Thursday, April 26, 2018

Motherhood is a Choice: Part 2

I found myself in an unexpected situation in August of 2010.

After announcing to family and close friends that we had made the choice to have no kids, I had this strange inkling that I might be pregnant.

I was late, but this wasn't unusual with my PCOS.

I gave my mom the garden ornament. She cried and asked if I was sure.

We attended a Red Hats event with her fellow August-birthday friend Peg. I remember going along and while I don't recall anything of that day, I do know that when I dropped my mom back at her place, I confided that I was wondering if I might be pregnant. I was exhibiting quite a few symptoms that made me wonder.

It took me another week before I finally broke down and took a home-pregnancy test. I had been disappointed so many times before that I just couldn't bear to face another frustrating and futile experience.

My husband was planning to go away for a guys' weekend at a cottage, so I thought perhaps I'd wait until he was gone and take the test by myself.

That lasted for all of one day.

I gave in on Thursday morning. I took the test.

It was positive.

I still remember the surreal feeling I had in those first moments. I really didn't know whether to cry or fly.

I went to work. It was school photo day. I remember getting my picture taken and then telling my Vice-Principal that I would need to miss one of my classes to see the doctor that afternoon.

I honestly don't even remember how or when I told Ian. I just know that I told him before he went on his weekend away.

We were both excited, but cautiously so.

In the next few weeks, I started feeling signs of fatigue and even nausea. This pregnancy became real to me in a way I could hardly describe even now.

I started journalling every day - my thoughts and dreams - in a book for my unborn child. I nicknamed my tiny fetus "Little Bean" and I cannot tell you how in love I was with this ball of cells growing inside me.

About this time, the wife of one of my colleagues revealed that she was also pregnant. I knew they had struggled as well to conceive, and so I congratulated my co-worker and wished him well.

He was worried. He felt she'd told everyone too soon. She was only ten weeks along, and he knew things could still go wrong. But he didn't want to dampen her excitement.

In the third week of September, he came to work with horrible news. His wife had gone in for an ultrasound. While on the table, the technician informed her that she wasn't pregnant anymore. The doctor came in and told her she would likely need to have a D&C to "deal with" the remains of the fetus.

I was absolutely horrified and heartbroken. I remember crying with him in the English office, and I definitely wished I hadn't told him I was pregnant.

That week, I made them a lasagna and an apple pie. My colleague seemed stunned. He thanked me but I knew he was not really able to focus on anything in that moment.

On the last Friday in September, one week after my colleague's loss, I went to the hospital for my first ultrasound. I went alone. I remember thinking of my friends and what they were going through, and feeling some warped type of survivor's guilt as I waited for the technician to show me my baby on the screen.

Only that never happened. She told me to call my doctor's office later that afternoon for the results.

When I called the doctor, the receptionist told me that my dates were off and I wasn't far enough along for the ultrasound to show anything yet. I would need to rebook for another appointment in two weeks.

I remember talking to my mom and saying, "Well, at least I didn't just have the same experience as my friends did."

*    *    *

It was a Wednesday morning. It was the first week of October, and by my calculations, I was nearly at the 11-week mark in my pregnancy. I was getting excited about Canadian Thanksgiving, which was coming that weekend. Ian and I had made plans to finally tell our family about the baby.

As soon as I escaped from that first moment between asleep and awake, I knew something was wrong. I was bleeding.

I went to the bathroom and everything was red.

I called to Ian, and he quickly dressed and took me to the Emergency Room.

On arrival, they took me into one of the private rooms and gave me a pregnancy test. It came back positive. The doctor tried to be reassuring - perhaps all was not lost.

Then I went in for another ultrasound. I remember the room. Even with the low lighting, I was cut to the quick by the painting on the wall - a Trisha Romance print called "School Days" with lovely young children heading into their tiny one-room schoolhouse.

Trisha Romance's painting entitled "School Days"

That image was seared into my mind's eye, and it hollowed my heart. I felt a sense of spite towards the art, as if I were being personally attacked by that beautiful painting of happy, cherubic children.

As I lay on that cold uncomfortable bed, I cried silently. Tears sliding down my cheeks, I was unable to process what was happening to me.

The doctor came to talk to me. He told me that although I still had high levels of HCG in my blood, I was indeed no longer carrying a viable fetus. He sent me home and told me to take things easy.

Ian and I went back to my mom's place. I remember being in a fair bit of pain - sort of like cramps - and sleeping for most of the afternoon.

Around 6pm, the contractions started. I was going into labour.

The pain was absolutely excruciating, and I had never seen so much blood in my life. Anyone who knows me knows that I pass out if I cut my finger. This was not going to end well.

My mom is a retired nurse. She started timing my contractions. I don't remember much of the next two hours, but I do remember her telling Ian, "We have to take her to the hospital or she's going to bleed to death."

A lot happened over the next twenty-four hours. I was kept in the ER in a bed and they tried to help slow my bleeding and deal with the contractions.

I do remember one incident of my time there that evening. I remember waiting outside the patient bathroom. I was standing in my hospital gown, looking down at my toenails. A nurse came by and said, "Wow! What a great red colour on your nails - I love it!"

All I could think was, "It's the exact same colour as the baby that's bleeding away from me."

- To be continued -

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