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Friday, July 6, 2012

Ten Years

Today is the tenth anniversary of my first miscarriage. Ten years. An entire decade.

I'm finding it difficult to summarize it all in a blog post. We have lots of anniversaries like these -- six different miscarriage dates and six different unfulfilled due dates to go along with them. But this day in particular always carries so much emotion for me. It was the beginning of everything, the beginning of things I couldn't even imagine were yet to come. It was the end of a lot of things, too. The end of a certain sense of security and innocence that I had back then, at the age of 25. I thought my life was settling down after a difficult childhood with divorced parents and an alcoholic father and having just enough to scrape by. Against all odds I'd finished college and found a wonderful man to marry. We'd moved to a different state to follow a great job opportunity for him, and we'd just bought our first house. Now, I thought, we'll have a baby. Start a family.

Recurrent pregnancy loss was nowhere on my radar. I'm sure it never is for anybody. I'd known a few people who'd had a miscarriage before (my mom, included). But I didn't know anyone personally who had been through it over and over and over again. Not yet, anyway. Or it could have been that I knew them but just never knew their struggle. And I think that's entirely possible because, for some reason, people don't really talk about miscarriage. I went through a time like that myself. It felt like such a personal and private struggle and I became almost reclusive. I stopped wanting to socialize with people because I didn't want to let anyone in for fear they would trivialize what I was going through. I thought they could never understand, so I quit trying. All I kept hearing were things like, "Oh, you're young. It will happen if you just stay positive." "Something must have been wrong with the baby." "At least you know you can get pregnant."

All of those things hurt so much more than they helped. How did anybody know that I would eventually have a healthy baby? Was there any guarantee, really? Was it my fault for not thinking positively enough? What comfort could there be in thinking something was so wrong with my baby? And finally, what good was it doing for me to keep getting pregnant if my babies kept dying? How was that any consolation?

There were so many questions and never seemed to be any answers. Doctors couldn't give me any, and even my prayers seemed to be falling on deaf ears sometimes. I trusted that God had a plan but I had no idea what it was or how long it would take. Years passed and my babies continued to stop growing during the first trimester. We were desperate for help. The next 7 years went by in a blur of doctors, tests, surgeries, waiting, wondering, and most of all, more loss. I thought about giving up; thought it had become more than I could handle. Hope would return, though, and I would think What if the next time is the one? And what if it's the last chance we'll ever get?

Fast forward to 2010. After a new doctor, new tests (although not many new answers), and three years of infertility, the chance finally came. I still don't know exactly what was "right" about that time and what had been so "wrong" about every other time before. All I know is that somehow, miraculously, we held our daughter in our arms for the first time that September. She grew inside my body and arrived healthy and whole. And here I am in 2012, halfway through another pregnancy that is going well, hoping to hold another beautiful, healthy girl in November.

We've come so far and yet the hurt is still there. I still don't know how to answer the question, "Is this your first pregnancy?" A nurse at my doctor's office asked that just last week. She wasn't making small talk; I was there for blood work, another screening test. She was noting something on my chart. I stumbled over my words as I tried to answer, "No, it's not. It's my second. Well, it's actually my eighth pregnancy. But I only have one baby..." She stopped writing and looked up at me. "Oh, bless your heart," she said. I appreciated her kindness, but I hadn't been looking for sympathy. I was just trying to describe it all succinctly.

Sometimes I think I don't know how I got here... but oh, I do know. Simplified in my mind the years look like this:
2002-2007: Loss (x6)
2007-2009: Waiting...
2010-2012: Joy (x2)

But we all know that it's not summarized so easily. Because, broken down, I remember all too clearly the tears, the pain, the sleepless nights, the entire painful journey that led us to here and now. And the joy, too. Thank God for the joy that finally came and will come again!

I look back on the decade with lots of different emotions swirling around. I know this day will always make me remember, because it was the beginning of so much. It was the beginning of a lot of heartache, but it was also the beginning of the miracle that was to come. When I look at it all together, in hindsight, I can see much more clearly just how far we've come, and, amazingly, I can be thankful.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Brother or Sister?

I can't believe how the weeks (and months) have been flying by lately. July already? Wow!

The most exciting piece of news to share is that we had an ultrasound last week and found out that another sweet baby GIRL is on her way! Lily Rae is having a baby sister and we are truly ecstatic and can't wait to meet her. My sister and I have always been extremely close. I think it will be so sweet to watch these two girls grow up and share so many things together. My sis and I are 21 months apart; Lily and her baby sister will be 26 months apart -- if she arrives on schedule.

I'm 18 weeks today and things are going well (despite some back pain that started plaguing me recently). Our next OB appointment is next week, July 9, and we have another ultrasound scheduled for July 23. It's hard to believe that we've almost reached the halfway point of this pregnancy. We continue to be thankful every single day for how far we've come. Last week I also started feeling the baby moving for the first time, much earlier than with Lily. Feeling those flutters and kicks helps to calm my fears and reassures me that she's doing fine.

It has been a whole month since the melanoma surgery on my arm. A couple of weeks ago we heard great news -- that the pathology report came back all clear. All of the cancer is gone and I'll need no further treatment, thank the Lord! I had the stitches removed last week (finally!) and it's looking pretty good. I'll go back in 6 months for a checkup and, since the baby will be here, they'll go ahead and do the chest x-ray that we've been putting off because of the pregnancy. Since melanoma sometimes shows up in the lungs, they like to check that out to be certain even though they don't believe I'm at a high risk. In the meantime, it feels great to have this behind me and especially to know that the pathology report showed good news.

My big girl is growing like crazy and is surprising us daily with new words in her vocabulary. It has been really fun watching her grow and learn in these past couple of months. Her second birthday will be here in just a few short months. I feel pretty certain that the theme will be Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, since it's her favorite thing in the entire world! :)

Just a quick update for now from our family to yours. Hope you are all doing well and enjoying summertime!