i have been intentionally moving forward with my blog to feel normal again–to gear my routine back into speed–after our traumatic event. unintentionally leaving most of you in the dark about why i was so blue a few weeks ago. thank you for being so caring and patient. the truth is, i haven't felt like writing about it. while simultaneously feeling like i must put the pen to the page and write about my experience before i forget the details. forgetfulness is my weakness. i am pulled in separate directions when it comes to expressing myself. like right now, i wonder if the blog is the best place to put my feelings and yet i feel i must put my experience out there. i hadn't yet publicly announced that we were expecting baby number two, so it might've been easier to churn forward without saying a word. but that would've felt completely artificial to me. i want to share my personal story because it matters. i never thought i'd be dealing with this. i wish i had more resources to turn to; more kindred spirits with similar stories. now i realize, many of you have gone through this too and have written me words of comfort. like the time i was suddenly having an unplanned c-section to deliver my first born, certain situations come into your life without any preparation or forethought. i hope i can help someone in a similar situation to not feel so alone. thank you for your understanding as i stumble through this humbling experience and unfold the aftermath of our loss.
like any story, this one has a thousand more pages that i cannot yet read. the pages seem to be folded tightly against each other and i leaf through them slowly, only to find a new lump in my throat at each fold. i am beginning to understand how something so small can be greater than the sum of its parts. i share bits of this story because i feel i cannot not share this story. i want to remember this and document it. the only thing i crave right now is to remember that little heartbeat; to honor its existence.
a few months ago we collected seashells from the shores of california and brought them home to benji's little cousins. the excited children surrounded us and we unwrapped shells one by one, explaining there was one shell for each child. bewildered, someone noticed there was one extra seashell. smiling with our secret, we told my family that we had great expectations and a happy announcement. a new baby would be joining our family! a new cousin in the club. a new sibling for benji. a new soul of sunshine.
the familiar anticipation filled our lives. the dog-eared pregnancy books piled on the nightstand, doctor appointments lined up, lists of baby names on random slips of paper, week-to-week emails calculating the baby's development, a checklist of healthy foods pinned to the fridge, and unearthed maternity clothes from storage boxes. everyone i saw seemed to be pregnant too. even in the blogging world. i was delighted to be in the club. i wondered how it would be to have two tiny ones in our home. i wondered how benji would like having a bundled up baby join our family in early december. i wondered how i could be a good mama to him and multiply my love adequately for a new member of the family. we felt so blessed. i could just imagine that holding this new baby would warm up our winter perfectly. i dreamt of the new addition and loved knowing a little angel was growing inside me.
dan and i held hands through the first ultrasound as we saw our little babe. the baby squirmed and wiggled. the doctor said the heartbeat sounded strong and all looked perfectly normal. we decided early on that we would wait and be surprised; i wondered aloud if i'd be able resist and really wait the nine months to find out the gender. i thought it would be like an early christmas surprise to hear the doctor shout out what it was. we hung that first ultrasound photo up and celebrated with scoops of ice cream in ramekins that night.
at sixteen weeks along, symptoms suddenly arose and i felt something was not quite right. the doctor did not seem too worried; still he scheduled me in for an appointment the next day. i cried myself to sleep that night. after an agonizing wait in the waiting room–full of glowing mothers-to-be–i knew deep down that we had lost the baby. i hoped and prayed i was wrong. i worried that i was being so terribly pessimistic. it is not like me to prepare for the worst. it is not like me to feel that things are not as they should be. i prayed our baby would still be healthy, strong and on its way. the second ultrasound showed no fluttering heartbeat, no movement. i knew. and i cried. and cried and cried. at this point, it started to seem like a nightmare, one of those dreams you try to wake yourself up from. terms like fetus demised and massive hemorrhage were used to describe what was once living and growing inside of me. my whole body hurt with sadness. i didn't want it to be true. all our planning and excitement and giddiness was shattered. i felt empty and horrible inside. i wanted to curl up in a cave and hibernate.
my kind doctor attempted to comfort me; telling me it was nothing i did to cause this loss. he explained how common miscarriages are, giving me percentages of pregnancies that never reach full term. what i was feeling was anything but common. i felt like a failure. my doctor was surely trying to give me a glimmer of hope, but i was simply horrified that this was what common felt like. my mind filtered through all the women i'd ever heard about who'd suffered a loss like mine. dozens of names came to mind including my mom, my grandma, friends, co-workers and others close to me. if only i had known what they'd gone through. i was now apart of another club. a club of women who suffer silently through the difficulties of miscarriage. miscarriage. the word sounds so ordinary, so over-used, so absolutely opposite to the pain and tragedy of the event itself. the word holds nothing of the sadness i feel. i guess that's just it; when people say they have no words, they really mean it. because no words can begin to describe the complexities of emotion during a time like this. for the next several days, i just wanted to wake up. i am slowly facing the realities of the situation, but i still wish that we were on the sunny side. i wish i were still pregnant and having a baby before christmas. i wish i was feeling kicks and acrobatics from the inside. i wish i could know the unknown and tell myself everything will work out. i am realizing that having real faith takes more work than i once knew. i walked out of the waiting room full of expecting mothers. i was no longer one of them.
when something sad hits you, you are never quite prepared. sad events have occurred previously in my life, yet still i feel nothing can prepare you for another sadness to hit. a fresh wound still bleeds. no one gave me a manual to miscarriage. no one could tell me of the toll it would take on my body, or the ache in my soul, or the sad look in my husband's eyes. no one prepared me for the weight of worry while i was in the waiting room that day. no one prepared me for the reminders around every corner that yank at the heartstrings with whisperings of loss. and no one prepared me for what was still to come.
i needed people more than i once thought i might. surprisingly, i was eager to talk and express my feelings. however much i wanted to deny the truth, saying it aloud helped me face the reality of our loss. my closest relatives and friends dropped what they were doing to listen to me and cry with me. these are the moments and the people you are forever thankful for. their hearts were open and they seemed to let me climb right in, giving me precious encouragement and advice. they soaked in my emotions and made me feel alright about being so sad. a part of me felt silly about being so emotional and dramatic after such a seemingly common experience. my sisters advised me to be sad for awhile, to not force myself to be happy for others, to be okay with feeling the deepness of my loss. i am still thinking of their words as my tilted hormones, sadness and tears come and go, as if keeping a strict schedule of ups and downs.
a couple of days later, what was once just awful news turned into something very real. after major labor pains, my water broke and the bad got worse. i'll spare you the details. (keep in mind, not every miscarriage has to be a medical emergency. my advice is to get to the hospital sooner than later.) soon, but not soon enough, it was all over. it is unbelievably sad to be wheeled past the nursery windows at the hospital with no baby. i look back on those few days and they are stacked with intense sadness.
throughout the ordeal, my burdens felt heavier than i could handle. but i have always known that God does not give us challenges without accompanying it with adequate strength to bear it. this was another opportunity to lean on the truths i so deeply believe in. i know God has a plan for us. i know He loves me. i know He understands my potential, my strength and the work i am to do in this life. these challenges and trials will whittle me into who i need to become. if only i will trust in Him and keep on doing the right thing, i know he will guide me into greener fields. i know He will lead me, guide me, walk beside me when there is rough terrain ahead. i'll never forget waking up the next morning; a day that i was fearful to face. that miraculous morning i woke up with a new sense of peace. my insides felt quiet instead of empty. my heart felt full instead of broken. i felt blessed instead of bruised. i know God sent me comfort and stillness to remind me of His infinite wisdom and love.
i am richly blessed with caring individuals surrounding me. so many have reached out and have been incredibly thoughtful. dan has been endlessly loving and helpful and amazing throughout the entire ordeal. i realize this loss is great in our lives but small compared to trials others experience. my eyes are starting to open, and i have had a small peek at what grief feels like. i feel so deeply for those who deal with ongoing trials or suffer from losing a loved one. i am in awe of those who still manage to see the sunshine through their grey-skied challenges. i am inspired by them. i am striving to move forward with more love in my heart and greater understanding and empathy. i know with trial comes knowledge, strength, sympathy, renewed gratitude and a deeper trust in God.
july 13. 2010