I’ve been uhm’ing and ah’ing on whether to write this. I’ve consulted friends and Mr. Bear’s opinion on whether to write it or not. Pro’s of writing it? It might help someone else. It might help me to let go ever so slightly and make peace. Con’s? It’s really, really, really personal. Here I am staring at it again… It has been in my Draft folder for nearly 3 months and counting… Not sure when I’ll actually publish it.
I used to be 100% anti-abortion. “It is a life, a human being, from the point of conception.” “You did the dance, now take responsibility for it.” “You’re a murderer if you have an abortion.” And so many other “reasons”. And then over the years, with the crime and rape statistics increasing, I changed my viewpoint to 90% anti-abortion; saying if you are a victim of rape, then it’s ok, as long as done very early in the pregnancy. Nowhere did it ever cross my mind that I might have to make the most difficult decision in my life and yet again, change my viewpoint on it.
Mr. Bear and I were so excited to extend to our little family. We both knew there could be a chance where I could have hyperemesis gravidarum as I had it while pregnant with Bunny. (Short explanation: The hormone HGC that ensures your body doensn’t terminate and push out the fetus, which is basically seen as a foreign object in your body; is in over drive and makes too much of this hormone for your body to handle.)
I remember discussing it with Mr. Bear and both us being sure that I wouldn’t have it again. Something I don’t wish upon anyone. I remember the cold-June-2014-night when we decided that I would go off the pill. I remember him saying we should start “practicing” that very night. I remember giggling and telling him it will take some time for the pills to work out my system. I remember the first disappointment when Aunt Flow arrived. I remember telling myself that it’s only been a month. I remember making the decision not to become so obsessed on falling pregnant, but rather to enjoy this journey and chapter before it all changed. I remember going away for a romantic weekend just 3 weeks later. I was so looking forward to testing some new wines; I mean how can you go to Cape Town and not do that? I remember the extreme heartburn I had suddenly developed on the way there. And I remember the confirmation that we did indeed have a little one busy growing and developing…
The word “excited” doesn’t quite describe just how we felt. Elated? Delighted? Overjoyed? Thrilled? I’ll just go with all of it, all rolled into one feeling. After confirmation with blood tests, we got the result that it hadn’t even been 2 weeks after conception. (This is where on the one side, if you only find out at 4, 6 or 8 weeks of pregnancy is an advantage…. Less time to count down until you get to meet your little one.)
As most moms, I started tracking the pregnancy week-by-week. Apps, books and Mommy pages were getting my full attention. And then it hit. By the early stage of week 4, I had to run to the bathroom and throw up. I hate throwing up. Absolutely despise it. It’s like your whole body goes into a “sleeper-mode.” I came out of the bathroom, dripping in sweat, quickly calculating whether it could be something I ate the night before or if it was the start of a very difficult journey.
To put it into perspective; while pregnant with Bunny, I was sick, throwing up between 30 and 40 times a day, throughout the whole day. Yes, I counted! I sometimes only had one dry biscuit per WEEK. Dropped 10 kgs in the first 5 months. Had to get an IV drip once a week for 5 weeks at the doctor’s office for dehydration and was once admitted to the hospital for severe dehydration, for a one night stay. Makes it a little bit difficult to speak with other expected mothers when they go through morning sickness or even what they lately call as all-day-sickness. This is not the same. It is worlds apart.
When I first started throwing up I pleaded with myself, begged myself not to get as sick again. This time, I had a 3.5 year old Bunny that still needed me. But my body wouldn’t listen. By week 5, I had to get my first IV drip at the doctor’s office. I was given medicine to try and stop the vomiting and nausea, but none would help. I spend my days between lying on the bathroom floor and on the bed. Any movement would make me run for the bathroom. I stank. My bed stank. My whole house stank. It’s the smell of death. That’s the only way I can describe it. The days became all a blur. I had no idea what day it was. Barely knew what time it was. Apart from the gentle goodbye kisses in the morning from Bunny and Mr. Bear and the excited giggles in the afternoon when they returned home, only to hate to yet again ask Bunny to leave me and my room.
Thank the pope that Mr. Bear isn’t phased my off-putting smells. Thank the pope that he did absolutely any and everything for me. Getting me into the bath, bathing and washing my hair, even drying my hair, various dishes to try and just at least get one spoonful of food into my system, but to no avail. Time stood still…
By week 8, I had my first 2-day hospital stay for dehydration. The 4-hourly injections and permanent IV helped. I actually felt human again. And so I was discharged with some hectic Schedule 4 medication. Yes it helped, a bit. It allowed me to eat very small portions, usually just a few bites a day, which was already more than usual. I was even able to lie on the couch a little bit and watch TV. But it was short lived. 4 days later, I was back living mainly in the bathroom with my face inches from a bowl, spilling my insides out. And so I had another 2-night hospital stay. More injections. More IV. More medicine. I was being pulled away from death once more.
After this stay, it happened again. By week 10, I had been in the hospital between 2 and 3 days per stay, for the past 3 weeks. My poor OB/GYN didn’t know what to do with me. The nurses knew me by now. I had no idea what was going on in either Mr. Bear’s nor Bunny’s life. All I knew was to get through another day. Let the baby just grow out of this stage. But it was sucking life out of me.
If you know me, you’ll know that I’m not one to make a big deal of illnesses. I usually play it down. I hate receiving sympathy so I act tough and push on through. But with this, I couldn’t. We had tried all medication I was allowed to have. Tried reflexology even. Nothing would help. I’d lost 10kg in 5 weeks. I was just skin and bone.
Week 11 and nothing had improved, it was getting worse. I spend the entire Wednesday night in the bathroom. I timed myself. EVERY 20 MINUTES!! Every 20 minutes I threw up. There was nothing left to come out. I had thrown up so much that I was throwing up blood and started to have abdominal cramps from all the stomach contractions. By 6am the next morning I told Mr. Bear that it’s time for another hospital trip.
In less than an hour and a half, I was hooked up to my IV drip in my fresh smelling hospital bed. But this time, even the medicine made no difference. I was given Pethidine for the cramps and pain. It didn’t help at all. Injections and tablets to stop the vomiting. But to no avail.
I remember my OB/GYN coming in to see me late that afternoon. Her facial expression told me more than what she could have. “This is going to kill you. It’s killing you. There’s nothing more we can give you. Nothing is helping” she had said. There was no way we could know for sure how long I’d need to stay in the hospital. With Bunny, it only started easing up at around 20 weeks. That meant 9 weeks to go. Yet, keeping in mind that this time it was 100% worse, we just couldn’t be sure nor take the risk. She had consulted 4 other OB/GYN’s in the country to try find a “cocktail” of medication that would work for me. All advice had already been tried and tested with no positive results. I was told to make the decision:
A. Stay in hospital for most likely the next 10 weeks, if not the rest of the entire pregnancy; with the possibility and very likelihood of rupturing my intestines; having no idea if all this medication would have an effect on the baby as well as barely seeing Bunny and Mr. Bear as I really didn’t want either of them to see me like that
And right there my viewpoint had to change. Never in my life did I ever think that I’d have to do something that I was against. Never had I imagined that anyone had to ever make such a decision. The debate between right and wrong was fighting within me. I called Mr. Bear while he was at home attending to Bunny and running the house. PS! Men can run the house. Hats off to him.
But the decision or answer was clear. We had to end it. I would have been of no use to my family. And there was no guarantee that I would make it out alive. Yes! It was that drastic.
On Saturday, 4 October 2014, I was rolled into theater to do a D&C.
I remember waking up after the effects of anesthetics and my OB/GYN and Mr. Bear at the side of my bed. I remember the first thing I asked for… food. I was hungry. It was like a switch had been flipped and I was back to “normal”. I remember the drive home after being discharged. I remember Mr. Bear asking me how I was and me saying I’m fine. I remember the next few days where I had to let people know that there was no more baby. I remember just saying “We lost the baby.” I remember how no one asked what happened or why. In a way it made it easier as they just assumed we lost the baby . But on night 3, I broke down. the tears came gushing down. The guilt crept in. Mr. Bear just held me while I sobbed. What had I done? Why was I not stronger? I should have….
It wasn’t meant to be. My body was not ready…
I’m writing this nearly 2 years later. Few know of the exact happenings. But I hope that for those mommies, or almost mommies, who never got to hold their little ones for whatever reason, those mommies who have babies with wings, I hope and pray that it will get easier for you. Get help if you can’t handle the guilt, the loss, the emptiness, the void.
The lesson I’ve learned from this, is don’t judge. Until you completely know and have been there every second of the way; not only in the same room but in the mind of the person who’s been given this horrible decision to make; you will never know what it was/is like.
I have no clever or beautiful last words…