Juxtaposition: pregnancy & miscarriages

I’ve been going along later in this pregnancy without much thought of the “bad” things that could happen.  In the beginning it was really tough.  I fought with myself about being too comfortable because the chance of miscarriage still seemed likely (given the previous 5 pregnancies…); however, I needed to rest in God’s perfect plan.  I felt this way until about halfway through the pregnancy.  It wasn’t until I felt the baby moving regularly that I started to think this could/would actually happen.  That we’d have a baby girl in April-ish (yes, a GIRL!).  So here I’ve sat.  But then God reminded me.

In the last week or so I’ve had multiple conversations with people about miscarriage.  I also found the journal I started when everything was unfolding (as I am trying to organize and pack my house for our move next week!).  It has been a good reminder for me about where God has chosen to use my story.  I don’t want anyone to go through what we have been through.  But I know there are other women (and men) out there trying to grieve.  I realize we won’t all do it the same way or in the same timing, but I wanted to share my journal from those hard times to help in any way God has enabled me.  (some of this might sound familiar as I’ve written other blog posts that have some of the same references)

2015.Feb.17
…I don’t know how to mourn or grieve or really, truly process this experience.  I thank God that he gave me the biology background and the understanding that he made our bodies this way that they’d “reject” unhealthy pregnancies.  The doctor told us that 60% of sperm and egg meetings end in spontaneous miscarriage.  It drops down to 5% once you reach 8 weeks and see a heartbeat.
I understand biologically, I’m just not sure where I am in my heart or mentally.  I’m not mad or angry right now.  Maybe just questioning why?  I know His plan is better, I’m just trying to wait patiently to see what His plan is…

2015.Feb.18 (only one day later…)
Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understand, will guard your hears and minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is the only reason I’m ok right now.  I’m rejoicing in the Lord! I cannot be anxious. I have NO control. I sometimes (a lot of the time…) like to think I do, but in reality, it all the Lord’s. He truly has given me a peace which transcends understanding and for that I am SO thankful.
At the end of Isaiah 50 it says:
“Behold all you who kindle a fire,
who equip yourselves with burning torches!
walk by the light of your fire,
and by the torches you have kindled!
This you have from my hand:
you shall lie down in torment.”
Am I trying to be self-reliant through any of this?  If so, I’ve lost sight of Jesus. He calls me to himself and tells me he wants to bear my sin.  He, ALONE, can be my eternal life and the HOPE that is to come.
Isaiah 50:10
“Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness
and has no light
Trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on his God.”
THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER!  TRUST HIM!  RELY ON HIM!  AND NOT ON MY OWN UNDERSTANDING!
My heart and my mind are guarded in Jesus!

2015.Sept.20
Took a pregnancy test yesterday morning…it was positive!  I’m having a hard time knowing how excited to get about all of it though because of what happened in February.  Psalm 57 was the message in church this morning.  David is in the cave hiding from Saul who’s trying to take his life and he writes:
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.”
How comforting to know that my God is in control. no. matter. what.  Please let that truth rest in my heart and head over the next couple months.  No matter what happens with this pregnancy.

2015.Oct.23
Yesterday we had what I thought was going to be an 8.5 week checkup where we would get to see a heatbeat…there was no heartbeat.  There was the sac (with extra fluid around it) and a baby that looked like it had stopped growing around 7 weeks…again.  It all seemed very familiar.  Bur I am still having a hard time believing that this is happening again.  However, yesterday afternoon I shed a lot of tears.  Some happy, some sad.  Happy because I listened to a podcast by John Piper about whether these babies are in heaven.  He says they are.  How amazing to think about our 3 little ones rejoicing in some way in heaven with Jesus already.  Then I listened to another podcast by Randy Alcorn (#363) and he throws out the idea that maybe I’ll get to raise these babies on the New Earth.  Now, although I don’t know if that’s true or not, that would sure be incredible.  And that’s encouraging.  So right now, I’m just finding my hope in Jesus.  A friend pointed me to Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
HOW AMAZING!  I have hope!  I have the Spirit! I have Jesus.  That is all I need. And yet he gave me Jeff (my husband).  He gave me Cutes (my 1st child).  And now He’s given me 3 babies who didn’t make it.  But I have hope.  And he might not give us another child.  And that is ok.  Because I have Jesus.  I have His love.  And that is all I need.

That’s all I physically wrote, but a lot more about my journey is in the previous blog posts.

My grieving isn’t finished.  I don’t think it ever will be.  A part of my family isn’t here with me.  However, I will rejoice in what God has given me on this earth and I look forward to eternity with Him. I’ll just have to wait and see what He has in store for us as the New Earth is formed and His perfect plan is completed.

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A crazy life. But good crazy this time…

The last few months have been crazy.  Mostly good crazy.  To start with, I found out I was pregnant (again.) in August.  I’ll start with how we arrived there… (ha 🙂 not all the details!)

To update from my last post, I finished with the specialist telling me that everything looked normal on all of the tests they ran.  This is great news.  However, it didn’t explain the 5 miscarriages… So they told us we had two options going forward.  Either try again normally (with closer monitoring as it all happened) or go for IVF.  We decided a while back that IVF was not for us so that wasn’t an option.  Which left try again.  That’s hard to hear when you’ve “tried again” four times already.  But God is in control and if all of my miscarriages really were just by chance, then that seemed like a good option.  (And just for the sake of information being out there, they did tell us that our miscarriages probably fell into the statistical realm of miscarriages: ie 1 in 4 pregnancies miscarry and we just happened to get unlucky in that 1:4 statistic 5 times.  That stinks, but God knows what babies will make it, so we’re resting in His goodness even though it was really hard and I currently don’t like statistics.)  So, in July, I had my uterine lining measured (because this was one of my questions…I read a lot of blogs saying women miscarried because their lining never got thick enough to support a pregnancy. Most of their posts mentioned a number around 3mm) and I was at about 8mm, which is a good number and I was so glad that wasn’t a big issue for me.  Then I had to do ovulation testing.  Then blood work to test my progesterone levels (these were fairly normal, but they wanted to boost them just in case so I was put on a progesterone supplement that lasted until week 10 of pregnancy).  Then wait.  Then a pregnancy test.  Which came back POSITIVE even when I tested two days before they told me to… Then blood work to establish initial levels of hcg (which came back great!) Then ultrasound.  Then blood work.  Then ultrasound… You get the picture.  It felt like I was living at the doctor’s office.  And a hard part to all of this was that Cutes wasn’t allowed to come with me to any of this, but we kept her updated through our whole process.  That’s another story for later.  Anyways, after a lot of tests and time, I made it to 9 weeks pregnant and the specialist cleared me to the regular OB.  Since then, it’s been pretty normal.  We actually go tomorrow for our 20 week scan already (this past Saturday I was 20 weeks!).  The fun part of tomorrow is that we could find out gender.  However, Cutes has been adamant about waiting until it comes out to find out.  We’ll see if that lasts… Hopefully, I’ll remember to update sooner rather than later on this one.

Other news in our craziness is that we’re probably moving in the new year.  Just about a mile from where we are now.  It was not planned at all, but off we go!  New adventures await in a new house.  I’m so sentimental and it’s been hard thinking about leaving the house I brought Cutes home to, but I am trying to let go and enjoy the change.

And a random aside: today Cutes and I went to Spartanburg.  It was for a cousin’s nursing graduation, but we paired that fun time with family with some visits to my old stomping grounds.  After the graduation and lunch with the fam, we went by Hatcher Gardens to see where the house I once lived in used to be (now it’s a big pile of wood-chips).  Wofford was the next stop and it was so wonderful to walk around campus, although rain hindered us a bit, and remember my time there.  I took Cutes into Milliken and said hello to a few professors then wandered a little while.  We finished up with a drive.  And although campus has changed a lot, it was wonderful to go back and it still felt like home – but with a 3.5 yr-old side kick.

The story for later about Cutes knowing what was going on is worth sharing now.  She has seen me go on quite a few emotional roller-coasters over the last two-ish years.  Through all of it, I’ve tried to be open with her about why I’ve been sad or sick or whatever.  Because of that, one day it came up that she had five brothers/sisters waiting for her in heaven if she went to heaven by trusting Jesus with her life.  As we talked about it, she started crying.  I didn’t know why, so I asked her.  She said, “Mommy, will you be in heaven too?” To which I replied “Of course I will!  But for you, you still have to have Jesus in your heart.”  She seemed pleased I’d be there and told me she didn’t want to go to heaven yet because she didn’t want to leave me.  I about melted.

There’s more to my story…

So I wrote about my journey through five miscarriages.  Well, when I wrote that, I didn’t know that the last one hadn’t actually been a miscarriage yet.  I went in to meet with the doctor at the reproductive medicine center and we talked through everything and made a plan.  So off I went that afternoon to start “figuring things out.”

They didn’t find what I thought they’d find.  Here goes another long story about what has happened since then…

When I went in for the dye x-ray test, they did a quick urine hcg test.  If it’s positive they can’t do the test because there could still be tissue in the uterus that they wouldn’t want to push up farther.  You guessed it.  Mine was positive.  So I thought, “Oh, I’ll just get the blood work done, come back for the test in a few days…no biggie.” I was quite off.

That first day’s hcg (or beta or pregnancy hormone) number was ~360.  That’s pretty high for having had a miscarriage.  They asked me to come back after 48 hours to check again.  If it’s a healthy pregnancy, numbers are supposed to double every 48 hours or so.  Mine went up to ~390 and through it all my progesterone numbers were in the gutter.  I think that first round progesterone was at one but higher than 15 is expected for a normal pregnancy.

The bad part about this second blood test was that I had it done as we were heading out of town for a family vacation to San Diego.  I got the voicemail as we were landing in San Diego around 4pm.  It was not a good feeling knowing that I couldn’t ask any questions until Monday morning since they had already closed for the day and the following day was Sunday.  So I turned to Google.  Not a good idea.

Everything I found online said that if your numbers are rising slowly, there’s a good chance it is an ectopic pregnancy (any pregnancy located outside your uterus) and most of those are in the Fallopian tubes.  I got up way early on Monday morning to make a phone call first thing to see what I needed to do.  Another waiting game because I didn’t hear back from them until  about 3-4 hours later.  And that’s when she confirmed that they thought it might be ectopic.  I needed to go get my blood drawn at a lab in San Diego.  At this point, I was so thankful that we had decided to stay in the United States.  Not that it couldn’t have been done elsewhere, but it’s so much easier when you know the system, the insurance, and the way to get there.  An aside, I went to one lab and while I was sitting in the waiting room, I checked my email and the nurse had sent an email saying I needed to go to a different lab…thankfully it was only 2ish miles away, but still…

This brings us to one of the worst parts of this whole process.  Monday ended up great and we got to go to the beach at Coronado, eat a wonderful lunch, have ice cream, go to the park, paddle board for the first time ever in the bay, then have a great dinner with a great friend from college.  However, that leads us to Tuesday.  Tuesday was hard.  We were so excited about the zoo.  I mean, it’s San Diego!  I have literally been dreaming of this day for a very long time.  It’s been forever since I got to see a real polar bear.  I was so excited to be taking Cutes there to see all the animals.  It was a wonderful family adventure.  The only problem was that I had this looming, “if you start cramping or bleeding, go to the ER” in the back of my head.  I would say I’m not normally a very anxious or stressed person.  I had my moments that day that were pretty terrible.  And when I had them, I prayed.  And I asked others to pray for me.  Thankfully those moments weren’t constant and I got to thoroughly enjoy my day at the zoo (see below), but on a few occasions I was a basket case.  It’s bizarre thinking that at any moment I could start bleeding internally and potentially die.  That was obviously the extreme, but it can happen if the Fallopian tube bursts and you bleed out.

Nothing happened while we were in San Diego, praise Jesus!  We got home and Thursday I went in for an ultrasound.  The doctor thought it might still be ectopic and that had caused a fluid sac about 5mm to form in my uterus.  Blood work came back: hcg still rising (~480).  I got a call from another doctor Friday to discuss options.  She talked through doing a biopsy and/or methotrexate.

As I took it all in, I didn’t really question that much.  Then I started to talk it over with Jeff.  That’s when I knew this wasn’t as cut and dry and it had sounded on the phone.  I couldn’t use the methotrexate because it’s the chemo-drug (targets the fasted dividing cells) that is sometimes used for abortions.  I personally couldn’t go there and risk killing the cells that might still be my growing (although not normal) baby.  I was in a very emotional state on Friday night.  I couldn’t be ok with either of those options from a Biblical standpoint and I didn’t know how the doctor on Saturday would react.  I talked it over with a few friends and they were super supportive as I balled my eyes out.  And poor Jeff through all of this is thinking about losing me if this is in fact ectopic and my tube burst or something crazy like that.  The other interesting part to this is that this has been something close to my heart for almost 20 years.  My family went through a tough situation with a family member back in the late 1990s and ever since then it’s been something I’ve thought about and prayed about.

Amazingly, the doctor Saturday morning was so understanding and felt like it was more than likely in my uterus so she was fine with monitoring me and repeating everything Monday.  Through it all, I kept thinking, “I fully understand from a medical standpoint that this baby isn’t going to make it.  I don’t want to be hopeful that it will make it, but I want to trust that God is so much bigger and that if He wants this baby to make it, it will.  Again, trying not to be too hopeful, but trusting.  Trusting that He can do all things.  Either way He chooses doesn’t make him bigger or smaller and I won’t understand either way why we’re going down this road, but He’s in control and can do whatever He wills.”

I shared at our home group on Saturday night what was going on and a friend shared afterwards that she’d been through something along the same lines.  Hers had progressed farther, but in the early stages, she had been similarly confronted with the methotrexate.  Hearing someone else’s story about trusting God’s perfect plan through something like this was so helpful.  She offered to go with me to the appointment on Monday and I was so thankful.  The appointment went well and the doctor was even more comfortable with the pregnancy being in utero.  She had discussed with the doctor from Saturday and was fine with how I wanted to proceed (naturally letting it take its course).  That only left the blood work.  Numbers had continued to rise (from 360 -> 390 -> 480 -> 560 -> 690) over the course of the week and a half we’d been going through this.  That afternoon they called to say the numbers had dropped down to ~620.

I went in on Friday for one last ultrasound to see how everything looked.  Everything was clearing out the way they wanted it to.  Numbers continued to drop and dropped even more on Monday.  I have one final round of blood work at the end of next week and hopefully all the hcg will have cleared and we can go back to square one of figuring out what in the world my body is doing.

All of that to say, I’ve had a hard time through this only because no one had any idea what was going on.  I had fully processed a miscarriage, then find out that it hadn’t actually happened yet.  Like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t have much hope this would actually turn into a healthy pregnancy, but there was still that glimmer for a little while.  I think I’ve fully processed it all, but I’m still frustrated with the lack of information that was available as I was going through all this.  I’m hopeful now that my story might bring someone else going through this some healing or help.  I just wanted to hear that this might not be ectopic, but everywhere I looked seemed to point to the fact that it was.  It wasn’t (well, as far as they could tell…).

Some things I searched when looking for answers (none of which came back with much helpful information):

signs of ectopic pregnancy, what is blighted ovum (definitely wasn’t my case, but I wanted answers), hcg levels slowly rising, what does beta increasing by 10 percent mean, levels 300 rising to 400, etc.

I also encountered an article tonight as I was preparing to write this post. I wanted to share because it’s something I’ve thought about.  I haven’t had my own experience with a baby that was born and stopped breathing in any capacity, but I’ve had a life growing inside of me that didn’t make it.  The Day I Dug My Daughter’s Grave

Love in Him,

Corey

p.s. my favorite!20160503_134930

p.p.s. kid picture alert! we had a great time and here are some fun moments:

seeing the seals on La Jolla beach, playing in the sand on Coronado, and my with my potential future Terrier and a Terrier pup that we met on the sidewalk

#StartAsking National Infertility Awareness Week

After having absolutely no trouble getting pregnant with Cutes and then the most uneventful pregnancy possible – literally nothing (well, unless you count her being breech and the doctors having to cut her out of me, but that’s another subject for another day…) – I didn’t dream we’d have any major issues getting pregnant with the second kiddo.

I was wrong. Five miscarriages later I’m here to tell you otherwise.  I haven’t shared my story with the world, but I’m so thankful for family and friends who have prayed for us and supported us through the last two years of these ups and downs.  So here’s the story (and a warning that I’m going to share some potential TMI detail):

November 2014 we took a positive pregnancy test at home.  Got excited.  Didn’t know how else to react!  Right before Thanksgiving I miscarried.  That one they called a “chemical pregnancy” and I didn’t really know what that was.  Next cycle it happened again totally by chance…I had never been regular, so voila! Again, pregnancy test at home.  Positive test so I scheduled by labs to examine my blood.  Looked good!  Went in for the six week ultrasound to see how everything looked.  Looked good again!  Went back in for the eight week ultrasound in February 2015.  Nothing. No heart beat. There was the remnant of my baby. I was so sad.  I cried for hours that day.  But then I went looking for some comfort from Jesus.  He led me to some of my favorite pastors.  John Piper had a podcast on babies that don’t make it.  I was comforted by his words that I will probably get to meet my babies in heaven.  What that looks like no one knows, but it is still wonderful to think about.  And Randy Alcorn had a podcast linked that said maybe we’ll get to have our whole family reunited on the new earth.  So sweet to think that with Jesus there is eternal hope. For everyone who knows Him.  And through it all I have been resting in Philippians 4:6-7 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus..”

Peace that surpasses comprehension is the way another version puts it.  I have that peace and He’s been guarding my mind.  I do not understand why God is doing this, but I’m resting in Him.  Resting in knowing that He’s working good in some way that I don’t think I will understand this side of heaven and the new earth.  But I will rest and I will trust.

And we continue… I didn’t get pregnant all summer long.  We decided in August that maybe we should try some ovulation testing.  So in September I got a positive (literally a smiley face) and later a positive pregnancy test.  I was excited again, but apprehensive.  We’ve been down this road.  So I waited until I thought I was about six or so weeks and got the labs done again.  Looked good!  I decided to just wait until the eight week ultrasound and we went in.  Again, no heart beat.  Another remnant of what had been a growing baby up until seven weeks (miscarried October 2015).  Again, sadness, but peace because I was resting in Him.  I still cried a lot that afternoon but I felt hopeful.  Not necessarily in the fact that we’d have another kiddo, but hopeful in Jesus and his eternal promises. And that’s the best feeling ever.

We waited a few cycles then did another round of ovulation testing at home: smiley face followed by a positive pregnancy test.  More labs.  First round of numbers didn’t look great, but you have to see if they double, so in I went.  Before I could even get the results back from the doctor, I started bleeding.  This was hard, but I felt like God was gracious in letting me start bleeding on my own without the doctor telling me I would start…and then again, since this one was classified as a chemical miscarriage, no one really advised us to wait, so we did another round of ovulation testing at home with the same result.  That leads me to where we are currently.  I just had my third chemical miscarriage.  That one put me at the end of my procrastinating in calling a specialist.

This morning we went to a reproductive specialist.  It was a very encouraging conversation and now we’re getting blood work done and they’re looking into what might be going wrong with the general keeping of the baby.  I obviously have no trouble getting pregnant, but can’t get past the seven week mark – yet I have a healthy three-year-old at home.  There are quite a few possibilities, but also a 40% chance that they won’t figure out what is making it hard for me to carry past seven weeks.  I haven’t processed that.  Hopefully I’ll remember to write about all of that and our journey here in the future.

One of the things that I think I’ve learned through all of this is how to be more thankful for Cutes.  I think she’d make a great big sister, but that’s not up to me at this point (it never has been, but it seemed like it was).  I have been trying to remind myself first to be thankful for her.  I can’t let my sadness outweigh that at any point.  I know I can be sad and, trust me, I have taken that liberty, but I also want to remember even in the midst of my sadness how blessed I am to be her mom first.  Then as long as I have the right perspective, I can move forward in my grief.

I wanted to document that for myself, but also share because I know I’m not alone in this journey of miscarriage and infertility.  This week is National Infertility Awareness Week so I wanted to make as many as I could aware of my situation.

Love in Him,

Corey

#1in8 #NIAW #StartAsking

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/home-page.html

And because I just can’t resist a Cutes pic, here’s one from our trip to Puerto Rico back in January:IMG_0784

Anni is TWO!

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Here’s the birthday girl!  I can’t believe she’s already two…time has flown by in so many ways!

She’s counting to 10 in English and Portuguese and sings more than anything (current favorite is “Jesus Loves Me” but she’s decided a mash-up is even better: Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, E-I-E-I-O)

We have tried teaching her what comes after 10 but that turned into “eighteen…seven-cheese…eight-cheese” the other morning in her bed.  You never know what you’re going to get with this girl and I love that!  She sure keeps me guessing!

I could go on and on but I’ll stop there!  If that’s not enough cuteness see more pics at https://therollisonfamily.shutterfly.com/3669

I’ll finish with one more cute pic of the Cutes! (it’s her shirt hat)

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My girl

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I don’t know if I ever thought of this one but she’s good! I only remember this with olives but she’s got it with raspberries 🙂
We share a container in the mornings – a girl after my heart!

And most of her life she’s been afraid of bubbles but we had a breakthrough today! Now she loves them and even has the word bubbles down!

Her other major enjoyment right now (and maybe always has been) is flashcards. She even tried taking a nap on them today…

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