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Surviving Miscarriage and Unexpected After Effects

Posted by on June 19, 2011

I haven’t posted in nearly a month. When I look for reasons the most obvious is the fact that I’ve been dealing with the side effects of a miscarriage while simultaneously juggling numerous “life events”. As my mother always said, “When it rains, it pours.” And life is proving that little nugget to be true. I haven’t mentioned the miscarriage here since I wrote “Angel Babies in the U.S.”. I thought I was doing okay with all of it. I didn’t take any time off right away, just the half of the day after the miscarriage was confirmed. After that I threw myself back into work, thinking that keeping busy would help reduce the sorrow and any “navel gazing” tendencies I may have.

It worked for the first couple of weeks. I was even able to go way beyond the call of duty in a way that I might never have before. When K.’s Aunt died I offered to pick up his sister at the airport while the rest of the family was already at the wake. This is a woman who from the first day we met created stories about me to tear me down in the eyes of her family, particularly K.’s parents. After 6 years all of this has come to light, even within the family, so no one expected me to do this. But I did. And I had a genuine smile on my face. I really was fine. We even opened our house to her and had her stay the night. I’m not sure if I was numb and floating by or if I was wishfully gliding through life thinking I get through this patch and soon be pregnant again, figuring why wallow or be somber and dramatic. Meanwhile, my big secret was that I had saved what I had miscarried hoping I’d come up with a meaningful way to honor the possible life that wasn’t. (Yes, for those cringing, I do mean the tissue expelled from my body.)

Documenting my positive pregnancy aka the joy stick

Surviving the Doctor’s office

It’s Father’s day weekend and today I got word that my step daughter’s aunt gave birth to her first child last night. All of this fell on a day that could not have been full of more family strife. The truth is that I have been on edge, on the brink really. All hormones and emotions, and that hasn’t made me easy to be around. I’ve found it hard to share what I’m feeling so I’ve kept most of it inside though I know my family and coworkers see the angst from what’s brewing beneath the surface. I allowed myself to cry when I miscarried. And to get angry when I called my OB’s nurses line to let them know it happened; I was put on hold and forced to listen to the exact line from the song “Can’t live, if Livin’ is without you.” (It really happened. Like a bad joke.) And then when I went in to have my HCG levels checked the clueless (heartless) nurse with the sunshiney smile asked, “Is this your first? We can rush the results to you tomorrow.” I knew what she was asking but her obliviousness to my plight made me want to make her squirm a bit.

“First? First what? I’m not sure what you mean. I’m getting my levels checked for my miscarriage.” I replied matter of factly.

That changed her demeanor to something more appropriately subdued.

I got through that visit. But there was another after it and when my levels got to 14 (the goal is to reach zero), I decided I wouldn’t go back again. I couldn’t go back again. The site of the newborn babies, the bellies bursting with life, and the smugness of the nurses shooshing me while quietly trying to get me into the office without uttering the word “miscarriage” was just too much. It was a baby factory and I had no place being there casting my dark shadow on this hopeful new mothers and mamas to be. Each time the drive, parking, being trapped in a long elevator ride with a newborn and mother threw me into a bad place. What the hell! Why couldn’t they send me to another lab in the hospital, I shouldn’t have to be around those women and put in that scenario. It’s heartless and totally discounts the emotional loss of the patient. My last OB’s office would not have put me through that. They had a separate blood lab and would have sent me there directly – I know it.

Consolation Prize

The day they did the scan to confirm my loss K. asked the ultrasound technician about pap smears and how often she sees losses when women have had them during pregnancy. She gave us a pat answer, left, and came back to tell us that we would be meeting with “The Doctor”, Henry Whathisname. Not our doctor, ours was conveniently off on vacation, this was any available doctor. As we were guided into another room I glanced at a book they had on display. It was about miscarriage and was written by none other than “The Doctor”, Henry Whathisname. I had a few seconds to inform K. that the man we were going to meet with was an expert on miscarriage. But I didn’t have to do that. The Doctor arrived in our room with his book in hand. Introducing himself, he offered his condolences for our loss (extra points for that), and then handed me his book — to keep(!). Thankfully he didn’t offer to sign it. The whole thing seemed like a clear lawsuit avoidance tactic; a free book from a published and well known doctor — we were supposed to be blessed to meet him and walk away feeling “special” that we had somehow been heard.

Begging for a rhogam shot

I had a miscarriage years ago and knew that as a negative blood type it was important to get a rhogam shot. This time my current doctor’s office never mentioned this to me on the phone either time they spoke to me – I mentioned it both times – and yet still, in their office I had to ask them for it. It’s something you must have within 72 hours of miscarrying to avoid RH sensitization which can impact the viability of future pregnancies. Women with RH sensitivity tend to miscarry more easily – they develop antibodies that attack the babies blood.

A sensitized mother’s body will make antibodies. These antibodies will then attack an Rh positive baby’s blood, causing it to breaking down the red blood cells of the baby and anemia will develop. In severe cases this hemolytic disease can cause illness, brain damage and even death.

* Taken from: http://pregnancy.about.com/od/rhfactor/a/Rh-Factor-in-Pregnancy.htm

With all of this in mind I was floored that none of the nurses so much as mentioned it. During my first miscarriage years ago they strongly emphasized the importance of the shot and brought it up multiple times. All I could think was: what if I hadn’t had one before and didn’t know that this was vital to keeping healthy and having a shot at another viable pregnancy? Would they have caught my blood type and called me back in the next day? And this is a popular OB/GYN office in a nearby affluent town. All of these interactions rubbed me the wrong way and made feel like a number, a cog in the wheel. Where was the humanity, the sensitivity, and the sense of responsibility?

Stay tuned for part 2 where I’ll delve into more about the unexpected toll hormones have had on my body and struggling to rebalance.

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