Friday, March 7, 2014
I guess I'm going to break all the norms here on this one.
Most people don't say anything till they are 12 weeks. And here I am at 4.
But before you squeal, or get excited, or even think about a congratulations ... You should know that I likely won't keep this one.
My hcg is low. In spite of progesterone, baby aspirin, eating gluten-free and being as healthy as I can be ... I will still likely miscarry.
I met with my nurse from the fertility clinic today. I happened to be in Seattle visiting my sister already, so the timing was perfect.
My first positive test was on Tuesday, CD 29, 3 days after my period was due. It was a faint line, but positive nonetheless.
The next day I had a blood draw to confirm the pregnancy. Instead of just confirming the pregnancy, they did a quantitative test to determine my hcg levels. It was 35.
My last miscarriage with Elliott I was at 152 at this point, and then with Caleb, I was at 16.
My heart sunk when I heard the news. I guess once I knew the number I gave up a fair amount of hope.
Over the last 3 days, I've had fewer symptoms. My assumption is that my hcg is dropping, but we won't know for sure until I get another hcg test.
Of course, ectopic is ALWAYS on the table as a concern. So there is that.
My reproductive endocrinologist did not feel that the lab work for clotting was complete, and I have a consultation with a hematologist on Wednesday. I had a blood-clotting test done today, and they are checking to see if adding Lovenox (a blood thinner) to my "pregnancy regimen" is called for.
I'm not really sure how to feel. At times I am numb, sometimes broken, sometimes angry, and on it goes. How I am depends on the minute.
It's painfully obvious that the plan to "just try again, and we'll hope for the best" is not working out so well.
A few people have asked what we need, and the only thing I can think of is prayer.
Of course, I want a miracle. I wouldn't be me if I didn't want this baby to pull through. So yes, by all means, pray for a miracle!
But I know that God's miracle is not always the one I ask for. I know that even if we miscarry again, or even 10 more times, God is still good and He hasn't abandoned me.
You can also pray for comfort. For Ryan and I to help each other and not allow more grief/stress come between us. You could also pray that if we lose this one, somehow we will be able to find what's causing the losses.
I know many of you want to fix me. I've gotten lots of recommendations from many people about what could be wrong. As much as I understand wanting to find what's wrong (trust me, I WANT TO FIGURE THIS OUT!!!), I'm in the hands of some really smart specialists and we are working on it. Emotionally, I just can't follow every trail head right now on the "what-ifs." I also don't feel up for explaining every single test/scenario the doctors and I have gone through over the last two years.
So, what is our plan?
Currently, Ryan and I need to decide if we are going to continue testing our hcg. It's an expensive process at $100 out-of-pocket per blood draw.
We'll continue the progesterone, etc, until we know for certain what is going on with this pregnancy.
I'll emotionally take it one day at a time, or maye one minute at a time. The miscarriage could start tomorrow --- it could start weeks and weeks from now --- it might not start at all.
You can understand, I'm sure, that the not-knowing and all the waiting are very hard to go through.
Since I blog through loss, I wanted to blog through this period of potential loss/potential live-baby. Below is the post that I wrote the day I found out we were pregnant again.
One more thing... If you are a close friend or family, and you found out on FB today about what's going on, I'm sorry. I made several calls today to the share the news, and it's just too hard. I'll just be keeping updates here.
Thanks for all the prayers and support for our family,
I'm Pregnant, written March 4
But am I really pregnant??
Something like this has been playing in my head for the entire day. Terror. Excitement. Questioning. Guarding. Loving. Breathing. Beautiful. Terrifying.
Who knew two lines could mean so much, and yet communicate so little.
I don't know for how long I'll carry this baby. Today has felt like a 24-hour eternity.
Either it will be a long couple of days or weeks before we lose this one. (And, then looking back, I'll say it wasn't nearly long enough) ... Or it will be a long, scary 9-months until mid-November when this one is "due."
I know well enough to not REALLY expect a live baby anywhere even close to a due date. I know most of my due dates are empty, forgotten by most the day I miscarried.
And yet there's a spark of hope. Maybe, just maybe this time is different.
Then again, maybe it's not.
If you are of the praying sort, pray pray pray that God's will be done, and that He gives me the strength to walk through whatever lies before me.
And pray my uterus won't be empty again, but there will be a live baby with a blinking little heart if we make it to ultrasound day.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Sometimes, being a friend to someone who has lost a baby (or many babies) is a really hard thing. It's not the same kind of hard as losing your own child. But it can be difficult.
Just tonight I had a conversation with a pregnant friend. She, in all likelihood, will get to keep her baby. And as happy as I am for her, her pregnancy has put a strain on our relationship. Both of us are doing the best we can to meet each other where we are at. We are trying to be understanding and supportive.
I suppose it would be really easy to judge me, and say that I'm bitter. But I'm not. If I were bitter, I wouldn't be trying. But I am.
I'm grateful for the perspective anonymous has given us on what it's like to be an outsider looking in. I hope that all of us, on both sides of the coin, can learn to be more supportive and understanding of each other.
A dear, sweet friend shared your post after her third miscarriage (2 boys, 1 girl).
I have never had to deal with the loss of a baby.
The Good Lord has blessed me with two wonderful babies. However, many of my friends have had miscarriages.
As an "outsider," it's hard to understand what exactly these strong women are going through. I'm just as guilty as most in thinking that "it was God's plan" and "it happened for a reason." Your story helps pave the way of beginning to understand what my friends (and other women) are going through.
During my second pregnancy, 2 of my friends went through miscarriages, in their first trimester. We were all 3 due within a couple weeks of each other.
One had a set of twin boys just 6 months old when she found out she was expecting. My other friend has had a second miscarriage, since the first, and is having problems coping. We haven't seen or spoken to each other in weeks/months, not by lack of trying on my part.
It's hard for me to understand why this happened when I carried and delivered mine. I hope to be more understanding towards them now and in the future, should another friend be faced with this.
Thank you for sharing your life and giving us a bit of perspective into these grieving mother's emotions.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Rachel, thank you so much for sharing your story. I'm so sorry for your heartache. I hope others will be touched by your story and know they are not alone.
My name is Rachel. I live in rainy Seattle and have recently found this blog. It has given me comfort reading all the stories of loss and pain and knowing that I am not alone in my heartache.My story begins about 7 years ago when were moving from Dayton, OH to Seattle, WA.We had found out that I was finally pregnant with our first baby, I was 7 weeks along. We were so excited. We had just finished packing up our apartment and put our cats in their crate when I went to the bathroom before getting in the truck for the long trek across country.I screamed. There was blood!Nervously we went to the hospital, crying and sobbing the whole way. I ended up being fine and we could see little William's heartbeat on screen. Doctors seemed to think nothing was wrong.Off to Seattle we went.Then about 5 weeks later, a few days before Christmas, William went to heaven. That Christmas was hard. Our family had bought baby gifts.Then two months later, I was pregnant again with John. He made it to 7 weeks. 4 months later Lily made it 10 weeks.My doctors were stumped. Infertility specialists couldn't figure it out because all my tests were normal. They said things like "something must have been wrong with the baby."My thoughts were, "Nothing is wrong! They are my babies."Then lo and behold, one of my doctors ran a test and found I made little tiny blood clots. These clots would get caught in the placenta and starve the baby. My first thoughts were, "I killed my babies."I still wrestle with this because it is nothing I can control! My doctor prescribed a baby aspirin. Something so tiny. Then miracle #1 happened, I carried to term the most wonderful girl, who we named Lydia and she is now 5.After a year and a half, Lydia needed a sibling and we started our struggles again. I lost, Emily, Rose, and Catherine before miracle #2 our daughter Elizabeth.My doctors still have no idea why I keep miscarrying. We have been trying again for a third baby, but Philip and Nathaniel didn't make it past 8 weeks.For every little life there has been joy and sorrow. I ache for each of my babies and I've spent hours crying. This wound seems like it will never heal. Not only does my heart hurt but my physical body has been put through a lot. 10 pregnancies in 7 years.We are currently contemplating whether or not our quiver is full. I love my girls and this is a hard decision. I've spent many hours in prayer with other women because I understand their pain. William, John, Lily, Emily, Rose, Catherine, Philip and Nathaniel will all be in heaven with me someday.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
I received about 50 messages with personal stories in about 7 days -- and while I have READ them all, I'm still working on responding to them.
So if you haven't heard from me yet, hang tight. I'm hoping to at least respond this week.
I'll do my best to post several a week -- so however long that takes is when yours will be posted. I will email you as soon as your post is up with the link so you can bookmark it, or share it, or whatever you'd like to do.
Thanks again for trusting me with your babies' stories. They've all left a little imprint on my heart.
Friday, February 28, 2014
I remember the first time I "got back into the water" blogging.
I had just written a somewhat controversial post.
Maybe I really was feeling bitter? I don't know. I just know that my coping skills had ended. It was just one too many belly shots to handle.
I didn't know how to block people on Facebook. I didn't know how to unsubscribe for a time. I didn't even realize, "Hey, I could just get off Facebook."
Instead, I blogged.
And I got bit. Badly.
In hindsight, it really was a good learning opportunity for me. It helped me establish some boundaries in my writing, and helped me protect myself as my heart bled out in words. It helped me create my own coping mechanisms when facing others' pregnancies without (hopefully) offending them in the process.
But at the time, getting bit was seriously not fun. (Actually, the antithesis of fun.)
And I remember facing this blank page on the computer a few days later, with the cursor blinking at me. "Will you write again?" each blink seemed to ask. "Or will you give in to fear, and be bullied out of your safe place? Are you brave?"
Blink. Blink. Blink.
Today, that same cursor has been blinking at me all day in my mind's eye. Waiting. Wondering. "Are you brave?"
Last time I got back in the water, it was after a horrible experience. It was like plunging into the waters below.
Today, as I get back in the water, it is after the most amazing experience of support. It should feel like dipping my toes in the warm Bahamian ocean . . .
But instead, I feel terrified.
Not of getting hurt.
But of disappointing.
I know it is the selfish part of me that is afraid. The one that wonders, what will everyone think of me? What if I never write a post that has that many page views again? What if people followed my blog expecting brilliance, and I only deliver normal?
As my mind reels through topics I could blog about, I receive one of many stories from you. A reader. Someone who is going through absolute heartache. A heartache I know all too well.
And I suddenly realize -- "Rachel Marie, this is SERIOUSLY not about you. It is not about being brilliant. It never was."
It's about YOU. The person sitting on the other side of this post.
You could be here because you had a pregnancy loss. Maybe you are going through a loss now. Maybe you found me recently, and are just curious how to support others. Maybe you and I are friends in real life, and you read just to support me.
Whoever you are, this blog is for you. And not for me.
Please forgive me for thinking -- even for a second -- anything different. Forgive me for my fear of writing again. Forgive me for thinking that you, the most amazing community, might be anything less than gracious to me when I stumble.
And thank you. Thank you for being a stranger, and taking me in. For caring so deeply about my babies Olivia, Caleb & Elliott. For trusting me so implicitly with your own babies' lives, your deeply personal stories, your tears and hearts. Thank you for honoring my intent in my recent post with your comments. Thank you for opening your hearts to grieving families.
And thanks for being here as I stumble along through my own journey, reaching out, hoping in some way, we really are better together.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
A guest post by Andrea Gaston
In my inbox, I have a folder labeled: *Waiting. Nestled under that is about ten other folders with different sub-titles and purposes. Some of these folders have become obsolete in their purpose and others have become a mainstay of constant use.
This system has given organization to the waiting; however, the organization has not resolved the waiting.
Similarly in the rest of my life, I shuffle things off to the side if they are not an immediate need. I have learned to compartmentalize and desensitize in the hustle and bustle of the busy present.
And this worked well for most of my life. This hastened ignorance of the need for attention to these places kept me afloat in the raging sea of anxiety and doubt and fear and depression crying out to God again and again for peace.From where I sit now, I find that often times when I pray for peace what I want is relief; and these are not necessarily the same.
I was trying to run a marathon in constant crisis mode relying on the next quick fix of “peace” all the while hoping the mess underneath would work itself out.
But God, in his graciousness, let me crash again and again. He let me run myself ragged. He let me build my own fortress of safety – using tools like running, friends, even quiet times to build myself up and keep myself going. And then, he let my fortress crumble.
It was a Tuesday night nearing the end of September when all hell broke loose into my life. That was the night my plans, my expectations, my hopes, collided with an unexpected reality and I collapsed against an unyielding dam of fear.
The result was a blur of shock where sounds were muffled and words did not make sense. It was a time when sleep was a reprieve that did not come, when nothing seemed real or significant and numbness overwhelmed all sense.
In the senselessness, there was no understanding.
There were times when I could not curl into a ball tight enough to feel as though I could be held together. There were times when the water from the shower could not compete with the tears released behind the cover of the curtain.
There were times when I tried to dress up the pain in words of explanation so I could build a façade of strength to hide behind.
There were times when I yelled curse words strung together like a rusty melody – not even directed at anyone or anything, rather to release the anxious frustration of the waiting without knowing why – to release the anger I did not know I was capable of feeling.
I did not realize I was able to love another person so completely before I did. I did not know the depths of my own heart until it was opened and filled in that capacity.
Similarly, when the life that was planned for and was expected is no longer there – when the other part that once made me feel whole is missing – there remains a void as never known before. In that chasm a cold isolation seeps in too fast and too deep to resist.
I write in the past tense as if all of this no longer occurs; but it does. In waves and echoes, in the stillness of a moment, or, more often, in the unexpected flash of a reminder of what was or the hope of what was to come.
And there – right there – in that moment I have the choice.
I have the opportunity and freedom to choose. It does not feel like an opportunity and it does not feel like a freedom and it certainly does not feel like a choice.
But that’s what it is all the same.
I can choose to shrink into that darkness, believing all of the lies strung together making me feel covered in the coldest isolation and walk out existing in the worst kind of living hell.
Or I can choose to believe all that I know is true- anything I know that is truth.
Even the simplest of truths.
Somehow, when I feel as though I am at the edge of it all and the bottom of myself, when I feel hollow and empty as all of the richness of life fades and I am whittled down to my core, it is there I remember the songs and rhythmic prayers from childhood: God is good. God is great . . .Yes, Jesus loves me . . . Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep . . .
All of them stitched together to form the most basic and desperate prayer.
I think this is what it looks like to choose to treat the places of grief as sacred and pain as holy – to call God good even in the midst of the mess.
In the places of grief God is (finally) able to get to those places I have kept hidden, walled up behind years of self-protection and distraction. In the rubble of fallen expectations I can see my motivation more clearly – I can see God clearly.
The goodness in the grief is that I met God there.
In the place of grief, God lets me see my need for him. And he lets me ask the hard questions of him.
That is one of my favorite things about God – he invites me to inspect him. Whereas he does not always answer my questions, he still lets me ask.
What I am learning is to stop asking for what I want, but start asking God who he is.
And that can be a messy question.
Thankfully, he promises not to leave me or forsake me as I pursue him through that question and as he pursues me through the mess.
Find Andrea at her regular blog, http://agaston1684.wordpress.com/.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
I'm sitting at my way-too-cluttered desk right now, tears dripping down my cheeks, with Kleenexes everywhere, and Meredith Andrews belting out with her sweet, sorrowful voice.
And I'm instantly back to two years ago. Sitting at the same desk (it was just as cluttered, I'm sure), listening the same music, with mascara-stained tears slipping silently from my swollen lids. It was the day I posted my first baby-loss post.
No. It was my first "Olivia, you are gone, and I don't know how to live without you" post.
That day, as I wrestled with God over why . . . As I struggled to imagine a lifetime without ever experiencing your newborn cry, chubby toddler hands, rambunctious hugs, highschool dances, or the first birth of your own child . . . As I felt so, so alone . . . As I felt that I would never know happiness again . . .
Then. Right then. I felt that if I could only help ONE other person. If just one other person in this world of ours felt supported, felt loved, felt understood in their loss . . .
Then maybe your short little life and death were worth it. Just maybe.
Baby girl. Did you see it happen? Did God tell you that your short little life reached someone this weekend? Someone who needed to know that babies like you matter. Babies like you can never be replaced. Babies like you deserve everything we give our living kids.
Did you know?
Not only did your short little life touch one someone. You reached 250,000 someones.
Some people say a baby at 7 weeks can't make much of a difference.
My sweet girl -- You did. You made all the difference in the world.
You made a difference to moms who have had a chance to share their baby for the very first time. Babies that you might even play with up in heaven.
Dads who got a chance to speak about grieving a child in heaven.
Nurses, pastors, teenagers, grandmas and grandpas who all learned how to help someone else who has experienced a baby loss.
Do you see? You are passing it on. Your beautiful legacy . . . it is growing, it is changing, and it is amazing.
I'm so proud of you.
You will never leave my heart, and I'm better for it. Your life opened me up to the deepest pain I've known -- and through it, you have shown me the greatest joy in the midst of suffering. The joy of helping someone else.
If you could make such a difference in just 7 short weeks of your little life inside me . . . I wonder how you could have changed the world with a lifetime outside. If only . . .
Olivia, I never heard your voice. But I want you to know, I'm trying to be your voice the best that I can.
And right now, my little girl, the whole world is listening.
I hope you are proud of me too.
I love you more than you will ever, ever know.
Please give your brothers a kiss and hug for me.
All my heart,