"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." - 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) *The Greek for temptation and tempted can also mean testing and tested.
*Link to Part 2 is at the end of this post*
It was one year ago today, that we found out we had lost our AngelBaby. I had been meaning to write a more expansive post about our pregnancy loss then, but it was simply too devastatingly fresh to sit down and face the words pouring out.
Our AngelBaby came into our lives in July. We found out at the end of July that we were pregnant, having managed to get pregnant on our only our second cycle of trying. After years of having wanted children - and scared that my parents struggle with infertility would have a psychical repetition in my own biological capabilities - I was downright ecstatic, while my husband joked that that's why we had never "tempted fate" before we were ready . . . because obviously we had no trouble getting pregnant.
But actually things weren't as easy from the get go. My home test had been negative, but I still felt "off", and it turned out I had a large cyst. But when I went to the doctor, and was told I was pregnant, any worries about why my home test didn't reveal anything was lain to the wayside - after all, they aren't always accurate. Thoughts of my baby already falling behind (with a test not picking up hormones on a nonviable pregnancy), never entered my mind. Though I was worried about the cyst pain, and had horrible images of an ectopic pregnancy coursing through my brain. Thank God my doctor ordered an ultrasound - and though they couldn't tell me what they saw for liability reasons, the tech seemed supportive and it helped put my mind at ease. Finally, three hours later, I heard back from my doc. They dated the pregnancy at exactly five weeks, and it wasn't ectopic! . . . thirty minutes later, my husband came home, and we started calling people right away. We knew we were blessed to get pregnant so fast, we knew we were blessed for things to be starting out right where they should be on the inside (versus ectopic) - and the fact that both those things were on our side, made us both believe that our biggest hurdles were behind us: that it would only be smooth sailing from there.
Our First Scare
Three weeks later, I finally got to see an OB. She was kind enough to bring out this very old ultrasound machine so we could get a "glimpse" of our little one, without having to order an official ultrasound. There we were, holding hands, waiting to see a glimmer of anything - when there our baby was! Right on the screen! However within moments our OB was concerned, and informed us she'd order an ultrasound - because she couldn't see a heartbeat. She tried to reassure us that maybe the dating of how far along we were was wrong, or that with it being an old machine, it simply couldn't register our baby's heart right - and we tried to tell ourselves that what she said was true. We put our faith in it, and prayed right away: and then held our breath for what seemed like hours as we transferred from one medical building to the next, and were in front of a big, brand new ultrasound machine. It took our baby a few moments, but suddenly it moved! Our baby moved . . . it wasn't dead, and we laughed at the thought of our baby already trying to give us trouble by playing such a trick on us! However the tech dated the pregnancy at exactly six weeks. In three weeks - our baby had only progressed a week? It wasn't right, but sometimes, accurate dating in the first trimester can be off - and with me still having all my pregnancy symptoms, and not having any signs of a miscarriage, we all (me, my husband, our families, and our OB) truly believed that the first ultrasound was merely off. Nothing more, nothing less.
After that, we had to believe and hope, that that was the worst of it. As I continued with no signs of anything being wrong, we carried forward with the belief that though we had been given a scare, it was nothing more than that. We were going to welcome our baby in March of 2012, and depending on whether it came early or late - it might have my deceased grandmother's birthday, or my husband's birthday. Either date made me grin from ear to ear, and I planned well ahead for all the inevitabilities: baby showers, delivery, baby clothes, nursery themes, all of it! As far as I was concerned, we got our scares for this pregnancy out of the way early - and nothing else was going to make me worry from there on out. I felt amazing. More than I had ever been able to before in my life, I appreciated my body for what it was doing - and I felt a sense of peace and wonder at the gift from God, for being allowed to house a soul inside me.
The Truth Reveals Itself
My next appointment wasn't for another three weeks, when I was supposed to be ten weeks, but by nine weeks (or possibly eleven if you take into account, that that first ultrasound wasn't off, but that the second ultrasound was revealing that our baby was already falling behind . . . ), I knew something was wrong. My symptoms had been gradually declining, and by the time I was ready to call my OB, I hadn't any signs in a day or two. Before I had made that call though (determined not be some "paranoid first time mother" patient), I sat on my mother's bed (we were house-sitting for her, because she was visiting her family in Germany for two weeks), and prayed to God for a sign to let me know the truth: I didn't ask for my baby to be okay, or be shown some revelation as to just exactly what was going on . . . just a sign to know the truth. Shortly thereafter, I went to the bathroom and saw a small stripe of blood when I wiped. I knew the truth, but wasn't ready to face it yet.
I called the OB and the nurse said she was out till the fallowing week, but a midwife could see me instead the next morning - until then, bed rest, with my feet propped up, and pray that it was nothing.
Our Second Scare
Because both my husband and I had been hoping that it was still nothing - or at least something treatable - we tried not to worry. We spent the evening in a careful balance between prayers, and thanking God for this baby, and then struggling to distract ourselves with tv and family members. But in that struggle of balance, we refused to face the obvious (especially when I didn't bleed anymore), and so I even brought my younger brother along (who was eleven at the time) with me the next day, because I we honestly believed it was simply our baby giving us another scare.
I did go inside by myself however (in case she was going to do an exam), and she explained that she would order an ultrasound, but that she hoped I simply had a sub-hemorrhage-something or another that basically surmounted to a piece of the placenta detaching before resealing. And that sometimes, some pregnant women get a relief from first trimester symptoms, before the trimester is over (at twelve weeks). I nodded my head in relief, and headed out to the lobby, sure that that was it. Right after, my brother and I ate lunch at Target (well he ate, while I drank my required ounces of water for the ultrasound), and then back to the medical building for my ultrasound upstairs.
Staring at Death
Again, I left my brother in the lobby, while I (almost cheerfully) changed into the gown they laid out for me. Within minutes, the tech saw my baby - but the niceties we had exchanged so easily grew silent - when I saw the look on her face. She was clicking away on the keyboard, taking her pictures, but she wasn't telling me what she was seeing. She wasn't telling me how fast my baby's heartbeat went, or how fast he/she was wiggling around on the screen. Nothing. Dead silence. And finally, I admitted that she was downright "scaring me", and I asked what was she seeing.
I think most techs won't admit even the obvious, for liability reasons, and I read other loss stories, where they purposely turned screens away so the mothers can't see - but my tech showed me. She turned the screen, and I saw a small peanut shaped baby: "I don't see any cardiac activity." There I was, grateful that she showed me (because I probably would have insisted anyway), but immediately frozen in place. No one should have to see their dead child.
I was going to need the see the midwife immediately, and she asked me to change. It wasn't until I was alone in the rest area, that I felt the first set of tears rising up, and almost choked on them - trying to force them back down. I couldn't break down just yet. No, not when my brother was twenty feet away. How was I going to tell him the truth? How was I going to tell my family? How was I going to tell my husband?
The next half hour is a blur. Somehow, I wandered downstairs, and through a hallway, and into a room. But by then, I couldn't help the tears from coming. I tried to wipe them away, but nothing seemed to stop them. The midwife came in, and she immediately hugged me, asking me if they had already told me. Between the hot tears, and my burning throat, I couldn't get out a word - I merely nodded against her shoulder, and cried harder.
There were a few moments where I tried to tell myself that I was merely feeling bad (and actually said it out loud before I could stop myself), because this was our first child - and she told me that it didn't matter if this was our first, or our last: pregnancy loss at any stage is devastating. That was a comfort. Like permission that it was okay for me to grieve this deeply, even though it was "only a first trimester loss". Some people lose babies at any stage. Some, lose children after they are born. Somehow, my tiny, little baby seemed to small to be grieving that hard for - especially in comparison with other people's losses - but for me, this was my biggest loss.
Our baby had lived. Our baby had moved for us on the ultrasound. It had healed me from the inside of any and all insecurities I had with my body. Even then, I wondered if I was going to revert to self loathing about my physical insecurities and sickly immune system (I have an autoimmune deficiency - that didn't have anything to do with my loss, as my genetic counselor reassured us), and that I would simply add "not being able to carry a healthy baby to term" to my growing list of: things wrong with me. But even right then and there, my mind never let me go that place - even with my baby dead, I didn't blame my body for it (I questioned the meaning behind it, sure) . . . but my baby had healed me from the inside out, from the moment it arrived. I could never again revert to what I was (or thought) before.
Facing the Truth and God
Afterwards, with my face too red to conceal, I told my brother. He seemed shocked, but I don't know what he did after that, because I was texting my husband at work that I lost our baby (he couldn't get calls at work). I then brought us to my Mom's house, and he stayed in the living room, while I cried on the bed (trying not to scare my brother, by being too loud), and immediately began to pray. The Bible says to thank God in all things - even for things that you don't want to say "thank you" for. And I certainly wasn't going to thank Him for our baby being dead. But through sobs, and on my knees, I thanked Him for ending our baby's suffering. Our baby must have been in pain, slowly fading for weeks into death, and finally, when its journey was ended, God welcomed our baby into Heaven. It was now our turn to grieve - and again, in Him we would find the way to move forward. For those that grieve shall be comforted, by Him, and through Him.
My husband came home as quickly as he could, so he could comfort me. I was grateful for that, and as soon as he held me, I slowed down my crying, wondering just how he was doing - and if I needed to be there for him. It was going to take some time - quite some time - but we had to rely on one another, and be there for one another, and even in such a devastating moment, I looked up at him to see how he was feeling.
And then I said we would need to pray together: to lead him in the same prayer I just had. I didn't want either of us to blame God, or be bitter. I wanted us thank Him for carrying this gift with us, for as long as we had - to be grateful in knowing we could get pregnant right away again (hopefully), and by leaning on Him through our grief, so we didn't turn to anger at Him instead. My husband was surprised that I wasn't crying more - but I was trying to brace myself. To hold strong for those around me, and cry a little at a time. But I didn't really stop crying, not for a long time.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." - Matthew 5:4 (NIV)