October 7, 2014
Honestly, this year I really wanted to sit around and watch horror movies and ignore October as the Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month (day?). But the movement seems to have grown. Or I’ve just managed to find more members of my tribe. And so it’s become even harder to ignore.
But there’s this familiar feeling of not belonging that comes with October and miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss awareness. I know people consider ectopic pregnancy as part of this remembrance – even if it’s not specifically listed – but I still feel different. I’ve never had a miscarriage so I can’t truly compare the two experiences. But those who have experienced both tell me that their ectopic experience was, in fact, different.
I recently had to talk a friend through an ectopic scare. Her situation pretty much screamed ectopic but turned out to be a miscarriage. Her second. But the days and weeks she spent not knowing whether the life inside her was trying to kill her…it seemed to change her. She experienced a much more complex spectrum of emotions. Which makes me feel a bit vindicated in thinking that they are, in fact, different experiences. I won’t try to argue that one is worse than the other – a loss is a loss is a loss – but I will argue that the complexity of emotions that come with an ectopic pregnancy are inherently different. And, well…more complex.
In addition to feeling like more people are sharing their stories this year, I also feel like they are sharing more blog posts and articles about the topic. Some of them are How To Support Your Friend Through A Miscarriage/Stillbrith/Infant Loss. Most of them talk about how important it is to name your lost ‘children.’
Yes, I put ‘children’ in quotes. That’s my way of distancing myself from my losses because they were so early. I did not lose children. I lost embryos/fetuses. It’s a distinction that I make because it helps me. What you do for your own situation is fine with me. But this post is (mostly) about my losses and in general I’m writing about early miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, not stillbirth or infant loss. So, no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people naming their lost ‘children.’ Regardless of how early the loss was.
But I won’t – I can’t – name mine.
First, I have no idea what gender my three were. Sure I could assign gender neutral names or just pick arbitrarily. But I prefer not to.
Second, not only do I have no idea of gender I also never met my little ones. I never saw a heartbeat. I never saw a blob on an ultrasound that looked like an alien. OK, so there was a blurry blob of some kind with my second ectopic but it didn’t look like anything and the docs could barely tell it was there. The docs only thought it was my pregnancy because they didn’t see it elsewhere. Ectopics don’t typically show that well on imaging. My little ones never had proper room to grow. They didn’t develop normally. There was nothing to see even if the ultrasound could find them. It’s doubtful that any of them developed a heart to beat.
Third, despite never being technically alive (by definition of a heart beating), THEY STILL TRIED TO KILL ME.
And now we arrive at the crux of the complexity. This life, that may or not be actual life as defined by heartbeat, but most certainly is a blob of cells that are dividing and growing, became a danger to my own. This life, this life inside me that I desperately wanted, would have killed me without medical intervention.
And just for shits and giggles, let’s pare this down to just my first ectopic pregnancy. The one where I had to REPEATEDLY try to kill the two…life forces(?) growing inside me that did not want to go quietly. Five months. I battled them for 5 months. Every single shot of methotrexate I received felt like an abortion. Like I was killing them all over again (and I basically was). But they didn’t want to die. I loved them. But had to repeatedly kill them. Even if you weren’t the horror movie buff that I am I think you can easily see the comparison. If not, let me just spell it out for you:
You repeatedly shoot your kid-turned-zombie until you finally realize that a head shot is what it takes. Or maybe you’re just a really bad shot. Or too grief stricken to aim properly. Except you don’t actually have any memories of your kid from before she was a zombie. THAT.
So, no, I don’t want to name them.
I respect your decision if you choose to. But I just…can’t.
It’s so much easier to kill someone or something when they don’t have a name.
So while it absolutely is a loss…it is also something else. And that…something else is simply not capturer on October 15th. At least, not for me.
September 30, 2014
My feathers are ruffled. Earlier today, I read this: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/womens-health/hidden-dangers-miscarriages-scar-would-be-moms-n212646
I came across it on Facebook after Resolve posted it and several friends shared it. I applaud the message. I think it’s important for people to understand that pregnancy can be dangerous. It’s one of my core beliefs in being Pro-Choice that women should not be forced to continue any pregnancy because pregnancy can be dangerous and traumatic.
But it does a disservice to awareness to convey incorrect medical information. How can we expect people to understand and believe these dangers are real when the ‘experts’ can’t properly define them?
A woman characterized as a “professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University and a maternal-fetal specialist” was quoted as saying “Most typically, in an ectopic pregnancy (when the egg is fertilized in the fallopian tubes), the fetus can’t can’t grow before bursting.”
Sigh. Where to begin?
Perhaps with a lesson in normal pregnancy. Let’s go back to the birds and the bees, shall we?
In a normal pregnancy the ovary releases an egg into the fallopian tube. Sperm must find that egg IN THE TUBE within about 24 hours in order to fertilize it. It then takes 5-7 days for the fertilized egg (often referred to as an embryo at this stage) to travel down the tube and arrive in the uterus. If all goes well, the embryo will ‘hatch’ and implant itself in the uterine lining inside the uterine cavity and grow for approximately 9 months.
So. As you can see…fertilization of the egg is SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN IN THE TUBE. That is not abnormal or ectopic. By this ‘expert’ definition all normal pregnancies are ectopic.
I can only hope NBC misquoted her.
So what *is* an ectopic pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo (regardless of where it was fertilized – fallopian tube or petri dish for IVF) implants somewhere other than the uterine lining inside the uterine cavity. Most commonly the location is the fallopian tube but it can occur in other locations – including the uterus. Some ectopic pregnancies occur in or on the cervix or in the uterus but too close to the fallopian tube (interstitial or cornual – the 2nd most common type of ectopic pregnancy). Or, in my case, inside the uterine wall (intramural). Which is why I always teach that ectopic pregnancies occur in a location other than in the lining inside the uterine cavity. They can also occur in or on the ovary or in the abdomen, completely outside the reproductive system.
Point being this: ectopic pregnancy has nothing to do with where the egg was fertilized. It is about where the resulting embryo implants (which is also why I have an issue with saying a doctor implants an embryo via IVF but that’s another issue).
I have seen doctors and lay people alike use the words tubal and ectopic interchangeably because tubal ectopics are the most common type of ectopic pregnancy. Being most common does not mean the same. Here’s a handy Venn diagram in case you’re confused.
Note: While I tried to make these representative of real life proportions, I did not measure them to scale. Nor do they represent an exhaustive list of types of pregnancies. They serve the specific purpose of this post.
If you find anything incorrect here please correct me. My goal is to be accurate without being overly technical. As such, some details have been purposefully sacrificed. If you take issue with that, just let me know and I’ll find a way to be more inclusive of all information.
September 22, 2014
So there I was filling out that adoption agency application when…
Out of nowhere we get derailed and follow the white rabbit down the independent adoption hole. Apparently we took the blue pill when we should have taken the red because now we’ve popped back out of the matrix and are facing reality once again.
[Holy mixed metaphor, Batman!]
Only I haven’t done ONE DAMN THING to finish that application.
Me = deer in headlights.
We had made our decision. It was not arrived at lightly. But this whole rabbit hole experience has made me question that decision. Along with some new info from the agency we chose. Apparently it is NOT as easy as I thought it was to speed up the homestudy process. They say it takes 6-9 months. No expediting, no Roll Again or Proceed Directly To spots on this board game. I had really hoped (originally) to be approved and waiting before 2015. There is simply no way that will happen now. If we’re lucky we will be done with the homestudy around the same timeframe I had originally hoped to have a child in the house.
Once again I am in the spot where I like NONE of my options. It’s like a presidential election – you have to go with whatever you deem to be the least offensive option. There are no good options. They simply don’t exist.
I can’t get excited about this anymore. I just can’t.
And so I’ve done absolutely nothing to move forward. Which means it’s that much longer to motherhood.
ARE WE FUCKING THERE YET?
No? OK, fine.
September 18, 2014
Every year I try to reclaim Right Guy’s birthday. And every year I fail.
I suppose I’m making progress. Although we rarely end up celebrating his birthday on the actual day. And, frankly, that helps.
For those who are just tuning in, four years ago I thought he was going to get to see our first child on ultrasound on his birthday. I thought it was going to be the most awesome gift EVAR and the best birthday of his life. Instead we got empty imaging and a trip to the ER followed by emergency surgery and a 10 day hospital stay for me.
And it’s the gift that keeps on giving. At least to me. Although I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten about it I don’t think he relives it every year like I do.
So, yeah… the anniversary of the diagnosis that led to me fighting the zombabies for five months is upon us. Or rather, upon me.
It’s only upon you if you choose to click all the links. Some of those posts are a little…dark.
August 28, 2014
Oh, OK. Gimme a sec.
What can I do for you?
Would you like a baby?
Yes, please! What do I need to do?
Just do X, Y & Z and you’ll have a really good chance!
*waits some more*
*Does A, B & C also*
Why is there a flaming bag of poo on my porch!?!?!
Opportunity is apparently nothing more than a prankster.
Pranksters need not knock.
Can I get a sign for that?
No soliciting. No prankstering.
August 18, 2014
How can I simultaneously feel naked and exposed and yet also like a fraud?
I have put my (mostly) best foot forward. It’s my foot. But without the bunions. Is that fair? Is it fair to only show my good side?
I know many people feel like this is a common occurrence on Facebook but for me….it’s not my norm. It’s not that I share all my bad. In fact I tend to hide the worst like most people. But I don’t only share the good either. And usually I don’t feel like my Facebook feed is mocking me with other people’s perfect lives. Because no one’s life is perfect.
But an adoption profile is a marketing tool. Whether it should be or not is another question. It is. You put your best foot forward and hope it resonates. Maybe you include a photo of you in curlers just for character.
Oh wait. I should probably back up.
Two weeks ago we decided on an adoption agency and I started to fill out their application.
Then we got an email from our surrogacy attorney. Asking us where we were on our adoption path and would we be interested in hearing about an expectant mother and an independent private adoption situation.
*deer in headlights*
But…we don’t have a home study.
But…we don’t have a profile.
Can you get us one in 48 hours?
An expectant mother out there has our (hastily put together) profile in hand.
How did we get here?
Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime: http://youtu.be/o7pVjl4Rrtc
We have a history of doing things backwards and making major decisions with little time. So far that strategy has not served us well. But…maybe?
August 12, 2014
So I went to BlogHer and then I stopped blogging.
I’m just super super busy. I’ll be back. I promise. There’s like, 12 posts sitting in drafts that need editing.