I hate roller coasters. And the only way I can describe the past week is by saying it feels like someone blind folded me, stuffed me in a rickety seat and barely strapped me in. There have been tiny ups and big, big downs, moving at a thousand miles per hour. I’ve almost fallen out a few times now, but luckily the people around me have kept me upright. I’ve actually never rode on a single amusement park ride before in real life and it’s safe to say I have no plans to in near future. This has all been enough for me.
Here’s what’s been going on since my last post.
After I had my first injection of Methotrexate on Thursday, March 21st I thought I would go home and ride things out. Ryan took the next day, Friday off from work and I rested in bed feeling mostly sad, scared, overwhelmed and exhausted. My body didn’t really hurt, I was just worried about what would happen next. Saturday came and went in a blur. Ryan was holding down the fort but I could see the sheer exhaustion in his eyes. On Sunday we went back to the hospital for the second dose of Methotrexate. I was told that because my hCG levels were so high (7,000) I would have a better success rate of them lowering with a second dose on day 4. So back to the labor and delivery floor we returned.
I walked in eerily calm. I turned off my senses and tried not to take in what was going on around me. A new nurse was doing my blood work when in popped the dear nurse from my initial visit. With a big smile she exclaimed, “This is my favorite girl. She told me I don’t have to do crunches anymore!” (Yes, even in dismal times I still talk about Pilates. ) Somehow she told me had diastasis recti (abdominal separation) and I told her it’s not a good idea for her to do sit-ups. (I mean, when is it ever a good idea to do crunches?) Apparently I made her day and she proceeded to looked me up online. “You know, she’s like a famous teacher!” She told my new nurse. I laughed. Then my new nurse told me she doesn’t like mat Pilates because it’s too easy. This time Ryan laughed and said, “You’ve never taken my wife’s class then.”
All was good as the doctor checked my stomach. “Do you have any pain?” she asked? “Physical pain? No.” I said. “Great! Things will start to get better from here,” she said. They gave me the second injection. Again in my butt. And then I started feeling really, really bad. Cramping, pain, you name it. They had me lay on the bed for another hour before saying, you can go home and rest. If it gets worse, please call us immediately.
We went home around 3:30pm. I laid in bed and focused on breathing away the torture. I could feel intense pulsing in the spot where my right fallopian tube was. Instead of imagining it bursting, I tried to imagine it healing. It was a constant struggle that literally took up every ounce of my being not to panic. I could hear the boys going through their nightly routine with Ryan. The noise, the vibrations of their little feet running around echoed through each vein in my body. Hours passed and I was in my room. It was pitch black. I got up to use the bathroom and suddenly the room was flashing and spinning. Beads of cold sweat dripped down my forehead. I was shaking. Ryan had just walked in and I felt a moment of relief that he was with me. Then I fainted.
I remember collapsing back into my bed. And I remember Ryan going into panic mode. His alarm is quiet yet fierce. He got on the phone with the doctor as he was rushing the boys out of their bath. He called one of our nanny’s who rushed right over. He told me, “I’m taking you back to the hospital.” And just like that, after a flurry of chaos, all of a sudden the pain started easing away.” I wasn’t dying and I could walk again.
I felt like a fool having to go back to the hospital, but I also knew I wasn’t doing well. When we arrived it was 8pm and once again we went back to labor and delivery. This time there was a long line of round bellied women waiting to be admitted. You can’t make this stuff up. We were surrounded by people about to give birth. We were told to wait in the waiting room. As I sat there a woman was recounting the birth of her niece which she had just witnessed a few minutes before. She was telling the story passionately to a room of excited family members. Without warning, I burst into tears. “I can’t sit here Ryan,” I sobbed into his arms. I could feel their judging eyes looking at me. My belly was flat. I had no baby to deliver. What was I doing here?
We went back into the hall where I paced as we waited. The pain was returning. We returned to that tiny back hall room. It was so used to it at this point I almost welcomed it’s familiar sanctuary. This time a new nurse handed me tissues. Another angel. “I’m right here with you honey. Let’s cry this out together,” she said. More bloodwork. More waiting. And this time my blood counts were not stable. Probably due to all the previous blood draws, stress, exhaustion of the day, but they didn’t want to take any chances. I was being admitted for the night. I honestly was relieved. At least if something bad happened, they could take care of me. It was almost 11pm and I told Ryan to go home so he could be with the boys in the morning and get Grayson off to school. I stayed. Alone.
They had to get my room ready and it was going to be a while so I curled up on my side and laid in stillness. And that’s when I heard it. The familiar beating. Thump, thump, thump. It echoed loudly through the walls of my room, straight into my heart. It was the sound of a baby’s steady heartbeat on a monitor. I sobbed. I couldn’t stop. The nurse came back in with the warmest blanket. (I seriously did not know they had blanket warmers in a hospital.) She wrapped it around me and rubbed my back. “You will get through this. And then you will go home and you will hug those two little boys so tight.” she whispered into my ear.
I was moved into a room where I didn’t really sleep. Despite the sheer exhaustion, someone was always coming in to check my vitals, etc and I just couldn’t find peace. In the morning, most of the pain had subsided. I felt better. I hadn’t been allowed to eat or drink since I arrived at the hospital. This was in case I needed to go into surgery. Surgery was always looming over me. All I wanted to do was brush my teeth. The doctor told me that my numbers had been steady over night and they would do one final blood draw. If it was okay, then I could go home. They thought I maybe had a tiny bit of bleeding in my stomach which is why it felt like a I repeatedly got punched in the stomach. My entire core was sore to touch. They took my blood at 11am. I waited. After 90 minutes another person came back. “I need to take your blood again,” she said. What?! Why? Is something wrong? She was just the person who takes blood so she couldn’t answer me and said she would send the nurse in. I rang for the nurse. They said they would send her. She didn’t come. 20 minutes later, I called again. This time I was in full, blown hysterics.
I was picturing something was very wrong. I had convinced myself I was going into emergency surgery. All I could think about was I didn’t get to kiss the boys goodbye. The nurse rushed in asking if I was okay. That’s when she told me “There was a mistake in the lab. They lost your last blood sample. I’m sure everything is ok. I’m so sorry.” Oh, my, gosh. I felt like I had been hit by a truck. The emotions gifted with the physical trauma was becoming heavier and heavier to bear.
Finally the doctor came in and said everything was okay and I could go home. I had been talking with my Mom and she said she was going to fly in the next morning. Things really were not okay and it was clear we needed help. Please don’t get me wrong. We had so, so many people offer to help us. But I wasn’t feeling up to asking my friends to wash my underwear. (Although I know some of them totally would.) Sometimes the kind of help you need is only the kind your Mom can give you.
Thank goodness for Moms. You know no matter what, when they arrive, things will be okay. It’s also very evident when a Mom is down for the count. My own household was falling apart. Laundry, groceries, dog hairs like tumble weeds were floating through the air. Everyone’s needs were overflowing. My Mom arrived and literally got right to work so I could go right to rest. At one point the sun was shining and I decided to go for a walk around the block. That was almost too much to handle. Back to bed I went.
And then came Wednesday, the big doctors appointment where we would find out if my body was responding to the medication. Early in the morning I went in for more bloodwork. Then I returned that afternoon with Ryan for the news. The doctor wasted no time. “Your results were excellent. Your hCG was at 7,000 and it has dropped to 1,220. This is a tremendous success.” The only way I can describe the relief is to say it was sickening. I cried for the billionth time this time because something was finally going right. And yet it felt so wrong. Celebrating the deconstruction of what was supposed to be the completion of our family. None of it was easy to stomach.
The doctor explained it would still be several more weeks before this was over. My hCG needs to come down to zero. Until that number falls, nothing is off the table. I asked about returning to teach. She said to give it another week or two and I can go back to leading a class, but no real exercise. I can only talk.
“Jenn… you can’t walk two miles to class, demonstrate the moves, deplete your energy resources, walk two miles back home, take care of your kids, walk the dog, see your clients. You need to slow down. You do more in one day than most people I know do a week. And for a little while you need to do less. You need to take care of you. Everyone else can and will wait. ” Will they? I wondered and worried.
Still we walked out of the office feeling better. I think we all thought things were on the up and up from here on out. Of course we were wrong.
The next two days to follow were hell. I started bleeding. An experience I was not prepared for at all. The emotional side to knowing this is all really happening rapidly set in, this time to stay. The pain returned with a vengeance. The cramps were so intense several times I thought maybe we’d have to return to the hospital. For two days I didn’t get out of bed. It was the lowest of lows.
In those hours your mind really takes you for a ride. I couldn’t help but stare with sadness at a family picture that hangs on our wall. I’ve always noticed there is a little empty space to my right in the photo. Just enough room for one more. I couldn’t stop fixating on how that space was supposed to be filled.
And then you start to think about everyone else in your life. My husband - who was literally doing it all. My Mom- who came on a moments notice from NY, missing her god daughters wedding so that she could keep us afloat. My boys - who had no idea what was going on, other than that their mom was sick in bed.
One tough night before bedtime Grayson snuck into my room. He walked so quietly and looked so cautious. (No small feat for a 5 year old boy.) In the smallest, sweetest voice he whispered, “Mom, I hope you feel better soon. I miss you.” Oh man, if I needed a reason to get up once the pain was gone, well, there it was.
So How Am I Now?
Luckily I am feeling better. I am hopeful I have been through the worst of it physically. I will go slow. I will take it one step a time. I will be back on my feet. It might not be soon, but it will happen. I will listen to my body and honor the rest it needs to heal. I will listen to my heart and take all the hugs I can get.
I still have a lot of worries. Will I burst into tears when I see people again? Will I be awkward in front of my classes when I return? Will people avoid me? Will I ever feel like myself again?
What I do know, without a doubt, is that I am not in the least bit alone. If there is any tiny sliver of good that I can see right now it is that I have never been more connected to this community. I have been inundated with emails and messages from both friends and strangers who have all shared their personal stories with me. I knew miscarriages were common. I even knew the details of my close friends journeys. Yet still, I had NO IDEA.
To each and every one of you who reached out to me, my heart is connected to yours now. We’re tied together in this club that no one ever asks to be a part of. Yet we are here and it’s a little bit easier when you know it’s not just you.
Thank you for talking to me. Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for reading. xoxo Jenn