Tuesday, December 16, 2014

To Know Christ no Matter the Cost

I've been putting off writing this.  But I really need to.  Not just for myself, but for others that read and need to know that someone else in this world feels the same way.

I love Christmas.  I love the carols, lights, the excitement, the smell of a fresh cut tree and making Christmas cookies that never quite come out looking like reindeer but some sort of blob with antlers.

With that said, this Christmas, I find myself just wanting it to be over.  I still love all of those things.  I mostly love seeing my daughter enjoy looking at our tree and participate in the fun holiday activities.  I am not enjoying it the way she is, though.  I wish I were.

I miss the baby that I would be 27 weeks pregnant with right now.  I miss so much of what I don't get to experience with that child.  And I feel very alone in this.
Life goes on.  But, the pain is real.  It's hard to resume normal activities and be blissfully happy during the holidays-even if you're pregnant again.

Every child is important and loved.  If a child died of parents who had several children, would the parents cease to mourn if another child came into the family?
I feel as though people forget that my child died.  They never got to know them.  Never saw them, and therefore, don't miss them in the same way.

I intensely miss my baby.
I carried that child.  I talked to, sang to, prayed for, and hoped for that child.  I felt the signs of life in my body-and the signs of death.  My arms still ache from the emptiness.  My soul grieves.

It's as though you are shown something so fantastically beautiful you can't take your eyes off of it.  It creates something wonderful in you as you take in it's magnificence.  But it is suddenly taken away-without explanation.  You are left stunned.  Dumbfounded, and deeply saddened.

So, the holidays aren't exactly super fun this year.  Although, I am so grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life, I still have the right to be sad.
Even if people don't understand.

If a loved one passes away, family and friends can reminisce about them at the holidays. Cry with each other.  Comfort one another.
But, this is different.  Because a loved one that no one knew was lost.

No one knew the baby in the same way the mother did.  There is a degree of separation others have from the pain, that I almost envy.  That creates an intense sense of isolation.

I am pregnant again.  I am thankful for this baby that looks to be okay so far.  It was touch and go there for a few months.  And, I will most likely never fully feel at ease the rest of the pregnancy.

However, I take each day as it comes.  Good or bad.  Whether I'm crying about what has or may happen or busying myself with other things.  I ask God to have mercy.  I feel wholly inadequate that he forgives my screw ups and lack of faith so completely and lovingly.  Yet, he does.  It is often more difficult to accept that fact than to focus on how you'll never measure up.  It is so much better to focus on the Christ that saved the world by entering it as a helpless child.  With a word, he saves, calms, forgives and transforms.

The fact that he even blessed me with the knowledge of the 2 babies we lost, is beyond gracious.  I am so happy we will be reunited in heaven.  I can't wait to hug them so tight for about 1,000 years!

I thank God for being separated from his Son while he was on this earth and the cross.  For going through the ultimate separation when Jesus endured hell for us.  He watched his Son die the ultimate death.

Although, I don't understand why this grief is mine for this lifetime, I know there is a plan far reaching my understanding.  I know my God grieves with me as well.

That all may know him-no matter the cost.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I Miss You

Missing my babies so terribly tonight, and praying fiercely for the one in my womb.  God, have mercy.  See the plight of one unworthy but covered in the blood of the Lamb.  
Thank you that we will see them again in our eternal resting place.

Monday, November 17, 2014

To Be, or Not to Be...

You know those times when your heart is so full-full of happiness or sadness or anger or...all of the above-that your brain just can't form words to truly express what's happening in there?

Yeah, that's where I'm at.

I find myself on the verge of tears, wanting to laugh out loud and scream all at the same time.  

Here, writing, seems to be the only safe place to express the true inner ruminations that could easily be viewed as diagnosable. 

So, I thank you for reading and caring and praying.  I open my heart up in a way that helps give me peace in a way that I know God designed.

Our latest outing with baby was to the ER.  Yes.  Just 3 days after we had a great doctor's visit, saw the baby, no problems...there I was bleeding heavily.  

Stunned.  Scared.

"Why God?"
"Why would we come this far, to lose the baby now?  I know you are good and love me...but I don't understand this."

I cuddled tightly to Sarah as what I hoped would get better, didn't.  I sat on the kitchen floor watching her cook me plastic food when tears started streaming down my face.  And then the inclination came.

After we had our service in the mountains for the babies in heaven, we always sang It is Well with My Soul.  Standing over those little graves, I thought of seeing them again as the notes rose into the sky.

My mind went back to those moments.  I wasn't thinking. "My baby is gone."  No, I was thinking, "God knows what is best.  He takes care of all of our babies."

As I sat there, watching my little girl play so happily, a half smile spread across my face as I sang this beautiful song-the tears rolling over my quivering lips.  

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
    • It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. It is well with my soul,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

We went to the ER that day.  I was a bit apathetic about it.  So much has happened.  I know that things can very quickly change. I have learned more so not to take anything for granted. 

Thankfully, we had wonderful staff at the ER, barely any wait and the baby looked great.

The diagnosis was a hemorrhage, which I had already and thought had healed.

The next day at church, tears came again as we sang that familiar hymn.

It is well. 

Yes.  It is well with my soul, Lord.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Are We There Yet? Early Days with Baby #4.

The news of baby #4's existence was a surprise...a very pleasant surprise.  On the heels of a painful miscarriage came the news of a new baby.

6 weeks
Within a week of finding out, I found myself preparing to miscarry again.  I started bleeding, and more than a little.  I came to accept the fact that this could happen and waited for it to get worse.  But it didn't.  It got better over that weekend.

At our already scheduled appointment that Monday morning, we saw the tiniest little being whose heart was flickering like a beacon of light on the large screen in front of us.  There was no explanation for the bleeding. 

I left so relieved, and hopeful.  
And scared.
7 weeks
As the days passed,  I continued to be cautiously excited.  Some spotting continued here and there. At the next appointment, we saw a strong heartbeat.  

But there was a clot.
Blood/bleeding showed up next to the baby. The doctor said that these resolve themselves in 90% of cases.

Having our recent past in the forefront of my mind, I was very unsettled with these odds. The doctor read the concern on my face and scheduled another ultrasound when it wasn't necessary.  For this, I am so thankful and absolutely love this doctor so far.

Thankfully, that ultrasound was perfect.  The ultrasound tech first checked to see a heartbeat which was evident.  She zoomed in on this little miracle.  Little arms and legs wiggled around as she let us hear one of the most beautiful sounds on this earth.  
9 weeks
The sound of a child's heart.  

After the tech left the room, I broke out in sobs. Weeks of wondering got answered in the matter of a few moments.

There was no bleeding.  No clot.  I'm pretty sure it passed the night before.  That tiny little thing caused me so much grief as it rested beside a tiny little being that brought me so much joy.

A few days after that, the nurse called saying I need to take an antibiotic to eradicate bacteria seen in my urine.  Sigh.  I thought.  "Can I just get through this pregnancy without something else happening?"  I realize this problem seems insignificant.  
Keep in mind...I've been to that doctor's office almost every week, sometimes twice, since mid August.  It's exhausting, and I just want everything to be okay for awhile.

So, here we are.  We're a few weeks away from the end of the first trimester, and honestly, I'm very ready to get there.  I'm ready to get to the end of the pregnancy and hold my baby.  I loved being pregnant with Sarah, and I'm praying I will truly start to love being pregnant with this baby.

Just because I'm pregnant again, doesn't mean I've stopped grieving the child we lost just months ago. It's so different this time.  Different than it was after we lost our first child.  It's confusing.  

I am elated that the baby I carry now is doing well.  Yet, my heart still hurts missing the child that resided in the same place a short time ago.

I am thankful for new revelations in my heart this year that have helped me prepare for our circumstances.  I have learned, and continue to, what God's grace really means.  What his sacrifice means.  The all-encompassing covering of his redemption.  I have to thank Eric for leading our family to a church that has taught me so much.

I've come to realize that "giving it to God", "letting go" and "just trusting Him" are not ways that are natural to me.  When people say to do those things, I've always felt helpless and thought, "Okay so, how do I do that?"

I'm thankful God doesn't require me to do anything at all before I talk to him.  I've always believed that there was something wrong with me if I was worrying, not able to be free from the burdens of life.  But, there isn't.  It's a normal human condition, that even Christ felt the weight of.  Yet, He knew how to pray.  

I am learning that I don't have to feel guilty, because I can't "let go".  No, I need to pray!  I need to open myself up to God and be vulnerable.  I need to talk to Him about it, because he is the only one that can sufficiently carry my burdens.  I don't have to figure out a way to let go of something inconceivable to me in order to please God.  No, he loves me as I am, where I am and in what state I am.  

Christ is well acquainted with grief.  He knew sorrow to a depth far reaching my understanding.  I can spout nonsense, and he makes sense of it all.  My journey is not about what I have done on my own for God.  No, it's about His love that covers, renews, enlightens and ultimately brings glory to the name that is above all names.

I will continue to share our story as Miracle Baby Russell grows.  I included the pictures, because it amazes me to see how intricately God creates us in such a short time.  Just astounding and touching.  Our God is so great.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support.  It means so very much to us.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

What to do after someone has a miscarriage

People ask after a loss, "What can I do for you?"

Here are some general guidelines that have worked for me.  Keep in mind, they won't apply to every woman/family.

By the way, I use the pronoun they most of the time, because I am referring to the woman who miscarried, her partner and family as miscarriage is a loss for them all.

1.) Ask if it's okay to come by, and let them tell YOU when and how.  Visits are...difficult.  When you're feeling like the world turned upside down and is resting on your chest, you don't really like to sit and chat.  Also, depending how the miscarriage happened, she may be in pain or waiting to complete the miscarriage.  They aren't going to want company if that's the case.
Also, don't bring anyone they aren't expecting even if  it's a close friend or family member.  They probably don't really want to hang out.  It takes a lot of emotional preparation to interact.  Think of it this way-someone very precious and dear to you just died suddenly and you are also so sick you can barely move-would you want people popping in?

2.) Bringing food is good. It's awesome. They are not going to be thinking about cooking and may not want to go out to get food. Just don't linger unless they seem like they want to talk.  You could ask if you could leave it on the porch or if you should come inside.

3.) When they start going to social events, don't be awkward around them.  They know when you're avoiding eye contact or trying not to have to talk to them, or over compensating by trying to be funny.  They may act weird, but that's okay.  Let them act differently.  Grief is not just sadness.  It is denial and anger and all of those things that people don't like to see.  It's a lot of emotions all mixed up together that are expressed in ways that aren't always socially acceptable.  Love them anyway.

4.) This may not be an issue for others, but I personally have a really difficult time with the question, "How are you?"  When people ask so many times a day, the pain emerges to the surface.  It is a simple question.  A polite question.  It's a reminder for some going through a miscarriage of just how crappy they do feel when they are trying desperately to somehow fit back into a world that seems to be spinning out of their control.  It's a reminder of how much sadness overwhelms them constantly.  It's not a bad thing to ask, but it can be seen as a silly question since obviously they are not doing well at all.  Then again, I've never been one for small talk.

5.) Try to avoid asking questions.  Remember, they don't want to be the one to educate you on this subject at this particular time or maybe ever.  It's not her or her family's responsibility.  And she doesn't necessarily want to give you details about what pain (physical or emotional) she is in at the present time.  If she wants to talk about it, she will.  And let her.  One of the worst things to do is stop her from talking if she wants to open up.  And listen letting her know you are sorry for her loss.  This is terribly painful and excruciating to talk about. She is questioning herself constantly and doesn't need a reminder from you of all of those questions that have no answers.  And on that note, try not to say things like, "This is common.  You'll have a healthy baby one day."  or "Just give it time.  You'll feel better."  Those things could be true...but not helpful when their hearts are torn in two.

6.) Telling stories about what you've heard from others or on the Internet may be your way of connecting, but isn't always comforting.  No situation is the same, not even when the same woman has multiple miscarriages.  It's understandable that you want to make them feel better by doing this.  However, it could actually be the opposite of comforting.

7.)  Go to the funeral/memorial service if they have one.  This demonstrates how much you support them.  How you validate the life that meant so much to them and was suddenly ended.  I can't reiterate this enough.  It's a funeral.  It's the funeral of their child.  Pay your respects.

8.) Keep on giving support to them months later.   Just because some time passes, doesn't mean they're going to be back to normal.  This was an enormous loss of hope.  It's going to take time to regain any sense of normalcy.  Let them know you still pray for them.  The pain may still be very real for women who have had miscarriages years or even decades ago.

9.) Remember it may be difficult for them to be around babies or pregnant women for awhile.  Be sensitive to this.  Let them know ahead of time if you are able that those expecting or with newborns will be at social gatherings.  Then they can decide if they can handle it and not feel taken off guard when they walk in to see a glowing pregnant woman or newborn.  It's going to happen, and they may have a hard time with it.  Let them have a hard time with it.  They aren't upset someone else is happy. They are grieving the hole left from the absence of their deceased child.

10.) Be there for them in the way THEY need.  That means respecting their wishes.  Pray with them.  Love them.  Send cards, e-mails, texts and messages of encouragement letting them know you are thinking and praying for them. And... pray again and again.

Those things will most likely make them feel loved while expressing how much you care.
Just remember, you can't fix grief.  Be honest, open and real.  It goes a long way.

Friday, October 3, 2014

My Miscarriage Story: Part 2

I love happy endings, and I'm hoping this is going to be one.

The past few weeks I've been going to get my blood drawn weekly in order for the doctor to see that my hormone levels get back to 0.  I would get to the doctor's office as soon as possible, with my 1 year old in tow.
If I was the first one there, I could be the first one out.

Last week, I expected the level to be 0 as it had only been 7 the week before.  It was bittersweet to think that there was no more of the hormone in my system that would sustain a pregnancy.  I desperately wanted the whole ordeal to be over with.  On the other hand, it was a final confirmation that what once was, was no longer.

But, my level wasn't 0.

It was 25?  What?
Could I be...?  Does this mean...?

I wasn't given any answers that day-only told to come back a few days later to check the level again.

I was so nervous.  All of the terrible questions surfaced.

What if I'm pregnant, find out early, and then lose the baby?  Would it have been better to have never known?

What if...I'm pregnant?

As I made the phone call a few days later to see what was happening, my heart pounded in my chest, and I felt as if I'd never catch my breath.

I waited a moment while the lab tech retrieved my information while the heavy silence weighed on me like a boulder.

She very nonchalantly told me my level was 221.  I asked if I was pregnant.  She wouldn't say whether I was or not, but that I needed to come back to check levels in a few days.

I finally called the nurse a little later to ask about another appointment I was going to have that week.
Butterflies filled my stomach when she said, "You're definitely pregnant."


Wow.  I'm already pregnant again?
God, you are quick!

But then, my fears quickly re-emerged.
When I said to Eric, "What if people judge us, because we got pregnant so quickly?", he simply responded, "So."

And, I love that response.

People have their opinions.  We live in a country where you have every right to them.
But don't let ignorance or fear drive your opinion. It has been too much of a factor in the way I viewed my pregnancies, my life...and I'm done with it.

I embrace the Love that created this child-the God from whom all most precious things come.

We are so happy to have another little one to love, whether we enjoy most of their life this side of heaven or not.  God chose us to be parents again.  What an honor!

I am enjoying every day I have with this little pumpkin seed. :)

We celebrate another life.  We celebrate God's intricate creation.

And those are the reasons we are telling the world at only a month pregnant.
Our baby is alive and growing and thriving.

I want the world to know that.
I thank God for this miracle, and I want others to know so they can thank God, too.

Our new baby is on his/her way!

Praise the Lord.  Praise his Holy Name!

Monday, September 22, 2014

My Miscarriage Story

I preface this post with a bit of a warning.
This is a detailed account of a miscarriage.  It's messy.
It's honest and real.

I posted a blog a few years ago about our first miscarriage.

I later deleted it.

I'm not certain why.
Maybe because it was painful to read.  Painful to know it was out there.
Painful to acknowledge, I guess. It was hard not to get stuck there.
Stuck in despair and hopelessness.

We recently experienced our second miscarriage.
Both babies died around 7 weeks, yet the way things happened was very different.

With our first loss, I began to bleed early on, at about 5 weeks.  We saw the baby's heartbeat twice before we went in for a 10 week check to see the baby had died.
Four days later, the baby passed from my body.  After the bleeding became very heavy, I started to have terrible cramps that lasted an hour or two.  A large, round gray mass came out of my body as I sat on the toilet. I scooped it up quickly half screaming, half crying.  I slumped down on the bathroom floor sitting in a large, bright red puddle of blood continuing to scream as Eric ran into the bathroom.

I had no idea it would happen like this.

I didn't want to let go.  I wanted to see my baby.  I wanted to open up the sac, but we didn't.  What if I ripped up part of the baby's body when I did so?  How much more guilt would that cause?

We didn't know what to do.  We lived in an apartment. We had nowhere to bury the baby.
We took the baby to the doctor.
They acted nonchalant when we dropped off the body of our precious child.
We later read, they incinerate "tissue" like that.

A few years later, we had a beautiful, healthy baby girl that we thank God for every day.

A couple of months ago, we found out we were pregnant again.  We were very excited.  We always knew we wanted more children.  The thought of another miscarriage was always present, but not so much since our last pregnancy was so textbook.

Everything seemed fine.  No bleeding.  I was nauseous and exhausted as expected.  I even started developing a baby bump.

Then, at 9 weeks, the spotting began.  I was somewhat worried, but thought maybe it was nothing.
I called the doctor, and the nurse stated it could be from picking up my 1 year old so much but to come in for an ultrasound.

I knew.
I knew as soon as I was alone in the bathroom "emptying my bladder" getting ready for the ultrasound.  This isn't right.
The tech's silence confirmed my fears.  Especially when she asked if I was sure I was 9 weeks along.

Then, we saw him.  We saw the body of our little angel.
Still.  Motionless.
You could see his little arms and legs.  His little head.

The tech didn't say anything except to get dressed and wait to talk to the doctor.
I started crying. I knew what all of this meant. I'd been through it before.
Before we left the ultrasound room, I stole the picture from the machine that had printed of his little body in my womb.  Guess she didn't think I'd want a picture of a dead baby.
This was the only picture I would ever have of the child I carried for two months.

It was confirmed when we talked to the doctor.  She asked if the tech told us.
Nope.  You get that honor.
I don't remember much of what she said except talking about how cute our daughter was.

We opted to have the baby at home like the first.
No D&C.  No medication unless it was necessary.
We walked out into a waiting room of pregnant women.
I held a piece of paper in my hand confirming the baby I was carrying was dead.  I had a death grip on my purse that held his picture.
That was it.

That was a Monday.
It was Thursday before the contractions got really bad.  They'll call them cramps, but I have been through labor.  They were contractions.  They began earlier in the week, but got increasingly worse that day.  I almost opted for the medicine inserted to speed up the miscarriage it was getting so drawn out and painful.
I didn't, though.  I wanted the baby to come out in one piece if possible.
It was as painful as when I was dilated 7 or 8 centimeters with Sarah.
I knew the baby was coming when I started bleeding so heavily blood came out on the pillow I was sitting on.  I just stayed in the bathroom from that point on.

The contractions got closer and closer together.  Bright red blood flowed out of me like a faucet.
Then, after an hour or so of this, the large clots started coming out.
I started pushing when I would feel a contraction just like I did with Sarah.  All of this on some Tylenol, which didn't do anything for the pain.
I realized what felt like the baby  was coming through my cervix.
It was stuck.  I kept pushing with each contraction until the gray tissue came out in one big piece.

I had my baby.

I very carefully put him in some Tupperware, and Eric put him in the refrigerator.  We knew better this time than to take him to the doctor's office.  We were going to bury him in the mountains where we had a memorial spot for our other miscarried baby.

I tried to clean up.  Exhausted.  Empty.  Still bleeding.

These are things they don't tell you at the doctor's office.  How painful physically and emotionally the ordeal is.  Yet, for me, it provides closure and the visual reality of the life I carried.  That's why I choose to have my babies this way.

We buried our sweet one the next day.  We stood there with Sarah over two graves with large stones encircling them and a flower planted on top.  We stood there with our three children.

We had a beautiful service at our church to honor our child.  It provided so much closure for us.  It was a validation of his life.  God created this baby, and we had the opportunity to share in his brief life.

The second loss was different in many ways.
I realized that this was labor.  I was in my bathroom alone pushing this baby out.
Knowing what to expect didn't make it easier.
I also had to go back for more than the one post ultrasound since I started bleeding again.  If all of the tissue doesn't pass, sometimes a D&C is necessary.  Thankfully, it wasn't in my case, but just the thought of it caused some serious anxiety.

I have to go back weekly to the same office with all of the pregnant people to get my levels checked since I still have the pregnancy hormone in my system.  It's like getting stabbed in the heart again and again to find out I have to go back yet another week.  It's an additional fun fact about miscarriage.

So, why am I writing all of this?  Why not keep it to myself?

I am more open about talking about the subject, because if I don't, more women will continue to feel alone in their grief.  Maybe this post can provide some clarity.  I know I searched the Internet for hours trying to find other stories that would help me cope and know what I could expect.

If I write about it, maybe it will help someone.  I had no idea with my first miscarriage what would really happen and how painful and shocking it would be.  They don't tell you that.  In my case at least, it was really minimized what it would be like both times.

Miscarriage. Really. Sucks.

But, I believe there is hope.  There is so much a loss like this can create in one's heart.
The list could go on.

Yes.  I get mad about it.  My heart feels like someone is branding it sometimes it hurts so much.
But, I'm not going to get stuck in a place full of bitterness.
I am so thankful to have the privilege to carry three human beings created by God. One I get to kiss and cuddle with every day, and the other two I will hold soon.

I have to thank my husband before I end this.  He most certainly provides the support and strength to help me even though he grieves, too.  With our most recent loss, he took several days off of work to help me and watch our daughter.  He is a father to 3, as I am a mother to 3, and he is awesome at his job as Daddy.

We know that one day, we will see our family altogether in heaven.
No more pain or sadness.
Just light and life.
For all eternity.