I was pregnant.
I was pregnant with my sons, Nicholas and Zachary.
I was about 23 weeks pregnant.
I was uncomfortable.
Swollen, bloated, exhausted, nauseous.
I thought it was just twin pregnancy stuff.
A week or two earlier, I’d been kicked out of the only midwife practice I could find that would accept twin pregnancies.
They hadn’t been able to control my rising blood pressure.
Well, they actually didn’t try. They told me to “eat less salt.”
It didn’t help.
It didn’t help because I not only had PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension) but also because it was just the beginning of a cascade of symptoms that would try to kill me.
Those symptoms were from the disease of preeclampsia.
It’s rare that early in a pregnancy.
But it happens.
I kind of hate those midwives. I feel like they should have done more.
But I kept getting sicker.
I felt pretty awful, in fact, the day that my husband, my best friend, and I went in for a normal ultrasound.
But we laughed and joked anyway as the technician slathered my belly in goo and began the scan.
Her face changed.
Something was wrong.
One of the doctors came in.
One of the boys had died.
He handed me a box of kleenex.
I ignored it.
He sent me to my regular OB.
In a stroke of luck, the nurse ran my pregnancy vitals.
Blood pressure: 180 over 120. Protein in urine: 3+++. Weight: Spiked 18 lbs in five days.
My OB took one look and sent me to the hospital. I could tell from his body language it was bad.
They hooked me up to a million things. Two IVs running medications. A catheter for urine. Cuffs on my legs to try to squeeze the fluid out. A blood pressure cuff that went off every ten minutes.
I felt horrible.
My head hurt.
It hurt so much. I’ve never felt pain like that.
Even so, I resisted taking pain meds because I’m a recovering drug addict.
I started vomiting.
Two hours later it hurt so much I was blind with the pain.
They gave me more medicine, stronger medicines, until I hit the maximum possible dose.
The doctors spoke to my husband in hushed tones as I writhed in pain.
By seven the next morning, it was clear the medications weren’t working. A large number of doctors came to stand around my bed to tell my husband and I that I would die if this went on much longer.
The pregnancy had to be terminated.
My remaining son had to die.
We sobbed, my husband and I.
We gave consent.
It all happened really fast after that.
Things were done to my body while the tears ran down my face.
Doctors spoke to me over and over, telling me the same thing several times, until I snapped at one of them, probably a student or intern, and told them to leave me alone.
The tears never stopped running.
A stupid doctor commented on my tattoos on my back when he gave me the spinal block. I told him to fuck off. I was still crying.
During the surgery, I woke up enough from the sedation and tried to run away from the table.
I heard my doctor tell them to give me more sedation.
That was it, until I woke up back in my room, feeling scraped out and empty.
I’ve written a version of this same post every year, I think, for the last seven years.
They would be turning seven, you know.
Nicholas and Zachary.
I still remember it all, and vividly.
I remember other things, too, like looking out the window after I came home from the hospital and seeing a little girl in a cute knit hat and just weeping inconsolably. I remember my hands shaking as I handed out Halloween candy a few days later. I remember lying on the couch, watching episode after episode of Angel, just hollow and empty.
It hurts, you guys. It still hurts so damned much.
This Saturday is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It’s the one day of the year when I’m not alone, when all of us who lost babies – whether early in pregnancy, stillborn, or as babies – can stand together. Our shared grief helps us all stand, makes it less horrible.
If you’ve lost a child, light a candle. Know I’ll be lighting one with you.
I also say this every year: I was lucky.
I had excellent medical care.
Some folks don’t.
Watch this, and then visit Every Mother Counts. Donate if you can. Because thousands of women DO die from the disease that tried to kill me. Thousands. Every day.