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Jul 28 2011

When Life Gives You Sour Dough, Make Challah

By at 9:38 am


Where do I begin? The last few days have been a blur. Emotionally draining, physically exhausting, and a bit of medicated numbness to top it all off. I have seen many beautiful sights in Ireland and one horrible sight as well. The stark, vast landscape of the Burren in particular took my breath away.  So did the ultrasound picture showing an empty sac.

When I last left you, I was pondering what the next few weeks would bring. I did some research on the radiologist who looked at my ultrasound because I had a weird feeling about him. It turns out he was embroiled in a scandal last year. The 58-year-old doctor’s 25-year-old pregnant-with-his-child, lap-dancing girlfriend died from binge drinking. It’s a terrible story, but it gave me hope! Perhaps the lack of judgment in his personal life extended to the professional. Maybe he read my scans wrong and there was still a baby in my tummy.

But I knew there was no baby inside of me. As I struggled to comes to terms with it, I consulted with experts back home: OB/GYN, midwife, and friends, in particular Tamara, a fellow blogger here on Kveller who recently experienced the same thing. I discovered that to miscarry naturally could take a few weeks, potentially involving excessive bleeding and/or extreme pain. I was advised that if I wanted to go that route, I’d better get my hands on some serious pain medication.

The day after the ultrasound, my husband took me to a small spa to help me relax a bit.  On the drive home our path crossed with a stray dog running down the middle of a major road.  There are many stray dogs here, but I insisted we stop for this one to see if we could return her. She had no collar but was lonely, scared, and pregnant. We took this sweet, little dog home with us and became attached within hours. The timing was so coincidental I feel there were other forces at play that brought her to us.

I didn’t want to wait nor deal with the pain, so I started to research how to get a D&C or MVA (which I greatly preferred once I started reading up on it: more suction, less cutting). However, I quickly found out that getting these procedures in Ireland is very difficult because abortion is totally unkosher here. Even though it wouldn’t be an abortion (hello! no fetus!), the midwife I spoke to said, “Well, we’re really going to have to wait and see about that. You know, we are a Catholic country.”

I started spotting lightly while I was busy making calls, writing emails, scheduling appointments, and doing research. One of the things I am most grateful for in all of this is that I went for that initial ultrasound. Without it, and the forewarning it came with, I would have freaked out at the bleeding, rushed to the hospital, and been traumatized to find out I was miscarrying. Thank goodness I had time to process and prepare.

I am also grateful that I packed a small pharmacy in my suitcase. I pulled out my magical mystery bag and retrieved Vicodin, Tylenol 3 & 4, and an all-purpose antibiotic. If I was to miscarry at home, I wanted to be nice and medicated for it.

I awoke this morning with my uterus feeling like a clenched fist.  I popped my first Vicodin and waited.  Sure enough, I started to bleed.  It really was nothing different from a heavy period.  Until I clearly passed the gestational sac. I normally would consider this TMI, but there is an important point I want to share. By seeing the sac and noting that it was whole and complete, I let go of my worry of having a partial miscarriage that would still require an intervention. The rest of the day I popped Vicodin every four hours as I continued to bleed. It made me teeter between fatigue and insane bursts of energy.

Hence, I baked my first vegan challah. It kept my mind off things and made me feel like I accomplished something. It helped me get through the day focusing on feeding my family, relishing the challenge of a new recipe, and enjoying the smell of fresh baked bread in the house. I lost myself in the moment as I mixed, kneaded, punched, and braided the dough. I looked forward to each step in the long process, gaining the patience to deal with the ickier parts of the day. I am proud that I got through it all in the way I did.  I was not scared, I was prepared. In spite of everything, I was able to put food on the table to feed my family. And, as every Jewish mama knows, that is the best feeling in the world.


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