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.


What to write about this year?

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

I don’t really need a special day to remember the trauma of my two ectopic pregnancies. I carry that with me EVERY day.

And yet, every year, here I am attempting to write something about it.

And, every year, what ends up happening is that I find some related topic to bitch about. Last year it was My Beef with the Angels. The year before that I bitched about pinktober and worried I was about to lose another pregnancy (which I did). The one before that I was just barely processing the loss that was in progress.

The point is this: I do not have a good track record writing about this day. And I’m not entirely sure that’s a bad thing.

But perhaps, just maybe, since I am now farther removed from my losses and will not ever experience one (at least not physically) again, I can write something less…ranty.

Or maybe…I’ll just take another year to think about what to write and let this candle speak for me this year.


My Beef With the Angels

October 15, 2012

Warning: This is not a happy post. Also, I mean no offense to those of you who have lost babes and call them “angels.”

With all the recent hoopla surrounding Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day today I’ve seen a lot of posts over the past two weeks about “Angel Babies” and how to commemorate them. There were all sorts of “angel” items for sale to commemorate your loss. It really started to get to me. On two levels.

Level One: I am not religious.
No offense if you are, but I don’t believe in Angels. Or Heaven. Or God. I don’t think of my lost babes up in Heaven looking down at me. That image gives me no comfort. If it works for you, great. But it actually makes me feel a bit sick. I love my lost babes. I miss them. I mourn them. But I don’t think of them as angels.

Level Two: They are in no way like Angels.
Unless maybe you’re thinking of vengeful Angels. My babes tried to kill me. I don’t love them any less for it. It wasn’t their fault. I don’t blame them – I blame me. But it does make the feelings a lot more complex I think. I spent five months killing my twins. FIVE MONTHS. They fought hard to live. And I fought to live. By killing them. They’re not called Zombabies for nothing. My third babe did not go gently either. I tried to kill it with chemo but in the end I had to have it cut out.

This probably sounds harsh to you. But it’s my reality. I didn’t lose my babes. I killed them.

Of course, I had to. And of course, if I hadn’t, they never would have become infants living and breathing in this world. But that doesn’t change the facts. It doesn’t change the feelings.

As much as I identify with others who have lost babies, I really feel like ectopics are just a whole ‘nother animal. I don’t want to create some “Us vs Them” mentality – we have too much of that already. We need to stick together. But at the same time, I feel completely left out of all this Angel Baby nonsense. And, sometimes, it makes me angry.

But I can get on board with the candles.

Here we are again. October 15th.

This year I am not pregnant on this day. As opposed to the last two years. You can read those posts here: https://foxinthehenhouse.wordpress.com/tag/pregnancy-and-infant-loss-remembrance-day/

Two years ago I was in the process of becoming un-pregnant from ectopic #1. The Zombabies inside me were dying. And fighting it.

One year ago, I was pregnant again and terrified of another ectopic. But on October 15th, 2011 I did not yet know that I was carrying ectopic #2.

At least this year I can say that I am definitively NOT pregnant and therefore not in danger of suffering ectopic #3 on this day. The cycle is broken. As is my uterus.

I honored the Zombabies with a ring. I wear it always. Two emeralds (May birthstone, EDD was May) to represent them.

I have not yet found a way to honor the embaby lost in the lab (Lababy) or the Tubaby from ectopic #2. Although it would seem that I have now finally managed to name them.

The fate of my 2 remaining frosties is uncertain. It would be inadvisable to put them in my uterus.

I remember my lost babes every day. I carry them with me. Sometimes I feel a bit… stupid for doing so. Or overly emotional. I feel like remembering them all the time is perhaps not mentally healthy. And I can only remember them to myself. It’s not really socially acceptable to talk about losing your unborn babies. It’s certainly not polite dinner conversation.

And so I remember them to others here on this blog and on Twitter. And a select few IRL.

I contemplate a remembrance tattoo all the time. But I have yet to find a design.

How do you honor your lost babes?
(Or if you haven’t experienced this loss, what ideas do you have?)

I have been experiencing such a range of emotions this past week as this day approached. Firstly, and this is going to sound bad, I find it very frustrating to see pink everywhere. Pretty much any and every cause that is not Breast Cancer Awareness is completely overshadowed. Don’t get me wrong, Breast Cancer Awareness is important – it’s cancer after all. BUT. BUT.

Breast Cancer doesn’t really need an Awareness month anymore. Everyone is aware of it now. It used to hide in the shadows and no one spoke about it. Just like miscarriage. But that’s not the case anymore. And it’s not even the number one cancer killer for women. You know what is? LUNG cancer. Lung Cancer kills more women (most of whom never smoked) than Breast Cancer. But there’s no Lung Cancer Awareness Month. And Pregnancy & Infant Loss get… a DAY. One whole DAY.

My apologies if it sounds as though I’m poo-pooing Breast Cancer. I just get sick of all the pink all the time. All the solicitations at the grocery store for donations. I don’t see people doing the same for other cancers or Pregnancy & Infant Loss. Perhaps I would feel differently if I had experienced it personally (either myself or someone in my family). But I didn’t. I watched my father die, literally watched him take his last breath and turn cold, of lung cancer just a few months ago. So THAT’S my experience. THAT’S my perspective.

I experienced that loss a mere 6 months after my ectopic loss was finally “complete.” (You may remember that my pregnancy loss took 5-6 months – for those new to the story that’s how long it took my beta to fall back to zero) And now I’m pregnant again and wondering for how long. Wondering if this one is going to make it. Will it turn out to be just as strong as the twins but implanted in the wrong spot and therefore doomed? Or is it in the right spot but just weak? My betas, while technically normal, have not been stellar.

Last year it was difficult to honor my twins’ loss because I had just started to lose them. They were dying but not yet officially gone. I don’t think I even had the official word yet that it was twins at that point (at first they weren’t sure). You can read last year’s post and see that at this time I just had a vague notion of how to honor my babes – with gems. Which I did. I wear them on a ring always now. Emerald is the birthstone fro May when they were due.

But now I’m terrified I’m losing the one I’ve got now. At this point mainly due to LACK of information. I can only concentrate on one loss at a time. One life at a time. My father is dead. My twins are gone. I can only hope that the little one struggling inside me will make it. That the universe will be kind to me. For once this year. But with all the recent loss it’s so hard to hang on the that hope.

My apologies. This was really supposed to be a post about my ectopic loss last year. It’s really just a post about loss in general. And my beef with the pink. By the way, have I mentioned I hate the color pink? It has nothing to do with Breast Cancer, I just don’t like pink.

I Am the FaceToday is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. There is also a campaign for ‘coming out’ called I Am The Face.

I never knew this. But now that I have lost a pregnancy I have been propelled into this whole new world. Given that the loss is still technically in progress I’m not really sure how I feel about all this. My last beta HCG was at ~2200. So I have another week or two most likely until I get down to zero. My loss is not yet complete.

Consequently I’m not done with the grieving process. Truthfully I’m not even sure I’ve really started it.

So what do I do today? Do I mark this day as significant for me? It’s difficult to participate in a “remembrance” when I’m still in the middle of it. There’s no remembering involved – I’m still living it. But I can send hugs and good karma out there to all those other who are remembering their lost little ones today.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a religious person so I will not refer to my loss as “angel babies.” The ectopic was discovered at 6w6d although the HCG continued to climb until 7w5d. HCG will probably return to zero somewhere around what would have been 12 wks. So I can’t say exactly when the loss occurred. I don’t know if it was a boy or girl or even if it was one or both embryos that implanted (they suspect it might have been both and I kind of feel the same). So I can’t name him/her/them. It also just feels wrong to me to give them real names.

So what do I call them? Even though I can’t “remember” them right now (since they are kind of still with me) I will want to in the future (I assume). I also feel like the grieving process might move along better/faster if I have something to call them. Sticking with the “sea monkey” nick name somehow seems inappropriate, but so does giving it/them a real name. Something in the middle seems right. But what is between “sea monkey” and “George”? (George is a completely randomly picked name, BTW). I need a non-gender-specific and non-singular/non-plural word.

Or maybe I’m making it overly complicated as a subconscious way to avoid it. That kind of sounds like me.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Input is welcome.

Right now all I’ve got is “my little gems.” Gems are precious, beautiful and often expensive. Kind of fits. Or maybe I should pick a specific gem. Emerald is the birthstone for May (when they would have been due). Maybe I should get a piece of jewelry with the chosen gemstone(s) to commemorate he/she/them. ????