Tomorrow is my favorite uncle’s (the Photographer) death anniversary. Loved ones passing are always very sad experiences, and with my uncle, it was even sadder for me coz I had so many regrets and I wasn’t able to attend his funeral to say goodbye. With the timing of my pregnancies and the pandemic, I also haven’t even had the chance to visit his grave since he passed away.
I grew up with my uncle and grandma. My uncle never got married but he took care of me and one of my cousins like his own children. I thought of writing about my memories with him but as most of you know, I’m currently in the hospital and I don’t want to be caught drowning in tears by the nurses coming at random times. So I thought to just share about my first pregnancy and why I wasn’t able to say goodbye to my most favorite uncle in the world.
In my earlier post Hospitalized, I shared that I was confined due to threatened preterm labor with my current pregnancy. This second one is tough, but my first, I would say was even tougher coz apart from the pregnancy complications, I had to experience two heartbreaks.
A bit of a background: My husband and I dated for almost 10 years but in between, we did about 6 years of long distance so when we got married, we were already in our early 30s. We wanted to enjoy our marriage for a couple of years before expanding our family so when we decided to have kids, we were already in our mid-30s. We were trying to be pregnant for over a year, and I had to get some medical help as I have hypothyroidism. My body wasn’t producing enough progesterone to help with getting pregnant, so I had to visit my OB every month to get injections. I experienced anxiety and depression during that time because I was feeling the “age pressure”, and almost all my friends around me were having babies. But then a colleague who also had hypothyroidism recommended me to get rankan zōei (HSG test) — a test to see if the fallopian tubes are blocked by running a fluid through them while getting an X-ray. The fluid apparently unblocks or stretches the fallopian tubes in some cases, so I have heard a few friends who got pregnant right after they did the test. And to my surprise, I ended up being one of them! So when I finally got pregnant, my husband and I were ecstatic and it was very precious to us.
I was enjoying the first few weeks of my pregnancy when one day, to my horror, I suddenly saw blood. And it was a lot of blood! I took a day off from work and quickly went to my OB. She checked and the embryo was still implanted in my uterine wall, but, the lining of the wall was shedding like that of a monthly period. My condition was diagnosed as seppaku ryūzan (threatened miscarriage) at 7 weeks of pregnancy. My doctor gave me meds, and advised me to take a couple of weeks off work for bed rest. Coincidentally, my husband and I were to go to my hometown Hokkaido, for my dad’s death anniversary and to share the news with my family. We contemplated about not going, but my doctor said 1.5 hour flight is ok, as long as I won’t carry heavy luggage and will make sure to lie down most of the time. So we went, told my family the happy and worrying news, and I planned to do the rest of my bed rest there with my mom.
But on the very same day we got to Hokkaido and told my family our news, there was also another news about my uncle. My aunt (his sister) caught him lying on the floor in his house, and he couldn’t move from the pain he was feeling around his stomach. They rushed him to the hospital and when he got there, he was already unconscious. The doctors found that his liver was in its worst condition and his kidney had failed (he had surgery in his gallbladder before and he also had diabetes), and they admitted him in the ICU. A few hours later he started having gastrointestinal bleeding. The news was a huge shock to me especially since I had been so pre-occupied with my situation, so I just felt numb that day with all the bad news we were having. On top of being just 2 days away from my dad’s death anniversary, which reminded me of how sudden and painful it was as well.
I spent the next day worrying about my uncle. As he was already unconscious, there was no way that I could talk to him. I wanted to tell him my news! I’m sure he would be very happy to know that I was pregnant. But I didn’t have that chance anymore… We got a call from my aunt that evening. She couldn’t talk from too much crying. I kind’a guessed why but didn’t want to believe… My aunt was just saying my uncle’s name over and over, and couldn’t continue her sentence. Realizing it was all real, I suddenly couldn’t breathe, and my knees weakened that I sat on the floor and just broke down. Everyone was crying and in grief. All my regrets rushed to my head at that time — how I wasn’t always there for him; how “life” and work took priority and I rarely texted him; how I’d say I would call but always days late; how I couldn’t visit him more often than I had wanted; how I wasn’t able to tell him I’m pregnant! And many more. My aunt told me a few times before how my uncle wouldn’t listen to her, but he’d listen to me because he loves me more… I remembered that and everything was just very painful.
My husband and my mom got worried of me and told me to, although very difficult to do, try not to think too much and control my emotions, and to rest and try to sleep. It was indeed very difficult, but they had a point. I was still bleeding at that time so I really needed to take care of myself whilst dealing with the heartache.
The next day, I went to my dad’s death anniversary service, and tried my best to be my usual self. But it was good to spend time with my brothers and grandparents as I was able to forget just for a few hours. My husband and I told them our news and they were very excited for us. A couple of days later, we went back to Tokyo with my mom so she could catch a flight to Manila for my uncle’s funeral. All my family and relatives in Manila were very supportive of my situation. Although they knew how I felt, they advised me not to push myself to go, and said my uncle will surely understand. In my sensitive condition, a 5-hour flight and the emotional drain I will experience could be detrimental. So I stayed put and just kept in touch with my relatives and friends, waited for photos and videos, and just tried to move on. My bleeding eventually stopped by the end of March. Our precious baby survived the shedding wall! It was a big relief and a very joyous moment. But the pain from my uncle’s passing, all the regrets and not being able to say goodbye, lingered…
After all that, I had a little more than a month of normality when another heartache, and another pregnancy complication happened. But let me continue that story on my next post, as this has been quite a long now! Sorry!
So, to be continued…
*seppaku ryūzan (切迫流産, Japanese), threatened miscarriage
*rankan zōei (卵管造影, Japanese), Hysterosalpingography (HSG test)