Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Two Pink Lines & Goodbye


These are MY personal thoughts, opinions and experience. I dare not assume to speak for anyone who has experienced this sort of loss. That includes my husband. These are my words and I hold huge respect, reverence for each personal experience that is not mine.
I am going to be 97% honest about how this all when down. So, beware and be forewarned. This hurts to write so I assume there may be an element of hurt as it is read. It is also quite personal.
Like any of my writing the reader needs to know that I use writing as an opportunity to process parts of my life. I write openly so that anyone who would like to experience that process can; deeply hoping it will help in some way.

We had a miscarriage.

Jan 18th, 2015. 6 weeks and one day pregnant.

Not really what I had in mind for my birthday.

January 10th, 7 days late, 5am and too excited to sleep. I had been impatiently waiting to take a pregnancy test until it seemed the only logical response would be positive. I remember sneaking out of bed into the bathroom. Sitting, waiting for those little pink lines. It was immediately positive. And I was overjoyed. Sitting on the side of the bathtub, next to two pink lines trying not to giggle. We have been unofficially trying for a while and here it was! I hid the proof then crawled back into bed.
I am not sure if you have experienced a moment of what I will call "sheer pride." I have them from time to time. The one I remember most was the first time I held Joshua in my arms. It is... it is a feeling that pushes all others to the side. The overwhelming belief that this person is the one you love most and the pride of knowing that the are yours.
When I looked over at Matt asleep in bed, my heart was filled with that sheer pride. There are plenty of good men out there but mine...mine was incredible. I was so happy to know we would have another little one. We both wanted one; in my mind that is as "ready" as you can ever be.
It was a Saturday but Matt left for work soon after we all woke.
I calculated I was around 4.5 weeks along. (Thank you internet.) And text the only person I would allow myself to share the information with this early on.

Every time I looked into the mirror I smiled. The tiny little creation would so quickly be with me and I knew that I already loved this little poppy seed sized being.
Then 2 days later, I spotted. Text my darling friend and cried in the corner of my kitchen, on my knees as the kids ate lunch one room over. My prayer was met with a swift, sweet calming of my mind. I stood up, wiped away my tears and continued with the day. Making time to see that spotting was fairly common. (Thank you internet.)

I had, had a plan already due to having the "feeling" I was pregnant a few days earlier. Before I could even stop my mind I had formed a clever plan. (As if I would have been able to stop it anyway.) The Oregon Ducks had just won the Rose Bowl & I had ordered Matthew some Rose Bowl shirts. I knew they had shipped and would arrive soon. I figured I would make a little treasure hunt. Each clue leading cleverly into the next until the two shirts were discovered and the final surprise delivered by Sam in the form of a photo of those two pink lines.

The shirts came two days after the Ducks lost the Championship. As irritating as that loss was I figured the news of a baby would be welcomed. Except that at a little over 5 weeks along, I knew something was wrong. The spotting had continued to come & go. I regretted not telling Matt right away. I needed him to comfort me. I needed his rational because as much as I tried to regain the sweet calm I had felt the day before I was swiftly losing my level headedness.

Matt came home the 14th to a treasure hunt. He was so cute chasing around the clue and finding the surprises but my heart was racing. He read the last clue that lead him to Sam. I pulled him aside and had him sit down. I had the last clue. "I was hoping to be able to give you another gift..." I handed him the envelope that contained the little pink lined photo. "But, I don't think I am going to be able to give it after all." At this point I was tearing up. Matt smiled at the photo and asked me to explain. I did. He smiled again. Matthew has always had so much more faith then me, so much more hope and trust then I have. "Just trust Crista, it will all be okay." Then he held me as I cried into his shoulder.

The next couple days I lost my mind. I stopped thinking I was pregnant. I could not bare the thought because it meant I would continue to connect to this little seseame-sized baby. I shut that part of joy off. I undertook the concept of miscarriage but because I had never experienced it I was gripped with fear. I had no idea what my body was doing or why. I read about tubal pregnancy and how it was the leading cause of pregancy-related death. (Much less thanks to the internet in this case.) I had a dull pain in my left side and very light, inconsistent spotting. I called my mom and told her what was happening. Crying more for fear of myself then for loss of the baby. What if... it was the only thoughts that made it through the madhouse my mind had become. I was stuck at home, alone minus the presence of children. Matt worked late almost every night that week. My mom explained her two experiences with me. My sweet friend who had been the only one to know shared her experience with me. Their willingness to be open with me about their losses helped me manage. It soothed but only as much a cold water on a burn. Eventually you have to remove your hand and struggle through the pain of the burn to heal.

I spent the majority of Wednesday and Thursday crying. Fear ruled my life. I could not escape the lies. My mind was a web of them. Each more entangling then the last. One of those nights I asked Matt to wake me in the morning before he left for work. When he asked why I explained I was afraid I would die in the night or after he left. I did not want Sam to have to see his mom dead. I am pretty sure that freaked him out. Obviously I did not die but similar thoughts and fears bound me. I functioned only as much was necessary to care for the kids. I had not changed in that respect. The battle was in my mind. I was scared. Even after losing Joshua, I had never traveled a road that seemed completely deprived of hope, peace and trust as this was.

Each bathroom break sank me deeper into my fear and confusion. Each brought proof that something was wrong. But it was a constant yo-yo-ing of emotion. Sometimes spotting, sometimes not. Sometimes hope, sometimes loss.
Friday, I sat in the bathroom wiping away hope and started to sing.
"Oh Lord my God, when I in awestruck wonder consider all the works Thy hands have made. I see the stars. I hear the rolling thunder. Thine power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee. How great Thou art. How great Thou art."

I sung that song out of straight habit. It was not on purpose, it was not intentional. It was an unconscious clinging to sanity. And God's greatness, it's reality, overtook my mind. It cleared out all the webs of lies...for just as long as I sang. It was early Friday, Jan. 16th.
The next few days I sang the truth of this song countless times. (Ask Matthew, he will remember.) Sometimes I sang unconscious of when or why I started while other times were a deliberate an attempt to dispel the chaos my mind space had become. Each verse seemed to untangle a little piece of that web from the truth I had stored up over the last 27 years. "When through the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees. When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee. How great Thou art. How great Thou art. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee. How great Thou art. How great Thou art."

One of the more peaceful days, as the kids ate and I washed dishes I saw little birds eating the bird seed I'd left on the fence and thought, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they?" Matthew 6:26. I had set out the food so that the kids could see the birds eat and hear them sing. It had not really been my intention to be a tool of God to provide for them. And yet, I was. I could not help but think of my friend who I knew had been praying unceasingly for me, as the one God had given to take care of me during this season.

My lack of trust in God was not new news. I had struggled off and on with it since losing Joshua. But the intensity of the revelation of my distrust shook me. I did not expect God to come through for me. I really did think I would die one night. "How am I suppose to know what God's plans are?" was the excuse I gave my thoughts. I was living in a constant state of waiting for something to go wrong. I knew God was good. I knew that He loved me but the pain of His plans had scarred me. I didn't believe "it will all work out" about anything. I just survived in anxious waiting until the next disappointment or struggle I was sure would come along. (Not every second but as a general way of handling life.)
This admission to myself occurred somewhere in the mess of the waiting for loss. I was so ashamed at who I was. That this was what was left in me. I no longer had the blind trust I'd held onto so closely as a youth. The trust in God that got me through the struggle of growing up, coping with the brokenness of my home and changes of my young life. I didn't know how to regain trust in God.

Saturday, we dropped Sam off at his grandparents & headed out with a wonderful couple, our closest friends in Texas. We spent the day & evening touring a winery and distillery. We ate the best food I have ever had at the onsite restaurant* & was surprised with a stay at the Bed and Breakfast by those same wonderful friends.
Being out of the house, outside on a 70 degree day in January with wilderness all around. I was distracted. Each verse of "Oh Lord my God, when I in awestruck wonder consider all the works Thy hands have made. I see the stars. I hear the rolling thunder..." brought me closer to peace. Visually reminded of how small I am yet still asking & hoping for an answer soon. Waiting, practicing trust. Beautifully distracted by wonderful people and wilderness.

Sunday came. January 18th. Officially 28 years old! I spent the morning with Matthew and the afternoon as a little family on the couch watching movies. To heck with the messy house. I just wanted to be with my people. It was not until laying in bed that night that I started to be uncomfortable. I text my dear friend and mom to be praying that no matter what happened that I would not be in too much pain. My mom called to chat about what was happening. It was not until half way though our conversation that I realized I was having contractions. "I think I have to go to the bathroom," I told her. She promised her prayers and I grabbed a book and did what I had said. I sat in the bathroom, reading and waiting. I had two children, one completely naturally and one with a intrathecal shot at 9 cm (naturally until the very last second.) I knew what contractions felt like. And I knew that the best thing I could do was stay off my phone, stay the flock away from the internet and just relax. The odd thing about contractions is how hopefully they start. I sat in the bathroom, reading my book completely at peace and hopeful. I finally could recognize what my body was doing. I understood what it meant. And I was relieved to finally have the answer. At some point Matthew, who had awoken to my absence, came and sleepily checked on me and asked how I was doing. (He really is the sweetest man.) He went back to sleep with some urging that I was fine and at peace. At some point, the time not mattering, I was no longer pregnant. 6 weeks and 1 day.

The next day I woke up, still at peace. I was so thankful that I had finally gotten an answer. That all the prayers I and sweet family has been whispering was answered. Matthew called to check in, as did my mom & friend. I was really okay. I was more then okay. I was thankful to be done.
It was not until the evening that the realization of my emptiness crashed upon me. I was at the grocery store to grab something for dinner. Some guy was super rude to me without apparent cause. I couldn't stop thinking about the interaction all the way out to the car. I couldn't figure out why it had hurt so much. Once in my car I burst into tears at the thought, "he was so mean and I just lost a baby." That was it... a flood of sadness. My little 6 week old, orange seed sized baby was no longer mine. And there was no way to tell that mean man at the store. He was like a bulldozer, walking around completely unaware of the wreckage he was passing or was causing. "How dare he...I just lost a baby" was my chant on the way home in the car. I got home and told Matthew as I made dinner. I stood in the kitchen and tried not to cry. Matt came in and hugged me. (When did he get so good at this?) He let me cry on his shoulder again, hugging me, just waiting.
Sitting on the couch a few days later Matt said, "At least we know we are not broken." I don't know what he was thinking but his words made me smile. I was thankful then and I am thankful now to have such a man in my life. I am not the best wife, mother or woman but I can rest in the fact that I am not alone. I am not alone in my marriage, parenting, relationships. I am not alone in my brokenness because even when it is unspoken there are many who have been or are on the same road.

The Little Things that happened but didn't fit the flow of the retelling above.

When I was trying to take it easy after the first spotting Sammy asked if I was ok. "You sick mom? Your tummy hurt? Don't worry, you feel better soon." He spoke that to me more then once. He was worried at my lack of movement and his inability to jump on me.
The day after goodbye he said, "Now I can anaconda squeeze (extra tight hug) you cause you are not sick. You are all better."
We never told Sam what was happening. Yet it amazes me how much little children pick up on. So many times through those two weeks from pink lines to goodbye, he found his way to my side. Sitting near or on me just to say, "I love you." or ask how I was feeling. Samuel in hebrew sounds like the word for, "he heard my cry." God answered our prayers with Sam then and still now.

Matthew is amazing. There was not a day that went by that he did not find some way to encourage me. He knew I was having a hard day (before he knew) so he brought home flowers & chocolate. He went out to get dinner so I didn't have to make it. He held me when I cried. He encouraged me with text messages and sent Bible verses to remind my heart.
"I sought the Lord and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fears," Psalm 34:4
That verse has been a theme of our relationship together and in the moments that I have forgotten the steadfastness of God, Matt has reminded me.

These two men are my proof that God is good. They are the proof that God loves me.

I need to work on my trusting God. I need to remember why it is He deserves to be trusted. "I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder. Thine power throughout the universe displayed..." I can't say the journey to regaining trust will be easy. I know it will hurt. And I can't help but know that it will never reach completion while I am alive.  But I do know that trust comes with practice and proof. Practice on my part and endless proof on His.

In all of the joy, mess and hurting of Nice baby number 3, I was reminded something powerful I had not-quite-forgotten but neglected...
You never know...YOU NEVER KNOW the heartbreak that the person beside you is struggling to get though. There is no way to know. All we see is a whole person walk by but inside they could be being torn to bits; needing just the smallest bit of gentleness. The smallest piece of recognition that they are not alone. We all need gentleness and we all need to give it. Getting lost in the busy of life is easy, casual and accepted. But you never know how much a 18 minute phone call after a long day of work can mean to someone across the country. Or how powerful taking time to smile at another can be. You don't have to know (most likely you never will) what is going on inside a person to love them. You can still create lasting memories of gentleness. I remember going to Starbucks when Samuel was just a baby. I had been off work 2 months and just back but we were just scraping by. I was using my last $3.50 to buy a coffee that would mean more for my sanity then my clarity. I pulled up and Debbie Hughes saw me. With the biggest smile on her face she greeted me, asked how I was and honestly cared about my answer. She said the coffee was on her as long as I drove away slow so she could get a peek at Sam. At that exact moment I needed care and gentleness. And this morning when I was sad about writing that her gentleness was remembered. You don't know how much your little act of care can console another.
I need to work on being more gentle. Allowing myself to care for people I typically ignore. Not in an unreasonable, unattainable way but practically. All it will take is me opening my eyes, noticing more then what I am involved and smiling.
Smiling at people because they are people and YOU NEVER KNOW...

*I found out later about the all who had given and provided for my birthday dinner. I can not express my thankfulness to you. Your gift, your financial sacrifice was more then healing for me. It is not just the meal but how much I felt re-filled with hope and peace by it. Thank you for your willing hearts. when I recall Nice baby number 3 and all the sadness, I will remember the peace that your gift gave. I will remember you & pray that you are blessed 100 times more then you gave. Thank you from the depth of my heart for your love. Thank you so very much!