My miscarriage in New York City…June Gloom

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  • August 4, 2015

*Photos courtesy of author

I don’t really like when people tell me they are “trying” to get pregnant.  All it really means is you’re having sex.  Unprotected sex.  I often joke with my friends to just let me know after they conceive, to avoid the visuals.

For years I was one of those “trying’ people.  I then realized it is a process, a very difficult one at that.  I conceived and miscarried first in 2008.  My doctor at the time chalked it up to statistics, common stats.  Curious words that did nothing to make me feel better.

I became pregnant again in 2009, only this time it was ectopic.  I had tubal damage but hadn’t been prepped about the chances of ectopic pregnancy.  This is when the fertilized egg develops out of the uterus, often in the tube.  My pregnancy was in the tube.  There was no way to save the pregnancy and it poses a risk to the mom’s health.  I needed a methotrexate shot in my butt and then sent home.  Methotrexate is used in the treatment of cancer patients as well as early ectopic pregnancies to stop cell growth.  This didn’t make me feel better either.  But it caused the medically necessary termination of my pregnancy.

I underwent a battery of tests only to be told “you’re normal.”  Try again.  Well, since “trying” means sex, sex led to unsuccessful pregnancy for me, which led to terminating a wanted pregnancy via a giant needle in my butt, I wasn’t much up for trying.  But at least I was normal.

Since I decided I wanted to take a break from “trying” I went about my life, suppressing my sadness, and focused on the here and now.  I had three children about to graduate!  Two seniors (Irish twins) and an 8th grader.  My oldest (son) had no interest in a DC/NYC grad trip but was up for a grad party.  Let the planning begin!  I booked our red-eye the same day as the party and prepared for 150 guests, about a week before I learned I was pregnant again.  Shit!  This was bad timing and I didn’t want to talk about it.  If I don’t have a drink at the party people will suspect something.  This day was for the graduates, not me! I avoided anyone noticing me without a drink in hand and trips to the bar to celebrate.  “I don’t want to feel crappy on the flight,” “I fly in 6 hours.”  Excuses, excuses.

The doctor said I could fly so I decided it was meant to be.  Good to go!

The girls and I (and a fellow 8th grade grad friend) flew into D.C.  We spent a few lovely days in Virginia with my cousin, a couple of day trips to the Capital and Georgetown, shopping, sightseeing and delicious meals my chef-cousin made.  (I still crave his panzanella salad.)  And while sitting on the front steps of their home I thought I saw burning embers warning me a fire was near only to realize they were fireflys!  Real life fireflys!  And I was still pregnant when we hopped on the bus to New York City.

Our first night I booked a fancy hotel, and then we had a lower East Side apartment through a friend.  The first place fell through the day we arrived, but scrambling got us another apartment, same area.  We arrived to find a giant cockroach in the bathroom, above the toilet.  My liaison friend refused to come rescue us or call it a cockroach.  She said it was a water bug (3 inches out of the water?) and get used to them in summer!  In New York!

I had visited New York many times and was excited to show the girls around.  Clyde (the cockroach) would not stop our fun, but he wouldn’t leave either.

We met up with friends, spent an afternoon in Central Park and scheduled a dinner with a friend at the top of Manhattan.  I started to cramp during dinner and excused myself.  I had started spotting.  No, no, no!  Please God, no!  Not here!  Not on the girl’s trip, not at dinner, not two subway stops away from the private bathroom with fucking Clyde standing guard over the toilet. No.

My miscarriage in New York City …


I knew I had to leave.  To know me is to know I don’t have a poker face, I’m not subtle, and you can count on my having wine with dinner. Failed on all three counts.  But no one, except my husband 3,000 miles away in San Francisco, knew I was pregnant.  We left but had to stop at Dwayne Reade for $40 worth of roach killer.

I called my doctor, she reminded me it wasn’t my first rodeo and let it pass.  I had to get back to that apartment and get the girls and Clyde out.  It was horrible – I finally had to tell my older daughter (who questioned why I didn’t go to the hospital) and remembered my husband was camping and was unreachable.  

In that cramped lower East Side bathroom, worried Clyde’s family would seek revenge, I let my third dream “pass” into the New York City sewage system.  Now I really was alone.  God, it hurts to write that!

I called my friend that I had left abruptly at dinner and asked her to come meet me.  I had the girls come back and I left to get sangria around the corner.  I told my friend everything.  We stayed at that restaurant until 4 AM.  Thank you, city that never sleeps, because I wasn’t going to either.

There was no good reason to go to the hospital.  My doctor said they would tell me to let it pass and no point waiting of passing the pregnancy while waiting in a NY ER, she’d see me when I returned home.  

We all start out the same.  We were all once 6, 8, 10 weeks gestation.  I wanted those pregnancies.  

I tried.

Jennifer “Jake” McKenna Ibarra Jake studied Early Childhood Education at San Francisco City College, is a certified birth and bereavement doula through SBD University, certified in perinatal mood disorders by Postpartum Support International and is also a PSI member. Jake recently completed two facilitation trainings and co-facilitates local H.A.N.D. meetings. Jake writes about her grief, and recently completed a four-part series on loss. She writes resources she wishes were available to her in 2011. She is a 4th generation San Francisco Native and mother to six including her preterm twin angels. Her personal experience, combined with extensive birth and bereavement training, make her an invaluable asset to the Doula Spot team.

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