Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Microblog Monday: Something more

Have you ever felt that you were meant for something more? Like there's some sort of fire in your gut just burning away. And as you go about your day and the tediousness of life, that fire just calls to you ... You are meant for more...

What is your more?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Maria's Story: When hello means good-bye

Maria, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your words say it perfectly: "I almost told her: 'You got it wrong, this is the picture of my heart, dark, empty and broken.' But no, it was my uterus." Thanks for sharing your story, Rachel

May 16, 2010, I got a positive pregnancy test. June 23, I said good bye. 

I lost my baby at 9 weeks, but the embryo was only 6 weeks. I had dreams that I was losing the baby, but I thought it was just my natural fears.  I think it was God, trying to prepare me for the worst ... that was already happening.

June 21, I was driving and felt a little cramping. I went home, and noticed that I was having a slight bleeding. I drove to the hospital. My husband is in the Army and he was at the shooting range, so I couldn't reach him.

From 11 am until 2 pm, I waited for blood tests. Finally they got me in the ultrasound room. The nurse and the doctor just communicated with their eyes and whispering to each other. He finally decided to tell me that "there is no heartbeat."

My own heart, stopped beating. I needed to confirm so I asked: "What do you mean? I lost my baby? Is it gone? Dead?"

"Yes" was the answer.

I don't remember how loud I cried, screamed, and prayed for a miracle. I asked them to check again. I was alone. I wanted my baby back. My husband got to the hospital later. The doctor told us it could just be too early. Gave us some hope to take home. In my heart, I knew something was wrong, but I still believed there was a chance, maybe a miracle. 

I rested for 2 days, grasping for that little miracle to come and change everything.
Tuesday, June 22, I went to bed early, feeling some cramps. I prayed for hours until I finally fell asleep. I may have slept for a couple of hours before I woke up again, with strong cramps, only this time followed by blood. 

I didn't want to wake up my husband, but around 2 o'clock, the cramps got worse. I gently touched his arms, he turned to me, and I said: "Baby, don't go to work, I need you. It's over." I started to bleed. He kissed and we cried in silence. 

He called his Sergeant, and told them them it has started, our biggest fear. I was losing the baby. 

My second pre-natal visit was schedule for that Wednesday morning, June 23 at 8:45 am. We spent the rest of the night holding each other and praying. In the morning, I took a shower and he took me to my appointment. 

As I sat in the waiting room, I kept my sunglasses on. Behind them, tears were rolling down my cheeks. I was looking at all those women, so pregnant, so happy, knowing that the baby I had inside of me was dead, and so was I. I was questioning God, "why me? Why didn't you pick her, or her..." No answer. 

There, at the doctor's office, she read the lab results. This time, my husband was with me, holding my hands, but we already knew that it was over. She asked me if I needed another ultrasound to confirm. On the screen, I saw this dark, empty and broken space (my water). I almost told her: "You got it wrong, this is the picture of my heart, dark, empty and broken." But no, it was my uterus. 
Before we left the hospital, I was given Cytotec to finish with the process of miscarriage. When I got home, I laid in bed and waited. My husband sat beside me. We tried to watch a movie together, but the contractions started and I asked him to leave the bedroom, he didn't need to watch that.

I remember crying in silence, biting the pillows and rolling on the bed. Not sure if the pain was from the contractions or from my heart. I had taken strong pain killers and some sleeping pills. I passed out for about an hour. My husband woke me up, and I went to the bathroom. God was good to me, it was all over. I passed the baby and everything else at once.

Long time ago, in San Francisco, I used to shop at Claire's a lot. One day they offer me a little ceramic jewelery box for a $1, it was cute so I bought it. I never used it for anything, except for decoration. It now holds the most precious jewel I ever had, the remains of my unborn baby.

It may sound sick but I could not just flush it. No matter how small, it was my baby. 

I read articles, books, heard other woman stories of how they lost their babies at 7, 8 or 9 months of pregnancy. I know it could have been a lot worse, but I am hurting too. 

This is my loss. I am getting over this, little by little and keeping my hopes and dreams that someday, I will be a mother. 

Today, I have a 9 month old baby boy, the most wonderful thing in my life. But I still grieve and wonder about the baby I lost, was it a boy, a girl? He or she would be 3 years old now.

Lyndsay's Story: The day her life came crashing down

Thank you Lyndsay, for sharing your story. I can't imagine what you have had to endure. Your precious children are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them with us.  Rachel

February 28,2013…the day my world came crashing down.  Let me back up a little.
On December 11, 2011, I married the man of my dreams, my best friend, and love of my life!  This was the beginning of my “Happily Ever After.”  He had 2 beautiful boys, who took me in and continue to allow me to learn how to be a mom.  We knew from the beginning that we wanted to expand our family but decided to wait a short while.  That ‘while’ turned out to be shorter than we expected.  In February 2012, we found out that we were expecting.  While this was sooner than planned, we were overjoyed!  The next day however, complications landed me in the emergency room for the beginning of the journey we would have never chosen or expected.  Over the timespan of about a month we learned that my pregnancy was ectopic, and we would not yet be having the baby we dreamed of.  Nothing in life compares to losing a baby.  The emptiness inside is heartbreaking.  This however, was not my first experience with loss.  After some poor decisions, when I was younger, I found myself pregnant in high school.  Although timing was not good, I have always believed that children are a blessing and embraced this pregnancy to the best of my ability under the circumstances.  At about 11 weeks, I was told that there was no heartbeat and that I would soon have a miscarriage.  Time eventually does allow for some healing, although not a day passes, that I don’t miss what might have been.
Skip forward again and we are in October, 2012.  It was time to try again and right away, we found ourselves pregnant again!  This time the joy and elation came with a little fear.  After losing two babies, I was cautious.  I had an appointment scheduled and everything was progressing as expected.  I was getting very big, very quickly, and we kept joking that there had to be two babies in there, with my size.  At about 12 weeks (one week before my appointment) I started having some complications.  I called my doctor and she had me come in immediately.  We walked into the ultra sound room expecting the worst.  We walked out with the best news we could have asked for.  We were expecting twins!  They were growing quickly and each appointment encouraged us.  Everything was great.  Both babies were growing at the expected growth rate.  They were both very active in momma’s tummy.  One of them loved to hear me sing.  He would start dancing every time!  Two days after the 20 week mark, I woke up having contractions.  A quick trip to see my doctor, revealed the earth shattering news ....

Finish reading Lyndsay's Story here.

Ali's Story: Abuse results in a miscarriage and a grief gap with her husband

Ali, I just can't imagine at all what you have been through. I'm so so so sorry. I am thankful that Ryan's story has helped you understand your husband better. That grief gap is so very hard. Much love, Rachel

I recently read your wife's story when a friend posted it on Facebook. I related to it so much that words cannot really explain. At the end of her blog, there was a link to your story. I then read it. It connected to my heart like nothing I've ever read before. 

My husband and I suffered a miscarriage in the very beginning of our marriage. I was very young, 17 years old, in fact. He was 21, and in his first year of enlistment in the Marine Corps. We had gotten married on his 10-day leave after boot camp. And we were IN LOVE! I had never had much of a strong family. But once I took him into my heart fully and completely, I felt like I had finally found that family I had been longing for my whole life. 

He left to M.O.S. school (job training for the Marine Corps.). He was only allowed to come home for a short period during Christmas of 2004. I had originally thought that was the time that we conceived our first child. However, it must have been on our wedding night. ;) I found out I was expecting on New Year's Day (January 1st, 2005). 

I felt so terribly guilty after a night of partying to find out that I had a little life growing inside of me... I was also afraid to tell my new husband. Because we had never discussed having children. We knew we both wanted them one day. But this seemed a bit early in our young marriage for this to be happening. I knew I didn't have much of a choice though. He had left to go back to M.O.S. school already, so I had to tell him over the phone. His initial reaction was "OH S#$&!"... Which didn't offer much comfort to me at that time! (I was eventually able to laugh about it.) 

Over the next few weeks, he grew used to the fact that we were going to have a child. He even seemed to be becoming excited. Everything was going great, all most too great. I wasn't sick, felt great... I even had more energy than I usually did. I went to the doctor, who figured I was somewhere between 8-12 weeks along....(I figured about 9, because I know when my husband had been home!) a few more weeks past with no incident... I forgot to mention that I was still living with my Mother and Step-Father, (both of who were involved in drugs at the time and weren't very stable) but I didn't have much of a choice. I was only staying there until my husband got stationed somewhere and we could get an apartment to move into. 

One day, I came home to my parents in an argument.. A pretty heated one at that. I slipped into my room at the back of the house. A few moments after I shut my door, my mother burst in, crying uncontrollably. She told me to pack a bag that my Step-Father no longer wanted me in the house. The way he seen it, I was a married adult and I did not belong at home with my mother. I had been paying rent, working a full-time job as a carhop at Sonic... All while I was finishing my senior year of high school. This was absolutely and totally unexpected. I was blind-sighted by this. I had no place to go... I had no clue what I was going to do. 

So I left my room to try to reason with my Step-Father about this. I was going to try to get another month to stay in their home. I would have been leaving Oklahoma to go to North Carolina within the next month and a half. So I figured if I could squeeze a month out of him. I'd be able to figure the last 2 weeks out. My Step-Father was obviously not his normal self. He was visible shaking, angry does not even begin to describe it. I should have known better than to approach him while he was in this kind of mood. But hindsight is 20/20.... 

What I thought would be a civil conversation turned into a screaming match between the two of us. I told him I would leave, quickly packed a small bag of clothes, toiletries, etc... I grabbed the keys to my car and headed out the door. (Let me say this before I tell you what happened next) my parents had bought my car for me on my 16th birthday. But only under the agreement that I paid them back... Which I did.. And in full. This was the reason I was working a full time job on top of school. I had just put new tires on my car also. But the car was in my parent's names because I was still under the age of 18. When my Step-Father noticed that I was leaving...in a car that was in his name. He immediately got even more upset. He stood in the door way, not allowing me to pass through to the outside unless I handed over the keys...I felt trapped.

 I didn't know what to do. No place to live, no car, no family around to help me figure this situation out... I was scared. And when a teenager is scared, they freak out. And freak out I did. I screamed and yelled and tried to shove my way through the door with keys in hand. He was not going to allow this. The way he seen things, this was his car, it was in his name, and they could sell it to make money... (Most likely for their drug of choice, Meth).... So in an attempt to get the keys from me, he shoved me down the front steps of our house. Which was about 5-6 steps, if I remember correctly... It could have been more. 

I landed face down in the yard. That also meant I had landed on my stomach. I immediately felt a sharp pain in my abdomen. Which made me cry out for my Mother. My Step-Father, who was obviously high on something, seen my Mother rushing to my side, and he apparently did not like that she was taking my side (at least that's how he viewed her actions)... He shoved my Mother out of the way, hauled his leg back, and kicked me right in my stomach. All I can remember is the Steel Toed Boot that he wore making contact with my body. I didn't feel much pain, everything went blurry... I'm still not sure how long I laid on the ground in my parents from yard, bawling uncontrollably.... Once my Mother could get to me without causing my Step-Father to become anymore angry or upset, she came and laid down beside me. I couldn't move. I could feel a wetness on my legs,back, and lower stomach... I had started to bleed. And it was a lot of blood.... 

By this time, my Step-Father had gone. But before he left, he disconnected the batteries and some other parts of the cars in the drive. My Mother called one of her friends to come get us so we could go to the hospital. Once I got to the ER, they immediately got me to the back to see the doctor... They took blood... But I didn't need a blood test to know. To know that I had lost a child that I had not yet had the joy of holding, the joy of seeing for the first time on an ultra-sound. I had heard the precious heart beat. But only once... I wasn't sure how I was going to tell my husband... I was scared... I decided to wait until the doctors could confirm what I already knew in my heart. I made the decision to not tell my husband right away due to the fact that he was already under a huge amount of stress from the military job and training... 

I returned to the hospital 3 days later to have more blood taken... The results revealed what I already knew. I had lost my sweet child. All at the hands of another person. A person that was supposed to protect me as his own. A person that to this day has still not apologized (10 years later)... That night when my husband called, I broke the news to him. He didn't say much, that he was sorry that I had lost the baby..I remember so clearly what he said..."I'm sorry you had to go through that...but at least you weren't very far along... We can have another."

 He was very angry about how my parents had treated me. But it didn't seem like losing the baby was the biggest loss in the situation to him. We hung up after a very short conversation. About a week and a half later I flew to Fort Knox to celebrate the first Valentine's Day as husband and wife.... I was met at the airport by a taxi service that my husband had arranged for me. After the 45-minute drive to the Base where I would see him for the first time since it happened, our eyes met, I immediately felt better... But it was short-lived. He looked different, worn down and tired. But seemed his normal self all at the same time. His attitude and demeanor seemed to be the same as always. He was loving and kind. And had a lovely, romantic weekend planned for us... I tried my hardest to enjoy it. 

But in the back of my mind, I was angry! No... I was outraged! Outraged that he didn't seem to even remember that we had just lost our first child. Outraged that he didn't offer any condolences for what I had just gone through... The last night I was with him that weekend, we laid in bed talking about the future... And how he thought we should start to try for another baby. This made me even more furious! How could he just get over it so quickly? Did it bother him at all? How could he want to have another child so soon? It felt like the life I was still mourning, didn't have any meaning to him at all.... I never said anything about how angry it made me or how badly it hurt my feelings.... 

The next year we were blessed with a daughter. A perfect, beautiful, and healthy little miracle.. She was what pulled me out of my funk. A funk that I feared would never go away. I am not saying that she took the place of the child that I had lost only a short time before. But she definitely filled a void. And I was grateful. Our family had begun. 

But I never understood how my husband could be so cold about my miscarriage.? He never talked about it on his own. And when I brought it up, he would cut the conversation off as soon as he could.... 10 years have passed since that terrible day. The day I lost a child, a part of me that will never be replaced or healed. Its a scar on my heart that will forever remain. My husband left the Marine Corps., we had our second child (third in my eyes), our son, who is more wild and wonderful then I could have ever dreamed him to be! 

He and I started our careers, bought 2 houses, started a business... we have continued to live our lives as we planned... I never understood why my husband could have been so rash about my miscarriage. But after reading your story Ryan, I began to understand why he may have been so withdrawn. And now I see. He was mourning the loss of our child too. It was just in a different way than I did....

Losing a child is never an easy thing. Whether it be a miscarriage or abortion before the child is physically on this earth, or if a child is lost many years too early. I am glad to share my story with the world. Maybe my experience will help someone else as you and your wife's story helped me. It helped me to understand a man I have know for 12 years and married for 10. I thought I know everything about him. But men are as much of a mystery as anything I guess.

Thanks for offering a safe haven for people to share stories like this one. It means more to me than words could ever express.

Janet's Story: Grief during another generation

Janet, thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so sorry that your family did not support you in your grief. So much has changed in 20 years, and, while not perfect,  I'm so glad that people are finally getting some support in their losses. Thanks for opening up. Rachel

Oh, how I wish your blog had been available 18 & 19 years ago! 

I was 22 when we miscarried our first baby. I was told that most women miscarry their first and never know it. Their period is just a little late and they never know the difference. I wasn't very far along, but I knew the difference in my body, hormones and emotions. 

I had to have a D&C August 25, 1995. 

We were told we wouldn't get pregnant again any time soon without fertility drugs so I took them for 1 month. We got pregnant with twins. We were scared, but incredibly happy. We were having a boy and a girl. 

At approximately 18 weeks, we found out that our baby girl was no longer alive. I miscarried both of them at 20 weeks. I named our son, Nicolas James. Our daughter had re-absorbed and I was convinced that she wasn't a baby anymore. In my heart I knew differently.  I really wish I had named her also. 

I ran an obituary/memorial notice in the paper for both of them - Nicolas James & Baby Emmanuel. I had a memorial service for them. Our families thought it was ridiculous and uncalled for. None of our friends came either.

I gave birth to them exactly 1 year, to the date, of having my D&C from our first pregnancy, on August 25th. My grandma died 5 days later. Not only did I lose 2 more babies, but I almost lost my life to suicide. My dad even went as far as to tell my husband he would understand if he wanted to divorce me. Nobody, but me, recognized the fact that I was a mom. 

My babies were in heaven, but I was still a mom! Friends and family eventually said they didn't know what to really say or do so they just ignored it. I know my husband was upset also, but to this day, I have NO idea as to his real feelings. 

We now have an amazing 15 year old son, Andrew. I will never forget our other babies. It wasn't possible for your thoughts and feelings to help me then, but I am ecstatic to find out that my feelings have finally been validated. It was like you were talking about me. 

Hopefully your blog will also help family and friends of those with losses know to help, what support to give, and what to say. Thank you for understanding that I am a mama with 4 children and not just 1.

Rachel's Story: On remembering the day she realized something was terribly wrong

From one mom of a Madelyn to another -- please know how sad I am for your loss and share in your grief. I absolutely will give my Madelyn an extra hug. Thanks for sharing with us your Madelyn Elise. A beautiful name for a beautiful baby girl.  Rachel

Although our stories are quite different, our grief is similar, and there is one thing in common that took my breath away.

First, my deepest condolences on your losses. I can't imagine going through multiple losses and having the sharp edged knife of grief more than once. We do share our Faith in a living God, omnipotent, powerful, always sovereign, and yet compassionate to catch our every tear.

I had a flawless pregnancy. Minor yet all day nausea and that was it. Besides my mood swings, everything was perfect.  

My loss was at 37 weeks. The only thing they could find was a partial placental abruption.  I had NO SYMPTOMS. None. 

It was Dec 26, 2010, my husband and I sat down to watch a movie (of course I know what movie it was, what I was wearing, and what ice cream I had).  Finally breathing a sigh of relief that our major remodel/addition was finished, Christmas was DONE, and just 3 weeks until our baby girl would arrive. This meant hubby needed to GET going painting the nursery!!! 

So, at 10 pm, I mentioned to him that I hadn't felt her move.  I didn't think much of it because I was sooo busy and sooo tired. Focusing on getting her to "wake up" to do kick counts for the next 2 hours, I was still in a very protected place mentally.  I don't know how I was so naive, but I was. 

Well, I said a short note

I don't think I should write anymore on the details because it really spends me, emotionally, and it's late.

My first daughter was born still at 8:44 pm, December 27, 2010.  Her name is Madelyn Elise Buono. 8 lbs, 1.5 oz, 21 inches long.

Not too many other Madelyn's are spelled the same way.  Give yours an extra hug for me. 

We were Blessed to have Emily Moriah (mtn in Gen22) arrive healthy on 1/24/12, just thirteen months later.   She is a huge Blessing, but she doesn't take her sister's place nor does she heal the hole in my heart ... But she sure does make the rest of my heart happier!

Jocelyn's Story: An L&D nurse on the loss of her son Sam

Jocelyn, thank you so very much for sharing your story with us. I'm sorry it took me so long to post it. I hope your story of your son Sam can reach out and encourage someone who understands all too well. Thanks for the beautiful Bible verses you included. Sending love, Rachel

July 30th was probably the hardest day of my life. Writing down what happened that day and leading up to losing our baby, I believe, will be therapeutic for me. I feel that this topic is taboo, and although I understand why (because I really don't like to talk aloud about my loss), I also wish that it was more spoken about because up to 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Many women go through this alone, feeling like they have no one to talk to. I was lucky to have some very close friends and my sister-in-law for support, since they themselves had experienced pregnancy loss and were willing to help me through the process by sharing their personal stories.

On Friday, July 26, I found out, while performing sonogram on myself at work, that our baby no longer had a heartbeat. I was crushed. My midwife came and confirmed my fears. My baby had died. I called my husband and could barely get out the news to tell him why I could be home late from work. My midwife held me, cried with me and let me take the lead on the plans. I wanted to go home, talk with my husband, celebrate my oldest birthday as scheduled the next day, and come back to see her at what would have been my next regular appointment. Of course unless I started to have signs or symptoms of miscarriage. 

During my follow up appointment on Monday we saw that our baby was still without life and I was still without symptoms of impending delivery. We considered our options; surgical removal in a hospital of our baby by d&c, taking cytotec to induce delivery either at home or in hospital, or waiting up to 2-4 more weeks for the baby to be born naturally. My husband and I knew immediately that for us having surgery to remove our baby was not an option. I did not feel that waiting was the best decision for our family, especially because I would not be able to be a fully functional mom for our two young sons. So, we decided to use the induction medication at home.

My mom took the boys to stay at her house for 2 nights and my husband took off work to stay home with me. Bright and early Tuesday morning I started taking my medication and our sweet perfect baby was born at 11:30 am. I experienced little pain or bleeding those first few hours and we were able to spend time together. It was a huge blessing for me to be able to hold and see my precious baby. 

We were surprised to see that our baby was obviously another perfect little boy. I had been sick the first 11 weeks of the pregnancy, and we were convinced baby was a girl. But here he was, all 10 fingers, all 10 toes and an angelic little face. He even looked like he was calmly resting with a slight smile on his face. 

During the morning before his birth my husband and I had been considering Bible verses to use in memory of our baby. There were a few I had written down that really spoke to us. Once he was born the verse for our son was clear to us. 1 Samuel 1:27-28. Therefore it also seemed obvious that we name him Sam.

Sam - July 30, 2013
"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me
what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord.
For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord."
I had a little bit of a harder time delivering the placenta. It took about 6 hours and I lost more blood than we had hoped. I had a few hours where I was very light headed and spent my time lying in bed drinking poweraid and eating whatever little bites I could hold down. When I was up I was very weak and ended up fainting a couple times. 

My husband took excellent care of me and was so strong. I think it was very good for him to feel involved and have something he could do. He was such a blessing to me and I am so thankful we could go through this trial together. Once I delivered the placenta the bleeding immediately and dramatically slowed, and I began feeling much better. After a warm lavendar salt bath and a little more resting we decided it was time to have our memorial service for Sam.

My husband had purchased a small pine box, a jasmine plant and some wood for a trellis. I wrote Sam's name, birthday and the Bible verse on the box, and we buried him in our back yard, planting the flowering vine (one of my husband's favorites) over our son. We then took some time to pray and cry together. It was such a special time for us, and I am so glad we chose to have Sam at home so that we could give him and his life the respect it deserved. For us, this was the absolute best way we could go through this awful day.
I am heartbroken. This is the most sorrow and grief I have ever felt. Yet, I know I will survive. God has been with us so much throughout this trial from the moment I found out on that Friday evening until now. He has surrounded us with loving support. 

My mom and sister cooked delicious meals without being asked, and took excellent care of my boys while I was unable. So many people prayed for us, offered help and support, and we were overwhelmed by the peace that gave us. My midwife went above and beyond to check in on me and help us do what we felt was right for our family. She cried with me and prayed with me.  I will never forget that.

Sam will always hold a special place in our hearts, and I know we will never forget him. We wish we could have gotten to know him and see him play with his brothers. However, even in his very short life, he has changed us so much.

I thank God for the blessing of his life knowing it has made me stronger, given me the opportunity to be a support to someone else in the future, and helped my husband and I see the beauty and importance in every day. 

Thank you Lord for Sam. We can't wait to meet him and You one day in Heaven.

I'd like to share a few special Bible verses that have helped me through these last few months. Some were shared by friends, others I found on my own, all given by God to provide us comfort:
Romans 8:26 - "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."

Hebrews 13:8 - "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 - "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Psalm 34:18 - "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 - "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

I hope that one day with God's help I am able to help a friend who is suffering through a miscarriage. My friends who were honest and open with me about their experiences with miscarriage have been a huge help and comfort. One particular friend acted as God's hands and voice to me as she shared her experiences losing her baby at 12 weeks less than a year ago. Her support and advice about how she and her husband made the same decisions we did, and how her experience was as she lost her baby were immeasurably helpful to me. I hope I can be that for someone one day. Perhaps, through this sharing of the story of Sam, someone will find comfort knowing they are not alone. Moms need to stick together and break the silence. 

Theresa's Story: Finding out years later that her abnormal periods were actually miscarriages

Thank you so much Theresa for sharing your story with us. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to hear your news, and then have all that grief fresh again. Sending love, Rachel

Thank you so much for your story. I have always been pro-life and have always been against abortion. I realize that so many women in this world believe that abortion is an option, but in my personal world it is not an option and never will be. There are so many women in this world that would love to have children and are unable to have them.
I come from a large family. I am the sixth child out of seven and the first girl. I always assumed that I would be able to have children quite easily even though I had very horrible periods. I was never regular and would pass very large clots so at around age 17, I was put on the pill to try to establish regularity and in hopes that it would help me conceive easily once married. 
I did everything the way I thought I should. I saved myself for my husband. I naturally assumed I would be very fertile like my mother, however this did not seem to be the case. I married the man of my dreams at the age of 27 and turned 28 later that year. We decided since I was a bit older that we would wait 2 years before trying to get pregnant. 

We began trying and within about 6 months I was late and just knew I was pregnant. I felt it in my soul, but at about 10 weeks I passed what was a huge clot and then my period began. I knew then I was wrong; I wasn’t pregnant. What I felt had all been in my mind. 

My husband and I were completely devastated. This happened 2 more times and then we began the normal testing processes to see if either of us had a fertility problem. I naturally assumed I was the reason we weren't pregnant, but come to find it was neither one of us. This happened again 2 more times within the next 3 years and by that time my periods were just getting worse and worse. We made the decision that I start the pill once again so that I could tolerate my periods. 

In my mid 30’s I began having more health issues. My husband and I decided that it was up to GOD if I were to have children.  It got to the point that I was facing a hysterectomy, but my doctor suggested I try the depo shot first. I knew if I had the surgery there would be NO way to physically ever have a baby. I was still holding on to hope. 

It was not meant to be. I had to have major back surgery and was told at that point that with my age and the work that would be done on my back, getting pregnant would not be ideal.  I would have to be on bed rest. But, inevitably, we knew it was not meant to be.
One month ago I started seeing a new doctor for Rheumatoid Arthritis. In some routine blood work my doctor noticed that one of the tests came back abnormal. The problem with the test is it can be done wrong quite often so she needed to repeat the test, but I had to wait 12 weeks for the redo. She asked me if I had ever been pregnant. I told her no but that I thought I had been 5 times yet it was a false alarm each time. She asked me why I thought they were false alarms so I explained to her that each time I was late, I really felt different, even sick (morning sickness), with 3 of the 5 episodes, but at about 10 to 16 weeks I would pass big clots followed by a very horrible period. 

She told me that the blood test that had been performed was for a clotting disorder. The disorder causes spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) and those 5 times I had probably lost my babies. 

I am 48 years old and was hearing this for the first time. I had no idea. Each of those 5 incidents broke my heart years ago. I believe my soul knew that I had conceived a baby and I grieved each of those times.  I felt I had to grieve privately because no one would have understood what I was feeling. 

When she explained the clotting disorder to me, I felt like I had been slammed into a brick wall. If only I would have known. When she explained everything to me it brought back all of the old hurt and sadness. I am grieving all over again.
This is my story. I apologize for the wordiness of it, but I just thought the situation needed to be explained. I have heard my whole married life that it just wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t God’s will, and all those things people say. But I have begun telling them, "Well, that may be, but that is not what I want to hear from you." 

When people try to say things meant to be encouraging, it does not make it better; it makes it worse. I tell them to just listen, tell me they feel my pain, or that they are sorry. Every woman who has lost a child or who has ever wanted a child does not want to hear "it just wasn’t meant to be" or "it was God’s will." Or Heaven forbid when they tell a woman who has miscarried that "It was a blessing because something might have been wrong with IT!!!" I always stop them and say don’t say IT!!! IT was a BABY not an IT!!!
I am so sorry for the pain you have suffered from the loss of your babies and I am sorry for the pain and hurt that you still carry with you. I now know I have always been affected by my inability to conceive but now I grieve again because I believe that I was right all along. I lost 5 precious babies.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A day in the life of a foster mom

Today was an insanely busy day.

First, I helped train for an Arbonne conference call.

Then it was a social worker appointment and guardian ad litem visit.

Then it was a physical therapy appointment (in my home, of course.) 

Then it was carpool time. And then "clean like crazy for two hours" time, since we had our re-licensing home inspection today. 

You guys, can I be so honest right now about how my day REALLY went?

First, Leyla woke up and woke the baby up at 6:30 am. It was an early start after a rough night. Even with the extra "get everyone ready" time, I still managed to stay unshowered. I'm telling you, this trying to get a shower in business is not for the faint of heart.

(Btw... Leyla totally watched Frozen in it's entirety before we even got Maddy off to school.)

I dropped Maddy off at school wearing my pajama top (covered by a coat.) It's fleece. And really warm. Hard to let go. :)

When we got home, I hurriedly strapped Z to my back, and got to vacuuming all the pine needles left on our floor from last night's Christmas tree slaughtering.

Then I did the conference call looking like this:

Well, mostly like this. 

Z had fallen asleep and I was having a hard time fastening the head support on my own. So his head kept flopping back and forth. 

So I paced the house, stooped over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame so his head stayed resting on my back. I trained on strategies for growing my Arbonne business. My unseemly look seemed quite ironic given the nature of the training.

Leyla, at this point, had entirely given up on me putting her down for an early nap. So she grabbed a blanket, curled up in her elephant chair, and made her nap happen on her own. Way to go little girl!

Thank goodness, she was an excellent napper today. Actually, she was excellent all day.

Try as I might today, I was unable to pick up the folded piles of laundry overtaking my floor like a virus overtakes its host. 

The laundry. It multiplies so quickly. Please tell me if there is a vaccine I can take to prevent this from happening again.

So, everyone who came over today was privvy to my dirty clean laundry.

The social worker came for his last visit. We are getting a new Social Worker. As we were chatting at the dining table (did you SEE my couches?), the GAL drops a bit of a surprise on us.

"So, mom is due soon. And if we decide to take the baby into care, your home would be our first choice. Are you open to that?"

Well, we knew mom was due. That was not new news. But since we were only licensed for one child, I didn't think us taking the baby would even be a possibility. 

But it turns out that we can add a child to our license. And since our licensor was coming over in the evening, I could find out then.

So, the rest of the GAL/SW visit goes well. I'm embarrassed by my home (naturally), but they always assure me that they like to see real life. And laundry is real life. (Actually, it's a very big part of my real life.) :)

So, now it's time for the physical therapist to come. I did not get my floor picked up, so she graciously sat on a blanket with Z on the rock floor. 

Z took a step for her, and he passed her eval with flying colors. Z has officially graduated from OT! 

After a quick run to the school, I'm in GO mode. 2 hours to get all the dishes cleaned from the day, clean two bathrooms, put away my laundry, and vaccuum the living room and the office office. 

Except our licensor comes 1 hour EARLY for the home inspection. 

Guess what she also sees?

Yep. A floor covered in laundry. 

And dirty dishes. And an unvaccuumed floor. 

She too tells me she prefers to see "real life" instead of the "perfect" home. I think it's just social worker code for: "your house could sure use a cleaning. But don't worry, we won't report you to CPS ... This time." lol.

So now, my brain is preoccupied with the thought of having 4 kids live here ... 3 of them aged 3 and under. 

So yeah. If you want to pray for us as we decide... That be great.

I'm leaning more toward no, Ryan is leaning more toward yes. So we are at a bit of a standstill, but we do have time to decide. Hopefully, Z's mom is doing well enough at that point that the new baby is safe to stay with her.

So that's it. A day in the life of me, a foster momma. Dirty floors, clean laundry and all. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Of idols and name tags

The other day, a dear friend sat me down to coffee.

You have heard of this momma friend -- she was Leyla's foster mom.

Well, God had put something on her heart and she needed to share with me.

"When I first met you," she started, "you shared about your story with Olivia. And then I began reading your blogs. And as much as I liked you, I felt like I didn't really who Rachel really was. What did she like? What makes her tick?  It was like grief and loss and infertility were all that you could see, like a name tag you wore. As time has gone on, I've watched you transition out of grief and loss and have started moving forward with life. And it's really neat to see and to get to know you."

[Ok, well, Deanna, if you're reading this, you probably are thinking, "I'm not sure those were my exact words." But this is at least what I can remember of what you said, and what has stuck with me.]

She had more to say, which is probably food for another blog . . . but these particular words have been mulling around in my brain.

You know, she's right. I think back to the last 3ish years, and I just feel like they are a total and complete fog. I think having a loss every 9 months on average for a few years does something to you. Well, at least it did to me.

But I think even before the recurrent loss, just with Olivia, I lost myself. I lost myself in grief, and longing, and despair.

I didn't know who I was anymore. The priorities I had in my life before my ectopic just suddenly seemed shallow. I couldn't relate to someone who had not experienced deep pain. Life -- everything in life -- seemed to be a painful reminder of what I didn't have.

Even though I was mom, I stayed the heck away from mom's groups. Or play groups. Or anything that might remind me that I had lost a little baby. (Oh, thank God I didn't know at that time that there would not be a rainbow baby at the end of my story. I don't even want to know what would have become of me had I seen the whole next few years laid out in front of me.)

I became the girl who runs out of church crying because someone announced a pregnancy.

I became the girl who (true story) runs out of church crying, slams her phone into the dash of the car, cusses up a storm, and then cries like crazy because someone was having a gender-reveal party.

I became the girl who (also true story) told her husband to stay home one night just to make sure she stayed safe. Safe from herself.

I became the girl who tried, tried, tried, tried to deal with my sorrow in a healthy, Christ-like way. I blogged, I cried out to God, I went to a Christian counselor. But that did not stop the anxiety. Oh, the crazy, horrid anxiety that clawed at me. It did not stop the images that kept showing themselves uninvited of me sitting on my kitchen floor, bleeding out from freshly cut arms.

Oh, dear friends. This is the horrible, horrible truth of how bad I was.

I have friends who have had losses. They have had later losses. or more traumatic ones, and they did not plunge into the darkness as I did.

Why did I respond how I did?

Honestly, I can't tell you that anymore than I can explain why God picked the color blue for the ocean, and green for land.

However it happened -- I became a new person. And yes, I wore that name tag.

"Hi I'm Rachel. Habitual aborter. Infertile mom. Nice to meet you."

And then last March, almost a year ago now, we had the last (oh please, dear God, let it be the last) of the miscarriages.

And I went just numb. Numb to pretty much everything. I threw myself into Leyla's adoption because that was the only joy I could find. The rest of my life was just meh. Could do with it, could do without it.

When I lost the ability to care about my life -- it was time (OH, way past time) to make a serious change.

We called it. No more trying to conceive for a year.

And now that we are ending that year, I'm really leaning toward calling it quits for good.

Today at our mom's group (see how far I have come!!!), we talked about loving the gift more than the Giver. We talked about what takes up all our thoughts, our emotions, our time, our energy, our money and how those things become our idols.

And it just hit me.

For so long, I placed the value of getting a healthy baby from a healthy pregnancy above the Giver of Life Himself. I wanted a baby. Not the creator of life.

This is not something I want to admit. Oh, do I not want to admit it. Because you know, I'm just a girl that tried her best. I managed loss, and life changes, and adoption, and infertility, and health scares, and the loss of all control as best as I could.

I just was surviving. Surviving from day to day. Trigger to trigger. Loss to loss.

Just trying to make it through alive, and (hopefully) with a live baby to show for it.

It is humbling to admit that maybe I had survived wrong. That if I had changed my focus to the Giver instead of the gift, I may have made it through so much easier. To admit that I placed my babies before God himself feels like such failure.

I recently watched the movie Wild with a friend. It's about a woman who went to some serious extremes in order to deal with grief. And at the end, she admits that maybe she isn't so sorry she had sex with a ton of men, or became a druggie. Because somehow that turned her into who she is today.

And maybe I also feel a little like that. I do have some regrets about how I acted the last few years. I maybe wish that I could've trusted God more than I did. Maybe crave HIM more than I craved a baby.

But all that has led me to where I am today.

It's now part of my journey, part of my story . . . part of my PAST.

I have slowly been able to peel off that name tag, that identity as an infertile woman. Take off the label of the woman whose body kills her babies. Take off the label of bereaved. (Even as the grief will never fully be gone.)

Triggers come and go. So do the tears. But more days than not, I am excited about where I'm at and where I'm headed.

I've learned to see that as wonderful as a baby and a healthy pregnancy are, my life has more purpose and more to it than just that.

I have learned, as was mentioned in our group today, "Good things can be bad gods."

Fertility and healthy babies are GOOD THINGS! But they make bad gods.

And so as I set out each new day, I'm learning to put on a new name tag.

"Hi, I'm Rachel. I've stumbled, and I've fallen, and parts of me are scarred. But I'm learning, and I'm growing, and I'm covered in grace. I have a purpose, and a plan, and a God that's bigger than me.

It's nice to meet you."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Casting away

I just finished watching Cast Away.

A beautiful movie. Tom Hanks did one of the best acting performances I've ever seen. And the part where He reconnects with Kelly. ack .... The tears.

They fell extra freely tonight.

"I am so so sad Kelly isn't here with me now. But I am so grateful she was there with me on that island."

A lesson in letting go. 

Sometimes you just love so much, you have to let them go. Let them go home.

At times, I worry ... Will Z wake up crying one night and want me but he can't find me? Will his mom know the way to rub his neck to soothe him? Will his little heart be so confused when Ryan, Maddy, Leyla and I aren't anywhere to be found?

And even as I ponder these things, I remember that he will likely never remember us. If all goes according to the plan set out now, he will only know our faces from the pictures we will send with him. He may only remember our names ... Not momma as I'm now called ... But Rachel Lewis, first foster mom, from his records.

If all goes according to plan, he will let us go, he will attach to his bio family, and he will have the building blocks for love and attachment ... Even as our faces' will be no more familiar than a stranger's.

This is the plan so far. 

And as I hold him each day, I just feel grateful he's a part of my life RIGHT NOW. In this blessed, beautiful whisper in time.

He might not be with us forever. But we have today. And what a beautiful, beautiful gift it is to love this baby right here, right now.

Perhaps the day will come that he has gone home. And I know that I will at least be able to say, "I'm just so grateful he was here with me at all."

What an honor and pleasure it is to love you, Z. Whether you are here for a year or a lifetime ... I'm just so glad you came.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Microblog Monday: My holy grail

Last night I had another dream.

This time, in my dream, I peed on a stick and it turned positive. I was pregnant. In the course of my dream, my belly grew. And grew. And grew. 

A swollen, laden, precious belly. 

I don't wish every day to be pregnant anymore. 

But there are days. 

Days when I think ahead to not having a baby in my arms once Z leaves. 

Days when someone announces a pregnancy. 

And days when I just dreamed all night long about being pregnant. 

The truth is, I don't really remember anymore what that feels like. Being REALLY pregnant. 

Not the pregnant where you actually have a live baby with a heartbeat, and your stomach swells. Not the kind where you get to do a registery, and people throw you showers, and everyone wants to feel the baby move.

I remember that there was a lot I didn't like about being pregnant.

So I wonder why it is so much my holy grail these days?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My Monday-Saturday Gospel

Last night, I had the most awful, awful dream.

Maddy was kidnapped by her bio mom. (I get that in reality, I'm her bio mom. But in my dream, she was adopted.) She was gone a day and a half before we found her. Her mom had taken her to a sex house.

Ryan and I were desperately trying to get answers -- was she abused? Did she get raped?

I screamed right there that I was DONE with open adoptions. Never, ever again would any bio parent have anything to do with my kids.

My dream only progressively got worse. My own mom became involved in drugs. I was raped. Twice.

And then I woke up.

The dream has haunted me today.

It didn't take a visit to the therapist to realize what it was all about.

I'm scared.

I'm scared for Z.

Every time he comes home from a visit with his bio family, I give him a bath and wash all his clothes. I try to bathe away the stink of smoke.

This week, it occurred to me.

One day, he'll get baths. But not by me. He'll be living in the stink. He will get out of the bath, and the smoke, the stink, the awful chemicals will still be all around. Still be on him.

I can't protect him forever.

Yesterday, I started an email address at the request of the state social worker so that I could communicate with mom. We touched base, and I tried to be pleasant.

And yet, when mom hinted that I was doing something not well, not as well as she did before he came into our care . . . I became unnerved.

I am fighting (oh, my horrible sin nature) to want to tell mom what I really think. To remind her that I was the one up with him awful night of awful night for MONTHS -- MONTHS -- trying to help this little baby recover from what SHE did.

I want to never let her forget her sins or her mistakes. I want to shout it from the rooftops. I want the judge to hear, and the social workers, and I want God to hear that this is not right!

And in my horrible, self-righteous fury, a truth sunk deep in my heart.

This self-righteousness? It's not God in me.

It's me in me.

Or worse. It's sin in me.

God? He's so far above me.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  
Romans 5:8

Christ didn't die for us after we had everything figured out. He didn't die after we had repented and asked a million times for the forgiveness we didn't deserve. He didn't die for us after we had proved what we could do without him.

He just said, "I love you enough. I will forgive you. I will offer myself, before you even know you need me. I lay down my rights, my life, my all. FOR YOU. A sinner. WHILE you are sinning."

I remember accepting Christ when I was just a little girl. 3 maybe? 5? I remember praying with my mom in her room. I have lived almost 30 years claiming to be a Christian.

And yet.

God's simple call to pick up my cross has never felt so real. So gosh-darn humbling. SO ridiculously hard.

Love. Forgive. Surrender.

Beautiful words we sing so joyously on Sunday. But on Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday? When those words call you to the depth of who you are. When the ask everything from you. When they demand your life, and your tears, and your soul, and your peace of mind, and your control.

Then? Then are we willing to love? To forgive? To surrender?

It is easy for me to say I love sinners. But to say, "Bio mom. I love you as Christ loves you. I forgive you for what you caused to happen to my precious love little Z. I will surrender parenting him, I will surrender to God's control and to the courts will. I will let go of the little man I will always consider a son. You will take him back up. And I will give you my blessing."

This is my struggle. My cross. My living out the gospel, and not just in theory.

It's where God's love and his transforming power hit the dirt road of my life.

As we tiptoe closer and closer to court in June -- as an impossible deadline looms -- I just pray that I will let God work in my heart to make me ready to carry the cross. And to do so in a way that honors him.

After all -- I, too, was once the sinner in need of saving.

[And I also am praying that God would never, ever let up on Z. That He would protect him, and chase after his heart.  You know. Because giving up control is a little hard for me. ;) ]

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Microblog Monday: Finding room for gratitude

Today my daughter raged for 45 min. Full on, screaming rage. She was not happy that she needed to wait to have her shake until after we got home from dropping off Maddy at school.

Yep, you guessd it. She raged all the way to school. Raged in the school office. Raged on the way to Maddy's class. Raged home. Raged as I changed her poopy diaper (not an easy task.)

And just, just [sweet relief] stopped.

You might think of this as a complaint.

But it's not.

You see, several days ago, a little girl named Aurora died. I have never met her personally ... Just saw her beautiful face in the picture my friend posted. You see it was her niece. And she was just days older than Leyla.

As I watched Leyla rage, I thought of Aurora's mom. How she probably would give anything to see her almost 3-year-old breathing, living. How Aurora's mom would look at us with sadness ... Her car now empty, mine still full.

And today the verse about being grateful for everything struck a chord. 

Leyla might be screaming, but she is breathing. It might take a while to calm down, it might be a whole bad day. But our troubles are light and momentary. 

She will eat a snack, turn a corner (eventually), and be sweet again.

Our life will move forward as long as God sees fit. No matter what may have gone "wrong" in my life, whatever hardships I have faced or will face, I know this truth ...

In everything, there is room for gratitude.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Reminders of truth

Hi friends. 

Yesterday I needed love and support. I asked for it, and so so got it. Thank you.

I also needed a good cry, and I got that too. ;)

But I also needed truth.

You may recall that not so long ago, I wrote a blog that went somewhat viral about letting go. About how getting attached is not a good enough reason to not foster.

I believe it as much then as I do now.

The truth is, the right thing sometimes hurts. But it still might be the right thing.

A few of my friends reminded me of this truth. 

"It's not about you."

"You don't know God's plan."

"Your time with Z will have purpose, even if your time with him ends."

"Sometimes it's about rescuing a family, and not just rescuing a baby."

All of which I can agree with.

Yesterday reality sunk in. Yesterday, I realized I will likely say good-bye. Yesterday, I needed to cry the tears and let go of the stress and overwhelming feeling of "I can't do this."

Today, I realized I cannot afford to hurt for the next 6 months. I can't view it as a ticking time bomb. Instead, I need to be grateful for every single day we get him. 

I long to live this journey with the grace I have seen so many others live out before me. I long to show faith, and love and trust. I long to be the person you all can relate to -- not because I always am crying over something and always write through my tears -- but because there is something that unites us. 

A grief for our children who died. A faith that we'll see them again. A hope that infertility is not the end of us. A choice to love hurting kids. And maybe that choice to let go.

For all of you who showed support by crying with me, thank you.

For those who told me they can't imagine how I feel, but are praying for me ... Thank you.

And for those who gently reminded me of truth ... That I am to be faithful right now in what God has called me to, whatever that may be... Thank you.

I will continue to ask (beg, really), that as you think of Z and his mom and the judge and all the people making decisions on his behalf ... Please pray.

Pray that he is always safe. That he is always loved. That he comes to know Jesus. That his time with us is not for nothing.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The start of a good-bye

Today I sit here. Tears streaming. This is not the first time I've cried for Z. And it sure as heck won't be the last.

You see, maybe a week or two ago, God has laid the idea on my heart that I need to love Z's mom.

Can I be honest? I don't want to love her.

It is so much easier to demonize her. To blame her continually in my mind for what caused Z to enter foster care to begin with. It is so easy to look at her with contempt. With a "holier than thou" attitude. With the thought that she's the one that screwed up, and I'm the one that's fixing it.

It is so easy for my brain to trick me into believing that I am real mom. She's just the one that gave birth.

It's the ugly, dark part in my heart. And it's not right.

But how do I love her?

Our caseworker for our agency came over today. We talked about court and all that went down there. Then we talked about reunification.

What it will likely look like. What I can do now to make it go as smoothly as possible.

And then she brought up the other "R" word. Not reunification.


"If you have a relationship with mom, it might make it easier for you to say good-bye. Maybe start a journal that you can write notes to her before visits. And then she can write notes back to you. Write encouraging things to her. And one day, when she has overnight visits, you might be able to transport Z there. You'll get to see where they'll live. It might help too for you to see him with her. She needs to start coming to doctor's visits and the like."

And so the "how" now has a plan.

I'm to love her by sharing as much of her son with her as I can. I'm to love her by encouraging her. I'm to love her by praying for her. I'm to love her by anticipating and celebrating with her the milestones she's hitting. I'm to love her by letting her parent at his appointments.

Friends -- I can't do this. This is no small, easy task. Only God can do it through me -- and I seriously need your prayers to get me through this. To love mom as much as I love Z. To hold my heart and arms wide open to both of them.

To let go. To let go. To let go.

Over, and over in my heart over the next 6 months. Even as I throw Z his first birthday party. And watch him take his first steps. And teach him more words. And snuggle him at night. Watch his smile change as his teeth come in.

Even as I fall in love deeper with this child I consider my son -- I am still to let go.

Since court on Monday, it feels as though some giant time bomb is just ticking, ticking, ticking. 6 more months to love your son. One day less. One night less. I am marching toward a good-bye I don't want to make.

And yet, I chose this pain. This grief. I chose it, and I'll live it. And I would still do it all over again for Z.

But I can't do it alone. More than ever I realize I can't do this foster parenting gig thing alone. I need your support.  Mostly your prayers. Mostly to know that when we say good-bye . . . when he leaves our home for the very last time . . . when I kiss his softy fuzzy head as the social worker takes him away . . . I need to know you all will be there with me.  Missing him. Loving him. Praying for him.

And lifting our family up.