In the early days of my short pregnancy, I started thinking about making a fun video or photo sequence to show off my growing belly. I never got very far with this plan. The progesterone-induced bloating (belly swelling, but not belly growth) and, thankfully, superstition stopped me.
These days, I grieve the loss of this blissful innocence that all you have to do is get two pink lines and 9 months later a healthy baby will be in your arms. Should I be so lucky to get pregnant again, I don’t think I will ever be so bold and hopeful as to create a fun piece of art showing my little pilgrim’s progress.
Miscarriage has robbed me of that innocence.
I used to be glad when hearing that someone I knew was pregnant. Their joy was my joy. I became Auntie Lol to dozens of little people who I was always glad to see, to hold, to play with. I have never thought of myself as particularly maternal, but I have always loved kids and they have always loved me. I’m like a Pied Piper for children, someone who even a young baby will fix her eyes on. Give me 20 minutes with a shy child and most of the time we’ll end up great friends. I don’t know what it is, but I’m like a magnet for other people’s kids. And now, someone else’s good news reminds me of my own loss, my fears about never being able to build my family in the way I would like.
Miscarriage has robbed me of being glad for others’ good news.
My reproductive story began when I was quite young. I was the tiny child who ‘breastfed’ her dolls; the seven-year-old who loved holding babies and toddlers, and who — for some unfathomable reason — was entrusted to spend the afternoon keeping an eye on and bathing the neighbour’s two-year-old. I was the 10-year-old who secretly still played with her newborn baby dolls and put yellow shampoo in their tiny diapers. I was the tween who desperately wanted her period, not just because half of the cool kids had theirs, but because I longed to be a mother some day. I was the teenager who often contemplated the day I went into labour. The college student who squealed at babies, and the young woman in her mid-twenties who watched enough medical shows on pregnancy and childbirth that she could predict when the doctors were going to give a labouring woman Pitocin.
On Wednesday, I told DH all of this to explain why, right now, adoption feels like a consolation prize. I explained that although I’ve always (like, since I was 10) wanted to adopt a child, I always thought it would be in addition to having, not a substitute for, a biological child. I explained that giving up a 30-year dream is hard. When I looked at him, he was visibly moved. I could tell he understood.
Miscarriage has robbed me of trusting that I will ever be able to have my own child.
We continued to have a long and serious conversation about how we are going to proceed. After some joint research, I wonder just how much doom and gloom Tuesday’s bad news was. Yes, an FSH of 11.8 is borderline high, but that result was obtained on May 20th — about 15 days before my first post-miscarriage period started. Even though there are some schools of thought who go by your worst ever FSH score, I still question the reliability of this ‘baseline’ data. Rather than being measured on CD3 as is typically done, my FSH was measured just before I likely ovulated. So, wouldn’t one’s follicles be most stimulated just before ovulation? If it was considered to have fallen into a normal range back in May, why is it considered borderline high now? And, crucially, I wonder if Dr. A. assumed that my FSH had been taken on CD3 because that is when it is usually done? (I have emailed him to point this out and to see if we should do another test on CD3.)
I do remember Dr. A. telling me that I shouldn’t go home feeling depressed about my FSH, but the cynic in me remembers that most doctors don’t think one itty bitty miscarriage is a big deal. In the gamut of things that can go wrong during pregnancy, it’s hardly a medical anomaly. From a medical perspective, one miscarriage isn’t a big deal. But it’s a very big deal to the woman who has to go through it. Similarly, a borderline high FSH might not seem like an infertility diagnosis to a fertility doctor, but to the woman hearing this, it’s devastating.
After a couple of days’ reflection and research, Tuesday’s news may not be the reassurance I went in looking for, but perhaps it’s not the death sentence I thought it was either. Perhaps I’m in denial about a new possible infertility diagnosis. How would I cope? Perhaps Dr. A. is wrong. Or maybe he’s right, but perhaps I shouldn’t cast off all hope just yet.
Last night, I went swimming at the YMCA for the first time since last summer. I expected to be able to managed 20 lengths (500m), half of what I built up to last summer. I was having a high energy day, but was surprised to find that I did 52 lengths (1300m — almost a mile) and felt I could have kept going except that the pool was closing. Last summer, I found that I didn’t enjoy being out of breath, that the tension of working muscles was unpleasant. Last night, despite not having exercised properly since before my pregnancy, I felt as though I could have gone up and down the pool for hours. I relished feeling my body work hard. I was grateful that I could swim confidently. I loved working off the excess energy. This is very good for me, I’m taking care of myself again. My body works. My body works. If I can get through a miscarriage — and now a possible IF diagnosis — I can do anything. My body works.
Somewhere in all of this misery I keep finding the strength to go on. I suppose because I have two choices: sink or swim. And now I know what to call this post.