Pregnancy after miscarriage

Goodness.

To start, I’m going to steal some words from a food blogger I intensely admire who has been sharing about her pregnancy and infant loss for the past 5 months. Thank you for your story and your words, Lindsay from Pinch of Yum. (The following statements were used in Lindsay’s posts about her pregnancy and her son, Afton, and I always found them to be so loving and respectful of all her readers, regardless of their current situation. I hope I can do the same for my readers.)

To you mamas who have been there – I’m so glad we can share our experiences. and thank you for creating a space that is non-judgemental and welcoming of all.

To you mamas who are pregnant – I’m glad you’re here. Please love those precious babies the very best you can.

To you mamas who are still trying to get pregnant or recovering from loss – we see you, we love you, we’re cheering for you and your babies.

To you mamas whose journey includes loss of a pregnancy, a child, or a dream  – I now stand bravely among you. I see you, I love you, and I’m hopeful for us and our babies.

To you readers who are in a completely different life space altogether but still show up to be friends on the internet – umm, you’re the best… You are amazingly cool. We’re lucky to have you here.

img_4164img_4165img_4172There are so many things I could write about pregnancy after miscarriage.

I could write about the decision to try or wait after our miscarriage cycle, running through practical (“If we wait, we can go on our Alaskan cruise in May!”) and emotional (“Are we ready to put ourselves out there again?”) reasons to wait or go for it.

I could write about the first agonizing weeks after a positive test, just waiting for the shoe to drop.

I could write about the numbness I tried to hide in, not getting attached to this pregnancy, before my emotions took over and I allowed myself to feel the full extent of fear and hope.

I could write about the interminable wait at the first doctor’s appointment and the rush of joy from actually seeing a beating heart.

I could write about my hesitation in sharing good news because I now know what it feels like to have pangs of grief and jealousy when someone makes a pregnancy announcement.

I could write about how weepy I got last week, re-realizing my complete lack of control even if we do not have another miscarriage, when an acquaintance posted a picture of their newborn, likely diagnosed with Down syndrome and other health complications after a seemingly normal pregnancy.

I could write about how now, even a week after my doctor said chances of anything happening to this baby were less than 5% after seeing its little heart flutter at 10 weeks, that I still feel myself on guard.

Basically I have a lot of feelings, not surprisingly. Hesitation, grief, jealousy, anxiety, impatience, joy, hope, excitement, fear, doubt, empathy, sadness

Oct 3Thankfully the negative feelings are decreasing with each week as my little rainbow baby hope rises. I’m marveling at the way my body is already changing and how different pregnancy symptoms can be from one to the next. I’m starting to imagine my little fall season with Little Bamboo (it’s a long story, but might make sense if you’ve watch an obscure Japanese animated movie called Princess Kaguya).

And I’m making Mean Girls jokes because, yes, our due date is October 3rd.

 

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You have no control

There’s a line from Hamilton: An American Musical that’s been playing itself over in my head lately that doesn’t exactly fit with what I’m about to share, but it’s worth mentioning.

“You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.”

A few weeks ago, just a days after she shared the news that she was expecting a baby boy, a food blogger I follow delivered her sweet son, Afton, at just over 23 weeks. He died the next day.

I was crushed for them. Although I feel closure and healing from our miscarriage in October, the empathy still flows fresh. I grieved for these people I’ve never met, knowing I’ve only tasted a hint of what they’re going through.

This experience of watching this loss unfold online solidified what I’ve been learning the past five months: adding children to our family is so absolutely beyond our control. This woman lost her baby at 23 weeks. A coworker of mine went into labor around the same stage of her pregnancy, but ended up delivering a healthy full term baby months later. Who was in control of one baby’s life and another’s death?

We got pregnant without hardly trying. Others try for years and never get pregnant. We lost our baby. Teenagers have babies they don’t want. Some babies are born perfectly healthy while others have rare genetic disorders or die from SIDS when they’re a few months old. International adoptions fall though. Some couples are shocked at how quickly they are paired with an adoptive child and scramble to prepare. Foster placements that seemed for sure end abruptly. People who were told they were infertile are surprised with good news.

It’s all. out. of. our. control.

Sure, we can chart and time intercourse and take supplements and eat the right diet and avoid the wrong things and fill our applications perfectly and make enough money and pass the home studies … but ultimately, we can do all these things and still not have a child. It’s ultimately not up to us.

Honestly, it sucks. We may never understand why one baby lives and another dies, while a couple desperate for children can’t have them, and someone who doesn’t want a child ends up with one. It’s not in our control to know. It’s complicated and can be confusing.

At first this seems so negative, so futile, but as I think of it more, it frees me. This is beyond my ability to control or even understand; it is in God’s hands and in His plans entirely. We will bring a child home in Him timing alone. I don’t have to worry and fret and cry and wonder. I just have to trust Him.

“I am Yours, do what you wish. I am Yours, I am Yours, and I know this: whatever happens next is in Your hands, in Your plans, nothing less.”

I’m not saying this is easy; heck no, it’s not easy! But I am saying it’s true. And it reminds me of something else that is out of my control.

There is nothing I can do to make God love me more, and there’s nothing I can do to make God love me less. Nothing. He loves me just the same. And that’s freedom.

There’s nothing I can do to bring a child into our home any quicker than God will allow our family to grow. Nothing.

So I can relax. I can practice trust and patience and remind myself of God’s perfect plans. It’s not easy, but it is good.

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.