"Grief only exists where love first lived." - Francesca Cox
I guess to truly understand I have to start this story at the very beginning (some of you may know the first part of this, but bear with me because all of this needs to be told as a whole).... When N was a little more than one, Jeremy and I decided to start trying for another baby. It took us 9 months to have N, it was not easy but compared to what we would walk through in the coming years, it was a piece of cake. After many months of trying, inconsistency with my body and many blood tests showing no results, I scheduled an appointment with my OBGYN.
They did more extensive blood tests and sent me for an ultrasound (as I lay there during that invasive exam I thought, I will never forget how many of these I have to have-remember this little thought for later in the story.) The doctor told me that she wanted to send me to a fertility specialist to go over all the results. Some of my hormone levels were very elevated and my case was not something they usually handle in the normal office.... So off we went to the fertility clinic.
Doctors there told us that I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), but they were also a little bit baffled saying over and over again how "you don't fit the typically mold of what we expect for a PCOS patient." It was something I have heard over and over, but the diagnosis was there plain as day and my terrible ovaries. There is no mistaking it. My (amazing) doctor that was in charge of our case told us there was no way we should have been able to have N on our own, he said that I might, might ovulate on my own once a year- if that. The chance of us getting pregnant again on our own, in his opinion, was extremely unlikely. Additionally, he warned us that even after getting pregnant because of my PCOS I have a greater than 50% chance of having a miscarriage.
So, countless appointments at the fertility clinic, invasive ultrasounds (which I had so many of, I very quickly lost count) and procedures, needles, pills, stress, fear, tears and uncertainty filled our life. Jeremy was gone for most if it, being attached to a ship. It was me an N in the clinic all the time, like our unfortunate second home. After all of that, in the summer of 2015, we finally got pregnant. It was overwhelming and exciting and scary. It was literally the last chance we had to try before N and I moved back to Michigan with my mom while Jeremy went with the ship to Japan. We knew the risks and that the odds were not in my favor, that I had such a high risk of loss, but we let ourselves be happy, celebrate and be thankful for our sweet little miracle.
The loss of our angel was confirmed the day Jeremy deployed; we found out at the airport waiting to go through security and wait with Jeremy to get on the plane. I have never felt pain like I did that day. I felt as if I lost my baby and my husband on the same day. I just wanted to crawl into bed, cry and let Jeremy hold me... But that would not be possible for almost 6 months. I had a crying, clinging toddler screaming for his Daddy to take care of. With the loss of the baby and the weight of being separated from Jeremy, I felt like I had to put on a mask over my severe depression (and I am not ever sure how well I did that) and just survive each day. It was like I was on hold until Jeremy came home and was able to pick up the pieces and help put me back together.
Eventually, we started to see a new doctor at a fertility clinic here in New York once Jeremy got home and we settled into our new life. This was really hard for me because I loved my doctor in San Diego and I feel that he was one of those rare, exceptional doctors that are impossible to replace... I hated the new clinic and the doctor, He made me uncomfortable and kept pushing us to do things I knew didn't work for us. Jeremy and I left the office one day, with me in tears, and he said we are not going back there, we will find someone else.
The clinic had done an ultrasound and blood work, the nurse promising to call the next day and tell me what medications to start taking. I felt so much anxiety about that call and having to say don't order me any meds, I'm not coming back. The following day I got the call when I was driving, "Well, we aren't going to order you anything today..." WHAT?! That was the exact thing I had worried about... and then she told me I was ovulating, on my own. She said good luck and I was in shock. As I ended the call, I heard God speak to me in a way I have NEVER experience in my life, clear as a bell. He said," Do not be afraid or worry. I am in charge of this, not doctors or anyone else. I am." Instantly I felt a since of peace and calm wash over me. A couple weeks later I knew I was pregnant before I even took the test, but still wept with every emotion under the sun when that test turned positive. 9 months later L was in my arms and my heart was full.
This brings us to the here and now part of the story.... My babies are my greatest blessings and I thank God every single day for allowing me to live my dream of motherhood. Even a broken, confusing body like mine can be blessed. With all the joy that L brought to our home and watching N be such an amazing big brother, Jeremy and I knew we wanted more children. We started trying again around the time L turned 6 months. By the time he turned one we decide to talk to my OBGYN here and see what our options were. I really didn't want to start down the fertility clinic path again if we didn't have to.
After a few months of trying with medications from my doctor, nothing was happening. It is very hard to keep this going month after month especially not being about to take any of my migraine medications during the endless two-week-wait periods. We made the decision to move forward and make an appointment at the new fertility clinic, but we were going to keep trying on our own with the meds in the mean time since the appointment was not for a couple of months.
I was filling out all of the paperwork for the clinic, a long, sad process and I just felt so down about it. I just didn't imagine having to go back to a place like that- it is like a full time job. A few days later I woke up and I just felt the overwhelming need to take a pregnancy test. It was positive. I wept again and ran to tell Jeremy, shocked at this incredible miracle. We got to be happy for one week...
I felt that something was wrong and I had a little bit of spotting (which I have never had with any of my pregnancies) so I called and left a message for my doctor. The nurse that called back was kind of dismissive, telling me that a lot of women experience this and that Dr. C would most likely just have me wait for my appointment in 3 weeks, but she would relay my message to him. She called back in 20 minutes telling me that my doctor wanted to have me do blood work that day and then a repeat draw two days later to make sure my levels were going up appropriately (they should double every 48 hours.) The following day a (different) nurse called to give me my results saying the my HCG level was only 112, and that he still wanted me to get tested again the next day. Thirty minutes after that call I started bleeding, not a lot but enough to be worried. I called back the plan remained the same.... Waiting is hard, but that was the only thing we could do.
Before they could call me with my second blood draw results, I started bleeding heavily. I was standing a the bus stop waiting for N to get home, and I just knew. When the nurse called me shortly after she said my HCG level was only 148 and that because of the new, heavy bleeding Dr. C wanted to have me coming in the following day for an ultrasound and an appointment. I will never forget the compassion from the ultrasound tech and the tears in her eyes and she confirmed our worst fears. Our baby was gone. I miscarried again.
It's a kind of heartbreak you never even knew existed until that moment. You can feel that sweet little life slip through your fingers, through your mourning body. All your joy, hope, plans and dreams. They fade like wilting, soft petals off of a flower. But your love, your longing for that precious life is now a thirst that can never be quenched. Some days it chokes you and you feel like you can't breathe. Other days it feels like you cannot even recall picking up your desperately sad soul to make it though the motions of the day. That life was supposed to be your great creation of love. But alas, the creation was not yours but the Creator's. He let you hold that life as long as your were meant to. He knew that you, and only you, would be able to love His precious flower in such a profound way that all they knew for their breath of a life was your love... That soul shaking, life changing, never ending love. You might be broken, but you are blessed . Sometimes blessings can be painful and leave scars that only God can see. But can you imagine the joy that will come when you see that Kingdom? The face of that little flower will be smiling upon you, their arms will hold you and their heart will have been waiting for you to come Home to them.
Even during this time of sadness, I hold onto hope because I know that all things are possible through Christ. I watch my two amazing boys and soak up all the sunshine they pour into our home... and I hold onto my husband. His love and strength is something that I don't have have to wait 6 months for this time. We get to hold each other, pray together and slowly heal. I am not angry, I do not look upon others with deep jealousy after our tragedy. I know, with every piece of who I am, that God has a plan for me, for our family. There is a unique pain that comes with this season of life, but I push past that pain to focus on the blessings.
I truly hope that by sharing my story and opening my heart I can help others that are also suffering and to remind myself (and others) "And if not, He is still good."
Grief can feel like a wasteland that consumes you... search for the footholds that help you climb out and confidently move forward. I had an old tattoo that was supposed to be a reminder of our first loss redone... The new one represents our two angel babies (the little flower buds), hope for our future (the blooming flower) and my unwavering faith in Christ (the quote.) I get to "carry" my babies close to my heart and see a beautiful reminder of them daily. I knew that getting this would make me happy, but it is hard to describe the peace that it has brought to my heart. The days are still hard, I am still sad and my arms still ache to cradle my sweet little ones... but I feel a heaviness slowly lifting off, which is priceless.
(Thank you to Shenan Tucker for the amazing piece!)