Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dealing with Miscarriages

       The past couple of years we have felt like having one more person in our family was right.  Last spring, I found out I was pregnant at the same time my sister announced her first pregnancy.  It was a sweet joy to be able to share the weeks talking about our common experience and excitement.  Around 7 weeks along, she started bleeding.  Scared about the possibility of miscarrying she went into her doctor.  And about a week later I started bleeding.  Thankfully her bleeding stopped and the baby continued to grow while mine did not.  It seemed to get worse.  Over the next week it began a reality and experiencing my first miscarriage was a shock. The post pregnancy emotions were really intense and I felt up and down for a really long time.   I was grateful that my sister didn't have to deal with that sadness her first pregnancy.  A few weeks later I felt back to normal but was a little more leery about telling people I was expecting when we decided to try again a year later.
         We found out we were expecting shortly after a trip back west to see my family for my Grandpa's 100 birthday.  We thought it would be fun to surprise everyone at the reunion and were going to keep it a secret from our family until our family reunion 4 months later.  Once we got to our 10 week appt, I gave into Jon's yearnings for a new mini van with the 8th seat, a 2014 Honda Odyssey with all the cool gadgets he wanted for our trip this summer.  Jon's parents set up a Fall vacation to come visit us a week before the expected due date and so they wouldn't feel jipped to miss seeing the baby, we gave up the secret and told them we were expecting and then called my Mom and Dad to tell them.  Since I was showing, I started telling neighbors, church friends and friends I'd see regularly, trying to keep it quiet thru other media like Facebook so it could still be a surprise for our siblings and extended family.
         A week later, on Thursday I went in for my 15 week OB appt and the intern couldn't find a heartbeat.  After my regular OB came in and tried thru various machines, ultrasounds, each time the mood became more somber and quiet.  I knew it was for real.  Thankfully Jon had the day off already for his blood work test and Tyler's 5 yr check up.  He had dropped me off to run errands and was there with me within minutes of me finding out.  I was able to keep somewhat composed before I left the office but spent the rest of the day in shock and tears.  The doctor said I would probably miscarry sometime next week but with Jon's once a year trip scheduled for that week, I knew that wouldn't be the safest thing.  He offered to give me a cramping medication to help things progress over the weekend but when he checked on the drug's administration requirements, anyone over 12 weeks had to be admitted to the hospital when giving this drug.  Lucky for us, he had c-sections scheduled for the next day at a new hospital, a hospital that allowed miscarriages to be seen through Labor and Delivery instead of the ER.  He offered to have me come in there and use the cramping medicine to be monitored there. After another ultrasound to determine the age of the baby and take other pictures that day, we registered for the hospital trip the next day. 
      A young working sister in the ward who we use a lot for babysitting was able to come over that morning to get the kids off to school and a member of the bishopric came to the house to cover Jon's seminary class that was meeting in the basement.  She later dropped the younger two off at a dear friend's house.  We left our house about 6:30 AM and got to the hospital to get admitted by 7 AM.  Coming in to Labor and Delivery was hard, walking past the nursery, and the framed pictures of babies and cute baby hands and feet.  The room though state of the art and large, seemed sterile and unfriendly at first, a place where I would become unpregnant without the blessing of a baby.  The nurses were truly angels though as they brought me tissues, explained the process of what I would feel and what would happen.  They all talked with such gentle tones and sensitive words.  I was so grateful to have nurses who were experienced dealing with miscarriages. 
      My OB who has delivered three of our kids was extra amazing.  His kindness and sensitivity was stellar.  He administered the first dose of a cramping drug and could give me another dose every 4 hrs.  He told me it might take until the late night or early next day before my body excepted the drug and I delivered.  I got an IV to keep my blood sugar up since I wasn't allowed to eat anything.  Though I did discover that if you eat ice chips fast enough, it does fill up your stomach and make you not feel quite so hungry. (Why didn't I realize that with my other 5 deliveries? :) Jon and I spent the day away playing cards, he taught me poker :), and we watched more TV than we ever had.  Thankfully I had just started a new book and it was a wonderful retreat from the cramping and pain. 
        About lunch time I was able to receive my second dose, and after taking a kind of a nap, Jon left to go get lunch.  Waking up I prayed, asking Heavenly Father to allow my body to accept the medicine and to move things along so I could be home that night to rest in my own bed.  When Jon came into the room, I got up to use the bathroom and my water broke, which surprised me, I didn't think that would happen.  Shortly after that the bleeding and passing clots began.  My nurses called my Dr in and the baby passed quickly.  The placenta was still attached so the doctor clamped off the umbilical cord and said I'd need more time before it was ready to detach.  The nurses took the baby away asking if I wanted to see it, but I wasn't sure if I would feel too scared.   Later though I did feel brave enough.  They cleaned him up for me and brought him back wrapped in a baby blanket.  He was 4 inches long with the tiniest most amazing hands I'd ever seen, about the size of my pinky fingernail.  They asked if I'd like a ink impression of his hands and feet and I did so they made me a little scrapbook page with his weight .5 lb, time he was born, 3:22 PM and date.  We couldn't think of a name so they titled it Ellsworth baby boy. 
      A few hours later the dr was able to get the placenta out and the risk of bleeding out was past.  He had a technician come do a couple of ultasounds to check that all the tissue was out.  About that time, back labor started so the nurse gave me a  pain medicine that made me feel very loopy and out of breath.  That initial feeling came and went and I was able to rest and later eat by 7 PM.  That was very nice!  Jon was amazing through the whole process.  He held me when I cried and let me joke around when I didn't feel like crying.  We walked up and down the very short halls after wards when I was feeling better. 
        The nurses asked me what I wanted to do with the baby's body.  I wasn't sure.  Pathology at the hospital would run a few genetic tests, then cremate the body and through that away.  Or a mortuary nearby did cremations for free for miscarriages.  We opted for that.  When I was finally released and we packed up to leave, it felt awful leaving his little body in our room, leaving him behind, but knowing we'd get his remains a week later, made me feel a little better.  
           The nurses talked to me about how grief would feel, that sometimes I'd just need to cry, other times I'd feel angry, and other times I would feel happy and it was ok no matter what I was feeling.  Those few simple explanations really helped me.  Later I felt like it was important to mail them thank you notes through the hospital for the gentle ways they helped me through that day.
        We were able to make it home by 10 PM that night and I slept so deeply and woke up feeling pretty good.  I spent most of the day sitting or in bed, taking another cramping medicine to get my uterus back to the normal size again.  I was able to manage on just Ibuprophen or tylenol.  Jon kept the kids busy with play dates and  neighbors and friends from church  poured blessings upon us with meals, cookies, flowers, visits and help with the kids.  I stayed pretty isolated the first few days not wanting to see people to avoid them seeing all the emotions I was feeling.  But a visit from a dear friend, allowed me to retell the story, cry and laugh and feel SO much better.  Phone calls with my Mom, sisters and friends made my burden lighter a little each time I talked about it.  Texting really made it easy to talk and be understood while feeling these emotions.  :) 
        We felt so loved by everyone's simple acts of service. Like the neighbors who snuck over while Jon was away at church with the kids and mowed the front and back yard or the friends from church, school and neighborhood that would drop something off.   Every time someone would surprise us with some type of service, I'd feel the love of the Lord cradle me through all these feelings.  I felt as though their kind words and well wishes shielded me from the full effects grief could have of bitterness and anger. 
        Every day I have felt exponentially stronger and happier.  Jon left for his trip Monday because my bleeding was at a normal pace and I felt strong enough to handle getting kids off to school, etc.  Meals have continued from neighbors and friends and I haven't cooked anything besides breakfast in over a week.  :)  The hard part has been feeling sad while my kids are crazy hypser and realizing they won't understand or be able to contain themselves for many years to come, but Heavenly Father has helped me be patient and survive.  Sad moments still come but they don't stay long and I'm not afraid of them coming in front of others anymore. 
           Our family had a group camping trip scheduled for that weekend. I felt tired and overwhelmed at the idea of packing, but the perfect timing of neighbors helping me arrange everything in the van and friends helping me haul some of our things made getting there easier.  Once we got there, Jon met us there from his trip, everything came together well.  The kids played, I was distracted and had fun sitting around with friends chatting.  On our way home, we had a stop to make, to visit the Mortuary that had cremated our little boy's remains.  The sadness that had almost been forgotten came back.  I thanked the man at the funeral home for doing this service for us instead of leaving him at the hospital.  He said they wanted to make sure every little person got the attention they deserved.   As he handed us the small felt bag that help the very few ashes, it made it all seem complete and done.  I didn't feel like I had forgotten too soon or allowed myself to smile too quickly.
          Hopefully this has made me understand others better and what they go through when they grieve.  A past VTing companion told me two weeks ago that her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she has three small children..  As I went through my struggles, I knew it could be a lot worse.  Our loss is not the same of hers might be.  And I have SO much to be grateful for and so many ways I can still help. 
          I have been surprised at how many women have come to me, expressing their similar experiences and understanding my feelings.  It has helped me to see how these experiences really do humble us, make us more open to understanding others and bridging gaps.  I feel sad that others had to experience this alone or without a Dr's care.  It would seem so scary and traumatic. I'm grateful for the timing everything had.  The hospital just recently having opened up, finding out I was going to miscarry before Jon left town so I wouldn't have to deal with it alone.  I'm grateful for the era I live in, giving women the chance to grieve miscarried children, allowing a little extra time then in the past.  People seem more understanding and more careful in their comments.        
            Anyways, that's my very long winded story.  I wasn't sure if I should share it.  Last week it seemed too personal to share.  But now I feel like maybe somehow this can help someone else or maybe it's what I need to be able to do. (Sorry if it was too graphic.) 
         

7 comments:

  1. I am sorry for your loss. If you need anything let me know.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your story Shaunae. It breaks my heart! I'm glad you are feeling better, but I know it will be while before you really feel back to your normal self again.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sure it will be exactly what someone needs to hear and you will be a blessing to someone as so many people have been to you. I have been thinking about you and praying for you and Jon. <3 Andrea

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  4. Shaunae, I'm so sorry for your loss. That Iain is a very real thing, as is the deeper love and appreciation for family that often follows that grieving. I lost a baby at 16 weeks and also had to deliver it. It changed me. It was so hard to go through, but it made me love my family fiercely and treasure them every day since then. My heart goes out to you. I pray that you'll continue to feel the Lord cradle your heart in his hands. Love to you.

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  5. You have been in my thoughts every day... hugs! I love you guys!

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  6. Thank you everyone! It's been an amazing experience to see how The Lord truly helps you thru a hard time. I have felt so loved and so strengthened !

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