Saturday, December 8, 2012

Aching Arms

Today my arms are aching.  They are aching because they long to hold our first child...yet they remain empty.  Today marks our first child's expected due date.  I cannot help but think about what might have been or what should have been.  The "should have been's" get me every time.  Lately, these have been the biggest triggers of my grief and today is a big "should have been". 

We should have been meeting our baby face to face for the first time.  We should have been looking into our baby's big brown or blue eyes and experiencing something our hearts have yet to experience.  We should have been holding our baby in our arms, rejoicing.  Instead, my arms are empty and aching.

Our precious baby is on my mind and heart today.  And today is a day to remember him or her.  A day to remember the short, but significant impact he or she has had on our hearts and lives.  A day to remember the grieving, but also the healing.  A day to briefly reflect on those moments we never thought we would survive, yet to see how our God has brought us through.  

However, to be very honest, a part of me does not want to forget even the horrific days because even those encompass the memories I have of our baby.  Although there is much pain in those memories, there is also so much love for someone we have never met.  I remember being so excited to see our baby for the first time on the ultrasound screen and to hear his or her heartbeat.  And even though that day was the furthest thing from what we hoped, our love for our baby and our joy to see him or her is something I still hold dear.

Even as I am writing this, I am realizing that it is not only about holding onto the memories.  The time was just too short and the memories were just so few that I actually fear forgetting our baby.  However, as I type this I realize how silly that sounds because you cannot forget someone who is a part of you and a part of your heart.  Even though it may hurt less and less often, our love for baby will always be there.  Our healing does not mean we are forgetting our baby or loving him or her any less, and in the same way our remembering and reflecting does not mean we have to relive and re-grieve everything all over again.

It is apparent that there are times in the grieving process when we experience extremely painful moments and have flashbacks, but today is different.  It is different because some healing has taken place.  It is different because we are further from where we began.  It is different because there has been some acceptance.  Today is a day of reflection, and for me part of that reflection is the natural inclination to think of "what should have been" and for this reason my heart and empty arms ache.

However, today is also a day of remembering.  Remembering the hopes and dreams we had for our baby.  Remembering the anticipation and excitement of seeing a picture of our baby for the first time.  Remembering how deeply Ashton touched my heart and changed me, even though his or her life was so brief.  All of which point to the huge amount of love we have for our baby.  A love that will always remain through all time, circumstances, and healing. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Black & White

After our second miscarriage, my doctor suggested a myriad of tests that could be done in order to help us find out if there was anything contributing to our past miscarriages.  A few weeks later we sat down with our doctor and made a list of the tests we decided on.  The list was limited due to our insurance coverage, but we felt like it was great starting place.  After the list was made, I sat down in that plastic chair once again to get more blood drawn.  I looked away as the technician poked my arm and began to fill multiple tubes with blood.  Once she finished, we parted ways and I wondered what the results would be and how long it would take for my results to come back.

A week later I got the call.  The voice on the phone was one of the office workers.  She asked, "Are you guys trying right now?"  I replied "No, we were waiting until we found out the results of the tests."  She said, "Oh.  I was going to call in a prescription for you if you were because one of your tests came back positive."  "Oh...kay...Can you tell me what is was?", I asked.  "I don't really know.  All I know is that the doctor typically calls in a prescription when people have this particular type of situation."  So I responded, " seems like it's something that can be treated?"

This, of course, was the most important question in my mind.  I had fears that something would come back positive, but my biggest fear of all was that it would not be treatable.  She said, "It appears so.  When can you come in to see the doctor?"  I gave her an overview of my schedule and she said the soonest she could get me in was in two weeks due to the holiday.  We scheduled the appointment and she hung up the phone.  As soon as we hung up, I noticed my anxiety level increasing as innumerable thoughts and worries began to swirl in my mind.

After two weeks of anxious thoughts, fears, and worries, my doctor's appointment finally arrived.  I nervously sat in the room they escorted me to waiting for the doctor to enter.  Shortly upon entering, she began to describe which test came back positive.  She explained that I have a mutated MTHFR gene that can cause a high level of homocysteine in the blood, which in turn can cause blood clots.  She also shared that low amounts of Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12, and Vitamin B-6 are also a factor.  Additionally, I learned that research is divided as to whether or not it is a direct cause of miscarriages, but many researchers have found a correlation.

The good news, she shared, was that there are treatment options, and although they vary from one doctor to the next, she revealed that some of her patients with the same diagnosis have went on to have healthy pregnancies with treatment.  She explained that her typical method of treatment is a cocktail of the previously mentioned vitamins and a baby aspirin if/when blood clots arise.  She also said that I only have one copy of the mutated gene as opposed to two, which offers more hope than the alternative.

The next step at this point is to have my homocysteine level tested, but in order to do so, I have to be off my prenatal vitamin for thirty days since it contains Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12, and Vitamin B-6.  This test is important because from my understanding, it is not the gene itself that causes the complications, but a high homocysteine level.  Once we have these results, we will be able to determine which treatment options to pursue.  So now we wait.

When reflecting on this experience, I realize that I had hoped to leave my doctor's office that day with a guarantee that we would never suffer a miscarriage again.  Oh, how I desperately long for things to be black and white.  If there is a problem, I want a solution.  If there is a diagnosis, I want a standard treatment of practice.  If there is a question, I want an answer.   Instead, I left with feelings of uncertainty, fear of other diseases this mutation can contribute to, confusion caused by my lack of skills in the subject area of Biology, unanswered questions, no standard treatment of practice, a correlation to miscarriages opposed to a direct cause, and no guarantee.  No guarantee that, once we cross all our "t's" and dot all our "i's", we will not have to experience or fear losing another child.

I know I am not the only one who longs for things to be black and white.  A guarantee that everything is going to be okay.  I long for it more now than I ever have in my whole life.  Loss does that to a person.  However, in the midst of these feelings, I am thankful that our diagnosis is not the end all of hope.  I am thankful for possibility.  I am thankful for treatment options.  I am thankful once again, that even though it feels like I have no control, I can rest in the arms of the One who does.  Which is easier said than done most of the time, but nevertheless I know it is the Truth and the Truth is black and white even when it does not feel that way.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Worst Nightmare - Take Two

Throughout this pregnancy, I have been an anxious, fearful mess.  My biggest fear:  Having another miscarriage.  Well, I am learning that worrying about things fails to protect you and prevent your fears from coming to fruition.  I have actually been wondering what the point of worrying is anyways.  It really does not help in any way - at all.  It only seems to add more stress and chaos to life.

I woke up on one particular Friday morning, following my regular routine.  Made my way to the bathroom and discovered upon wiping that I was lightly spotting.  My first thought was "Oh  no, I am having another miscarriage!"  I dreaded that my biggest fear was coming to life.  Here we go again.  I instantly started bawling my eyes out.  I don't think I could have stopped it even if I wanted to.  

I ran to my husband in the other room to inform him, between the sobs, that I was spotting and asked him to pray.  I was also praying as tears were streaming down my face.  Pleading with God that our baby would be okay and hoping with everything within me that this did not mean my biggest fear was coming to life.

As soon as my doctor's office opened, I called and spoke with the PA.  She attempted to ease my fears with comments such as, "Some women spot throughout their pregnancy" and "It doesn't necessarily mean you're having a miscarriage."  I tried really hard to allow her words to comfort me, but as I thought about our past experience and faced the reality before me, her words felt empty.  The spotting, plus the fact that I wasn't experiencing some of the "typical" pregnancy symptoms I had in the previous pregnancy exasperated my fears all the more.

As evening arrived, the spotting was no longer pink, but red.  My fears continued to increase, but I was trying not to dwell on what may be and instead keep pleading with God for everything to be okay.  When Saturday morning arrived, I noticed there was more bleeding than before, and [Warning:  Semi-graphic content] as the day progressed blood seemed to pour out of me every time I sat on the toilet.  Then, later in the evening, I saw a couple of large dark masses that seemed to just plop out of me.  This was the scariest thing yet.

I knew very well that what I was experiencing could be a miscarriage, yet I was still clinging to the hope that things could be different.  So I kept praying.  I prayed for the bleeding to stop.  I prayed and I cried and prayed some more.  The next day the bleeding was much lighter.  I was optimistic that things may have actually been getting better.  However, I still felt unsettled.  

Since my first miscarriage was a "missed miscarriage" that resulted in a D & C, I was a little clueless about what experiencing a natural miscarriage was like.  Throughout the weekend, I had been "googling" various symptom, terms, and topics in hopes to find some answers.  During one particular search,  I happened upon a discussion that talked about different women's experiences with miscarriages.  I saw one post that was similar to how far along I was in the pregnancy (a few days shy of eight weeks) and what she described was very similar to what I had experienced.

Reality set in.  I began facing the fact that I truly may have already experienced a miscarriage.  My prayers changed.  I began to ask that God would prepare our hearts for the truth we would discover on Monday.  I asked that He would give us what we needed to make it through this again.  Having been through it once before gave me hope we could get through it again, but it also made me very aware of the emotional pain that was to come and honestly, that scared me to death.  I claimed God's goodness, faithfulness, and His love for us, and His ability to heal our hearts.  

On Monday, I called my doctor's office to fill them in on the events of the weekend.  About an hour later, my husband and I were on our way to her office.  By this time, they had gotten the results of my blood test from the previous week.  The PA confirmed that based on my HCG levels from last week's blood test and the symptoms I had over the weekend that we had indeed had another miscarriage.  Although, they had confirmed the miscarriage, they sent me to the hospital for one more blood test so they could have a comparison number for my HCG level.  Later that day, I received a phone call informing me that my HCG level was continuing to drop, confirming without a doubt that we definitely had another miscarriage.  

I had attempted to get some sleep that day - wanting desperately to be able to forget, even if just for a little while, about what we were going through.  However, except for a few brief twenty minute periods, I was unable to.  Everything seemed so surreal and I felt completely numb.  Although, I knew firsthand that there were painful days ahead and many more emotions to come, I clung to the Truth that God is trustworthy, that He is good, that He is faithful, that He loves us, and that He is able to heal our broken hearts.  So here we go again...yet, tightly clinging to the truth that He can and will bring us through this since He carried us through once before.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Emotional Roller Coaster

For the past two weeks, I have been analyzing my body and emotions, almost daily, attempting to determine whether or not we are pregnant again.  And for the record, when I analyze, I do not just analyze, I over analyze to the point that I have convinced myself that I am pregnant even though it may not be so.  So as you can imagine, I have been anxiously awaiting the time that I can actually take a test and know for sure.

Well, on Sunday, since I could not wait any longer, I decided to take one of those tests that are supposed to be able to predict whether or not you're pregnant days before your period is supposed to start.  After meticulously following the test's instructions, I stood over the stick anxiously awaiting a plus or minus sign.  Well, the minus sign never turned into what I was hoping for.  It was negative, thus beginning my emotional roller coaster.  My heart was broken.  Tears streaming down my face.  I thought to myself, "You have to accept that this may not happen in your timing" while simultaneously thinking, "It's okay.  You're testing early.  It could be wrong."

Then along came Tuesday, the day my period was supposed to arrive.  I woke up that morning with no signs of my period.  The day continued to progress and still no sign.  I know from my consistent cycle that it typically arrives prior to the evening hours so my excitement and anticipation gradually began to build.  Then the evening arrived and still no period.  So what did I do?  Take another test, of course!

I found myself in the bathroom yet again, hoovering over the test waiting for a response to appear.  This time the faintest plus sign you've ever seen appeared.  I took another one to make sure.  Another faint plus sign appeared.  I showed them both to my husband.  He confirmed that they were indeed plus signs, although so faint I honestly thought it was possible it was a figment of my imagination.  But he said he saw it too so I guess that means we can celebrate, right?  Excitement, happiness, and peace filled my heart until....

Less than an hour later I went to the bathroom and saw that I was spotting.  It was not anything to freak out about, but when I wiped I saw pink so my thought now was "I am not pregnant.  My period is starting."  I did not have any spotting with my first pregnancy so to me it automatically implied that something was not right.  Enter heartbreak and disappointment all over again.

The spotting progressed until the following evening and disappeared the next day.  So the following day I decided to take another pregnancy test.  This time the plus sign appeared again.  Although still faint, it was darker than before.  And after taking another test to confirm, I finally felt like we could celebrate yet again.

Five days.  Five pregnancy tests. One negative result.  Two faint positives.  Two more convincing positives.  So I guess that means, it's true.  We're pregnant again.  We're super excited, but incredibly fearful all at the same time.  Again, we find ourselves, our baby, our future in God's hands.  Acknowledging that we have no control, but praying and hoping our fears and worries will not come to fruition.  Only time will tell.

In the meantime, however, I am thankful for this verse that God has given me to help me fight my fears and anxiety...
"See, I am doing a new thing.  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland" (Isaiah 43:19, NIV).
Our life has felt like both the wilderness and a wasteland since our first loss four months ago, but I am clinging to God's words that He is doing a new thing.  He has blessed us with another child.  This is our child, whether or not we will hold him or her in Heaven, he or she is ours and no one or nothing will ever change that.  Thank you, Jesus, for this gift of life.

[NOTE:  This post is a reflection of events, thoughts, and feelings that occurred in September 2012.  Story to be continued.]

Monday, October 29, 2012

On Trying Again

It's finally that time.  The time we've been waiting for.  It's exciting, yet simultaneously terrifying.  The possibility of conceiving another child is clearly exciting, yet the possibility of losing another child is terrifying.

Before the loss, we knew a miscarriage was a possible.  We were fearful it would happen to us, but it still felt an arm's length away or at least another person's experience away.  However, this time everything is different.  It's not just possible.  It doesn't just happen.  It happened to us.  It is real.

It's difficult to explain how different it feels this time.  We have faced a reality that suggests there is a chance we will never see our hopes and dreams come to life.  We know firsthand that everything does not happen as easily or perfectly as what some of us are told.  The innocence has been lost.

We do not face this time with the same pure excitement and anticipation of our hopes and dreams literally coming to life.  Instead, it is now threaded with tremendous fear and anxiety.  Fear of the unknown.  Will we be able to get pregnant again?  Will we be able to conceive in the same time frame as before?  Is my body able to carry a child to full-term?  Will our child be healthy?  Will we loose another child and go through this all over again?

Yet, even when all our fear and anxiety is staring us in the face, we press onward.  We choose to try again even though it may mean we will loose another child.  We choose to open our hearts to another child even if it means we may never hold him or her in our arms on this earth.  This is hope and courage even in the midst of the most terrifying fear and paralyzing anxiety.   

So here's to what is completely and utterly out of our control.  We surrender our wants and desires to God once again, yet ferociously hope we will see our hopes and desires come to fruition.  We have done all that is within our power and control.  The rest is in God's hands.  Now, we eagerly await the next couple weeks to see what only time will tell.

[NOTE:  This post is a reflection of events, thoughts, and feelings that occurred in September 2012.]

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Name

For the past couple weeks, my husband and I have been attempting to choose a name for our baby, which has been easier said then done.  Without knowing the gender or not yet seeing the face of our beautiful baby boy or girl, choosing the right name has been a mysterious process.  So in the meantime, I have prayed many prayers that sounded like this:  "Jesus, you have spent time with our baby face to face, please provide a name that fits him or her well."

I realize that not all parents of miscarried children choose to give their babies a name.  There is no right or wrong decision.  This is just something we have chosen to do and is meaningful to us.  However, to be honest, it didn't start out that way initially.  Shortly after we found out that we had lost our baby, I almost immediately wanted to give our baby a name.  I longed for a tangible way to acknowledge the short, but significant life of our baby.  My husband did not feel this way at that time so I respected his feelings and dropped the topic.  This is just one example of how spouses or significant others may differ in the grieving process, and although it may be difficult at the time respecting one another's differences is love in action.

About four months after our initial discussion and much prayer and patience, I gently brought up the idea to him again to see if he felt the same as before or if anything had changed.  To my surprise, he immediately responded, "Yes, let's do it", thus commencing the beginning of our name hunt.  After looking at multiple websites and reading hundreds of names, we narrowed it down to a few gender-neutral names we both liked the sound of.  However, we struggled to find a name that rang beautifully in our ears and carried significant meaning so we continued to wrestle with the idea for the next several days.

Eventually we decided to go with a first name we liked the sound of and a middle name that was meaningful to our story, our journey, and our hearts.  So this marks our first moment of publicly revealing our chosen name.  Are you ready for it?  Here is it is...

Ashton Hope

"Ashton" was one of the few names we both liked the sound of and could imagine calling our baby boy or girl.  And "Hope", we choose hope because of the hope we have chosen to cling to throughout this entire process.  Hope that God will sustain us when it feels like hope is lost.  Hope that God will heal our hearts.  Hope that God will bring beauty out of this mess.  And finally, hope that one day we will see our baby face to face.  Thank you, Jesus!

Ashton Hope, it feels so good to call you by name.  Thank you for the honor and privilege it is to be your mommy.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Remembering our Babies

Tonight, I just wanted to write a quick to post to acknowledge all the mommies I witnessed remembering their babies today.  For those of you who don't know, which I am sure most of you do, today is "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day".  Today, I have been blessed by the courage and strength of all the women I have witnessed publicly remembering and acknowledging their babies on this special day.  Thank you for your authenticity and bravery.  You are inspiring.

Tonight, our candles are lit in memory of our precious babies who are in the arms of Jesus.  We miss you so much, but rest in the hope that we will see you and hold you again, for some, or for the first time, for others.  Your lives, although short, have forever changed ours.  You are loved.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Why Not?

Several weeks ago, I was speaking to my co-worker and she was talking about how we often ask the question "Why?" when we are facing difficult and/or painful circumstances, but rarely ask "Why not?".  I was put off by her statement at first especially considering the fact that I have been wrestling with my own "Why?" question, however as I began to consider her perspective with an open heart and mind, I was humbled.  I am quick to ask God "Why?", but have never considered asking "Why not?".

When I dare to ask the question "Why not?", I cannot help but think "Who am I to be exempt from experiencing pain in this far from perfect world?"  Yes, not everyone experiences the pain and heartache of a miscarriage, but in this less than perfect world, we all experience pain.  Pain, that although it bears different names and circumstances, is a pain that breaks hearts all the same.  So "Who am I to think that I should be exempt from this pain while other mothers suffer?"

"Who am I am to critique or judge who should or should not face certain circumstances and its associated pain?"  Only God has the power and authority over those things, not me.  Don't get me wrong, asking the question "Why not?" does not diminish the pain, but it does offer another perspective.  Also, it does not mean we still do not need to wrestle with the question "Why", it just means we should not stop there.  The reality is that we often do not know "Why?", but we can rest in the fact that there is One who does and He deeply loves and cares for us.

So although I know little, I am choosing to trust that God knows everything, including the answers to my "Why?" and "Why not?" questions.  For me, it all keeps coming back to surrender.  Surrendering my pride, admitting that I do not know everything.  Surrendering my desires, trusting God even if I never get what I want.  Surrendering to His plan, even when I do not like it and it does not make any sense to me.  Surrendering to His love, trusting that He loves me even when it may not feel that way.

"Why not?"  It's better than the alternatives.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


For myself, one of the most difficult aspects of my grief journey has been accepting the fact that God allowed this to happen.  Days before our loss, I was reading in the book of Job.  Not by coincidence, I assume, instead God's way of preparing me for what was to come.  Two passages struck me.  The first is found in Job 2:10, "...Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? (NIV)"  Humbling, yet striking to the core.  Creating a myriad of negative emotions as a result of the truth that God allowed this to happen, yet simultaneously humbling me before the Creator of the Universe.

The second was Job's response as he was mourning the deaths of his children, he spoke in worship, "...The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised" (Job 1:21, NIV).  To acknowledge that "the Lord has taken away" and still trust Him, that's where I struggle.  To admit that God allowed this to happen is painful.  It makes me feel sad, disappointed, angry, resentful, and betrayed.  It's agonizing to accept that He allowed this to happen when I know He could have prevented it if He only would have chosen to.

This struggle was exasperated recently when I was challenged to come face to face with the reality that God allowed our miscarriage.  I did not want to accept the fact that God allowed this to happen because I was fearful of how it would change my view of God and my relationship with Him.  However, as I was reading Grieving the Child I never Knew, the author's words offered no alternative choice when she wrote, "As painful as this truth may be to face, sooner or later, you must" (p. 70).  Instantly, her words deeply afflicted a part of me that I had been hiding and burying...the part where I was asking, "Why?"   As this part of me was exposed, my whisper became a scream and my insides were screaming "But why?".  God did not answer to my question, but He did respond.  He gently spoke, "Surrender".

Upon hearing His response, I promptly left the kitchen table and headed to the beach, which was only a stroll away from a cabin we were staying at for the weekend.  I thought the beach was a good place to think, plus I was overcome with emotions and did not want the other people in the room to notice my tears.  While sitting on the beach, I started sharing my honest feelings, fears, struggles, doubts, and pain with God.  I told Him I wanted to trust Him and in my head knew He was trustworthy, but admitted this experience had stolen some of my innocence and childlike faith.  I told Him that I knew He was bigger and smarter than me, and acknowledged that He was God, not me, and asked for help to accept the fact that I may never receive an answer to my "But why?" question.

Using a nearby stick, I scribbled in the sand and dug deep circles into it, attempting to give my feelings an outlet.  It offered some release.  And after wrestling with my thoughts and feelings for sometime, I decided to surrender.  I decided to Trust God no matter what.  I decided to follow God even when I do not get what I want.  I decided to accept the Truth that "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away", yet choose to say, "may the name of the Lord be praised".  So I wrote down my sacrifice to the Lord on the alter of that sandy beach, tears streaming down my face as I wrote...

"The Lord gives and takes away; Blessed be the name of the Lord."

After writing those words in the sand and surrendering in my heart, an indescribable peace and freedom overwhelmed me.  A weight was lifted, my burden was lighter, and I was freer.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Waiting and Hoping

Shortly after the miscarriage, my husband and I began dreaming of our opportunity to try again.  We spoke of it with excitement and anticipation, but knew the recommended waiting time would give us time to heal.  There are many reasons why we looked favorably towards this moment.  It was not simply because we wanted to replace what was lost (because he or she is irreplaceable), but because our hearts long to be a parents here on earth.  So the countdown began.

For five weeks following our miscarriage, I got my blood checked weekly waiting for my HCG level to go down.  I hated every time I had to go into the doctor's office.  Primarily because it was a vivid reminder of the tragedy we had recently experienced and secondarily, "Who likes to get their arm poked with a needle?"  Not me!  So I kept hoping and praying.  Hoping and praying the level would go down and that I would have a regular menstrual cycle again.  I've never hoped for my period more in my entire lifetime than I did after our miscarriage, so the thought frequently running through my mind was "The sooner my period comes, the closer we are to trying again".

The doctor's orders were to wait at least two regular cycles before trying again so I wanted to get this process started.  Finally six weeks following the miscarriage, my period arrived.  And you know what?  It was bittersweet.  I expected the sweet part, but not the bitter.  The arrival of my period brought a finality to the end of my pregnancy that nothing else had.  It made it very real that the pregnancy was over and would never be again.  It also left an emptiness, a reminder that our baby was gone, never to be held in our arms here on earth.  Thankfully, it was not all bitter, but sweet in the sense that it signified one step closer to trying again, another opportunity to become parents here on earth.

So as time continued to progress closer to trying again, we were becoming more and more excited, yet fearful.  Excited for the possibly of becoming parents here on earth, yet fearful of what may come.  Just days before the long-awaited time approached, both of us became sick.  Nothing too significant, but enough to warrant medication.  I had fears that this medication would postpone what we had been waiting for the past three months.  And after a phone call to my doctor, I discovered that to be correct.  We would have to wait one more cycle before we could try again.

It was a very disappointing and discouraging moment.  To be waiting and hoping for something, only to be left waiting and hoping is extremely difficult and painful.  Knowing that waiting only another month is difficult, I can't imagine the difficulty and pain for those who have waited even longer for whatever reason.  My four months of waiting seems insignificant compared to years of waiting, but for anyone who has waited for something they deeply long for, any length of time is difficult and painful.  Plus, as women, we all know there are often years that one longs to be a mother before she actually tries so sometimes there are already years of waiting, hoping, and anticipating that happen even prior to trying.  I've felt that way.

Nevertheless, in the waiting, I am choosing to trust that God has a plan, embracing the extra time we have to continue to heal from our loss, and attempting to accept the fact that all of this is out of my control anyways.  That last one is a tough one.  This whole entire experience has been out of my control.  From beginning to end.  So I am in the process of acknowledging and accepting that I have no control, releasing control to the only One who does, and believing that I can trust Him, even if I never get what I want.  Looks like I have my work cut out for me, but at least I know I'm in good Hands, and you are too.    

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Our God is Greater

God recently reminded me of His desire to heal me and make me whole.  Often when I sing Our God, by Chris Tomlin, I think of the people I minister to and how God can heal them no matter how big the stuff they are going through seems.  Especially when I am singing the chorus:
Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer
Awesome in power
Our God, Our God
But this time, it was different.  God whispered to me, "I want to heal you too and make you whole again".  What precious words to hear after this loss because my heart feels so battered and torn.  And His words are not just for me, but for you too.

I was also reminded of how big God is, which was something I needed because it seems like difficult times in my life tend to shrink my view of God.  Remembering that "God is greater, stronger, higher than any other" gives me hope and strength.  He is bigger than my loss, my pain, my grief.  "He is my Healer, awesome in power".  He will bring me through this.

I had been feeling so beat up by my grief and sorrow that I had lost sight of how big God is.  Sometimes hard times do that, they cause us to forgot how big God is.  Our circumstance seems bigger and bigger and God seems smaller and smaller.  So needless to say, I am so thankful for this reminder.  I no longer feel defeated, but my hope and strength has been renewed.

I want to close today with lyrics from the song Your Hands, by JJ Heller because it has been an encouragement to me throughout this journey, and I hope it will be for you too.

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
That You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crookedly lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

When You walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right
Yea, one day You will set all things right

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

Your hands
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave You when...

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave...
I never leave Your hands

May you trust that God is bigger than your loss and pain, and open your heart to His healing so He can make you whole again.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


According to, the definition of the word lament is "to feel or express sorrow or regret for; to mourn for or over".  Knowing that there are words in our language to express what I am feeling inside gives me permission to feel what I feel.  It reminds me that pain and sorrow are a natural response to loss.  I appreciate that reminder today because I am feeling it.  I am feeling the loss.  I am feeling the pain.  I am lamenting.

I don't know about you, but I am an extremely analytical person so whenever I am having days like these, I try to "figure out" why I am feeling this way.  Sometimes there are specific situations or thoughts that trigger my sorrow, but some days there are not, and the pain just hits me out of the blue.  Last weekend, I was watching a movie on television and a commercial advertising a pregnancy test came on.  The woman expressed joy when the pregnancy test result was positive, and my response:  Tears uncontrollably started flowing down my cheeks and I was filled with sadness.  My mind flashed back to our response when our pregnancy test result was positive and our own joy then it quickly switched back to the reality that we will never meet that child here on earth.

Later in the evening when the movie was over, I shut the television off and as soon as the room was silent, I started crying hysterically - warm tears racing down my face, frequently snorting as I attempted to catch my breath.  I had not cried like that since the first couple weeks of our loss.  And it kept coming, the tears flowing, the snorts continuing, the attempt at deep breaths failing, the snot forming.  I needed to lament so my body and spirit took advantage of the still, quiet moment to release my tears and sorrow and pain over my loss.

Today, I am lamenting again.  It's probably the combination of my anticipation of seeing a pregnant family member and hugging family members I have not seen since prior to our loss.  But even more than that, it's my ongoing track of the progress of our pregnancy in the back of my mind.  Today would have marked 20 weeks of our pregnancy.  Halfway through!  Soon to discover the gender of our baby, if not already.  I try not to keep a running tally of "what would have been" because I don't think it's the best way for me to move forward, however the significant mile markers definitely remain - the halfway point, discovering the sex of the baby, the due date.

Writing provides me with the opportunity to lament.  Yes, putting my thoughts and feelings on a page make them very real, but expressing them provides relief.  It does not take away the sadness, but it does decreases the heaviness of grief and releases some of my pain and sorrow through my words and tears.
So baby girl or boy, I miss you today.  I miss carrying you and supporting your life and development.  I hate the fact that I will never hold you here on earth or see you face to face.  However, thank you for the opportunity, though very short it was to celebrate your life and be a part of your creation and existence.  I look forward to the day when we will be reunited in Heaven and I can hold your in my arms and look into your eyes.  Until that day, know you are loved and missed.
Take time to lament.  It hurts, but it heals.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Grief Checklist

I received this card today and had to share...

This card was a beautiful gift because it literally made me laugh out loud and gave me something to smile about.  Laughter and smiles in the midst of grief are such a blessing because they are often rare.  Laughter, plus the love and support from my friend expressed in the card, not to mention her listening ear earlier in the day resulted in some healing today.  Sometimes it's the simplest things that can aide in the healing process.

Time definitely does help heal all wounds, but just as with shark bites, our wounds need more than just time.  I am grateful for the two months (as of today) that have passed since we learned our baby was with Jesus because the simple pass of time has healed some of our wounds.  However, some of them hurt just as much like the fact that I will always miss our baby (until I am reunited with him or her in Heaven) no matter how much time has gone by.  

I wish grief had a specific measurable amount of time like two months or six months or even a year as long as it came with a guarantee that it would never hurt again after that specific period of time.  However, that just isn't realistic and accepting that has been one of the hardest things for me lately.  Mostly because I am a planner who loves structure and lists, especially checklists.  I wish I could make a checklist of the steps of grief so I could check them off as fast as possible.  But as I stated in a previous post, "grief is messy".  It takes on a life of it's own and does not follow any specific plan or checklist.  And that's so difficult for me because I want to know the steps I need to take so I can just get it over and done with.

Right now, God is challenging me to let go of my expectations, my expectations for myself, my grief, and the healing process.  Letting go of my expectation of where I think I should be at this point in time.  Letting go of my expectation of how emotional I think I should be.  Letting go of my expectation of how much I should talk about what I am feeling.  Letting go so I can just be.  Just be myself.  Feel what I feel when I feel it without worrying about what I think I should feel or feeling guilty on the days I don't feel as much as I think I should.  Letting go because my expectations have only led to guilt, shame, discouragement, and frustration, and because it's simply not what God wants for you or me.  

Therefore, today I am committing to just being me.  I am committing to feeling when the feelings come and not forcing them when they do not exist.  I am committing to seeking out a listening ear when I need to share, but not forcing it just because I think I should.  I am committing to letting go of my expectations, believing and trusting that God is the One who heals my wounds, not my checklist or plans.  Psalm 147:3 (The Holy Bible, NIV) states, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."  So may you believe and trust that God truly is the One who heals all wounds, however on days when you just need to smile, remember "Time heals all wounds, except shark bites."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Whole New World

Ever since we lost our baby, I have felt like I'm part of a whole new world.  A world that I had heard of, but tried to avoid thinking about due to my own fear and desperation for a different story.  Obviously, I'm not referencing the picture perfect Disney whole new world presented in Aladdin.  Quite the contrary, actually.  This world is full of pain, heartache, lost hopes, dreams, aspirations, expectations.  This world is full of women and families who have experienced the devastation of pregnancy loss.  And it's full of so many more people than I ever realized.

There are a multitude of varying statistics regarding the frequency of miscarriages, ranging anywhere from 17 to 40 percent of conceptions ending in miscarriages according to what I have come across.  However, no matter what statistic is attached to miscarriages, it definitely seems far too common.  A couple weeks ago, in the regular routine of my daily life, I came in contact with three people who had experienced a miscarriage.  All in one day of my everyday life.  That was startling to me and very eye-opening.  A whole new world, indeed.

In talking to those three women, I observed the heartache and pain of the miscarriage and felt my own.  I witnessed healing and growth that had taken place over time.  I also saw the hopeful expectation of those trying to conceive again in spite of past circumstances.  Different personalities, different circumstances, different life experiences, yet united by our understanding of this whole new world that we were now a part of.

One of the many painful parts of miscarriages is the loneliness one can feel.  The loneliness that comes from feeling that no one quite understands or that those who do may not be feeling your pain simultaneously.  Or the loneliness experienced in a marriage or relationship because of the fact that your husband or partner is grieving differently than you and does not know exactly what you are going through.  The silence causes loneliness too.  The silence that comes from the masses for those of us who chose to share our experience with only a selected few or the silence that comes after those we have shared with go on to live their normal lives while we're still in the midst of grief.

I am learning that there is healing in sharing.  There is healing in having someone understand what you're going through because they have been there, either past or present.  It is also encouraging and hope-giving to see those who are further along on their journey of healing, reminding us that we will get there too.  Even though others may not fully understand, I challenge and encourage you to share your story with those who are safe and trustworthy so you too can experience healing through sharing.  Join a support group, have coffee with a friend, talk to a counselor.  You are not alone for there are a myriad of us living in this whole new world.         

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Just One of Them Days

Remember the song "Don't take it personal (aka Just One of Dem Days)" by Monica?  I know I am dating myself here, but it was really popular in 1995 when I was in eighth grade.  Today, seventeen years later, I found myself singing the lyrics in my head..."It's just one of them days that a girl goes through.  When I am angry inside, don't want to take it out on you.  Just one of them things.  Don't take it personal.  I just wanna be all alone and you think I treat you wrong."

I'm learning that grief creates many "just one of them days".  Today, my "just one of them days" began with a simple conversation and question, "How have you been doing?"  A question that was directly related to how I have been dealing with the miscarriage.  I responded quickly, "alright".  And up until that moment, I had been doing "alright", possibly even "pretty good" or "good".  However, that moment opened up a window to my grief and suddenly all my feelings came flooding in.

Although I appreciated the gesture and knew in my heart that the person had all the love and care in the world for my well-being, all I wanted to do was hurry up and get the conversation over with because it became a vivid reminder that I actually wasn't "alright".  Thus beginning my "just of them days" experience.  Following the conversation, I began wrestling with emotions and questions in my head and just wanted to isolate myself from the world.  Also, as the day went on I noticed myself becoming more and more irritable and extremely stressed and frustrated by the simplest things.  

As the irritability escalated, my husband gently checked in with me to see how I was doing, and I responded, "It's just one of those days."  He graciously accepted the answer and my response helped me better understand what I had been wrestling with over the past four hours or so.  When we're grieving, we have "just one of them days" or two or three or ten or fifty.  It seems to be part of the grieving process and it's okay.

I am realizing that it is okay to have "just one of them days".  However, it's important for me to acknowledge when and understand why I am having "just one of them days".  If I fuel my irritability and hurt others with my actions then it becomes something else besides "just one of them days".  If I can acknowledge why I am irritable and admit that I am sad and missing my baby today or that I'm just plain angry or upset that it had to happen this way then I can heal.

I can't heal without feeling the feelings, thinking the thoughts, and asking the questions.  Even though I'd much rather ignore the feelings, thoughts, and questions, and just hope it all goes away.  The truth is that it doesn't.  In order to heal, I've got to feel.  Not dwell and stay there forever, but acknowledge my feelings, thoughts, questions, fears, disappointments, etc.  Only then can God heal my heart and make me whole again.

I know how tempting it is to want to push it all deep down and ignore it.  It seems much easier in the moment.  And to be honest, there are times in our life when we need to do this like when we're in the middle of a meeting at work or giving a presentation, but we can't do this forever.  It doesn't make it all go away, it doesn't disappear, it actually slows down the healing process.  

Sometimes pushing it down during the meeting or presentation is necessary for survival, but I don't want to just survive for the rest of my life, I want to thrive.  And in order to thrive, I must face the reality of my pain, which is rooted in my lost hopes, dreams, expectations, child.  I must face these things in order to heal, but it's so much easier to keep it buried.  For the meantime yes, but the long-term effects are even more damaging.

Lately I've been asking Jesus to help me feel when I need to feel.  To not just bury it and try to hide, but to feel so can I heal.  To trust that He'll provide for my needs as opposed to me groping for my survival with my own agenda.  To believe that thriving is better than surviving and that healing is better than never feeling my pain.  

In reality, my "just one of them days" today is a gift from God (in a way that only He can orchestrate).  It's an opportunity for me to feel and acknowledge my pain, my hurts, my disappointment, and mourn my child.  It's a day towards thriving instead of just surviving.  It's a day towards healing instead of hiding.  So on your "just one of them days", may you allow yourself to feel and God to heal so that instead of just surviving, you can begin your journey towards thriving.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grief is Messy

On the day following our ultrasound appointment, I decided to do some research to learn more about what was going on in my body.  My doctor had referred to what I was experiencing as a "pending miscarriage", but I was struggling to find information online so I decide to consult my What to expect when you're expecting book, by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel.

After searching through the index and table of contents, I came across a chapter entitled:  "The Complicated Pregnancy".  One that I never intended to read, and one I hoped I would never have to.  A portion of the chapter was dedicated to miscarriages and I began by reading about the different types of miscarriages.  As I was reading, I discovered multiple types of miscarriages: Chemical pregnancy, blighted ovum, missed miscarriage, incomplete miscarriage, and threatened miscarriage.  I had no idea there were so many different types.  Prior to this, the only way I had ever heard the experience described was simply "miscarriage".

As I read through the different types, I soon discovered that what we were experiencing had an official name, a "missed miscarriage", which was described as when the baby remains in the uterus even though he or she has died.  Reading the official name and description of my experience brought some understanding and in a bizarre way, some peace.  In general, I tend to experience more peace when I feel like I understand something better.  However, that did not change the fact that I cried my way through the entire portion of the chapter addressing miscarriages.  I had heard of the term miscarriage before and even had family and friends who had experienced one, but only in my worst nightmare had I dreamed of utilizing the word in reference to my own personal life experience.

During my reading, I also learned that a missed miscarriage was "very rare" so I could not help but wonder, "Why us?"  But that was not a question for me to answer.  However, it was of course, a very natural response in the midst of my grief.  Grief can bring up many questions, doubts, uncertainties, and a myriad of emotions...sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, depression, and often many "What if's".Some researchers describe grief as stages:  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  The stages appear so organized and structured, almost so lovely that you could tie a bow around them.  But for anyone who has ever experienced grief, we know that grief is messy.  It does not follow any structure or plan.  It surprises us and catches us off guard.  One moment we feel like we're okay while the next moment we feel like our world is falling apart all over again, and sometimes this all happens even within the very same day.

Early in my grief journey a friend of mine shared an illustration with me that resonated with me.  She talked about how sometimes we feel like we're taking several steps forward then several steps back.  She described grief or any difficult time in our life for that matter as climbing up a mountain.  On the really tough, painful days, we often feel like we are back at the bottom of the mountain.  However, she said that when we fall, we do not fall all the way back down to the bottom of the mountain, but we fall exactly where we are - whether we're halfway up the mountain or almost to the top, we land right where we were on our journey.  It does not change the fact that it hurts, and is painful, discouraging, and challenging, but it does mean that we're not starting all over again.

On those difficult days, it's important to remember that truth.  "I am not starting all over again.  I have already experienced some healing and nothing or no one can take that away.  It's just a rough day and tomorrow is a new day."  Remembering this has helped me so much on my journey.  Because when those rough days come, they are so difficult, painful, and discouraging, that it's tempting to give up hope.  But it's only temporary and when we do fall, we're not starting all over again, and we will get back up.  So if today is one of those days, may these words bring hope.  You are healing, this is temporary, and tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Part of the Plan?

After arriving home from the doctor's office, I was so completely exhausted and heartbroken that my body was beginning to shut itself down.  But before drifting asleep, all I longed for was to be held by my husband and to pray together.  I headed upstairs to our bedroom shortly after we arrived and utilized my limited supply of remaining energy to change into more comfortable clothes and crawl into bed.

Not long after, my husband laid down beside me and wrapped his arms around me.  We cried together then he prayed:  "...I know You didn't want our baby to die.  That wasn't part of Your plan..."  In that moment my husband communicated what was in my heart.  I knew that death was never really part of God's original plan, but instead a consequence that followed sin (Romans 5:12, Holy Bible, NIV).

I desperately needed to remember that this was not part of God's original plan because I hated going through this and didn't understand why things had happened this way.  Knowing that God didn't want our baby to die allowed me to imagine Him holding me and crying with me - just like my best friend would, just as my husband did.  2 Kings 20:5 (Holy Bible, NIV) states, "...I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you..."  He hears my prayer.  He sees my tears.  He will heal me.  To know that God hears me, sees me, and promises to heal me has brought me much comfort in my grief.

It's not easy to make sense of my faith in the midst of grief, but in all honesty it's not easy to make sense of anything in the midst of grief.  Life doesn't make sense and everything seems to change, including you and me.  But there is One who never changes (Malachi 3:6, Holy Bible, NIV) and He continues to remind me of His Truth and provides the strength and encouragement I need to sojourn on.  And because He loves you, He can give you those things as well.  I don't know if it will come as a verse in the Bible, a conversation with a friend, or a song on the radio, but it will come.  He hears your prayer.  He sees your tears.  He will heal you.  And that's a promise.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Worst Nightmare

I remember that day clearly, which is ironic since the entire day simultaneously feels very foggy.  May 10, 2012, the day that was supposed to be one of the most exciting things my husband and I have ever experienced.  That day, we woke up a little earlier than normal to attend our first ultrasound appointment together.  We were the doctor's first appointment of the day.  I had been dreaming of this day since we took our first pregnancy test on Easter weekend.  Dreaming of the first time we would be able to see our baby and longing for the peace I hoped it would bring in knowing our baby was okay.  I had been counting down the days until our first ultrasound in much anticipation.  However, buried deep within my heart was this haunting fear that our baby's heartbeat would not be heard.

Several weeks prior to our appointment, the scene from Marley and Me when John and Jennifer Grogan attend their first ultrasound appointment kept appearing in my head.  The one when Jennifer Aniston's character, Jennifer, says, "Is there anything in there?", after minutes of silence pass as the ultrasound technician conducts the ultrasound with a concerned look on her face.  Although that scene haunted my mind, I chose to dismiss it - choosing in that moment not dwell on fear and instead turn my deepest fears and worries over to my Creator through prayer.  I had even mentioned this image to a few friends and my husband prior to ultrasound, but their encouraging and supportive words eased my mind.

Nevertheless, although I was so incredibly excited, fear still lingered within my heart as I entered the door to my doctor's office.  I felt a certain nervous excitement, which made me even more thankful that my husband by my side.  We had only been sitting down for about five minutes before the nurse called my name.  We headed to the room where the ultrasound would be conducted.  After updating some medical history and getting my blood pressure checked, the nurse assured us that the doctor would be in shortly.

As our doctor entered the room, my nervous excitement momentarily increased..."This is it", I thought to myself.  She introduced herself and I introduced my husband.  Then without hesitation she motioned me to come over to the bed so we could begin the ultrasound.  She got the machine ready and put the warm ointment on my belly and began moving the wand back and forth.  I looked at the screen for a few seconds then choose to look at my husband instead because my full fledged fear of what may or may not be seen momentarily overwhelmed me.  

"There's your baby", the doctor said after what seemed to be ten to fifteen minutes, although it was probably only five in reality.  I looked longingly with some peace.  Although to be honest, I had no idea what I was supposed to be looking at, everything seemed jumbled and unclear.  She continued to move the wand back and forth and I watched her as her eyebrows communicated that she was concentrating intensely, searching for something that should be found.  

Again, my fear overcame me and I choose to look in the opposite direction.  Eventually after a long silence, she said, "I cannot find your baby's heartbeat so I'm going to send you to the hospital for another ultrasound.  Their technology is better than ours and there are times when they can find it when I can't."  I choked back my tears momentarily, but as soon as she left the room I looked at my husband and they began to flow freely.  I am certain that he could see the fear plastered on my face.     

In my mind I thought, "This is my worst fear coming to life."  My husband attempted to encourage me by sharing that he thought he saw movement on the screen where the heartbeat was supposed to be.  I attempted to receive his words, but all I could think was, "Oh no...This is exactly what I feared would happen."  Although my heart was full of a million emotions and my mind was afflicted by fear, I began praying asking for God to help us.

As we traveled the short trip to the hospital, I sent one text message to my best friend asking for prayer.  Fogginess began to descend upon me as we walked through the hospital hallways.  After lines and paperwork, we finally made our way to the radiology area.  Shortly after we sat down, my phone rang.  It was my dad.  I began sobbing as I told him that we were at the hospital and struggled through my tears to repeat the words that the doctor had said.

Soon after, my name was called and my husband and I made our way back to the room where they conducted ultrasounds.  The technician explained that she would not be able to give us any information while we were there today, but that we were to report to our doctor's office afterwards to hear the results.  We shook our heads in acknowledgement and agreement.  

I found myself yet again having the warm ointment squirted onto my belly.  They took picture after picture and I attempted to wait patiently.  But by now my bladder was so full, it was aching.  I closed my eyes in an attempt to escape my present reality, and began talking to God about our present circumstances with short, repetitive statements.  I do not remember everything we talked about in that moment, but I do remember saying, "If this is really happening, I know You'll help us get through this."  And although I meant it with all my heart, deep down I hoped that by some miracle our baby would have heartbeat.  

After both types of ultrasounds, traditional and transvaginal, we made our way out to the hospital parking lot.  As we were walking to our car, I said to my husband, "Can we just go home instead of going back to the doctor's office?"  It was a rhetorical question, but that's really what my heart wanted.  I did not want to go back to the doctor's office to hear what I thought was coming.  I wanted to avoid that conversation with all that was in me.  Plus, I was already so exhausted emotionally and physically, I did not feel like I could even survive the conversation.

After submitting to reality, we headed to my doctor's office, checked in at the front desk, and waited in the lobby for what seemed like an eternity.  It was one of the longest moments in my life.  My husband checked Facebook and I played Bubble Breaker on my phone in an attempt to not think about what felt like impending news.  Finally, my name was called and although I did not want to hear what I thought was coming, I really wanted to know what the results were.

After we entered the room, the doctor came in and began speaking aloud my worst nightmare, "The hospital confirmed what I thought to be true, your baby does not have a heartbeat."  She then proceeded to say many more things that I tried to listen to wide-eyed in a feeble attempt to hold back the tears.  After she finished, she walked out to get something.  I looked at my husband and lost it, yet again.  He came over and stood by me as I leaned my head on his leg sobbing.

After we left, I felt simultaneously numb and sad beyond belief, and so incredibly exhausted.  I had never experienced something so heartbreaking before.  I had never experienced my worst nightmare actually come to life.  Yes, I had experienced painful things before and had fears and worries come to life, but never my worst nightmare.  My heart was broken.  Yet my heart clung to the prayer I had spoken earlier, the promise that God would take care of us even in the midst of this.