Dealing with a Loss
Boy, I really debated posting this one. I don’t generally post personal items here but this time it seemed warranted. Journalists regularly use their own life in their stories, in my search for similar stories which came up mostly empty, I thought this might help others.
The last few weeks I haven’t felt like blogging. First we were on vacation in Hawaii and learned of my wife’s Uncle’s sudden death in the middle of the trip. It was tough, especially since my wife’s hormones were making her a bit emotional. But the majority of the trip was enjoyable. My wife had just been beaming since we learned she was pregnant. We returned a bit on the tired side and looked forward to the ultrasound of our unborn child a few days later.
You see, my wife and I have been trying to have a second child for over two years. We finally met with a Reproductive Specialist and determined we have a few challenges on both sides. The prognosis wasn’t good- about a 30% chance of success. Then the other shoe dropped- we had about a year left if it’s going to happen (my wife has a high FSH level which means she has fewer eggs left). So you can imagine our surprise when she goes in for a trial run for IVF and learns she’s pregnant- without IVF :). For our close friends who have known what we’ve been going through, they immediately knew Nickie was pregnant from the little things. The cat was out of the bag early.
Flash forward – we’re now at about two months and counting… we had an early sonogram about a week ago. We saw the baby and the heartbeat. I was ecstatic- seeing/hearing the heartbeat is considered a major milestone in viability of the fetus. Then the Dr. said she didn’t like the size or heart rate. It didn’t match my wife’s projections (she’s become a master at ovulation charting/temperature readings). I was skeptical, the Dr. said the results were inconclusive. She asked us to come back a week later.
I was optimistic and propping my wife up all week. “Everything is going to be ok, there’s a heartbeat,” I told her. Last Thursday, May 4th, we went in as a family for the second ultrasound.
It wasn’t ok. The Dr. spoke in low tones. The heartbeat was gone. I’ll never forget the ultrasound image on the screen. She used the terms, “Crumpled” and “no heartbeat”. She was empathic but clinical. She appreciated my wife’s knowledge level and knew she didn’t need to tell her, but we needed to hear it. The baby didn’t make it.
What they don’t tell you until in this situation is that you basically have two choices- natural miscarriage, or a D&C – Dilation & Curettage which is done under general anesthesia in a kind of “twilight”. My wife was so strong, mainly for our nearly 3 year old son who was sitting with us. I took him outside and watched as he played, unaware of what was going on. My wife scheduled the D&C for the next day.
Last Friday, I took my wife into outpatient surgery for the D&C. We both had moments of sadness Thursday night, but this event made the end of the pregnancy real, a forcing function. It was surgery under anesthesia – a short procedure, about 30 minutes, my wife cried in spurts and I held her in the examination room. After about 45 minutes of interviews, paperwork and waiting, my wife was taken into surgery and I was given a flyer explaining to a husband/significant other what to expect- which was helpful.
Outside, I listened to music on my player and said goodbye in my own way. The sun was out and I couldn’t stand to sit in the waiting room. I sat on a bench, watched the clouds, fighting back the tears. The Dr. came out after 45 minutes and said everything went fine. I took my groggy wife home, and held her. We’ve been here before- my wife had a miscarriage before becoming pregnant with our son, but this was different now. So much additional effort (and lost time) to consider. My natural instinct was to wall up and compartmentalize – the typical “Men are from Mars” response. I did some research and learned that these kinds of situations can cause couples to become distant, or bring them together depending upon how you handle it. The most important thing is that we’ve been talking about what happened, how we feel, and have been there for each other as moments come and pass. We’ve lost time, but we’ve also prolonged the number of attempts we can afford before dipping into savings (Microsoft has an amazing healthcare program that covers IVF up to a limit). We’ll try again, and likely go the IVF route. Call it a “Schedule adjustment”.
We’re so thankful that we have our son who brings so much joy to our life and realize how lucky we are compared to families in much worse situations. We recognize other options exist if this doesn’t work out, and raising our son without a sibling is an option as well. If nothing else, my wife and I have become closer as a result of this experience because of our willingness to discuss it with each other.
To all of our friends and family, thank you for your well wishes, the cards, prayers, flowers, dinners, and more. It’s true that time heals all wounds, and we’re already doing better. After all, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” 🙂
Update: Thanks to everyone for their emails, IMs, and comments. We’re doing MUCH better, and ready to try again. It’s amazing how common this type of experience is and hearing others share their stories definitely helped my wife and I. Thanks again.