Monday, June 18, 2012

Random Ramblings on Pregnancy and Miscarriage

I realized this morning that it was a year ago yesterday that the last pregnancy was dated from. 38 weeks from yesterday we were expecting our third baby, Christian, who's now a little saint in heaven.  The countdown had begun.

If I believed the doctor's in the various hospitals, I wouldn't be pregnant for another four weeks (two weeks after the test came back positive), because they didn't seem to believe that the baby could have been twelve weeks and measuring eight weeks and still have a heartbeat, so my math must have been wrong, and it was clear that I simply didn't understand what my body was telling me.  But those two little lines were unmistakable when they appeared two weeks later, as was the follow up test at the local clinic.

Since then I've heard, during the ten hospital trips that followed, that they wished women would just go by the first day of their cycle, without trying to figure these things out on their own (insert eye roll), because it's much easier that way.  I didn't point out that that would have put me at 16 weeks during that horrible ultrasound, with a baby measuring eight weeks, and at 8 weeks during the ultrasound for this current pregnancy when it was actually five weeks and still too early to see a heartbeat.  During that second ultrasound, had I not had the knowledge I possessed that second time, I would have been completely hysterical.

As many of you know, we lost the baby on the Feast of the Assumption, which also happens to be Paul's birthday (and to top it off, was also his first day of law school).  And now this new one year anniversary arrived on Father's Day.  I'm glad I didn't realize it until this morning when the date May 17th suddenly stood out, emblazoned in my mind.

I'm not sure this post has a point.  It's really just a random rambling stream of consciousness, because there are now these days that stand out to me, that I guess will always stand out to me, the kind that cause you to catch your breath and remember and know that while it gradually easier, it's still hard.

Or those other moments like yesterday morning, when I meet a baby with a sweet, easy smile and the mother tells me the age and I immediately realize that that is how old our baby would be, if what had happened hadn't happened and things had gone differently and there's a dull ache while I wonder if I will always know exactly how old he would have been.  And I think how wonderful it would be if our baby and that baby were playing, just like our baby's big sisters were playing with that sweet little baby's big brothers, who also happen to be the same age as our girls.

My first two pregnancies, with all their typically uncomfortable pregnancy moments, were easy, in retrospect, because I trusted my body.  I was so confident in my pregnancy-is-natural-and-my-body-knows-what-it-is-doing mentality and even the shock of the emergency c-section the first time around didn't shake that confidence.

Sure things could go wrong, I knew that they sometimes did, but that possibility seemed far off and nebulous, impossible really as the babies grew and I grew, happy and round.

Inevitably, this time has been different.  There has been a looming fear that I push aside whenever it rises up, almost afraid to expect a baby as each incidence of spotting (I think there have been three now) sends me reeling, certain that something is wrong.  And yet, despite my worries, things have progressed steadily.  I can now feel the top of my uterus above my belly button when I'm laying flat (another big baby?  I was 19 weeks yesterday!) and the kick, kick, kicks have become increasingly constant and, at long last, reassuring.  The reality is beginning to sink in, that this pregnancy might really be like the other two (if you ignore the spotting and month of bed rest) and we might glide smoothly into the third trimester.

I'm more aware of what I eat now.  Every time I see coleslaw, I wonder if, had I not eaten that suspicious meal on the Fourth of July which resulted in food poisoning when I was eight weeks pregnant, I would now have a smiling 6 month old (of course I didn't realize that the coleslaw was suspicious until I was nearly done... we were having a pleasant meal laughing and talking with friends... the picture at right shows us about half an hour before that fateful lunch at a fancy restaurant that resulted in my first ever bout of food poisoning...).  Sushi and uncooked cold cuts and rare anything are off the list too.  I am much more careful... much less trusting than I was a year ago, because the it-won't-happen-to-me mentality has been replaced by the thought that it has happened and I'd give anything to not have it happen again, even if it means giving up a few things here and there for 9 months.

I will be twenty weeks in six days.  For some reason I imagine I will breath more easily then, having reached the halfway point.  And I imagine I will relax considerably in August when we're home for the 20 week ultrasound (at 24 weeks since we're out of town now!).  That in combination with reaching the age of viability might cause me to throw a party.

Except that I've been expecting to relax since 12 weeks and that just hasn't happened.  The date, when I'l breath easy, keeps getting pushed back.  Maybe I'll just worry until I'm holding our little one in my arms.

I know I'm bound to be told to "trust in God" at some point in response to this post... and I do.  This past year has been the sort that forces one to do just that.  Yet trusting in God doesn't mean that you don't worry about your children at all, does it?  As parents we trust in God and pray... and worry and cry and laugh and love.  We pray that we can accept God's will, regardless of what it is, but that doesn't stop us from worrying about what it will be, particularly when it involves our children (maybe if I were a teensy further down the road to sainthood, not worrying would be easier?).

For those of you who have gone through this before, were you able to relax during your next pregnancy?  (and the question I'm even more curious about):  Were subsequent pregnancies easier than the first?  


  1. No, I did not relax during the pregnancy following the last miscarriage. Which was the pregnancy just after the one in which we lost one of the twins at 5 months gestation after the specialist declared us in the clear for a successful twin pregnancy.

    I hope the next pregnancy, if there is one, is easier.

  2. I'm not going to tell you not to worry. It's very easy to tell someone that when one has not experienced the untimely death of a family member. When one has, as sweet sugary platitude bets are off. I'm just going to tell you that I'm praying that your worry is softened, eased...and that while you are experiencing it, you are touched by the paternal hand of God.
    Pax Christi Cammie

  3. Just because we *know* we should "Trust in God" doesn't make it easy.

    I see 2 year olds all around me and I wonder what my daughter would like like. I have a niece and a nephew born 29 days before and after my daughter so I will always have to deal with it. I see families where mom and dad got married within weeks of my husband and me and they're on their third and we're just starting the third trimester with #2. It's very difficult.

    The feelings and struggles I have don't mean I don't trust in God. they simply are what they are.

  4. After three early miscarriages, I didn't relax until about 20 weeks with the next two successful pregnancies.

    My daughter is due just days ahead of you (20 weeks last Thursday) following a miscarriage 2+ years ago and subsequent struggles with thyroid issues. She also had spotting episodes (likely hematoma) and was on bed rest for about 5 weeks. Only in the last couple of weeks, following good ultrasounds, strong heartbeat, and a good result in the quad screening blood test, has she relaxed a bit.

    I think that once there has been a problem, it is always in the back of your mind.


  5. Do you know Dana Gioia's poem "Majority"?

  6. With this pregnancy (which occured just days after we would have been due with baby we lost last May) I found it very hard to relax at first. I even didn't want to tell anyone at first for fear of "what if it happens again?" It wasn't until hearing the heartbeat at the 12 week appointment (which we couldn't find last time) that I felt like I could breath. When the baby started kicking and moving I began to feel much better. But I think a miscarriage stays with you will change you in so many ways, no matter how much you trust in God. Anyone who sees that as the answer has never been there!! Best of luck over the next weeks. We have 11 more to go...I'm getting so anxious to snuggle and kiss this dear, precious gift!!!

  7. I know little about losing a child, but a good deal about worry and struggling with faith, and thinking that because you worry, it means your faith must not be strong enough. The best I can offer you (besides my prayers) is to say that you aren't a "faith failure" just because you worry. I think the key is to make a conscious effort to trust God from moment to moment, rather than entertain the worry when it comes knocking. It will be a battle. Fight the battle; you'll be stronger for it in the end. Don't trust in the outcome you want; merely trust in His unfailing love, and His mercies that are new each morning. <3 Praying for your comfort and peace. :)

  8. My first three pregnancies all ended in miscarriage (1st and 3rd) and preterm labor and still birth (2nd). So with my fourth pregnancy I was on pins and needles the whole time. It also didn't help that I was pregnant with twins who shared a placenta (mono/di twins) and thus had the added stress of TTTS to worry about (which we luckily avoided). I don't think I will ever be completely comfortable in subsequent pregnancies, I will always wonder about the "what ifs." It's sad because I see so many women who enjoy being pregnant and are so happy the whole time without a care in the world, as it appears on the outside anyway, and I kind of long for that innocence that I know I will never have. The pain we go through as moms who have lost children too early is something that we never forget. Like you said in your post, there will also be a dull ache there. I too remember dates and think about how old my children be now if they had gone full-term, etc. I don't think it will ever be something we forget. And I don't want to forget. :)

  9. I worry. I am a champion worrier. It has never felt to me as if it were eroding my faith in God and the understanding that God will provide, ultimately, the peace and grace to get through anything. In fact, I have become a bigger worrier the more my faith has deepened - and I chalk it up to my newfound understanding of responsibility for human life that faith has brought me. Now I worry not just for myself and for my loved ones, but for everyone. If I see a teenager dart across a highway, I worry for him, praying, "Please let that kid understand how dangerous that is!" I worry for the woman I see sobbing in her car at the supermarket - what could have hurt her so? Before my love story with God, my concern for these things was not so high; I was not such a worried person, nor such a careful or compassionate one. Being a Catholic, of course I believe that God is in control, but I also believe in free will and human action, and I have to believe that part of my calling is to worry: because I love, and value, and see in ways I never could before.

  10. First of all, I just wanted to say I love reading your blog! I am at home with my 3 boys and it's so nice to read about another Catholic mommy out there! :)

    I am so fortunate not to have ever had a miscarriage. But with each pregnancy that has not stopped me from being consumed with fear. The worst was my 3rd pregnancy. I was diagnosed with auto-immune thyroid disease at 8 weeks. I found out I was hypothyroid and my TSH was 7! (recommended during pregnant is under 2.5). Plus, the antibodies made my liklihood o=f miscarriage double. I was a mess, a total mess. We eventually rented a doppler and listened to our baby's heartbeat every other night starting at 10 weeks.

    I am not sure what to expect with our next pregnancy... on the one hand I think I have reached a greater maturity as a mother which may help me to me more open to God's plan. But on the other hand, I really don't know if that is going to keep the thought of double m/c rate from leaving my mind!

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