Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bodies and Due Dates

Trigger warning: Miscarriage

This isn't the order I wanted to put these posts in. First there was supposed to be a general update which would explain basic context, then one which had some things about bodily grieving, and then after that this one about the expected due date, the date if I hadn't had a miscarriage.

But life is messy, and I wanted to put this up before the due date -- October 1st, probably -- and I'm not sure I'll make it otherwise.

Besides, I wanted to submit one of the ones NOT a general update to Elizabeth Esther for her Treasury of Small Blogs, and to do that it's gotta be now.

Here's just a tiny bit of that other post, that one that at least started out as about bodily grieving. This is the relevant bit, written June 18, 2014:

At times my body seems to grieve when my emotions can't, and I'm grateful.
Other times my body seems to be trying to break my soul into itty bitty little pieces.

The post about the due date, written September 16, 2014:

I had a vague idea before, but I finally did the full calculations to check. As far as I can tell, looks like my baby would have been due right around October 1st.
This is going to sound stupid and ridiculous to some of you? And maybe it sort of is? But. I have this idea right now, this feeling, that on a certain level it doesn't even matter whether or not I'm consciously aware of the due date, that my body would remember either way. That somehow, of course the intensity of grief and physical symptoms like insomnia and dizziness will ramp up around the due date. That this is a necessary process, both a part of healing and something my body has to go through before it can heal in earnest.
I know, I know, just the fact that I believe it, that this is what I'm feeling and thinking right now gives my body the power to make it so. Nonetheless. I wanted to move on and be done earlier, I did. I tried. Call it what you will, maybe this is just a function of circumstances, of the stresses of moving with the accompanying complete change in support system, and so on and so on. But it makes sense to me that my body won't return to normal until after the day I would have held my baby in my arms, whenever that might have been.
It feels so very right, true, and instinctual, that I wouldn't be surprised if I started researching it and found many cultures around the world and across the ages have practiced some kind of mourning period or ritual that observes the expected due date. Who knows, maybe not. Would that make sense, when miscarriage rates are so high, let alone what infant mortality rates have been? Still, I would not be shocked. I think the wisest people understand the rarity of an event does not have a direct relationship to the level of tragedy or brokenness represented by it? Certainly we do see people in some cultures in history protecting themselves emotionally by distancing themselves from young children who might die. But I've also seen hints, from the little I do know, of cultures honoring even the common processes in ways that acknowledge the pain and heal from them.
I mean, take childbirth itself, for example. In modern Western culture the feeling seems to be, "No big deal, women have babies all the time!" We tell stories of great-grandmothers who got up and served dinner to their large families later in the very same day. We assume that's how it is across the world, and "lying around" is our modern wimpiness showing itself. But no. That's not the way it is. As I understand it now, women only get up and work in the fields after childbirth in the most desperate of desperate poverty, when they have to do so to live. Otherwise, what we see around the world is a period of rest and being cared for by other women. Even in our own culture, historically, the "lying in."
And that's a common non-tragic event. So a miscarriage? It's obviously different in some important factors, but I'm curious. Maybe I'll do that research. Off the top of your heads, anyone have some links or anything you can point me to?
[P.S. After writing this, I've now looked around a little bit. It's hard to find what I'm looking for, but already I've seen hints of both things I expected, the dismissive and the honoring, if nothing yet about would-be due dates. I loved this bit of one comment I found, the mention of "...a therapeutic culture that pathologises grief." Oh. Yes. That. That's one reason I would expect to find some healthy grieving rituals in other cultures -- because grief is a part of life, "common" in no way changes that, and many cultures do treat grief, common or not, as a process that needs to be lived through and marked.
Looked some more, and yes, I can find a little info about rituals after miscarriage in other cultures, and plenty from women in our culture about the pain as a due date approaches, but can't seem to find much about the combination. Maybe just an accident of the way the internet and Google works, and I haven't found the right search terms yet. I would say that maybe we're more fixated on due dates than in the past, but, well, modern medicine or not, it's not as though we're the first in the history of the world to figure out how to count!]

And now it's later, and though I'm still thinking about October 1st, I also belatedly re-checked and counted another thing. If I had had Cholestasis again in this pregnancy, which is likely (recurrence possibly anywhere from 70 to 90%), I probably would have been induced at 37 weeks. (Rather than a couple days before 39 weeks, as the Cholestasis probably would have been caught faster and surely at a new hospital they wouldn't have LOST THE #$@% TEST this time.)

Which would mean I would have been induced right around September 10th. My baby wouldn't have been born then, because the process can take a few days, but it would have begun. I hadn't figured that out by the 10th. But it was still... a very emotional day. Huh. I did some emotional writing, missed a doctor's appointment, and had it rescheduled later that day. I talked with my doctor about my depression and physical symptoms I've been having, and she measured my heart rate at 100 bpm. It was... a day.

Things... might be getting better. A little. I'm cautious. Today was another Pain Day physically, as I've had every four weeks since my D&C, because my hormones just love me so very, very much. (I don't need to have an actual period to have the Menstrual Cramps From Hell! That would make too much sense!) I'm torn between, "Body, you are very smart. I'm sorry I don't listen to you more carefully. Please, carry on," and, "Okay, but you can STOP HURTING ME NOW, goram it!"

Both true yes. STOP.


Ruth Brandt said...

Dearest Marcy: I'm so sorry to hear that you had a miscarriage. How sad. You are one of 3 ladies in our family who have had miscarriages. Our daughter in law, Ashleigh, wrote extensively about her miscarriage about 4 years ago. Cousin, Joe Harris's daughter, Heidi, lost a baby through miscarriage about 3 months ago. You all are about the same age, in the 30's. praying for you. Hope to meet you sometime. Love, Aunt Ruth

Marcy said...

Thank you, Aunt Ruth. More miscarriages on my side of the family, too. They're a fairly common thing, but of course that doesn't make them any better. Thank you for sharing and for praying. (Belatedly! Don't know if you'll see this here, sorry.)