Friday, May 4, 2012

When the Sacred is Torn From Your Life

Like most everyone, I have experienced immense joy and great pain in my life. However, the height of these emotions have both been felt within the past month.

For the past year, Phillip and I have been secretly trying to have a child. My poor body was confused after stopping birth control pills, so I had to see an OB/GYN last Autumn. After my visit, seemingly never ending rounds of hormonal therapies, phone calls, and fertility drugs followed all without pregnancy. I typed out my heartache, frustrations, and confusions, but, obviously, never shared any of these posts. I hated that I was having to take all these drugs in order to have a baby. I never wanted any of this. I vow (SERIOUSLY) to never take hormonal birth control pills again.

I was nervous in March of this year, as I was starting my 3rd round of the fertility medication, Clomid. You see, most often, after 3 unsuccessful rounds of Clomid, your doctor may want to consider other options. I wasn't sure exactly what those "other options" may be, but I wasn't sure I wanted to pursue anything more costly, or invasive, when I didn't even really know anything was technically wrong with me. I simply could not have a cycle without these treatments, at this time. Thus, I was nervous that this 3rd, and possibly final, round of Clomid, a medication I already knew, would be, yet again, unsuccessful.

On the morning of April 11th, I decided I might as well take a pregnancy test since it had been 2 weeks since I ovulated (I apologize if this is TMI). After 3 minutes, I took a look at that little test and took a huge gasp. I've never seen a positive test before! I ran to Phillip, showed him the test and took another 2 hours later. Another positive! Yes. Yes, indeed, this is actually happening! The next day I called the doctor's office to schedule my first appointment and ultrasound: May 3rd.

I was ecstatic, yet cautious, by our news. Phillip was stunned. Our parents were overjoyed. I loved reading up on anything and everything I could find and it was fascinating keeping track of baby. It brought such joy planning ahead for our move back to the Midwest knowing I would have my friends and family near to join in this celebration of our first pregnancy. We were anticipating a December baby! With an approximate due date of December 18, we could even be looking at a Christmas baby! Leading up to yesterday (our appointment) I was very anxious to see our little baby, but also incredibly nervous. Because I had felt so well during these past few weeks I couldn't help but feel that maybe I was making the whole thing up! Maybe I'm not really pregnant? Some people just pee a lot and get super tired, you know.

Finally, the day arrived. Phillip met me at the doctor's office. First up: the ultrasound! Based on the dates of my last (hormonally induced) period I would be approximately 7 weeks 2 days for the ultrasound. Once we were finally back there, Phillip and I both watched in awe and confusion as the ultrasound commenced. The ultrasound tech didn't talk much and we, obviously, had no idea what we were looking at. Finally, after several minutes of looking around and pressing some buttons, the lady pointed out our baby, but followed up by saying, "but I don't see a heartbeat....Would you like a picture?" Neither of us was really sure what she meant, but, yes, I did want pictures. We took our pictures with us and waited in the room to see the doctor.

Once my doctor came in, we discussed exactly what the ultrasound findings mean.

A heavy blow. The heaviest.

No heartbeat at this stage in the pregnancy means a fetal demise has occurred. Because the baby was the appropriate size, he or she had been healthy and growing like normal until just recently when, for whatever reason, the tiny heart came to a stop. If I wanted to let nature run its course, within the next week or two I would expect cramping and bleeding, possibly a large amount, which could even result in an emergency room visit. I would begin the natural process of a miscarriage. This is the worst word for a pregnant woman to hear. Miscarriage. It brings tears to my eyes just processing it all once again. In order to prevent the rough symptoms that could likely result in a D&C, the doctor recommended we schedule the procedure ahead of time. While it left a pit in my stomach, knowing exactly what a D&C means, Phillip and I agreed this was the best option. I am not a fan of intervention when a natural process is available, but in this circumstance I knew that if I didn't take this step now I would be plagued by the thoughts of "when" and "how" it would all begin. 

After discussing all of this, the doctor left Phillip and I alone. I instantly began sobbing into Phillip's shirt. So much effort! Such happiness we had felt! It's now all replaced by such a terrible ache. My poor baby! My precious first baby, still inside my abdomen, has died. This can't be happening. This isn't real.

We were sent to the perinatologist to get a confirmation ultrasound in order to verify the findings of the initial ultrasound. Unfortunately, the results were the same. No heartbeat was able to be detected. Therefore, the D&C was scheduled for today, May 4th, at 2PM.

After my initial sobs at the office and intermittent tears over the next hour or two, my tears were dried and I was left feeling numb. We shared the news to those who knew of the pregnancy. I tried to sleep at night, with limited success. I spent my morning in bed, reading similar stories online and listening to "Held" by Natalie Grant. Finally, it was time to head to the surgicenter. I encountered some wonderful nurses in both pre-op and recovery. I made sure to get their names so I could mention them when my follow-up survey arrives. I was still in a state of numb until my emotions came to a peak when I was forced to sign a form determining what was to be done with the remains of the fetus. My poor heart. I could feel my eyes brimming over. Thankfully, Lisa, my nurse, asked me if I needed to use the restroom before getting changed. Once in the bathroom, I began weeping again. Are we sure? I haven't had any cramping! No bleeding! Is there absolutely no chance?!

No. I knew this was the answer, but I couldn't help but think these questions. Why, Lord. Why did this have to happen to our baby?

It didn't take long for the surgery to be under way. Phillip assures me it was short, but it certainly felt longer to me. Nearly immediately when I woke up in recovery to the sight of my doctor and the nurse, I began to cry. "It's all over", they said. "Everything went well."

It's all over. More tears. My wonderful recovery nurse, Lois, was a precious gift. She gave me words of encouragement and shared her own personal story with miscarriage. She told me to cry. She told me to take the weekend off (I was scheduled to work tomorrow. My doctor also gave me a note to be off work until Monday). She reminded me that it does, in fact, get easier.

Thankfully, I feel well physically. I'll experience some bleeding and cramping, but it's all incredibly mild right now. I am thankful, too, that my spirits are relatively high considering the day's events. From moment to moment, the sadness overcomes and I shed a tear or two. I know this will continue, sometimes worse than others, but I know that my God of love is with me and I have my faithful and wonderful family and friends supporting myself and my husband with prayers and well wishes. In sharing all of this, that is all I ask for: prayer. Prayer to grieve, and then find a healthy way to continue with life and look towards the future. The doctor said there is no reason I shouldn't be able to have lots of healthy babies in the future. I look forward to it with a smile. For now, though, I'll remember my first little baby, forever in Heaven with our Maker.


  1. This sucks. I wish there was something that anyone could say or do to make your hurt even the smallest but less right now. You guys are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope with time the suckiness deosn't hurt so much.

  2. I'm so so sorry. I cannot comprehend your pain. All I know is God loves you and He definitely has wonderful, fulfilling, amazing plans for you. But right now, its got to be so hard. Lean on Him for peace. Love you.

  3. Rachel DrummondMay 5, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    Alyssa and Phillip, I am so sorry for your loss. Are you involved in an online support group? I have found infertility seems to be one of those "off limits" topics for social conversation. One site I would recommend is Fertility Friend, they have wonderful forums along with excellent charting software. You might feel like taking a step back for a while to process everything that has happened, but when you're ready, I urge you to see a reproductive endocrinologist. Your body needs help 1) getting pregnant, and 2) staying pregnant, and that's the doctor to help you do it. Your family is in my prayers.

  4. Alyssa and Phillip,
    So so sorry to hear of your great loss. My first baby, like yours died at about 7 weeks gestation. Yes, it is devastating and your nurse was right. You will and should cry for that baby. I still do and am crying for you and for myself as I write. You will all be in my prayers and I hope that you will know the joy of having a healthy baby soon.
    Much love from one of your First Presbyterian friends,
    Pam Clark

  5. what amazing courage you have to share your story. i know i have never met you, but my heart goes out to you and your husband. as another commenter has said, God has a plan for you, your husband, and your life together! i am praying that God will give you peace and strength as you go through this difficult time in your life.

  6. Alyssa and Philip, I was sadened but touched in my soul to hear your incredible story and want you to know all three of you are in my prayers. It does get easier but your tears are a healthy way back. You both have such great faith. Let it help heal the torn feeling you have. God Bless You all.
    Sandy and Dana

  7. We are so sorry for your loss Alyssa and Phill. You wrote this so beautifully, Alyssa. It will always be a tribute to the little one who is now living with Jesus. May you know the Comforter's tender care.

  8. It is not often that a story makes me cry. You have such strength for being so vuln erable in sharing this. I am praying for you and Phillip.