I have missed this blog.
It used to be a place I shared my feelings, thoughts and emotions and I set it to the back burner while I pursued other interests. Grief has brought me back here today – to write down events, emotions and feelings so I don’t forget.
This post will be long. It will be real, it will be raw and it may be uncomfortable. It won’t hurt my feelings if you close the page, because I need to write and I need the healing that comes with it.
A little over a week ago, at a routine OB check up, I was told that my baby no longer had a heartbeat. I was 16 weeks along.
That morning had started no differently than any other, really. My husband was out of town for work and I was trying to juggle our 16 month old and get ready for my appointment. It was the kind of morning where everything took longer than it should have because Beckett was in a particularly mischievous mood and was tearing my bedroom apart. I felt stressed and was running behind and as I went to throw on clothes, I had a thought in the back of mind to wear my regular pants. I had just started to ease myself into a few maternity pieces for comfort mainly – but for some strange reason that morning I felt determined to wear regular jeans. And I did.
When I got to my appointment, I had a quick meeting with a nurse who went through the standard information – medications to take and not to take, how to register at the hospital. Medical history, current children, etc etc etc. After this we waited to see my midwife. They were running way behind schedule and I was stuck trying to keep the toddler entertained in his stroller. We looked at lights, at fans, watched Blues Clues on the Kindle Fire and played peek a boo. I furiously texted friends how angry I was that we were kept waiting for so long. Just when I thought I couldn’t wait one more second, the midwife and her assistant came into the room.
I hopped up on the table so she could listen for a heartbeat. I waited anxiously for the sound to come. If you’ve ever heard a fetal heartbeat you know what I’m talking about. That glorious and ridiculously loud sound – like a horse stomping around the room. She moved the doppler around and around, and nothing happened. The room became uncomfortably silent. I held my breath, willing that sound to come. Praying, pleading and knowing something was wrong. Still she tried, and tried and tried. Said babies wiggle around a lot at this stage and maybe she just couldn’t get the baby to stay in one spot long enough to hear. I wanted to say I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like if I said the words out loud, they would come true. I waited as she tried to find the heartbeat again. And then she told me that she wanted me to have a sonogram done, and I knew. I knew that no good news would come of this appointment. I knew that my life was about to change. Beckett and I headed down to the room where the sonograms were done.
I was quiet and nervous as I laid down on the table – again pleading and hoping, wishing that my sweet baby was just playing around in there. I watched as the image came up on the screen. I saw that sweet little profile, and again, heard nothing. I could see where the heart should be flickering and saw nothing. I saw the tech marking measurements, all measuring behind where I should have been. I knew that the baby was gone. But still I stayed quiet, and prayed and hoped. And then she turned to me and said softly, “Honey I am so sorry, but there is no heartbeat” I can’t even tell you what I felt in that moment. I remember bursting into tears and sobbing on the table. I remember looking at Beckett, so sweetly innocent, eating his snacks in his stroller and looking around. I remember the tech handing me tissues and giving me a hug. It felt so surreal and so wrong. We had to sit in the room together – the tech, Beckett and I, while we waited for my midwife to come back. And then my midwife was there, and condolences were said, instructions were being given, and there were decisions to make, appointments to make, people to call. Did I call my husband yet, did I have family in town, did I know what I wanted to do from here… I left the office in a fog.
I called my husband and tried to tell him the news in between sobs. I was crying so hard I could barely put Beckett into his carseat. I’m still not sure how I drove myself home. I called my mother and my sister and told them the news. The next few days were a fog for me. Decisions to make, messages to read, people to respond to. I wanted to curl up into a ball and never leave my bed. I wandered around aimlessly, not wanting to eat, not wanting to talk to people, not wanting to move forward. One of the most startling things for me to take in was how life goes on for everyone around you. People do exactly what they should, which is continue on. But isn’t it strange that the person next to you in the car driving home from what should have been a standard doctors appointment is grappling with life altering news, and you never know.
Todd and I believed with every fiber within us that our baby was gone and with Jesus. That this child is now whole and complete and beautiful and in the arms of Christ. And that brings me great peace. This child’s body, while miraculously tiny and already formed did not hold our child anymore.
The day of the surgery was beautiful. We woke up early and laid in bed together, feeling sad and unsure of what the day would hold for us. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink and I remember being so incredibly thirsty. Getting ready for the hospital was painful. I deliberated over what to wear. Nothing felt right or appropriate. Everything seemed too cheery or too ragged. This was the day I would say my final goodbye to my child. I couldn’t figure out something as simple as what to put on. It felt excruciatingly stupid to think about clothing. I knew I couldn’t bear to leave the hospital in maternity clothes. I tried on several outfits wondering if I would want to burn the final choice when I arrived home.
Fall has arrived in the Queen City (at least for now…) and the air was nice and cool outside, the sun was shining and the sky was a beautiful shade of blue. Again I was struck by an acute awareness of how life was moving around us, without us, oblivious to us. We were escorted into the hospital by a friendly man who made small talk about the weather and the traffic. I wanted to punch him. The women at the check in desk smiled and laughed and told me to sit and wait for them to call me to be registered. I burst into tears as we sat down in the lobby and told Todd I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t sit among the people there for outpatient surgeries that weren’t as life altering as mine. I didn’t want to sit and wait and watch Katie Couric’s new talk show on the tv hanging on the wall. I felt nauseous and unbelievably, chest crushingly sad.
The next few steps of the process were mind numbing and routine – but everyone was kind, gracious and compassionate. I got into my hospital gown and stared at the wall as the nurse chatted and made me comfortable. I watched the clock. I held Todd’s hand and we looked at each other. I felt like there was nothing to say, and yet there seemed to be so much to say I didn’t know where to begin. Finally, anesthesia was administered. I remember kissing Todd goodbye and crying as they wheeled me to the operating room. I remember when the doors opened and seeing all the people inside. There seemed to be throngs of them. I’m sure there were only a handful, but at that moment there seemed to be so many people. I remember them asking me to slide to another table and I remember nothing else after that moment until waking up. I came out of anesthesia crying and asking everyone, “Is my baby gone? Is my baby gone?” Someone gently said “Shhh” and handed me a box of tissues.
I cried all the way to recovery. I laid there, feeling heavy and nauseous and unbelievably sad. I drifted in and out of sleep and heard the term “anti partum” several times. It’s funny what sticks with you – but I will never forget that term. I was not post partum, I was anti partum. It seemed like an awful word and I wanted to tell them to stop saying it. I dozed off and on and finally it was time to see my husband again. They wheeled me to another room where I sat in a recliner and sipped water until he arrived.
Seeing him come down the hall was a beautiful sight. I felt like I had spent hours with strangers in one of the most intimate and painful experiences of my life. My sweet husband was perfect with me that day – his birthday – he was kind, unselfish, loving, and strong. He kissed me and we hugged and I cried some more. That friendly man showed up again as the nurse wheeled me outside and he smiled cheerfully at me and said cluelessly, “Well that didn’t take long, now did it?” I felt numb.
The days that have followed have been a mix of beauty and tragedy. I have two wonderful children at home that have been filled with empathy towards me, in their own little ways. Logan has given me hugs and offered me words of comfort that show me he is so much wiser than his 11 years. Beckett has been full of laughter and snuggles and has sat curled up in my lap more than he has in months. And those have been beautiful moments. Talks with my 11 year old about life and death and God – snuggles, kisses and giggles with my 16 month old. They have been precious, life affirming moments.
However, there is no way to escape the truth that I carried a life inside of me for 16 weeks only to have it cruelly taken away from me with no warning. We have so many questions that we know will probably never get answered. We are waiting on results of gender testing and chromosomal testing so we can have closure with what may have gone wrong and give our precious child a name. I spend hours feeling numb and then suddenly I feel fine. I want to chat with my friends and send out silly text messages again and then minutes later I want to throw my phone at a wall. Everything around me seems trite and unimportant. I don’t know how to feel. I don’t know what anyone can do for me. I don’t know what to say, or how to act. I feel tired and confused.
I read on the March of Dimes website that only 1-5% of miscarriages happen in the 2nd trimester. These statistics are equally maddening and comforting. I can’t believe it happened to us. I can’t believe I fit into that 1-5% of pregnancies. And yet it did happen to us, and I do fit into that statistic and we are surviving it. I don’t know how I will continue to survive the grief, but I know I will – because we follow and serve a good God. And we are called to be fearless because we know that death does not get the last word. I am reminding myself of that over and over – and resting my hope in the knowledge that I will see our child again one day. And he or she will be perfect and beautiful. I do not feel angry with God, because I know that we live in a fallen, broken world. I think God intended this child to be a part of our family and I am comforted to know we will be together one day.
Still I know the upcoming days, weeks and months will continue to bring pain, grief and heartache as well as healing, happiness and laughter. I know to expect waves of emotion, ups and downs and to watch for symptoms of post partum depression. I am fearful of how I will respond and react to people, to my family and I can only hope that we all come out of this stronger and more in love with each other than we were before.
I want to thank each and every one of you who has reached out to me, to us, to my family. And I know there are some of you that don’t know what to say, but are praying and thinking about us. I’m thankful for you too. I’ve been overwhelmed at times with how many of you have offered up kind words, thoughts, prayers and advice. My kitchen has several big, beautiful arrangements of flowers that are reminding me beauty still exists.
And, I remember hourly the verse a friend shared with me that brings me great comfort. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” It is a perfect description of how I feel – brokenhearted and crushed in spirt. And it is a perfect reminder that even now, the Lord is with me.