Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Friday, June 29, 2012

Looking for God

I've realized that it's just not easy to notice God's blessings when you're going through something that completely rips your world to shreds. God's blessings are all around us, but sometimes you have to be ready to recognize them, or at least know to make yourself notice them.

Even though it's June and is, what, 100 degrees outside, Aiden asked me to read God Gave Us Christmas the other day. It's one of our favorite Christmas stories because it focuses on what we feel is the real meaning of Christmas - the birth of Jesus Christ. There is mention of Santa Claus, but the mama character in the story tries to take the focus off Santa without bashing the idea of him, and brings forward the focus of God and Jesus. When Little Cub wants to go out and find Santa, mama says Santa is hard to find..but God is easy to find; God is everywhere. So, they set off on an adventure to find God and learn how God gave us Christmas. He's part of the Northern Lights, a glacier falling into the sea, a bright star shining in the darkness, and many other things they see and experience on their trip.

After reading this, I felt the need to get outside and feel some sunshine on us. Aiden wasn't really in the mood to go outside (that kid is content to stay inside most of the time!), but when I suggested we go out and "find God" ourselves, he loved that idea. So, off we went. And we found God in many things...the wind blowing through our hair, the feel of the sun on our backs, the flowers (weeds) growing along the road. I found Him in my little boy that ran and giggled in front of me.

Yesterday, Aiden asked if we could go out and find God again. Off we went for a walk around the neighborhood. As soon as we felt a breeze on our faces, Aiden whispered, "Do you feel that, mama?"

"That's God."

That kid really makes me smile.

So, this week I've learned that amidst all this difficulty and sadness and confusion going on around us, we have to stop and intentionally notice God's blessings. They're there. I've found God in several things this week... My littlest child laughing, his cuddles as we read bedtime stories. My husband, cooking yet another dinner (he has done all of the cooking since my HG kicked in a month ago) or running out to pick up something my stomach could tolerate when I couldn't eat dinner. My oldest son stopping to give me a big hug out of nowhere. The garbage man telling me I have a beautiful smile. My youngest asking to go find God and telling me where he feels Him.

Last night, I crawled into bed and felt a little person snuggle into me. Aiden has been sleeping in our bed since I got pregnant. He doesn't know I'm pregnant, but he did notice how things changed when I got sick. Sadly, he got less attention from me because I just wasn't able to do some of the things I usually do with him. I think he felt the need to be closer to me and therefore found his way back into our bed. As soon as I climb in, even though he's already asleep, he pushes his body against mine and sleeps close to me all night. Last night, he did the same, and as I lay there in the dark, I felt his soft breathing against my arm. I just let myself lie there and enjoy feeling his breath, and I felt as if I could almost hear him say, "Do you feel that, mama? That's God."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Six months of hell. And counting.

Lots of folks are wondering what has been going on with us lately. We've been waiting and hoping to share some good news, but it seems like we're going to have to wait a bit longer for that. So, we'll just come on and tell it without the good.

We've been trying to grow our family. And while we're apparently pretty fertile, we're not having luck with staying pregnant, for some reason. I have now had three miscarriages. All in the last six months. One in January. Another in early April, over Easter weekend. We are currently pregnant, and the second ultrasound that took place on Friday, showed the baby no longer has a beating heart and stopped growing probably a couple weeks ago. A missed miscarriage - the baby has died but my body hasn't figured it out yet, still acts like I'm pregnant. I believe at this point I can say, without being dramatic, that this has been the worst year of my life. Throw in most emotional, as well.

I had high hopes for 2012, but so far, it has not been good to us.

As you can imagine, we are crushed. broken. confused. defeated. worn down. These babies were so, so very wanted. There are tons of emotions going through us. I dealt with a lot of anger with the first miscarriage. Several days and nights were spent with me screaming at God, cursing at Him, throwing things at him (all in my mind)... I know He can handle all the anger I can throw at Him, and I needed to be able to go through that. Mostly now we're sad and confused and trying to sort through all other kinds of emotions and thoughts running through us.

We're also trying to make decisions about what is our next step in regards to miscarrying the baby (naturally or surgically); we're leaning toward allowing my body to try to do this naturally before relying on surgery. Meanwhile, I am still dealing with relentless nausea and taking medication for that. I have hyperemesis gravidarum, which means I have extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancies. This time around, it has been "mild," meaning I have mostly had the extreme, nonstop nausea which has been handled mostly by medication, though I'm still very restricted on what I'm able to stomach. We've worried that the mild HG might be an indication that this pregnancy would not last, but after the first ultrasound showing a heartbeat, we were more hopeful and considered me lucky with less severe symptoms this time. Regardless, it seems like some cruel joke that I've had to deal with these symptoms for a month now and will continue to have them until after the miscarriage has finished and my hcg levels return to zero, however long that will take, assuming we do it naturally. How unfair to have these symptoms when nothing is even coming from them.

As much as I hate to admit it, I kind of tried not to get as attached to this baby. But...how do you even do that?? It's nearly impossible. Ok, it is impossible - for me, at least. Lately I decided to give up on that and instead think positively and tell that little one to hang in there. I guess it doesn't really matter, and things will happen the way they're going to happen regardless. I've tried from the start of this pregnancy (which we found out about at less than three weeks along, so very early on) to prepare myself to lose another baby, but again, how do you do that? Nothing at all prepares you to lie there and see the screen with the ultrasound images, knowing the baby is supposed to have developed more, hearing nothing but silence. Until the ultrasound tech says it out loud and shows where the heartbeat should be seen. Nothing prepares you for that.

We have been fortunate to have wonderful friends and family supporting us through all of this over the last several months. The doctors office we have chosen has been incredible, as well. We chose the office specifically for its VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) reputation. Last year, we chose to put off having this baby for a year until we could change insurance to be able to see the doctors at that office. We love them for their views on VBACs and natural birth methods, but they have also been amazing in helping us deal with the first two miscarriages, preparing for HG and dealing with it during this pregnancy, and now are helping immensely as we figure out how to handle this next miscarriage. I've been so pleased with their friendly approach and just reaching out to me. Some have hugged me when they knew I was scared, some remembered me from blood work after the first miscarriage (when we returned for more blood work during this third pregnancy, months later), I have been reassured they are there to support me and answer any questions, however small or silly I might consider them to be. I have just felt so welcomed and supported there, which means more than I can say. We'll be seeing them more soon, of course, as we now meet the requirements for "recurrent miscarriage" and all the testing that goes along with trying to find out why suddenly I can't seem to stay pregnant. I've never had problems like this before, and we feel we are at our healthiest right now, so we're more than confused as to why this is happening now. Hopefully we can find some answers, though we know those odds aren't really in our favor. Most of the time, the cause is unknown.

Why post about something so personal, you might be wondering... I don't feel like this is something that should be taboo to talk about, for one thing. So many women have miscarriages, and despite how common it really is, it is the most difficult thing I have ever gone through. It is emotionally and physically painful. Nobody should have to deal with it at all, but especially no one should go through it alone. While many of our friends do know about this, so many do not. And we're at the point where it will be harder and more exhausting to act as if things are great when we're around people who don't know than it would be just to say it is happening. I have a hard time putting up a facade and pretending things are ok when my world is falling apart. When we share what we're living through, we also are allowing others to pray for us and help us through this. This is not something we want to go through alone, and we don't wish to cut ourselves off from others who can help. Even though several friends and family do know about what we've been going through over the last 6 months, it's still been very easy to feel lonely. In fact, it's been a really lonely time for me, despite the support we have had. I can't imagine going through this with no support and how isolated one could easily feel. I've realized, since we shared the news of our first miscarriage with others close to us, that opening up about it helps others to open up about what they have been through or are even currently experiencing. I can't help but think maybe if more of us speak out about these things, someone else might feel comfortable reaching out and might feel less alone in their own pain from similar experiences.

In case you're wondering about the boys... Camden does know about this. He's too old to hide it from, and he's known about everything from the beginning. I don't think he quite knows how to feel about the losses, and he is very confused about why it keeps happening. He's at a good age, I guess, where he can understand logically what is going on and knows we're upset, but he isn't quite at the point where it truly upsets him a lot (and that's fine with us; we don't want him to be too upset about this). Aiden, however, is too young to get it, we believe. We haven't told him about the losses or the latest pregnancy, even though he knew I was sick. He was there when we had the ultrasound on Friday, and he had to witness me breaking down with the news about the baby. Thankfully, he has just accepted hearing that "mommy is sad" when he sees me crying, and he doesn't really question it. He's asked about the doctor and what they've said to me, but he has been ok with answers such as "mommy is ok" or that the doctor will help make me feel better. I feel bad not being completely honest with him, but we really don't think he would understand what is going on at his age. And honestly, maybe a part of this is that we're not sure how to deal with talking to a very young child about this. (Any others that have dealt with something like this are welcome to chime in with their thoughts.) 

So, here we are... We're not sure what the next few weeks will be like for us. I still have this baby in me that is not growing. Hopefully things can happen naturally, as we feel that is best and safest in many ways. But if we need to go through with it, we also have a D and C as a last resort. Either way, there will be pain. Lots of pain and lots of different kinds of pain. And then testing. And waiting for healing before we can move forward with trying again. I'm now realizing how naive I have always been about pregnancy. While I've always been in awe of how amazing it is, I'm now acutely aware of how difficult it truly is for all the million things that need to fall into place just right in order for a healthy baby to grow inside of my body. I have faith that we will have a successful pregnancy and have this next baby one day. We're not ready to give up. Our family is not yet complete. I don't understand at all why things are happening this way (trust me, I ask "why?" at least every five seconds), but I hope that one day I will be able to make more sense of it all.