First, let me start by saying – don't be alarmed! Baby Collins (due in October) is doing just fine. This is a blog post about our journey through a miscarriage we experienced last November. <3
It is 8:37 p.m. on a Saturday night, Dusty is studying, and after a lot of pushing it aside I finally am finding the time and energy to sit down and write this blog post. It truly feels like I've written this blog post before…it's something I've been writing and re-writing in my mind over and over again. While taking a shower, doing the dishes, folding laundry…a memory that will softly nudge me into reliving the experience. But each time with a little less pain than the night it happened.
Dusty and I recently announced that we are expecting a baby in October! We announced on the Friday before Easter Sunday…and had a weekend full of love, congratulations and sheer happiness. Words can't even describe the emotions we felt after sharing our news! And while we felt everything most couples would feel after announcing their pregnancy, there was also a bit of relief that came along with it all. The relief of a milestone…the "safe zone" as some might call it…the announcement meant we had successfully entered the second trimster of pregnancy and as every pregnancy forum puts it – we were hopefully "in the clear", we had a "sticky baby"…or got the "sticky baby dust". (eye roll)
I remember before we decided to hit "publish" on Facebook…my heart was thudding and a sudden nausea crept in. Letting (what felt like the world) know about our pregnancy made me feel extremely vulnerable.
Just this past November…we had experienced the heartache of retracting the very same exciting news. I experienced a miscarriage at just shy of 7 weeks. We had only told a few family members and close friends, but the pain of having to let them know of our deep loss was heart wrenching.
You see…what our baby, this life, this heartbeat, that is now 15.5 weeks gestation doesn't realize is that long before we loved him/her, we loved another. There was another baby that gave us the exciting first time news that we'd be parents. Another life, gone too soon, that gave us dreams of 10 little fingers and 10 little toes. Another due date, we had initially anticipated – that we will remember and pass this summer with a bit of saddness. What would we name him or her? What will he/she look like? We had been through all of the excitement you could feel when you realize you are expecting a child to call your own. I immediately started a private Pinterest board to pin nursery ideas and maternity style. I downloaded the app "What to Expect When Your Expecting" and started browsing the forums. One moment my heart felt like it was ready to burst with love and anticipation for the future of the little life growing inside of me and the next it shattered into a million pieces.
The 2015 holiday season didn't start off so bright and merry, however, not too long after the miscarriage in November we had the distraction of planning and taking a road trip to Florida for Christmas. It was enough to help get our minds off of what had happened. Soon the New Year came and we found ourselves praying for a new and hopeful start in 2016. And while it was healing to have the feeling of "starting new", 2016 was also met with a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. Since the baby we had lost was the first we also had hoped to have…it also meant wondering if this would be a reoccuring situation? I know that some women can experience repeat miscarriages. Would that be me? Would my body be able to make a baby and do what I so hoped and prayed it could do? Would we get a positive test to just find that soon after our dreams of raising a child would shatter, yet again, into a million tiny pieces? Would we have to relive the agony of loss and grief over and over and over until we realized it just wouldn't happen?
Sadly, I know that some women do experience such deep and sorrowful continued loss. Having a miscarraige, even one time, was enough to send my world spinning into oblivion and my mind racing for answers. Answers that received a shrug by medical professionals. "Many women will experience loss early on in pregnancy, it's very common." Trust me, I've read it and I've heard it. But it still didn't make me feel any more hopeful. One loss was one too many. And the thought that some women experience multiple losses in life and that I could still experience another – scared the shit out of me.
Did I even want to try again? With a chance that it could end in heartache?
Everytime I thought of "moving on" and "trying again" I would relive the miscarriage all over again.
The initial loss of symptoms and just thinking I must be one of the lucky few who go symptom free through the first trimester. The painful cramping, the bleeding, the shock, the panic. Seeing Dusty's face when he realized what was happening. Sitting awake all nightlong sobbing on his shoulder. Forcing ourselves to call and text friends and family about what had happened. Calling the hospital the next morning to be told I needed to get blood work done immediately. Walking all puffy eyed and red faced into the lab so they could take blood and check my HCG levels to just confirm what I already knew to be true. Sending my husband to the store to buy pads because I knew I couldn't do it without breaking down and crying. The fact I even had to wear a pad when I purposefully hadn't since at least 7th or 8th grade. Taking the highest recommended dose of ibruprofin in hopes it might drown out the pain.
Soon after the initial shock and pain had subsided the greiving process truly kicked in.
Even in the deepest moments of saddness that this experience had brought us. I knew that God was near. Although I found myself mad at Him for allowing us to experience this pain, I also knew his unending love would see us through. No matter what the outcome or what the answers to the 101 questions swirling around inside my head and heart….I knew deep down, it would all be ok. If it meant adoption, if it meant IVF, if it meant more testing, if it meant more miscarriages and more pain, if it meant eventually a successful pregnancy – whatever the outcome, I knew it would all be well. But I also knew it would take hope, faith, and courage. To grow through the pain and loss, to trust the plans God had for our future, and to find the courage and willingness to move on.
While it is true that time heals, it is also true that one doesn't forget the pain of losing a child. No matter what stage in the game. Or perhaps they are grieving the fact that after multiple attempts, they just can't get pregnant. The journey through attempting to and growing a family is so unique to every individual woman and couple. It is stressful, it is hard, and it stretches your faith further than you could ever dream imagineable.
Shortly after the miscarriage an artist named Jen Kilburn reached out to me wondering if I'd be interested in a piece of her artwork to hang at home and then share in an upcoming blog post. At first, I felt too tired and worn out from the emotional roller coaster of the past few weeks to thoughtfully choose something meaningful. I hadn't blogged or had even thought about my blog in what felt like forever. But one night I found some energy and started to browse through the paintings on her Etsy page. I came across one that she called "Got Hope?". I glanced at the description of what inspired her to create this particular painting…and it said this.
The Scriptures that inspired my work on this painting are:
Psalm 71:5-6: "For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence from my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise You. "
Romans 15:13: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
You can see a photo of the painting at the top of this blog post.
I think my mouth literally fell wide open when I read this. Tears welled up in my eyes and turned into quiet sobs. I knew at that moment this was the painting, with the message that I needed – to hang on our wall and remind us of the journey we had been on. To always remind me of the baby I first loved and that first made me a mother. To remember that God's strength has been present during our deepest moments of weakness.
The positive pregnancy test we saw at the end of January 2016 came as complete surprise followed by abundant excitement, but it also came with a lot of fear. We knew that the positive test would mean that we had chosen to walk down the road of vulnerability and the possibility of loss, yet again. But God gave us the strength to push forward, even during the moments when the positive pregnancy test didn't feel like enough to convince us that this baby's life would continue. Seeing and hearing the heartbeat at week 7 was enough to help us through until week 9. Another ultrasound at week 9 and the sound of a strong heartbeat gave us the hope and courage to make it through 3 more weeks where I had another ultrasound at week 12 (I had a small cyst on my ovary that they had found at the 9 week ultrasound, allowing us one more peek at baby before the long wait until 20 weeks). After the 12 week ultrasound, we made the decision to announce the news to extended friends and family- in October 2016 we would celebrate the birth of a baby.
This journey hasn't been easy and our baby that is now 15.5 weeks gestation (the size of a navel orange) doesn't realize just how much it is truly loved and I look forward to someday share with him/her about the time that their parents both found abundant HOPE.