10 years ago right now I was wheeled into surgery prep. I was crying, silently, as doctor after doctor approached me and asked me questions. The same questions. After the third one I wanted to begin throwing punches. Couldn’t they see the tears running down my face? How could they be so cruel? Their giddiness at seeing a rarely performed procedure – a late term abortion – was obvious and I resented the fuck out them for it.
These were my sons, after all. One already gone and one barely clinging to life and slated to die.
They took me into another room and forced me to sit up. I was so swollen with fluid from the preeclampsia that trying to bend was painful for me. The anesthesiologist began prodding my spine to give me the spinal block and he started asking me about my tattoos. As if I wanted to discuss my fucking tattoos in that horrible moment! I believe I said “Fuck off” although it might have only been in my head. I was pretty doped up.
The rest was horrible. I woke up at one point during the procedure and tried to run away. I heard my kind doctor yell at the anesthesiologist telling him to give me more. And I cannot describe the moment of waking up alone in the recovery room feeling so empty.
Ten years. Ten long and hard years where I both succeeded and screwed up my life. I miss them still, my Nicholas and Zachary. The legacy of their loss in my life is huge, from the weight I still carry trying to cope with my grief with food, to the tears that still come each year at this time.
There is a positive legacy too. In the last ten years I’ve received dozens of emails from other women who have experienced a similar loss and were grateful to me for writing about it because they felt less alone. Even more amazing are the ten or so emails I’ve received from women who told they remembered what happened to me and spotted their signs of preeclampsia before their doctors did, and as a result got the early treatment that saved both their lives and the lives of their babies.
This is why I haven’t pulled down my blog entirely, even when I am unsure still about blogging. Because my posts about my experience with my sons get hits daily, and all I can hope is that my grief and pain become a tiny light in the darkness.
Years ago I wrote a post about feeling jealous of the other bloggers I knew who had babies that survived over terrible odds. It was a tone deaf post during my “anger” phase of grieving, and another blogger snarled at me in the comments that I should be happy for those bloggers, particularly the one that “lost a living child.” I thought of her comment yesterday when a friend posted about a tiny baby that died of SIDS at four months old. Because the truth is, ten years into this journey, I know that she was right. I cannot imagine losing a child you’ve held in your arms. Because the grief of losing my two boys, three months away from birth, nearly killed me. Losing Tori after she was born would have killed me, I’m sure of it.
Gah. After months of silence here, I’m sorry to return with only this sadness. But as this day approached I couldn’t imagine not writing here.
So let me end with this: if you are currently pregnant, know the signs and symptoms of Preeclampsia. In retrospect I can see that my disease with my sons could have been addressed much earlier; my blood pressure surged as soon as I was pregnant but I was never treated for it (not the case in my pregnancy with Tori; I was on slowly rising doses of blood pressure medication throughout that pregnancy), my constant and extreme nausea, and my massive fluid retention (I went up two and a half shoe sizes) were all symptoms that were evident as early as 16 weeks pregnant. So if you feel like something isn’t right – your weight is going up too much, you aren’t urinating enough, and your heart is racing – go see your doctor. Specifically ask them to screen for early signs of preeclampsia. Don’t just assume your symptoms are normal pregnancy symptoms like I did. I thought everyone felt as horrible as I did during pregnancy. I had no idea.
I wish I had an elegant way to end this post, but I don’t. All I can say is this: ten years later, my heart still grieves for my boys. I miss you still, my sons. Each and every day, even now. Nicholas and Zachary, I still miss you, even though I never got to see your faces. You are missed, dear boys, still.