My dedication is to my family and my faith.
This blog is updated when inspiration strikes and time is available.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Losing Elisha to Heaven, a Miscarriage Story

Why am I sharing such personal details online?

I've been wanting to write Elisha's story and share it, for anyone to see. I want people to know, and to know how I feel when they ask and I am unable to answer. I was helped the first few days after I learned what had happened by reading the personal stories of other mothers who had lost. Everybody  has a very different story, and by adding my story to the collection maybe someone else can be helped by reading it. It is important to me to tell the story and let it free instead of keeping it tucked inside. This is a personal story, but here it is if you wish to read it.

Some of the happiest moments of my life

One and a half months after our wedding Elisha was conceived. In church with my husband's grandparents who live in Iowa I felt the Lord speak to me through the reading that day. It was the story of three travelers who visit Abraham, and he waits upon them as Sarah prepares things for them in the tent. After the three strangers prepare to leave, they tell the man that when they come next year Sarah will have a child. Only when I read that line, it was like Sarah's name was replaced with the word 'you'. The line was highlighted in my mind, it read like a voice mighty and distant were telling it to me. The voice reached my ears and through my entire body. I read it a second time in amazement, this time reading the word Sarah and hearing the word 'you'. The Lord was actually speaking straight and unmistakably to me through the words in the bible. It was a very real moment and I closed the book and burst into silent, joyful tears, trying not to make a scene or get noticed. This was before mass started, needless to say the mass was a blur. Grandma and Grandpa did not notice and that evening before bed I told my husband about it. We were very excited and began to await our first child. After that day we waited out the month to take a pregnancy test, just to be sure. After all, the Lord might have meant the baby would be born in one year, which would have given us three months to wait. When our pregnancy was confirmed by the test I eagerly, and somewhat nervously, began researching pregnancy, looking at forums, downloading informational apps, and planning how and when to tell family and friends the news. I called the clinic and told the nurse that I had not even had a physical in about seven years and had no idea what to do but I was pregnant. She was ok with that and asked my preferred clinic location. As they had only one baby doctor (ob) there she set me up with a ten week appointment with that one. I was all set. Since I was on week 3 by the time I set up the appointment there was time to wait. At points I would forget I was even pregnant, I still looked the same and had very minimal symptoms. Shortly before the appointment, we surprised my husband's parents with donuts with toothpick flags announcing our blessing. My sister and I had been planning our parents' 25th anniversary party surprise and I was in charge of getting the cake, so at the bottom I had it say 'You're going to be grandparents!" My mom was priceless when she read it, I feared they would drop the cake. Then we had our first ob appointment. My husband came with of course. I was so happy to hear Elisha's 10 week heartbeat rapidly on the little amplifying device. I was much less happy about the blood they took but I decide it was for the baby's good. The next month passed with me getting used to pregnancy references and jokes, a few congratulations cards coming, and still forgetting sometimes that I was even pregnant. The few small symptoms I had went away and I felt great, the way they said the second trimester was supposed to feel. For the first time since moving away from home I was eating all the food groups at meals and getting plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. Our second ob appointment was at 14 weeks.

The hardest moments of my life

This appointment started like the last one, me getting vitals checked and answering medical questions. Then I got to lay down again while the doctor listened for our baby's heartbeat. It seemed to be taking her a while to find it and I started the game of worrying and then talking myself out of the worry, it was going to be fine, bad things only happen in movies, she was only taking a while because the baby was hiding, right? But then she stopped trying and my fears grew large. She tried to assure me about statistics and some other words I didn't really hear. I think she assured us that the baby was probably fine. I may have been panicking. She wanted to schedule an ultrasound right away to see what was up. The clinic did not have an ultrasound machine so we had to leave her and drive all the way across town to get there. We stopped at a thrift store because we had time to wait and I emailed work to let them know I would not make it until afternoon. I did not really feel like shopping because I was worried but we found a bunch of the used books that I collect and I cheered up. Everything was going to be fine, there would be an explanation, and I would get my first ultrasound. We went in and once again I got to lay down with goop on my belly while a medical person figured stuff out. We didn't get to see the screen, which I thought was weird, in the movies you get to see the screen. But I did not ask. I was happy to let them figure it all out. The technician said things like taking measurements now of this and that and one more here and a few pictures there and then said I was done, they were going to ask my doctor if she would be the one to discuss the results with me. Left alone in the room to wait, I was worried and nervous but talked to my husband about other things and generally felt ok. I think my mind had stopped thinking at all about what this could all mean and was waiting for the results to become apparent. After a while the technician came back and said that she would tell us the results. She said the ultrasound confirmed that there was low amniotic fluid and the fetus stopped growth at the size of 11 weeks of age. Something else was said containing the words fetal demise. For a few seconds I sat there, my mind trying to figure out how those doctory words could mean something like the baby is sick but we can make it better. Finally, and it may have only been the time it took me to blink, I realized that what the person meant to say was our baby had died and gone to heaven three weeks ago and we never knew about it until now. With that realization came the frantic howling sobs and rushing tears as I tumbled into my husband's comforting arms. I think the person said some things like I'm sorry and maybe I'll give you two some time in here. I think my husband may have said something comforting to me or cried as well. All I really know was our baby was dead and my world was shattered and my dearest love had his arms wrapped tight around me. I discovered what the sound of loss is as it came tearing out of my lips. For what seemed like a very long time I cried that way, completely unable and unwilling to stop. Finally my tears quieted, though still flowed freely. The tech came back and said my doctor wanted to see me again for something. My husband assisted me to the car and drove me back there. I think I emailed my supervisor something about not coming in at all that day. The nurses ushered us away from the waiting room and into an office right away. When the doctor came she talked to us about how sorry she was, statistics of when it happens, how they don't always know why but it is usually chromosomal abnormalities. She asked if I wanted to have the miscarriage at home or have a D&C, but the concept was horrifying to me and much too close to the idea of abortion for me to handle. I also was harboring a thought that said, "What if they are wrong?" The doctor gave me a few pamphlets, explained that it would be painful and hard and that I should go to the emergency room for any complications. She gave me a prescription for strong pain pills and said I could also have Ibuprofen. Then my husband took me home, and we stopped at the pharmacy on the way. The day passed as I cried, slept, and began researching on my phone. I wanted to find answers for all the questions teaming in my head. I wanted to cry out the ocean in my eyes and leave them dry. My whole world floated away to leave only my sadness and my husband always there comforting me. At some point I let my supervisor at work know what was up. He told me I got three days of bereavement leave which I gladly took then and there. I was not sure if I would even go back after that. Those three days are mixed together for me. I know the things that happened but not in what order. I'm not sure if I ate or what I ate. I had various thoughts. Sometimes I would be freaked out by the thought that I was carrying around my baby's dead body inside me. Sometimes I would hope and pray the doctors were wrong or that God would give that life back. I read other people's stories online from various levels of detail, as well as medical accounts of what happens in a miscarriage. I cried. I learned that lots of bleeding happens and I began to fearfully watch for signs of the process starting every time I used the bathroom. I looked through an online list of names with my husband watching over my shoulder. We decided at about the same time that our baby's name should be Elisha Marmion. We called our close family members and tearfully told them the news. It was interesting to hear each of my family memers' responses. We never had a miscarriage in my close family. At some point my husband's mom came to visit and said some things of comfort. I read everything I could find online of what miscarried babies look like. By the end of the three days I was getting tired of waiting for the miscarriage itself to start. I wanted to finish the process and have a full story to deal with. I was ready. I was still very emotionally unstable when I went back to work the fourth day but I was able to function and not cry constantly. None of my coworkers knew what had happened or seemed to notice the difference. The few lingering questions I did not have the answers to I needed to ask a priest. We were attempting to get the priest who witnessed our marriage to come meet with us and when we got in contact with him he came to our messy little apartment. We were able to pray and have our questions answered. I knew Elisha had to be in heaven but was unsure about things like baptism and funerals. For most of the funeral details he directed us to pick a cemetery and then work from there. I did not quite get to that though. 

The details
Summary: I had a miscarriage. You should skip to the next section  if you do not desire further details.

I began to bleed a few days later. Most accounts that I read said that it would be just like a menstrual period. I noticed similarities but for me the color was not the fresh red blood I knew but a dark rust. One night after a week of slow bleeding I woke with the feeling that a bad menstrual period was just beginning. I was cramping and quickly staggered to the bathroom. As I sat on the toilet I realized blood was coming out freely and I remembered a blog I read about one woman's miscarriage experience where she sat in a warm bath. I got the tub filled for myself but the pain was getting stronger than any cramp I had ever had. I began to call for my husband, who was still asleep in bed, as I lowered myself into the bath. The pain was so strong at that point that I knew I would not be able to fetch the pills myself. I thought I was probably calling too quietly when my husband did not wake right away but I was dizzy and could not get any louder, so I just kept calling. When I was seeing more darkness than the room around me my husband appeared and I said water and medicine as loud as I could. He quickly hurried away as I lay in the tub with the pain washing over me. When he reappeared somehow I managed to swallow the pain pills. He sat in the bathroom with me. At some point I felt something large emerge with the blood and soon after that I was able to sit up in the water. My husband was watching me with concern, and I was sitting in a pool of what was probably my own blood. I say probably because I was not sure where my dear baby's body was and do not specifically know where the blood comes from. I found the sac and saw that it was empty with a hole in the side. I continued to look around but my baby's little body was not there. I concluded that it was still inside me and settled in to wait. I still felt the pain though my head had cleared. After a while though, the blood stopped gushing out and I felt back to normal. I reasoned that the body must still be coming and would be out in a few days, other women online had mentioned a longer process. In the mean time we cleaned up and my husband helped me back to bed. For an abnormally long period after that, about two weeks total, I continued to have bleeding. I went to work, kept living life, and waited. At times I thought that maybe through all of this the baby could still pull through. That God had decided he would stay in my womb and have new life. The logical side of me just waited for the inevitable. But it never came, I stopped bleeding. One month later my normal menstrual cycle resumed, proving to my hope that I was indeed no longer pregnant. I have had thoughts that maybe God took Elisha's body up to heaven like the Assumption of Mary but I think that is just a silly fantasy. To this day I do not know what happened to Elisha's body. 

After it was finally over

To this day I have been sad, happy, jealous, angry, an even laughed some. I have probably covered all the stages of grief. I tell myself to stop feeling normal sometimes, and other times think that normal will forever be out of reach. I lost my hope and have struggled ever since to keep hold of it. I felt the desperate need to be pregnant again and now I am, conceived three months later. We had a six week ultrasound that showed my inner fears that only the new baby is in there, no body remains. I have been very nervous for our new baby to the point of panicking at the 14 week appointment but all was well. I would not have survived without my wonderful husband. On the day that would have been Elisha's due date, April 8th, my dear Grandma passed away. The pain is still strong and fresh, layered on top of my sorrow for Elisha. However, I can smile through the tears because I know she holds her great grand baby in her arms and keeps him company until we can come to stay with them. My heart is torn. The bible says rend your hearts not your garments (Joel 2:13), and I have done just that. My heart bleeds its tears for Elisha, and for other babies gone before birth. My soul cries for the other mothers of these babies, weather they lost as I did or chose to give them up through abortion. And now I feel that I have more room in my heart, it is torn open to fit more in. This is Elisha's story, and mine. This is how I feel and why.