Emotional Break Required
[I’m taking a few weeks off of video making to spare you my grouchy frowny face. Here’s why. There’s nothing to do with food here, and there’s a lot to do with lady-things and emotions so skip this post if you’re not up for all that. This is very personal information that I am finally ready to share and hopefully it will help someone else by knowing you are not alone in feeling sad or lost and here’s to us finding our way soon.]
In November of 2012 I found out I was pregnant. Chris and I had been “not-not-trying” for only a couple of months and I felt really fortunate that it had happened so quickly. In December I went in for the ultrasound and we found out there was no heartbeat, no fetus. I was over 12 weeks along at that point and would need dilation and curettage which is also the fancy name they use for abortion. My insurance through Chris’s job wouldn’t kick in until January 1st, but that’s not really what I want this story to be about, although it’s a great starting point for a completely different article.
At any rate, we scheduled the surgery that day, I showed up at the hospital a couple days later. I remember my doctor coming in and me asking him one last time if this was really necessary. I’d never had surgery of any kind before and was feeling remorse for having made the appointment. He nodded, his eyebrows scrunched together in that gentle way that shows both pity and regret. I remember the anesthesiologist and the “count-to-10” part and then I woke up a few hours later — I guess, I really don’t know how long it was — wearing hospital-issue disposable underwear and one of those industrial-sized maxi pads, the kind you can only find in hospitals and sometimes in public bathroom dispensers for a quarter or fifty cents each.
Two days after the D&C we were scheduled to drive to New Orleans for one of my best friend’s wedding. We went, but decided not to tell anyone about my surgery except our friends with whom we drove since it was likely I’d be having physical distress the whole way. I did, but fortunately no blood or poop was let to roam anywhere except three or four gas station bathrooms.
Going to New Orleans two days after a miscarriage and D&C to celebrate a friend’s happy time is probably one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. Not that I didn’t want to be there and stand in the wedding as a bridesmaid, of course I did, but trying to hang out and party and drink like a person wants to do when a person is in New Orleans isn’t good for the psyche when what you really should be doing is feeling pitiful, at home, in bed, with Kleenex and hot pads and pain killers and Xanax and maybe some egg nog because it is the goddamn Christmas season, after all.
When we got back home on December 23 neither of us felt like doing anything for Christmas so we didn’t. I mean, I’m sure we ate something and watched a movie, but really I don’t remember what. It was an unremarkable Christmas, but at least the shittiest-day-ever was behind us. However, when I went in early January for a follow-up, things somehow, magically, got even worse. My usually cheerful OB/GYN sat us down and stared at me real serious-like. “This was not a normal miscarriage,” he said. “Fucking hell,” I thought. I waited for him to tell me I had cancer, or that he had to take my uterus out and replace it with a piece of cheese. But instead he said something I’d never even heard of.
“This was a molar pregnancy.”
“What is that?”
“It’s very rare. Yours was a surprise because on the ultrasound, a molar pregnancy looks like a bunch of grapes where the fetus should be and your ultrasound looked normal.”
(Except of course that there was no baby there. Haha.)
“The tissue analysis showed the abnormal cell development that marks a molar pregnancy. What it means is that the placenta might continue to grow and could become a tumor. We will have to check your blood every week until your hormones go back to normal, non-pregnant-lady levels and then monthly for 6-12 months after that. I also want to send you for a chest x-ray because this particular type of cancer, if it does form, has a tendency to metastasize to the lungs.”
“There’s nothing you could have done to prevent this.”
“No one knows why it happens.”
“It’s not hereditary and it doesn’t affect your chances of getting pregnant again.”
None of these things really made me feel better. And bless his heart, Doc could tell. I thought he was going to start crying before I did. I didn’t cry in the doctor’s office, either time. Of course, my eyes watered, but at the ultrasound appointment I told myself that this was not a surprise and that lots of people miscarry around 3 months and that I kind of expected it anyway and what’s the big deal. At this second appointment, though, I was just shocked. And I still didn’t really understand what a molar pregnancy was except that it might give me cancer. And this time I just felt so, so sorry for myself. And pissed off. Which is exactly how anyone in my place or a similar place would feel, I imagine. Rarity is not cherished when it comes to disease.
I considered joining an online support group for women who’ve had molar pregnancies, but I lurked around a few and decided that it would either make me more scared or more pissed off and that would not do. I called my doctor and got a prescription for Xanax to help me sleep. I tried taking it during the day and just felt blank, but at night it was exactly what I needed. I un-followed people on Instagram who posted too many baby pictures. I started drinking more and giving less of a fuck about exercising or eating well. I’ve just now begun to realize how self-destructive I became in 2013. I threw myself at work and ignored bad feelings. I never properly mourned for whatever it was I should have been mourning — my health, a non-existent baby, my feeling of being “a woman capable of procreating”, my future motherhood.
My paternal grandmother was still alive (she passed away in February 2013 which is another story for another day, and another example of 2013 being a shitstorm) and I talked to her. She had four miscarriages and four children. I also talked to friends who’d had miscarriages and children. Eventually I stopped pointing out to well-meaning ears that a molar pregnancy is different than a regular miscarriage and nodded my head along with their affirmations that someday I, too, would have a baby and then the miscarriage wouldn’t matter. But it did matter, it mattered a lot right then, to me, the lady with no baby and maybe cancer instead. My friend Laurel told me the truest thing I think I heard during that time: The minute you become pregnant, you become a mother. That might sound extreme to someone who’s never had a miscarriage, but I think it explains a lot of the emotion you feel after one.
What did make me feel better was every time I got my blood checked, my hormone levels were lower. My body was getting back to normal. My chest x-ray was clear. Eventually, I was allowed to come in monthly and as of November 2013, my doctor said I was in the clear to start “trying” again in January. I put that word in quotes because I kind of hate it used in this context, but I also don’t know what other word to use so I use it, too. Blerg.
So here we are now, almost January 2014. I’ve been given the go-ahead. We are kind of going ahead. Gah, but there is something so sad in me. This Christmas was somehow more depressing than last year and I’m wondering if it’s only because of the year-anniversary of all the shit, or what. I don’t know. This feels like the saddest I’ve ever been and it makes no sense. I’m not a cry baby but I’m not really the type to bottle everything up inside, either. I feel unmotivated and angry at everything and nothing. I feel uncreative and boring and like drinking all day long and smoking a bunch of flavored cigarillos and a few doobies. Maybe I should see a therapist.