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Last July I went off birth control.
After 17 years of actively preventing ovulation and with only one ovary, Greg managed to knock me up in two weeks flat. Even though all the signs were there- big boobs, peeing all the time, nausea, uncontrollable hormones, constipation, a constantly stuffy nose, and two positive home tests- I never believed it. I told Greg I was going to see my friends and snuck in to see my NP instead. As I was telling her all these things she stopped me and asked “So what part of you doesn’t think you’re pregnant?” Obviously the very un-healthcare professional part? That was jet lag! I have seasonal allergies! I’m not used to eating carbs! Those tests were two-for-one at Dollar Tree!
“Your blood hCG is over 70,000.” It’s probably cervical cancer!
I didn’t tell Greg until I was 12 weeks, and that was only because he asked me when I had my last period. Ummm… July? Like I said, I didn’t believe it, secondly I didn’t think it was anyone’s business but mine, and/but mostly I didn’t tell him because I knew he wouldn’t let me travel, or hike, or run, or stand up. By the time I found out I had miscarried this tangle of tissue and cells had already been to five other countries and hiked and ran at least two hundred miles. And we were fine, Greg.
I tell you these things not because I want your attention, or worse your pity, but because after we found out my uterus was all scrambled eggs, I felt very alone and very broken. While I wasn’t sad about not getting a baby out of the deal (tbh, I wasn’t ready. I’m still not ready. I don’t think I’m ever going to be ready so kindly leave me the hell alone about it), I was very sad that my perfectly healthy body would betray me like this.
I thought we were buds! I try and take such good care of you! I’ve never even seen meth! Inevitably the shame set in, and this incredulousness? about the people who can produce babies. If you ever want to feel like total shit about your faulty reproductive system, go stand in the customer service department at Walmart. Christ Almighty, you’ll be on anti-depressants faster than you can say “Get your ass off the floor! I said GET UP!” (a meth head to her four yr old daughter, last time I was there).
NOT TO SAY I think I have a faulty reproductive system, or that we’re infertile, or even struggling. I am not here to compare myself to those who are, or those who have had late term miscarriages, or a stillborn, or any other horrible thing that can occur when you try to bring another human into the world. I’m just here to tell you it’s more common than you think. And if it’s happened to you you’re not alone!
I didn’t want anyone to know I had miscarried, just as I didn’t want anyone to know I was pregnant. It’s my body, people. Greg was very upset to find out I had known for three months, and made me promise I would let him know posthaste next time I even suspected. Full disclosure: still might not. But not telling anyone just made it worse, it made me feel more inept. I swore my inner circle to secrecy (I didn’t even tell my mother for fear of a mental breakdown or worse, baby-mania (as in, “They’re trying! I have a reason to live! They’re trying!”) (I’m going back on birth control the first chance I get)). Then someone I love found out, and it turns out she had a miscarriage too, and it was a completely traumatic, horrifying experience. Then I told one of my best friends, and she told me she had had one too! Why, I was feeling better about myself all the time!
Please don’t think I take others’ suffering lightly. You know what I’m trying to say. It’s the old “I used to feel sorry for myself because I didn’t have any shoes… until I met a man with no feet” thing. Friends, sisters in law, cousins… women all around me had already gone through this, and survived, and in most cases had gone on to produce plenty of decent human beings.
So what if your second cousin doesn’t have custody of any of her six kids (she probably counts them on her teeth)- it’s not a poor reflection on your body- that’s just a bad joke on humanity! Why are miscarriages such a big, dark secret? I wish people would just shout them from the rooftops, so everyone else who is keeping it bottled up will know they’re not alone. I never feel as crazy as when I think I’m suffering alone. That said, maybe I will tell Greg right away if it ever happens again. Remember the Zurich airport breakdown, hun? PREGNANCY HORMONES.
I got the lab results Labor Day weekend that I was indeed with child, and found out about four weeks later things had stopped developing around Labor Day weekend. Isn’t that ironic? Probably all the popcorn and Airheads. Only kidding, I’m banking on chromosomal defects which are responsible for terminating about 1 in every 3 pregnancies(!). Which I’m perfectly okay with! There’s nothing wrong with my body at all, it’s just doing it’s job! Isn’t science weird?
Well I’ll tell you what’s even weirder… it’s now January 8 and my body still thinks its pregnant. Seriously! My uterus has been too busy stocking up for Y2K to notice it’s now 2017. When I came down here at the end of September my doc in Oklahoma wanted my body to try and expel things on its own, but after lying dormant another six weeks he suggested I try misoprostol to get my uterus to contract. Look, I’m a tough girl physically. Have me read a story about a blind collie dying in her sleep and I’m a complete basket case, but pain-wise I’m pretty tough. The night I took that first round of misoprostol was the worst night of my life. Worse even than the conception amiright ladies? Thankfully it only lasted about three hours and I had my Mom to take care of me, plus percocet, zofran, phenergan, and a heating pad to keep me company. You see, Greg was still farming in North Dakota and I was in my Mom’s basement while her husband lay dying upstairs.
After a few days nothing much had happened down south so he had me take a second dose. I took my percocet and went to bed and it was much, much easier. Few more days… still nothing so he had me try a second contraction med, methylergonovine. I had to take this much gentler round while I was with Greg at the World Series, and I thought surely all the screaming and jumping would help speed things up but still my body held on.
I don’t even know how many vaginal ultrasounds I’ve had to go in for now. Four? Five? Six? I know what you’re thinking- why not just get a d&c and be done with all this crap? A. Because I’ve heard horror stories about them and I can’t stand the thought of my own uterus, and B. They’re like, thousands of dollars, and my deductible last year was $7500. I’ll take the $20 meds, thanks.
But… because we hardly made any money in 2015, this year I have no copays and no deductibles. Thanks, Obamacare! Suck it, Republicans, it does help decent people. And guess what? Before I was a nurse I went to Planned Parenthood for all my womanly care. The shock! The shame! I should’ve been stoned by protesters! Instead they gave me free birth control to decrease the chance of my second ovary being destroyed by cysts, and a free biopsy for the (benign) lump I found in my breast at 18. Planned Parenthood also helps decent people. Am I decent? I don’t know, at least I occasionally contribute to society.
Oh, but I haven’t even mentioned the best part of all this – I’ve been bleeding pretty well nonstop since October 24th! Do the math, people! I don’t even know how I’m still upright! You should never trust something that bleeds for 76 days and doesn’t die. So… since I obviously have the thickest uterine lining on the planet and it has no intention of ever (entirely) sloughing off on its own, tomorrow morning Greg is taking me in to have it scraped clean and sucked out.
Poor Greg, out of his element again! Hopefully this time he won’t offer to help take my pants off in front of the doctor like he did the first time I took him in with me. I told you, I can’t stand the thought of my own uterus. Any other time I would’ve laughed, but sitting on an exam table I just burst into tears. That doctor thought we were both nuts. I’ll be under general anesthesia (thank the gods!) and hopefully won’t need a transfusion, because happy as I am to inflict things on my patients, we can all agree going under and getting other peoples’ blood just ain’t right. I’m very much looking forward to getting my body back to ‘normal’, loading up on percocet, and sweet-talking Greg into Long John Silver’s (to help the healing process).
After finding out about my miscarriage I was sad for a bit, and felt betrayed, but now I’m more inconvenienced than anything. I’m having to miss three days of work because of this b.s., and I had to pay all that crap in 2016 out of pocket! It’s bogus! I’m not really mad, it did help us earn four free Hyatt nights anywhere in the world, and thankfully I wasn’t sad for long. The only time I ever got sad about losing a ‘baby’ was when I ordered the three of us matching Cubs shirts, and I opened the package containing that tiny little blue onesie. Oh boyyy did I lose it then. But… the show must go on. I’m happy, Greg’s happy, and we’re always going to be okay.
But can I just say… I know people mean well but nothing can fire a woman who’s actively miscarrying up more than telling her she should have a baby. That’s my new year’s resolution- to never ask anyone about their family planning, or much much much worse tell them what they should be doing in regards to procreation. If you want to share with me I’m all ears, otherwise it’s none of my beeswax. IT’S NOBODY’S BEESWAX.
Thanks for allowing me to purge. I don’t think it should be a secret why I’m missing work this week, and I don’t want other girls who are sad and scared to think this is something they should keep bottled up. This is real life, man. It’s not all dolphin rides and face painting.
I wish you all a very happy and healthy gynecological new year.