May 22, 2013

Breaking the Silence

I have to admit, I didn't think that I would be posting about this so soon, but I'm the kind of person that expresses myself best through writing.  It has always been very therapeutic to me.  I knew I didn't want to dive into this post until I was ready, but I feel ready now.  

I  found out I was pregnant with my oldest son, Kaden, just after my 18th birthday.  I had been on birth control for a year at that point, but I must have missed the class and/or doctors instructions that said antibiotics can nix the b.c. pill interworkings and what not.  Because I got strep throat.  Five weeks later, I found out I was pregnant.  

Needless to say, this was a shock.  And not a very good one.  I was a teenager.  I was in a very toxic and abusive relationship.  I was still in high school.  My dad kicked me out of the house.  When I told my then boyfriend I was pregnant, he took off for a week and I didn't hear from him.  While everyone else was getting ready for prom and filling out college applications, I was pricing strollers and scheduling ultrasounds.  I had to hide my pregnancy from nearly everyone.  I graduated high school early and very little people ever knew I was pregnant. 


Fast forward four-ish years later.  I was in a new and (I thought at the time . . .) better relationship.  I was dating a guy I had been friends with for years and years, but we had only been dating for about six months when I suddenly keeled over with the worst cramps I had ever had.  I was still on birth control, but had just switched between brands of pills and thought that perhaps I was having appendicitis or something.  So I was rushed to the doctor.  Imagine my surprise when the nurse looking me over came bouncing in the room, eyes glittering and told me in a German accent that I was pregnant.  Now, this may have been a "better" relationship, but this was not an optimal situation.

My then boyfriend had no job and no high school education.  I had just moved into a teeny apartment.  Our relationship was still new!  My boyfriend was stoked, but he was also younger than me and highly irrational (sorry, but it was true).  He was excited in a way that a guy who has nothing really going for him decides to randomly get a puppy without thought that you have to train it and walk it and feed it and get it shots and check ups.  Turns out, the pain I was having was due to a cyst on my uterus.  I was nine weeks pregnant with my younger son, Conner, and had no idea. 

We were together for three more years.  Kaden's dad had been long out of the picture for years at this point.  Because Kaden was only three when my boyfriend (Conner's dad) and I got together, Kaden assumed him to be his father.  This issue was never corrected by anyone.  We were a seemingly happy little family, but it was by no means perfect or without issues.


Conner was only a year and a half-ish old when I found out I was pregnant with Brielle, my daughter.  One day it dawned on me that I hadn't had my period for a while.  I told my boyfriend.  We bought a test.  As soon as I took the test, the little plus sign started to show up.  I heard my boyfriend holler from the other room "are we fucked?"  As I stared at the little pee stick, I confirmed.  "Sure are," I replied.

Honestly, I was completely lost when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter.  I was working full time, almost graduated from college . . . and yet my boyfriend still had no employment.  And wasn't working toward any education.  Things with us were pretty rocky.  This was not good.  Three kids with two men and never married?  What would everyone think?  How was I going to support a family of five with a part time electronic retail job?  What about college?  Would I be able to finish?

Again, for the third time, I was in a place where my pregnancy was unplanned.  Every time I told someone I was pregnant, I could feel the shame, the judgment, the "irresponsible breeder" looks.  I wasn't using any governmental assistance other than help with health insurance for the kids while I was in school and working.  We weren't by any means "comfortable", but we had a decent duplex, cars that ran, food on the table and clothes on the kids' backs. 


There is no doubt I love my kids with everything in me.  Even though the situations were not ideal, I still squealed with every kick, every birth, every ultrasound, every new development.  But I hated that I had to do it kind of in the closet.  I felt that I couldn't relish in my pregnancies because they were "irresponsibly created".

Obviously, that relationship with Conner and Brielle's dad ended, as did the relationship with that guy and Kaden (more on this at another time).  Patrick and I had also been friends for a long, long time--since high school in fact.  We were together for two years before we got married and everyday since the day we went on our first date has been more than I ever imagined it would.  Patrick is no doubt the love of my life.  We laugh together and we are here for each other in every single way.  He is responsible, kind, thoughtful and smart.  


I had been very clear and up front with him from the get go about my feelings on having more kids.  I didn't think it was fair for me not to be.  I knew that Patrick wanted kids and I would never want to deprive him of that.  But, for me, I had three kids.  I had my boys and I had my little girl.  My kids were old enough now to take care of themselves, for the most part (I'm talking pour their own cereal and get themselves dressed here, not like fix themselves dinner and do their own laundry).  They were out of diapers, they slept through the night and this fall they will be out of daycare finally.  I just couldn't see myself getting pregnant, losing the weight, jeopardizing my career and shelling out for future expenses like diapers and day care.  He understood and he was ok with this.  We did talk about it a lot, but as a discussion, not as a fight or persuasion thing.


When Patrick was deployed in the winter, I had never felt so lonely.  I actually longed for him--something I had never felt before.  I realized in his absence how much I really loved him, respected him and how much he brought to my everyday life.  When he returned, I told him that I was willing to talk about the baby situation again.

I had gotten an IUD after I had Brielle.  In February, I got it removed and went completely off of birth control.  I figured that with being fertile Mertyl, it wouldn't be long before we got pregnant.  We weren't trying per se, but we weren't preventing either.  We were just going to see where this took us.  But we didn't plan for what we got . . .


My body started acting really weird a couple of weeks ago.  I'm not going to go into details, but I can tell you that it wasn't something I had ever experienced.  I himmed and hawed for days about whether or not to take a pregnancy test since technically I hadn't really missed a period.  Last Tuesday of last week, I ended up taking one.  And then another.  And then another.  All three positive.  

I was grinning from ear to ear on Cloud Nine all day long.  It was so hard to keep the information to myself all day, but I wanted to tell Patrick in a really fun way, since I had never gotten to do that before.  I got home from work that day to find that Patrick was already home--something that never happens!  I walked in and the dishes were done, the laundry was done and everything was clean as a whistle!  I couldn't believe it!  It was fate, I thought.  

It was also hot.  Very hot.  So Patrick asked me if I would go with him to Wal-Mart to pick up a few box fans.  We left Kaden in charge (he is of baby-sitting age for small amounts of time).  Although the Wal-Mart parking lot was not the ideal setting to tell Patrick that I was pregnant, I had bought and wrote in the perfect card to give to him.  The kids weren't going to be around and I am HORRIBLE about keeping secrets/surprises (seriously I usually let the kids open half their Christmas presents before Christmas because I just can't take the waiting), so I thought this was the perfect imperfect time to tell him.

He was so happy.  Something I had never experienced before.  That whole night, we started talking baby talk.  All kinds of plans we had and the different ways we were going to tell our family.  He would gently touch my stomach and kiss it.  I had ordered big brother and big sister tee shirts on Amazon for a fun way to tell the kids.  We went to bed so excited.  Not to mention, my sister had just told me she was pregnant--we were going to be pregnant together!  I dreamed of our babies growing up best friends with annoying matching outfits, like my grandmother used to make for us.  Not to mention, if the due date calculator was correct, I would be due on my birthday!  How awesome would that be???


Well in the meantime, I had also called my lady doctor.  I talked to the nurse and told her about the "off" things that I had been experiencing.  She instructed me not to worry, that this was normal.  She said the only time to worry really is if I have any severe cramping or bleeding.  But what I was going through was enough cause for me to go get bloodwork done to check the hcg levels.

When the doctor called me to tell me the results of my bloodwork on Wednesday, he sounded a little concerned.  He said that the levels were pretty low which meant that either I was really early in the pregnancy . . . or I was likely to miscarry.  I would have to wait 48 hours before testing again.  In theory, the numbers would double.  If not, it meant trouble.  He said there was a 50/50 shot of either.


I was so distraught.  I could not believe it!  Here I finally had a pregnancy I could celebrate and now I didn't know if I would be pregnant or . . . not.  I scoured the internet for days, finding every pregnancy website or forum--searching for others who had my same symptoms.  I found a lot.  Half of them with good news and half with bad news.  All I could do was wait. 


My mind started spiraling.  I was angry.  Why is this happening to me?  Why is this happening to Patrick?  I was confused.  I have had three perfectly normal (albeit different) and healthy pregnancies--this has to be fine, it just has to!  Every time I had found out I was pregnant, I took all the proper precautions--I never missed an appointment, I had quit smoking and drinking (which I rarely do anyway), I took prenatal vitamins like clockwork, I didn't have a drop of caffeine.  I was guilt ridden.  Was this because I went vegetarian?   Was this some kind of karma for not being excited with my other kids?  Was it because I was drinking caffeine?  Was it because I picked up the water cooler instead of asking one of the guys to do it?  I was sad.  What about all the plans we made?  What about the card I gave to Patrick?  I should have never taken those tests!  I should've just waited, I thought to myself.  But mostly, I was worried.  Worried for something I didn't know I really actually wanted until it was staring right back at me.  Worried for something I didn't even know existed last week.  I felt betrayed by my body.  I was irrationally spastic in every sense of the word.  I couldn't concentrate on anything.  I became an internet certified professional on miscarriage statistics, signs and variations.


I was trying to be positive, but it was hard.  I had never experienced what I was experiencing and I just knew deep down--something was not right.  

When I first went in to get my bloodwork done, I was greeted by a chipper nurse.  She congratulated me.  She asked about the ages of my other children and told me that was a great age span.  She asked about my due date and had that giggly older woman looking back at her pregnancies way about her.  The second time, there was nothing.  No small talk.  Very matter of fact.  It felt awful.

The doctor was to call me back with the results last Friday.  I waited anxiously for his call.  Every time my phone would vibrate, my heart skipped a beat.  I had no idea what I was in for.  Then I got the call.

I have never been a big Katy Perry fan (well, of her music, I still think she is beautiful with excellent taste in style) and I realize this song is about her divorce, but I heard it shortly after I got the news and it totally spoke to me.

The numbers were going down.  The pregnancy was determined non-viable.  I was devastated.  I called Patrick.  It was an emotional call.


My initial thought process was to continue working through the day.  I needed the distraction, I thought.  But shortly after the call, there was an issue with a phone line at work.  I was on the phone with tech support and by the end of the call, for an unknown reason, I was bawling.  The tears didn't stop pouring out and I was trying my best to hold together what little bit of sanity I had left.  It was then I realized I had to leave.  And I did for the rest of the day.  Originally, I thought I would try my tried and true stress reliever technique--thrifting.  But when I pulled up to the thrift store, they had a bunch of strollers and car seats out front.  I tried to look past it, went inside to try some things on, but my body was disgusting me.  I got home and logged onto my computer, just trying to relax.  Suddenly everyone on my Facebook was pregnant or just had a baby.  Same with all the blogs I typically read.  I logged off in about 5 minutes after logging on.  And I went to sleep.  For several hours. 

This last weekend, I had already previously promised my sister (months prior actually) that I would watch my nieces.  My younger kids were with me this weekend too and our schedule was filled to the brim with birthday parties, Farmer's Market, running errands, playing in the water, tickle wars, horseback riding and making arts and crafts.  It was exactly what I needed.  I was too busy to think about what was going on.  And when I did think about it, I was able to look over at my nieces and my kids and be so grateful and feel so blessed at what I did have.  

As hard as it is/was and as hard as it is/was to accept, I know that it was just what was meant to be.  The pregnancy was just not strong enough.  And that is nobody's fault.  And it sucked.  Really bad.  And it still does.  We're still healing.  I don't know that I will ever really be "over it".  I don't know what is "normal" in this situation and what isn't (something pretty void in my miscarriage research in the days prior).  

It's amazing.  Patrick and I only knew we were pregnant for one day.  And in that one day, I learned how amazing it is to have a supportive partner, to actually be ready for a baby, to be excited and know everyone else will be excited about my pregnancy.  And in that one day, I learned just how much I knew what I wanted.  We were very fortunate in that we learned about the miscarriage very early and that we had signs that things may not be right prior to finding out that the pregnancy was not going to survive.  I cannot imagine enduring it any other way and I am so very sympathetic to any and every woman (and her partner, if applicable) who has ever gone through this--no matter the situation, how many healthy babies you have, how far along you were, how excited you were, how many people you told or any other circumstance.  Going through this has given me a whole new perspective on just how lucky and blessed I was to have three pregnancies that were free from any complications, how fragile life really is and how no one is immune from any statistic.  I felt so ridiculous about ever feeling ashamed of my prior pregnancies instead of enjoying and sharing the excitement about the LIFE that was growing inside of me. 


And in the mourning afterwards, I learned I still had an amazingly supportive husband.  And an amazingly supportive family.  And that even though this pregnancy is not going to end in a happy way, that it will be possible in the future for me to be able to have a pregnancy that I can announce in a fun way.  That I will have a partner who is supportive--financially, physically and emotionally.  That I will be able to actually express my happiness and not give a good god damn about anyone who says or thinks otherwise. 

It didn't take this happening to know that I had all of that, but it certainly solidified it.  And even though I was still a bit nervous about the stigma that goes with my situation, I know I don't need to be.  Because when it is all said and done, I have amazing kids--no matter how or when or why they were conceived.  And I have an amazing husband who is not only adopting my oldest son, but also loves my younger kids like they were his own.  And I know that we will be just great.  And one day, perhaps, we will be able to make the big announcement.  And when/if that day comes, you better believe I will not bat an eye at anyone who wants to judge or speak ill of me or my family.   

Thanks everyone for your kind words, your patience and your sweet emails.  I really have appreciated it.  I write this post not for sympathy or for attention, but hopefully to help someone else who has been through something similar, to offer my support and share my story.  And, if you do comment, please be sensitive.  I am feeling a lot better, but this is also still very new and tender. 


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