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.