Before I begin, I would like to say thank you to those of you who have encouraged me to press on with this post, and those who have been patiently waiting. It has taken me well over a week to write it for the simple fact that I couldn't do it all at once; there have been numerous times when I've had to get up and walk away. To the person who needed this particular story, you don't need to comment; you simply need to know you are not alone!
I have been resisting writing this article for well over a month now. It is something that I never planned to write about; at least not publicly. I've had this strong feeling though; you know the kind...the kind that takes every opportunity to nudge you. I've managed to push it away, only for it to re-emerge even stronger. Within the past week or so, I got an undeniable nudge...actually, it was more like a shove. I knew then that the long and drawn out process of writing this article would begin, and I knew it was going to take me a while. This isn't something I write about lightly, and as I sit here typing I am still trying to fight it even though I know it is in vain.
I am going to raise the warning flag now... this is not a comfortable article for me to write, and it may not be for many who read it. You may need tissues...and you may need to walk away. That's okay; I understand. It is a long read, as I want to be sure that the emotion of the situation is understood as much as I can attempt to explain it. It is not something that is widely talked about and once I began to talk to people I knew, I was amazed at how many of them had gone through the same pain.
I will begin with the post that became my undeniable sign. I have been on Pinterest for a few years and had never seen anything even remotely connected to this subject. Funny, that it was so blatant after I weeks of 'gentle' nudging...
I froze. I sat staring at the screen and the breath I had held for a few seconds suddenly returned with a flood of emotion that felt as though it had been pent up for years. This is my story...
It began on Thursday, May 26, 2005. I can't remember what made me take the test at work that day; but I do remember what made me take another five of them from different lots to make sure the test wasn't bad! (One of the perks of working in the lab of medical office.) It was disbelief... sheer and utter disbelief. All of my adult life I had wanted a baby. And now... just as I was giving up on that idea... here it was! I began crying immediately; disbelief, awe, amazement, fear - a genuine potpourri of crazy mixed up emotions. I just couldn't believe it; nor could I believe I had no idea!
Something struck me very odd though... when I told my husband and my parents; the elation wasn't there. It was as though what I was saying wasn't true; I didn't feel pregnant. I had an appointment with the doctor the following week. I told him that I knew I was pregnant with twins and explained why I felt that way. Because of my age (late 30's) and the fact that twins run in both my husband's and my own families, I was scheduled for an ultrasound scheduled the very next day.
I went by myself, not wanting to ask my husband to take off from work. (Looking back, I think deep in my heart I already knew something wasn't right, I just refused to admit it.) It was taking forever for the two ladies to do the ultrasound, supposedly because one was in training. Neither of them knew I was in the medical profession; they had no idea I knew something was wrong, and I never let on. They left the room for a bit to have the doctor take a look -- they wanted to be sure they had everything he needed. I knew they saw the issue though; I knew something was desperately wrong. Then I was told to go to my doctor's office so they could talk to me. I called my sister-in-law on the way there. Through the tears and sobbing, I manage to tell her something was wrong with one of the twins. She wanted to come meet me; I said no. I walked into the doctor's actual office and was seated on the 'visiting' side of the desk. I saw a post-it note with my last name on it and was trying to read it upside down. " -FHB..." I couldn't make out the rest. 'FHB? What is FHB?' As the door opened, I realized what it said, " -FHB x2" FHB = fetal heart beat! It wasn't just one of them; it was both of them! This couldn't be happening. It was all very surreal and I truly don't know how on earth I pushed myself through the next few months. I was sent for blood work and it was explained to me that we would continue to check the blood work every few days, to make sure the ultrasound was correct.
When I got the first set of comparison results, I refused to look at them in a negative light. The HCG was going up! This is good! Life is good! We chose names; one each for a girl and a boy as we felt that is what they would be: Liam Robert and Rhiannon Nicole.
We hadn't even been married for a full year yet. We had a very unique family vacation planned! It was a celebration for our first anniversary, my Dad's Father's Day gift, and my Best Friends 30th birthday! We were all hitting the road to Richmond, VA for an IRL race! My husband and stepson had been to them before, but for the rest of us, it was uncharted territory! Although I was really looking forward to it, I don't remember thinking about it much.
I spent nearly a month having blood test after blood test; all the while clinging to that hope that the number was going up... It was the Monday before our planned road trip. I don't remember how it came about, but I had to go for another ultrasound, this one done by the doctor herself. I remember my Mom being with me and I remember praying on the way up in the elevator "Please...I'm not ready to let go of them just yet. Please let them be okay." I fought the tears from somewhere deep in a tunnel; the words the doctor was using to explain that while the numbers had increased a bit, they had not gone up anywhere close to what they should have were bouncing back and forth off of the walls in the darkness. When she showed me the number comparisons, she began to explain the technicalities and that I may want to consider a D&E; I declined. What if? What if they were wrong? What if there was the slightest chance that the Liam and Rhiannon were to prove them all wrong?
I can't tell you who was driving or if Mom & I were even saying much. It started to sink in...common sense was telling me this was not going to happen; I was not going to be the Mom I had always dreamed of being. I remember thinking, 'If this isn't going to happen, why would I want to put myself through a miscarriage? Wouldn't that be worse emotionally?' I called the doctor and left a message that I would schedule for the procedure. We were really close to my house when I began getting back pain that was different than I'd ever experienced before. "My back is killing me," I said. "It's weird though...doesn't hurt like it usually does." The color drained from my Mom's face. Tears began to stream as she said, "That is the start of it." Not ever having been pregnant before, I didn't know what to expect. What a cruel reality; I had decided to schedule the procedure only for nature to step in and take over.
When the doctor called back, I explained that the process had already started, so I would let it take its course. By Wednesday, there was still nothing...no spotting or any other sign that this was actually going to take place. I called the doctor again on Thursday morning. "I am feeling so sick...just waves over and over." They asked me if the symptoms had continued after the initial back pain and I said, "No. There was that little bout of pain, and then that was it."
"Let me get this straight," the assistant said. "You have had no spotting, no further pain...nothing?" I answered, "That's correct." I was placed on hold and when she came back I was told to leave work and come right over to the doctor's office for another ultrasound.
The doctor who did the ultrasound and explained everything to me at this point was the same one who would end up performing my surgery that afternoon. "Sometimes, when it is a first pregnancy, a woman's body doesn't know exactly what to do; the cervix simply doesn't realize it is okay to let go." On the inside, I was furious and screaming, "That's because it's NOT! It's NOT okay to let go!" He scheduled me for an emergency D&E. I immediately became numb; it was the only way I would make it with any semblance of my sanity intact.
My husband was such a trooper; never leaving my side. Nearly everything became a blur for me, but the things that I do remember are as sharp as the day they took place. I know we went to the store after the surgery and both grabbed sandals for the trip we were leaving for the next day. We ran into a friend while we were there and when I told her I had just had the surgery, she lost all color. "What are you doing here?" As I explained that we were leaving the following day for the trip, I felt myself moving backward. There was a large black box of a room where words echoed and everyone seemed as though they were off somewhere in the distance. It was cool, but it was comfortable; my own personal panic room; my safe place. I remember the look on her face; she didn't believe me. She looked at my husband and he simply nodded.
I went to work the next day and when I got home my best friend came over and we were getting ready to leave. I was in the bathroom, changing out of my scrubs when I had to face one of the most difficult times of my life. What little bleeding I had experienced was finished. It was then that the very crass, cold reality of this particular moment hit me. I felt as though everything was draining from me; most importantly, my heart. I couldn't breathe. Back in the box I went. I could go there and yell and scream and cry for now; but not right here...not right now. The words bounced from wall to wall, hitting me square in the chest over and over. 'This is it...this is all I have left of my children! And now...now I am expected to wrap them up and throw them away?! This isn't right! They aren't trash! They deserve much better! "God, I know you don't give us more than we can handle, but I feel the need to tell you that I am on the edge right now...and I am teetering." With that little bundle that went into the trash, went a piece of my heart; I would never be the same again.
I became one of the walking dead to make it through the weekend. A week went by and when my husband came home from work that Monday afternoon, I was sitting on the front porch. We talked for a bit, then he said, "I can't believe how cold hearted you are being about this." He saw the look of astonishment on my face. "I don't mean cold, just... like it's not a big deal. Any time anyone asks, you say, 'There's a reason for everything,' or 'God needed them more right now,' or whatever. When people ask how you are, you tell them you're fine."
Looking back, I feel a bit sorry for him, because he had no idea what fresh Hell he was about to release, but I am glad he did. "Excuse me? That is what you think? Really? Let me explain a few things to you." The box disappeared; I did not need it when engaged in battle, and that is how I felt at that very moment. Battling desperately for him to understand the truth; to hear what was really happening.
"When someone asks how I am, do you honestly think they want to hear the truth? Trust me, they don't. They don't want to hear me to say that I am never 'going to get over it' because it is not something one simply 'gets over.' They do not want to hear me tell them that I will never be the same, that a piece of me died that day with Liam and Rhiannon. They do not want to hear me say that I lay curled up on that bed with a teddy bear crying my eyes out as soon as I'm alone! Because THAT is the truth! The moment I am alone, the waterworks start! It is all I can do to make it through the day and the pain from the Fibromyalgia is freaking ballistic right now because of all of it. Nobody wants to hear me say any of that!" And with that, I was headed for the comfort of the bed and my bear again. A few minutes passed. He came in and sat down on the edge of the bed, "I'm sorry...I had no idea." And he held me for an eternity, not speaking another word...just letting me cry.
The fact of the matter is, I'm still not okay. I will never 'get over it' and I will never be the same again. They are always with me. I know I will meet them when the time comes, and I will welcome them with open arms and an open heart!