Warning: I was reading a blog today from a woman that lost her husband and it was a beautiful tribute to him and it is allowing her to grieve outloud in a way. I hope you don't mind, but I'm grateful for the idea. So I decided to write a little mini-series called "Octo-mom." It might be a little graphic in nature. Female stuff mostly, I anticipate.
I hope that I can use it as a tool to get me through my grief. I include the graphic truth for truth's sake in hopes that people can learn how to talk to someone that has had chronic miscarriages. Especially the Mormon someones. Being a mother and having the ability to have children is something that we are raised with, expected to do and look forward to doing. For me anyway. Mulitiplying and replenishing the earth, and having big families, is not just a Mormon idea and I won't approach it from that perspective because, for me, I so hoped that I could have children more than anything. It's been in my system as long as I can remember. As far back as the "Easy Bake Oven days...
The minute I stood on a college campus I was looking for a husband. I was 18. Every single man I ever dated went through a kind of test in my mind " would he be a good father?" That's probably my biggest secret. Jan Hunsaker, career woman, didn't really want to work for anyone but God. Truth.
But then I went to college...didn't find a husband, epic fail. Went on a mission...came home and went back to college....became studentbody president of the university (I thought that would make me famous with the men, turns out it just makes a girl tired and intimidating.) So I graduated....didn't find a husband...moved to Japan....didn't find a husband...moved home and started teaching...
T.W.E.N.T.Y....Y.E.A.R.S.....P.A.S.S.E.D. And honestly, I can name five LDS women right now that are my age or older and still searching for a companion, and are incredible in every way. I do not supposed their pain. I only tell my own story. Just mine. There are worse things than miscarriages. This is only going to be my mini-series. It's what consumes....me.
Because I have always had the urge to be a mother, I truly believe that most women are born with the natural instinct to bear and nurture children. So my journey has been littered with flashes of hope and buckets of despair. I sincerely hope however, that it might help someone out there dealing with the same thing, or trying to help someone else through it.
I am an Octo-mom. I have been pregnant eight times. I teach school for a living, and when you have tried so hard and so long to have children of your own, so that you can stop raising other people's kids, it makes you feel like a cheap babysitter. It makes you feel like you're in jail. You don't have a good reason to quit working, so you just keep getting in that car and going to work. When what you really want to do is hold a sleeping baby...or a crying one... or a sick one...or just any baby.
Miscarriage 1: Because I was 41 when we got married, we wanted to get started on a family. I didn't want to be using oxygen and a cane at my child's high school graduation. I had never been pregnant but according to the internet, twenty or (two hundred) sites I had visited for information...about three months after we got married I discovered that I probably was. ;-) We called the doctor to schedule an appointment and the nurse said "have you done a pregnancy test?" and I said yes, but they were negative. (If I had a nickle for every pregnancy test I have taken in my life, we'd have enough money to adopt.) She said, "as soon as you get a positive pregnancy test, we'll put you on the schedule."
We couldn't get a pregnancy test to be positive though, and so I waited for that moment and kept going to school as usual with my secret and my hope. Along the way to school Andy would stop and let me throw up here and there. We were having auditions for our summer musical, Little Shop of Horrors, how ironic, and I was in a lot of pain, off and on. It felt like my period was about to start, all the time, so my original impression of being pregnant was that it was very painful... all the time. And that was good. As long as there was pain, I knew I was pregnant. I was elated inside and could not wait for that little stick to turn into the plus sign I knew it would.
The pain eventually turned into diarrhea and in between listening to kids audition, I would run off, throw up, sit down, shoot fire into the toilet and run back into the auditions, sweating, my face beet-red, but I was smiling, nodding.... these were kids I was meeting for the first time. They were so nervous. I needed to help them feel at ease. That's what you do with high school kids.
Sing, smile, write, run, sing, smile, write, run.
Eventually, there was blood and a lot of it. It was like someone had turned on my period tap. I was confused. I thought I was pregnant. I guess I was just having a really late, really bad period. I guess I might have the flu after all. Such crappy timing. So disappointed. And there were more kids to listen to. Always kids.... other people's kids. Turn on your actor, Jan. Use that bachelors degree for something.
The pain got worse, making me pull my knees up to my chest under the desk, all the while smiling at the auditioner making them think I was very present. I'm sure they were looking at me, sweat running down my purple face, white lips and green circles under my eyes, wondering what kind of alien they were auditioning for. It's a wonder we got the cast we did.
Auditions usually run about three hours and between my trips to the bathroom, there are times when you are waiting for people to show up and time passes very slowly. I remember one of those moments when the accompanist was fiddling around on the piano, and I just ran over to the garbage can and threw up in it. We had to tell her what was going on right then so she didn't think she was going to get the flu or as my dad likes to call it "the Gunguskiotis.". In fact, she is also the school secretary and because she is the one that lines up substitutes for illness, she was also the first one to know I was pregnant, all 8 times. I love that woman. We have learned to trust her like the psychiatrist she really is.
Since there was no one around for a minute I sat in the bathroom unhurried. I passed a plate of blood shaped like a flying saucer and shortly after that, I passed a lumpy purple mass the size of a golf ball. Then the pain went away. Instantly. The room got brighter and I could sit up straight.
I distinctly remember being able to take a deep breath, looking at the toilet full of foreign objects and thinking, "this is the worst period I have ever had." And that was all. I had no idea, until I had had two more miscarriages, that the experience at Little Shop auditions was actually my first miscarriage while I was patiently waiting to get a pregnancy test to go positive.
I heard my student stage manager open the bathroom door and say "Jan? There are some more kids here to audition. Are you okay?" And I was. Actor face. Move on.