I still remember staring at those two pink lines like it was yesterday. We had been married five months and although we weren’t actively ‘trying’ to get pregnant, we certainly weren’t disappointed. In fact, we were thrilled. I had always wanted to be a mother. When I was a kid and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I always said “I want to be a stay-at-home mom with twelve kids!”
We told everyone we knew. We dreamed of our baby, came up with names, talked finances, and planned our future excitedly. And then only several short weeks later, it happened – blood. Lots of blood. My heart sank to the bottom of my chest. I called my doctor who assured me that bleeding can happen in the beginning. I wasn’t comforted and I think she must have sensed the desperation in my voice – to ease our mind she told us to go to the emergency room.
It was a silent drive. Neither my husband or I wanted to entertain the possibility of what might be happening. When we got to the ER they took us back and gave me a pregnancy test. It came back positive, which, they assured me, was a good sign. They did an ultrasound and didn’t see anything, but they said it was still be too early to see anything. They checked my cervix and it was closed. At this point they had me pretty convinced that everything was going to be ok. Scott and I were laughing and talking in the cold little ER room. Then the blood test came back. My HCG level was 36. “It looks like you are miscarrying.” the Dr. said.
The next couple of days I just laid on the couch and sobbed. One day we both laid on the couch together. We didn’t answer the door, we didn’t answer our phones, we just laid there. I couldn’t understand how I could be so devastated about a baby that we had only known about for a few weeks and that we had never actually met. However, that sweet baby made me a mom, and a mother’s love is a pretty incredible thing. I think other people who have not experienced miscarriages have a hard time understanding the sorrow associated with an early miscarriage. We had to grieve and we had to trust God. This was what I wrote on our personal family blog at the time:
Scott and I had just wrapped our hearts around the idea of being parents and all of a sudden it was gone. It just didn’t seem fair.
Now I don’t believe in coincidences, so I don’t believe that my dad reciting verses on having joy during suffering over Christmas break was a coincidence. And I don’t believe that having a nurse come into our room and quote Jeremiah 29:11 to us (the verse we picked as kind of our life verse for this time) without knowing that we were Christians too was a coincidence. And I don’t think that Scott’s sudden desire to read a 500 page book by Randy Alcorn entitled Heaven was a coincidence. I think that as Scott and I are grieving the loss of our baby, God’s all loving and faithful hand of mercy has been here with us, in those gentle reminders. (written January 12, 2008)
After that miscarriage we spent the next year and a half actively trying to get pregnant. We thought it would come easily, but after 6 months and then a year, a little bit of fear started to creep in. I read books, took my temperature, charted, ate foods that were touted to help fertility, went to the doctor, and cried out my heart to God. Each month that went by, the longing in my heart became more intense, and the empty void in our home became almost tangible. Friends were getting pregnant left and right and I was happy for them, I really was, but it also made the realization of our struggle more poignant. I still remember standing in Walgreens one day, ironically to buy more pregnancy tests, and looking down at my phone to see what time it was. The date flashed in front of my eyes and I realized that it was my due date. I stood in the aisle and bawled.
A year and a half after our first miscarriage we stared at those same two little pink lines. Except this time we refused to become excited. We were so guarded and tentative. I remember being sad that our previous miscarriage had stolen our joy from this pregnancy. I worried incessantly about miscarrying. I tried to give it to God and trust Him, but every little cramp or twinge had my mind spiraling into worse case scenarios. We didn’t have our first appointment with our doctor until I was nearly 12 weeks pregnant. As the weeks went on and we got closer to the end of the first trimester, our confidence started to build. I was experiencing every symptom in the book and we began to let ourselves have hope. We still hadn’t told anyone, but our appointment was on a Saturday so we were going to announce it on Sunday.
At the doctor’s office, I sat on the table nervously. The doctor put some lube on my belly in preparation for an ultrasound. She was a sweet, Christian lady who attended our church and she made friendly chit-chat, trying to break through the cold cloud of expectancy hanging in the room. She turned the machine on and Scott and I stared at that little screen. Within seconds it became obvious by the look on her face that something was not right. She quickly turned the machine off and turned her face towards us. She didn’t have to say anything. The tears already started.
“I’m so sorry.” She began. She went on to explain that I had a blighted ovum. The baby had died and had been reabsorbed into my body, but my body still thought it was pregnant. She scheduled me for a D&C. On the day of the D&C she performed another ultrasound just to doubly confirm that there was no baby in my uterus.
Amidst the pain of this loss, there is one moment that happened that will forever make me laugh. After the D&C I sent my husband to the store to get some feminine pads to control the bleeding. The poor guy had never purchased a lady product like this before, so he grabbed the first thing he could find on the shelf and then threw in a bunch of bags of chocolate to cover them up! When he got home, I discovered that he had bought me adult diapers. We laughed and cried and laughed and cried about that. Now I just laugh about it. 🙂
A week later the results from the D&C came back, it turns out that my miscarriage was actually a partial molar pregnancy. WebMD describes a partial molar pregnancy as when “An egg is fertilized by two sperm. The placenta becomes the molar growth. Any fetal tissue that forms is likely to have severe defects.” I was told that I absolutely could not get pregnant in the next six months and that I had to have my blood drawn every month because there’s a possibility that if any tissue wasn’t removed, it could grow back as cancer.
The results were a double punch to our gut. Not only did we lose our baby, but we also could not even try to get pregnant for six months. This is what I wrote on our personal blog at the time:
This news was completely devastating to us. I felt so deceived by my own body, angry, and even jealous of all the other people out there who seem to get pregnant and have babies so easily. In our grieving process, however, the Lord just kept reminding me of the song by Casting Crowns I will Praise You in The Storm. I didn’t want to give thanks or praise God for what happened to us, but I did because the Bible commands us to and that is the truth I stand by even when I don’t understand it and it doesn’t make any sense to me. I know God has a plan for our lives and although we are still grieving, we have the joy of the Lord. … So now we have two babies in heaven, maybe they are running down the streets of gold together. (written August 4, 2009)
I tell these stories of our losses not because I am looking for sympathy, but because they are part of who I am. These experiences have helped form me into the person I am today. In our loss, we have been able to comfort others who have experienced loss. Also, these periods of time were definitely periods of spiritual growth as well. I still think of my two babies every single day. I think of them sitting at the feet of Jesus and laughing at His stories. Miscarriage is one of those things that people just don’t talk about. Well, I want to talk about it.
Oh and in case you were wondering, we got pregnant with this little cutie the very first month we were able to start trying again. You can read his birth story here.
And then 19 months later we were blessed with another little firecracker. I haven’t written his birth story yet, but it was a VBAC birth.
I kind of hesitated writing this because I know that for some of you, this isn’t your story. You have struggled for years and experienced loss and you don’t have an earth baby in your arms yet. I know there’s nothing I can say that will ease that pain. I know because people tried to encourage me when I so desperately wanted a baby in my arms. Just know that God sees your struggles. He knows the desires of your heart. And even though you can’t see it yet, maybe, just maybe, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you.
Blessings, my friends, and thanks for letting me share a little piece of me with you.
***Update: On 1/19/2014 we experienced our third miscarriage at 9 weeks pregnant. We got to see our precious little baby on the ultrasound. He or she had stopped growing at 7 weeks 6 days. There was no heartbeat and the ultrasound technician used the term ‘fetal demise’. We of course are heartbroken and grieving, but we know that God is sovereign in all of this.