Sunday, August 21, 2016

3rd Times the Charm, Right?

Each year, our family takes a road trip through one state. This year, it was Wisconsin. So many things about this trip spoke to my heart but one family left an enormous impact. It was one of those nights that you just knew was a "God Moment".

The thing with our family trips each summer is that we don't plan out a single detail, we may create a "points of interest" list but we do not make any reservations at campsites or pre-determine what town we will camp out at each night.

Our final night was a rough one, it was Friday night and we were coming up empty-handed. The sun was starting to set and every campground was packed full. We pulled out our atlas and spotted a tiny town with a campground around a lake. It was about 20 minutes from our current location, with no guarantees and no cell-service to call. We bravely made the drive, hoping to find a spot and get set-up before dark. We were shocked to pull up to a campground in the middle of nowhere that was HUGE! It took us about 10 minutes to even drive through the campground to get to the office. I walked in, expecting to be told no tent sites were available but instead got a rather lengthy list of options. "This one might be too loud because we have a DJ until midnight tonight, this one is right by the bathrooms, ohhh, this one is my favorite spot on the edge, we are celebrating Christmas in July this weekend..." the office attendant kept going on and on, pointing to a massive map of possibilities. My indecisive mind just stared dumb-founded at her, "you are giving me too many options!". Two gentlemen with kids were standing behind me, one leaned forward and pointed to the map, "Choose this one, it is quiet, right by the bathrooms, we are camping beside it." So I picked that spot.

We drove away from the Christmas in July party and DJ to a secluded spot, setting our tent up right by the two families who picked out our spot. Immediately their kiddos came over to play and we soon found ourselves surrounded by a swarm of 15 kids, catching lightening bugs in empty PB jars. One of the moms came over to introduce herself asking how many children we had. She had 8, three of them being biological and five adopted. Her story touched my heart. After having 3 biological children of their own, her and her husband thought their family was complete and made a permanent decision to keep it that way. Only later did they realize that maybe they were intended to have more children. They adopted a little gal from Ethiopia. Through the foster care system they later adopted 2 boys, who happened to also have another brother they adopted. Then, by chance, a previous foster child's mother called saying that she was not in a good place and was wondering if she could turn over permanent guardianship to them. It was a series of events over 3ish years that turned their family of 5 into a family of 10. I shared my insecurities and hurt of losing our two babies and she prayed over me. I told her how God had been slowing opening up my heart to fostering and adoption. It was such a refreshing conversation and friendship, my heart ached when we packed up the next morning and said goodbye.

I think it was this ray of hope that I needed that even if our time was done having biological children, God may be opening other doors for us. I continued to pray about the possibility and God showing us when/if the timing would be right.

In the meantime, we switched doctors and called to set up a consultation before pregnancy occurred again. The thing with small towns is that doctors are busy, the first available appointment was a month away. I scheduled the appointment, being told that if a pregnancy test came back positive, to call right away. Sure enough, on July 29th, I found out I was pregnant again! Seriously, I thought, a miscarriage can't occur AGAIN! I notified my OB/GYN right away and went in for lab work (HcG and progesterone). Labs were within the normal range but I was told by my fertility specialist to request progesterone immediately, even if labs were "normal". The thing with progesterone is that it is cyclical and can change throughout the day and you can't "overdose" on it if your body doesn't need it. I was told to come in Monday for another set of labs to see if my levels were rising. I once again requested progesterone, this time saying it was vital I take it because I was still nursing Isaac 3-4 times per day. The reply I received was to discontinue breastfeeding. I am a social worker, one that teaches people to advocate for themselves, this was a moment I should have done that but failed to do so.

Monday, I went back in for my lab work and waited all day to get my results. I was finally able to have a telephone conversation with my new doctor on Tuesday morning. "Jamie, your lab results on Friday were great. Unfortunately, your lab results on Monday were about the same. They should have at least doubled in that time period. I expect you to miscarry within the next week. Your pregnancy will not last. I am so sorry this is happening to you." I took a couple deep breathes, shed some tears, and walked back into work, numb. What is going on with me? Why is this happening? I've had 3 perfectly healthy, normal pregnancies and now 3 losses?

I summoned my prayer team and immediately set to work hoping something was off with my lab work. Wednesday, I requested another set of labs. This time, my numbers were about half of what they were on Monday- meaning that not only was this pregnancy coming to an end, but quickly. By Saturday, the miscarriage had started.

I called my OB surgeon and requested to meet with him. I shared the whole story, explaining that it could have been a fluke miscarriage or actually caused by me not taking the progesterone like he requested. He cupped his head in his hands and murmured, "I bet you wanted to curse her for not giving you the progesterone." "Nope", I replied, "I have friends that curse for me." The appointment ended with me deciding not to undergo fertility testing at this time and getting a referral to a new OB/GYN with more specialized experience, one that guaranteed to give me progesterone right away. My prayer team was still working hard, the miscarriage seemed to be almost flawless and pain-free- my body did what it needed to do without intervention.

There are days that are good, days that I think maybe God has a bigger plan for me than I anticipated. Maybe he is putting people into my life to let me know that things will be okay. My friendships have definitely changed over the last year and different children have come into my life that have pulled at my heartstrings.

There are days that I try to be content with the three children I have, thinking this may be it and that is okay too.

Then there are days that just down-right suck, the ones where you want to be so happy when someone announces their pregnancy but you later cry it isn't you or the days a friend has their baby and you just stare at all the tiny newborn features and long for your own.

So here we are AGAIN...waiting. We wait to see if God will increase our family with biological children, allow us to bring in other children through foster care/adoption, or show me how to be content with our current family.

I am learning to accept the fact that one day I will look back and think my life is beautiful, wherever i it may have brought me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Another One Bites the Dust...

I've got friends that pray and friends that curse, some do it simultaneously.

No one ever talks about pregnancy after miscarriage. About the raw emotions that coincide with it. The sheer excitement your heart feels about the news but the inability to open your mouth to tell others because of the doubt and anxiety that creep up telling you the pregnancy won't continue.

On Maundy Thursday, March 28th, I discovered I was pregnant, two cycles after our precious Gabriel entered and left this world. I was so excited but so anxious that I opted to keep the news to myself, texting only person (out of state). I couldn't even muster up the courage to tell Kyle. I wondered how long I could before it was necessary I had to share the news. On April 1st (ironic), I had the guts to tell Kyle I was pregnant. It had been over a week and I was still pregnant. His first reaction with it being April Fool's Day was that I was pulling a prank on him. I think the conversation went something like this:

Me: I'm Pregnant!!
Kyle: That is insensitive to say that on April Fool's Day (sarcasm).
Me: For real, Kyle.

I even took another pregnancy test, no luck convincing him. The next morning he asked, "So are you still pregnant?" Sure am...

Labs came back normal and at my first prenatal doctor's visit, everything seemed to be going smoothly. There was no evidence of clotting issues like before. I requested a dating ultrasound, more so to see my little cherub on the big screen, than to figure out a due date. The ultrasound tech measured multiple times and determined the baby was about 7 weeks, 1 day along. That seemed a bit off from my estimates but everyone reassured me that it was typical to see some variation in dates.

The pregnancy progressed as normal, no special treatment. On my 12 week prenatal appointment, I expressed some concerns I was having. My symptoms had completely diminished, my energy was back to normal, and my stomach wasn't growing as I thought (especially for someone who was just pregnant). My doctor tried to ease my anxiety, I was nearing the second trimester and could naturally just be feeling better and I stay active. He tried his hardest to locate a heartbeat but mine was beating so fast and loud things were getting jumbled up. I was adamant I wanted an ultrasound when a heartbeat couldn't be found. I was secretly walked over to radiology for an off-the-record ultrasound.

With Miles, the token middle child who can't leave my side, we waited for the ultrasound tech to reassure us things were just fine. Instead, the probe immediately went on my belly and couldn't find a baby. "Are you sure you are as far along as 12 weeks?" Yes, most definitely sure. "Bummer," is all I could muster. She had me empty my bladder to try a trans-vaginal ultrasound. Sure enough, little baby was there. 7 weeks, 2 days along (1 day of growth in 4 weeks) pressed, lifeless, against the sac. "Oh, crap!" and tears is all that came out this time. Little Miles, looking from the sidelines, "Mama, what is in your belly?" "Nothing buddy, nothing anymore." The nurse escorted us back to our exam room, only being able to say "I am so sorry!" over and over again. My options were, a D&C the next morning or medication to induce labor on it's own. I called Kyle to meet me at the hospital and get Miles so I could be alone.

I opted for a D&C, I wasn't going to wait around for a baby to come and have to re-live my labor and delivery with Gabriel that was still a bit too fresh. You know that feeling that you are so sad and so angry at the same time- it isn't a pretty one. I wanted the anger to go away- to just subside. The only way I knew how to do that (other than praying) was to text my friend to curse for me. She's a good one, a good friend and a good curser; she gladly accepted the challenge.

My mom drove up to watch the kids the next morning and we were off bright and early for surgery. While waiting, I had two songs stuck in my head on repeat, "I Need Thee Every Hour" and "Another Bites the Dust".

I recalled sitting at the funeral of my friend's stillborn baby, the first words that the pastor said during his message was something along the lines of, "After all that...". I felt it, I've been waiting, just waiting. Pregnant for 13 weeks, pregnancy ends; pregnant for "12 weeks", pregnancy ends. It's just waiting, praying, waiting, praying. I feel like I've had some good lessons from God on patience, I've got 3 kids of my own and care for countless other families everyday. But this, this waiting is really testing my patience.

We did what we did after our last loss, we drove to Illinois. I don't know what it is about that place that feels like home and I needed it, to be surrounded by friends.

One of my favorite verses that I often recite is Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer." So here we are again, waiting, praying, and remaining hopeful.