Dudes and dudettes, truth bomb: I have not felt much like writing the last 2 weeks. Life has come at me from all angles, and most days, after momming and working, it takes every ounce of the energy I have left to cobble together something edible and semi-healthy for dinner.
I am typically an open book. When I’m going through some shit, if you ask, I will tell. This comes in part with my blunt, tell-it-like-it-is personality. It also helps to talk about the things that cause me stress and anxiety. I’m going to open up beyond even my typical openness today, because I think I need to: for myself, to help my heart heal, and maybe, just maybe, this post will help others feel less alone in similar situations.
For those looking for my typical witty recounts of parenting mishaps and crockpot recipes, you may want to skip today’s post.
On Mother’s Day this year, I found out I was having a miscarriage. I spent the day in the ER (by myself, because #covid) waiting for the ER doc to confirm what I already knew in my heart. The next 2 weeks were the darkest, saddest days of my 32 years. I had to wait 12 days from the time I discovered my pregnancy “wasn’t viable” until I could have my D&C (surgery to remove the “tissue”). I sat on my couch in a fog for a week, waiting the required 7 days between ultrasounds to confirm that the diagnosis was accurate. It was.
I had my procedure (again, alone). Two lovely inpatient nurses at Einstein took impeccable care of me. They didn’t even laugh when I told them I might pass out if they kept poking me with the IV needle (you can’t eat or drink anything, including water, after midnight the night before the procedure, and my veins absolutely suck. Add dehydration to that and the results are even shittier veins and absolute panic from this IV-hating patient).
When I woke up from the procedure, I felt…free. There is no other word to describe it. The dark cloud that had hovered over me for the previous 2 weeks was lifted, and I felt like I was able to accept what had happened and move forward. Not move on, but forward. I went home and spent a week recovering, physically and mentally, focused on my kids and getting back to the real world.
Two weeks later, I got a call from my midwife at 8pm on a Wednesday. She left me a voicemail stating that the pathology had come back from my procedure, and that I had had something called a Complete Molar Pregnancy (CMP). In a CMP, an empty egg is fertilized by one or two sperm, with all the genetic material coming from the father. Chromosomes from the mother’s egg are lost, and the father’s chromosomes are duplicated. There is an abnormal placenta and no embryo; hence, a CMP results in a non-viable pregnancy.
I had never heard of a CMP before. I immediately started googling, and of course freaked myself out even more. First, there was nothing I could do to prevent it: it just happens. I wasn’t even in a higher risk factor group. BUT, once you have a CMP, you are at a greater risk for it occurring again. You have to have blood draws weekly, then monthly, to confirm your HCG levels are decreasing as they should be. If they don’t, that can be a sign of cancer (yes, because losing a pregnancy wasn’t traumatic enough, let’s throw in the risk of my 2nd least favorite C word to the panic that engulfed me).
Recap: 2020 really bit the big one for me.
I’m “in the clear” now. After 4 months of weekly, then monthly blood tests, my HCG levels reached zero. This meant no cancer, no further treatment or monitoring needed. This also means I’m cleared to “try again.”
The thought of “trying again” sent me into a downward spiral, a black hole of what ifs and why mes? that left me angry and resentful. Why did this happen to me, and not the girl I went to HS with who just announced she’s pregnant on Facebook? While I sat in the waiting room of my doctor’s office, waiting for what I hoped for (and thankfully was) my last blood draw, two enormously pregnant women sat across the room from me and I felt an anger and a sadness I’ve never experienced before. It was so fucking unfair. Not only did I lose a phantom baby (just because there never was an actual baby doesn’t mean I didn’t plan for one. In my heart and my mind, until that shitty Sunday in May, there was a baby).
So Ally, why the hell are you talking about this now?
Because I need to. Because my due date was Christmas Day, and the closer we get to Christmas, the more in a fog and dismal I feel. I love Christmas. I love everything about it, but especially the weeks leading up to it. The wrapping of presents, baking Christmas cookies, listening to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” on repeat. And this fucking random chromosomal defect that happens to 1/1000 women is wrecking my Christmas spirit.
I don’t want to feel this way, but I do. And the harder I try to fight it and power through it, the worse I feel. It’s physically exhausted me. I don’t want to do the things I love to do that usually make me feel better (crochet, read by BOTM books, cook my comfort meals). FFS, I don’t even want to SHOP ON AMAZON.
I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want pity. I don’t even want acknowledgement.
I want this to be okay to talk about. I want, for those of us who have been through this and want to talk about it (because some women don’t, and that is perfectly okay) for it to be acceptable to bring up in (relevant) conversation. Not like, “Hey, nice to meet you, by the way, I had a CMP and it fucking sucked” (look, I did have it in me to add a little bit of wit to this post).
Chrissy Tiegan recently bore her soul to the world and detailed the loss of her infant son, Jack. And it was fucking courageous (we’re blowing through a lot of F bombs in this post, but when I feel strongly about something, it happens. If you don’t like it, then stop reading). She’s also illustrated on social media that, 2 months after the loss of her son, she is not okay. Not in any way. And you know what? It’s okay to not be okay. I was okay for months, and then 2 weeks ago, I was suddenly very not okay. I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning, ordered DoorDash for more meals than I cooked, and I was just down.
One of the women in a CMP support group I joined on Facebook said something that week that resonated with me. She told me it was normal and okay to mourn the loss of my baby the way that people mourn death, because both in my heart and mind and future planning, there was a baby, and now there is not. And that struck a chord with me. I hadn’t thought of it like that before. How can you mourn the loss of someone who was never really there? It felt like mourning the loss of an imaginary friend. But this woman made me realize that is so far from the truth and the way I felt, and it was really unfair of me to be so hard on myself for feeling that loss.
If you’ve been through this and you want to talk, I’m here. I want to normalize this grief and let you know that you’re not alone. I want to not feel a pang of jealousy (bordering on anger) every time one of the girls in my Facebook feed shares a cute pregnancy announcement. I want (someday) to not associate Christmastime with this loss. Until then, I’m riding the wave of my grief, eating a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese, and taking it day by day.