Sunday, March 23, 2014

FET #7: Life During and After Miscarriage

Each entry was written on the date listed, but we weren't ready to post them until now.  In case you missed them, here are links to the previous posts: FET #1: Medications and a Miracle; FET #2: Baseline, Meeting the Fenlons and SHOTS!FET #3: Lining Check and Progesterone ShotsFET #4: Transfer Day!FET #5: Bed Rest and the 2WW; FET #6: Results!

Sunday, February 9, 2014
The last few days have been the most difficult days of my entire life.  Everywhere I turn there are reminders of what might have been.  I finally put all the medications away.  I can say with enthusiasm that I would gladly get a shot in my rear end every single day for the rest of my life if it meant we could be pregnant right now.  I moved all the baby items back to the spare room and hid them away so I don't have to see them anymore.  I just can't handle the constant reminders.  Before the miscarriage was confirmed I had been on bed rest for a week and a half to try and stop the bleeding.  Matt would wait on me hand and foot.  Every once in a while he would reach for my hand and say, "How are my babes?" meaning me and the baby(ies).  I miss that.  I missed church today.  I'm actually feeling ok physically, but I'm just not ready to be around people yet.  I'm planning to go back to work tomorrow to get my mind off things if nothing else.  I think it will help me to get back into a routine.

Today I was reading this talk by Elder Bednar.  In the talk he talks about how not shrinking is more important than survival and how important it is to "partake of the bitter cup" without becoming bitter.  Then he shares this beautiful quote by Elder Orson F. Whitney, "No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted.  It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility.  All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God...and it is thru that sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education we came here to acquire."

Monday, February 10, 2014
We are so blessed.  We have been surrounded by so many incredible people who are so supportive and loving.  Over the last few days we've received an edible arrangement from my co-workers and these beautiful flower arrangements from friends and family.  Our neighbors and good friends have also brought dinners and cookies, etc--most of them don't even know that we miscarried they just heard that I haven't been feeling well.  I've received loving text messages and phone calls and kind Facebook messages from people who do or don't know know what's going on.  I'm learning that when someone is going through a trial, it doesn't matter what we do, we just need to do something.
Today I was reading this talk by Elder Scott about the power of faith during times of trial.  In it he says, "Even if you exercise your strongest faith, God will not always reward you immediately according to your desires.  Rather, God will respond with what in His eternal plan is best for you.  He loves you to a depth and completeness you cannot conceive of in your mortal state.  Indeed, were you to know His entire plan, you would never ask for that which is contrary to it even though your feelings tempt you to do so.  Sincere faith gives understanding and strength to accept the will of our Heavenly Father when it differs from our own.  We can accept His will with peace and assurance, confident that His infinite wisdom surpasses our own ability to comprehend fully His plan as it unfolds a piece at a time."

As hard as things are, I am starting to feel moments of peace about the situation and I know those moments of peace are coming from the Lord.  I can feel strength from Him and a desire to be molded by Him.  I have felt an overwhelming reassurance that this is happening for a reason.  I know that there are things that we need to learn through this refiners fire.  I also feel, as I have felt many times throughout this trial, the need to share our experiences and the things that we have learned.  I have gone back and forth as to whether we would post about our experiences this time--especially since the miscarriage.  It just feels so personal and raw.  It's so close to my heart and I'm afraid to let it out.  My hesitancy, however, is far outweighed by the revelation I continually receive to share these experiences and the things that we've learned with others.  I have received so much strength throughout this trial by learning from other women who have walked in my shoes.  I hope that by sharing our experience I can strengthen someone else and make them feel that they are not alone.  I know now that one of the main reasons we have had to face this trial is so that we can help others.  We know that the Lord will provide us with many wonderful opportunities to help others through this trial.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Today we would have been 7 weeks along and we would have had our first ultrasound.  It was a rough day for me.  I couldn't stop thinking about how different the day would be if we were still pregnant.  We would have been over-the-moon excited to see our baby/babies for the first time today.  Instead it's just a regular day.  I went to work and Matt went to school.  It didn't help that I was talking to a lady on the phone at work and mentioned that I had been out of the office for a little while.  She said, "Did you have a baby?!"  I said "no..." but I wanted to say, "I WISH!!"  Then she said, "Well, that's probably good because then you wouldn't sleep for a year--or ever again."  I wanted to say that I would give anything to be expecting a baby who would steal my sleep sleep for a few years.  I just have to remind myself that she has no way of knowing our situation or what we've been through.

When I look around, it's easy to think that having a baby is so easy for everyone else.  Most people decide they want to have a baby and they do.  We have to have a million tests performed, fly across the country, spend thousands of dollars, get shots everyday for months, and we still aren't expecting a baby.  But I know deep down, that we just have different trials.  Your trial may not be infertility or pregnancy loss, but I'm sure you have faced, are facing, or will face other trials that rock you to your very core.  Our trials are designed for us individually.  Often they relate to our deepest desires.  I know that I have been given this trial because I'm not a very patient person, because I like to plan things out perfectly, and because my desire to become a mother is my single greatest hope in this life.  This is the trial that would bring me to my knees and help me to learn how to be more like the Savior.

After such a difficult day, it warmed my heart to come home to these beautiful, blooming tulips from Pound the Pavement for Parenthood.  I immediately felt overcome with my Savior's love for me.  Spring will come.

Saturday, February 15, 2014
Note: this entry gets a little graphic, but I feel the descriptions are necessary to convey the trauma that women experience during a miscarriage.

Yesterday afternoon I started having really bad cramping.  It got progressively worse until about 5:30 pm when I finally took some pain meds.  I also started bleeding pretty heavily and it became apparent that I was finally having the miscarriage.  Happy Valentine's Day to us.  You know what though?  It was a good reminder about what love is really about.  Matt spent the night holding me while I cried, getting food for me, rubbing my feet, and just being with me.  That's love.  Sure, it's nice to go out to dinner, give gifts, and buy flowers to show our love, but true love is not founded on those things.  It's founded during difficult moments like this when you rely on each other completely and you take care of each other.

The miscarriage itself was traumatic.  I can't think of a better word to describe it.  I was in excruciating pain for hours.  Suddenly, I felt a gush at which point the gestational sac and placenta passed all at once.  Now I know what the nurses were talking about when they said I would "pass tissue."  What they really meant was that I would "give birth" to my far too immature baby.  I just can't stop thinking about it.  That would have been our baby.  We've waited five long years just to get pregnant and now this.  Time just seemed to stop in that moment and it was all over.  My heart breaks for women who have been through this before or who have been through this multiple times.

I'm having a really hard time right now.  I just keep crying.  And crying.  And crying.  I know I have to snap out of this at some point, but right now I just want to be sad.

Monday February 17, 2014
Today I had a miscarriage follow-up appointment with my OBGYN.  I'm not sure if there is a worse method of torture for a woman who has just had a miscarriage than to sit in a waiting room full of expectant mothers.  This appointment had been scheduled for last Thursday when we would have been coming in for our first ultrasound.  I moved it to today because I knew it would just be too hard to come in on the day we would have been having a 7-week ultrasound to instead confirm the miscarriage.  Thank goodness I moved the appointment because it was hard enough today.

I held it together pretty well in the waiting room and thankfully they called me back pretty quickly.  The nurse ran through a few details with me.  She instructed me to undress from the waist down and cover up with a paper sheet while she left to get the doctor.  I thought to myself, "I can't even remember how many times I've been through this drill."  Before she left she put her hand on my shoulder and said, "I'm so, so sorry for your loss" and left to get the doctor.  Then I lost it.  I sat there on the exam table with tears rolling down my cheeks.  When she came back in to take my blood pressure I just looked down.  I tried so hard to hide those tears, but they kept flowing and one landed on the blood pressure cuff.  She told me it was alright to cry and got me some tissues before she left me alone to wait for the doctor.  The doctor was very kind.  We talked about what had happened.  Then he performed an exam and informed me that my cervix is closed which means the miscarriage is complete.

I'm trying to learn, again, what it means to have complete trust in the Lord even, and perhaps especially, when my prayers aren't answered in the way I want them to be.  I prayed with all my heart that the Lord would make this pregnancy ok and He didn't.  I love, and find great strength in, the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in Daniel 3:17-18.  They believe that the Lord has all power to deliver them, but then go on to say "but if not" they will still be faithful to Him and trust in His will for them.

Dennis E. Simmons, of the quorum of the seventy, says about this story, "They knew and they trusted God--even if things didn't turn out the way they hoped.  They knew that faith is more than mental assent, more than acknowledgment that God lives.  Faith is total trust in him.

"Faith is believing that although we do not understand all things, He does.  Faith is knowing that although our power is limited, His is not.  Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on Him." (source).

How comforting it is to know that we are in His hands.  He lived and died for our eternal happiness.  He has a plan for us that is both different, and better than anything we could ever imagine.  Whenever despair starts to seep in, I'm working on letting the Lord carry that burden.  I'm working on turning my will over to Him and trusting completely in His plan for my life.  I know I'll be a mom someday and I'm trying to leave the rest up to Him.

Thursday, February 20, 2014
A few days ago I ordered a necklace to memorialize our miscarriage.  It has a little charm with baby feet and the birthstone for October because our due date was October 2.  I wasn't sure if it was a good idea at the time.  Maybe it would just make me sad.  Well, it came today and I love it.  When I showed it to Matt, he said, "but, doesn't it just make you sad?"  It doesn't make me sad at all.  In fact, it brings me a lot of peace.  I love it so much that I decided I want to wear it every day.  I knew this would be more reasonable if I took the charm and stone from the necklace and added them to my "one day closer" bracelet since I already wear that every day.  Here is the finished product.
In a lot of ways it can feel like the miscarriage never happened.  I mean, what do we have to show for it except a couple broken hearts?  Well, now I wear this sweet little reminder on my wrist everyday.  It has brought me a lot of peace.  It's almost as though memorializing the miscarriage has allowed me to feel I can move forward with hope in the future.

I feel that this experience has brought me low.  Lower than I've ever been.  As much as I hate that, it has given me an opportunity to rebuild my faith and hope from the ground up.  I'm starting at square one.  I'm learning how to trust in the Lord, have faith in his plan, and have hope in our future.

Sunday, February 23, 2014
Birthdays are always hard when you are struggling with infertility.  This one was especially so.  I may have had a breakdown or two.  It was hard to think about how I always thought we'd be pregnant by now and how we really "should" have had 3 kids by now.  It was hard to think about how I've always wanted a really big family and feeling stressed about running out of time.  We've always talked about 6.  That was our number.  We always talked about wanting them close in age--about 2 years apart or so.  And, I hoped to have them all by 30!  Infertility has a way of stripping away any sense of control you have (or think you have ;)) over that aspect of your life.  I have no idea when we'll have our first, let alone the next ones.  I have no idea how long it will take to get pregnant after our first so the spacing is entirely out of our hands.  And, we have no idea how many kids we'll be blessed with.  Sometimes this is extremely frustrating.  In moments of spiritual clarity, I realize I'm glad I'm not in control.  I may not know what is going to happen, or how it's going to happen, but I know that the Lord has a plan for us.  I know that His plan is far better than the one we have come up with during pillow-talk every night.  I may not know or have control over any of these things, but I know I'll be happy.  I know the Lord's plan will be what is best for me in the long run.  In the end it will all make sense and I'll be happy with how it works out.

Today in church there was a talk about meekness.  I'd never thought much about that word or it's definition, but I was overcome by the spirit during the talk.  That is the character trait that the Lord wants me to start developing through this trial.  In the talk the man speaking gave a few definitions of meekness, but the few that stood out to me were patience and long-suffering in affliction, and trusting completely in the Lord.  I am at the point in this trial where I can picture myself kneeling at the feet of my Savior, laying the trial before Him, and saying, "I need you to carry this for me for a while.  I trust completely in your plan for us, but there is just no way I can carry this anymore."

So, as hard as this day has been, my life is worth celebrating.  I've been blessed with an incredible husband, strong and courageous friends, the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and an incredible strength beyond my own to make it through each day with a smile on my face.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Today I had my follow-up phone consolation with Dr. Foulk.  When I answered the phone, he said, "How are you doing?"  I said, "I'm doing alright, how are you?"  "Not well," he said, "I just can't believe we lost this one, Stephanie!"  Then we talked about all the nitty-gritty, when the bleeding started/stopped, the passing of "tissue" as they call it, and possible explanations for the miscarriage.  Then we talked about God and how things happen for a reason.  I love how freely he talks about God.  He is a little concerned because my HCG levels didn't drop very much in a week and half so he wants to really watch those to make sure they keep going down.  There is a chance that there is still some tissue that needs to be passed.  If this doesn't happen naturally they would have to intervene with a D&C or medication.  We are really hoping and praying that that is not the case.  He said that as difficult as this miscarriage has been it was really just "bad luck".  There is no apparent reason for the miscarriage.  The silver lining is that we now know I am capable of becoming pregnant.  We just need to make that happen again and the chances are very good that the next time will work. ;)  You can tell he really cares.  He left me with so much confidence and hope in the future.  We can do this!  Dare I say I'm excited to try again?  I know there are some really special spirits waiting to come to our family and I would do anything to get them here.

Today I was reading this talk and felt so inspired by this quote: "Hope is trust in God's promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future.  Abraham 'against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations.'  Contrary to human reason, he trusted God, 'fully persuaded' that God would fulfill His promises of giving Abraham and Sarah and child in their old ages."  Hopefully we won't be as old as Abraham and Sarah, but the Lord has promised that we will have children and we have so much faith and hope in that promise.  That is what gets us through when all seems lost.

I have such a sincere hope that there will be a lot of good that comes from this trial.  Some people may wonder, or even speak aloud the question of "WHY?!" when tragedy strikes.  When the Savior replied to the question, "Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" He said that no one was at fault but that the works of God might be manifest in him.  I know we have seen the hand of the Lord throughout this trial and I hope you have seen His hand as you've followed our journey and witnessed the miracles.

"May we all face our challenges with faith, endurance, and trust in our Heavenly Father and His plan for each of us.  Remember, it's not what happens to us that matters; it's how we handle what happens that makes all the difference. 'When the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces,' the Savior's power and assurance can still make it possible for us to experience joy and peace.

"I testify that the Savior will abide with you in your darkest hour.  He is there, and he has declared, 'In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.' (John 16:33)"
Maybe the miracle wasn't what we hoped, but we have still seen many, many miracles along the way.  It was a miracle that I got pregnant.  It was a miracle that I was able to be a mom for a little while.  The peace and reassurance we have felt from the Lord has been a miracle.  The Lord has blessed me with the strength to keep getting out of bed everyday, and that is a miracle.  Maybe the miracle is how our marriage has been strengthened through affliction.  Or, the deepened relationship we've developed with the Lord.  Or, maybe the miracle is that we will continue to see many, many miracles as we do everything we can to bring His precious spirits into our home.  Perhaps the greatest miracle of all is the abiding hope we still have in our hearts that we will become parents someday.


Lizzie Justice said...

Stephanie, I can relate to so many of your feelings. How you have nothing to show for the fact that you were indeed pregnant (I love that you made the necklace, I might need to get myself one) And that the doctors tell you that you are going to pass tissue (but really you basically go into labor and it hurts so bad, but again you have nothing positive to go with it) I hope you didn't have to have a D&C and that everything went normal (emergency D&C's are not fun). I love how positive that you are despite all that you have gone through. You truly are an inspiration. I know that during my miscarriages (and in the following months) It really helped to remember the covenants I made in the temple with my husband and that my family is going to be forever.

laura d said...

I remember feeling so empty when I had my first miscarriage. I actually was glad for the physical pain simply to have some outward manifestation of what I was feeling. I'm so sorry for your ordeal. I hope you find the strength to try again soon. *hugs*

Annie said...

Thank you for sharing these words. You have written so eloquently and I know you were inspired to write them just as you have.

luke and kourt said...

I'm so sorry you had to experience this. I too have experienced pregnancy loss and it is not a road I ever want to walk again. I truly admire your strength and faith. Keep marching forward, after the trials, come the blessings❤️

Kandace said...

Once again, I am incredibly inspired by you and your strength in sharing your experience. Sending lots of love and prayers your way!

Katie George said...

All of these posts were so wonderfully written. I'm constantly in awe at how strong you are. To go through this, let alone write it all down for others to benefit from-I mean I was crying while reading it, i'm sure you guys had to mop up the key board after these last two posts were written. I just love you both so much.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting your feelings. I am on my fourth pregnancy, third miscarriage. I have a 2.5 year old little girl. The pregnancy was normal and everything was normal but now my body just can't hang onto babies. (13 weeks, 11 weeks, 5 weeks). So sorry for your loss. :(

Anonymous said...

Also, I really appreciated what you said about timing. Four was my magic number, and I was going to be done at 30. And my kids would be 18 months apart. Well, I'm 2 months shy of 31, and I've had 3 miscarriages in a year and a half. It goes to show me that our timing means nothing. :) It's hard sometimes to just have faith that God knows what He is doing!

bpk muliadi said...