I’m pretty sure there’s not anybody close to us that hasn’t heard the news about the loss of our baby, Joshua. It’s been 2 months and I feel like now is a good time to talk about the whole ordeal with everybody. Some of you have heard it before, but here it goes.
When I was about 7 or 8 weeks pregnant (if I remember right) a friend of mine had an ultrasound and they found there was no heartbeat and she had lost her baby. I believe she was 13 weeks at the time (correct me if I’m wrong Lyndsay). I immediately started to worry. I’m a natural worrier (blame it on my grandmother), but this really didn’t sit well with me. I’ve picked something to worry about with all of the boys. With Brandon I was worried about miscarriage because (I don’t know how many people know this) I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy. I was only about 6 weeks or so, and it happened on our honeymoon. Not exactly a happy memory for us. With Logan, I was convinced he was going to be autistic and I just knew that Sawyer was going to have Spina Bifida. Like I said, worrier. And because I worry about most everything, when I expressed my concerns of the same thing happening to me as it had to my friend, I got eye rolls and “You’ll be fine” from my family. But even then, I just couldn’t get over that uneasy feeling.
My 12 week doctor’s appointment came and I was a bundle of nerves. After the nurse took my vital signs the doctor came in. Can I just say for a second that I have the greatest doctor in the world. He is amazing. I’m so blessed to have found him 7 years ago, and I hope he doesn’t retire before I’m done popping kids out, because I would be lost without him. Okay, back to the story. He brought out his doppler to listen to the baby’s heartbeat…..nothing. We couldn’t hear anything, no matter where he put the thing. My heart started beating even faster and my blood started to run cold. He said that sometimes when it’s so early it can be hard to find. But what I heard was “You have such a big fat stomach, it’s kind of hard to hear through the blubber.” But that’s just me! Anyway, he left the room to go fire up the ultrasound machine to get a better view of the baby. When he left, I started praying, hard. It took everything I had in me to not breakdown right there. When he came back in a few minutes later he could see I was upset. He put his arm around my shoulder and told me this was a normal thing. The second the machine touched my stomach I could see a little fluttery heartbeat on the moniter and my own heart soared. I got a little teary from the relief. He took a picture for me and it was so cute, it looked like the baby had a little smirk on it’s face. So very much like it’s mommy. I had made it past my first trimester, the baby was fine, and I felt SO much better. I kind of laughed at myself for being such a mess the weeks leading up the appointment.
Even though I knew the baby was okay, and I had started feeling flutters of movement every once in awhile, I couldn’t shake the feeling of it all going wrong. After my friend had lost her baby she blogged how she never really felt secure in the idea of her pregnancy. When I first read that line she published, my heart stopped. I had felt the same way. Chris and I had been trying to get pregnant, so it wasn’t a shock when the test came out positive. But it never felt “real”. I went out and bought a baby name book and started getting ideas for crib sets and nursery colors to get myself more into the idea of a new baby on the way.
A few nights before my 17 week check-up, Chris and I were laying in bed and we started talking about how blessed we have been to have such healthy kids, job security, a roof over our heads, etc. We questioned how secure our faith would hold if something traumatic happened to our family. Would we have the kind of faith in God we would need to get through something like our house burning down, one of us getting cancer, or even the loss of one of our children? Well He was about to show us that we did.
I went into my 17 week appointment with an upbeat positive attitude. I only had a couple weeks left until the gender would have been clear, so I was hoping that he wouldn’t make me wait a whole 4-5 weeks until I came back to find out. When he put the doppler on my belly he had a hard time finding the heartbeat again. I wasn’t nervous about it as I was the time though. I just thought “fat girl syndrome again”. So off we went to the ultrasound room. He asked if I wanted to know the sex if he was able to get the right angle to tell. I responded with a quick “YES!” When he put the scanner on my belly, I saw the baby, but that was it. He tried to move it around into different positions, but it wasn’t working. There was nothing we could see. He told me not to worry yet, since he wasn’t an expert on the machine and I would have to come back on Monday morning since the ultrasound tech had already gone home for the weekend. I was the last patient of the day. He claimed that this had happened to him before and if the baby has it’s back to him, it’s harder to try and see anything. My heart sank into the floor and I couldn’t help but eek out a couple of tears. So I made my appointment with the front desk and got to my van as fast as I could. As soon as I shut the door I lost it. I couldn’t stop crying. I called Chris of course and he told me not to worry, just to get home and then we’d talk about it. I called my sister and told her what had happened and asked her to go the appointment with me on Monday so I wouldn’t be alone in case it was bad news.
Friday night was really hard. I cried a lot. We told the boys what was going on so they wouldn’t be left in the dark. I didn’t think it was fair to just ignore the fact that something was seriously wrong in our house that weekend. Kids are not stupid and they would have sensed something. So we told them to rely on God and to pray it was in his hands and all we could do was trust he knew what was best. My doctor called me on Saturday morning and said that he felt bad for making me wait and he didn’t want me to have to worry the weekend away. He gave me the option of going into the hospital that afternoon and getting checked by the radiologist. But I passed on that. I wasn’t ready to hear the truth yet. I needed to spend a couple of days with God and let him pad my heart for the inevitable hurt that was coming.
So Monday came. I laid on the ultrasound table saying silent prayers and waiting for the news. After she had thoroughly checked, she turned to me. Her eyes said it all. She put her hand on mine and said “The heart has stopped beating.” I just looked up at the ceiling, covered my face and started to cry. My sister put her arm around me and laid her head next to mine and just held on to me. It’s all I needed right at that moment. I didn’t cry for long. There was other business to attend to at that moment, and I could cry later. My regular doctor was on vacation so I had to meet with his fill-in for the week. She came into the exam room with a sorrow filled face and tried to be comforting and show sympathy for what I was going through, but I just wanted to hurry up and get everything over with. My baby had died inside my body and needed to be taken from me. There was a job that needed to be accomplished and that’s all I wanted to deal with at that point. I didn’t tell Chris until I got home. I didn’t feel I would be able to do it over the phone. Plus I didn’t want to tell him and then have him at home by himself dealing with it alone until I could get there 30 minutes later. After he and I cried in the bedroom together while my sister sat with the boys, we came out and told them. Brandon started crying and said “But I wanted a sister” and then Logan started crying. It was hard, but we got through it all together.
Over the next couple of days there were a couple of different options put in front of me to have the baby removed. I decided on a D & E. I won’t go into details, you can look it up if you must, but it involved me being put to sleep and that’s all I wanted. I really didn’t want to be awake and try to deliver the baby on my own. I’ve never given birth in the traditional sense because all of my boys were born through c-sections. I wasn’t ready to actually deliver a baby that wasn’t going home with me. So the surgery took place on Thursday, July 14th. And even though they think the baby died sometime between 15 and 16 weeks, that will always be the day I lost my baby.
The weeks that followed were tough. Physically as well as emotionally. There was a lot of cramping, bleeding, and tiredness. My body acted as if I had given birth and my breasts engorged and were ready to nurse. That was a painful couple of days. Not just because of the soreness, but it was just an in-your-face kind of reminder of something that would never be. Chris took care of the business of getting our baby back into our hands. We decided to have the remains cremated rather than letting the hospital include it with their “waste” disposal. This was our baby, no matter how small, and we didn’t want to just leave it with them to be forgotten. With the help a friend, we found a funeral home in Lakewood that handled cases just like this: babies lost before 20 weeks. Arrangements were made, a tiny little urn was picked out, and within a couple of weeks, we could finally hold our baby, in a sense. When we signed the release papers for the funeral home to give to the hospital I made a comment to Chris that this would be the only time we ever sign for this child. There will be no field trip permission slips, no preschool registration papers, no emergency room admitting forms for a broken arm. Nothing. That was tough.
These past 2 months have had highs and lows. I still have days when I want to throw myself a pity party. Seeing a pregnant belly I think to myself “I wonder what my belly would look like now”. Baby clothes that I had picked out in a store don’t look as sweet hanging on the rack anymore. And a few times a month when I get those free baby magazines in the mail for expectant mothers, I get a little angry. Don’t those magazine companies know what happened to me?! Don’t they know that my angel was taken? But they don’t of course, and that’s just something else I have to deal with. I know 18 women who are/were pregnant at the same time as me. It was fun kind of going through it together. All of us posting our week by week updates on Facebook; putting bets on who was going to have boys or girls. But now, I feel like I’ve been kicked out of the club. I’m not a part of that anymore. My card has been revoked, they changed the secret password, and I’ve been left behind. At the same time though, there have been 4 of us that have been ejected from the same club (3 in the 2nd trimester) and it's nice to know I'm not alone.
Sometimes when I start to feel bad for myself I feel guilty though. I can’t be mad at my friends who are still pregnant. I don’t want them to think that I’m jealous of them, or resentful of them. I don’t want them to walk on eggshells around me. I’m still so very happy and excited for all of them. I love hearing about their journeys and seeing pictures of their growing bellies and I hope that they all still come to me to do their maternity photos. I still want to be a part of that with them. I also start to feel guilty about the fact that I know so many women that can’t get pregnant and will never hold babies of their own. How dare I feel so sad when I can still have more kids. How dare I be upset at the one I lost when I have three more to love and take care of. But when I start to have any of these emotional roller coaster moments I think back to the social worker they had me talk to at the hospital. She told me that I’m free to have any emotion I want to. This is my situation, nobody elses. I’m allowed to be sad, angry, hurt, resentful, or any other nasty emotion we try to hide from the world. It doesn’t mean I will feel that way forever, and it doesn’t mean that I doubt my faith or the love God has for me. I’m a human being, and it’s okay to have feelings.
So many people have said to me, “You are so strong; you’ve handled this so well”. But I don’t take any credit for that. I owe my strength and ability to deal with this situation to God. I feel like my uneasiness with the pregnancy from the beginning and the conversation Chris and I had a few days before this all happened as a way of God getting us ready for what was to come. I don’t know why He does the things he does; why some people have to suffer while others seem to have it all. But it’s not for me to understand. I trust that he knows better than I do and I KNOW that He has my best interest in mind. Even from times that are hard and seem unfair, God will do what’s best. A huge credit in our healing process goes to all of our family and friends that have lifted us up in prayer, sent flowers or other gifts, helped take care of our boys while we took some much needed days “off from life” to regroup, and cooked us meals. I’m a person that finds it very hard to ask for or accept help, but I’m so glad I accepted it because it all helped SO much more than I could have ever imagined. The outpouring of love we got from everybody really showed us how much we are cared for and it was so comforting.
Six weeks after the surgery, we found out that there was nothing wrong with the baby or the pregnancy. It was just one of those things that happens, and more often than most people realize. Therefore we are free to start trying for another baby. We plan to wait until next year, after the due date comes and goes. But since my sister has announced that she is pregnant again, and it’s been on my mind that I want to be pregnant again. I don’t want to jump the gun though and get pregnant just to be pregnant. I don’t want to fill the hole that has been left in my heart with another baby. I want to be able to heal that hole first. So we will stick with our plan to wait until we feel completely ready. We also found out that the baby was yet another boy. And everybody just KNEW it was going to be a girl!! And I was stupid enough to actually believe them. So if the good Lord gives us the opportunity to have another one, I don’t want any of you making predictions, got it?!! Just keep those mouths closed on the subject! I’m kidding (kind of). We named our son Joshua Phillip, which is the name that I’ve had in my head since I found out I was pregnant.
If you’ve made it to the end of this, then thank you for taking the time to read it all. If nobody makes it this far, then I’m okay with that. Putting this all down on “paper” was more of a therapeutic thing than actually trying to blog. It’s been painful sitting down and typing it all out, and I’ve cried a lot during this past 2 hours, but its felt good too. Thanks again to all of you for your support and love. I’ll end this entirely too long blog with a passage that really helped me get through it all:
Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
He will be with me always.