Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Story of Miscarriage: Part 2 (Trigger Warning)

Part 2. Please read Part 1 to fully understand my story.

This post contains graphic pictures of a baby miscarried at 12 weeks. If you do not wish to see them, do not scroll to the bottom of the page.

I left you last night with myself laying on the couch Friday night and waiting for my body to miscarry my baby. Waiting for my body to dispel the little body that it had homed for the past 4 months. I had seen my baby the night before on the monitor and though I had some doubt, I was pretty confident that I would deliver the baby whole.

I asked my husband "If it comes out whole, do you want to see it? Do we take it out of the toilet? What do we do with it?". These are questions we never imagined asking each other, and we felt pressed for time to have an answer. Last week we were discussing baby items and planning our birth, and today we had to decide what to do with our baby if we were able to see it.

At 9pm, I started to feel my body tighten. After a few minutes, I realized that I was having contractions, and they were close together. I felt as if I was beginning labor. Without my knowledge, my husband started timing them. I had done this before, I could do it again. I started to breath and hum a little bit through them. My husband reminded me to let my mind release this, to not fight against this. I tried to focus on letting go.

A few minutes later, I felt something trickle up my back (I was laying down) and immediately swiped at it, thinking that I had started bleeding everywhere. I jumped up and said "Is that water? Is my back sweating? My back isn't sweating". My husband's eyes got big and he said "I think your water just broke". I didn't believe him, but he said that he had read it could happen. My water broke. With Piper, I had to have it punctured. I hadn't experienced this. I now knew that this was happening tonight. Terrified, I took some of the pain meds that they had prescribed me and went to bed, hoping to wake before it started and I ruined my bedding.

 I slept on and off for the next 4 hours. At about 2am, I rolled onto my back to breathe through a contraction. Then I felt a strong "pop" in my belly that made me jump and gasp. I said "Oh my gosh. I think the baby just detached. Or the placenta. Something just pulled away from the wall". Of course, I started to cry. I just kept repeating "I can't believe this is happening". My husband kept telling me to breathe through it, relax, and let it go. I had no control over this and I needed to let my body work it out for my safety and health.

When I couldn't stand it anymore, I went into the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and let the contractions wash over me. They were so strong that they were reaching up to my shoulder and locking it up. I had my arm all the up the wall just trying to catch a breath. Just trying to breathe. I felt some things pass out of me, so I looked down to see that it was just water and very little blood. I wondered how long this would take. My husband came in and asked to look. Now, we have been married for 6 years and he has seen worse. And I know that he was also concerned about the miscarriage and wanted to have knowledge of what I passed so he could monitor me for any emergency.

He asked me if I felt something hanging out of me. I looked down, a little horrified to see tissue hanging there. I didn't feel it. I am sorry for the graphic detail, but this is real stuff. I tried to push it out but nothing happened. Taking a deep breath, I grabbed some tissue and reached down to pull it out. I lifted it up and we both looked at it as I said "What is it? Is it my placenta?".

And then I saw it. A little tiny hand. Resting on a face. I screamed "Oh my God, it's our baby! Take it! Take it!". My husband took it and walked away a bit. I freaked out, more than I have ever done before. I just kept saying "that's my baby". My husband asked if I wanted to see it, and I wasn't ready. I was also still on the toilet, in lots of pain. I watched my husband as he studied our tiny baby and got a container to put it in. After a few minutes, I got up and said I was ready to see. That was the most difficult moment of my life. Peeking over to see the little life that my body had sustained for 4 months, and trying not to be afraid that it wasn't alive. After a few minutes, we realized that neither of us could take our eyes off of it.

I took a moment to text my sisters and mom and just wrote "Oh my God... I just delivered a baby. A perfect little baby with no blood on it. It has fingers and toes and eyelids!" It was 2:30am, but my Mom called me immediately. She asked me questions; comforted me. I can't remember what we talked about. By now I was back on the toilet, the phone in one hand, the other hand up the wall to help me breathe, contracting HARD. Trying to relax. As I spoke to my mom, I felt what I think was the placenta come out of me. Weirdest feeling EVER. After a few minutes, It was over. No more contractions. No more pain. But blood. Lots of blood. The first blood I had really had since all of this started. It was over. I was done. I have delivered my baby at home.

I moved back towards my husband who was with the baby. He was struggling. I have no right to describe his feelings here or guess what he was thinking here. I just know what I saw. I saw a man meeting his baby for the first time. A man so full of agony and awe at the same time. The man I love, the man I made this baby with, holding the little life we shared. Holding some of our lost hopes and dreams. Grieving over who this baby would have been, and how we could have raised it. It was both beautiful and completely heart wrenching.

For the next hour or so, Daniel and I stood in our bathroom talking to our baby, each other, crying, laughing a little, holding each other, and taking pictures of our little newborn. I told the baby how much I loved it and how much Jesus loved it. But it already knew- it was already in Jesus's arms. I told the baby how I just wanted to hold and kiss it and nurse it. I wanted to keep it so badly. To raise it. In the deep quiet of the night, Daniel and I grieved and rejoiced, as we realized that one of our children has surpassed us and gone to heaven before us. We felt incredible joy and sorrow at the same time- it is so hard to explain. We started this together, and we ended it together. We had played the part that God had wanted us to, and he took our baby home. But not before giving us a glimpse of his incredible handiwork.

We couldn't stop staring at the incredible detail in this tiny body. My husband kept saying how he felt like he was witnessing God's creation in the making. In the secret place.

I wholeheartedly believe that God allowed our experience to be this way to heal my heart. After having a difficult delivery with Piper and later having reconstructive surgery, I was left with only the option of c-section deliveries from now on. My longing to have a beautiful home birth slipped right through my fingers. I also believed that my body was broken and couldn't do what it was made to do. And although my body did not hold this pregnancy, I do not believe my body was the issue. I miscarried so well. No, I BIRTHED so well. My body was not broken, it did exactly what God intended it to do.

I realize that I am still grieving and still grasping for some hope here, but I believe that this was the beautiful home birth that I never believed I could have. It could have been so different and so medical, but it wasn't. I expected my baby to be lost somewhere in blood and clots, but it came out on it's own and first. My body followed a normal birthing protocol. I was awestruck.

In the days to follow, I have been grieving. Grieving hard. I miss my baby. I miss who it would have been. I can't believe we lost it. Yet I also feel peace and overwhelming love. I don't feel anger or regret, I am not passing blame or asking for answers. I am content that this was God's plan all along. Nothing surprises him. But that doesn't stop my heart from longing that things were different. That I was sitting here right now feeling my baby move within me, and dreaming about who it was.

This is the hardest thing I have ever done. I think it will be one of the hardest things we ever do. But we stared death in the face and said "We are not afraid". We accepted what was given to us, and thankful that I got to be the vessel to give that baby a little body before it met Jesus. For a few weeks, I feel like I shared my baby with God. He held the soul, but I still held the body. What a connection.

Every day I feel differently. I have already woken up broken, somber, and calloused. I have found that talking about it pulls me out of my sorrow and even brings me some laughter. And lots and lots of lessons. I have found that others have questions and thoughts, and are afraid to ask. But I am not afraid to answer. I want to talk about my baby. And my amazing body. And my amazing God who created my child. I have heard stories of how my experience and my baby has inspired, encouraged, and caused spiritual growth for others. In a mere five days.

This was not about me. Yes I experienced this and I am the one who lost, but we all lost. I feel like just a small part of the plan. This baby was loved by many already. It's birth has already touched so many lives. I love hearing these stories and realizing "Wow, God was working here, and not just in me. He had such bigger plans". I feel honored to be a part of that plan and to see the fruit that comes from it.

I wonder how many days will pass before I have a day when I don't cry. When I don't think about my baby, or rub my tummy, or look at the pictures. How long before my heartache does not feel suffocating? How long? I don't have these answers and I am just at the beginning of this process, trying to take my grief step by step and hour by hour, knowing that it changes constantly. Trying to feel every bit of it so I can move on stronger, with no regrets or bitterness. I am talking about it, accepting help, and letting myself rest. I am just being.

Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to our sweet second born. We do not know for sure, but we feel as if it was a boy. We didn't have any names picked out or plan on naming it once it came. But as the hours passed, I had to call my baby something. I had to know that I would see him in Heaven and call him by name. The word "Shalom" came to my mind which I knew meant peace, but I wanted to look it up. Among other things, it also means wholeness, perfectness, rest. And most importantly it is also the jewish greeting for "hello" and "goodbye". It was everything our baby was, all wrapped into one.

So this is baby Shalom, our beautiful and perfect little baby. 12 weeks 4 days gestation. 
I miss you so much, and I can't wait to hold you in my arms one day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Story of Miscarriage: Part 1 (Trigger Warning)

Just one short month ago, I posted the exciting news that we were expecting our second baby! I was into my second trimester, feeling great, and looking forward to sharing my pregnancy whims with all of you and overly documenting. 

Well, many of you know or have heard... I miscarried last weekend. This was just as much a shock to all of us as it may have been to you. I was (what I thought) 16 weeks pregnant. I will give all the details as a write. Some for you, some for me so that I won't every forget this experience. I will also say that this will probably be one of many posts about miscarriage, because there are too many parts of the story to fit into one post. 

This is hard for me to write, and it may be hard for you to read. I have always vowed to be honest and raw about my emotions and my life so that others could learn from my experiences.

 This is part of life. This IS life. This is my story.

From the moment I found out we were expecting, I felt worried and unsure about the pregnancy. I'm not sure why. I was excited as we wanted this, but I had this nagging feeling that I might not keep this baby. I was not being cynical, I just couldn't shake my fear. Everyone told me that I was just nervous because I didn't have much morning sickness. I did my best to enjoy how good I felt and trust that everything was fine. I slowly started to believe it.

With my first pregnancy, we announced publicly (i.e. Facebook) at 8 weeks. I was just too excited to wait any longer. This time, I felt more cautious. Although most of our friends and family that we came into contact with regularly knew, we held back on announcing. I bugged the doctors at 10 weeks and 11 weeks to just TRY to hear the heartbeat. We finally did hear it a little after 11 weeks. The next day, we posted our announcement. Little did I know that just a few days later, our sweet baby's heart beat it's final beat.

I went about the next 4 weeks normally. My cravings went up and my slight nausea lessened even more. We went on vacation. We made plans. I started shopping for the items we would need and almost bought a few.

On Wednesday morning (my 16 week change!) I did a class at the gym that was a much harder workout than I expected. I did well and felt proud of myself afterwards. But then my lower body began to ache, and it didn't subside all day. I felt those funny aches that you get the day before your period starts. I figured I worked too hard and should rest. That night my husband was at church when I went to the bathroom and found blood. Not a lot, but not a little either. After taking a few moments to process what I was seeing, I called my husband frantically and barely blurted out through tears "I'm bleeding". He said "I'm on my way". I paced the house for a few minutes before I decided I should sit down.

When he got home, I told him about my day, the cramps and the blood. He asked to see it. We then did some research and talked a lot. I told him I think I wanted to go to the ER. He got a friend on-call for us just in case. We reached my doctor who said it wasn't uncommon, and that I could take some Tylenol for the cramps and go to bed. He could see me on Friday morning to confirm that everything was fine. I complied and went to bed.

The next day I was still spotting a bit, but it seemed less and I felt okay. I was still cramping slightly, but my muscles were also sore. I went through my day normally. Confident that it was nothing, I decided not to schedule to see my doctor on Friday and just keep my Tuesday appointment. I was fine. Then at 9pm, I started bleeding heavier. I called my husband at work and we had the same conversation we had the night before. I called a friend to see if she could watch Piper the next day while I went to the doctor, and she instead insisted that she and her husband would come over right then so she could go to the ER instead with me. Little did we both know what a night it would be, and how thankful I would be to her for forcing her way in like that.

We arrived at the ER a little before 10pm. I was checked in and seen pretty quickly. They drew my blood and left the IV needle (what IS it called?) in just in case. It took awhile, but eventually the ultrasound tech came to get us. He explained how he was not allowed to say anything or tell us any information. He simply did the ultrasound and the results would go to the radiologist who would come give me a diagnosis. I remember saying to him "oh, I'm not really worried about the baby, I just want to see if I damaged my placenta and need to rest it".

I was shaking as he put the gel on my belly. Partly from nerves and partly from feeling cold. The screen was turned towards him, so I could only see the side. I saw my baby. I saw a sweet little profile. Then he moved. There was no sound in the room. I saw it again a few more times. I saw him measuring sound, but he didn't have any speakers on. I kept looking away for some reason, nervous to be watching it. Then the tech stood up and said "excuse me for just a moment" and left the room. I didn't know what to think. When he returned a few minutes later he said "Sorry about that. Almost done". When I looked over again I caught a glimpse of the baby's face. Then I realized "wow, I don't think that baby is moving. Babies move at 16 weeks". I didn't see a little flutter of the heart where I knew it would be. Deep deep down, in that moment, I knew.

As he wheeled me back to my waiting room, it was so quiet. He gave me a warm blanket. My friend said "I think I know what you're having". We decided not to find out, so I didn't want to hear anymore. We talked and waited. It was almost midnight. My husband got off work and started towards the hospital to join us. Five minutes before he arrived, then the doctor came in.

The next moments are sort of a blur. I remember the doctor saying that my HCG level should be at 20,000 and it was at 1,000. He said the baby had stopped growing and measured only about 12 weeks. Then he said something like "the pregnancy was not viable". He didn't say I miscarried. I asked. I felt my friend jump out of her seat and grab my shoulders. I saw tears in the doctor's eyes. I said "Okay, so what's next?" trying so hard to hold it together and not explode or pass out in the Emergency Room. He said some things about not wanting to do a D & C, my body had been working on the miscarriage for 4 weeks, and that he was so sorry to have to tell me. I don't really remember, I think I dazed out. I was in shock. He left the room and closed the door. I wailed. I asked for my husband, asking my friend when he would be there, telling her I needed him.

When my husband arrived, my friend went out to get him, hoping her swollen eyes wouldn't give it away. When he walked into the room, I burst into tears and yelled "I lost the baby!". I'm not totally sure what happened next. I'm not even sure I was there. I remember screaming to get the needles out of me, the bracelets off, and let me go home. A nurse came in to take everything off. Then I felt like we waited forever to be discharged. I remember crying to Daniel "How will we tell Piper? I can't tell Piper". I would stop crying and stare, and then I lost it again. I couldn't look at anyone. I couldn't really talk. I felt either hysterical or like a zombie. The discharge nurse gave us some paperwork and some instructions that I didn't hear, and then we were asked to pay $800 for our visit since our deductible wasn't met. I ignored everyone and everything.

As we drove home. We sat in silence. For 30 minutes. I had a thousand different thoughts but no words. I wailed. I could hear my husband struggling beside me. When we got home, it was 1:30am and my husband insisted on going out to fill my prescription for pain medication. I told him I was fine and that I could do it tomorrow. I sent a text to my sister in Japan because I knew she was awake. My husband texted my other sister who had been waiting to hear. I wanted to call my mom. My husband insisted on going out, so I let him- realizing that maybe he wanted alone time, and maybe this was the only way he felt he could help.

2:30am I called my mom. I didn't expect her to answer, but she did and I needed her. We talked for a few minutes and then my husband got home, after going to two different drugstores. I didn't want to go to sleep because I was so afraid what would wake me up. And I was so afraid to awake in the morning and remember it all. I remember saying that I hated this and I just wanted it out of me. I couldn't do this. I wanted to go get the surgery and be done and have this over with. I was grieving hard. My husband finally convinced me to try to sleep, so I laid a towel down and went to bed.

After fitful sleep, I woke at about 6:30. I had slept for almost 4 hours. It hit me again. My husband had to go to work. It was a rough week at the office and he needed to be there. He helped to get Piper up and dressed and out the door with the same friend who had just comforted me in the ER hours before. She had to be exhausted too. He left and promised to be home after lunch to help with Piper when she returned.

I think I spent most of that day in bed. I did have a visit from my neighbor who brought me coffee and chocolate and promised to return with dinner. My sister came over with more gifts. I started writing messages and texts, unable to speak on the phone. We had so many plans that weekend - birthday parties, church events, leading worship, babysitting... I had to tell more people than I realized, even if I didn't feel ready. Strangely though, I wanted to tell everyone, like ripping a band-aid off. I was grieving in a whole different way than I expected I would, and it sort of scared me. A group of friends created a meal schedule for the next week. It felt strange receiving the condolences when I still felt pregnant. It felt strange to tell my friends that my baby had died when my already-showing belly was right there in between us. It was even more bizarre replying "I'm just relaxing at home, waiting for it to start". I felt out of control, not knowing when "this" would happen or what it would be like. I had so many questions. Some were answered, others were not.

Piper came home and said "Mommy are you a little sad? Because new baby went away? To heaven?" I was both amused and heartbroken. We had told her the truth. She was so excited to be a big sister.
When Daniel got home, he found us both napping (barely). Luckily he took over that night and parented alone. I couldn't function. Everyone was waiting for me to pass my baby. I felt frozen with fear.

As the evening progressed, Daniel and I tried to be as normal as possible, sitting on the couch to watch a show. You may call it intuition, I may call it God, but I knew laying there that I would pass my baby that night and that it would be in the middle of the night. I begged my husband not to go to work at 3am like he planned, because I knew it would happen when he was gone and I couldn't be alone. He agreed.

What happened next was a night of events that we will never forget. An experience that we did not expect, but we are eternally grateful for. In the next post, I will describe my miscarriage. I am not trying to be gory or offensive, I am trying to show you how real pregnancy and birth are, and how real life is. I want you to take your notion of miscarriage being taboo or "not a big deal" and change it. I want you to know what it is REALLY like. And if anyone reads this in the future who is experiencing a miscarriage, I want her to feel like she knew what to expect and wasn't afraid. That someone else has walked this road before her and came out the other side.

I will also be including pictures of our baby. We have discussed this action and decided that we are not ashamed of our baby and our experience, and we want others to see how early life forms. And how perfect it is. And get a glimpse into the "secret place" where God was working in such detail. I will include the pictures at the bottom of the post so hopefully those of you who do not want to see can avoid them. I understand that they are shocking and emotional to see. But for us, they are healing.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Bachelor and Playboy... Whhhhatttt?

I am a closet "Bachelor" watcher. As in, the show. Not wealthy single men.

I am so intrigued by the people and the relationships on the show. It's pretty tacky, but man, it can pull you in! On this most recent season, one of the girls who seemed quiet and innocent made it to the final 4 for the hometown dates, and it was there that she revealed that she had posed for Playboy a few years before. Cue AWKWARD MOMENT. She was also sent home that same episode.

Now, I have a point to make here so hang in there... Of course Nice Guy Chris told her that it wasn't because of her past, but think about it... he lives in a TINY town where everyone knows everyone and their business, and soon they would all know her business too. Chris is a respected member of the community, and having a wild woman on his arm probably won't help. Granted, she said that is not her now and he most likely sent her home because he realized there was another side of her she had yet to reveal, and they were just about out of time. BUT, here comes the point....

The decisions that we make, big or small, old or young, can ultimately affect every part of our lives. Young ladies, are you listening? This quiet gal went on to say that these photos had ruined previous relationships for her too.

When you think about being sexy and being the girl that all the guys look at, just know it is unlikely that you will attract the good guy that is looking to settle down and put a ring on it. REAL men don't want their lady's goods all over the internet for anyone to see. They want them all to themselves! REAL men don't want to have to think "Who has seen her? Where has she been? What has she done that I don't know?"

Years ago when she posed for Playboy she probably felt flattered, excited, and wanted. She had no idea that years later she would have a few broken hearts to blame for it.

And yes, this post is really directed towards young women. Girls who are in their "prime" and looking for a good time. Girls who have dared themselves to "just say yes", to live it up in their 20s, and to live with no regrets. But in this age of social media, everything that is posted STAYS POSTED. Your quick decisions may cost you jobs, relationships, and definitely some confidence and self-worth.

If it helps, before you post something, think to yourself "Would it be okay if my boss saw this? Would it make my parents disappointed? Will I hurt someone's feelings? Would I be embarrassed if my future husband saw this?".

One day, you will not be as young and carefree. You will have responsibilities and relationships. Help out your future self and be careful about what you let others see. You only live once, so live a life you can be proud of.