They told me that there should be no side effects with one dose of methotrexate...liars! I have the deepest sympathy for anyone who has undergone chemo therapy, because one dose of that drug and I felt the worst I have ever felt in my life, for several days.

Thankfully, it worked though. My hCG levels went down very quickly and my pregnancy dissolved, saving my tube. And so that brings us to right about now. My body is finally getting back to normal. The frustration, the sorrow, the lack of control - it still lingers just below the surface. But I know that is okay. I am allowed to feel these emotions, it is healthy to feel them.

I know that everything happens for a reason. And despite the fact that my first two pregnancies ended in loss, our marriage is stronger, the love I feel for my husband is stronger, I am exponentially stronger. Whether we have a child naturally, through some kind of medical assistance, or through adoption, I know we will have our family some day. I know that there is a plan for my life, and for our life together. I know that these experiences are just small parts of the journey that is my life, the journey that makes me the person I am. And this knowledge is a huge comfort to me.

Today would have been my due date from that first pregnancy. I have to be honest, I'm feeling sad. We could have been celebrating the birth of our first child, the start of our family, but instead I sit here with empty arms. I will not let the sadness overwhelm me though, because despite the sadness, my heart is full of hope. For the deeper sorrow burrows its way into your being, the more room you have for joy and love to fill that space when the sorrow has been washed away.


Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Oh, Sara, what a heartbreaking 9 months you have been through. I am so sorry to hear this and my thoughts are with you. You are right, to have your heart full of hope. My thoughts are with you on this journey, and on this day.

Charisse said...

I am here via Sara - and my heart goes out to you. It has been a very trying 9 months, but as you said, HE has a plan for your family. And as much as it hurts, I am sooo glad that you have your husband to lean on and that the two of you are making your way through this TOGETHER.

jenn said...

what a very difficult time you have had!!
i want you to know that i am praying for you and trust that the Lord will bless you with all of your hearts desires.

little miss spy said...

I love you.

Sonya said...

I am so proud of you for sharing your story and even though I knew what was going on my heart is breaking for you all over again as I read it and get more details. I have been praying for you and will continue praying for you.

I love the very last paragraph. SO beautifully written and it speaks volumes to the kind of person that you are and the mother that you WILL be.

the current wife... said...

Sweet Sara... Sharing your heart is quite the powerful act. The very fact that you documented your pain, sorrow, terror and fears says that you are healing and progressing forward.

I'm so glad you know that feeling your emotions is so healthy. Treat yourself well and do something really good for yourself.

Katrina said...

You're so brave for sharing your story. I know it must have been such a struggle. Know that you're never alone and you have so many of us supporting you.

Erin said...

My heart goes out to you and your husband! I'll be sending prayer to you all and to your babies in heaven. Stay strong!