Ok, so I have probably just offended a large number of readers by using the word “sucks” in the title of my Christian blog. If you are offended, then you probably have not walked this road. If have walked or are walking this road, you probably feel that this word is not near strong enough and I totally agree. Since this is a Christian blog that is the strongest word that I will use, but yes there are other more explicit words that could be used.
Now that I have said that I will share my story. Buckle up because this is a long one. Yesterday was Miscarriage, Infant Loss and Infertility Awareness Day. I have thought about writing a blog on my journey and have yet to until now. Not sure why I have felt so compelled to do so this year, but this is something the Lord has placed on my heart and I needed to follow through.
As a little girl I had always dreamed of having 5-6 kids. I didn’t grow up in a large family, but always wanted one. I also imagined that I would marry my high school or college sweetheart. Given that I didn’t really date, that wasn’t possible. The Lord brought me my prince a little later than I had hoped and I didn’t get married until I was almost 28 and my hubby was just shy of 36. My husband really only wanted 1 or 2 kids and since I wanted a good many more, we compromised on 3.
We were married June 11th, 2005 and were living in Fort Worth, TX while I was a student at South Western Baptist Theological Seminary. At first we were going to wait a full year before trying, then it was 6 months and then we decided that we just wouldn’t try to prevent. I assumed that we would be pregnant with our first after just a couple of months. I bought and went through more pregnancy tests that summer than most women go through in 4 or 5 pregnancies. Not going to lie, I was disappointed to not see a positive by the end of the summer. By the time my birthday rolled around in October, I was downright frustrated.
Fast forward to the middle of December. It was Sunday afternoon and I finally saw a positive. To say that I was elated would be an understatement. Monday morning I took a second test just to be make sure. My hubby was at work, so I put the test in a baggy and headed to Target to do a little shopping. Just a little while later I was headed eastbound on I-20E to see him at work. When I arrived, I handed him a small bag and when he opened it, there was the test and a bib that said “I Love Daddy.” He was in shock. When we were back at home together that night, we decided that we would surprise our families Christmas morning with the news and then share the news with the rest of our friends. By Tuesday night that plan had been thrown out the window and we spent most of the afternoon and evening on the phone.
Wednesday night rolled around and we were at church as usual. It had been a crazy day. By the time I was finished with handbell rehearsal, I was about to explode. I decided to stop down the hall before heading downstairs to meet my husband. It was then that the fear hit. There was blood, bright red blood. I didn’t know what to do. By the time I came downstairs, I was in tears. We called my mom and she told me to go to the ER. After several tests, the doctor came in and delivered the news that the baby was gone. I was so upset that I threw up. No, not one of my finer moments, but it was my physical response to the loss of my child. This was not exactly how I wanted to start my Christmas break. Christmas Day was bittersweet. I was thrilled to celebrate my first Christmas as husband and wife, but was grieving the loss of our first child.
January, February and March of 2006 came and went. At the end of April we finally saw another positive. I was pregnant again. There was spotting and my OB put me on strict bed rest. Tuesday night, I showed up for practicum because you didn’t miss unless you were on your deathbed. Needless to say, I was a hot mess and had a difficult time holding back the tears. My co-counselor went to get one of the professors and the head of our department. The head of the dept chewed me out for defying doctors’ orders, told me he would let the other professors know, they would pray for me and then promptly sent me home. On Friday morning I went in for blood work. Later that night I passed 2 large blood clots and knew the baby was gone. I still had to go back to the lab Saturday morning to have another round of blood drawn.
On Monday morning the nurse from my OB’s office called and asked if I had experienced any more bleeding. When I told her about what had happened Friday night, she said that explained the difference in numbers from the blood work. She confirmed that once again I had lost another baby. My OB told me that I was “young and there was no reason that I couldn’t get a stay pregnant.” He also told me that I was under no circumstances to try and get pregnant for at least 6 months. He wasn’t the nicest about it and almost sounded angry with me. It was horrible. I should add that this phone call came the week before Mother’s Day. Needless to say, I did not attend church on Sunday because it would have been to hard to sit there with all of the happy mothers.
It was during this time that my mother came across a verse and in spite of how I felt, there was some comfort in it:
Even though I was losing hope that my dream of being a mother would ever come true, I often read and re-read this verse. I wasn’t sure how things would play out, but somehow, someway the Lord would make it work. He had to. No, I know he didn’t “have to,” but I needed Him to.
I went through the rest of that year without getting pregnant again. In December I graduated and we moved back to TN. January through July of 2007 came and went without me getting pregnant again. In August I had another positive test. I called my OB and the blood work looked great. The next round looked great. I went over to my best friend’s house and told her. I made it to 6.5 weeks before the bleeding started. My OB brought me in for an ultrasound and it was confirmed then that I had lost my third child. I was devastated.
The one positive in this was that I had an OB who decided to start looking for answers. She told me that we would start with blood work and then go from there. I had about 20 viles of blood drawn. When the results came in my OB sent me to the maternal fetal specialists to go over the results. That meeting was almost worse than all 3 miscarriages combined. I was not at all prepared for the news I received. She told us that I was a type 1 carrier for 2 different types of blood clotting disorders. This meant that when I would get pregnant and the baby would attach to the uterine wall, my body would form a clot at that spot, essentially suffocating the baby. It also meant that I had no folic acid in my system, which is essential to having a healthy baby. I was shocked because I love broccoli and eat more than my fair share in any given week, so folic acid should not have been an issue. She then went on to inform me that I could continue to get pregnant, but that I would never go on to carry a child to term.
I was devastated and and felt like a failure as a woman. After all, hadn’t I been created to get pregnant and give my husband children? We walked into an area under the stairs, stood next a large picture window overlooking downtown Nashville and all of my tears and frustration come flowing out. I have no idea how long we stood there, but I remember sobbing in my husband’s arms and him praying over me. At some point he guided me to our car. I don’t remember much about the rest of that day.
When my husband and mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday and Christmas, all I could tell them was that I wanted to be a mother. My husband started talking about adoption, but I was not ready to explore that option. As we headed into 2008, I was basically numb. By this time I was a pro at charting. I knew what my body was doing and when we need to be “active.” This was starting to drive a wedge between us. The inability to get pregnant was pushing us apart because I made my husband feel like a tool and a means to get what I wanted, rather than feeling like my husband.
By the time our anniversary came around in June, I was open to start exploring adoption. We opened a savings account and started exploring adoption agencies. The whole process was so overwhelming to me and I had to start to cope with the reality that the way I had hoped to grow my family wouldn’t happen. I wish I could say that my faith didn’t take a hit during all of this, but it did. Church was not my favorite place to be. I forced myself to scan my Bible and praying was more of a drive by type of prayer rather than anything earnest and heartfelt. I hated hearing that friends were pregnant. I stopped going to baby showers and didn’t attend church on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Several nights a week I would cry myself to sleep. It wasn’t fair. I was happily married and we both worked. We weren’t rich, but we were making it.
In September I was late. Even though I was skeptical, I took a pregnancy test and couldn’t believe that it was positive. The sad thing is that I told my husband “give it a day or 2 and it will be over. My OB immediately brought me in for blood work. My HCG looked great. When I came in a couple days later, my numbers were going up like they needed to. Yep, a few days later I started bleeding. My OB brought me in for an ultra sound and for the first time, bad news was not delivered. She then put me on modified bed rest. I was only allowed to go to work because being a school based therapist didn’t require a great deal of walking and moving. I was not allowed to do any shopping, or lift anything over 5lbs. Basically, I went to work, sat all day while seeing clients and then I came home and was either flat on my back on the couch or the bed with my feet propped up on pillows. My OB also started me on several pills. I went from being a person who never took any type of med to taking 7 pills a day.
Over time, I had spotting off and on, which resulted in several ultrasounds. I was still struggling to get excited and accept that I was actually pregnant, even when I made it past the first trimester. It wasn’t until the “big” ultrasound that I actually smiled for the first time in regards to my pregnancy.
It was a Monday afternoon and we went in for the “big” ultrasound. I had been praying that I would have a little girl. For some reason the thought of having a little boy was just something that I couldn’t handle. Sure enough, after a long period of the tech measuring everything, she finally said, “You’re having GIRL.” I was elated. Yes, I was finally excited about being pregnant. That night I met my best friend for dinner and then we went to the mecca of babyland; Toys R Us. I spent way too much money. I should add that she was 3 weeks farther along than I was with her second son.
Christmas was just a few days later and my mother was not happy that the only things on my Christmas list were baby items. I had to explain that I had waited so long, that it was really all I wanted. Both she and my husband humored me. Our daughter received much of what she needed that day. The day after Christmas my mother and I headed to Opry Mills and spent way too much money.
I had other minor issues on and off throughout the rest of the pregnancy and was very much limited on what I could do. Fast forward to May. I noticed that my daughter wasn’t moving. Thanks to the fetal doppler, I knew that she still had a strong heartbeat. My OB brought me in for an ultrasound on Friday, May 8th. She revealed that my daughter had run out of room and that I needed to be induced. When she called over to the hospital, the next open date was Tuesday, May 12th. I wasn’t really sure what to think. She wasn’t due until the 17th. Since I wasn’t planning on leaving work so early, I flew back to my office after my appointment to let them know what was happening. My mom came in the next day and I spent most of the weekend on the couch doing end of year paperwork.
Monday morning, I went to all 4 of my schools to let them know what was happening and touch base with all of my clients. After that I ran back to the office and turned in a pile of homework and did summer checkout with my supervisor. That night, I ate dinner at CFA with my family and best friends.
Tues morning at the crack of dawn, we headed to the hospital. My OB came in around 8:00am and broke my water. The pitocin was started. I figured that my daughter would be there by noon. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Around noon the contractions were getting bad and I asked for an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in a little after 1:00pm and gave it to me. At that point my labor stalled. I could feel nothing and spent most of the afternoon watching a movie and talking w/ my best friend.
My OB was not happy with the way things were progressing. She came in a 4:15pm and told me that if I had not progressed in an hour, that she was going to have to do a c-section because we were already bordering on causing issues for me and my daughter. I was in tears. My best friend was there and my husband called my other best friend. We all talked my friends prayed over me. My OB came back an hour later and there was still no progress. I was then wheeled off to the OR and at 5:45pm, my little blessing was born. She was 7lbs 2oz and 21 inches long and was perfectly healthy. We were finally a family of 3.
A few months later, we were met with another surprise. Yep, I was pregnant. No, we were not trying for #2, but it looked like #2 was coming. The early part of my pregnancy had some scary similarities to my first pregnancy. I spotted off and on through the entire first trimester and again had several ultrasounds. I was also just as sick and on meds again to help with that.
Fast forward to February to the big ultrasound. This time a part of me wanted another girl, so I could put them in matching dresses and hair bows. Another part of me wanted this to be a boy, because I felt like all fathers should have a son to enjoy “guy” things with. When the tech told us it was boy, I was actually happy and my husband was grinning from ear to ear.
The next day would be a horrible day for our family. We received a call that my father in law had been taken to the ER for a possible heart attack. A friend graciously came over to watch munchkin so that we could head to the hospital. When we arrived, we were told that my father-in-law had passed away. It was a shock to everyone. I loved him dearly and took solace in the fact that he knew he was going to have another grandson before he passed.
As we grieved his loss and headed into the summer, the temps began to sore. Leave it to TN to break heat records that summer. The start of June I was about 36 weeks along and there was a great deal of stress. I started to have contractions. They were lasting about a minute and a half and were about 2 mins apart. My husband wanted me to go in and see my OB. I told him it was just stress and that I need to go take a nap. As I headed to our room, unbeknownst to me, he picked up the phone and called my OB. She told him to bring me in. I continued to have contractions all the way to the office. My OB hooked me up to a machine and of course, I didn’t have the first contraction. She asked what was going on and we told her. She then told us what I was already saying; it was stress. I was put on bed rest for the rest of the weekend. My mother drove up to help take care of munchkin.
On an extremely hot July 1st, I headed to the hospital for a scheduled c-section. The nurse had a great sense of humor and joked that I was welcome to head home and wait him out. A little after lunch my 7 lb, 4 oz blue eyed boy was born. My heart was full.
My husband and I had several conversations about the future of our family. At this point, we had a girl, a boy and a dog. The way we figured it, we were the “All American” family. Given everything we had been through, we decided that we were done growing our family. I was not one who did pregnancy well, so we decided that we were done.
The Lord had a great sense of humor. My husband and I had a moment of spontaneity. I was late. This was not supposed to happen. We picked up a pregnancy test on a Friday night. Saturday morning I took the test. I turned it over on the clothes hamper and had zero desire to turn it back over. Finally after staring at it for a while I knew I had to look at it. All my husband could hear was a loud “Oh My God!!!!” coming from the bathroom. His response was “You’re pregnant.” I cried. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Being pregnant again took some getting used to and time to adjust.
This time my OB didn’t bother to do the normal early blood work. Even though I had spotting, she didn’t have me come in for an ultrasound until I was 8 weeks. When I looked at the screen, I was ready to jump up and down. There were 2 babies! I was having twins. That moment, unfortunately, was short lived. The tech informed me that baby B didn’t have any cardiac activity and was only measuring 7 weeks. Baby A looked great and baby B was gone.
The tears started flowing as the tech finished doing what she needed to do. I then went and met with my OB. I couldn’t believe we were dealing with yet another loss. She then informed me that the radiologist looked at the ultrasound. Based on what he saw, it would have identical twins and baby B more than likely had a chromosomal disorder. I was crushed; I had lost my 4th child.
About this time another I girl I knew announced that she was pregnant with twins. She wasn’t married, but had been trying to get pregnant for a while. It wasn’t fair. Why was she going to get to carry her twins to term and I had lose one of mine? Even if our second baby had been born with special needs, we would have loved them and done whatever we needed to make sure needs were met.
This time as we headed into the “big” ultrasound, I was honestly hoping to hear that we were having another girl. Nope, it was boy #2. It took a while for me to accept being pregnant and that we were having another boy. (Just so you don’t think I am a horrible mother, I love him and he is my cuddle bug. I can’t imagine our family without him). Throughout this pregnancy I worried and fretted that there was something wrong with my baby.
At the end of May, my sweet 7 lb 4 oz peanut was born via c-section. Almost as soon as my OB pulled him out I started asking for his Apgar score. The nurse told me that she hadn’t had a chance to check him over. I kept asking until she finally gave me an answer and it was 9 and 9. Pretty sure I finally took a deep breath for the first time since the first ultrasound.
In spite of 4 losses, I was blessed with 3 beautiful and healthy children. On this journey I was also blessed with 2 amazing on-line groups on Baby Center. Yes, my husband, mother, sister, friends and church family were completely supportive, but these online groups were the places I could go and be totally transparent. They understood where I was and what I was going through, because they were walking the same path.
The first group was a pregnancy after a loss group. They all experienced first miscarriages in late 2005. These ladies became my cycle buddies. Slowly, but surely, they all became pregnant. I was one of the last one in this group to get and stay pregnant and came close to leaving several times because it was too difficult to watch them all deliver healthy babies. This group mourned with me and supported me through the losses and then celebrated with me through the births. We are now walking with each other through different stages of childhood. I have had the privilege of meeting one of the ladies in this group and hope to meet all of them some day.
The second group is an adoption group. I joined them when my hubby and I started talking about adoption. This group of ladies is amazing. Several of them had already adopted and others were in the process of adopting. When I became pregnant I offered to bow out of the group, but they kept me. Many of them have gone on to adopt other children and a couple have even gone on to get pregnant. I was thrilled when, on my birthday, 2 of the ladies gave birth to beautiful, healthy baby girls. This group of ladies has a strength that I can’t begin to describe. Their roads have been hard and some of them are still walking through some pretty tough stuff, but I know they will come out on the other side. I have yet to meet any of them in person, but I hope to one day meet them and their beautiful families.
I share about these groups because they are important. Women who walk through miscarriage and loss are not “allowed” to talk about our losses. Many people don’t consider them to be real losses. A miscarriage early on in the pregnancy “wasn’t meant to be” and “the Lord knew what He was doing.” My favorite was “You don’t know what the Lord spared you from dealing with.” These comments don’t help. They hurt. They are real losses. You are still a mother after a miscarriage. The difference is your child is in the arms of the Lord and not in yours. Empty arms are extremely painful and these 2 groups of women made those losses easier to deal with.
If you are walking this road my heart goes out to you. It just plain sucks. There are no words that can be said to make the pain of the loss any less. I am sorry that you have had to hear the stupid things that people have said, even though the intention to be hurtful isn’t really there.
Yes, I love and adore my 3 children and wouldn’t trade them for anything. At the same time I find myself wondering what my other 4 children would have looked liked? What would their personalities have been? While I can’t even begin to imagine life with 7 children, I would have welcomed each and every one of them with open arms. While I know that I will eventually walk through the gates of heaven and finally meet my angel babies, I would have loved the opportunity to get to know them here on earth. Almost every mother who has walked this path would probably tell you the same.
If you are reading this and no idea what it is to walk this path, please watch your comments around those friends who are dealing with this. Comments can hurt. Please tell them that you’re sorry for their loss and tell them that you love them. Offer to get them out of the house for dinner and or a movie. Let your friends express their feelings. It is a loss and they need to grieve. Also, don’t tell them that you “know” they will get pregnant and carry to term, because reality is you don’t know and that comment doesn’t help.
I wish our churches were more active in walking with women down this road. Yes, I had a choir that stood beside me and prayed over me more than once, as well as an incredible group of close friends who did the same. Most aren’t so fortunate. Churches don’t talk about this. There are almost no books written from a Christian perspective on miscarriage, infant loss and infertility. I was fortunate to fine 1 and it was written in the 1970’s. It’s time churches walk along side these women instead of telling to them to “pray about it,” or “give it to the Lord.” I can tell you that they are already doing this, but what they need is the church to be the hands and feet of Christ during this time.
Church groups are the first there when a baby is born to celebrate, but they are rarely there when a mother suffers a miscarriage. All too often, this loss is dealt with in the quiet and solitude of the home because friends and family just don’t know what to do.
I don’t consider myself to be an expert on the subject, but I have walked this road 4 times. My door is always open. I don’t have all of the answers, but I can offer a shoulder to cry on and an empathetic ear. Call me or call another friend, but please don’t walk this path by yourself.
Also, find a way to remember your child(ren). Some of my friends had pieces of jewelry made. Other planted trees or flowering bushes. While I didn’t do anything tangible, all 4 of my children have names. No, other than the last one, I don’t know the gender of my children. In my heart, I am pretty sure I do know and that is how they have received their names. At some point, I hope to order an Origami Owl necklace and there will be a tiny footprint ordered as one of my charms to represent my angel babies, but until then I hold their names in my heart.
If you have made it this far, thank you for following my story. This is the first time I have actually sat and typed out everything. I was surprised the emotions that came pouring back and the vivid memories that I wish never existed. It also made me, once again, long to hold and love on my 4 angel babies.