Monday, January 19, 2015

my cytotec nightmare.

I don't even know where to begin.

Sunday I returned from my trip. I gave Mr. Hope the souvenirs I'd purchased for him. I loved on Precious Pup. And then I took a shower, to make sure I was squeaky clean before I inserted two Cytotec tablets in my vagina per doctor's orders.

A few hours later, I started to feel cramps. The cramps got stronger and stronger, until they started to feel like really bad period cramps. I do my Google thing. Sure enough, I start reading stories about women who were given Cytotec (a.k.a. Misoprostol) to help aid their bodies in miscarriage at home. 

I post the following to my super secret Facebook group:

Was anyone given cytotec to take vaginally before a D&E or D&C? The doctor told me I'd take them to "soften my cervix." I put two in at 4:30 and now I have the worst cramps. I'm supposed to insert four more before bed and two more in the morning. I'm terrified I'm going to start bleeding and passing the gestational sac at home, which I didn't want to do (and why I asked for the D&E in the first place). I Googled and read accounts of women who were given lower doses than I was to miscarry at home with medical assistance and now I don't want to take any more of the pills. Also I was given Vicodin for the pain but I thought I wasn't supposed to take them until tomorrow before the procedure, but I was also reading about women who were told to take them while on the cytotec. I'm kind of freaking out right now, so any insight/advice would be helpful.

Right after I post this, I go to the bathroom. There is a dot of pinkish red blood on the toilet tissue. Within fifteen minutes, the dot has turned into a light flow. Fifteen minutes after that, that flow has gotten heavier.

This is when I start to panic. I don't have pads in the house. I'd forgotten to get them when I filled my Vicodin prescription. My BFF was going to purchase some and bring them in the morning. I text her to let her know what is going on and to ask if she's purchased the pads yet. No response; the message has been delivered but not read (thank you, iPhone, for my favorite feature ever).

I call Posh Clinic to have the on-call doctor paged. Thankfully, Dr. Colleague is the one on duty. I don't think I could've dealt with the coldness of Dr. Eyeore and I would've likely taken Dr. Smiles' head off. How dare he give me this drug and not prepare me for what it would do? Literally, he told us nothing beyond "soften the cervix." He did say the Vicodin was for the cramping but since he told me to take it an hour before the procedure I assumed that the cramping came afterward.

In other words, I knew nothing. 

I start to cry.

I say to Mr. Hope over and over, "I don't want to do this here." This meaning "lose our baby." Here meaning "in our home." 

I know that some women prefer to do it this way, in the comfort and privacy of their homes. But I am the woman who knows which sweater I'm wearing to the procedure so that I can donate it immediately after. I am the woman who planned to wear a blackout sleep mask and blare Bollywood dance remixes through noise-canceling headphones so that I could deprive as many of my senses as possible. If I could somehow NOT be present at my own miscarriage, I would make that happen.

I cry even harder. Mr. Hope cries with me as I sob into his lap and say, "I want my mom. I want my mom. I want my mom." 

How is this even happening? I had a plan. I was prepared. Now, this?

The responses from my FB group started coming almost immediately. Two women share that they were given Cytotec to induce labor. Others confirm what I've already read. All of them are horrified on my behalf.

I use a heating pad to help with the cramps. Forty minutes pass and I haven't received a call back from Dr. Colleague. I dial the emergency line again. This time, the phone rings back three minutes later.

Dr. Colleague sounds mildly horrified that Dr. Smiles hasn't prepared me for what the Cytotec would do. "I'm so sorry, sweetie," she keeps saying. In her experience, about 50% of the women who take the Cytotec end up miscarrying at home before they make it to the procedure. 

But I didn't want this, I tell her. Dr. Smiles knew that. And I wanted testing. I wanted to know why this happened.

She asks me if Dr. Smiles gave me a specimen cup.

"No," I say. "Literally, all he said was 'soften the cervix.' He didn't even tell me there was a possibility I could bleed at home."

Not to worry, Dr. Colleague says. Run a Tupperware container through the dishwasher to sterilize it. That will work. 

She explains to me that I can't have a D&E without the D (dilation) part. And that is what the Cytotec is used for. The fact that I started bleeding so heavily so quickly tells her that my body was ready to expel. It makes sense; Nugget's heart had likely stopped 10 days ago. We were using the hormones to trick my body into holding onto her a little while longer.

I get more apologies from her for having to go through this unprepared. She gives me more information, like how I may get diarrhea from the medicine - nausea too. I could also run a low-grade fever. 

And I do have a little bit of nausea, but it's mixed with hunger because Mr. Hope and I never actually ate dinner. It's about 10:15 when I ask him to make me a grilled cheese sandwich so that I can take half a Vicodin. He does. It's the best grilled cheese sandwich he's ever made. 

The bleeding grows heavier. I send more text messages to the BFF. Now I'm in a double pickle. One, I don't have pads. Well, that's not entirely true. I have panty liners and one thick bad leftover from a retrieval. I don't want to leave the house because I'm afraid of the bleeding. I don't want Mr. Hope to run out and get some because I don't want to be alone. 

I text the BFF's daughter. No response. I text her son: "Is your mom sleeping? If not, can you tell her to check her phone? It's kind of an emergency."

Finally, a response! The BFF runs upstairs to get her phone, where it's been charging. She tells me to call her. I do. I fill her in on what's been happening. I ask her if she can text Mr. Hope a picture of the kind of pads I need. She says, "I'm going to get some and bring them over. I wouldn't even know what to tell him to get."

She arrives a little after 11 with the longest, thickest, wing-iest pads I've ever seen. "I got you what I would've wanted," she says. Then she hands me a small white box. "I was going to give this to you tomorrow, but I figure you could use it tonight." It's an orange calcite - a beautiful crystal purported to have healing powers. She got it while we were on vacation.

I hug her and cry into her shoulder. When I pull away, I see she's been crying too.

I try to find the silver lining. "So far it's just been blood, no clots. So maybe all I'll do is bleed."

The BFF leaves. I go to the bathroom...and pass my first clot.

[WARNING: This is about to get very graphic. Please stop reading if you're at all squeamish.]

Mr. Hope puts an old plastic colander in the toilet to catch any large clumps of tissue. I get a glass dish that's recently been in the dishwasher and store any large chunks there. We can't figure out if we should refrigerate it or not, but we do just to be safe. 

Every time I go to the bathroom, I retrieve the glass bowl. I pull tissue off the TP and deposit it there. I pull tissue out of the colander. My hands get blood on them every. single. time. I turn into Lady Macbeth trying to wash them clean.

I know that I'm looking for whitish-gray clumps. I pass some tissue with a whitish-gray streak in it. I add that to the glass dish.

The cramps get stronger, so I take another half of the Vicodin. This puts me over the edge, and around 1 a.m. I start to pass out on the couch. I make one more trip to the bathroom before putting myself to bed.

I sleep through the night. When I wake up at 6 a.m., I feel very wet. I get up and retrieve my glass dish from the fridge and then head to the bathroom. I pull down my pants and go to sit on the toilet but Mr. Hope has closed the lid, so I end up sitting on that. I hop back up almost immediately, lift the lid, and sit back down.

My undies are covered in blood. The pad has soaked through. There are streaks of blood on my pajama bottoms. When I wipe there is so much blood. I add more clumps to the dish. I wipe some more. I use fragrance-free wet wipes to clean up some.

That's when I see it: the thick blob of bloody tissue on the corner of the bathroom rug. It must have slid out when I first took my pants off. I start picking up the chunks and adding them to the dish. 

It's around this time that I realize I am unnaturally calm. Inside I am horrified by what's happening to my body, not to mention the things I have to do because of it. But I am at the same time weirdly flat. I am examining the chunks to look for the whitish-gray tissue. I wash my hands half a dozen times in between.

I feel like I need to poop but I'm afraid to poop because I know that means I could expel more stuff. But I really, really feel like I need to poop. So I get up, take the colander out of the toilet, and sit back down. I let out a little gas and feel a huge whoosh.

No. No no no no no -

I see it in the bottom of the toilet. A very large lump of something. Without any hesitation I plunge my hand in and pick it up. It takes up most of my palm.There are silvery streaks running through it and on one side is a crescent-shaped clump that's the right size and color to be Nugget. I don't know if it actually is, but I add it to the dish because I know it's significant. I just know this.

I'm pretty sure I just miscarried my child.

I cover the dish and return it to the fridge. I put a stack of paper towels over the spot on the bathroom carpet. No sense in laundering it now, when I don't know what's left to come. 

On the plus side, I am not really cramping and I'm definitely not in pain. Maybe the worst of it is over? 

My appointment isn't for another three and a half hours. I don't know what will happen between now and then but I do know that I'm terrified about the nearly one-hour drive to the clinic. I'm still in a rental from the accident. We'll need to put down towels. What should I wear? What CAN I wear? The only jeans I don't care about are a little snug. Do I maybe have some old workout pants?

I'm flat and numb but deep inside I'm still really, really angry at Dr. Smiles. He should've prepared me. Or warned me. Or something

Losing Nugget has been one of the worst things I've ever had to deal with, and that's saying a lot. (I had a pretty horrific childhood. My late 20s to mid-30s weren't so hot, either.) But I feel like he made it so much worse but not telling me what would or even could happen.

Three and a half more hours. I just have to make it three and a half more hours and then they will remove whatever's left and send me on my way.

I just hope I can make it.


  1. Omg I am horrified for you, that doctor needs to be written up. I'd make a formal complaint to the hospital or perhaps the board!!!

    Hope it's all over soon. Thinking about you.

    1. I was so angry at him, but it never made sense. He's been such a good doctor. I really think I need to chalk this one up to human error.

      Thank you again for your support during this difficult time. It means so much.

  2. This is so absolutely horrible. I am so very very sorry you had to go through all of is just so very unfair.
    Your bff sounds like the most special, amazing person and I am so glad you have someone like her around with you through all of this.
    Many, many prayers for you in your time of need.

    1. I told her you said that. Because she really is. :)

  3. That's terrible of the doctor not to prepare you for this. I am glad you're not in pain and I do hope the worst is over. I am very sorry that you had to do this at home when that is the last place you wanted to do it. Thinking of you during this awful time.

    1. Thanks, Tiggy. It seems as if the worst is over. There's still some unpredictable bleeding but I'm not cramping or in pain. Just ready for the bleeding to stop.