Friday, May 20, 2011

I Will Praise the One Who's Chosen Me to Carry You

"Is this your first baby?" This simple question is one of the hardest questions I think I have ever had to answer. I never in my 25 years thought this question would be one that puts a knot in my throat and makes me feel completely akward. So, this is my attempt to share our story of our sweet and precious babies... yes, in plural form, babies.

In October and November of 2009, I began to experience excruciating migraines that were accompanied by tingling in one side of my lip and one of my hands. I had just started my first job as a speech-language pathologist, so we first thought the stress of a new job and becoming accustomed to the real world was just taking it's toll on my body. As work began to settle down, and the migraines and tingling continued to stop me in my tracks, we knew that I needed to see a doctor. After a few blood tests and  evaluations, I was referred to a neurologist who explained I was experiencing "stroke-like symptoms" as a side effect to the birth control pills I was taking. He explained these side effects obviously meant I wasn't a good canidate for birth control pills and advised me to stop taking them immediately. Tim and I quickly re-evaluated our previous plans to wait to have children till our late 20's. Because we believe our God has plans for us that we may not have for ourselves, we decided God would lead our lives in the way he intends and was ready for whatever he had in store for us.

In late December, we were suprised to find out that I was pregnant. While we were brave in putting our trust in God's plans, we were shocked that He intended for us to get pregnant so soon. When getting that first positive pregnancy test, I nearly fainted while Tim continued to enjoy his daily banana and grinned from ear-to-ear. I quickly began to ask a string of frantic questions like "How will we have room for a baby in this tiny one bedroom apartment?", "What will it be like financially?", "What will I do about work?", " What will we do for daycare?"... and so on. Tim just hugged me and laughed while I began crying in tears of shock and excitement. That afternoon my doctor had me go in to confirm that I was in fact pregnant. I remember asking him before I left, "What do I do now?". He smiled, told me to relax, and come back in 2 weeks for my first sonogram. At 6 1/2 weeks I went back in for my first sonogram, and at that time the doctor told us our baby wasn't measuring the correct size based on what it's gestational age was. I remember him asking me if I was sure I was almost seven weeks. This was when I first new something wasn't right. He asked me to come back a week later to see if the baby was growing like it should. It was at that next appointment we were told  we were experiencing a "failed pregnancy". As many of you know, Tim and I do not like the word "fail" and it was the first sense that I had some sort of control in the result of my pregnancy. My doctor sent me home and prepared me with information on what a miscarriage would be like. After 2 weeks I had not experienced any symptoms of a miscarriage, so I was asked to come back to the doctor. They informed me a D & C was needed since my body was not miscarrying on it's own, which could cause an infection that may effect future pregnancies. The next morning, I went in to the day-surgery center to where the D&C was performed. I cried the rest of that afternoon and that night. I remember laying in bed and just rubbing my lower stomach while imagining the sweet little one God had blessed me with. I remember thinking I would never know what this child would look like, act like, or whether it was a boy a girl. I wondered if there was anything I could have done differently. Was I too consumed with the stresses of work? Was I working out too much? Was it because of the cold I had? I remember telling myself how nieve I was to think having a baby was something so easy. Before my first miscarriage, I just pictured 10 months full of joy, laughter, suprising everyone with the news, baby showers, a growing belly, feeling the precious baby kicking, and bringing him/her home for the first time. I never once thought of unexpected loss, tears, frustration, medical procedures, how to tell people you lost the baby, and moving on. My mind wondered all night and into the morning until I was preped for my procedure. I remember looking at the nurses and doctors who were about to be a part of my procedure and thinking, "they are going to take my baby away".  I tried to think of worse scenarios that many mothers unfortunately have had to endure to make my experience seem much less devastating. I thought of those mothers who lose their children at later stages in pregnancy, early in a child's life, and even later in their child's life. I remember thinking of the pain I was feeling, and how immaginable those mother's pain had to have been or still is. The procedure was completed, and I continued to mourn the loss of our first child, but little did I know what was to come.

Tim and I quickly became motivated to try again for another precious baby as soon as my body recovered from my procedure. I remember researching chances of a second miscarriage and felt fairly confident our miscarriage experience was just a one-time thing. Surely a 24 year old healthy girl wouldn't endure multiple miscarriages. I also remember praying that if our Lord did not see a biological child in our future that he would take away my ability to get pregnant so I didn't have to think about a child of ours passing away if another miscarriage were to occur. In the middle of May (about a year ago from now), we found out that God had blessed us with our second pregnancy. While we were overwhelmed with excitement, our excitement felt much more guarded. I was no longer worried about if the square footage of our house would support a new baby, if we were financially ready, or what we would do for child care. Instead we prayed that Christ would put his hand over this child, and that no matter how long we were blessed with this precious baby we would love it as if we could already hold it in our arms. At 5 1/2 weeks my doctor wanted to have an early sonogram done to make sure the baby was forming correctly, in which it was. At that time there were no questions or concerns and it looked so far so good. At 7 weeks, my doctor had Tim and I come back in to see the heartbeat. Tim and I went in to the doctor's office with very low expectations that day in efforts to guard our hearts from the pain and greiving we had just experienced 3 months prior. I remember laying down and quickly looking only at Tim as if it would hurt less if I didn't look at the sonogram in case the ultrasound technician did not find a heart beat.  Within a few seconds into the sonogram with big wide opened eyes and the look of amazement on his face, Tim  quickly set up in his chair and said "There it is!". He had already found the heartbeat on the screen before the technician had time to identify it for us. I was in complete shock. Sure enough, our baby (which still looked like a tadpole) had a heartbeat that we could see. A huge weight was lifted off our shoulders and we both began feeling more confident that we would become parents. I researched the percentages of miscarriages after getting a heartbeat, which made me feel fairly confident we were going to get to hold this precious baby in several months. At 10 weeks, we went back in for another sonogram. This time we were told we would get to hear the heartbeat and our baby would begin looking more like a baby. We went in with complete confidence that day and quickly told our sweet nurses and doctors that everything with the pregnancy was going great. I had no signs/symptoms of a miscarriage like I previously had, and I was experiencing typical fatigue and a few food aversions. Our doctor had complimented my hormone levels and how they had progressed perfectly. Tim and I prepared for the sonogram with smiles and a sense of pride. Within a few minutes, our hearts sunk lower than we previously thought they ever could as the ultrasound tech asked us to wait patiently as she went to go get our doctor. Tim and I were silent for a few minutes. I began crying because I knew what I was about to be told. Tim tried to comfort me while we waited. "There is no way we will lose two", "We already got a heartbeat", "Remember the percentages of a miscarriage after a heartbeat?". A few minutes later the doctor came in and confirmed my fear. We had lost our second precious baby. While Tim was overwhelmed with sadness and tears, my heart became bitter. I was angry. I wanted to know why. I had no symptoms of a miscarriage, great hormone levels, and I felt pregnant. As much as I hate to admit it, I remember being angry at God. Why would You bless us with an amazing child with a heartbeat and take it a few weeks later? After talking to my doctor, he told us he would be referring us to a Fertility Specialist.

Over the next several months I struggled. I struggled with how to greive, when to greive, who to greive with. Some days I was sad, others angry, and other days I felt blessed to even experience pregnancy although for a shorter time than I had hoped. It makes me sick to say, but I began to struggle in my faith. I dreaded going to church. There were beautiful children everywhere and amazing sermons about enduring the struggles of life and putting your faith in Christ. While I needed my faith more than ever, I felt bitter. I remember being angry at Tim when he attempted to motivate me to continue my daily time with the Lord. He was persistent in his walk with Lord, probably more now than ever. I on the other hand could not look at my Bible or think about church without tearing up. Tim and I reached a breaking point one afternoon. I told him I was weak physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I was tired of walking around with a smile on my face and acting like I was strong and okay. I was chasing a dream that God wasn't allowing at this time. I wanted to be in control, and it killed me that I couldn't be. I told Tim I didn't understand how his faith had grown so strong during such a bad time. Why wasn't he feeling what I was feeling? Tim was amazing over the next several weeks and months. He never became angry or upset with me. He didn't get frustrated or tell me to stop feeling sorry for myself. He continually prayed for our marriage, me, and our two precious babies who had left this world to be with our God. Over the weeks and months, my bitter heart became tender once again. Tim prayed that God would give him the wisdom to lead me and our family towards God's mercy. He prayed that God would take away my pain and anger. And he prayed that God would take care of our two precious babies.

I soon began going to church, reading scripture, and growing once again in my faith. I found several amazing passages, stories, sermons, and songs that inspired me and helped me through this time.

When I was able to admit to myself that I wasn't strong enough to pull myself up, I prayed that Tim would continue to be my strength and truly "Lead Me".

During a bible study I was going to at Prestonwood's North Campus, I came across this story engrained in my bible study booklet. I quickly stopped feeling so sorry for myself. I was immediately envious of Angie Smith's complete faith in Christ. I prayed that I could continue to praise God through the good and the bad and say "My Jesus is the same as he was when I walked in the door" to find out we had lost our babies.


The following verses I  read, wrote in my journal, and prayed over for the next several months:

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Romans 12:12

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."
James 1:2-3

"We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."
Hebrews 6:12

"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

"Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied. Free me from my anguish."
Psalm 25:16-17

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty."
Psalm 91:1