One of the hardest thing about telling people our story has been having to explain the actual process of a miscarriage. Asides from our final outcome of losing the baby, our four experiences have been extremely unique and nothing has been the same between each one. What I’ve learned is like many things in life, unless you’ve been through it you have no idea how a miscarriage actually physically occurs. Almost everyone we’ve encountered simply assumes that when you miscarry you find out once the baby is dead, often because you start bleeding and then you go through the miscarriage right away. This happened to us the first time, but not the next three times. For us, the actual miscarriage process is anything but quick.
Typically we start by finding out that the baby will die through an ultrasound and then we wait for the inevitable death. Medically, certain criteria must be met before they will declare a fetal demise (a nice word for dead baby), and this can take time. It seems that this is quite a sensitive topic due to the ethics surrounding end of pregnancy choices, and the doctors have very strict guidelines. Sometimes the wait is only a few days, but in our case, it takes a few weeks or more.
With the second miscarriage, and our first time this happened, we held onto to the hope. There was a weakening fetal heart rate, so we thought maybe there would be a miracle and the fetal heart rate would return to normal. One doctor said he’s saw this happen once in his career – maybe we’ll be the second time it happens? Or maybe, they just got it wrong on the first ultrasound, and everything would be fine on the next one. It turned out, with each subsequent ultrasound, the heart rate continued to drop until the inevitable death. Then, it still took weeks to force the miscarriage through medication, and we ended up having an emergency D&C.
With the third miscarriage, the wait was excruciating. It took weeks. Our baby simply wouldn’t die. This lead to the scariest/saddest hope I’ve ever had – hope that my baby dies quickly. First and foremost this hope is based on not wanting my baby to suffer. Secondly, and 100% selfishly, this hope is because I know the emotional hell I go through waiting for it to die. One second I am hoping that everything will miraculously be okay, then the next second I’m hoping for a quick death for our baby. I think I will always feel terribly guilty for thinking this way – how can I ever hope my baby will die quickly? It just isn’t right, but I guess nothing about this situation is.
By the time we were going through our fourth miscarriage, the thing I was most grateful for was that there was not a fetal heart rate when we found out. We truly didn’t expect this, as this baby had a healthy fetal heart rate from the very beginning (the first time we ever got to see a healthy fetal heart rate flicker on an ultrasound) and we had absolutely no negative symptoms. But it is what it is and we cannot change it. So, my first thought was, at least there is no hope this time and we can start the physical miscarriage process right away. We were wrong…even without a fetal heart rate they made us wait another 5 days to confirm that it was in fact a fetal demise. And now, nearly 4 weeks later, we are still working through the physical miscarriage and it is yet to be declared a complete miscarriage.
Knowing as a mother, that the baby that you are growing inside you will slowly die, has nearly killed me. It has nearly killed me each time, and it doesn’t get easier the more times you go through it. Nothing in life teaches you how to be prepared for this and how to handle this.
As hard as it is to believe, the one thing I’ve learned through losing four babies is that somehow you do get through it. Somehow you survive. Somehow there is a tomorrow. Somehow you contemplate trying again. Somehow you find hope again.
I quit my job today. Or at least I tried to.
Apparently, as someone who has never failed at anything until recurrent pregnancy loss (except that pop quiz in grade 5), I can now add quitting my job to my growing list of failures! This list currently includes: having a successful pregnancy and having a simple miscarriage (who knew, when I grew up, I’d dream to have a simple miscarriage?!) and now resigning. But, seriously, who fails at quitting there job?! It seems like a rather easy thing to do – all you have to say is something like “I quit”, or “I am no longer going to work for you”, or “I resign”.
So, in my mind I’ve been a pretty horrible employee – a couple times a year I stop coming into the office regularly, as we work our way through a miscarriage. Also, to help with reducing stress, as soon as we find out we are pregnant, I refuse out of town travel and am quietly reducing the number of 14 hour days that I work. In my mind this makes me an unreliable employee. In fact, with miscarriage number 4, I have refused to do any work, and actually passed my projects off to other staff – I have NEVER done this. I have actually never before in my life said I cannot do something (usually I’d take a negative situation as a challenge to overcome regardless of the personal costs). So, this was a significant first, some would even say it was a personal accomplishment. I had actually said no!
All that said, apparently, my company doesn’t agree. I met with my supervisor today, and explained to her that my husband and I feel that I need to take time away from work. Medically it’s been recommended, and quite frankly, if we look back at our lives in 20 years we need to be able to say we tried everything to have a healthy child. So, here I am, doing the “I love by job, but” speech, trying to respectfully resign. Apparently, I’m just too valuable to loose. As my husband says, I should take this as a compliment. While I do, I also cannot help but think, of course I’m too valuable to lose – I work 70+ hours a week (but only get paid 40 – I’m like a professional slave!); I never complain (at least not to them); I bring in billable work (which is pretty important to a successful consulting firm); I have a positive attitude; I organize my companies charitable work with a local homeless shelter (in my spare time of course); I volunteer on multiple professional boards (again, in my remaining spare time). I’m not just a valuable employee, I’m a freaking awesome employee!! Now, if only my personal sanity didn’t matter.
So, even with missing so much work, but being such an amazing employee they want me back, and when I’m ready to return to work they want first right of refusal on me. I should point out, although this comment was meant respectfully, somehow it made me feel like a tradable commodity, not a human being (maybe this is what professional athletes feel like – except, presumably they get paid enough to make that feeling worthwhile?).
Anyways, so, where do we go from here? Apparently, I go on an extended, undefined leave of absence!! The part they don’t seem to get is that I don’t love my job (I’ve obviously done a good job of hiding this tiny fact from them). So whenever I do choose to go back to industry, it likely won’t be in the same type of position! But, I would rather leave on good terms, and it is kinda nice to know I have a job to return to if I need it. So, here I sit, trying to tell myself that this is actually a good thing.