I am torn between a million thoughts and speechlessness.
Between not wanting to talk about it and wanting people to know. I feel both simultaneously. It’s weird.
Clearly I’m opting for the latter… For better or worse, I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve, and it’d be hard for me to carry on blogging about “real mom life” or post a picture of my smiley children if I didn’t let you in on our past week.
We had a miscarriage.
We found out we were pregnant with baby number 3 on July 25, 2 weeks ago.
Like any certifiably insane people, we were ecstatic that we’d be welcoming our 3rd child in 39 months come late March. I felt so nauseous so quickly that I joked with Ben, what if it’s twins.
That’s the ha-ha-ha… not funny moment. Of course we’d be overjoyed. But the only thing more insane than 3 babies in 3 years would be the 3rd baby actually being the 3rd and 4th babies.
It’s amazing how quickly you mentally adjust to pregnancy. Especially when every changing smell makes you want to vomit. A constant reminder. I started to think through the next 8 months as a pregnant lady… sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. March seemed nice. Not a dead-of-winter baby where you’re trapped inside for months with your 3 children under the age of 4. But not a mid-to-late summer baby where I have to be 3rd trimester ginormous through summer. (I am a HOT pregnant lady. And I don’t mean sexy-hot. I mean turn-up-the-AC-I-feel-like-i’m-suddenly-en-fuego hot. My poor husband. As I blasted the air conditioning in the car last week, he muttered, “This is my least favorite part. Besides labor.” It’s our ongoing joke that my pregnancies are hard on him. But seriously.)
We decided to be surprised about the gender this time around. We found out with the girls each time. (I wrote about each of those, of course… Addie… Emma.) We figured it’d keep this one interesting and plus we’d get a fun surprise at the end. To this explanation, my sister-in-law exclaimed, “THE BABY IS THE FUN SURPRISE!!!” She was avidly against our decision 😉 That made it more fun.
We talked to Addie about it. Every day she’d ask, “Is there a baby in your tummy, Mommy? Can I see it?” Since the answer is an obvious no, she settled for this 2 minute long video about what’s happening from weeks 1-9 of a baby’s life in the womb. It’s actually really interesting. She always would watch it as many times in a row as I’d let her.
One time, we were driving and Addie said, “When the baby comes out of your tummy, we will have 3 kids and that will be so crazy.” I don’t know how she knew that. She also told me I’d need to get another car seat.
Fast forward to this past Sunday, 1 week after those 2 pink lines showed up. I started spotting and experiencing slight cramping. I’d known other pregnant gals who spotted or bled and were fine. It’s not always an indication of miscarriage. I tried to put the idea out of my mind. I rested, napped, and laid low most of Sunday afternoon and evening. But the bleeding got heavier and the cramping got worse. By mid-morning Monday, the cramps were painfully reminiscent of the postpartum uterus-shrinking cramping that you get those first couple weeks after baby is born. (If you’ve had those, you’re cringing with me. Those are the WORST!) That made me nervous. Why would my uterus be cramping stuff out? Then I started passing more substance with the bleeding. I’ll leave the details out. But at one point I just had a feeling that it was a miscarriage. Something seemed different.
I was uncontrollably weepy all morning.
My sister-in-law brought lunch over and ate with me in the middle of her work day.
I texted Ben to update him. He called to check in and asked if I wanted him to come home. I said, “No it’s okay. I’ll keep you posted.”
He was home 30 minutes later. He knows me well.
I went to get my blood drawn (they check the levels of hCG) & came home, eventually falling asleep and napping hard for most of the afternoon. I was so tired. When I woke up, Ben’s dad (who is a family practice doctor and ran the lab work for us) called and said the hCG level was 18. The range for a 5-6 week pregnant lady is 18-5,000. That probably meant the hCG was on its way down. He said some medical things about what might have happened and expressed he was sorry. Once in a while, very rarely, the hCG levels will be low like this and there will still be an actual pregnancy. He recommended against scheduling a D&C for this reason, but explained what probably happened was what’s called a blighted ovum or anembryonic pregnancy. You can read more about that here. I guess it’s common. (Side note: approximately 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage… for a variety of reasons. The frequency of miscarriage in general, and its commonality among people I know is part of the reason I decided to share our story here. Knowing other people have gone through something similar to you doesn’t take away the pain, but it does somehow help. Perhaps an indication that we were designed for community. I don’t know. That’s a thought for another day.)
Anyway, while this phone call left me wanting to be ever so slightly hopeful that maybe baby #3 was still in there, it mostly confirmed the instinct I had earlier that morning… This was a miscarriage.
I was (still) uncontrollably weepy for the rest of the evening. I went upstairs to tell Ben and burst into tears. I texted a couple people who knew we were pregnant and burst into tears at their sweet responses. When we put the girls to bed and sat on the couch together in the quiet, you guessed it… more tears. After some crying and praying and hugging and just being, we binge watched the last couple episodes of White Collar and went to sleep.
The next couple days were long and hard. I was surprised at how sad I felt. People who’ve experienced miscarriage seem to experience it differently – some more sad than others. But good gracious. For about 36-48 hours, I could not stop the water-works. Now that I think about it, if my hCG was at the top of the range (say, 5000) and was plummeting to 18 overnight, perhaps that would make one slightly emotional.
Tuesday morning, I woke up to the sound of Addie crying because of the thunderstorm. I stumbled out of bed and into the kitchen for some coffee, my heart still heavy. Ben was at the kitchen table. I sat down and cried. He offered to stay home a little longer while I went back to bed. I cried in bed for a long time. I picked up my Bible, wanting to find some comfort. Peace.
I turned to Psalm 34. “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry… The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”
And on the next page (Psalm 36) “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings… for with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”
And a few more pages over (Psalm 39) “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
I started to breathe a little more slowly.
Mull those verses over in my mind.
And just allow my heart to open towards the grief and the pain… but also to the comfort and love Jesus was pouring out on me. My spirit started to find some rest again, and I could hear the Lord whisper – I see you, I know, it’s okay to grieve. I am near to the brokenhearted.
Ben came in after a while and said his mom was going to come take the girls for the day. He was teary too. His tears reminded me it’s okay to be sad, and we were in this together.
My mother-in-law took the girls all day Tuesday and overnight. This was such a gift. To have 24 hours to grieve and process and just be – in the quiet, without the chaos. Then, to have a night together, just us.
I read and rested throughout the morning. This excerpt from Stitches jumped out to me:
At the end of that chapter, I got up and decided to finish some art that’s been on the back-burner. I’d started this project over a year ago and never got around to finishing. Perhaps it was a divine appointment to be reading this verse (Luke 1:42) over and over on this particular day while I painted in the quiet.
My sister-in-law brought dinner that night, and Ben and I ate together. Talked, prayed, and cried more, and just spent some time together. The day felt long.
Wednesday morning, I went back in to have more blood drawn. Throughout the day, I still felt pregnant. It seems unfair that while you are miscarrying, you have to feel pregnant… crampy, nauseous, nothing sounds good. Coffee didn’t sound good which has also been one of my pregnancy symptoms both times previously.
While my gut told me it was a miscarriage, my pregnancy symptoms let me have an ounce of wondering… what if there’s still a baby? It’s kind of an emotional roller coaster.
Wednesday evening, the labwork revealed, once again, the hCG was lower than 18.
A miscarriage, for sure. So, we let it sink in again. This time, fully and completely.
I cried again, but I was almost out of tears. Tired of crying by now.
Still sad, but less emotional. Probably less hormone fluctuation too. [Those things are nuts!]
Ben and I were talking about how we’ve both experienced such a deep sense of God’s goodness the past week. I don’t really know how to articulate it, but deep inside, I know He is good. I also know we will move past this level of sadness, and I hope we’ll be pregnant again some day. For the third time, I’ve let go of the illusion of control and family planning. (None of our children have come at the time we’ve expected.)
I know we have 2 beautiful, sweet, healthy girls, for whom I’m even more grateful these past few days.
I know that the world, this side of eternity, is imperfect and full of brokenness, and our story is just one small story amongst the pain and heartache people walk through every single day.
I know that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
I know that one day, He will wipe away all the tears and we’ll see Him face to face, the source of true joy even amidst grief. Heaven has sounded a little sweeter these past couple days… no more tears, no more pain.
I know that His mercies are new every morning, and His faithfulness is great. And in the midst of grief, it is best to cling to Who and what you know to be True.