Overcoming Miscarriage: From Patient to Patience

Science sez our cells continually replace themselves . . . and that this ongoing, nifty in-house auto-rearranging results in a full new body every seven years.  If so, then I have just about created a new human being by now after all: me.

Okay, so I was actually trying to make a baby, but whattyagunnado?

Seven Years

Yes, it’s been almost seven years since our first miscarriage.  I can still hear my husband’s shocked gasp after the ultrasound technician announced that there was an “empty sac” in place of what we had both whole-heartedly expected to be the first glimpse of our happy budding embryo.  “Empty sac” is not a child.  “Empty sac” is not a little being to love and nurture and watch grow and laugh and tickle and goof around with.  “Empty sac” is a bad joke.

A really shitty, perverse, unfunny twist of fate.

Looking back, it was obviously naive of us to not be even the slightest bit prepared for a negative outcome, but truly: we were completely blindsided.  It still stings.  This was our first pregnancy, and who could know starting out that something so supposedly natural also had such high potential to be so impossible?

In the looong, agonizing time since, something has shifted inside me, along with my cells.  Some major part of me has come to realize that resistance is futile.  The new cells understand that there is no rushing, there is no controlling, there is no begging or pleading, or changing things.

That doesn’t mean we’re giving up.  Rather, it’s more of a peaceful state instead of a tortured one.  What my shiny, fresh cells have latched onto instead is hope.  Hope is more powerful than everything, when applied correctly.

Before I sound absurdly naive once again, let me clarify: there is a difference here between magical thinking and willful choice.

I choose to believe we can still build a family.  I choose to believe my body can heal, that I can help it find what it needs, that we can still connect, at the right time, with the little soul(s) out there who want to be a part of our strange, odds-defying dream.  I choose to no longer force, to trust that the universe is indeed looking out for each and every one of us, as long as we hang on and keep doing our best.

The very awesome poet Wendell Berry refers to this kind of endless, but optimistic, slog as “the patient work of the seasons.”  It’s about allowing things to happen, and being open to the slow, methodical shifts that need to occur to bring a thing into being.

You can’t hurry Spring . . . but one day it does arrive.  In due course.  After winter.  After Patience.

Seven Minutes

For the longest time, I was a different kind of patient.  I belonged to the doctors instead.  I was their patient, and it stunk.

I was a name on a chart, a lady with a ticking clock and mysterious ailments, unwisely attached to pursuing an ill-advised (even at age 39) agenda.  The power was all in their hands: to cure or not cure me, to perform or deny each procedure, to tolerate (or not tolerate) the incessant questions of a possibly — probably — unhinged woman so stupidly, nakedly in denial.

I felt their skepticism keenly.  As their patient, they were never really on my side.  I was just one of far too many nutty, needy gals they needed to deal with within their overscheduled day, during the average seven-minute appointment Western medicine considers appropriate to address all conditions.

Seven minutes.  You know what else also can’t get accomplished sufficiently in seven minutes?  Umm, just about everything?  Okay, maybe minute rice, three-minute abs, a five-minute journal can be handled decently enough . . . but don’t tell me the intricacies of a female body gone offline can be solved without considerably more care and attention.  The standard system is not a system designed to tackle complexity; it is a system designed to shuffle as many through as it can and be done.

Well, I’m done with that approach.  Now I’m my kind of patient instead.  Me and my overhauled newbie cells will nurture and believe as we see fit, and keep hope abundant and ever-present.  We’ll investigate and consult with carefully-selected medical professionals as needed and weigh what they say vs. our own experience and general BS-o-meter.  We’ll trust in being this kind of patient now and allow for the seasons to perform the work, and hopefully, ultimately, the miracle.

Nowadays, I’ll take seven transformative years over seven rushed, pointless minutes and count myself as alive, even lucky.  It’s still not easy, but the power is in the right place now.  Miscarriage is ours to overcome; it does not belong to anyone else.

What do you think?  How long have you been TTC?  Have you had some unhappy run-ins with conventional medicine yourself?  How have you coped?  Please leave any comments below, email me at tenpercentpanda@gmail.com, or use the Contact page on the 10PP website.  All thoughts, reflections, attitudes are always welcome (within reason!).  Let’s discuss.

© 2017 Rebecca Bryant/Ten-Percent Panda

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Watching Rio

It was supposed to be different by now. Watching the 2012 Summer Olympics after enduring my fourth miscarriage at age 42, I consoled myself with the knowledge that, surely, by the 2016 Olympics my husband and I would have one, possibly two kids. All the misery, all the waiting would be over.

The thought was comforting for its certainty; four years is a looong time.

But here we are, and nothing is over. Little did I know my health would take a nose-dive from that point, into a mysterious land of complex, confounding maladies difficult to diagnose, even harder to solve.

Yet we are figuring out what we need to now, bit by bit, week by week. For the first time I am stronger again than I was when the pregnancies were happening, and the miscarriages kept coming.

I have learned a ton. Last night I knew why Michael Phelps had those weird pink circles on his body before the NBC analysts even started to explain. (For those who haven’t resorted to alternative treatments, the circles are the result of a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique called cupping, which helps with circulation.)

I say “resort,” but perhaps the better attitude to have is to view the actions I have taken for my health as akin to the tools a top-tier athlete chooses in pursuit of peak performance. It is not about desperation; it is about heart, perseverance, grit.

And while this is a marathon for us, there will be a finish line. I’ll make no predictions this time re: our status come the 2020 Olympics — but that is not due to defeat. Rather, it comes from a place of peace and understanding, of patience, and belief.

We’re all entitled to chase our dreams, however wild. No one can define what is truly our destiny but ourselves.

So, in the meantime, I will drive around in the no-longer new car we (coincidentally) drove home the day of the first D&C in 2010. I’ve always thought of it as getting a car instead of a kid. One day still we may fill it, and go on exciting adventures around Arizona as a family — a hard-won unit, forged in tears, love, and fate.

Maybe on that same trip the now-ancient car breaks down, and we will have all come full circle. Time’s little joke.

I’m laughing already, and laughing feels good.

What do you think?  How long have you and your partner been TTC?  What kind of toll has it taken on your life, and psyche?  Please leave any comments below, email me at tenpercentpanda@gmail.com, or use the Contact page on the 10PP website.  All thoughts, reflections, attitudes are always welcome (within reason!). Let’s discuss.

© 2016 Rebecca Bryant/Ten-Percent Panda

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