The D&C

Yesterday was the D&C.

Before electing to have it done, I thoroughly researched the subject, which is just my geek obsessive compulsive organizer I must control my life side showing. My doctor had first brought it up a week ago when we he had the inconclusive ultrasound as one of my choices, and I’d had over a week to think about it before making the decision this past Thursday.

First, a quick aside before I talk about the procedure. I quickly grew incredibly annoyed and pissy with the women who refer to it as a “DNC,” which is the acronym for the Democratic National Committee, as opposed to a “D&C,” which is the acronym for a Dilation and Curettage, a surgical procedure that removes a miscarriage from a woman’s body.

It might sound odd, but I was relieved rather than nervous when I was told that my obstetrician wasn’t going to do the procedure (I think it was her day at her other practice, rather than the hospital). I had questioned if I could stand going back to her with my next pregnancy if she had been the one to physically remove Hope. Instead another female doctor from the practice handled the procedure.

Arriving in the parking lot, we ended up on the opposite side from the elevators. As we were walking towards them, it was just my luck that we’d walk past a couple with a ridiculously small infant (easily under a month old). The husband didn’t notice them, and asked if I was okay when I made a small moan of envy after passing them. Demonstrating my poise under pressure, I snapped “Unobservant man!” and stalked to the door.

I checked in an hour beforehand. When the woman at the registration desk asked me my name, I had to repeat it three times because I just couldn’t get my voice, the voice that can quiet a room of rowdy students with no real effort, couldn’t make itself heard in the quiet waiting room of my hospital’s surgical center.

I was taken upstairs to a prep room, which while small, was at least private. The husband came up as well, planning to stay until they took me away and then was going to go to the hospital cafeteria to get food. They’d given him a beeper so that he could be contacted when (a) the procedure was done, and (b) when he could join me in my recovery room. He watched me fill out the forms they’d given me-basic medical history stuff, and tried to read his book.

The forms at least kept me distracted, until I got to question 26. I even remember that it was question 26, part of a long series of yes/no questions.

Question 26: Do you think you might be pregnant? Yes_______ (if you checked yes, date of Last Menstrual Period)________ No ________

I froze. I sat there and stared at it for what felt like an enternity.

I skipped it and finished the form, then returned to it.

“I dont’ know what to write,” I said to my husband, tears beggining to well up.

He hugged me, unsure of what to say.

I ended up putting the date of my last mestrual period, and then writting “currently miscarrying” over the two boxes, checking neither.

I felt naked, and not just because I was wearing nothing under the stupid hospital johnny. I’d discovered the hard way last year, when I’d had back surgery that you can’t wear your glasses, your watch, or your rings into the surgery room, so I’d left all of them at home. I’m nearsighted, so other than not driving, not having my glasses wasn’t a huge deal. But I wear my engagement and wedding rings 24/7, and without them my finger felt deformed. Washing my hands and not feeling the rings for the first time in years was upsetting. I never leave home without my glasses and my watch on (and when I do forget my watch, I get annoyed and obsessive about the time-I know, OCD much?). Missing those parts of me, and the physical nudity beneath such an impersonal garmet as a johnny made me feel vulnerable and scared.

The nurses were incredibly sweet. They were genuine in their uniform “I’m so sorry for you loss/I’m so sorry for why you’re here today” and didn’t take it any further, which is what I’m comfortable with. They tried to avoid asking me how I felt, although when one reflexively did, I answered honestly that I felt pretty lousy. They managed to distract me for about a minute with the new style of thermometer that they used on me. They run it across your forehead and down the side of your face-I’m pretty sure they’re tracing a blood vessel, but it was like star trek. She told me they’d be available to the public soon, and it occured to me that they would be so much easier to use on a baby/child than most of the available models. Which of course reminded me that there was no more baby.

The doctor was kind, and I appreciated her explanation of the procedure, even though I’d already read it. She was also patient with my questions about recovery, and resuming my “normal” (hah) life. I’m still glad it wasn’t my ob, though.

The IV insertion only took one try, which for me and my small veins that like to collapse, creating large bruises, was a miracle of sorts, especially as she immediately noticed that I was dehydrated. Gee, I wonder if starting to miscarry might put me off my food and drink?

I didn’t start crying in earnest until the anethesiologist showed up. When they got there, I sent the husband to go get food, so I was alone with them. When she gave me the anti-cramping drug, and then told me she was putting me asleep, and that I’d wake up when the procedure was over, I began to cry. They told me it was alright and gave me tissues. I don’t remember the journey to the surgical room, but I do remember that theyasked for me to help move myself to the table and made sure that I was okay in the stirrups (after the back surgery and all).

The next thing I knew I was waking up in the surgical room. It was over. The doctor told me it had gone really well (really well? you just removed my child from me).

I didn’t know what I was going to say until the words came out of my mouth. “Can I see the remains” (although I’m not sure if I said remains, or Hope, or what, but I know I didn’t ask to see the baby).

The nurse picked up a white container and tipped it so I could see in. I don’t know what I was expecting to see. My heart? Hope would’ve been the size of my pinky nail, and it’s likely I lost her at home. I was pretty groggy, so my only real impression was bright red liquid. It was like my period, in a bucket. Nothing that I wouldn’t see on a pad (if I still used them) or toilet paper at home. That somehow struck me as wrong. Shouldn’t it be different? I know that’s stupid, but it’s all I could remember thinking.

“Goodbye Hope” I whispered.

And that’s when it became really really real.

I think I fell back asleep on the way back to the room because I don’t remember that either. The husband showed up really quickly, and we got through the time in the recovery room together.

They gave us a packet that the hospital had put together for women who were there for miscarriages as I was. It included a poem that made me sob each time I read it (I’ll post it here later today or tomorrow), and information about recovery, spiritual help, information about what would happen to Hope (as I’d been before 20 weeks, they’d asked that I allow them to deal with the remains, and as we don’t own land or anything, I’d said yes–her remains would be cremeated and disposed of respectfully). We also learned that they hold a special memorial service (non denom, of course) for families who had lost a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth each spring, and if we wanted to be part of that, that we could let them know. I’m leaning towards yes, right now.

There was pain, but not as much as I’d been having with the natural miscarriage. They gave me food (saltless saltines and gingerale), painkillers, and after awhile I was ready to go to the bathroom. I discovered the ginormous pad they’d put on me, and these stretchy panties I remembered hearing about on the pregnancy boards. They were soft, and fit even my plus sized frame without trouble, something for which I was grateful-the last thing I needed at that point was to feel bad about my weight. We did some walking, some more painkillers, and when my pain fell below a “four” (or when it was really a five, but I just wanted to get out of there) they sent the husband to get the car, I got dressed (although I elected for their panties/pad combo over my own, and wheeled me downstairs.

Getting into the wheelchair, it occured to me how empty my arms felt. How empty I felt.

I’m normally a huge chatterbox, but I said nothing to the girl who was pushing me, until she asked what kind of car we were looking for. We exchanged a few comments about people who don’t know how to drive when one person coming out of the parking garage cut off someone else and almost got hit, and when someone else shot forward after the person in front of them (trying to leave without paying?) and the arm came down on their hood, making the guy in the booth yell at them. As I was waiting for the husband, I felt the gentle fall breeze kiss my face, the sky obscenely blue, and the clouds were so fluffy it made me want to puke. If the weather had mirror how I felt it would have been grey, with that miserable rain that isn’t hard enough to make you need your wiper blades, but is irritating enough to make it miserable, maybe with just enough humidity to make you cranky. Well, that or a blizzard-cold would have worked too-I alternated quickly between pain and numbness.

My first request was food, which the husband got for me.

Then the phone calls. I love my mother and my mother in law, but both of them would have needed to mother me in a way that I would have found smothering had they known that the miscarriage had started and I was getting surgery. My mom wasn’t home, so I just left a message to call me (which was enough for my mom to know what had happenned-anything else and I would’ve left one my usual 5 or 10 minute rambles) and called my mother in law, who was hurt that we hadn’t told her (I explained that we’d just wanted to be alone) and then offered to go grocery shopping or whatever we needed. My mother in law is a doer (as is my husband, as am I) and there’s nothing so frustrating to a doer as the knowledge that there’s nothing they can do. She talked for far longer than I wanted to listen, so I tried to change the topic, and finally just said I needed to go so I could eat. My mom’s and my conversation, when she called me back was much shorter, as she understands that I’ll talk it to death, but only when I’m ready.

We ended up going out again last night. First to Coldstone, where I managed to spill my bottled water into my lap, feeling more exposed and uncomfortable than I ever would have. And when my husband went to get me the napkins I requested, and handed them to me without looking up from his Treo (handheld computer/phone), incredibly normal behavoir for him, I felt totally abadoned and alone. Fragile, much?

At Borders, I listlessly browsed the shelves, unable to choose when normally I have trouble picking just one book. I finally selected something and indicated to my husband that I was ready to go. He told me he wanted to finish something, and rather than explain that I really really wanted to go and that I was feeling a little dizzy, I just went upstairs, sat on a couch, and read travel essays until he came and got me.

The entire time I sat reading the essays, I felt like a ghost. Partially it was the day and the drugs taking their toll, making me feel out of it, but I felt like I was easily seen through, invisible. Lonely. Alone as I hadn’t been in what today theoretically would’ve made 9 weeks of pregnancy. When we were walking to the car I explained how I felt, and the husband felt horrible. Normally I have no trouble being assertive or insisting that I’m ready to leave. But, just as in the registration area of the surgical center, I found I had lost my voice.

On the ride home I was mostly silent, not out of anger for making me stay, but out of sadness.

I finally let the husband read this journal last night, and he asked me to go to bed to hold me. Then he remembered his medications and went to take them. I lay in bed, him thinking I was puttering in the living room for whatever reason, for almost a half hour before calling out to him. I told him I felt abandoned.

Then the floodgates burst and I sobbed, really sobbed for almost an hour on his shoulder. I cried these almost screaming moans that hurt me just to hear them. I cried until I couldn’t breathe, blew my nose, and cried some more. I cried until I had nothing left.

I know I made the right choice, but that doesn’t make it easy.

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4 Responses to The D&C

  1. Colleen says:

    I am so terribly sorry to hear of your loss. I don’t even know you, but your sincere vulnerabilty made me cry here at work. I remember hearing that sometimes your baby decides its not her time to come into the world. Maybe she will come and bless your life on this earth soon.
    I wish you all the best in your (and your husband’s) healing process. Hopefully when the time is right, we will be hearing good news from you again soon.

  2. Dana says:

    I’m so sorry. I’m crying so hard right now. They tell me I’m having miscarriage too … or will, and I’m so sad and scared and I feel so lost and alone. My heart goes out to you too…

  3. Fiona says:

    Most of what you wrote I can pretty much say happened to me on the last week of Oct. I can’t believe how similar the situations are. I too am crying, and saying to myself, that is what happened to me, this perfect stranger understands, where most of my friends, while trying to help, do not. We didn’t tell many at first, only my mum. I was able to speak with a brilliant friend, who miscarried her first, I can only hope that you too have ‘someone’ who you can talk to that truly understands. My normally “talk a leg off a chair” husband has been very quiet, and allows me to express how I feel, especially two weeks ago, he stayed home from work, because I just felt empty, lost, so very sad and angry, and it all needed to be let out through tears. Talking, for me has been a real therapy, also writing in a journal, and allowing myself to go through all the emotions, whenever they surface. The web has been good for me to facilitate a good cry, so thank you for sharing such a deeply personal, private and devastating experience.May your healing come in time, and I am truly sorry for your loss of your baby.

  4. Pingback: A second D&C | Taking a chance on baby…

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