Saturday, January 19, 2013

Getting Older, Bad Eggs, and Risk-Free Living

After a discussion with our doctor and a multitude of encouragement from others, we decided to get second opinion regarding my gene mutation.  Deciding to get a second opinion did not come easily for me.  Mostly because I hate change and am an extremely loyal person, sometimes to a fault.  However, my love for our babies and future babies (God-willing) drove me to abandon my loyalty and fear of change to seek a second opinion.

On Monday, we met with a doctor a friend of ours referred us to.  As the doctor entered the room, she warmly greeted us.  Her earnest welcome suddenly made the sterile exam room feel more welcoming, and tentatively caused my nervousness to subside.  Following a couple of superficial comments, our conversation proceeded to the purpose of our visit and continued with a detailed discussion of our two losses, which did not come easily, I might add.  

After I shared, she responded with an alternative perspective I had never considered before or heard prior to that appointment.  She frankly said that she believed our miscarriages had nothing to do with my gene mutation.  Her theory was based on two facts.  First, I have only one copy of the gene mutation opposed to two, and second, our miscarriages were two different situations and circumstances.  She proceeded to say that she believed our first miscarriage was the result of statistics (most likely caused by chromosomal abnormalities) and the second was more than likely the result of a "bad egg".  

She went on to explain that as we get older, our ovaries are more likely to release a "bad egg".  I am not quite sure what she said directly after that statement because my brain was fixated on the word "older", which was then followed by a mini-meltdown in my head as I considered the fact that I was getting "older" and would, at times, release "bad eggs".  A reality I had never really took the time to face prior to that moment so you can imagine my surprise.  Reality hit hard.  I continued to process her words in my mind, "I am getting 'older' and sometimes my ovaries will release 'bad eggs'."  This reality brought a familiar emotion:  Fear.

I tried to collect myself and dismiss the fear, but I couldn't help but think about the fact that statistics, my "older" age, and "bad eggs" could not be prevented or cured.  So I found myself, once again, desperately longing for a guarantee that we would never have to suffer a miscarriage again.  Instead of being grateful that I don't have an incurable problem or possibly not even a problem at all, I whined and complained about not having a risk-free plan that would eradicate all my fears, the risk that comes with trying again, and the uncertainty of the future.  I was so bent on living a risk-free life without pain or conflicts or consequences that I failed to see the beauty of the fresh, new perspective I had just been offered.  

I think as human beings we naturally long for security and safety.  We long for a guarantee so we do not have to take risks and face our fears.  We long for understanding so things will feel smaller and within our control.  We dislike feeling out of control because it's scary, unpredictable, and involves risk.  But this world does not offer guarantees and definitive answers, just educated guesses and logical conclusions.  It does not offer security and safety, just impostors that falsely promise these things.  It does not because it cannot.  It wasn't intended to.

Although my humanity and finite mind still desperately long for a visible guarantee, a promise that our future will not include things of the past - I know that true security and safety can only be found in my Savior's loving arms, no matter our circumstances.  He is showing me that when I choose to stop looking for my security and safety in this world,  I am free to trust Him with our future, face my fears, and take risks.  Risks that although they do not come with a guarantee, come with a purpose and a plan beyond my scope of vision.  And in the end, I would rather take the risk of experiencing heartache and loss all over again then to live in the safety of a risk-free life and miss out on one of the most precious gifts in this world...holding our baby in our arms.  Things that are worthwhile involve risk, and this is a risk that is as worthwhile as they come.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Unexpected Moments

There is something that happens to pain as time passes.  It is not that it disappears or that the painful experience stops affecting the person - because loss changes a person - but as time passes, the pain becomes different.  In the beginning it's raw, oh so raw like an open wound exposed to all the surrounding elements, so delicate, so fragile, so vulnerable.  Then something happens.  As more time passes and healing takes place, it does not feel quite so raw.

However, there are still moments that come and seem to come from nowhere, that take you right back to that raw place.  I have had a couple of those over the past few weeks.  One of them was on Christmas day.  Christmas day began with a big southern breakfast, continued with opening gifts, and was interspersed with visiting with family.  The day was full and so were the homes we were in.  Yet, at the end of the day, I had this feeling of aching emptiness.

At first, I was not sure where these feelings were coming from.  I thought, "Maybe I am a little homesick since we are not celebrating Christmas in our own home this year".  But that failed to explain the depth of my feelings.  My feelings also failed to be explained by loneliness because I was surrounded by family who loved me and I loved back.  Then it hit me, the most obvious reason, "Our baby is not here with us".  Ashton's due date was about two weeks before Christmas and although Christmas had arrived, he or she was not in our arms.

My heart was aching for our baby and my arms were empty.  And suddenly the unexpected pain of our initial loss flooded my heart and mind.  The horror of that day.  The heartbreak.  The flood of tears.  The fears coming to life.  The pain.  Words fail to bring life to my feelings that day, but on the eve of Christmas, they were very real to me.  It was one of those moments and I felt raw.

Earlier this week, I had another one of those unexpected moments.  As a counselor, I know that people who experience trauma (or loss) can be triggered by a sound, a smell, a movement, a sight, a word that can instantaneously take them back to a traumatic moment they experienced in the past.  I know this, but had never experienced it like I did that day.  On Tuesday morning, my period started and it was more painful than it had ever been.  In an attempt to go on with my day, I took some pain medication and waited for it to kick in.

Later in the day (I am getting really personal here), I took a trip to the bathroom and realized that it was not only more painful, but also heavier than it's ever been.  And in that moment, at the sight of blood while simultaneously experiencing painful cramps, I was taken back.  Back to the moment of our second miscarriage.  It literally felt like I was experiencing it all over again.  I had been triggered.  I felt paralyzed by fear and my eyes instantly welled up with tears.  Immediately feeling what I felt then.  The fear.  The pain.  The loss.  The grief.  The tears flowed and I let them.  I could not control it.  I could not stop it.  Not that I had a choice, but I did not even try to fight it.  They needed a way out and I needed it too.

These were the moments that came and unexpectedly took me back to that place.  That painful, raw, heart-wrenching place.  And although I hate re-experiencing the heartbreak and pain, I don't mind the fact that they remind me not of where I have been, but of where I have come from.  Those moments, even though they hurt like do, do not mean that I am back where started from.  Instead, they are a reminder of what I have overcome.  A reminder of what God has brought us through and continues to.  A reminder of my love for our precious babies.  For if the love was lacking, it would not hurt so bad.  So instead of living in fear of those unexpected moments and attempting to fight the pain when it comes, I hope to embrace the reminders of where I have come from, what I have overcome, what God has brought us through and will continue to, our love for our precious babies, and our babies lives - even though short they were - they have forever changed us.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A New Year

I love the possibilities of a new year, especially this year.  Last year was one of the most challenging years I've experienced so needless to say I am very thankful it's a new year.  Last year started out with settling into our new home, high hopes, and the anticipation of starting a family.  It was a joyous and exciting time in our lives and marriage.  Finding out we were pregnant in April brought much excitement and joy.  We went to our 10 week ultrasound with the hope of seeing our baby and hearing his or her heartbeat only to discover we had experienced a missed miscarriage.

September brought joy and excitement once again with the news of our second pregnancy, but it resulted in loosing our second baby in October when I was just shy of 8 weeks along.  These experiences have brought much heartache, grief, questions, disappointment, anxiety, and fear.  However, our story does not stop there.  God has also brought healing, new found hope, growth, maturity, and an increased awareness of His love and comfort.  They didn't come easily, but they came and they continue to.

Today I am full of thankfulness for a fresh start and a new beginning.  I am thankful we no longer have to be plagued by the year 2012.  Even though some of the wounds still remain, just the thought of a new year brings hope and possibility once again.  It does not erase the pain of last year, but it brings the possibility that this year could be different, better.  I realize that what this year holds is completely out of my control - I learned the hard way last year that very little is actually in my control - but I just love having a new beginning.

I hope that no matter what this year holds, my love, faith, and trust in God will continue to grow.  I hope my love for my husband and our marriage will continue to grow and mature, and that I will frequently exercise gratitude for the time we have to share our lives together.  I hope that the wounds in my heart will continue to heal.  In raw honesty, I hope that we will experience the joy and excitement of conception and that we will hold our own baby in our arms.  And although I know there are many factors and things I cannot control, I will continue to hope.  And in addition to hope, I will also hold tightly to God's love and trustworthiness no matter what our circumstances may be.

It feels so good to have renewed hope and possibilities, and for this moment I choose to simply enjoy these gifts and let go of everything else.