our little sparrow – our miscarriage story

 

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It’s been 12 days since I was told the little life inside me that had barely begun had already ended. It was was shocking and as cliche as every movie, every TV show: “I’m sorry, but there’s no heartbeat.”

I know people don’t talk about miscarriage, but I want to because I like talking about the things no one wants to. I’m all about open communication. I’m the girl in the church who asks new married couples how their sex life is going. I’ll tell you all about our budgeting and savings goals. I blurted out “We’re pregnant!” to one of my close college friends just days after we’d taken a test, when we were just four weeks along. They say not to tell many people until you’re out of the first trimester, in case you miscarry, people nearly whisper, as if saying the word brings it about, like it’s Lord Voldemort or something. But we couldn’t keep it a secret; we were too excited. So I want to share our story of loss for the same reasons I wanted to share our news of life with friends right away — because I can’t keep it inside of me. And because October is Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness month, ironically enough.

Honestly, I never thought a miscarriage could happen to me. Sure, we’d always end the announcement by saying, “Yeah, we hear not to tell people so early just in case something happens, but we’d want support from you even if something did.” But it never crossed my mind that something might actually happen. My mom never miscarried and I knew my maternal grandmother had had 10 successful pregnancies out of 11 (I was later told she actually did have a miscarriage at another point, taking her “success rate” to 10 out of 12). We got pregnant basically without hardly trying, which I know is a huge blessing, and one I don’t take for granted, but all these factors made me think I was untouchable. It wouldn’t happen to me. Actually I didn’t even think it wouldn’t happen to me, I just didn’t think about it at all.

So that Monday morning when I wiped and saw just a little brown blood, I told myself not to panic. I’d known for reading every pregnancy website that spotting was fairly normal and half the time meant nothing. The blood was old and brown, not fresh and bright red. I didn’t have any cramping. I actually felt extra sick that morning, and they say if you feel pregnant, and I did, it’s a good sign. It’s when you stop feeling pregnant that things go south. But we were leaving on a multi-state road trip in three days, so I decided to call the nurse and just check to be safe.

The nurse called me back and said what I expected: it’s probably nothing, you can wait a few days to see if it goes away or gets worse, or you can come in just to check. I mentioned the trip and she asked if we had heard the heartbeat at our first appointment two weeks earlier. We hadn’t. At the time, the doctor said it was still fairly early (six and a half weeks), but we’d hear it the next time. (Now I wonder if it ever did beat…) So we decided to go for peace of mind so we could go to Missouri unworried.

I picked up Greg and we drove to the clinic in New Braunfels, and although I kept trying to tell myself it was fine, I started getting uneasy. What if it wasn’t? We prayed outside the clinic, checked in, and waited. We went back to the exam room and saw our doctor,  who seemed quite hopeful. She did a pelvic exam and confirmed I wasn’t “actively bleeding,” which was a good sign, and I still felt pregnant, which she also deemed a good sign. So she started up the ultrasound to finalize all the good signs, but  that’s when things changed.

For whatever reason, my body just never got the news our baby had died. It kept on going, pumping out hormones and blood and growing placenta, all while the life had gone from our child more than two weeks before. That’s why I still felt pregnant, why I wasn’t actively bleeding. They call it “missed miscarriage.”

They brought in another doctor just to confirm what the ultrasound was showing. I bawled. Greg held it together but only until the car. Our doctor assured me it wasn’t my fault and explained what could happen next. For various reasons, we chose to go with a dilation and curettage, better known as a D&C, a procedure in which the doctor dilates your cervix and removes the contents of your womb in a surgical environment while you’re under general anesthesia. We set the date for two days later, the day we had planned to leave on our trip.

Our trip. The timing. My lack of actual miscarriage symptoms. The only signs that something was off was the spotting on Monday. I had no symptoms of miscarriage at any point, not even spotting on Tuesday and Wednesday. I can’t help but attribute the whole timing scenario to the Lord. I almost feel like He said, “I’m so sorry. I’m going to let you in on this now so you use this trip and this planned time off to grieve and heal.” I fully believe had I not spotted on Monday, we still might not know we’d lost it. Our next appointment wasn’t scheduled until two weeks later. Finding out your baby passed away two weeks ago without your knowledge sucks. Finding out it died a month ago… I can only imagine it would be even worse. Or maybe my body would have gotten a clue, and we would have naturally miscarried hundreds of miles from home while on vacation. The alternatives horrify me, and although this is the saddest thing that’s happened to me, I’m grateful for the way in which it happened. I see the Lord’s hand in it.

On the drive to the hospital, as cheesy as it sounds, God spoke peace and comfort to us through some Christian contemporary music (Jason Gray’s “Sparrow”).

“If He can hold the world, He can hold this moment.”

I think He has our little sparrow in his hands. A few weeks before we found out about the miscarriage, I had spent some time journaling with God, and He shared with me His love for me and for our baby. I know He has our sparrow.

The D&C went fine. The worst part of physical pain was the six sticks it took the nurses and staff to get an IV and blood drawn. Our doctor even let us do one final ultrasound, just for peace of mind, just to check that God hadn’t allowed a miracle to happen. She was so kind and compassionate. I went home that afternoon, and after resting for a few hours and finally getting to eat something, with our doctor’s blessing, we left for Arlington.

It may seem crazy they we went on vacation literally hours after leaving the hospital, but I think it was what was best for us. We saw family (including my parents, grandparents, and two of my three siblings) and mourned with them. We spent a lot of time together as a couple. We checked in on each other’s emotions. We held each other as we cried. We laughed and had fun. We enjoyed amazing weather and beautiful scenery. We accepted feelings of sadness when we saw adorable babies in Mizzou clothing everywhere, but also started regrowing our hope that one day we will have adorable babies in Mizzou clothing. We worshiped in the church where I started to fully cultivate my relationship with God. We ate breakfast with the pastor who married us, who has mentored us throughout the years. We cuddled a fat cat. We ate amazing food. We wrestled through the complex thoughts of grief (Am I sad because we lost this baby, or am I sad because we lost the possibility of a baby? Or both? Or does it matter? Should I be more sad? Should we start trying again right away?). We drove through four state capitols. We saw one of Greg’s favorite musical artists. I bought a candle from the Fixer Upper Silos. I posted a lot of happy pictures from that trip and felt conflicted about it. I didn’t want to paint the picture that we were fine because we weren’t. But it’s not a lie to say we enjoyed the trip and we did have fun. The trip was a gift I am forever grateful for.

I’m also forever grateful for the man I married, my best friend, my rock of a husband, Greg. Many times over the last two weeks I have been overwhelmed to tears with love for him. Seeing his heart for our baby and for me through the last few months is astounding. I know I wouldn’t be in this situation without him, but I also know I couldn’t make it through this situation without him. I know he’s hurting, too, but even in his pain he serves me and puts my needs first. He watched the Middle Tennessee Nobodies just decimate my Tigers instead of watching the biggest game of the week (maybe season?), Alabama vs. Texas A&M. A&M ended up losing, too, but the fact that he went to that football game with me instead of watching his (actually pretty good) team, is just one of the thousands of ways he’s shown me love lately.

On our honeymoon, Greg I went to see the Seattle Symphony play a Pixar concert. They performed music from all the Pixar movies, accompanied by clips from each film. Right before intermission, they played the score from the opening montage from Up!

If you haven’t cried while watching this opening montage, you are a robot. And for the newlywed couple who’s marriage was less than a week old? You better believe we both cried like little babies! After the symphony finished their piece you could audibly hear the entire audience sniffling, which was pretty hilarious actually. Greg even overheard a college-aged girl on the way out for intermission proclaim, “Why didn’t they show the part with the goofy dog??”

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On the Tuesday after we got the news, I scrolled through the “miscarriage” part of Pinterest for whatever reason, looking for hope, other people’s stories, a chance to cry, something. I saw this image from Up! and I couldn’t contain the tears. I remembered our honeymoon and our first few days of marriage. I remembered watching that montage thinking it was sad, but it was life, and hopefully none of the hard things in that montage would happen to us. But even if it did, at least we could have each other. And we still do. And that is something I thank God for every day.

We’re back home now. The first day back at work was rough. While I was out, a few things happened with coworkers at my office and now we’re down two staff members for the next few months. It’s stressful, but my boss and coworkers are kind and understanding. Greg came back to one of the biggest church events bearing down on him, just about a week out. It was hard to go back into our normal routine when we’re feeling anything but normal.

God continues to meet us here, though. He gives us friends with listening ears and big hearts. He reveals other couples who have walked this walk before. He speaks hope and comfort to us. I know He grieves with us. He is here, and He works all things for the good of those who love Him. He also lost His own son and knows the pain of death. Thankfully He has conquered it, and we have hope in eternal life with Him.

Thank you for letting me share our story.

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Meanwhile, back in College Station…

It’s been a while since I wrote anything of significance about myself personally. So here’s a little catch up of what’s been going on in my life.

Must love dogs
In the past, I haven’t been the biggest supporter of dogs, mostly because my family dog, Molly, ruined all dogs for me. So it’s taken some time, but over the past year or six months, I’ve begun to warm back up to dogs.

This process was significantly sped up by the arrival of my friend Barclay‘s husky, Cobalt. It’s not that Cobalt isn’t somewhat cute, it’s just that Cobalt is the dog of one of my good friends, so I pretty much have to like him. Luckily the obligation part of liking him is slowly giving way to almost near genuine affection.The change in my feelings towards dogs has also been accelerated due to the fact that A&M’s mascot is a fluffy border collie, and I desperately want to meet her and take a photo with her.

Cobaltimore Bartlesby Bell, aka Cobalt

Reveille, the First Lady of Aggieland

*baby voice*
I have recently been surrounded by babies, which has been pretty heavenly. I love babies, so it’s been great to play with Ezra, Eva, Jackson and the babies in my church nursery. This weekend I get to go home and meet another baby, Elliot! (What’s with all the E-names this year? Must be this year’s trend.)

New and improved
I updated my “About Me” page and got a new header! You like? Now I just need to adjust my Twitter background…

Pass it back, Ags!
I met the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Yell Leaders and took a photo with them. Perks of my job/perks of my boss’s brother being a yell leader.

Thanks and gig 'em!

Awaken your wine
Today my friend and coworker Nick and I went to the Messina Hof Winery in Bryan because he likes wine, I want to learn more about it and he’s leaving Texas to go back to the Midwest in three days. $7 got us a tour of the winery, a sample wine glass and four wine tastings, though our tour guide ended up letting us try six wines since there were only four of us on the tour. The only bad thing about this whole deal was that the tour guide asked Nick and I

  • if we were married
  • if we were engaged
  • if we wanted to get engaged
  • if we wanted a room at the bed & breakfast

It was all in jest (I think), so it was more funny than awkward. I’m not entirely sure if the tour guide ever realized there were no romantic feelings between Nick and I, but despite all that, I still feel like $7 for the evening was a sweet deal. And I found out I like Port. Yum!

It all ends… 7.15
Tomorrow night I’m going to see the last Harry Potter movie. Crazy. We had a Harry Potter movie marathon and watched the first seven moves last week. It was a long 28 hours, but it was really fun.

Harry Potter was such a huge part of my junior high and high school identity. I went to several midnight book and movie releases, dressed up as Ginny Weasley more than socially acceptable, listened to Harry Potter podcasts on a weekly basis, studied for vocabulary tests using Harry-Potter-related sentences (It took me way too long to find that link)… I was a Potter-head if there ever was one.

My high school friends and I at the midnight release of the seventh book four years ago

It’s funny to think about what I did for the last several movies that came out. It’s definitely indicative of what stage of life I was in at the time…

  • Order of the Phoenix: Midnight release with Caleb and Angela
  • Half-Blood Prince: covered the midnight premier for the Columbia Missourian
  • Deathly Hallows Part 1: watched it the Saturday after it came out and immediately left town to visit College Station when it was over
  • Deathly Hallows Part 2: midnight premier with my new A&M friends

Dearly beloved
It seems that I might be reaching the life season of weddings. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of two people in my new A&M homegroup, and this weekend I’m heading back to the DFW for my dear friend Angela’s wedding. I wonder who will be next in this season of life! (Probably Thomas & Shelby in January… but after that, who knows!)

Rocky mountain high
In just a little over a week, I will be en route to the Rocky Mountains to visit my sister and all my friends working out at the YMCA of the Rockies: Estes Park Center for Colorado LT 2011. I am beyond pumped to escape the Texas heat, hang out with my favorite (i.e. only) sister and catch up with my dear, dear Mizzou Mark Twain Canvas Group loves!

So in the end, that was still somewhat of a lame post, but at least it wasn’t about the Ambien Walrus. Maybe I’ll write something of spiritual depth and fortitude soon. Until then, this is what’s been up with me!

True/False Wrap-Up

Well, True/False 2011 is wrapped up! I made it to eight of the films I reserved tickets for and Q’d up for two more; I got my money’s worth! Here’s what I saw, ranked from what I thought was the most enjoyable and downward…

1. Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times
2. Secret Screening White
3. Troll Hunter
4. Bobby Fischer Against the World
5. Zielinski
6. Secret Screening Green
7. Secret Screening Orange
8. Blood in the Mobile
9. The Burger and the King: The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley
10. El Bulli: Cooking in Progress

Notes:
I can’t share the links of the secret screenings due to an agreement between the filmmakers and True/False. David Wilson and Paul Sturtz (the festival founders) try really hard to get quality films to come to mid-Missouri, but that sometimes means films will play here before their big, official premier. In order to get them to come, we keep their titles a secret so they can have the big premiers at more famous festivals than our little CoMO darling. But I can tell you guys about the films in person if you want to hear more!

I also must admit I fell asleep in both “Blood in the Mobile” and “El Bulli,” not necessarily because they were boring, but they were more serious and in foreign languages. Plus I hit an early afternoon wall of exhaustion during both those screenings. So I don’t actually feel like I can rank those fairly, to be honest.

One of the best things about this film festival is how accessible the filmmakers and even the film subjects are. I didn’t get to see “The Interrupters,” but I heard several of the ex-gang members from the film were at screenings for Q&As. At my screening of “Page One,” David Carr (New York Times reporter, columnist, and film subject) Skyped in for the Q&A. John Zielinkski, subject of “Zielinski,” was in the lobby after the film selling some of his photography. And when I shook hands with the producer and director of “Secret Screening Orange,” the film I’m writing a paper on for my capstone class, both men gave me their cell phone numbers so I could interview them later. How cool is all that?!

Lastly, I’ll come right out and say it: I enjoy entertaining, light-hearted films more than deep, weighty ones. So sue me. Don’t get me wrong, I think the more serious films are definitely important, and I liked the ones I saw (I didn’t see a single bad film!), but I’d rather watch a mockumentary about troll hunting or a weird biography most of the time.

I’m really glad I got a pass this year, but that being said, I am exhausted! Time for bed!

PS: Most of you probably already heard the good news, but…

I HAVE OFFICIALLY BEEN ACCEPTED TO TEXAS A&M’S STUDENT AFFAIRS ADMINISTRATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION MASTERS PROGRAM! WHOOP!

Be on the lookout for a longer post about that once I get a few more details from my new supervisors in the next few days!

 

Documentary overload in the best way possible

In an attempt to absorb as much CoMO culture as I can before leaving in 75ish days, this year, for the first time ever, I purchased a simple pass for Columbia’s True/False Film Fest, which is going down this weekend.

If you aren’t from Columbia and don’t know what I’m talking about, this is a huge deal. The whole city gets excited for this event every year where 40+ documentaries are shown at venues around the city. Each film has a Q&A afterwards with the filmmakers, and many of the films shown here have gone on to win big awards, such as, well, Oscars. The films tell stories from across the globe and cover subjects as lighthearted as Elvis to as serious as dolphin slaughter.

My simple pass let me reserve tickets to ten films and allows me to go to as many more as I want with the “Q,” which is essentially like flying standby. Ten films filled up my weekend pretty quickly, but I’ve got my eye on four more I’d like to jump in on, if I can.

I’ll probably be documentaried out by Sunday night, but I’m making the most of my last 2.5 months here in one of the coolest college towns I know of!

Just give me the cod liver oil and baby teeth

Tonight I had to watch His Girl Friday for my Women in the Media class so I could analyze how female journalists are portrayed in film. The movie was pretty great, and it had some lines that really made me smile. You probably have to be a journalism dork to get most of them, though. For example (Hildy is the main character and reporter; Walter is her ex-husband and editor)…

Walter: Wait a minute, wait a minute, aren’t you going to mention the Post? Doesn’t the paper get any credit?
Hildy
: Well, honey, I did that. Right there in the second paragraph.
Walter
: Who’s gonna read the second paragraph? Listen, honey. For ten years I’ve been telling ya how to write a newspaper story, and that’s all I get?

Total journalism joke.

In the beginning of the movie, the main character, Hildy Johnson, wants to give up her life of journalism to “become a woman.” She doesn’t think being a journalists really lends to having a settled family life, with which I totally agree. (And yeah, I realize that nowadays you can be a “woman” and a reporter… I don’t want to get into feminism here…)

Hildy: That’s why I’m quitting. I want to go someplace where I can be a woman.
Walter
: You mean be a traitor.
Hildy
: A traitor? A traitor to what?
Walter
: A traitor to journalism. You’re a journalist, Hildy.
Hildy
: A journalist? Hell, what does that mean? Peeking through keyholes? Chasing after fire engines? Waking people up in the middle of the night to ask them if Hitler’s gonna start another war? Stealing pictures off old ladies? I know all about reporters, Walter. A lot of daffy buttinskis running around without a nickel in their pockets and for what? So a million hired girls and motormen’s wives’ll know what’s going on? Why, golly, what’s the use? Walter, you wouldn’t know what it means to want to be respectable and live a half-way normal life. The point is, I’m through.

In the end, though, Hildy’s thirst for adrenaline, breaking news and a byline give way to her desires for a suburban life in Albany. Regardless, I agree with her early lines ditching journalism. If she won’t actually believe in them, I will!

Farewell, J-School! I have six more months before I leave your harried hallways!

“And that, my friends, is my farewell to the newspaper game. I’m gonna be a woman, not a news-getting machine. I’m gonna have babies and take care of them, give ’em cod liver oil and watch their teeth grow.”