Friday, February 25, 2011
Our journey to pregnancy and miscarriage was really very uneventful. In early January 2010, we learned that we were expecting a little one...tentatively schedule to arrive on September 18, 2010. We didn't tell anyone we were expecting...not even our parents. We'd read all the books that caution expectant parents to not tell about the baby until after the first trimester...you know, to save yourself the "embarrassment" of having to tell people that there won't be a baby in the event of miscarriage. David and I are cautious people, so we took the advice, but we never really believed that miscarriage would be something that would happen to us. It's something that happens to other people, after all. We were so excited for my second prenatal appointment. It was the first time David had ever been in an OB/GYN office, and he was so very uncomfortable! There weren't any other men in the waiting room that afternoon, and to make things worse, there weren't any "man" magazines in the waiting room! But my sweet husband toughed it out until the nurse called my name, when he could escape from the estrogen sea of the waiting room.
Kelly, our nurse, told us that Dr. Basham would just be listening for the heartbeat and measuring that day. We didn't care abotu anything except hearing our baby's heartbeat. Until this day, it had been so hard to believe that I was carrying a little life inside me. Hearing the heartbeat would make things so very real! Dr. Basham came with the Doppler device and proceeded to listen for our baby's heartbeat. she mentioned before she started that she might not be able to find it using the Doppler, but that we shouldn't worry if that was the case. If she couldn't hear it with teh Doppler, we would go to the ultrasound room to catch a peek at our little one! How exciting! Dr. Basham worked and worked to get our baby's heartbeat, but she couldn't pick it up. Even though she'd told us not to worry, we did. I'd had the nagging feeling all day long that my baby wasn't okay, but I hadn't shared it with anyone...not even David. I tried to look at things positively though...and that's not something that's in my nature. I tried to think of this ultrasound as a "bonus"; we'd get to see our baby early, and be reassured that he or she was growing normally.
In the ultrasound room, Dr. Basham worked diligently to locate our baby on the screen. I couldn't make anythin gout, so I just prayed that she would see what she needed. David stood by my side and held my hand. We never looked at each other, and we didn't have to. I knew that he was very concerned. After five minutes, any hope that I had faded away. As gently as possible, Dr. Basham said that she could not see our baby or his/her heartbeat. She said that what we were experiencing is called a blighted ovum, when the baby begins to develop in the gestational sac, but fails to continue to develop, generally because of some chormosomal defect. The embryo is then reabsorbed by the mother's body, leaving an empty gestational sac and a placenta. David moved away and sat down, stunned. I couldn't speak. When I finally got myself together, my first words were, "Was there ever a baby?" First and foremost, I was afraid that I had somehow convinced myself and my body so thoroughly that I was pregnant, when in fact, I never had been. "Oh, yes," Dr. Basham said. "You were pregnant, and there was an embryo." As strange as it may sound, I found a tiny bit of comfort in that. At that moment, at least, I knew I wasn't crazy. She proceeded to tell us that a blighted ovum is a type of miscarriage, but that I hadn't experienced any of the classic miscarriage symptoms, such as bleeding. Together, David and I decided to schedule a D&C early the following week to remove "retained products of conception," a term I despise. Tearful and brokenhearted, we left Dr. Basham's office through the back door, in order to avoid frightening any of the happy, oblivious pregnant women in the waiting room.
There are times in our lives when we can identify a turning point. The point at which things will no longer be the same. The minute we know that we'll forever measure time as "before" and "after" this event. This, unfortunately, was my moment. On the horrible car ride home, I spoke to God. I don't remember much of what I said, but I clearly remember telling Him, "This is going to make us or break us." And when I said, "us," I knew I didn't mean anything about Him. He's unbreakable, unchanging. I knew that I was talking about my ability to continue to believe and have faith.
On this ride home, I remembered something I had prayed about weeks, if not months, before. My car radio dial is set on 91.5, the station where KLOVE broadcasts in this area. KLOVE is a contemporary Christian radio station based in Rocklin, California, and I'd been a devoted listening since I'd found the station about a year earlier. I remembered driving home from work one day and hearing a caller talk about her struggles iwht addiction and I was moved by her ability to share her testimony regarding God's grace in her life and her ability to turn her life around after accepting Jesus Christ as her Savior. I remember praying, "God, give me a testimony! I'm a 'flannel-board Jesus kid'. I've been in church all my life. I can't remember not believing in you. You've been so good to me...my life has been darn near perfect. What is it about my life that could inspire anyone to believe in You?" This prayer flashed back into my mind, and I knew that God was answering my prayer for a testimony, but I certainly didn't approve of the way He was going about it.
The next days and weeks are still a blur in my mind. David and I told our parents, siblings, an dclose friends about our loss. I had two D&Cs, referrals to endocrinologists and hematologists for testing, and spent a small fortune on bloodwork. We tried to move on. Our families tried their best to comfort us, but David and I both struggle with accepting help. We both desperately want to be strong all the time. I wish could say that I was a support to David during this time, but I was falling apart. He was my rock. Grief is never an easy thing to experience, but the grief associated with miscarriage is complicated. In many cases like ours, there is no physical body for parents to mourn. While the baby was very real to us, it never really existed to anyone else. Our parents never even knew tha tthey would be grandparents until the momen they found out that, well...they wouldn't be. Some people don't consider our loss to be that of "a real baby." Aside from losing a child, David and I also found ourselves mourning the loss of dreams. In my mind, I had already taken my baby trick-or-treating, to Christmas parties, to Story Hour as a toddler, and a million other activities. We were suddenly confronted with the fact that these things would never happen, at least with this child. It also doesn't help matters that miscarriage just isn't discussed. When we were able to begin sharing our loss with others, I was amazed at how many others had experienced it as well, and I was saddened because I wondered how many had grieved alone because of the stigma. While I knew many people who had experienced a miscarriage after a successful pregnancy, I hadn't found anyone who had miscarried their first child. I felt incredibly alone, and knew that I could only turn to one person for comfort: God. After all, only He knew the magnitude of my pain. I reminded myself that He loved me so much that His only Son died to set me free. I knew the intense love I felt for a child that I had never seen or felt, and was awestruck at his ability to let His Son die for the sins of the world. He loved us that much. He thought I was worth the price.
Even though I knew these things, I still struggled with the overwhelming sadness and anger that I felt. On really bad days, I felt as though God had left me. I would cry out to Him, asking Him where He was in my time of need. They say hindsight is 20/20, and now I can see that He was always there, just as He promised. In the friend who called regularly to ask how I was doing, He was there. In the cards, letters, and emails we received, He was there. In the tight, silent hugs from family, He was there. In the friend who stopped by on Mother's Day, just to sit and cry with me, He was there. In the blog posts from people I barely knew, He was there. He was there all the time, giving me everything I needed, even though I didn't always recognize it.
I wish I could say that I had an easy time of accepting this as a part of God's plan for my life. It hasn't been easy. It's been a tough road, and many, many times, I've felt like Jacob...wrestling with God, not wanting to let go until being given a blessing. Some of my favorite contemporary Christian songs deal with praising God in times of trial and pain. As I would sing along, I would hope that I would be able to praise God during the storms of life I knew were to come. now that I was in one, it seemed impossible. How could I praise a God who would allow the death of my child? Was I supposed to set aside my grief and anger as if it never happened, so that I could praise God? I wrestled with this question for days, until I found Angie Smith's blog, "Bring the Rain." Angie's husband, Todd, is a singer with the group Selah. In January of 2007, Angie and Todd learned that their fourth daughter, Audrey Caroline would likely die in utero, and if she lived to be born, would not live for long. Angie's doctors told her that their little Audrey was "incompatible with life" and some encouraged her to terminate the pregnancy. "Bring the Rain" documents Angie's feelings and conversations with God as she carried Audrey, delivered her, and held her as God welcomed her home 2 1/2 hours after her birth. Through Angie's words in her blog, and her book I Will Carry You , I found a way to grieve and praise God at the same time. She showed me that I could be incredibly sad and angry without turning away from God. In fact, I could feel those things while praising Him!
For much of my life, I thought that as long as I was "good," I wouldn't have any trouble in life. Let me ask you this: can you find any scripture in the Bible that indicates a promise that being "good" will bring a trouble-free existence? You can't! It doesn't exist! But you know what I did find? An abundance of scripture that promises that life will bring us pain, but that we belong to an all-powerful God who will comfort us and care for us during those times. I could praise Him for that. I could praise a God who held every tear I'd ever cried, who had numbered every hair on my head, who had named every star in the sky, and who had ordained every single moment my child would live. I began to realized that I couldn't live a life that demonstrated faith if my life never required me to have faith. Angie Smith puts it much more eloquently in her blog, but I realized that I should stop praying for God to give me a perfect life...the life free of pain and worry, but instead to pray that God would bring me anything that would make my life a fertile ground for spreading His word.
A year later, I can clearly see that God has been faithful in His promises to me. I knew that only He could bring me the healing I needed, and through lots of people and experiences, I know that my healing is still in progress. He led me to attend a support group for women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. What a blessing that group (and those ladies!) have been. Through those meetings, I was able to connect with other women who had shared a loss similar to mine. I was able to have a place to share my feelings, knowing those women would "get it." They understood my confusion, anger, frustraton, envy (of pregnant women), and feelings of emptiness. That group was the place wehre I first really felt like I wasn't alone. He has given me friends who have comforted me and inspired me with the way they've faced pain and loss. He has given me the opportunity to share my story with other women who have experienced miscarriage, and has allowed me to help them carry their burdens, as numerous other women did for me. And on September 18, 2010, the due date for our first child, He gave us another blessing...we found out that we were expecting again! We are so very excited that God has granted us this second miracle. The baby that we lost on February 25, 2010 will always be my first child, even though the child I'm carrying now will be our first born.
I spent a lot of time over the last year wishing that I could just forget my first pregnancy and miscarriage ever took place. Now, as I look back, I pray that I never forget that tiny little life that God used to show me how much He cares for me. God is good...all the time.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I'm feeling really good for the most part. I'm still having trouble with sleep, but I just think of it as getting into practice for the lack of sleep I'll be experiencing in just a little over 3 months. I don't have any trouble at all falling asleep, but I wake up all.the.time. For the first half of the night, I usually wake up about once an hour. Then, from about 3am-6am, I sleep pretty well...but it's just never long enough! I do have the big body pillow, and that does help to make me more comfortable. I didn't realize how much I've gotten used to it until I went off and forgot it while I was out of town. Hotel pillows just didn't do the trick.
While I was in Columbia, I was able to catch up with an old friend, Benson. He and I were freshman advisors at LWC about 7 years ago, and I always try to catch up with him when I'm on campus. Last June, he and his wife, Kristin, welcomed their first child, Luke, into the world. Luke was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and passed away at 12 days old. Little Luke sure did make his mark on the world in those short days, though. If you'd like to learn more about Benson, Kristin, and Luke, please visit their blog, The Sexton 4. (It was originally The Sexton 3, but now Benson and Kristin are expecting a little girl, just a couple of weeks after us!) In addition to being a phenomenal writer, Kristin is also a very talented photographer, and she'll be taking maternity photos for us in just a little over a month. I'm excited to be able to spend some time with her during the session!
Tonight David and I attended our first of many maternity classes. First up: the Cesarean section class. Oh, how I hope and pray I don't have to have a C-section...especially after the class. I nearly teared up when the nurse teaching the class talked about how I wouldn't be able to hold the baby for over an hour if I had a C-section. The thought of that just absolutely breaks my heart. I can't wait for the moment when they lay that precious baby on my chest for the first time...and to think that it might be delayed for an hour (or more!)...I can't think about it. And besides that, there's all the recovery and lengthy hospital stay to consider. You better believe that I'll be praying for a vaginal birth. I've already had a conversation with Sprout and asked him/her to please be in the correct position when it counts!
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I was able to spend a couple of days at my alma mater, Lindsey Wilson. I love that place, and I enjoy any excuse to get back down there. During my little bit of down time, I visited the bookstore, and of course I had to pick up a few things! Just a warning...prepare yourself, because you might just die from the cuteness of the items you're about to see:
A Lindsey Wilson College Blue Raiders long-sleeve t-shirt! It says 12 months (which means it would be June and a little warm for a long-sleeve t-shirt), but I think it's awfully small. I'm hoping Sprout can wear it at around the 6 month mark, which would be Decemberish...for basketball games!
Friday, February 18, 2011
I'm trained as a mental health counselor, but I don't see clients anymore. Instead, I work for the college I graduated from, in their counselor education program. Every year, the Lindsey Wilson College School of Professional Counseling participates in the Kentucky Mental Health Counselors Association conference in Somerset, Ky. The faculty and staff of LWC are often "strongly encouraged" to present at the conference. I haven't presented in years, because there's just not really been anything I've felt passionate about. But this year, things are different. I'm really thinking about doing a 1 hour presentation on working with/supporting women who have experienced miscarriage/stillbirth/infant loss.
Miscarriage/stillbirth/infant loss is an event that affects so many women, but it's still rarely talked about. And until it happened to me, I never understood that it can (and probably will) change a woman's life/outlook forever. I also didn't realize how little support there is for a woman who has learned that she's lost a child to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. I think that the presentation would be well-received, but there's something holding me back. I think it's the fact that I'm afraid I might not hold it together during the presentation. There are still times when I can't talk about (or even think about) our loss without crying. And when I hear of someone I know who has experienced it, it's a full-on cry because I know the pain they're feeling. I've worked on myself...I've read books, I've benefited from a support group, I've given my grief over to God, and He has healed me so much. But darn it, it still hurts. And it probably always will. But another part of me thinks that a part of my healing will be in being an advocate for other women who are hurting. I've still got time to decide on whether or not to present...in the meantime, I'm gathering resources, reading refereed journals, and generally getting prepared. I think I'm waiting for that still, small voice to tell me whether or not it's time.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I love this dress. I got it at Wal-Mart a couple of years ago, and I've gotten a lot of wear out of it. I enjoy wearing dresses in the summertime, because they're just so...easy! I tell my students that if I wear a dress to work, it probably means that I overslept. I love that I don't have to think about matching anything...I can just throw a dress over my head and go! Anyway, this one has always been very "swingy" and has lots of extra fabric in the front, which has turned out to be a blessing. It's sleeveless, but we've had some unseasonably warm weather here in Kentucky lately, so I decided to wear it with a light cardigan. It was so comfortable! I do have to say that I really don't like the way I look from the side in a dress now (whether it's a maternity dress or not). I'm just so...wide. And I'm only going to get wider!
This week, I've really noticed that I'm starting to become less agile. I just can't really bend straight over (or to the side) anymore, and getting up and down off the floor?! Ha! Every morning, I sit on the floor in the bathroom in front of my full-length mirror to put on my mascara and eyeliner. Thank goodness it's next to the tub...I can heave myself up by pushing against the tub. If it weren't there, I'd either have to wait for David, or try to roll over then push up. :) Really, it's not quite that bad, but it's certainly not graceful.
Lots of people have asked me about cravings lately. All I want, all the time, is sweet stuff. Candy, chocolate, ice cream. Valentine's Day didn't help me out at all...we got lots of delicious goodies from family and friends, and of course, I've been eating it all. I don't know that I can blame my need for sweets on the baby, because I've always liked sweets, but I have noticed that I just can't seem to get enough now. Maybe it is Sprout! At any rate, he/she will certainly be sweet if I keep this up!
I think Sprout must be going through a growth spurt. I've been feeling a lot of pulling/tugging/stretching sensations lately. It's hard for me to imagine that, before too much longer, there will be a full-sized baby inside of me (somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-7 pounds, I'm hoping...not much bigger!). I just can't imagine where it will all go! I'm a short girl (5'2"), and I have a really short torso, so my belly can only go out! It's no wonder I've been feeling lots of stretching! I'm still using my stretch mark cream, but I don't know how much longer I'll be without stretch marks. I'm not all that concerned about them, because having this little one will be worth it all...but it would be nice to make it through pregnancy with a minimum of them.
I have my next OB appointment on March 3rd...and I'm guessing it will be just as quick as the last one. I do have my 1 hour glucose test that day, but I get to drink the orange stuff at home, so I don't have to hang around the office that long. Let's hope I pass! I think at this appointment, I'll be seeing Dr. Brown, the other doctor in the practice. I've spent lots of time in the office over the past year, and I have never laid eyes on this man. I would prefer to make it through the pregnancy and only see Dr. Basham, because I just love her and she's been so good to me, but I understand why I need to see Dr. Brown. And, after all, there's a chance that he might deliver the baby, so I would certainly want to meet him before then. I've heard good things about Dr. Brown, but I'm still apprehensive.
We're finally making some progress on baby preparations! The crib and changing table arrived last week, and David and I spent about 3 1/2 hours on Sunday night putting everything together (and that's when I realized that getting up and down off the floor is getting to be really tough!).
The crib is the DaVinci Emily model. It was one of three cribs that were recommended by Consumer Reports. Honestly, I don't love it, but I like it better now that we've got bedding on it. I wanted to buy a different one, but I was afraid to buy one that hadn't gotten a good rating. It also wasn't sold in the stores we'd looked at (Target, Babies 'R Us), so I was hesitant to purchase it. But we ended up visiting USA Baby a couple of weekends ago, and they had a floor model there. We didn't buy it from them, because I'd found a great deal at Target that got us the mattress for free (and some reduced shipping costs). This is the changing table, which I have mixed feelings about. We really only have two walls in this room (the wall to the right of the changing table is mostly windows, the other wall is 2 french doors into the hallway), so I knew we wouldn't have much room for furniture. So that's why I got this changing table with the three drawers. I thought it would give us more storage, but I'm not a fan of the rail along the front of the changing table. I'm pretty short, and I'm concerned that it might get in the way when I'm changing the baby. We'll just have to see how it all plays out.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
The belly is definitely getting bigger and bigger! I've pretty much had to retire the non-maternity shirts at this poing. In fact, I had to go to Kohl's late last week to pick up a few more shirts. This one is my favorite by far. It's really soft, and it's thin, so I'll be able to wear it even in the spring. I had hoped they'd have more colors, but unfortunately, it was just this color and navy blue. If there had been more options, I definitely would have bought several of these in different colors.
This week, David finally felt the baby move! I swear, our kid is quite a stinker already. Lots of nights, after dinner, I'll have a seat on the couch, and the baby will kick and punch up a storm. I'll call David over, and as soon as he puts my hand on the belly...nothing. Sprout knows that David is trying to feel him, and he's just not having it! But this week, I guess we pulled one over on Sprout. When we're laying in bed getting ready to go to sleep, David will lay on his left side, and I'll lay on my left side snuggled up to him. Well, on Thursday night, Sprout was being particularly active, and he kicked David in the back for about 5 minutes straight. Of course, I could feel him kicking, but wasn't sure if David could. I said, "Do you feel that?!" David laughed and said that he did. We just laid in bed and cracked up as Sprout kicked his daddy in the back for awhile. It was absolutely one of the best moments of this pregnancy so far...just absolutely precious. Now that Sprout's gotten over his shyness, maybe David will be able to feel kicking with his hand!
The only other "big" thing that's happened this week is that I've experienced my first Braxton-Hicks contractions, which are very strange! They don't really hurt at all, but when one starts, I get a pulling sensation in my abdomen, and then my lower belly gets really tight for a bit.
In other news, the crib and changing table are here! I ordered them last Saturday afternoon, and they arrived here just yesterday. I'm itching like you woulnd't believe to get them put together. I think that's what's on the agenda for tomorrow afternoon. Sometime tonight we're going to take down the double bed that's currently in the baby's room so that we'll be ready to get to work tomorrow. Hopefully here in the next few days I'll be able to put up a few pictures of the nursery, complete with furniture! Stay tuned!