If you've been following me on my journey, "Six Days of Grace" this week (either here or on Facebook), you've seen that we've had two significant dates pass so far. March 24, 2014 --one year since I took the test and found out that we had miraculously and beautifully conceived. March 26, 2014 -- one year since I shared our joy with family and friends.
Since I'm a little behind in how I originally wanted to write all of this, let me back up a day...to March 27, 2013. I had gone back to my OB for a second day of blood work.
When I left the doctor's office on the 26th, I remember feeling that awkward moment where you are pseudo pretending you are just another "normal" pregnant woman in the office, rather than one facing devastating news. The initial appointment with my OB was a very basic one in which they confirmed the pregnancy via urine test and then were about to proceed to set all kinds of appointments for me to do additional testing and whatnot. As the doctor and I walked out to the desk, I remember the nurse starting to do that but the doctor quietly saying, "Right now we are just going to schedule blood work for tomorrow and see where we go from there...", and her voice trailed off. The nurse at the desk must have known what that meant, so of course didn't say another word. I was never given that welcome bag either--you know those generic black diaper bags that are donated to the doctors and are full of coupons, samples and tons of reading material? I fell outside of the cracks of the "norm" for a pregnant woman's first appointment. While it didn't surprise me to see things altered, sometimes I just WISH they would treat you like any other pregnant woman, or at least give you that chance. What would I have done with that cheesy diaper bag full of ads I didn't need? Probably nothing. But you know, it would have been a nice confirmation of being pregnant. A starting place. A reason again to hope.
The nurse scheduled me for follow-up blood work the next day, March 27. My doctor hugged me and I went home to pray, to hope and to try not to worry.
Hope. That was a big sail guiding my boat this very week last year. We were already blessed with a miracle, but we knew we were fighting increasing cramping and spotting. All we had left was hope and I held on to it as long as possible.
On March 27, then, I returned for blood work. Nothing significant happened at the office but oh, the good news phone call that came in later that afternoon! Here was my Facebook post from last year:
(March 27, 2013) Oh my goodness!! Just got a teeny weeny bit of "good" news!! I could cry!! The nurse said my hcg is 8,841 and said that's really good. My progesterone is 7.1. One lab scores "normal" progesterone at a 12 and another at 8.2. So mine is low and will need to be supplemented BUT she said typically levels at 3 are the ones that are heading for a miscarriage. So, maybe, just maybe, this little baby is holding on! She said we should be able to see it in my uterus tomorrow if everything continues to go okay. Continuing to pray for my baby!!!!
March 28, 2013. One year ago today. More blood work was scheduled as was an ultrasound. I was told that we should be able to see the baby by this point. I was around 7 weeks pregnant. Seven weeks. Somehow I had missed what, 3 weeks of pregnancy symptoms all because I was so afraid to believe that it was truly possible that we had experienced a miracle? Amazing that I could be so dense. Or so full of fear that I neglected to see a miracle that was happening. Either way, sometimes I'm still frustrated that I didn't see what I had desperately been wanting for so long. Fear can be a horrid thing.
Our wait for my ultrasound was much different than it had been 3 year ago with Jacob. Instead of being locked away in the doctor's back corner office while the boys watched Dora The Explorer over and over on the portable DVD player, and the funky clock on the desk counted every stinking minute in its crooked way (which drove me nuts), this time we sat in a crowded waiting room with several other expectant mothers. Definitely no privacy for tears or personal conversations. Drew Carey was hosting The Price is Right on TV and audience cheers and claps rang throughout the room. Despite the clamor surrounding me, I tried hard to stay in my place of peace. I felt God with me there during that chaos and felt calm, more calm than I had felt waiting to see Jacob. The boys chatted away as they played a game on Alex's phone, Alex read a magazine and I just sat there...waiting...sitting quietly with my thoughts and prayers.
At this point I had only one goal--to see my baby on the screen. I think I had already made peace with the fact that she was more than likely not doing well. <I guess I should note here that in we felt like this little one could have been a girl, so we went with that and named her Lily Grace a few days later>. Anyway, I just couldn't wait to see her. I needed to see my tiny little baby just once. Even if her little heartbeat was no longer "flickering", I had to see her. I didn't want to waste any more time. I had only learned of her a few days ago and I wanted to celebrate my little miracle for however long I'd have her.
I don't remember if Alex and the boys came in to the room with me or not, but I remember the technician being a bit too matter of fact for me. As I lay on the table and she began the exam, I focused on the screen mounted on the wall across from me. It didn't take long for me to see the sac. But as I continued to scan it for the "flicker" of the baby's heartbeat, I realized there was nothing there. It was just a big, black, empty space. Where a baby was to be...even if sleeping...there was nothing, absolutely nothing.
The technician continued her measurements and when I asked about where the baby was, she answered with something like, "Well, your dates could be off so in that case the fetal pole wouldn't be developed yet, blah, blah, blah." I just remember her tone being very plain. To her I was just another uterus to measure. This way, that way...then the other way....I told her that we feared a miscarriage, that I'd already been cramping and bleeding and that the doctor was closely monitoring my numbers. The tech didn't respond to that but kept saying I could have been wrong with when my last period was. I don't remember a kind tone, just all business. The last time when we were checking on Jacob, my doctor was in the room with me and the technician so she was able to answer my question right there, "We can't see the heartbeat, can we?" "No, Kim. I'm sorry, we can't, " was what she had said. She was full of compassion as was the technician. This time I was alone, checking off one doctor-driven box then another. Each piece of the puzzle was being put together and I dreaded what the picture would be. When my exam was finished I was dismissed back to the waiting room until the doctor called me back.
It was there that my OB threw out the possible diagnosis of "blighted ovum" to me. Basically Lily Grace either didn't develop much at all, or only had started developing and then was reabsorbed. I learned that she had passed away more than likely at 5 weeks, two weeks prior.
The doctor and I discussed options and timing and because Easter and Spring Break were only days away, I opted again for a D&C which was scheduled for the very next day. As I had asked with Jacob, I remember asking this doctor, "Are you sure she's really gone? We aren't pre-empting anything right?" I know, dumb question to ask. But that's me and always has been me. I'm one of those people who like to be extra, extra sure of things even if it's totally clear. It just helps me to hear someone confirm it. Well, when I asked that question, I don't know if the doctor thought she was helping or what but what she said next was just about the final crushing blow to my week. She said, "We don't even know that there ever was a baby..." or something like that.
I couldn't believe what I heard. How much more could I take this week? A few moments prior she had been explaining a blighted ovum to me and how the tissue gets reabsorbed as soon as the body figures out something is wrong. So for a woman in my situation, what possible good could there be to say that Lily Grace perhaps never even existed??? Way to twist the knife, doc.
So now not only was I receiving the worst news a mother can hear, that her baby had died, but here I was facing the fact that perhaps my baby never was. I was not expecting this new crisis and really struggled with it. I cried, I asked everyone what they thought, I fought to find footing in this newest struggle. Did my baby exist? What was I grieving if she didn't?
As I prayed that week, I remember a verse popping into my head that just would not leave. It was from Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee..." The word "before" stood out. Before, before, before...there had to be a before. If Lily Grace had started developing and then stopped, or even if she was about to develop but didn't, it didn't mean she didn't exist. It just meant that she died before we could see her because it was all so early and there just wasn't much to see then. I was pregnant. My body started preparing a sweet home for my little one. Unfortunately things just went horribly, horribly wrong. My poor sweet baby just couldn't grow as she needed to with what she had to use. But God knew who she could have been before all of that even took place. I cannot tell you how much this verse comforted me and it gave me the hope I needed so desperately. I believe life begins at conception, so my precious daughter was there inside me for a short time, even if it was only for a very, very short time.
Am I sad that I didn't get to experience her tiny life more? Of course. Technically, by the time I found out I was pregnant, Lily Grace had already passed away. My poor body just hadn't caught the news yet and was continuing to produce Hcg, the pregnancy hormone. Ironically my doctor called me that evening with the time of my D&C for Friday. At the same time she confirmed that those Hcg levels were finally dropping. The miscarriage was officially starting.
One year ago.
One year ago it was three days before Easter. It was three days before we were heading home for Spring Break. It was the day we learned that not only had we lost our baby, but the way in which we lost her would create a new layer of grief to plow through and try to make sense of.
Before I close today, I'd like to end with a letter to my precious Lily...so much to say and sometimes the words just won't come, but I know she knows what is in my heart.
My Sweet Baby Girl,
How I wish I could have seen you a year ago...even once. Even if all I saw was a tiny blob of a baby, that would have been fine. I just wanted to see you so badly. I wanted to see you so I could say hello. I wanted to see you so I could tell you I loved you. I wanted to see you so I could say good-bye.
Instead you were already gone. There was nothing there in my tummy but black emptiness. I had no clue I'd have to face something like that with you. It just felt so unfair, Lily Grace. I hadn't had time to celebrate you. I wish so much that I would have known about you right away so I could have started bonding with you sooner, loving you sooner. By the time I did find out about you things had already gone very wrong. You had already left us. But I know you left us for a much, much better place. While I never got to see you or hold you in my arms, I know whose arms you felt around you. Our loving Savior, Jesus, holds you now and I rejoice in that fact. While we can't be together here, I know someday we will be together in Heaven.
After you left us, my hope became like a tiny star way in the distance in the big black sky. It's so far away, and it doesn't give off much light. But I hold on to it. I cling to it. I just have to wait to see you my pretty baby girl. I have to be patient and to wait. Someday we will all be together as a family of six. You, Jacob, Benny, Sammy and Mommy and Daddy. What rejoicing that will be! No more Trisomy, no more bad cells, no illness, no worries, no fears, no emptiness...just love and joy.
How I miss you my baby girl. I've been so hard on myself simply because I haven't quite known how to grieve for you, I feel like I have to work harder to stay close to you, even though I know you are in a cozy spot within my heart. You aren't going anywhere, I know that. It's just been a difficult journey this second time around and while things were very similar to losing Jacob, they were also very different. I have worked hard to allow myself the space I need to feel how I need to when I need to. After all, having to experience everything from joy to shock to worry to fear to sadness in six short days, was definitely a lot to process in such a short time. I know you understand all of that and you know nothing but the purest of love there is to know. I am so grateful for that. I am so grateful for you, God's miracle gift that came to us when we least expected it.
Mommy loves you so much and always will...my Lily Grace. <3