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It opens both ways!

On 27th of May, 2012 the Golden Gate bridge turned 75 years old. Many events were organized to celebrate this landmark day. K and I had also planned to join the crowds and the merriment. What we didn’t know is that this would end up being quite possibly the crappiest day of our lives.

Late evening, after an exhausting day spent protesting against the inevitable, I lost my 6.5 week old pregnancy for unknown reasons. I remember everything about that day so vividly. Sitting in the ER waiting for an interminably long time to hear the results of the final ultrasound. The sullen teenage girl who had sprained her foot and needed a crutch to walk. The middle-aged man wearing a Golden Gate 75th anniversary t-shirt. I remember even the inane thoughts running through my mind -would the teenager go home and argue with her mother? Did that man have a good time at the celebration? I wonder how crowded it got.

My last conscious memory before being wheeled in to the OT for an emergency D&C was that of the sweet nurse from triage expressing her condolences and of me thinking this is where I would have given birth had my baby survived. As I woke up after the procedure, I remember the anesthesiologist looking down at me with concern in his eyes. He smiled a sad smile and said how deeply sorry he was. My groggy brain couldn’t comprehend. Why was he sorry? Has someone died, I thought. And then it registered. My baby. Instinctively my hands sought out my belly. It had obviously never reached the swelly stage yet it felt achingly empty.

I was wheeled over to a recovery room. I will never forget the expression on K’s face as he walked into the room. His eyes were misty with unshed tears yet his entire being radiated love and concern for me. We drove back home quietly, the silence stretching out beyond us like a limitless chasm of numbing grief. He walked me to the bedroom. I sat down on the bed, the same bed where for two weeks daily I had spoken to my unborn child, already a mother from the day two lines turned pink. It had taken us more than a year to get there and yet it was all over in a span of a few hours.

He went to get a glass of water. The devil claimed my sanity in just that instant. I slammed the door shut and turned the lock. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I needed to be alone. The walls were crowding in on me. It was suddenly stiflingly hot where moments back I had been shivering with cold. I wanted to scream aloud my burning rage, the ‘why-me’ I had been quelling for so long. But my grief was beyond noise of any sort.

The door knob turned. And then a few sharp knocks as he asked me why the door was locked. I stayed quiet. I had to face this alone. With him, in his arms I would lose myself in a torrent of tears. I needed to feel this primeval anger, to savor it almost. His knocks grew more urgent. I stood up. I did not want to hurt him and I know he was probably worried sick. I’m okay I shakily managed to say. Open the door, he insisted. I need to be alone I replied, my voice sounding distant and alien to me.

Silence, for a few moments. Then a frenzied rattling as he employed brute strength to pry the door open. The noise was awful. It was close to midnight. I could not take it anymore so I opened the lock, letting him in. He was angry with me, so angry. And terrified. Don’t ever do that again he growled at me and walked away, his stiff back betraying his fear. Even then, as now, he loved me to madness.

The next day, the maintenance guy came to repair the door which had taken a solid beating from all the rattling. He looked pissed. The knob could not be repaired, he said. We would have to manage. I wanted to shake him and tell him that I lost my baby, I didn’t give a rat’s ass to his sodding door. But of course I didn’t. Instead, I murmured an apology and an assurance that it wouldn’t happen again.

It’s been a year and a half since then and the door knob works only one way -when it is turned in the opposite direction. Today, however, as I got done with my yoga and opened the door it —opened! The right way I mean. Just like that. After months of struggling with it and cursing it relentlessly, today it just opened like it was never damaged.

It felt like a sign. Perhaps it is time for me also to forget the damage I have incurred on my self in this journey. Perhaps it is time to just live like it never happened!

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This is getting crazy…

Either PMS has hit the roof or there is something genuinely amiss here. I haven’t felt this awful in a long while (of course the very definition of ‘long’ here is rather contentious!). All I can think of is how much I want to be pregnant and have my baby. I feel terrified at the thought of waiting and I feel terrified at the thought of being pregnant and worried to death. The miscarriage lingers around like an unwanted specter casting its ominous shadow on everything.

I don’t want to be like this. I want to go back to the way I have been in the past few weeks; hopeful, positive and staying cheerfully busy. No I haven’t exactly been feeling chipper but considering all things I think I was doing very well indeed. And now I’m in this sticky, quicksand-y place which I cannot seem to peel myself out of.

It’s like the whole world is getting pregnant but me. Anyone I talk to knows at least one person who is expecting a baby. If there are so many pregger women out there it should be simple right? I want it to be simple for me also. I want to be one of them. Gosh even reading what I have just typed makes me wonder as to how much more cuckoo I am going to get. But no censoring this. This is what I feel today and I hope that soon there will come a day when I will be able to look at this and laugh and feel eternally grateful to God for giving me the sunshine that is missing right now. Touchwood.

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Baby steps

It’s been almost two months since I lost my first pregnancy. Someone very rightly told me that the sorrow does not just go away. It seems to recede only to strike you on days when you start feeling complacent about having finally moved on. The sinking feeling that accompanies the realization of losing your baby even while he/she is still a part of your body cannot be described in linguistic terms. So many times I have tried to write about it but even as I start to poke around my feelings, the pain rises with such force that a swift abandonment of the subject becomes the only recourse.

While all this was happening, I wrote a lot. I wrote letters to my unborn child, I wrote to my husband what I could not tell him even though he was around me, taking care of me 24/7, I wrote about what was happening to my mind. And even now when I look back at all those writings, I feel a hurt so savage it makes me want to tear the world up into a million pieces.

Life moves on though. Day and night follow each other like clockwork, never pausing to check if those who experience them are experiencing them any differently than before. You want the world to mourn with you, you want people to bear appropriately somber expressions and you want to wipe the smile off of every person you see, for is someone loves company it is good old misery. Yet, once you dig yourself out of the emotional abyss you realize that somewhere this very continuity of life and nature is what probably saved you in the first place.

I thought I would never be able to look at a child again, let alone hold one, yet a mere 3 days after my miscarriage I was requesting my upstairs neighbor to get her daughter along when she insisted on coming to see me. I was able to laugh at her delightful antics, to breathe deeply her angelic baby smell… all this while my shattered heart refused to acknowledge any adult attempt at sympathy or concern.

The weeks following the miscarriage were expectedly tough but having my parents over (my wonderful mom and dad who dropped their lives and came running to me all the way from India as soon as they heard about this) helped me regain my sanity, one day at a time. I would feel strangely okay and insist on all of us going out but half an hour at a neighborhood carnival or a busy mall would turn me into a raging, seething mass of frustration as I would see women upon women cradling their swollen bellies or wheeling their infant children… how the %#@$@%$ could they be pregnant when here I was carrying nothing but a huge hole inside of me, literally and metaphorically.

Weekends were especially bad. Perhaps because it was a weekend when all hell broke loose but somehow every Saturday would find me curled up in the fetal position (ironic much?!) sobbing my guts out. Seriously, each time I cried for hours a semi-practical part of me would reason ‘okay you are done; after that there is no way your body can even produce tears for another 3 months’, but no… come the next weekend the whole drill would start again.

And then there was the bitch mode. So my marriage is still pretty young; we will complete two years this Christmas (yay!)… I love my husband to death but we have had our share of growing pains. However, what this man tolerated from me in those crazy weeks when anything and everything would set me off into shrieking, banshee mode, requires nothing short of a superhuman devotion. So nasty were my outbursts, I almost sent my parents back home to India thankfully realizing in time the enormity of my mistake and apologizing profusely to them.

Cleaning is always therapeutic for me. This time, it became a frenzied motivation. I felt that if my surroundings were clean then I could somehow manage to clean up my disheveled life too, perhaps my mind even. So I would mop and dust, wash and scour everything to an inch of its existence, oblivious to my parents and husbands worried faces. I needed to clean. On the upside, the apartment shone for a few weeks. Martha Stewart would have been proud.

It was like I could not stand to see anyone be normal around me. How could they be normal, especially they, my family? How could they be normal when here I was, a thousand pieces of me, precariously stitched together into something resembling a human being yet dangling by delicate threads, in danger of disintegrating any moment.

Yet somehow through all of this, something propelled me to keep moving forward, one day a time. First came the making peace with God. The dream box was brought out again. The first day I held it up to the spouse for us to pray together the way we used to, his eyes misted over. He hugged me so hard I could not breathe, so thankful was he for getting his wife back from the unhinged monster who had temporarily possessed her.

I started my diet again, resumed the exercising and the acupuncture. And slowly, very slowly, just like that I taught myself to hope again.

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Why I stopped blogging…

Here’s why I stopped blogging after the first few posts:

5 days after I started this blog, I discovered I was pregnant. Seeing those much lusted-after double lines on the FRER was such a shock, I almost swooned with the realization that it had actually happened. I can never forget that day, that moment. We were waiting for a handyman to come help us fix some stuff around the house and I thought I would take the test after he goes to avoid any emotional public display. As my second post on the blog mentions I had already taken an HPT a few days back and the result had been a resounding negative. But, inexplicably, my period did not show up. I am never late, and certainly not by 4 days, so I decided to take another test or ask the doc what was going on here. Well, the result was positive and we were elated, to put it mildly.

Initial HCG numbers were great and doubling right on target. The next two weeks went by in a happy daze. Since God had granted us this preciousness after much yearning, we were rather cautious in our celebration. We told only our parents and no one else. Even amongst ourselves, we would refrain from overt planning or constantly mentioning the baby; we were that superstitious!

Exactly two weeks from the day we found out, we had our first ultrasound appointment. Hand in hand, like two excited adolescents we traipsed off to the doctor’s office. Since my symptoms so far had not been too severe, I was also rather thrilled about having my first ‘gag’ moment earlier that day. The nurse greeted us cheerfully and started us off on the TVS. She told us she might not see much in which case we should not panic; it was possible, apparently. After a little prodding she said she would call in a doctor for she wasn’t sure what was happening. The doc who came was not the one we see normally. She was efficient enough but not the warmest person around. After a few more uncomfortable prods with the probe she told us there were basically three options: 1. there was no baby; it had stopped growing, 2. the baby was growing in the wrong place and 3. it might be too early to see the baby and we should get a second u/s in a few days. The third option was delivered with a distinctive lack of conviction.

I felt the world drain of color. My heart sank to the recesses of despair. My eyes filled up and even before I could register it, I was sobbing uncontrollably. The doctor looked at me as if I was slowly growing horns. On my nose. Or all over my face. Thankfully, in a short while I got a chance to speak with my own doctor who is the nicest, gentlest soul ever. Sadly, he had the same thing to say. It did not look good. He called me back in a few days for a repeat u/s.

If I tell you that the next few days were the longest days of my life, I would not be resorting to a cliche rather it would be the only words that can do justice to what those 4 days felt life: a never-ending, hazy, grief-stricken rollercoaster whose operator seemed to have relegated his post. Forever. I wrote letters to my unborn child. I pleaded with him/ her to be brave, to trust me, to not leave my side. I begged God not to separate me from this life growing within me. I did not, could not believe that my baby was not growing. If not for my husband, I would have simply starved those few days. He ran around getting food for me, fed me lovingly, held me when the tears took over, assured me everything would be okay… all this while the man’s heart was breaking too.

In 4 days, I was asked by my doc to go get my my HCG checked at the ER (it was a Sunday). Heart in mouth, we went. They took my blood and asked me to get yet another u/s done. Interminable minutes, hours went by. The ER staff sporadically checked in on us, oblivious to the torture clutches our hearts were in. After what seemed like ages, I saw precisely the last person whose face I wanted to see–the same doctor who had coldly delivered the verdict to us at our RE’s office. In her clipped, curt voice she told me she had met with the doctor on duty and basically my HCG had pleateaud and there was nothing to be seen in the u/s. Nothing. Nada. She was now pretty sure this was an ectopic and I should get it operated upon through a D&C soon else I was in serious danger of a tubal rupture.

Up till that point both my husband and I were pretty sure we did not want to move forward with anything till we took a second opinion. The highly aggressive manner in which this doctor was pressuring us had really put us off. But with this new information about a potential threat to my life and a documented surety that the pregnancy was not viable, we felt cornered into deciding on getting the D&C done.

And so it was that my two week old dream came to a staggering, brutal halt. Just over 4 months after I was in surgery for my myomectomy, I was once again being wheeled into an operating room, this time to take away that which I had prayed nonstop for, that which I had been overjoyed to welcome in to my body and that which was now being snatched away from me. I felt like the worst mother on the face of this world. I was unable to save my baby. They were taking my little angel away from me and I could do nothing except mutely stare. The tears that were copiously flowing from my eyes seemed to sear into my skin; never in my life had I felt more wretched.

It was over before I could even register what was happening. I was soon under anesthesia and in about half an hour the procedure was over. They gave my a shot of methotrexate following the procedure to treat the ectopic. Another hour of monitoring and then I was sent back home. To emptiness. To a bleeding, shattered heart. To countless hours of mourning. To a long, cold war with God.