Currently viewing the category: "Infertility and Miscarriage"

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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After today, I plan to write one more post about miscarriage before I resume to a more normal posting schedule. I realize that not all of you are interested in reading about this topic, but I hope that someday you might be able to send links to these posts along to someone who is recovering from a miscarriage. Or perhaps you may, down the road, come back and re-read them yourself. I wish there wasn’t a need for such posts, but I don’t want to ignore the need, either.

One of the areas where I found the least amount of information was the physical recover post miscarriage. I had no idea what to expect, what I was going to feel, and how to recover in the wake of such a horrible experience. So, let’s get practical today and talk about the physical side instead of the more talked about emotional side.

Last time around, I opted to miscarry natural with the help of some medicine from my doctor. However, this time around I opted to have a D&C done (aka surgery) instead. For someone like me who hates surgery it was very scary, but the process was quick, relatively pain-free and gave me peace of mind that everything was cleared out and I could move forward with healing. It was one less thing to think about when my mind was already loaded down with things.Ultimately it’s a very personal decision that you have to make on your own, that’s just my experience.

Physically, I’ve been doing a few different things to help my body recover and prepare for the testing that is going to begin in the weeks to come. Here are a few things I am finding to be helpful (some of which I found to be helpful last time around, too):

1. I’m continuing to take my prenatal vitamin and added a few other vitamins to the mix. To combat blood loss, I added in an iron supplement and have been taking a Stress B-Complex, which contains 8 essential B vitamins that help with energy, boosting your immune system and nervous system health. I’ve also been taking a dose of vitamin D since our time in the sunshine has been limited and I could use a little mood booster.

2. I started acupuncture. In the three months leading up to getting pregnant this time around, I had started acupuncture to regulate my cycles. It helped, but for some reason I quit going, mainly because my doctor didn’t speak much English and I didn’t like not knowing what he was doing and what progress to expect. I’ve re-committed to going to acupuncture regularly, this time with a new doctor that I really love, while we deal with this miscarriage mystery. It does wonders on my stress levels and I strongly believe in the healing properties of alternative/complimentary medicine. This time around, my acupuncturist specializes in fertility issues and carrying babies to full-term, so I feel more at peace about the care I’m receiving.

3. I’ve lined up testing to try and diagnose potential issues that are causing our miscarriages. Our doctors, as I’ve mentioned, are amazing and supportive and believe strongly that having two consecutive miscarriages isn’t normal. I feel so much peace about the practice God placed us in, and am truly looking forward to getting some answers about what could be at the root of the problem. Side note: If you have any resources for reading up on multiple miscarriages, I would love for you to send them my way! I want to be well-informed leading up to our appointment.

4. Since the miscarriage, I’ve been focusing a lot on eating plenty of whole, plant-based foods with a healthy amount of protein mixed into my meals. Lots of fruits and veggies have been consumed, a small amount of sugar and caffeine and a small amount of lean protein in the form of fish and chicken. I’m giving my body what it needs to heal and recover in the best way I know how.

5. I added drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea to my daily routine, usually 2 to 3 cups a day. It’s said to help restore regular menstrual cycles and tone the uterus (whatever that means…) and I figure it certainly can’t hurt! When possible, I tend to gravitate toward natural and alternative options. I realize that’s not always an option, but I do what I can. If you’re interested in red raspberry leaf tea, I suggest you do a little research online. There is SO much information out there about it, certainly more than I can cover right now.

6. This time around one of the worst physical parts of the process has been the extra 3-4 pounds I gained in the first timester that I now have to loose. I didn’t exercise at all for the first week after the D&C, but I’ve recently felt ready to get back to the gym and keep my body moving. This is both for my physical state, so I can feel strong and healthy again, and my mental state. There are few things that are as healing to me as a good sweat session at the gym with my favorite guy. I am not pushing my body to the max, since that seems counter intuitive to what I’m doing to heal and build-up my body, but I am sweating and working out again.

If you’ve personally experienced miscarriage, any tips on physical recovery are welcome below! I would love to have a comprehensive list for people who come back to read this post down the road.
Madison

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I’ve mentioned this before, but the way our community has loved and supported us this last week has blown me away. It’s been so healing to be able to walk through this with support and to talk about our experience instead of keeping it silent. Since miscarriage is such a personal thing and not everyone has experienced it, I’ve found that a lot of people are at a loss as to how to respond in the wake of such an event. This list, of course, is personal, but I wanted to share some ways that you can support a friend who is going through pregnancy loss (or a prolonged battle with infertility, for that matter.)

1. Say Something (Anything!)
When you haven’t experienced something first-hand, it can feel super awkward not knowing what to say. Before this year, I was in that camp, too. I’ll admit that I read a few posts about miscarriage and had a hard time understanding or empathizing with what those women were going through. I’m ashamed to admit that when I don’t know what to say, sometimes I don’t say anything at all for fear of saying the wrong thing. But being on the other side I can say that every word and acknowledgement of what we were going through meant the world to both of us.

2. Provide Hope
If you’ve experienced a miscarriage or multiple miscarriages, share your story with your friend. In the wake of our experience, the most helpful thing anyone could do was to share their personal story and give us hope. After a miscarriage it’s incredibly easy to feel hopeless or scared about the future. The women who reached out to me and let me know that I wasn’t alone and that they, too, had walked that path gave me so much hope for our family’s future. Yes, everyone’s journey is different, but miscarriage and multiple miscarriages can feel very lonely. Your story, if you have one, could be of great encouragement.

3. Bring Flowers
I was shocked, truly shocked, at the number of people who brought us flowers over the past week. Our house feels like a floral shop, and it’s beautiful and joyful. Seeing those flowers has been a tangible reminder that God makes all things new, that He creates beauty from ashes and gives us hope for tomorrow. Flowers are also a small way to say that things are going to get better eventually and they gave me a reason to smile.

4. Insert Yourself Just a Little
I got a lot of e-mails from friends saying “If you need anything, just let me know.” And while I know that they all truly meant that, it was hard for me to cash in on any of those offers. I was still able to cook dinner and my mom came to clean my house, so I felt silly asking for any of those things. Many friends simply said, “I’m coming over, just for a bit, to drop something off. I won’t stay long.” It was just what I needed. I wanted to see people, I wanted a hug, I wanted someone to shed a few tears with me, but I didn’t want to say that. I needed people to insert themselves into my personal space just enough to know they cared.

5. Be Honest & Sensitive
As I’ve mentioned before, both of my sister-in-laws are pregnant, and we were supposed to be having our babies at the same time. Hearing my sister-in-laws, Amber and Ali, cry with me and say, “This sucks. This isn’t fair,” really helped. I don’t blame either of my sister-in-laws for being pregnant when I no longer am, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. I feel left out and it’s hard to think about this fall when their babies will arrive and our baby should have been born. Hearing both of them express their own sadness and frustration helped ease my own pain and made me feel less alone and left out.

6. Bring a Gift Card
Joe and I haven’t been having much fun lately, as is to be expected. We’ve been grieving and trying to take steps forward and processing what has happened. Life feels pretty serious lately, and at one point I think I went a full 3 days without showering. When Amber and Jake brought us a gift card to Cheesecake Factory it was such a bright spot in our weekend. We needed an excuse to go out, get dressed up and do something fun. Although it feels strange/wrong to have fun when we’re so sad, I’m looking forward to the date we now have scheduled on the calendar. Having little things to look forward to makes a big difference.

7. Do Normal Things Together
Saturday night we had a group of close friends over to watch the Final Four and eat snacks. It was my idea and Joe liked the idea of having something normal to get our mind off what we were feeling. With close friends, it’s nice to feel that you can do something relatively normal without having to pretend that you’re anything but normal. Our friends showed up, cried a little with us, then took the topic off the table for the rest of the night and acted like nothing had happened. It wasn’t avoiding the topic, it was just giving us a little reprieve from focusing on our miscarriage.

8. Keep Thinking of Them
The first few days after a miscarriage are a flurry of activity. Lots of notes, texts, calls, etc. I even had a surgery on the horizon that I was preparing for which occupied some of my thoughts. It wasn’t “exciting” but people were thinking about us and grieving with us, which was nice. But days later it can start to feel lonely again. Life moves on when you don’t feel like moving on yet. Friends who called or texted or e-mailed on the day I returned to work or a few days later just checking in really helped me along the way, both last time and this time. Let them know that although life is moving on, they are still on your mind and their pain isn’t forgotten.

9. Remember Everyone is Different
These are just my personal experiences, and the way each individual person deals with miscarriage is different. Some women may find it hard to be around pregnant women or little kids, or find it hard to talk about their experience. Personally, I want to talk about it. I want to process and share, but not everyone may feel the same. If you’re in doubt, just be open and ask your friend what helps, what is hard and what would be most useful for them. I guarantee that just making the effort will mean the world.

If you’ve experienced miscarriage and have anything to add to this list, I would love to hear your thoughts below as well.

Madison

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Although I may not be one for planning ahead, I’ve had this day marked on my calendar for the last 10 weeks. Ever since we found out just a few days before Valentine’s Day that we were expecting a baby due in October, I’ve had this day circled on my planner as the day I would publish a blog post announcing our good news. But as you may have already guessed, I won’t be sharing that happy news today. Instead, it’s with a sad and heavy heart that I’m writing about our second miscarriage in the last eight months.

It took me months to get up the courage to write about our miscarriage last time, when the emotions weren’t as raw and I had more time to process what we had experienced. This time I feel comfortable sharing about our experience in the hope that it helps others down the road in the same way that I’ve benefitted from hearing the stories and experiences of others. I’m not sure why miscarriage is such a hush-hush thing in today’s tell-all society. We talk about cancer, irritable bowel syndrome and the like in public forums but those who suffer miscarriages, or in our case recurrent miscarriage, are left to suffer silently. I refuse to fall prey to the lie that miscarriage is something to keep secret, and I think it’s our responsibility as Christian women to bring it into the light.

When we first found out we were expecting again, I was both elated and terrified. The idea of suffering another miscarriage so soon after our last was practically crippling. On the flip side, we had been trying to get pregnant for close to five months (temping, ovulation kits, the whole nine yards!) so that first positive pregnancy test ushered in a wave of pure joy. I knew the statistics: Only 5% of women have two consecutive miscarriages and only 1% have three or more consecutive miscarriages. In fact, your chances of a healthy pregnancy after a single miscarriage is actually better than if you had never had a miscarriage in the first place.

In the first few weeks of pregnancy I clung to those statistics, probably more than I should have. Additionally, I was feeling incredibly sick, something I didn’t feel with my first pregnancy, so I took it as a sign that everything was progressing as it should. As a precaution, my doctor put me on progesterone supplements to be safe, although my blood tests didn’t indicate any issues with low levels. We had an early ultrasound around the 7 week mark and saw a strong, healthy heartbeat and baby, which is, by many, considered a huge milestone and indicator that the pregnancy is progressing as it should. We felt comfortable enough to tell our family and some close friends and co-workers about our news and allowed them to share in our joy.

I continued to feel sick, went on a work trip, got sick some more and although I felt terrible I reveled in the sickness and the feeling of being pregnant; sickness was a small price to pay. Both of my sister-in-laws announced they were pregnant, meaning all of us Hofmeyer girls would be having babies within a six week span of one another. We texted frequently about our symptoms and how we were feeling, forming an even deeper bond over our shared experience of being moms together.

I started to write weekly pregnancy updates in the drafts folder of this blog. Weeks 6 through 11 are chronicled and tucked away, never to be published or shared like I had planned. There I detailed my symptoms and emotions week-by-week, wanting to remember every little detail, sure that I would be able to publish a post all about “pregnancy after miscarriage” instead of talking about that ugly phrase, “multiple miscarriages.”

Joe and I waited with great anticipation for Friday. We would be just shy of 12 weeks and at the appointment they would look for a heartbeat using a doppler. A healthy heartbeat and check-up would put us in the clear to tell everyone our news. I had no signs of miscarriage, no cramping or spotting or anything out of the ordinary. I had started to feel a bit better in the last week, but that’s to be expected as you near the end of the first trimester so I didn’t think much of it.

Our doctor, who is the most caring and gracious doctor I have met, eased my mind when she couldn’t find the heartbeat on the doppler. She said we could just head to the next room and she would do an ultrasound. The baby was small and probably hiding, and an ultrasound was more fun, anyway. But instead of hearing a heartbeat, I knew from the second she looked at the monitor that something was wrong. At 11 weeks it should have been easy to find and distinguish the baby, but instead our doctor squinted her eyes and said she only saw a baby that measured 8 weeks with no heartbeat.

My deepest fear realized. Life and our future changed in an instant. A big huge question mark about what this means going forward. It didn’t take long for the waterworks to begin as I sat in shock, our doctor holding my right hand, Joe holding the other.

I so deeply wish that I had a different story to tell, but I’m learning now more than ever that we don’t get to write our own story. My story and Joe’s story and the way our family will eventually come together is proving to be rockier than I had ever dreamed it would be. I’m heading in for surgery in the morning, and, quite frankly, looking forward to beginning the physical healing process. We will do tests this time around, pretty much all the tests we can do to identify the underlying cause of our miscarriages. During this time, I would so greatly appreciate your prayers, words of encouragement and, if you have them, your personal stories of pregnancy after a battle with infertility.

Over the next few weeks I plan to post a series of posts around the topic of miscarriage and my experience. Thank you so much for allowing me to grieve, process and share with you all. Your support, encouragement and uplifting words and prayers have meant everything to us over the last two days. The blog community (and our real-life community) never cease to amaze me. Thank you, thank you.   -Madison

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