Love, Joleen: Hope After Miscarriage

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hope After Miscarriage

It's nearly 1 a.m. as I sit to write this blog post. The boys are asleep and I'm using this quiet time to reflect on the events of the last few weeks and days. I knew when it started happening that I would want to share the entire story because oh my goodness, the love and joy we've felt these couple of weeks is worth talking about. The end of this particular story does not cancel out any of it. I wanted to tell this story because I was always planning to. 

On the morning of February 11th Benjamin sat at his little green and white table, drawing pictures for his friends on the inside of valentines he would give them a couple of hours later. I'd only just realized the night before that he'd be needing valentines (duh) for his playgroup party and was so grateful that he was doing it so joyfully. Ben and I were getting ready for the day and we'd be dropping him at the bus soon so we could have the car. It was then that Benjamin showed us this picture he drew of our family. This was the first family portrait he's ever drawn and he was so excited to describe it to us. "This is me (as he pointed to the person on the left) and this is Daddy with a bowtie (middle) and here is Mommy with a baby sister in her tummy (right)." Ben and I were amazed and shocked. We were also wondering where the heck that idea came from as we hadn't been talking about our plans to grow our family, in front of him. We had only just started trying for another baby in January.

I thought it was just such a sweet thing he'd done and even commented on it to a few of my friends that day.
The following evening I felt nauseated immediately following dinner and ran to the bathroom gagging. I didn't get sick but intuition told me to head over to Walgreens and pick up a pregnancy test. I got the "5 days before missed period" type since I wasn't due to start my period for a few more days. I got a negative. The weekend was uneventful in that regards. We had a quiet Valentine's Day at home. Our third wedding anniversary was the following day, on the 15th. All day I had been an emotional wreck. I thought it might be because the anniversary of my dear friend, Adrian's death was coming up and I was feeling anxious. When Ben got home the three of us went to dinner. I cried through the entire thing. When I excused myself to use the restroom, I had a minor panic attack in there. Needless to say, I was very concerned! I told my mom and a couple close friends about it and mentioned getting my hormones checked. Just in case, I took another pregnancy test when we got home. At this point I had been a day or two late. The test had a second line that was so very faint I thought I must be seeing through the film. I came out, exclaiming it negative. What the heck was going on with me? 

Three days later, on February 18th I woke up to a weird situation happening with my lips. By now I was 5 days late and basically going crazy trying to figure out what was wrong with me. A quick Google search told me I either had an STD or Cancer. *insert crazy eyes* Or maybe that was another weird early pregnancy symptom, right? At this point I was convinced I had to be pregnant and I took the last of the 3 tests I had. Here it is with absolutely no filter or alteration other than cropping:
See how faint that second line is?! That's what I was dealing with and it would NOT do! I sent it to a couple people for opinions and everyone agreed that I needed to take a Pregnant/Not Pregnant test STAT. My grandma was due to come in the afternoon to take Benjamin and me to lunch. I called and asked her to swing by the drug store on her way and she was more than happy to oblige. Would you believe that said NOT Pregnant? I wasn't convinced. I think my husband thought I sprouted a second head because I really couldn't believe I wasn't pregnant. I felt pregnant. Benjamin told us I was pregnant. I was acting pregnant. 

By Friday I was peeing every 30 minutes (or 2 seconds if you had asked me then) but we agreed that I should give it just a little more time before testing again. So, I didn't test Friday. Not technically anyway. At 3:45 a.m. on Saturday (the 20th), I woke up to use the restroom. In my half asleep state I decided to take another test. Almost immediately -- "Pregnant".
OMG, OMG! I was silently screaming and crying and jumping up and down. It was 3:45 a.m., folks. No one else was awake! I remembered that my sister, Aimee, had told me she was working that night (she's a nurse) and although I would have loved to call her, I couldn't wait. I sent over the picture and she and I squealed and exclaimed our excitement from opposite sides of the country, in our own world, just us. And obviously there was no going back to sleep from that! I laid awake on the couch until after 5:30 when a little someone came looking for his Mama. We slept some on the couch together and then walked back to bed. When they woke up for the day I slept in. When I was finally up, I immediately went and took another test... just to be sure!
We were so, very excited! We immediately started talking to Benjamin about it and speculating as a family whether it was going to be a boy or a "yirl", as he calls it. He maintained throughout that he wanted it to be a girl. That day was filled with pure elation as we told our family and close friends. We went on a date while my sister-in-law cared for Benjamin. We told her when we got back and she got to join our speakerphone calls, sharing our great news.
The following week we started getting ready for baby. We interviewed a midwife and learned about the home birth process and expenses. We talked about fundraising (working) for a second car and preparing Benjamin to start school in the fall. I got my hair done so that I wouldn't have to again during the pregnancy. We talked and laughed and hugged. I was sure we found out the exact day we did (Feb. 20th) because that was the anniversary of Adrian's death. I was positive that this great thing happened on that day just to help me get through it. And it did. The day, the week, it was joyous. Benjamin would rub my belly and say, "I wonder if it will be a boy or yirl. I hope it's a yirl." We got to have one week of confirmed pregnancy and I'm so happy for it. Even now that it's over, I'm still so happy we had it.
This past Saturday marked 6 weeks. We decided to have a family day and headed for the BeltLine for the first in my series of weekly bump pics. We had decided that we'd take the pics and share them, along with the one of the two positive tests, with our announcement after our 8 week appointment (when we'd have our first ultrasound). We could not have asked for a more gorgeous day. The sun was shining and there were tons of people out enjoying the beautiful weather. Although we have visited many Living Walls throughout Atlanta, and had been on the BeltLine behind Paris on Ponce several times, we had never walked the BeltLine before. On the way toward Old Fourth Ward Skate Park, I felt a few quick sharp pains/cramps. It wasn't anything too painful but I still let Ben know and we rested. We stopped a lot along the way to take photos and stopped when we got to the park. We'd brought Benjamin's soccer ball with us and kicked that around some. I sat, soaking in the sun and feeling so blessed.
Sunday we woke early because I had a [photography] session at the park. The boys came with me so that Benjamin could enjoy the park, too, since it isn't one we frequent. I didn't feel anything out of the ordinary. On the way home afterward I felt a surge of nausea and had Ben pull the car over. I gagged a few times but never got sick. Our friends, Julia and Ian, were headed over to our place soon for a playdate and so that I could help Julia make some eczema cream. I used the restroom shortly before they got there and when I wiped there was blood. It wasn't like implantation bleeding, which had happened the previous week. This was red and after several wipes was still coming. To me, it was more than "spotting". I put on a panty liner and texted Julia was was going on. They got here shortly afterward and after a while all of us, including Ben, went to the park up the street. I was just going to take it easy and spent the entire time sitting on a bench watching. Afterward we went for ice cream and Benjamin had his very first cone.
We said goodbye to our friends from there and headed home. I could feel that the panty liner was wet (possibly soaked through) and was anxious to get home and assess the situation. It was bad. To me, it was like a full blown period, complete with tissue. :( We decided to go to the ER and got there around 5 p.m. The hospital experience was extensive. They took blood. I peed in a cup. I had a vaginal exam then external and internal ultrasound. It was a roller coaster. The exam, which happened before the ultrasound or any other results, showed that my cervix was closed (good sign) but that I had a blood clot (not necessarily anything to worry about). I spent several hours there thinking everything was going to be okay. Even the ultrasound tech gave no indication that there was absolutely nothing left to see. It was heartbreaking to hear the news that my HGC was only 13 and I was having a miscarriage. I knew after she'd explained the ultrasound that it had already happened. This is me waiting glamorously and putting on a brave face for my family.
We got home at 11 p.m. and I cried my face off. I cried and cried and cried. I gave myself a migraine crying. Then I took some meds and doused myself in essential oils and went to sleep. I'm not sure how this is, but it was one of the best night sleeps I'd had in a while. Monday I woke up a new person. I grieved (and am grieving) the loss of what could have been but if there is any silver lining in this experience it is this -- the realization that God can carry me through this and the overwhelming feeling of being SO, INCREDIBLY blessed with LOVE. I've never loved or appreciated others more than I do my husband and son right now. Ben is my life's ultimate blessing and our son, Benjamin is the light of my life. Yes, I feel sad. Yes, I feel disappointed. But I'm not angry at God. I know in my heart that he will bless and grow our family.
This experience has helped me to love my family more fiercely and to appreciate how blessed I truly am. I know I can speak for my husband and myself in saying that the outpouring of support and prayer and most of all, love, has helped carry us through this time. And we have hope in the Lord.
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." 
Jeremiah 29:11
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