Saturday, October 3, 2015

I'm 1 in 4 - Breaking the Silence

For those of you who follow along in my adventures, you may have seen these pictures posted of me and my sweet little family of 3 that I posted just about 2 months ago. 

What you don't know is that these pictures were all a part of my awesome post I planned on having on July 30th. July 30th was my 12 week mark in my pregnancy with baby Keller #2. My sweet photographer friend took the time to crop, Photoshop, cut and edit out the pictures with signs announcing that our sweet Sophie would be a big sister this February. 

That day I sat with my computer in my lap and something told me to wait until after I got home from my ultrasound appointment to post the big announcement I had been counting down the days to announce. I had just recently had my routine monthly ultrasound 3 weeks prior and all looked great. I was told I might even be able to see the sex that day! The 3 of us all headed into the office hopeful and left crushed....

The following story is something I've been torn about sharing. It's something most people prefer to keep quite and hidden away from others. I've gone back and forth and I want to share for a number of reasons that I'll explain later. I hope that it will show at least one person that they are not alone and that its ok to talk about it. 

My story all really starts back when I was first pregnant with Sophie. My pregnancy was not the easiest. Due to the asthma medication I've been on my whole life, my doctor wanted to keep me monitored by The Fetal Medicine group just to be sure that Sophie was growing correctly. No trouble there, she was healthy as a horse and growing right on par. However, from very early on (5 weeks or so) I had unexplainable bleeding. I would go in to have ultrasounds done everytime it happened and each time I had no answers. Every time I would call in I would get the same answer "you might be miscarrying and there's nothing we can do at this point." They would then send me ::nervous as hell:: to have an ultrasound done. No problems. I had exams done. No problems. This went on throughout my entire pregnancy all the way into labor. It was never explained and I was told "you may just have a sensitive cervix. Sometimes it just happens." June 18th Sophie arrived and was the picture of perfection. I had a rough labor, her cord was around her neck and her breathing needed some attention in the NICU over night but she is no worse for the wear now. 

Chris and I have had discussions, as any couple does, about how many kids we want and when. We figured once Sophie was around 3 we would talk about the possibility of adding to our family. This summer our plans were surprised by 2 little pink lines on a test just before Sophie's 2nd birthday. We were surprised but excited. My initial concern was to get to the doctor and tell them about the bleeding I had with Sophie and how I'd like to get in for my ultrasound sooner than later. 

I had a 2 separate times where I had to call because of bleeding and when I went in it was the same as before. Everything was great, baby looked healthy, growing right on schedule, just told to rest and take it easy.....ahem...I have a 2 year old, I don't know what rest and take it easy means anymore. But Chris had helped me out with Sophie as much as he possibly could. And I tried to tell myself that this just must be what's normal for me. 

Chris gave me plenty of rest time which was much appreciated because I was feeling awful. I had such horrible nausea and felt totally different than with Sophie. I was always tired but a different type of tired than I was with Sophie. Much more drained and weak than exhausted like I was with Sophie. I was also loosing a lot of weight despite eating more than usual. By 12 weeks I had lost ten pounds from what was already my lowest weight since high school. It's not a number I felt comfortable about nor have I ever strived to be that number since I was 15. My mom more than anyone was concerned about my weight and my overall complexion. I just looked sick. 

July 30th I was cool as a cucumber. After all this was becoming somewhat routine for me now. The drive up we talked about paternity leave, announcing it to everyone (that we hadn't already told) that night, we talked about how we would tell Soph and what we thought we were having and how we hoped they would be able to tell us the sex like they said they might. I went in alone and Chris waited with Sophie entertaining her outside. 

The tech was quiet. 

I knew something was wrong. Everytime I had gone they would show me the monitor while scanning and would talk about arms, legs, the heartbeat, small talk about is this my first, etc....but she was totally silent. I finally said "can you see anything?" And I peaked over as best as I could. I didn't see any flicker. The flicker that makes every expecting Mamas heart flutter right along with the little flutter on the screen. I looked away and told myself a million made up scenarios in my head about how maybe this machine is different, maybe it was a different angle, maybe something's wrong but it's ok, like just something I could take medicine for or they would keep an eye on. She replied, "I just want to make sure...that I'm not screwing this up." ....Now I have been to this same spot tons of times between my pregnancy with Sophie and this one...I recognize this woman and I know she knows her job well. She finishes and says I just need to go show the doctor I'll be right back. And at just that moment heart sinks to the floor and shatters.

I wait. Alone. Knowing what's coming. Far too many of my closest friends have had this same scenario. How is this happening? Why is this happening? Why us? But 12 weeks is supposed to be the safe zone. I run through my head every waking moment of my last 3 weeks since I last saw that flutter thinking what did I do? Did I do too much? Did I sleep the wrong way? Did I eat the wrong thing? Then the doctor and tech come back in. He says "Mrs. Keller I'm sorry that I have the job of telling you that your babies heart has stopped. I'm so sorry for your loss and I just want you to know that it's nothing you did and the odds are actually 1 in 4. It's almost amazing people have as many kids as they do with odds like that." He offered to get Chris who couldn't come in because he was with Sophie so I just sat a little while and tried not to cry. 

The second I stepped foot outside And saw Chris blowing bubbles with Sophie I lost it. The disappointment in his face when he saw me start to cry is something I'll never be able to erase from my mind. 12 weeks. To some that sounds like nothing. 3 months. Which in reality was 2 months of knowing. It's hard not to get excited. To start thinking of names, nursery themes, looking at cute outfits and toys and just soaking up the excitement of a new little piece of you that's to come. Our baby was already a person. With a heartbeat, organs, eyes ears, legs and arms that it was moving around and a sweet little face that was at that stage already making faces. Faces that we will never get to see. Little hands we'll never hold with tiny little fingernails surprisingly already formed. 

I was given my next step options and decided the surgery would be the best option. One thing I'll never understand is why at that stage of my pregnancy why they wanted me to wait 5 days before they could get me into surgery. I understand other Moms may feel differently but to me this felt like torture. I'm lucky that I have Sophie and Chris and family that the following day tried to keep me busy and keep my mind off the sadness. But I feel for the women in my position that don't have that....the ones that would have to sit out that next day doing what most pregnant women do even when there is no problem with their unborn child- worrying, stressing, stirring over what's going on in your body. I was scheduled for surgery for August 4th because I was told, "at this stage you more than likely won't go on your own. And if you do some people find it to be pretty traumatizing." 

On August 2nd AM I went into full blown contractions. We went to the ER and to keep this brief and less graphic, I'll keep things to the point. I dilated on my own and was having excessive bleeding far beyond the norm and they were worried they would need to give me a transfusion. Things became an emergency situation and I was rushed into surgery as soon as they could. I'm still dealing with the hematology oncology center to first - rule out major blood diseases and second - get my levels back to where they need to be. 

The weeks after have been really hard. There's typical physical recovery with every miscarriage/fetal demise as well as the emotional recovery while your hormones get back to normal. Due to the unexplained complications I had I'm still recovering physically. Blood tests galore to explain why my hemoglobin is only a third of where it should be post op and what's causing the anemia and exhaustion from insanely low iron levels that I'm now struggling to get back on track. 

The point I want to make and the reason I'm sharing my story (sparing you the nitty gritty details which will forever be a fear of mine now) is - think before you speak. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, still birth, etc. 

Just this week a women (stranger) at Barnes & Noble asked me if we were going to "try for a boy"..... And I get it. Everyone thinks the perfect family is having a son and a daughter, right? Wrong. What if I want Sophie to have a sister? What if I want her to be an only child? What if my biggest concern is just being healthy for my sweet growing girl that I already have. What if it's not your business that I just went through the most traumatic and physically and emotionally painful experience of my life.... No biggie though. No one would be able to know all that just meeting me at a book store. So I say, "Not right now. We just got a puppy so our hands are full with the potty training of two at once." The women proceeds to tell me how she has 5 girls and how every child needs a sibling and "we have to". I tell her how I'm an only child and I'm lucky I get to pick my friends that I consider siblings and that we will just have to see what the future has in store for us....Here's where you would think the convo should end. She continued to push the issue and typically I would walk away but story time at B&N is only so big. 

So in hopes of not sounding too bitter or whiney here's my PSA that I hope helps keep people's feet out of their mouth:

You have no idea. - you have no idea what someone has gone through, is going through, etc. Next time you pry at the couple with no kids, 1 kid, 2 kids or whatever about when they are planning to bring a baby into the world - DON'T. If they want to talk about it they will. Other than that it's none of your business. Millions of couples struggle for years with infertility, miscarriages, marital problems, financial problems, etc that are keeping them from having children. All of which is NOT your business and only adds to the emotional struggle of that couple.  We are very fortunate that we now have gotten pregnant twice with not only no trouble but totally unplanned. Not everyone is that fortunate and I consider that a blessing. 

Not everyone has the same view of what makes a perfect family. I'm an only child and have a relationship like no other with my parents. They are my best friends and maybe that's what our little family will be. I don't know, I won't know until something changes and if that's what we are blessed with then great. I'm very happy knowing I've been given the opportunity to be a Mama, some people don't get that. And to be honest, some people don't want that. Kids aren't for everyone and that's their own personal preference. I love cats and dogs - you don't see me asking you when your going to get a pet do you? Not everyone needs to be the same cookie cutter family. 

Dear preggos- consider your audience. Go ahead and complain about how tired, achey, and my biggest annoyance- unhappy you are about being pregnant. If you notice your friends start to distance themselves and you wonder why, maybe it's because they would give anything to have morning sickness right now if it meant they'd be getting the greatest gift of all at the end. Ps were you unaware of how pregnancy works? They call it the labor of love for a reason. It's hard work and consider yourself lucky if your biggest struggle is being tired. 

And the one that really makes me bonkers - the age game. Bugging 30 something year old women to settle down and have some kids and reminding them that "their clock is ticking" is insane. If this is something you do then you should pretty much be prepared for a throat punch as far as I'm concerned. You think she's unaware? You think she hasn't taken Sex Ed at least once in her life and is somehow at her age totally unaware of how things work? Do you think that making a statement is going to help her find the right guy? Truth is you're making things worse. By rushing her you're probably aiding to her making some pretty piss poor choices and she very well may just settle for a total jerk just so that she can make sure her time doesn't run out. Awesome. Way to go, your professional guidance has been stellar and I'm sure can only be helping...catch that sarcasm.

I haven't had to personally deal with this yet but here's another big no no that I've seen believe it or not. Comparing your unrelated horrific experience (appendix, not so near death event, or knowing someone- that knows someone- that knows someone -that's uncles -second cousins -friend from school had a similar problem and how much that effected you) is a big no no. Unless your appendix, that event, or that basically stranger effected your pregnancy and made you loose your soon to be child then you're really just being Insensitive. And I'm that someone that will tell you.  

My biggest reason for sharing my story is because of the help I've received from just reading online stories. If this story reached just one struggling woman and helps her feel less alone and mandated to stay silent then I'll be happy. Everyone deals with loss differently. I know I for one have an extremely hard time with loss. I've lost loved ones, family, friends, and now my own flesh and blood. This time was different. I have a two year old that as a stay at home mom I need to stay strong and not let her see me down. I have to do my best to keep my grieving hidden from her. I've read stories upon stories late at night while up scrolling on my phone of other expecting moms like myself and it's almost been a calming experience. Breaking the silence about how often this happens and reading how many other women are hurting makes you feel much less alone and broken. 

I have good days and bad but I'm looking at this as it just wasn't meant to be and it wasn't was planned for my family at this time. We are staying busy and focusing on our family, our home and making lasting memories. Staying present and lenjoying every moment we are given together. My only care from here on out is that my family is blessed with good health and safety. Whatever is planed for us will be and I'm fine with that. 

And for all of you out there reading this, hopeful for your rainbow baby I wish you the best of luck. And if anyone wants to share their story, has any questions or just needs to talk I'm here. ❤️