Monday, July 26, 2010

Girl problems

It's more of a challenge for me to write about things that have to do with my body, oddly enough. I don't think it's because I'm embarrassed if you know that my insides are not perfect, but I get way more worried I'm going to offend someone or gross somebody out with my physicality more so than if I, say, just spew feelings all over the page like emotional vomit. Anyone who knows me well knows I'm such a prude. So if you want to find your way to the nearest exit, I totally understand. Nothing graphic here, but you just might not want to read this chapter. And if that's the case, we coo.

As I posted from home before I left for E's parents' house, I was having major pain related to my period. My cycle was also extra long. Now it's hard for me to know exactly what "normal" feels like when it comes to these things, because one's sense of "normal" is only just that--her own. So if we're comparing "normals," mine has always been shitty. I was at my mom and aunts' Christmas craft fair the first time I got cramps as a teen, and thought I was going to DIE. It has always been like that. Basically it's been one long string of cramping, joined together with a cycle that's never quite been predictable, or as I complained from my pain last week--short.

So I can't say it was a total shocker when my cycle went beyond 50 days. No alarms went off. I was just annoyed. It's been getting longer for almost six months and I just figured it was more of the same weirdness. I don't react well to any kind of regulating medication--BC has always given me the pukes and when I (idiotically) chose a Depo shot in the early 2000's, I had my period for six straight months. You read that right. Six. Straight. Months. OF PERIOD. Girl FAIL. (My doctor's comment? "Wow, that's ONE way to prevent pregnancy!")  This long month was just more of my crazy body, I figured.

But the pain was not like crazy-body-P-normal. I couldn't get out of bed all day Sunday, and on Monday when I went up the hill it didn't get much better. The pain changed, too. Some other things happened that I'll leave out, but suffice it to say I wasn't so comfortable or managing it so well. On my MIL's advice, I called the advice nurse. The thing is, I know the guidelines they use to bring you in since I've had to go in before. I knew I was just flirting with the line of concern and my doc probably wouldn't have me go see anyone. I described (in awkward, specific detail) to the nurse everything that was going, on. She wanted to leave a message for the doc/nurse practitioner to call me, and she didn't really have any ideas.

Except that she said I might be miscarrying. Now I know I have my mind together (mostly) but it didn't occur to me that that could have been what was going on. I had a miscarriage before, before Addie. In fact, it was a major, awful, shaping experience in my life. But honestly it didn't occur to me that this could be that again. It hurt, but it didn't feel like that. The nurse suggested I take a home preg test to see if there was any preg hormone. Even just the suggestion of the test that hit me hard--basically because my brain's programmed the way I'm sure many womens' brains are, start period = not pregnant. Taking a test after that had already happened seemed backward even if I understood the reason for it. Even if it wouldn't have been a 15 minute drive to the nearest Wal Mart, even if I wouldn't have had to nervously take a preg test at my in-laws' without my husband there, I wouldn't have wanted to undertake the exercise simply because I know exactly what kind of emotions lurk behind that floodgate if I suddenly learn I was in the middle of total reproductive disaster.

I took the test. Negative. Crisis averted, right? I spent the week playing phone tag with the nurse; meanwhile my symptoms abated and the pain let up, as did my worry. I figured if the nurse really wanted me to come in (my one unanswered question) she would have made a better effort to return my calls. (And truthfully once I wasn't in as much pain I stopped trying to contact her.) I'd just make an appointment to see my regular doc once I was home, post-San Francisco. By the weekend I felt fine.

But today as I scrubbed my way through three loads of dishes, the second nurse finally called back (complicated, I know--the one we left a message for) because she was just trying to make sure I'm not "out there bleeding to death, waiting for [her] to call [me] back." Gee, thanks lady. If I waited five days, I'd be dead on the ground. And I wasn't. But since it's kind of unsolved, mysterious, I asked her about it. I have a family history of endometriosis and I was also concerned about that. In response to my questions about the cycle length, the pain, the other symptoms, she says (nonchalantly):

"Yeah, you probably miscarried. Probably early after conception."

*heavy sigh* Nothing in my life is different since she uttered that to me over the phone, and yet it is. Or, it might be. Some nurse verbalized it with indifference and now I sit here thinking about it as a possibility.

The thing is I'll never know--maybe that's why it's getting to me. I feel all sorts of things about that statement. This is not the same for me at all as when I knew I was losing a baby, because that was devastating for quite some time. And even that (which was a very difficult thing for me) is not at all comparable to so many tragedies that families experience that I know are beyond anything I can even imagine. I'm definitely okay. But it just burns low in my chest tonight. It calls to mind so much of what I felt in the months after, and it confuses me more than anything--about how I am supposed to feel, or about what I might feel, what I don't feel, what I feel guilty for not feeling, if that even makes sense. I know that I never get to know, and I hate that. We weren't being stupid--of course I know there's always a chance of conception even when you're careful--but there was no oops. So if it happened, it happened, and it wasn't intentional and we didn't know... but you know that to me a baby is a baby and even the thought of one... it's just so complicated.

This is not a feel sorry for me post either. Even if I did miscarry (of which there is no proof), I know I'm another "normal," and if I was preg, I didn't know. This wouldn't be like before. I'm not sad. I'm just a little bit stirred up, emotionally. Confused. It brings to mind many things that I thought I was done thinking about. Writing about it is just a part of how I process anything, I suppose. I'm still definitely in the processing phase and I don't have any kind of conclusion. And knowing that it might be something else entirely bothers me as well. I'm going to go see my regular doc--I want to make sure there isn't another pressing physical concern they've missed before.

Again, I'm physically fine and I'm emotionally okay, I'm just laden with ponderous thought. Maybe this is a lesson in not having answers.


  1. Girly issues suck. I have the most abnormal cycle ever. And I'm pretty sure that I experienced the same thing you did with the miscarriage a few years back - I had the same symptoms, called the nurse, and was told the same thing. And I had no idea that I could have been pregnant (hence the abmormal cycle).
    I'm with ya P-Dawg. Sometimes not having answers is okay. Hang in there.

  2. I'm sorry you've been in so much discomfort. It sounds like the nurse needs a reminder inservice on seeing things from the patient's perspective. One should never mention pregnant or miscarry without some form of confirmatory proof. Its how I was trained as a PA. It raises too many emotional issues otherwise.

    I would suggest follow up as their are many other things that can cause crampy, vague, odds girl pains like ovarian cysts, endometriosis and other things that really need you to see someone.

    Please don't let yourself get hung up on what she said. You have no way of knowing if you were or were not pregnant. The nurse should never have implied the possibility without some form of proof, especially in an aloof uncaring manner.

    Hope that helps!
    --Mark the PA in NY

  3. Without ever having been pregnant or miscarrying, just being a girl I know exactly what you mean. We torture ourselves with possibilities and what-if's! Hope you fell better soon!