Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Story of "Poppy"; A Quiet Grief

When James and Penelope died, I wanted to shout it to the world.  All of our friends and family knew that we were pregnant with twins and when they were gone it seemed appropriate that everyone knew.  The day that we got home from the hospital I put a post on facebook and I hoped that the word would spread.  I had no interest in making phone calls to everyone we knew to announce their death.  I also desperately wanted to avoid an awkward conversation with someone that hadn't yet heard that our children had died.  My family was very helpful in telling friends and family the news.  My pregnancy had been out there, and so was my loss.
My first pregnancy loss was very different.  I was pregnant and then not pregnant, and most people never even knew.  I have heard of women sensing that they are pregnant long before a pregnancy test could confirm, I always took this to be hogwash.  How could someone sense a pregnancy the size of a poppy seed?  Well, on my 31st birthday I experienced this for myself.  Without going into details about the conception, I will just say that I lay in bed the night that it happened knowing I was pregnant.  It seemed crazy to me, but the next morning I went to the pharmacy and got my prenatal vitamin prescription refilled and bought a pregnancy test to be taken in a few weeks.  I stopped drinking alcohol and continued my life as a pregnant woman.  I had already calculated the baby's due date in my head and I would joke with Micah about our little June bug on the way.

The first day that I could I took the pregnancy test and sure enough it was positive.  Micah was at work so I sent him a picture of the plus sign and told him we would talk when he got home.  At this time our daughter Gwenevere was 10 months old.  We had never planned having children that close together, but we were excited at the prospect of another baby.  When Micah got home that evening we looked in my "What to Expect..." book to read about the progress of our baby.  By our calculations I was 4 weeks along and our baby had a heart the size of a poppy seed.  From that moment on we lovingly referred to our baby as Poppy.

As the weeks went on I was surprised that I wasn't experiencing the same symptoms I had with my first pregnancy.  I didn't have pregnancy sickness or fatigue, I actually felt pretty good.  The lack of symptoms started to worry me, then the worry turned into panic.  At seven weeks we had our first Midwife appointment.  I told her about my worry and she said we could do a quick ultrasound to make sure everything looked on track.  We got to see Poppy right there on the screen, wiggling around like a little tadpole.  The ultrasound tech did some measurements and found the heartbeat which we got to hear.  They told us our baby was measuring at 5 weeks and that our calculations must have been a bit off.  I tried to explain that we were not wrong, I knew the day it happened.  The Midwife said it is common to be off by a week of two.  We left our appointment with Micah feeling assured that we were on track to have a healthy baby.  I still felt unsure.  The baby was measuring small, and from what I did research on, the heartbeat was slow for what it should have been.  I went right back to feeling like I was carrying a failing pregnancy.

As I got closer the the end of the 1st trimester I began to gain some confidence that maybe Poppy would be okay.  I started to plan ahead and actually get excited about welcoming a new baby into our family.  When I was 10 weeks along we had Gwenevere's 1st birthday party.  It was a great day with our families and friends celebrating with us.  We had the party at my parents house and when it was time to go Micah packed up the car with gifts and I went to the bathroom one last time before heading home.  I noticed some spotting and my heart sank.  I didn't say anything, I just got in the car and drove home wondering to myself if this was the end.

We got home and I continued to spot throughout the evening.  I called our Midwife and she assured me that as long as it was light spotting it was normal in the 1st trimester, if it got worse I could go to the E.R.  By the next day it seemed worse so we decided to go to the hospital to get checked out.  We dropped Gwenevere off with friends and drove to the emergency room.  At this point I was pretty sure that Poppy was gone, I just needed confirmation.  I was assured by both a nurse and a doctor that bleeding is very common in the 1st trimester and it wasn't necessarily a sign of miscarriage.  After quite a long wait, we were wheeled down to the ultrasound room.  Before the tech started she informed us that she wouldn't be able to tell us anything, we would have to wait to speak to the doctor.  After several minutes of her looking around she turned on the sound to listen for a heartbeat.  I will never forget the loudest silence I had ever heard.  She finished up and started to wheel us back.  She put her hand on my shoulder and said "I'm so sorry, I wasn't able to find a heartbeat.  I just didn't want you to have to wait for the bad news".  I nodded my head and began to cry.

The next day was Monday and we went to our Midwife's practice.  We met with an O.B. to discuss our options.  We could either wait and let my body continue to miscarry, or we could schedule a D & C and they could run some tests to see if anything detectable went wrong.  I couldn't imagine dragging out this physical and emotionally painful process any longer so we scheduled surgery for the next day.  I had already called into work that day and I called back to take the next day off as well.  We called our family members that we had originally shared our pregnancy news with to tell them the bad news.

I went back to work the day following my surgery, it was December 1st, Gwenevere's 1st birthday.  I told my co-workers that I had had a "women's issue" and that I had to have a small procedure so I wasn't able to lift any of the children for the next few days.  I wanted to come in crying, to let everyone know how badly I was hurting.  But I didn't, I kept it to myself.  I'm sure some people speculated, but I never talked about it.

Looking back I know I did what I felt was best at the time.  I just wish I could have been braver.  I wish I could have talked about it openly.  Although Poppy had only existed for a short time, it was a real loss to me.  I had made plans for that baby, I wanted that baby.  I still wonder from time to time what Poppy would have been like.  He or she would be just over a year old now.  If Poppy would have survived we never would have had Penelope and James.  Life would be different.  I still grieve that loss, and I think there will always be a place in my heart for Poppy.

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