Monday, December 3, 2007

Because of Travis

Today marks the 4 year anniversary of my miscarriage. I have not gotten that far in the writing of my "life journey", but because this day is both the worst and best day of my life, I want to share with you.

Thanksgiving 2003 was spent visiting family in Ohio, although it was only myself and Th. I don't remember why TJ stayed in SC, but he did. While I was gone, I began to spot. I phoned the doctor and was told it is/was normal to spot around the time I would normally have my cycle (I was almost 9 weeks pregnant). The nurse I spoke with said to make an appointment the following Monday if the spotting didn't stop. I planned to go anyway because I was fighting a severe cold and needed some medication.

The spotting never increased, but it didn't decrease, either. I also remember not feeling pregnant- you know, the exhaustion, the nauseousness, tenderness in the chest- I did not have any of those symptoms. I also remember thinking it was weird that my pants weren't feeling any tighter, either. Granted I wouldn't have been in maternity clothes that early, but I should have felt bloated.

I returned home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I didn't spot at all that day, and began to trust what the nurse had said. The next day we drove to my in-laws for a birthday party. We were gone all day, and got back home about 6pm that evening. My in-laws live about an hour and a half away, and I needed to potty as soon as I got home. I ran into the house to go while TJ got Th out of the car. I screamed and he came running in. I showed him what I had seen, and we immediately drove to the emergency room.

Once there, I had some blood work done. The doctor did not do an ultrasound (looking back, I don't know why) and after a few hours, I was released and told I may or may not be having a miscarriage. I needed to make a follow-up appointment in the morning with my OB doctor. My heart was crushed and I was confused. I barely slept that night.

The next morning (Monday, Dec. 1), I was still bleeding pretty heavily. I called the doctor and went in to be seen. I met with the nurse practitioner, Robin, and she had me go in right away for an ultrasound. The technician showed me on the screen where the baby was, and I immediately felt relief. I was okay! She attempted to find a heartbeat, then asked me some questions. The baby was measuring 5 weeks, and I was now 9 weeks. Could I be off on my dates?

When meeting again with Robin after the ultrasound, she said I needed to have more blood work taken and would have to come back in the morning. She wanted to compare my hCG levels to that taken from the hospital (when you're pregnant, your levels double every 48 hours). Basically I still did not have a definitive answer as to whether I was having a miscarriage. In my heart I knew the answer, but I would not allow my mind to accept it. I kept telling myself everything was going to be okay.

The next day (Tuesday, Dec. 2) I went back for the blood work. I would not receive the results until the next day, so I had to make it one more day before I found out if this baby would survive this pregnancy. That evening, and it is as real and vivid now as the night it happened, I sat on the couch upstairs in the playroom. I watched TJ and Th playing together, and I had severe cramping. I knew then that I was losing my baby, and I cried silently to myself as I watched them together. My heart was breaking and my world was crumbling around me. TJ, always being positive, told me to stop worrying because I didn't know for sure, but I did.

Th was sick that night (I had shared my cold with him) and woke a little after midnight crying. I usually got up with him by myself on the rare occasions that he woke in the middle of the night, but this night TJ got up with him, too. I used the opportunity to go to the bathroom, and just as TJ was walking in the bathroom to get Th a tissue, I pulled my pants down and the baby literally fell on the bathroom rug.

I immediately began to cry as this was the confirmation I had been waiting for all week, but especially the past 4 days. TJ calmed Th down and got him settled in bed while I just sat on the bathroom floor crying my heart out. I don't really know how I felt. I know how I felt after, but that specific point in time, I'm not too sure. TJ held me, and then we called the doctor.

The doctor on-call that night was horrible (he later delivered T.G.). He told me I probably did not miscarry but rather it was just a large clot. No, Dr. M., you don't understand. I see arms and legs, and little tiny hands; I KNOW this is my baby! The doctor told me to pick up the "clot", flush it down the toilet, and come into the office first thing in the morning. Regrettably, I did as he instructed.

When I went in on Wednesday, I again met with Robin. It was very quiet and somber as the technician performed the ultrasound, which only confirmed what I knew deep in my soul. I had miscarried, and then I flushed my baby down the toilet because some pompous doctor told me to do so! I was horribly mad and sad. I had so many questions as to why it happened, but all I could muster was a "Why?" and "Was it because of . . . ". I succumbed to just crying in Robin's office as she quietly sat there and allowed me to. As I got up to leave, she hugged me and said to come back in a couple of weeks to ask my questions. I needed some time to let it all sink in.

I was in shock, yet I had known for 4 days I was not going to be delivering a baby in July 2004. However, that did not lessen the hurt or pain I was experiencing. On top of my loss, I had to deal with telling everyone. Family was the worst. I gave that job to TJ. He did a great job- he really hadn't shown any emotion about the miscarriage anyway. Don't get me wrong, he was sad, but nothing compared to what I was feeling/experiencing. I listened as he made the calls, and I could tell the reactions of those on the other line by the conversations that took place after receiving the news. I know it was my loss, but my pain was made worse by listening to those phone calls. I felt like my world had stopped, and I couldn't understand how everyone else could still be living while I was in such pain. To this day, I am still amazed at how much my heart hurts for that baby, and I can feel the emotions of that day deep into my being.

I only knew one other person who had experienced a miscarriage. It was none other than my friend Chelsea. I called her and she immediately knew what to say. I so wish I could have had her with me. The feeling of isolation I felt was overwhelming. I know I keep saying I was in so much pain, but I really was. The deep sense of loss is overpowering. I cried uncontrollably for a long time. I was mourning the baby, the unrealized dreams, our "incomplete" family, all the things people don't realize they think about when they're pregnant until something happens. Chelsea knew how I felt. Chelsea understood me more than my own family, my own husband. And she was in Ohio and I was in SC. Alone. Locked in the bedroom crying on my pillow.

Relationships were strained after that. I was embarrassed to see anyone in the family because of a comment made by a family member. Something to the effect that if I got pregnant again, maybe the next time I wouldn't get sick. Like my being sick had caused the miscarriage. I realize the absurdity to that statement now, but then I didn't. I honestly had no idea why I miscarried and definitely blamed myself. I reasoned I had given birth to a healthy baby once, it had to have been my fault if I didn't do it again. I avoided family at all costs, and Christmas that year was very difficult. I did not feel any joy, any reason to celebrate. I was angry at the world because life continued despite my pain, and I didn't like it.

I met with Robin a few weeks later. I asked her about the possibility that something was wrong with me. She gently rebuked that option and said matter-of-factly that the only person who knows what happened is the Lord above. That statement angered me because if it was me, I could do something to change so I could have healthy children. If it was God, pregnancy was totally out of my control.

Now, here is where the Lord begins to heal my broken heart and shape me into who I am today. This is where I begin to understand that ALL THINGS work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Up to this point, I felt I was being punished; I had taken one of God's children 8 years earlier (almost to the day), and the Lord, I irrationally thought, was taking one of mine so I could understand the pain I caused Him.

I had planned to be a SAHM whenever I had children, but because of various life circumstances surrounding Th's birth, I was forced to find a job. I did, and I loved my job. I worked at a community college in downtown Charlotte, and I was very happy. My boss was a retired Army Sergeant and we got along great. I enjoyed my coworkers, and the job was relatively easy. Of course some days were stressful, that is to be expected, but overall it was a fun job and I felt useful.

However, I missed being with my baby, especially when he started doing all of his "firsts" at daycare and I missed being there to see them. On top of that, he became sick and was sick often that first winter. I missed a lot of work, and the stress of having to call off (again!), plus recently moving to a new house in a new town, not feeling 100% confident in the new daycare, and the added drive time back and forth to work began to take its toll. My miscarriage sort of confirmed my desire to stay home with Th. I was willing to sell our brand new house and move into a box if it meant I could stay home. I just had to be with my baby, especially because at this point in my life, I was not going to have any more children. I couldn't bear the thought of experiencing this kind of deep pain again.

So, the first blessing out of my miscarriage was that 2 weeks before Christmas I turned in my resignation. My boss was unhappy to be losing me, but completely understood, as did my coworkers, especially my friend Cindy. I returned after our Christmas break and finished out the month of January. As of 1 Feb 2004, I was officially a SAHM.

As I mentioned above, we had just recently moved into the house in which we currently reside. I knew no one, and knew nothing about the area either. I began to look for groups to become involved with, and came across a group called MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers). It is a Christian-based group, and I attended a couple of meetings to see if I liked it and fit in. I did, and I did. I met some wonderful women in this group, and I can see the Lord's hand in this all, especially now.

Through MOPs, I met a woman in my small group who belonged to a club called the MOMS Club. She lived in a different town than I did, but informed me there was a group in my town, as well. She gave me a website, I contacted them, and joined about 2 weeks later. I have been a part of the MOMS Club since Feb. 2004, and I can't imagine my life without the friends I've made in this Club. They have supported me through so many life situations that I wouldn't have wanted to face alone. TJ has made friends of the spouses through this Club, and our children have great friends through this Club.

Besides getting involved with the MOMS Club, another woman (Susan) from MOPs put me in contact with a woman (Heather) who attends Harvest Baptist Church. Now, a man (Bob) TJ worked with had been inviting us to attend this church since we first moved in October 2003. This gentleman was an older man, and I told TJ I didn't want to go to a church full of old people! When Susan said her neighbor Heather attended Harvest, I knew it was God trying to tell me something. The Lord definitely wanted us at Harvest since He was using Bob to invite TJ and Heather (through Susan) to invite me. I was willing to try it out, and we have been attending ever since. Just a quick blurb about Bob. Bob, of all the people TJ and I know, actually touched me the most when I miscarried. The day TJ told him the news, I guess he said something to the effect of "My wife had a miscarriage." Bob replied to TJ, "No, you both had a miscarriage and I'm so sorry for your loss." When TJ told me what he said, I began to cry because finally someone else understood the overwhelming pain I was feeling. I later found out Bob really does understand my pain. He and his wife lost their only son a few years back. He was killed by a drunk driver. He had recently been married but did not have any children. Bob was devastated, to say the least. Bob and his wife have become very close family friends, sort of like surrogate grandparents to our children.

To recap, my miscarriage allowed me to become a stay-at-home-mom, I joined MOPs and received my beloved Mom's Devotional Bible, I joined the MOMS Club, and we began attending Harvest. On top of all those many blessings, I have met so many other women through my church and the MOMS Club who have all miscarried. Not only that, but I have had a couple of friends miscarry, and because of my experience, I knew exactly how they were feeling and how to better minister to their needs.

So you see, sometimes great pain causes blessings we are not prepared for, nor able to see, when we are going through trials of various types. Before I miscarried, I thought my life was in my hands and under my control. God used a miscarriage to bring me back to Him, and I praise Him for that. I was a very selfish, ungodly person a few years ago. I still am selfish and ungodly at times, but I have changed so much since this experience. I have learned so much about God through all of this, and that is the most important thing, I believe. I would definitely suffer again if it meant I received those same blessings, because to me, the blessings far outweigh the pain. There's an old adage, "pain is temporary", and it really is, especially when one turns to the Lord, our God of Comfort.

To help with my grief, TJ and I named our baby Travis after the Air Force Base we met at. To this day, every Christmas we place a poinsettia in our church to honor him and remember what God has done in our lives through him. Travis is our miracle baby, because if not for him, I would not be where I am today spiritually, and the same for TJ. Because of Travis, TJ got saved. Because of Travis, I had 2 more beautiful, healthy children. Because of Travis, I can relate to and encourage other moms when they experience similar circumstances. Because of Travis, TJ would not be the spiritual leader of our home, nor the father and husband he is today. Because of Travis, I would not be the mom I am today. Because of Travis, I would not know or love the Lord like I do, and that is a scary thought. Thank you Lord for my miscarriage.