A year ago I promised God that if he would allow me to have another child, I would be grateful and not spend the last few weeks complaining but praising the miracle inside of me. I’m more grateful for this baby than you can begin to imagine, and please know I have kept my physical comfort in perspective as we await this little miracle.
I know I’ve written about our loss last year, then taken the post down, then written about it again, then taken it down again. And so you may have caught the story or not but I think that 1.5 years later as we wait on our baby girl to join our family I am finally ready to share about it. My due date for the pregnancy was the same time that we conceived this little gal, and so as is often the case I know we would not have this tremendous blessing if it were not for tremendous loss.
Back in early December of 2008 I was laid off from my second job and working temporarily at a firm with little chance of a permanent job. It seemed like perfect timing for another baby, just space them close and stay at home while I waited out the recession. So we took our fertility drugs and waited. I took a test, and it was negative. The job situation looked like it was going to turn around and we decided to hold off on baby number two. In January we visited my brother and I felt sick the entire weekend. Then again, so did everyone else. I had trouble getting over the flu, but I chalked it up to stress and exhaustion dealing with a sick Devan and an uncertain job future. By mid-February I was feeling a good deal worse and was still waiting on my cycles to return to normal. After a very rough week, I called the doctor concerned with the amount of bleeding I was experiencing. Don’t worry, they said, fertility drugs can do that to you. A few days later I called again and they told me to take a pregnancy test. The next morning I did, and it was positive. It struck me that I was taking a test to confirm that I was losing a baby. Thank God we didn’t know, I told Craig, that would be unbearable.
A series of blood tests confirmed what we already knew to be true- that my HCG levels were dropping and I was experiencing a miscarriage. In the midst of this heartbreak, I had an eye infection that wouldn’t go away, was told I had ELEVEN cavities that would need worked on, that I may be developing glaucoma, and that Devan had a double ear infection and would need tube surgery. It was a rough week and I barely had energy to mourn the pregnancy we were losing. Two more weeks went by and I was still experiencing the miscarriage and was about at my wits end. I decided I would call the doctor at the end of the day and request the D&C just to have it over with. That afternoon I walked across the street with some co-workers to grab a candy bar and was suddenly hit with a blinding pain in my stomach. It was so horrible I fought back tears as they chatted happily and I silently struggled back to the office, breathing deep to control the pain. I left immediately and called my doctor who told me to come in the morning for an ultrasound and final HCG draw but to go to the emergency room if things got worse. I spent the night in pain that was only slightly dulled by the three Tylenol + codeine pills that I took and a heating pat. It’s almost over, I told myself, I’ll get the D&C tomorrow if I need it and this will be over. I never even considered going to the ER.
In the morning I showed up for my 9:00 scan and that’s when things got crazy. The ultrasound tech didn’t say a word to me for what was an eternity and then asked when my pain started. She told me she was going to go call the doctor on call and asked a nurse to come in and sit with me. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what could possibly be going on. The nurse pulled me into a private room and broke the news that I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy in my tube that looked like it was bleeding out and I would need surgery to remove it. When? I asked. Right now, she said, we are scheduling you right now for emergency surgery. If this happened yesterday, we need to hurry. You aren’t feeling dizzy or faint, are you? I am now, I told her. I asked for some pain meds as mine were starting to wear off and she told me I couldn’t receive anything else until they put me under. I asked for a phone to call my husband and she told me the only available phone was in the waiting room. And so, as 20 some people listened in, I had to call my bewildered husband and in the midst of my sobs tell him to come to the hospital ASAP- I was about to have emergency surgery.
The next few days were a haze of post-operative pain and drug-induced loopiness. Processing what had happened was slow but in a sense I felt relief that I could finally start to move on. I didn’t realize how close of a call it was until I saw my doctor a few weeks later and she gave me a hug with tears in her eyes-“I’m so sorry we didn’t catch this earlier, you are so very, very lucky.” And then I also wondered- what are the chances that someone who had trouble conceiving in the first place would have success with just one tube? After pouring over the internet and talking to numerous doctors my answer was about 40%. A 40% chance that would could have another child, and a 10x increased probability of another ectopic- especially if we tried fertility drugs again. It’s possible, I was told, but it may not be easy. Just be prepared for that.
But here we are. A little over a week away from the birth of our baby girl. Who came to us just when I really needed her, who was meant to be the fourth member of our family. And even though I have struggled physically with the pregnancy, I have never lost sight of the bigger picture. How grateful I am, what a miracle a baby is, how much I want her.
There is a absolutely beautiful song named Beauty for Ashes by Crystal Lewis, and I hummed the refrain to myself often whenever I started to feel down, or sad:
He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair
And this couldn’t any more true for me than it is now, in my last week of pregnancy. The beauty, the gladness, the peace, and even the strength are at hand and we have just a few days left until to meet our precious baby. Beauty indeed!