Thursday, August 21, 2014

God in My Miscarriage

Almost two months ago, on June 27, I had one of the happiest days of my life!  That was the day we discovered that God had created life in my womb again.  Oh, glorious day!  Because of my struggles with infertility, I am wary of pregnancy tests.  So, even when I'm showing pretty clear symptoms, I will explain them away in an effort to not get my hopes up.  And I avoid pregnancy tests like the plague until Michael finally convinces me to just end my mental gymnastics ("Could I be?  No.  I can't be.  Supper obviously didn't agree with me; that's why I'm nauseous.  Could I be pregnant?  I want to be, but  I don't need to be.  Oh, but Lord, if I am, please protect the baby.  Just stop it, Chrissy, you're not pregnant.") & take a test.  Funnily enough, this time played out almost exactly like when we found out we were pregnant with Emma.  Michael came home from work & told me to take a test.  I didn't want to because I was convinced my body was just being wonky & I didn't want to see a negative result.  But, as he laid down to go to sleep, I headed to the bathroom.  I wasn't even done counting out the 20 seconds you're supposed to, didn't even have time to set the stick down on the counter, didn't even have to set a timer.  Positive.  It was positive!  We were going to have another baby!  As soon as I saw that positive result, I was immediately, instantaneously, deeply in love & fiercely protective.  It is astounding how quickly that happens!  I hollered out, astonished & ecstatic, "Emma's gonna be a big sister!"  A stunned Michael just laid in the bed while I ran to kiss him, tears streaming down my face, barely able to keep myself from jumping with joy.  Poor fella needed to sleep after working all night, & all I could do was pick up the phone to call family & text friends.  Then, before even thinking about breakfast, I quickly typed up & printed out a little sign for Emma to hold announcing her new status as a big sister, took a picture, & posted it to Facebook.

A week & a half later, we headed to our OB appointment for our first ultrasound.  I am a worry-wart during pregnancy.  Every day I pray frequently that the baby is okay, that God will help the baby grow strong & healthy, & that He will save our baby's soul.  I did this all throughout my pregnancy with Emma, & this one was no different.  My chief concerns before the first appointment are always ectopic pregnancy & hormone levels, so I'm always anxious to see that everything is okay.  I was very pleased for the tech to announce that everything looked great, & I was 5 weeks 6 days along, which would put our estimated due date on March 4.  I spent the next 2 weeks bouncing between euphoria, planning, & worry.  I lo-o-ove being pregnant, knowing there is life inside of me, & anticipating the joys of another baby is so much fun!  Even so, there are so many things to get done, so many things to figure out, especially when you live in a tiny house, as we do.  Finally, I'm not one to take pregnancy for granted, so - just as I did with Emma - I would have fleeting bouts of worry about how the baby was doing & pray for his/her safety & health.  Blessedly, our baby looked good.  I was happy & at peace.

Then came the morning of our next appointment.  We had planned on dropping Emma off at Michael's sister's farm on the way to the OB's, but left too late.  This made me anxious, because she did not handle the first appointment well (she didn't get her nap out & pitched a fit anytime she had to be separated from me, which meant I held her during the ultrasound & physical exam).  I had hoped to avoid that, but it turned out that God knew what He was doing.  She ended up being a very welcome distraction.  As we sat in the waiting room, I read to Emma & Michael took pictures of us, noting my "pregnancy glow".  Little did we know then that it wouldn't last much longer.

On that day, one month ago, we learned that the burgeoning life inside of me was no more.  Once they took us back & began the ultrasound, I knew almost immediately that something was wrong.  I could tell that the picture on the ultrasound didn't look any different from the last one.  We were 2 weeks 1 day out from the last ultrasound; I was 8 weeks along, so we should have been able to see more.  When the tech said we were measuring 6 weeks 2 days - a mere 3 days further along since our last ultrasound - my heart sank, & I started crying.  She put her hand on my shoulder, gave her apologies, & went to get our doctor while I got dressed.  We were ushered into his office & waited for his appearance to tell us what we already knew.  He was very apologetic when he told us that our baby was gone.  I held out a slim hope that something, anything!, could be done, but he regretfully assured us there was no fixing this.  He also urged me not to blame myself for losing the baby.  "There's nothing you did or didn't do to cause this, so don't play that game."  Wise words, but also rather pointless, because it's just inevitable that I would try to figure out what went wrong.  Is it because I wasn't on Metformin this time?  Or because we didn't fill that Progesterone prescription?  (To that, he said I "could have bathed in Progesterone, & it wouldn't have made any difference.")  Is it because I wasn't exercising & eating super healthy like I was when we got pregnant with Emma?  A hundred questions like these have run through my mind, & the bottom line is that I don't know.  I don't know why I lost my baby, why I won't get to hold him/her in my arms, or read & sing to him/her, or see him/her grow up.  (Well, that's not completely accurate.  I do know that this is a result of the Fall, as are all trials & sorrows.  And it is helpful to know that & to know that one day God will make all things new & will right every wrong.  It is hard, though, to live in this "already, not yet" period of time where I have to grieve the loss of my baby.)  At this point, people want to fix it, they want to bring comfort & get me to think positively.  Although I have felt immense comfort from their displays of love, there is no fixing this.  The only one who could fix this is God, & believe you me, I prayed fervently over those 5 days between the sad news & the actual miscarriage that He would fix it.  I pleaded with Him that the experts were wrong, that our baby was still alive.  I begged Him that even if they were right that He would resurrect our baby in my womb.  I pleaded with groans & sobs.  The pregnancy hormones still coursing through my body continued to evidence themselves in nausea & soreness, prolonging my hope.  As did stories online of misdiagnosed miscarriages.  I prayed that would be our outcome.  The night before the miscarriage began, God gave me the grace to end my pleas in the same way that our Savior did:  "Thy will be done".  The very next day, I began bleeding & knew what God's will was.  (Because I chose a natural miscarriage in lieu of a D&C, this has been a drawn-out process that is just ending more than 3 weeks later.  I will spare you the details here; however, if you are in the same position & want to know what to expect, or if you want to better understand what I've been going through, I will outline my experience in the comments section.)

God's graces in this sorrow have been bountiful.  Every single day He shows me that not only is He aware of my suffering, but He is with me in it & carrying me through it.  I am constantly in awe that the God who holds the universe in place knows my sorrow intimately & cares to minister to me as only He can.  I am beyond grateful.  Should you find yourself in the same situation as I, I encourage you to make a daily list of God's graces to you.  Finding ways to be thankful in the midst of unbearable grief refocuses you & helps you bear it.  Here's my list so far (it grows daily):

     ~sympathies of ultrasound tech
     ~Dr. A praying for us after giving the bad news
     ~kindness of Dr. A in ushering us out the back door (I didn't have to see other pregnant mamas or be stared at as I sobbed)
     ~rainbow in the sky an hour later (God is a promise-keeping God.  I saw this as Him saying to me, "I know, I'm here, I'll carry you through this.")

     ~tight, wordless hug from Rebecca
     ~prayers & sympathies pouring in from friends & family
     ~Emma dropping her toys to run to me & give me hugs & kisses (or tickles) when I cry
     ~warning of miscarriage before it began (I would have been traumatized & my grief would have been paralyzing if it had just suddenly happened)
     ~Michael being a shoulder to cry on
     ~Michael pointing me to biblical truths
     ~multiple prayers offered on our behalf at church
     ~Michael supporting my need (emotionally & physically) to just rest on sofa & watch "Dispatches from the Front" & movies
     ~text messages from Jennifer
     ~pain meds
     ~rainy days that match my mood
     ~compassionate nurse (Tammy)
     ~friends & family checking on me repeatedly (texts & FB)
     ~Angie being on-call for me (in case I began to miscarry & needed her to come in the middle of the night while Michael was at work)
     ~new friend (Brittany) willing to be there for me even though she's pregnant
     ~Amanda sending me pictures of flowers to brighten my day
     ~articles & books reminding me of God's presence in my grief
     ~Beth's text message
     ~Becky's letter
     ~Holy Spirit moving me to retrieve what ended up being Christian's body
     ~finding last gardenia plant in perfect condition (I had my heart set on a gardenia as a memorial plant in which to bury Christian.)

     ~capturing placenta/sac
     ~Dr. A validating my view of our baby (naming him/her, capturing what we could, burying him/her, wanting an ultrasound picture) & my grief over losing Christian
     ~flowers from Kara Grace
     ~"Valley of Vision" on FB
     ~text messages from Katie
     ~fun times with Emma
     ~distractions of daily life
     ~sweet nighttime moments with Emma
     ~Dr. A found ultrasound pictures of Christian - the only ones we will ever have - & sent them to us

     ~"Come Weary Saints"
     ~sympathy from Brian
     ~sympathy from our "meat fella" & his wife
     ~text message from Katie
     ~Terry's words of encouragement & saying that he prays for us daily
     ~my grief isn't constantly overwhelming; there is joy in between the floods of sorrow
     ~Scripture Lullabies
     ~songs in worship service that include trusting in God amidst sorrow (I feel like they were chosen for me)
     ~Pastor Keith's sermon that incorporated some of the very Scriptures that I've been meditating on
     ~vanilla spice candle that gives me a homey feeling & visions of normalcy
     ~Michael holding me while I weep
     ~friends & family not rushing me to "get over it", but are instead encouraging, loving, & are praying for me
     ~Willow Tree "Angel's Embrace" figurine that Michael bought for me

     ~daily comfort in prayer

I know this is long, but let me just take a moment to thank all of you who have ministered to us.  Your love, compassion, & encouragement have meant the world to us.  I can't even begin to thank you, because the gratitude permeates every fiber of my being; words just simply can't convey to you how thankful I am to God for each of you.  It's been such a little thing for you to take a moment to write that message or speak those words, but its worth has been immeasurable.  Years before Michael & I ever met, years before having a baby was even a possibility, I prayed that God would never send me through a miscarriage, & I determined that if I ever did marry & conceive, I would not tell anyone until the 2nd trimester (when chances of miscarriage decrease).  I thought avoiding telling anyone I was pregnant would be easier than having to tell people repeatedly that I had lost the baby.  In reality, I simply can't wait to tell the joyful news, & I'm glad that I didn't.   I can't imagine having to go through this alone.  Each person that has ministered to me & carried us before the throne of God has been a balm to my soul.  (And please know that if you don't see your name listed above, that does not in any way mean that your encouragement & love has gone unnoticed or unappreciated.  Not at all.  I have been so blessed by so many such expressions in numerous ways that it's been hard to keep a list of all of them individually, especially in my fragile mental & emotional state.  But they're all in my heart, & I'm thankful for all of them.)

This post has been rolling around in my heart & head for a while & has taken me more than a week to write.  I really wasn't even sure if I could get through writing it.  So, why even try?  For a couple of reasons.  One, in all of my life, & especially in my trials, I want to bring glory to God.  My desire in sharing my grief here is not that you'll feel pity for me, but that you'll see that in my weakness, God is strong.  I shared my heart's desire with a friend earlier last week, & can't think of any better way of saying it (plus I don't have the energy to reinvent the wheel):  "I do pray that our Father is being magnified by my sharing our grief.  I want people to see that we are hurting & broken, but also hoping & trusting in God.  I want them to see that our faith in & love for Him is not just undimmed, but even more fervent.  I want to show that He is the source of our hope, our rock in this storm, the reason we're able to survive this pain with hope & faith."  My other reason for sharing this is because I know I'm not alone in this grief.  I am not the only Mama who is missing a child.  And for anyone else who is in the very depths of sorrow as I am now, I want you to know that you aren't alone, either.  This is the worst thing I have ever been through, one of my very worst fears realized.  There are honestly times when I hate this valley, when I beg God for this not to be His plan.  I don't like being a Mama of 2 in my heart, but not be able to hold both of my babies in my arms; in fact, every fiber of my being rebels at this reality.  I don't want to be this person going through this pain!  But God.  God is getting me through it.  He is carrying me every single day.  He shows me every day that He is with me & that He loves me.  I know to the very depths of my soul that He is good, that He only gives good gifts to His children, that "He works all things together for good for those who love Him & are called according to His purpose".  I know that "the Lord is near to the brokenhearted & saves the crushed in spirit" & that "He heals the brokenhearted & binds up their wounds".  I know that this is a refiner's fire that is conforming me into Christ's image, & so even though this hurts immensely, I am grateful for that.  I know that "weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning".  That morning will come when I pass from this life to life eternal, & then I will never know another sorrow.  I am clinging tightly to these promises right now.  If you are in Christ, you can, too.  I pray that you may know His comfort & peace, & that you will feel Him carrying you through your sorrow.  There is one more reason that I am sharing this - Christian.  His/her life on this earth was short, but our baby was created by God, in His image, & is valuable.  Loved.  Missed.  Mourned.  Even if it was only our little family's, our precious baby touched our lives, lives in our hearts, & deserves to be honored.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers.  We will need them for a long time to come.  I know from others that our grief will never completely subside, but it will become more bearable.  And one day, we will be reunited with our baby - & all of our loved ones who die in Christ - before the throne of God, never to be separated again.  Until then, I will hope, I will trust, yes, I will grieve, but I will also give thanks.  Thanks for the life that God created in me, thanks for the lives that I get to love & care for every day, & thanks for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me - not the least of which is all of the precious souls who have ministered to us in our grief.  I pray that He blesses all of you as you have blessed us.

Soli Deo Gloria


The Boyds said...

My Natural Miscarriage - Part 1

July 23: ultrasound shows baby stopped growing at 6weeks 2days. Should be 8 weeks.

July 28: 5:30 pm started miscarrying baby Christian @ 8 weeks 5 days. Spotting for 4 days, passed tiny bit of tissue yesterday (Sun.) & today. Felt achy in abdomen & lower back. While sitting on sofa, felt like I passed a little air bubble, stood up, & blood gushed. Ran to bathroom, panties soaked, & blood poured into toilet. Wiped away a stringy clot/tissue & saved it in jar. Will bury it & any other pieces large enough to capture. Cramping/achiness & very little blood since then. Am wearing heavy duty Poise pad & sleeping on an underpad.

July 29: no bleeding overnight, slight blood when wiping throughout day. Achy feeling. Afternoon hot shower helped some. Around 7:30 pm, pain started intensifying, some stringy blood/tissue (?) in toilet. Around 10:30, labor-like pains drove me to toilet. Intense pain & pressure in abdomen & back & sometimes vagina. Took oxycodone. All that did was make me fuzzy-headed for about half an hour; it didn't touch the pain. Laid down to put Emma to bed & soundlessly breathed through the pain. This is basically contractions. There is a constant pain at level 8 that ramps up to 10+ in cycles, accompanied by intense (!!!) pain & pressure in groin area. It's like a vise grip tightened all the way that sometimes releases a tiny bit, then tightens back up. Shower helps the constant pain. Also took Zofran to hopefully prevent vomiting. Pain uncontrollable & unrelenting. 3 total oxycodone, 4 ibuprofen, & 2 Zofran did nothing. Shower no longer helped. Cried out continually to God. Moved between toilet & tub seeking relief. Squatting & sometimes on hands & knees in tub, sometimes with water, sometimes without. Worst pain of my life!! Nothing helped. Finally vomited just before 2:30 am, & pain vanished. Expelled large clots. Emma woke up right then, & I was able to clean myself up & get her back in bed. A little lingering pain, but quickly dissipated. Bled some overnight, but was able to rest until Emma woke in the morning.

July 30: no pain upon waking up. Called Dr. Adcock to explain my night & ask for pain meds in case it happens again. Started feeling pressure in groin area that was joined by slight lower back/abdominal pain that is starting to get worse. Took 2 Lortab around 12:50 to try to head it off. Resting on sofa now.

Aug. 1: have spent the last 3 days alternating between Lortab/Benadryl & Advil to control the pain. Have passed a few more clots & lots of blood. The worst is probably past, but I want to stay on top of the pain. Plan on taking pain meds until there is zero pain. Continuing pressure in vagina when I sit & stand up. Very uncomfortable! Mainly just resting & watching movies/documentaries.

Aug. 2: terrible pain this morning! Waiting for 800mg Advil to kick in. Had to take 2 Lortabs to get pain under control. Finally started working. It just got out of control before I was able to eat & take meds. No Farmers' Market, that's for sure. No change in bleeding.

Aug. 3: took Advil before church, but nothing for rest of the day. Perhaps worst is finally over.

The Boyds said...

My Natural Miscarriage - Part 2

Aug. 4: no pain meds during day. Bleeding somewhat tapered. Passed what I believe is baby Christian. Definitely tissue. Solid to the touch. Thankfully, was able to save it. Went to Lowe's to buy gardenia plant. Had some pain in evening. Took Lortab before bed.

Aug. 5: passed sac or placenta this morning. Incredibly weird feeling. Some increased bleeding & small clots & pain. Took Advil before Emma's nap. Resting now. Minimal pain, minimal blood. I think it's all coming to an end now.

Aug. 6: . . . or not! Barely any bleeding this morning, but some lower back/abdominal discomfort. Laid down with Emma, & when she woke up (around 1:45), I felt blood push out as I sat up. Went to bathroom, & there was period level blood when I wiped, plus clots & blood in toilet. Heading to Dr. A (4:20 appt.) to see what he says. Vaginal ultrasound shows remaining clots/blood in uterus. Gave a prescription to speed up the process; uncertain if I will use it.

Aug. 7: no pain or bleeding until around 4:30 pm. Sharp pain in left lower pelvic area (back), then blood when I went to bathroom (around 5 pm). Little to no blood the rest of the day. Some pain in the middle of the night.

Aug. 8: other than a small amount of brownish blood, no bleeding until around 3:30, then bright red blood, clots, & some lower back/abdominal pain.

Aug. 9: no pain or bleeding.

Aug. 10: spotting & slight fleeting discomfort this morning before church. Took 1st dose of Methergine around 3:30 pm. Some bleeding. Twinges of pain ~10:30 pm. Put Emma to bed, then took another Methergine around 12:30am, plus Percocet & Advil. Pain around 4-5. Pain meds took effect pretty quickly. Woke up around 1:20 am with some pain & very strange (fleeting) feeling in vagina. Back to sleep now. Some pain overnight, but no bleeding.

Aug. 11: a little tissue/clot first thing this morning. Took 3rd dose of Methergine ~8:45. A little bleeding & pain.

Aug. 15: took last dose Tuesday (12th) ~9:30 am. Each day I've had light bleeding & spotting off & on, sometimes brownish in color, sometimes pink or red. Some small clots. Some discomfort & pain, especially at night. Determined not to take any pain meds, but couldn't sleep from discomfort, so got up & took a Percocet & 2 Advil.

Aug. 16: light bleeding (brownish-pink) & abdominal discomfort, sometimes sharp.

Aug. 19: 3 weeks 1 day since miscarriage began. Still experiencing slight intermittent pain in lower back, brownish mucous, & light pink spotting (both also intermittent). Expect to completely stop any day.