Friday, May 4, 2007

False positive or pregnancy

It was Christmas time and we were getting ready to go on our annual trip north to visit the relatives. It was our first Christmas with our daughter and a huge undertaking. As we got ready to go I realized my period was late by about a week or more. So I carefully packed a pregnancy test in a place where my mother-in-law, who was traveling with us, wouldn't accidentally see it. In a mediocre hotel room in central California off of the I-5 I peed on a stick. It came up positive right away. I told my husband and we quietly rejoiced while my daughter slept. We agreed not to tell anyone for a bit. We didn't want to overshadow the holidays.

The next morning I awoke with morning sickness. I convinced myself at this point that morning sickness was all in my head since both times I have come down with it was after I took the pregnancy test. We stopped at one of the chain grocery stores and got all the snacky foods that would be my savior for the next 12 weeks; goldfish crackers, individual canned fruit, ziploc bags, and plastic forks. I tried hard to hide my nausea and excitement over a new baby in just 9 short months.

That evening when we arrived in Portland and had a suite we truly celebrated our new baby. We talked about names, how it would change our family, when we should tell people and who we should tell first. The next morning I woke up to spotting, no, bleeding. It was like my period had finally shown up.

I panicked and called my OB way back in Los Angeles. I told the attending nurse about the positive pregnancy test, the morning sickness, and the intercourse. I figured it was just normal spotting. But it had gotten worse. I had never had a miscarriage and I started to panic. I asked the nurse if it was safe for me to sit in the car for 3 hours and drive to a much smaller town without a trauma center. I think the nurse stiffled a laugh. She told me as long as I wasn't hemmorraging I would be fine. But I was still concerned about how to save my baby. I didn't realize that there was nothing to be done.

By the time we got to central Oregon we had stopped at the grocery store again, this time for feminine pads and such. The rest of our trip was miserable. We were happy that we hadn't said anything yet because we hated to have to tell people that we had lost the baby. I spent the next week with the terrible cramps, running to the bathroom every hour or so, and with morning sickness. All the while I had my party face on and was parenting my daughter during her first Christmas while she toddled all over getting into trouble.

When I got home the doctor tried to convince me that I wasn't really pregnant and that it was a false positive. But I knew. I knew I was pregnant. I knew what morning sickness felt like. I lamented about the doctors office rush to shrug it off. But once my husband reminded me that 30% of all pregnancies end in first trimester miscarriage I felt better. It was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. Under that math my next pregnancy would be just fine.

I was pregnant again 2 weeks later. I never mourned the loss of that baby. I just chalked it up to statistics. And since I got pregnant so soon afterwards I guess I didn't really have time to think about it. I didn't tell anyone for years about that loss. Not that I was ashamed about it, it just didn't seem important. We knew for only 2 days. I was about 5 or 6 weeks pregnant. I was so naive.

I spend my time advising woman about how long bleeding will last, the size of blood clots, how much bleeding is too much. I didn't even think of that during my miscarriage. It was like any other period except the cramps were worse and I had morning sickness at the same time. Sometimes I feel guilty for being so matter-of-fact about this early loss. Other women are clearly devestated by early miscarriages or blighted ovums. And that is okay. Loss affects us all differently. Neither is 'right'.

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