Fair warning: this was THE hardest blog I've ever written. At first I just wrote it for me- but decided to be brave and share it with hopes of helping someone in a similar situation someday. Here goes nothing. Grab some tissues.
When I married the love of my life close to six years ago I never thought starting a family would be an issue. It wasn’t until we were finally ‘ready’ that I started noticing loved ones around us who were struggling to get pregnant. I have a few brave women in my life that shared their stories with me and helped me with questions about not being able to get pregnant after 12 months of trying.
After a few visits to a doctor and specialist I found out I have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Basically my ovaries have issues. After a few sad days of research and spiraling down bunny holes of what if's, we can’t afford these treatments and what if we never have a baby- I decided I was going to hand it all over to God. I also decided a little help couldn’t hurt so I went on one round of meds to get my ovaries to kick into gear.
At the same time I prayed harder than I’ve ever prayed in my whole life. I prayed with expectation, boldness and urgency. One night when I was in deep prayer I heard God say, “The time is now” and “twins.” I couldn’t shake this. We had our pastor pray for us at church on my birthday. (Sidebar: this pastor was a miracle himself- he wasn’t suppose to be born- and has a gift of praying for couples who can’t conceive and most have gone on to have families.) We promised God then and there we would give testimony to his goodness for fulfilling our prayers.
That night I went home and my daily verse on my phone was Romans 8:22-29 (MSG). I could feel God speaking to me, telling me that the time was now:
22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Two weeks later, I felt nauseas and excited. I was afraid to take the pregnancy test after all of the disappointment of the others- but I prayed and took it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Positive. It was really happening. Our miracle was happening. I could hardly wait to tell Joel.
We spent the next few weeks telling our immediate families and a few of our closest friends. We decided to wait until 12 weeks to tell the world. Our first ultrasound at six weeks went great. We saw the little bean of a baby and its fluttering heart. Things became more real and we became more excited.
Fast forward three months to week 11 (last week) we had decided on what room would be the nursery, had a list of names and planned how we would announce our miracle to the world on Thanksgiving. Just one last doctor’s appointment to make sure everything was ok first.
Everything was going great until the doctor was having issues finding the heart beat with the Doppler machine. She said ‘don’t worry- it’s like finding a needle in haystack, sometimes you can’t with this machine so we will get a ultrasound.’ She pushed a red button on the wall and a nurse brought the ultrasound. She got it fired up and started pressing on my belly with the wand. She looked puzzled. I could tell something wasn’t right but tried not to panic. After a few minutes she said she needed to go get another doctor to see what she thought. This is when I went into shock I think.
I joked with Joel that the baby must be hiding. I felt like it was a bad dream staring down at my Chuck Taylors. When both the doctors returned they did an internal ultrasound and turned the screen towards them. This is when I knew it wasn’t good at all. All I could do was watch their faces as they pointed to things on the screen and shook their heads no. The only way I can describe it was: surreal.
After what seemed like eternity the second doctor shook her head and left the room. My doctor asked me to sit up and started talking about how it was nothing I did or didn’t do- but the baby didn’t make it. She kept talking and staring at me and I sat there in shock staring back at her long eyelashes and broken smile. I was in complete shock. I felt like the room was closing in on me and I couldn’t say a thing.
The doctor asked if we had any questions I said I didn’t even know where to begin. She asked if we needed a minute. I somehow squeaked out yes. She left. We hugged. He cried. I held it all in like I always do. See I hate crying in front of people. It’s something I’ve done for years. I remember saying something like, ‘this doesn’t even seem real’ as a floated off the exam table.
She came back in and told me that one in every five pregnancies end early and other stats and went over my options. She thought it happened a week or two ago but since my body wasn’t showing any signs bleeding, cramping, etc she didn’t know how long it would take to miscarry naturally. I also had the option of a pill that would make my uterus contract and remove the baby that way. This option came with lots of bleeding and pain and the question of how long it would take. The third option was a D & C surgery to go in and surgically remove the baby.
With Thanksgiving coming up in two days my options for surgery were the next day or wait until Monday. Somehow Joel managed to drive us home crying without crashing my car. I sat there numb. I didn’t know what to do besides put on sweatpants, take off my Tiffany’s and crawl into bed. We cried and hugged for what seemed like years. There was nothing we could say or do but cry. I have never seen him so broken like this before…it broke my heart even more.
I kept thinking God gave us this miracle so he would take care of us and he had to have a plan. The doctor told us miscarriages are a sign your body can get pregnant and most women go on to have healthy babies. I had faith God would provide for us. We had so badly wanted this baby for so long. There has to be a reason for this. God would use this for his good. Maybe I was supposed to have twins? A million questions ran through my head. The first being- what should I do about this unborn child inside of me?
The hardest part came in verbally telling people what had happened. We called our parents first. Through sobbing and blubbering they somehow understood us and comforted us. My mom, who is a nurse, helped me process what I should do next. We decided the surgery was more controlled for the bleeding and the thought of waiting days with the pill for it to happen was tortuous to me.
So the next morning I called the doctor and they squeezed me in for surgery at 5:30pm. I had to go all day without eating or drinking so I decided I would hibernate the day away to not think about being hungry or thirsty after 20 some hours without anything. I spent the day in bed crying, praying and sleeping. I felt God telling me to stop blaming myself and questioning everything. I tried to be at peace but my heart was broken.
That night I got checked in at the hospital, gowned up, IV in then they started paperwork. All expected until we got to the parental rights to the remains form. This hadn’t even crossed my mind. We have to choose what to do with the remains? It felt like a sucker-punch to the gut. I just stared at the form. The sweet nurse said we didn’t have to decide then- so we didn’t.
Joel prayed for me before they rolled me into surgery. The sweetest hardest prayer to pray but he did so with grace. A few hours later and I was on my way home with a fake rose and a booklet about loosing a child.
The next few days are a blur of body aches, cramping, crying, hugs, flowers, cards, food and encouraging words from those we love. We spent Thanksgiving together at home in sweatpants. My sister in law brought us over the best darn gladware Thanksgiving meal with all the fixings and four kinds of pie. Our families kept us well fed and taken care of over the weekend.
When I started sharing what had happened with the few friends we had told the more I heard that this had happened to them. I was shocked that so many of them had gone through not one- but multiple miscarriages and I had never known. I felt so bad as a friend that I didn’t know. Then I felt sad as a woman that this statistically happens to most women who have children- but people don’t talk about it. I’m pretty sure they don’t because it hurts. It really hurts to talk about. But the more I talk about it- it gets a little bit easier. The silver lining, all of them that had similar situations now have healthy children.
I lay in bed a few nights not able to sleep, going over the story in my head. Then it hit me- you need to quit narrating this sad story over and over again in your head and put it out there. I know it hurts- but I hope this encourages someone someday going through the same raw pain of a loss of something so small but feels larger than life.
What I have learned through all of this is:
- I’m not good at being sad. I much prefer being the happy, optimistic girl. Crying takes too much energy and makes my face feel dry from all the salt. I'm not good at being the one being taken care of. I like to take care of other people when they are down. I like to be the one to comfort but learned that I have a lot of people who love me and I have to be ok with them taking care of me from time to time. Plus it’s nice to get a lot of premade meals and cookies. (Thank you guys!)
- I have THE best husband in the world. I have fallen even more in love with him thought this horrible experience then I ever thought was possible. He is so caring and sweet. His heart is bigger than his body. When there aren’t words there is love.
- Sometimes miracles only last 11 weeks. I was lucky to get one in the first place and I promised God I would tell everyone of His miracle- so I will no matter how hard it is. I just pray next time our miracle will live a long healthy life to be very old and very wrinkly.
Ok, you can stop crying now. You know I hate crying and it stresses me out. So next time you see me- just smile and wink at me or something.