I've not been feeling very "wordy" lately. But I want to mark this all down, in case I want to remember someday, and today is not a heavy day so far, so perhaps this is a good day.
I've been thinking a lot about loss. I've been lucky so far in my life. All my grandparents are alive. My parents, sibling, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends are alive. I've not suffered any sort of loss that would require this sort of grief process. So I'm finding it surprising. It's very weird how I can go days and be fine, fine, fine, and then suddenly ka-wham I'm not fine. And sometimes the not-fine sticks, and sometimes it just keeps rolling by.
I'm looking at this experience and I'm glad I chose to go this route. The medically induced otherwise natural miscarriage route. I'm still glad I didn't have a D&C, even if I'm still bleeding and cramping 8 days later. I'm proud of myself last weekend. I drove for over an hour through one nearly constant contraction. My mom said to me the day after, "I don't know, but that sounded a lot like labor to me. If you ask me, if you can drive through that, you'll be fine when there's a baby at the other end." Hwah. Yeahhhh. *flexing biceps* (although the biceps were the most unaffected set of muscles, haha)
An hour of hellish driving. 7 more hours of Vicodin-relieved cramping, heavy bleeding, and sleeping. 7 more days of bleeding. That's the losing.
That's the easy part.
It's the loss that presses in at unexpected moments, keeps rolling, keeps emphasizing its own finality that's hard to carry. The losing was over quickly. The loss is a road that disappears over the next hill.
(Thankfully, though, my body doesn't seem to be about to drag it out ad infinitum. I went in for bloodwork on Friday, and while my hcg was over 70,000 last week, it had dropped down to 10,000 a week after the miscarriage started. 1000 would have been awesome, but 10,000 is OK. It's a good indication that I'm looking at weeks, rather than months, before my hormones drop back to 0. Yay.)
But I'll say this. I have a friend at work who lost a baby 3 years ago under very similar circumstances. She named what she imagined was a daughter. I've thought about this and I don't see there ever being a time when I refer to this lost child by name. I don't think I'll ever hear myself saying, "Back before (name) died." Or any such thing. I talked to J and he wasn't keen on the idea. He said, "What if you give it a girl name and you meet it someday and it's a boy?" Men. :)
But this child gave its mother something in the short time it was here with us. It gave me hope. And hope is a virtue traditionally depicted in the feminine form. So in the deep places of this mother's heart, I have named her a slavic name (I studied Russian in high school and have always loved the language) which means hope. It's a small whisper of thanks, a nod as I aquiesce to the dictates of biology, and a reminder, always, to hope.
(And if it was a son, I hope he forgives me the sissy girl name. (Haha. Makes me think of that song, "My name is Sue. How do you do?!"))
It's very odd to consider that a month ago I was pregnant. Technically, I was pregnant 3 days ago as well. But to be pregnant with what you believe is a live baby is very different from being pregnant with what you know is an empty space. Not physically different. But different. I miscarried at 10 weeks. But that was a fluke. I lost that little life at about 5 or 6 weeks. I guess what I'm trying to say, badly, is just that it's weird.
But it's over now, and that is a relief.
What follows is blood work til my hcg gets back to 0. Then, 2 cycles where we're not allowed to try. Then, we go back to the IUIs. Each cycle will likely be about 6 weeks, give or take. So that's 12 weeks til we can try again. Three months. July, probably August.
I'm going to say it. Only once. This sucks.
I'm trying to figure out now what I'm going to do with myself between now and then. I've started running again, so perhaps a few races are in store. I'm just hesitant to do long races outside in the heat. (sissy) (I know) But I'll probably do them anyhow.
I need to get my house in order. It's a disaster. That'll probably take all 3 months, hahaha.
Maybe I'll paint the bathroom! (yes, that warrants an exclamation point. It's been needing paint! since I moved in 3 years ago)
The time will pass.
But that's part of the problem. Time keeps on passing.
I took the pills this morning. It was supposed to take 24 hours to take effect, but lo, it started 4 hours later. As I was at the baby shower for a good friend. 70 miles away from home.
I was terribly irritated that I had to leave the shower early. I became less irritated on the drive as the cramping came in like a hurricane. 1200 mg of ibuprofen didn't touch it. I talked to my mom on the phone the whole way home about heaven knows what. Sometimes just about breathing. My mom was precisely what I needed her to be and I'm so thankful she was there.
When I finally got home, I downed a Vicodin. I am in love. :)
Even with all the pain, I'm so glad I decided to do it this way. It sounds stupid, because the baby died so long ago. But whatever is left of it is still my child, and I'm glad I'm present and awake as it goes. I saw a little clot at one point and I actually talked to it for a moment. It sounds like madness, I know. But it feels very cleansing.
Maybe it's just the narcotic talking, but this is physically far worse and emotionally far better than I imagined it to be.
(humming) everything's gonna be all right... rockabye... rockabye...
What a lovely lovely morning it is here. Sunshine and warm and gorgeous. My kitty is playing with half a plastic easter egg, her favorite toy, and the house is full of her happy yowls.
It's a good day.
I feel a little heavy and sad today, but it's expected and OK. It fits. I opted to put taking the medication off until tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to having things over with. It'll be good, in the end. :)
I'm glad for the extra ultrasound, actually. When the doctor called that morning, I didn't expect, really, to find a baby there. I'd seen the pictures last time. I knew there was nothing there. But the extra reassurance is nice, in a way. I'm a little frustrated with my body for, once again, not doing anything "right", but on the other hand, I smile a little because I feel like if there ever actually is a baby in there, my body will hold onto it like hell. We'll probably have to bribe it to give it up after 9 months.
So there's that. Another pointless post. But there it is.
I mean, really? Stop it. Yes, you, body. You. Stop.
So bloodwork yesterday, just to see what my body is up to, trying to figure out why I haven't bled yet.
For some reason, the trip home from the blood lab triggered waterfalls of tears and hiccups. Here's why, I think. Why the tears and hiccups.
(Pardon me while I meander.)
I think I'm handling this whole blighted ovum thing fairly well. I mean, I hate it. But I'm doing OK, overall. Have you ever heard of the palaces of the mind? It's a medieval means of memorizing large quantities of information. The idea is that you assign different topics different rooms and then assign each thing to be remembered a place in the room. It's more complex than that, but you get the general idea. Amazing stuff. These guys memorized entire libraries with this method.
It makes sense to me, because I often remember things, events, etc, in a location-based way. I see things in my mind, and that's how I remember them.
But anyhow. Remember that day, 2 weeks and 2 days ago? Yeah. That day. I've managed to stuff everything sore and sad into the ultrasound room in my memory. Lunch, where we talked about how big the baby would be. The walk from the car to the office. Those moments staring at a silent screen in a silent room. J's face. All those sore-don't-touch-it things are in that room in my memory. And I keep the door shut. I'm not repressing it. I'm keeping it there, where it's safe, and I don't have to trip over it every day. But sometimes that door just starts to swing open...
The blood lab unlatched the door. It swung open. I cried for 2 hours then grabbed myself by the collar and dragged myself to my workout and into the rest of my day. That was yesterday.
Today the doc calls me. She says, "Um. Your hcg levels are enormous." Like 70000+ enormous. Like normal for a 9 week pregnancy. "We're going to need to see you today."
It could be anything, we say to each other. Immediately, the entire month of November is before my eyes and the 14th is a date that doesn't make me want to curl up in a chair for days. But we also know there are other things my body could be busily building, and we don't say those things to each other.
So for 4 hours, J and I wonder again.
And when we get there, the doc asks all the normal questions. "Are you experiencing any pain?" (Does daily cramping, breast pain and exhaustion count?) "Are you experiencing any emotional or physical abuse?" (We both laugh and I say, 'Aside from what my body is currently doing to me?')
Then, up on the table with me. Stirrups, dildo-cam (thanks, V, I steal this from an older post of yours), silence.
And there it is.
The sac. It's bigger than last time, and measures exactly right for 9 weeks, 2 days, which is where I thought I would be.
And there's still nothing in it.
My doc's eyes welled up with tears. Mine didn't. J let it roll off his shoulders. I watched him again, watched the fear of the bad and the hope for the good wash off his features.
The doc talked to another doc, consulted, showed pictures. There were wispy things in the sac this time, but they did some magical color thing to the screen and determined it's just blood.
There is definitely no baby. And my body, damn the poor thing, is industriously building a nest for nothing. "A" for effort, but put the pencil down, honey. This is not a fight that can be won. You could build for three more weeks, but hush, hush, and let it go.
I will get some pills tomorrow that will cause the cervix to soften and the uterus to contract. I have Vicodin prescribed because the size of the sac could cause some significant cramping. It's expanded, you see, just like it should. And it'll be harder to pass now.
I'm 9w1d pregnant. Technically. Thankfully, aside from a few pesky remaining symptoms, I don't feel it. It's less of a headf*ck that way, and I'm thankful for it.
We'll talk to the doc today or tomorrow to figure out what to do since it hasn't "passed" on its own yet. I know my inclination, but we'll see.
It seems like 2 years ago that we sat in that little room. It seems like a dream, almost, that I was pregnant with a baby at any point. But I was.
And I'm hooked. I so want that feeling back. But I want to keep it next time. Duh. Seems obvious. But it needed saying for some reason.
One thing that's making this so much easier (and I think I've said this before) is that we have something back that had all but gone: hope. I feel like there's a really good chance that it might actually happen again, and maybe not in the too-distant future. There's no way to know, but having a strong suspicion that the wait might end someday makes the wait easier to take. A little.
I'm unwrapping my heart from November. Aside from hoping that I can be sick and miserable again by then.
God was just so nice to me. A friend I've been wanting very much to see is coming into town. I'm actually blubbering like an idiot about it. :)
Comfort comes, it does.
I was sitting in the car a short time ago remembering this time last week. We'd had lunch and were killing time in a book store before the appointment. Then we drove to the office and I took J's hand and said, "Ready to go see our little blueberry?"
I look back and I'm surprised that at no time was I surprised. I don't even remember a moment of understanding. There was just stillness on that screen, darkness, and I slowly just knew. I cried before my brain even kicked in.
Last week was weird. There were solid days of "This will be OK, we can do this, and there's hope for the future, finally." And there were days of just tears tears tears.
I told J that really, if this cycle, this Jan 30th cycle, was going to end in blood, I would rather it be this than just another period. And I still mean that. We have something back that had all but withered away: hope. There is no fear in this, and that makes it better in a way.
But there is just loss. Loss that just sits on my chest like a rock. And the days are getting harder because the loss is not new, does not sting, does not throb. It's just emphatic.
I'm not going to lie and say I don't ask why. But it's so personal. I'm thankful, in a way, because God has rarely felt so near, and so personal to me. And there are times that there comes bubbling out of me, "How could you? How could you let this happen?" And it sounds like anger, but anger is often just the voice that pain uses. Anger wants an answer. Pain isn't looking for information. Pain doesn't mean the questions it asks. It's looking for something else.
And I do find what I'm looking for. Every time I turn around, it seems. It does not give me back that baby, cannot give me back my baby, and God I wanted that baby.
It's exactly like CS Lewis said, "When I lay these questions before God, I get no answer. But a rather special sort of 'no answer.' It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate gaze. As though he shook his head not in refusal but in waiving the question. Like, 'Peace, child; you do not understand.'"
I don't need to understand. The concrete facts are solid before me and I don't need an explanation. What I do need, though, is being poured out in bucketfulls.
There's this rumor going around Christendom, and that's that tonight is Pascha.
My favorite night of the year. You might recall, I started counting the days down to it immediately last year.
I'm just not feeling terribly Pascha-y.
I haven't fasted. Not even today.
I lost a baby this week. And my body still hasn't caught on (aside from being able to stomach broccoli again - I'd lost that ability for several weeks). And I'm riding this absolutely wild emotional rollercoaster.
Yesterday was fine. Today, not fine.
We're going anyhow, to be sure, and I'm sure I won't regret it.
But yeah. This is a "I need a hug" day.
I suppose, looking at it objectively, that today is the perfect day for Pascha.
I have been reading and rereading this passage for about a week now. It has grabbed me this Holy Week. It is written by Thomas Howard and (spoiler alert) is the conclusion of his book Christ the Tiger. It is long. It is worth it.
…In the figure of Jesus we saw Immanuel, that is, God, that is, Love. It was a figure who, appearing so inauspiciously among us, broke up our secularist and our religious categories, and beckoned us and judged us and damned us and saved us, and exhibited to us a kind of life that participates in the indestructible. And it was a figure who announced the validity of our eternal effort to discover significance and beauty beyond inanition and horror by announcing to us the unthinkable: redemption.
It was a figure we could neither own nor manage. We claimed it as our special possession, and exacted tribute and built shrines and established forms in which to incarcerate it, only to discover that it had fled. It would not be enshrined. It was the figure of a man, and a man must live and walk with other men or die, and this man was alive. He scorned our scruple to shelter him and to prop up his doctrine. What he spoke, he spoke loudly and freely, and his words were their own defense. When we tried to help things by urging sweetness and light, or by interdicting what looked threatening, or by tithing mint, anise, and cumin, or by devising rituals and nonrituals, we found him towering above us, scorching our efforts into clinkers, and recalling us to wildness and risk and humility and love. Just at the moment when we thought we had guaranteed our own standing in his good favor by organizing an airtight doctrine or a flawless liturgy or an unassailable morality, he escaped us, and returned with his hammer to demolish things. Try as we might, we could not own him. We could not protect him. We could not incarcerate him. For he always emerged as our judge, exposing our cynicism and fright by the candor and boldness of his love. He tore our secularist schemes to ribbons by announcing doom and our religious schemes to tatters by announcing love.
He appeared as a man and demonstrated a kind of life wholly foreign to all of our inclinations. For he showed us what a man’s life is like when it is energized by caritas, and in doing this, he became our judge, because we knew too well that it is that other love, cupiditas, that energizes us. He told us of a city, the City of God, in which caritas rules. He told us that all who participate in this are citizens of that city.
We experienced this announcement as both death-dealing and life-giving. It was death-dealing because we knew our own incorrigible cupidity – the energy that makes us shriek for the shovel in the sandbox, cut into the ticket line, rush for the subway seat, display our prowess, parade our clothes, and pursue delights regardless of prior considerations.
We remembered our own torrid yearning, for instance, for other bodies, and our insistence that we must seek satisfaction at all costs because this was such an ecstatic bliss. And he said to us, yes, yes, yes, you are quite right, another body is the most beautiful thing in the world. This kind of congress is ecstatic bliss, but your unexamined pursuit of this will, irony of ironies, dehumanize you, for it is a failure to ask the questions that must be asked – questions about the imago Dei in you and your partner, questions about sex as a form of knowledge that requires a high warrant, questions about sex as a metaphor of realities that lie at the heart of everything, and questions about the undying notion in all of us of sex as significant and binding and most holy.
And what is true here is true in all regions of experience. Your mad pursuit is for freedom and intensity and bliss. It is natural. But, by a wry irony at work in the world, the pursuit leads you into a prison where your agony is to become more and more insistent that things shall be as you wish, and less and less able to cope with denial.
But I show you a different way. It is an alien and a frightening one. It is called Love. It asks that you forswear your busy effort to collect the bits of bliss and novelty that lie about. It asks that you disavow your attempt to enlarge your own identity by diminishing that of others. It asks that you cease your effort to safeguard your own claim to well-being by assuming the inferiority of others’ claims. It asks, actually, that you die.
For, paradoxically, it offers to you your own best being beyond this apparent immolation of yourself. It says that the cupidity energizing all your efforts is the principle that governs wherever hell is found, and that the dwellers in that realm are a withered host of wraiths, doomed to an eternal hunt for solidity and fulfillment among the shards that lie underfoot. This is not your best being. You were meant to find your home in the City of God, which is among you. Here duty is ecstasy. For that is what is meant by caritas: it is the freedom which follows upon the capacity to experience as joy what you are given to do.
But the City is not reached in a moment. It is as remote as the Towers of Trebizond, and as near as your neighbor.
And we experienced his announcement as death dealing again, because it knocked over all the little pickets and wickets that we had tapped carefully into place to guarantee the safety of our religion. He saw our masses and rosaries and prayer meetings and study groups and devotions, and he said yes, yes, yes, you are quite right to think that goodness demands rigor and vigilance and observance, but your new moons and Sabbaths and bullocks and altars and vestments and Gospel teams and taboos and Bible studies are trumpery, and they nauseate me because you have elevated them, and I alone am the Host. Your incense is foetid, and your annotated Bibles are rubbish paper. Your meetings are a bore and your myopic exegesis is suffocating. Return, return, and think again what I have asked of you: to follow justice, and love mercy, and do your job of work, and love one another, and give me the worship of your heart – your heart – and be merry and thankful and lowly and not pompous and gaunt and sere.
But we experienced the announcement as live-giving because it was an announcement, appearing in a dirty barn, and heard among the dry provincial hills and then in the forum of Rome and in the halls of royal princes and in the kitchens and streets of Paris and Calcutta and Harlem and Darien, that Joy and not Havoc is the last word. It announced to us what we could not hope. It saw limitation and contingency and disparity and irrevocability and mutability and decay and death, and it said yes, yes, yes, you are quite right: terror and horror and despair are the only eventually realistic responses … if this is all there is to it. But it is not.
You have thought of a world free from such conditions. In all your imaginings, and in your myths and your mime and your songs and dances and epics – in your quest for form and significance and beauty beyond fragmentation and inanition and chaos – you have bespoken such a vision. I announce it to you. Here, from this stable, here, from this Nazareth, this stony beach, this Jerusalem, this market place, this garden, this praetorium, this Cross, this mountain, I announce it to you.
I announce to you what is guessed at in all the phenomena of your world. You see the corn of wheat shrivel and break open and die, but you expect a crop. I tell you of the Springtime of which all springtimes speak. I tell you of the world for which this world groans and towards which it strains. I tell you that beyond the awful borders imposed by time and space and contingency, there lies what you seek. I announce to you life instead of mere existence, freedom instead of frustration, justice instead of compensation. For I announce to you redemption. Behold I make all things new. Behold I do what cannot be done. I restore the years that the locusts and worms have eaten. I restore the years which you have drooped away upon your crutches and in your wheel-chair. I restore the symphonies and operas which your deaf ears have never heard, and the snowy massifs your blind eyes have never seen, and the freedom lost to you through plunder, and the identity lost to you because of calumny and the failure of justice; and I restore the good which your own foolish mistakes have cheated you of. And I bring you to the Love of which all other loves speak, the Love which is joy and beauty, and which you have sought in a thousand streets and for which you have wept and clawed your pillow...