Monday, May 28, 2007

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. We’re supposed to be honoring soldiers but most people just use the three-day weekend to barbecue & drink. I did.

I’m thinking about something very specific that a lot of veterans deal with: post-traumatic stress disorder. I recently listened to an NPR story about a therapy technique whereby soldiers suffering from PTSD re-live stressful episodes complete with video, sound and even a vibrating chair to mimic the rumble of a hum-vee.

Therapists talk the soldier through their experience; deconstructing the chronology of the terrifying episode and stopping to address specific feelings that crop up as the soldier re-tells his story.

I had a similar experience at my first meeting with the IF shrink, which took place last week.

We started the session discussing why I was there: two miscarriages in seven months; biological clock going at warp speed; undergoing testing to see what (if anything) is wrong with me; blah, blah-blah, blah.

I explained to her that I have two consistent thoughts that plague me every day:
1. It will take us a long time to get pregnant.
2. When we do, I will miscarry again.

These thoughts have become central in my life. Nearly every discussion, every argument, every self-confidence pity fest comes back to the same irrational fear: I will not be a mom.

OK, she said. Let’s start at the beginning. Tell me about your first miscarriage.

Wha? (Cue sound of tires screeching to halt).

See, while I replay the story of my first miscarriage in my mind every single day, I have not talked about its details.

I am very shy when it comes to talking about private things out loud. I would much prefer to write about them or just let them ruminate in my mind.

So I quietly launched in…It was hard for me to do.

It also proved to be amazingly cathartic.

She stopped me at points in my story. We talked about how I went to work every day while I was miscarrying. And how odd it is that we don’t really know how to treat a miscarriage. It’s like having a really bad period. And we go to work when we have our periods, right? But in this case we’re losing a child.

I talked about the ultrasound and how I saw the heartbeat, but it was slower than it should have been. How I left my OB’s office thinking there was hope. How I was in denial the weeks following. How I bought OPKs and a Cookie Magazine when I stopped into the store to buy more pads on my way home from the ultrasound.

I thought talking about this would put me a blue mood for the rest of the week. But when I left the shrink’s office, I felt like a tremendous burden had been lifted from me. I swear the sun was shining a bit brighter that day.

And now I think back over the past few days and realize I haven’t replayed scenes from this miscarriage in my mind. In fact, today is the first day it’s even entered my thoughts. And that is only because I really wanted to document the experience of telling my story out loud.

It seems so amazing to me that by simply letting the story and all its sad details out into the open, it doesn’t seem to occupy such a big space in my mind any longer. Almost like I can see it happening but this time I am an objective observer instead of playing the lead again and again.

It doesn’t make sense to me yet. But I feel a bit lighter. And less anxious. For a few days at least. I’m glad I went.

* * *
Other quick updates:

HSG went well. The doc said her cursory look revealed no blockage, no endo, nada. It was only really painful for about 5 seconds and then I just felt mild cramps for less than 10 minutes afterward. I give full credit to the pre-HSG acupuncture session for the easy procedure. But, man, fallopian tubes are a lot swiqqlier than I thought. I always imagined they looked kind of like macaroni, not spaghetti.

Clomid Challenge Test = normal range. My Clomid side effects were that I felt dizzy in the afternoon and had night sweats for 3 of the 5 nights I was on it. They did not measure my lining or do another ultrasound on Day 10. So far my cervical fluid seems okay. I started a little Robitussin as a precautionary measure after I finished the Clomid.

So my ovarian reserve is normal. My reproductive organs don’t seem to have any major issues. Two tests down. One to go. My immunological work-up is due back this week.


Amy said...

Hi there, I'm glad your HSG was not painful for more than 5 seconds. I will have one sometime in June and I am FREAKING out about the pain aspect of it. I've already asked a girlfriend of mine to get me a xanax! :) Hope the rest of tests come back a-okay.

Carrie said...

I'm so pleased your therapy went well. I didn't speak to anyone about my miscarriages either. I later saw a counselor and I too found it remarkably helpful. I haven't spoken about my thoughts for the future but, funnily enough, was thinking of doing this soon too. I share your consistent thoughts too and I don't want to take baggage onto IVF.

I'm so glad that all the tests are coming back, getting a clearer idea of things help rule out potential problems. That's something at least.

LJ said...

Talking it out is incredibly cathartic. I honestly believe that blogging and therapy have saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

Reproductive Jeans said...

SO glad that the HSG went OK--and it sounds like the therapy session went well. I am glad you were able to do that! Hope all the other tests come back great~

Laura, the (reluctant) baroness said...

I'm glad the therapy session was valuable. Talking about it must have been really difficult, and I admire your ability/willingness to do that. I didn't realize that there were therapist who specialized in IF; that is fantastic!

I'm glad your HSG and clomid challenge went well. I shouldn't tell people this (someone might reach through the screen and strangle me) but clomid made me incredibly euphoric. I mean, other people were asking me what was making me so happy. It did jack for my follicles, but at least I felt good :) Well. . . until the hot flashes kicked in.

Hope the immunologic studies look good, and thanks so much for your kind comment on my blog.

Sticky Bun said...

I'm so glad to hear your first session went well. And, I found reading your story cathartic, so I can only imagine how it was for you. I think we have a lot in common--I also went to work everyday during my miscarriage. I didn't feel like I could justify the time off for, exactly as you say, a bad period.

I think we all need to make sure to take care of ourselves more. I have a feeling a lot of us try to be stoic when we really need to feel.

I hope the rest of your tests come back okay, and that you're able to continue to feel less anxious!

Coffeegrl said...

I'm so happy for you that you found a little peace or at least catharsis from your appointment with the counselor.

Bumble said...

I'm so glad you feel so much better after letting it all out to someone. And also that the tests were good. Hoping your journey is not much longer now x

Alice said...

I'm so glad that your therapy session went well. It's making me wonder if I shouldn't do the same . . . get head shrinked, that is.