Easter and Expectation

I’m taking a small break in my Legacy study to share something a little more personal this week.

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One year ago on Good Friday, the Friday right before Easter, I found out I was pregnant. I won’t lie.  I was kinda hoping for another positive test this Good Friday as well, but that didn’t happen.

Last Sunday, I went to my old church and heard a sermon about the Saturday in between the death of Jesus and the resurrection.  All those miracles, and promises, just to have him die on the cross.  They didn’t know Sunday was coming.  I can’t imagine what those men and women who had followed Jesus throughout his ministry felt.

Then again, maybe I do.

No one had the plan of God figured out.  They thought he was a prophet.  They thought he would restore the kingdom of Israel to its former glory.  Death wasn’t supposed to be a part of it.  Peter argued this point with Jesus and Jesus rebuked him.  The plan of God was impossible for them to see.

Last year, when I found out I was pregnant, I also did the math to know when I was due. It was going to be the day before Thanksgiving, the same day of the week that my first daughter was stillborn.  When I found out I was having another girl, I thought that all of the parts of the story were lining up so neatly into this beautiful testimony.  And then just five months after that positive test, my daughter passed away.

It didn’t make sense.  But just like the people in Jesus’s time, I’m not seeing the bigger picture.  And the truth is, I will never see the bigger picture in this life.  The only reason we can read the death of Jesus without faltering in our faith is because just a chapter or two later, he has risen.  And then we have the rest of the New Testament and the history of the world to see that story continue to the far reaches of the earth.  The people hiding behind locked doors, fearing for their lives after their teacher died, would have no way to see all of that.

The control freak in me wants to see that big picture, wants to be able to step back and see everything.  See why my daughters had to die.  See why I am having to wait now.  I know I get a few glimpses.  I see in small and big ways how God has used me during these past four years.  The rest of the story will have to be built on faith.  Faith that God will see this through, that he will reveal to me my next step when it’s time to take it.

That is the hope of Easter.  That one day everything will be revealed in the glory of God.  It is a reminder to continue living in expectation.  To keep living based in faith, learning from the ones hiding in those rooms.  Learning from the women who prepared the burial incense and got up early to honor their Lord, having no idea what they would find there.  I must continue to walk in faith, doing what God calls me to do.  Frankly, Saturday sucks.  But Sunday is coming.

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Remembering My Daughters

This past Saturday was the second anniversary of my first daughter’s stillbirth.  And the day before Thanksgiving was when my second daughter, who passed away in August, was due.  I wanted to take a moment, on this blog, to remember both of them.

I don’t have a lot of memories of my daughters.  I don’t know what their cries or laughter sound like.  I don’t even know what color their eyes were.  But I do have a few memories that I would like to share in honor of them.

My second daughter loved to dance.  Anytime I was in the car, listening to the radio on full blast (like I always do when I’m alone), I could feel my daughter kick and jump.  She especially liked the beats of Meghan Trainor for some reason.  My first daughter was also energetic, but she was smaller so I didn’t feel her kicks as strongly.  However, I definitely felt her move around a few times.

Both of my daughters were shy when it came time for the ultrasounds.  They both would put their hands in front of their faces whenever it was time for their close-ups.  It was both frustrating and freaking adorable.

Both of my daughters are very much loved by me and my family.  Their short lives on this earth have inspired me to live my own life to help others who experience loss, too.  And I know that they have brought my family closer, reminding each of us what is most important.

I may not know much about my daughters.  But I know that they are safe and loved where they are.  I take comfort in that and I have hope that one day we will be reunited again.

Grateful Encouragement

The month after my daughter died, I focused on physically healing.  I took the steps I knew I needed to take in order to get healthy or at least put myself on the path to becoming stronger and healthier.  You all were there for me, with encouraging words and kindness, and it held me up in the dark spaces, more than you will ever know.

The next month, I started to look at my life, trying to figure out what my next move would be.  Here were a few of the realities.

  1. Michael and I agreed that we wanted to try again, and we would after we took some time to heal physically and emotionally.  Based on doctor recommendations, we decided 4-6 months would be a good time frame for that healing, which put us trying again at the beginning of next year, 2017.
  2. I am very blessed to have the opportunity to stay at home right now and through my next pregnancy.  Since I will have an enormous amount of doctor visits and tests when I do get pregnant, getting another job anytime soon would not be ideal. Therefore, it is not the path I choose to take at this time.
  3. Since a lot of my support has come from the online community here, I wanted to find a way to connect more, go deeper, share my life with you so that if and when I do get pregnant again, I can have you walk with me on that journey, just as you have done these past few months.

I know that having a supportive community like you guys is not always a common thing on the internet.  The internet is full of trolls and anonymous comments who spread hate.  But I’ve been lucky and I know I’m lucky to have this community that spreads love and encouragement.  For that I am grateful.

But the whole reason I continued blogging after my first miscarriage, the whole reason I shared the deaths of my first and second daughters were to encourage others who felt alone.  Isolated.  Living without the community that I so deeply cherish.  I know how lucky I am to have you because I’ve read and heard story after story of people who don’t have this kind of support.

And I feel protective of these people.  No one should have to feel alone and isolated.  I know that I can’t fix the world’s problems.  I don’t think that’s what I’m called to do on this earth.  I’m called to love.  Love God.  Love Others.  And the number one way I know I can love others is to encourage.  Encourage others who are walking through the pain.  And help others to be beacons of encouragement.

So, in an effort to connect deeper and to encourage others, I started a Facebook page.  On the page, I share my YouTube videos and my blog posts.  And I will admit I was afraid of how I would be received.  Of what people would think about me.  I should know by now that I would get loved in return.  I’m blown away by all of the people who have already liked my page.  Thank you so much for supporting me.

Right now, I’m doing something a little fun on my page.  Every Friday until Christmas, I’m doing a giveaway to promote encouraging others.  The winner of the giveaway receives two $5 Starbucks gift cards.  One for them, and one for someone in their life who needs encouragement.  All you have to do is comment on the post on my Facebook page in order to be eligible.  So, if you want to participate, you are more than welcome to.

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The reason I’m doing all of this is to bring you on the journey of adding to our family, but also to help you encourage others in your own life story.  I don’t know where this journey will take us.  But I know that no matter what, God will be walking with us, and I will do my darndest to try to point him out along the way.

A Walk To Remember

This past Saturday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Michael and I decided to do something different this year, and we participated in a walk hosted by Hope Mommies of Dallas, a pregnancy and infant loss support organization.

There were so many people there, honoring their little ones.  We saw friends from church who had experienced stories similar to ours.  I realized that this walk held so much symbolism.  We all have walked this journey, and are continuing to walk this journey, but we walk it together.20161015_091241

After the walk, they had a balloon release, which was absolutely beautiful.  I was very emotional as I watched the balloons float away.

I couldn’t help but think, as the balloons bobbed and danced and floated away, that all of these children were together, dancing in the presence of Jesus, being held in his arms until the day we will all be reunited again.

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Feeling Alone

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance day is October 15th, this Saturday.  In fact, the whole month of October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.  But on this Saturday, many parents will come together with their communities to remember the children that they have lost.  Some will attend events hosted by support groups, while others might spend the day lighting a candle.

While I am so beyond blessed to have the online and in-person community that I have supporting me, there are times when I feel alone.  Pregnancy loss is different for so many families.  Outcomes and situations are different.  And my particular situation, within my community, is different from anyone else I know.  I am trying to branch out a little, especially among support groups, to people who are more in my situation, but it’s hard.

Most of the people in my life have kids.  They may have had miscarriages or experienced the loss of a child, but they still have kids that they were able to raise on this earth.  Even though I have two daughters, society still puts me in the pre-kids phase, and in suburbia Texas, it makes me stick out like a sore thumb.

I get church advertisements in the mail touting great kids programs, free babysitting, and mom’s night out events.  There is a host of events that happen for kids or kid groups.  So much of this community has been tailored to the nuclear family.  I have three or four elementary schools within a mile of my house, not to mention the daycares, middle and high schools.  Wherever I drive, I’m reminded of what I do not have.  Whenever I turn on the TV, check the mail, go out to eat, go to the movies, it’s always there.  A reminder of what I desperately want but cannot have yet.

But life is not hard.  I have amazing friends who surround me with love, willing to talk trashy TV with me.  I have completely supportive family members who have never pressured me about when we are going to have kids even before we lost our daughters.  I have an amazing husband who loves me, takes care of me, and supports everything I do.  We make our decisions together and I trust him so much.  And ultimately, I have a God who has made his presence known in my life through people, his creation, and other ways.  I don’t have the words to completely explain how lucky and blessed I am in this life.

But I know what it means to feel alone, and it breaks my heart that there are women who have to go through their losses, their dashed hopes, and their own desperate longings on their own.  That’s why spreading this awareness is so important to me.  I want to ask each of you to show your support on October 15th.  Last year, I asked people to share the pictures below on their social media.  I want to ask the same this year.  Or, you can light a candle at 7pm in any time zone, take a picture and share.

To use the images below, right click and “save picture as” to your desktop.  Then you can upload it to your own social media.  The We Remember are for those who are supporting, and the I Remember is for those who have experienced pregnancy loss.

Thank you, my wonderful community, for walking with me through each of my losses.  You help me through my moments of feeling alone.  And ultimately, I’m not alone.  Thank you for being with me on my journey.

Grief, Loss and Thanksgiving: Part Three

Part 3: Thanksgiving

It’s been a week since I first got the diagnosis that I had lost our baby.  Despite the realities of our situation that I’ve experienced this week, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the silver lining blessings I’ve experienced as well.  I tend to describe my personality as an “annoying optimist,” someone who no matter what finds silver linings in any situation, no matter how crazy those may be.  It can be somewhat annoying, but it’s the way I cope.  Anyway, here are only a few of the amazing things that have happened this week.

The medical staff:  The clinic I go to has five different doctors there.  The one that I have seen the most, Dr. W, was the one that saw me for both miscarriage diagnoses.  She arrived right after I delivered last week.  She said when she saw it was me that Monday, she just prayed and hoped that the sonogram would show a healthy baby.  She even brought in another doctor in the hopes that she was wrong, because she wanted to be so wrong.  The doctor she brought in happened to be on call the morning after I delivered, Dr. D.  Dr. D said that she wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just taken care of physically, but emotionally as well.  She said 50% of women who go through this get put on an anti-depressant for a short period of time to help, and that I shouldn’t feel weird if I need to take that option.  Both doctors were such a blessing.

Not only the doctors, but the nurses at the hospital.  Nurses in the L&D ward are a special type of people.  Every single one had no problem staying there and talking to me when I needed to talk, even if it was just clinical questions to distract me from what was going on.  The day nurse was so positive and straight forward.  I never went into a single part of that experience without knowing exactly what to expect and what to watch for.  And it didn’t matter if I only met them once or twice, every nurse was patient and caring, never acting like I was a burden or an inconvenience.  They even said if I just needed to talk, they would be there with a quick push of the call button.

The community.  To say that I’m overwhelmed by the community here and online is an understatement.  There are so many people who were involved.  There’s Lori who came to visit the evening I got my diagnosis and at lunch on Wednesday.  There’s Tod and Candace who came to pray Tuesday night and visited Wednesday evening.  There were the myriad of texts, Facebook messages, and emails we received Tuesday and Wednesday from friends and family, and continue to receive every day (I may not comment back, but believe me, your words are cherished).  My family has also sent their words of comfort and helped where they could.  My mom handled all the pictures and birth stuff from the hospital (as well as being emotional support) which was very needed and I’m so thankful she was able to be here.

Also, my mom shared with me a box given to her at the hospital from a women’s ministry made up of women who had gone through what I had.  In it were notes, verses, a Bible, a journal, and other things to offer encouragement and support to me.  It was unexpected but appreciated.

And then this past weekend, Lori dropped off a basket of goodies given to us from families at church who wanted to do something.  She said it was overwhelming to see how everyone came together for our little family.  I completely agree.  We also received encouragement from our neighbors who were so excited for us and now offer us a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear.  We know that we are loved and that we are so humbled by this experience.

My husband.  There are no words for the amazing man that is my husband.  Throughout this entire pregnancy, he has been there for me.  In the first trimester, when I was sick, he came home after 12 hour days to cook and clean while I laid on the couch.  In the second trimester, he would talk about our baby or how beautiful I was, and he would work on nursery projects or find little gifts or gift ideas for the future.  And then when I lost the baby, he has been there for me every step of the way, handling all the details when I couldn’t.  He stays up with me, when I wake up crying, talking me through it, listening to me, and staying up until I fall back asleep.

This experience has already brought us closer, even more so than the one last year.  Throughout this pregnancy we had learned to become a team.  We have been there for each other through a lot of changes and ups and downs.  And I can’t imagine having anyone else by my side through all of this.  To say I’m blessed or lucky to have him in my life is a complete understatement.  I thought I understood what it meant to marry your best friend, but I had no idea until now.  And what really blows my mind, is that he lost a baby too.  He’s going through loss and pain as well and still stands strong next to me.  Even though the experience for him is different, it’s still the same too.  His strength and love are immeasurable blessings, and I’m so overwhelmed that I get to call this great man my husband.

My relationship with God.  There is absolutely no way I could be upright and typing without the strength of God in me.  All of the above blessings are gifts from God, and I know that.  I am reminded that I’m not alone in my loss even in the Bible.  Job lost all of his children, questioned God, and God answered him.  I know that God will answer my questions too.  Plus, there are a myriad of stories of women in the Bible who struggled with infertility – Rachel, Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth.  I know that God understands my grief, and just based on the amount of stories included in the Bible, I know he has a special place in his heart for women who go through this at any level.

Additionally, God has put women in my life that have been through what I have that I know are there for me.  I don’t think that was ever a coincidence that they are in my life.  This situation sucks, but I know that God hasn’t forsaken me.  Like I’ve said before, God doesn’t keep me from going through the storms, but he promises to be there every step of the way.

So, coming home on Thanksgiving day from this ordeal, I don’t think was a coincidence either.  God answered prayers that there were no complications and that the process happened quickly and with little physical pain.  We have a community around us, some we don’t even know, that have offered love and support throughout this ordeal as we heal both physically and emotionally.  And for these reasons we are truly grateful.

I don’t want to make light of this.  I’m still going through this every day, day by day.  Some moments are really hard.  Some are easier.  I imagine the easier moments will outweigh the harder ones eventually, but that’s not the reality right now.  I wanted to write all of this down now for two reasons.  One, to let others who may go through something similar have some idea of what to expect (although every experience will be different, even made with different choices, and that’s okay).  And also, so that I can remember where I’ve been.  I won’t be here forever.  And that knowledge along with the love and support around me helps me go through each day, each minute, each moment towards healing.

Grief, Loss and Thanksgiving: Part Two

Part 2: Tuesday the 25th and Wednesday the 26th – WARNING, this will get graphic and detailed.  I will not blame you if you skip this post.

Tuesday went by in a slow blur.  Michael took care of every meal, as I spent most of the day on the couch.  At some point either Monday night or some time Tuesday, Michael had gathered all of the baby stuff, put it in our unfinished nursery, and closed the door.  His job let him work from home (a job he only started the week before) and they sent flowers Tuesday afternoon.  Michael also handled all the prep for the hospital stay the next day.  That evening, friends, Tod and Candace, came by to pray for us.  After they left, we got ready and picked my mom up from the airport.  We didn’t get home until 10, and we had to be at the hospital at 5 the next morning, so we went to bed.

The morning came pretty quickly.  We arrived a few minutes before 5 to the hospital.  We had to enter through the emergency room because it was so early.  They buzzed Labor and Delivery, and a nurse came down with a wheelchair to wheel me to my room.  It was just like the rooms we saw on the tour.  In fact, even though we weren’t coming home with a baby,  we still got all the things a couple giving a live birth would get – Michael had all his meals for free and delivered to our room, which was nice so he didn’t have to leave very much at all.

Before everything got started, I asked for one more sonogram, just for peace of mind.  The nurse contacted our doctor for permission, which we got.  An IV was administered while we waited, as well as a blood pressure monitor, and I answered a bunch of medical questions.  The sonogram was done and we waited for the radiologist to come back.  Nothing had changed, there was no heartbeat, no movement, no baby anymore.  So, we started the next step.

For the rest of this post, I will be detailing what I remember from the day.  I want to share because I want others to know what they may have to expect if they have to go through this like I did.  Of course, it could also be different for them for a number of reasons, but I want you to know what happened for me.

The nurse had to insert pills into me near the cervix to get the induction process started.  This wasn’t Pitocin, though I would get Pitocin later after it was done to help contract the uterus.  As it was explained to me, this drug is much stronger, and since I had no indication I was even near labor on my own, this would help the process go a little faster.  Now, by a little faster, that meant maybe I would get to go home some time the next day.  Some women may be a half a day, others it may take three days.  I didn’t realize that timeline going into the experience.  The longest I had heard of was 10 hours, and the day nurse said that was really the exception, it’s usually much longer.

Something else I didn’t expect was that in the state of Texas, if a baby is born – alive or dead after 20 weeks, we are responsible for a funeral or cremation.  The nurse explained this as she handed me a folder full of funeral information, which my husband promptly took.  He stepped outside with his phone to go through the list of funeral homes, and handled all of the details.  In fact, whenever the nurse had to ask questions about that, he would step into the hall with them so I didn’t have to hear any of it.

Three hours later, they had to insert more pills, and I started to cramp.  First they gave me Vicodin, which helped for about 30 mins.  When that stopped working, they administered pain meds through the IV.  That worked for about 15 mins.  So they moved on to the epidural.  The anesthesiologist came and set me up as I breathed through cramps and contractions.  They also put a monitor on my finger that seemed to monitor the contractions.  After the first cool whoosh of meds from the epidural, the cramps finally subsided and for several hours, I would go in and out of sleep.

Lori came by at lunch so that my mom and Michael could go down to the cafeteria.  Even though he could have eaten in the room, I was on a fluid only diet before the epidural and then after the epidural I couldn’t have anything other than ice chips.  And my stomach grumbled all day.  So, since Lori had come to visit, they just decided to eat downstairs, away from my nose and eyes.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with more pills being inserted (I think it was every three hours since the first ones that morning), checking to see how far along I was, and just being in and out of sleep.  I had brought magazines and books to read, but I couldn’t concentrate on them long.  Then about 5:30, I started cramping in my right side.  I pushed the button on the epidural, but it did very little.  We had Tod and Candace coming to visit about that time, so I waited until after they left (about 6:30) to let the nurse know I was still cramping.  It wasn’t extreme pain, just enough to make me cranky.

So, another anesthesiologist came in, or perhaps it was his nurse, who explained that sometimes gravity could play into where the medicine goes, so first they moved me to where I was raised on my left side, and then she administered a bigger dose through my epidural and the pain subsided pretty quickly.  From that point on, I was on a higher dose that could only be administered every 15 minutes.

The nurse told me that if I started to feel pressure down there, to call them in.  At about 7 (right at nurse shift change and when I was suppose to get my last dose of inducing meds for the day), I pushed the call button.  The easiest way I could describe this was that I felt like I had poop, but it was obviously not coming from the right area.  The nurse checked and said that it was all right there, but that it might take a while to all come out.  There was also the possibility of complications, like the bag breaking inside of me or the placenta not coming out completely or at all.  They told me I would feel the pressure until it was out, and then it would feel like a release.  At about 7:30, the release came, and my eyes closed.

This was a very personal decision, but both my husband and I didn’t want to see the baby.  We looked away and at each other as they took the baby away and cleaned me up.  Thankfully, the bag stayed intact and the placenta came out right behind it, completely intact.  The nurse said it couldn’t have gone better.  In fact, she said the entire day, my body had the perfect responses to the medicine and behaved perfectly for what it needed to do.  All in all it probably took about 12 hours from first cramps to final release for the whole thing.  Still, I would need to be monitored overnight.

Also, it all happened so fast that the doctor didn’t even have time to get there (which the nurse said would probably happen as well).  Since everything came out that needed to, I didn’t have to have any extra surgery.  The doctor checked my stomach and talked to me for a bit, but said if the night goes well, I should go home in the morning.

My mom left with the nurses after the birth to take pictures of the baby.  She said that she would keep them just in case a year or 10 years down the road, I want to see them.  The hospital also made a birth certificate, with footprints, which my mom will keep with the pictures.

Once the epidural was disconnected, I could again eat food.  Michael got me Taco Bell with a Sonic Cherry Limeade, which I ate pretty late.  He also went home, took a shower, and checked on the dogs while he was out.  By the time I ate, and everything but the IV needle was taken out, I was ready to sleep.  They kept the needle in just in case.  It would only be removed after I had gone to the bathroom twice on my own (of course I was given a catheter while on the epidural.  You don’t get up when you are on an epidural).  At about 5 in the morning, I got the IV needle out of my hand, and slept a little longer after.  My husband and mom both slept in the room with me.  They had a pull out couch for my mom and my husband made a makeshift bed from a recliner and a chair.

At 7, we ordered breakfast, and then I took a shower (a lot of people online suggested to pack a bad similar to the hospital bag for a full term live birth which was great advice).  They had pretty awesome showers there.  I slept hard through the night, so it was good to get really cleaned off.  Plus, I was able to wear my clothes again, which was really nice after wearing a gown all day, and then their disposable underwear with ginormous pads after the birth.  They said the bleeding would subside over the next two weeks, and that I would have cramping and discomfort during that time, but that I will get stronger and better each day.

We had to wait for the on call doctor (I go to a clinic of five doctors, and I had already met the four that could have delivered around my due date.  Both doctors I interacted with at the hospital, I had met previously and knew them).  She arrived about 9ish, and we were discharged at 10.  They wheeled me out the front and I got in the car and went home.

Time at home has been a lot of sleeping and crying, but there have been moments of laughter as well.  Mom and Michael made Thanksgiving dinner, and we watched the Macy’s parade (half at the hospital and half at home).  We spent the rest of the day in front of the TV, just spending time together.  That was my experience at the hospital.  Next post will wrap it up since this has been really long.