Saying Goodbye Again.

 

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 I love when people that have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.

I’ve joined a club.  I didn’t mean to join it.  I would have avoided doing so with everything I had, if I’d known a way I could.  It’s a well established group of strong women from all over the world. In fact, this club boasts an estimated more than 1 million new members a year in the United States alone.

On July 13, 2016 I took a pregnancy test.  I didn’t expect it to confirm anything, as we’d been leaving it in God’s hands for several months with no changes. However, my body felt different and, after having a dream about pregnancy, I thought it best to just see.  Sure enough, there it was. The confirmation that brought me to tears.

The result for which I’d prayed. It had finally happened.

hCg tests showed positive results, and the levels climbed as expected. Everything was going according to plan. One night, however, the spotting started. I immediately text my doctor (because my doctor is amazing and available 24/7), who assured me that it could be normal but that we’d keep an eye on it.  Progressively, over the weekend, it got worse. Monday morning I made an appointment.

With my hCg high enough for an ultrasound, we scheduled to take a look.  What we found was not what any of us wanted to see.  No visible heartbeat, and a large hematoma (which explained the bleeding).  Not only was something very wrong with me, the baby was not showing to be a viable pregnancy.  I maintained my composure until the tech left the room, and then it started to hit me. We scheduled a follow up for the following day.

Walking down the hallway, a group of employees were in a room loudly laughing and discussing their day. For some reason that was salt in the wound, and I completely fell apart. Right there. The contrast was too much.  My world had stopped, and no one had any idea.

Then, it got worse.

That night, watching TV, I felt an urge to be alone. I believe we have instincts and mine said to get somewhere quiet. I went to the shower and waited. It wasn’t long until I miscarried. I was thankful I was able to pick up what remained, gently wrap it and bury it outside. I’m sure to some people that seems odd, but that was my child and as small as it was, I needed that chance to say goodbye.  I text my doctor, and followed up the next day as planned.  We did another ultrasound, as it’s imperative to ensure all of the remains and tissue had passed.

What we found instead, was a miracle. A tiny heartbeat. I cried out to Jesus, the doctor (who had opted to do the ultrasound herself) hugged me and the nurse was stunned. None of us expected to find life. We can only assume there was a twin. The hematoma hadn’t given us a clear view of what was inside, as it was so large. My heart had never been so full. Disappointed by a loss the night before, but overwhelmed with new hope, I rushed home to tell my husband (who I’d insisted stay home for this appointment to stay with our son).  I’d already started gaining weight and, that evening, ordered some gorgeous maternity tops to get me by for a while.

In the meantime, my bleeding hadn’t stopped. The hemorrhage (as we came to realize it was) grew and grew, and I bled more and more. I could feel anemia setting in and I knew my body was in danger. I was determined, however, to just hang in there as long as it took and do whatever it might take to see this precious life grow.  I slept a LOT, fell behind on orders (answered some hateful e-mails from people who didn’t understand, or sometimes simply didn’t care. My ability to just pretend life had gotten busy was gone. I began telling some customers that I was in the middle of having lost a child, and predicted I might be losing another) and felt like the life was literally draining from my body.

I don’t like being behind on orders, but I simply did not have the strength to move. I also wasn’t ready to announce to the world all that was going on. I’d started planning a state-wide family picture day for first responders prior to finding out I was pregnant.  Answering questions and e-mails was painful. How can I tell you more than I’d already written to assist your family, when all I can think about is how my world inside me is dying? I can’t say I’m especially proud of all my patience. I eventually found the end of my rope and had to ask a couple of ladies to help.

It was time to do another ultrasound to see how things were going.  Sadly, the news was not good.  The child was measuring 5 weeks, 6 days when it should have been well over 6 weeks. There was no heartbeat. While it was possible to be early, we decided to wait one more week for confirmation. I had no appetite (and hadn’t for quite some time), and the not knowing was a mental torture I’d never wish on anyone.

The arrival of those maternity clothes was a cruel tease.

On the next ultrasound, there was again no growth.  There was, however, a great (the doctor’s description was “impressive”) amount of blood that was no longer leaving my body.  It was just pooling there. We could see the sac beginning to deteriorate. It was truly over.

I prayed over and over that, if this were going to not be a viable pregnancy, God would just let me pass it on my own.  I had that much down. I could handle it. I could say goodbye and we could have closure.  The last thing I wanted was a D&C, as to me it sounded terrifying.

Just…please. I was tired of being brave.

That didn’t happen. I had my D&C this week. As I stood in the shower getting ready, I spoke to the baby. I knew it was no longer with me, but I prayed God would deliver the message.

Sweet child, you are loved. You are wanted.

I prayed that they’d find one another in heaven and that God would pass along how my heart ached to see them.  The experience of the actual surgery wasn’t as terrible as I expected, except I now feel a huge part of my heart is lying in a lab somewhere. I did ask to see if we could have the baby returned, but was told that wasn’t possible. I think that hurts me most. I just wanted my true goodbye.

This roller coaster of hope and heartbreak was something I’ve not found anyone able to completely relate to, in that it was so unpredictable. Just when the sun would shine, a storm would set in. Over and over and over. I prayed more in the last few weeks than I have in 29 years.

However, I am so determined now to help women know that they are NOT alone. 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That’s 20%! It’s so common in the first 8 weeks that many doctors consider it a normal part of the reproductive process. I think that sounds sterile and cold.  After all, if it were such nonchalant event, there wouldn’t be so much pain from it afterwards. As word got out about what had happened to me, I was overwhelmed with messages that basically said, “Me, too.” I made new friends. Even the young woman who checked me in for my surgery had just had the same thing in March. Everywhere I turned, there was a “me, too.” What killed me was how many of those started with, “I’ve never told anyone, but…”

Ladies- here’s what I wish for you to know. You are not alone. You are not at fault. You are not forgotten. You are allowed to grieve. You have every right to count your loss. You are lovedYou have no obligation to suck it up. 

THERE IS NO SHAME IN HAVING A MISCARRIAGE. 

One message in particular told me that this individual felt like a failure as a woman. She’d had several, before giving birth to a sweet boy.  A recent study shows that 40% of women felt like they’d done something wrong. 47% of women felt a sense of guilt.

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. YOU ARE NOT GUILTY. 
You are not a failure. You are not a failure. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. 

A few more misconceptions about early miscarriage as listed from a recent study (from Obstetrics & Gynecology):

  • 76% of the participants thought that a stressful event could cause a miscarriage
  • 64% thought lifting heavy objects could cause a miscarriage
  • 41% believed it could be caused by an STD
  • 22% thought past oral contraceptive use could be a cause
  • 22% thought lifestyle choices (like smoking and drinking) were the HIGHEST causes of miscarriages.
  • 21% thought a pregnant woman could miscarry from getting into an argument.
  • People believed miscarriages happened in 6% or fewer pregnancies

Here are a few more statistics:

  • 41% reported they’d felt like they’d done something wrong
  • 41% reported feeling alone
  • 28% felt ashamed

I’m so thankful for everyone who reached out to me during this time. I was those last 3 statistics, so isolated and full of hurt. Not a single woman made me feel like I was overreacting. They just came together to hold me in their thoughts and prayers.  They checked on me, and I grew close to them knowing we had a bond.

Today, for the first time, I feel stronger. I know I’ve walked through hell and back, and I am here to tell you that there is hope. I never want another woman to feel as if they are alone, or that they should just shoulder their pain. I also feel like men have to process this loss for themselves as well. It’s their hurt, too. My husband just said he’d be ok when I was ok.  It was a lesson for both of us in having no control.

I hope we can continue researching the causes of miscarriage (most, in the first 8 weeks, are due to chromosomal abnormalities). The same study cited above said we are still working with a lot of the same information we had 50 years ago.

I don’t know what our future holds for my family, but I do know who is captaining the ship. Praise God for all He has done. For more on my thoughts on this, please read my post here:

https://sparrowsanddandelions.com/2016/08/10/5-weeks-6-days-again/

All my love.

Brandi

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