You (hopefully) see a pretty happy side from me in my posts. And that’s who I am 98% of the time! I’ll share stories about my kids, how I have zero time to do my nails, and occasionally, you might pop on over to Club31Women where I write a couple of times a month. I don’t get super serious very often on Catz…it’s like “Come read this super sad story and here’s a recipe to go with it” doesn’t work very well! But I do go through sad times, of course, like we all do. Times when I don’t know if the aching in my heart will go away or if the tears will stop. A lot of those emotions have come rushing back this month, both because of the milestones this October represents, and because October also happens to be National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. I can’t imagine how excruciating the pain must be of losing a baby you’ve actually met and held physically in your arms has to be, but I have experienced the hurt and sorrow of miscarriage twice. Like many of you, I don’t talk about it much.
But I figured if I’ve hurt (and am still hurting to a degree), maybe you are, too. Maybe sharing my story can help comfort or maybe encourage someone else. Maybe it needs to be said that it’s not your fault…you couldn’t have prevented it. Maybe you need to hear that it is okay to just cry until you can’t cry anymore. Maybe, just maybe, you need to be told that it’s okay to grieve and that it will take time before life begins to resemble normal again. Because it is okay, and it’s also okay to remember what you’ve lost and talk about it.
It’s okay to reach out and break the silence.
You’ll never really know and understand the fear unless you’ve experienced it before. Before it happens, you know it’s a possibility, so you wait the 12-14 weeks wondering if it will happen to you, but the gravity, the weight of the loss, isn’t something your mind can comprehend until it happens to you. But 1 in 4 women do experience the loss of miscarriage, or, heartbreakingly, an infant, which means many know that fear in a way that’s all too real.
I know the fear, too. I’d been there once before, nearly nine years ago. I was only 23, with beautiful little golden-haired three-year-old Gracie bouncing around the house – it was a loss that I wasn’t mentally prepared for, if that’s even possible. It took me several months to move on, and several years to realize it’s not a loss you ever really get over. It stays with you, and not a day goes by that my mind doesn’t think of what might have been.
“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11
Two months after that first miscarriage, God blessed us with our magical (no, seriously) daughter Eden, and my thankfulness for the gift of her is new everyday. I needed her as much as she needed me!
We’d found out that we were expecting our fourth little one the day after Valentine’s Day. Our kids were so excited – I don’t think I’ve ever seen three little people more happy than the day I told them they were going to have a baby brother or sister! Their excitement was contagious and every day Christian, my youngest, would ask how the baby was doing and if he could see pictures of it through one of those pregnancy apps on my iPad.
I was about ten weeks along, and by all indicators, everything was moving along perfectly. I felt pregnant. I had cravings. I was tired, and as long as I made sure I ate several small meals or snacks a day, I didn’t feel sick. But, mentally, I was crippled with fear. My mind couldn’t find peace…it was like deep down I knew something was wrong.
With our three kiddos in tow (they all wanted to come “see the baby”!), we headed into our ultrasound appointment on March 30, 2016. We all held our breath while the ultrasound technician began whirling the wand around my tummy searching for images. She wasn’t successful, but knowing that sometimes it can be hard to find an image this early on, I pushed the worry aside as we got ready for the second and more invasive ultrasound.
Silence is an awful thing…especially when you instinctively know something is wrong. It feels like your ears have picked up one of those ultra high-pitched sounds that only animals can hear. It makes the hair on your neck stand up and your body tense.
The voice screaming in my head finally worked up the courage to ask, “Is everything okay?” Though, of course, I knew it wasn’t. There was nothing on the screen. Nothing, except an empty egg sac.
I was informed that the pregnancy wasn’t, and never had been, viable. There was no baby, and probably hadn’t been for a couple of weeks. Something had gone wrong early on. I was given three different options to remove the surrounding tissue that was left. I opted for the least invasive route…allowing my body to take care of itself on its own.
Over a month went by, nothing was really happening, and I just knew there was something still wrong. Finally, I made a call at the beginning of a week in May. After a blood test that confirmed high HCG levels indicating my hormones were still through the roof, another ultrasound showed that my body was not responding to the situation in the way it needed to, which was, of course, followed by more blood work. By the end of that week, I was in surgery for a D&C.
You never forget the loss. I don’t think you should try. Due dates are burned into your memory. June 2, 2008 and October 22, 2016 are two dates I’ll never forget. A piece of my heart will continue to miss and grieve those babies that I named and loved but never got to meet.
In April, after our heartbreaking ultrasound, Josh surprised me with a lovely white azalea tree planted in our backyard – I can see it from every window in the back of our house. It is a beautiful and lovely way of honoring and remembering the child for which our hearts continue to long.
Last week, my little azalea tree started to flower and bloom again, and I couldn’t help feeling like it was a tiny miracle from God just for me. It’s like He gave my heart another piece of closure. My first miscarriage happened in October 2007. The due date of the baby we lost this year was in October. We had no way of knowing that our Azalea tree would take root and survive (rough, gravely soil in our backyard!), let alone bloom again in October, of all months. Maybe this happens with certain varieties, but I’m going to take this personal blessing either way!
God is still good. I keep their memories in my heart, but I believe God keeps my babies in His arms. Until we can meet face to face, that gives me peace in His sovereignty over everything.
“He will bring about at the proper time – He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of Lords.” – 1 Timothy 6:15