Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness- Hahna's Story

October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

October 15th, 2015 was also our first baby’s due date.

The pain of miscarriage was unreal. The only place I was comfortable was in the shower. 
Every night. All night. For a week straight. 

Dallas and I got married when we were 18 and 19 and moved to Okinawa, Japan shortly after with the military. We got pregnant when we had been married for a year and a half and after “not preventing” for 7 months. We were so excited and yet nervous to make that change in our lives when we were so far from family.

At 9 weeks I started spotting. My husband was in Korea at the time, so he asked me to go to the ER to ease our minds. I was at the ER for six and a half hours. They told me that the baby was only measuring 6 weeks but they didn’t think I would miscarry, just that I found out I was pregnant very early. That was great news! The night after my visit to the ER is when my sister, Aubrey, also went to the ER and found out that she was miscarrying. She was 16 weeks along.  I didn’t think that it would happen to me also, although I had many people tell me that miscarriages are hereditary (which is not helpful).  

 At 11 weeks my husband and I had our first real appointment and we were so excited to see the baby since my husband did not get to see the baby when I was at the ER. The doctor said the baby was measuring 8 weeks, but the ultrasound looked like an empty womb to me. I couldn’t tell what he was measuring. There was no heartbeat. He said it was likely that we would miscarry, but they would do bloodwork to see where my HCG levels were. I remember the doctor saying things like “it should feel like a light period” and “you can start trying again when you stop bleeding”. We left in a daze, but hopeful that maybe we weren’t going to miscarry, because the information seemed so inconclusive. A week later I got a call while I was at work saying that my blood tests had gone through and we had lost the baby. I called my husband and texted my sisters and mom. At 14 weeks, we lost the baby. 

It started at 10pm on April 19th. I started having contractions. I had never been in labor before but I knew that this was labor. I passed one clot and thought that was it, so I went back to sleep. At 3am my water broke and the contractions were coming about 1 minute apart. It was the worst pain I have ever felt. My husband and I ended up in the shower -me on all fours with the hot water hitting my lower back while I lay my head in his lap while he rubbed my back. I fell asleep between every contraction. This happened every night, all night, for an entire week. We both had to take the week off of work. 

It was not at all like I had expected it to be. It wasn’t a light period, it was labor. It wasn’t fast, it lasted 7 days. We were exhausted emotionally and physically. I was mad at God and started falling into depression. My husband was such a light for me in that dark time. He continually pointed me back to Christ even when I kicked and screamed about praying or going to church. He always looked at the good that would come from this, but I was so deep in the bad that I couldn’t see it. Over time my heart softened, I came out of the depression, and I could see the blessings that came from that experience. 

God’s plan is always better than mine. I have never had anything terrible happen in my life, therefore I have never felt like I really needed God that much. He used this experience to prove me wrong. I needed to go through this to realize that I don’t make the plans, He does. His timing is always perfect.

It’s okay to be mad at God. He can handle it. He needed to break me completely to get me to come back to him.

It’s okay to not try for another baby right away. It’s been a year and a half since our miscarriage and we probably aren’t going to try for another baby anytime soon. We are happy where we are.

Our marriage has really been strengthened. It was such a blessing in disguise for my husband and I to see each other in such a real and raw state. Miscarriages are painful and ugly, yet my husband told me he has never been more proud of my strength and bravery. I was for grateful for his love and encouragement through it. We have come out stronger.

It’s okay to be grateful. We are grateful that it happened to us. That doesn’t take away from how much we loved and wanted our baby. And how we wish he was here now. We are grateful that we get to share our story and that our baby brought use closer to each other and God. We are grateful for the 14 weeks I was able to carry our baby and we were able to love him. We are grateful that because we know God, we will meet our little guy one day.

It’s possible to praise God during the joy AND the trials. He is still good. He knows exactly what we need. He uses broken people.

It’s okay to let it change you. Embrace the time you have left with your baby and cherish it. Feel every emotion so you can fully heal. And let it change you into a better person.

My husband is the best man for me. I never doubted that before, but through our experience I know 100% that he is exactly what I need. There is no one I’d rather go through the good and the bad with.

Miscarriage is extremely hard. It sucks. A LOT. That’s that only way to put it. If you know someone going through one, the best thing to say is “Wow this really sucks, how can I help?”. Maybe take over a cupcake. It’s messy and ugly and it hurts. There is no prize when it’s over. But be encouraged that you are strong enough and you will get through it. It will change you. Let it strengthen your marriage and walk with God. Let it hurt. Let yourself love your baby even if you know you don’t get to keep it. Let yourself listen to what God is teaching you. Even if you don’t understand, he is still good.

A few weeks later, we decided to name our baby to help with the healing process. We thought if we had something to call him that it would be easier when we talked about him or told our future children. My husband was convinced that we were having a boy. One night he told me that he thought our baby’s name starts with a J. I thought that was weird but I went with it. I researched ‘J’ names for days and nothing seemed right. While on facetime with my mom she told me to type into the search engine exactly what I felt. I typed “the Lord has taken away”. The verse Job 1:21 popped up. It says, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” I didn’t think it could be more perfect. I told my husband and he said “I couldn’t imagine naming him anything else.” So we named him Job.

A year and half later we are still healing. Some days are harder than others. We don’t cry or think about our baby every day anymore. It still hurts but the hurt has changed. We are happy that we got to spend 14 weeks with our baby. We are so excited to meet him in Heaven one day and see how God forms our family in the future. 

-Hahna Cannon

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Birth of Selah Rue: A Gentle Cesarean

 On April 30th, 2016, I gave birth to our second daughter! Because of complications and a repair surgery from my first birth (read here), This baby had to be a scheduled c-section. Now, my first birth was a vaginal birth, so it was strange going from a spontaneous vaginal birth to scheduling a c-section- it's usually the other way around. Since we knew this was the best option for us, we sought out a doctor who would give us the most "natural" and "gentle" delivery. Enter Dr. Newman of Premier Care for Women.

Dr. Newman is known in our area for being one of the best doctors/surgeons for women who want or need a hospital birth. I had talked with many women who had great experiences with him, and he was supportive of allowing me immediate skin to skin, slight delayed cord clamping, placenta encapsulation, and our doula in the OR with us. This is referred to as a Gentle Cesarean. He also has three midwives who work in his office that I could see regularly for my appointments. This was important for me, as my last experience was at a birth center and a completely different atmosphere than an office and hospital!

The pregnancy was uneventful, besides the severe morning sickness that held on well past the halfway point. We decided not to find out the gender again, which is always fun! Everyone I saw (even strangers) said I was having a boy. Deep down, that made me think it was another girl because the same thing happened in my pregnancy with Piper! Mother's Intuition I guess...
This is her story....

On the morning on April 30th, Daniel and I woke up at 5:30am to prep for our birth. I showered and did my hair and makeup. I figured that if I could plan a birth, I might as well look good! I also had recently gotten a manicure and a pedicure, because WHY NOT? Plus I knew it would be very unlikely that I would take a shower in the coming days... AND we had a birth photographer. Look at all those reasons! My husband made fun of me for getting ready, so he took a picture.

We arrived at the hospital at about 6:30am. We walked in to register and said "Hi, we're here to have a baby". SO.WEIRD. After finishing our paperwork, we were given a "suite" number and directed to the elevators. Once we got into our room, I was instructed to do the normal things- pee in the cup, undress, put on my gown and socks (oh yeah!), and get into the bed. Then a nurse started hooking me up to monitors and taking mine and baby's vitals. I laid there talking with my husband and trying to settle my nerves. My mom and sister showed up. Our doula, Dianne, showed up and started snapping pictures. A couple different nurses monitored me and prepped me with bracelets and IVs. I looked up to see the baby warmer sitting in front of me, empty, ready to hold the sweet little soul we were about to meet. It was so surreal.

After about an hour, the doctor came in to ask if I was ready. He was dressed in a polo shirt and shorts and Birkenstock sandals. Was HE ready? Ha! I started getting really shaky. I'm assuming it was my nerves, but I'm blaming it on the IV fluids. My nurse, Kristi, brought me my beautiful hairnet and scrubs for both my husband and our doula. And suddenly it was TIME!

I said goodbye to my husband and family (I had to prepped in the OR alone before they let him in for the delivery) and the nurse walked me across the hall to the OR. I remember thinking that the room was smaller than I had imagined and pretty plain. It just had lots of surgical instruments and a nurse in there sorting them. I'm not sure I ever saw her face. My anesthesiologist was wonderful and had talked me through the process before we entered the OR, so as soon as I sat down she started my spinal block. Yes, it is a little painful to have a needle stuck in your back, but after the first prick I didn't feel much. Nurse Kristi was holding me up. As soon as the anesthesiologist was finished, Kristi told me to lay down quickly because the spinal block would take effect right away. My legs felt really heavy as I tried to lift them and I remember saying "wow, that was fast". Once I laid down, the nurse adjusted my head pillow and put a wedge under one hip so I wasn't laying flat. They started putting the drape in front of my face and putting oxygen on me. Everything felt a little blurry and lots of people were working around me, but it was so calm and pretty quiet. I could barely see Dr. Newman and midwife Janelle washing up through the little window in the ER.

My anesthesiologist was at my head rubbing my head and my face. She was constantly asking how I was and how I felt. This was the surprising part- I actually felt pretty awful. I told her that I needed to close my eyes and she said that was fine. The spinal block took over my body so quickly and so heavily that my arms also felt numb and my head felt fuzzy. I had a quick thought of "I wish everyone would leave so I could go to sleep", knowing that it was just the pain medicine. I think I expected to be much more alert and be able to enjoy this part, but I didn't feel good. She said it was normal, because I sure didn't want to feel the surgery.

In the next few moments, I glanced over to the left to see Dianne and Daniel come in, with their hairnets and face masks secured. Although the next parts are blurry, I will do my best to describe them. Daniel had barely reached my side when I heard Dr. Newman say "okay, we're almost there". I said "almost where? To cutting?" and he said "No, almost to your uterus!". I seriously felt like Daniel had just entered the room and that this was going SO FAST. I didn't feel a thing. No digging, no pulling. My body REALLY responds to medicine!

I took a deep breath and the doctor told my husband to stand up. Then there was a blur of words like "baby is here" and my husband laughing and saying "another girl!" and describing a few other things to me that I can't remember. I looked at Daniel and said "What? A GIRL?". I think I would have been surprised either way!

Then a voice (I'm not sure who) kept saying to me "okay are you ready? Baby is coming. She'll be here in a second. Are you ready?". The doctor (from what I am told) laid her on my leg for a minute to let the cord pulse a little longer before cutting it and bringing her to me. I also discovered later that there was meconium when the baby came out, so the doctor was concerned and trying to decide if he would allow skin-to-skin. He decided that she was fine and had not inhaled it, and within 90 seconds or so, I had a screaming baby on my chest! I felt happy and relieved and sleepy all at once. The baby calmed down, as they usually do on Mommy's chest. I remember speaking sweet nothings to her and touching and kissing her. My arms still felt numb, so my husband and the baby's nurse were helping me to support her. I couldn't believe I had another DAUGHTER. It felt so strange!

Before long, it was time to leave the OR. I was so busy with my new baby that I have no idea how long anything took. At some point, the nurse took the baby from me, wrapped her up, and handed her to Daniel. He took her back into our recovery room while I finished in the OR. It didn't feel like long before I was being wheeled into the room, seeing my husband cradling our baby and my Mom and sister crying over her. From the time I had left this room and returned, only 40 minutes had passed.

Then the normal things commenced. She was given back to me and we began our nursing journey. She latched and nursed so quickly that I was surprised! She knew exactly what she was doing. It was so beautiful and such a relief. After awhile she was taken to be weighed and measured and my husband changed her first diaper.

I was just laying there, totally drugged up, taking it all in. But I was starving and thirsty and was only allowed ice chips. I threw up twice. Recovery was not pretty. But more on that later.

Although this birth experience was beautiful and healing (and not at all traumatic like my first), it still was not what I expected. After all, I have to remember that a c-section is still major surgery, and the advances have only come so far for these births. But I am so thankful for the ability and the option to birth this way, and for a team who supported my wishes and made the process as gentle and love-filled as possible. Every person I came in contact with was kind and understanding. Our hospital stay was pleasant and filled with the sweetest memories.

Selah was such a perfect newborn and for days I felt like I was in a "honeymoon phase" with her. I couldn't wait to jump (or slide gently) into bed with her for cuddles and naps. I loved holding her and smelling her and hearing her sweet sounds. This baby made me feel a redemption I hadn't felt before. Thank you Jesus, for this perfect little one!

And now for the pictures you have all been waiting for....

Dr. Newman just minutes before the delivery

Nurse Kristi holding my gown on the walk to the OR so I wouldn't be showing off my goodies!
This is one of the best unnoticed pictures. If you look closely at the board, you can see all of the information from the birth! It's so neat!
Daddy's first glimpse of his baby girl!
My first glimpse of her! Oh sweet relief.

What a cheesy little girl!
I'll share a secret with you... If you look on my right shoulder, you can see where she peed all down my neck within moments of being put on my chest!

I love all of these hands on her...
Holding Daddy's finger
Daniel got to take her back into our room and announce to my Mom and sister that it was another GIRL!

I got her back as soon as I was back to my room.

What a champ!
My nursing journey has been hard with both girls... I am so thankful that Dianne captured these precious moments for me!
Midwife Yvonne came to visit and love on us!
Daniel wanted to see my placenta, so the nurse got him some gloves and Dianne explained it all. I didn't see much of it since I was busy with baby and then I had it immediately encapsulated. These pictures are so wonderful to have!

The sack where baby Selah grew so well!
The "Tree of Life"

Talking it out with Grandma. Grandma says that they were discussing what her name should be. She was nameless for over a day.
A little skin-t-skin time with Daddy while I rested. 

 Selah Rue Mecimore
April 30, 2016
7lbs 6 oz
20in long 

Sister meeting for the first time! Piper was so thrilled that it was a GIRL!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Miscarriage: 18 Months Later

Hi all! Wow, I've been gone awhile. As you may know, we had another baby! YAY! A little girl who is now about 3 months old. THAT has gone quickly. Her birth story will be featured soon- just getting all my facts straight and pictures together! Yes, LOTS of pictures. Here she is to hold you over...

We've really been working on that double chin and those thighs! Anyway, moving along from the cute baby...

In the last few months, many women close to me have lost a child through miscarriage. I mean like, half a dozen women. Wow. So I thought it would be appropriate to do a miscarriage follow up post, because if you google "miscarriage", you get a lot of BabyCenter and WebMD sites and not a lot of personal experience. With it being so "common" (I hate that), I like to write about it openly and honestly from someone who has endured it and will be REAL about it- none of that "light period" crap I was told at the hospital.

For those of you visiting for the first time, you can read about my miscarriage here and here. I also wrote a post with tips for navigating a miscarriage. I hope these help you.

So, on to today's post... Last night I got into bed and smelled the sweet little head of the baby laying next to me, already asleep. I thanked God for her, as I do every night, and I spent a minute already mourning the newborn-ness that she is losing. At the same time, I felt that familiar heavy sorrow that comes along when I think of Shalom, the baby we lost at 16 weeks. I saved the baby's picture in my phone, so I looked through and stared at it for awhile (it's in the links above). I let myself feel the deep hurt that returns every once in awhile, knowing that that baby should look like the baby lying next to me. Wishing that that baby WAS lying next to me. And also knowing all along that if Shalom was here, new baby Selah would not be.

What I am trying to stress is the point that no matter what else happens in life, no matter how many children you go on to have AFTER your loss, the loss the still matters. The miscarried baby still holds a good part of your heart. Your heart still hurts and longs for the baby that will never be. Miscarriage changes you.

Last night I let that grief wash over me a bit. I don't like ignoring it, because it usually comes back with a vengeance later. And I've realized that this loss is just a part of me; it's part of who I am and who I have become. I wish that I didn't have to go through it, but I am grateful that God has restored me and strengthened me, and the experience was so bittersweet.

It's been a year and a half since I delivered that tiny little baby in my bathroom late at night. And although the grief has changed and my life has much more joy in it, it will never go away. If you are still grieving the loss of your baby, please know that it will NEVER GO AWAY. It is part of you. Because we love hard, we grieve hard. So every day we get up, we go through our day, we thank the Lord for what we do have, but we never forget where we have been. Don't try to forget it. I want to always savor and share the memory of baby Shalom, because it is part of my story as well.

I have been sorrowfully proud of the women who I have seen post about their miscarriages lately. It is so brave because it requires you taking the deepest and darkest parts of your heart and exposing them to the world. Opening yourself up to others in a relatively uncomfortable way. But it can be oh, so healing.

If this is YOU, if I am speaking to YOUR heart right now- have hope. Every day will not be as dark. Every hour will not feel so heavy. There is no timeline on grief. Let it run it's course, and don't try to "get over it", because it simply won't happen. 18 months later and with a new baby to love, I still feel the hurt, but it's manageable. It's a piece of my heart that will always hurt a little.

 And if this is you, don't stay silent. Reach out to someone, reach out to ME. don't squander it away. Your baby mattered.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A BIG Announcement!


That's right, you read that correctly. This may come as brand new news for you, or (if you're someone we regularly see) you may be saying "It's about time you announced!".

You see, this is actually a difficult post to write. Pregnancy after the loss of a baby is so... different. It's difficult in so many ways. It's as if the devil has come in and tried (and sometimes succeeded) in stealing our joy and hope.

We are pregnant, but... it seems as if everything comes with that BUT this time. I don't feel as if I'm pessimistic, but I definitely feel more reserved and cautious in my thoughts and excitement. I didn't plan on seeing a doctor until I was out of my first trimester because... what could they do? If this baby died, there was nothing they could do to change that, and all I would be stuck with is more medical bills.

I did end up going in at about 9 weeks because I was SO SICK. Like, all day sickness. Like night sickness. Like, I couldn't raise my head much off the couch or bed without losing my food or at least feeling like I would. Like, my 3 year old started imitating my throwing up because it was happening so much (not cool), AND she was getting cabin fever. Poor kid. The only thing that I loved about sickness is that it meant that I was probably still pregnant- that the baby was probably still growing. So I went to see the midwife who works with my doctor. She prescribed me some medication (HALLELUJAH!) and also did a quick abdominal scan. Because the abdominal scan is so far away, she couldn't detect a heartbeat, but said that the baby measured on schedule. I said I was fine waiting until my 13 week appointment to hear a heartbeat.. .because if it stopped again, what could they do anyway? Maybe my experience has made me more bitter than realist, I'm not sure.

Right around 12 weeks, I begin to feel anxious and upset. Our last baby's heart stopped at about 12 weeks and 4 days- we were quickly approaching that date. What if this baby did the same thing? I found myself having little panic attacks, so I called a nurse friend who brought me a doppler the next day. We searched for the baby's heartbeat... no heartbeat. She assured me that it was still early and to try again another day and when my bladder was full. A few days later, Daniel tried... and found it! What an amazing feeling, hearing that for the first time again. Knowing that my husband and I shared that moment together.

For awhile, I was relieved. My friend said we could hold onto the doppler for a little longer to give us peace of mind. Over the next month or so, we checked for the baby once or twice a week, usually finding that little thump thump. But here is where the loss comes in... every time we looked for it, I expected not to find it. I felt calloused as I thought "well, we may not find it because it probably isn't there". I was not trying to be negative, but I could see and feel how fear and bitterness had crept into my heart. Every time we hear this baby's heartbeat, I am amazed that it is STILL THERE.

If you haven't been pregnant after a loss, this will be difficult to understand. Every day comes tangled with joy and sorrow, hope and fear. And sickness. Lots of sickness. Every time you reveal your pregnancy to someone, there seems to be a "but" attached. "yes, we are pregnant, BUT it's still early", or "yes, I am feeling okay, BUT I don't know if that's good or bad", "yes, we heard the heartbeat last week, BUT  we haven't heard it yet this week". Our joy has been shadowed by the "buts" and "what ifs". I wish it wasn't this way, BUT we can't help it. We have experienced loss and grief in the deepest way. We don't want to open our hearts to that again.

So, with that being said, we are announcing our expectation of a new, healthy baby in May. Our loss has taught us much, but more than ever I have realized that everything about pregnancy and my children is out of my control. The baby in my womb may be healthy and growing now, but that doesn't mean it will always be (see, there I go again!). My husband has constantly reminded me that ANYTHING could happen to any of us at any time. I cannot be afraid of what's to come- this baby could be diagnosed with something terrible, birth could go horribly wrong, SIDS, my children could be taken from me at any moment if that's what God wished... so I am trying not to worry, but I am also trying not to hold on too tightly.

Only a few know this story... the month that we conceived, I was driving home one night from dinner with the girls when the Lord spoke to me about our lost baby. I burst into tears because I felt like I was hit with a ton of bricks when I realized "these children are not mine...Piper isn't mine, Shalom was never mine... God wants me to hold them up to him with open hands". I felt both grieved and relieved by this realization, so I said to God "okay, they are not mine. I will do my best to hold them with an open hand to you, because I know that you know what is best". And there have only been a few times in my life that I felt God audibly speak to me, and this was one of those moments. All he said was "Good. You are ready now. It is time". 

Somehow in that moment, my hope was restored and I just knew I was pregnant that month. It sounds crazy, but it's exactly what happened. God had made a promise to me, and he always keeps his promises. Your promises may look different than mine though, and that's okay.

So as we move forward with this pregnancy, we will hope for the best but strive to hold our children loosely before the Lord and his plans. We pray that God "let's us keep this one", in the words of our 3-year-old.

And if this is a path you are walking too, first of all, I am sorry. I am sorry that you have to feel this way too. Don't expect it to be easy, but it is doable. If you don't have God with you, maybe it's time to let him in a little. If you do have him, maybe it's time to let him take control. I say this to you only because I am right there with you.