Currently viewing the category: "Infertility and Miscarriage"

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This week we went for a follow-up appointment at my OBGYN office for, you guessed it, yet another ultrasound. I’m thankful for so many opportunities to see our little one, but I’ll admit that the ultrasounds make me nervous and jittery and filled with all kinds of anxiety leading up to the appointment.

We were blessed, and maybe still a little surprised, to see another image of a healthy little baby, who is starting to look more and more like a baby every week. The ultrasound tech, who we’ve come to love, pointed out the head and showed us the spinal cord and the little flickering heartbeat. We even saw our baby move for just a second. Crazy! The little jellybean was measuring right on track, once again, with a heartbeat that had gotten quite a bit faster from our last appointment.

So now we’re entering into uncharted territory, and I find it a little scary. Entering into our 8th week soon will be the longest we’ve ever made it with a pregnancy (though we didn’t find that out last time until the 12th week). Most of the time I feel a lot of peace, much more peace than I’ve felt with either of our two previous pregnancies, which I find strange and wonderful. But sometimes I find my mind grasping onto old memories, feeling fearful of what we’ve experienced in the past, sometimes convinced that we’ll experience that same fate yet again.

I’ve been praying a lot lately, for other women who are on a difficult fertility journey, for our little baby’s heart and that it would continue beating, that our little one would love the Lord and would be a living example of the miracles that God does in our lives. I’ve found so many opportunities in the last few weeks to talk about my faith in a very real way, something that I will admit I was never all that great at in the past.

This week my doctor sat down with me after our ultrasound, all our various scans printed out on a sheet of paper, and said that she was unable to explain how what we saw at 5 weeks turned into what we saw at 7 weeks. You could tell that science was failing her in explaining what had happened, and she seemed very cautious about this pregnancy. And believe me, I get it and I understand her questions. If I didn’t have faith myself, I’m not sure how I would explain it, either. But instead of feeling cautious and fearful, I’m diving headfirst into the scary waters of the next four weeks. Sometimes those four weeks feel like a mountain! Sometimes I wonder how I’m going to get through the next four weeks, with all the uncertainty and questions and our scary past. But when I think about our God, who cares for us and looks over us, knowing exactly what we need, I find a little more peace. One day at a time, Joe and I are stepping out in faith, trusting to walk down a road not knowing where it leads.

Our doctor offered to do another ultrasound next week, the day before we leave on vacation. I decided to pass, not wanting to risk ruining our vacation in any way with bad news, so we are going to have our next ultrasound two weeks from today, on August 1st. We’ll be about 9 1/2 weeks at that appointment. I can hardly believe it!

With two ultrasounds that have been positive under our belt, it might seem like we’re doing good and it’s smooth sailing going forward. But may I continue to ask for your prayers? If anything, I feel like the next four weeks are going to be the biggest hurdle of all, and the hardest path to walk down. Your continued prayers for the sustained life of our very loved baby would be greatly appreciated.

Madison

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Last night was  a restless night of sleep. As much as I wanted to go into a deep sleep, I kept waking up, tossing and turning, wondering what the next morning would hold. Would we see our little baby on the ultrasound, healthy and heart beating? Or would I be sent to surgery immediately after and spending the rest of the day recovering on the couch, piecing together a broken heart?

I want to be clear that whatever the outcome was going to be today, that it doesn’t change the fact that our God is a good god who loves us and knows what is best for us, even when it’s scary, hard and confusing. This isn’t just, “God gave me what I wanted, so I’m going to give Him the praise.” No matter the outcome, we would be praising Him all the same. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t desperately praying for a miracle that went against every bit of medical advice we were given just a week ago.

It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve experienced in my life, to hear the ultrasound tech tell us, “I see a baby,” followed by, “Oh, my gosh, I see a heartbeat, too!” Our little baby was there, heartbeat flickering on the ultrasound, measuring 6 weeks 3 days, exactly on track with my calculations. See that little zig-zag on the bottom of the ultrasound picture? That’s the heartbeat!

We have a long way to go, and if I think about it too hard the next 5 1/2 weeks seem incredibly scary. We’ve heard a healthy heartbeat before, only to have that good news followed by heartbreak weeks later. The next few weeks we will continue to be monitored closely. I think this baby is going to have more pictures by 12 weeks than most full-term babies! And although the road seems long and paved with uncertainty, I am trusting in God’s plan. And I would appreciate more than anything your continued prayers as we go into uncharted waters in the weeks to come.

But for now, praise be to God! Know that if you lifted up a prayer for us in the last week, I believe with every fiber of my being that you had a hand in helping this baby get this far. God heard us, and He answered our prayers today! I know it doesn’t always work out that way, but Joe and I are both rejoicing. Thank you for your support, your prayers, emails, comments, texts and general love. We’ve felt so supported and surrounded, knowing that when we are too weak or weary to pray, others are praying on our behalf.

Madison

 

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First, thank you all so much for your prayers and support. Although things don’t look good, knowing we are being lifted up in prayer by so many people, including friends we’ve never met in person, absolutely humbles me. Sometimes thinking about it brings me to tears and I feel so undeserving of those prayers. Would I respond in kind if I were on the other side? I hope that I do when given the opportunity.

My tendency is to tie things up in a neat little package, to use the right words and put our pain in a box that’s easy to explain and talk about. But infertility and recurrent miscarriage don’t fit into a neat little box; those type of things exhaust you physically and mentally and you find yourself hit like a ton a bricks during everyday moments when you least expect it. I’m weary and absolutely exhausted. I’ve been pregnant three times in the last 12 months, meaning I’ve been pregnant for over 24 weeks total with nothing to show other than pain, exhaustion, a lot of tears and pretty regular medical bills.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to God, asking Him lots of questions I didn’t really expect Him to answer. There has been yelling and wrestling with Him, wanting an explanation as to why in the world this would be part of His plan for our lives. Sometimes, if I’m being totally honest, it’s made me feel abandoned and unloved and questioned whether I’ve done something to anger God unlike all those women with healthy babies.

Of course, in my moments of greater clarity I realize that this isn’t about punishment but about refinement and growth, that we all go through trials at one point or another, and that it’s God’s way of growing us in the deepest of ways. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that it’s okay to question God and ask Him hard questions; it’s okay to be real with our heavenly father.

Although I’m weary, I think it’s so important not to lose perspective or make having children some type of idol in my life. Infertility can so easily become an obsession, an all-consuming game of temperature taking and ovulation strips and two week waiting periods and fear-filled first trimesters. Joe and I have so much. Truly. And sometimes those blessings get overlooked in search of the “next great thing” which, in this case, happens to be a baby.

Is God enough for me? If Joe and I never get the babies that we so desire is God enough? Are His promises and His word still true to me? The answer needs to be yes.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in the last few days two people have brought to mind Lamentations 3, yet again. It was the verse I read time and time again after our second miscarriage, and what I have been meditating on this time around, too. So for those of you who are weary like me, who feel exhausted and drained in the deepest of ways, take heart! The Lord our God is a compassionate and loving father and these trials we are going through are not in vain:

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

*Know that if you’re going through something similar and need prayer, please don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail. I’ve found over the past year that it helps when I take the focus away from myself and pray for the needs of others. 

photo(1)I’m posting a picture of me with my cute puppy because, hey, It’s more uplifting than a picture of my hospital bracelet. :)

Those of you who follow me on Instagram have probably already seen my update that it appears I am miscarrying yet another baby. This time, I was tempted to keep our sad news close and quiet, but I’ve been so blessed to share this journey with you all, and it seems wrong to stop sharing now. If I feel certain about one thing, it’s that God has called me to share our journey publicly so others might know they aren’t alone. Today I’m sharing more of the nuts-and-bolts details than the deeper spiritual and emotional side because I know that sometimes during this journey that’s the type of information I’ve sought.

I’ve been silent regarding our journey to baby over the past few months. While I was quiet online, things were moving along behind the scenes. We received all our blood work back and information back regarding the tissue analysis from our baby. Everything came back very normal. Our baby had normal chromosomes, my hormones checked out nicely, I came back negative for any clotting disorders. And while that’s all good news, it’s also incredibly frustrating to feel as if you aren’t any closer to getting answers than you were before all this started.

To be on the safe side, my doctor prescribed me a daily baby aspirin to possibly negate any minor clotting issues that didn’t show up on the tests we ran and gave me progesterone in the second half of every cycle to aid pregnancy. I had been going to weekly acupuncture appointments that helped lower my stress level and seemed to truly help my body recover much quicker this time around. I was back to having normal cycles within six weeks of my surgery, which is amazing! I felt good, healthy, and back to my normal self when I found out we were pregnant our second cycle after my D&C.

This time around, I felt an incredible sense of peace and well-being. I have no idea what to attribute that to, but I had a good feeling about this pregnancy and believed that things would be different. I went to the doctor and had my hormone levels check about a week after getting my first positive pregnancy test. Things looked good and my numbers were looking great, which made my doctor very encouraged and lifted my spirits, too.

But on Sunday afternoon I started to spot, which wasn’t something I had experienced with my other two pregnancies. The doctor on call suggested I go to the ER to check things out, since Joe had a crazy work week and wasn’t going to be able to get away to go with me during the week and we were preparing to leave town for the holiday weekend. After three hours and rounds of tests, the doctors told me that the gestational sac was irregularly shaped and there were a couple other odd-shaped spots they couldn’t identify on the ultrasound. They tossed around words like “potentially not-viable” and “possibility of a molar pregnancy”. Scary, overwhelming words when all we wanted this time around was good news.

At some point, the news was almost so absurd it was laughable. Fewer than 1% of couples experience 3 consecutive miscarriages. I’ve always been a believer in stats and numbers, but now that we’ve managed to fall into that “less than one percent” I’m starting to believe in stats a whole lot less. Or at least that they don’t apply in our case.

We went for a follow-up yesterday morning with our OBGYN and they confirmed the same inconclusive results we were given in the ER. It’s too early to say with 100% certainty that this pregnancy isn’t viable, but it doesn’t look very good. Although my hormones are rising appropriately (making them less inclined to believe it’s a molar pregnancy) there just isn’t enough information to know if there is a chance one way or another.

We were given the choice to have the D&C today or to wait a week and have a follow-up scan next week to see if things progress. Although my logical side wanted to have the surgery today, move forward and put this behind me, a voice kept telling me to let this play out and give it one more week. I’m probably just being overly optimistic, but a few months ago our pastor talked about leaving room in our lives for God to perform miracles. Not that He will do so every time, of course, but that if we get wrapped up in science and numbers all the time, we don’t ever create space or an opportunity for God to do miraculous things.

So we’re waiting, until next Wednesday, and praying for a miracle while also preparing our hearts and minds for the likely outcome, which is surgery Wednesday after our scan. And because I believe in the power of prayer, would you join me in praying? For a miracle, if that be God’s will, or that He would give us a sense of peace and allow us to remain hopeful about our family’s future even if that doesn’t mean that we get to start that family any time soon.

Madison

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I wish there was a manual on moving forward after a miscarriage. Sure, there’s a lot of information out there on what to do and what not to do, and the pamphlet they send you home with at the hospital talks about doing lots of nice things for yourself, like buying yourself small things and getting regular massages. (Really? I mean, it would be nice, but it seems like you’re milking it, rather than processing through your feelings.) Without a doubt, writing about miscarriage is strange. I’m sure there are many readers who have skipped these posts because they make them uncomfortable or they don’t think they have anything to do with their lives. I was like that, too, thinking miscarriage was just something that happened to other people once in a while, until I was that person and it happened to me. Twice. And then I couldn’t get enough of the personal stories and blog posts on grieving and processing and moving forward.

As I sat in church a few Sundays ago, God made me painfully aware of the hurt that is happening in the church as it relates to miscarriage and infertility. There was the woman across the room who has struggled with secondary infertility for years, unable to have a second child. I only know of her story secondhand, but I feel her pain just the same. There’s was couple a few rows behind us who I know first hand has struggled to conceive and feels like they are at the end of their rope. There’s the family friend back home who gave birth to a stillborn baby and then had a miscarriage a few months ago. I’m sure those stories are just the tip of the iceberg.

When I went to the doctor’s office for our 12 week appointment, I told my mom that if there was anything wrong with this pregnancy there was absolutely no way that I was going to be okay. It was too much, I told her, to see my sister-in-laws and friends go on being pregnant while I got “left behind.” If it happened, I would be devoid of hope, destroyed, broken into a thousand pieces, distrusting of God.

And then something funny happened. Well, not exactly funny, but you know what I’m saying. We went to the doctor and got that bad news and had our heart broken into a thousand pieces, but I was okay, and so was Joe. I faced what I had been so fearful of all along and lived to tell the tale. And now, a few weeks removed, I’m experiencing something I never though was possible, something only possible by the grace of God.

I feel peace right where I am today, and I’m not just saying it because it’s the “Christian” answer. In fact it may sound strange, but I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this moment, right where God’s hand is holding me temporarily. Not pregnant, in the “valley” if you will, experiencing sadness but also an enormous amount of peace, too.

The first time we miscarried, I couldn’t wait to move on and get pregnant again. It was an almost frantic need to move forward, to put this chapter behind us and have a healthy baby. This time I don’t feel that same frantic need to move beyond this. Sure, I do hope that this is just a season and that we move forward eventually and have the family that we so desire, I am cherishing being part of this community of hurting, humbled women. (Miscarriage, by the way, humbles you in ways I never thought possible.) Before our second miscarriage, being part of the “infertility club” as I called it scared me to death. It was a club I wanted nothing to do with. That was not me and not my story! But it is me and it is part of my story, for however long God wants it to last, and I feel peace in the valley, in the waiting, in the not knowing.

A blog reader and new found friend said that she and her hubby read Lamentations 3 a lot while they were going through their infertility journey. The other day I sat outside on our patio furniture in the sunshine while Joe worked in the yard and read those words over and over again, letting God wash me in His beautiful truths:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.

What a beautiful reminder, no? The Lord is good to those who hope in Him! My greatest fear through this experience has been that I would loose hope and would be discouraged and fearful about our future. When friends have asked me how they can be praying, I have responded almost every time with, “Pray that I wouldn’t lose hope, that I would continue to feel encouraged about the future for our family and God’s plan for our life.” I have no idea what the future will hold, but I’m trusting and hoping in God and His great plan.

My prayer for each of you who are going through the valley is that you, too, would be encouraged and feel peace that surpasses all human understanding. I welcome each and every e-mail from anyone who is going through this experience and would love to be praying for you and your own journey.

Madison

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