Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Luke Daniel

This is the third post in a series about the six babies we miscarried. Naming these precious ones has been an honor as well as a healing process for us. The previous two posts can be found here: Emily Grace; Callie Elizabeth.

In March of 2003 we found ourselves at a crossroads. In less than a year's time we'd had two pregnancies and two miscarriages, both at 11 weeks gestation. Both times we found out that our babies were no longer living when ultrasounds revealed that they appeared to have stopped growing around 7 weeks and their little hearts had stopped beating. We were heartbroken, and now we were scared.

My OB/GYN at the time recommended that we go to a local Center of Reproductive Medicine to have some initial testing done. We talked and prayed about it and decided we had nothing to lose. It was definitely worth a try. Our first appointment there was in August of 2003, and we began with lots and lots blood work and a semen analysis. Our blood work came back pretty normal and hubby's tests were stellar. Because my results showed the MTHFR mutation, I began taking extra folic acid along with my prenatal vitamin and a daily aspirin. We also tested my progesterone and came up with a new plan. Each month I would start taking extra progesterone on cycle day 17 and go in to have blood drawn 4 days later to check the level. I would return for another blood draw on cycle day 31 to check for pregnancy. This continued for several months. It was frustrating to see the days and months pass with no change, but we continued on because at least we felt like we were doing SOMETHING.

After a while when it appeared that my progesterone levels were staying nice and high, I continued using the supplements but didn't go for blood work each and every month. Every few months we'd go in and talk with the doctor to check on things and talk about the plan. We knew there were more aggressive things out there but we felt sure that another pregnancy would come, and we felt good about taking these steps and monitoring things to try to give the baby a better chance. We were stressed. We were nervous. It hadn't taken us this long to get pregnant before but we tried to remain as patient and calm as possible.

More than a year passed before we saw our third positive pregnancy test. It was September 24, 2004, and we were so very hopeful and anxious to find out if things would be different this time. They were different, but not in the way that we'd hoped. My first HCG check on September 27 came back at 349. On October 1 it was 666. We knew these numbers weren't looking good. We checked again on October 5 and it had dropped to 49, and I lost our third baby on October 7, 2004. We'd hardly had much time at all to even let it sink in, just a few short weeks, and just like that it was over at 6 weeks gestation.

We were so sad. So disappointed. In an effort to hide ourselves from the world and try to find some peace in the situation, we quickly planned a getaway to New England, just the two of us. We spent the next week surrounded by beautiful fall foliage, cozy bed and breakfasts, and gorgeous lighthouses on the east coast. It was a wonderful, comforting trip, a place we'd always wanted to go and at just the right time of year. We needed it so badly and we both look back on that time as a very special memory.

I love looking back at the pictures we took on that vacation, but I can still see the sadness on our faces. Of course we realized that there was really no escape from what was happening in our lives -- to us, and to our babies. Immediately after we returned home, I had one final blood draw to confirm the HCG was negative.

We decided to name our baby, our first son, a name that was at the top of our list for favorite boy names: Luke. Luke is a name we always liked. It's a good, strong Biblical name, which is true about every single boy name we've chosen, and true about his middle name, Daniel.

The name Daniel has special meaning for us, since it was my husband's grandfather's name. The name had meant something special to his mother as well. It was after studying the book of Daniel in the Bible that Pop's mother had given her life to Jesus. She said then that if she had another son his name would be Daniel, and she kept that promise. Her Daniel, our "Pop," was one of the most amazing men I've had the privilege to know. He was a missionary, a preacher, a pastor, a carpenter, a WWII veteran, and truly the kindest, gentlest father and grandfather I have ever met. (I wrote a post about him here, after he passed away in 2009.) We certainly looked up to this man of faith, as we do his Biblical namesake. I know he's with Jesus now, just like our sweet little boy.

Luke Daniel,
What a special boy you are to us! We hope you know how loved you are. Part of your name came from a man who was very special to us, too, who lived his life to honor his Savior. We can't wait to see both of you in heaven one day. You were with us for such a short time but are no less loved. We miss you so much.
Love, Mommy

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Callie Elizabeth

This is the second post in a series about the six babies we lost to miscarriage. We made the decision earlier this year to give each of them names as a special way of remembering them. You can follow this link to read about our first baby, Emily Grace. I hate that it's been so long between posts, but this week's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness/Remembrance Day brought all of these memories back up for me again. Thanks for reading.

After my first miscarriage in July of 2002 I was in shock. It rocked my world and I wasn't sure how to continue. I was so hurt and I wanted to grieve, yet I wanted to quickly move forward at the same time. Never before had I actually wanted to be a statistic -- I was desperate to be one of those people everyone kept telling me about when they said that miscarriage was very common and that it would all work out fine. Everyone had a story about someone they knew whose first pregnancy ended in miscarriage before they went on to have a healthy pregnancy right after. All I could do was hope that might also be me.

My sister, who had been due with her second child a month before my first, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on December 3, 2002. I was thrilled to be in the delivery room when he entered the world. Being an aunt is such an incredible joy to me, and I was nothing but happy on that day. It was only later, after a family member pointed out that it must have been hard for me after losing my baby, that I let myself grieve my loss again. It had been an experience I was eager to share with my sister, but I felt hopeful that soon my time would come. Instead of making it more painful, loving on my brand new nephew was like a balm for my aching heart.

My unfulfilled due date passed in late January of 2003, closely followed by the suspicion that I might be pregnant again. There was indeed a positive pregnancy test on February 10, 2003. We were nervous but excited, certainly hoping we would be meeting our sweet baby around our due date of October 10, 2003. While the first loss had made me skittish and overly cautious, I had no reason to think we would have the same problem twice.

There aren't many details recorded in my journal about this pregnancy or the next one. After our first baby died in my womb, I put some of the things we bought for him or her, along with the pregnancy journal, up in the closet of what would have been the nursery in our new house. I didn't want to forget her short yet meaningful life, but the memory of her was so fresh and so raw. I couldn't let myself feel it completely just yet, so I saved it all up and busied myself with other things while hoping I would soon be holding a sweet bundle of my own.

My memory is fuzzy, but I know that the second pregnancy progressed almost exactly as the first one had. I'm beginning to recall how nervous I felt about going back to the doctor, even to confirm the pregnancy. I knew I was pregnant, but I'd fooled myself into thinking that I could keep potentially bad news away by simply avoiding it. Besides, I was just sure it wouldn't happen to me again. No news was good news to me, I thought, and I continued to hope and pray that sweet baby into existence. That sounds completely ridiculous to me now (not the hoping and praying, but the avoiding of information) but it was my funny way of dealing with it at that time in my life, I guess. I finally did go for the exam and the blood work, and a week later found out that all the numbers looked good. (Hooray!)

My joy lasted only about a week before the awful news came. We went for an ultrasound on March 25 and were again crushed to find out that the baby was no longer living and growing. Again, at 11 weeks gestation, we found out in that little room (with a little experience under our belts -- we knew what that silent, empty screen was saying this time) that I would miscarry for the second time. All my hopes again came crashing down. How could this have happened in such a similar way? Was there something wrong with me? This time, on top of my grief was a growing sense of fear.

After the physical pain of my first miscarriage, I decided to schedule a D&C. I'm still very glad for that decision, as I know I wasn't ready to face that trauma again so soon. The blood work showed that my HCG was falling. Even though I know she was already gone, I remember my sweet baby on the day she left my body, on Friday, March 28, 2003. Again, I don't know for sure that our second baby was a girl, but I know that we had envisioned ourselves with a couple of daughters in the early years when we would innocently allow ourselves to dream and plan for the future -- a future where we never imagined losing our first two children to miscarriage.

In those young married years, we had two favorite girl names always tucked away that were special to us: Emily Rae and Anna Elizabeth. I think it's special that our two daughters here on earth still carry one of those names each (Lily Rae and Anna Evangeline). We chose the name Emily Grace for our first baby in heaven.

Our second baby we've named Callie Elizabeth.

Callie is not a name I've always known. It's totally new to me. I don't personally know anyone by that name but it's funny how, much like how you suddenly begin hearing a word that is new to your vocabulary, I'm hearing it everywhere lately. I chose it as a tribute to two special women in our lives -- my sister and my husband's sister, and two of the best aunts our children could have ever asked for. It is a combination of my sister's name (Connie) and my sister-in-law's name (Allison - nicknamed Allie). Callie. I think it's adorable. And her middle name, Elizabeth, is the only one left that we haven't used from our original favorite girl names, and it's a name we've always loved.

The name Callie means "Beautiful" and the name Elizabeth means "God is my oath."

Callie Elizabeth,
Our beautiful girl, we miss you and we love you so much. Your daddy and I had so many hopes and dreams for you. We wish more than anything that we could have held you here, but we know we will have that chance one day in heaven. Oh, how special it will be when we finally see your face along with Jesus, who loves you even more than we ever could dream!
Love, Mommy