The continuous rollercoaster ride
Do you remember the PC games "Theme Park," or Rollercoaster Tycoon? You could spend hours in the pre-mobile phone era, building the best theme parks that had almost infinite long and super crazy roller coasters. Well, that's what's being a Not Yet Dad can entail. Being on one of those endless roller coasters. This article gives people that want to understand how bumpy this ride can be a small peak into the life of a Not Yet Dad.
The start of the NotYetDads initiative. In my first post on Instagram, I write:
"My lovely wife woke me up with a message that was horrible: "I'm bleeding." In short; it was the sign the led to her fourth miscarriage in a row that she's having now."
Well,... things weren't as they seemed. Five days after I wrote that message, we went to the hospital for a check of my wife's uterus. We want to see if everything that needs to come out of the womb after a miscarriage, actually did. This is an important check, because any remaining tissue or scarring can hinder a new treatment or pregnancy. In stark contrast to the weeks before when she was pregnant, this time you want the uterus to be empty. Thus, my wife put herself in the chair with leg-supports she knows so well by now, for yet another internal ultrasound.
Instant bad news: there is a significant hematoma in her uterus. This is a pocket outside regular blood vessels where blood collects. The doc says that's probably the reason for all her blood loss. Because as this pocket fills up and somehow tears, well... the blood comes running. A hematoma is not uncommon, but it's considered a substantial risk to any pregnancy.
But then, after that news, we saw a weird look on the doctors face. Like she discovered more bad news. My wife and I frowned at each other, what was going on? The doctor fumbled with the ultrasound device a bit more, froze the screen and said: "well, it's still there."
My wife: "Does that mean that I am still pregnant?".
Doc: "Yes, my darling, you're pregnant. And it's doing well for its age."
Holy schmoly, my wife is still pregnant! So all that blood loss wasn't a miscarriage. All the tears and sadness were not needed, we're still having a baby!
The doctor showed us the amniotic sack that held a tiny embryo. Fully visible on the screen in front of us. Just under the whopping size of 4 millimeters. To make things even better, when the doc zoomed in, we saw a tiny frequent flickering, indicating a heartbeat. Which resulted in a series of black and white pictures to take home. Our first! Woooo!
But, nothing comes for free for the NotYetDads (and NotYetMums too obviously). The hematoma is a considerable risk that there'll be a miscarriage in the future - especially since we're a so-called recurring miscarrying couple. But who cares, we've seen a heartbeat, our first! A celebration is in order.
Mood: 9 out of 10.
Fast forward five days. There is still blood loss. Although it briefly minimized after the ultrasounds, the flow intensified over the last two days. It's come to such a level my wife is sure something is definitely wrong. Time to call the doc. The first option for an ultrasound is in three days. #nocando
We call a local obstetrician to see if there's earlier availability. We're lucky to get slid in between appointments the next day.
Mood: 4 out of 10
We head to the obstetricians' practice and handle some paperwork. I wonder why they always do this before something so important and when we're obviously too stressed out to be fully in the moment. We're both having a hard time listening to her words since we're so desperately waiting to have the ultrasound.
An external ultrasound doesn't show anything. F#ck. Would it be too late, and the pregnancy already gone? We look at each other, distressed, "not again?".
The internal ultrasound follows, and the hematoma is very visible. Too visible almost. But there's a surprise. There is a heartbeat. All is well. Phew. A sigh of relief. I can't help but let out: "Good job, babe! See, you got this!"
The ultrasound continues, it seems like the obstetrician is searching for something. She can't find it at first, but then, well... the biggest surprise of our year.
There. Is. Another. Embryo.
No way. Another one? Seriously? So it's going to be twins? Yes. Identical ones, since's they are both in the same amniotic sack. Better news: the second embryo has a heartbeat too. Although it's way slower.
There are two options for the slower heartbeat: a) because it's close to seven weeks and will develop into a consistent pulse over the next few days, or b) because it's having a hard time and may not make it.
If the little fella does not make it, it will likely dissolve into what will become the placenta. Furthermore, being in the same amniotic sack, there's a limited chance that the risk of yet another miscarriage is increased. Besides the already severe risk of a miscarriage due to the hematoma, of course. Doc informs us that it will mean more and regular blood loss throughout the pregnancy. OK, well, we decide that if that means we're having two healthy babies at once, we'll take it.
We leave for home with yet another string of beautiful black and white pictures, this time with two specks the size of a pea visible. We tell our families, since they were informed throughout the process, and are both numb and ecstatic at the same time.
After the great news yesterday, my wife had some severe blood loss in the office. Considerable in the sense that she lost a blood cloth that was the size of a major male thumb. Not just the finger part, the whole of the thumb. So, after the great news of the identical twin, stress returns. I try to calm her by remembering that we were told that blood loss is going to continue for the whole of the pregnancy.
As I have to leave early today for a day on a remote island for work, I wish her well. And let her know that I'm checking my phone when I can, even though cell reception is going to be bad.
Halfway through the day, I ask how she's doing and get this text:
"I'm somewhat OK. I'm bleeding a lot and just had a blood cloth the size of my hand palm, but no cramps. I've just called the hospital to make sure that I'm not bleeding myself empty."
I called her two hours later, shocked by the message of the hand palm-sized blood cloth, but she seemed OK. And obviously did not want to distress me. Weird, since she's the one with all the psychical misery. One hour later, I get this message:
"Babe, can't get a hold of you. I got to get to the hospital for a check on my blood levels, since that big lump of blood came out. I've got to be there at 4.30pm, love you, no worries".
I reply within the hour. "Oh no, what a story. What can I do? I was in the middle of something here."
45 minutes later, she calls. Just back from the hospital with bad news. No more heartbeats. It's over.
When she hangs up, I'm at a loss for words. I'm stuck on this island, and boats don't leave until late in the evening. Furthermore, I wasn't with her in that darkest moment when she had to receive the bad news alone. Deal with it, walk out of the hospital by herself with it, drive home, and deliver it to me all by herself as well. It's a terrible feeling. Although I consciously know I'm little to blame, I feel heartbroken.
Fuck. It's over. The twins are gone.
I ignite #ActionMode. A mindset I know all too well. I pause my emotions and thoughts to be able to think clearly and determine what's needed most. Just as when a storm would come out of nowhere when you're in the wilderness. You ask yourself: "What's most important?". In nature, the answer is often: Shelter. Fire. Food. In that order. But at this specific moment, my wife needs me the most. So I have to leave this island fast.
Fortunately, the organizers of the event respond very empathetic, and a speedboat is arranged. Within the hour, I set foot on land and am on my way home.
When I see her, she's at her weakest, most vulnerable. I hug her. Kiss her. I apologize that I couldn't be there for her when she needed me most. I feel her pain, and tell her that it's not fair, this roller coaster we're on for such a long time now. The last part of the ride, in particular, had several weird ups but way too many downs. What good does it do to go on a roller coaster ride that always ends with a bang? I tell her this one is going to hurt hard. She says it already does.
That's right. I have to switch off #ActionMode. Time to let the feelings in again. We talk some more. We cry. We're numbed. Lost. Empty. We both know that the love for each other will mean we'll be alright in the end. Eventually.
Over a late pizza, my own pain comes in; there won't be any babies in May. Ouch.
I'm still a Not Yet Dad.
Mood: - / 10.