Today is Veteran's day. Many of my readers may suspect I would post about my thoughts on this holiday, being a veteran (of Kosovo), but I would only be repeating what many people have said before in a far more eloquent fashion then I ever could. Instead, I feel the need to post on a topic far more personal and a little more closer to home, especially for me now.
Today marks my niece Olivia's third birthday. However, she is not here to celebrate it, as my family lost her not even two hours after she was born. I had the opportunity to hold her for a brief moment and share in the mourning of her loss with my sister, and my heart ached for her then, though I could not fathom the pain she must have went through carrying that precious child to term knowing she would lose her.
Strange how in the long term what an impact Olivia's short life had on our family and on my sister, who grew tremendously from it. And despite being on the eve of the anniversary of her own daughter's loss, my sister was there for me.
I kind of got a suspicion something was wrong for a while, but this being my first pregnancy I didn't know what to expect and was taking it one step at a time, and not dwell to much on things and just try to focus on the positive. I went in for a New Beginnings Orientation through my OB-GYN office on Monday, and as they were briefing me on things to expect through this pregnancy and signs to look out for, I became concerned about one in particular. I've been having a dull ache on one side for a while, and learned that this is a symptom of an Ectopic Pregnancy, better known as a Tubal Pregnancy. I talked to the nurse afterwards about it and my concerns about feeling that strange abdominal pain, she assured me that it could be a number of things and not to get to concerned, but definitely call the doctor's office if things got worse. But something gnawed on me and I went to my parent's house, calling my mom and letting her know of my concerns. I asked my father for a Father's Blessing, just to be on the safe side (a religious custom).
However, I can't help thinking that I knew I lost this baby then. I tried to take things easy over the next few days. I woke up Wednesday morning, surfed the internet for a bit, went out and fed the animals, and that's when it hit me. Something was definitely wrong, I was overwhelmed with a terrible abdominal pain. I thought perhaps it was lack of water and got a glass to drink but it wasn't going away. My husband Gus, having worked graveyards, was still asleep and I didn't want to disturb him, but as the pain got worse, I couldn't help but call my mom for advice. Something was definitely wrong. The severe pain was followed by hot flashes and just got worse. When the bleeding started, I finally called my OB-GYN. They recommended I go to the ER, especially when I started getting the shakes and the chills.
My mom finally made it out and my husband was awake by then, most of the pain had subsided and I made my way to the ER, which followed a lengthy wait, with a blood draw, an ultrasound, and all of that. There was some concerns as the embryo was nowhere to be found and the concern of an ectopic pregnancy resurfaced. My blood draw came back seriously low in HCG hormone, the levels at around 200 when it should be somewhere between 6-9,000. The pain had mostly subsided but the bleeding continued. The doctor confirmed what I had by this time already known, I was having a miscarriage.
Having it confirmed though really brought it home to me, even though I knew from that morning that this was probably what was happening. I finally broke down, the reality that I had lost my pregnancy at seven weeks hit me.
Although they couldn't find the embriotic sac during the ultra sound, I passed it later last night, finding a small mass of tissue that could only be the remains of what had been that short pregnancy.
I don't think anybody could describe the flurry of emotions one goes through during a pregnancy, from the moment you find out that you are carrying a life inside of you, and I cannot begin to describe the feeling of losing it, which is followed by a sense of great sadness and mourning for the potential of what that life could have brought to me, and how much I was expecting it to change my own.
But the truth is, that short pregnancy did have an impact on me, and I can't help but think it happened for a reason. I'll be honest when saying that the timing was off for me, when I learned that I was pregnant my first thought was 'crap, now?' But once I got over the fact of what I was losing by being pregnant, the plans I had made for this next year, the freedom to do and eat what i wanted, was replaced by this excitement about what this tiny life was going to bring to my own, and how this experience would change me and forever mature me. And in the short two and a half weeks I was pregnant, it really did impact me, it definitely got me out of the mindset that it's not just me anymore, it's us. I share my life with another now, and every choice I make impacts him and every life that we bring into this world together. And I realized I needed that tiny mass of life to help me leave my independence behind and come to terms that it isn't all about me anymore. This short life had a meaning, had a purpose. When that next surprise comes (and yes, our goal is still next fall), I'll be prepared for it. I will look forward to it, and my first instinct won't be 'crap, what's this going to do to my plans', but rather my first instinct will be 'here we go!' I have a suspicion the next one will come to term, and this one was meant to prepare me for that one.
My deepest fear was an Ectopic pregnancy, I do admit. I am at peace knowing that I had a normal miscarriage, that these things happen, even though it is still a heartbreak I wouldn't wish on anyone. What concerned me most about the chances of the Ectopic Pregnancy was not just that having one would put me at high risk for future pregnancies, but the actions i would have to take if it was one. Ectopic Pregnancies are very dangerous, and can be fatal to the mother. The embryo can not be brought to term. But the hardest part for me to deal with in that situation would not be the possibility of what it could do to me, but the actions I would have to take, namely ending the life. I've always considered myself pro-life, but this pregnancy confirmed that I am. I am grateful that the pregnancy ended on it's own terms, and did not force me to take action against it. That would have eaten at me more then anything now.
This experience has confirmed a lot of things to me. One, that I have a wonderful husband who has been very supportive of me, and I can't help but think that I got the better end of this deal. I have a fantastic family who I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. I feel that I don't appreciate them enough, realizing that life is so short and I should enjoy every minute of it.
As I was sitting at home, not knowing what to expect, I found myself thinking that I needed to focus on the positives, and my facebook update was "Always Look at the Bright Side of Your Life", and in this case, I don't want to dwell on the negative of losing this pregnancy, but the positive of what came of it. Gus and I have a little more time to get to know each other a little better, as per our original plan. I think I'm a little more ready for that next pregnancy, and it gives me a little more time to get myself in the shape I want to be in for the next time. My plans from before can go into affect, but I'm prepared to be a little more flexible, and ready to take life as it comes. I can go back to training Turtle and riding my other horses, look forward to what looks to be a fantastic year for snowboarding, get the house ready to host thanksgiving, do a few races with my sisters and sis-in-law, and perhaps get to take part in the hooah training that my unit has planned for the next year.
If any new surprises come my way over the next year or so, I probably won't mention them until I get over that hump of a first trimester. I was kind of wary of talking about this pregnancy so soon after I found out, being only five weeks along when i made the announcement. But i felt like I was announcing it to the world anyway, since I had to inform my employer and my unit, find different arrangements for my horses, I didn't see the point of keeping it secret.
I thought I would hold onto this little tidbit a little longer then I did. I am surprised that I'm so willing to talk about it so soon after it happened, but have found that talking about it is very therapeutic for me, and getting it out will help me move on, and letting people know now that no, I'm no longer pregnant so they don't have to go through the awkward phase of asking me how I'm doing only to hear that I lost it. I likely won't discuss it much again in the future, but do know that I am doing alright. Death is a part of life, and though I was looking forward to meeting this little determined spirit that I was so sure had done everything he could to make it into this world despite his parents working to delay his entry, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before he makes another go at it. I'm just hoping he gives me a couple months to recoup before he tries again.