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“Yesterday was plain awful”

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To quote a song from Annie.

It seemed so in the moment.  The mundane of home ownership and the unexpected expected troubles that pop up threatened to overtake me.

Steven and I discovered a leak in our laundry room the other day.  We were bumfuzzled about where it was coming from.  The washer being our first guess proved to be wrong.  Then it was the hot water heater, but it was bone dry around that.  It rained recently. . .maybe there was a leak? However, there was no evidence in our ceiling or walls of water running down. There is a mysterious pipe that comes out of the floor and goes back into it next to the water heater.  But it looks like the water is coming out of the wall. . . .taking off an access panel we found nothing.  Literally, nothing.  There was nothing behind the access panel.  Well, what about this mysterious pipe?  Indeed, that is where the water is coming from.  It’s misting out of the pipe with occasional spurts.  My brother says it’s a $5 fix.

While searching for the water leak, I happened to also put some things in the freezer and noticed that ice seems to be accumulating on the back.  Uh-oh.  This happened in January.  We have a freezer on bottom fridge.  So, the fridge part is cooled by air coming up from the freezer.  If the freezer doesn’t defrost, then the air doesn’t go up in the fridge, therefore, essentially, making the fridge pointless.  I thought maybe I’d just caught it between cycles and determined to check it again later.  Hours later, still icy.  With more ice.  We had it serviced and fixed with genuine parts by a certified appliance repairman in January.  I think we just have a lemon.

A baby bird was stuck in our chimney.  We’re pretty sure that even though we rescued it from the chimney, it was too young to make it on its own.  The wing feathers were mostly in, but there was still quite a bit of downy.  My mama heart hurts.

And I’m nine months pregnant. . . so, things ache and are swollen.

BUT. . .

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I mean, look at those cheeks! 

I’m nine months pregnant! As I sit here and type all these woes, Grasshopper is doing somersaults.  It’s an amazing feeling. . .experiencing these evidences of life inside of you.  I’m so incredibly blessed to be able to have this experience.  A little over a year ago my OB/GYN told me he was going to deliver my baby.  It was shortly after our fourth loss and frankly, Steven and I were coming to terms with the idea that a “rainbow” baby wasn’t our story.  That I was going to be advocating for those whose stories go no further than loss.  And I still feel very strongly about that advocacy.  I’m very aware that not all stories get what we’re getting.

Today, I have a picture of the child within me and its totally squishy cheeks and I’m eager to meet it face-to-face. And I wonder if my doctor is a bit prophetic.  We talked about that day at a recent appointment.  He looked at me thoughtfully and said, “Sometimes, I just get that feeling about a patient.”

Also, yesterday, I got my hair cut.  It’s a little thing, but having someone pamper you and style your hair a bit different from the every day can lift your spirits.  Plus, I really like my “beauty shop.” It’s full of energized women who are having a good time.  It’s a happy place.

I thought that might be the highlight of my day, but as I left, a car rolled up to me.  I glanced at the driver and thought, “I think I taught her.” And suddenly, she was waving out the window yelling my name.  Yep, I taught her.  She told me about her life (she has a 14 year old!! How did she get so old and I’ve stayed the same?). She mentioned having some copyrighted stories and looking for an agent. Then she told me thank you. I won’t share all she said in that thank you, but needless to say, it was better than having my hair done.

And to end the day, Steven took my to get some fries and an orange soda. . .my current craving.

So, yesterday was plain good.

Three years

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It was a Friday. Weathermen were calling for snow, a significant amount.

I like to watch snow fall.  There’s something peaceful and cleansing about it. But I missed it that year because I was in a small corner room in the hospital after just being told Nugget was gone.  Even if he wasn’t, I would’ve been in that room because he was in my Fallopian tube.  {I say he, but we don’t know about Nugget.}

It was a whirlwind of life changing information in those few hours.  One of those moments that leaves you breathless.

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My dad and stepmom gifted us this ornament for Christmas. I burst into tears when I opened it.

There are moments when I forget exactly how long it has been.  Then there are moments when I’m fully aware of every day that’s passed and every event that hasn’t happened.  But every day I know that my life is not what it would’ve been. . .I’m living an alternate reality.

At times I can share my story without choking up.  I’m always astounded at those times, like I’ve done something miraculous.  Other times, out of nowhere, I can’t get words past my throat and my face contorts in that grotesque holding back tears way.  I’m always astounded at those moments as well.

In the last three years, Steven and I haven’t had one where we didn’t lose a child. One year, it was two.

It’s exhausting.

It’s redefining of who we are.

Every single time.

 

 

 

Agent #4

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I don’t know if I will ever publish this one.

We call it Agent #4 because, well, we never really had time to get past the fact that we were at #4. And then, it was gone.  Snuck in like a secret agent, and just as stealthily, left.

Possibly, we should have never known we were pregnant. I was having a long and weird period.  One of the causes was possible pregnancy. . .fearfully, a possible ectopic pregnancy.  I didn’t want that as I only have the one Fallopian tube, and I’d like to keep it.

So, we did an at-home pregnancy test to rule out that reason.

We were sure it was really just stress. . .end of school year responsibilities, the upcoming change of me being a homemaker, the anniversary of Monkey’s due date, other little things on top of all of this.

Two immediate pink lines.

But I was bleeding. . .not spotting.  BLEEDING. A more pronounced flow in the mornings that tapered off to basically nothing in the afternoons. . .a pattern that had been occurring for 7 days.  I kept thinking my period was going to be over.

On Wednesday, a doctor’s visit with blood tests confirming pregnancy and hormone levels that were consistent with a 4-5 week pregnancy.

On Thursday, the pattern continues.

On Friday, a gush of blood and blood tests confirming that hormone levels had dropped significantly, indicating the end of the pregnancy.

And I’m still bleeding.

Agent #4. A three day mission of undisclosed parameters. Here the same week Monkey should have been.

This is hard.

After the gush of blood on Friday morning, I wrote this:

My God is an awesome God. His power is greater and His ways are higher. He knows all and is all.  He created the universe from nothing. He made blind see and lame walk. He healed my broken heart and covered my sins with His grace. Whatever my story is, He is the Author.

And I believe it with all my heart.

But it doesn’t mean that I don’t think this sucks. Or that I don’t get to be sad. Or that I can’t be angry. Or that I can’t question why.

Because He is an awesome God and He can handle all of that. . .and He is sad with me.

Juxtaposition

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I wrote this May 26, 2018–before conceiving and losing Monkey, our third child, who would have been due today. I share it now, because, well, I can. And because, I do want to be a voice for the one in four. 

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When Steven and I went to Savannah after losing Nugget, we were walking past a tattoo shop and he jokingly suggested we should get inked on our trip.  We laughed a bit, but then I told him that I knew what I would get.

Romans 8:28.

That was the verse that even in the short two weeks since Nugget’s removal had been my raft. I knew that there was good that God would create. I didn’t know how at that time and was still swamped in the mire of grief, but I knew it just the same.

Then we lost the second baby.

By that time I knew that the pregnancy loss awareness ribbon existed.

I also knew that I didn’t want to NOT talk about our losses. I am the one. . .one in four pregnancies are lost. That’s just a staggering number to me as before Nugget, I rarely heard about these things. I heard of people struggling with GETTING pregnant, which is also heartbreaking.  But I didn’t know of the ones who walked around with the physical loss. . .the knowing that you CAN get pregnant, but for whatever reason, that little child didn’t make it to birth.

So, the new tattoo. . .a juxtaposition of hope and loss. Romans’ verse speaks of hope and goodness. The pink and blue ribbon reminds of loss and pain. I love how the artist who did my ink has the verse almost as the line of the ribbon because they are intertwined. It is an inseparable part of me.

Finally, for me, this honors my God, my dad {for it’s his handwriting}, and my children.

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.

 

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.