Friday, January 13, 2012
Our Christmas with Ignatius John
I had been planning on waiting to post on the current state of things in my life, but the guy next door decided to run his industrial sounding snow blower right in the middle of nap time preventing me from napping and making my anxiety level concerning him waking the slumbering little ones go up about a million notches, so this seems like as good a time as any. The Big Issue is this: last week I learned that I miscarried our newest little one, baby #3, and it has crushed me like no other sorrow I have ever known. In writing about this, I honestly don't know where to begin or what to say, but I want to tell the whole story, even just for the sake of finally putting these thoughts and feelings on (virtual) paper. I will give a disclaimer that I may be crying while typing- this is no rosy blog post and I probably won't be doing much to sugar coat anything. Also, it will be long, to ensure that folks will only read it if they actually care enough to stick out the long read. Ok, here goes.
On December 13, 2011, the feast day of Saint Lucy I took a pregnancy test and found out that we would be expecting our third little baby. I knelt on the floor and prayed and cried, I was so extactic that I just could not wait to tell Mike. I called him within 10 minutes of seeing the result and we rejoiced over the phone together. I immediately cleaned the house out of excitement, called one of my closest friends in the area, who I was just talking to that day about waiting to find out if we were expecting, and told her the good news. I was so excited. I had been excited to find out about our first 2 pregnancies, but this was different, more intense or something- I was more excited than I had ever been.
I was set to head to Steubenville 2 days later with just me and the girls to begin our long Christmas break with family and Mike would meet us there about 4 days later.
We headed out and the whole way there I was scheming about lots of fun ways that we could tell our families. This would be the 21st grandchild on my family's side and the 6th on Mike's. Our families are always equally as excited with the news of each new life, so I wanted to think of an exciting way to tell, but I had to wait for Mike to get there 4 days later.
We have always told our families as soon as we find out- with both girls we told them with 1 or 2 days of finding out, we just can't take the excitement. So needless to say, waiting about 5 days to tell everyone was pure torture. I broke down and told a few random people right away- my sister who I am closest to and Mike's brother and sister-in-law who we would not be seeing over the break. My other little sis actually pried it out of me on my 2nd night home, I was just no good at holding it in.
So eventually I came up with a really cute way to tell to everyone else and a few days into the visit I stole away to make these little cuties:
Once Mike finally arrived we set up a lunch where all of his family would be present and I dressed the girls in their shirts with sweatshirts over them and waited for the perfect time to reveal them. His dad was so shocked and thrilled that he didn't say anything for what felt like forever (probably 1 whole minute). We waited until the next day to tell my family since we were scheduled to all be together for a dinner. Right before we all gathered for prayer I quickly put the shirts on the girls and set them down in the middle of the praying crowd (it is always a crowd with my family). We waited until the little chain reaction got around to everyone and they noticed what the shirts actually said. My dad was the last to really get it and he is always the most excited. It felt so good to finally tell everyone.
The break went on and I was finally able to have lots of fun conversations with everyone, my fellow pregnant sister and I talked about our due dates and found some sweet deals on the cutest maternity stuff at Gap. My sweet mother-in-law was always asking how I was feeling and different things about the baby, the name, my due date, all those fun things.
I was counting my blessings that I was still feeling so good throughout the break. I got a new workout DVD for Christmas and actually felt good enough to do it on a lot of the days. I really wanted to try to keep my weight steady for as much of the 1st trimester as possible so I still was watching what I was eating and trying to work out regularly. While running with my sisters one day at the track we got on the topic of miscarriages and my one pregnant sister mentioned that she gets so nervous about the prospect of it and I reassured her that there was no reason to be nervous because there was no genetic precedent for that with in our family--my mom had 8 kids with zero miscarriages and none of us girls having kids in my family have had any. 21 grandbabies and none lost. (As if I had any idea what I was talking about, this is just what I told myself so that I would not freak out over it, I have eaten those words about a thousand times since then.)
I got an email shortly after Christmas from one of my cloest friend here in SB who was 16 weeks pregnant. I was so excited to tell her when we returned that I would be pregnant with her again. But in the email she was letting us know that they had lost their little baby. At 16 weeks, they lost him.
Then I began to get worried. I went straight to an adoration chapel close by and prayed for them and especially prayed for the health and safety of our little one. I tried not to worry.
As we finished out the break the night before we were to head back home Mike and I were laying in bed and I had the sudden feeling that we might be having a boy- a feeling I have not had since maybe the first few days of my first pregnancy. I asked Mike about the name Ignatius. I felt really strongly about the name for no particular reason. It turned out that that same day, while I was napping, Mike's little brother did a presentation on Saint Ignatius of Antioch, but I had no idea. Kind of weird, but Mike was not completely sold on the name... yet.
The next day we traveled back home. I had been fully expecting to feel sick by this point. According to Baby Center's site, I was about 6 1/2 weeks along and with both girls I had been feeling good and sick by that point. I was pretty concerned, but still trying not to worry.
The next day we were just trying to get on top of the house, unpacking and cleaning where we could. I was not feeling sick, but I was extremely tired, so when the girls finally settled for naps, I collapsed on the bed and tried to sleep.
While trying to fall asleep, I had a sudden, intense pain like I had never felt before and it was keeping me from sleeping. I got up to use the bathroom and to my horror, I had started to bleed. Every inch of me that had been trying not to worry started to break down. I went and told Mike, then called my doctor. She said she wanted me to come in the next day for an ultrasound to "make sure it's not a tubal pregnancy or anything". What!?!? You want me to WAIT 24 hours to "just make sure it's not a tubal pregnancy"?!?! Insane. The worst 24 hours of my life then began. I tried to hard not to think of worst case scenarios but as the evening went on and the bleeding continued, as well as the pain, it really hit me that I indeed, no longer felt pregnant. Before bed that night, Mike and I cried and prayed together, for the health and safety of our baby, for trust in the Lord and in His will.
The next day crept along about as slowly as it could possibly go. We took the girls to a doctor appointment and I waited. I made them lunch and I waited. I went to the store and I waited.
I finally arrived at the doctors a little bit before the appointment hoping they could get me in early and it took them over 40 minutes to see me, my heart was about to jump out of me it was pounding so hard. I kept waiting.
I finally went into the dark little ultrasound room that had been a previous spot of so much joy. The room that I had gotten to get my first glimpse of both of my little girls, kicking around and perfectly healthy. I will never feel the same about that room.
They began the ultrasound and found nothing. Thankfully, no tubal pregnancy, but then, no pregnancy at all. Our baby was no longer alive. Every fear I never even allowed myself to have came to life.
After talking with the doctor for an eternity about different things and as if nothing bad had even happened, I finally got to leave to call Mike who had been waiting over an hour at this point to get this awful news. I called him and told him, but at that moment the girls were breaking down--Naomi had just had an accident all over the floor and Bernadette was losing it, so he couldn't talk longer than 30 seconds. I called my mom who would call everyone else. Contrary to not being able to wait to tell everyone in the begining, I could not fathom telling anyone this news.
It was January 5th when we got all of this terrible news, the feast day of Saint John Neumann. He was the bishop of Philadelphia and is the only canonized saint ever to live in Steubenville for a time, the place that we're sure our baby died. The chapel that I went to to pray for my friend and for our baby's safety is dedicated to him. God gave us the baby's name and a certain confidence in his gender. Ignatius John.
This seems soon to me to be sharing this. It has only been a little over a week since we found out, but every day I wake up feeling like it was all a dream and wishing with my whole heart that I was still pregnant with this baby. This is all so fresh in my mind right now and going over it makes it so much more concrete. I have found so much support on all sorts of mom issues through blogging and it has been a source of consolation to read other mother's stories about losing their babies. This is an extremely isolating experience and has left me feeling very alone- even with all of the family support I have, not to mention Mike, who is completely amazing. None of that changes that I, the mother, am going through something so different, from Mike, from family or friends. I am grieving not only emotionally, but also physically. It is a grueling physical experience and there are all sorts of thought processes that I have that Mike doesn't. Was it my fault? Did I work out too much? Should I not have had the occasional sips of Mike's beer, or the coffee in the morning? Then there is the fact that someone who was literally alive inside of me has died- no one will grieve the same way as me. But so many other women, including my own mother-in-law, have gone through this, in some cases such as hers, multiple times. It is so helpful to know that I am not, in reality, alone. For whatever reason, God allows this to happen to something like 30% percent of pregnant women. Miscarriages are so common, especially early ones like mine. It does not make it any easier to grieve the loss of this baby who I will never hold, but it at least reassures me that I am not alone and that there is much solidarity with other grieving mothers. Also prayers from others are, I am confident, what are getting us through this. Please pray for us and our continued recovery and healing through this experience, I would be so thankful for that as I am always thankful for support from everyone who reads.