Our TTC Story, Part 4 - The Silver Lining
Photo credit: Molumen
So God had decided. He took our baby home.
God had answered my prayer. I had prayed that, at this visit, our baby would either be OK or, if He was going to take our baby home, He would do it soon. This in-between, waiting for our baby to die, was torturous.
I was devastated, but there was a certain relief I felt, probably not unlike King David after his baby died (2 Samuel 12:18-22). God had decided. It was done.
After the sono tech told us there was no heartbeat, we met with the doctor to discuss options. This was the same doctor I had met with after my previous sono, the one where my mom came. I was glad James was with me. He and Dr. Lograno were shooting the breeze about sports for a few minutes, and the normal conversation about anything besides our situation was somehow comforting to me. That normal life existed outside this numbing pain I felt.
The doctor asked if we wanted a D&C, which they could do immediately - he had tentatively scheduled me for one just in case. Or if we wanted, we could let the baby 'pass' naturally. I was thinking the D&C route; I just wanted this done. I couldn't bear the thought of my dead baby still inside me. Thankfully, James had more sense about it than I did. I had already started bleeding. The process had started. Why have an invasive procedure if I didn't need to? He was right. We decided against the D&C and would wait it out.
We scheduled another sono for next week, and we left.
This was a Wednesday. I called in for work for the rest of the week, but the next night was our work Christmas party. If I felt up to it, I wanted to go, odd as that seems. I needed to get out of the house, to see friends, to laugh. I would welcome the distraction. There was nothing else to agonize over; numbness was starting to set in. It was done.
In the end, I took my chances and went. If "it" starting happening, I could always just go home.
I needed to dress up, put make-up on and feel like a normal person again. The party went fine, and the laughter did me good. Most people there had no idea what I was experiencing inside my heart and inside my body, but I was sort of glad to escape it all for a few hours. I am glad I went.
The next morning, very early the next morning, around 4 or 5 am, I woke up with terrible cramps. Really bad. I knew it was coming. I had read a little bit about how this all would go down, to sort of brace myself for what to expect.
By this time, James had gotten up for work, and I was still in the bathroom. And after some time - not a long time, but maybe 15 or 20 minutes? A half hour? More or less, I'm not sure - it passed. I knew it. I felt it.
That was was our baby.
In tears, I went to James to tell him, and I am so glad I was home when it happened. I am so glad he was home when it happened. I am so glad I wasn't alone. I am so glad we could pray together and thank God for our baby and commit him to Jesus until we see him again. I will always remember that - James holding me in our bathroom as he prayed us through that sad moment.
Ugh, what a hard weekend it was. Full of lots of sadness for me. I bled a bit more, for a few days longer (in fact, the bleeding was so significant on Saturday that we thought maybe we had it wrong and the baby passed Saturday, not Friday. Hard to tell).
I had my sono that Monday, and I was pretty much clean. The doctor said everything had passed, I looked good, and we could start trying again if we wanted to (and we did), after my next cycle.
And that is how we lost our first baby.
So where is this silver lining?
The silver lining surrounded this whole hurricane and hemmed us in.
Here's what I mean:
This could have been so much worse. As far as miscarriages go, while incredibly sad and disappointing, it wasn't not the worst-case horror story. I read about a girl who was sitting in her college classroom when blood just starting gushing. I know of someone else who started bleeding unexpectedly and lost her baby in the cold, sterile ER bathroom; I was in the privacy in my own home, with my husband, and had time to mentally prepare for it. We were even able to pray. I wasn't alone in that moment.
It all passed cleanly. No D&C needed, no surgery, no infections, no complication, nothing invasive. Any of those things would have certainly magnified the already traumatic experience.
I saw my husband with new eyes. In my emotional mess, he was my rock. He had the spiritual vision and hope and faith that I just couldn't muster. He spiritually and emotionally carried me through. For someone who is a quintessential 'man's man,' he came through in an incredibly profound and emotional way for me in a time I desperately needed him.
We found out we could get pregnant. That was a relief. Now, it might have been a fluke, because I've recalculated all the numbers and days and timing, and I still can't figure out how I got pregnant. And that stinks, because we can't really just 'do what we did last time.' But it gave us hope that we really could conceive.
God Himself showed me He was with me in lots of ways - especially through people who were His tangible arms to hug me. There was the prayer support of friends and family. The phone calls. The texts. The emails. The genuinely sincere and heartfelt love and empathy that poured in. That love meant so much. Even my students who happened to find out were so broken over it for me. God filtered His emotional concern and love for me through many, many people. And it truly helped me. It made a difference.
God even specifically spoke to others about me. A friend of mine told me that God had put on her heart months ago to pray for me about a baby. She didn't even know we were trying.
An old family friend, one who I hadn't seen in a long time, had a dream about me that I was pregnant with a boy. A week later, he had the same exact dream. He did not know I was pregnant or even trying. (That's why I refer to the baby as the 'little guy.') Even after I miscarried, he said, "I know Katie is going to have a baby. God will give her a baby."
One of my former students saw me driving in my car several times - and God kept prompting her to pray for me. She kept seeing me everywhere, and God would not let her off the hook about praying for me. She covered me.
And even before I found I was pregnant, God met me in a special way, deeply and profoundly re-assuring me of His love for me. That stands out to me. He knew I would need to be certain of that reality in the days to come. And I was. Even in my pain, I didn't doubt His love for me.
And the month after, God assured me that He understood my heart. The whole story is here, but the message from a devotional that spoke to my heart was this:
Many women throughout the Bible struggled with infertility: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and now Elizabeth. Each prayer was answered, but not always in an expected way. Their stories also reveal something about the tender heart of God toward these women who longed to be mothers...Pray to the God who blessed Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth that He will continue to answer prayers in unexpected ways."
"The tender heart of God toward these women who longed to be mothers...."
He got it. God understood. And that spoke volumes to me.
So that was just about nine months ago (ironically). Where are we now?
Well, we are not pregnant. My cycle has been somewhat irregular - not as bad as it was before the pregnancy but inconsistent ovulation. Dr. Lograno told us that if we weren't pregnant by the spring to see him. And we did. He told us to take a few months off, and then he referred us to a fertility specialist.
While we were 'off,' I was, of course, still monitoring things. The good news is that my period seems to be back to 31 days, which makes it easier to figure out when I'm ovulating.
The bad news is that I just got my period on Thursday, so I have an appointment on Tuesday.
Dr. Lograno felt pretty sure that, as long as there wasn't anything crazy going on with me or James, this doctor could get us pregnant.
While that is encouraging to hear, I know better. As good as he is, he can't get us pregnant. Only God can author life.
So that is where we have to leave it. We are doing our part, and we are trusting God to do His part. In His timing. In His way.
Is it still hard? Yes. On some days more than others. I don't think about it every day, but now that my due date has passed, I think about it a lot more, especially about what I would have been experiencing this summer with my new baby.
I still have the 'welcome' bag of goodies I got from my OBGYN at my pregnancy confirmation appointment still hanging on my doorknob. And I still can't bring myself to take down my sono appointment cards from my calendar. I don't know why. But my calendar has been on November for nine months now. Maybe I'll be able to change it once I get pregnant again. But for now, I just can't let that piece go.
But after this whole experience, here is what I am left with:
As much as a miscarriage hurts, for a short time we were parents. James and I actually do have a child - a baby, a person, an individual that is half him and half me. We never had the privilege of meeting him, seeing him, raising him - but God gave us the privilege of 'conceiving' him. And that can never be taken away from us. We have a child who exists now, even at this second, and will exist for all eternity.
This time separating us now seems agonizingly long, but compared to the eternity we will have with him, it is a very short time to wait.
My sister told me that her pastor told her something when she miscarried: God might have just needed us to get this child into the Kingdom. This is a human being God wanted to exist in His eternal kingdom - and He allowed us the honor of being the couple to do it. That means something to me. And in the Big Picture of eternity, that matters.
Do we still want babies? Of course. We'll walk this road as far as it goes, and we'll hold our dreams loosely with open hands. We'll trust God along the way. It really is the only choice we are left with. That - or be stressed out and miserable.
I do know that I do not want this desire to have a baby to consume me. I can't reduce my life, my existence and God's plan for me to just being able to have a baby. As significant and life-changing as it is, I know that God doesn't want this issue to be the one that the meaning in my life rises and falls on.
I can remember when I felt that way about getting married - and it is a miserable way to live. It almost ruined me. Just as there is more to life than being married, there is more to life than having a baby- as huge and amazing as that is. And I have many, many things in my life that are good and bring happiness and make my life meaningful. I need to be grateful for those blessings.
The bottom line for me is that I have to trust God's plan for my life. I am His. My life belongs to Him. He has every one of my days that He has ordained for me already written in His book of my life story. This issue is already settled in heaven, and I have to have faith in the goodness of that plan.
I don't know His plans for us, His timing, all of His purposes and ways. I don't know how this is going to play out.
But I know Him.
And for today, and each day in its own time, that brings me peace and carries me.