Monday, April 20, 2015

Hailey Baby No. 2

[WARNING: You will need tissue and at least 20-30 minutes to read. Y'all know I post long blogs! ADDITIONAL WARNING TO MALE READERS: I talk about periods in this blog. Hope you can deal with it, because if you can you will be blessed. :) ]

My last blog was Feb. 4 - two days before we found out we were expecting Hailey Baby No. 2. That last post was about the faithfulness of God, and so is this one.

I know so many of you are concerned about my well-being, so I decided that maybe it was time that I open up about the miscarriage.

I also know more people than I can imagine are praying for me, and I genuinely feel those prayers. Please keep them coming. God is healing my body, but it is going to take some time yet to heal my soul. Truly, I know my emotions may never fully recover, and I am at peace with that. I know I will one day be made whole again when I get to meet that precious soul, and that is my comfort.

As many of you already know, I miscarried the baby two weeks ago on April 3 (Good Friday) -- the day I turned 12 weeks, the day I was supposed to be "out of the woods."

It happened in that traumatic way you see played out on TV but think will never happen to you. ...

Ellie and I were home alone; Robert was at work. The bleeding started around 3 a.m. Of course I called my OB's office with the morning, but since the bleeding was minimum and had already tapered off, the NP reassured me that a trip to the ER was most likely not necessary. I had been texting my mama all morning for prayer and to help ease my mind. My step dad had just got in town the night before (earlier than expected as he's an OTR truck driver); my mama must've clued him in because at about 10:30 he pulled into the driveway. He was actually on his way to Clarksville but said he "just felt like he needed to swing by." Within minutes of him pulling up the bleeding came back and with heavy force! Something was definitely wrong! I told him that he needed to take me to the ER, so he rushed me to Centennial.

They were great by the way -- took me back almost immediately. The nurses and techs were so smiling yet so sympathetic. Their experienced faces told me they knew exactly what was happening, and honestly, I did too. How could I not? It was a lot of blood, and the cramping had started. I was just still clinging to the hope that somehow this was normal.

The ER nurse had me strip down and gown-up then immediately began plugging me up to machines. Then she and the hospital registrar started the 111-question process of information-taking before the doctor could come in. Once in, he ordered an ultrasound right away, but it took that tech another agonizing hour or so to finally arrive.

As you sit in quiet worry in these situations you take in the hustle and noise around you. Apparently two other women also in the stages of miscarriage were there that morning. One of them was at least 5 months along! I overheard the diagnosis of "incompetent cervix caused by a short cervix." My heart began to break for her too. As I was realizing what was happening to me and my baby, I began to think of how much worse the situation could be. I was sad yet still holding out hope, but also grateful in the midst of my sorrow that it wasn't what she was going through. (Please pray for this unknown lady friends as she had a tougher day than I.)

Finally! The ultrasound technician rolled her big monitor and equipment around the curtain, and my heart began to beat a little faster. Robert clutched my hand a little tighter. (He had finally made it as well and had been waiting with me for most of that agonizing hour.) She explained that she would not turn up the volume on the monitor nor would she reveal her findings to us but rather to the doctor. She was thorough and methodical as she scanned my belly and clicked away at the keys, making sure not to turn the screen so that Robert nor I could see it. That was either the most deafening quiet I have ever experienced or the loudest clicks of any keyboard I have ever heard. When she was finished she let us know she was stepping out to send the doctor in.

"It looks like what we have is a fetus that stopped developing at 8 weeks. There was no heartbeat present. I'm sorry Mrs. Hailey, but it looks like you are miscarrying." I think I heard the rest of his words, but mentally I was already checking out of the conversation. I think he was answering Robert's questions when I snapped back to reality.

He explained my options -- that I could go home and pass the baby naturally or that I could opt for a D&C procedure to speed up the process, because sometimes it can take several days -- even weeks -- to fully pass. He then excused himself to see what surgeons were on call while Robert and I discussed it. We felt like the D&C was the way to go. If in fact the baby was dead and I was going to pass it I didn't think I could emotionally withstand it. I just couldn't. Some women, unfortunately, do it and that more than once, but I didn't think I had it in me to be that kind of strong.

There is, on the other hand, that tiny little voice of worry (or maybe hope) at the back of your mind that says maybe the doctors are wrong. What if the baby is still alive and I have this procedure done? Won't I then ultimately abort my baby? "Mrs. Hailey, I can assure you of two facts: One, your baby is deceased, and two, you are miscarrying this pregnancy."

Okay. So I had no more questions. Permission was given to treat, papers signed and I was rolled upstairs to a private room and prepped for surgery. Psalm 22:9 promised me that morning that God would safely bring this baby from my womb. :'-)

And looking back, I guess the surgery was the best option for me. Dr. Cothren, the surgeon, explained that I had "a lot of stuff in there" and because of that and my size (I have a small pelvic), that I did a lot of bleeding during and post op. So they kept me a little longer to watch me before sending me home.

"Stuff in there?" Hmm ... My mind goes back to a particularly heavy period I had around November or December. I noted very heavy bleeding at the time, even cramping which is something I am blessed to never do with my periods. Could I possibly have had an early miscarriage then and just never knew I was pregnant? At the time I honestly just thought my periods were changing because I am getting closer to 40. I don't remember ever passing anything either, but I'm wondering now if that might be the "stuff" Dr. Cothren referred to. Well, only on the other side of this life will I ever know the answer to that question. But it does make you wonder.

I can't lie, in the first week after the miscarriage I grieved, yes, but I was so uncomfortable from physical pain and numb from painkillers that my emotions didn't get a chance to catch up to everything that was happening. It wasn't until the following Friday, a full week after the miscarriage, that I feel like it really sank in and I started to make real progress with my grief.

I remember I dropped Ellie off at school and immediately felt like I just couldn't go home. So I drove down to Cleece's Ferry here in West Nashville and I just sat for what seems like hours. It was a quiet place to pray and think; seems like only old men looking to do early fishing or the occasional hobo ever visit the place anymore. I knew it would be a good spot to sit and talk it out with God. So I did.

I began to listen to Kari Jobe's "I Am Not Alone." ( My sweet pastor sent it to me through a text message days before, and I had listened to it, but only once -- not really enough to begin the grieving process like I needed to. Sometimes we put off emotions that only music can bring back out, and in the moments that followed that is exactly what this song did!

I have never questioned God is all this; never asked Him "Why?" I trust His sovereignty! I know He cares for me -- LOVES me, and has a plan for me. And I never felt the need to pray and ask Him to heal my body or my heart -- Jesus' death and resurrection say to me that these things are already mine. I know not only that He WILL do these things, but that these things are already done. His word says that Jesus took the stripes for my healing and "it is finished." I don't have to ask for those things because I already have it. But I (we) do have to go through a "go-through" process sometimes in order to get to what is already promised and waiting on the other side.

I was carrying around something that I couldn't give a name to: Grief seems to simple a word. Disappointment? Devastation? Sorrow? Distress? I don't know. I only know that as I began to let myself cry it out, I began to hear sounds coming from me that I have never heard me make in my entire life. Not even when my Daddy died did I make such sounds. Sounds of pain, heartache, mourning ... dare I say travail? I wasn't just crying anymore; I was weeping and lamenting -- literally travailing something in my spirit. I was still pregnant with something, and I had to get it out of me! My abdomen would literally rise and fall with contractions as I began to wail harder and harder, and as I kept weeping I felt those contractions push "stuff" out of me. It felt cleansing. So did the tears. It felt as though that in those moments while I acknowledged my grief and allowed it to serve its purpose in me, that I began the process of laying to rest my baby and all the hopes I had for it.

"Miscarriage." It sounds like such a technical word -- even like you did something wrong to make it happen. But in nearly every case there is nothing that could've been done to stop it. It is an inevitable event, and it is all too common. One in four women is the statistic. And when you know someone who experiences it you don't fully understand the death that it is for them until you go through it yourself. It is very much the death of a child, and in a way the death of hope -- not the fullness of hope or all that hope is, but the death of all the hopes you had for that baby. They have to be laid to rest and you have to find some way of conceiving new hope and new vision for the plan God has for you.

Just beginning the process of faith to see and understand that God still has a plan in all this is hard! But I do still believe that! In fact I have never stopped believing it. I can't say I know or believe that God planned this loss, because I understand that our bodies are just a shell that is subject to the curse of sin. These things just happen and there is no understanding for it on this side of life. But Romans 8:28 has always been my life verse, and in times of loss or struggle I remind myself that God has a reason for allowing it and He will work it out for my greater good.

Hailey Baby No. 2 took me by such sweet surprise! After trying with only negative results for so many months before, I was beginning to think my eggs were getting old! :) Honestly I had hung up the idea of having more children. Maybe just one was best. And then we got an unexpected positive, and we were so ecstatic! All of us -- Robert, Ellie, our families. I knew all about how your chances of miscarriage lessen the further along you get, so in the beginning I was reluctant to get too excited on the outside, but it was too late on the inside! And then when I got to hear that precious heartbeat at my 8 week scan it was finally real to me. It wasn't very long after that scan, though, that the baby stopped developing. We announced at 9 weeks, but little did we know the baby had already died.

That's the thing I'm having the hardest time with. All the well-wishes and congrats were for a baby that was already passed. My belly was still growing though; I was already in maternity and I am sure I felt little flutters. None of that can be medically explained. The body just does what it does. It takes cues from our minds or its other parts, and well, my body took the cue to be pregnant and ran with it. Or did it?

Maybe my body was already cued to miscarry. I still think about that heavy period months ago. What if -- just what if -- that WAS a miscarriage that I never passed? What if Hailey Baby No. 2 was sent to heal my body and knit my heart for the next baby? What if it was sent to "prepare the way" so to speak for the next life that will grow in my womb? I mean, if my body was a toxic environment that only incubated death then surely only death would come from it. But what if -- just what if -- that baby was sent to make my body whole again? What if another preganancy had been unknowingly rotting away and this miscarriage which led to the D&C was meant to clean me out and restore my body? What if I were on the verge of a serious blood infection? It wouldn't be the first time He sent a baby to save my life would it?

It's a thought that I see only confirmed around me when I look at this season of spring. God has always spoken to me through my plants, and He is speaking to me today in the smallest of voices. I'll explain. ...

A few years ago my neighbor gave me an iris bloom, but while I was re-potting it I somehow broke the stalk on the plant's only flower. For two springs I have nurtured that plant with sunlight and water to no avail; not once have I seen the slightest chance for a bloom. I thought that maybe the bulb was damaged and that it will never bloom again. No matter. I keep watering it anyway. It's what I do. When spring 2015 showed up I just kept watering away. Until the miscarriage. Then what seems like 2 weeks worth of rain moved in and I haven't been able to tend to my flowers as usual.

Well yesterday, I took some time to check on the many things I have planted, and I finally saw something I had been overlooking; something that was developing in all that rain and storms. That once hopeless iris plant is now blooming! It has three stalks and each stalk has a bud! The thing that I thought would never thrive again is now showing signs of life! For two years, leaves would sprout up but nothing would ever come of them. Not until now has it brought forth flowers.

This is God's voice to me. I feel God saying, "Keep trying and have faith. Have hope." I am. Three is God's number for life. I don't find it to be at all a coincidence that I'm looking a three iris blooms.
So to those asking how I am ... I am well. I am better. I am healing. I still have hope. And no matter our circumstances, God is always faithful.

Spring is truly a miraculous season. Every year we watch God resurrect His creation. I'm glad the miscarriage happened when it did, because all around me are signs of life from death, new beginnings from hopes that have died, and I am taking my cue from spring to plant another seed. We WILL try again, and as I lay to rest my hopes for one child and am beginning to conceive in me new hopes for the child (or children) that are ahead of me!