Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Walking Beside You

Walking in the door, I set down my purse and stare at the pile of papers I still need to sort. Later, later I will.

First, a moment here with you. To share the hardness and joy of this special path God has me walking.

How could I have known I would stand in this place?  It's so humbling and so heartbreaking all at once. Humbling in the blessings constantly raining down on me, heartbreaking for those few most precious drops falling just out of reach.

When I found out I was pregnant last month, I had this imagery of sitting at the feet of God in overwhelming gratitude at a blessing beyond understanding. When we gave that baby back to God less than two weeks later, I was humbled in a different way, by different blessings.

I feel more profoundly wrapped in love and grace than I've ever experienced. It's still a hard and heart wrenching path, but I'm in awe of the love and kindness poured out in front of me.

Just when I thought I was coming to a place in life where I had something more to teach, something more to give, I'm reminded of what a blessing it is to be a gracious receiver.

Every sorrow refines my soul, and the suffering burns compassion into my heart.

As I look into the face of another mother awaiting the day she will meet or see once more the face of her child in heaven, I see her more clearly than before. My sorrow can speak to hers, "I know you sister, I see you. I wait with you."

This road of life is hard, and suffering will meet us along the way. Take heart, sister, you do not walk alone.

For more reflections from women on varying stages and places in their fertility journey, I invite you to join us at Waiting in the Word. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Made for Heaven

This month is Pregnancy Loss Awareness.  On October 1st, all the memes and Facebook posts started showing up.  While I was reading them, I was laying on my couch, binge watching on Hulu and miscarrying a baby.

On September 22nd, I took a pregnancy test and hopped in the shower before I read it.  After a quick shower, I took a cursory glance at it before pitching what I assumed would be yet another negative test.  The faint positive that appeared jolted me, surprised me, and caused me to exclaim, "Oh my God!"  I'm an "oh my goodness-don't-take-the-name-in-vain" kind of gal, so the shock value was definitely high.

The next few days were doctor's phone calls, blood draws, and scheduling additional testing.  35 and previous pregnancy loss adds up to a lot of early testing.

As I scheduled tests, I had a hard time getting excited by the pregnancy and new life growing.  Every time I went to the bathroom, I was waiting for spotting to start, for something to go wrong.  I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.  After all this waiting, how could dreams finally be coming true?

In the midst of struggling to find excitement, I had this moment of pure clarity staring at myself in the mirror.  No matter what happened with the pregnancy, there was a new soul.  A complete, unique soul and person who would exist for all of eternity NO MATTER WHAT.

After about a week, I finally started allowing myself to hope a little more that this baby wouldn't be just for heaven.  As my pants started to feel a little tighter, I added items to the secret Amazon shopping list.  I started to plan and dream again.

Including a dream so vivid, I saw the face of my baby as I delivered him.  Bright blue eyes and a bald head with faint glimmers of peachy red hair.  Rounder than SP's face and pinker than LB's.  A little boy uniquely himself.

On my second hcg draw, the numbers didn't do what they should, so more testing was indicated. 

Just as I was starting to not check for spotting every time I used the bathroom, the spotting started.  On Friday, September 30th, I had some light spotting and as I realized what was happening, I sobbed and said many many many f-bombs.  I called Hubby and tried to stay calm as I left multiple messages on the doctor's voicemail.

The spotting stopped, and the nurse instructed me to continue on with the hcg draw planned for the next morning, as well as gave me worst case scenario instructions.

On the day I was headed in to do the next draw, the miscarriage started.  Testing that day showed that my hcg was in fact dropping rapidly.

I went home under directions of what worrying signs to watch for and rested all weekend. 

When the bleeding first started Saturday morning, I cried out for a miracle.  I prayed for intercession, I told the baby he was wanted and he was welcome.  But, I also told him I forgave him if he wasn't strong enough to stay.

About an hour later, the bleeding increased and the process of miscarrying was in full effect.

That night I sat on the floor of my shower sobbing and cursing God until the hot water ran out.  I said every angry, bitter word inside me and left the shower feeling lighter and spent.

I waited all weekend for painful cramping and contractions.  They never came.  Some slight discomfort was relieved by a little medicine, but for the most part, it was physically painless.  A small miracle and grace in the middle of a hard weekend.

As the weekend progressed, I reached out to many friends asking for prayers.  And as I did, I felt myself wrapped in grace so tangible as to be beyond understanding. 

I had expected to be so overwrought that I would have a hard time functioning in daily life; instead, I found myself a little tired, but able to manage without much struggle. 

I found myself not wanting to pass on the news because it seemed to upset others more than it upset me.  Almost like the whole enormity of what I'd been through was so big, I would need time to absorb it. 

Or maybe, as I told my mom, we've been through so much that it didn't hit high enough on the Richter Scale to be traumatic. 

I think the best explanation is that we've been buoyed in prayers.  I've seen blessings and grace everywhere.  The way my husband and I walked through this together versus how we managed after Mara was like a terrible and wonderful milestone of how we've grown. 

The last few days, I've noticed myself easily irritated, and while part of that may be hormones realigning, I think it's the grief starting to poke through the cracks.

I'm sure it's not actually true, but it seems every commercial is pregnancy tests, formula or diapers lately, and if my Kindle doesn't stop showing that baby car seat as the start screen ad, I'm going to lose it. 

I was supposed to have a baby for my 36th birthday.  And now I'm not.  I was going to buy a new stroller, but there's no need for that now.  I saw the bag of cloth diapers in SP's closet that I was daydreaming about putting on a tiny little bottom, but now I'm not.

So much of what is lost in a miscarriage is the dreams.  Still, I feel a surety that another baby is coming.  Not to replace the one we lost, but as his or her own unique and wonderful person. 

This pregnancy proved the surgery was successful, at least in part.  We're another step down the road on our journey.  We're hopeful that next time, it will be a baby we get to hold.

Until then, here are the few photos I have to mark the life of Francis Therese, named after the feast days we celebrated in the midst of his loss.

Four days before we lost Francis - I'm so glad I took this - and took the moment to celebrate his life

From the weekend on the couch

Turning back off the pregnancy setting was one of the worst parts