Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hope in the Midst of Darkness


Just in case you missed it on Instagram, let me start by saying that this is NOT a pregnancy announcement. It is actually the exact opposite of that. I was pregnant and I am no longer. In fact, today was my due date. 

I want to warn you that this is a rather long post and highly personal. It has been on my heart to share this journey not for your sympathy or for your heart to ache for my family, but to bring to light the suffering that is so seldom talked about that comes with losing a baby and the hope I have found in my faith. I hope my journey brings you comfort if you have suffered this tremendous loss or helps you better understand what a loss this heavy is like for those who may be suffering around you. 

Let's go back to May, May 23rd to be exact. I woke up, made breakfast for Tony, got him out the door and then went to take a pregnancy test. We had tried to get pregnant and my period was due that day. Of course, I could not stand the anticipation any longer than the hour I was awake and since I had purchased a box of three tests, I figured, why not? Three minutes later, there it was, "Pregnant". I think I talked to myself for an hour straight. All I said was, "No way", in a myriad of tones. Some of the "No way"s were said in disbelief, most said in excitement and some out of pure shock. I mean, this was really happening for us. There was a little tiny nugget growing inside of me. After my head stopped spinning, I instantly had fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of a miscarriage and just general fear. I mean, fear took me over. 

Over the next few hours, I calmed myself down and immediately started planning. Being the planner I was, I already had something in motion for how to tell Tony. Months back I had seen these coffee cups that you could get personalized and I had seen the idea of having "Baby Daddy" written in the bottom of the cup so when you have finished drinking, this (not so) tiny message would be there staring up at you. Well, Tony looooooooves coffee, so this was absolutely perfect. So, I had these mugs made a while back hoping that I would need them someday. We sometimes drink decaf after dinner so I knew that as soon as he got home from work I would have dinner ready and suggest that we have coffee and chat about our days after we ate. I did just that and dinner draaaaggged. I mean, I was about to bust at the seams with excitement. Finally, we sat on the couch and at the bottom of his coffee cup, he found out he was going to be a daddy. He did a ton of "No way"s too, we laughed and we cried and I secretly recorded it all (that felt really too personal to share given how things have turned out). 

For the next five weeks, I planned. Like I mentioned before, I am a planner like most have never seen. This baby's nursery was completely decorated in my head (boy and girl), I had decided on most of the major items we would have on our registry and we were already talking baby shower. This may seem extremely weird to you but that's just me. In the midst of all of this planning, I had fear. That same fear from day one crept into my mind and heart just about every single day. I prayed so much, but I let this fear take hold of me in the worst way. Now, understand that even before I got pregnant and before we ever started to try, I had fear about not getting pregnant and also fear of having a miscarriage. So, this was already something I had opened the door to long before it happened. 

I was feeling pretty good the entire time. I was definitely tired and got worn out very easily. I was constantly thirsty. which also meant that I had to pee all the time. I had nausea, but nothing I couldn't handle. Oh, and I was bloated, sooooo bloated. By the time I was six weeks along my pants were not closing all the way (comfortably anyways). I know this was not because I had a huge baby in me and I had not gained any weight. I just must have been retaining so much water (hence the little bump in the picture above). All in all, it was completely tolerable and so exciting. 

The day of our first appointment finally came. It literally felt like Christmas. I was nine weeks along and we were going to get to hear and see our baby. I was so anxious, like the kind of anxious where your whole body is shaking. I felt great all morning, though.

When we checked in at the reception desk the sweet young lady behind the counter beamed and congratulated us. This made me ridiculously giddy and I had not had any fear this morning. Then it hit me out of nowhere. My foot hit the first stair that led to my OB's office and my body got chills all over. Instantly I was riddled with fear like you could not believe. My head started spinning with all of the "What if..." questions I had ever had. I had to start taking deep breaths in order to not have a full blown panic attack. I was able to calm down enough for them to take my vitals and take us to our room. 

Shortly after, the kindest Physician's Assistant who was conducting our appointment entered the room. She was thrilled for us. I mean, beaming from ear to ear thrilled. She started asking us about ourselves with questions about the pregnancy weaved in. I asked her if we were going to get to bring home ultrasound pictures today and Tony asked a ton of questions (so great and so appreciated). Then she started. 

I scooted down to the end of the table and placed my feet in the stirrups. She turned the ultrasound machine on and began poking around. It was quiet. She was quiet. Our baby was silent.

She turned the screen off and looked at us with glassy eyes and said that it breaks her heart, but she was not seeing what she should be seeing for how far along I was. There was no heartbeat. The baby was too small. I tried to hold back my tears and she could see me doing so. She told me that it was ok to cry and I instantly grabbed Tony and started bawling hysterically. My head was swimming in every thought I had ever had and every plan we had ever made for this baby. I sobbed and sobbed. She waited so kindly for me to stop and then told us that she wanted to make sure that what she was seeing was 100% accurate. I honestly did not have any faith in the tiny sliver of hope she offered us, but we left the office to wait for our next appointment with the more in-depth ultrasound at the hospital. 

As we got in the car I sobbed uncontrollably, but when I stopped long enough to hear more than my sadness, I heard "Thy Will" by Hillary Scott playing over the radio. God is so good. He knew exactly what I needed. For the rest of the day, I repeated the phrase, "Thy will be done", over and over again in my head. I knew then and I know now that this was all somehow part of His plan. I found out later that Hillary Scott wrote that song while she was dealing with the aftermath of her own miscarriage. 

Tony and I sat on the beach for about an hour. I just stared at the ocean and the waves as my heart shattered again and again. Tony held me and just loved me. That was what I needed most. 

We went home and waited until we had to leave for our next appointment. After my ultrasound, the sweetest doctor told us the same thing that the Physician's Assistant had earlier in the day. My heart broke again. I sobbed again. She also told us that they wanted to wait a week, have us come back for an additional ultrasound and compare the two to make sure there was no growth and that I had not miscalculated how far along I should be. The baby was measuring six weeks and three days. I wanted to be wrong with all of my heart, but I knew I wasn't. I'm a planner remember, and my cycle is like clockwork. I, in fact, have terrible ovulation pain and can even tell you which ovary I am ovulating from. I wasn't wrong. 

That sweet doctor also warned us that we would not escape unscathed by this as a couple. She told us that it was our choice if we wanted this to pull us apart or to help our marriage grow stronger. She was extremely adamant about this in the nicest way and it has really stuck with me all of these months. 

We went home and we cried and cried. I wanted to wake up. I wanted this to all be a dream. This baby was our baby and now every thought, every discussion, every hope we had for this child was ripped away from us. This was the most painful day of my life. Everything was dark... except for that little voice in my head that kept repeating "Thy will be done" over and over again. It was still there and it was not going away. 

The next day I felt hungover. No, not because I was, remember I still had to wait a week before we could be certain, even though I knew in my heart and mind that I was in fact no longer growing a baby. I was heartbroken in the most tragic way. The days that followed were quite dark as well. I cried at least once every hour and I just kept asking questions. I could not wrap my head around why this would happen to us. We have walked through this dark time with family members and although I was fearful of it happening to us, I never imagined that it would (because you just don't). 

We returned to the hospital for another ultrasound the following week and there was no growth. Although my body still thought it was pregnant, I was no longer growing that tiny little life inside of me.

In the weeks that followed, I started to heal, but the pain still lingered. Tony and I leaned on each other and had extremely honest conversations about how we felt. We grew together. We were always in agreement on each other's feelings and in what was next. The rest of the people we do life with supported us and loved on us immensely. So many friendships with family and friends alike shined brightly in this time and for that, we are eternally grateful. 

If this is you right now, please understand that people will not understand what you are going through unless they have gone through it themselves under the same circumstances. Do your best to give them grace when they just don't get it. Know that this will affect your life immensely and that the only hope you will have will be found in Jesus. I fully believe that we will be able to have children (God says so) and know that you can lean on your faith to do so. Use these horrible circumstances to grow your marriage. If you don't have a sweet doctor that explains how important it is for you to lean on each other, then tell your husband yourself. I mean, truly explain it to him in the kindest rawest manner possible. He is not a mind reader even though this would be the best time ever for him to be. Although it stings more than people can imagine, when someone asks why you don't have children yet, learn to smile and say "Someday, God willing". Lastly, although this will always be wound that can never quite heal properly, you will find peace and your days will get brighter. 

If you know someone who is going through this, let them talk if they want, let them cry if they want, hug them, be silent with them and let them know that this is not the end of their story even though it may feel like it. Pray for them. We all need prayer. Whatever you do, don't brush over it. Please don't act like it didn't happen in an attempt to take their mind off of it. I promise you they will eventually heal and be as close to normal as possible, but you will not be able to speed up this process so don't hurt them by trying. Even though you don't realize it, their baby just died. That baby that they had hopes and dreams for is no longer and they have to go through a mourning process. It is not fun for you or them but this is where you can shine. Be there. 

I listened to "Thy Will" over and over again and truly proclaimed that I wanted nothing other than God's will to be done in my life. This is part of my story and my growth as a human being. It is what I have held onto in the midst of the heartbreak and now more than ever I pray that His will is done in and through us. 

I also recently heard an amazing quote from Pastor Levi Lusko on fear. He said, "Having fear puts faith in the enemy." He is so right and I have never heard it said that way. I mean, God tells us over and over again in the Bible not to have fear so if we do then we are simply opening the door for the enemy to win. I recite this quote and some verses on fear anytime I feel that door in my heart creeping open. Lately, I  have felt like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone yelling, "I'm not afraid anymore", at the top of his lungs in his front yard (sans running inside screaming immediately after)! God has healed my heart of fear. 

Because I have my faith to lean on first and foremost, I have hope in the future. I can't wait to hold my healthy happy baby someday and in the meantime, I am trusting that God's will is going to be done and I am NOT putting faith in the enemy. 

I hope this helped shed some light on a subject that is not talked about nearly enough and I hope that it gives you hope. 

1 comment:

  1. So sorry to hear this, you seem such a good person and definitely don't deserve this...I hope you will be fine and eventually get pregnant again. Wish you all the best <3

    ReplyDelete

 

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