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Monkey, the third

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They say you get pregnant when you’re not thinking about it.

Since the first two pregnancy losses, I’ve wondered how you DON’T think about it. It’s pretty constantly in my mind.

Apparently, you break your leg to not think about it.IMG_20181011_005109

When we found out we were pregnant for the third time, we were relatively surprised.  I was just four weeks out from my tib/fib fracture and surgery. Getting pregnant was pretty much the last thing we were thinking about. We mostly were just trying to figure out how I was going to let the dog out while Steven was sleeping or at work.

But, there was no denying the two pregnancy tests at home and the blood test at the doctor’s office.

Monkey was here.

The doctor used the word miracle after the first ultrasound. . .it looked like I got pregnant from my right ovary; I don’t have a right Fallopian tube. It was taken with Nugget.

But when do we tell people?

How do we get excited when we know the all too real truth of the fragility of pregnancy?

We told people.  I’m horrible at keeping this kind of secret.  It was bursting to be out.  Plus, I started getting “morning” sickness. . .pretty consistently at 7 pm every night. And it seemed to be doing Monkey an injustice not to share our excitement with others who would love the munchkin.

However, there were many days when I had to remind myself that every weird sensation in my body didn’t mean that Monkey was leaving.

The questions that come after a third pregnancy loss are, in many ways, harder than the ones that come with the first.  And it’s almost unfair that this is so.

Is this some kind of sign?

Is God telling me no. . .over and over again?

Am I broken?

Are we foolish?

Why?

We haven’t made it past week 9 without a heartbreaking ultrasound.  We’re starting to hate the room.

Our babies haven’t made it farther than week 7.

Monkey was a boy with no chromosomal abnormalities who had a strong heartbeat at week 7. *the week after I wrote this, the second round of chromosome testing was completed. Monkey actually had a double trisomy which is rare and fatal. It’s unusual for the second results to differ from the initial ones.download

It’s surreal to know this about him.

I wonder if he has two big brothers or two big sisters or one of each.

The week after he was gone I struggled. Just getting out of bed was difficult. I was losing all three of them over again.

In my devotions that week, I read the story of Jesus resurrecting Lazarus. Both Martha and Mary say to Him beforehand that had He been there, Lazarus would not have died. My devotion book pointed out the boldness of saying this to God.

But it emboldened me to say it as well. “God, if You had wanted to, this could’ve ended differently.”

There. I said it.

It’s important to also remember that in the story neither Martha nor Mary deny who Jesus is or His omnipotence or omniscience.  And that what He wants to do from that point is ok with them.

Christ points out that what has happened is to glorify the Father.

That challenged me.

Am I holding on so tightly to my grief that the Father can’t do what He needs to do, and better yet, wants to do?

I opened my fist a little. Breathing got easier. Getting out of bed quit being a chore.

Am I less sad?

No, not really. I just find the yoke a little lighter to carry.

I wait expectantly for how God is going to use each of these events to glorify His name. Because that’s what I want for Him to do.

Romans 8:28. . . .always.

 

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Personal, not Private

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Today, I’m a little sad.

Today is the anniversary of finding our Little didn’t make it.  The heart just stopped.

Yesterday should have been our Nugget’s first birthday.

It’s a tough few days.

I don’t usually do this, but I wanted to share some statistics about pregnancy loss in this post.  Mostly, I want to do that because recently a friend mentioned to me, after I had brought up our losses, that she had been praying for us but hadn’t wanted to call because she knows it’s a private matter.

Death is not private.

Death is personal. . .deeply personal.  But it isn’t private.  And I have come to feel that the privatization of pregnancy loss does way too much harm.

Here’s some things to consider: according to American Pregnancy Association 10-25% of ALL clinically recognized pregnancies {meaning we know we’re pregnant} will end in miscarriage.  The same article states that there’s a 15-20% for a miscarriage in healthy women.  Putting this in personal terms, if you’re in a group of five, chances are one of you has experienced pregnancy loss.  Most of us know at least five women.  But do you know what grief they may be carrying? Somewhere along the line, pregnancy loss became private.

I think it’s partly the word that is associated with it: miscarriage.  It implies through its connotation that the women did something wrong. . .they carried the baby wrong.

Pregnancy loss, in my mind, alleviates some of that blame {which let me tell you, is difficult to do because despite knowing statistics and science and having faith and hope, it is a struggle to remind yourself that there’s nothing you can do}. Having that word “loss” attached to what happens validates the idea of death and grief.

The death of any family member is personal.  That relationship on earth ends. There are only memories and stories to retell.  When a pregnancy is lost, it’s the same.  The relationship on earth ends. The memories are different and in some ways a product of our imagination because we have started to add potential to the child that would be. It’s still very personal.  But it’s not private.  It’s loss that we need acknowledged, not closeted.

I am in a 1% of women who have recurrent pregnancy loss, a statistic I found on March of Dimes’ website. Most women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss, up to 75% of them, will never know why.

Nugget was ectopic.

Little was intrauterine fetal demise.

These losses are very personal to me, despite the very scientific labeling of them.  They are my children.

But Nugget and Little are not private events in mine and Steven’s life.  They have impacted us, changed us, and therefore, impacted those around us in a personal and intimate way.

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Nugget: grew up until a little over 7 weeks.

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Little: this shot the little heart was still beating

Dear Nugget

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It’s been a year. I’m not sure what to tell you about this past year.  At least not anything that is new and insightful. All the regular cliches come to mind–especially that one about how the earth keeps spinning despite what is happening in my life.

That sounds melodramatic, and I can see you rolling your eyes at me just like any good child would at his mother.  I can smile at that thought.

My experience with you has lead me to believe that not enough mothers and fathers realize how often pregnancy loss happens.  I understand some of the shush–the questions that surround a pregnancy loss. There’s a struggle with validity of loss.  But, it is a loss.  There’s the loss of the real and the imagined {your father wrote an amazing piece about just that thing when we lost your little}. So, you my Nugget, have placed a passion in me to somehow normalize the sharing of pregnancy loss.  The “secrecy” places too much pressure on those who experience it. . .too much blame. . .too much guilt–when in reality we just need people to listen and acknowledge our grief.

Grief. . .that’s the other thing that I have been learning this past year.  It’s a doozy. And it’s not a prescribed so many steps program.  It lifts its head unexpectedly and demands attention.  And wouldn’t it be so much better if we all felt that we could just do that. . .give grief attention when it needs it and not feel guilty? Because here’s the thing. . .every person on earth is going to have to do that very thing at some point.

Oh, dear Nugget, our lives changed because of you.  We knew they would from the minute you announced your presence, but we had no idea it would be in this manner.  I miss you and wish you were here, but I also know that what has transpired in the last year has brought your father and me together in a way that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.  Our love and awe of our God is stronger.  Our love of each other is stronger. There’s nothing to say that your presence today wouldn’t have produced the same results. . .and I’m not ashamed to say that I sure would have liked to have seen that. But I’m grateful for this year.

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After your little I decided to do something to honor you two.  I hope you like it.  When your father and I went to Savannah after losing you, he jokingly asked me if I wanted to get a tattoo after passing a shop.  I immediately knew that it would be Romans 8:28.  I don’t have stretch marks or any other tell-tell signs of pregnancy  {though I do have the scars where Dr. D took you from me}. But I have this. My prayer is that it reminds me of God and you and your little and that maybe someone will notice it sometime and feel it’s ok to talk about their loss too.

 

 

 

I love you, Nugget.

The messiness of life

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Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I have heard many prayers that ask for the peace that surpasses understanding.

Look at the verse.  It’s not just any peace.   It’s God’s peace that surpasses understanding.  And when you realize that, there is an aha! moment because, of course, it doesn’t make sense. God is bigger than our minds could ever comprehend, therefore, so is His peace.

On August 6, 2017 the pastor at the church I’m attending delivered a message based on this scripture, and I had my aha! moment.

On August 7, 2017, seven months after Nugget had been cut from my womb, I had our first ultrasound for our second child. We saw its heart beating.

On August 14, 2017 our second ultrasound revealed that our little one’s heart had stopped beating.

On August 21, 2017 my body shed all its preparations and the tiny little person that had started there.

And through it all, even though there was sadness, I was at peace.

This, in no way, has been an easy road to travel.  However, the good that Steven and I have found along the way can’t, in any way, be replaced. As individuals we have grown.  As a couple we have strengthened.

The messiness of life. . .we’re ok wading through it and cleaning it up together. I wouldn’t have it any other way.