It’d be so much easier to just stop now, to allow the end of Part 12 to speak for itself. After unsuccessfully trying to get this post done for the past two days, it’d be so much easier to quit writing, yet so wrong at the same time. The truth is, I’ve been dreading this day for quite some time. We’re here, though, and I must tell you the rest of the story. In doing so, I know I’ll have to go back to that painful day myself. I know I will not only have to recount the hardest day of my life thus far but, as I’ve done this whole series, also feel the emotions that come with this part, too. As I keep telling myself, though, I’ve already done that a million times in the past 13 days, so what’s one more?
Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?
The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option, and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
*For more on the extremely disheartening news we received the day after I met with the woman who appeared to be an angel sent by God to carry our biological child, please see Part 6.
*For more on the strange, but strong, intuition I was feeling just a little over a week after our dream of surrogacy seemed to be slipping from our hands, please see Part 7.
*For more on all the signs that just weren’t going away and ultimately pointing to my intuition being most likely true, please see Part 8.
*For more on the dramatic turn of events that took place one early morning, please see Part 9.
*For more on the painful drive, and then wait at the hospital, I endured while waiting to hear if my intuition was true, please see Part 10.
*For more on the internal conflict I felt when I found out my intuition was wrong, please see Part 11.
*For more on the decision I made to go seek a second doctor’s opinion on what had (or hadn’t) happened, please see Part 12.
Time stood still.
I saw her mouth moving, but I couldn’t hear her words.
All I could hear was the sound of my heart shattering.
All I could taste was the hot tears running down my face.
I was screaming on the inside for air, yet I couldn’t make a sound.
Only three seconds prior, the words,“Based on all your symptoms, and my experience, I’m pretty confident you actually did have a miscarriage,” had come out of Dr. Sharp’s mouth and left me in utter shock. What was said immediately after that, while I struggled to keep my composure, is still a mystery to me.
“Amber, I’m so sorry. I’d like to do a pelvic exam to confirm what I’m thinking,” was the first sentence I heard after what seemed like an eternity. Completely numb at that point, and unable to speak, I proceeded to place my feet in the stirrups and allow myself to be examined.
There really was no need, though.
I knew what was coming next.
I wasn’t questioning my gut anymore.
“I’m sorry. Based on everything we’ve discussed, and the fact your uterus is boggy, I’m pretty sure it was a miscarriage. I need you to go to the hospital to get an ultrasound, though, to make sure. It’s like that for one of two reasons: You were either pregnant, and your body was preparing for it, or you have an infection and we need to take care of it right away. The ultrasound will confirm either way, but I’m pretty sure you were indeed pregnant. I’m so sorry…”
She trailed off. I didn’t need to hear any more.
I knew it, and she did, too.
I can’t express to you how I have never in my life – and will never again – want so badly to not be right. I can’t express to you how much overwhelming peace, yet tremendous sorrow, I felt in that moment. Never.
After a few seconds, Dr. Sharp continued talking, and though I said nothing to her, a conversation with myself began.
“Women have miscarriages all the time and go on to have healthy children.”
“But, you see we weren’t trying to have kids in the first place. “Trying” again isn’t the answer here. It’s not a wise idea, which is why we were adopting. Then, only because we were approached, we were looking the past month or so into surrogacy. Once we heard we couldn’t afford that, I was just stressed out and had myself convinced I was pregnant, but I’m not. I’m just crazy, remember? This isn’t what was supposed to happen. You were supposed to tell me what they told me yesterday. I was supposed to leave here forgetting about all of this. Didn’t you get the game plan?”
“The fetus most likely implanted for a few days, which is why your symptoms started, and then somehow dislodged. That’s why your HCG numbers were the way they were. The hormone rapidly leaves the body once implantation is disrupted, but your body (esp. one like yours which reacts very quickly to change) takes a while to catch up and accept the fact you are no longer pregnant. You probably would have only had a positive pregnancy test up until when you were supposed to start your period, possibly even only a week to a few days prior to that. These types of miscarriages happen all the time (oftentimes unbeknownst to them) to perfectly healthy women. “Even if there isn’t another reason why you miscarried, your anti-rejection medicine just wasn’t going to allow you to sustain a pregnancy. There’s absolutely nothing you could have done differently. You didn’t know, Amber. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Your transplant team wasn’t equipped to know to dig deeper. You did, though. You have nothing to feel guilty about. You did all you could, more than anyone could have asked you to do.”
“But I do have plenty to feel guilty about. I knew, at least a very large part of me knew, I was pregnant over a week ago. The other part of me refused, even though I had every pregnancy symptom known to man, to let myself take a test for several days, for fear l was losing my mind. By the time I did, it was too late. I took that medicine not one but – two – times a day. I could have stopped taking it as soon as I felt I was pregnant, taken a pregnancy test and sought help right then, instead of waiting for a missed period. Then the baby would have been OK. I could have just believed what God was trying to tell me, instead of wrestling every hour with myself about my sanity, and then taken precautionary steps. I can’t say the baby would have lived, but I could have done plenty more. I didn’t do “all” I could. Don’t you understand?”
“Let’s find out for sure and get you to the hospital for that ultrasound, OK? I’ll leave you alone so you can get dressed and call John. Someone will be back in a few minutes to let you know what we’re going to do next.”
“Yes, let’s do that. She could still be wrong, which means I could be, too. I need to know, and I need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt. There’s still a plausible explanation for all of this besides a miscarriage or me losing my mind. Hopefully, I just have a tumor or a cyst on my ovaries or my uterus. I’ll have surgery, and it’ll be gone. No harm, no foul. It’s not a miscarriage. It’s a tumor.”
I didn’t buy it, even though every single part of me wanted to believe it. In that moment, though, cold and alone in an exam gown, afraid and scattered on the inside,
I was grasping at straws.
Then there was John, my loving husband. Oh, how I missed him in that moment. I tried calling and couldn’t reach him at work. I tried messaging him on Gchat and didn’t get an immediate response. He was clearly away from his desk, most likely working on a case in Judge’s office or helping his new co-worker figure out something. Though I knew he wasn’t ignoring me, and didn’t even know (for whatever reason) I was trying to reach him, I was growing impatient. All I wanted in that moment was his arms around me, the ability to bury my head in his chest and block out the rest of the world. No part of me wanted to relay this information by phone or chat, but I wasn’t going to go to the hospital for some evasive ultrasound to most likely confirm I’d lost our baby without letting him know.
When my efforts to reach him failed at first, and I felt like I was going to be swallowed whole by the emotions which were flooding my soul, I quickly messaged a few close friends letting them know what was going on and asking for prayer. I needed confirmation this wasn’t dream, that I was actually awake and experiencing all of this in real life. While I waited for my husband to call me back, and the nurse to come back in with my instructions, I sat in the pew (yes, a pew) in the exam room and began to cry – again.
Once I got my marching orders, and collected myself enough to feel comfortable driving, I turned on my car and got on the road. My first stop, however, wasn’t to the hospital but instead to my workplace, just right down the street. In that moment, I needed physical contact with people who cared about me, with people I could touch and find comfort in. I needed someone to hold me and tell me it was going to be OK. The closest place to receive such comfort was at work, so that’s where I went. I walked in, not to start my day a little late as I had previously planned, but instead to let them know what was going on and ask for, of all things, a hug. I just needed a hug.
I got my hug and got back in my car to the sound of my phone ringing. John was calling me back. Since I’d sent him a message that said “Dr. Sharp thinks I had a miscarriage. I have to go get an ultrasound,” I knew he already knew what was happening, which just made answering the phone even harder. The conversation was somber and spoken in low, soft tones; words didn’t come easy from either of us. He asked me if I wanted him to go with me to the hospital. He was willing to leave work and meet me there, but there was one problem: His co-workers had already planned a surprise office birthday party for him, which was starting in just a few minutes. Tomorrow, April 3rd, was his birthday.
In just a matter of an hour or so, I was most likely going to find out I had lost our baby, the baby we never planned on conceiving but whose “loss” had been grieved for by John (and therefore by me) for years. If that wasn’t heartwrenching enough, I was going to find out our baby was gone the day before my husband’s 31st birthday. Right in the middle of his birthday party, as his life was being celebrated less than a mile away, I would be finding out that the life inside of me – the life I had tried so hard the past few weeks to convince myself didn’t exist, the life that my husband so desperately wished would have come so easily for us – was gone.
Due to the party, and all the efforts of his co-workers, we (well, I) decided it’d be best if he stay at work for now. He would go to some of the party and leave toward the end, so he didn’t have to make a scene. He’d meet me at the hospital just as soon as he could. He tried to comfort me by telling me we didn’t know for sure, that maybe there was another reason my uterus felt the way it did. I didn’t buy it, though, and I don’t think he did, either. When he asked me for the third time if I wanted him to join me, and I declined, we said “I love you” and hung up. There was nothing left to say at that point. It wasn’t that I didn’t want him to be there. Of course I did. No woman wants to sit in stirrups alone in that situation, or maybe just this woman didn’t want to do so. I guess you could say, though, as much as I wanted John to be there, the part of me that vows (right or wrong) to emotionally protect the ones I love was more important to me than his presence in that moment.
Finding out from medical professionals that life will never be the same was the life to which I was accustomed, not him. I had been in this position several times before during pivotal moments in my life, he hadn’t. Right or wrong, I felt I had to do this alone. Though no part of me would want to tell him, once everything was confirmed, I wanted him to hear it from me, not a well-meaning doctor who would deliver the news as delicately as possible but had absolutely no emotional connection whatsoever to the meaning behind their words – their words, which if they were what I was expecting, would shatter my husband’s soul.
I parked my car, walked up to the hospital’s entrance, and found my way to Main Radiology. I checked in and was called back after several minutes. As I, still cramping and in pain, was being led right and left through a long series of hallways, to the left of me a man was being wheeled the opposite way by two women. Unlike all of the other transported patients I had seen on my way, this man’s face pierced my soul. Why? Well, this man appeared to be….dead. Now, maybe he wasn’t, but the fact that those who were transporting him appeared on a very distinct mission and weren’t making eye contact with anyone, the fact he had absolutely no IVs (or evidence of IVs) or other medical equipment to speak of with him, and also the fact that he looked stiff as a board and placed very strangely in the bed, make me believe he very much so was. I will never forget that man’s face as long as I live or how I felt next.
As I dutifully walked behind the lady who was leading me to my next stop, I couldn’t help but fight the tears which were forming in my eyes. The walk we were taking now felt like “The Green Mile,” the walk that one takes when they’re walking to their death. No, death wasn’t waiting for me at the end of our walk. As I unconsciously found my hands on my stomach, though, I knew that death had already come for the life inside of me, that consequently I was about to experience an emotional death for which I wasn’t prepared. As much as I still wanted to deny it wasn’t true, I felt the inevitable in the marrow of my bones; it was a feeling I never want to experience ever, ever again.
I was led to a room to wait – again. Someone would come get me “soon” for my ultrasound. There was a bathroom just down the hall, if I needed it. Only one other person, a gentleman, was in the room with me. An old, fuzzy, tube television broadcasting March Madness highlights on Sportscenter sat high in the corner. The only time the man and I spoke is when I asked him to let them know I was in the restroom if they called my name. I’m sure he had a story, too, but I didn’t have the emotional energy to care. When I returned, I stared blankly at my phone, mindlessly checking Facebook and occasionally messaging my husband, who was waiting to go to his birthday party. I felt numb – on the inside and out. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t breathe.
Finally, someone called me back and led me, once again, to another room. I was thankful to be paired with an extremely sweet lady, who inevitably knew what was going on. She had my orders, after all. I’m sure I was just one of hundreds of people in my position with whom she’s dealt before, but for the time we were together, only I mattered. As was protocol, she reminded me that at no point during either ultrasound could she tell me any conclusions. She was simply there to administer to the test. The doctor would look at the scans and write out the report. Dr. Sharp would be called, and then she would call me back. I wasn’t to leave the hospital until Dr. Sharp got a hold of me. She suspected the process would take about an hour to an hour and a half in its entirety.
We began the first ultrasound and did our best to make small talk. As she used the ultrasound probe on my stomach, we talked about all the things I always say I hate talking about, all the “shallow” things, like the weather, that people hide behind when they don’t know what to say. She asked about my marriage, what I like to do in my free time, my job, etc. I obliged and asked her the same. I don’t know if she purposefully did it, or maybe it was just by God’s grace, but the monitor was pointed away from me the whole time.
After I changed out of my clothes and into a hospital gown, we then moved on to the next ultrasound, which was much more evasive and uncomfortable. Again, like a good professional, the ultrasound technician did her best to make the circumstances the least awkward she could.
Because I didn’t know what else to do while I lied there in the stirrups completely exposed and vulnerable, I decided to bare my soul, too. I told her about how I was born with cystic fibrosis and had a double lung transplant at 19, how we had always had plans to adopt, until just about a month ago we were approached about surrogacy but then found out we couldn’t afford it, how I then started strangely feeling pregnant right after that, had fought with myself for over a week about it but been told just yesterday I was never pregnant, and then today that I most likely had been, which is why she was now examining me. As I took her through step-by-step through my life, especially the past several weeks, it began to hit me – My life thus far read like a fiction book which was “too good to be true.” Remarkably, though, none of this was fiction. No, amazingly all of it was the truth, the almost unbelievable, even for me at that point.
She completed the second ultrasound and told me I could get dressed. It was over. When I returned to the room, the technician was still finishing up and asked if I wanted to see some of the images she had just taken. I was admittedly curious, so I accepted her invitation.
For the first time ever, I saw my uterus. Though I’m not trained in reading ultrasounds, and my friendly technician wasn’t giving me any helpful hints (though I may have tried to get it out of her), I didn’t see any sign of life. I didn’t see any tumors or cysts, either.
No one was going to have to confirm to me what was going on. I already knew, just as deep down I already had known for days. In that moment, looking at that screen, all I saw was an empty, empty grave. In that moment, looking at that screen, part of me died, too.
I was left for several minutes alone with my thoughts until she returned to tell me that my doctor would be giving me a call soon. The technician said her warm goodbyes and indicated it was time to leave. I was reminded not to leave the hospital and shown the way out through the tunnels I’d walked through just an hour or so before. Before I left the Main Radiology department, though, I made a strange request. I asked for a copy of the images. Though in that moment I didn’t have official confirmation, I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt my womb was a grave. Despite that, I still asked for the CD. I asked for the proof. Though obviously perplexed by my request, the receptionist made sure I got what I wanted and said her goodbyes.
Still waiting to hear from my doctor, I had just walked into the hospital’s Starbucks, where I planned on drowning my sorrows in a $5 coffee, when John called me. He was on his way. He’d be there in matter of five minutes or so to comfort me and wait with me. I wouldn’t have to be alone much longer. I hung up from my call with him and, not two minutes later while perusing the menu, my phone rang again. It was a restricted number, but I had no doubt who it was – it was my doctor. It was time to learn the truth.
I answered the phone, took my purse and my CD and walked out of Starbucks to a small, secluded seating area. The walk to the seating area was a mere 30 feet, but my feet could barely get me there. My body felt numb and unresponsive. My heart was beating out of my chest. I managed to get to a chair and sit down. They always say it’s best to be seated in times like this.
I sat, and I heard:
“I have good news and bad news. The good news is that your ultrasound showed absolutely no abnormalities. There were no cysts, growths, or tumors. Things looked great. Unfortunately, though, that means you’ve definitely had a miscarriage. There is no other answer to everything. I’m so sorry, Amber.”
I responded, several times, like this:
“Are you sure? Couldn’t it have been something else? What about the HCG numbers yesterday? There has to be another explanation. Maybe I’ve blown all of this out of proportion.”
Each time, Dr. Sharp responded back:
“I’m sorry, Amber. No, there’s no other explanation. You’ve had a miscarriage.”
As we finished our conversation, and I looked out the window with tears in my eyes, I saw a familiar sight. John. He was walking up to the same entrance I had used just over an hour earlier. He was walking up to hear the truth, and like I wanted, he was going to hear it from me. Unlike I wanted, however, I was going to have to tell him our baby, the life we had created together, was gone.
I was in the process of hanging up the phone just as John was coming through the automatic doors. As I said goodbye to Dr. Sharp, I rounded the corner, forgetting my CD on the chair, and John’s tear-stained eyes met mine. I didn’t have to say anything at that point. He knew. I forced myself, though, to say it, to say words I never could have imagined I would ever have to say to my husband, words that I could barely get out of my mouth, words that still haunt me to this day.
“I’ve had a miscarriage. I’m so sorry, Baby.”
My thoughts on our miscarriage, and my intense desire for the Lord to use it, are coming soon.
*Please note: The next series may not start for several days. Thank you to all of those who are praying for us, as well as to those who have reached out, even if I haven’t had the time, or emotional energy, to respond. Even if I haven’t responded, I am praying for you, too. We love you all and covet your prayers and support during this difficult time. “The LORD gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD,” (Job 1:21).