I never pulled an embryonic sac out of my body before. It wasn’t on my to do list or my bucket list. But that’s what happened.
I had two miscarriages before. Neither was like this.
The first time I lost my baby, I was lying on the OBGYN’s exam table. I was nearly done with my first trimester. I was there for an ultra sound– the one where I get to keep the pretty picture of our future child. I imaged placing it next to the one we have of our daughter framed and on our dresser.
My doctor pointed out the embryonic sac told us how it looked good and we could see the tiny person inside, but we couldn’t hear the heartbeat. He maneuvered the device trying to find the heartbeat.
Then gently said, “I’m sorry.” He explained that my baby was dead inside me and I was a walking grave.
Of course that’s not how he spoke to me.
He was kind and gentle and explained I would be okay. This happens and it didn’t mean I couldn’t have another baby. He suggested I make an appointment for a DNC.
I couldn’t make the appointment. I couldn’t believe the baby inside was dead because my breasts ached, were sore and my stomach was twisted with nausea. I wasn’t ready to let go. I needed time to process the information and believed my body would take care of itself.
I waited two weeks for my body to do what was necessary. But it didn’t. It didn’t let go of my unborn child. It didn’t release me from grief. It didn’t believe it no longer held a living soul.
I hated my body for betraying me, for pretending to be pregnant when it wasn’t. I called the doctor and had my DNC.
A few months later I was pregnant, again. I was scared and happy. The doctor kept a watchful eye over me. I came in weekly for blood test to make sure my hormonal levels were doing what they were supposed to.
I found myself on the table once again, with the ultrasound machine’s wand inside me. My loving and nervous husband stood next tome. I was probably crying. The doctor pointed out the sac and my tiny fluttering grain of rice. Did you know that embryo’s look like a grain of rice with a heartbeat the first time you see them?
We had proof. I was pregnant. Relief didn’t rush through me. The doctor told me to come back next week.
We came back. The doctor examined me again. My embryonic sac was growing. It looked good but no matter how he searched he couldn’t find an embryo or heartbeat.
My doctor explained how my body reabsorbed the pregnancy. I had the DNC the following day. I wanted it out.
I wanted death out of my body. I wasn’t going to cradle it. I wasn’t going to hold death inside my womb. I wasn’t going to let it get any more comfortable with me.
It took me five years to get over my inability to keep a pregnancy.
It was a pain I couldn’t explain to my husband, the feeling of loving someone who didn’t love you back. I had guilt about losing those pregnancies. I thought perhaps the unborn child knew how much I loved my daughter and didn’t think I could love him or her enough. I had a million emotional pains and one by one I coped with them all. I healed.
Then seven years after the last miscarriage I began to bleed. After a week long menstrual cycle the blood began rushing out of me. The toilet filled with blood. I grabbed a towel and ran into the shower leaving a trail of blood behind. There was blood on my feet. It was bright red.
I got into the shower hoping to wash it away. The shower floor was stained red. I stayed in the shower hoping it would all wash away. I was scared. I didn’t know what was happening. When it didn’t stop after ten minutes I got out. I used a super tampon and a pad and when I stood up blood rushed out of me soaking through the tampon and pad.
I was shaking. I locked the bathroom door. I didn’t want my daughter to see all the blood. I didn’t want to scare her. I wasn’t sure what I should to.
I reached for the trash bag and removed the tampon from my body. On it was a bloody jellyfish. I stared at it and the world around me vanished. My hand shook. My legs were unsteady. I ran to the toilet. My body purged more blood and blood clots.
I didn’t know what was going on. I called my husband. I called my neighbor to come get my daughter. I was crying.
“I’m so scared. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Three years ago I was told I would never have any more children. It was impossible because I had the hormones of an eighty-year-old woman. But seeing the bright blood and the mass convinced me I was in the middle of a miscarriage.
My neighbor got my girl and sat with me calming me down until my husband got home. I went to the doctor and he told me I was presenting as pregnant.
I sat on his table and looked at him. How is that possible?
He didn’t have an answer.
I was in shock. I couldn’t wrap my head around what he said. I took a pregnancy test at the doctor’s office. Negative. He asked if I was ever told if I have fibroids. I said yes.
They put me on hormones. The hormones kept me bleeding for two more weeks.
I went back. The ultrasound tech was kind. She made sure I was comfortable being examining my body.
I didn’t need to be a tech to know something was very wrong.
“Is that it?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. I had a 9 cm fibroid taking up my entire uterus. “You’ll lose ten pounds when that comes out,” she said. I got dressed and ushered into another office. My doctor was on vacation so another came in. He rubbed his bearded face in his hands. This gesture did not instill confidence. He looked sympathetically at me. I hate sympathy.
He took a deep breath. Emoted more sympathy.
“I need to hear you say it,” I said.
“You need a hysterectomy.”
“Can I do anything else?”
“Leave.” I was crying before his back was out the door.
I walked to the front desk to schedule another appointment with my doctor when he returned from vacation the following week in order to schedule the hysterectomy. I really tried to keep it together but all the years of trying to have a baby and losing babies and bleeding non-stop for a month got to me. My very brokenness eviscerated me.
I miscarried, again. My body expelled the embryonic sac. I held it. And it grew a fibroid instead.
I shook from trying to keep my tears inside. “I have to…” I began ugly crying. My lips quivered and my nostrils flared- I needed a tissue. I felt a warm soft hand on my back. It held me up and comforted me.
“Last year I was the woman crying at reception. You’ll be okay.” I saw her full round belly, but not her face. I saw all the bellies in the waiting room like eyes judging me for my inability to conceive. I felt as if I lost my woman card.
A week later my doctor went over the finer details and all the options. The best option for me was a full hysterectomy including removal of my cervix and fallopian tubes. I got to keep my ovaries. The bad news was I had to wait another six weeks for an available operating room.
Six weeks of bleeding. Six weeks of pain. Six weeks of mourning for myself. Six weeks of coming to grips with my new reality. Six weeks of emotional ups and down. Then five days before the beginning of the school year it all came out.
At first it felt as if someone took a cheese grater to my insides then a baseball bat before running me over with a truck. I was exhausted. I was in pain. I couldn’t get from my bed to the bathroom without having to rest. I slept most of the day and watched Dr. Who when I wasn’t asleep. My husband made sure I kept up with my pain meds because if I didn’t the pain was RIDICULOUS. Friends brought food. I got up- high as a kite on Percocet and was glad for the company.
My stomach was bruised and swollen. Despite having a laparoscopic hysterectomy my recovery wasn’t easy.
“You had major surgery,” my doctor reminded me during my one-week post op appointment.He told me I was healing well. I told him about my exhaustion. He told me I’d feel like that for about a month.
I felt my internal organs searching for the mass that once was- for the organs that used to touch my intestines. It all hurt, it felt weird and as if synapses were longing to fire with ones that were cut out.
I had to go slow and be mindful.
Three weeks post op and I have a bacterial infection growing around my belly button incision in a two-inch red, blotchy rash around it. It’s so gross and it itches like I have poison ivy inside my abdomen and out. I’m on a new prescription to kill it. I’m a little more tired again.
Healing takes time. I’m not so patient with myself. But I do recognize despite the need to take a hardcore nap during the day and go to bed early, I am doing well. I am healing. I will be healthy one day soon. I will be whole despite the hole I felt a few weeks ago.
I am healing a body that betrayed me. But it’s my body and I love it and its new scars. Scars are cool. They tell a story.
And I’m a storyteller mind, body and soul.