This past Monday, January 24, 2011 was the 13-week mark. Thirteen weeks ago I lost Baby Jacob and then had my D&C. For the past few weeks, I've been thinking about this time frame approaching--how I would feel, what I might write about, what I wanted to think about. It's here now and I have so much to keep thinking about and keep writing about. Here's where I thought I'd start.
Thirteen weeks ago, it was October 25, 2010. Just a few short days prior to that, everything was 'normal'. And for the first several weeks of my pregnancy, all was just fine.
Let's go back to the beginning. I remember taking a pregnancy test a few days before what would have been my missed period. If you read a few posts back, you saw that taking an early test helps me to 'get it over with'. I'd much rather shorten my wait time so I started cheating several months back actually. Even if it bursts my bubble a few days early, it helps me to feel sad and then move on. Of course, I'm speaking to the negative tests that for months and months stared me in the face.
I remember that I pulled out this particular test without much hope. I don't think I even thought to look at it right away. When I did and I saw the pink lines, I was in disbelief. I was in so much disbelief that I doubted the authenticity of the test! For that reason, I bought 2-3 more different brands and took them over the next two days. Lines, plus marks and even the digital. I figured I couldn't doubt the dumb test telling me, "You are pregnant dummy!" All of the tests came back positive. I still didn't want to get my hopes up until a doctor confirmed it.
Now that I think about it, that's pretty silly. Most doctors only confirm your pregnancy by looking for the heartbeat when they do an ultrasound but they can't always find it that early. I think the early ultrasound is more to confirm that things are moving along well, not that you are necessarily pregnant. I've never had a doctor do a pregnancy test of any kind on me.
Eventually, I believed it. I was pregnant. Finally! I lost track of how long we had been trying. I know it was over a year. A year and a half maybe? I can't remember exactly. As excited as I was, would you believe that there was another very strong feeling that I've kept hidden...until now?? I am so ashamed to admit this, especially since I lost my precious child. For awhile I wondered if I lost him because of my feelings. Here goes...I was embarrassed. I was so afraid to tell people that I was pregnant. Why, you ask? Because of my age. I'm not spring chicken. I turned 40 in April. I don't know, for some reason I just felt that people would think I was too old to have a baby. That people would be shocked and disappointed?
I know, I know. These feelings sound really stupid right now. I am totally embarrassed to admit those feelings. I am just being honest. So much of this blog has been about honesty and sorting through my feelings along this journey. When I reflect back to the 'first 13 weeks', that's what comes to mind. Instead of just total joy and excitement about being pregnant, I was also feeling embarrassed and I don't know...ashamed? I was afraid to tell people so held off revealing the news. I remember thinking of a friend of mine in TX. When she found out she was expecting her second child, she announced it at 4-5 weeks. She was so excited and everyone around her was too. Why couldn't I share my joy in the same way? Why did I have to keep in so very private? Only Alex and my mom knew.
I remember feeling like I had the best secret in the world in those first few weeks...I went to a baby shower for a cousin of some level, it's hard to know if we're 3rd cousins or what! I so wanted to share my news with my great aunts at the table but kept it quiet. I joked with my mom that I was overly emotional as my cousin (the new mama-to-be) opened her gifts. I said that pregnant women should never go to baby showers! They cry over every onesie and every rattle opened!
And then I attended the funeral of my great aunt on my dad's side. Ah, so many family were there. I remember thinking a lot about life...and death. Here was a sort of beginning, a new branch in our family tree. Just as we were saying goodbye to a beautiful and sweet woman in our family, we would be soon welcoming a new precious link in our family line. But still, I told no one there my secret.
Finally, I had an event pop up which I felt was putting pressure on me to reveal my secret. My sorority was having a reunion in October and I couldn't wait to go. I knew that my dear sorority sisters would be so happy for me. I also knew that as active as several of us were on Facebook, I couldn't have it just leak out if someone commented about my pregnancy following the reunion. Now, without going into too much detail, let me just say that a friend of mine and my husbands (whom my hubby told) let it slip on facebook! I quickly covered it up but that's why I was so nervous about it getting out. I felt that my family deserved to hear the news from me and I preferred that my friends here it from my mouth, hence my dilemma as the reunion date approached.
Right after the reunion, I was around 10.5-11 weeks so I felt it was also a good time to announce it because we were supposedly just about out of the woods. My first trimester was over and so was the greatest chance for miscarriage. Hah. Yeah, right. Sorry, a little sarcasm slipped out there.
Well anyway, my news was out. Even though the congratulations came, I still was feeling guilty sometimes. I wondered what people thought. I hate to say it but one of my big weaknesses is that I frequently judge myself by how I think (or know) others see me. It's been a struggle throughout my life and I have some theories as to how I think I got this way over time but that's not important right now. I've worked at overcoming this weakness but unfortunately, it still bites me in the butt sometimes. This, unfortunately, was one of those times. Here I was pregnant with our third child, finally. And instead of being totally joyous and shouting from the rooftops, I was embarrassed for being pregnant at 40. I wasn't some cute little 20 or 30 year old, I was 40!
Good grief, I look at that now and just want to kick myself. How on earth could I have felt that way? I don't know why I should ever care what anyone thinks. Actresses have babies all the time at 40 and later. Women who have difficulty conceiving may not have a child until that age. Why was I placing this age parameter on having a baby?? Why on earth was I feeling like I did something wrong? I'm still struggling with this, so please forgive me. All I can think of is that it has something to do with societal norms. If you're in line with what is the norm in society, you're good. If not, you're not. And for someone who slips into old habits of judging herself by how others might see her, well I guess that pretty much explains why I carried those awful feelings around.
Anyway, those thirteen weeks weren't just full of guilt over my age. Oh, they were full of so much else!
Yum, yum! How can I forget the smells? How everything I smelled nauseated me? Seriously, everything smelled. My house smelled. The dog smelled. Food smelled. The grass smelled. Ugh. I never threw up but for me those smells were my morning sickness. I just felt sick almost constantly. I hated how bad everything smelled.
Who cares about smells, let's talk about the times when my joy was just about to burst out of my heart. I loved seeing my baby on the ultrasound! Oh, how I loved this! I smiled so big each time I saw him. I cried. Of course I was emotional, I was pregnant! Eh, I'd probably have cried anyway! I just loved it! I had a few ultrasounds...the very first was at 6 weeks, I think? That was the one to confirm the heartbeat. And then again I had another to make sure all was okay when I had some minor spotting in September...it was one 'spot' so I don't know if that still makes it spotting but my doc always checks to make sure. I think I had one more prior to the awful one on October 21. Even on that very day when I knew the technician had found something bad, and then even when the specialist came in to look but didn't talk to me until he was ready, I still loved seeing my baby. I loved every kick, every twist and every little thing he did.
I remember thinking too, prior to finding out that they were giving my baby only a 20% chance to make it to term, that I wouldn't mind holding his little hands if they had extra fingers. The technician had mentioned 'extra digits'. I didn't care. I simply smiled at the thought of six little fingers gripping mine. I just didn't care about any of that...I only cared about my baby.
And then, it all burst. All of my joy, my fears, every emotion you can think of erupted that day as we learned the devastating news and had to figure out what we would do, if anything.
I have to stop here to mention gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for but one of the biggest things, I think is that I have to thank God for sparing us...for sparing me the agony and horrific pain that would have come had Jacob lived longer. I think about what every day might have been like in the last 13 weeks or even in the next several weeks had my baby not died. I think about how I would have wondered daily if he was still with me...or when his movements would stop. I think about what if we would have made it to delivery day only to have myself cut open and to find him already gone. Or to only hold him for a few moments or hours and to leave the hospital with that horrible c-section pain but no baby to show for it. Or if he would have lived a few days, weeks or months. I think about what his funeral might have been like.
I think about all of that and am so grateful that God spared me that pain. Even though I would have gone through it just to see and hold my precious son for however long God wanted me to, I know the pain would have been beyond anything that I've ever endured in the past. I was terrified what that pain could have done to me, to Alex and to our boys. But for some reason, God gave me 5 days of heartbreaking uncertainty to be then followed by lots of heartbreaking days and weeks following Jacob's death. What I give thanks for is that God gave me only 5 days of uncertaintly. Tears? Yes. Heartache? Yes. They were there and to be expected. But I only had 5 days of not knowing if my child would live for a few days or weeks in my tummy or if he would make it to be born only to be taken away from me. That is something I am so thankful for. I will always remember those 5 days and be thankful that they were just that...5 days. Heavenly Father, thank you for those 5 days.
Well, I think that's enough reflecting for now. I just have so much to say, so much to keep thinking about and trying to make sense of and of course, so much to write. I guess that's good since I started this blog...gotta have something to keep it going!
Thirteen weeks. I was pregnant for 13 beautiful, and nauseating, weeks. It's now been 13 sad, yet beautiful, weeks since my loss. Beautiful, you ask? Oh yes, amidst the pain there has been a lot of joy and beauty on this journey. I truly hope that I can spot every speck of beauty that God continues to throw in my path for the next 13 weeks. Even the tiniest speck of beauty can sink the worst mountain of pain....one moment at a time. Trust me, they have. But that's enough for now. My next blog post will share reflections on the last thirteen weeks.
My friends, I wish for you so many of those beautiful moments! May every speck of beauty that you find in your journey build until it tears down any pile of pain that you feel.