Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thank You

Tomorrow is the “big day.” Tomorrow’s ultrasound will (hopefully) provide tangible evidence that this pregnancy is different from my previous three.  I have never been past 7 weeks pregnant and had things measuring where they are supposed to be. In previous pregnancies growth slowed or stopped around 6 weeks, even though I carried two of the pregnancies longer.

I am excited because I feel very much pregnant.  No disappearing symptoms as in previous pregnancies.  But, there is a constant nagging nausea. Yay!  And, I am not kidding when I say it makes me smile. 

I must admit, I was so nervous about making my last post. I know it seems silly for someone with my history to share their news so early.  But, I am so grateful to know that so many are praying. It is an absolute blessing. I do not take your prayers for granted.

Thank you for all your kind words, encouragement and prayers. You have truly blessed me!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Trusting the Giver of Life

Since seeing two pink lines about 3 weeks ago, I have been debating about when and how to write this blog post. I know that hearing someone say, “I am pregnant,”  is painful for many.  So, for those of you who cannot continue reading this post, I totally get it. I have been there, and I am sorry for your pain. 

I began blogging with the intent to be open and candid about what is going on in my life, so, I just can’t do the secrecy thing. I want to celebrate this little life no matter what happens. So, here I am, almost 7 weeks pregnant which will be the farthest any of my pregnancies have made it, developmentally.

Praise God for his grace!
As soon as I got the positive pregnancy test, I began giving myself heparin shots twice per day. This is based on the theory that some women develop clots that interfere with the blood flow to the baby and cause miscarriage. I did not technically test positive for this, but tested "high-normal." My doctor was honest and told me he was not sure this is what caused my losses, but it was worth a try. In addition, I continue to take 81 mg of aspirin daily, my thyroid meds were increase by 50%, and I was put on promethium (progesterone). 

Thursday, we had our first ultrasound. Everything looked great for being 6 weeks 3 days pregnant. We even saw a flicker of a heartbeat. I will return to  the doctor this Thursday for another ultrasound to confirm that the baby has continued to develop past the “7-week milestone.” After that, I will be released to my regular OBGYN.

We are prayerful, excited, hopeful, but, most of all, blessed. I praise God for every little wave of nausea which tells me, that for right this minute, I am still pregnant. I am very optimistic, but no matter what happens, I am grateful to God for trusting us with this little life, whether it be for a couple weeks or a couple decades. I trust God's sovereign plan for this pregnancy.

Each day, I remind myself:
More than medicine, I am trusting the giver of life.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What to Say When She Loses a Baby

I have, for a long time, wanted to write a post to help those who have never experienced a pregnancy loss know how to best minister to their daughters, sisters, or loved ones who are walking this devastating road.   It is difficult to know what to say or how to react to someone experiencing this grief.  And, I will admit, 15 months ago I had no idea how to minister to someone in such a circumstance.  But, since then, the Lord has made me incredibly sensitive to this topic.  So, my prayer is that this humble post will help you sympathize and know how to (and not to) show love to one who has just lost a pregnancy.

A dear sweet friend of mine shared a letter with me that says it all, and says it better than I ever could.  So, I wanted to share that letter with you.

A letter from women to their friends and family 
by Elizabeth Soutter Schwarzer 

"I assert no copyright for the material. Please use it as you see fit to help women who have endured this terrible grief. Thank you. Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2002"

"When women experience the loss of a child, one of the first things they discover they have in common is a list of things they wish no one had ever said to them. The lists tend to be remarkably similar. The comments are rarely malicious - just misguided attempts to soothe. 

This list was compiled as a way of helping other people understand pregnancy loss. While generated by mothers for mothers, it may also apply similarly to the fathers who have endured this loss. 

When trying to help a woman who has lost a baby, the best rule of thumb is a matter of manners: don't offer your personal opinion of her life, her choices, her prospects for children. No woman is looking to poll her acquaintances for their opinions on why it happened or how she should cope. 

Don't say, "It was for the best - there was probably something wrong with your baby." The fact that something was wrong with the baby is what is making me so sad. My poor baby never had a chance. Please don't try to comfort me by pointing that out. 

Don't say, "You can always have another one." This baby was never disposable. If had been given the choice between loosing this child and stabbing my eye out with a fork, I would have said, "Where's the fork?" I would have died for this baby, just as you would die for your children. 

Don't say, "Be grateful for the children you have." If your mother died in a terrible wreck and you grieved, would that make you less grateful to have your father? 

Don't say, "Thank God you lost the baby before you really loved it." I loved my son or daughter. Whether I lost the baby after two weeks of pregnancy or just after birth, I loved him or her. 

Don't say, "Isn't it time you got over this and moved on?" It's not something I enjoy, being grief-stricken. I wish it had never happened. But it did and it's a part of me forever. The grief will ease on its own timeline, not mine - or yours. 

Don't say, "Now you have an angel watching over you." I didn't want her to be my angel. I wanted her to bury me in my old age.

Don't say, "I understand how you feel." Unless you've lost a child, you really don't understand how I feel. And even if you have lost a child, everyone experiences grief differently. 

Don't tell me horror stories of your neighbor or cousin or mother who had it worse. The last things I need to hear right now is that it is possible to have this happen six times, or that I could carry until two days before my due-date and labor 20 hours for a dead baby. These stories frighten and horrify me and leave me up at night weeping in despair. Even if they have a happy ending, do not share these stories with me. 

Don't pretend it didn't happen and don't change the subject when I bring it up. If I say, "Before the baby died..." or "when I was pregnant..." don't get scared. If I'm talking about it, it means I want to. Let me. Pretending it didn't happen will only make me feel utterly alone. 

Don't say, "It's not your fault." It may not have been my fault, but it was my responsibility and I failed. The fact that I never stood a chance of succeeding only makes me feel worse. This tiny little being depended upon me to bring him safely into the world and I couldn't do it. I was supposed to care for him for a lifetime, but I couldn't even give him a childhood. I am so angry at my body you just can't imagine. 

Don't say, "Well, you weren't too sure about this baby, anyway." I already feel so guilty about ever having complained about morning sickness, or a child I wasn't prepared for, or another mouth to feed that we couldn't afford. I already fear that this baby died because I didn't take the vitamins, or drank too much coffee, or [did something else I wasn't "supposed to] in the first few weeks when I didn't know I was pregnant. I hate myself for any minute that I had reservations about this baby. Being unsure of my pregnancy isn't the same as wanting my child to die - I never would have chosen for this to happen. 

Do say, "I am so sorry." That's enough. You don't need to be eloquent. Say it and mean it and it will matter. 

Do say, "You're going to be wonderful parents some day," or "You're wonderful parents and that baby was lucky to have you." We both need to hear that. 

Do say, "I have said a prayer for [you]." Do send flowers or a kind note - every one I receive makes me feel as though my baby was loved. Don't resent it if I don't respond. -Don't call more than once and don't be angry if the machine is on and I don't return your call. If we're close friends and I am not responding to your attempts to help me, please don't resent that, either. Help me by not needing anything from me for a while. If you're my boss or my co-worker: -Do recognize that I have suffered a death in my family - not a medical condition. 

Do recognize that in addition to the physical after effects I may experience, I'm going to be grieving for quite some time. Please treat me as you would any person who has endured the tragic death of a loved one - I need time and space. 

Do understand if I do not attend baby showers/christening/birthday parties etc. And DON'T ask why I can't come. 
Please don't bring your baby or toddler into the workplace. If your niece is pregnant, or your daughter just had a baby, please don't share that with me right now. It's not that I can't be happy for anyone else; it's that every smiling, cooing baby, every glowing new mother makes me ache so deep in my heart I can barely stand it. I may look okay to you, but there's a good chance that I'm still crying every day. It may be weeks before I can go a whole hour without thinking about it. You'll know when I'm ready - I'll be the one to say, "Did your daughter have her baby?" or, "How is that precious little boy of yours? I haven't seen him around the office in a while." 

Above all, please remember that this is the worst thing that ever happened to me. The word "miscarriage" is small and easy. But my baby's death is monolithic and awful. It's going to take me a while to figure out how to live with it. Bear with me."