Happy Halloween! I have to say, outside of Christmas, this has always been my favorite holiday. The change in the weather. The roll-back of the clocks. The free candy. Okay, it’s probably mostly that last one, but still!
At least, this was all true until Halloween last year which turned out to be the worst day of my entire life. I haven’t written too much about it because it’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I COULD write about it. I almost didn’t write anything today, but then I realized that writing about it and marking the date could be a good thing for me.
So, for cathartic purposes and so I can take one more step towards being able to put all this stuff behind me, here’s my story.
This time last year, I was sitting in a bathroom staring with disbelief at a positive pregnancy test. My husband of almost twelve years had just moved out of the house the day before so I was already reeling from the idea of becoming a single parent to one child and now there was going to be another one. The prospect was so unbelievable that I went to the store and bought two more tests just to confirm the results. I even bought one of those tests where the actual word “pregnant” shows up in the window instead of a line. Just to be really, really sure.
You may wonder how I could let this happen considering the break up of the marriage so I’ll explain a bit. First, the break up was, from my perspective anyway, very sudden. In a three week period, I went from being in a committed marriage with a few problems that we were working on to being told it was over and that he was moving out of the house. By the time the pregnancy was detected, I was almost through the first trimester. In addition to that, I had to use fertility treatments to conceive my first child. Pregnancy without medical assistance was not supposed to be possible for me and therefore not something I actively guarded against.
Don’tcha just LOVE the irony? Yeah, me too.
As I sat there looking at those three tests, my brain was on overload. Shock. Disbelief. Anger that this was happening NOW of all times. Happiness (yeah, there was happiness, too) because I’d so desperately wanted to have one more child and the demise of the marriage coupled with my age had made that seem like an impossibility. Terror at the idea of having to go through a pregnancy, delivery and caring for a newborn completely alone. But then I remember having a moment of clarity where this voice in my head just said “It will be hard. Harder than anything you’ve ever done in your life, but you’ll do it. One step at a time and you’ll make it through.”
By the time I walked out of that bathroom, I knew I was in love with and committed to that baby, whatever happened. I planned to tell my ex and my parents that night after my son had finished trick-or-treating and had gone to bed. I didn’t know what to expect from the ex and frankly, I didn’t waste much time thinking about it. As far as I was concerned, he’d made his decision and left his family and even if he changed his mind upon hearing the news (which I neither wanted nor expected), I planned to go forward.
I put a call in to my doctor to schedule a blood test the next morning to confirm things. There were a couple of physical things going on that had me slightly worried, but that could also have been totally normal for early pregnancy. I just wanted to get checked out and make sure everything was okay.
I went on with my day and headed home to take my son to his Halloween activities. The ex arrived to participate (this was when we were still trying to do the “civil getting along” thing) and things went fine during the costume parade and dinner. Then, just before we were to leave to start walking the neighborhood, I felt a dull ache and something of a tearing sensation in my abdomen.
I didn’t know what was going on, but told the ex to go ahead out with our son and I’d catch up with them. I started having cramps and had to take some pain relievers to get them under control. I figured I was either having a miscarriage (in which case there was nothing to be done) or else it was just some wonky, but normal, pregnancy thing that would go away. Little did I know…
I left the house and caught up with the rest of our party and finished walking the neighborhood with them. While we were out there, I still wasn’t feeling too well and ended up having to break the news to the ex as we were walking. That wasn’t my plan, but it was becoming obvious something was up with me so I didn’t really have a choice. He looked stunned, but really didn’t have much of a reaction. To this day, I don’t know if he even believed me. I told him that something was wrong and that I had a blood test scheduled for the next morning. I broke the news to my parents that night, too.
The night didn’t go very well. I had a lot of cramping and had to take more pain relievers, but I also didn’t seem to be miscarrying, either. I went to the blood test the next morning and then in to work. The results came in about mid-day and confirmed that I was, indeed, pregnant. When I told the nurse about my symptoms, she scheduled an ultrasound for me that afternoon.
At the ultrasound, the tech initially couldn’t find an embryo, but commented that there was a lot of blood in my uterus. “That’s it. I’m miscarrying.” I thought, but then, I saw a heartbeat on the monitor (I’d been through this before with my first child and so I knew what to look for) although the tech tried to turn the monitor so I wouldn’t see it . At that point, I thought everything would be okay until she said “I’m going to go get the doctor to speak with you.” They never do that unless it’s bad news so I was prepared for her to come in and tell me I was miscarrying. I was not prepared to hear her say “The pregnancy is ectopic. It’s located in your right Fallopian tube and you need to have surgery TODAY. Like, right now.”
Next thing I knew I was sitting in the doctor’s office frantically calling relatives while the nurse tried to get me scheduled into surgery that afternoon. I called the ex to give him the news and his only reaction was “Well, good luck with that.” To this day, he has never expressed one word of condolence or sympathy over the death of our child and that, more than anything else including what I’ve since learned were multiple affairs, is why I loathe him and consider him a waste of skin. Under those circumstances, I would have offered sympathy even to my worst enemy and here I was married to the man for over a decade and shared a child with him and that’s all he could come up with.
And yeah, I know, he was probably shocked. I get that. But I was in the hospital overnight and recuperating at home for two weeks after that and he could have said or done something during that period. Instead, he chose to use that time to contact a lawyer, file for divorce and have me served with papers.
Where was I while he was doing all that? Well, first I was laying in a bed in the hospital’s surgical “prep” area having to sign forms to eliminate his ability to control any of my medical care or decisions should I be unable to speak for myself and to try to make some provisions for my son’s care and custody. Lovely, eh?
Then I was discussing with the doctor whether or not she would be able to save my Fallopian tube to preserve my ability to have children in the future. Then off I went to surgery.
I found out later that my tube had already ruptured and I’d been bleeding internally for at least 24 hours. It’s a miracle that I didn’t go to sleep Halloween night and bleed to death in my sleep. Of course, they were unable to save the tube due to the damage and I didn’t come out of the surgery very well so although it was supposed to be an outpatient procedure, I ended up being admitted and had to stay overnight at the hospital.
So, in a very short period of time, I lost my marriage, a baby and the ability to have any more children all in one fell swoop.
Then I got served with divorce papers when my incisions (much less my heart) hadn’t even healed yet.
A week later I went in to the doctor’s office for a follow-up visit and had a very weird experience. As I got off the elevator, I passed the ultrasound office where I’d gotten the bad news just a week before and as I did, the hallway seemed to stretch and stretch so that the door to my doctor’s office got farther away the longer I walked towards it. I assume it was some kind of post-traumatic stress thing, but it was awful. Then, as I sat in the waiting room with all the pregnant women and pictures of babies, I started to cry uncontrollably. This sounds totally normal except that I’m someone who almost never cries and I certainly don’t cry uncontrollably. In public. A nurse very quickly hustled me out of there and into a cubicle – don’t want to upset the expecting moms now, do we?
I just realized as I’m writing this that I haven’t been back to my doctor’s office since then and have missed my yearly exam. I hope by now that I can face going in there again, but it will definitely be difficult.
The last year has been a long journey for me. I’ve changed mentally, emotionally and physically…I hope for the better. At the very least, I learned that I’m stronger than I ever thought possible and that there’s very little life could throw at me now that would be worse than what I’ve already been through.
One of the final steps of my recovery is to spend a last bit of time on these memories, write them down, recognize the anniversary for what it is and then move on. Having said all that, I will never stop regretting the loss of the baby and the fact that I probably can’t have any more children. I’ve supposedly got one good tube and one good ovary left, but seeing as how I’m 41 and unmarried, chances are slim.
I’m still angry over the circumstances and the lack of sympathy, support or even plain old acknowledgment from the other party involved. He continues to act to this day as if none of this ever happened and can’t understand why I’m not just happy as a clam to see him and talk to him. I find that attitude to be completely insulting to me and disrespectful to the memory of our child (and yes, I consider that there was a child since I saw the heartbeat).
Those feelings go to the back of my mind at times now instead of being constantly there, but I doubt they will ever go away entirely. Every time I have to see him, or hear his voice on the phone or deal with his “why can’t we just get along” attitude, I literally want to hurl. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been anything other than civil to him (especially in front of our son) because I made a decision a long time ago that the kind of person I am is not the kind of person who exposes a young child to anger, bitterness and fighting. It’s just REALLY FREAKIN’ HARD to do.
It was a terrible thing to go through, but I like to think that I have come out the other side as a stronger, better person. I certainly know that MY honor and integrity are intact. I’m not a vow-breaker or a liar. I’m blessed with one phenomenal kid and I’m doing my best to be worthy of the honor of being his mother.
I started this entry off by saying “Happy Halloween” and I’m sure anyone who has read to this point is thinking that was a crazy intro to something this sad, but despite what happened last year, I’m looking forward to seeing tonight’s activities through my son’s eyes. There’s nothing like that child-like wonder to chase away any bad associations I might have with this date.
I’d also like to say a special thank you to all the family and friends who have been there and supported me over the last year – without you and my faith in God, I wouldn’t have made it!
So, I hope everyone has a wonderful time tonight. Enjoy the children whether they are your own or those who come to your door. Take time to see the sparkle and wonder in their eyes and recognize it for the miracle that it is.
Oh, and don’t forget to snatch a piece of candy (or two) for yourself! I know I will!
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.”