I have been working on this post mentally for days. I’ve written it many different ways and under many different titles and for many different reasons. The need to catalog, the need to vent, the need to capture and the need to release, the need to tell the story, and the need to document it so it can be remembered. Call it “The Longest Week” or “Once the tears start” or “The pervasion of good and hope” or “dreams” or many many other things. More than anything, this is me mentally digesting, and in some cases regurgitating, the last 8 days. In many ways it will be raw, detailed, and beyond private or “the boundaries of what should be shared” and in some cases my fall into the area of “hanging your dirty laundry out to dry”. Feel free to completely ignore, to stop reading at any point, to start and stop and start again as you can, or anything else you care to do. All I ask is that as it is all fresh, raw, and hardly scabbed, any comments you feel the need to share be out of love, help, support, healing, and without judgement.
This story hardly begins on Monday of last, but for the purposes of needing a definite place at which to begin, it’s where I’ll start. I had an appointment with our Prenatal Specialist for our monthly ultrasound at 10:30, due to God’s foresight and understanding we had planned for Chris to join me. I picked him up from work around 10, and we headed to the doctors office. As the nurse took my stats and asked me all the usual questions I tried to word, without sounding overly anxious, the fact that I was worried because I wasn’t feeling our baby girl move – at all. The nurse (either not catching my meaning, or not wanting to worry me further) said well, I was only 23 weeks and we would see what the ultrasound said. We finally got in a room, the tech came in, and began. After taking just a few simple measurements she started looking for a heartbeat – while not being obvious that she was struggling to do find it. The whole time my body lay tense, and my insides screamed prayers for that little heart to beat. The Tech moved the wand away and simply said “I’m sorry, this baby doesn’t have a heartbeat. I’ll go get the Doctor” and practically ran from the room as if it were on fire – or at least thats how it felt as I gave a large exhale (apparently I’d been holding my breath) and the tears started to flow.
Chris moved closer, and shortly the Doctor was with us. She tried meagerly to comfort us, then also checked gently for a heartbeat on the ultrasound. She didn’t say that she also couldn’t find one, she simply gently put the machine away, wiped my belly a little with a towel to get some of the goo off, then excused herself to call the midwives office. I dismounted the exam table, cleaned myself off, dressed and snuggled with Chris in silence as the tears continued to spill. I vaugly remember asking why I couldn’t just make babies the way other women do – why I have to be different. I know I’m not the only women to ever ask that, but it doesn’t comfort me, it only makes me ache for my other sisters the world over who just want to grow the gift of joy in their wombs that other women seem to do with ease, and in some cases seemingly accidental carelessness, as if they are unaware of what an amazing blessing they have.
After another short conversation with the the Doctor we left the office – I tried not to look upset, or cry openly, I know the other women in the office are also there either because they hope to one day enjoy the blessing of being pregnant or have the same fears I do that the pregnancy they carry will not end with a healthy baby in their arms. I went with Chris, in a semi-numb state trying to make arrangements for Inara for the afternoon, not knowing exactly what the path ahead held, we had lunch, and finally had a plan for Inara after KDO. After picking her up at 2 and dropping her to play with her friend Jenna, we headed to the Midwives office.
We meet briefly with the midwife on call, talked very shortly about what would come next, and she sent us to the hospital to induce labor. Chris sent out a very short email to friends and family simply saying we had lost the baby. In a haze the nurse lead me to an L&D ro0m, asked me the usual questions regarding my physical and sexual health, and had me change into a gown. Chris joined me and shortly the night nurse brought the first dose of medication meant to induce labor 2 small 200 mg pills were inserted vaginally and the waiting began – we were told the whole process should take between 6 – 18 hours. Chris left briefly to feed the dogs, settle things at home, our dear friend Molly picked up Inara from Jenna’s to stay with her overnight and the next day. We knew that while the road ahead would not be a joyous one, we had no idea what it would in fact hold. Around 1 AM I started having very painful cramping and feeling pressure, but I was only 1CM dilated – they put in an epidural. Sometime in the next 12 hours I had a small burst of blood, but made no further progress in labor. During the 12 hours following that the medication they’d been giving every 4 hours became an oral medication rather than a vaginal suppository. Still, I failed to progress. We settled in for another night at the hospital, bu this point I was starting to have some abdominal pain, but not contracting. I had progressed to being 2cm dilated and about 80% effaced, but that’s where I stayed.
By Wednesday I started having diarrhea sometimes multiple times, every time the medication was administered. Each time I had to call and then wait for the nurse to come and clean me, by that point I had had the epidural for over 24 hours, there was no chance I was moving from that bed in any way – I was numb and useless from the waist down. I was given an ultrasound to determine the baby’s possession, since if it were transverse labor wouldn’t progress. The ultrasound techs (one supervisor, and one in training) made a big deal about my deformed uterus going so far as to claim that I actually had two because the uterus they found first was empty, and the baby was much further over in the abdomen in what they called my second uterus. Shortly after I was given another dose of labor inducing meds – baby was only breach, apparently the dr was going to continue to try and deliver naturally. By this point my abdomen pain was extreme for me – the doctor kept saying it was a side effect from the labor meds, because they effected the smooth muscles. The nurse seemed a little less convinced and more concerned over my pain. I spoke with her, and it was determined by the next 4 hour dose that I would have a C-Section to deliver. The doctor explained that I would actually have what they called a Historotimy where the incision in my uterus would be vertical rather than horizontal as in a typical c-section. This would mean that any future pregnancies would require a C-section and would not be allowed to go to term. Chris and I made the call to also have my tubes tied while the doctor was in there. We had already decided in the previous weeks and months that this would be our final pregnancy – no matter the outcome. I was sick of being pregnant, I was sick of losing babies, I was sick of being sick. We signed the necessary paperwork to authorize the doctor to preform the sterilization.
We waited for an OR – there was another c-section ahead of me. Nearly two hours later, my epidural was upgraded to a surgical grade, Chris put on his sterile gown and cap and booties, and we made the trip down the hall to the OR. Because of my abdominal pain, I kept telling the anistesioligist I could still feel the pain. After upping my meds three times she said they may just have to put me under. I don’t think I was in actual surgery for more than 10 minutes and I was being put to sleep and I VAUGLY remembering them asking Chris to leave the room.
As it turns out, my uterus had ruptured. The back side of my uterus had, before I ever reached the OR (they aren’t sure when) split open, and by the time I was in the OR the baby had actually left the uterus and entered the abdominal cavity. What should have been a 30 minute procedure to deliver the baby and tie my tubes turned into a three hour process. Chris had no idea what was happening, they had shown him back to his hospital room, where he sat and watched netflix, trying not to worry. The doctor called in a specialist – a gyoncolgical oncologist who was used to handling much more advanced surgical procedures in that area of the body. It took him an hour to arrive at the hospital and scrub in. My uterus (which is Unicornate as it turns out) they were afraid had partly fused to the GI tract, so they had to be very careful not to nick anything. It ended up not being fused (thankfully) but during the period of precautionary measures they put baby formula in my bladder because it’s a sterile fluid which is different in color, so that if they had nicked it, it would have been obvious immediately. By the point in the procedure where they were finishing up, it had been so long, and they were very concerned with the amount of blood I’d lost they chose not to remove my cervix, just my uterus.
I was returned to my L&D to begin recovery. Chris was informed what all had happened. Apparently over the next several hours I flitted in and out of wakefulness and continued asking what had happened to me. Also, apparently after asking for the third time (I didn’t retain the info between asking) Chris told me I’d been hit by a bus – after considering the matter I apparently told him he was a liar. lol I do remember asking what had happened at one point and the nurse telling me they’d explain when I was awake and could understand. I also remember being rolled from my L&D room to surgical recovery. The next several hours are a blur of wakeful sleeping. I woke fully and groggily for the first time around 8am Thursday Morning – the morning directly following my surgery. Slowly people started checking on me and explained what all had happened – I didn’t get and piece together the full story for probably two days. Once awake my stats started to go up, and the doctors concern over my needing a blood transfusion passed – however my O2 level was still very low and I kept setting off the alarm when my stats would dip below 90%. By 10:30 I’d gotten out of bed and moved into a chair next to my bed. I only stayed there about a half hour before i was too groggy to sit safely by myself – chris had again returned home by this point to shower and change his clothes – and I called the nurse to move back into bed. Most of Thursday was spent napping and the nurse trying to get me out of bed to move around. By the evening I had sufficiently surprised them and come out of the woods enough to have my urine catheter removed for the first time since they had put in my epidural in the wee hours of Tuesday Morning.
By Friday I was starting to feel much better, was allowed to shower for the first time all week, and started walking. It looked like I’d be heading home Saturday. The late Friday night my temp popped up 100* and because of that the Doc wanted to keep me for one more night of observation on Saturday. Sunday I was finally dismissed with strict instructions, and for the first time in seven days left St. Luke’s Hospital, where I had entered Monday at around 5 PM thinking I would be there overnight at most.
I’m still not sure that I fully captured the last week, but it’s a start. What I didn’t mention was all the support that was given outside the hospital for our family. Friends immediately went into action at the first news of our loss – meals were organized and collected for us all week (and continue through the remainder of the month!) friends watched Inara for us day and night. People came to my messy house, to feed our dogs and cats, cut up 20 pounds of Turkey that we had just cooked last weekend and would have otherwise gone bad had they not frozen it for us, and even put up some of our Christmas decorations, including the tree. Around the country, people we know and love, people who know and love the people we know, and some perfect strangers prayed, and called out God on behalf of our family. Pastors, friends, and those and close as family visited our hospital room Friday and Saturday. We were sent flowers, we’ve received gift cards to some of our favorite places to eat, and so much much more. I know that we were prayed over during the MOPS meeting that I didn’t attend on Thursday (the first MOPS meeting I’ve missed since taking on my roll as Creative Activites Coordinator, and only my 2nd one ever). I found out today that yesterday during ABF our friends, devoted the entire time that would normally be given to prayer requests to lift us up together, and many people left in tears. I have said many, many times over the past couple years, that our ABF has become like family to us, many of them have walked then entire journey with us, from the loss of Toby, all they way thru today. Some of them still may not have words to tell us, or fully know how to support us, but dear friends, let me tell you – we are loved, and we love you in return.
I am fully overwhelmed by how blessed we are in God. How, by following him, and settling at Wayside we have been shown grace and love in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I have built lifelong friendships with fellow women, and men that I know wouldn’t have happened elsewhere, or under different circumstances. I have wondered many times over the past year, why it is God seems to give me the deep understanding and friendship of a “best friend” only to take her away, and why it is that I’ve had such difficulting in making deep relationships with the women around me. I have come to realize this week – that while I may not have the “best friend” I have been looking for, I have many friends who love and care for me deeply, and when the need is apparent friends who will carry me through any of lifes storms, and other “best friends” who I can depend on through thick and thin and the drop of a hat without being asked, and who refuse to hear no. While I may have missed Jen and Lex something fierce this week, and wanted nothing more than to have them sitting by my side along with Chris, I know that they were there with me in spirit as were so many others, and that the day will come eventually where we will be together once again and we can sit and cry and let loose all that’s been held in. In the mean time, I am so very grateful in ways I’ll never be able to express, for Molly, Erin, and the many many others who have taken care of us over the last week, and the the army of moms who’ve offered to take care of Inara this week while Chris as at work so that I can stay home and rest and heal. We are truly blessed by our friends, by our Wayside Family, and by the God who loves and watches over us.
The past week could have been so much more, to morn not only our baby girl, but the shock of losing my uterus before 30, the difficulty of spending a week in the hospital and stress of knowing what to do with Inara during it all. But through the providence of God, we were somehow prepared for this, not as shocked or dismayed as we could have been, and over all, in a much better place to move forward from than we would have been even a few months ago. We already know that we are not done growing our family, that God’s plan is for us to bring other children into our home through the blessing of adoption, and now we know for certain, that the chapter of our lives where we make our own babies is also over, the answer there came clear and hard. Through two weeks of anxiousness, and lots of prayer, we’d been prepared for news that our little girl was gone and playing at the feet of Jesus with her big brother. It didn’t make the news easier to hear, but it did make it easier to bear.
All I have to wonder in all of this, is what great and awesome things God has planned of Inara – the only one to make it through – our perfect miracle, and if He will allow me to see it. For truly, I, and many others, believe that He has a great purpose for her, He made her, shaped, her and grew her to be an amazing vessel for Him, I just wonder to what works He will set her in His name, and it what ways she will bring Him glory.
I seem to say this every year, with both excitement, and more than a little trepidation – I can only wonder at what God has in store for our family for the coming year.