family · Infertility · trying to conceive

Tangible hope

I decided today on one of my trips between our apartment and house (we’re moving this weekend!) that I know what I want to do with my hope chest. It’s been sitting in our garage since we moved to this apartment, and now that we have a house I think it needs a better home. It doesn’t work with our bedroom furniture, it’s awkward to have in a walk-in closet, and there won’t be space in the office.

But there’s room in the third bedroom. The room that will hopefully be a nursery someday.

So I’ve decided to put my hope chest there. And instead of being a traditional hope chest (for a young lady preparing for a home and a marriage); it’s going to be a place where I store things for the baby (or babies) that we so desperately hope to have. Children’s books, things I want to pass along to my children; and maybe I can even start making baby things once my craft room is all set up. I also think that I may start purchasing a baby related item every time my monthly visitor shows up as a way to distract from the disappointment and do something productive instead that keeps me hoping that eventually there won’t be a failed cycle.

After deciding this (and running it by my husband); I reached out to both my mom and my mother-in-law to ask that they make various items for the chest. My mom has sewn/embroidered little outfits for each of her grandchildren, and my mother-in-law crocheted several blankets for her granddaughter. I wanted to include them in this process, and while it’s weird to ask for gifts for a baby that doesn’t even exist, I figured they’d both be at least understanding of the request.

My mother-in-law responded almost immediately with a photograph of an already completed baby blanket with a sticky note attached to it reading “2019; My HOPE blanket, Rainbow Baby (Boy), ***** and ****.” She went on to say that she has two blankets made and would love to add them to the chest.

My heart feels so full right now. It was so very comforting to have that visible (and tangible) evidence that I’m not alone in this after all; and to be reminded that others are not just hoping with us but actually planning for our future child(ren).

So here’s to filling a hope chest with tangible reminders to wait and hope and keep praying for a someday baby…here’s to tangible reminders that I’m not in this wait alone…and here’s hoping I don’t have to purchase all that many items before there’s an actual recipient for them.

 

after miscarriage · baby EL · grief and loss · Infertility · journal entry · missed miscarriage

I am having a miscarriage.

(Sensitive content to follow-also a rather long post)

I am having a miscarriage. Again.

This is so surreal and heartbreaking. And the minute we saw that heartbeat for the first time I knew that if this happened, it would be infinitely harder than before.

Miscarriage number one was a chemical pregnancy; no question now. Of course we still grieved…with any pregnancy loss it’s a loss of dreams and hopes and of knowing that this is a life you won’t get to know.

This one…we had a baby growing, we saw our little one with it’s precious heartbeat. And then it was gone. It is gone. I can’t even quite wrap my head around the depth of the grief right now. It’s easing just the slightest as the days pass; but I know on Friday when we have the D&C that the intensity will return.

——-

I keep replaying that office visit in my head. I was so nervous for days before that something had gone wrong; and that fear was present in the waiting room but mixed with the excitement and hope of getting to see that everything right on track just like everyone else was so confident about. And the first part of the visit was so normal; blood pressure, history…then into the exam room where the NP went over genetic screening options and breastfeeding, diet advice, and telling us that we could visit the hospital ahead of time to be able to see the maternity department.

Then she went in. I think I knew almost immediately; she could barely find it and when she did it was clear the sac was too small and the baby didn’t look like it was supposed to. I’d seen enough ultrasounds of babies at 8.5 weeks to know approximately what the shape should be. She mumbled something about ‘well, it’s definitely in the uterus,’ then a moment later said, “I’m not finding a heartbeat.” I think I still had a sliver of hope that maybe it was just the machine or her technique, but then she measured the baby. When I saw the 7w2d I knew it was over. 9 days behind and no heartbeat could only mean that the worst had happened.

I don’t remember much after that, just that the tears started and she talked for a while about what the next steps were (while I was still in the stirrups with a ultrasound wand inside me…); then she left us alone. I cried hard for a while and my husband just held me; when I was composed enough we went downstairs to have blood drawn and repeat ultrasounds in the radiology department. In this interval I texted my mom and my manager (to alert her I’d need some immediate time off); husband texted his parents as well.

Both of those ultrasounds were silent and cold and all the while I just cried silently; I couldn’t see the screen from my angle and ultrasound technicians aren’t supposed to comment about what they are seeing even if they know (so I didn’t expect it). My husband thought he knew when she was looking/listening for a heartbeat and even he could tell that there was nothing there.

I got dressed again and we went home. The NP called a few hours later to inform us that the results indeed showed that there was no heartbeat. She repeated our options, and advised we take the weekend to think about them. (or she simply told us that it would be okay to take some time after I said that I honestly had no idea how to proceed in that moment).

———

We spent the afternoon attempting to rest; telling additional family and a few close friends…all of this interspersed with quite a few breakdowns on my part. Deleting all the pregnancy apps on my phone brought a fresh round of tears; somehow it felt like I was erasing all evidence of this child but I also knew that I wouldn’t want to keep getting email notifications about ‘your baby today’ when it was no longer relevant.

We headed out later that evening to spend the weekend with my parents. Husband had an interview in their area the next day so he was already heading up; and he just seemed to know that I needed to be there. My mom has become the most amazing person in a crisis; she just seems to know when to listen, when to talk, when to distract, when to be present, when to excuse herself. Just being there (and away from the house) allowed the reality to sink in a little more gently.

Woke up Friday morning crying. Cuddled with my husband for a while and that helped, but this made me realize that mornings bring fresh reminders of this new and painful reality. Going to bed each night was hard too because then the distractions of the day faded and the emptiness sets back in.

Saturday night we got home; and there were flowers from an out of state friend and a care package from my sister-in-law (almost an exact copy of the things I left for her when she had her miscarriage). Husband had to run to his parent’s home for some medication, so I came up alone. Walking back inside to the emptiness of our home (for a season, anyway) in addition to seeing these thoughtful but unwanted gifts (I mean, I don’t *want* flowers and bath salts and tea…I want my baby to still be alive) brought a fresh round of tears. After sobbing on the floor in a fetal position for a while, I texted my sister and we talked until I calmed down a little bit.

Sunday morning we went to church; it was hard but good and definitely where we needed to be.

The rest of Sunday was just spent relaxing. Both of us dreading going back to work but also not wanting to just sit around at home all day not doing anything either; both of us completely drained and sad and confused. We both managed to get through our work days today; and now he’s at the gym so I’m making use of the time to attempt to get some of my thoughts and experiences down on “paper.”

——-

My primary thought is: “this is not fair.” We’ve already had one miscarriage, we’ve struggled to conceive for over a year, we’ve had to spend time and money and energy on some level of assistance….and then we finally get to rejoice in what seems to be a healthy pregnancy and we finally start to get excited about the future…and then it’s ripped away in a moment. Miscarriage by itself is hard enough; miscarriage after infertility is even worse.

I am sad. I feel empty, I feel like I (currently) have no purpose. I spent the last 5 weeks being so careful about what I put in my body and how I took care of myself…and now suddenly none of that matters and my womb is (essentially) empty again. I am confused…and hurting…and jealous (of those who haven’t had to experience any of this).

I believe that God is good, that he is sovereign, and that somehow all this is part of his plan; I take comfort in knowing that even in this he is faithful and we are not alone. But it doesn’t mean that I can even begin to understand why he chose this to be our path.

——-

In terms of our options, I have chosen to proceed with a D&C at the end of the week assuming the process has not already started (and given how far along I was I really don’t expect that natural process to begin for a least a few more weeks). I hate that I have to have a surgery to remove my baby from me; but I also know that I can’t take the emotional toll of waiting on a natural miscarriage with the knowledge that my baby is dead inside of me. Taking medications to induce the miscarriage at home was the other option; but that will mean that I still experience all the pain and bleeding and emotional trauma of being reminded of the loss every time I use the bathroom…and there’s a risk here of the process not completing and then we’d have to have a D&C anyway.

Our infertility doctor recommended that we get the baby’s DNA tested for chromosome issues; it is highly likely that there was a chromosomal abnormality that would have been incompatible with life and that is the reason for this. If so, then hopefully such a thing won’t happen again. If it’s not the baby, then she wants to do a workup on me to evaluate why my body can’t seem to sustain a pregnancy.

If we are able to know the baby’s gender, I want to know. I want to give this little one a name. It made me a mother, and by giving it a name I am acknowledging that gift and choose to thank God for the blessing that it was to have and nurture this child even for 5 short weeks. I hope we get to have a child (or several) living earth-side…but even if somehow that is not in God’s plan…I am a mother.

baby EL · missed miscarriage

Thursday

Thursday we had another appointment.

There was no heartbeat.

And baby only measured 7w2-3d; it should have been 8w3-4d.

They sent us for confirmation ultrasounds but I already knew it.

Our baby died. Probably on Tuesday, March 12th.

It’s been a blur of emotions and heartache and decisions and overwhelming support and love from our family and close friends.

I will write a more detailed post later as I continue to process everything but I can barely manage even this right now.

appointed time · baby dancing · family · Infertility · iui · trying to conceive

And now we wait

It is done. Somewhere around 10 million sperm are now inside my uterus; hopefully my ovaries have cooperated with the trigger shot and have released (or will shortly) an egg (or two)…hopefully the aforementioned sperm will find the aforementioned egg(s); and hopefully my uterus has a thick enough lining to receive the aforementioned fertilized egg(s).

So many things out of my control. So much potential for even this ‘boost’ to not be successful. If it’s not, it seems like it’s God indicating that it is simply still not the right time for us. And I have to try to be content with that. We probably won’t pursue any further IUI cycles for a while; so many things about this next year are up in the air (potential job changes, hopefully purchasing a home near wherever he ends up finding work).

I still feel hopeful. Realistic (trying), but hopeful. I know I can’t symptom spot (from all the hormones I’m on) and I can’t test early; so I’m going to probably resort back to the activities I was trying to do regularly to keep sane during the last cycle. Art, crafts, reading, yoga/exercise, cleaning…etc.

As far as the day itself (note: some potentially TMI to follow)

  • Got up super early (husband was *not* thrilled about this part); drove to the RE office. Checked in, had to wait about an hour before husband could give his sperm. Poor guy. He hated having to do the deed for the semen analysis a few months ago; I can only imagine it was especially unpleasant today since he was so tired, up earlier than normal, and having to walk across the waiting room in front of a bunch of people (instead of at home like before).
  • Then we went back to the car to wait (and sleep); I headed back in after about an hour. Got called to the procedure room about an hour and half after the specimen had been collected; actually had to call husband like six times to make sure he saw that he needed to come back in from the car. He made it in time, thankfully. It may be silly, but he had to be there. If these are the sperm that make our baby; I wanted to at least be physically connected to him while it was happening. (I held his hand the whole time)
  • Doctor explained what to expect after, then got started. It was definitely more uncomfortable than the ultrasounds; similar to a PAP smear between the speculum and the swabs. Once the catheter was in place there was some cramping; she asked me to tell her when it eased and that must have been when she injected the sperm because a minute later she was done.
  • They told me to lie there for 10 minutes, then we could go. I waited about 15; partly because at that point exhaustion hit and the cramps hadn’t abated.
  • Have been crampy all day; mostly on the left side-which makes me think maybe ovulation is happening? I’ve just never felt distinct ovulation pain before and I don’t imagine it lasts for an entire afternoon. I’m trying to think of this as a good thing; if my uterus is cramping it’s probably sending the sperm further up my tubes to where they need to be. Hopefully the discomfort subsides enough for us to do some baby dancing a little later this evening.

So many people are praying for us; it’s been really encouraging to have my family’s support and blessings…I know that whenever we do finally get a baby it is going to be so loved and cherished (and not just by husband and me).

And now we wait.

 

family · Infertility

On family

I ordered a book a few weeks ago that finally arrived the other day and I’ve basically just been inhaling it; it’s got short chapters so it’s hard to not just go on to the next and the next even though I should probably let each one ruminate for a while. The downside of being a fast reader *shrug*.

Anyway, the book is “Empty Womb, Aching Heart,” and it has stories and reflections from multiple women (or couples) who have struggled with infertility. Once I finish my first read I’ll probably go back and take each chapter a bit slower and write down the takeaway/lesson/attitude adjustment technique in each one…future blog post, perhaps?

One of the chapters especially jumped out to me yesterday. The writer was reflecting on how hard it is to be childless in a church community that is centered around the “family,” family ministry/resources/events were all geared towards the typical parents/children structure.

She went on to share that she taught a Sunday school lesson on the 6th day of creation; and the children drew pictures of animals and then Adam and Eve on a large piece of butcher paper. She told them that this was the point at which God said it was “very good,” and then rested. One of the little girls pointed out that there weren’t any children in the drawing.

“No children, not yet…and still God called it very good. Not….’good-but-it-would-be-better-if…’ After he made man and woman, he proclaimed his work finished. It was complete. They were complete.” 

She comes to realize that a family is not formed once children arrive. The family of two is just as valuable, just as complete.

And she closes the chapter with her new response to those prying “when are you going to start a family” questions. Her answer is essentially this:

“We already have. We’re just waiting to see if God chooses to add to it or not.” (my edit)

-quotes and paraphrases taken from Empty Womb, Aching Heart (chapter 10); book compiled by Marlo Schalesky