Heaven Babies

I was surprised at the response to my last post and blessed by the prayers and love. Thank you for being family to us and for listening as I process on paper.

This post has weighed on my heart. I am afraid of not finding the right words. What if I can’t condense the scattered thoughts and feeling adequately? What if it ends up stilted? Putting it off for a little while was good, but you will just have to deal with the result if my fears come to fruition.

As most of you know, we prayed for a year before God gave us a child. It was early in 2013, the spring before Mom died. Thank God, she was well at that point and we talked often as the pregnancy progressed.

At 12 weeks and two days, on a Monday, I started spotting. On Wednesday I called the doctor and made and appointment for Thursday. That night I started cramping badly, but the bleeding didn’t intensify. Thursday we went in and the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat. I hope you never experience that moment. An exam confirmed that the bleeding was uterine and a miscarriage was coming. We cried and went home to wait.

Fred got home from work Friday evening, I was laying on the couch, curled around a hot pack which needed replacing. He left for the store to pick up a new one and about 15 minutes later I felt a big contraction start. I made it to the bathroom and the first gush came–blood, fluid, clots all over my pants and the floor. I knelt in the shower, thinking clean up would be easier that way. Which was true. A minute or two later another contraction came with another gush and a fist sized clot, filling the floor of our little shower. Another couple minutes, another flood and fist sized clot. I called Fred and told him to come right home.

When he arrived I had cleaned up a little, but was still contracting every two to five minutes and still passing large clots with lots of frank bleeding. Had flooded the shower floor several times. It seemed like too much. Fred took one look and started prepping to go to the ER. I stalled for a few minutes, after all it had to stop soon, but it didn’t so we went.

To our little hospital with coworkers as caregivers. To the waiting room in pajamas that I didn’t mind being blood stained, with a towel in my underwear to hopefully protect the waiting room seat. To the ER itself where the bleeding finally slowed, but didn’t stop. Friends brought Fred dinner there and gave us hugs before they left. He didn’t eat much.

An ultrasound showed my uterus filled with blood, not a surprise at this point, but not normal either. We were given a choice between a D&C (dilation and curettage) right then or being admitted for observation with a good possibility of a D&C later that night or in the morning if the bleeding hadn’t stopped. We chose to just get it over with.

I don’t remember anything between the discussion of risks with the doctor and waking up after the procedure. I woke up shaking from the meds and saw an OR nurse I knew somewhat well and Fred. He was shaken, clearly. They gave me more meds to stop the shakes and pretty soon we were on our way home. That morning we had been 13 weeks pregnant. Now we were just numb.

Fred was more traumatized by the hemorrhage and D&C than the miscarriage itself. He was afraid he was losing me.

The next days were hard. Sunday was Mother’s Day. My baby was in heaven and I never got to hold it or hear its heart beat. It’s a strange place to be, a parent with no children. Other people talk about their pregnancies and it feels strange to share about your own, because yours doesn’t really count, real though it was. I had nausea and heartburn too, I bloated and gained a pants size. I had contractions, labor, but no prize at the end.

And then we couldn’t get pregnant again. Or if we did, we miscarried too early to know for sure. There were several months when I wondered. Three years and nothing but periods. Until this March.

Mid-March I felt pregnant. The end of the month my period was late. On April 1st, the test was positive. That was Saturday. Monday, at four weeks and four days gestation, I had a little spotting. Barely enough to notice, surely just implantation bleeding. But it scared me. We were already nervous, scared to hope that this baby would live. And now there was blood. Tuesday morning I woke up at 4 A.M. feeling leaking. I bled that day, but not heavily or steadily and I had no cramping. Not even as much as a normal period. The blood was less that a period too. The next three days I had scant spotting, which seemed ominous, but increased nausea, which seemed hopeful.

Tuesday I repeated a pregnancy test and it was negative. I called the doctor to schedule a blood draw that day to confirm. Wednesday we found out, definitely miscarried. A strange, easy miscarriage, which puzzled me and the doctor, but still a miscarriage. So we have two babies playing with mom and my sibling, with grandparents and the heaven babies of friends.

Getting pregnant at all after those years was encouraging. I tried to focus on that. For a few days I thought it was working, that I was just tired. Then I gave in to grief and its depression. And now we are feeling better, though still more emotional than normal. We’ve had good support, family and a few friends who hoped and grieved with us. Who have held us since. One in particular who has walked this road more than I, told me that Tuesday, when I was bleeding, to take advantage of that day with my baby, even if it was the last. She said to talk to it, sing to it, be with it that day. I did. I’m so grateful to her for the thought, so glad that I did.

So that’s where we are, baby wise. Still praying, resting in God’s timing, sometimes hurting in that resting. “But I know Who holds tomorrow and I know Who holds my hand. ”

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Surprise! An Update!

Pic of kids All of my siblings together!

For those of you who were afraid we had dropped off the planet, never fear! We are still here! And much has changed since our last update. I am not sure where to start, or where this will end. It may end up being a series of updates. We will see.

I will start with February. In a three week period, we had a series of answers to prayer. Fred got a raise at work, which was very helpful, and he continues to learn and grow a lot in his job. I got a job on the medical-surgical floor at the hospital (didn’t start until April though). We found and moved to a cheaper apartment with wonderful landlords (we were blessed by our first landlord also). We found out that we were pregnant.

At the same time as these blessings were poured out, the hard things of life continued. My mom had a series of seizures in February, caused by high blood pressure from a cancer medication, that sent her to the neurological ICU for several days. She had been declared cancer free for the second time on Christmas Eve, 2012, but was on a cancer inhibitor to try and prevent further relapses. This backfired when the seizures occurred in the spring and it took a couple of months to get her blood pressure consistently into safe range.

May came, bringing relief from the nausea of pregnancy, an increase in energy, sunshine and longer days. I was loving my new job and learning more every day. Then I started spotting at 12 weeks gestation. Five days later we lost the baby, I bled too much and had a D&C on the first morning of week 13. Two days later we celebrated Mother’s Day. I continue to struggle with the hole left by this child that I never really met, but God has held us through this and continues to demonstrate His goodness to His children.

May was also the month when Mom started to have abdominal symptoms again. After six weeks of not being able to keep food down, after losing around 20 pounds, June brought a diagnosis of yet another return of cancer. Our hearts plummeted. She has a bowel obstruction that will most likely never resolve. She is on chemo again, a new-for-her chemo that she receives once a month. TPN (total parenteral nutrition) was restarted and Mom gained some weight back. Then, after two rounds of chemo, the pain began to get worse again. Mom was sent to the emergency room and we received a call that she was dying. Soon. This was two weeks ago. Fred and I flew down and family gathered. Thank God, her crash appears to have been caused by a urinary tract infection that is responding well to antibiotics. However, her oncologist has said that she probably has only weeks to months left to live. Fred is back at work in Kodiak. One of my brothers and his wife are leaving tomorrow for work on the east coast. I am planning to leave later this week, depending on how Mom does in the next few days. Our family is still trying to process our new reality. Dad is the primary caregiver and is running on empty. My youngest brother and sister and about to start their sophomore and senior year of high school. Since they are home schooled, I will help Dad get their curriculum in order before I leave. Today we are talking to hospice. Though this is an exceedingly difficult time, we continue to be blessed by the love and prayers of many people here and elsewhere.

One summer highlight was a visit from Fred’s parents. Unfortunately it was cut short by Mom’s crisis and our abrupt departure. Even with the shortening, we had a good visit and enjoyed showing them around the island, introducing them to our friends, and just resting together. The stereotypes about in-law problems do not apply at all to our families! It is a joy to have two sets of parents who love us both dearly and are wholly supportive of us.

Currently we are functioning on a day-to-day basis. The future feels even more unknown that normal, as we are reminded just how little control we have of life. Even in the uncertainty, there are smiles and laughter. God has blessed us with an inordinate amount of sunshine this summer in Kodiak and Port Angeles. Time with family always means time of music, games and laughter. Fear lurks on the edges and tears are always just below the surface, but “I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.” There is comfort in the knowledge that our days are in His hands. God holds me, but He also holds my mom and dad, my siblings and grandparents. Even as the hard times roll over us like storms on the ocean, we are still in good hands. May you be filled with the same assurance as you go through this week!