Friday, August 20, 2010

That tiny boy

Today is Friday again. It's hard to believe another week has already gone by. But it has .... and they will continue to do so, one by one.

And what a week it's been! Emotionally, it has been [as you are coming to expect from me :)] pretty turbulent. There have been days that I have gotten through and felt totally ok at the end of them - paired with days that I've certainly made up for my afore-mentioned 'control' and lost it several times during the day. At the slightest mis-spoken but well-intended word, at something Anna does that just makes me want another little mini-her to watch grow up and do goofy things, at a song or something I hear on the radio. Like the other day - I heard a letter written from the perspective of a 6-year-old to his mom on the first day of school. It was filled with little phrases and messages that I expect would have been very comforting for a mother in that situation to hear, but it just made me fall apart and I could not for the life of me reach over and turn the dumb radio off! "Don't worry, mom, I know today is hard for you and you feel all alone when I'm gone, but this is somewhere I have to be right now. But I am thinking of you and my face is still covered with all your kisses (oh, what would I not give to kiss that little face!), and I'll come home and hold your hand at the end of the day."

Sigh. See what I mean?!?! Basket case on the highway, powerless to turn it off.

Physically, I am doing better now. I had two consecutive nights of waking up having hours of contractions and feeling like my entire uterus was bleeding out. The contractions felt like when I had Anna; I had to focus on breathing through them, try different positions to relieve the pain, just like a normal labour and delivery - but without the promise of a baby at the end! Fruitless. After those two nights the bleeding didn't really start letting up, so my doctor scheduled me in for a dilation and curettage (D&C) yesterday. Had I not been travelling to England early next week I don't think we would have made that arrangement ... but it was something that he and Mark and I all felt better about under the circumstances of my travel plans.

I wasn't excited about the prospect of having a D&C. I knew that especially after those two nights of contracting, the start of our baby's little body was not still in my womb, and I have received a lot of reassurance from Jesus that He is holding our tiny boy. But something still felt to me like this would be the day that he died and I lost him, because of something I (kind of) chose to do. In the very appropriate words of my good friend Amanda .... suckfest.

The procedure itself went really well, according to my doctor's report to Mark while they both waited for me to wake up from my rather long Anaesthetic-induced nap! I'd never been under general before, but I apparently don't have any kind of wacked-out adverse reactions to it, for which we're thankful. I'm not having any pain now, although I am single-handedly keeping Ibuprofen in business! :)

I don't (for two days in a row now...!) feel like my world is still falling apart, and I feel more sociable. I think I mentioned before that if you had any idea of what Mark and I were going through, it became slightly more acceptable to hang out. But otherwise, I pretty much didn't want to see you if you weren't family! I think that although I dreaded having the surgery, and definitely had a lot of pre-conceived notions of what my emotional state of being would look like as a consequence of the D&C, God in His mercy has redeemed it and made it a time of closure and healing.

One of the things I anticipated from the D&C was losing the feeling of still being near to our baby. Even though I knew he wasn't here any more, and really hadn't been since his tiny heart never started beating, I still somehow felt close to him. (Although, as I mentioned in a previous post, that feeling didn't really start till after we found out for sure that we were having a miscarriage.) So I was afraid that having the procedure would take that away from me. But, in His seemingly endless mercy, as Mark drove me away from the hospital I was so very aware of not only God's closeness to me, but also our baby's. Is this theologically sound? Who knows. I certainly don't, but you would be hard-pressed to convince me that what I experienced didn't happen on theological grounds!

As we ate dinner last night, Mark was sitting next to Anna's highchair feeding her, and all of a sudden this feeling of Jesus and our baby being near to me became very intense. And I realised that I could sense an almost palpable presence in the room with us. Now - this is something I didn't see with my physical eyeballs and retinas, but I know that God was opening my mind's eye to be able to see what I was sensing. (Poor Mark - he just sat there feeding Anna, waiting for me to stop bawling and explain what was going on!) Jesus was standing in the kitchen with us as we ate, and he was holding this little bundle in His arms. Anna started laughing at her own goofiness, as usual, and I saw a little arm poke out of the bundle to grab and wave in her direction when she laughed. A fold of the blanket moved and I could see a little chubby face with skin a little lighter than Anna's, and big dark eyes. He didn't look like a newborn - I guess time in Heaven is like time in Narnia or something :) - but more like a 4 or 5 month old baby. He was a little chubs, with those alert eyes that can really look at you and see you. He didn't ever take his eyes off of Jesus' face, though, to look over at us. And I think that made me happy. I know he was aware of us, because he waved at Anna ... and that was enough for me. He has something that I will never be able to - a life lived entirely and fully in the presence of Jesus, captivated by His face, from the moment he became alive. What more is there that a mother could desire for her child? Of course I miss him with my whole heart - indescribably so - and will still have broken-hearted days, and would give almost anything to hold him in my own arms rather than being a spectator ... but I could never wish him to leave the arms that are now holding him.

I will see you again one day, sweet boy ... I love you so much!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Well, I've made it through this week. Today is Friday. It's almost the weekend. Wednesday was the hardest day yet. I was supposed to go get a repeat blood draw to confirm that my HCG level was falling (as would be expected in a miscarriage). I went to the lab at my doctor's office once Anna and I were up and ready first thing in the morning, only to be told that there was some missing paperwork and they couldn't do my bloodwork. For some reason, I absolutely could not handle that. I burst into tears and drove straight home - even though my doctor's office was just down the hall and it would've been a relatively simple matter to just go find out what the confusion was. That was a totally insurmountable task, compared to my tiny reserve of coping ability! I cried all the way home, all the way through Anna's naptime story and lullaby, and sat on my bed and cried for who even knows how long. I cried when Mark came home to have lunch with me, cried when he prayed over lunch, cried when he left, cried on the way back from Walmart, cried while I made dinner ... I think I cried twenty different times on Wednesday. I don't know what to do with myself when I'm swinging between mustering up enough hold-it-together-ness to complete simple household tasks, and feeling like my world is falling apart. I know that it will not always be like this. I know that His mercies are new every morning. I know that my baby is in a better place and that I will see him one day. I know that we live in an imperfect world that is waiting for redemption. I KNOW all of those things!

But my heart is still breaking.

Two days later, and I'm feeling a little better. I think I only had one meltdown yesterday. Thanks for the encouraging messages ... it really helps to know that people are praying. I don't feel especially sociable (yesterday and the day before, unless you were either Mark, Anna or Jesus coming to tell me He's going to do a miracle and bring our baby back, I definitely wasn't interested in seeing you!), but it really is good to know that there are people there when I'm ready to hang out again. I still feel like my level of functioning is limited to just surviving rather than being on top of things, but in the last couple of days I have at least accomplished going to Walmart, dusting and vacuuming my house, and doing some laundry. And getting myself and Anna (and today Riah) through each day without totally falling to pieces. I am planning on going back to the lab today to get my bloodwork done. For real this time. I just feel like my ability to cope with even the simple things in my life is reduced to 'minimal'. My phone is not syncing with the Mac, and I feel like throwing them both out the window; the babies both just started making noise after being asleep for 30 minutes, and I feel like smacking their heads together if they do it again! These are not normally feelings I struggle with!!


I think part of it is that I'm hormonal and my body is in that post-partum stage of trying to reset itself ... on top of grieving. And I'm trying to find a balance between being able to go through a healthy grieving process and still coping with my life and taking care of Anna and Mark. I wonder more and more how people go through this who don't know that they can call on the Creator of the universe for help.

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A mega-post. You've been warned!

This is a series of posts that I have been writing but not publishing over the last month or so. The condensed version is this: in June we found out that we were adding a baby to our family, but this last weekend I started spotting. I called my doctor who saw me on Monday, did an ultrasound and found no heartbeat. Labs have confirmed that we lost the baby. It has been a rollercoaster month filled with hopes, doubts, and waiting.
I know that for most of you this entire last paragraph is all new news ... and I apologise for delivering it via the internet. While I would love to be able to tell all of our friends personally, it's just not a conversation that I can bear to have over and over and over again! But we do want you all to know.

So ... that is today's news. If you would like, feel free to read through my thoughts over the last month or so ... but be warned that there are plenty of them!

This year for Fathers Day, Mark got what we thought was the bulk of his gift a few weeks in advance. I was out garage sale-ing and found this awesome propane/charcoal grill, complete with a half-full tank of propane, for $20! Of course I snapped it up, and we've been enjoying it ever since :)

On the actual day of Fathers Day, Mark got home around 8am from 24-hour call at the hospital and found a second gift waiting for him - a positive pregnancy test!! I have taken SO many tests in the last 8 months or so, and (clearly) they have all been negative ... until now! I can't even describe how excited I was when that second blue line appeared in the window :) And of course Mark was ecstatic too ... our little family is about to get one baby bigger! We went to the clinic that afternoon and Mark did an ultrasound to see if we could figure out how far I was, since my LMP wasn't looking to be very reliable, and it looked like I was about 4 weeks. Putting my due date about Feb 27th of next year.

Over the last few weeks, though, my feelings about the pregnancy have kind of changed. I think that as Mark and I were talking about it, I figured out at least how, if not why, I was feeling so much less excited about it. Actually, 'disconnected' was the word that felt the most accurate. So far, the only experience I have had with being pregnant resulted in Anna. So when I think about being pregnant, I identify that feeling with Anna. Now that we already have Anna and can look at her toddling around and playing with us, it's almost as though my mind is saying "well - why be pregnant again? Pregnancy results in Anna, and Anna's already here!" I don't know whether that really makes sense to anyone else ... but it's the closest I can describe to what's been going on in my mind!

We've been going back to the clinic once a week to do ultrasounds, and so far all we've been able to see is a gestational sac. I'm about seven weeks now, and we probably should've been able to see a fetal pole by now. The gestational sac is growing each time we check, and I'm pretty sure we saw more than this with Anna by this time. That kind of worries me. I have my first appointment with my doctor in two weeks, and Mark and I decided that we wouldn't do any more ultrasounds till then. It's making Mark more anxious than me, I think, and he said that he didn't really want to be the doctor when he's supposed to be the daddy. I was praying about the baby yesterday, and kind of wondered at God whether part of the reason I didn't feel nearly so attached to this pregnancy as I did with Anna, could be His preparation for bad news when I go see Dr Ross. It's very possible that Mark and I conceived, the embryo implanted but it stopped developing, and we may lose the baby. That would be one explanation for a growing gestational sack but no baby that we can see inside of it. I'm praying that if that is the case and God is preparing me, that He'd keep giving me and Mark the grace to deal with it ... but that if this isn't from Him that he'd change my heart and my feelings.

So now it's just a waiting game, I guess. We've told our two families that I'm pregnant, and one or two close friends, but we're probably going to hold off telling everyone else till we have some definite news as far as the baby's development. I'm writing this now but not posting it till after my appointment ... I'll probably post it regardless of what the news is, but I wanted to write things down while they're fresh in my mind. And while Anna is sleeping so I can think straight without having to stop and make sure she's not exploring her way to an injury :)

It has been almost a week since I wrote that - and it's been a week of rollercoaster emotions. Until yesterday, I think the predominant emotion that I had was still feeling very detached from this pregnancy and baby. Almost to the point that I didn't think I really was pregnant, despite pulling out my pregnancy tests and double- / triple- checking! I am feeling about the same now (physically) as I did in my early pregnancy with Anna; tired a lot, swinging between feeling constantly hungry or else grossed out by the thought of food, sore boobs, peeing a lot ... the typical early trimester stuff. My psychological state of being, however, is polar opposite from how I felt with Anna. Not excited, not 'feeling pregnant', not attached to the baby. And not feeling guilty about those feelings! This is something that I found very surprising; a month ago, if you had told me I would be feeling this way now, I would probably have started feeling guilty just at the THOUGHT of feeling this way!

Two things happened this week, though, that particularly impacted me. The first was something a good doctor friend of ours said when Mark and I were having dinner with him (he is an adjunct faculty member at Image where Mark is training). Having had some experience with loss of a baby, he said to us, "Well, you can know one thing at least. You will get to hold this baby. Whether it is now, when it's born and placed in your arms, or in heaven. You will get to hold the baby." That really struck me. I suppose the reality of this child suddenly sank in a little. Whether or not I 'feel pregnant', a little life got started and will continue to live. Be that here with us or in heaven with Jesus, I don't yet know. But it will exist for all eternity as my child!

The second thing that happened was part of our church service yesterday. We have been journeying through the subjects of healing and suffering recently. The resounding theme has been that regardless of the presence or absence of healing or suffering, God is good and His love for us is unimaginably huge. (That sounds very cliche as I'm re-reading. I do not mean to sound trite, and it has been a very insightful and well-handled series of sermons that is far beyond simply a collection of Christiany platitudes.) Towards the end of the service, little yellow pieces of paper were passed out. On these, we were invited to write down something (or things) for which we needed to wait on God, and rest in being able to trust in His goodness whatever the outcome. We were given the opportunity during a time of worship to take the piece of paper to the front of the church and leave it there, symbolising relinquishing our 'control' over it and our desire to wait on God's outcomes. One of the things I wrote was "my baby". Mark and I walked to the front together to add our papers to the sea of yellow on the floor ... and suddenly, it was gut-wrenchingly difficult for me to let go of it. I did, eventually, after standing and bawling for what felt like an eternity, and nothing miraculous happened. In fact, I felt as though I was already grieving for this little life, now that I'd given it over to God. (As though He hadn't been holding my baby since the beginning of time...) But throughout the course of the day, I felt a sense of peace filling my heart. God is in control, He is good, He already knows the outcome of my appointment with Dr Ross, and one day, I will get to hold this baby.

Well, today was the day of my appointment with Dr Ross. It was - until he called in sick and his office had to reschedule me. I'm so disappointed! I feel like these last two weeks have been the longest of my life - waiting to find out whether or not my baby is ok. That's not a small deal to me! I'm rescheduled for a week from today, which is really not an extremely long time to wait, but it sure feels like it is. Mark managed to finagle a couple hours off work this morning so he could come with me to see Dr Ross, which he's unlikely to be able to do next week since he'll be working at the hospital. We talked for a few minutes this morning and we may try to get one of his classmates to perform an ultrasound at the clinic this evening after work. I feel like I just want to know ... you know?!

I'm still feeling physical symptoms - tiredness, some nausea etc - and my emotional state of being is a little more stable. And a little more favourable towards the baby, which I'm taking as a good thing! (Just to clarify, my problem has never been not wanting the baby. I want this baby! It is that I have never 'felt' in my mind that it was actually real. I think that is an important distinction to make.)

So ... maybe I'll know something more definitive by this evening. Maybe not. The waiting game continues, and I need a nap.

We have a baby! This evening we got one of Mark's colleagues to ultrasound me after work. We explained the situation - that we thought I was about 9 weeks and that at 7 weeks we still hadn't been able to see a fetal pole, and that my OB appointment had been pushed back another week. So we took another peek, and the first thing we saw was a tiny, white dot in the middle of the gestational sack: our little peanut! However, judging by the size, I am probably close to 4 weeks earlier in the pregnancy than we thought I was. By seven to eight weeks a heartbeat should be present, and the baby is nowhere near being large enough to detect a heartbeat. That puts me at around 6 weeks and moves my due date from the end of Feb to the end of March. [Which, for those of you more medically oriented people, means that Mark found a gestational sack that first time at around 3 weeks! Mad skillz :) ]
On the way back from the clinic I was listening to the radio, and that Mark Schultz song 'Child of Mine' was playing. I'm not a massive fan of his, but the lyrics seemed to be coming straight from God to this little baby.

"You are a child of Mine
born of My own design
and you bear the heart of life"

Welcome to being alive, little peanut!

I had some very light spotting this weekend. We called my doctor, and he called in a prescription for me that might help. He also told me to come see him on Monday (yesterday) for an ultrasound to check on the baby. The good news - by yesterday the spotting had pretty much stopped. The bad news - Dr Ross wasn't able to find a heartbeat. We're not exactly sure of my dates, since I only had one cycle between re-starting after Anna and getting pregnant. But based on the date I took the pregnancy test, we're pretty sure I'm at least 8 weeks. By which time you can definitely see a heartbeat. So we're fairly confident that we lost the baby. I'm doing some blood tests over the next couple week or so to measure the level of pregnancy hormone in my blood (quant. serum HCG), with the expectation that it we'll see it start to drop again. Dr Ross did tell us that he didn't want to totally rule out the possibility of a weird ultrasound that we just happened to take on a 'bad' day, and that he wants to wait for my bloodwork to come back before absolutely settling on a miscarriage, but the chances of that are pretty slim. Mark and I are firm believers in the power of God to bring life to lifeless situations, but we also know that we live in a fallen world and that bad things do indeed happen to good people. God has given me a somewhat out-of-place sense of peace about this ... it doesn't mean I'm grieving any less (I've cried at about a dozen different things today and it's only mid-afternoon!), but I know His presence and I have peace. Peace with tears.

Dr Ross called me last night and told me that my bloodwork was back. It confirmed that we lost the baby. It was what we expected to hear, so in a way it wasn't a difficult phonecall to get through. And in another way it was the most difficult one I've ever had.
Yesterday was a really tough day. I felt very emotional; partly because I think the news is still sinking in, but I feel like a lot of it is also hormonal. It's crappy to go through post-partum stuff without having a baby there to make it all worth it.
Something that I didn't expect to happen is that now that I know the baby is gone, it suddenly feels real to me. I never felt like the baby was real while I was carrying it ... but now that it's with Jesus I totally know that it's real and alive. We both feel like it was a boy, and we'd named him even before finding anything out this week. My grieving feels different from experiencing a death; it feels more like missing someone who is temporarily gone. Like when Mark and I were long-distance and we wouldn't see each other for months. I loved and missed him, and hated not being with him - but I knew that I'd see him again in six months. It feels like that. I just miss our baby. Anna is getting lots of lovin' these days ... I look around the house at her cluttery toys that don't match my decor and get under my feet when I walk around the house - and I'm so unspeakably grateful that they're there!
And speaking of that little bug ... I think she's awake. I'm gonna go grab her and smooch those big fat cheeks. If you made it all the way to the bottom, well done. And thanks for staying with me. I mean that.

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's Monday morning...

... and all seems well with the world - or at least, my little corner of it :) I love days like this. Since I left the workforce (hallelujah!), Mondays aren't the dreaded first day back that they used to be. But it's still the start of a new week, Mark is back at work, my to-do list starts over, and it still feels like a kind of first day back. So far, I've gotten to sleep an extra hour (thanks Anna!), got up and made that little girl some delicious yums, remembered today is bin day - before the bin-men got to my part of the neighbourhood, victory - made a mango-strawberry-banana smoothie, mug of coffee and slice of Nutella toast for breakfast, and am now sitting down to enjoy breakfast while I listen to Anna playing in the next room. There are days that I miss nursing ... but today is not one of them! I am so thankful for my amazing husband who gets up at 5:45, goes to the hospital to pour himself out taking care of other people and teaching interns how to be good doctors for 13 hours a day, and comes home exhausted - so that I can stay home and enjoy taking care of Anna. I know he'd likely be doing those things even if he wasn't married and didn't have a child, because that is what God has called him to do. But we recently had a very enlightening conversation in which I got a little glimpse into the difference it makes to his motivation for getting up in the mornings when he knows that his paycheck is what keeps the bread and butter on the table for his family. Yup ... I married a good 'un.