Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15

Many of you may not even understand the significance of October 15. Quite frankly, neither did I until just a few short years ago. It's not a date that will be marked in red on your calendar, nor will you be reminded of its significance by the general public or the news, but it's still an important day, nonetheless, to some more than others.  You see, October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

I will never forget that day in Februray 2008. I got a positive pregnancy test, and Brent and I were over the moon. We had been married about two-and-a-half years, and we were thrilled to be having a baby of our own. We told our parents and friends right away, and I made an appointment. I could hardly wait to go!  The day finally arrived. Brent took off work to be with me. All the usual prenatal tests were done. We even met with the insurance lady at the office to work out a payment plan for all my prenatal care.  We excitedly waited for our turn in the sonogram room. We couldn't wait to see our baby...our baby!

I don't remember all the details now, but I do remember knowing that something wasn't right when the technician went and got the doctor. It was the first time I met Dr. Little, you see, because I was a new patient, but even then, his sad eyes told me before his gentle voice did, that our baby was no longer alive. He told me he would like to schedule a D&C as soon as possible. I understood, but I was numb at first. However, when the tears began to fall, they fell fast and hard. I was mourning for our baby...our baby, that I would never get to see and never get to hold. I questioned God. I asked Him why it was me who had to endure this. I wondered why it couldn't be someone else.

The next few days went by in a blur. I continued to teach, although there were some who did not understand why. What else was I going to do as I waited for that dreaded day? Mope around the house alone while Brent worked? I was already going to have to miss 3 days, so I didn't see the point of taking off more. Besides, staying busy helped keep my mind off things.

The procedure was short and simple. My nurse was so sweet and gentle to me. She held my hand as I drifted off to sleep. She had been there, too, not too many years ago, and she still remembered the pain that it caused; not the physical pain, but the emotional. It meant a lot. On the way home later that day, all I could think of was that I was getting to come home but our baby...our baby, was not. I slept a lot that afternoon. I felt okay physically even after just a few hours, but my heart was broken in two.

I went back to work on Monday. Most people didn't say anything. They didn't know what to say, and I was actually a little glad that they didn't say anything. That may sound mean, but if you have been there, or if you have ever grieved at all over someone you loved, you know exactly what I am talking about.

A few months went by. My heart began to heal. In September, I found out I was pregnant again. Brent and I were excited, but a little scared at the same time, but we still decided to tell our parents and friends the news. I felt good about things. I mean, I had a miscarriage. I met my quota. Things would be fine, right? Yet, somehow, on the way to my 8 week appointment in early October 2008, I knew things were not okay. I can't really explain how I knew, but I did. This time, when the technician sent for the doctor, I knew why. Again, Dr. Little came in and gently told us that our baby...our baby, was no longer alive. I was scheduled for another D&C. I believe this is when he shared part of his story with us. His own wife suffered through a couple of miscarriages as well, but she made it through. He assured us that many women suffer through two or more miscarriages and go on to have healthy, full-term babies.

Again, I continued to teach as I waited for my appointment day to arrive. Again, I am sure some of my coworkers, friends, and family members thought I was insane for doing so. Again, I thought it was the best thing for me to do. Staying busy helped me keep my mind off things at least a little.

The procedure went smoothly again. My nurse...a different one from the first time, was just as sweet as the first one had been, and just like the first time, I was home in a few hours and resting. Again, I healed physically very quickly and I was back to work in a couple of days, but this time, I went on an emotional roller coaster like I had not done the first time. I became very angry. I begged to know why this was happening to me when there were women around the world who were dumping their babies into trash bins or aborting them just because they were an inconvenience to them. I wasn't even sure I wanted to try to have another baby at first, but after much prayer, God changed my heart, and seven-and-a-half months later, on Memorial Day of 2009, I somehow knew I was pregnant before I even took a test. I felt different than I had before, and to be honest, it's the only time I have had that feeling. Sure enough, I was pregnant. I was so excited that I drove to Brent's work to tell him. I'm sure he thought I was crazy!

This time, we wised up and decided not to tell anyone...not even our parents, about the pregnancy until after we went for a sonogram. You see, the first two times, we had to go back to several people and deliver our devastating news just weeks after we told them exciting news, and we decided it wasn't worth all the heartache.

Well, our plan of not telling anyone about the pregnancy fell through the cracks one morning in June when I didn't show up at church for VBS. Anyone who knows me knows that I am on time and that I don't just "not show up" for things. When I make a commitment, I stick with it if at all possible.  However, on this particular morning, I threw up about 5 times. I was exhausted and knew I had about an hour before I had to leave for VBS, so I laid down for what was supposed to be a 30 minute nap. The next thing I knew, I was awakened by my mother-in-law banging on my front door. It was three hours later, and the VBS director, a friend of mine, became very concerned when I didn't show up and  even more so when I didn't answer my phone (I was out of it!), so she called my mother-in-law at work. My poor mother-in-law drove frantically from her work, and I'm sure she thought I had lost my mind when I groggily answered the door, but still didn't offer a good explanation. I felt like a fool!

After all the commotion and the embarrassment, Brent and I decided that we had to come clean, at least with our parents. This was not a situation that would explain itself otherwise. So, that evening, we retold the story to my parents and then Brent's parents and we made our big announcement, but we had them promise not to tell anyone else yet.  A few days later, I was at the doctor's office begging for some relief from "morning" sickness that lasted all day, and I was so thankful that it was summer break! Because of my history, they assured me that this was a good sign. Being sick often indicates a healthy baby, but just to be sure, they went ahead and did a sonogram that day, and there he was (although we didn't know he was a boy at that time), our baby...our Chandler! His heart rate was perfect, and he was moving around. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen or heard! The tears came again, but this time they were tears of joy and thankfulness. The summer went by, and I was so glad that I wasn't having to teach, because I really don't know how I would have been able to do it while throwing up multiple times a day, but finally, by the time school started back in August, I was beginning to feel some better.

My body grew and changed. We found out at 20 weeks that we were having a son, and we announced his name. I took pleasure in feeling and watching him move. Brent loved to see my stomach jumping those last few weeks. Things went well. Chandler was growing and healthy. He entered this world on Friday, Febrary 5, 2010, just two days before his due date, weighing 7 pounds, 11 ounces and measuring 20 inches long. He was such a site to behold! He made me forget about all the vomiting, all the pain. He was so worth it! I knew even then that I wanted to give him a brother or sister one day.

So, I consider myself to be a smart, educated, and well-rounded person, but I guess I never dreamed I would miscarry again after having a full-term pregnancy and healthy baby. We were excited to be expecting another baby with a due date just one day after Chandler's second birthday. Since Brent, Chandler, and I all have February birthdays, I thought it was awesome that this baby should share a February birthday as well. However, miscarriage #3 was just as hard as the first two. The only difference was that this time I had my sweet little boy to love on as I grieved. I cried over him many nights, thanking God that he gave me this special gift from heaven.

After miscarriage #4 just a few months later, Brent and I had genetic testing done, and we found out that I have a genetic abnormality called Robertsonian Translocation. We were given the okay to try for another baby, but we were also told that the odds were against us. We decided it was worth trying for. We so badly wanted to add a child to our family.

Four more times we went through this process, knowing that the odds were against us. That's right...I have been pregnant nine times, and I have miscarried eight of those times. Each and every time, God brought me through and made me stronger. While miscarriage is not what defines me, it has certainly been a big part of my story and it always will be. God has allowed me to use my own experiences to help others already, and I believe He has even bigger plans in store. Will we adopt one day? Maybe. Will we try to have another biological child? Not unless God changes our hearts. Are we content and happy with our family just the way it is? Absolutely! 

I am eternally thankful to God that he has allowed me to be a Mama to my sweet and precious little boy, Chandler, who stole my heart before he was born, and who continues to steal it every day, even at the silly and sometimes trying age of four-and-a-half. He is a blessing to me, and I cannot imagine my life without him in it. He has brought so much joy and laughter into the life of me and his Daddy. He is our little miracle....our baby!

If this has touched you in any way, or if you know of someone who might could benefit from hearing my story, please pass it on. I have written it in hopes that someone...even if it's just one person, will find the hope and strength they need to hang on, even in a difficult time such as miscarriage. - Salena

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