Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Basements, Dark Woods, and...the Bathroom

Some places are inherently scary. Horror-movie scary. Basements, for example. Classic place of terror. I want a first floor laundry room because the basement, no matter how clean or well-lit, is a place where the killer always hides. The woods in the dark--another scary place. My husband is always making fun of me because normal animal sounds that come from the ravine behind our house (definitely not deep woods by any stretch, but woods with wildlife nonetheless) scare the pants off me, often. Foxes that sound like a maniac screaming or a small child being killed. Owls or some other night creature that make creepy tittering sounds that follow you or seem to get closer and closer. Deer that crash through the woods and make it sound like a killer is coming to get you. (I may have an obsession with a vague "killer" who lurks in all kinds of environments and sadly has me afraid of tent camping.)

The bathroom has just made the cut of places that freak me out.

Well, to be fair, bathrooms have always creeped me out for other reasons. Prepare yourself to be introduced to some of my more embarrassing, bizarre fears. I have that fear that when I'm washing my face with my eyes closed (always a good idea), I will open my eyes to see something scary in the medicine cabinet mirror. Or someone will be behind me and smash my face into the sink. It never happens, and I don't know what combination of movies or urban legend has put this fear into my head, but I am always creeped out when washing my face in the bathroom. I'm not afraid of the shower, but when in the bathtub with bubbles there's always a completely illogical fear that something will come up the drain. Or, if you submerge your head (which I NEVER EVER do) a killer will get you. Thank you, creepy tub movie scenes (Fatal Attraction, Black Swan...). The toilet has been a source of terror since early childhood--I'm not sure if I was potty trained too early or what, but when I was a child (and possibly into adulthood) I used to be terrified to use the bathroom at night--I had to be back in bed before the toilet stopped "singing" (oh, old homes and their eccentric plumbing), so that if some evil spirit came flying out of the toilet it wouldn't know who had used it last. Later into adulthood the fear wasn't the mythical Toilet Beast, it was that the flushing toilet could alert the killers that someone was awake in the house. I really have to figure out what this killer business is all about!

But now, the bathroom is terrifying for entirely different reasons.

When going through infertility, the bathroom is a place of potential tragedy or potential for good. It can signal the start of your period (bad if you were hoping you were pregnant, good if you need it to start to get into a cycle). It can signal bleeding that is a bad, bad sign. It can also signal bleeding that means something good--implantation spotting. It's where you go to pee on a stick (I hope). That stick can be your best friend or your worst enemy. And it all happens while you're sitting on the toilet.

Now however, having experienced a miscarriage, the bathroom is definitely a place of terror. And of sadness. I have had two losses, but they were totally different. With the ectopic, I started spotting the day before the ectopic was confirmed visually on a fancypants ultrasound. Things were already not looking so hot, so it wasn't exactly a surprise. Upsetting, but not shocking. With this last pregnancy, everything was looking so good. Although, I wasn't feeling good the day I apparently lost the vital part of the pregnancy. I was a little crampier than normal, and downplaying it because when you are pregnant, sharp cramps are a very bad sign. And if I ignored that very bad sign, maybe it wasn't really happening. But then I definitely felt like something was up to no good in my nethers, so when I got to my Grandma's apartment I had to go to the bathroom and check things out. And it was bad. After the teary call to the nurses, I checked again on my way out. It was worse. It was like a horrible nightmare. This was no spotting, this was a horror show. It was terrifying. But at least it wasn't MY bathroom. After crashing the fertility clinic and seeing things on the ultrasound screen, everything slowed down to a stop within hours. My own bathroom didn't betray me in the same way. Soon it was normal. But then it was apparent through my bloodwork that everything was not normal and I would probably start bleeding soon. But I didn't start bleeding again until 10 days after the initial bleed. So every single day I would go to the bathroom and there would be nothing. I would steel myself for the horror show, and nothing would be there. I went through a lot of feminine products unnecessarily. My heart would be in my throat as I went into this room that everyone uses multiple times per day. And I was still using it a fair amount more than usual, because it also took some time for my numbers to totally drop. For a horrible week or so I still felt totally pregnant even though I knew the important part, the sac, was gone. By the time I finally bled for real it was actually a relief. This horrible suspense was over. It could conclude and resolve and at least leave me, if devastated, absolutely sure of where I stood. Because while I wasn't bleeding yet a very, very small part of me was hanging on to the hope that maybe it was all a big mistake.

So now I am left with a problem. This miscarriage has given me something new to be afraid of. I never really thought that this would happen to us--I know so many women who had a hell of a time getting pregnant with IVF, had negative after negative, and when it finally stuck--it stuck for good. They didn't experience a pregnancy loss. So why should I? I had a loss before, but an ectopic isn't the same as a miscarriage. I didn't reject the embryo. The embryo just chose its home location unwisely. For all we know, that embryo may have been completely and totally normal. But this one, this one could not stay for other reasons. Who knows what those are, but most likely it was flawed in some way and missing the code it needed to continue developing. And so it left. Seemingly reluctantly, but it went. And now I know that I can get pregnant in my uterus, but I also know that I can miscarry. This was Bryce's biggest fear. I was deathly afraid of ectopic pregnancy, so rare and improbable especially with IVF. Bryce was afraid of miscarriage, fairly common but really, why would we have that experience? We got both. Two Augusts in a row, filled with loss and fears realized. Miscarriage is pretty common, though. Most people know someone who's had at least one. Just because I had one doesn't mean I'm more likely to have another.

That's the logical take on things. I, however, am now concerned that I am going to need a xanax before going into the bathroom during our next round. I don't quite know how that's going to go, now that I know what it feels like to miscarry. I feel like if we can ever get to 7 weeks it will be party-worthy...I want a cupcake to commemorate each week after 6 that we make it to without incident. I want to believe that this is possible, that we can move on to our next steps in our dream to experience pregnancy together and welcome a child into our lives through a birth. My birth. I want to believe that this was a fluke, that I don't have to be terrified of the bathroom.  I want to feel safe in my body and believe that it will actually sustain life instead of systematically rejecting it. Someday this will be possible, I truly believe that. Someday I will go back to being scared only of the killer in the mirror and the killer-alerting midnight flush.


  1. I am still incredibly sorry for your loss. It doesn't mean that this has to happen every time. I'm hoping that soon you'll get your cupcakes all the way until the 40 weeks mark. :)

  2. Hey thanks! I'm sorry for your loss, too. May we both have cupcakes! And lose the fear of the lav...