Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Question, Pt. 2

I've been thinking and planning and trying to figure out exactly the right words for this post for some time. Back in September of 2013 I wrote this post about how I didn't want to have kids. Or at least what I was trying to say was that I couldn't see myself having them, but knew that it did not necessarily mean that I wouldn't.

For the last 9 weeks or so I had been trying to figure out how to tell my story since then, how to say that, while I hadn't originally planned to have a baby that one was on the way anyway. But before I had a chance to write a single word, the whole story changed. And now I have a different story to tell, one of loss rather than life.

I want to preface by asking that people please stop asking this question. The, "So, when are you going to have kids??!!" question. I get it, I know it's innocent. But you have no idea the personal battles that people are facing. Battles with infertility, miscarriage, depression, anxiety, relational issues, etc... And to be honest, it just isn't any of your business.

I'm sharing this story for me. Because I need closure and because there are a lot of people that we had shared our good news with, and I can't bare the thought of facing them in public and having to share the bad.

So this is how we got from never having kids to losing our first baby.

Almost immediately after I wrote that post in the fall of 2013, my heart started to change. People told me that I would change my mind, but that is not what happened. In my mind I knew what I wanted, but my heart was conflicted. After being married for about 5 years, everything being wrapped up in just the two of us started to make me feel almost a little sick. Everything was about us, and I didn't like it. I started to entertain the idea of having children, but still very much unsure of that possibility.

The thing is, I could not for the life of me imagine my life with a baby. Or a toddler. Or a teenager. I couldn't see it. And as time went on, I also realized I couldn't imagine my future without them. I couldn't imagine being old and not also being a grandma. And that is kind of when everything changed. I started to see babies and feel a longing for one of my own, which I had never had before.

About a year and a half ago Alex and I decided that we were going to start trying to conceive. As much as I had not wanted a baby before, I became obsessed with the idea of becoming pregnant. And month after month the tests came up negative. It wasn't long before I decided that I couldn't handle that and we stopped trying. We moved on to the not preventing stage, but I secretly still hoped I'd see a positive sign soon. 

During this time my desire for a baby ebbed and flowed. One day I would decide for sure that I did not want to have children and we would discuss long term prevention. The very next day I would say that I did want them, and maybe we should talk to the doctor and see if everything was alright. And we did this whole roller coaster, month after month. I do. I don't. I'm not.

We stopped buying pregnancy tests. I was pretty regular, but every once in awhile I would have a weird cycle. We would hope and then be let down. And then I had just had it. In November of this last year, I had made up my mind. I was ready to decide that I did not want to have kids and I was going to schedule an appointment with my doctor to discuss birth control.

And then it happened. We waited for over a week before we took a test. I knew my body was doing something weird but I still thought for sure the test would be negative. And right away that plus sign showed up and I didn't even know how to feel or what to say, I just cried. And for the first time I felt peace knowing that all these years I've agonized over this question, and here was my answer as clear as day. 

We were excited, but I was certainly not naive about the risks and the likelihood of miscarriage. I knew all the statistics and read all the things. I have countless friends who have lost their babies, some I probably don't even know about. But I promised myself that I would not allow myself to live in fear of the unknown. About 2 weeks after the positive test all the morning sickness started, and it hit me hard. I could hardly eat anything, everything smelled awful. And I knew that this was a good sign that things were progressing properly.

You are always always told (by friends, family, or the internet) that you should wait until after your first trimester to share the news, but then it happens to you and the weeks feel like years. We told three of our closest friends right away as well as those that work in my office (it's a small office), but didn't share with anyone else for several more weeks. As the holidays approached I knew I didn't have much of a choice and after our first ultrasound we decided it was safe to tell our immediate family, but asked that they keep this between us. 

Looking back I see the warning signs. From the moment I called the doctor's office to set up my first appointments, I let them know about the abdominal pain I was having. They did some tests and everything came back mostly normal other than a minor infection, which they prescribed antibiotics for. They scheduled an early ultrasound at what we thought was 7 weeks and 4 days. During the ultrasound the baby measured only measured 6 weeks and 5 days, but we saw the heartbeat and they said we probably just had the calculation wrong. Even then I knew this wasn't right. I knew that it wasn't possible to be a week behind. This would have meant we took our test so early that there was no way we would have gotten a positive result yet.

But there was a heartbeat, and so I just tried to let it go.

That weekend was Christmas and we told our families. Partially because it was the best present we could have given, and partially because I was so sick I couldn't eat any of the delicious food and knew this would draw suspicion. At 10 weeks we were feeling rather confident as we were getting close to the end of our first trimester and we told our friends then our Grandparents and said it was ok to share with extended family.

When my morning sickness first started to taper right around 9 weeks deep down I was a little worried. It's hard not to be when the sign that, although I hated, told me everything was okay faded. But I just tried to see this as a blessing. I know dozens of people who didn't have any morning sickness so I just tried to let it go.

At 12 weeks we were feeling great. My morning sickness had gone away, almost completely, and we were just about to finish the first trimester which gave me such relief. All I could focus on was getting through the first trimester so the fear in my chest could subside.

We had our first appointment with our OB at 12 weeks 1 day and I will never forget the fear I felt as I waited patiently to hear that everything was alright. She couldn't find the heartbeat with the fetal doppler, which is normal (she assured us that only about half the time the heartbeat can be heard externally that early). She brought in a mobile ultrasound machine and did an ultrasound. Finally, after what felt like forever she said something, and I was so expectant I almost didn't understand what she was telling me. That the baby had stopped growing at 8 and a half weeks. And there was no heartbeat. 

I laid in shock for awhile. I was just trying to understand. I knew what this meant, but still felt confused if it really meant it was all over. A few tears later she left the room and allowed me to dress. She came back soon after to talk about the rest of the process. When she started to let me know what my options were and how everything else was going to go, I cried more. No one tells you these things. I knew that it wasn't just done and that's it and you move on with your life. But no one tells you about the process. 

This last week has been one of the hardest we have ever had to face, both physically and emotionally. But even in the midst of our loss we have felt extremely blessed by our family and friends. We've watched the church be the church, first hand. When I couldn't imagine having to break the news to one more person, we had people who told them for us. When I was desperately scared about what my body was about to go through, I had someone to talk to about their own experience. During the toughest and hardest days we knew that many people were praying for us. And all of that is what got us through the thick of it.

Many have asked how they can help and unfortunately there just isn't a lot that can be done or said. People have offered to bring us meals and we of course will accept them, but please be sensitive to the fact that we are not up for entertaining. Even sitting and crying with someone else is too hard right now. Text messages are okay but we aren't ready for phone calls.

We don't know what happens from here. We don't know if or when we might try again. We don't know specifically why this happened, and we especially don't know why this happens to some and not to others.

We do know that we will never be the same, and we desperately miss someone we never got to meet.