29 March 2017

Hugs are For the Comforter

I'm no expert. I can't say what's good or normal in grieving, but I can tell you that it has felt good to be distracted and it felt worse, with all the feelings reemerging, when I was hugged. There's something about receiving sympathy that has made me feel worse. I've been pondering that phenomenon a bit in the past few weeks, trying to understand why my emotions flare when someone is trying to offer me sympathy. This may not be universally true, but right now it seems to me like hugs only benefit the comforter.

Remember when I vowed to be more open about our fertility journey? Well, I had the opportunity to try that out recently. The last instruction we received from the fertility clinic here in Milwaukee was to come back for monitoring once I had the next positive pregnancy test in hand to test and follow the beginning of the pregnancy until it was safe to establish with an OB/GYN. In February, when my period didn't come as usual and basal body temperatures remained high, I took a pregnancy test and discovered that I was in fact pregnant. I called up the fertility clinic, and they had me come in to draw blood for labs to test my HCG and progesterone levels.

Knowing that I would want prayers of family and some close friends, Scott and I told a few family members and friends that we were pregnant, and that we could use some positive vibes as we tried to figure out what may be causing my miscarriages.

The fertility clinic drew blood on a Tuesday, started me on progesterone suppositories and baby aspirin on Wednesday and drew blood again on Thursday. When the resulting levels didn't increase as much as was expected in those few days, an ultrasound was scheduled.

Scott was able to come to my first ultrasound because he happened to have the day off. The reproductive endocrinologist performed the transvaginal ultrasound and found the yoke sac, corpus luteum, and no signs of an ectopic pregnancy. Per the measurements, I appeared to be around 4 weeks and 6 days. The reproductive endocrinologist suggested that the next time I come back into the office would be the following week for another ultrasound. There would be no other blood tests in between.

That Sunday following the ultrasound I had a little spotting, but I reminded myself that spotting can be normal. I started talking to the baby to calm my own anxiety and try to think positively about the pregnancy.

On Tuesday, there was fresh red blood, but no cramping. When I called the fertility clinic they said to call if cramping began or I passed any clots, but otherwise continue with the progesterone. The bleeding stopped and my anxiety dissipated.

When the reproductive endocrinologist asked me at my second ultrasound how I was feeling, I said "better." I was feeling calm and optimistic. Even though I was initially stressing over spotting and temperature dips, those symptoms had improved and the pregnancy felt different from past miscarriages.

The ultrasound showed that the yolk sac hadn't grown at all. It still measured at 4 weeks and 6 days. The ultrasound was over in only a couple minutes. As I tried to catch my bearings, the reproductive endocrinologist sat in her swivel chair in front of me, reviewing my chart for anything she may have missed. She recommended that I connect with a specialist in Tennessee who had extensive experience with recurrent miscarriages. She said, "By touching base with this specialist, at least you can say that you've tried everything you can do." It was reassuring to have one more thing I could try.

Emotionally I was a wreck the day of that second ultrasound. After the doctor left my room and told me I could take my time, I took her up on that offer and spent extra time in the exam room composing myself. When I came out in the hallway, there was a nurse... with her puppy dog sympathy eyes, knowing the outcome and feeling sad for me. Had it not been for that expression, I may have been able to make the drive home and get in my apartment before bawling my eyes out.

Instead, I cried silent tears through the hospital and on my drive, then cried some more on my bed at home and developed an awful headache. When I got up to get tissues and water and found my blotchy red eyes in the mirror, I knew I didn't want to feel this way for long. Crying didn't make me feel any less sad or any less pain. 

Surprisingly, part of my discovery in examining how I feel this time around, is that I don't feel any additional pain because we had to also inform family and friends of the miscarriage. This has been my excuse for not informing others during the trial, as I assumed that family would get overly excited at an announcement, and it would only add to my pain to feel responsible for communicating the loss with others. Instead, I've appreciated everyone's texts and prayers. It certainly helped that everyone was very considerate when I said I didn't want to talk those first few days after the second ultrasound. Over all I feel like communicating during this trial may have helped me to feel closer and more grateful for those relationships.

But hugs... they're out, for now.