advert

The Ghost of Losses Past

Aug01

by

Advice Smackdown ArchivesDear Amalah,

A year ago (June 15, 2010), my husband and I stared down and the home pregnancy test and 2 pink lines…I started laughing like an idiot and he just stared. We’d been trying for 6 months and we were thrilled. I’m adopted, and all my life I wanted to go to college (no degree in mind), get married (to some-guy) and have babies…not a baby, babies..and here we go! Anyway, after I stopped laughing like freak we did the math figured I was right about 5 weeks, and I made the call to the doctor. I went in and they did another pregnancy test, and another, and another and FINALLY they got a very faint positive for their pregnancy test. I was sort-of concerned about that, but they assured me that I was fine and that was normal this early in a pregnancy.

They made my follow-up appointment and first sonogram appointment for the end of the next month. I would be about 10-11 weeks along at that point and I would get to hear a heartbeat and all that good stuff. Not quite 3 weeks later my husband, Aaron and I celebrated our wedding anniversary, and 4 days after that my little sister gave birth to her first child after the pregnancy from hell (9months of morning sickness, 2 hospitalizations, anemia, StrepB, you name it–she had it) I was floating right along, a little tired, no sickness or anything, but I rarely ever feel sick so I didn’t think that much about it. 

The morning of my appointment, July 22, 2010, I noticed some spotting. Because I am a research fanatic, I knew this wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t bright red or anything and I was going to the doctor and we’d figure it out. Go to the doctor fill out the 5 zillion sheets of paper, and went in to wait. Aaron came with me and we sat there talking about how we’d call his Grandparents when we left the doctor because they’d be so excited. The doctor came in and while completing the initial exam we discussed the spotting and out of the corner of my eye I watched (with humor) Aaron squirm. That would be the last time I laughed for a while. No heartbeat, in comes the sono-machine, hmmm…whats that? And the test began. More blood, more intense sonograms.

I was hosting a baby shower on July 31st, I was dressed and was talking to Aaron about when I’d be home when the phone rang. Mrs. Sawyer, you have a molar pregnancy, you need to get to the hospital now for an emergency D&C because you could start hemorrhaging at anytime. Through the shock I asked some questions, I’d be monitored over-night, the D&C was already scheduled for 7am the next morning. You should have heard my doctors voice when I said I was hosting a baby shower for my friend in an hour and I would go after that. Mind you, half of her shock was because the hospital I was to check into is about a 3 hour drive from my house. (Our local hospital does not have a NICU and started performing C-Sections 2 years ago…scary small town hospital) And if her shock was bad, Aaron was stunned at my refusal to go RIGHT NOW.  However, I bought myself 2 hours. It was 1pm, the shower started at 2pm, I’d explain to my friend and I’d leave at 3. While preparing for the shower I made phone calls to my family informing them. My parents got in the car and began the 5 hour trek to my hospital and my sister just cried.  

The D&C when fine, I’m told Aaron paced and damn-near wore a rut in the waiting room floor. The 30+ doctors visits I’ve gone to since have all gone fine. I was amazingly calm and in control for about 6 weeks after the D&C after which I snapped and would cry for hours at a time for no reason. I was put on anti-depressants, not because I was suicidal, but at the time I taught Pre-K…hysterically crying teacher + 30 small children = well, you can imagine. I stayed on them until after the Christmas holidays, because I couldn’t hold my baby nephew without crying, and then went off them. I’ve been good, better since what would have been my due date passed. And I will be teaching first grade this year, which will be nice change.

The doctor said we can try again this October…I’ll be 29 this October, my husband will be 34 in December. I am SO ready to try again. I am SO scared to try again. If have another molar pregnancy there have been comments from the doctors about geneticists, or a hysterectomy. 

I rambled on and told you all that to ask this. What do I do with the fear? I’m not a woman who fears things, except spiders, I have a largely irrational fear of those 8-legged things…. Anyway, I’ve handled the grief, the guilt (though it wasn’t my fault) and I’ve watched ALL of my friends have babies, or get pregnant again, but I can’t seem to get a grip on the fear.

I really enjoy your blog and will continue to read it. Your boys are precious.

Thank you,
Tia

Oh Tia. It’s so cliche and trite-sounding but I really genuinely wish I could reach through the Internet and give you a hug. And then take you out for wine and fancy cheeses. Or cheese fries with bacon, if you’re in more of that kind of mood.

So listen. I think you need to talk to Someone. A therapist, a social worker, a counselor, a pastor, a support group, someone. I see a reference to anti-depressants, but nothing about TALKING to someone about your experience and feelings over the past year. Just like you don’t need to be “suicidal” for anti-depressants to be the right choice, you also don’t need to be actively depressed or having panic attacks or even completely consumed by the fear to justify talking to someone who understands and can help you more than an online advice columnist who has never been in your shoes and honestly, can’t even imagine what that must have been like for you. (The BABY SHOWER. Oh my GOD, you went to a BABY SHOWER.)

Fear is part of grief, fear is also just part of being a human being in an unpredictable, uncontrollable world. It’s understandable that your brain is going to the worst-case scenario (another molar pregnancy, geneticists, hysterectomy, the death of your dream of biological children). I mean, I think we all do that from time to time. The problem is when you get stuck here, like you are, unable to take action because of what MIGHT happen. I’ve done that with much, much lesser problems and decisions — allowed my thoughts to skip ahead to Possible Outcome #17, which was HORROR AND DOOM, and then sort of…froze and freaked out and found myself unable to make ANY decision because what if what if what if?

In the end, I’ve generally just taken a deep breath and acknowledged that yes, Possible Outcome #17 is there and in the realm of possibility. And then another deep breath and a mental pep talk that there are also at least another 16 different Possible Outcomes that are every bit as likely to happen. Perhaps even more so.

For you, yes, the possibility of another heartbreak is there, and some very tough decisions and diagnoses. But so is the possibility of a viable, healthy pregnancy that gives you your first baby of multiple babies, and will allow you to move forward and build the completed family of your dreams, while the memory of your first loss remains, but fades to a dull flat scar instead of a gaping, sucking chest wound.

I guess it’s that “leap! and the net will appear” line of thinking, and that’s probably where my advice would end if you were writing to say you were scared to try for a baby because of…oh, do we have enough in savings or our apartment is small or I’m still in school, etc. The kinds of fears that plague EVERY couple on the verge of trying to conceive. But…you’re special, frankly, because you’ve been through SO MUCH. I think it’s okay to acknowledge that you and your story and history and fear is special, and deserves some specialized care. So again: please find a therapist, a psychologist, a licensed social worker or counselor who specializes in grief/fear/anxiety, a pregnancy loss support group, someone. (Perhaps there’s even a super-specialized resource for adult adoptees who are working through issues with pregnancy and fertility without the benefit of a full family history? Commenters?) It’s not a sign of weakness or craziness or being unable to “get over it already” or WHATEVER.

I wish you the absolute best best best of luck and hope that everything works out perfectly for you.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


Subscribe to posts by Amalah

18 Responses to “The Ghost of Losses Past”

  1. Elizabeth Aug 01 at 2:02 pm Reply Reply

    An article that I read helped me think about a game plan to deal with proceeding after a loss. Not specific to molar, but has some good ideas about molar and really drives home the importance of having a good relationship with your OB:

    http://handtohold.org/resources/helpful-articles/pregnancy-after-preterm-birth-or-loss/

  2. Elizabeth Aug 01 at 2:16 pm Reply Reply

    I read an article that helped me think about getting pregnant after a loss: http://handtohold.org/resources/helpful-articles/pregnancy-after-preterm-birth-or-loss/. It really helps establish the importance or communicating and having a realationship with your OB. Good thoughts your way.

  3. Aimee Aug 01 at 3:19 pm Reply Reply

    This is a really beautiful column about miscarriage and grief and healing:

    http://therumpus.net/2010/07/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-44-how-you-get-unstuck/

  4. Allison Aug 01 at 4:18 pm Reply Reply

    Oh my. I can so relate to this fear. I had three early losses in 2010 and was terrified that loss was all there was for me. I’m now 38.5 weeks pregnant and looking forward to my beautiful baby–maybe next week! 

    I never sought help like Amalah suggests, but I certainly thought about it. One thing that helped me, though, was just making up my mind to not let the fear consumer me and think positive thoughts. Obviously, I couldn’t totally avoid the fearful thoughts, but when fear started creeping in I just stopped myself and forced myself to think, “STOP. Everything is fine and it WILL work out this time.” Oddly, it worked pretty well. 

    Positive thoughts won’t always stop the worst from happening, but they can help keep you from driving yourself crazy with worry–worry that really doesn’t do any good and could actually do you harm, in more ways than one.

    Wishing you all the best.

  5. JB Aug 01 at 4:32 pm Reply Reply

    Hi hon, I think these other ladies probably have better advice, but I just wanted to say I’m sending out some good thoughts for you, and you seem like such a sweet and thoughtful person (hosting a baby shower, and teacher of little ones). I think Amalah gives good advice. I have also been through hard times (though not this thing specifically) and you *do* start to think that “nothing good will ever happen to me again.” BUT, I am pleasantly surprised/flabbergasted (seriously) to say that that’s not the case! Yes, bad outcomes do exist, you are acutely aware of that, but good ones do too, and it’s ok for a good outcome to happen to you too :-) . (Ok now I sound like a lame motivational speaker, but I have found this to be true).

  6. Nerwal Aug 01 at 5:56 pm Reply Reply

    I struggled through infertility to get pregnant and along the way had two early miscarriages. The way I tried to think about it was like this: There’s two outcomes – healthy, live baby or not. Nothing I am doing will change this and unless I try again, I will never have the outcome I want. I’m so sorry for your loss, and although I didn’t talk to a therapist, I thought about it and I’m sure it would have been helpful. I can tell you that there’s nothing scarier than trying again, than being successful in getting pregnant again and that everything beyond that is scarier and scarier. But you deal with it and try to not let it stop you from living your life. And getting the life you want. 

  7. Megan Aug 01 at 6:05 pm Reply Reply

    I haven’t gone through what you have. My situation was different. But I can certainly relate to that loss of innocent joy and optimism that you have with the first pregnancy, before everything goes wrong. And once it does, that fear of having to go through it all again, or worse, is very hard to shake.

    But wow. You went ahead and hosted the baby shower. You held tough for six weeks after the D&C. You’ve made it through a year of recovery while teaching pre-K, waiting for the chance to try again. You sound like you’re used to putting on a brave face and being tough and self-sufficient, and you’ve done that here whether you realize it or not. I’d agree with Amy that you owe it to yourself to find someone to unload all of your thoughts and worries on and help you get ready to try again and get you through those weeks or months until you know you’re in the clear with a viable pregnancy.

     

  8. professormama Aug 01 at 8:40 pm Reply Reply

    I had a miscarriage 3 years after my first child, and went through the fear and disappointment.  During that time I had this realization: parenting is constantly about moving forward despite the fear and possible disappointments and heartbreak around every corner. I remember looking at my son and thinking how hard it would be to lose him, if he got sick, or in an accident- and the understanding that I will feel that way every day for the rest of my life, because there’s always the possibility that something awful and unexpected can happen. But, we can’t dwell on those things as parents or we would never let our children out of the house.  It may not feel this way now, but the loss you’ve experienced and working through it has/will prepare you for having a child (biological or not) and becoming a parent. I did get pregnant again, and while I was much less attached to my third pregnancy and found it hard to believe it was “real” until about 6 months in, I felt that it was ok to feel that way after a loss.  It’s so important to remember that you can have children and be a family even if it’s not a biological connection, it sounds like you have a good relationship to your (adoptive) parents and sister. I think Amy’s suggestion about talking to someone who can help you work through the complication of your feelings about adoption as it relates to having children could be really helpful.

  9. ER Aug 01 at 9:32 pm Reply Reply

    Tia, I am so, so sorry for what you have been through. I know how hard it is to lose a pregnancy and I also hard a very hard time afterwards. And as much as I wanted a baby, it took me a long time to mentally get to a place where we could try again. I do think if I had seeked help, that time would have come sooner, so I do agree with Amalah’s advice. But most of all, give yourself a break and take as much time as you need to heal and get to the place you need to be. The wounds run deep.

  10. Susannah Aug 02 at 9:24 am Reply Reply

    It sucks. There is no other way to put it really. It just really, really sucks. I’ve had seven miscarriages and the one thing I’ve learned is that you have to allow yourself to grieve in whatever form it’s going to take. Get angry. Wallow. Throw things. Eat brownies. Drink wine. Watch sappy movies for a week and don’t get out of bed. Just whatever it is… ALLOW yourself to feel it. You’ve done so much powering through and moving on and getting back to your life that I wonder if you have actually dealt with this and perhaps your fear is your heart reminding you that it is still hurting.

    Because until you have grieved the child you lost, until you have really allowed yourself to mourn that, you aren’t going to fully move on and be ready to try again. Having a D&C is such an emotional thing, it’s just really freaking hard to deal with and the fear of not knowing if you’ll go through that again can be paralyzing.

    But there is so much space between a miscarriage and a hysterectomy. Amy is absolutely right, I think that talking to someone about your fear is a great place to start. Good luck to you and I’m so so sorry for your loss.

  11. Ras Aug 02 at 11:26 am Reply Reply

    First, I am so sorry for your loss. Miscarriage is hard enough, and i understand that molar pregnancies are their own special kind of hell.

    I have had two losses (12-week miscarriage and a 6- week ectopic), and i will admit that one of the hardest things about the ectopic was the idea that this was happening again. It seemed like once was enough, you know? Then i learned that the ectopic had also removed my only functioning tube (or so they thought, more on that later) and that IVF was our only option.

    My way of dealing with it all was to become a full-on pessimist. We went forward with IVF, and I never stopped hoping for a happy outcome, but I purposely refused to let myself believe that our end result would be a real, live baby. It wasn’t until I heard my daughter cry for the first time that I really believed she would make it.

    For me, the pessimism was freeing — I no longer worried about the outcome. Perversly, expecting the worst (especially once i was pregnant) allowed me to enjoy each moment I did get. And oh, the unimaginable joy of that first cry, when i could finally believe she was here and real. I will never, ever be glad for my losses, but i can say with certainty that this child (now 2.5) is worth every single tear I ever shed.

  12. Snowth Aug 02 at 12:03 pm Reply Reply

    I can’t imagine how you feel. A molar pregnancy is very scary, but I thought I could give you some optimism.

    My mom had a molar pregnancy back in the 70s, and after the waiting period she had me! and then my brother!

    Not that this makes the what-ifs go away. Your fears are valid and well-founded. And you just can’t know the future.  Hang in there! I Can you connect with a support group on the internet? 

  13. B.L. Aug 02 at 1:40 pm Reply Reply

    I suffered a blighted ovum, full term loss of my daughter, and a miscarriage before I had my beautiful daughter four months ago. I went to a counselor for the grief and to help me talk through the anxiety I felt during the pregnancy and had amazing friends who helped me. One really important piece is to have an Ob/Gyn that is very supportive and knows what you have gone through and understands why you are nervous. I went to mine hysterical a few times and even went to the hospital in fear that something was wrong. She never made me feel bad about it and in fact told me to come as much as I needed to. She also set up extra sceenings and ultrasounds and talked me through her plan. I trusted her and knew she was doing everything in her power to bring my daughter to us safely. Good luck and know that there can be a happy ending even after the horrible tragedy you have gone through.

  14. Christine Aug 02 at 6:34 pm Reply Reply

    I had a miscarriage before having my son. It was unbelievably hard. I probably should have talked to a therapist, because the crying went on for SO long. I had a wonderful OB who understood my fears, so once pregnant with my son, any and all fears were never minimized or ridiculed by her or her staff. But the biggest thing I remember about trying again came after a coworker asked me if I was going to try again. I looked at her with a raised eyebrow like, “Why on earth not?” She told me her brother and his wife suffered an early miscarriage and decided they wouldn’t try again. (!!!) I was shocked by that. And I told her: “My longing for a child outweighs the fear of another loss.” Didn’t mean another wouldn’t be hard, but I just couldn’t imagine giving up. I was SO scared after that positiive pregnancy test, and didn’t even SLIGHTLY relax until the second trimester. Hell, the pregnancy didn’t even start to become “real” to me until about 18 weeks when I felt the first flutter. But we made it.

    Your fears are valid, and I know it’s hard. You just have to figure out what you need to work though them. Counseling, a good OB or midwife, and lots of support from close friends and relatives, especially your husband. Whatever you (or anyone else) can do to calm your nerves and ease any stress, do it.

    Best wishes.

  15. Sharon Aug 03 at 11:29 am Reply Reply

    Definitely talk to someone. There are therapists out there who specialize in preganancy after loss. And B.L. is spot-on about the OB. After a late loss I signed on with an ultra-high-risk OB practice for my next pregnancy and it made all the difference – the extra screening, the understanding of exactly WHAT I was afraid of, the unlimited scans and visits and tests – and somehow I made it through to hold my little miracle in my arms. Also, what Ras said rang true for me: breathe deep, hope for the best but expect the worst, and enjoy each moment that things are going right. Best of luck to you!!

  16. Christy Aug 03 at 1:05 pm Reply Reply

    I haven’t had to deal with miscarriages, but I did lose my second child (my first boy) at one week old. I had an older daughter (she’s four now) and now I have a younger son (now a year old). So I am definitely familiar with the fear involved in the subsequent pregnancy.

    The only advice I really have to add here is to say that you don’t actually have to do the whole pregnancy all at once. You only have to handle a day at a time. I remember having to consciously remind myself (especially in the early days) that I was X weeks and Y days pregnant, and that was great. Don’t worry about 20 weeks ahead; don’t worry about three days ahead…just take where you are and enjoy what there is to enjoy about it.

    It’s kinda like looking at a tiny baby and worrying about how you’re going to handle it when they want to borrow the car keys, you know? It’s just not something you have to deal with yet. So just take it all a day at a time.

    Hang in there…you will get through the fear and it will be more than worth it. I’m really really sorry for your loss.

  17. MR Aug 03 at 2:21 pm Reply Reply

    Tia, I am so sorry for your loss! I lost my first at 11.5 weeks. We had seen the heartbeat previously at 7 weeks, but I started spotting and went in to get checked and they couldn’t find the heartbeat, so I had a D&C. From the time they said they couldn’t find the heartbeat, I was completely numb. I barely remember the D&C or even the week afterwards. I know I zoned out and spent a lot of that time crying. But I do remember at some point I decided it had been a boy, and I named him. To me, that helped my grief. The loss never goes away, but you don’t have to let the fear consume you. Please talk to someone and vent your emotions. When you are stuck, you need to let the emotions out so you can move forward. When you get pregnant, you will worry. That’s normal. I was relieved when I got past 11.5 weeks, but then after she started moving I freaked the first time she took a day off to sleep and I hadn’t felt her. I just tried to think good thoughts and prayed. And she was fine. Then, on my third pregnancy I thought I was going to be all fine because I’d done this before. But at almost exactly 11.5 weeks, I started spotting and I freaked again. Luckily, it was just a low lying placenta, and she is now a beautiful 12 week old baby. But, I still look at my girls and think about my baby boy that I lost. He is always there in my mind. But I no longer remember the EXACT DAY we had the D&C or the day he was due. And that is ok too. Because I am focusing on the girls I was blessed with. And they keep me busy. :) Take it a day at a time. You will get there one way or another and you will be a fantastic mother. And one day, years from now, you will see an article along these lines and you will remember. You will think about the baby you lost, grieve for it for a minute, but most importantly you will remember that you survived, and say a prayer of thanks for the children you have now.

  18. Eris Aug 03 at 3:51 pm Reply Reply

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Please, please, please see someone. Talking to a third party is invaluable and will move the healing process forward in a healthy and productive way. Your fears are reactions are normal, you’re a tough wonderful woman, please give yourself permission to see a therapist or professional of some kind.

Follow us on Google+

Close