Friday, January 23, 2009

Some Thoughts on What to Say

I have been thinking about writing this post for several days now. I guess it will be part venting, part self-protection, and part informative. I also want to say that none of what I am saying here is aimed at anyone who has left comments on my blog or any IF friends. We have also received an overwhelming amount of support in the form of cards, emails, phone calls, meals, etc and we are so grateful for it all. The vast majority have offered very comforting words, but unfortunately a couple of things that have been said have been hurtful. I think I just need to vent a bit.

I will start with some thoughts on what not to say. I think one of the most hurtful things is to start talking immediately about the work God is doing in my heart through this, how he is sanctifying me and making me more Christ-like, and fulfilling His purposes. While these things may be true, there is nothing comforting, compassionate, kind or loving about these words. They have the effect of making me think God did this because I am so un-Christ-like and that if I was just a better person this wouldn't have happened to me. I am in no way saying that I am Christ-like, just that I am already searching, as I think most do when they suffer a miscarriage, for what I did wrong. Questions about whether I did something spiritually or physically frequently run through my mind. This leads me to the next what not to say. Assuming that when someone faces a trial it is because of some sin in their life or because they have in some way gone astray is not accurate and most importantly not Biblical, see Job. Some trials are testing and because God wants to take someone deeper still with Him (I would love to go to this conference, I did one of Priscilla, Beth and Kay's Bible studies and it was life changing). Some other hurtful comments are:
  • Implying that this happened because we did IVF since you don't agree with IVF and that it is likely to happen again if we do another IVF. How do you know how God led us? The fact is God led us to IVF, adoption was my plan.
  • Applying your own situation or worse your friend's sister's husband's brother's cousin's situation (I know that makes no sense I just strung them together randomly) to someone else's and assuming that if they just did ______ like you did or the other person did, then they would get pregnant whether it be surrender, claim your healing, or what ever. While God is unchanging He does not always choose to work in the same way. He may do a miracle in one person's life, work through a doctor in another's, lead the couple to adoption, or any number of other things. One thing we can be sure of, whatever happens it will be in His way and timing. Often even when you have surrendered it all to God, He says wait.
Through all of this, I have been greatly comforted by thinking about the loving kindness of our Savior. A.W. Tozer said Jesus was "the kindest man ever to live on this earth." At the death of Lazarus, Jesus comforted Mary and Martha, the Bible says He wept right along with them. I believe Jesus is our example, as He is in everything, of how to respond to a grieving person. I say this to also to let people know that there is no need to hold back tears around me because you think it might make me cry. It is true that I might, but that is okay, tears are healing. When it comes to what to say, I think that often less is more. My favorite example of this is in Job:

"When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was." Job 2: 11-13

Job's friends actually did a pretty good job at first, it was only when they opened their mouths to try to explain why everything had happened to Job that things starting going downhill. The point of this post is not to make anyone fearful about what to say, but rather to let people off the hook in regards to feeling like they need to have the perfect words to say or feeling like they need to provide an explanation as to why this has happened. There really are no perfect words. I think it can actually be more hurtful when we are too quick with our words. It is okay to be honest about the fact that you don't know what to say. A simple I love you, I'm praying for you is fine. I have been greatly comforted by a number of people who didn't say anything at all, but just gave me a hug. Of course I am not saying that I don't want you to tell me if God lays something on your heart to share with me. I am especially not referring to fellow bloggers who have shared their own stories with me, I have so appreciated the comments that have been left. For a few more do's and don'ts, I really like this article from Stepping Stones Ministries. They also have an article called On the Loss of Our Child which is worth reading. This article has some additional information and so does this one.

I know that the vast majority of people do not want to be hurtful and are well intentioned. I believe it is important to offer grace and forgiveness just as God offers us when someone says something hurtful. However, I do feel like I have been given the opportunity to share my thoughts and hopefully spare someone else the pain that I have experienced.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Grief and anger

It's hard to believe it has already been a week since we lost our baby girl. I found out from the doctor that they aren't going to do any genetic testing. Apparently, they only do that when you have multiple miscarriages. So we will just have to go with what our hearts have told us in regard to the baby's sex. I actually had a dream right before we started IVF that I would have a baby girl.

Last Friday's beta was about 2000, down from 10,000 at the ER on Tuesday evening. The 10,000 level was already lower than it should have been due to the fact that our baby actually died shortly after the eight week ultrasound. I think this is one of the hardest things for me. When I look at the post I did at nine weeks with all the pictures, it is not the pictures that bother me, it is the thought that sometime within the account of what we did for New Year's Eve or New Year's Day or that weekend, our baby died and we had no idea. This past Tuesday my beta was in the 400s. My doctor seemed pretty happy with these numbers. I go back next Tuesday for another beta. The doctor says that one may be less than 10. Even though I know this is a good thing in terms of avoiding a D&C, it just makes me so sad. Even though I know I have already lost her, seeing the confirmation in these numbers is just so hard.

Since I last posted the days have gone by in a blur and I find that suddenly I am at the end of another day. I think some of the initial shock and numbness has worn off and I found myself getting really angry, mostly with God, about what has happened. In the initial days, I felt every one's prayers carrying me through, but this past weekend I felt like I was crying out to God and getting no answer at all. I didn't feel like He was with me at all. I know that the Lord says He will never leave me or forsake me, and I believe this to be true. But to be honest, it felt like God had abandoned me in the midst of my darkest days. I have heard others talk about times when they experienced similar feelings and the need to trust God's word rather than your feelings. Yesterday, it felt like things turned around a bit and I began to have some of the peace which had been alluding me. I also had a sense that ultimately things would be okay and that I would get through this eventually. However, I did decide to meet once a week with a grief counselor from my church.

One of the things I am wrestling with right now is this - How do I resume my normal daily activities after such a profound loss? It just doesn't feel right to me to just go on living my life. I know that there are some things that would be beneficial for me, like exercise, but I just can't bring myself to do them. Maybe this is just part of the grieving process and to go on means acceptance which I am nowhere near.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Grief has been so heavy last night and this morning. There are moments when I am in shock and numb and then something jars me out of that state and I begin grieving again. Often it is seeing someone for the first time so be forewarned that if you stop by or I run into you, I may start crying. There is something about seeing our grief reflected on the faces of those that love us. This is not a bad thing, tears are healing and I need to grieve. I know so many people are grieving right along with us. Sometimes it helps me to grieve when I think about the grief that others are feeling. It's almost like it's easier for me to think about the grief others are feeling for me than it is to directly feel my own grief. That probably doesn't make much sense, but that is the best I can do to describe it right now.

Today I went in to get my blood drawn to see what my hCG levels are. I can remember anxiously waiting for John to call me to let me know what my hCG level was after we found out we were pregnant. Now we have to wait for it to go back down. It seems weird to now be hoping for low levels, but if they don't go down, I will have to have a D&C. I am so very thankful for my husband. He is a nurse at one of the medical clinics here on base so I was able to go in to his clinic and have him draw my blood rather than go to the lab and potentially face questions.

I think one of the hardest things for me right now is that this was the loss of what was likely to have been our only child (and may end up being our only child, only God knows). It is not like we can just get pregnant again. It was not always my hearts desire to be a wife and mother. Before I was a Christian, I was always very achievement oriented and once I became a Christian I wanted to do "big things" for God. But as God has taught me to find my adequacy in Him, I have found that my desire to be a wife and mother has only grown stronger. There really is nothing else I want to be. It seemed like my dreams were finally coming true. John is getting ready to start a great program to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, we are moving back to DC where we met and got married, John will be getting a huge pay raise in August when our baby was due, and we were going to have a baby. Everything was lining up and it seemed like God's perfect timing. But now the thought of going back to DC is so painful. I had so many hopes and dreams for our time there involving the new addition to our family.

I do question why God led us to do IVF and allowed it to work, only to take our baby home so early. But at the same time John and I have both said that we are happy to have had her (we feel like our baby was a girl) even for a little bit. John keeps reminding me that I am a mother, my babies are just in heaven. We do have a name picked out, but I want to wait until the lab report comes back before announcing it in case we are wrong about the sex.

We are both so appreciative of the comments on the blog, emails, cards, flowers, meals, and support we have received. It has given us a lot of comfort. Most of all we are thankful for your prayers. I know that so many people want to do something for us, but don't know what they can do and many feel powerless to help us. Pray. That is what you can do. It is what we need the most of. Only God can provide the healing, comfort, strength, and peace we need.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Our baby has gone home to be with the Lord. Miscarriage appears to be complete.

After the ultrasound our doctor told us we had 3 options - watch and wait, medication, or D&C. I wanted to avoid a D&C if at all possible, I just felt that option would be the most traumatic for me personally. I was leaning toward medication, but I wanted to check with our RE to see if it mattered which option we went with as far as a future IVF cycle. They recommended a D&C, but mainly because some people end up having to have a D&C even after taking the medication and they were concerned about how far along I was. His nurse also told me that it took 3 weeks for her when she took the medication. That sounded agonizing to me, so I started thinking maybe I should go with the D&C. So I talked with our doctor again to get more details about the medication. He felt like we should go with the medication, especially since he knew how much I wanted to avoid a D&C. He explained that it usually did not take that long and because that baby actually died shortly after our last ultrasound it was much smaller than 10 weeks. He also put me in touch with a female colleague of his who had experienced miscarriages herself. I am so thankful for both of these doctors, they are both Christians and I know they (along with many others) have been praying for us. She told me exactly what to expect if I went the watch and wait route and what to expect with the medication. She said that if you went the watch and wait route you usually start bleeding for 7-10 days and then cramping begins, followed by contractions. She said the medication would basically speed up and condense this process into a shorter period of time. She also told me that if it had been available at the time for her she would have gone with the medication. We decided we would go with the medication. We were supposed to go in yesterday morning.

But that isn't how it happened. I can't explain the timing at all. The ER doctor said she thought that when we get the news that there is no heartbeat, our body responds as we find out this news. I don't really accept this explanation because I was still hoping for a miracle prior to the miscarriage starting. I think it is the Lord's mercy that He brought it about so quickly and that He allowed me to know that there was no heartbeat prior to the start of the miscarriage. I can't imagine what it would have been like to go through what we went through Tuesday night without already knowing there was no heartbeat. I also couldn't help but think maybe it was answer to prayer that it would not drag on. I clicked on the profiles and blogs of so many of you that left comments Tuesday and saw that many of you have experienced your own losses. It is amazing to me that the miscarriage happened that day right after I posted when I had so many people praying for me.

After we got back from the doctor, I began spotting. At first I thought it was because of the exam, but it began to get heavier. Throughout the day the bleeding got heavier and heavier. Initially, I was having cramps like menstrual cramps, but by Tuesday evening they were contractions. They got closer together and more intense as the night wore on. I had no idea that a miscarriage was so much like labor (it makes sense that it would be, but I had no idea). John and I sat on the couch and then on our living room floor when things got really intense. He rubbed my back much like he would have if I was in labor. The whole experience felt so much like you would imagine giving birth feels. Only there was no baby at the end. By a little before midnight, I just couldn't take the pain any more. I was nauseous and doubled over in pain so we decided to go to the ER. Thankfully they took me straight back and gave me some morphine and anti-nausea medication. I think I was experiencing the height of it right then because shortly after getting to the ER I passed a large mass (I don't know if it was baby, placenta, or what). After that it seemed like the cramps started to go down a bit. When she did an ultrasound she said it looked like everything was gone except for one large clot. They gave me a little more pain medication before we left as well as another medication called cytotec to make sure everything gets cleared out. When we got home I passed another large mass. I was and am still cramping, but more like menstrual cramps now. Wednesday morning we went to see Dr. S for a follow-up. He gave me more cytotec to take yesterday, as well as more pain medication. After taking the medication I would have cramping, but nothing like what I experienced Tuesday night. From what I understand, this medication makes your uterus contract so that if there is anything still in there it can pass out. This didn't happen so hopefully that means everything has passed and I won't have to have a D&C. I called in to talk to the doctor (the female one who told me what to expect) today, she doesn't think I need to go in unless the bleeding or cramping gets worse rather than lessening or I get a fever.

I spent a good part of yesterday sleeping, partly because I got no sleep Tuesday night and partly because of the pain medication. I spent the rest of the time crying, watching TV, or on the computer. It was actually a great comfort for both John and I to check the blog or our emails and read the comments. I was not familiar with Lost and Found and Connections Abound until yesterday. Thank you to whoever sent my name into the site on Tuesday. I was overwhelmed by the support I received and it was truly an example of what the site hopes to accomplish. John and I have been overwhelmed by the love and support we have received from family and friends. Last night Monika from our small group brought us dinner. I have been fortunate to never have had a major illness or surgery so I have never been on the receiving end of a meal before. I would never have imagined what a comfort a meal can provide someone who is grieving. I can't tell you how much John and I appreciated it. I don't think I've ever eaten a more comforting meal in my life.

I think that some phone calls are okay now. I just really didn't want to have to keep repeating what had happened over and over again. I still don't want to and to be perfectly honest I am not one that wants to talk right away after something has happened. If you do call, please understand that I may tell you I don't want to talk right now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Today at my OB appointment there was no heartbeat on the ultrasound. I am still in shock at this point. I would like to ask for no phone calls, I will post when I am ready to receive calls.

I came upon this scripture awhile back in the NLT and was very struck by it. It seems very appropriate today:

20 I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
21 Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

9 weeks today and some pictures

It's been awhile since I last posted, so I'll give an update on what's been going on with us. I've also decided to finally post some pictures. John and I had a great Christmas with my family. Unfortunately, I got sick the Tuesday before Christmas. It started out as a bad sore throat and then progressed to a bad cough and chest congestion. I felt like I was running a low grade fever, but when I took my temperature it was 101.4, which was very alarming. I took Tylenol over the next few days to keep my fever down. By Friday when we got back from visiting my family, I was feeling much better other than a really bad cough. I was trying not to take any medicine, so I was pretty miserable especially since my cough kept me from sleeping well at night. I finally took the lowest suggested dose of Robitussin, which helped a little. It took me about a week to recover fully, which is not so bad I suppose. One of my concerns is the high fever so early in pregnancy, but I saw in one of the books I have that above 102 is the major concern so hopefully it didn't cause any problems.

On Tuesday, December 30th I got to see my doctor for the first time. It wasn't a full first OB appointment though because I was only able to get a walk-in appointment. I have my first full appointment next Tuesday. I absolutely love my doctor!!! I feel so blessed to have him as my doctor. John is a nurse in the same office as our doctor and even though there were many excellent doctors to choose from, John really felt led to Dr. S. After meeting him, I can see why. I really feel that the Lord led John to choose Dr. S. He has additional training in high risk pregnancy and has a heart for another major issue I have been dealing with (I will go into this more at some point when I am ready to give my full testimony). At the end of our appointment, he prayed with us. I left the appointment truly amazed at the Lord's goodness to us in providing this doctor. We also got to have a second ultrasound. We got to hear and see baby's heartbeat, now 176 bpm. We could also got to see the umbilical cord. The area where there appeared to be a second gestational sac was now smaller than on the previous ultrasound. It appears that what is likely to have happened is that both embryos implanted, but only one made it. Several people have asked me how I am doing with this loss. I am okay, I think that right now the excitement of the one that is growing inside me overshadows the sadness of the loss of our other four. Also, I have prayed, and I know so many of you have been praying for all of our babies. I prayed that the Lord's will would be done in each of their lives, and I have a peace in my heart that His will was done. In some ways, I had hoped for twins because it would have been "two for the price of one" and I don't know if we will ever be able to afford another IVF cycle. The reality is, short of God doing a miracle, John and I will never conceive naturally. So from that perspective, twins would have been nice since I have always wanted more than one child. On the other hand, twins would be very difficult, especially with John starting school in June. I also like the idea of being able to focus on and bond with one child.

We had a fairly low key New Years. On New Years Eve, we drove to Defuniak Springs to check out the Christmas Reflections light show they put on every year. They have 3 million lights with all kinds of decorations set up around a lake. Well worth the drive in my opinion. The lights were great, but both John and I were actually more interested in the beautifully decorated homes on the other side of the street. Most of the homes were white clapboard with black shutters and beautiful wrap-around porches. This is my ideal house type. I just love them, especially when decorated very traditionally for Christmas with garland and wreaths with white lights and red bows. After we got back, I fell asleep on the couch well before midnight. New Years Day we just relaxed and then went to see Valkerie. We both really liked it and I would definitely recommend seeing it. Friday we went to Eden Gardens State Park and Seaside (where they filmed the Truman Show). We had excellent tacos at Bud and Alleys. If you are ever in Seaside, I would highly recommend Bud and Alleys. Saturday we took down our Christmas tree and all of our Christmas decorations, the house seems so empty now without them. Other than church on Sunday, we've just been relaxing. I have found that I was more tired at eight weeks than I was at 5-7 weeks so I have been having trouble getting motivated. I did go to my first Moms in Motion exercise class yesterday. It was fantastic and I am so happy to have a class like this available. I think I would have been afraid to work myself as hard as she worked us and when it comes to strength training I need the push. I have always been able to push myself at cardio, but never at strength training.

Overall, I am feeling pretty good other than the expected pregnancy symptoms, some of which are TMI so I won't list them. I have occasional queasiness, but no morning sickness. My mom had six kids and never had morning sickness, so maybe it runs in the family. Having the two ultrasounds has definitely eased my nerves a great deal. I think the fact that several concerns can be crossed off the list helps a great deal. I have also been focusing more on the Lord again (more on this in an upcoming post), which is taking away my fears.

So here are some pictures:

Me at the hospital just before egg retrieval - a
huge step of faith for me to take a picture.

Baby's first picture, 3 days old

Me at the hospital for transfer

John at the hospital for transfer - he was allowed in the room with me for transfer.

John brought these home on transfer day, which was also my birthday. He had the florist put five white roses in to represent our five babies conceived through this IVF cycle.

My first BFP on Nov 30th, it was difficult to get a good picture, but there is a faint line.

John and I celebrating our BFP - with sparkling cider of course!!

I had to take another one so I could get a better picture, I may never see this again!

1st ultrasound on Dec 22nd, 6 weeks and 6 days, heartbeat 126 bpm.

2nd ultrasound on Dec 30th, 8 weeks, heartbeat 176 bpm.