Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The harsh reality of miscarriage

Last night, I watched an episode of the tv show Private Practice. In it, a woman who had just suffered her 4th miscarriage was placed next to a woman who had just given birth. The woman walked in, saw the baby, and burst into tears. In an instant, I was taken back to the moment I was in the hospital being told my operation was being pushed back because of an emergency caesarean. I too, burst into tears.

I was suddenly back in the red leather chair, watching bad day time tv, waiting for my turn. I was told I would  have my operation about 2pm. That time came and went. Eventually, a nurse came to tell me the obstetrician had been called to an emergency caesarean and I would be next. I had no idea how long that would be and had no choice but to wait.

Finally, it was my turn to go into my allocated cubicle. I had to put on the paper gown, paper booties and a paper cap. I got on the bed and waiting to be wheeled out. Another nurse came in to tell me another emergency caesarean had come in. It made me feel like these women were more important than me. Of course they were, because their babies were alive and mine was dead. But it was my baby, it wasn’t like it was some weird growth that needed to be removed. My baby was important to me, but its short-lived life was not important to them.

Finally, I was wheeled out. I was told “We’re going to squeeze you in before the next caesar comes in.” Like my operation was something that could quickly be slotted in. Like it was an inconvenience to them. Miscarrying my baby was an enormous inconvenience to everyone, but no one more so than me.

By this time, I’d been waiting for 4 hours. I didn’t have anyone with me. No one to hold my hand. No one to tell me it was going to be ok. Instead, I had a conveyor belt of medical professionals coming up telling me what they would be doing to me. I wasn’t even listening anymore. I just nodded and feigned interest as they shoved needles into my arm. It really didn’t matter anymore. I didn’t care anymore. I couldn’t fight it. I couldn’t engage with it. I just laid there and stared into space.

I was wheeled into the operating room and silently shuffled onto the operating table. I didn’t look around the room. I just stared at the ceiling as I had monitors attached to me. Again, people hidden by masks came up to me and told me things. I wasn’t listening. I was trying my hardest to escape my body. To make myself go somewhere else – anywhere else but on this cold, sterile operating table, about to have my child removed. The last moment I recall is being terrified they would operate on me and I would still be awake. The moment I drifted off was the end of the most stressful, traumatic and unpeaceful hours of my life.

Forty-five minutes later I woke up. The first few seconds were hazy but reality slammed into me like a truck. My baby was gone. All I had to show for the life that was once there was a pad the size of the Bible shoved between my legs, yellow goop all over my thighs and a heat pack on my stomach. There was nothing else.

I waited for someone to realise I was awake. I didn’t call out to anyone, I just laid there. I had no desire, no feeling, no emotion. I was just empty. They came, checked on me and kept asking me what my pain levels were. Stupid question really – they could give me medication for the physical pain but there was nothing they could do for the emotional pain. I told them I wanted to go and asked them to call my husband to collect me. I got dressed and sat back in the red chairs where I was given the world’s worst sandwiches and some lemonade. At this stage I hadn’t eaten for 10 hours. I was starving but couldn’t taste anything.

An hour went by and I was starting to get concerned my husband hadn’t turned up. I knew he would have left the moment they called him. I asked them to check and it turned out he had been sitting in the waiting room for 45 minutes. No one had bothered to let me know. I was called into the discharge room where the nurse removed my drip. She gave me pamphlets for some support groups and told me how sorry she was. I was pretty sure no one was more sorry than me and I hoped the hospital was sorry for the way I had been treated. It had added unnecessary pain and grief to a situation that already had more than its fair share.

We decided just to get take away for dinner. I had no idea what I felt like so we just got chicken burgers and chips. As I shoved deep fried chicken and soggy chips into my mouth, I couldn’t even process what I was doing. It was food but I couldn’t taste it, feel the nourishment or digest it. I was just numb.

I had been awake since 4am so by 9pm, exhaustion hit. We went to bed and I just howled. It was that kind of empty sobbing where you know when you hear it that the person making the sound is in the greatest pain of their lives. And so I was. I couldn’t verbalise anything that had happened to my husband and a lot of this story he only heard for the first time last night. I guess I’ve spent the last 5 months processing it all.

That howl returned last night as I let all the pent up pain and emotion out. I sobbed for over an hour and all my husband could do was hold me. In a break from  the tears, the first thought that popped into my head was, I wonder how the guys that are currently building our patio go to the toilet during the day? “I think the guys are peeing in my garden” I told my husband. He burst out laughing. “How else do they go to the toilet when they are working in the yard all day?” I asked. He said men can hold it all day. I reckon they’re still peeing in my garden.

In a flash, that light comedic moment was over and the tears resumed. As I cried, I processed all this information. I released feelings I never knew I had. I had clearly suffered a great deal more trauma that day than I could have imagined. I’m not surprised though. I think there was only so much suffering my little soul could take before it had to shut down and leave the processing for another day. Yesterday was that day.

I told my husband that I was sad because I thought I was ready for another baby but I don’t think I am. That bought more tears. I told him that I had so much work to do before a baby could come back into our lives and I could feel peaceful with that. I realised there was so much emotion that day that I had to compartmentalise it. I could only deal with so much. I think those compartments are now opening because it’s time to deal with it. I’m just a little overwhelmed because they all seem to be opening at once.

The sub conscious is a curious thing. I feel like I had stored all this baggage there for safe keeping. I guess it was a protection mechanism so I could survive. But in moments like last night, surviving, living, being alive is just too painful. In moments like last night, I don’t want to be here. I want to be somewhere else. Living someone else’s life that knows nothing of this pain.

My husband told me I shouldn’t watch these shows. He knows there are things that happen that make me upset. But it’s not that simple. The things that make me upset are the triggers I need to release this stored emotion. I need to be aware of it, to acknowledge it and deal with it so I can move on. So as hard as it is, I know it’s the best thing for me. Eventually, I will get through everything that I locked away. Eventually, the clutter will all be cleared away and my mind and soul will be at peace once more. I firmly believe this needs to happen before another baby will come. I don’t want to be in my body right now with all this toxic sludge being released so why would someone else?  

I don’t know if choosing to have the d and c was better than a natural miscarriage. I guess everyone makes that decision for themselves. I decided I just wanted it to be over and didn’t want to wait for it to happen. I guess in the end it doesn’t matter. Either experience was going to be traumatic. Either experience was going to scar me for the rest of my life. Either experience was going to end with the same result – the expulsion of my baby from my body.

Today, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck all over again. I can’t go to work. I have a horrible headache and the overflowing of tears is a constant threat. Today, I will just sit and process. I will release this pain so I can move onto the next thing. I will choose to be here and live through it so I can move on. I know this is what I have to do to clear a space for the next baby. As hard as it is sometimes to keep going, I just have to remind myself that putting one foot in front of the other is all that’s needed to take that next step forward. 

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