My story is one of redemption. It’s a story of loss, of sadness, of time passing very slowly… and a story of the sweetest redemption I could’ve asked for.
After I had my daughter, Hubby and I didn’t wait to get pregnant again. We didn’t try necessarily, but we knew we wanted another, so we just waited it out. When EK was almost 11 months old, we found out we were pregnant again! How quickly you grow attached to the little one in your womb. Just the idea of that baby was the most wonderful thought in my head day in and day out. But two weeks later, I was feeling terrible and crampy, and started bleeding. By the time I got into the doctor’s office for an ultrasound, it was already clear I was losing the baby. Hubby was leaving town, I had to work, and I didn’t have time to properly mourn. I couldn’t believe it had ended so quickly and quietly. Or was I glad it had ended that way, instead of further along and with more to-do? I don’t know.
But after three months of waiting to try again, of being sad every time I even thought about babies… I was chatting with some girlfriends, asking how much longer it should be before I could move on and try again. I was startled, taken aback by the question. The subject had been a little taboo, or else people hadn’t even known about it. So when I got my calendar out, counted up weeks… I realized it had been plenty long enough to have started again and been trying.
When I got home, I took a test that had been waiting in the bottom of my bathroom drawer, awaiting just such an occasion as this uncertainty. I waited with bated breath… and when I finally looked at it, two bold, pink lines were showing.
I could barely believe what I was seeing. I somehow had ovulated and conceived without any sign. I was baffled, and still thought it was a mistake. Could the pregnancy hormones have hung around this long? Could it somehow be a false positive, staring back, taunting me?
My grief dissipated, and my heart hung on to this new little one… who is now 21 months old, my sweet Joseph. I know that this isn’t always the happy ending parents get after losing a baby. I know that the grief is more intense the longer the pregnancy and older the baby. I know that multiple losses cause more and more pain. But there can be redemption in the midst, and joy in the morning. It may not be identical to my redemption… but it will come.
Infant and pregnancy loss are real, folks. And they are truly tragedies, spoken and unspoken. Remember those who have lost little ones, big ones, tiny ones, and grown ones. It’s never easy to lose a child. Hug someone’s neck or send a note to say you remember. It will go a long way.
This post is in honor of infant and pregnancy loss awareness day (October 15) and month (October) in 2015.
I’ve been inspired the past couple of weeks to write about our family planning. Or lack thereof. There have been several articles I’ve read on the subject, about opinions on child spacing, and in the light of #mommitment I wanted to share my story (lest y’all think I’m crazy for having my three under three and a half).
You see, when Hubby and I decided we were ready to start having children, we did what any couple’s first step is: I stopped taking the pill. This was January of 2011. We’d been married for a little over a year and a half, and we knew we wouldn’t immediately get pregnant, but we thought we’d see what happened.
What happened was a few months of “not not trying”, where we didn’t really plan out days or anything, but we knew we’d “pulled the goalie”. Then, after the few months of that, we started actually trying, planning days to try to conceive, and keeping track of every single thing – did you know there were APPS FOR THAT?! After a few months of that process and no baby, I’d spent way too much on pregnancy tests and not enough on newborn-sized onesies, so I tried a new approach. I started taking my basal resting temperature. That meant that right as I woke up, I would take my temperature before getting out of bed, record it, and wait for it to one day spike – ever so slightly- which meant I’d be ovulating. Well, that day came, and so obviously we tried to conceive. Then the next morning, and the nine or ten after that, my temperature never went back down. I basically thought the system was busted. I can’t be ovulating every day. Well, I wasn’t. Because I was pregnant.
When EK was born 10 months later, I was nursing, and while I know that nursing isn’t birth control, I didn’t go back on any sort of birth control when she was born. Hubby and I figured the Lord had a plan, and we were good with whatever it was. My cycle didn’t come back until four months post-partum, and I breastfed until six months. We weren’t trying to get pregnant, but we obviously weren’t preventing it, either.
In March of the next year, when EK was 11 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. We were thrilled, and couldn’t wait to start telling our families, but before we even got to that point, I was cramping and bleeding, and ended up miscarrying at 7 weeks. I was told that I would start my cycle back in 4-12 weeks (Really? What sort of help is that?!) and not to try to get pregnant again until then. I guess they were basically telling me not to rush back into it, and let my body get back to normal. Well, I was obviously emotionally wrecked and not really in a hurry, at least until my body did what it needed to do. A couple of months later, I was out with some girlfriends, who asked me about it. I started counting the weeks, and realized I was at 13. They hadn’t said it would be any longer than 12 weeks (although, how accurate is it, truly?) so just for good measure, I went home and took a test. Positive! Boom.
This time, I had no inkling how far along I was… I’d had to period to reference my ovulation and conception. It wasn’t until my ultrasound at TEN AND A HALF WEEKS that I’d have the baby before the year was out. How’s that for a crazy few months, and an enormous blessing at the end of them?!
After J was born at the end of that year (2013), I nursed him for eight wonderful months, and when he weaned himself, my cycle started back. I had exactly two periods, and found out I was pregnant again. And here I am! 27 weeks with my third little miracle.
Now, did I plan it out this way? No. Did I try to plan differently? No. Am I aware how blessed I am to be fertile and healthy and blessed with three children in four years? Absolutely. I know everyone is not this way – and especially on timing, wouldn’t necessarily want to be this way. Are we often a bit of a madhouse around here? Yes. Do I expect it to get much better? Not for a while. But do I love my little tinies, how close they are together, and how happy they make me? 100%.
I do get some comments and looks at the grocery store when people see me with my littles, and obviously another on the way. “You sure had them close together!” and “You know what causes that, right?” are things I hear a lot. Yes, they are obviously close together, thankyouverymuch. Yes, I CLEARLY know what causes that. I’m a grown woman, amIright? So while I didn’t try to ensure my kids would be mistaken for Irish twins, or likely straight up triplets when they hit high school or so, I wasn’t against having them all in diapers at the same time, or all in college at the same time. I’ll survive. And they will thrive.
Some of my people know this story… my family, close friends, prayer warrior friends of mine. I hope that by telling it, someone will be encouraged, someone will feel less alone, someone will be justified in their anguish. This story isn’t cute or sweet, and it doesn’t leave anything out. It’s just heartache and details and sadness and redemption.
Hubby and I tried for seven months to get pregnant with EK. I am well aware that seven months isn’t very long to try to get pregnant. It seemed long going through it, but as the cliché goes, God’s timing is always perfect. Hubby and I have always liked the idea of having our children fairly close together, so when she was born, we decided to “not not try”. Pardon the double negative, but that was our short way of saying we weren’t actively “trying” to get pregnant right away, but we weren’t actively preventing getting pregnant either.
When EK was ten months old, I got pregnant. I knew early on, told Hubby, and we somehow kept the joy and excitement of a sibling for EK to ourselves for two weeks. We finally told my parents (who were visiting at the time) when I estimated myself to be about 6 weeks along. With utterly cruel timing, the following week I started having terrible cramps. Not “implantation cramping” or “stretch cramping” or whatever other excuse they give you to tell you “it’s totally normal”. I was having honest-to-goodness, menstruation-like cramps. I tried to keep calm. I tried to monitor my body. I tried to wish and hope and pray them away. And when the spotting started, I called my OB’s office, heard the nurses say it was normal, read on various medical websites that it was normal. But I knew. Somehow, deep down I already knew what was happening.
I went in for an ultrasound, because my OB wanted to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. He was able to rule that out but said it was too early to tell much else. I went home. Cried a little lot. Rested. Tried to pretend everything was fine. Hubby was preparing for a ski trip with his brothers and some buddies, so I tried my best to put on a happy face and not share my darkest concern with him. But two days later, I knew for sure. My worst fears were all but confirmed. My cramping was a lot worse, and so was the bleeding. Even though my head kept wanting to hope, my heart was resigned to the loss.
I had gotten up at 4:00am that morning when Hubby got up to leave for his trip. He had offered to stay, but what good would it have done? Whether he stayed or went wouldn’t change anything. As I sat in the bathroom, weeping, I could even tell the moment that was the peak. It was done. Over. There would be residual damage, of course, but the event was finished. When I was hugging Hubby and sending him on his trip, I told him it was over. He held me for a long time, and left. I knew asking him to stay, like I really wanted to, would be ridiculous. I had already seen that he felt helpless, and was miserable for me much more than for the situation.
Later we would talk at length about this, about how he was excited at the idea of the baby, but it was just that – an idea. For the partner, it’s just an idea until they start to see the belly grow, feel the kicks, see the movements. For the woman who is pregnant though, the motherhood starts the moment you know that baby is there, just a microscopic little bean. Your feelings in that moment, combined inevitably with your hormones, overwhelm you. You start thinking and planning, praying and seeking wisdom from those other mothers in your life. You love that little thing… that little nameless, shapeless thing, because that’s what the Lord created you to do. You begin to neglect other things in your life as you start to wonder what the baby will look like, how far along you (actually, officially) are, whether it’s a boy or girl, whether you’ll even find out until the birth. It’s incredible how quickly you love that little thing, and every possibility it has.
But to have that little thing taken, snatched from you without reason or ceremony, that will break your heart. “What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?” The answer is probably nothing. The poor little thing never had a chance. And neither did your heart.
In the next few weeks that seemed to drag, I held onto my first baby, my sweet Ella Kate, so tightly. I thanked the Lord for her, tried to believe that it was still possible for me to have a second such miracle. But if there wasn’t, EK was perfect, and I would do my best to be happy with only her. But I wanted her to have a sibling! I wanted her to experience that bond. I know many only children who wish they had shared their childhood with another. I didn’t want to keep that experience from her. I couldn’t help but wonder, no matter how hard I tried not to, if I had lost the only chance at another little miracle.
After the miscarriage, my doctor told me it could be 4-12 weeks before my cycle would start again. You guessed it – all that stuff about every woman’s body being different and all. He also said we should wait till the cycle started back to try to get pregnant again. And oh, did we ever want to try. I didn’t know there was a gaping, second-child-shaped hole in my life until I glimpsed it and lost it. But we waited to “try”. We took it slow, went about our busy lives. Then one day, chatting with two of my girlfriends, I started to count. I counted the days and weeks since my sadness had begun. There were so many… thirteen weeks, to be exact. How long had my doctor told me to wait? 4-12? Well heck, there ought to be something wrong with me if I haven’t started at this point. What could be the hold up? This girl needs to get pregnant!
When I got home, I found out what the hold up was. I was pregnant, there in that very moment. In the midst of my anguish and waiting and wallowing and praying, I got pregnant. Without trying, without stressing over dates and temperatures and wives’ tales. I couldn’t believe it – women don’t get pregnant like that, right? Our bodies need time and healing and rest, right? I guess sometimes not. And when I called my doctor’s office, the nurse I spoke to estimated (based on my miscarriage date) that I got pregnant about eight weeks after the miscarriage, and made me an appointment for when I should have been abut eight weeks along. At the appointment, the ultrasound tech (the same sweet Kayla who had walked with me through both my pregnancy with EK and my shorter, sadder one) burst out laughing and said, “You’re 10.5 weeks pregnant! Due before the end of the calendar year!” What an incredible surprise, to be that near the baby’s arrival! I was almost out of my first trimester, and I hadn’t even known I was expecting.
Part of the beauty of my story is the way Joseph obliterated my raw sadness. His appearance showed me that my body wasn’t broken. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. A few short months later, he arrived the day before his due date, round and pink and perfect. He’s the symbol of redemption in the story. The proof that something blessed and sweet was on my horizon.
In my story, I just have one. Just one little being I lost and will one day meet in heaven. But I know there are countless women who have lost more, much more, more than even those little babies that should have been. I count myself lucky to have two healthy children, and just one comparatively brief time of sadness. I don’t sit here thinking I’ve had it the worst you can have. But every miscarriage hurts. It still hurts. It is such a deep sadness, in your bones. But look for the redemption. I won’t tell you the redemption will look like mine. It might not be a child at all. But it will be there. Every situation can and will be redeemed. Let yourself believe it.