Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween and the Bereaved Parent

Believe it or not, Halloween is a difficult time for the bereaved parent.

Seem odd?

Here's why:

Halloween is all about the kiddos. These precious little children dress up in the most adorable costumes ever seen and go door to door visiting all of the neighbors to show off just how cute they are... and are rewarded with handfuls of delicious treats... 

So what can the childless couple do?

A. We can turn of our lights and spend the evening alone together just hoping the doorbell doesn't ring... and let little kids look at our house like the Grinch's mansion.... Come on, you remember those days passing those neighbors houses who couldn't be bothered with our bags and costumes and cuteness. (The neighbors that you just might accidentally aim bottle rockets at after they reported you for shooting fireworks even though it WAS the 4th of July.)


B. We can try to put our emotions to the side, open the door... smile... ooh and ahh over the precious princess and the mini-superheroes and hand over the goods and try not to let them see the glisten in your eyes when you see a child that is just a little too close to what you envision your child, or children, looking like.

So if you happen across a young couple tonight that looks at your little goblins for a minute too long with just a little too much longing and sadness in their eyes, try not to get freaked out... remember that maybe they are home instead of trick or treating for a reason... maybe they can't dress up their little ones in adorable outfits and go show them off to all of the neighbors. Maybe you could even say a little prayer for them.

To our friends with their porch lights turned off... we understand your pain. Do not feel guilty or ashamed. Deal with your grief however you need to. Guard your heart however you see fit. Our first Halloween, a month after our first miscarriage... I stayed in the bedroom with the dogs, door shut... and my dear husband handed out candy. I just couldn't do it... and it wasn't long before he too shut off the light and locked the door.

This Halloween, our light will be on, but I can't guarantee for how long... this year might be too much for me, but I'm going to try.

Tonight (along with every other night) we are thinking about our three babies... permanently dressed as little angels... and I'm sure there are plenty of treats to go around.


Come on kiddos... we bought you the good candy this year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

If it's broken... fix it!

Hello everybody. Did you miss me?

Mike and I took a much needed vacation. For his birthday, a few weeks ago, I gave him tickets to see his beloved Buckeyes take on Penn State in Columbus, Ohio. We made a long weekend of it, since I am off on Fridays and got back LATE last night. It was amazing... exactly what we needed... to get AWAY!! We had an amazing time, and hubby especially loved seeing his Bucks win, by a landslide!

Now it's back to work... and back to reality.


We had a follow-up appointment the past Wednesday, the week of our trip. I decided to put it out of my mind until we got back. But like I said, now it's back to reality. So... Here is what we discovered. After having some shaky looking labs in the beginning, with a scary increased prolactin lab result... the repeat labs were all normal. Our doctor is chalking that up to the retained products that I had after our D&C surgery. His is cautious, however, and will watch my labs even closer in the future. In other news, I had no clotting factors or antibodies towards the pregnancy. Good news.

Now the bad news. I had a repeat sonohysterogram, the details of the first time we had this done at my OBGYN's office, including details about the procedure itself can be found here, or you can go to the post entitled "An Interesting Case" written in March. These new results came out abnormal. So... either the measurements were inaccurate the first time, or the tissue that they first thought could be a septum has enlarged and become more of a septum.

This is the shape of a normal uterus:

This is the shape that they first thought my uterus was:

This is how my uterus looks now (or did before but just got a good plane of measurement):

So what to do... ... ...

My septum is a little over 1cm in measurement. By radiological definition a septum can only be called a septum if it is at least 1cm. My doctor says, that by itself, this is not too impressive. He likely would have gone on with the first IVF procedure even if he had known this from the beginning. Now that he has seen me pregnant, however, he thinks that it needs to be surgically removed.

Here is the problem with a septum: it is composed of fibrous tissue. Fibrous tissue does not have the normal extensive blood supply that the rest of the uterus has running through it. When you get pregnant and the egg implants, you cannot control what wall of the uterus that the egg implants into. So if the egg implants into the fibrous part of the uterus, after the placenta is forming (which is around the time of our loss) it cannot get enough blood supply and will die... and there's nothing that can be done. This is what our doctor thinks happened. You can see where a placenta will form by visualized where the yolk sac is located in the gestational sac, and little baby b... that yolk sac was in the area right along the area where the septum begins. Baby A... completely at the septum (we will never know if this is why baby A stopped developing or if there was some other abnormality) but it is very likely that this is what happened with our little butterbean (baby b). Had either baby attached to any of the healthy walls, this may not have ended in miscarriage. But that is only for God to know. He is the only one with any true answers... we can just give the best guesses that our scientific minds can wrap their ideas around.

Surgery here I come. It will be on November 8th, which is a Friday, my off day. It will be done on an outpatient basis at East Memphis Surgery Center. I'm nervous about it, but know that I will be in good hands. This is the center that all of my procedures have been done at so I know the staff is awesome!! I also will not have any abdominal incisions, it will be done via hysteroscopy.

Hysteroscopy is preformed by inserting a flexible lighted tube into the vagina, through the cervix and into the uterine cavity. I will be under general anesthesia (asleep) for the procedure. My uterus will then be inflated with either saline or gas for better visualization of the septum. Then they will slowly cut away the fibrous tissue until they get to the normal tissue,and ultimately will give me a normal shaped uterine cavity. There is the possibility that a laparoscopy will be preformed at the same time if there are any complications. (A small incision is made into the abdominal cavity with an inserted lit tube to visualize the outside of my pelvic structures). The recovery will be similar to a D&C recovery... several weeks of bleeding and cramps, the worst of which will be the first few days after the procedure. I hope to be able to return to work the following Monday after the surgery. Please pray for that.

The hope is that, with the septum removed, I will be able to have a normal pregnancy. Now that I have had recurrent miscarriages... I feel like this is the right thing to do.

We ask for your prayer during this time for a successful surgery and a fast recovery, and that it may increase our future success!

God has led us so far in this journey... we know that He will be with us through every moment of this! Thank you for letting us share the good and bad with you.

"The joy of the Lord is my strength!" Nehemiah 8:10

Please feel free to come with us with any questions you may have... and if you find yourself in our shoes... we would be HONORED to pray with you and for you! We can be reached any time at

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

National Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Month

Most people know the month of October as breast cancer awareness month... but did you know it is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month? In 1988 President Ronald Reagan declared the awareness month... Here is his speech, Proclamation 5890:

Each year, approximately a million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of the newborn child. National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, 1988, offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems. Health care professionals recognize that trends of recent years, such as smaller family size and the postponement of childbearing, adds another dimension of poignance to the grief of parents who have lost infants. More than 700 local, national, and international support groups are supplying programs and strategies designed to help parents cope with their loss. Parents who have suffered their own losses, health care professionals, and specially trained hospital staff members are helping newly bereaved parents deal constructively with loss. Compassionate Americans are also assisting women who suffer bereavement, guilt, and emotional and physical trauma that accompany post-abortion syndrome. We can and must do a much better job of encouraging adoption as an alternative to abortion; of helping the single parents who wish to raise their babies; and of offering friendship and temporal support to the courageous women and girls who give their children the gifts of life and loving adoptive parents. We can be truly grateful for the devotion and concern provided by all of these citizens, and we should offer them our cooperation and support as well. The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 314, has designated the month of October 1988 as "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month" and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this month. Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October 1988 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirteenth.RONALD REAGAN

It wasn't until 2006 that congress approved a proposal to make October 15th National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. That campaign began in 2002 by Robyn Bear, who after 5 miscarriages desired to raise awareness for those who had little to no support during their losses. With the help of Lisa Brown and Tammy Novak, they changed the way America thinks... or at least put it out there. Who says a few friends can't change the world?
With the help of the American campaign, Canada soon followed. In recent years, UK, Western Austrailia, New South Wales and Italy have recognized and instituted a holiday.

You can visit Robyn's website here.

That's a little history for you... and here are some more shocking facts.

1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. One in FOUR. That's astounding. Having three angel babies myself, sometimes it feels like even higher odds than that. I AM ONE IN FOUR. Are you? If you are, I want you to know that on this day I am specifically praying for you, as are countless other people reading this blog.

The goal of all of this? To let those know, who are suffering. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You don't have to grieve in silence. You are a mother... whether your child is in your arms or in the arms of our Father in Heaven.

Although Pregnancy and Infant Awareness Day is not an international holiday, there is an international celebration of these little lives happening today! At 7:00 pm in every time zone, parents all over the world will be lighting candles in their children's honor. The idea is to have one continuous "wave of light" connecting all of us together over the entire world in love and support. The candles will burn for one hour.

We will be lighting three candles this evening... thinking about that seems like it is far too many. One would be too many, but here we are. Today, especially I find comfort in the community I have found through our losses... and knowing tonight, their candles will burn with mine.


On a side note, while sitting in my backyard a few days ago, I looked up and saw this:

Yes, my heart lies in Heaven... and in my mind, I could hear my three little children saying "Mommy! Look at the picture that God helped us draw for you!"

I love you my darlings, I miss you so.
Until we meet again,

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Is God Still Good?

God has been working on my heart a LOT. He's also been asking me some really hard questions... questions I don't want to answer... commands I don't want to hear. Such as this:

"I need you to prepare yourself in case a time comes when you find out you cannot have children."

Initially I thought this was just another negative "thought" in my head. Surely I will have one day have a big beautiful swollen belly... and feel the life inside of me... and enjoy every second... and spread the word to the world of God's grace and mercy and His miraculous works... isn't that the whole point of this?? Nope. God has never promised that I would give birth, He has never promised that I will one day carry to term or have a miraculous conception as many stories go. (You always hear of a friend of a friend that tried and tried and failed and then when they gave up... BOOM. Pregnant! Happily Ever After...) Everyone is quick to offer up such stories, but do they really help? Nah. No one wants to talk about the fact that it is a big possibility that I may never physically have my own children. No one wants to hear it... I don't even want to hear it! But... I know it is a very real possibility. Now God is asking me to consider this. The elephant in the room has now been pointed out... and there's no way to get around it. 

So as I am trying to wrap my head around this horrid idea, He hits me with the big question:

"You boast My goodness when things are going in your favor, but if things don't work out like you think they should... if you cannot have children, will you still boast in My goodness? Will you still stand by Me and for Me? Will you still spread word of My goodness if I do not fulfill the desires of your heart in the manner that you want or think they should be fulfilled?"

Well, that'll stop you in your tracks.

When the bottom falls out... we are quick to say "God help me through this." or "God give me strength." or "God please TAKE this!" ... but how many times do we stop and say "God you are so good" ?

How different might our lives be if we stop making requests and start giving thanks above all things. There have been many moments in my sorrow and grieving where God has spoken saying "Can you not see My goodness in your life? Look around you... look how many blessings you have. Look at your church and your family and your husband and your beautiful home and your loving animals... all of these things I have brought into your life to make you happy and feel good. Can't you see how much I love you?"

God, You are so good.

Even in my sorrow, You are good.

Even in my grief, You have never for one second abandoned me.

God is not saying I will never be a mother. He is asking me to prepare my mind for the possibility of a different plan. God is saying- He wants to know that I will stand by him no matter what circumstances come into our lives. I need to learn to thank God for all of His goodness and blessings first, and then ask him to lead my heart to the right place... He always wants us to seek Him first... shouldn't that begin with acknowledging how amazing he is?

A smart man (our preacher) recently said, "God knows exactly the state of our hearts and what we are going through, but we are set up to believe our own lies." God knows everything that is going to happen to us before it happens, and He IS going to help us with through that! He is my strength... He is my strong foundation. I know I've said it before, but God never promises not to give us more than we can handle. He sometimes gives us things only HE can handle, and we must learn just to lean on His strength and understanding... above our own.

We should count ourselves blessed when He asks us to prepare ourselves for things that may come along, to warn us so we aren't blindsided... We must learn to discern God's word from our own negativity. And it is NOT easy... especially if it is something you don't want to hear.

While having lunch with my mother on Friday I begged the question, "mom, when does it get easier?" "What dear?" "Life." "It doesn't," she said. Leave it to mom to be honest with me instead of telling me, oh it's going to be easy before you know it! No, she's honest. She knows I want her honesty. She explained about life being like a roller coaster. The climb to the top is hard, and it takes forever... and once you reach the top where things are easy and beautiful and happy, it feels like it only lasts for a moment... then WOOSH! Down you go. The fall is fast, and the twists and turns are frightening and take your breath away and leave you feeling worn and broken from the whiplash. So what do you do then? You find the steady ground again... and then... you have to work your way back to the top.

God has a purpose, He is doing a huge work in me and in our family. But- I HAVE to be willing to do what HE has planned, and not what I have planned. I know that God's plan will be bigger and better than anything I could ever imagine. I know that it isn't going to be easy. I have to remember that no matter how hard the journey is, He will never abandon me. I also must remember that whatever He has planned, He also has a plan to equip me for it... and I thank Him for that.

So now I am learning to step back, and say in the midst of my grief and sorrow (sometimes even through my tears). God is good... so very very good... and He will use EVERY situation FOR good.

I can honestly say, I do not know exactly what our next step is. BUT- I can say with full confidence that God is preparing us for something amazing.

Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. [1 Timothy 4: 7-10]

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Share the Sacrifice

If you're a close follower, you've noticed I haven't posted too much since our miscarriage. I have been in a battle with myself. A battle against negativity... a battle against depression and thoughts of worthlessness and sorrow and guilt. Thoughts that you know aren't true but you feel them sometimes anyways. This has not been an every day battle, this has been a "kick you when you don't expect it", "trip you when you're looking up kind" of battle. Overall I would say I was doing well with this... but for some reason the last few days have been hard. Part of this may be due to the fact that I had my first period since our D&C (surgery to remove our miscarried babies). Part of this may be due to the fact that several people have made pregnancy and gender announcements... people that I love and care for and am so very happy for (people that know the pain of loss and people that know the pain of infertility). The happiness for them is genuine, they are in my constant prayers. But it leaves a twinge of selfish pain behind. The sorrow of our own children not being with us. The sorrow of not being able to have a shower or a gender reveal... the sorrow of having to start over.

So these thoughts... they would pop in my head mostly when my mind went unoccupied by other things. For instance, I was vacuuming and thinking about the blog, how I should write something... then I began to wonder, does it really even matter? How would putting my pain into words benefit the world? Do I really have to keep doing this? Then I began to talk to God... God, do I really have to keep doing this? You know I didn't want to do it to begin with, and although it was fun when we had good news to share... do I really have to tell them these things? Do I have to share my pain? Can't I just dwell in it and hide in my bed and cry it out like normal people??... The answer was a resounding YES you have to keep doing this, was I not the one who told you to?? And in my head it sounded like Do you really have the nerve to not follow what I called you to do? So I (sullenly) wrote out The Letdown even though it was the last thing I wanted to do.

Obviously I haven't been writing as much as I should, and I think God has shown me some grace in that area, letting me work a few things out before I was mentally ready to resume the routine. So here I am. Back into the world of the living. Life has just seemed so hard lately. I feel like so many bad things have happened over the years in my personal life and in the lives around me, I just would find myself asking, when is it all going to end already? Can't I just catch a break? Yeah, a lot of these prayers were selfish. A lot of irritation was taken out on my poor, and forgiving, husband. My first period was wretched, so very painful. The doctor said that is basically normal for a cycle after a D&C, so I knew to expect it... but nothing really prepares you to be in pain. So I became snappy and sad and depressed.

Then today happened.

Today was not a great day. I was mulling over the fact that I have to have a repeat sonohystogram (see An Interesting Case for explanation) (to see if maybe I really DO have more of a septum in my uterus and may need surgery to remove it) on Thursday and a repeat of a ton of lab work that I have to be fasting for and won't be drawn until that afternoon. On top of those things, I hurt my neck this weekend and have had a horrible headache and pain shooting through my neck... and did not sleep well last night after going to bed later than normal for a Monday night. I was so moody. There was not enough coffee in the world to make me happy this morning. The work day was fine, until the end of the day. It is always the end of the day when doctors want to work people in for tests, and I get it, the patient is there so yeah let's just do it. I stayed late knowing I will be taking off a couple of hours early on Thursday for my testing... so that part didn't bother me, it's just that my neck was hurting so bad. And all of the patients actually had things wrong with them so the reports took longer to write and consulting with the doctors... and so on. Luckily, I work at the same office as my nurse practitioner and she was able to work me up and get some help (thank you Lord for that).

After a long drive home in traffic and waiting what felt like forever at Walgreens (but was really only about 15 minutes) I was so so so relieved to be home. As I pull into the driveway I see a package on my doorstep... then I began thinking (ugh what did we spend money on that we shouldn't have)... I picked it up, came in the house to let the doggies outside and then noticed the return address. My friend. It was a gift from my friend. A smile immediately arose out of my frustration.

Then I opened the package.

Then I read the letter.

I began to cry.

Then I saw the gifts. ( A book called Footprints, A book called You Changed My Life by Max Lucado... and the elusive darkside skittles, where lime skittles have now made their home) : )

And I cried some more.

This person (who shall remain nameless for theirs is not my story to tell) has become a dear friend to me over the last few months, we have gone through our battle through infertility and miscarriage (her first) almost hand in hand. We were only a few days apart on our schedule and, unfortunately, on our losses as well.

I know she will be reading this and I want to say: You have no idea but those words validated everything I have needed to hear and squashed all of my doubts about sharing our story. You, my dear friend, are an answered prayer to me just as you said that I was for you. She shared with me how sharing our story, our struggle, touched her and caused her to focus more on her faith. I read the letter through the tears in my eyes, I couldn't believe the words. The words written in front of me that I so desperately needed to hear. It's likely, my dear friend, that I will read your letter a thousand times... and thank you and God each time.

Sharing the intimate details of your life to the world is a sacrifice. It makes you vulnerable... it shows your weaknesses... your faults. Part of our human nature is to guard our experiences (at least the bad ones) and keep them to ourselves, to not let the world know we are not feeling 'okay'.

So, my dear friends, I encourage you to share your stories... your pain, your sacrifices... if it helps only one person, doesn't that make telling your story worth the pain of it?

As I re-read her letter something came into my thoughts, a fleeting thought that I have had before but brushed off, unable to fully acknowledge it. If I hadn't miscarried these babies when I had, would I have been able to walk with her through her loss as I did? Would I have been as sensitive? Would I have been as helpful? I would like to think I would have been but there is nothing quite like walking through sorrow and loss together. If the reason for this timing was so that my dear friend did not have to be alone, I am okay with that. Maybe that isn't the reason, but it was an opportunity for God to use me, if I was willing, to help. I am grateful for anything that made her hurt less... or that made the load a little easier to carry. As she was facing her own realities (at a time when I was still facing mine) I felt so sad for her. I didn't want this for her. I wanted to be able to take all of her pain away, but I knew I couldn't. So, I did what I was able. I was there for her... and she's been there for me too. Now we are bonded not only by our pain but by our faith in a loving and merciful God. A God who makes it clear that He can use every situation for good.

 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
How beautifully amazing is that? God's words... coming to pass just as He said. I was called to share my story, that is my sacrifice... being vulnerable, putting my heart out there for the world to examine and judge and react however they see fit... just in the hopes that it would help one person. I know that it has. I pray that it continues to help others as well. I am thankful once again for those that reached out to me during our first loss when I didn't know how to deal with it (Thank you again and again, you know who you are).
God made the ultimate sacrifice for us, giving His Son to die on the cross so that we may live. We are forgiven... we are loved beyond measure. That is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. That is the most amazing gift that I have ever received. So, shouldn't we be more willing to sacrifice to help those around us when we can?
So today I pray... a prayer of thanks for my dear friend and her kind words that came at a time that I exactly needed... a prayer of forgiveness for any time that I doubt God's callings and timing... and a prayer for strength, that as I continue this journey I keep my eyes on the only One who leads me on a straight and narrow path (no matter how curvy it may feel at times.) Thank you Lord for these blessings.