Monday, May 20, 2013

One of those days.

It's been one of those days.


Today has been an up and down kind of day.

It's my first day taking care of the kiddos solo since we found out little baby wasn't meant to be.

I kinda hate that phrase -- but there you go.

I thought I did OK this morning. But you know when you just NEED a good cry? Well, I needed it, and my kids weren't letting me have it. I just wanted a few minutes to myself -- OK, a good 5 -- and instead Maddy in particular kept interrupting me.

I know that I should be a BETTER mom because of my losses. I should be MORE patient, MORE resilient, MORE whatever. But I'm not.

I'm just a mom who sometimes can't handle the whininess, the neediness of her kids without feeling anger or irritation.

I read a post a while ago that I'm starting to really relate to. It's called Monster Mommy.

http://stillstandingmag.com/2012/12/monster-mommy/

I don't yell very often. I'm USUALLY pretty even tempered, at least to them. But inside, I get so angry and frustrated with the lack of gratitude from my kids.

I know they don't understand. I know they don't get that mommy had to pry herself out of bed today, when all she wanted to do was lay in bed and cry. They don't get that she didn't feel like cleaning up puke, changing another poopy diaper, cleaning up puke again, making breakfast, cleaning up breakfast, making lunch, managing the whininess over lunch again and again and again, cleaning up spills, and holding onto the handle bars to the bike when the child is just whining (yet again) about being scared.

All while trying to salvage my emotions, and try my darndest to accept the fact that my baby is dead, flushed down a toilet at a gas station, and I don't know if I'll ever have another chance again.


I know they don't get it. But for some reason I just want Maddy to show me a LITTLE bit of gratitude that I am TRYING.

I am thankful I got pregnant -- but so irritated that we had to lose this one. I was supposed to go on birth control last month, and twice, when I went to pick up my prescription, for different reasons I couldn't get it.

So when we got the positive test, I couldn't help but think, "God really must have wanted me to have this baby if He prevented me from getting my birth control." Now, I know that's faulty logic -- but I couldn't help but think it.

I couldn't help but have hope.

And now I can't help but feel resentful toward my beautiful kids (who, despite the tone of this blog, I really do love very much). 

I know they are each miracles. And I can't help but feel that if I can't be thoroughly grateful for these two, I don't deserve another one anyway.


I don't know. I guess it's just a "mommy's in a funk" kind of day.


Friday, May 17, 2013

What do you do the day your baby dies?




What do you do when you find out your baby is gone?

A piece of your world forever changed. A piece of your heart forever gone. A piece of your innocence, never to be reclaimed.

So what is there to do when it all comes crashing down?

As soon as my eyes opened yesterday morning, the countdown to 10 am had begun.

1.5 hours till I can find out if my baby has made it. I play with Maddy and changed little miss's diaper. 1 hour left. Off to get breakfast on and try not to snap at my kiddos. 30 min left... Let both kids watch tv (against my better judgement) and hope they will be quiet enough that I can think.

20 min left... And the nurse calls me. I know it's a bad sign. They would only call if they had bad news... Otherwise, they would just let me call after the appointed time.

In as nice of a voice as she can muster, my nurse delivers the same news she has delivered before. "I'm sorry, but your hcg dropped. You will lose this pregnancy."

Such a short, stupid conversation to have.

I can't say I was shocked. After the bleeding and the ultrasound yesterday, I knew. But I had still hoped against hope.

Sometimes you cannot will away hope. You can't think it away, or talk it away. It's a seed firmly planted in your heart, that grows deep and wide despite any of your good intentions to the contrary. Hope does not fizzle or fade, I don't think. The only way to truly get rid of it is to rip it out with irreversible truth. Otherwise, a bit of hope is always left behind.

And so with that call, the news grabbed at the hope in my heart and yanked it ever so fiercely. There is and forever will be a hole where hope should have remained.

And so, my world has changed yet again. January 15 will come, and there will have been no more ultrasounds, no baby showers, no birth plan to write up. There will be no baby to hold. It will be a day that will ease in and out of our lives as silently as baby lewis's due date did this past Tuesday. It will sneak up on me, and be gone, with nothing to remember it by.

After i first got the news, I just cried, and tried my best to let people know who had been praying for us. I couldn't get a hold of Ryan, so I had to leave him a voicemail, asking him to come home. I told my family, ryan's family, friends and my support groups.

The people who responded with anger or shock I could relate to more. To be honest, I'm outraged that my body has the audacity to kill my babies. Of course, I was sad. But I'd say anger at the unfairness of it all weighed out. 3 babies in 17 months.

I was being impatient with both girls, much more than I should have been. Sometimes I think being a good parent is knowing when you are no longer being "good" and someone else must take over.

So I called some friends and relatives to see if they could take little miss and Maddy.

My intent was to spend the day crying and blogging and feeling sorry for myself without worrying about kids. But ryan was there, and I realized what I desperately wanted was something that would take my mind off my impending loss.

So Ryan and I used some tickets we had been saving and went and watched Iron Man 3. I snuggled him and pretended like we were back in our dating days... Back before we had 2 kids with us here, 2 in heaven, and 1 on it's way to be with God.

Still wanting to feel "normal", I went to an Arbonne party that night. Weird as it sounds, the same thing happened with baby Lewis... I picked myself up and went to a party the day we found out we were losing him.

Of course, I was late for my party. I took a long shower beforehand where I could just cry and pray. Showers seem to be the best place for that.

After my party, I drove to Trader Joe's, to pick up all of my favorites there. If I am going to be home cramping... I want to have good food. And I also bought some sunflowers for myself, just because.

When we tucked Maddy in and did books, Ryan and I sat with her and explained why mommy and daddy were so sad. She hadn't known what was going on... But it didn't feel right not telling her. She doesn't know about baby lewis yet. And I still feel weird about that.

Maddy asked what it felt like to go to heaven. I told her I imagined of to be the most loving, most peaceful, most beautiful feeling you could have. She said, "Mom, can you see the sunshine sparkling off the flowers in heaven? You know, the ones by the little pond?" sometimes the way she talks about heaven makes me wonder if she's dreamed about it somehow. She seems so sure of what heaven looks like.

Before I went to bed, Ryan and I watched another movie. I guess I spent almost the entirety of the day avoiding how I felt, instead of embracing the truth.

So that's what I did the day I found out our baby was gone.

What did you do the day you found out? How did you cope?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Court

I just got home from court for little miss.

Today's hearing was to determine if the judge was going to move forward to terminate rights -- or if he would allow the parents an extension to become healthy and safe parents for little miss.

The judge did NOT grant an extension.

This could mean one of two things:

1) The parents could relinquish rights. If they do, that will happen in a short time, and we will move forward with adopting little miss. We have offered an open adoption -- meaning that the parents will still get to see little miss (supervised of course) one or two times a year for the remainder of her childhood.

2) The parents could NOT relinquish rights. If they choose to do so, we will have a closed adoption (meaning no communication at all between our families). The case could take much longer to close. Little miss would still stay in our care, and the plan is still adoption. But this will be a messier option for all involved, and our adoption of her is not guaranteed.

As a result of today's hearing, we will be starting with our adoption home study right away, which will be a timely and paperwork-extensive process.

We have a new social worker on our agency side (my 6th social worker on the case, by the way, since we started with little miss), and I had a chance to talk with her for about an hour prior to the hearing.

I am super glad we had the chance to talk. She has an amazing story (and maybe one day she'll let me share), and it really solidified in my mind that we are doing the right thing.

I say that because you need to know that sometimes I doubt whether we are doing the right thing or not.

Sometimes it feels like I'm taking someone else's baby. I still have days where it feels like I'm babysitting rather than taking care of a little one who has the potential to one day be ours. Ryan and I both have moments of doubt that we are on the right path. (Those moments quickly fade, though.)

You need to know that being a foster-to-adopt family is not like the joy of having your own brand-new, healthy baby.

When you have a new (alive & healthy) baby, there is no good-bye. There is no tearing a family apart first to form yours.

But little miss already comes with a family. She's had two actually. And now both of those families have (or may) be going through a "tearing apart" where she is no longer "theirs."

They would have loss before we would have gain.

And as a mom who has been forced to say good-bye to two of my own babies far too early -- I really struggle with watching the other moms say good-bye.

I struggled with first family. When I found out that they were not an adoptive home, and that the family little miss knew from 3 days old would not be her forever family, I just balled. It took me awhile before I could just feel happy that she was with us, without also feeling the pang of loss her first family must be feeling.

And now that's how I feel about bio parents. While clearly the state does not see them as able to provide a healthy home (since they are pursuing termination), and I would agree, I can't always see past their love of her.

But I know sometimes love just isn't enough.

And it's not enough for little miss. She has to come first.

So I studied bio mom and dad in court today. Bio mom asked for prayer prior to the hearing. To me, that really shows that Christ was there. I'm thankful to be working with a Christian agency where the parents feel free to ask for that.

During the hearing, mom was nervous, wringing her hands but with a stoic face. Dad seemed more distraught.

It really is hard to be present to hear a judge point-blank tell them they will likely lose their child. I think you would have to be very hardened in heart not to feel their pain in this circumstance.

Now -- you might be thinking that I'm being super unrealistic. Have I not forgotten that they CHOSE this route? They have had a year to get their act together -- and their choices have brought them where they are today.

Absolutely I remember. Sometimes I make myself remember.

When I first met them, I was so angry with them for their choices. So angry that little miss is in the position she is in.

But God started asking me to soften my heart. And I couldn't do it -- so I had to pray to God and ask Him to do it for me. To learn to respect them as persons no matter their choices. To see them with compassion.

God alone has changed my heart (and continues to do so) -- but truly I can say that I hold no anger toward them. Maddy, little miss and I see bio parents weekly, and I have a much better "working" relationship with them now than I did at first. I'm figuring out, slowly, how to let them parent her while we are all together, rather than want to take control.

I enjoy sending them pictures now, telling them of her progress, and giving them her crafts from daycare.

I am little miss's foster mom. Maybe one day, if a judge decides it, her forever mom. But I'm also a Christian. I am a representative of Christ to these parents, maybe one of the only they will see, and the way that I treat them and pray for them is super important.

Just as God longs to have a relationship with little miss -- He yearns to have a relationship with her parents.

And so my prayer is that through God's heart shining through us -- through the moving of His spirit --  bio parents will accept Christ and experience a whole new, redeemed life. As you pray for us, I hope and ask that you would also remember her bio parents.

I do know that God's in control. And whether ultimately we adopt her -- or her bio parents get to keep her-- God's got my heart all the same.

Thanks so much for all the prayers today, dear friends. I can't tell you how much I crave and appreciate all the support you all have shown us.

Much love,

Rachel

P.S Please pray for us next Thursday, specifically, and for our upcoming hearings.



Monday, May 13, 2013

Is treating an ectopic equivalent to murder?


 

A few days after I had surgery with Olivia, I was researching ectopic pregnancy blogs and came across this one:

http://inashoe.com/2008/06/ectopic-pregnancy-and-the-sanctity-of-life/

[WARNING: if you have had an ectopic, this might be the worst blog to read. So you may just want to stay away.]

For the rest of you, you can absolutely read . . . but I'll sum up the big points:

-Treating an ectopic with surgery or methotrexate before the tube has ruptured, or the baby has already clearly died is morally the same as a regular abortion. Heck -- it's morally the same as if I had brutally murdered Maddy, my 4-year-old (according to this blogger.)

- Watch and wait is the best approach, because even if your tube ruptures, you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than by dying of tubal rupture. Hence, tubal rupture is really no big deal.

- The Bible is VERY clear on what to do in these situations. According to this blogger, there is no gray area in the Bible.



As you can understand, this post made me very upset -- especially because it appears to be written by a very popular blogger. And I'm afraid that someone might believe that EVERY Christian pro-lifer believes this.

A year down the road, I thought I'd try reading this again -- to see if I could take it from a more intellectual level now that the emotions aren't as prevalent. I saw there was a follow up post, as well, which made me hopeful.

But I was wrong. And I ended up feeling like my blood was boiling, I was so upset.

Here is the follow up:

http://inashoe.com/2008/06/ectopic-pregnancy-clarifications/



Here is one quote:
We would personally pursue any treatment for both the mother and the baby that would treat both as viable patients, even if it only gave the baby infinitesimally small odds of survival. We seek to preserve both lives no matter how feeble our efforts are instead of self-consciously ending one life.  At the present, this might mean no more than waiting for surgery until we had an indication that the child had died – a ruptured tube and/or internal bleeding would be a very good sign that it was time to proceed. In the near future, we might have more and better options.


And another:

Lastly, if you have suffered an ectopic pregnancy in the past and dealt with it by terminating the pregnancy, please understand, I didn’t research and write my post to make you feel guilty about the past.  We have all made poor choices, often under poor advice with the best intentions. If a decision is made in ignorance on our part on the bad or immoral advice of a doctor then the doctor will stand before God for the advice he or she gave. This is why we are warned to “let not many of you become teachers for teachers have a stricter judgment.”

But we are still accountable for our decision, and because all of our decisions are inescapably moral – Christ said you are either with me or against me -there is no neutrality in life.  If any of us makes a decision that is sinful- and preemptively taking an innocent human life is a sin – we must repent.  After all, if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


I read Ryan both articles last night just to make sure my outrage at these blogs were justified.

I think he may have been more outraged than I was.

And since I can no longer comment on the original blog -- here is my response.

Dear Kim,

I absolutely believe that you have the best of intentions in both of your posts. However, I must say that I thoroughly disagree with many of your conclusions. Not only do I disagree, I find them downright hurtful.
First, a little about me. I've been a Christian since I was 3 years old. I went to a conservative Bible school, where I double-majored in Bible and Theology.  I've always been pro-life, through and through. I believe that life begins at conception.

My mom was a great example to me. She has spent years as a volunteer for crisis pregnancy groups. I've researched abortion, and the effects it had on women.

I also had an ectopic pregnancy last year.  
No, let me clarify that.  
My daughter, Olivia Joy, died because she implanted in my tube. (Yes, she was a baby. Not just a pregnancy.)
I understand your wanting to figure out the ethics of ectopic. It really is the dark horse in the pro-life world. The one time when things really do kinda seem gray, and the decision is not as black and white (at least, not for most of us.) I understand you wanting to figure it out beforehand -- and not in the throes of having an ectopic yourself.

I get it.

But I cannot understand how you wield the tone you do, with the conclusions you reach.

Perhaps it is the non-chalant way you handle a tube rupture. (The way you throw around statistics like "a person is 3x more likely to die from a lighting strike than from a tubal rupture" as though the whole idea of actual danger seems silly to you.)

I suppose you feel safe in those statistics. And I can't blame you. I don't necessarily go around worrying about getting struck by lighting.
But perhaps because I find myself on the unfortunate end of ectopic statistics, that I don't feel so safe.

Perhaps because I am the one who had to drive myself and my then 3-year-old to my parents while internally bleeding and vomiting from the pain. Perhaps because it was my dad (the physician's assistant) who I saw who looked scared while he carried me from car to car, and wheelchair to hospital room because I could no longer stand. Perhaps because I was the one whose husband broke down in tears at work after getting the call from me. Apparently I sounded like I was dying -- and as he drove to the hospital, he was trying to figure out how to say good-bye to his wife of 5 years and the mom to his preschooler.

Perhaps because I am the one left with the grief. The what-ifs. The devastation an ectopic can have. I am the one left with a damaged tube, and a higher incidence of another ectopic. I am left with the terror of getting pregnant again. Perhaps because I have lots of friends who have been through ectopics -- many treated before rupture, and many treated after. Maybe because I actually have friends who very literally almost died from the "watch and wait' approach.

Perhaps for all those reasons, I come to very different conclusions than you.

First, you claim that a tube must rupture, the mom be in immediate danger, or the baby must clearly die.

My questions is -- besides the tubal rupture -- how exactly do you know when the time to treat is? How can you tell a baby has died when there was no heartbeat to stop? (Besides, we would all argue that life happens before the heart even forms.) How can you qualify life when the hcg is bouncing up and down? How can you tell when most ectopic babies can't be seen on ultrasound until the tube has rupture? 

I know that my baby died before I was in surgery because my doctor told me know life could withstand all that blood. I know that because Olivia had already passed, you (nor the Bible) find any fault with me. But you do find fault with my friends. You have called them murderers. And not just you -- you have claimed that God calls them murderers.

I read in your comments that you had a stillbirth. I am absolutely so very sorry for the death of your child. I have several friends who have suffered the death of a child through stillbirth, and I can only imagine your (and their) heartache.
But imagine for me, if you will, meeting with some of your baby loss friends, and telling them that God -- and the Bible -- called them murderers because their bodies were unable to keep the baby safe.

To say such a thing would be absolutely heinous.

And to say such a thing to women who had NO CONTROL over where their babies implanted, whose bodies were unable to provide a safe place for baby to grow, is equally heinous.

Do I believe that every ectopic needs to be dealt with the very moment that it is suspected? No. Do I believe that women should be able to get a second opinion in most cases. Yes. Do I think doctors need to be super careful in diagnosis. Yes. (Although you need to understand that diagnosing an ectopic is very difficult.) In a future pregnancy, would I personally wait until the ectopic was absolutely confirmed before I took any action. Yes.

But I do not judge those who have made different decisions as making a poor decision. And not just a poor decision, but a sinful one that necessitates God's forgiveness and mercy.

You argue that the word "abortion" was chosen for you by the medical community, and that you had no choice but to use it for accuracy. That's hogwash. You know, as a writer, that you choose every word very carefully. Word choice is everything. You chose that term.

But let's just stick to your argument. I'm assuming you know that the medical community also refers to miscarriage as an abortion, or spontaneous abortion. If you were to write a post on those who have suffered miscarriage, would you wield the big "A" word with so much authority then? 
You and a few commenters mentioned that doctors need to find other ways of dealing with an ectopic. I don't disagree. I would love for doctors to find a way to move a baby from a tube to healthy uterus. But just because we WANT them to figure out how to do it, doesn't mean they can. Just because we demand, doesn't mean they can supply.

We demand the cure for cancer. We demand the obliteration of AIDS. We demand that doctors figure out how to prevent SIDS. 

W can demand all we want. And while we hope and pray that in the future these demands will actually accomplish something, we are still stuck in today. What choices do mothers with an ectopic pregnancy have today? 

Methotrexrate. Surgery. Or watch and wait. 
You seem convinced that there is only one way to treat an ectopic biblically. And I would argue otherwise. Actually, I would argue that the Bible doesn't specifically address ectopic. That God says all life is important. And that we are to treat all life reverently. But that doesn't mean we have to go to all costs to save a life.

Just like the Bible doesn't cover when a person should pull life-support from someone who is beyond human healing -- it doesn't cover how and when to treat an ectopic.  

My hope in writing is that you will reconsider your tone. You'll reconsider your word choices. And you'll consider the 1 in 50 women who face the very real physical threat and devastating choices you seems so blissfully safe from.

Rachel 

 

 
 
 




Saturday, May 4, 2013

An open letter

To those who who have had friends and family die, or you lost your home or livelihood, in the Texas factory explosion . . .

To those whose lives have been rocked forever by Boston Marathon bombing . . .

To my friend Dionne, whose amazing boyfriend unexpectedly died in his sleep . . .

To all my readers who have recently lost a baby, and there is no headline news, no outpouring of support -- but you've suffered a death just the same . . .

To YOU who may have suffered a death or a loss, and you are new to this thing called grief . . .


I am so very, very sorry.

You need to know that people care. So very much.

But they won't always know the right words or the right way to show you how much they love you, and how much they hurt with you.

Their grief is real. It's just not the same as yours. It's not all-consuming. It's not their new normal.


And so people will tell try to encourage you in ways that you might not always find encouraging.

People are going to tell you to stay strong. They will promise you God's peace and His comfort. They will tell you you will heal. They show you a crazy amount of support for a few days -- maybe even a few weeks. One day you will wake up, and wonder where everyone has gone.

Before you have even wrapped your brain around your loss . . . Before you even can get through a day without the constant heartache of your loved one lost . . . Before you start eating, breathing and sleeping without MAKING yourself take one more breathe, prepare one more meal, or face one more day . . .

They will talk about moving on.

They will ask you when you plan to start dating again. Or when you will get pregnant again. They will remind you of all the things you should still be thankful for. They might suggest that something is wrong with you, because you still hurt so much. They will try to fix things -- fix you.

They just won't understand.

And they can't. Not unless they've been there. And none of us would wish that anyone else would ever have to be "there." 

And it's not that they are trying to be callous. Or uncaring.

The truth is they care so much, they just want to see you happy again. They want some sort of sign that through this storm, you will eventually be OK again.


 
So I want to tell you a few things I've learned in my journey of grief, in hopes that it may help.



"Staying strong" is a farce. That assumes you are strong right now -- and you aren't. Grief -- loss -- has changed all that.

Embrace your weakness. Let other people care for you, prepare meals, do your laundry and clean your bathroom. This is as much a service for those around you who want to help as it is a service to you.

Let your tears come as often and intense as you need. Do not judge your tears -- wondering if you are crying to much or too little.

Do not judge your grief at all, for that matter. Just let it be.



As for peace, one day, you may feel at peace again. But not now. And maybe not for a long, long time. And that's OK.

A person whom you love so very much has been forever taken from your world.
There's no peace in that.

An existence you always took for granted is simply gone -- and you can not reclaim it.
There's no peace in that.

A world that once felt safe is now unpredictable, tragic and scary.
There's no peace in that.

When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, I doubt any of us would have had the guts to recite back to him  "Peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you." He was so overcome with grief that that He was literally sweating blood. I doubt very much He was "claiming God's peace" right then.

And I think that's OK. He was about to bear every single sin of the world on His shoulders, while facing a tortuous death, and He was doing it without the presence of His Father.

I think we (Christians especially) want all of God's blessings, and the wonderful support He promises -- and we want it, NOW.

But even as God promises us His presence, His comfort, His peace . . it's not always immediately there. Sometimes we have to go on a journey before we realize God's blessing.

Sometimes, we aren't OK with grief being a process. A journey. We forget that peace and comfort are not the appropriate feelings for every occasion. We think peace has to be present ALL of the time in order for it to be real.

And that's just not the case.

God is clearly OK with process. He took 7 days to make the universe when He could have done it with the snap of His fingers. He had the Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years to meet His purpose, instead of letting them experience the Promised Land right away. God asked Jesus to wait for 30 years before officially launching His ministry -- and only had Him minister for 3.

If God doesn't need an instant fix -- instant peace, instant comfort, instant hope . . . . If God is OK with a process . . . I think then it's ridiculous for us Christians to expect you to have an instant fix too.



As for hope, it is still there. Even if you can't feel it. Even if you don't want to feel it.

But hope does not take away or ease the pain of what you are going through.



 "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, a
nd sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
-- Hebrews 12:2



When Jesus hung from the cross, sure He knew that God was in control.

But He still ENDURED the cross. His hope for joy did not numb the very real pain of the nails holding His body to a cross. That did not exempt Him from feeling completely abandoned by God in His hour of greatest need.

If Jesus still felt pain, and grief, and abandonment . . . then it only makes sense that we would feel it too. And that's OK.



And as for moving on . . .

You won't. You can't.

The person you are grieving is forever woven into your existence, into the very fabric of your heart. You will never leave them behind.

Will you learn to put one foot in front of the other? Yes. Will you go forward, even if it feels like it will kill you? Yes. Will you go from moment to moment, hour to hour, and day to day? Yes.

But you will never move on.


For all of you who have been wounded by loss, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Rachel


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