Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Love in Miscarriage



To kick off our month-long Love in Motherhood series, I want to share a time when I really struggled in motherhood, and how God weaved love into my story. Brace yourself, this is going to be a long one.

This summer was a really hard one for us. Every summer is hard for me because we live in Arizona and I'm not a fan of extreme heat (or cold, so I guess I need to live in... Hawaii?), but this one was particularly brutal. I was working full-time in a very, very busy office, struggling to survive the long days and feeling incredibly guilty about leaving my little at home so much. If only I'd known what was coming.

Eating his birthday cake. :)
Emmett turned one in July. Ray and I decided when he was about nine months old that we were open to getting pregnant again, and after what seemed like months, we saw that glorious second line on a pregnancy test. It was so faint I almost missed it, but it was there, and our hearts soared. I was scared, and worried because I know a lot of mamas who miscarried with their second pregnancies, but after a few days I became really excited and started to fall in love with the tiny baby growing inside me.

After about a week of bliss, I noticed a tiny brown tinge on the toilet paper one night in the bathroom. At first I didn't think much of it, but a fear started growing and I called my doctor first thing the next morning. The sweet nurse was reassuring, but they asked me to come in right away for some tests. They drew blood, and we did an ultrasound to check on the baby's age and development. It was too early to see a heartbeat, but the doctor was hopeful and sent us home feeling confident that everything would be okay.

The bleeding didn't stop. It was very light, and would slow down for hours at a time, but each time it came back I was hit with an incredible fear all over again. I called the doctor again the next day, and then the next, and they told me to come back in. I was sure I was miscarrying, so I called my boss and told him I needed some time. Thank God, my boss is a father and a husband and he was very kind. I took a few days off, and went in for blood work nearly every day. The doctor put me on progesterone because my levels were low, but my hCG continued to rise, so we continued to hold out hope.

Here's a passage from a post I wrote in early September, that first week:

The next day, Thursday, I woke up to more spotting. I called the doc and they told me to come in for another blood test. Ray was already at work so I went on my own. When I got there I sat down to have my blood drawn. My friend the PA, who happens to be about 36 weeks pregnant, knew that I was there, so she came out to see how I was doing. She was kind and gentle and I was so afraid. I broke down in that chair and she squatted down next to me, big belly and all, and rubbed my back while I cried. She told me that I would be okay, and that they were all praying for me. I looked up to see the nurses and the girls at the front desk watching me and I knew that they were praying for me then. I could see that they felt my pain and that they really, truly cared, and I felt reassured. We decided to order my labs to come back that afternoon. That way if the baby had stopped growing, I wouldn't have to go through the ultrasound the next day. As I left, the sweet nurse held my hand and told me not to be afraid, but to have faith. It felt like a lightbulb went off when she said that. "Oh yeah," I thought, "I'm supposed to have faith." I wasn't supposed to be afraid, I was supposed to believe that God had a plan for me, and for my baby, and I needed to have faith that He would take care of us, no matter what happened.

Already, God was working love into my story.

After about a week, there had been no change. I had a second ultrasound, and although we still didn't see a heartbeat, we knew from my NFP charting that I was only just five weeks along, and we saw growth since the first ultrasound a week earlier. I flew home with Emmett for a long weekend at the beach with my family, and told them about the baby. I was afraid, but peaceful. I knew God would take care of us, and I had hope. I was able to rest in my family, to relax, and to pray almost constantly. It was such a blessing to be away from my incredibly stressful job for a few days.




All of my labs continued to be positive, and I was able to stop taking the progesterone. My doctor was still confident, but the bleeding was only getting heavier, so we knew something was wrong. My thyroid was enlarged, so I went in for an ultrasound of my thyroid. I was still afraid, but peaceful.

When I returned to work, my boss called me into a meeting to tell me they were cutting my hours from 40 to 20, effective immediately (read the full story here.) It was a huge blow and we were stressed, but we jumped into action and came up with a plan. My boss told me my accounts were complaining that I hadn't been around during some of the busiest months of the year, but then told me I could take more time off if I needed to. It was all very strange, and felt like being kicked while we were way, way down, but almost immediately I saw it for what it really was: a blessing.

Tuesday, September 10 (my dad's birthday), we got some not-so-good news from the doctor. My last round of blood work showed that my hCG levels had slowed, and the doctor told me she suspected I was having a molar pregnancy (see the full story here.) Wow. What a terrible, horrible, bizarre turn of events. I was numb, and so afraid. I wrote this post, trying to pull myself out of the black hole I was falling in to.

Looking back on that post, I see the love I was feeling for my family. For Ray, Lucia, and my dad specifically, but for everyone in my life. It's amazing how loss brings you closer to your loved ones, and strengthens the ties that bind you together. Again, there was love in the midst of darkness.

We had a third ultrasound that Friday, and by then the bleeding was constant and fairly heavy. I was terrified that the pregnancy would turn out to be molar, that I never even had a baby, but I was peaceful that morning. We went in to the ultrasound dreading what we thought we'd see - a blob of tissue instead of a sweet baby. The ultrasound tech didn't say much, and we couldn't tell what we were seeing, but we knew there was no heartbeat. We were quiet and scared and numb, until we were alone again. I broke down and Ray comforted me, and then we were strong together.

When our doctor came in to see us, he said the magic words: "We see a baby." I was overcome with relief, and forgot to be scared after that. I forgot to ask questions too, but that was okay. Our doctor told us it wasn't over yet. There was no heartbeat, but we weren't totally sure when we conceived so it could just be that it was still too early for a heartbeat. He told us what to expect in case we did miscarry, and we went home feeling so much better. We still had hope.

Then that night, the contractions began. They came slowly, and then disappeared again. Same thing on Saturday, and then again on Sunday. They were getting stronger, but I was still clinging to hope. I lay on the couch with Ray Sunday afternoon, and didn't let myself think about it, even when I suddenly felt the urge to push. I was still in denial, so it hit me like a ton of bricks when it really began. I was in shock, and in so much anguish and pain and agony. My heart broke, up there all alone in the bathroom, birthing my tiny, quiet, lifeless baby on the toilet. And I wailed.

Ray sat outside the door offering silent support, just waiting for me to need him. After a while, when I could speak again, I asked for him. He was love to me then, in the way I needed it most. He was there with me in my darkest hour, and loved me. We called my doctor at home and told him what happened, and he confirmed what we knew. I had miscarried.

We spent the next few days quietly together. I didn't feel strong enough to go out, to face the world, broken as I was. I remember laughing a little bit in those days, but crying a whole lot. After so many weeks of not knowing, of waiting and seeing, we were relieved it was over. And I felt guilty about that, because all I wanted was to be pregnant again. I remember pain, but peace too.

We were able to bury our baby, who we named Oliver, a couple of weeks later. What a blessing that was for me. (You can read the full story here.) The sweet ladies at the cemetery were like angels- gentle and kind and like a light in the darkness. It was a beautiful day, and gave us so much peace.








Since those days, I've received countless emails, text messages, cards and flowers from strangers, loved ones, and friends. Women I've never met who read my story tell me it helped them, and that makes it worth it somehow. Recently a dear friend of mine lost her baby nine weeks into her pregnancy, and it hurt me so much to see her go through that pain. It still hurts. But I was able to be there for her, to understand her pain, and that makes it worth it somehow.

I told that friend the other night that losing my Oliver has changed my entire life, and every single relationship I have. It has made me stronger, made my life more beautiful, and made me love harder. It has strengthened my marriage and made me a better mother to Emmett. It has made me want to be nothing but love to those I meet in my short life. Nothing but love. I've built new friendships because of this story, and strengthened many old ones. I see the people in my life in a whole new way, and feel love everywhere I turn.

It's strange to be grateful for a miscarriage, but in many ways, I am.

Our little family at Christmas, 2013.

I love you, little Oliver boy.



love in motherhood-2
Today we begin a month-long series on Love in Motherhood. We (and a few of our blogger friends) will write a post about the story of enduring a struggle of motherhood (guilt, temper, busy-ness, comparing to others, etc.), and how someone weaved LOVE into our story. A friend, a spouse, a stranger, our children, God, anything/one.


Each of the hostesses will be sharing and we want you to play along!

THE HOSTESSES:
  1. Anna Kate of Home Away from Home
  2. Jen of Defining My Happy
  3. Jenna & Mary of A Mama Collective
  4. Kristen of When At Home
HOW IT WORKS: First, head to each of the hostess’ sites to check out their posts!
Then, write your own post about Love in Motherhood. We want you to tell how love rewrote your story!
You will then link up on any ONE of the hostess’ sites. Our links will be interlinked which means that your post will be displayed on all of our sites!

We will have a new post go live every single Tuesday for four weeks to continue to spread the love in motherhood story. You are welcome to link up with us every. single. time. Or just once. You choose!
Please share on instagram with the hashtag #loveinmotherhood so we can support each other. We can't wait to see what you all have to say about the journey of love in motherhood for you.

25 comments:

  1. Reading about your story has brought me to tears yet again. It amazes and encourages me that you were able to find peace and love in this difficult time. I am happy that your sweet Oliver will always be remembered and that he has helped you grow even more into the beautiful woman that you are. Many blessings...

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    1. Thanks Kellie! You're so sweet to say that. This was a tough one to write, and it's been a hard couple of days, just thinking about Oliver and remembering that time. But worth it, of course, to share the story with friends and readers.

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  2. Sweet baby Oliver, thanks for blessing this world with your love! Keep teaching your beautiful mama to share her beautiful heart with the world.

    Xo

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  3. You are an amazing person. I'm so sorry for the pain you have experienced, and I am awed by your ability to see light through the darkness. Your idea of being love to everyone you know is so beautiful.
    Thank you for reading my post too!

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    1. Thanks very much Catherine! I am lucky to have strong support and lots of love that helped me through it. Thanks for reading!

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  4. So beautiful, AK. Thank you thank you for being able to share this with us. You are an incredible woman, wife and mother. Love you friend.

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    1. Love you too, Jenna! Thanks for saying all of that. :)

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  5. What a beautiful story. Such a journey you went on. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are amazing and strong!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer! I appreciate you saying that. It was a crazy time, and still hard to think about, but beautiful in it's way.

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  6. As a mother who has experienced 2 miscarriages, my heart goes out to you. Bless you and your family and may the Good God continue to give you peace.

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    1. Thank you for that Cassandra! Prayers for you and your family as well!

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  7. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story - how strong you are to share all you have been through. May other mamas be blessed, too!

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    1. Thank you Sarah! I hope other mamas are blessed by this!
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. So so beautiful, Anna Kate. Your husband sounds like such a gift. Hugs and continued healing.

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    1. Thank you Micaela! My husband is absolutely a gift. :)

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  9. Beautiful, Anna.....

    You and your husband seem like amazing people who handles this loss gracefully....thank you for sharing your ehart.....We, too, have suffered a loss...15 years ago...wow, time does march on.

    Thank you for hosting
    ~Chris

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    1. Thank you Chris! Thanks for reading and for the encouraging words! One day, I will look back on this time and I know I'll remember it fondly.

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  10. So beautiful. I was crying. Brought back sweet memories of saying goodbye to our angel baby. Thank you for sharing, AK.

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    1. Sorry for the tears Morgan! I do that too whenever I read about miscarriages. Hoping our angels are playing together in heaven!

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  11. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing this! I had no idea there were cemeteries that did things like this. I know having a funeral only helped with our grief during our loss. What a wonderful gift. Love and prayers to you and your sweet family. I'm so looking forward to joining in on this link up next week! :)
    xoxo
    Hillary
    www.hillarysgrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Hillary, I had no idea either until we needed one. Thank God for that sweet place. It was such a gift. And yes please join us next week!

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  12. so beautifully written. you are so strong and a wonderful mother. thanks for sharing your story.

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    1. Nellie, thanks for telling me it was you- I wouldn't have known! ;)
      Thank you for your sweet words. I hope you're right!

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