I’ve spent a lot of time on here sharing little things that I do and I try to be honest along the way. But there have been a few things that have just been too raw. You may have caught on with a few of my comfort food posts (chicken and dumplings, biscuits), but I just couldn’t talk yet. I think I’m ready to now because I know I’m not alone. Someone else is out there who needs to know that they will get through…whatever they’re going through. I just don’t know how to share my joy and fear right now…how to share how this past year has broken and strengthened me…why I cry amidst such joy…without starting from the beginning.
*These “My Family” posts are long, text heavy and deal with “women’s issues.” Please use discretion…I think some of you fellas might want to tap out of these! But don’t worry, we’ll be back to a more general audience early next week!*
I wrote the next three posts (posting today, tomorrow and Friday) over the course of three days a few months back. I sort of decided they were too personal, not what the subscribers of what has turned into a crafty sort of site are into, but this morning I feel the need to share them. I’m going to assume there is someone out there who is going to need this. Someone who is facing similar trials…testing their faith and their own strength, who will happen on them…somehow. So, though it feels like I’m standing naked in the street to share these posts, I will. If one person who needs it has access, then it was worth it.
Here goes…Part One
I met my husband when I was 17. He wouldn’t date me until I was 18, but I would say we courted for months before that moment came. It was more like we dove right into “together for better or worse” when I turned 18. For the most part it was better. We did have to take a few breaks along the way, but I don’t think I ever pictured being without him forever.
About a year into the relationship we had a conversation. I told him that if we married and we had kids, we would have a boy then two sets of boy/girl twins. He didn’t ask me why I knew that. He didn’t tell me I was crazy. He simply stated the name of our first born son. We agreed. I was willing to give our son the name he chose, and he was willing to raise five kids.
That moment seemed so simple. I mean, really simple. Did he really just not believe me? Or did he trust me that much? Why? Maybe he figured there was a 50/50 shot our firstborn would be a boy so just as likely as not, and the rest would reveal itself foolish.
So we went on however the world shook us for the next four years. In the meantime we bought our farm. There’s a whole novel to be written between here and there (believe me, I just deleted about 3000 words), but I’m going to try and stick to the growing of my family.
We had another super casual yet life defining conversation after three years on our farm (five years together). We decided that when we got married we would have the celebration on our property. A huge bonfire, pitch-in dinner, just a come-as-you are type of thing. Our five year anniversary of our first actual date was just two or three weeks away (I can’t remember exactly, just that it wasn’t long) and on a Saturday. Why not? Let’s get married! We weren’t able to get every one rounded up in time, though, so we set the date for a few days shy of a month later. The only serious part of the conversation? Just because we’re getting married does not mean we’re ready to have kids.
The wedding was about a week away and I thought…crap. I’m going to be on my cycle on my wedding night. Which wouldn’t have mattered because we weren’t alone until 3:00 a.m. and promptly fell asleep, and of course, not going to try to get pregnant. But still…bummer. That month I figured the stress of getting it all together so fast would burn a few calories, but instead that dress kept getting tighter and tighter on my stomach. Then a few days before our wedding I thought, “Well, maybe I should take a test.” Sure enough. We were starting our family.
We didn’t tell everyone because we didn’t want them to think we were getting married because we were pregnant. We were pregnant because we were getting married.
Would you believe that the doc pointed out the window of conception dates to include our originally chosen wedding date, that five year anniversary? We had acted in a way to take no precaution against producing a life-that meant we were already married before the ceremony. I might be way off course from what some of you believe, but I believe Biblical marriage is just that. Not even that you have to be successful (Abraham and Sarah were married based on the effort for many years), but that if you act with no precaution…you’re married.
It was truly a blessing to have the “worldy” wedding planned and within the week. God knew we needed that end taken care of before we brought a child into the world (even if I really wasn’t very interested in knowing God at that time or what he was doing for me). Looking back later, I think God’s Spirit was there whispering in our ears because we surely hadn’t opened our hearts yet. Why else would we have even had that conversation? Or made such a rash decision and stuck with it? Marriage meant I had medical insurance and, honestly, I didn’t want to have that nagging fear that he only married me because I was pregnant (I know he would have)!
The wedding was simple and wonderful. We were thrilled with…well, everything! It was like for the first time we could settle into the comfort of an actual commitment. A commitment that we hadn’t known just living together. We had thought that making sure we could live together before we married was a really smart thing. Stupid kids. Do you ever wish you could go back and just scream at yourself?
I started showing signs of a miscarriage just a few days after the first doctor’s appointment which was at 12 weeks. At the visit she couldn’t hear a heartbeat. She used the in-room ultra-sound to take a peak and looking back I should’ve known there was something she wasn’t saying. She flashed it up and turned it off SO fast. Here I was, longing to see this new child, and she had no intention of letting me. I think now she was just waiting for my body to start aborting and didn’t want to tell me before that happened. I called and tried to see a doctor at the first signs of the loss but they just told me of what to look for and at what point to go to the E.R. That point came and my new husband and I headed down the road. I asked him to turn around. I was so conflicted. Yes I wanted that baby. But what was a doctor going to do to keep it? Did I want to go against nature? What would be the end?
Mixed with all this sorrow there was something else. A calm that overwhelmed the panic. I knew I was losing that baby. But I was not losing my baby. My boy that was to be my first child. It was the second time that I was glad he didn’t ask me how I knew, or what I even meant, or anything. He just trusted me. He turned around and we went back home.
I tried again to see a doctor the next day. They instructed me according to my symptoms to go to the E.R. There were four O.B. doctors at this practice and my assigned doctor had left for vacation a day after my first appointment. They told me the doctor on-call would come to me in the E.R…that never happened.
My husband had left for work before I was awake that day, so I didn’t even call him. I just went. I remember at the time my mom still had a 1-800 number from when I was teenager so that I could call her anytime (I had to use phone cards to call long distance from my dad’s house, and as a teen it maybe wasn’t my top priority to buy minutes to talk to my mom…I’m better now.) Do you remember only ten years back when there were still pay phones and few people had cells?
I called her and left a message, “Hey. Just calling to chat. I’ll talk to you later.” She didn’t know I had called from the hospital pay phone or that I was terrified and really wanted my mommy. She just knew I had called. She actually scolded me later that I should have told her where I was and she would have been on her way when she got that message. She was really mad at me!
Finally in the room I was ready for whatever they said. I wanted my husband there, but didn’t want to bother him about it. It was this weird thing…like I was responsible for this and ashamed and while I wanted him by me I didn’t want to face him.
The E.R. doc came in and listened with the dopplar. Sorry…no heartbeat. They drew some blood and a few hours later came back. Based on the blood they had drawn three days before at the original visit compared to this, there was an obvious drop in hcg (pregnancy hormone). Then I didn’t just want my husband there. I needed him there. I borrowed the hospital phone but couldn’t reach him at work. There was one nurse who offered to keep trying, but I just thanked her and told her by the time he could get down there I would probably be leaving anyway.
I was still there about three hours later when, as quickly as it started, it stopped. Like someone damned up a waterfall. The cramping, the bleeding…it just stopped.
A regular at home test still showed a positive reading. They explained that it appeared that although I had miscarried, my body was not releasing the baby naturally. If they didn’t intervene (i.e. aid in the abortion) my body would start attacking the pregnancy and future conception would be much harder. I said I wanted to see on an ultra-sound that there was no heartbeat.
They said there was no reason for that. It would only make things harder for me. Just take this pill…it will help loosen things up before the proceedure. I said, “No. I want an ultrasound.”
The E.R doc called up to the O.B. for a doctor to come talk to me. Instead a nurse came down after about an hour with another doppler. She never said a word to me. Just listened with her doppler. She never looked at me. She didn’t respond when I spoke to her. Just moved it all over my gut and walked into the hall.
I could plainly hear her tell the nurse, “There is no heartbeat.”
So another hour. The E.R. doctor came in again, a tiny paper cup containing the start of the “cleanse”. This time around he came to the conclusion that I was refusing care and would need to leave.
I said, “No. I just want an ultrasound first.”
He left, but he was not happy with me. I fully expected some kind of movie scene to unfold. A couple huge security guards to grab an arm each and drag me through a gawking crowd in the waiting area.
Instead the nurse who had offered to keep trying for my husband walked in. I think she was the only person to show any warmth or compassion all day. She told me that they were seeing how soon they could fit me in upstairs (O.B.) for my ultrasound, but it was getting late and it might be tomorrow. Then another nurse peered into the room, “They can get her in now.”
They can’t let you walk anywhere in a hospital, I guess (never mind that I had been pacing in my room for seven hours) so they wheeled me up there. I can’t tell you how awkward of an elevator ride it is with people convinced you’re just being difficult.
They turned on the ultrasound and the sac was empty. There was no baby. No heartbeat. Until they saw the second sack, just barely visible, tucked behind the first. They readjusted their view and there he was…my boy. His heartbeat was strong. That blob of pulsing red was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
The same nurse that took me up had been in the room during the scan and now had to wheel me back down. Awkward doesn’t describe the tension in that elevator on the return. I think she had the same realization I did. If my soul hadn’t screamed for that ultrasound…if every fiber of my being hadn’t worked to get that done…they would have aborted a healthy baby.
I got back to the E.R. and hear my nice nurse so mad at someone on the phone, “Yes, she’s here! You should have been down here hours ago.” She saw me and I knew it was my husband on the other end of that phone! I jumped out of that wheelchair and got the phone from her. I don’t even remember anything my husband said, whether he was worried or now just ticked to have the butt ripped off him, but I told him that everything was fine…great even…I was getting discharged and coming home.
We didn’t really talk about it. We expected one…we were having one.
We did change doctors/hospitals at that point. I still drive an hour to see my O.B. who delivered my perfectly healthy little boy ten years ago.