My Journey

It all started with one little test.

Two pink lines appeared, and told me what I should have known after 2 weeks of unexplained nausea.

We were pregnant.

Unplanned. Unprepared. Unsure.

Pregnant.

Little Madelyn came into our life with a roar. For 36 weeks, I struggled with morning -- I mean, all-day -- sickness. At 8 weeks, I hemorrhaged, and we were told we had a 50/50 chance of miscarrying.


She hung on.

At 28 weeks, stress sent me into threatened pre-term labor. I spent two weeks on bed rest and on what I thought was the worst medicine ever. At 32 weeks, we did it all again.



At 36 weeks, I went into L&D with the worst pain I had ever experienced, steady contractions, and dry-heaving. I was told I was dehydrated and was sent home.

3 days later, I was back and was in worse shape. We found out that I had developed HELLP syndrome and preeclampsia. They gave me pitocin and an epidural, but my body was digressing more quickly than my labor was progressing. Little Maddy's heart rate dropped for 8 minutes. After that, I was sent straight in for a C-section.



Maddy was born healthy and beautiful. My body recovered. But emotionally, I ended up with symptoms of PTSD and postpartum depression. Life with baby Maddy was hard. Good. But hard.



When Maddy was a year, I thought I was pregnant. I was a week and a half late, and had all the symptoms. But I was afraid of taking a test because I was not yet ready to go through a traumatic pregnancy again. By the time I got up the guts to test, the bleeding had started. It lasted for 9 days.

 I was convinced I was miscarrying, but medically, there was nothing to do. I was sad for several days, but since nothing had been confirmed, I moved on.

Ryan and I had decided to give up on having another child biologically. We pursued foster to adopt when Maddy was 2. We got licensed, and the waiting began.

And that's when we got another positive test. We were expecting yet again.












Little Olivia was a joyful surprise, and we were so thankful to be pregnant with her. But our pregnancy did not last long enough. Precious baby had attached to my tubes, causing it to rupture when she got too big. I was rushed into emergency surgery.

Her life had ended. And my new life as a bereaved mom began.



After what felt like forever, we conceived again -- only to lose little Caleb at 8 weeks.

I know, you can barely see the positive.


3 months later, we got the call we were waiting for! A healthy, newborn was needing a home and would likely be available for adoption! Were we interested? HECK, YES!

We got the house ready, newborn clothes washed, and diaper bag packed. Everything was ready. We were just waiting on the call to go pick her up from the hospital.



Instead, we got the call we were dreading. The social worker had chosen another family.


We still had Maddy in our arms. But my heart felt empty.


I entered a deep depression. In 1 year, I had lost 2 children, my grandma, and had a hoped-for but failed foster placement. I was heart-broken.

Only a few weeks later, we were asked to babysit a foster baby. I was over-the-moon to have a little baby to hold, feed, clothe and tote around. The first night I rocked her to sleep, she just felt like mine. And I was hers.

Our first of many rocking-to-sleep sessions. My arms and heart were full.

 Several more times we babysat for this family -- until we were let in on a little secret. Leyla would be up for adoption. Were we interested?

My dream of adoption now has a name, her own little personality, and the most kissable cheeks you've ever seen. And she is now ours forever!

A few months after Leyla moved in, we found we were pregnant yet again. I must admit, I had my hopes up. My hCG looked great, and I was sick. Surely my other losses were just bad luck!

Instead, this pregnancy also ended much too soon at 5 weeks. We named that little one Elliott.

We are now in the process of testing to see what has caused my recurrent losses and HELLP sydrome and preeclampsia. We've been diagnosed with unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss and secondary infertility.

Just one month prior to our adoption of Leyla, we discovered we were pregnant again. Sadly, we miscarried Sophie Grace at 5 weeks.

As we take a break from grief, loss and trying to conceive, I'm learning to give everything to God. Learning through grief. Learning how to hold my loss in one hand, and my living children in the other. Learning to let go and hold on.

About 6 months after our last loss, we received a call for a placement of a 5-month-old boy who needed a foster home. After less than a day to decide, our family welcomed Baby Z into our home indefinitely. At this point, we expect Z to return home sometime this summer. Until then, we love him and hold on this this precious little boy as though he were ours. We love him, and are so blessed to know him!



Welcome to my journey.

-- Rachel


 
 
 
 
P.S. For those of you who want to read more about each of my babies, here's a little more info so you can easily navigate my archives.
 
Olivia's story on my blog starts in December 2011 (click here to read more about Olivia). Her story is woven throughout my entire blog, as I chronicled all the ups and downs of living with miscarriage ever since.
 
 
 
 


29 comments:

  1. Your children are absolutely beautiful! I hope they can find a diagnosis for you so that you don't have to endure anymore losses. I will hold you in my prayers!

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  2. Hello Friend...just catching up on your journey. So happy to hear you have named all of your precious little lives. I like knowing we can refer to them by their names. I think often about our little one (I was sure she was a girl). I hope someday to be able to do as you have done and give her a name. Love you...

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  3. I'm so grateful to find your blog! I have four babies in heaven, all first-trimester losses, and I have named each one. I have blogged through my own journey as well and I'm grateful to find someone who understands. Thank you for sharing your story!

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    1. I'm so sorry for your losses. As someone else put it, "recurrent loss is a hell of it's own." It is so hard. Thinking of you -- and looking forward to seeing your blog.

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  4. So glad I stumbled upon your blog, thank you for your courage in writing! Justine

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  5. Thank you for breaking the silence, thank you for your courage, thank you for your raw honesty, and thank you for helping someone like me feel just a little bit "normal" in this process of grief. You have given me hope.

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    1. Thank you McKayla, I'm so glad to know that.

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  6. What an amazing journey! God bless you and your beautiful family!

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  7. Wow...a lot of similarities to my story...with a few differences. We had our first kiddo without problems until just before birth. I ended up transporting to the hospital from a home birth because of high blood pressure. Did not have a c-section...but did have the epidural and pitocin I had not wanted. When little dude was six days old I had an eclamptic seizure and had to go back to the hospital for three more days. When he was 19 months old I had a very early loss...just days after getting a positive test. Then, right before little dude turned two I found out I was pregnant again. At eight weeks we saw the baby on an ultrasound and by nine weeks our baby was gone. After that we were not going to try again for a while...but less than two months later we found out that I was pregnant yet again. At nine weeks we had an ultrasound and baby was no longer there. I ended up retaining that placenta though for three months and when it finally detached I ended up in the ER hemorrhaging (and crashed three times from the blood loss). After that we decided not to pursue biological children any more and were literally three days away from attending an informational meeting about foster care/foster adoption (when little dude was just past three years old) when we found out our little miracle was on the way. It was pretty scary for me as I had an ovarian cyst they were concerned about...besides my recurrent losses...but we made it through and my little girl was born last April. That wasn't the end of the trials though...as I again had preeclampsia and ended up back in the hospital for three days when she was five days old (though we did avoid a seizure this time). We are definitely done as far as biological children go now...and I will always mourn my Riley, Paisley, and Waverley...even though none of them made it even to nine weeks. They are still my babies...no matter how brief a time they were here with me!!

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    1. Thank you for sharing. Loss is hard. Traumatic pregnancy is hard. Together? Hard doesn't come close. What a difficult journey you have been on. We aren't to the end of our fertility journey yet, and I really have to fight the fear of "What if?" "What if our baby makes it through the first trimester, then we lose them to HELLP or preeclampsia?" I think one thing I feel from having both experiences is just feeling completely betrayed by my body. BTW, I do love the names you picked out for your babies.

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  8. Hi Rachel - Have you heard of the Preeclampsia Foundation? My son was stillborn at 34 weeks because of preeclampsia and HELLP and we are trying to spread awareness about preeclampsia. Please email me at nicole.purnell@preeclampsia.org Hope to hear from you!

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    1. Yes, I have. I love it! I sent you an email tonight.

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  9. Hi Rachel - Have you heard of the Preeclampsia Foundation? My son was stillborn at 35 weeks due to Preeclampsia and HELLP. We are trying to spread awareness about this horrible disease. Please contact me at nicole.purnell@preeclampsia.org. Hope to hear from you!

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  10. Thank you so much for your post! As someone who has not experience infertility, it is hard to understand and grieve with those that have. I look foward to reading more of your blog! Our family is in the midst of preparing for an adoption as well...our journey is found here:
    http://abidingingrace155.blogspot.com/
    Thank you for your words! God bless!

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    1. Sarah, thank you for sharing. I look forward to looking at your blog. Best of luck in your adoption!

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  11. I suffered from unexplained secondary infertility as well. My endocrinologist suspected elevated prolactin levels could be affecting things, but I was able to get pregnant twice after our son was born and I had very regular cycles, so all indications were that I was ovulating. Unfortunately, those two pregnancies ended in first-trimester miscarriage. After the loss of those two pregnancies, many tests, and no answers, we decided it was time for a break. I was mentally and emotionally spent and it was taking a toll on my husband and our son. About a year later, we found out I was pregnant again. I spent the entire first trimester and some of the second waiting for my doctor to give me bad news, and I literally held my breath every time he broke out the Doppler. It was beautiful and sweet and agonizing, and I hate that I didn't let myself enjoy much of the pregnancy because I was so scared it would end. But after about 5 months, I finally let myself feel and hope and believe that she would make it. And make it she did! We now have an 8-year-old son and an 18-month-old daughter. We didn't plan to have a 7 year gap between kids, but that's how it worked out. When people comment about how far apart they are (folks really will say anything that pops into their heads, won't they???), I just tell them that's how God wanted them! I wish you God's love and light in your journey, and thank you for sharing it with others.

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  12. In case you are interested, there is a Facebook group for HELLP survivors. We would love to have you join!
    - Rachel S. (A fellow HELLP mom)

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  13. Are you going to add a link to the story of Little Miss in your P.S. easy navigation area? She is one of your babies too.

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  14. So glad I came across your blog. I have had 3 miscarriages and they couldn't determine why. In March 2013 God blessed us with a healthy baby boy - pregnancy was hard, but we made it through and he is a happy and healthy 1 year old! I would love to have more children, but am terrified of starting the Russian Roulette game of miscarriages.

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  15. I sound like everyone else but I have a similar story. First pregnancy was a surprise we weren't planning nor were we ready but we were EXCITED 2 months later I miscarried. One year later we became pregnant and miscarried the same month as my first miscarriage. Fast forward two years and I'm pregnant with twins. At 2 months they tell me I miscarried. 1 month later we learned I had only miscarried one 7 months later we delivered our daughter the same month that we had lost our previous children. Fast forward 5 years and we delivered our second daughter at 32 weeks gestation. Now another 5 years later we are looking into foster to adopt. Long story short thank you for your writings its nice to feel not alone.

    Smiles,
    Casey

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  16. I'm glad I stumbled across your blog as I can relate to many things you've gone through. 2 miscarriages, an adoption and 2 births. I was diagnosed with MT HER and had to shoot myself with blood thinners everyday. I have recently had a calling to look into foster adopt. Thanks for your blog!

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  17. A little less than a month ago, I miscarried at 12 weeks. We have two healthy children who were born after two healthy, uneventful pregnancies. As I try to figure out what life after miscarriage looks like, I've found your realness here refreshing. Can I ask how you go about naming your babies? Miscarrying so early, do you choose names based on the gender you felt the baby to be? My husband and I haven't yet decided if naming our baby is something we need to do, so I'm curious about the process. I know several parents who chose gender neutral names for their lost babies, and I assume most families do what works for them, but I'd appreciate your take on it. Thank you for your honesty and openness.

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    1. Hi momma. First, I'm so very sorry for your loss. Miscarrying is heartbreaking ... And then learning how to grieve your loss and live your life at the same time is so hard. Please be gentle and kind to yourself.

      Second, with Olivia, we went with what Maddy thought the baby was. She thought it was a girl, so we went with that.

      I wanted my baby to have a name because they were a person to me. I didn't want to look back on it and say, "hey, remember when I was pregnant with number 2?" Some people are fine with that. It just didn't feel right to me.

      At first, I was going to keep her name just to our family. I called her Baby O. Then I just decided to go with her name. It means peace and joy --- exactly how I felt when I found out I was pregnant.

      With our other babies, I just went with what I thought they were. Their names all have meanings too. :)

      For me, giving my babies their names helps me grieve them and recognize them as people. It also helps when I talk about my experiences with others for them to know which miscarriage or loss I'm referring to.

      I think there is no right or wrong here -- just what feels right or wrong to you. I hope that whatever you decide, it brings you some peace and comfort!

      Rachel

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  18. I am so happy to find your blog! You sound like an amazing woman! My husband and I are in the process of trying to adopt and were first thinking of doing the domestic infant adoption, but now are thinking more of trying to adopt out of the foster care system. Do you have any thoughts about that? I have heard that it is really hard to find infants through the foster system, however, I would like a child that is under 3 years old. If you would like to send me a private email..mine is js1babe@aol.com. Thank you for your insights and inspirations! I was very touched by your story. :)
    Kim B.

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