Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kristin's Story -- Miscarriage at 20 weeks

Tonight, I am honored to share the story and pictures of Cameron Nicole -- a beautiful baby girl miscarried by Kristin. This momma is so brave in sharing all the heart-rending details of going through pregnancy as an 18-year-old with an abusive boyfriend . . . then having to make the decision to let her child die or die herself.

I want to be sure to protect this momma's heart -- so if you want to comment, please keep your comments full of love.


-- Rachel

I lost my daughter, Cameron Nicole, at about 20 weeks gestation due to a number of things. To this day, I am still not sure the EXACT reason I was induced to deliver. I have a general idea, but haven't received many answers.

My pregnancy came as a shock to my former boyfriend and me. When I became pregnant with Cameron Nicole, I was very young -- only 18 years old, and still a kid. So many things ran through my mind when I saw a plus sign appear on the pregnancy stick: This is not good timing. This is NOT the person I want to have kids with. How am I going to support a baby?

Although I was very nervous, I became a mom instantly, and I loved that little baby more than I have ever loved anything.

At first, my pregnancy was picture-perfect. But in the back of my mind, something just felt wrong. I have never suffered a loss, nor have I known anyone close to me who had. Every time I had a Dr. appointment, I was terrified of the baby dying. There was just something that felt wrong. Maternal instinct is an amazing thing.

About 7 weeks into my pregnancy, I was having a lot of cramping. I took myself to the hospital with a fear of having a miscarriage. The Dr. did an ultrasound and couldn't find a heartbeat. I was devastated. They told me the pregnancy may be too early. Or that I could be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.

I just couldn't believe this was happening. I couldn't breathe. I don't think I cried one time, though . . . I just had to stay strong. My mom was in the emergency room for all 10 hours I was in there. The hospital called in Drs. to come in and look at my ultrasounds, blood tests, and so many more things that I am probably unaware of. I was admitted to the hospital for fear that my tube would rupture if it was an ectopic pregnancy. For the next 3 days they monitored me and checked my hcg levels. By the last day, there was great news: My hcg levels were doubling and I was sent home with so much hope! I had a sonogram appointment scheduled for a week later to check for a heartbeat.

That week was the slowest week of my life. I was so anxious to find out if my baby was alive! At that appointment, I heard the most incredible sound, the sound of my baby's heartbeat. I was so relieved! My mom and I cried together and were just so relieved. At this moment, I realized that things would work themselves out and everything would be okay. I had amazing support from my mom.

This is where my story gets hard for me to tell . . . I honestly believe my daughter potentially saved my life. The father of my daughter (or what I consider him . . . a sperm donor. He was NOT a dad.)was abusive, spent all of our money on alcohol, gambling, other woman, and who knows what! I found out several times that he had been with other women, but didn't have the strength to leave. I felt so embarrassed to be single and pregnant, so I put up with all of the horrible things he did to me. It wasn't until he pushed me up against a wall and locked me in a room. My pregnancy gave me the strength to leave that horrible, toxic home, and to be single and pregnant. I don't know if I ever would have had the courage to leave.

After I moved out of the home I had helped create, I was very fortunate to have an amazing family. Although it was so hard to take the help from my mom, I needed it. I needed a safe place to live.

I can't say that my pregnancy was stress free . . . it was nothing near that. I found out Cameron's "dad" became homeless and unemployed a few weeks after I moved out. I knew that meant no help financially from him. I also knew I would have done everything in my power to keep him away from her. If he put his hands on me while pregnant, what would he do to her?! I talked with so many lawyers about my situation and wrote up a parenting plan so I could sleep at night, knowing his chances of seeing her when she arrived were slim.

October 9, 2010 at around 10 p.m., I went to the emergency room for the second time experiencing severe cramping. When I was brought back and I received 3 enemas because the Dr. said I was "just constipated." I told him repeatedly, "NO, NO, IT'S SOMETHING DIFFERENT, I WOULD KNOW IF I WAS CONSTIPATED!" I was sent home with some type of laxatives, that I refused to use. (Throughout my pregnancy, I don't believe I took ANY type of medications, besides vitamins . . . I would power through any type of pain.)

On October 10, 2010 at around 10 a.m., I was sitting in my office at my desk when the most shocking thing could have happened to me, My water broke. I didn't know what to do with myself. This was my first pregnancy so I didn't know what was normal, and what wasn't. I knew that I had to get to the hospital as soon as possible. I left work bawling, but didn't tell anyone what was happening, just that I needed to leave.

I got to the E.R. and my water was still breaking. I was screaming for someone to help me, and to tell me what was happening and why. I didn't understand I was only 20 weeks along. About an hour after being in the E.R., my mom showed up and I was rushed up to labor and delivery. I was in a little dark room and felt so alone. The Dr. in labor and delivery checked my cervix and did a bunch of other tests. After about an hour after being in that little room, he diagnosed me with "premature rupture of membranes" and said that I had the option to either go home and see if my water bag would seal up, or stay in the hospital to see. Either way, I would have to be on bedrest the rest of my pregnancy. They also said there was about a 30% chance that I would make it full term. I just didn't know how they expected me to make decisions.

While signing my discharge papers, my temperature shot up to 103.2 from 98.0. I started uncontrollably shaking, sweating buckets, and my heart rate was extremely high. The Drs. were horrified and just kept saying they have never seen this before. Experts were called in. About an hour later, the expert Drs. arrived and told me I would have to deliver, and if I didn't, I had a 90% chance of getting sepsis (a blood infection) and a very high chance of ultimately dying.

I was stuck between choosing death for me, or death for my baby. As a mother, I couldn't wrap my head around choosing death for my child. I was more than willing to die for my baby. The Drs. gave me an hour to make a decision. (I think they wanted me to come to terms with what was happening, so I didn't feel forced.) My nurses and Drs. were incredible.

I was on my deathbed, hardly able to even open my eyes I was so sick, and I just couldn't bear the pain any longer. I finally gave in the towel and let them induce me. I could feel myself fading fast. They tried 3 times to induce me, and it was the most incredible pain I had ever felt. I was throwing up, shaking, sweating and screaming my lungs out. My cervix just wouldn't dilate. I was hooked up to so many machines, and had a lot of powerful drugs put in my IV.

The worst parts were when they had to do ultrasounds, I couldn't stand seeing my tiny little baby moving around in there having no idea what was about to happen. I held my pregnant belly and talked to her the whole time. I didn't want to let go. I had over 30 Drs. and nurses coming in and out of my room, doing bloodwork and they even brought in a mobile catscan because at one point they believed I was getting meningitis. I had no hope that I would make it out alive.

Somehow Cameron's dad found out and was calling the hospital begging to come see me. I banned him from showing up . . . I couldn't believe he ever thought he would belong there. He also had the nerve to text me, and my mom repeatedly, "is our baby going to die?" and "is this the end?" Those were not the words I needed to hear.

As soon as labor pains kicked in, they suggested that I get an epidural. When the woman came in to give me the epidural, I started bleeding heavily and it felt like time to push. At that moment, I knew this was it. I think mentally I went away during my delivery. How could I mentally be there delivering a baby I know would die?

I remember hearing the Dr. tell me to push and with one push she was out. Cameron was born at 5:38 a.m. on October 12, 2010. They rushed her away to test for a heartbeat. She lived for 3 short minutes . . . minutes I wasn't awake for. I thank God that my mom was there to hold her hand. I fell asleep and didn't wake up until around 9 a.m. My dad was next to me holding my hand.

I was in the hospital for the next few days feeling a million times better, but feeling the emotional side was unbearable. At first I didn't want to see my baby . . .  I just couldn't imagine seeing her lifeless body. My mom talked me into it and I gave the okay to bring her in.




She looked like a tiny baby, even at only 20 weeks. She had 10 fingers and 10 toes. She was perfect in every way, just beautiful. I did not hold her, I just looked at her for hours. That is the one part I regret. The hospital took a few pictures and got her hand and foot prints. I was sent home with empty arms. It was the most confusing feeling ever: To be pregnant, give birth to a beautiful baby girl, and to leave the hospital without a baby in my arms.


Grieving without the support of a husband/significant other was really hard. I was all alone. Being so young, I had absolutely no friends who could relate. Needless to say, I lost a lot of friendships. I wasn't able to try again for a baby that I wanted so badly.

The Drs. also said I had contracted Chorioamnionitis (also called amnionitis or intra-amniotic infection), which is a bacterial infection that occurs either before or during labor. The name refers to the outer membrane (chorion) and the fluid-filled sac (amnion) that encloses the embryo. Chorioamnionitis affects between 1 and 10% of women at term and up to 33% of patients who deliver preterm. Chorioamnionitis usually develops when bacteria that are part of the normal vaginal flora "ascend" into the uterine cavity. The amniotic fluid and placenta, as well as the baby, become infected. E. coli, group B streptococci, and anaerobic bacteria are the most common causes of chorioamnionitis. E. coli and group B streptococci are also the two most common causes of infection in newborns.



I miss my baby more and more every day. It's crazy to think she has been gone a little over a year now.

A word to other mommas: Some things I would suggest . . .Take as many pictures as possible, every inch of your baby. Hold your baby! I can't say that enough!

Thank you for reading!

Kristin

Thank you, Kristin, for sharing the story of Cameron's life and death. What a beautiful baby girl you had.




I feel like every pregnancy loss story is so important and deserves to be told. If you would like to share your story, please email me at renyeart@gmail.com. We can post your story anonymously.

My goal in sharing stories on this blog is:

1) To honor our beloved babies and keep their memory alive.
2) To validate and honor the grief of the moms who have lost their little one.
3) To be a resource to women who are hoping to find someone, somewhere out there, who can relate to their feelings of loss. I hope this blog will be that resource.

Feeling thankful for the hope in a new month

I'm glad that our year is divided into months. Knowing that when I go to sleep tonight and wake up to a new month and a new start feels very refreshing.

I cannot wait to put January behind me and move forward to February.

January actually felt harder than December, even though we lost Baby O in December.

The first part of December was full of the most amazing joy as we found out we were pregnant and shared the news with our closest family and friends. Then there were all the Christmas parties, saying goodbye to work, holidays, family and friends that were at least a distraction in the midst of grief and pain. Also, the majority of my support happened those first 2 weeks after our loss.

But January was a different story. January felt like a battle. I struggled in some way every single day.

There were no holidays to look forward to. I could not find any joy in the "new year" as I had anticipated welcoming a child that new year -- not mourning the death of one. I felt like I heard bad news almost every day from friends and family. My life was completely opened up to the world of child loss. I had no idea SO MANY BABIES DIE!!  My whole Arbonne team was hit HARD and I think most of us felt in our businesses as well as in life. I struggled with old feelings of doubt, fear and failure that I thought I had moved past. Ryan and I faced less work and more bills, including a car that needed to go.

It felt like so many decisions needed to made. I questioned past decisions that I had previously felt completely at peace about. I struggled with decisions we would need to make in our future -- like if we would try to have another baby, and when.

The one bright spot in this abysmal month has been my blog. It's been the one area in my life that I felt successful at. A place that brought validation to all my feelings. A place where I could just be raw, empty me. A place without expectations, goals or anyone else to please. A place just for me. I love this place.

I've been very encouraged, too, by how well received this blog has been. At first, I was afraid to break the barrier of silence around our loss. To announce to the world something that is so often shrouded in secrecy. But I am so glad I choose to share this journey because it has helped other women across the world, while at the same time, helping myself sort through my feelings.  (And just to be clear, I don't begrudge any woman for keeping her pain silent or secret. Every person can grieve how they want -- this just worked for me.)

I'm excited to say that in January alone "the lewis note" had almost 1,500 pageviews. I never, ever expected that.

If you have read even one entry -- thank you. Thank you for your comments, your tears, your grief and your laughter. Thank you for joining me on this journey and accepting me for who I am. Thank you for encouraging me to write. Thank you for sharing this on FB, or with friends and family. Thank you for any prayers you might have said on behalf of my family. Thank you for telling me your own deeply personal and treasured stories.

Please let me know if there's anything you'd like me to write about within the realm of miscarriage or pregnancy loss. Or if there's something (like your own story) that you'd like to share. I want this to be a safe place for everyone to share.

Wishing for each of us a February that offers new beginnings,

Rachel

Monday, January 30, 2012

The beauty -- and pain -- in just letting go.

I'm the kind of girl that has a hard time letting go.

As a kid, that meant my junk drawer was so full it was hard to shut. I couldn't throw any toy away, for fear of hurting its feelings. When I was older, I never wanted to let go of our cars. Yes, you heard me . . . our cars. We would get a different car, get rid of the old one . . . and I would be angry with my parents for putting me through so much change. You can imagine how difficult I was through each of our moves.

I remember when I was 12, I had a girlfriend spend the night, and we shared a bed. I woke her up in the middle of the night because our sheets were messed up. I kicked her out of bed, made the bed, let her back in, and promptly let her know that if she messed my covers up again she'd be sleeping on the floor. Even while unconcious, I just couldn't let go.

As an adult, I struggle to hold on to everything. We just traded in cars this weekend, and I had a hard time saying "goodbye" to a car that I didn't even like. I still get this kind of remorseful feeling when I look at our driveway with the gold minivan and not the white SUV. (Although I have to admit that our minivan's new heated seats are literally warming me over.)

Obviously, holding on tightly to each little facet of my life has at times been annoying, hurtful and just plain painful. But my stubborn determination to hold on has also served me well . . .

I've held on to my faith when I felt like the world (or the heavens) have conspired against me and I can barely get through the day.

I've held on to my business even when I hear "no," people cancel, and I don't see the rewards for my work.

I've held on to my husband even when we fight and "love" could not feel farther away.

I've held on to my dreams and passions even when no one else can see them as clearly as I can.

I'm so used to holding on, that I never questioned whether I should hold on to my pregnancy when all the odds were against us.

I remember the night of my miscarriage, sitting on the couch watching "Finding Nemo" with Maddy. I had been bleeding heavily for 2 hours, and had wave after wave of cramps. We had received good news just hours before that the baby was still alive. If the baby was alive, I should NOT be bleeding. I should NOT be cramping. And this whole thing was just wrong. So, so wrong.

I didn't realize how tense I was, how hard I was trying to hold onto something that was slipping away, until I felt a soft whisper on my heart. Rachel, you need to let go. Let your body work. Let your baby go.

From the moment the bleeding started that evening, I knew deep in my heart it was the beginning of the end. But I still fought against the cramps, against the death that I was sure was overtaking my baby. And then there was that quiet, still moment where I knew that no matter how hard I fought, nothing I could do would save my baby. I just needed to let go.

There was so much release and relief when I surrendered my body, my baby, my hopes and my dreams to the ebb and flow of miscarriage.  Minutes later, I passed what I had believed to be our baby.

I have read that women in labor also must reach a point of total surrender to the work of their bodies. I believe God has created our bodies to work at odds with our minds at times. Perhaps even in this He shows us our frailty and weakness . . . and His omnipotence and strength.

Waving the white flag to God, to my body, to my circumstances has not been easy. And in the weeks since we lost Baby O, I have found so many times where God is calling me to let go  . . . to stop holding on so tight with white knuckles, and just trust Him.

I'm learning to let go of my ideas of success and embrace that I can only do what I can do, and no more.

I'm learning to let go of my pride . . . that there are days where I will not have something amazing or productive to show for my time, and that it's OK.

I'm learning to let go of my need to be in control . . . because, if losing a baby has taught me anything, it's that while I sometimes have the facade of control, it's usually just that. A facade.

And gently, tenderly, He is STILL calling me to let go of my baby. To trust in Him. And surrender to His will, even though I don't understand.

Perhaps, as I move through this life with hands a little more open, I will find that I am no longer just letting go. I'm also opening up my life to the blessings and purpose He has for me. And that is a hope I'm holding on tight to. A promise I will never let go of.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Melissa's Story -- Baby Abigail, stillborn at 36 weeks

You may remember reading my friend's post about her children lost to miscarriage and stillbirth. A while ago Melissa asked if she could share more of  Abigail's story, her daughter who was stillborn at 36 weeks.

Her story is beautiful and heartbreaking. I hope you'll take a few moments to read.

Love,

Rachel

Melissa's Story



Saying goodbye to Abigail, stillborn at 36 weeks.




Abigail:

I found out I was pregnant with Abby when I was 6-8 weeks along. I had my first ultrasound at 10.5 weeks. My pregnancy with Abby was a very different one. I had horrible morning sickness. I could only keep down mashed potatoes, pickles, and cheese for the first few months. Dale and I got the flu 3 times while I was pregnant. It was horrible.

Abby was not much of mover. I began to tell my OB about Abigail's lack of movements. She told me as long as Abby has a certain amount of movements during the day she would be fine.

I believe I was in my third trimester when I had to go get a detailed ultrasound done. My placenta was very low and the fluid was also very low. I was told scary news that day. 

I had to be seen again with another detailed ultrasound to check the fluids again. The second time the levels were much better. I was in the safe zone. So I had hope that everything would be fine. 


So, the rest of my pregnancy was normal with no major complications except for the day I will never forget.

On this particular day, I woke up with a major headache and hadn't been feeling Abby move. Since she wasn't much of a mover anyway, I laid down to rest to try and get rid of the major headache. Nothing was working, and Abby still wasn't moving, so I contacted a friend who was a R.N.

She told me to go get an non-stress test done right away. So I called Dale at work and the hospital, and we went in.


As we rushed to the clinic, I kept getting this pit in my stomach. I knew/felt something was seriously wrong. As I was called to go back into the room, I had to stop myself from crying. I walked into the room where I was hooked up to the Doppler. The nurse tried and tried and tried again to find Abby's heartbeat but nothing.

She asked me where they normally found it. I pointed to where they usually find Abby's heartbeat. Still, nothing. No heartbeat detected.

My normal OB was not there on Mondays so they asked the other OB to see me. She did an ultrasound. Again, no heartbeat, no movement. I asked if the doctor could capture her heart on the ultrasound. I wanted to see for myself. After hearing the horrible news,  I began to feel numb and shocked. Suddenly it all became a nightmare.

My first thought was ,"How could this be?" We left the hospital in shock.

Now, we had to tell all of our families. How were we suppose to explain this? We took awhile to bring ourselves to dial numbers. I don't even remember who we called first. The next day I had to go in to see my OB to set up the surgery. My OB was a Christian woman who was very sincere while I was in her care.
I remember preparing myself to see family who are all saddened and trying to support us.

 
I remember preparing to go into the hospital knowing I was about to deliver my daughter with no life. As I walked to the hallway leading into the prep room,  I broke down. I kept repeating, I can't do this. I want to go home. A nurse came beside me and said everything will be okay.

I honestly don't think she knew my daughter was not alive. I was so anxious waiting to go into the O.R. My heart and mind were racing. I didn't know what to expect. My poor Mom tried to go into the O.R. with me but she couldn't handle it(she was also dealing with bronchitis). This coming from a very strong woman. If she couldn't go with me, how the heck was I suppose to do this?! Dale (my husband) couldn't handle being in there either. So I was alone.

I remember getting the epidural done and the doctors cradled me. I laid back waiting for the moment of silence. The moment to see Abby, to hold her. After, Abby came out, I heard one of the doctors say, "Yep she's gone." I was completely silent. The nurse held Abby. Cleaning her, showing me her, trying to make it like any other live birth. She told me Abby had red in her. She told me Abby was beautiful and put her up to me. Again, I remained silent. I didn't know what to say. All I remember saying is, "Yes, she is beautiful." 

Abigail weighed 5 lbs. and was 18" long. She was a tiny little thing. After I got stitched up and wheeled into recovery, my OB began to cry. I asked Dale to give the Dr. a hug. I couldn't bear everyone being sad. I felt for everyone elses' pain and sorrow. She spoke with me for a little while. Then I went into my maternity ward room. 

Abby was already there. I held her. It was all such a blur. I wasn't sure if I could hold her. Honestly, I was scared to. I didn't want to "break" her. She was so fragile. Our extended family members came into to see Abby. To spend a few moments with her. I couldn't bring myself to let Hannah (my eldest daughter) hold her. At the time Hannah was only three years old. I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to let her hold Abby. This is something I will forever regret.

My nurses were trying to get the photographer to come in, who was running very late. When he came he was sad too. My nurse was crying and hugging my family members. My mother-in-law and Mom were bathing Abby and getting her dressed. It saddened me that I could not get up and dress Abigail myself but I am glad my Mom/s got to do it.

It was all very dramatic. Almost like a drama on TV. I just didn't think it was real.

After the photographer was done, it was time to take Abby away. The nurse wrapped her tiny body up and took her off to the coroner. I wanted to scream at the nurse to say, Why are you taking her away? She is alive. She is mine! I couldn't grasp the thought that I would never get to hold her again. She was gone.

While in the hospital,  I kept trying everything to get out of there. I just wanted to go home and be away from everyone. My heart was so broken. I had to make decisions about her funeral. What headstone, what kind of casket, what music to play, this, that, and the other. Thankfully, my church at the time covered the costs of incidents such as mine. And the burial site was free of cost for babies.

When we got home, we all just wanted to rest. I had a pinched nerve in my neck which was more painful then the c-section wound. I could barely turn my neck.

The day after I got home, my milk came in. Which in all honesty sucks. My heart ached for Abigail even more. That Friday was Abby's funeral. We drove there I was quiet. I couldn't think straight. When we began to walk towards the door. My knees became weak and I was breaking down. We all got to see Abby before the service started.
 
My husband held her for the first and last time. He was so very heartbroken. After the funeral we went home. People tried to make light of things and have normal conversations but  I couldn't stand it. There was someone missing from our life now. She was in a casket.

I honestly couldn't wait for people to leave. I needed some time to think, to grieve, to adjust to this new situation.

We had an autopsy done. She had a blood clot in the umbilical cord. That is what ultimately killed her. She had other complications too including the placenta was not growing with her.

After some time passed, people weren't really talking about Abby anymore. They weren't asking how we were doing. It was like it never happened. Life moved on for everyone else. But, not for us. Life was different. Life was hard. People let go of her. As though she never existed.


I had continual nightmares. I would drift off to sleep and all of sudden hear Abigail's heartbeat or hear a baby crying. For a while I thought I was going insane. I told no one I was experiencing this because again, I thought I was losing my mind. In some ways I think I was because my heart was broken and I couldn't comprehend the fact that I would eventually have to pack all of Abby's belongings.

After all these years. Her memory remains within me. My heart has a missing piece.

I have five children. Three with my husband and me, here on earth. Two of which are under God's watch.

Emily and Malakai;
Emily was born 1/14/2008. Now 4 years old
Malakai was born 4/7/2010. Now 2 1/2 years old.
My cupcake and monkey.

They are doing very well and thriving in life abundantly. They are such joys and blessings.


On Abigail's angelversary each year I will release balloons, light candles, or do something in her honor. Abigail will never, ever be forgotten. And, I will never let me certain people tell me I should let her go.





 

Having faith in an early loss.

This week I've been struggling with grieving my early pregnancy loss. I am going through the motions of grief -- the overwhelming sadness, difficulty concentrating, inability to feel happy over just about anything. I feel completely powerless to get OUT of grief. (And trust me, sometimes I want to!)

But even as my body and mind insist on this sad, melancholy state -- my heart questions whether or not I have the RIGHT to be this sad.

I don't think I'm alone. I believe many women with an early pregnancy loss feel this way at some point.

Is it normal to hurt this much? This long after the baby is gone? I never held my baby. As far as the world is concerned, this baby didn't really exist. So why do I hurt so much?

I wrote to the leader of our support group, Susan. Here's what I wrote, and how she responded:


ME:  So -- I am struggling a bit with feeling like my loss isn't as significant -- and maybe it really isn't -- as all the women who actually had a baby at the end of their story . . . whether through later miscarriage or stillbirth, or neonatal loss.

 I feel a bit like an imposter. I was less than 8 weeks pregnant when I lost Baby O. Some days I feel like it's OK to grieve -- but I feel weird that it's been over a month and I still feel really sad and overwhelmed. I haven't gotten back to functioning normally yet.

I felt foolish crying at the support group for my baby, when I didn't have to plan a memorial service, or hold her, or give birth.

Does that make any sense? 


 Thanks for the listening ear,

Rachel


Susan:

know exactly how you feel. The twins I lost were also "only" around 8 weeks along. I feel that these earlier losses have their own significant components. As you said above there wasn't a "baby at the end," makes it an even harder loss in some ways.

We never got to hear a heartbeat, feel those first precious flutters that make you say "was that the baby moving?" We have no footprints, no handprints, no pictures, no locks of hair. It's almost as if we have to have "faith" that there ever really was a baby.

But let me remind you of how much our babies had already developed . . .


At 8 weeks pregnant (6 weeks from conception):


 The embryo measures about 18 mm (3/4 inch) in length.
Their arms and legs are growing and the location of the elbows and toes are visible.
The feet and hand buds have appeared.
Starts to practice moving (not felt by mom till week 20).
The stomach is being made from part of the gut.
The face is beginning to take shape.
Your baby's mouth and nostrils are starting to develop.
Teeth begin to develop under the gums.
The eyes can now be seen as small hollows on each side of the head.


The arms and legs continue to develop -- these limbs are stretching out more and more.
Later on you will be feeling those feet and elbows up close and personal right in your bladder.
The embryonic tail has almost disappeared.
The pituitary gland is also forming and the embryo is beginning to grow muscle fibers.
 The heart has divided into the right and left chambers and is beating about 150 beats a minute which is about twice the rate of an adult.
The baby's facial features are visible, including a mouth and tongue.
 The eyes have a retina and lens.
The major muscle system is developed, and the baby starts to practice moving.
The baby has its own blood type and the blood cells are produced by the liver now instead of the yolk sac.

We may not have any tangible evidence that there was a baby but indeed there was. We have "faith" that our babies did exist and have every right in the world to grieve for them.

My dear, you are NOT an imposter. You are a mommy who is mourning the loss of your baby. Please don't put a time table on your grief. Allow yourself as much time as you need.

I am here for you.

Susan


Hearing about my baby's development was JUST what I needed to hear. There WAS a baby in me, with it's own heart and bloodtype and eyes and everything. The fact that I never saw or held my baby does not negate that fact that she was there.

If your pregnancy loss was earlier than 8 weeks, your baby was growing and developing. Maybe it would help to read about their development?

No matter what age of gestation we are at, our babies are ours. They are our children. And we have a RIGHT to grieve their loss.

Keep the faith, ladies. Keep the faith.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Good day ... Rough night

Tonight has been a little rough. I don't know why. It's just that the sadness I always feel a little is becoming overwhelming.

Sometimes I forget I'm still grieving. I want so much to minister to others however I can. But then sometimes I just am so overwhelmed with sadness, I can't think about anything else.

Sometimes I listen to the lie that I don't "deserve" to grieve. I did not have a stillbirth. I did not have to bury a child. I did not go through labor. I did not have 20, 30, or 40 weeks to bond with my child. I have a picture of a positive pregnancy test. That's all I really have of my daughter.

As often as I have heard that you can't compare loss ... And as often as I espouse the same view ... I still struggle giving myself permission to really feel my loss. To admit that I lost a daughter, not just a pregnancy.

I held a newborn today. She was beautiful. I kept thinking ... I almost had this.

Seeing one more time what might have been made me so sad. It's a feeling I haven't been able to shake. It makes me wonder if I am trying too hard to get back to normal life too soon.

I was asked today how many kids I had. A question I used to ask all the time. But I think I'm going to stop asking that question. Today, I hesitated and said "1." I kinda wished our baby had been stillborn so I could least acknowledge her existence. Instead, I don't feel like it's ok to count her as one of my children. I claim to have lost a baby ... But didn't even count her as a child of mine. This is one area where I feel like an early pregnancy loss is pretty rough.

I would like to have had a picture of her. I would like to have seen an ultrasound. I would like to have felt her at all ... Feel her kick and hiccup. I would like to have held her hand.

I have a picture of a positive pregnancy test. That is all I have of my daughter. And it makes me so sad.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Helpful ways to support someone through a pregnancy loss

Today I heard about another woman who lost has lost her child at 38 weeks. Tonight, as the rest of the world moves on -- as life pulses around us -- this woman is living out her most devastating hours. The day of her baby's birth will also be the day of her beloved daughter's death. Life will never be the same.

I want to say that I cannot imagine such a loss. But the truth is -- I can. I just don't WANT to. To visit that pain, even for a bit, is so consuming.

If you find yourself as a support person in the midst of pregnancy loss, it can be so hard to know what to say or what to do. After all, there is NO FIXING the situation. Nothing we say or do will ever bring a baby back. While you can never FIX it, there are things you can still say and do to help.

I have asked a few friends that have experienced loss to expain what others did that gave them comfort or help. Here are a few of their answers:

"It helped when people would talk about my daughter! Hearing her name was music to my ears. Also when people would forward me poems or songs that were about the loss of a child. Those helped a lot too. In its own way, sympathy was good too."

"Sharing their stories and sometimes just being there, not saying anything, and letting me talk through it. As well as prayer."

"I had friends who never pushed me to get back to 'normal.' They loved me with such grace, such patience through my anger, self-pity, questioning my faith, mood swings, jealousy, and the need to be self-absorbed in my quest for inner peace. They listened and listened and listened."

"Sharing their stories. It was nice to know that I wasn't alone and it also took my focus off myself (when I was dangerously close to a mire of self-destructive emotions)."



I love my girlfriends' words! How true they are!

If you find yourself as a support person -- a loved one, family member, family friend, acquaintance, coworker or Facebook friend -- here are some other suggestions that might help you respond to your friend's loss in a comforting way:

Acknowledge the loss. Yes, a friend is grieving and we all want to give her space. But there are ways to reach out without intruding. You know your friend -- obviously the closer you are, the more you may want to reach out. But a great way to do that is through an email, card or text. Let them know you heard of their loss. You are praying for them. You are so very sorry. And you want to be there for her in anyway you can. Even though it is easier sometimes to love from afar, silence will often hurt. There is comfort in a tender note of condolence.

If you really don't know what to say, just say, "I really don't know what to say, other than I am so sorry." Usually, that alone is enough.

Offer physical help. After a loss, life still happens. Dishes still need to be done. Meals need to be made. Bathrooms need cleaning. Kids need loving on. If you are in the position to help with any of your friend's physical needs, it can be a very great help! Note of caution: Please do not say, "If you need anything, please let me know." The truth is -- she will most likely NEVER ask you for help, even if she desperately needs it.

One reason is because we women are notorious for having a hard time admitting we need help. She might think, "Well, I really need this ... but I would NEVER ask anyone to do this for me -- it's just too much."

But it's more likely that she has no idea what she really needs. Her entire world has been suspended in grief. With so much energy directed toward mourning, there is nothing left for the day-to-day. I remember wearing the same clothes over and over right after my loss because it was one less decision I would have to make. In late-term losses, couples have to make hard deicsions, like "Where to bury the baby" or "Who to invite to the memorial" or "How do I explain the loss of our baby to my children?" In light of such huge decisions, who even cares what's for dinner?

Helpful ways to offer tangible support are to say something like: "I would like to bring you dinner. Will Thursday or Friday be better for you? Are there any food allergies/preferences I should know about?" Or, "I would like to come for a few hours to clean. Will this Saturday work from 2-4? I would like to clean your floors and bathrooms -- unless there's something else you need more." "Can I take the kids for a few hours to love on them? Will Friday evening work?"

I didn't have to cook or grocery shop for a month after we lost Baby O. And I can't tell you how incredibly grateful I am for every single meal, every single cleaning job, every single ounce of help I received! I still have 2 frozen meals reserved for those really crappy days I know are still around the corner.

Give them a gift. Flowers are always appropriate. I received a lovely bunch of flowers the day after I thought I'd lost the baby with a darling teddy bear. What a precious reminder of my little one. I love that bear. My sister sent me an oak seed through (I believe) 1-800-FLOWERS that we can plant in rememberance of our baby. I also received the book, "Hearing Jesus Speak in Your Sorrow" by Nancy Guthrie. (I will list more helpful resources later.) I've heard other women really appreciate a gift of rememberance jewelry from a spouse or family member. If you know the sex of the baby, you can buy the baby something, too. From what I've read, most families treasure these gifts for years because they are something they can tangibly see and hold long after their baby is gone.

Listen. Let your friend "relive" her experience as many times as she needs to. Retelling the story is a huge part of processing grief. Cry with her. Just crying together has been some of the best "conversations" that I've head since we lost Baby O. If you sense your friend wants to talk, ask open-ended questions. Some helpful questions might be:

"Would you like to tell me about your baby? I would love to know her/him."
"Would you like to talk about the birth?"
"What's hardest on you right now?"
"What do you miss the most?"
"How is your husband doing?"
"Are there specific things that you need prayer for?"
"What do you need from me right now?"

Remember, silence is OK too. Sometimes just being there is the best.


Continue to check in on her.  Maybe it's been a month or more since the loss. Chances are, your friend is still in the midst of deep grief. Continue to call, or text, or email -- however your relationship already rolls. She still needs to know that her friends are surrounding her with love and prayers. A card a few months later to let her know you are still grieving with her is so meaningful. Especially hurtful times will most likely be Mother's Day and Father's Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, the anniversary of finding out she was pregnant, the anniversary of the baby's birth and/or passing, and her estimated due date. 

Pray for her. Some ideas of things to pray for . . .  Pray that God would guide her to Him during this time. Pray for her marriage, her partner and and their children. Pray for His peace and comfort. Pray that God would meet her physical needs. Pray for physical healing of her body. Pray that she would have the support she needs to grieve how she needs to.

If you have also lost a baby, you can let her know about your loss. She may ask to hear your story. Hearing that other people have dealt with loss and have (somehow) survived brings much hope. My support system from people who have "been there, done that" has been a lifesaver. Just a few reminders . . . Please don't compare your loss. Everyone's loss, and grief, are different, so just keep that in mind while you share.

Give your friend the freedom to grieve how she needs to -- no criticism, censorship or comparison. There is no timeline for grief. There is no right (or wrong) way to grieve. There are no wrong feelings in grief. If she is angry with God, let her express that without censoring her. If she is really struggling in an area, do not critcize her for it. A friend gave me the freedom to grieve how I needed, and that permission is just what I needed to encourage me to "publicly grieve" on this blog.

If she has named her baby, refer to her baby by name. It is so cathartic to hear your sweetie's name. It validates that your baby was a person -- and that you really had a loss.



While the potential to help is very real, the potential to hurt your friend while she is down is also real. A few things to avoid:

Answers. Please do not try to explain her loss. She might constantly be wondering "Why, God?" . . . but she doesn't need any of her friends or family to offer an answer. There is a reason she is asking God. If she does verbalize "Why???" in your presence, your best bet is to say, "I don't know. But I know it hurts so much."

Avoidance: Your friend is constantly thinking about the baby. Don't avoid the "big elephant" in the room. Ask her about her loss, her baby, her experience. At the very least, acknowledge her grief with an "I'm so sorry for your loss."

Platitudes. Steer clear of anything that sounds like a trite and easy answer. "All things work out for the good of those who love God." "God won't give you more than you can handle." "Maybe this is a blessing in disguise." "One day, this will all make sense." "You are young and can have more children." "Your baby is in heaven, now. Isn't that great that you will know him/her there?" "God needed another angel." Usually these only make the person offering platitudes feel better -- while making the grieving mom feel miserable.

Comparisons. Her exact situation is unique to her -- and only to her. Affirm her in her experience. But don't compare losses or grief.

Expectations. She will never be the person she was before the loss. It will change her forever. . . although the changes will become the "new normal" and time will help. Don't expect her to function at the level she was before. Don't expect her to carry extra responsibilities. Don't expect her to reciprocate your friendship in the same way you are loving on her -- it will take some time. She might start to seem better, then have really hard days. Just take her as she comes.


My experience losing Baby O could have been so much harder than it was if it weren't for the invaluable support from everywhere around me. From my husband, family and dearest friends -- to Facebook friends who I haven't talked to in years -- to Arbonne clients -- they have all played a huge role in my continued healing. I praise God for the support He has given me through His people.

If any of you who have "been there, done that" have anything you would like to add, please do. I know I haven't covered all of the bases and would love to hear from you.

If you find yourself as a support person, just know that you are never too far away or too close to love your friend through loss. 

Much blessing and comfort to all!

Rachel


    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    And .... Crash

    Today was bad. As in, bad enough that I can't write about it.

    I guess I will suffice it to say that it could have been one of the worst days since my baby died. A day where I wish I had never gotten up.

    Praying it snows buckets and buckets tomorrow so I can shelve all responsibilities, watch movies all day with Maddy and cry.

    I had hoped I was past these intense days. I guess I'm not.

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    a new [great] day

    Today has been a really great day.

    Which gives me much hope because of all the gray and gloomy days I've had for the last 4 weeks.

    We met Ryan's family for lunch at the Spaghetti Factory. Then, with Christmas cash in hand, I went on a shopping spree and got some really great pieces to update my wardrobe. I RARELY buy clothes for myself -- so to buy a LOT of clothes was such a treat.

    Then it was date night tonight at Fondi pizza in Gig Harbor (which was amazing) -- and later tonight we'll watch Planet of the Apes.

    Anyway, I haven't cried in 2 days over Baby O -- and my house is cleaned and I actually have cooked 2 meals and went grocery shopping.

    I know that I will have gloomy days soon enough again. And that's OK with me -- because I still miss Baby O and I'm still sad to not be pregnant. And I'm also sad for a friend who I found out is also going through an all-to-similar situation.

    But for today -- I am rejoicing in a good day that gave me quality time with my family and gave me a fresh wardrobe.

    I'm thinking I'll make it to church tomorrow. I don't feel any anxiety over it, which I definitely was feeling this time last week.

    Oh, and one more thing -- I never realized HOW MANY PREGNANT WOMEN THERE ARE!!! Everywhere I looked today there were pregnant women and babies. That was really the only hard part to my day . . . the constant reminder that I was not pregnant.  But I think I handled it OK. Just some jealously and sadness.

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Let me count the ways . . .

    Baby O,

    Tonight, I cry because I miss you. I know I didn't know you, but there's still this hole in my heart where you belong.

    I grieve because on this side of heaven . . .

    I will never gaze into your newborn eyes and wonder what you're thinking.

    I will never nurse you to sleep.

    I will never kiss your tiny hands or tiny toes.

    I will never rock you to calm you down.

    I will never sing you a lullaby.

    I will never feel your body in mine.

    I will never announce to the world the miracle of your birth.

    I will never dress you up in the cutest little outfits.

    I will never hear you say funny things.

    I will never know the friendship between you and your sister.

    I will never hear you girls giggle together.

    I will never watch Maddy try to take care of you as your "mommy."

    I will never see an ultrasound of you in my tummy.

    I will never celebrate the anticipation of your arrival with friends.

    I will never be able to see you on your wedding day.

    I will never even know if you for sure are a she!

    I will never watch as my belly grows.

    I will never have people ask when you are due.

    I will never  give you your first bath.

    I will never see you and Maddy run through sprinklers and eat popsicles.

    I will never know what foods you love, and what you won't eat.

    I will never know your sweet, sweet smile.

    I will never have your arms around my neck.

    I will never have your tears to wipe away.

    I will never have an owie to kiss.

    I will never know if you are a mommy's girl or a daddy's girl.

    I will never see your daddy hold you close.

    I will never put your hair in pigtails.

    I will never know if you are strong-willed like Madelyn, or more complacent and content like me.

    I will never watch your talents grow.

    I will never see your love for Jesus.

    I will never watch as grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, coo over just how precious you are.

    I will never whisper "I love you" as you sleep tight in your crib.

    I will never know you this side of heaven -- but I will never forget you either.

    All my love, Baby Girl,

    Mommy

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Quick update

    This won't be long as I promised I'd actually make an attempt to go to bed the same time as my husband tonight. Hopefully with the melatonin I just took, this will be more in the realms of possible. (Plus I have to get up super early tomorrow. Ok, super early is like 6:30. But considering I haven't been waking up until 10, that feels borderline impossible.)

    So here are the quick updates:


    • I went to a support group for pregnancy loss. Helpful? Yes. Hard? Terribly. This will take probably an hour long blog on it's own. Just suffice it to say, I'm reaching out for support.
    • I've upped my time with my counselor. Same story as the first --another, separate blog is needed.
    • Went to the OB last week. She gave us her blessing to try to conceive again in 3 months. Again, I will have to expound on this, but at least I have some small world of hope.
    • I'm working through some really difficult but amazing books. Trying to work on my relationship with Jesus. To know Him more, and trust Him in all of this craziness.
    • Dealing with insomnia in a ridiculous way. Considering I used to be a narcoleptic, this is a huge feat. Although, it's not a feat I'm happy about. 4 am has been my new bedtime. And I am exhausted.
    • Still super weepy most of the time. Nights are the worst. Sometimes it's not even about missing Baby O. Sometimes it's just dealing with anxiety, hopelessness in ALL aspects of my life, and feelings of failure.
    • I went to work today, which I AM proud of. My friends were amazing to me, and we even had lunch in the corner of the office so I wouldn't have to see anybody if I didn't want to. Only talked with 2 people I hadn't planned on . . . and they were super supportive. I know people feel bad when they cry around me. But I think that's the best "conversation" I could have right now -- just crying together. I do miss my friends very, very much.
    • Ryan and I have been slowly getting more on the same page. We grieve differently. And I'm a different person now, with different roles. It's been an difficult adjustment for both of us. 
    • My body is STILL not 100%. I've had 3 other health issues arise since surgery, one of which was so painful I couldn't hardly eat or drink for 4 days. (And yes, I lost the baby weight and more during those 4 days.) Hoping for 100% health soon. (And I ate Chung's, nachos and ice cream tonight to make up for it. But not all at the same time!)
    If you want to pray for me, pray that:

    • I would grieve well, and give myself permission to do that in whatever way is best.
    • That I would SLEEP on a normal schedule.
    • That I would have some energy to reach out to others during this time.
    • That I would take good care of Maddy and Ryan and our home.
    • That I would grow closer to Christ.
    • That I would be faithful to whatever God's purpose is in this whole mess.
    • Oh, and that I would be able to work through my depression without medicine, if possible.
    I think that's it for now . . . got to try to hit the sack.

    Thanks everyone for reading my posts. And for all your love and support.

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    One step forward . . . two steps backward

    Today, I took a step forward. I also took two steps backward. Or . . .  make that a dozen.

    I actually did an Arbonne party today. Was I ready to? No. Was I ever going to feel ready? Maybe not for a long, long time. But as my mom and my counselor both pointed out, it might feel good to do something "normal." Something productive that usually brings me satisfaction.

    Last night was extremely rough, and I thought I was making a huge mistake in trying for the party today. But you know what? I did it. Granted, I made a billion "mistakes." Things I forgot to bring -- things I brought, then left them in the car -- things I did completely wrong. I even called one of the guests by the wrong name. I guess you still get post-partum brain, even when there's no baby at the end of the pregnancy.

    In spite of all that, the girls were really sweet. I enjoyed getting to know them, and I enjoyed the party.

    Ryan and Maddy drove with me to the party, so I think that made it easier.

    But on the way home, I became sullen. We ate at Panera, and I was consumed by remembering my last visit to Panera -- the day after I miscarried and I had emotionally lost it when I got my coffee.

    Later this evening, friends of ours watched Maddy so Ryan and I could have a date. It was super, super nice of them. I was looking forward to our date earlier in the day, but now? Now I was paralyzed by emotion. We ended up at the movies watching Mission Impossible. But I couldn't focus. I read blogs and texted. I just felt disconnected from everything -- Ryan included. Nothing felt right.

    My mood had gone considerably south by the time we'd gotten home. Anxiety about going to church crept up. Ok, it didn't creep. It clawed at me, making me feel like I was on the verge of a panic attack. I wanted to go to church, but I'm not ready for attention. I feel like I'll just cry through worship. Not be able to focus during the sermon. And I feel like I'll want to make a beeline out of there if anyone talks to me.  Ryan assured me I didn't have to go if I wasn't ready. But I almost feel like the longer I procrastinate, the harder it will be.

    Then there's the anxiety about more "firsts" coming up this week. (As in, "Last time I did this, I was pregnant. This will be my first time doing this/going there/talking to this person since I lost the baby.") Last time I went to church, I was pregnant. Now I'm not. And later this week, I will go to my work to collect my things and have lunch with my friends. But last time I was there, I was pregnant and I began cramping and this entire nightmare began.

    I decided to try to sleep off the anxiety, but decided to open my mail first. I opened up a sympathy card. The first thing I read was, "There are no words that are appropriate right now." How true. This whole situation was inappropriate really. When is it appropriate to lose a baby? And what words could a person say?

    The truth of this overwhelmed me. The woman who had penned those words was the first to see me in the bathroom at work, curled up on the floor in pain. She was the first that brought it to my attention that I might be losing the baby. Until then, I was in complete denial anything was truly wrong.

    Remembering that day sent me into flashbacks of the events I've gone through in the last three weeks.

    Trauma 1: I was at work, enjoying a Christmas party when the cramps started. A week before, I had been joking to a coworker that I had a "cranky uterus" this time around. We both laughed. But on this particular day, the cramps were sudden and awful.

    It became obvious to others I was in pain, but I didn't want attention. So I excused myself to the bathroom, thinking that in 15 minutes or so, they would pass and I would be able to eat the yummy Indian food that was waiting for me.

    That was definitely not the case. I found myself needing to breathe through the cramps, and eventually, I curled up on the floor (albeit, as far away from the toilet as I could possibly get. And yes, I know this is really gross. But I was just trying to get through the pain.) Coworkers came in, and I insisted I was OK . . . but deep inside, I wanted someone to come help me. Finally, my friend Deb came in and saw me crying in pain. She said, "That's it. We're driving you home, or to the hospital. Which is it?"

    They drove me to my parents' house, and my dad believed I had either an ectopic pregnancy, an obstructed bowel, or appendicitis. My parents took me to the ER. Before I got to see the Dr., much of my pain subsided due to pain meds and I wanted to go home. My dad insisted that I be seen.

    Trauma 2: I had a very kind, compassionate Dr. He seemed to care very much for me and my baby, and spent a lot of time with us. We discussed how far along I might be, and when my due date is. And then, he reviewed my paperwork one last time before leaving the room to order tests and said casually, "Oh, wait a  minute. The pregnancy test here says you're not pregnant."

    And with that calm, casual statement -- as if he was announcing something as trivial as my temperature -- a part of my heart died. Just died. I knew there was no reason for the pregnancy test not to be positive unless the baby had died, or was going to die. And the despair that filled my entire being was so consuming. Crying didn't help. Nothing helped. During that time, I was almost numb to physical pain. They put in the IV lock, and I didn't notice. I almost wanted some physical pain at that time to take away the heartache. To give me some distraction from the raw emptiness inside. (Eventually I got it as my arm ached from the IV.)

    I had to have an ultrasound, and I watched the image of my empty uterus wave across the screen as the technician searched for a baby. Nothing. There was nothing. I know what my pregnant uterus should look like. And that was definitely empty. At one point, she turned up the sound and I heard a familiar "whoosh whoosh" of a heartbeat. I think the technician saw hope flick across my face for a brief instant, because she quickly made note that that was MY heartbeat -- not a baby's.

    It seemed like the ultrasounds lasted 30 minutes (I had two). All during that time I was despondent. The technician was also kind, and told me over and over, "I'm sorry." But she said she couldn't tell me anything about the ultrasound. She just said, "I know you think you know what this is, but it might not be." But then in the next breath, she would look at me compassionately and say, "I'm so sorry."

    By the time I saw the Dr. again, I had been in the ER for 5 hours. And I had begun to bleed. The Dr. said the blood draw came back positive for pregnancy with very low HCG levels. I had to wait until Friday for the blood draw to find out if the numbers had doubled, which would indicate that the pregnancy might be viable. He told me that he wasn't willing to give up on my baby. That he's seen crazy things happen before, and he was holding onto hope.

    I felt a little bit better. But I also knew it would take a miracle from God for us to keep this baby.

    Trauma 3: On Friday (two days after the ER visit), I had the blood draw. After the blood draw, I came home and could finally sleep. I was worn out from praying, crying, reading about miscarriage/ectopic pregnancy, and the like. It was as if after the blood draw, there was nothing left for me to do. A friend recently blogged that we women fight to keep our babies alive in the uterus. I definitely felt as if I had been in a battle. Now it was up to the numbers to tell us the fate of our baby.

    The nurse's call woke me up and she said we had good news. The numbers had gone from 560 to 840. So that meant the baby was still alive and growing. When I informed the nurse that I hadn't bleed at all in 24 hours, she was encouraged. She, too, said she was holding onto hope for our baby.  But she also said that because the numbers didn't double, she was still quite concerned about the placement of the baby.

    So much hope was given to me then. I began texting and calling with the good news. But still, I did ask friends to pray that if our baby was ectopic, that I would pass the baby naturally so I didn't have to make any hard decisions.

    Five hours after the nurse's call, it seemed that God was answering my prayer. Well, at least the prayer that I had hoped He wouldn't have to answer.

    The bleeding began, and the cramps. We were supposed to have dinner with Ryan's grandpa that night -- but I didn't think I should go. We were supposed to go out of town on vacation the next morning, but I didn't know what I should do. Ryan and I were on opposite pages as far as what we should do at this point, and emotionally, we were both heated. But I knew this was the end. I wanted to pass the baby as peacefully as I could at home.

    [Please excuse the next part -- it's a bit more graphic, but I really feel I need to write this out.] During the cramping, I was constantly in the restroom checking my bleeding. It was definitely as heavy as a period. Once, when I stood up, I felt something in me and felt the need to push. I sat back down and did, and this large clot with tissue forcefully came out.

    As soon as I saw the clot, I began weeping, clinging to the toilet. I knew it was our baby, and she was sitting in our toilet. I felt as if this caged animal inside of me was let loose. There was no rational thinking. No logic holding me back from just feeling. Honestly, I had no choice but to let this grief possess me in a way I had never let anything take over. I was no longer felt like Rachel -- I couldn't even recognize this person who was wailing on her bathroom floor. In truth, I don't think Ryan recognized her either.

    Trauma 4: The next few days were so hard. I felt expected to be normal. To go on vacation, and be socially acceptable. To enjoy shopping and eating out. To enjoy our hotel. I couldn't. I didn't know how to be normal. I no longer cared if I made others happy or uncomfortable. I didn't know how to be this new person I had become. I didn't know how to grieve. I didn't know how to live.

    Trauma 5: The following Tuesday, as I was putting on my coat to leave for my post-miscarriage appointment (that was originally scheduled as my first prenatal appointment), I felt very sharp cramping in my abdomen. Within seconds, I could no longer stand the pain was so intense. I eventually walked to the car, taking many breaks to squat. (I imagine I was a sight to the neighbors.) I called my parents and asked if one of them could watch Maddy, and the other accompany me to my appointment as I could not go alone . . . I was in too much pain. They asked if I needed them to pick me up. I declined. I didn't want to be late for my appointment.

    I could hardly walk, but somehow I got Maddy into her car seat and began driving. The pain was unbearable, and made me nauseous. I kept telling myself outloud I was OK, in between dry heaving. Maddy was in the back telling me over and over not to cry. The truth is, I knew my tube had ruptured. I knew I was bleeding internally. But for some reason, I still thought I could handle it.

    At one point, the logical part of me said, "You need to stop here at this fire station and tell them you need help." The illogical part said, "They'll take me by ambulance and we can't afford that." I took probably 30 minutes to make a 15-minute drive. My mom was so worried that I had gotten in an accident. (She later told me she had to get on her knees and beg God to forgive her for letting me drive like that.) As I crawled along the highway, I recieved many dirty looks from the people that passed me by. It's hard to drive fast when you hurt so badly.

    By the time I reached my parents, I could officially no longer stand. I broke down in tears of relief when they took Maddy from me and helped me into the backseat of their car. My dad took me to my appointment because my parents figured he would need to carry me in.

    My mom called Ryan to tell him I was in pain. She also called the office to let them know that I was coming to them in bad shape. They brought out a wheelchair and both my dad and the nurse helped me in. I sobbed as quietly as I could in the fetal position as they wheeled me through the waiting room. I was relieved the room was not full of onlookers.

    My poor nurse was smaller than me, but she had to fully support me standing and had to undress me and get me into a robe as I could not. My normal self would have been humiliated -- but this new me didn't care. My OB immediately came in and did an exam. Again, nothing was in my uterus. She wheeled in the ultrasound where she saw fluid in my abdomen and a mass by my ovary. She told me I had an ectopic pregnancy and that I needed surgery right away. She said I had not passed a baby on Friday, I had passed uterine lining. The baby would have died when my tube ruptured.

    She was going to try to save my tube and ovary, but she could make no promises. She didn't know what shape I was in until she opened me up.

    After the nurse redressed me, I called Ryan. "I'm in pain. (Long pause). Meet me (long pause) at Harrison. (Long pause). I have to have sugery." Ryan could barely make out my words. Later he told me he thought he was going to the hospital to say a final goodbye.

    At the hospital, the receptionist had me go in the backroom to fill out paperwork. Really. She wanted my insurance info. At this point, I was shaking from the pain. She asked my dad if I needed a blanket from being cold. He pointedly told her I was shaking from pain, not cold. She infomed him he needed to move his car. For a few minutes, they left me alone in the room . . . and I began dry heaving again. Finally, after seeing me try to throw up on her nice carpet, she realized maybe this was not a good idea. Paperwork could be done in the hospital room. (I can't believe it took her this long to realize the absurdity of me doing paperwork in the shape I was in.)

    The nurses were really kind. I mumbled out answers to a billion questions about my health and previous surgeries as best as I could, and FINALLY they gave me pain medicine. After the shot, I began truly throwing up at this point. Ryan was finally in my room, and was trying to comfort me. Each shot for the pain lasted about 15 minutes, but it was enough to finally stop the shaking and I could rest just a bit.

    Family arrived at the hospital out of nowhere. It was nice to have everyone there supporting me, even though I didn't see them.

    I got wheeled into the OR, and my OB kept telling me, "Baby girl, I'm going to take care of this for you. I'm going to fix you and make you feel better." At that point, I could have cared less that she was talking to me as one might talk to a toddler. Her words gave me much comfort. I knew she cared about me.

    The shot had worn off, so I was quite ready for the anesthesia. The fear I felt toward the surgery was overcome by my need for relief. The gave me the anesthesia, and I just nestled my head into the pillow as I might have if I was going to bed. Sleep was most welcome.

    It took me several hours to fully wake up after surgery. At one point, I dreamed that the baby had floated down my tube into my uterus from the surgery. When I woke up, I thought I was pregnant again. It took me a while to realize that was just a dream.

    It was disorienting to wake up from surgery, not knowing what had gone on. How long had I been in surgery? What time was it? Did I have a tube still? Did I have an ovary? Heck, did I have anything left in there? Did I lose blood? Did I have a transfusion?

    Ryan came back and told me I did still have a tube, and that I had lost a half a liter of blood and had a huge clot, but that I did not have to have a transfusion. At some point, I thought I heard that I had a cyst on my ovary they had to take out. But I found out a week later that was just something I conjured up on my own in my anthethesia-induced stupor.

    They sent me home that night. And my family and friends loved on me and took care of all of us. And I guess that's the silver-lining in this whole thing -- I've experienced other people's love and concern -- even from strangers -- in amazing ways.

    Back to today -- I finally feel some relief after writing this all out. I apologize again for the more graphic nature of my post. :(  The memories of pain and fear were welling up into anxiety -- and from my past, I know the only way for me to release that is to write it all down.

    Tomorrow, maybe I will go to church. Maybe I will be able to take another step forward. And maybe tomorrow night, I'll only have to take one step back -- and not two.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Just a bump in the road?

    I received an email today that can be so true . . .

    For women who have experienced pregnancy loss, we know we've lost a baby. For other people, it's just a bump in the road.

    I hate to even admit it, but that's how I felt a bit about miscarriage before I lost Baby O. Don't get me wrong, when my close friends miscarried -- I grieved for them, I prayed for them, I cried with them. Yes, I felt like they lost a baby. But I also felt like it was a bump. A bump they would soon get over.

    Looking back, there were some things I JUST DIDN'T GET:

    - That getting pregnant again does not heal the hurt from losing a baby. One baby does not replace another. Even if you get pregnant right away, there is still grief because there was still loss.

    -That they did not need answers from me at all. Not one. I looked back on an email I sent to a friend after I heard about her loss, and while I said some appropriate things, I also said, "I know God's in control." When I re-read that email last week, I winced. She knew God was in control. She didn't need me to have an answer. She just needed to hear, "I'm so sorry. I'm crying with you. I will miss knowing your baby. I'm praying for you. If you need to talk, I'm here."

    -That the hurt lasts so long. 3 weeks ago, we found out something was wrong with the pregnancy. And we only knew we were pregnant for 2.5 weeks up to that point. But I know that I am going to be reeling from this for quite some time. As in probably months of grief. And after that? Who knows? I know that I'm changed. And I'll never quite be the same again. I just wish that I had realized my friends were still dealing with grief for months, and for some, years . . . not just days.

    -That no matter how early the loss, it still hurts. My love did not grow by weeks. The moment I saw those two lines on the pregnancy test, I was in love with my baby. I was on cloud nine, thinking and planning and dreaming.  I didn't lose 7 weeks of pregnancy. I lost a lifetime with a baby I loved.

    -That bringing up the loss doesn't remind them of the loss. They are thinking about it already. But it helps to acknowledge their pain. For most of my friends, I assumed that silence was best. As in, I sent an initial card or email . . . but then I did not continue to ask them about how they were doing. I wish I would have asked. I wish I would have sent remembrances. I wish I would have sent a card or flower on their due date.

    -That comparison does not help. In trying to comfort, sometimes we try to relate as best we can. I've done it to others. And today I had that happen to me from the billing person at my Dr's office. She wanted to apologize that I would be receiving bills for months down the road for my surgery -- each bill as a reminder that I lost a baby. I agreed that yes, this would probably be hard. She then proceeded to say, "I know it's not the same, but last week I had to put my dog down . . . "  Oh no, I inwardly cringed. PLEASE do not compare my baby to losing a dog. In her own way she was trying to be helpful, trying to relate to my pain . . . but trust me when I say that it was NOT helpful.

    I don't blame myself for not getting it before. I couldn't have known (unless I had taken the time to google how to help a friend with pregnancy loss). But I have tried my best to apologize to each of those friends who have miscarried before me. I figure saying the right thing is better late than never. And I still believe that, for me, saying at least something, even if it's wrong, is still better than total silence.

    So no, pregnancy loss isn't just a bump in the road. It's more like coming to a screeching halt, careening the car onto a side road you didn't even see. And no matter what you do, you will never be able to turn the car around and get back on your journey. Somehow, you have to pull yourself together and figure out how you fit on this new journey. And maybe, just maybe, one day, you'll even grow to enjoy the view.

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Remembering a baby I never got to meet

    Today I created an ornament for Baby O. And just in time to take down the tree -- although I did put the ornament on and take a picture before starting to take down the tree.



    I bought an adorable pair of newborn black and white flats and tied a silver ribbon around it. It works better for me than a traditional keepsake ornament that is so vague. This one says exactly what I want it to say about Baby O: I am a tiny little baby. I'm supposed to be here to celebrate Christmas with you. I am a part of your family. My shoes will never be filled by another. I am precious and missed beyond compare.

    I'll keep the shoes in the box with all of Baby O's sympathy cards and other memorabilia that we've collected -- not that I have much.  I'm also using a cute pink velevet journal with a heart on the front to write letters to her.

    We are burying the tissue that I passed in a pot with an oak tree seed my sister sent us to remember her by. One day, that oak tree will grow big and strong. Sending a tree was so thoughtful of Sarah

    I had taken a picture of positive pregnancy test. I plan to print out that picture and place it in the box. When I feel like I'm forgetting -- like I was never really pregnant to begin with -- I look at that picture and it reminds me of how real it all was not so long ago.

    Other gifts we've received are flowers from my friends at work, Ryan's work, my friend Melissa, and both the pastors at work. Several dear friends have brought by food. (In fact, I haven't had to cook in 3 weeks. What a relief!) My friend Meredith sent an amazing book, Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow.

    My friend Abby came over and kept us occupied with games. She fixed dinner for us, and brought us a frozen dinner as well. And she let me talk as much as I needed. They even bought me a keepsake to remember our baby by. My sister, Judy, and her family stayed with us. She let me talk and cry as I needed. Kept me distracted. Planned Maddy's party. Cooked meals and went grocery shopping.  And cleaned my ENTIRE house.  My mom and in-laws have watched Maddy a ton. And my mom has come over anytime I've asked to keep me company, fix meals, and clean my house. I have spent a LOT of time with my parents lately!

    I've had so much support -- I don't know what I would have done without it.

    In spite of everything, today I find myself wishing I could go back in time. It really wasn't that long ago -- and I was pregnant for 7 weeks (really only 5 -- but 7 sounds more solid). But I was just so happy. Having another baby was a blessing and a joy I didn't think I'd ever have again.

    Ryan and I still have not decided what to do as far as whether or not to get pregnant. He feels like pregnancy is a death sentence. Not that I can blame him. The poor man has been called home or to the hospital in an emergency situation during my pregnancies more times than I can count. (Ok, I could probably count if I tried.)

    But the truth is, me being pregnant scares him. Like, "I'm going to lose my wife and raise Madelyn by myself" scary. He admitted to me that when he came to the hospital for my surgery to fix the ruptured tube, he really thought he was coming to say a final goodbye. (I was in so much pain, he could barely make out that he needed to meet me at the hospital right then for surgery.)  Who can blame him for being hesitant to try again?

    I'm scared too. But I was at such peace with my pregnancy with Baby O. I really think that I could do this again, and I want a baby more than anything in the world.

    Sigh.

    I guess that's it for me tonight.
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