Crampy Hopes and Maybes

August 11, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone

"It's always darkest before the dawn." - Dan Brown

My period app says that I am currently one day away from starting my period. I am nervous and full of anxiety. The app isn't always accurate, matter of fact, it's just an estimation based on my past cycles.

Although, once-in-a-blue moon the estimation is exact, like on the dot.

But most of the time, the app is either not too far off (I get my period days before or after the estimated day) or way off (my period skips a month, a month-and-a-half, or two, which the app could never estimate).

I like having the period app because it helps me keep track and record my cycles - I no longer have to mark them on a paper calendar - even though it's not 100% reliable, especially for ovulation. I know this because I have tried using the app to "baby dance" during the estimated windows for ovulation. I gave up after being disappointed cycle after cycle. I secretly tried to do this again for this cycle, half-hoping that it worked this time and already half-disappointed, in case it didn't work.

On the other hand, the period app gives me too much anxiety because even though I want to know the next "scheduled" period, knowing it makes me sad. Because if I happened to not get pregnant before or by that "scheduled" period, the disappointment is overwhelming. I can't deal with myself, moreover, I can't deal with the outside world.

It seems that I always miss that window or the calculations are wrong. Or maybe something is wrong with me or him. I don't know. 

But ever since I looked at my app six days ago, when I saw "7 days until next period," I am having trouble with anxiety and trying to keep calm. I refused to reopen the app, until today (the supposed day before I get my period) because my heart isn't prepared to go through this again.

Periods used to be a natural thing. Now, it's antagonizing. 

When it was a couple of days after "7 days until next period," my breasts were tingling and beginning to become fuller and tender. My heart sank, since this is one of those premenstrual signs I now have after losing Elijah. I never had tingling and tender breasts premenstrually, until my first cycle after stillbirth.

I remember how disappointed I was before conceiving Elijah. I was secretly heartbroken and kept the grief to myself. 

I had never expressed the disappointment to my husband because at that time, we never really decided on having babies or prevented pregnancy either. The baby thing was only an idea we toyed with, but never took seriously, especially because years of not preventing were also years of magically not conceiving. It was perfect for the first few years, but I later realized that I wasn't getting any younger and that this wasn't normal.

I am now 25, going on 26 in a few months. I find it hard knowing that at 25, my mom already had three kids, while I struggle to keep one. 

It wasn't until two weeks before I got my first positive pregnancy test (after a few years of negatives) that I began to really worry about whether or not I could ever have kids. Those two weeks before I received my very first BFP was like going through the darkest hour before the dawn. I prayed to everything and everyone above, even to God, that they would bring us a baby. And they did, but they didn't let me keep him.

Elijah died five months after my prayer was answered. 

I remember that a week before the BFP, I had these really awful cramps. They felt like premenstrual cramps, but 10 times worse. They were so bad and would come and go during the day and night, and lasted for almost a week. The last of the cramps lightened and went away after I found out that I was pregnant with Elijah.

At that time (before the BFP), I googled and YouTubed searched everything I could about these cramps and somehow found that I could have been experiencing implantation cramps. Many of the sites online said that "implantation cramps happen because of the egg burrowing into the uterine lining and the pain should only last up to few days." If the cramping was intense or lasted longer than two to three days, then a doctor should be considered.

I asked my doctor during my then five week sonogram of Elijah about the cramps - she ignored it. Didn't really say much about it. After the stillbirth, I asked her again. Could the cramps have anything to do with my early rupture? Still, the answer was: unknown.

My mind wonders of the possibility that those cramps could have been a sign that something was wrong with my pregnancy since the beginning.

Maybe that was why I lost Elijah, maybe it was because when he was an egg, he had trouble attaching to my uterus. Maybe the way he attached wasn't secure enough and led to my waters breaking at five months pregnant? Maybe the loss could have been avoided if my doctor had listened or if I was more adamant about the cramps and getting tests done?

All of these maybes, but it doesn't answer or change a thing. I hate that. I hate that I will never know what had caused the loss or why we lost Elijah. 

For the past few days, I have been waking up very early in the morning to go pee.

The last time I had these horrible early trips to the bathroom was when I was pregnant with Elijah. Although, I don't remember if it was at 3 a.m., but that's what's been happening lately. The first night, I woke up at 3:45 a.m. - I remember clearly because of the ascending numbers. The second night, I don't remember exactly when, but do know that it was 3-something in the morning and made my
trip to the bathroom.

I thought: "Wow, two nights in a row? Something's going on." 

Maybe I should stop drinking water before bed. But both times I woke up to pee was at three in the morning! How strange was that?

But today, instead of 3 a.m., I was awakened at 2 a.m., not to go pee, but by a very painful cramp.

I have been feeling what I think are premenstrual cramps, but hope that they aren't. Ever since I experienced my first implantation cramps, I have hoped that my premenstrual cramps weren't premenstrual. Yesterday, during some later part of the day, the cramps felt like a dull pain in my lower abdomen and lower back.

That 2 a.m. cramp felt nothing like those cramps yesterday or premenstrual cramps. Oh no, this was different.

The cramp started at the top of my stomach area, called the Epigastric Region (I had to search it up). I felt this odd sensation of the sides of that region (the left and right sides of my body) being pushed together. Imagine putting your left hand on the left of your stomach/belly and your right hand on your right and pushing the sides towards each other. This sensation moved from the epigastric region down to my lower abdomen and it hurt like hell.

I felt like my body was pushing something from my upper stomach to my womb. 

I was holding onto my stomach like I had a very bad stomach ache, but the strange thing was, it was worse than a stomach ache and I didn't feel like I had to go to the bathroom. It wasn't a feeling of a stomach ache at all. It was a cramp mixed with pressure and movement in my body.

Never have I ever experienced this before and when I woke up startled and scared by it, it reminded me of the implantation cramps I had before I knew I was pregnant with Elijah.

Another strange thing was that I was dreaming (I will not go into detail about the dream). After I woke up from the cramps, with my eyes still closed, I was touching Elijah's Bear sitting right above my head. I had put him there before I went to sleep. I was touching the bear's foot, saying something like:

"I would be a better mom, right, Elijah?" 

"Help me be a better mom, Elijah." 

I would repeat saying this for another few times before I fell back to sleep. Unfortunately, the cramping never went away and I was lightly sleeping, dealing with the pain, until 8 a.m., this morning. I realized that I had to bring out my heating pad because I wasn't feeling any better. My belly also felt swollen, pulsating with pain from deep inside my body.

The cramping went away by noon and it was as if nothing had happened. 

A part of me wants to compare the pain to contractions, but it wouldn't make sense to contract starting from so high in the body. I hope that there is nothing seriously wrong with me. The other part of me hopes that by some (painful and strange) miracle, a baby was implanting.

But I'm not looking forward to tomorrow or the days to come. I'm hopeful, then again, I'm hopeless. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Maybe I am, maybe I am not. I hate this.

Could someone please help me put away the maybes, so that I could just keep the hope?

With love,

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