Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year in Review 2013

It's hard to believe that tomorrow starts a brand new year: 2014... It's hard to believe that almost a year ago we lost our Sweet Pea.... And it's hard to believe that in a few short days we will meet our Baby Blossom.

I have to be real with you, my dear reader, and if there's one thing you can trust it is that I will ALWAYS be real with you. I found myself becoming a little unsure at church this last Sunday. Now mind you, I attend a pretty small local church. We are just a little church plant with no building of our own. We mostly meet out of a local elementary school. Last Sunday because so many of the congregation were out of town for the holidays, it was decided that we would meet out of one our member's homes. It was a very intimate setting, kind of a campfire church if you will. We sang a couple songs accompanied by an acoustic guitar and launched into the sermon. The sermon this week was the kind of sermon one would expect to reflect upon prior to a new year starting.

We were challenged to look back at 2013 and think of all the things we were thankful for that happened within the year as well as to think of all our many blessings. The opportunity was provided for people to present to the congregation their 2013 blessings. Now remember we are all sitting around the living room so at one point it is brought to attention that new life was conceived in 2013 and that's something to be thankful for, a blessing.

Here's the thing, my dear reader, and I want to say this as real and as delicately as possible, I didn't really want to look back over 2013 and count my blessings. 2013 was not good to me and my family and quite frankly the last thing I wanted to do was review the year and tell everyone around me how blessed I felt. Please hear me right, I KNOW that I AM blessed beyond measure with far more than I deserve, but at that moment I didn't FEEL blessed. With the VAST exception of our beautiful Baby Blossom, when I look back at the last year I see a whole lot of tragedy. We lost Sweet Pea and began the grieving process over our first baby. My grandmother became INCREDIBLY ill and spent months in the hospital. We found out eventually that she had contracted the West Nile Virus and she passed away in August. She passed away before we knew if we were having a girl or boy and so we never got to tell her that our little girl would be her namesake. A month later, almost to the hour, my uncle passed away as well. It seemed like one tragedy after another attacked my family this year so you'll have to pardon me if the last thing I felt like doing was counting my blessings.

Can y'all just go with me here for a second? Sometimes, I feel like we as Christians trivialize brokenness and pain. Like because we are believers we should only look at the good things that happen to us and not focus on the bad. It drives me crazy... that sort of "at least" mentality. For example, my mother-in-law made a comment to me recently that really boiled me up. I know, I know, I know that she didn't mean anything ugly by it, but it still really hurt. We were talking about the loss of my grandmother and she was commenting on a picture of my mom, my grandmother, and I sitting on the side table. I opened up to her and said that it broke my heart that our daughter would never be able to have a 4 generation picture and she wouldn't know my grandmother. My mother-in-law said to me "well at least you knew your grandmother". At least... Because that makes the loss easier? Because that makes everything else better? Because that made me "get over it" faster? I hate this "at least" mentality. Nothing about losing my grandmother is a blessing. Nothing about losing my first baby is a blessing. Can't we just call it what it is and say it sucks? I feel like that provides some much more healing then always trying to look for the blessings around tragedy... When we acknowledge the pain to each other instead of pretending it doesn't exist or solely 'counting your blessings', in my mind and experience, that ministers healing. Can anyone else resonate with this? Please hear me right, I'm not saying that counting your blessings isn't a beautiful practice and a helpful one too... I'm simply saying that sometimes we need to acknowledge the pain as very real and present and not try to "at least" it, ignore it, or shove it away.

I don't listen to country music so one of you will have to help me out as far as singer and song name, but I feel like the lyrics to this one country song ring true for me right now: "God is great, but sometimes life ain't good." He is great, but we live in a fallen world and bad things happen to good people. Brokenness happens, pain happens, loss happens and it's okay to look through it all and say I don't know what was good about that, but I believe that God's will is perfect and He will work all things together for my good.

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This Time Last Year: A Child's Prophesy

I apologize my dear readers for my horrible absence over the last month. The third trimester of this pregnancy has been incredibly trying for me... Quite honestly, it's been the hardest of all the trimesters. Between a lung infection, sinus infections, and (dare I say it aloud) a recent battle with the flu, my blog has been put on the back burner as I've been trying to get myself well enough to function in society again. Not to mention all the business that comes with the holiday season.

This is a really strange time for me right now. Our baby girl is due in (gasp) 2 weeks and we've been attempting to ready ourselves for her arrival. Because I'm currently 38 weeks pregnant, I have been banned from flying home to Kansas for the holidays, so my sweet Kevin and I are spending (for the first time in our marriage) a Christmas with just the 2 of us. It's bittersweet. On the one hand, I'm excited for time with just me and my man, especially considering very soon time with just me and my man will be all but extinct. However, I miss my family. I miss them so much it hurts. I miss every one of them... My mother, my aunt, my sweet cousin gang (Crystal, Hope, Kenton, James), my step-father... All of them... I miss our traditions. I miss everything that is Christmas at home. This is the first Christmas without our matriarch, my grandmother, present as she went home to be with Jesus in August.... And I can't be there to hold my family. It's incredibly hard...

I think what's striking me today as being every bit as challenging as what was said above is that this should have been Sweet Pea's first Christmas. This time last year we were pregnant. This time last year we announced to the family about our precious Sweet Pea. This time last year our lives were irreversibly altered. I'm having a hard time processing it all... I'm having a hard time coping with the loss of our baby today... I tell you this because I want you to understand that almost a year later I still grieve the loss of my first baby... You don't just get over it and too many families remain silent about the heartbreak that is miscarriage. I want to shatter the silence.

BUT... for today, I want to tell you a hopeful story. After all, it is Christmas Eve and tomorrow is Christmas and what is Christmas if it is not hopeful? This is a story about Baby Blossom, our little girl who (Lord willing) will be making her way into this world very soon!

As you know from my previous posts, I didn't really put a whole lot of stock in waiting 2 cycles to 'try' to get pregnant after the D&C. The way I saw it, I didn't really have any control over when we would get pregnant anyway so why pretend? I figured it was in God's hands and his timing is perfect, regardless of what the doctors said. So Kevin and I made a decision together probably about a month after my D&C that over the period of my 2 obligatory cycles we would not actively 'try' to get pregnant, but we wouldn't prevent it either.

We found out we were expecting Baby Blossom on May 2nd, 2013. About 2 weeks prior to this date, something really miraculous happened. Now remember, by trait I am a board certified music therapist and I specialize in working with children with special needs. I specifically am housed in a decently sized pediatric therapy clinic where I have my own small treatment room with all of my equipment.

Well, on this particular day (as aforementioned about 2 weeks prior to May 2nd) I was standing outside my room eating a bag of popcorn when a little girl approached me. She was a former client of mine, but she seemed to struggle with recognizing me out of context. Once we had discontinued music therapy services, she rarely spoke to me... I don't believe it was anything malicious... I truly think she just didn't know who I was outside of my treatment room. Also, you should now that her speech was very labored and most times she was pretty difficult to understand.

But on this particular day something was different. As I stood outside my treatment room eating my popcorn, I saw her being escorted back to the front lobby with her speech therapist. The minute this little girl saw me, she ran up to me as fast as she could, she placed her hands on my stomach, started rubbing, and as clear as day said "Miss Jessica, Miss Jessica, you have a daughter in there."

I was shocked! I laughed a little and said "Well, the only thing that I know is in there right now is popcorn." She looked at me and said "No, you have a daughter in there." Her speech therapist then called her back so they could continue on to the lobby. The speech therapist looked at me after this occurred and said "Don't put any stock in what she says, you know how she is."

But I did put stock in what she said... because I don't think for a minute that message was from her. Two weeks later we found out we were expecting. At 20 weeks pregnant, we found out that we did indeed have a daughter in there. Those things cannot be coincidence. That was gift... A child's prophesy over my unborn baby.

And here we are at Christmas time, celebrating the birth of a savior baby... A savior baby who was prophesied about over and over and over.

Merry Christmas, my sweet reader.


Friday, November 22, 2013

The Aftermath: Coping After Pregnancy Loss

I've been contemplating this post for awhile... Everyone's experiences are different and those experiences shape us and our perceptions. This is my family's story and this is how I worked my way through our loss. Not all the things I did were good, but I share them nevertheless because maybe they will help you my dear reader. Maybe they will help you find ways to cope with your loss or at least tell you that your not crazy for only wanting to eat potato chips for a week.

The weeks following the D&C were BY FAR the darkest of my entire life.  I took the rest of the week off work, not because the recovery was demanding, but rather because I was not ready emotionally to go back. I knew there would be questions about why I had taken off so suddenly and I wasn't ready to face them. I also knew that I wasn't ready to go back to working with other people's children all day, not when I had just lost mine. 

My mother stayed with me most of the week... She was a God send. I don't know how I would have coped in the days that followed without her. My husband would leave for work and my mom would come lay down with me after he left - so that I was never alone. I, unfortunately, am a comfort eater (I know, I know not the most glamorous of coping strategies). My mom and husband would bring me all my favorites: cookies, peanut butter m&ms, gummy bears, chips and cheese dip... Pretty much all the worst stuff.  At one point in the days that followed, my mom said to me "I'm not gonna tell you that you can't have the cookies, but you have to at least eat some fruit too." We laugh about that now. In fact one evening, mom and I went to the grocery store to buy some things for dinner. We came back with a block of Velveeta, a can of Rotel, and a bag of chips. When Kevin got home from work, we ecstatically informed him that we had gone shopping for dinner and we were having chips and cheese dip. Kevin is quite possibly the most patient man in the history of the world. Even though I know in his heart of hearts he believes chips and cheese dip does not constitute a meal, he allowed us to eat it and only made the request that we at least have some grilled chicken with it as well. 

So all that to say here is my list of ways that I coped after the loss of Sweet Pea:

1. Comfort Eating  -- You obviously already know this as based on the account above. Admittedly this is not necessarily a recommended strategy, but it was (for better or worse) one of the ways I handled the loss. It's not a very good or healthy way though, so I don't endorse it. Regardless, my words to you are the same as my mother's were to me... I'm not gonna tell you that you can't have the cookies, but you have to at least eat some fruit too. 

2. Crying -- I never fought the urge to cry and I think that this really helped. I compare the feeling to sinking and swimming... I could tell when I was teetering on the edge of sinking and losing it. And when I felt that happening, I allowed myself to go there and I would cry as I had never cried before. I never tried to hold it back. I allowed myself to grieve fully over the loss of our baby. 

3. One Action at a Time -- People always say just take it one day at a time. Well for me, one day at a time was too much, too long. I couldn't function thinking in days. I couldn't even function thinking in hours. I could only function thinking in actions. I would tell myself now it's time to get up and then I would do that. Now it's time to take a shower and I would do that. I would make concessions for myself. For example, I would tell myself, you don't have to put on real clothes, but you at least have to put on some sweatpants. One action is enough. Just start there and eventually you will be able to move forward, to think in longer durations again.

4. Songwriting -- This may not work for everyone, but it worked for me. I attempted to start a journal of our story, but that was too hard, too fresh. I couldn't handle that just yet. However, (and perhaps it is because I am a music therapist) there were evenings when I would sit at the piano and pour my heart out through songwriting because it was the only way I could articulate the pain of my loss. 

5. Bible Study --  Right after our loss, I began Beth Moore's Bible study on James with the pastors from my church. Holy cow... I cannot begin to tell you how phenomenal this study was. The timing couldn't have been more divine. I will warn you there was at least one lesson that I ugly cried the whole way through. I mean uncontrollably sobbed. But boy did I need to hear it. 

6. Social Support -- Not very many people knew about what was going on with us at that point. Our family and close friends knew, that was pretty much it. But those who did rose around us like an army. People sent cards, called, texted, came to visit, prayed, sent flowers. One of my dear friends came over between the time we found out about Sweet Pea and the D&C and sat on the futon with me and cried. She seriously wept with me. It was the sweetest moment to know that she loved us so much that she would grieve with us as if the loss was her own. I treasure, treasure that moment. 

Everyone's story is different. Everyone processes loss differently. May this list be a starting point for you as you find your healing. 


Friday, November 15, 2013


I was talking to a friend recently who was telling me of another friend who experienced a pregnancy loss. The question of "why?" came up. I think that all of us who have experienced pregnancy loss and really loss in general struggle with this question. Why me? Why did this happen to me? Why did God do this to us? You are completely normal for questioning. I truly believe it is a part of the grieving and coping process.

When we lost Sweet Pea, we were devastated. I REALLY struggled with the why part. I mean STRUGGLED. I was raised with a rich christian heritage and had been taught from the time I can remember that there is an order to things. My mother used to repeatedly tell me throughout my life (although she made a point to CONSTANTLY, seriously CONSTANTLY, reinforce this when I was in high school and college) that the order of life events should always go as follows: School, Job, Marriage, Children. When I was growing up there was to be NO deviation from this order. Once I got into college she did tell me that job and marriage could be switched if AND only if the husband already had a job. ;)

I followed this order... The original order too, mind you. I do often try to be a rule follower in spite of my rather rebellious natural tendencies. I went to school and got a degree, then got a job, about 5 months later got married, and a little over 2 years later got pregnant. I did everything the 'right' way. And Kevin and I even added a step to the order. We waited until we were financially stable enough to support a child before trying to get pregnant. We both firmly believed that we did not want to bring a child into this world if we were not fully prepared to independently, financially support him or her.

Dear reader, when I tell you I struggled with the why, I mean it with every fiber of my being. I followed the order. Every 'i' was dotted and every 't' was crossed. I did exactly what my momma and my faith told me to do... And I still lost my baby... It seemed to me to be cruelest of cruels. I watched as acquaintances, friends, and even family members deviated from the order and they got to keep their babies. I watched as individuals on my Facebook complain over and over about being single mommies and 2 weeks later would announce their 2nd or 3rd pregnancies with no husbands or daddies in tact.

And I lost my Sweet Pea....

I will be completely open and honest with you, it burned me up. I was judgmental. I was envious. I was angry. And more than all of these emotions put together, I was broken and destroyed that I did everything 'right' and lost. Why me, God? I did everything You said I should so why me?

I wish I had good answers for you. But I don't. I don't know why God chose to take my Sweet Pea to heaven before I would ever get to know him or her. What I do know is that it's okay to question. What I do know is that when you experience a loss so profound, it changes you to your core and you can feel for others what you couldn't have had you not walked through the valley. What I do know is that the testing of your faith produces perseverance and with perseverance you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  (James 1:2-4)

What I do know is that you always have a choice in how you will let loss effect you. I could choose to be angry and bitter with God, but where would that get me? I would just continue in a destructive lifestyle. Or I can choose to let the brokenness bring me closer to God and to trust that He is in control when I have no idea what He is doing or why He is doing it. And I will tell you, my sweet reader, there is something unparalleled about reaching out to God admist brokenness. Quite honestly, I have never felt closer to Him than in the times when I was utterly destroyed.

You are not alone.


Friday, November 1, 2013

The Procedure

I went to work the following Monday after we found about Sweet Pea. It was the hardest and probably best thing I could have done. In addition to providing private music therapy services, I also teach music at a local preschool. It's funny to me how perceptive kiddos are... I put on my professional face and delved into the much needed distraction of bringing music to preschoolers. In the middle of one of my classes, one of my three year olds ran up to me and gave the biggest hug and said "tonight you can come to my house." I laughed and said "I don't know about that..." I didn't have the heart to correct the behavior of her interrupting my class because I so needed that hug from a little one. She continued this trend for about 2-3 weeks and it is something that I treasure in my heart. None of my other kiddos did it, but every week she made a point to hug me and say something incredibly sweet. I needed it... Funny how the smallest child can minister healing to a broken adult.

I went in for my pre-op on the morning of Tuesday, January 29th... I had done a significant amount of research about D&Cs and my biggest question was when could Kevin and I start 'trying' again. They began by taking me into that cursed ultrasound room again to confirm that Sweet Pea did not have a heartbeat. They confirmed this... I can't remember if I cried then or not... I don't know if I was just so numb that I waited to cry until we got back to the car or if the tears snuck out when I was forced to go back to that room.

The doctor was not the most compassionate in the world. He was all business and became quickly frustrated when his computer would not work correctly. He basically broke down the procedure, told me not to eat or drink anything after a certain time, no medications, blah blah blah. He then told us that we were to wait for me to have 2 periods before we started 'trying' again. I asked him why we had to wait. He stated that my uterus needed to essentially clear out everything and start afresh. I, being the ever questioning individual that I am, was not satisfied with that answer. It didn't make sense to me at all. If my body was unable to sustain a pregnancy then what would it matter if we began "trying" before 2 periods because my body wouldn't sustain the pregnancy. And if the uterine lining wasn't 'primed' then the fertilized egg wouldn't attach and I definitely wouldn't sustain the pregnancy, right? ... At least those were my musing... Mind you, I am no doctor, just someone who doesn't always take what is told to them at face value. I resolved to ask another doctor about it later.

I was still bleeding pretty heavily at this point and had been told on multiple occasions to go the ER if the bleeding became too substantial...  They would perform an emergency D&C at the ER. Problem was that I didn't really know what exactly was "too substantial".  I questioned my pre-op doctor about how I would know if I should go to the ER. He said "oh you'll know." That was a terrible answer for me. My D&C was schedule for very early the following morning, January 30th... During the middle of the night, I began to bleed heavily and had the most horrendous cramps... I think in retrospect, I probably should have gone to the ER at that point, but I just kept telling myself to wait it out. My surgery was scheduled for the early morning so I could hold on till then. The doctor telling me that I would know was absolutely worthless. I didn't know what to do... My world had spiraled so out of control, I was at a loss for what actions I should take and when I should take them.

My mom flew in from Kansas to the ATL to be with Kevin and I... I cannot begin to tell you how much of a blessing she was to us during that time. I needed her there and I think Kevin needed her there too. The doctor who did my pre-op was not the same doctor scheduled to complete my surgery. The doctor who completed my surgery looked like a rockstar wannabe. (SIDE NOTE: I feel like there is at least one rockstar wannabe OB-GYN in every practice... Does anyone else feel that way?? They all look the same too... Variations of long hair, often times jewelry or ear piercings, and they always want to high five you... Like seriously?? Please tell me I'm not crazy here and someone else has experienced this too!) I met him briefly before going to the OR. He said to me shortly before they wheeled me away "you know, you don't have to do this." All I could think was "okay, doc as I'm already here and already IV'ed up... We are doing this."

I loved my nurse. She was from Germany, I believe, and she was the kindest, sweetest soul. She took care of me so thoroughly and I wish that I could remember her name so I could thank her for loving on me when I was falling apart. She was a precious gift. Likewise, the anesthesiologist was wonderful. He was so encouraging and said to me before he administered the medicine "next time I see you will be for an epidural." I don't plan to have a medicated labor/delivery, but the sentiment behind his words was like balm to my aching soul. There would be a next time. There would be another baby.

I remember being wheeled to the OR and lifted onto the table... And then I remember waking up with about 10 nurses surrounding me in phase 1 recovery. There were so many of them that at first I thought something had gone terribly wrong, but they assured me everything was fine. I know I cried then. One of the nurses stuck a box of tissues on top of me. I took that box of tissues home with me and that became the running joke between me and my mom. It was our $1000 box of tissues.

They then wheeled me in the bed to phase 2 recovery where I was put in a recliner. When I stood up the amount of blood on the bed frightened me a bit. The nurses brought me a Diet Coke to drink and Kevin and mom came to see me. I cried even more when they walked into my room.

I don't know how long we stayed there. Time really made no sense to me at that point. All I know is that eventually they made Kevin go get the car, they put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me out to him. I don't remember anything about the drive home or getting home.

In addition to the box of tissues, I got to keep my pillow. I actually really like that pillow and still use it today.

As I tell you this part, all I can think is that there were such little gifts from God to keep me afloat sprinkled throughout this whole experience. I don't know that I even recognized them until I sat down to type this... The kindness of the nurse, the encouragement from the anesthesiologist, the laughter about the world's most expensive (and yet cheaply made) box of tissues, my little preschooler's weekly hugs, my mom coming to take care of me... I do believe all those things were designed to keep me going when I thought I was drowning. Little nuggets that weren't huge and at that point in time weren't really noticeable, but looking back I can now see that God really was trying to minister to my broken heart through those acts. I was never alone even if I felt isolated from everyone and everything. And you, my dear reader, are not alone either.


Friday, October 25, 2013


I'm going to go ahead and apologize for this post... I've been fighting a pregnancy cold of epic proportions this week and while I feel much less like the walking dead today than I did on Sunday or even Monday, I still have a wicked cough and can't breath through my nose.

My blog is ever a work in progress and I want you to notice that I did add a new tab entitled "Resources" this week. I hope you'll check it out. I'll be adding to it often as I document the resources that helped me through my miscarriage in addition to the resources that have helped me through my current pregnancy. PLEASE, please, dear reader, contact me if you have any good resources that have helped you through your journey! I want to know who or what helped you. I so want this blog to be a light to others who are suffering the same hardships.

In the meantime, here is a picture of my beautiful Sweet Pea....

I love this picture. After we lost Sweet Pea, I deleted it from my phone as I couldn't bear to look at... 

After the D&C, I packed up everything associated with Sweet Pea - the cards, counseling packets from the hospital, paperwork, ultrasound pictures, everything - put it in a manilla envelope and stuck it underneath the bed in our guest bedroom. I never told my husband where I put it... But I couldn't bear to have it all out. I couldn't bear to see it all everyday.

In a freak turn of events, that envelope somehow became the only thing in that room (and our whole apartment for that matter) that got destroyed by water. We aren't entirely sure how the water got there. Our best guess is that the apartment complex paid to have our carpets cleaned at the beginning of August and while we were told the cleaners would not clean under furniture perhaps they cleaned under the guest bed and soaked the envelope. We don't know for sure as nothing else was wet. We, of course, didn't find anything until about a month and a half later when we were moving furniture in the guest bedroom in preparation for turning it into a nursery for our current soon-to-be-baby. 

When I saw the saturated envelope, I lost it. I sat at the kitchen table and cried, heaving sobs until I couldn't cry anymore. The thought that the only picture I had of my Sweet Pea was ruined was more than I could bear... And quite honestly, I think seeing everything in that envelope just brought it all back...

But I remembered, I had texted my mother a picture of Sweet Pea and by the grace of God she kept the picture on her phone. Sweet Pea was the first grand-baby for all the grand-parents between me and my husband (we have 3 sets as my parents are both divorced and remarried).  My mother told me once, a few months after we lost Sweet Pea, that she wanted to print the picture and have it framed because Sweet Pea was her first grand-baby. I am so thankful that she kept the picture... I am so thankful that I can still look at my Sweet Pea and know that baby was real. 

Grief is a funny thing. Loss is a funny thing. It can totally hit you out of nowhere when you least expect it. I truly believe that it never goes away, you just learn how to live with it. You learn how to function with it. And eventually you learn how to laugh and smile and find joy again even in the midst of all you've gone through, but that doesn't mean you forget. I think too the intensity fades a little as you find acceptance and you look back and see some of the beauty. Sweet Pea was beautiful. The beginning was beautiful. The crazy amount of love I felt for a little being that I hadn't met, hadn't even felt move, was absolutely beautiful. Look for the beauty, dear reader. It's there, sometimes you just have to dig deep to find it. 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Worst Part

I'm seriously overwhelmed with the amount of support I've received since the "official" reveal of this blog on Tuesday, October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day... I wish I could even begin to tell you the number of texts, comments, messages, precious cards, and notes I received and how touched I was that people were so affirming and loving. I'm not gonna lie to you, dear reader, I was incredibly nervous to reveal this blog. I went back and forth for awhile trying to decide if I was ready for our little corner of the world wide web to be made known to the general public (aside from those who had accidentally stumbled upon it). In the end, it was my hubby's encouragement that settled my reluctance. Our conversation came down to the simple fact that we always wanted our story to be shared in order to encourage other families with similar stories... How will anyone ever find our story if we don't let them know it's here? And so there you have it... Thanks to the many who were so supportive. YOU have encouraged me greatly!

Here is the next part of Sweet Pea's story...

We want back to doctor for what we thought was to be our 8 week appointment on January 25th, 2013. I was a bundle of nerves, but in a way also relieved because I kept thinking one way or another we will have an answer as to what is going on... And we did in fact get an answer...

The receptionist excitedly greeted us and let us know we would get a picture of our little baby today. We smiled half-heartedly at her. Sitting in the waiting room was miserable. We finally got called back to the ultrasound room. As the technician began completing the ultrasound, we knew IMMEDIATELY something was wrong. She didn't say a word to us... Not one peep... This was completely different from our previous experience with the ultrasound where the technician talked to us the whole time and described everything on the screen... We didn't have the heart to ask the much dreaded question... She printed off a bunch of pictures, but didn't give them to us and showed us to an examination room.

Kevin and I sat in silence for a moment. Eventually we both kept asking the question "do you think it was bad?" .... This next part still boils my blood when I think about it... The audacity of the nurse to do what she did was unacceptable on so many levels. She waltzed in to the room, congratulated us on our pregnancy, handed us the obligatory 'congratulations you're going to be parents' bag of goodies, and proceeded to talk shop with us about what to expect in the months to come. She ended with giving us the ultrasound pictures... She actually gave us the ultrasound pictures of a dying baby... I still have them... The pictures of my dying Sweet Pea.

After she left, we were so relieved. We thought this is phenomenal! It was just our imagination and everything is great! Our Sweet Pea is developing exactly as he/she should be...  Nothing to worry about it... And then the doctor came in...

She began the conversation with "your midwife is delivering at the hospital so I'll be working with you today." She then informed us that she actually no longer practices obstetrics - only gynecology. We thought... awesome... Because we are in fact here for a gynecological visit... Oh wait... No we aren't... She then proceeded to tell us that the baby is not measuring as far along as expected and that the ultrasound technician had trouble finding a heartbeat. She informed us that she wanted to have a look herself and a second opinion so we were to go immediately to the maternal fetal specialists next door.

Numb... That was all I could feel at that point... Why would the nurse come in and give us the bag of goodies? Why would she tell us everything was fine and give us pictures? Why would she do this if my baby had no life left?

We were ushered to another waiting room where we sat numbly holding our goodie bag... We didn't speak... We couldn't. When we finally got called back for ultrasound #2 of the day, the worst was confirmed. The technician confirmed the baby had not been growing and she had extreme trouble finding a heartbeat. She found what she thought might have been a tiny, frail blip, but she wasn't entirely sure. Our world crashed around us. It was in that moment that I lost hold of the tiny bit of control that I had. I sobbed. I didn't even know what to ask, what our options were, what do we do next. Kevin held me and I sobbed. The pain was unlike anything I had ever known. I couldn't breath. I couldn't think. It felt like a tidal wave crashing over me and all I could do was sink - there was no fighting it. At least not at that moment.

Eventually they told us that we could either allow the miscarriage to occur naturally, we could take a medicine to speed up the process, or if my body refused to let go of the pregnancy as was the current case I would need to have a D&C. Of course we saw them on a Friday, so they told us to take the weekend to think about it, but to not wait too long...

We decided to move forward with a D&C.

As I was thinking through and writing about our journey and Sweet Pea's story, it's almost funny how many times I would think "that was the worst part". As I wrote 2 weeks in Limbo, I thought that was definitely the worst part. As I prepared myself to write this portion, I thought no when that nurse came in and told us everything was fine, that was the worst part. And then again I thought no when they couldn't find a heartbeat and the tidal wave crashed over me that was definitely the worst part. Even now I'm not entirely sure what was the worst part. I suppose they were all the worst part. Nothing about this journey was easy. Nothing.

I don't know what words to say to help you, sweet reader, get through the worst parts. I wish I did. All I can say is that if I were with you I would hold you and we could sob together, much like my amazing husband did for me. And I can promise that stories and journeys cannot entirely be made up of worst parts. Much like limbo, they have a place, but they too must come to an end.


Friday, October 11, 2013

The Top 3 Songs That Got Me Through My Loss

The next part of Sweet Pea's story will inevitably be the hardest for me to recount to you. Even now, almost 10 months later, I will probably weep uncontrollably as I tell it... With that in mind, I want to take a break from Sweet Pea's story to tell you ways that I coped with this devastating loss...

I am a music therapist by trait (and for any music therapists who may stumble across my blog, I am indeed board certified) so I suppose it was natural for me to gravitate towards music to find healing. And gravitate I surely did... My poor husband had to listen to the same album on repeat for weeks on end because it was the only way I could process my loss. The following are the top 3 songs that got me through the weeks and months after we lost Sweet Pea.

I Have to Believe - Rita Springer

This song was a Godly gift from a friend at exactly the moment that I needed it. She texted me and said "Listen to Rita Springer 'I Have to Believe.' I felt like I needed to share that with you. Just know I'm here! If you need anything!". I listened to the song on repeat for days after we found out that we would never meet our Sweet Pea. The first verse spoke to me the most during the first few days after our doctors appointment: "I have to believe that He sees my darkness. I have to believe that He knows my pain." He does know, He truly does and He is faithful. My dear friend spoke so many encouraging words over me during those dark days as well as constantly lifting me up in prayer and letting me know that she was lifting me up. Words of encouragement were probably the most touching thing my friends could do for me during that time.... And prayer - knowing that I had prayer warriors behind me when I didn't know how to pray myself was phenomenal. 
Jennifer - thank you for speaking truth, encouragement, and life into me and my family during our darkest hour. Thank you for reminding me that He is forever faithful.

Never Once - Matt Redman

I couldn't actually listen to sing for awhile without hysterically crying. I knew that I was in the midst of the battle, but the most comforting and healing part of this song was the reminder that I was never alone. I used to change the words as I would sing along to the song to say "Never once did I ever walk alone. Never once did you leave ME on MY own." It made the song seem very real and very personal and I needed that. It's important to remember to apply the lyrics in these worship choruses to yourself and your relationship with God. Changing the words to reflect upon myself helped me to really connect to God on a deeper, more intimate, more personal level - especially during a time when I wasn't sure how to even find Him.

Unfortunately, there isn't a video link for this one. HOWEVER, this song was absolutely PARAMOUNT to my coping and healing process. Although, truth be told, the whole album really was paramount to my coping and healing process, this song in particular became almost an anthem for me. I grew up listening to music by Dennis Jernigan and actually listened to this album significantly as a teenager. But I will tell you, I never truly understood the songs until now. The album itself is called Help Me to Remember, with an incredibly fitting subtitle of "Songs from the Father to Help You Find Comfort in Sorrow." I listened to the whole album on repeat for WEEKS. I would listen to it at work while I was doing paperwork. I would listen to it before I went to bed at night, with my iPhone sitting right beside my face on my pillow. I would listen to it in the car - absolutely constantly. When I would pray, I would find myself praying the lyrics to the songs in this album because quite frankly I didn't know how to pray or what words to even to say after our loss. "Rest In Me" helped me to indeed rest during a time when rest seemed impossible. 

There were some many other things and people that carried me as I struggled my way through that season of life. I will be forever indebted to those things and people. I hope that by sharing the music that spoke to me, others may also find comfort in sorrow.


2 Weeks in Limbo

The next 2 weeks were probably the worst of my life... I just knew something was wrong, but I couldn't seem to get any of the medical staff to do anything about it. I continued to bleed throughout the entire 2 weeks. I felt constantly in a state of limbo, which in a way can be a million times worse than actually knowing the outcome. At least when you know the outcome, you can begin to heal and move forward. I was stuck in a state of fervently praying and believing everything was okay and knowing that the symptoms indicated otherwise.

I went back to the doctor on Friday, January 18th - a week after our first appointment. I felt like I was having some other 'issues' downstairs and wanted to be looked at... But quite frankly, I think that me going to the doctor again was another cry for help, a someone please tell me what is going because everything I know about pregnancy says that you aren't supposed to bleed for a week and a half. Our midwife was not available to see me so I was seen by another midwife and her student.

Side note: I'm never opposed to students coming in to check me out with the doctor. Being a supervisor of students myself, I'm always grateful when the families with whom I work allow my students to be a part of the process. BUT can we all just say how completely UNCOMFORTABLE it is to have a student at your lady doctor. And then low and behold the lady doctor has to leave the room for some unknown reason and you are stuck making small talk with the student who just looked at your who-ha. It's totally awkward. And is just me or does it always seems that those students have the worst social skills in the history of man... They inevitable either say something really weird to you like "Wow... I've never seen a cervix do that before" or they can't seem to make eye contact with you at all, never mind the fact that they just had their eyes all over your who-ha... Awkward... End side note.

The midwife proceeded to check me out and insisted that she do a pap smear and a culture. She informed me that the pap smear would probably make me bleed. I informed her that I had been bleeding for a week and a half already, to which she responded that it was probably just implantation bleeding and it would stop soon. If I had known then what I know now, I would have declined the pap smear altogether. But I didn't. She thought that I probably had a bacterial infection and put me on a medication to treat it, but said that we wouldn't know for sure until the culture came back. She instructed me to begin using the medication immediately.

When I went to pick up the medication, the pharmacist seemed concerned that they would put me on this medication when I was only in my first trimester. She called the doctor to confirm that it was correct and they said of course it was fine. That did nothing to settle my already more than frazzled nerves...

I began taking the medication, only to find out a few days later that the culture had come back negative and I was to cease taking the medication immediately... I felt incredibly deflated and defeated at this point.

I was scheduled to go back to the doctor for my 8 week prenatal exam the following Friday, January 25th. That day we found out we would never get to meet our Sweet Pea... And as dark as it was that day and over the weeks and months to come, I think that being in limbo was still its own complete force with which to be reckoned. Looking back, I don't know how we made it through those 2 weeks. I suppose it truly was by the grace of God.

If you are stuck in limbo right now, know that I have walked with you and cried with you through every step of the unknown. And just remember, my dear sweet reader, even limbo has to and will eventually come to end... It won't go on forever... And from there healing can begin.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Due Dates and Chunks

I'm probably going to tell our story in chunks - jumping back and forth between our first pregnancy and our current pregnancy. I hope you'll forgive the disjointed, non-chronological fashion in which I tell everything. So much has happened in the last few months that at times I find it an accomplishment to just get up and get going in the morning.

We recently passed our due date for Sweet Pea. It was September 6th. I wish I had never known when Sweet Pea was due, but we found out the due date on the same day that we found out we would never know our baby. Mercifully the day passed by rather uneventfully. In fact, it wasn't until much later that I realized our due date had passed. I think this is a blessing in disguise for me, only in that had I realized what the date was I probably would have never made it out of bed.

This is another chunk of Sweet Pea's story...

My first prenatal exam was Friday afternoon of January 11th, 2013. According to my period, I should have been 8 weeks along although I secretly doubted I was that far along as I had been having REALLY long cycles. When I say really long, I mean REALLY long... as in 40 days long. I have no proof of this, but I think much of that was contributed to the fact that I had been on a birth control for a year where I had no periods at all and my body was still trying to regulate. Since we got pregnant so quickly, I sometimes wonder if part of the problem was that my body had not regulated at all. Like I said, I have no scientific proof of anything, these are just my musings. We were so excited to go to the doctor for the first time and get our due date. They didn't give us one that day...

The bomb began going off about 4 days before our first appointment. I started spotting on Monday, January 7th. It scared me to pieces. I frantically called my doctor only to be told it was probably implantation bleeding and not to worry unless is became worse. They were wrong. It wasn't implantation bleeding. And oh if only I knew how many more times I would hear those incredibly not comforting words in the weeks to come.

I attempted to put the spotting out of my mind with no success. Every time I went to the bathroom, I would pray and pray the most fervent of prayers for the bleeding to stop. It never stopped. But I just held on to knowing we would be at the doctor soon and they would fix everything.

Our first appointment was beautiful in every way possible. We saw our sweet baby. We saw a heartbeat, a fetal pole, everything looked exactly as it should. It was the most amazing experience - knowing God was knitting our Sweet Pea together in that moment. I was in awe and in love so thoroughly with this little being, the little being I would never know. According to the ultrasound, we were about 6 weeks along which made sense considering my long cycles. Our midwife was affirming and informative. She answered all our questions easily and put our worried minds at ease. She told us she anticipated the spotting would stop over the next week... But you, my dear reader, now know that it didn't stop.

I wish I had known then to request blood work to check my hormone levels (HCG and progesterone). But I didn't know to do that... If I had known, I think that our story would read differently. Not in that, I think Sweet Pea would have survived, but in that I think we would not have been strung along for 2 weeks waiting and our expectations could have been managed better. It would have still been heartbreaking in every way - literally the feeling of your heart being ripped out of your chest. But it would have been less of a roller coaster as you will soon learn as the rest of Sweet Pea's story unfolds.

So my dear readers, I encourage you to continue to get up and keep going in the morning... And know that sometimes that in and of itself is the greatest of victories... And that is okay...


Monday, June 10, 2013

The Beginnings of Sweet Pea

It's always so funny where our life journey takes us, seemingly to places we never imagined. Some of those places are wonderlands, some are nightmares. All of them teach you, but some teach you more than others.

This is the very beginning, the start of our journey into the unknown realms of parenthood.

We found out we were expecting on December 19, 2012. I don't know if dates are really that important to the telling, but I feel like maybe they are. It gives you, my dear reader and friend, a timeline. For those of you who know Kevin and I personally, it will probably answers some questions. Additionally, I always said that I didn't want to forget a single moment of this part of our life. I'm not sure why. It still kills me to tell the story. But maybe because from the brokenness, you can truly find God. Maybe because when you have nothing else to hold on to, you manage to find God in a way that you never could without the utter destruction. But I digress for now...

We found out we were expecting on December 19, 2012. We were shocked and absolutely thrilled when we found out. I wish I could do a better job articulating the feeling. We couldn't believe it! We had taken a pregnancy test four days prior and it was negative - we honestly didn't think we would get a positive test a mere four day later. Truthfully, we really didn't expect to get pregnant so fast. I had only been off the pill for 2 months and we had only been actively trying for one month. But oh we were so happy when we found out. How can you possibly contain so much joy??? I wanted to shout it out to the world! It was beautiful in every way, shape and form.

We told Kevin's parents and sister about the baby on Christmas day.  I think they were in disbelief at first. We gave Evelyn a bib that said "who needs Santa when there's grandma" and Dan a picture frame with a poem about babies. They were a little slow on the up-take so it seemed. I think it finally clicked when Kevin shouted "we're having a baby!" After that it was all screaming and hugging. So much happiness and love and excitement.

Those first few weeks were so exciting. We would refer to our baby by its size. Baby was our sweet pea, our blueberry, our raspberry. We loved the little nugget so much already. We dreamed of what our lives would be like when he or she arrived. We wondered if we had a little boy or a little girl. We tried on baby names for size and meandered through every baby section in every store. Everything seemed so perfect - the timing impeccable. We had no idea about the ticking time bomb that was about to detonate with every passing minute - it would seemingly destroy us.

I look back and knowing now what happens, how the tale of our Sweet Pea will end, I still can't help but be enamored by the beginnings. I loved this baby... Oh how, I loved this baby... I would have given anything to save this baby and I couldn't... There was nothing I could do to save our Sweet Pea in the end... But even still I feel the love... Even still I feel the beauty that was the beginning.

And so my dear reader, we must always strive to remember that beginnings really are beautiful...


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Inaugural Post

I've always thought our story should be told...

Even though at this point in time it is still very incomplete....

Just to clear the air, my intent for sharing our story is not now nor will it ever be for narcissistic purposes or seeking out unnecessary sympathy. With that said, I am not so blind as to recognize that this is probably more of an outlet for me than I care to truly admit. I do consciously choose to share our story because I think too many families have all too similar stories and somehow we need to rise up and support each other through the pain. If you are like us, know that I love you dearly and I have wept innumerable tears for you...  You are not alone despite the isolation these circumstances inevitably bring.

This marks the beginning of our journey. So far it has been a roller coaster to say the least.  There has been much laughter and more tears than I ever thought I could cry in one life. This is the story of our past, present, and future. I document it all here.

I hope that only those who need to hear our story will be the ones to stumble upon this blog and that from our ashes beauty may arise.