My deadline-driven daughter

Warning: This post may be graphic. 

On Monday I called the doctor’s office and made an appointment for a D&C. You read the aftereffects here. I jotted the details down on a notepad underneath the notes I had made about my MTHFR mutation. Friday 5:30 a.m. Surgery at 7. Don’t eat or drink after 10:30 p.m. Next to that is a name and number for a person who coordinates efforts between the hospital and funeral homes. I wrote it down knowing there was no way we were going to call a funeral home, but needing some option other than walking away without my baby.

Yesterday evening I started cramping and joked on facebook that Avelyn might take after me, working toward a deadline. I wondered at various times if a woman could feel when her cervix was dilating, because I was experiencing something that felt like opening. But since I have felt various strange and painful things over the last month that didn’t seem to lead anywhere, I decided not to investigate. My pain level was fairly low—certainly nothing like the Gobblins of a week and a half ago.

So I returned to bed, cuddled with a heating pad, and went to sleep.

I don’t recall now at what point I woke up—before or because of—but my water broke. I got out of bed, grabbed my cell phone and began looking at the bed, trying to see if what I was feeling matched reality. I soon realized that trying to maneuver blankets and sheets was ridiculous and ran to the bathroom. My underwear were soaked in pink, as was the overnight-strength pad that had been dry only an hour (and I’m assuming only a minute) before.

This was it. I’ve kept a colander on the bathroom counter for the last month, prepared for this moment—wondering if I would know when to use it. As it turns out, this was fairly obvious. Within seconds a large mass was resting in the bottom, heavy drops of bright red blood now dripping into the toilet. I picked it up, examined it, and placed it in the bucket alongside the dried pieces of what I have assumed to be placenta, which have accumulated over the last month. Could this be Avelyn? It seemed too large. How big is the placenta at 9-11 weeks? Would it have continued growing after her heart stopped? After all, my body has still felt pregnant.

Since nothing else seemed to be coming, I climbed into the bathtub to clean away some of the blood, wandered into the bedroom to find new underwear (with a new pad) and walked into the living room to think and grab my computer. Did I just miscarry? Shouldn’t I have been in more pain? Is this it?

A few minutes later, I realized this was not it and went back into the bathroom. After about 15 minutes with the steady passing of tissue, and pain increasing, I realized I did not want to be alone and began trying to wake Allyn up—all without leaving the bathroom.

My husband is a fairly heavy sleeper. I’d been wandering around the apartment. The door from the bedroom closet into the bathroom was open with the light on, but he had not stirred, even with the sounds of running water. I called his name. And now, I seemed to be tied to the toilet by the bonds of blood. Allyn? Allyn, are you awake? Allyn . . .  Nothing. I tried banging on the bathtub. A slight stir. Allyn? Not enough. I looked around me. I had the towel from my short bath. I threw it at the door to try to open it wider. Why did I turn the fan on before bed? (Um, because heating pads are quite warm and the parts of me that are not uterus did not want to be particularly warm!) I had my cell phone . . . I tried playing the tone that Allyn uses for his alarm. It seemed loud in the bathroom, but there seemed to be no movement. I glanced into the colander and toilet—there was no way I could leave the bathroom. Allyn? ALLYN? Finally, a stir. Are you up? Allyn? And luckily, finally, he heard me and came groggily into the bathroom.

For another 30 minutes, I sat. I turned to Allyn, “Next time I go into labor, I’d prefer a method that does not involve sitting on a toilet for an hour.” Seriously, I don’t recommend it. I considered squatting or kneeling, but sitting was the easiest way to hold the colander.

My midwife wanted me to collect the tissue. Since she referred me to a doctor, I’m not sure that I will need to show anyone said tissue—but I wanted it. I wanted these pieces of the life that was inside me, these signs that my daughter was real.

I passed two more large pieces. It seems wrong to call them clots—they were far larger than “clots,” although the last piece exited my body s-l-o-w-l-y in a thick stream.

Once that stream seemed to have ended, I ran more bath water—just enough to clear the gathered blood. Many of the stories I read or heard from others seemed to indicate that pain vanished when they were done with the birth process. My pain was not gone, but I no longer felt the need to push, so I decided to go back to bed, trusting that I would know when I needed to do more.

Since Allyn needed to be at work at 4:30, he needed whatever sleep he could get. And since I didn’t know what else was in store for me, I knew I needed whatever sleep I could get, too. Pain came in waves. I said to Allyn, “it seems that I have contractions now.” I laughed at how the signs of birth seemed to come after the large part of the work of birthing. Figures my body would work that way. I recognized—and said out loud—that it was possible I’d been experiencing them in some fashion earlier, that there were periods of more intense pain, but the difference had not seemed as pronounced. I was now alternating between feeling fairly normal with only light cramping to wondering if I needed to get up again because surely I was about to start another round of pushing.

I remained in bed (although I don’t believe I slept) until Allyn’s alarm went off. I checked the progress—lighter bleeding, more of a normal period flow. Nothing more significant. Overall pain seemed—and still seems—to be lower.

I grabbed the blanket piece that has been on my nightstand and found a small box. I gently wrapped all of the solid pieces into Avelyn’s blanket, kissed it, and returned to bed.

At this point, 30 minutes after Allyn has left for work, I’m not sure whether my miscarriage is complete or not. I have a sense that if it isn’t, it is close. Allyn asked a litany of questions before he left, making sure that I believe myself truly okay and not at risk for bleeding too much, etc. He also handed me my phone and made me name someone who lives close by that I would call if anything happened—and I promised to call 911 before talking to that individual. I have not felt and dizziness or light-headedness, so I think I’m free and clear of dangerous blood loss.

All to say, it seems Avelyn was, in fact, waiting for a deadline. I suppose my 5:30 a.m. Friday appointment is no longer needed. It would appear that I am no longer pregnant.

Author’s note: This is the twentieth post in a series on pregnancy loss/miscarriage. Read the first post, “First ultrasound,” here.

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6 Comments

Filed under miscarriage

6 responses to “My deadline-driven daughter

  1. Erin

    Still so very heartbroken over your loss, but glad to read that things are moving forward naturally. I hope things continue to go safely, and that the healing process can begin soon.

  2. ❤ Natural is a better. You seem like you're more at peace, this is good.

  3. Much love and blessing to you and Allyn as you move through this next stage of grief and processing. I am grateful you were able to experience Avelyn’s birth the way you preferred. peace and hugs – KP

  4. I hope this part of the loss is over and you are physically doing well. Now you can begin to heal. My thoughts are with you and your family . I hope you can get some rest to let your body recovery as the soul and heart will come with time.

  5. Jennifer – I have just now discovered this series of posts that you wrote. My heart she’s for your loss, but I an deeply grateful to you for processing your thoughts and this journey with all those of us who read your blog. This is a powerful ministry that you are involved in. Certainly not one you would have chosen, but a much needed one. There is so much stigma and silence around miscarriage, and I think too often that can lead to isolation and prevent healing. Blessings to you as you continue to process and journey and live into the new normal. My prayers and thoughts are with you.

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