Saturday, November 17, 2012

My month-long roller coaster ride. . .

It was bedtime.  I was laying in Bella's bed waiting for her to finish brushing her teeth so we could read a story.  Dates began swirling around in my head.  I began some mental math and soon realized that a certain monthly visitor who is usually pretty punctual had not yet arrived.  Anxiety set in.  Then I remembered that I had a leftover pregnancy test in the downstairs bathroom.  I finished up bedtime with Bella and made a beeline for the bathroom.

I was literally trembling as I took the test - partly from being cold and mostly from being nervous.  I didn't even wait the two minutes, just watched the test.  I figured that it would be negative and then I could resume my original plan for the evening: relaxing on the couch with a glass of wine.  Only that's not how it went.  I stared at that test and immediately saw a faint second line appear, which only grew darker as the minutes wore on.

Shocked.  That's the only word I can find to describe my reaction.  We weren't trying. . . actually we were doing the best we could to prevent.  Some days, our life feels crazy enough with the three kids we do have, how could we handle another?  I started pacing back and forth across the kitchen in disbelief.  That is how Andy found me.  He had no idea about any pregnancy suspicion on my part, let alone the fact that one had just been confirmed.  When he saw me, he thought that I was having a panic attack.  I told him that I wasn't. . . but that I might!

Andy's reaction to the pregnancy was much more faith-filled than mine.  During the moments when I was taking this test, Andy was upstairs praying with the boys before bedtime.  In his prayer, he asked God to bless our family with more kids as He sees fit (or something like that - I'm going off of memory here).  Andy had spent that day at a pastor's conference in Pennsylvania.  The topic of the conference was on counseling - nothing to do with family size - but Andy was challenged by something that a speaker said - enough that he felt led to pray with the boys that evening.

I didn't sleep well that night.  As soon as I'd begin to relax, new implications of this pregnancy kept jolting me awake.  More sleepless nights, more diapers, more chaos. . . I spent the next day in disbelief and concern.  But by the end of that day, I felt a deep conviction. . . "this is not a tragedy, this is a blessing."  I became comforted by Isaiah 41:13, which became the verse that I knew I'd cling to. . . "For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says, 'Do not fear; I will help you.'"

I started to envision our family portrait with six people in it.  I started to think that this baby might be the little sister that Bella has been praying for.  I started to get excited about Curtis being a big brother.  I knew that with God's help, we could do this.  

My first doctor appointment was October 24th which was 6 weeks, 2 days into the pregnancy.  My doctor's office likes to have an early visit just to be sure that baby is growing in the right place.  During the ultrasound, the doctor asked if I tend to be regular.  "Generally, I said."  They didn't find all that they were looking for - fetal pole, yolk sac, and possible heartbeat.  I was told, "Go home and grow."  I might not be as far along as I think.  It was still early, no big deal that we weren't seeing all of these things yet.  We rescheduled for six days later, October 30th.  I left feeling a bit concerned, but overall trusting that God was in control of all of this.  The next day, the all-day nausea set it.  I took that as a good sign and did my best to keep the worry down for the next several days of waiting.

Tuesday arrived.  Appointment canceled due Hurricane Sandy.  Appointment rescheduled for the following Monday.  More waiting.  After another six days of feeling sick and tired, we were back at the doctor's office, ready to see what is going on in there.  It was Monday, November 5th and I was 8 weeks into the pregnancy (at least by my dates).  The doctor saw growth from the last time and located the yolk sac, but didn't see a heartbeat yet.  Again, I may not be as far along as I thought, so this could be normal.  "Go home and grow," they said again.

I didn't take this advice as well this time.  Surely by now they should have seen what they were looking for.  Unless, like they said, I was really off on my dates.  But I did the math.  I couldn't be as off as they were thinking.  Of course, ultrasound can be off by five days (plus or minus).  That could account for some of this too.  I couldn't spend too much time dwelling on all of this.  It was trick-or-treat night (postponed due to the hurricane).  We had kids to get dressed up and a Halloween party to go to.

The next day, however, I had to face the real possibility that this pregnancy wasn't going well.  I did a lot of crying and praying.  I didn't know how to even think about this pregnancy anymore.  I couldn't let myself get excited about it, because it may all end soon.  But I didn't want to doom this pregnancy, because everything might turn out OK.  My mind started racing and going in circles.  I had to stop.  "It's all in God's hands."  Whenever I'd find myself playing out any kind of scenario, I had to go back to that truth. . . "It's all in God's hands."  By the end of the day, I had peace.  There is absolutely nothing that I can do to make this baby grow.  It's all in God's hands.  However this all turns out, He is with me and I will be OK.

This truth kept me sane during that next week of waiting.  But by Monday morning November 12, I was a bundle of nerves again.  This was it.  Time to face reality - whatever that may be.  I searched the nurse practitioner's face during the ultrasound - looking for any indication of what she was seeing since I couldn't see the screen myself.  As the seconds turned into minutes, I started to get an idea of how this was going to turn out.  She said that she was having a hard time seeing things due to the angle and needed to bring the doctor in for some help.  When she left, Andy told me his thoughts.  He could see the screen.  He's seen the early ultrasounds from our other three kids.  He didn't see anything that looked familiar on that screen.  I heard what he was saying, but I wasn't ready to accept anything until I heard it from the doctor.

The doctor came in, looked at the screen and then looked at the picture from my last ultrasound.  After about a minute or two her eyes left the screen and found mine.  "I think this is a miscarriage," she said.  I prepared myself for that message as much as I could, but I couldn't help the tears that started to fall.  She then turned the screen so that I could see.  The gestational sac was growing right on track, but everything inside was not.  There still was no fetal pole (the crown-rump measurement that dates the pregnancy).  And obviously no heartbeat.  When I looked at the screen, I saw nothing that looked like the little beans I remember seeing from my other three kids' ultrasounds.  It just looked like a few little blobs - just a bunch of tissue growing in there.

"We need to schedule you for a D&C."  Going into this appointment, I knew that was something that I did not want to do.  If I was going to miscarry, I wanted my body to do it on its own.  My doctor said that it didn't look like my body was going to do it.  My sac was growing as if this was a healthy pregnancy.  And I was experiencing all of the early pregnancy symptoms.  If I did try to wait this out, I could end up in an emergency situation where I lose a lot of blood or get a dangerous infection.  Andy and I both realized the wisdom in her words, so we opted to schedule the D&C for the next day.

I pretty much cried on and off for the rest of the day.  Every time I thought about the upcoming procedure, I would cry.  My only hospital/operating room experiences have been giving birth to my three kids.  Very happy times - and such a contrast to what I was now experiencing.  I cried the whole way to the surgical center the next day.  I cried when they called me back to get in my gown.  I cried while the nurse walked me to the OR.  I cried when I walked into the room and saw that table.  I probably would have cried through the whole procedure, but thankfully they put me out for it.  The last thing I remember before waiting up in recovery was laying on the table and feeling a stinging sensation where the IV was going into my wrist.  That was the sedative.

After about a half hour in recovery, I was discharged.  We came home to some homemade chicken noodle soup made by my friend Jen, who also helped with the kids that day (along with another friend from church).  I was ordered to be a "lady of leisure" for the next 24 hours - the one bright spot out of this whole day.  Andy took great care of me and I spent the rest of the evening on the couch.

It's been four days now.  Each day gets better.  In the final week of this pregnancy, I remember thinking to myself: this is it.  This is my last pregnancy.  No matter how this turns out, I am not going through this again.  As time separates me a little more from this, my heart is softening.  The truth is, I really warmed up to the idea of having four kids, and now. . . it just feels like someone is missing.  I don't know what's going to happen.  I don't even know if it's wise to try to get pregnant again (I've had 3 c-sections).  But I guess I'm more open now.  And I suppose, that's probably right where God wants me to be.

For now, I'm trying to focus on all of the blessings that I do have.

Here are three of them. :)


Suz said...

Sending love and prayers!

Anonymous said...

Karen, I'm very sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself.

mary said...

Im glad that you are ok and healthy!

Jay Edgar said...

I'm very sorry to hear about the loss and stress, Karen--and Andy. Thank you for sharing this--it's the first time I've heard first-hand of this kind of experience, and it helps me understand something I didn't before.

I'm glad you two have each other, and your faith.