Tag Archives: miscarriage?

To Our Child I Never Knew, Thank You…

Precious One,

Today, April 1st, is the 2nd anniversary of the day we lost you, the day that changed me from the inside out. As much as I struggle with facing this day each year, there is a strange sense of joy that comes, too, with this date creeping up on me. Though I think of you several times throughout each week, it is on this day that I feel complete freedom to bask in the tremendous beauty, and even the sorrow, that comes from being your mom.

I love you, Precious One. Had you stayed with us, you would have been around 16 months old, only 5 months younger than your cousin. You would have been walking by now and full of personality, I’m sure. You would have been so loved and cherished by so many people, Precious One. You still are by the two people who created you, your dad and mom.

The Lord and I often have conversations about why, in His sovereignty, He allowed you to leave this earth so quickly, before I even really allowed myself to fully acknowledge your presence, before we ever even got to see you through an ultrasound. The only moments you and I truly had “together” were when I was awoken from my sleep in a cold sweat and in piercing pain, yet you had not left me yet; it was only then, when I was sitting alone in tears that still stain my Bible, that I allowed myself to believe what I think the Lord had been trying to tell me for several days – I was indeed with child, that you weren’t a figment of my imagination but instead fully alive inside of me. It wasn’t 45 minutes later that you began to pass, and with you, a part of me died, too.

Over the past 2 years, I have often felt so incredibly vulnerable from, and lost in, my grief. As one who always easily expresses herself and is known as a very upbeat, positive person, it has been a very odd, humble journey for me to walk. There have been days that I wasn’t sure if I was going to get out of bed, let alone function like a normal human being. Part of that was from my already-taxed body’s reaction to your sudden disappearance, which left me in several months of hormonal havoc and most likely undiagnosed postpartum depression. Even when my body eventually healed, my spirit was often, and sometimes still is, slow to do the same. With each new pregnancy announcement my friends delivered, each new baby shower I participated in, each new opportunity to rejoice with our friends for how their family was growing, there was a very real, stinging pain that came (and still often comes) for your dad and me as we thought about you, your siblings, and the fact that we weren’t – and still aren’t – privy to having any of you in our lives. Who knows? Maybe we never will be parents. Only the Lord knows that. If there’s anything life has taught me, it’s that, as Christ-followers, we aren’t guaranteed anything but His presence, no matter our circumstances.

It shouldn’t surprise you that this isn’t the road I, or your dad, expected to take. In fact, this isn’t the road that we would have picked for our worst enemies. It is, however, the road that God has chosen for us for our good and, most importantly, His glory. Though the path has been long and steep, full of unexplainable hurt and so many detours I’ve lost count, I wouldn’t change, for even a moment, the fact that you exist. I wouldnt’ change the fact that, though we weren’t meaning to create you, in secret your dad and I glorified the Lord through the creation of you, Precious One. I can only pray that one day, when we are all glorified and together with the Lord, that you have somewhat of an understanding of just how much you have meant to both of us.

You will always be my child, and I will always be your mom. I will always love you. I will never forget you or forsake your existence. Besides your dad, you are who the Lord has used the most in my life to bring me closer to Him. Thank you for allowing Him to use you so powerfully in such a short amount of time.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I was pregnant with, and then miscarried you, around the Easter season. Thank you for allowing Him to show me that ultimately God cares far less about me being an earthly mother than He does about my sanctification, than He does about changing me into the likeness of His son, Jesus Christ. That is a fact that I admittedly don’t daily want to grasp, but in His goodness and through His grace, I am clinging to that Truth more and more.

Because of the work the Lord has done in my heart in light of your death, I am finding peace and freedom in the fact that my value and worth as a wife, and ultimately as a woman, is not found in whether or not I can successfully deliver children into this world. Again, I don’t believe that every day, but I’m getting better at looking at myself the way our Heavenly Father does, the way I would have wanted you to look at yourself, i.e. as whole and valuable not because of anything you have done but because of His finished work on the Cross, as enough.

Thank you for allowing Him to use you to soften my heart toward the thousands of fathers and mothers who, too, have lost precious children and/or are in the season of barrenness, a season that often is accompanied with such despair; this despair paralyzes so many and inhibits them to do Kingdom work because of the lies from Satan they, and often I, have believed. Though your life was but a vapor, you have left a Kingdom-impact, and for that, I am extremely proud.

So, until we meet again, I will continue to rejoice in the fact you are mine and safe with our Heavenly Father. I love you, much more than I even could ever say. Thank you.

Your Momma

 

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Filed under 2015, Adoption, Baby, Marriage, Miscarriage, Purpose, Redeeming Loss, Sanctification

What 2013 Taught Me

I don’t know what yours was like, but my 2013 was quite the year.

2013 was a year I’ll certainly never forget and wouldn’t necessarily want to re-live. I won’t, though, go as far as to say I wish I could just re-do 2013 all over again. Though it was excruciatingly hard, the lessons I learned within the crazy that was my 2013 were well worth the pain and will never, ever be forgotten.

I’m not going to re-hash my entire year in this post, as there is plenty of posts already written (even whole series — read here and here) about much of what transpired in my life last year; others part of my life have remained more private, as they should.  If you haven’t been reading my blog the past year, just know I, even one with a wild imagination, could never have written the journey through which the Lord asked me to walk in 2013, especially the first 8 months of it.

As much as you’d like to think differently, you can’t change the past. You can only move forward. 2013 was what it was and it’s my job to learn from it, embrace the brokenness that came in many areas from it, and walk in 2014 full of joy and hope, just like I did when I walked unknowingly into the madness that was last year.

So, what did 2013 teach and/or remind me?
Well, lots of things.

Here’s some examples, in no particular order (except the 1st one):

  • God is still good and sovereign. Absolutely nothing can change that fact.

Though 2013 was my hardest yet, my steadfast belief in God’s sovereignty and goodness did not change. Were their moments I struggled with why God allowed me to become unexpectedly pregnant, let alone why He then allowed our child to die? Of course. I’m a human, after all. I am a human, though, who has seen the hand of God all over their life time and time again, even when things look the darkest from an earthly perspective.

  • My life is not about me.

After almost dying at 19, I am blessed to know from a young age that my life is not about me but instead the glory of God being displayed through how I respond to not only life’s highest highs but also its lowest lows. Though I know I didn’t do it perfectly, I hope that this year I brought Him glory through how I dealt with the circumstances He allowed into my life for my refining and His glory. I pray I do the same in 2014, no matter what happens.

  • My marriage is rock solid and can withstand anything that life throws its way.

I didn’t say my marriage is perfect, because it most certainly isn’t; it does involve two humans, after all. 😉 It is, though, rock solid, and it just keeps getting better. 2013 was the hardest year yet for our four-year-marriage. I’m thankful to say, though, that everything we went through this year brought us even closer together, horrible miscarriage included. During this year, at times, we fought a lot. At times, we cried a lot. At times, to be honest, we struggled a lot…but we came out on the other side a stronger, more unified couple. We came out a better definition of two people living “one flesh.” We came out of the struggle closer to the Lord on an individual basis as well as a corporate one. As  a couple, we came out of 2013 changed, changed for good! I can’t imagine displaying God’s love for the Church through marriage with anyone else than my best friend.  He rocks my world. 🙂

  • I long to be a mother more than sometimes I even know.

This could, and eventually will, be the subject of a whole post. Stay tuned. 🙂

  • Adoption (at least our journey) is hard – really hard – but so worth it. We can’t wait to meet Noah and Hannah and pray they join our family at the same time. 🙂

The giant mountain of paperwork hasn’t even been the hardest part. Being married to a really detailed-oriented person, though, definitely helped in that area. 🙂 No, the paperwork has been a breeze compared to other things, mostly emotional in nature, through which we’ve had to work; some of those things are just a part of the usual process (and will be written about in another series) and others are unique to our particular situation. No matter what comes up, though, the important thing is we’re committed to working through it; we’re committed to finding our children and bringing them home. No matter what, we Paynes don’t ever give up.

  • People like other people’s drama and shy away from public expressions of grief.

I learned this lesson back in the Spring/Early Summer. I had thousands of people (mostly strangers) suddenly flocking to my blog to read all 21 posts about our hard-to-believe adoption/surrogacy/pregnancy/miscarriage/adoption journey. Only an 1/8 of that audience read, though, after the 13th installment of the aforementioned series when I was heartbroken, and therefore devoted three blog posts to redeeming my miscarriage; most of the sharing of my posts stopped, too. Not surprisingly, most of that audience (and shares) returned once again when the other more-appealing series resumed for the last 7 posts.

Don’t get me wrong. I sincerely appreciated the concern (or curiosity) others showed (either through reading and/or contacting me) during my large series full of twists and turns. I just was rather shocked that my readership went down so much when I took a break from the other series (since I was initially hiding (even from my own parents) the fact I was sick post-miscarriage) to publicly deal with the intense grief that came with all that drama people loved to read. Though they were much, much fewer in nature, the private messages I did receive from that miscarriage series made the emotional exhaustion from writing them well worth it. It also reiterated to me just how important it is for me to obey His voice and live as transparently as possible, so that He can use me to encourage others who often feel alone in how they feel. I was amazed how alone so many women who have had miscarriages felt; it made me incredibly sad. It shouldn’t be this way, and as long as I’m alive, I will continue to be as real as possible (on that issue and others) so that others feel the freedom that comes with living without satanic shame.

Though I was humbled by my viewership this year, I don’t write for certain stat numbers. I write in order to be able to breathe, to connect with my Creator, to glorify His name and have Him do whatever with it He wants.  Your guess as to what He does with it in 2014 is as good as mine. No matter how many read, it’s all for Him!

  • Living “transparently” doesn’t have to mean giving anyone and everyone 24/7 access to your life, emotions, time, thoughtfulness, etc. without requiring anything from them; no, that would be toxic and will eventually leave you feeling burnt.  Having Christ-inspired, personal boundaries is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and others.

I wrote about this topic in my “mid-life crisis” series.

  • Though he came in contact with thousands, and was followed intensely by 12, even Jesus’ inner circle only consisted of 3 people. Yours will look about the same; don’t kid yourself into believing otherwise.

Not every friend sticks closer than a brother, and that’s OK. Life is full of relationships, each with their own level of closeness. Oftentimes, those in relationship aren’t even desiring the same level of closeness, but unless they’re willing to be honest with one another, one just assumes (and prays) the other will “get a clue”. Somewhere between sometimes and usually, the other party eventually does get a clue and is consequently left confused; that is, unless you’re like my former self, and then often you are left clueless for far longer than expected. In my case, for most of 2013, I also didn’t believe in personal boundaries, so my addiction to emotional harlotry didn’t help my case.

Some friendships are for a season, then fade, then come back again. Some never come back. Some evolve and change over time. You can be someone’s friend without giving them permission to know every single thing about you and vice/versa. You, unbeknownst to me until this year, can also do this while still upholding Christ’s call to love. In fact, sometimes the most loving thing you can do is let things change inside of, or even let go of, a relationship that is near and dear to you.

In rare cases, you will find those with whom your soul connects in a way that is, if I can say, not of this world. You will find people who just “get” you without you needing to explain yourself. They will give you the benefit of the doubt but be willing to confront you when needed. They will desire your good above their own, always without question. They will guard your heart as if it were their own. In your divinely-inspired friendship, you will give and take in a natural, beautiful exchange of wills. Cherish those people. Protect those people with a fierce and loyal love this world does not know.

  • With God’s help, you really can survive anything. Better yet, you can not only survive but thrive while in the midst of the deepest pain, no matter its nature.

I learned this valuable lesson in the physical realm back in 2005 and the emotional realm in 2013.

So what will 2014 bring?

I read a quote on New Year’s Eve that really spoke to me:
“A new year is at hand,” the king said. “We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle, we shall remain undaunted.”
King George VI

That is my prayer for 2014, that I remain undaunted in my commitment to the Lord and His sovereignty and goodness, no matter what befalls me this upcoming year. Whether it be another year of not having the opportunity to be a mother, another year of disappointments and confusion, or even death. By God’s grace, as long as I’m alive, I pray I remain undaunted in my commitment to Him.

Lord, let it be so.

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Filed under 2014, Adoption, Baby, grace, Life, Marriage, Miscarriage, Prayer, Purpose

Seeing Red

Some dates are etched in your memory forever.

Birthdays. Anniversaries. Days our loved ones pass away. Major life events. We all can list at least a few dates that automatically stick out in our minds, whether for welcomed reasons or not.

December 4, 2013 will always be one of those days for me. That was my estimated due date for the child I miscarried on April 1st at 5 weeks gestation. That was the day our child, as microscopic as he/she was, went to be with the Lord. That was the day part of me went to be with Him, too.

To say I was heartbroken after we miscarried is a gross understatement. If you recall, there was a lot already going on in our lives in early Spring. It was so much that the most grounded people would feel like they were losing their grip on their sanity prior to what transpired on April 1st. As we all know, the roller coaster wasn’t over, though.

Once the bleeding stopped, I was emotionally as empty as my formally impregnated uterus; in a matter of a few hours, the life had been sucked out of me, literally and figuratively. Like millions of women each year, I was left to pick up the pieces of my shattered heart and move on.

For me, though, “moving on” was going to be a long, long journey.
It was going to be a much longer, harder, more private pilgrimage through grief than with what I (and, in some ways, others) was comfortable.
It was my journey, though, nonetheless.

The first few weeks, I would come home from work some days and just sit on the floor in our empty nursery. I would begin to replay over in my mind the trauma that had been the few weeks leading up to me unexpectedly getting pregnant, as well as the subsequent drama which led to finally having a confirmation that I had indeed miscarried and wasn’t losing my mind...or was I? 

When I was alone, the previous few months played out like a dramatic Nicholas Sparks’ movie in my head. Scene after scene, I saw the characters, i.e. me and my husband, develop and the plot thicken and thicken some more. The plot became so thick, I felt as if I were traveling through a dense fog in my head, a fog which would last for months. Some days the fog was so thick, I couldn’t tell if I was indeed the protagonist or the antagonist of my own story; some days I felt like both, sometimes simultaneously. As I dealt with post-miscarriage health complications for months on end on top of my grief, there seemed to be no climax of events (let alone a resolution) in sight, in my real life or in my imagination.  I wanted out of the madness. Honestly, some days I wanted to just go to sleep and never wake up. I wanted peace and rest, and those things seemed hard to come by at the time.

After all, it was hard to feel at peace when you feel you have failed as a woman, and more importantly, as a wife. For a myriad of reasons, that’s the way I felt for a long, long time. Thankfully, though, after months of spending time with the Lord, countless hours of conversation with my husband and a few close friends, and being forced to deal with the root of my feelings, I (for the most part) don’t feel that way anymore.

Thank God, I don’t usually feel that way anymore.
One day, I hope to say I don’t ever feel that way anymore.
One step at a time, though.

I don’t really feel it necessary (at least now) to take you through the play-by-play of the highs and lows of my journey of grief. I guess after the realization I came to during my mid-life crisis, I don’t feel anymore like I “owe” you, the reader, an “all-access” pass into the most personal caveats of my life. I guess I’m still learning to have boundaries in my relationships, online and off. I have to say, after a year of a lot of hurt and heartache, it feels good to not (usually) feel guilty for protecting myself emotionally.

Just know that the last 8 months of my life have been filled with extremely personal, heart-wrenching moments. It hasn’t always been pretty. In fact, many times it’s been rather ugly, but it’s always been one thing – real and raw. After all, love it or hate it, I know no other way to be. If there’s one thing I’ve re-learned during the craziness that has been my 2013, it’s that I can’t control a lot in my life. God, in His sovereignty and goodness, numbers my steps, oftentimes much differently than I would. On the flip side, though, I’m learning there are some things I can control, namely having healthy boundaries with people and owning and being proud of, instead of shaming, my own journey.

And oh the journey it has been.

I’m thankful, though, I’m finally far enough down the path that I can say I’m thankful for the past 8 months. I may not ever understand why John and I had to lose a child, or why it had to affect me so deeply, but I do know good has come of it.

do know that what Satan meant for evil, my gracious Lord meant for good. Yes, He meant it for my good and, more importantly, His glory. Those nights I lay crumbled up on the floor in my empty nursery, when I wasn’t sure if I was the protagonist or antagonist of my own story, I had forgotten to ask the Author and Finisher of my story who I am. Instead of trusting Him, I listened to my doubt. Instead of believing I am who He says I am (beloved and loved, far from a failure), I believe the father of lies who is always out to steal my (and your) joy and vision. Thankfully, I don’t forget anymore.

In the Old Testament, when God’s people had an unforgettable encounter with the LORD, they often built a memorial out of stone in commemoration of the event. They (and sometimes the LORD Himself) wanted a tangible reminder of what the LORD had done. I, too, wanted a tangible reminder of how the Lord had restored and healed my heart, so I completely changed my appearance (at least for now).

For almost 28 years, I was a blonde. Now, I’m a red head. 🙂

2013-12-05_16-12-01_263When I look in the mirror, I am constantly reminded of the fact I not only look like a completely different person, I am a completely different person because of God’s gracious work in my life! I’m pretty sure I will eventually go back to my roots (or closer to them than I am now 😉 ), but for now, I needed an external expression of a very powerful, inward change. The dye is temporary, but the branding on my heart is forever.


I finally see He is bringing much beauty from the ashes of my once shattered heart.
He is mending and strengthening. He is healing and restoring.
He is being what He always is – good. So, so good.

I’ll leave you with a song that has meant so very much to me over the past several months.

 

Father, thank you for loving me so.

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Filed under Baby, grace, Life, Marriage, Miscarriage, Redeeming Loss, Sanctification

Joy Through Infertility – Another Perspective

Sorry it’s been a while.
I really wasn’t planning on being gone so long.
Then life – lots of it – happened.
One day here soon, we’ll get to (most) of that. Promise. 🙂
If you need to catch up on our journey, now is the time.
Things will move faster from here, Lord-willing.

For the time being while I sort out this new season of life, I wanted to share with you a powerful piece I read today by one of my favorite writers, Holley Gerth. Even though I’ve never met her (or honestly talked to her), I absolutely adore her transparency and was extremely blessed when I read this today.

Thank you for your heart, Holley. It is astonishingly beautiful.

I’ll be back soon to update you on where we are in our ever-changing journey to parenthood; exciting things are happening! God is faithful. 🙂

When God Changes Your Plans {An Infertility Update}

Nurture Bracelet by Lisa Leonard

Nurture Bracelet by Lisa Leonard

Friends, this post has been a long time coming. And I’m going to ask for your grace in advance. Because it makes me knocking-knees nervous to write it. Infertility is such a personal subject for many different reasons besides the obvious. But enough of you have asked and I’ve done enough praying that I just want to give you an update.

Before I start I want to include this disclaimer: If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this journey it’s that everyone’s story is different. What I’m sharing applies to my hubby and I alone.

When Mark and I married in 2000 we thought starting a family would be easy for us. Doesn’t everyone? When we officially began the process to become parents about five years later, we soon realized that wouldn’t be the case for us. Long story short, we went through years of grief, loss, doctor’s appointments and some serious wrestling with God. Out of that process came my first devotional book, Rain on Me {recently released in a new edition as Under God’s Umbrella}.

During that time, over seven people on separate occasions prayed over me that “God would bring new life through my words.” I tucked each of those statements away in my heart, not sure what they meant. God provided many other instances where he used people, even women I didn’t know, to speak into my life that I was not barren. And one day I looked at the Scripture passage about Eve who was called “the mother of all living” and I knew in my heart that every woman is a mama. Yep, every single one of us brings life into the world in some way.

And mine was not going to be through physical kiddos.

It took me years to even dare to whisper that to the closest people in my life. Our culture is so focused on physical family that it felt scandalous–and possibly unchristian–even to speak those words out loud. When I began to, the response was usually, “Have you ever thought about adoption?” The answer: Yes, of course we had. We had thought, prayed, wrestled with it. And yet we never felt like God was directing us that way. That was also an extremely difficult decision in a generation that is passionate about adoption {and rightly so!}.

From time to time I would ask God again, “Are you sure we’re on the path you want us on?” And inevitably within twenty-four hours someone would send me a note saying, “I’m not sure why I’m sending you this but I think God wants me to tell you you’re already a mother.” Truly. I wrote every single time that happened in my journal.

So I’m here, friends, almost ten years from the time we started this journey. And I want to tell you this: my heart is healed, my life is full, and I’m a word mama to the hearts of thousands of women around the world. I’m truly, deeply blessed.

We could have gone out and found a way to get a baby. We live in a culture where we can make that happen. And it would have done away with a lot of the hard questions we’ve had to answer the last few years. But if we had, it would not have been God’s best for us. I would have been like Sarah and whatever option I chose would have been my Hagar.

So I’m officially announcing that our infertility journey is done. We are in a new season–one of so much life, growth, and joy. One I wouldn’t have chosen but now wouldn’t trade because as David said in the Psalms “better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere.” In other words, I want to stay in the center of God’s will. I trust him to continue filling the mama-longing in my heart {Ps. 84:11}. I trust him to take care of me when I’m old {Is. 46:4}. I trust him to have a plan that is greater than mine {Rom. 8:28}.

And in that I can rest.

Even more than rest, I can rejoice.

It is well with my soul.

I am a mother. And it is good.

XOXO

Holley

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Filed under Adoption, grace, Miscarriage, Redeeming Loss, Sanctification

Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Wait 2.0 – Part 19

If you would have told me during the miscarriage what was ahead of me when it was over, I couldn’t have handled it. The grief over losing our child, after everything else that had already occurred in a short amount of time, seemed like more than enough for one person to bear. I’m not one to feel sorry for myself, but at that point, even I was crying “uncle.” Little did I know when I wrote Part 13 of this series what the next few months would entail.

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.
*For more on how we found out we had actually miscarried our baby, please see Part 13.
*For more of how the miscarriage affected me emotionally,  and why I chose to share my grief, please see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of my “Redeeming Miscarriage” series.

*For more on the messiness of life, in particular my life, please see Part 14.
*For more on what I never told you had happened after the miscarriage, please see Part 15.
*For more on the possible reasons why I was suddenly not in the best of health, please see Part 16.
*For more on my two days of testing to try to figure out the problem, please see Part 17.
*For more on the uncertainty that came with the initial results, please see Part 18.

___________
Waiting. That is pretty much all I got done health-wise for well over 2 months. To say it was a test on my faith and my patience, as well as John’s, is an understatement. There was nothing else we could do, though. It was our cross to bear . Just when we thought answers were just around the corner, we waited, and then we waited some more.

In the meantime, we tried to operate as if life were normal. Thankfully, the whole time I felt absolutely fine, so trying to go about life really wasn’t that difficult. We weren’t fooling ourselves very well, though. No matter what you say, life isn’t normal when you’re sitting around waiting to hear if you have to undergo major treatment. Due to the indecision, we couldn’t move forward with our family plans while we waited. I couldn’t guarantee my employer I wouldn’t be taking significant time off soon. I couldn’t promise my sweet friend that I wouldn’t be a sickly-looking bridesmaid.

I think of one of the hardest things, though, is I couldn’t even fully process all the emotions from the miscarriage, since my health had seemingly been suddenly hijacked since our loss and therefore demanded my time and attention. If you followed it, in my “Redeeming Miscarriage” series, I did do my best to be honest with myself (and you) about my grief. Now that you know what was really going on at that time, though, could you understand how emotionally spent and conflicted I truly was? I loved the Lord, and I believed strongly in His sovereignty and goodness, even amidst my suffering, but I was still human and very much feeling the effects of  living on this fallen earth. 

I had to be on constant guard for the enemy’s attacks. I was weak, and he knew it. If I wasn’t careful, I was either coveting my friends’ families, or wallowing in self-pity for my lot in life. I was either partly upset I ever even conceived a child, or extremely upset thinking about John getting to marry and have a family with another woman after I die due to us unexpectedly conceiving our biological child, who also died. Yes, I realize that last example is slightly dramatic, but when you live my life, you know that dying before your spouse, and him re-marrying, most likely is your reality; my current situation just brought to surface the emotions that surround that probable fate, emotions to which most could never relate.

There were also those nagging questions that plagued me late at night. “When is enough, enough?” “Lord, is it wrong to want to glorify You through “normal” life, instead of through trial after trial?” “Am I really going to end up dead after all of this?” “Will John resent me, if I do?”

For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was going to break under the pressure of life. I longed to go back to January 1, 2013 and re-start the year. I longed to go back to when were just going to adopt and be done with it. I couldn’t turn back the hands of time, though. I had to live in my present reality, and that reality was filled to the brim with uncertainty.

Answers were finally promised toward the end of June.

The miscarriage had happened the first week of April. I was first approached about there being a problem the end of that week. Over two-and-a-half months later, I was ready to know the direction in which my life was going. I was ready to know if motherhood was in my immediate future, or if I was once again going to have to put my desire for a family on the back burner and deal with more pertinent, life-threatening issues. I didn’t know what was ahead of me that day I once again drove down to Columbus, but I knew that I was coming home with answers; after weeks and weeks of waiting, that was enough for me. 

Going into another day of testing that Monday, I did thankfully already have one good piece of news. I would not need the dreaded Nissen surgery! Praise God! Neither my doctor nor the GI doctor were convinced that the decline in pulmonary function was being caused by any acid issues. All of my 51 “episodes” of “silent” reflux had occurred very low in my esophagus, which meant that it wasn’t a danger to my lungs. As excited as I was about keeping my ability to throw up (you would be, too!), I also knew that meant there had to be another reason why my lung function had decreased; namely, most likely that was because of the antibodies. We had waited several weeks to re-test them to give them time to either stabilize out or show that they were going to continue to rise. If they continued to rise, and my lung function continued to go down, I knew treatment was inevitable. 

I also had another problem and another secret. I was afraid there was a chance I was pregnant – again.

I hadn’t missed my period (yet), but my body certainly wasn’t acting “normal.” I was having a few of the same pregnancy-like symptoms I had before the miscarriage. I wasn’t having nearly as many as when I actually was pregnant, but I wasn’t far enough along in my cycle at that point for the majority of them to start making their appearance. I had purchased a few pregnancy tests that weekend, took them a few mornings, and thankfully found them all to be “negative.” I just didn’t feel right, though. I knew the chances of having a false negative before your missed period were extremely high, though, so I didn’t have much confidence in my $3 pee sticks. I also knew that your hormones can cause bodily changes after miscarriage, so I took that possibility into account, too. I didn’t understand why those wouldn’t have occurred right away, but “blaming” my new-found weird cycle on hormones made me feel better. In all my life, though, I had never had such strange things occurring other than the time I was pregnant, and it was only after the fact last time that I put two-and-two together. Last time, I hadn’t even began to think I was pregnant at that point, so trying to decipher if I was again or just being paranoid was difficult at best. What was occurring wasn’t the exact same as just 3 months prior, but it certainly wasn’t my “normal,” either. I was also very aware of my hyper-sensitivity to things of this nature after the miscarriage. I knew my mind could actually be playing tricks on me this time, instead of warning me like last time. After all, like I said, I wasn’t exhibiting nearly all the symptoms I had before, but then again, I hadn’t given myself the time to be showing them, either.

I wasn’t feeling like the Lord was telling me I was pregnant like last time, but I wasn’t feeling like He was telling me I wasn’t, either. I felt He was silent on the issue, which didn’t help me feel any better. John was skeptical. One minute he didn’t believe I could possibly once again be with child, and the next he was wondering if lightening had indeed struck us twice. I felt conflicted, too.  One minute I felt calm about things, and the next I felt overwhelmed and scared. That morning, though, I was completely at peace, which even shocked me. The Lord must have known my emotional limits. I couldn’t sit around like last time and wait to find out what was going to happen, though. I had to know, and I had to know now. Waiting wasn’t an option.

Just like last time, during my commute down, I picked up the phone and let my transplant team know that morning I would need yet another blood draw for a HCG level. I’d know soon if my antibodies and lung function were still out of control. I would also know if I was most likely soon going to be experiencing déjà vu and consequently making my health situation even more complicated. I just wasn’t sure if I was ready to hear all of those answers.

Part 20 to come!

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Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Uncertainty – Part 18

Let’s just dig right in, shall we? 🙂

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.
*For more on how we found out we had actually miscarried our baby, please see Part 13.
*For more of how the miscarriage affected me emotionally,  and why I chose to share my grief, please see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of my “Redeeming Miscarriage” series.

*For more on the messiness of life, in particular my life, please see Part 14.
*For more on what I never told you had happened after the miscarriage, please see Part 15.
*For more on the possible reasons why I was suddenly not in the best of health, please see Part 16.
*For more on my two days of testing to try to figure out the problem, please see Part 17.
__________

After my bronchoscopy, the testing was finally over.
All we could at that point was wait for all the results from the past 2 days.

We returned home, went back to work, and prayed for the best outcome.

If you’ve ever had a battery of tests done within a few days, you know that the results all don’t come back at once. That would make life too easy, wouldn’t it? 😉  No, after even a few weeks, we still weren’t exactly sure what was going on.

I say “exactly,” because we did have some news at that point.
“What,” you ask?

Well…

The Good News:
There was NO sign of acute rejection, infection, or antibody activity in my lungs!

The Bad News:
There was NO sign of acute rejection, infection or antibody activity in my lungs!

We were expecting my lungs to “talk” to us, remember? Instead, they just remained inconveniently silent.
Thanks for the help – NOT!

Allow me to explain. 

Since there were no antibodies in my lungs, as great as that was, it also made things extremely complicated.  It made things so complicated that my doctor and I spent 45 minutes on the phone one day after work discussing the complexities of it all. If you know anything about the medical community, that’s not normal. In fact, it’s sadly extremely rare. The fact that he was willing go out of his way for me, though, is just a tangible example of why I love having him in charge of my care! 🙂

During that honest conversation with my physician, I learned that answers weren’t going to come as easily as we thought.

Since I didn’t have any antibodies in my lungs, yet my numbers were rising and my pulmonary function was decreasing, I met only 1 of the 2 required criteria for one to be treated for rejection.When you don’t meet both, then whether or not you treat is a choice. Some treat, some don’t. You could talk to two different transplant recipients about the exact same case and get two entirely different proposed solutions. Helpful, huh?

At that point, my doctor also still hadn’t been given all the results from the acid reflux study. Preliminary results showed I didn’t have GERD (common acid reflux), but I did have 51 episodes of what they call “non-acid reflux,” i.e. silent reflux. Before we did anything rash, my doctor wanted to consult with the GI doctor (who was conveniently out-of-town) about those 51 episodes. How high did the reflux go? How long did the episodes last? Is it “bad” to have 51 episodes? Would she recommend surgery? All I knew is that I wasn’t recommending surgery when, at least so far, I was just told there was a “possibility” that this issue was affecting my lung function. Any “silent” acid reflux issues I was having certainly wasn’t my focus. My laser-light focus was on the antibodies.

Thankfully, much of the conversation with my doctor was about just that – the antibodies.

That part of the conversation wasn’t what you’d expect between a physician and his patient. Why? Because my doctor said “I don’t know,” and he said it a lot. You know how I responded?

As one who values honesty, I can’t explain to you how much I appreciated the honesty and humility my doctor displayed that day. No, I didn’t like that the information he was giving me was confusing and full of uncertainty, but then again, neither did he. I could tell it was difficult for him to not have the answers. As a physician, he is trained to pint-point problems and treat them effectively, no matter how hard the diagnosis. Let’s be honest. We pay doctors to give us answers and expect nothing less. On that day, though, my doctor couldn’t give me answers. He gave me, though, what he could – his sincere commitment to figure it out. Moreover, he gave me what many physicians will never give their patients – their heart. I knew that day that the man on the other line wasn’t just my doctor; he was my friend. I knew Dr. Kirkby cared deeply for me, for John, for our future as parents, and desperately wanted to see me well again for my sake, not for his. Most of all, I knew there was no other man I’d ever want in charge of my care.

Since the medical community was divided on what to do with the data we had, I certainly wasn’t going to make the road ahead easy for him. With me feeling good, having less of a % of antibodies (though they seemed to be ticking upward fast) than you usually treat (even if they aren’t present in the lungs), and having “incredibly higher” lung function than any of the 4 other patients to whom they’ve given the treatment, but also have decreased lung function for me, I was an anomaly.

If we went forward and decided to treat, over the course of a month, I’d be enduring four, day-long IV sessions of a drug much like chemotherapy. Thankfully, I’d get to keep my hair. I would, however, be tired and have an even more weakened immune system than normal. I could work if I felt up to it (except on the days I got the IV), but we wouldn’t know how I’d do until we started the drug. If that wasn’t bad enough, our close friends are getting married in just a few months. I wasn’t just going to be attending the wedding in August. I was going to be a bridesmaid. We also wanted to move forward with our adoption soon.

It would be an understatement to say that now was definitely not a good time to need chemo-like drugs, not that any time ever is! 

As I said, we knew once Dr. Kirkby knew all the info from the probe study for the acid reflux, it would help us all feel better about that not being an issue, or at least not one we would have to tackle in the immediate future. There were no signs of aspiration of acid in the lungs at that point, which was definitely a good sign. Once we had the GI doctor’s full report, hopefully I wouldn’t have to hear the word “Nissen” again for a very, very long time.

If I wasn’t already happy enough with my doctor, he agreed to contact my former physician, Dr. Astor, who is now the head of UMass’ transplant program and the one under whom Dr. Kirkby studied, to get a second opinion. Over the course of his long, prestigious career, Dr. Astor has literally dealt with hundreds of lung transplant patients, many more than Dr. Kirkby has been afforded the opportunity to see. As common sense would tell you, more patients automatically means more knowledge. Even if Dr. Astor hadn’t seen a patient in exactly the same circumstances as mine, we were sure he could provide us valuable insight.

Did I mention how much I appreciate my doctor? 😀

All we could do in the time being, like we had done for so many weeks already, was wait and see.

Part 19 to come!

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, cystic fibrosis, Health, Life, Marriage, Miscarriage, Transplant

Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Tests – Part 17

As one who thrives off spontaneity, I don’t mind bumps, or even the occasional pothole, in the road called life. Note – I said occasional pothole, not the never-ending, sanctifying “pothole” that has been 2013. 

Over the past few months, though, I’ve learned to embrace the craziness that is my life and have an attitude of thankfulness for being afforded the opportunity to see His hand in so many different, difficult circumstances. After all, how many other people can say they have experienced the highs and lows of adoption, surrogacy, miscarriage, and transplant all within a few months? 😉

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.
*For more on how we found out we had actually miscarried our baby, please see Part 13.
*For more of how the miscarriage affected me emotionally,  and why I chose to share my grief, please see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of my “Redeeming Miscarriage” series.

*For more on the messiness of life, in particular my life, please see Part 14.
*For more on what I never told you had happened after the miscarriage, please see Part 15.
*For more on the possible reasons why I was suddenly not in the best of health, please see Part 16.
________________________________________________

I like little get-a-ways with my husband.
I don’t, however, like them being booked for medical reasons instead of pure pleasure.
I guess you take what you can get.

We headed off to Columbus with our deeply discounted hotel reservation in hand, not sure what the next two days held.

We pulled into the familiar Outpatient Parking Lot for Nationwide Children’s Hospital and walked hand-in-hand to the new GI center for my first procedure, placement of the 24 hour pH probe.

If you recall from Part 16, I wasn’t just going through the normal, hard recovery from miscarriage. I was also having a decrease in lung function, and possibly a rise in antibodies; neither were good. If that wasn’t enough (it felt like more than enough, let me tell you), there was also another possible explanation for my decreased lung function.  Once again, the dreaded words “Laryngopharyngeal Reflux,” i.e. “silent” reflux, and “Nissen Fundoplication” were said.

Nothing sparks uneasiness into the heart of a transplant patient’s heart (at least this one’s) like those four strange words. It is an understatement to say they were the last words I ever wanted to hear at that point.

I think upon hearing them, I even said out loud “Shoot me now.”
I just couldn’t help myself.

I didn’t want to be a part of the majority of transplant patients who had been diagnosed with “silent” reflux post-transplant and had to go on to have the horrible (in my mind) Nissen procedure. I didn’t care if there was the possibility that I was unknowingly (hence “silent” reflux) aspirating stomach acid into my lungs, causing corrosion and consequently my lowered lung function. I had absolutely no desire to deal with the effects of the surgery, in particular the fact that if I endured the procedure, I’d never, ever be able to throw up again! 😦

After not too long, my name was called and we headed back.  We went through the usual taking of the vitals, an explanation of how the probe would work, what I could and couldn’t eat while it was inserted, what to do with the buttons on the holster, etc.

Before I knew it, it was time to have the probe placed. From what I had heard countless times from others on a Facebook transplant group, the actual placement would be “horrible,” not to mention the next day of my life. According to some, the next twenty-four hours would be known as the “longest day of my life,” and I would be “in tears” by the time I got the probe out. Furthermore, if the results came back poorly, and I had to have the Nissen surgery, I could pretty much kiss life as I knew it goodbye. Let me tell you, nothing psyches you up to get something done to yourself like reading through dozens of depressing posts from others about their experiences! 😉 Needless to say, after hearing numerous depressing accounts from so many others, I came into things with a lot of trepidation and preconceived, ill notions.

I can’t speak for the others, but I’m happy to report my experience with the tube insertion was far from traumatic. In fact, I was labeled the “best adult patient they’d have seen,” since I didn’t make a peep during the minute or so the few feet (literally) of very, pliable thin tube were placed down my nose. Was it the most comfortable feeling? Of course not! Did it make me feel like I was going to gag? Sure! As I’ve always said, though, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger! I’m never been one to whine or freak-out about medical procedures, so I should have known from the start that I’d be OK.

I was whisked off to get an x-ray to make sure the tube was in its proper spot. Once that came back fine, the part of the tube that was sticking out of my nose was taped to my cheek, and I was free to go. For the next 24 hours, I was going to be a prisoner to the tube and the holster on my jeans. Before we left, we chatted with the nurses, who were extremely friendly and helpful, and headed back to the parking lot. The entire thing only took about an hour, which left us the vast majority of our day.

You’re probably asking, “What exactly does one do with a tube in their nose for 24 hours?!”
Well, if you’re me and have no shame, lots of things!

I certainly wasn’t going to waste a day in Columbus sitting in a hotel room, just because I happen to look like a freak and every time I took a step, felt the tube making its presence in the back of my throat (weird feeling, let me tell you). We went and made the most of our day. We walked around Easton (an outdoor shopping center), went to Polaris (an indoor mall), and went to Cheesecake Factory (my favorite) for dinner. Trying on clothes wasn’t the easiest, or fastest, thing to do with a tube in your nose and a holster attached to it, but it certainly made for a fun time! 🙂 As you probably suspected, I got stared at dozens of times during our adventures. If you know me, though, I’ve never been one to care about what complete strangers think of me, so I didn’t mind being the subject of whispered comments (like I couldn’t tell they were talking about me – silly people) said by those with whom I came in contact.

During the course of that day, you name it, we did it. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. You only live once, right? 😉

I can’t say I slept like a rock with the probe – hardly so. Though it disturbed my sleep, it was tolerable. I managed to get a few hours of shut-eye before it was time for testing day #2. I will admit by that morning, I was ready for the tube to come out but far from being “in tears.” I probably shouldn’t have, but now that I had experienced the “horrible probe” for myself, while we drove to the hospital that morning, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the comments I had seen prior to having the test done. In all honesty, I was baffled by how different my last 24 hours were compared to what had been described time and time again. After living with it myself, I just didn’t understand people’s extreme hatred for such a small piece of tube. I couldn’t speak for them and their experiences. Maybe 99% of people really do have a much worse time with it than I did. Once thing is for certain, though: their comments had me all upset and worried about having the pH probe for nothing! Honestly, I thought the whole thing was a complete breeze. No, I wouldn’t voluntarily sign-up to have it again, but on the same transplant board on which I had read so many “horrifying” tales of individuals’ 24 hour experiences, I was going to be sure to write a very positive review of mine. Others deserved to know the pH probe test can actually be a fun experience, if you don’t take it too seriously.

Don’t get me wrong. At that point, I was still adamantly opposed to having the dreaded Nissen surgery and fervently praying I didn’t need it. Like I said, I hadn’t minded the test to determine if I had a problem, but the thought of having to actually go through with the surgery itself still wasn’t appealing to me – at all.

Once we got back to the hospital, it was only a matter of 20 minutes or so before I was freed and could breathe out of my nose once again. The nurses laughed profusely hearing about all the things I did during my time as the tube’s prisoner. I was happy to bring them some joy, as I’m sure that most people they see (at least from what they told me) are grumpy and far from congenial.

We said our goodbyes, went and got my port accessed, and headed off to our next stop – the bronchoscopy suite.

Now when you think of the word “suite,” what comes to mind? If you’re like me, I picture a very large room (with a view) with a king-sized bed that has a pillow-top mattress and sheets made out of the finest silk. I envision a white, terry cloth robe wrapped around my skin, as I light candles around the perimeter of the already-filled jacuzzi. Oh, yes. Can you picture the tranquility with me?

Sadly, this wasn’t the type of “suite” that awaited me in a different part of the hospital. Instead, I was given a windowless box for a room, a far-from comfortable hospital bed with stiff, old sheets. I was, however, thankfully spared from the paper-thin gown, though sadly no soft robe awaited me. John was given a chair in the corner. Do you know the saddest fact of all, though? I know for the aforementioned items our insurance company paid far more than we would have for the grandeur previously described. Oh, the joys of hospital life! J

We made ourselves “comfortable” and settled in. It wasn’t long before my doctor and nurse were in and the pre-op conversations began. We quickly went over how I’d been feeling (great) and how I tolerated the tube (perfectly).

All was well – that is, until we went over my blood work taken earlier in the week which was finally back from processing. We learned that in a matter of 6 weeks, my antibody count had risen from 17% to 35%. It hadn’t only increased again since the miscarriage, it had doubled. That fact wasn’t good news. No, that was not good news at all.

After such an easy and enjoyable day the day before, talk about taking the wind out of someone’s sails. It became quickly apparent that it was a very good and necessary thing we were taking biopsies of my lungs that day. Maybe the issue really was sudden “silent reflux” (which at that point didn’t sound so bad, after all), but I was skeptical at best (even before hearing the latest antibody numbers) of that being the culprit of my downturn in health. At least in my mind, with my antibodies seemingly out of control, it did not seem plausible that they weren’t contributing at all to my decreased lung function.

After we finished chatting and I signed what I liked to call the “you-could-be-harmed-or-even-die-during-this-procedure-but-now-you-know-and-are-still-giving-me-legal-consent-to-do-it” form, it was time to kiss John goodbye and go off to la-la land for a while.

As I awaited the anesthesia to kick in (I don’t go down easily – shocking, I know) and the bronchoscopy to begin, my mind was plagued with the questions that had been haunting me since I was first told about the mysterious antibodies less than a week after we lost our child.

“What is happening to me, Lord?” “Are we ever going to be able to have a family?” “When is enough, enough?” “Am I going to die because of this?”

If antibody-mediated rejection was indeed setting in, time was of the essence. No second could be wasted. It didn’t matter how I felt. Something was up. The elevated antibodies and simultaneous decreased lung function were players in a developing story; that story was just a subplot in the larger tale called “my life.” At that point, I was just praying the sudden subplot didn’t develop into the main plot, that the whole tale wouldn’t be labeled a “tragedy,” where the protagonist (i.e. me) meets their demise in the end.

Part 18 to come!

 

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, cystic fibrosis, Health, Life, Marriage, Miscarriage, Sanctification, Transplant