The first post in this series is My Story: An Introduction--you'll probably want to read these posts in order as they are written chronologically. Thanks for reading!
My husband, Jon, and I married in May of 1999. We wanted children right away, which I know is so unlike most couples of our day. We really valued children, and were thrilled and excited to start a family of our own. After a full year passed without a pregnancy, I began to suspect that something may be wrong. I hated the word infertility. I did not even want to look it up or read about it. After all, my own mother was known as “fertile Myrtle”. She conceived and birthed five babies and had had no miscarriages. My husband’s family was quite the same. We did not expect to have any problems whatsoever in conceiving or carrying a child. I decided to go to the doctor to run some preliminary tests. Humiliating as it was, we endured the testing only to find out that there was nothing wrong with our reproductive systems. We were both perfectly healthy. The doctor mentioned something about how I might not be ovulating on a regular schedule, and that’s as far as the diagnosis went. I have to admit, I was a more than a little disappointed. At that time, I wanted answers. I wanted a quick fix. I just wanted to have a baby.
My heart ached as I would see teenagers in the grocery store who were with child. My heart ached when a friend would call and tell me they were expecting. My heart ached when I went to various baby showers (which seemed like they were every weekend!). My heart ached even more each month when my cycle arrived. My heart ached when I would be a few days late, take a pregnancy test, only to see a negative result. It seemed there was no end to my waiting or the pain that accompanied it.
I wondered why God would give babies to people who didn’t want them, and withhold babies from those who did, especially from a Christian family!
Well, it seemed my prayers had been answered around our second anniversary. My period was late, so I took a test. (I believe I had a big stash of these at home already) To my shock, the test came back with a quick positive result. I was shaking, crying, nervous and elated all at the same time, right along side my husband. We celebrated, took a picture of us holding the positive pregnancy test, called the doctor right away, and I went to the store to look in the baby section with a real reason to do so!
For the weeks following my discovery, I went to town planning and scheming, looking up baby names, designing the nursery and calling my family and friends. I went for my first check-up at 8 weeks and everything looked great. My doctor wanted to keep an eye on me, so he asked me to come back in at 10 weeks for a check-up. I was thrilled because he said we might be able to hear the heartbeat. And sure enough, we did. It was the most precious sound I had ever heard.
Love for my baby flooded my heart and thoughts. He or she was all I could think about! I could not wait to “show”, wear maternity clothes and feel those first kicks. My mother-in-law sent me a box full of baby items, a blanket from Gymboree, some little red tennis shoes and a baby book. I immediately started writing what I was experiencing and feeling in the book.
Shortly after that doctor’s appointment, my husband and I, who were residing in Louisville, Kentucky, took a trip back home to Oklahoma for a family vacation. We spent time at the lake and with friends and family. The last night we had in Oklahoma, I woke up with a sense that something was not right with the baby. In my heart I knew that I most likely had lost the baby, even though I was not bleeding at all. I woke my husband, and shared my fears with him. He lovingly prayed with me, and we commenced talking about what our plan would be. We decided not to share this worry with anyone, until the news was confirmed, so we left Oklahoma the next morning with sick stomachs, trying to fight back tears. As soon as we landed in Louisville, we collected our baggage and headed straight for the emergency room at Jewish Hospital.
Of course waiting in an emergency room for something like that was not easy. When you do not know if your baby is dead or alive within your womb, waiting in an emergency room with those who have cut fingers or a cough seems so wrong. After several hours, we were ushered back to a room and a nurse pulled out her old dopplar that she had just hunted down for me. She instructed me to lay down, pull my pants around my hips and she searched, and searched, and searched some more for the baby’s heartbeat. I’m sure it only was a few minutes, but it seemed to me to be an eternity. No heartbeat was found. My own heart raced, and subsequently broke, in those short moments. The nurse kept telling me that she was sure everything was okay, and that it was just her equipment that was failing. I knew in my heart of hearts that wasn’t the case.
They sent me away having told me not worry and to make an appointment with my OB. I did so, and the next day he had me come in to the office. After an ultrasound, it was confirmed that I had suffered a “missed abortion.” I cringed at those words. I did not have an abortion! This is not what I had chosen! Why had this happened to a seemingly healthy baby just 3 weeks prior? My baby now had no heartbeat and was still the size it would have been at ten weeks along, but I was 13 weeks along in the pregnancy. The doctor and sonographer tried their best to comfort me with the words that “most likely the baby had some sort of defect”, and that’s why it had not survived. That brought me no comfort whatsoever. I would have taken a “defective” baby.
The moments and days to follow are still a blur. I know that we decided to have a D&C to prevent infection and it was scheduled for the next day with an OB who was not my own. My doctor was away on vacation which added insult to my injury. I was put under anesthesia and the baby was extracted from my uterus. It is difficult to explain the heartache, grief, and pain that I experienced in those days. But, moreover, I have to admit the fact that I was angry. I had not asked for this, I had not expected this and I certainly did not want to face this. I remember being so upset that I went home and threw away some ultrasound pictures I had treasured just days before. (Looking back on this, I see the folly in this. I wish I could go back and retrieve those photos of my precious baby.)
The pain was unbearable. It wasn’t physical pain at all, but the emotional pain that plagued me the most. I think the most difficult thing was telling our family and friends. They had been on this journey with us through the infertility, through the joy of the pregnancy and now I felt as though I was letting all of them down. In some ways, telling them was a journey of pain all on it’s own. I remember calling my older sister to tell her the news of the loss and all she could mutter was “Bummer.” That hurt me deeply. (I now know that she was at a loss for words and has a hard time on her own of dealing with pain in a serious way.)
I had pregnancy hormones, physical fatigue and pain from the surgery and floods of questions with which to deal. At the same time, I felt as though everyone assumed that I would just resume church activities the next Sunday with a smile on my face. Our church, of which my husband was Pastor, was holding a revival that very week. It was overwhelming to say the least. It seemed that the grieving process was rushed, because no one knew my feelings, my heart or my baby like I did.
The next post is: Why Me, Lord?