Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Part VII: Silent Miseries

See the right sidebar for Parts 1-6

I had hoped that Part 7 of this series of mine would be some mark of redemption, some new story that in part could erase or at least justify the pain I'd gone through already. I had hoped that Part 7 would be happy. I had hoped Part 7 would be something of peace.

Really, I had hoped I wouldn't need seven parts to tell my story. But I do. And lately, I am hurting too much to carry it alone, so it is time to share.

On July 3, 2012, I had a miscarriage. That baby would have been due next week.

I had not been planning on getting pregnant then. In truth, I was on birth control at the time. I only knew about the pregnancy for a few days before the miscarriage occurred, but those few days turned out to be a great blessing. In many ways I was still reeling from the trauma that surrounded Ben's birth, and the thought of giving birth again terrified me. I was so afraid of repeating the trauma, so afraid that I wouldn't be able to handle what might triggered in my body and in my mind.

It was a miracle to me that the instant I knew I was pregnant, I began making plans of exactly how I would overcome my trauma barriers. I compiled mental lists of information I would provide to my doctor, questions I would ask all along the way, and assurances I would put into place that would protect me and my baby during exams and delivery. The answers came clearly and easily to me.

When I miscarried, I was certainly disappointed, but the overriding emotion I felt was that of being empowered. I now knew, I knew, that I would succeed in giving birth again. When faced with my past in such a real and meaningful way, I came out conqueror. It wasn't the right time to be pregnant then, but whenever it was, I would not be held back by old traumas. I thanked God for the powerful wisdom I had gained through that experience, and we moved on with our lives.

Chris and I have always listened closely to the Spirit to help us know when it is the right time for us to have a baby. It has always been at the prompting of the Holy Ghost that we have decided to stop birth control. And every time we have stopped, it has taken only one month for us to get pregnant. It was that way with Jane, and with Megan, and with Ben. Therefore, when we received the inspiration to stop birth control at the end of September, we anticipated getting pregnant quickly. And we did.

It was no surprise when the pregnancy test was positive come mid-November. It seemed a matter of course--it followed the exact pattern we had experienced with every previous pregnancy that we had planned. While we weren't necessarily thrilled with the timing of getting pregnant right before moving to a new state and having a baby due only a few weeks before the beginning of grad school, we trusted in the Lord and believed strongly that we would be blessed for following His timing for us. It was a matter of faith and a matter of fact.

But then, the day before Thanksgiving, I had another miscarriage.

That is easily one of the most confusing experiences I have had in my life. Why? Why had I had a miscarriage? I did everything right. I did everything I was directed to do. So why? Even more confusing was the question of Now What? Our pattern, which previously had been so reliable, was thrown out the window. I didn't have any idea what to expect next. I don't like not knowing what to expect.

There were a few people who knew that I was pregnant that time. It was a holiday, family was around. Some secrets are especially hard to keep in the exciting first moments of discovery. The news just came out. Harder to mention, though, was the miscarriage. Instead I just listened to comments of congratulations and ideas for future plans while keeping this new secret quite to myself. I wasn't sure how I would handle any condolences--no matter how well-meant--when I was still so confused myself.

It was an early miscarriage again, so I didn't pursue any medical attention per se. I did make a quick visit to the doctor for blood work and a rhogam shot. It was just a pinch of salt in the wound when I had to correct the nurse's records about my receiving the shot from "during pregnancy" to "at pregnancy termination."

With the lack of pattern to follow now, I was at a loss of how to proceed. In times of great confusion, I have a fairly consistent habit of "Ignore it and it will go away." Yes, yes, I know that's not the best method for getting through life, but that's my subconscious fallback. After this second miscarriage I was uncertain of what to do in terms of getting pregnant again. Rather than making a decision about when to try again, I just avoided the decision all together.

Guess what? We got pregnant again.

I had no idea at the time. I wasn't really paying attention to any of the early signs of pregnancy, and I was still in great mental debate about what we were going to do. We had just moved to Albuquerque and I was struggling to adjust to a small space and a new place. I wasn't at all sure about adding pregnancy--and eventually baby--into this particular life event. On the other hand, I was still uncertain about the inspiration we had received to stop birth control. Technically we had done that, but it did not play out how we had anticipated. Had we fulfilled that counsel? Should be go back on birth control or just let life play out how it would?

With those questions in mind, Chris and I decided to go to the temple to seek for answers. It was ward temple night in our new ward and we prepared to visit the Albuquerque temple for the first time. I thought and prayed throughout the day, preparing myself to look for God's direction for me in terms of having more children now or later.

But, all day, I had a nagging thought in the back of my mind. What if I was already pregnant? That would certainly make the birth control question irrelevant. So I took a pregnancy test. It was positive.


It was much harder to be excited this time. Whether intentionally or not, I was holding myself back from attaching to this life within me for fear of it again disappearing. Even though my miscarriages had been very early, they still each represented a life, the the possibility and the dream of a baby. Though I never met those babies, they were still mine and it hurt deeply to lose them. I was so afraid of going through that again.

Sometimes "fake it 'til you make it" is a viable option. To overcome some of my fears and hesitations in this pregnancy, I decided that it wouldn't hurt to tell a few people. It would make it real, and I could enjoy the positive attention from others. With that intention, we told a few family members and very close friends on Christmas Day. I let their positive energy and excitement build me up, and I watched my kids open their Christmas presents that morning with the picture of a fourth little one at the forefront of my mind.

The day after Christmas, I experienced my third miscarriage in under six months. The first was empowering, the second was confusing, the third was absolutely crushing.

It has been over two months since that day, and many things have happened since. I've overcome a huge trauma obstacle and visited a gynecologist for the first time since Ben's birth. I had another rhogam shot. I met with an infertility specialist to determine if there was anything obviously wrong that could cause three miscarriages. I had 12 vials of blood drawn at one time to test for all manner of maladies. Exams showed up nothing, the results from the blood work have not returned yet. So I have no idea why I had three miscarriages in a row after never having any problem like this before.

All we've really learned for certain is that I am not pregnant.

I don't know when we'll have another baby. For now, we're taking the time to recover from this latest adventure before we travel down that path again. My arms ache to hold my baby. My body aches for the opportunity to take control and experience birth in the way that I dream about. My heart aches for peace and closure from the trauma of the last year and a half.

But, it would seem that we aren't done yet. I have chosen to share my experiences along the way, and it has been helpful to me to get them out. And so, today you've read part 7. Congratulations on making it through to the end. Someday perhaps I'll write more about what I have learned about the taboo that is miscarriage. For now, it's out of my head and into words, which brings me great contentment in and of itself.


Katie said...

Thanks for having the courage to write this out! In the internet circles I've traveled in over the last decade, miscarriage has not been taboo, but I know the "real world" is SO much different, and I'd love to hear your stories when you're ready to share!

Liz, Karl, Madison, Brooklyn and Aubrey said...

Laura my dear friend. My heart hurts with yours! I know this has been a very trying time for you and I want to remind you I am here for you! I have a very strong testimony that these things happen for a reason, and I know that in time it will all be made clear to you. Whether it be you needed these experiences to give you the strength you will need to endure other struggles (oh how this was made obvious to me with our sweet little Aubrey) Or whether it's a matter of timing, I do believe things WILL work out for your sweet family. Just keep believing and praying! Love you friend and wish I could be there with you!

Tannie Datwyler said...

Oh Laura. I admire your courage so much. So few people share their pain, but you are brave enough to put it out there for everyone. I know so many women who suffer in silence and your bold approach helps them know they aren't the only ones.

Thank you for trusting me enough to include me in all of this.

HAW said...

I love you, friend

Greta said...

This brought me to tears. Though I don't know you personally, I do know the pain of loss. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Greta said...
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Adriel said...

I'm so sorry for your losses Laura. It's absolutely heart-breaking to lose a child and I pray this never happens again to you and your family. x