A Bump In The Road

We had the most wonderful Christmas and New Years in Mexico. Other than a slight case of upset stomach and diarrhea we were happy and our journey was progressing as planned!  Actually we didn’t really have a plan which was the plan. Go with the flow and fly by the seat of our pants!

After that life kind of changed. As we drove toward Palenque (some of the best ruins we saw), I still felt a bit off after having diarrhea. I remained nauseated.  Then I realized I only had my menstrual cycle for a day (which is totally atypical for me) in December.  Hmmm.  Time to get a pregnancy test. So our first stop upon arriving to Palenque was the grocery store and I bought a pregnancy test!  Yes they are the same in Mexico.

A Positive Pregnancy Test

As soon as we got to the motorhome, I peed on the stick…and it was instantly positive. My stomach sank and flipped with excitement at the same time. I had feelings of joy, fear, and sadness.  This was not our plan, nor did it go with our lifestyle of travelling in a motorhome with less than 200 square feet.  As the groceries sat on the counter waiting to be put away, B kissed me and the kids jumped for joy.  It all would be good and everything always works out as it should, so we decided to be happy. Of course it would take some time and getting used to but we did previously want a third child.

A Positive Surprise

Prior to leaving Canada we tried for 2 years to have baby number 3, but to no avail.  Now, anyone who knows us knows we apparently cannot conceive a child in Canada so it is no surprise we were all of a sudden pregnant in the middle of Mexico when it wasn’t planned.  Our daughter, ‘Anela, was conceived as a surprise in Australia. This also wasn’t the plan as we were waiting for permanent residency visas to come through.

But we rolled with it and came back to Canada to have our first child.  Our son, Felix, was conceived in Costa Rica while we were on a backpacking trip with our 18 month old dautghter.  We had been trying for a second child for a year at that point.  So, after two years of trying for a third baby, we gave away all our baby supplies.  Hence why finding out we were pregnant in Mexico when we were on a 6 month motorhome trip was a bit of a shock.

Feeling Fine Pregnant in Mexico

A week after we found out I was pregnant, I still couldn’t believe it.  My two previous pregnancies I was so sick and with this one I felt great other than being tired.  So we went to another grocery store where I proceeded to take another pregnancy test in the bathroom.  Public bathrooms in Mexico are far from my favourite but I just couldn’t wait. The test once again was positive.  So that was that. I was pregnant! But I had no idea how far along as I had no idea when my last normal cycle was!

Once we arrived in Merida, B called and made a obstetrician appointment for the next day! How easy. We showed up, she did an ultrasound and there was the little embryo measuring 5 weeks pregnant!  Things just got really real…and exciting. Our due date was September 13, 2018! We were told to get another ultrasound at 8 weeks gestation to hear the baby’s heart. We couldn’t wait. ‘Anela had the countdown on!

As we went about our daily lives of traveling and having fun with our kids we all started to get excited. We talked about having a baby, discussed options for our next trip, names, etc.  We were having fun and looking forward to being a family of 5! Once I was 7 weeks we started to look at the map to see where we would be to get another ultrasound.  At 8 weeks we were in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula with minimal opportunity for an ultrasound. But, we were heading to Huatulco in the state of Oaxaca which would have doctors and medical resources.  As we drove toward the Huatulco, I had slight cramping and very light spotting.  This made me nervous as I had never experienced this in a pregnancy.  As B speaks better Spanish than I, he called the gynaecologist who said they are having staffing shortages and can only get a check up if there is an emergency.  I wasn’t sure it was an emergency as I was then feeling good again. Plus, I then read this can be quite normal to have some light spotting and cramping around week 8 of pregnancy.  Phew!

Anticipation for The Ultra sound

Once we got to Huatulco, we all sat on our bed reading and learning about development at week 8.  The baby was now the size of a raspberry and all of its organs were developing.  ‘Anela was so excited.

Our son Felix had been battling intermittent fevers and diarrhea and that night he spiked another fever.  That was when I decided he needed to see a Pediatrician as we couldn’t get his fever down.  Poor little guy was feeling so miserable.  We called around and found a Pediatrician and had an appointment made for that morning. Talk about fast service.  Once we arrived at his appointment we noticed there was an ultrasound at the same office. Perfect.  I was 8 weeks and 4 days at this point and wanted to get a scan. It is different being pregnant in a third world country, while living in a motorhome.  I was a bit paranoid and just wanted to make sure all was good with our baby and ‘Anela really wanted to hear the heartbeat.  So after getting Felix taken care of (blood work, etc) we returned to have an ultrasound and hear our precious baby’s heartbeat.

A Bump In The Road: Devestating News

That was when our lives got flipped upside down.  The ultrasound showed a perfectly formed fetus measuring 8 weeks. ‘Anela stood there happily taking pictures. But something didn’t seem right. There was no movement.  Then I heard the words. “No hay corazon, no esta bien.”   In other words, there is no heart, it’s not good. As he stood there searching for movement and a heart beat, ‘Anela caught on quickly that things were not good. I was crying, B was standing looking very serious asking questions.  We repeated the ultrasound internally to get a better picture…but still no heartbeat.  Our baby had died and along with it a part of me was dying inside too.  When I looked over at ‘Anela she was crying. She came over, cuddled in and we cried together.  Sitting in an ultrasound office in Mexico and our hearts were being torn apart.  I have never felt my sweet angel cry or experience loss like this before and my heart ached for her. It ached for our family. It ached especially for our baby we would never get to hold, cuddle, kiss, sing to, and watch grow.

As a nurse I have seen many heartbroken women experience miscarriages. I have always been caring and showed empathy, or so I thought. But I had no idea the heart break you experience when you’re told your baby is no longer living.  There is no way to describe what I was feeling. I had a sick little boy who I needed to make sure was okay but all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole.  Before leaving the ultrasound office, the doctor said I need to go see a ob/gyn to get pills to make me start having a miscarriage. I was sick to hear this!!!

More Problems Arise

Once we left the ultrasound, we had to return to the Pediatrician (in the same office) to get Felix’s blood test results. So just like that we had to turn off our emotions and I had to go back to mom mode.  ‘Anela sat there teary eyed and whimpering in the doctors office and I sat there numb, until the doctor informed us Felix had a serious infection. His blood work was bad, he apparently had an infection from some sort of bug bite but we weren’t sure where he would have gotten it.

We left the doctors office to go provide a second stool sample as the lab didn’t send his first one for all the tests we needed.  Let me tell you, after our earlier news of our baby dying then having to continue trying to coax a strong willed three year old to poop on demand was not a simple task.  The next day we finally got him to give another stool sample. We could finally leave the town of Huatulco!

A few days later, the Pediatrician messaged and told us Felix had an E Coli infection and he was on the right antibiotics. Thank goodness!

The Truth Around Miscarriage

After a week of processing the news of losing our baby, I started to wonder when I would actually pass the fetus and products of conception.  It was so tough knowing I was still carrying the fetus. Once we got to the city of Oaxaca, I felt the need to reconfirm the ultrasound findings. So we sought out an ob/gyn again. This is how we spent our Valentine’s Day, searching for a doctor to confirm that our baby actually was truly deceased.  We finally found a doctor who seemed empathetic and did in fact reconfirm the precious ultrasounds results.  Our baby was no longer.  This doctor proceeded to prescribe cytotec or misoprostol. I trusted what he said.  He said to take three doses (each 12 hours apart) and everything would be over within a couple days.  He also repeatedly said come back in 3 days and we will check to make sure it was successful and to come prepared for a D&C.  Ok sounds good…maybe not.

Another Bump In The Road

We decided to take it easy for the next day while I took this medication. I took my first dose, and we went to a movie.  I was slightly crampy and had some spotting but nothing much at all.  I took my second dose in the night and had zero pain, cramping or bleeding.  When I woke up in the morning I questioned the dose and how efficient this process would be. Normally I always double check doses before taking meds but due to my head not being in the right mind frame, I didn’t this time. So when I did check the dose in the morning, I was shocked to see that the dose I was taking was not a sufficient dose to facilitate the completion of a miscarriage.  The dose prescribed to me was for cervical ripening to get ready for a D&C!  Needless to say I was less than impressed!  Nor was I going back to a doctor who did this!

Wrong Medication!

So we were back on the hunt to get a prescription for the right dose. We went to a doctor at a pharmacy (Mexico often has free consults with a doctor for a prescription). This also proved futile and frustrating!  She wanted to admit me to a hospital/clinic in order to give me the medication. Everything I had read that morning was that no hospital monitoring was necessary and few complications are reported.  I was not being admitted to a hospital and being away from my family who are my everything.

The next step was to talk to the pharmacist.  We didn’t mention that we went to see the doctor, we just asked for the medication.  Shockingly, you can buy misoprostol over the counter without a prescription. This medication is used in the first trimester to induce abortions as well as to help with incomplete or missed miscarriages.  I couldn’t believe that this medication was so easy to buy without a prescription. Abortions in Mexico are apparently illegal but obviously not chemical abortions where medication is used to induce an abortion.  Mentally I found this miscarriage to be one of the hardest things I have been through. I found myself crying a lot, emotional, and short with the kids. I needed it to be over so I could heal.  We bought the medication and after doing my research I knew the dose I needed.

Let’s Just Relax and Recoop

I booked us a hotel so we could have some comfort and I could have an actual bathroom for privacy. Our motorhome is small and therefore doesn’t provide much privacy and the kids had seen and heard enough.  The hotel seemed like a nice, well deserved idea.  We checked into a hotel in the city of Oaxaca and had four days to relax and start feeling better mentally and physically. There was a playground, pool, and garden area for the kids to run and play.  After taking the proper dose of the misoprostol on the first night, I had a lot of cramping and pain and passed what I thought was the fetus and products of conception. It felt so wrong flushing the toilet but there weren’t a lot of options at this point in the game.  The next day I just felt like I had menstrual cramps and was hopeful that things were looking up!  This would all be over and we could all move on.

The kids had obviously been affected by the stresses of late as ‘Anela had a couple of night time accidents and Felix had a few of accidents as well. We didn’t make a big deal out of any of it as we knew they were obviously just dealing with the stress as well.  We had a big talk to make sure everyone was ok and if they ever need to talk they always have a safe spot to come and cuddle and talk about whatever they need. And just like that the accidents stopped.  Yay!

By day 4 at the hotel, we were more than ready to return to our motorhome and safe place. The hotel was nice for the park and gardens for the kids to play in but the loud music that shook our windows until 4 in the morning on our last night was more than enough.  We love our little home on wheels.

A Beautiful Tribute

Once we were back in our motorhome, 4 days after taking the mistoprol, I actually passed the fetus.  So we decided we would lie it to rest with the butterflies.  We were headed to the Monarch butterflies reserve in the state of Michoacán.  When we arrived we hiked over 3 km up to the monarchs and we quietly laid our small little baby to rest.  The monarch are known to represent the souls of the dead or “alma de la muerte,” so naturally this seemed fitting for us.  We could finally have closure after 2 weeks.

I continued to have menstrual like bleeding but had read that could continue for up to a month. It had only been just over a week since taking the medication.  I continued to have cramps but no signs of infection so I let things just progress on their own speed. This continued for another 2 weeks when I started to have large clots for a couple hours then everything went back to being like a period again.  Being in a third world country with a bit of a language barrier made me want to avoid doctors after the last one gave me the wrong dose and appeared to just want to do a D&C.  Because I felt fine we continued north toward the USA.

Back to The USA

We had friends flying in from Canada to surprise our kids and all go to Legoland together. We planned it all to go off without a hitch. Then the day before our friends arrived, we were sitting at the beach watching the kids play, and the pain and cramping came back with a vengeance!  I asked B to go get me some Advil for the pain (this coming from someone who hates to take medication) and by the time he left me and the kids at the beach, it was unbearable. So I was the mom who, once again “wasn’t feeling well” and had to pack up the kids to leave their friends and fun at the beach. I knew it was not good. I stood up and felt myself start bleeding, and not like a period!  B drove over toward the beach to pick me up and my pants were soaked halfway down my thighs. Poor ‘Anela was shocked by the sight. These poor kids had really seen way too much.

A Hospital Visit And A Long Wait

Once B saw me he immediately said we were going to the hospital.  It was now the 8th of March, exactly one month since we found out our sweet baby wouldn’t be with us.  We found the Tricity Hospital and got triaged.  After passing as much blood and clots as I did, I knew I should be seen at a reasonable rate.  Things seemed to go fairly quickly…at first.  I had blood work within a half an hour, an ultrasound within one hour and all there was to do was wait.  Which ended up being 8 hours before I saw anywhere other than the waiting room. I was told I needed to be in the back where the high triage levels go.  Strange because I watched all the people with minor complaints be triaged, seen and discharged within an hour of arriving but because I was a higher triage I had to sit for 8 hours. Seems totally backwards to me.  However, while waiting, I got to experience life from the other side. People vomiting all over the waiting room from being intoxicated, people coming with all sorts of complaints.  It was definitely entertaining. And after six hours sitting there I met a lovely elderly couple who had nothing but wonderfully hilarious stories to tell about growing up in California. I learned all about legalization of marijuana and all!  It helped pass the time.  Finally after 8 hours I was called back to a bed!  Thank goodness as it was 2:45 in the morning.  I was tired. After another two hours they prescribed the same medication I took in Mexico as well as an injection. They told me to see my Ob/Gyn in a few days (after I told them I am still 3 weeks from getting back to Canada) and sent me merrily on my way.  At this point I was so exhausted I wasn’t thinking straight and just wanted to sleep.

A Break For The Kids But More Problems

The medication didn’t do anything it was supposed to do to help pass the retained products but at least things went back to my new “normal” of just constantly menstruating. We got to participate in the fun activities with our friends and the kids loved Legoland!

I wrote the above on our way back to Canada from the USA as we were almost done our first six months of traveling adventures. I continued to have light spotting and was ready to get back to the healthcare system I knew and was familiar with.  This was the only time and reason through our whole trip I had wished to go back to Canada. We were on the road for 6 months, full time in a 23ft class C motorhome. Other than wanting to see friends and family for a good catch up,  getting this health issue taken care for good was the reason I wanted to come back to Canada. We would love to be able to continue this lifestyle, but that’s for another time.
Once we returned back to Canada I was able to see my family Doctor who immediately consulted an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist.  By the following Monday I was assessed by the Obs/Gyn and scheduled for a D&C the following day, April 10th.   I showed up to the hospital and all went smoothly.
The recovery from the D&C was supposed to be quick and fairly painless. I didn’t find it so easy or painless. I had some physical pain for the first week or so, and had an excruciating headache constantly that was slightly dulled by Tylenol and Advil.  But my emotional pain was far worse than I ever anticipated.  I am not sure if it was because it was finally an end to this long process of miscarrying, or if I had a huge crash in hormones. But, I was an emotional mess.  I cried, and cried, and I cried some more.  I was so overwhelmed by sadness I wasn’t sure this was normal. The smallest things set me off.  I am still not sure this was totally normal, but what is normal anyways when it comes to miscarrying?

Another Doctor’s Visit and Some Resolution

Thankfully this emotional roller coaster only lasted just over a week.  However, I still had the constant headache and was now getting sharp stabbing pains in my lower abdomen.  So finally, two weeks after my procedure, I called the Doctor again and went in to see him the next day.  I was prescribed antibiotics for what they thought must be an infection. Finally, after 48 hours of antibiotics, I was starting to feel somewhat “normal” again. By the end of my course of antibiotics, I was back to being pain free. The headache and lower abdominal pain were finally gone!  Yay!  What a relief!

A Real Account of A Miscarriage: You Are Not Alone

I understand that the topic of miscarriage, and the process some of us unfortunate ladies have to go through is somewhat taboo.  It took me a long time to be ready to talk about it openly as I find loss very difficult.  It reminds me of the day my mom (who was my best friend) died 15 years ago.  However, once someone is ready to talk, others should not feel uncomfortable.  Miscarriages, sadly, are very common.  It is an unfortunate reality for many women of child bearing age.  I wanted to write about my experience to help normalize the subject.  If my story and experiences can help just one person get through one of the saddest times of their life, then sharing my story was 100% worth it.

Now that we have been back in Canada for just over a month, I am healthy again and we are settling into a nice routine.  We are working to fund our travels, having family time as often as possible, visiting friends whenever the opportunity arises, and also doing some upgrades and slight modifications to our home on wheels.   Life is good and we cannot wait to get traveling again.  Next Golden Life Adventure…October 1st, 2018!