On February 29th, 2008 Jon and I found out we were expecting a baby, well I actually knew a few days before then due to some morning sickness and what I guess is maternal “intuition” or “instinct”. So I wasn’t surprised in the least when the little box said “pregnant” on our home pregnancy test. But I was still overjoyed! Jon and I lost a baby at not even five weeks back in November (the doctors call it a ‘chemical pregnancy”…basically meaning it never had a chance) so we were very happy. That miscarriage was some of the worst grief I have ever experienced. I had only known I was pregnant for a few days before it happened but it still devastated me. I didn’t understand how God could possible want to take that baby from us. Why couldn’t he just let us have him? While I still don’t understand, I never will, I have made peace with God over it.
So when we found out this time, all the joy and innocence of being pregnant was lacking for me even though I felt confident in this pregnancy. I even told my family and some close friends at just five weeks and couldn’t wait to tell the rest of the world. Jon, the more sensible and cautious one in our marriage, wanted to wait to tell others and even his family until closer to the second trimester. While I thought this was silly I respected the decision and dreamt of fun ways we could tell my in-laws that we were expecting their first grandchild!
At five and a half weeks I noticed a little bit of light brown on the toilet paper after using the bathroom. My heart dropped to the floor. This was how the first miscarriage began. While I knew that spotting was common in the first trimester, I felt sick and panicked. The very next day I went to the doctor’s office for a blood test and an ultrasound. The blood test revealed that my hormone levels were perfect (yea!) but the ultrasound revealed some interesting and potentially problematic things.
After looking at my uterus (and seeing my little 51/2 week ‘bean’!)the ultrasound technician, Joanie, looked at my ovaries. In my left ovary she found a very large cyst and also what she thought could be an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy means that the fertilized egg implanted somewhere other than the uterus. Most commonly called a tubal pregnancy (because it will usually implant in the fallopian tube but sometimes in the cervix or even the ovary) these pregnancies could never survive and need to be removed surgically lest they rupture and cause severe pain and blood loss for the mother.
Jon was out of town at this point, and I was terrified. The doctor spoke with me and she said she couldn’t be sure if it was ectopic but to take it easy (bed rest) and go to the emergency room if I experienced severe pain or bleeding. She said she couldn’t tell at this point if the pregnancy in my uterus was viable or not. Jon wasn’t scheduled to come home until Wednesday night (it was Thursday) so my dear friend from college came and spent a few days with me. We sat on the couch or the bed and talked about college and weddings and God and America’s Next Top Model. Monday I went in for another blood test. My hCG levels should have about doubled or more from Thursday. They went down by three hundred. When your hormone levels go down it means one thing. I wept. I grieved. I called Jon told him he needed to come home. I called the doctor and begged her to have my ultrasound that was scheduled for Thursday moved up to Tuesday.
Jon couldn’t get home Monday night, but he was scheduled to arrive with plenty of time for me to pick him up and get to our appointment. Wrong again. He sat on the runway for over two hours in Dallas and his plane landed in Tucson just as I was walking back to the ultrasound room alone for the second time in one week. Joanie saw different things this time. She didn’t think that I had an ectopic pregnancy anymore because it had not grown and there was no fetal pole developing. Although the hormone levels suggested one thing, she saw that the sack in my uterus had grown and there was in fact a fetal pole and a very faint heartbeat at six weeks and two days! I was so confused, but had just enough time to run to the airport, pick up my husband, and get us back to the doctor’s office to meet with the Doctor herself, not just the ultrasound tech.
She pretty much echoed what had been shown in the ultrasound: that she didn’t think I had an ectopic and that there looked like there was some hope but she couldn’t tell us one way or another if she thought our baby would make it. Our only option was to wait a week and see what happened next.
We waited the long week (well six days!) knowing that God was on our side and that we had many friends and family on their knees for us and for our little one. We returned on Monday the 24th. Our baby should now be over seven weeks. As Jon and I sat in the ultrasound room, silently, we were told our baby no longer had a heartbeat and had not grown at all since last week. In a blur of holding back tears the doctor gave her sympathies, handed over a prescription for vicodin for the pain I may experience, and told us to go to the ER if I thought I could be hemorrhaging. She mentioned some phrases like “nature’s way”, “chromosomes not matching up”, “two unlucky rolls of the dice” and to “think about testing for possible problems” since we now have had two miscarriages and 0 healthy babies.
I then experienced the deepest, darkest despair of my life. I questioned God’s goodness, I questioned his very existence. In the period of only one week I felt shock and denial, extreme sorrow and loss, and almost overpowering anger. We had well-meaning loved ones call us and encourage us, and others who stayed distant, not knowing what to say to us. We were told my many that we could still go on to have a health baby. While this may be true (or may not be), that didn’t matter. I wanted this baby.
There were plenty of women I knew who have had miscarriages that I wanted to call, but they all have babies now and I didn’t want to ask them to relive their experiences. They had living children, why dwell on the dead? I felt alone, like no one except Jon understood.
Jon and I were tired of referring to our baby as “it”, so since we both felt that she was a girl, we gave her a name. A beautiful name that will be known only by Jon and I. I bonded with my baby even though she was not living. Since I hadn’t began to “pass” her yet (I hate this word. You pass a kidney stone, not a baby) I told her she could stay in my womb as long as she wanted. I told her I was sorry and that I loved her and that her daddy and I wanted her so so much. I told her I would see her again one day.
I am now trying to find out how to move on from this loss. We have many wonderful friends, most of whom either have newborns or are currently expecting. How do we continue to love them and spend time with them during this joyous time in their lives when the emotions we really feel are ugly jealousy toward them? How do we hope for a future family when all we know of pregnancy is pain and suffering? Do we pay for testing to see if there is something wrong with us? Do I celebrate Mothers Day this year knowing that while I don’t have a child to hold or even a baby to feel kicking in my belly, I have two beautiful babes in heaven?
I just don’t have answers to these questions right now. All I know is that I cannot help but hope. I cannot help but hope for a healthy pregnancy and a house full of children. I cannot help but hope that God will use this experience to strengthen my faith and maybe even encourage another young woman who is going through this tragedy. I cannot help but hope that life will be good again, that I will feel light-hearted and happy at some point in the future. I cannot help but hope that God really does work all things for good for those he has called.
I cannot help hoping for the blessing as promised in Matthew 5: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”.