Saturday, October 27, 2007

Now & Our Story

Two weeks now. Two long weeks since we lost our baby. I wanted to write more in depth about that fateful night, but before going into that I would like to say something first. Amazingly, after a horrible first week, this last week has been much better. Better in that I am now able to receive some measure of hope and peace in my heart. Each day the first week there was something that came to remind me we weren't alone in sorrowing, we were remembered. It helped just to know that when I felt too overwhelmed to choke out anything in my prayers but tears, somehow other believers were lifting us up.

I took some time one evening to specifically seek out Truth, Biblically and Intellectually, about suffering. Outside at Starbucks alone, I read A Greif Observed, the chapters 'Is Christianity Hard or Easy' and 'Counting the Cost' in Mere Christianity, the chapter 'Waiting for the Morning during the Long Night of Weeping' in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (written by a man whose son died shortly after birth). I gained fresh perspective, again having the truths I knew made unambiguous in my mind again. I had all the tools for battle and had been given fresh vision, yet I felt so weary knowing we're still in the trenches. God still requires much of us. But he knows how frail and weak I am, and without shame I can tell Him I don't feel I have the mental energy and spiritual stamina for this battle. He will be gracious not to rebuke, but to enable. Just a little at a time though, I know enough to be aware God wants a daily reliance on Him to be the cornerstone of my existance.

So, whoever has prayed for us, the Lord is answering. I can't thank you enough. I feel a bit shy sometimes that we need SO much prayer, but that is pride.

So, without further drivel, I wanted to tell our story. It is sad, but I'm not depressed in writing it.

Two weeks ago today Jonathan woke at 5 so he could go hunting. I reset the alarm for 7 and slept until then. I didn't feel great upon waking, I had a sore throat that threatened to become worse. Once up I showered, took my vitamins, ate breakfast and started about cleaning the house. Feeling better and especially productive, I pulled out the vacuum. It was terribly hard pushing it and I felt I shouldn't be vacuuming. But I did. I brewed myself a pot of tea and started about writing my cousin Lauren a letter. Jonathan walked in midway through it, so I set it aside.

I really don't recall what we did that day. We may have gone out for some errands. We definitely just had a relaxing and fun Satruday with each other. I think I practiced shooting arrows on my brand new bow outside in the target. We agreed to fix "breakfast for dinner" together. Around 6 we started preparing an English fry up, hash browns, cheese grits, and so on. We set a table outside on the patio and ate. It was a lovely 70 degrees and balmy and we enjoyed it so much. We were so happy to be pregnant and living our lives together. We felt good. Toward the end of the dinner the cramps started again with force. I mentioned them to Jonathan and he insisted on my laying down while he cleaned. That's when I headed to the bathroom and found the shocking, horrifying, scary blood. Not much, but any amount in pregnancy is reason for worry. I tried to tell myself it could be nothing, but I couldn't just let it be. I called the ob and was told it was normal in early pregnancy. My ultrasound was scheduled for Tuesday, but they said I could try to get in Monday morning. She mentioned that if I was really in trouble I could go to the ER and get an ultrasound.

Well, I knew the night was already ruined in terms of my mental wellbeing. I told Jonathan I would not rest assured even if I stopped bleeding unless I got an ultrasound. So off we went shortly after 7 to the hospital.

At the hospital I expected a wait. It took 3 hours until we were called back to a room of our own. In that cold waiting room, we watched football, Jonathan dozed, yet I don't recall a single thing but unnerving fear in the pit of my stomach. I'd go to that small, cramped bathroom every half hour and find blood still there, but so little. I kept hope against hope that things were ok. Maybe I'd exerted myself too much. I had cramps that were getting intense. I began timing them and at worst they came every 5 minutes, at best every 37. Though I wouldn't admit it, I was having contractions.

As we got our room, again it took hours to be seen. I got blood drawn at 11. Cramps, doubling me over in pain, came and went. I stopped watching the clock. We hardly talked. I continued to see blood, sometimes more and sometimes less. Every time I returned from the bathroom, Jonathan would ask how things were. I kept hoping.

Around 1am I went to the bathroom... As cramps came painfully, something slipped from my body... Our little one (I assume it was only one, I really am not totally sure, it could have been two). You don't have to look, but this is a picture of what a 6 weeks old fetus is.... Yeah. So sad. I came out, calm and unbelieving, and told Jonathan, "I think I just miscarried our baby" and I showed him. He cringed and grabbed me in a hug. I just kept hoping, saying "Maybe there are twins and one is ok." I knew it was unlikely, but I just couldn't believe it would be all over.

We quietly waited and in 10 minutes were wheeled to the ultrasound room. The lady said she'd been waiting half an hour for us. I didn't care, I knew seeing it earlier would not change the outcome. As she started taking pictures, I didn't know what to think. I knew I didn't see her measure a heartbeat. I've never seen an ultrasound of my uterus, so I didn't know what to look for. I've seen hundreds of my ovaries, but never this. I didn't think I saw a baby, though. She couldn't tell us anything, but had to send the pictures to a dr in India. Said we'd hear back in an hour. I remember feeling dread being wheeled back to the room. We waited, not long it seemed. The doctor came in and I think I prompted her with, "Bad news?" so she'd have a way to break it. She said, "Well, we didn't see a yolk sac or fetal pole or heartbeat. Your HCG is already at 42. I'm sorry." Tears just streamed down my face. I don't know what Jonathan did or said. The doctor asked if I wanted an exam, but I said no, I just wanted to get out of there. She told me I should, and I just didn't care. I remember lieing there and just weeping, tears pouring down into my hair, not hearing her go on about how I'd get pregnant again and I just needed to relax and not think about it. I gave her the remains of the baby, so they could do karotyping on it if possible. She told me to wait for her to give me discharge papers.

As she left the room, Jonathan and I just grabbed one another and cried. It felt like a Biblical mourning and weeping aloud. I remember hating seeing this hurt him. I said something dumb about not needing to cry anymore. I just wanted to be gone. I said, "I want to leave, get away from here" and Joanthan agreed. I dressed, but we had to wait another half hour until we were released. We drove home in mournful silence, I don't remember if I cried or not, but it would have been soft weeping. The outright angry, hurt, painful weeping was to come later. The drive took forever.

We got in bed near 3am, exhausted and dumbstruck. We didn't have a baby with us anymore. Suddenly, we had grown up so much. We now had a dead child. When did we become adults? Sleep was a mercy we both wanted, to put aside the fresh searing-hot pain this night had brought us. And so we slept.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Life...

Week #2 has started. I feel like I just lived through losing the baby. Jonathan and I were talking last night and he feels like it's been ages ago. It's just different, the long-term effect on us separately. I knew it would be and that is ok with me. He is over his grief for the most part while I still am experiencing it in a real way.

Have you every had two delicately chained necklaces somehow get thrown too quickly back into your jewelry box, only to pay for it later when you tried to retrieve them? They're a tangled mess, compounded if they look alike. I used to be the go-to girl in my family for tangled necklaces. I'd diligently labor over those things with my fingernails (well, as a violinist, my left hand had none), untangling it piece by piece. In under an hour, I'd have the necklaces separated and a very happy sister. Even in marriage, I've translated that into helping my husband with fishing wire and a very tangled net... No cutting, just long hard work.

Well, I've discovered my feelings over this miscarriage are much like two tangled necklaces. I discovered I am actually grieving TWO things. The immediate grief, sorrow, and hurt was over losing over baby, our baby's death, never knowing what our baby looked like, never getting to hold it, the hopes of this pregnancy destroyed, losing our firstborn.... This is expected, understood. Anyone who has lost a child in-utero has felt this I think.

But after living through my first week of realizing our baby's death, my feelings the second week turned different. The cutting grief wasn't the same. I was... depressed (something I'm not sure I've ever experienced in my whole life). I was able to cook and do laundry and work again. But the house brought a deep-seated gloom over me. Quiet thoughts turned dark. I wasn't crying as much, but it was so hard to keep from a creeping saddness over me. I wondered why I should be depressed, when I know our baby has now never known sin, never been separated from Christ, and is being cared for by the one who loved it so much He gave His life for it.... And then I saw the second chain... I began to untangle the different emotions...

I was depressed because of what it took to get pregnant. Twenty-six months to get that baby... 7 medicated cycles, three of them IUIs, one of them IVF. 17 retrieved eggs, 8 embryos with only 3 (for now) surviving (the two we transferred, the one that froze). A few thousand dollars. 31 rough, intramuscular progesterone-in-oil shots... and now the knowledge that we have a few months to try ourselves, but J's deployment will take 2-3 months from TTC and we miss out on WH's Jan IVF cycle, so we wait until May. So there is my secondary grief. Actually, I don't grieve over that, I'm just depressed looking at all it may take to even get pregnant agian. But weren't we lucky? IVF #1 worked. That doesn't mean IVF #2 will. I keep forgetting not to assume that.

So, last night I called a dear sister and friend. She knows the pain of IF plus miscarriage. I knew from emails that even with a new baby she still grieves those two lost babies and misses them. So I talked to her about the new emotions. And she listened and validated what I'll feel. She talked about how normal these stages are. She let me talk about our baby (which I want to so much!). She talked about hers. It just helped give me a feeling that I'm not so alone or so crazy or so obsessed. It's ok to think and talk about our child and how afraid I am of what it'll take to get another one to stick around. But one we've talked, we recognize God's goodness, provision, and continual grace to handle every trial that comes our way. And handling does not mean ignoring!

I got off and talked to Jonathan, that's when he told me he doesn't grieve anymore. And I didn't feel sorry for myself, we are opposite and complimentary, and one's weakness is the other's strength. I know his new emotions don't mean he doesn't care. Not in the least. I'm glad we can talk. He doesn't thinking I'm prolonging my pain. He doesn't think I'm dwelling on it for my purposes. I talked about the hardship of my tangled necklaces of miscarriage with IF.

So, as a sweet grace of God, I don't feel depressed today. I know He hears the cries of my heart, our prayers, and He gives new mercies every single morning. Sometimes the mercies look different and don't feel enough, but at the end of the day, I look and know they were sufficient. Just like He promised.

I have appreciated every comment, email, and other sweet things (notes, flowers, scriptures, calls, book recommendations). They have been kind reminders that we're loved and we're not alone. We have a family of dear believers surrounding us, loving & praying for us. We need this so very much! I can't imgaine having gone through everything without everyone's kindness, love and prayers. We are so undeserving, but thank you.

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's Now 48 Hours After Our Trial Began

Well, I've had two mornings to wake up now in my un-pregnant state.

I miscarried about 1am Saturday night/Sunday morning, and we got home from the ER about 3am. I awoke that morning at 7 and for the first time faced the reality: I had no baby in me anymore. I was not sustaining another life. I was not pregnant. The reality of this was overwhelming - I carried this deep down feeling of hope against hope that this was a horrible nightmare - maybe it wasn't real! And yet, nothing changed the truth! I had lived through the previous night. I had bled, cramped, and passed my sweet baby. This was all very real. Yesterday was so hard. Everytime I get a hold of myself for a few minutes, I find myself unexpectedly weeping and feeling this crushing grief all over again. It hurts even more seeing my husband cry. Seeing the anguish on his face. Watching him clench his fists and cry for only me to see. Knowing this grief does not affect just me.

I hate the word miscarriage, because in not even the slightest way does it communicate the depths of what was lost. Not a pregnancy - a BABY. A child with Jonathan's features and mine, one of our own making. Our own child we will never see, never know, never even hold. How did I not know the utter unrelenting hurt would feel this way? You just don't know until you've been though it. We loved that baby from the moment WH called and told us we had 8 embryos. From the time 2 were placed in me, I was caring for them. We prayed for them every day, Jonathan would put his hand on my stomach and kiss it and tell them they were loved. These were real children. We have lost our firstborn.

I tried to go about my life today. J had to work. I theoretically didn't. I packed up all my progesterone, needles, estrogen, and positive tests yesterday and put it in the bag with all this IVF cycle's drugs. I will not throw it away, but it needs to be out of sight for now. I want to do something to remember this child. There are some beautiful charms I found online that I think I'll get. Jonathan gave me a charm bracelet when we were courting that had a heart and our initials on it... rather as a promise we'd get through it and get married. So it's special to me and I want to remember our baby. We loved it and we'll never have another firstborn.

Grief and sadness catch me at every turn. I'll be fine and then receive an email from someone - perhaps with more details than I ever knew about their life and previous losses. Everyone's kindness and prayers have humbled me... and I'm so grateful to not be alone. I can't seem to wash my face or shower without dissolving into uncontrollable sobs. Something about the water rushing over my face frees me to cry as I please.

We miss this baby so much. I anticipate a lot of grief triggers in the future... Pregnant friends, new babies, June 3rd, maybe even IVF #2 will be hard. We will get back on the list at WH for April 08 (our original slot anyway). If Jonathan weren't deploying we could take January. Until then, we'll TTC naturally, with what time we have. I don't think I'll ever stop fearing losing a baby again, though, even at full term.

In terms of God, I am not angry with Him, I do not feel mistreated. I would rather deal with the pain of losing a baby than to never have had this one. I did get pregnant. I don't know Why I've been chosen for IF and Miscarriage, but I will walk through it. I'll be real and imperfect, but I will try to let my feelings not rule what I know to be true. Which is God's character never changes. I don't always know His plans, but He calls Himself faithful, merciful, compassionate. And I believe it. I may feel far from His goodness right now, I may feel I've been given more than I can bear, but I AM bearing this, aren't I? Jonathan and I are trying to walk through all that this new trial means. I want to feel everything and hopefully heal, together. Because God means it to work for Good, in the only definition of the word that matters: His definition, not a wordly finite one.

Thank you ALL for your kind, thoughtful, sweet comments and emails. They have meant SO MUCH. I was checking my email all day yesterday, getting comfort from every little comment. Going to Life Group was feeling the Body of Christ in action. Having friends far and near lift us up in even a moment of prayer has kept our hearts I'm sure. Thank you for that. I'm not yet really good at conversations or replies, but give me a little time and I will be. Love you all.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Our Angel

Last night, at about 1am, our sweet little baby went to be with Jesus.

I had some light blood show up at 7pm with cramping, and we went to the ER to get an ultrasound. In the 7 hour wait, I miscarried our precious little one. I saw it... Yes, there had been just one. An ultrasound confirmed no fetal pole, no yolk sac. My blood HCG beta was already down to 42.

Jonathan and I are very sad and mourning our precious child in heaven, who only had a little over 4 weeks on earth in my womb. We don't doubt God, but this hurts all the more for what it took to get here. Pray for us.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

News

I know I haven't posted in a while, been busy and just not had much to say!

Yesterday Jonathan had off after some early morning hunting so we made the most of the day and went to the GA national fair. Not as big as the NC state fair, but still fun! Rode rides, ate lots of delicious "fair food", looked at exhibitions, etc. It was really hot outside, which I think is outrageous for fair time. Should be brisk fall weather! I didn't realize GA would be so different form NC weather-wise, but it's quite a bit warmer here. Texas I expected that, GA not so much. I miss REAL winters with snow!

Jonathan's work schedule has been pretty busy. He missed out on a week of training when he was in Texas for our IVF, so they've typically had him flying 2/x a week. Flying day are about 10-12 hour work days. We hope it'll slow down soon. We're potentially looking at an end of Nov deployment date, for about 70 days. We talk about it, but the reality is generally absent. That'll change as we get closer, I know from experience.

The pregnancy is going fine. Really no symptoms, except for perhaps not my typical energy level on very taxing days (where we awaken at 5am and spend tons of time walking and delay eating, like the fair or Charleston). Today I am 6 weeks! I really am anxious to get the ultrasound next Tuesday. To be honest, I have a hard time not wanting to just see our baby(ies) to see if they're ok. At 5w2d I had some really bad cramping which has continued to appear most evenings at a mild level. This (with no other symptoms) can be normal from the uterus stretching/growing, as most women are just now finding out they're pregnant. A lady who went through IVF with me just miscarried, plus while I was going through my IVF a best friend had a missed miscarriage (the baby died at 6wk but she didn't start miscarrying until 9wk), so it is pretty close to my mind/heart. I want my heart to be open for wherever the Lord may take this, and to trust His goodness. But generally I just can't wait for next Tues! (The appt switched from Mon to Tues b/c I switched providers to one w/ a midwife, which thrills me to no end that I get to have one!!)

Now, I promised Charleston pictures last week, so here they are! It was quite a unique city with a very old-world appeal!