Tuesday, July 28, 2015

On Superstition

People who know me would tell you that I have a good head on my shoulders. I'm always calm, eminently rational, and have a broad outlook that serves to keep me and those around me on an even keel. People who have known me for a very long time, especially people who for whatever reason have been reading my online ramblings since I was a teenager, could also tell you that one of my favorite themes when I write about myself and my life is that I am suspicious of expressing my emotions: I'm afraid I'll jinx things if I verbalize hopes or fears. For all of my level-headedness I'm bizarrely superstitious.

To wit: I am actually writing this on Monday, July 27th at 10am, about 36 hours before I get some important news. Partly, I am writing this because the spirit has so moved me, but I'm also writing it in this moment because deep in my heart of hearts I'm hoping that I am somehow jinxing the outcome--that by writing about impending bad news that I am short-circuiting the universe and will actually end up getting good news tomorrow, that by affirming and acknowledging and putting effort into recognizing the bad news the universe will instead decide to be contrary and give me good news instead.

Obviously, since this has been published and you are reading it (and because jinxes do not exist and things like "writing blog posts" do not actually impact physical outcomes), the news was still bad.

I've had a second miscarriage. My second in a row.

I thought I'd be safe this time. I don't know why, maybe because this time I actually wanted to be pregnant and magical thinking is a powerful force. Statistics are just numbers, and even when the odds are low there always has to be someone who comprises the outliers. Both of my miscarriages were "silent", or "missed". This means that the fetus inside of me stopped growing and my body didn't notice. Last time it was detected at 14 weeks. This time it was detected at 10 weeks. These are quite rare--1% of pregnancies end in a silent miscarriage, and I'm now part of the 1% twice. It seemed so unlikely, you know? I figured if I was going to miscarry this time, I'd know. The pregnancy to this point had been so perfectly textbook, I assumed I'd have a textbook miscarriage as well, if it was going to happen.

There is no one and nothing to blame, these things just happen and it's no one's fault. And yet I firmly believe that this was somehow jinxed. I was too overconfident this time, despite knowing that having a prior miscarriage increases the likelihood of having another one. I blame myself for telling too many people before having a confirmatory ultrasound. I blame The Buddy for buying pacifiers when they were on sale the week after I got a positive test. Those little omens of hope and possibility were obviously an affront to the fertility odds. I blame my coworkers for "betting" on me to be the next one to get pregnant, and for telling me that I was the front runner the very day I took the pregnancy test. I blame my dad for telling our favorite waitress at our regular restaurant about my pregnancy the day before I went in for my appointment last week--why oh why would we tell people before I saw the doctor? But mostly I just blame myself for getting excited. I shouldn't have.

We're just going to wait this one out. We are still fighting with the hospital and my insurance company about the D&C I had oh, right around this time last year. The fetus was underdeveloped enough that it won't be dangerous to me when my body finally does recognize that nothing is actually happening in there and we really don't want to have to deal with the medical bills again.

At least, that's what my brain is saying to rationalize just waiting it out. One more small bit of superstition: despite the cold, hard evidence from the ultrasounds and the sad and serious look on my doctor's face, despite the hormone levels in my blood telling us that this is another failed pregnancy, I am still holding out hope. One of our best and favorite stories from the family lore is of the gestation and birth of my little sister. When my mom had gone in for an ultrasound they'd seen bad news: a tiny blob with no heartbeat, a miscarriage. Ever the frugal robots, my parents chose to forgo the surgical removal option and just let nature take its course, and miracle of miracles, Seester ended up being alive and well. The heartless blob was a tiny, benign tumor and Fetal-Seester was hiding somewhere, being sneaky. If you've ever heard me call her "Tumor", now you know why.

And so, not because I am a frugal robot but because I am a mess of sadness, emotion, and superstition we've decided to just let nature take its course. I'm not entirely sure what that's going to entail, but I have a couple weeks until school starts again to get through it and get in a better head space.

The grief is a little less than last time, but the anger is greater. I'm angry with the universe that this happened to me again, even though it was so unlikely, and I'm extremely angry with the sheer biology of pregnancy. I have been very sick and very tired for the last two and a half months. I've been throwing up multiple times a day, constantly nauseated to the point where I would just curl into a little ball and cry, and so fatigued that I could barely make it through a single work shift, and now I don't even get a baby out of the deal. It is so, ridiculously unfair that the first trimester can be so awful and life-ruining and end in merely a whimper.