Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weeping Cherry Blossom

I have always loved cherry blossoms. I don't know why, really. I guess when I went to Washington, D.C. as a high school sophomore on a school trip, the infamous cherry blossoms were in bloom, and I noted how beautiful and sweet and innocent they looked. They only bloom during a very short time period, and they go away for the rest of the year. For some reason, when I was on my trip, the blossoms were out, and I felt lucky to see them. 

Fast forward about 8 years. I have tendency to go down the baby aisles when I am at Target. I have been doing this for a solid year or so. Somewhere within the past year, I spotted a cherry blossom nursery set at Target. I told myself that when I had a little girl, her nursery would be decorated in cherry blossoms...the ultimate symbol of beauty and sweetness (what every little girl should be). 

When I found out we were having a baby, I instantly felt like she was a girl. In fact, I think I was almost willing her to be a girl. Not that I wouldn't have loved my child if he were a boy, but I was really feeling a girl. Luke felt it, too. I had dreams in which I would see her sweet face. She would have dark hair like me. I was already making plans to have the nursery decorated in cherry blossoms. In fact, when we moved into this house in May, I bought a vase of silk cherry blossoms to decorate the office (which would have been the nursery). It's like every little dream of mine was coming true...

Until September 12, when our world came crashing down. There would be no little girl...there would be no cherry blossoms. The past two weeks have been put it lightly. I have fluctuated between being calm and sane to emotional and inconsolable. I have blamed myself, I have blamed others (which is silly because NO ONE can be blamed for what happened). I have questioned my faith, and at the same time, I have been reassured of my faith. I have been up and down an emotional roller coaster, and I have just been begging for something or someone to stop the ride so I can calmly get off. 

This past weekend, I reached a place of peace that I had not been able to reach. Seth & Abel decided to organize a little ceremony for our child...and they invited our families to come to our house today after church so they could all present us with a tree...a cherry blossom tree. In fact, we got a weeping cherry blossom tree. The symbolism with the "weeping" part of the tree is just perfect. What a perfect representation of our child, who we both felt was a girl. I cried, but not in an incontrollable way. I was happy. I was relieved. No longer would I have to worry that our child would be us or by our families. Our beautiful little tree, strategically placed outside the window of the office that would have been the nursery, will remind us every single day that we created a child. When our families and friends come over, they will see the tree and know that it is in remembrance of our baby we never got to meet. Even when we go on to have more children (which I am confident that we will), we will never, ever forget our first. We can explain to our children what the tree represents. The tree is a part of our family, as silly as that sounds. 

I feel better than I have in two weeks. I know that I am not "over this." I can never be  "over it." What an insensitive thing to expect. However, I have renewed hope that we will have beautiful children one day, and I know now, more than ever, that our first child will always be a part of our lives. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bittersweet Reflection

I just went back through and re-read several of my blogs from when I knew (or thought) I was pregnant. I use that terminology because right now I am feeling so betrayed by my my own body. I can't believe that our child never made it past the fertilized egg stage...that she wasn't growing each day like we thought...that she wasn't even visible to the human eye the way we thought. It upsets me because when I read back through my posts, I was so excited...I was believing all the signs my body was giving me...the nausea, the cravings, the belly swelling. My body was tricking me. My body was telling me that I was responsible for the growth and development of a child, but in reality, I lost the child a long time prior to seeing that haunting blank ultrasound. Luke talked to my belly...he kissed it. And that was all it belly. Not our baby. 

I met with Lisa and my mom last night. We had dinner, and we talked about how I was feeling about all of this. Lisa has first-hand experience with losing a child, even though she lost Luke #1 after 7 months of pregnancy. I can't even heart can't even wrap around that kind of sorrow. I was a mere 2.5 months pregnant. Lisa had traveled the journey so much longer than me. 

I felt better after talking to my mom and Lisa. Pain shared is pain I am trying to just express my feelings to those who care about me so that they can shoulder some of the pain for me...I don't mean to ruin anyone's day or make anyone feel sorry for me...but I am currently accepting all the prayers and all the sympathy (even better, empathy) I can get. Each person I talk to about this has something new, insightful, and sincere to say. I am learning from the experiences of others, and I am looking, each minute I am awake and even while I am dreaming, to the day when I meet our children face to face. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Starting Over

I haven't written since a week ago. I thought I would never want to pull this website up again. However, as I sit here in my pajamas with my hospital band on my wrist, I have found the urge, and the need, to document what's been happening this week....what happened today....and what we hope will happen in the future.

Last Friday, the wind was knocked out of us. No one could see this coming. When I went to my first doctor's appointment, I had no idea I would come out with an appointment for a D & C the following Friday. I didn't even know what a D & C was. All I knew was that something horrible had happened, and I was supposed to just suck it up and deal with it. 

Saturday, instead of the "family cookout" we had planned to reveal the news of our baby to our family, Luke and I spent much of the day by ourselves. We were grief-stricken and lonely. We wanted to see people, but at the same time, we didn't. Luke's family still got together at Abel & Elizabeth's. This didn't bother me really...but it just reminded me that of course life will go on for others. I know they felt for us, and I know that they didn't know what to do to make it better, but it just definitely proved that this world does not stop turning, even when babies die.

Saturday evening, Abe & E and Seth & Liz (and Gus) came to see us. I was happy to see them, and I think Luke was even happier. For the first time, I saw him smile and laugh. To be honest, I think he temporarily forgot about our situation, as much as you can temporarily forget something like this. We played Taboo, ate pizza, talked, and things were quite normal. On two occasions, seeing my beautiful nephew was too much to bear, and I needed some time alone. I cried in the bathroom by myself, similar to the way I cried when I first saw those two lines on the pregnancy test. I kick myself now, telling myself that the next time, IF there is a next time, I will never cry or question God's timing...and I will jump for joy just for being given the slight chance of becoming a mother...even though now I know that it might not end up as planned. 

Sunday morning, I woke up early and went outside to my patio. In the still and quiet of the early morning hours, I was able to listen to the wind...the heart. I was alone with my thoughts until I heard little hands on the door, and a little voice talking about Aunt Ashley. My beautiful Gus was standing there, and Liz wasn't far behind. I've never met a more beautiful soul than Liz. Now, more than ever, I wish that I was more like her, especially given that beautiful baby bump she's got that I will never get (at least during this pregnancy). She sat next to me and cried for me, which is more than I could have ever asked for. Her empathy really wrapped itself around me, and she could understand things that others couldn't.

We went to church, which I know was a good thing, but it was very difficult to get through. The music, the message, the children in the was all too much. I found myself sobbing at one point, making eye contact with a young boy who probably thought I was crazy and scary. It's almost as if God was reaching inside of me, pulling out my pain, and the sobbing was part of the exit process. 

I had a shower for Jenn I needed to get to in Muncie, and it was difficult to drive an hour by myself. However, I did it, because I knew that my friends were counting on me to be there. I walked in, saw my dear friends, and pretended to be OK. I broke down a tiny bit, once I relived the nightmare of the blank ultrasound. We got through the shower, and I managed to leave without reliving it again. I knew they would understand.

I went to work Monday through Thursday (crying the whole way on Monday morning). I managed to not say a word to anyone, except to my principal to tell him why I was missing a Friday and a Monday, taking advance sick days. He probably wouldn't have questioned me anyway, but I felt the need to mention what had as to provide an excuse if he saw me more sad than usual, less talkative, or acting out of the ordinary. I didn't want to be caught in a weak moment by my boss, giving him the opportunity to ask the cliched, "What's wrong," and thus sending me into a tailspin. I wanted the control, so I told him. Which, as you could imagine, was awkward.

I had a meeting for Section 125 (benefits my teacher's union provides at additional cost) on Monday. How ironic, really. The plan the man was trying to sell me was short term disability, where if I were to go on maternity leave and not have enough days, I would start getting a partial paycheck 15 days after my sick days would run out. I would also get a reimbursement for labor/delivery. I don't know why, but I was sold on this plan at an additional $17 per pay. I thought, "Why not?" I had to answer three questions, and the third one was, "Are you currently pregnant?" I had to answer "no." I wasn't. This plan doesn't accept pre-existing conditions, so he told me that I couldn't get "diagnosed as pregnant" before December 1 of this year. Diagnosed? It was a funny way of putting it, I guess. Basically, I can't get pregnant before December 1 in order to reap these benefits. You can read more about getting pregnant again below.

Also, Monday, I was driving home from school, and I passed the Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville. I had this desire to stop in and spend money, so I did. I do suffer/benefit from retail therapy, and I just need to go into Bath & Body Works. It made me feel better, and, you know, for the first time...I will say that I deserved it. I had recently ordered $50 worth of maternity clothes from, and I knew I would be immediately returning those I might as well replace it with an equal amount of Bath & Body Works, right? 

Luke has had a difficult time this past week. I don't think that guys share this kind of personal information as openly as women do. We decided to send an e-mail to many of our friends, explaining what had happened, since none of them knew of our baby in the first place. We knew we were taking a chance that absolutely no one would write us back, and we would feel even more alone than we already did, but we really had nothing to lose. So, we sent the e-mail and, within hours, we got some BEAUTIFUL, amazing responses that brought tears to our eyes. Luke even received a phone call from a couple of male friends, and this helped him, I think. We got a couple of cards this week from family friends, and we also got some phone calls from family. We feel the grace we have been granted...and we feel the prayers. I also got some beautiful flowers from my friends at school. Everyone was very jealous :-)

Basically, to get to the point of this entry, I had the D & C today. I was scared, and even cried last night for one of the few times all week. It probably didn't help that I was watching Grey's Anatomy and watching people die in surgery. We went in at 7:30 today, and we were home by about 11:30 (including a trip to Meijer for groceries). The nurses and doctor were so amazingly nice. I was very impressed with the whole Community North experience. The operating room did look just like what you see on TV...and it was about 40 degrees in there (maybe not, but it was COLD). I remember talking about teaching, and then I was out. When I woke up, a nice lady was saying my name and taking care of me in recovery. Not long after, I saw my beautiful husband, and we were allowed to go home much quicker than we thought. Again, all the people we have worked with have been just wonderful. 

The doctor explained to Luke that everything went well...there was nothing to be worried about as far as anything long term. So now we are faced with the question, "Where do we go from here?" I have this urge to be pregnant again. However, I am scared to death....scared of this happening again. Everyone I have spoken to and everything I have read says that with only one miscarriage, your risk of having another one is the same as having one in the first place. Everyone says that it is common, and that we will go on to have many babies. I don't know when (or even if) that will happen for us, but I do know that I will be doing everything I can to make myself as healthy as possible the next time around. I want to give this child the best chance to possible to make it in this world. 

I wouldn't say that either one of us are healed, emotionally or physically. I know that it is a process, and we might ever be completely "over it." However, I am choosing to see the silver lining in these clouds, and I know that good days are to come. I also know that my friends and family are wonderfully amazing, and I couldn't have picked a better man to spend the rest of my life with. 

Friday, September 12, 2008


I can't believe I'm writing this, possibly to an audience that might never see it. However, I've documented the last two months of our child's life, and I can't just leave the book open and the page unturned.

"There's the amniotic sac,  but there's no baby."

Those words churn my dinner in my stomach and are keeping me awake at this hour of the night. There's no baby. There's no baby. There's no baby. 

For 10 weeks (5 of those weeks, I was aware of my pregnant status), I took care of myself the way any expectant mother would. I turned down the alcohol, switched from Diet Coke to water, exercised, ate vegetables, and took the prenatal vitamin every morning, in hopes that all these measures would give us the best chance possible for a healthy, happy baby. Little did we know that the baby was either never there, or gone long before I even knew I was pregnant. The little person Luke was speaking to and kissing each morning before school was not the "raisin" or "seahorse" we thought she was. She wasn't there. She wasn't an inch long like we thought she was. She didn't have the arm and leg buds with tiny fingers like we thought she did. She never had the tail that we jokingly feared would never fall off. We never made it that far into the pregnancy, but we didn't know until Friday, September 12, 2008. 

I felt my belly grow and my body change. I was ready to wear the maternity clothes. More than anything, I was ready to tell our family and friends the incredible news that God had chosen us to be parents. I was ready to tell school that my maternity leave would be beginning around April 13, 2009. I was ready to go to the doctor appointments and learn about our baby's latest developments. For as unready as I was on August 11th, I had sure made a drastic turn around and found myself in the "more than ready" category up until yesterday at 4:00.

Yesterday was to be the first day we met with the doctor. I was running a few minutes late for the appointment due to having to leave at 2:30 and be there by 3:30. However, Luke met me at the office and we walked in together. I was surprised and excited when the receptionist told me we would be having an ultrasound. An ultrasound! We would get to see and possibly hear our baby! We would have a picture to show our parents when we gave them the news. 

We were brought back to the exam room, made small talk with the nurse, and we waited for Dr. Ertel to come in. I was instantly calmed by Dr. Ertel's youth and easy-going personality. I was excited that she would be the one seeing us through this incredible journey. We talked about the Colts and med school. Everything was normal.

Dr. Ertel explained that my lab results were normal, that I seemed healthy, and that she had no concerns. She performed the exam and then turned on the ultrasound machine. This was the moment we had been waiting for. 

When the screen came on, she pointed out my uterus. It looked, to my untrained eye, empty, but I didn't want to say anything yet. Who can read those ultrasound things anyway? I knew any minute our little peanut would be on the screen, and all would be OK. 

She moved the instrument around and around, searching. It was silent in the room, and at this point, I became worried. I looked at Dr. Ertel's face, and it said it all. I could tell something was wrong. After a few heavy moments of silence, she stopped moving the instrument and brought the screen closer so we could see what there wasn't to see...

She pointed out the amniotic sac. More specifically, she identified the empty amniotic sac. I am not an expert in ultrasound technology, I but I knew that I should be seeing something by now. Dr. Ertel was genuine and sympathetic as she told us, "This isn't going to be a normal pregnancy for you. I'm not seeing a baby." 

I took a painful look at Luke, who was shocked and immediately asking questions as to why and how this could have happened. All I was thinking was that there was no way this was happening to us. The doctor termed this situation as a "missed abortion" miscarriage. Basically, it's a miscarriage that hasn't yet happened on its own. After looking it up on the Internet, I found that it is when the embryo has actually died, but the sac has remained and not been expelled by the body yet. She explained that this "expulsion process" could happen any day now, and she was surprised that my body had held onto the sac for 10 weeks since the embryo was gone a long time ago. 

She left the room so we could have some time to ourselves. At this point, Luke and I found ourselves holding onto and holding up each other. I didn't want to completely lose control of my emotions with the nursing staff waiting right around the corner, so I tried to hold at least some of myself together as I put my Colts socks back on and moved from the exam table to the bench Luke was sitting on. I was no longer a patient. I was no longer an expectant mother.

When Dr. Ertel came back in, she had two documents. One was the cliched brochure about how to "deal" with your early pregnancy loss. The other document was describing the D & C procedure that Dr. Ertel wanted me to have done within the next week. D & C stands for dilation and curetting, which basically means that instead of waiting on my body to just miscarry the tissue and amniotic sac on its own, which can be a physically painful and emotionally distressing thing, the doctor would rather the D & C surgically take care of removing "what's left." My first thought when she explained what would be happening was, "kind of like an abortion." I guess it would be similar, but remember, there's no baby. 

All the information was overwhelming, and I found myself just nodding and trying to smile and not make the doctor feel too horrible. I could tell she was feeling for us, but I also know that in her mind, she has seen this happen before, and she knows the science behind it all. We are not the first couple to experience this tragedy, and we won't be the last. All we can pray is that this will be our last. 

The D & C will be scheduled for Friday. We could do it sooner, but I don't feel comfortable taking a day off during ISTEP testing. So, next week, I will walk into my classroom, throw away the desk planner that has my due date written on it, and pretend that nothing ever happened. I will administer the ISTEP test, and then Friday, I will go and officially "end" the pregnancy that really, in all reality, never began in the first place. I will return the pregnancy exercise video I bought and never opened, and I will send back the Old Navy clearance maternity clothes I ordered online. We will put away the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book, and we won't be filling the prescription for prenatal vitamins. Maybe we will keep the Notre Dame onesie we bought for my parents to give the baby "next football season," and I would imagine that we will hang onto the crib we so hastily purchased one week after getting the positive result on the pregnancy test. At least we hadn't set it up yet, and it is safe in the attic. 

Luke and I knew we had a tough night ahead of us. After all, our families were going to be uniting at our home today (Saturday) for the big reveal, and we just couldn't bear the thought of going on as planned. So, we made a painful and silent drive to Muncie, where we stopped at his parents house to make them aware of the third grandchild that they would never meet. When we walked in the door, they knew something was wrong, and Luke was able to verbalize to them what had happened. Though it was uncomfortable to reveal such an intensely personal trauma, we were comforted by their words and even their own tears. 

I knew the more difficult visit would be to my own parents. I am not the most open with them about health issues, and I was nervous enough to tell them that I was pregnant in the first place. When we got to their house, my mom wasn't home yet, and my dad knew something was going on. The 10 minutes we waited for my mom were agonizing for all three of us. I knew my dad was expecting the worst. I also knew he would have never expected this. When my mom walked in, we shared with them the news. Again, their tears matched ours, and provided us with some emotional support. 

For 5 weeks, we hadn't said a word to our families about the pregnancy. Now, all of a sudden, we are forced to talk about it in a way that we never anticipated. We are talking about it in the past tense. 

I now find myself wide awake with an agonizing nausea that I know has nothing to do with pregnancy symptoms. Luke and I talked last night that we wished we could just unwind yesterday and start over. We expressed that we both felt empty...that we missed "her." We are both haunted by the images in our head of her. Throughout the last 5 weeks, Luke and I both had dreams that we were having a girl, and we claimed we had even seen her face. 

I'm confused. We believe so much that God was responsible for this pregnancy in the first place. We accepted it not on our timing or planning, but we knew we had been chosen for a reason. But now, knowing that it's all over, how do we still believe that God had His hand in this, too? It's a tough pill to swallow. 

Miscarriage to me was always something that happened to other people. It was the little chapter in the back of the pregnancy book. It was the brochure at the doctor's office that no one ever picked up. It happened to the moms who smoked or drank alcohol or did drugs during their pregnancies. It didn't happen to healthy, happy, cautious mothers who followed all the rules and "did everything right." 

Where do we stand? Where do we go from here? We don't know at this point. We both agreed not to think about the future, and that we deserved to grieve for our baby in the manner she (or he) deserves. We lost our first child. That's what this will always mean to us. Even though the baby never made it to fetus status, we still loved her or him with all our hearts. 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dr. appointment moved back... :-(

I was really ready to go to the doc today. I wanted to meet her and find out that all is well...maybe even hear a heartbeat? No such luck. I got a call from the office saying that she had an emergency c-section today. :-( So, I am going to try tomorrow. Hopefully the same thing doesn't happen again! I guess we should get used to this...I'm sure this won't be the first appointment that gets rescheduled due to a baby needing delivered! 

I still have yet to take a prego pic, and I am now officially 9 weeks along. It's hard to believe we found out a month ago today and have managed not to tell our families about this huge event in our lives.

School was tiring today, and it made me all the more happy that my year will end sometime around Easter (I know I shouldn't think that way, but it's a true feeling)!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Blood drawn

I got my blood drawn today. Three vials worth. I hope it was worth it! :-) 

Today at school, we were talking about embryo's in science, and a girl saw a picture in our book and said, "That embryo looks like a seahorse!" Very ironic considering that we have nicknamed the baby "seahorse" for this stage since it does really look like one. Hahahaha. This tail thing kind of gives me nightmares.

I am so excited/nervous for Saturday. We are so ready to just share this news. My figure can't hide it much longer! :-) 

Baby's first Colts Game....

...and it was a bad one.

I am so disappointed in the Colts. Boo. Baby had to listen (does she have ears?) to the yelling last night as we watched the first half of the game at a friend's apartment, and the second half we watched in bed. 8:15 kick-offs will not be favorites of mine this season. I can't possibly stay up until midnight, and I'm glad I didn't last night. The Colts lost 29-13. Soooooo disappointing. 

My belly is becoming obvious....I need to be able to talk about this pregnancy soon, before people start talking about me!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Baby had her first bump...

Yesterday was a really bad day. The day began with us finding our beautiful pear tree and half of its branches laying across our driveway. A huge arm of the tree broke off (apparently in a wind or rain storm), and now we have TONS of branches and leaves to clean up. The tree looks half-naked now. I am hoping that the branches will fill in the hole eventually. So, that was a sad way to start the day.

Then, I get home from school, and we both are just desperate to do something young and fun. In many ways, I feel like a ticking time bomb...and my days of doing what I want are numbered. So, we looked into everything downtown, and nothing struck us. Finally, we got the idea to go to the Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville and eat dinner/shop. We made it down there, had a decent dinner at an Irish Pub, watched some of the BSU vs. Navy game on ESPN (BSU made me miss college sooooo much), and then we shopped a little. 

We were leaving the complex, getting ready to turn right, and a man in an SUV hit us from behind. My head slammed against the headrest pretty hard. It was weird, because my first thought was the baby. Thank goodness Baby is only the size of a blueberry or something. I got out of the car and was very angry. I'm pretty sure I even yelled at the guy who hit us. Luke told me to wait in the car while he worked it out. I was really upset, because personally I am tired of dealing with repairing cars, trees, and anything else that is not working. I just want everything to go right all the time! 

Anyway, everything is OK....Luke will need a new back bumper for sure, but that can be replaced. The tree will get cleaned up. And most importantly, we are fine & together.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The urge to buy baby stuff...

I can't wait until I buy my first baby outfit or baby item....I am holding off because without knowing the gender and without telling people, I don't want to have too much baby stuff around. However, I am really itching to start walking those baby aisles. 

I'm over 8 weeks now...and I still haven't taken one of the typical belly pictures. Maybe because my belly looks more like my college beer belly, rather than a cute baby belly. Oh well, I need to start documenting at some point, right? Maybe I will do that tonight...

I go to the doctor a week from today! Which reminds me, I need to get my lab work done. Ew.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Almost 8 weeks!

With each passing day, it is becoming more and more real that we are going to have a little baby on April 13 (or around that time)! Luke's family is making plans for Kiawah in June, and we instantly thought of our 2 month old child, traveling 13 hours to South Carolina. I don't know if that is going to happen for us. I hope we are able to maintain some normalcy after the big event happens. 

Nikki's wedding was this weekend. I managed to stay on my feet all day, lifting a 6 pound lens up and down for 12 hours. I am totally exhausted, but it was worth it. I got some great pictures of the day. I hope Nikki is pleased. 

Luke and I figured out that April 13 is 32 school days short of the end of the school year. This means I will go approximately 10 days without pay due to my lack of days. :-( Oh well, what can you do? We are going to have to start making sacrifices now to prepare for the future. The life of an adult...

Anyway, on Wednesday, I will hit the 8 week mark! I am ready to be out of the first trimester, which will be somewhere near the beginning of October. I feel I have gotten off the hook with the morning sickness, which is awesome, so I really can't complain too much about anything thus far. I'm just ready for more changes, and I am ready to see this new love of my life!