Saturday, August 31, 2013

Before miscarriage... after miscarriage

Miscarriage is something that marks a point in your life as if carved in stone. You start to use phrases like “before my miscarriage” or “after miscarriage”. Which by the way, is a phrase that makes probably 95% of the people you say it to instantly feel at least slightly uncomfortable. But it is true, there are certain things that are forever changed.

Before miscarriage… I would see a child or a pregnant woman  and get that warm fuzzy feeling. A feeling of “I can’t wait until that is me”. Before starting a family, you think of having kids as a choice. I will choose to have kids or I will choose to not have kids… We rarely think “what if I want kids, but I can’t have kids?”


After miscarriage… I see a child or a pregnant woman and it kind of makes my heart stop if only for a moment. I instantly have an inner monologue of “I hope that they know how blessed they are to have that. I wonder if I’ll ever have that? How far along would I be if my first pregnancy hadn’t ended, or my second, or my third?” Which by the way, I would be 7 and a half months pregnant if my first pregnancy hadn’t ended so soon. That’s just crazy to think about.

Now I don’t want to give the wrong impression, I am not dwelling on the past, I’m simply stating a fact. I understand that while I don’t know why things have happened this way, I know God has a plan. I am at peace with what has happened and where I am at now. Just because I have healed and continued to move forward, doesn’t mean that I don’t still wonder, what if. How would my life be different if I hadn’t miscarried? I feel that my relationship with my husband, my family, and a few friends have grown a lot stronger throughout this roller coaster of a year that I’ve had so far. There is something so bonding about sharing something so personal with someone else.

It is incredible how your perspective can change on so many things, so quickly. Someone you hadn’t talked to in years might become someone you talk to almost daily as they not only are willing to share their store with you, but also truly care about you and your story. Someone you never really knew at work, decides to open up to you to let you know that you aren’t alone. You learn to not just talk about giving your worries and struggles to God, but you realize that that is the only way you will make it through the days, weeks, and months to follow.

Before my miscarriages, I’d say that I lived in Shelbyland, a place where everything is happy and sparkly and good. I could decide that I wanted to do something, and I would get it done. I was naive. Now, while I still spend a lot of time in Shelbyland, I try to make my way back to reality every now and then. I have to realize that not everything will go my way. Not everything can be planned. I am not now, nor will I ever be, in control of my own life. I consider it a complete blessing to live each day. I have so many things to be thankful for. I would definitely say that I was certainly a happy person “before miscarriage”, but now, “after miscarriage” I am not only truly happy, I have a much better appreciation for all that I have.

I still pray that one day, I will be lucky enough to have a child look up at me and call me “mom”. Though my history of miscarriages is now fact, and set in stone. My future is still unknown to me… but I still have hope.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Is it the weekend yet???

This week seems to be dragggggging on. Granted it is a busy  week for me at work so naturally I want it to be over now. Once this crazy week is over, I will get to enjoy a 3 day weekend! WOOHOO! AND next week I only have two days of work before I take a few days off to go to my cousin’s wedding :) I’m so excited to see family! We aren’t able to get together nearly enough as only my immediate family lives here in Alaska and everyone else is in the Seattle area. The past 2 years, they’ve all made their way up here since my brother got married last summer and I got married the summer before. We are already trying to figure out what excuse we will all use next year to get together.

Anyway, another reason I am looking forward to next week… another blood draw! Is it weird that I am excited for that (especially since I believe this blood draw will put me over 40 vials of blood drawn since mid May this year)? I hate needles, I hate blood, and I don’t generally care for hospitals or going to the doctor, but I can’t wait. This time the blood draw will be to check my progesterone levels. Hopefully this will give some answers as to why I’ve had the multiple miscarriages. At this point though, I really won’t be too surprised to get the “We got your test results… everything is normal” phone call.

So far every test seems to come back “normal”. Actually at my last appointment where they performed a Sonohysterography, I was not only told everything looks normal, they actually told me I have a “nice lining”. Of course in awkward situations, (which this was as there was an ultrasound tech, my doctor, doctor’s assistant, and an assistant trainee in the room) I tend to go full on sarcastic. So naturally I responded with “That’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me all day. A girl loves to be told she has nice lining.” The outcome though was as expected… everything looks great, I have a “nice lining”, OH and I am very fertile (another thing a girl loves to hear).

So that brings us to my current situation. So far all appears to be normal, so if my progesterone levels come back normal as well, that pretty much leads us to conclude that the reason for my miscarriages is either something that there is no test for, or I just have bad luck. Yay me! :) Either way, this is one step closer to either knowing what is going on or at least ruling out another possibility. I look forward to this crazy week being finished and even more excited for all that next week brings.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Waiting... and waiting... and waiting...

Something that I have never been very good at is waiting… Patience has just never been my strong suit. I am what one would call, decisive. Once I have made up my mind about something, I figure out my plan, and I go for it. Why wait? Welllll little did I know that my lack of patience would really come back to hit me upside the head when we decided to start our family.

You wait until you think you are ready. You wait until it fits with your timeline. You wait until it is the right time of the month. You wait to again to test. You wait for that test to tell you “yes” or “no”. Depending on that answer you either wait for you next appointment, or for the next month to start all over again. And that is only the beginning of the days, weeks, months, and years of waiting to follow that decision of “let’s start a family”.

After the second miscarriage I realized that I had turned my love of children and my readiness to start a family into an obsession. I was obsessed with my What to Expect app and googling every symptom that I had. I had decided that it was MY time to have a baby, so I would have one. Now. That is how that works right?! You want the baby, so you HAVE the baby. At some point in my craze to reach my end goal of “mom”, I stopped being content with all of the blessings that I already had. What if I was never able to have children? Would I just be miserable for the rest of my life because ONE thing didn’t work out how I wanted it to? I began bargaining with God. “I will make this child go to church every week or maybe 3 times a week, if I can just have this baby. I will never think a mean thing about someone around me again, if I can just have this baby.” I started making my willingness to follow God a condition that I would only mean IF He gave me what I wanted.

I was browsing online one day and I came upon another blog and it was by no means a “motherhood blog” or a “trying to conceive blog”. It was your run of the mill, fashion, hair and makeup kind of blog. But this woman decided to break her silence and share with her readers the struggles that she and her husband had been facing trying to conceive. And it just slapped me right across the face, actually I like to picture it more like those V8 commercials where people get smacked in the forehead and then you hear “Should’ve had a V8″… anyway, getting sidetracked again. She said how she realized that she too had made her longing for a child, her obsession. It became a condition of her happiness. It was as if someone else had watched me and known what was inside my head and my heart, and wrote it all out. I had been doing the EXACT SAME THING. I was giving God stipulations… What was I thinking?

I googled that AA mantra, you know the serenity prayer I believe it is called. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” I began repeating it numerous times a day when I was feeling that stubborn child in me come out and start bargaining with God again. I needed to accept the circumstances that I had been presented with (I am a statistic… I have miscarried, 3 times), do what I can about things that I have power over (i.e. get the testing done as recommended by my dr), and the wisdom to differentiate between the 2. It is so easy to get caught up in what we don’t like but sometimes we get so stuck on it that we fail to see the life lessons that maybe we REALLY needed to learn or that while there is nothing that I can do about my previous 3 miscarriages, there are things that I can do for my future.

In this journey toward what I can only hope and pray results in motherhood, I have learned patience. A good trait for parenthood I might add. Maybe I need to learn patience now because I have a child just as stubborn as me in my future… Who knows. My point is, that while this journey is full of waiting, I have finally come to accept it. I no longer drive myself crazy counting down the seconds until my next doctor appointment or the next time I can pee on yet another stick, I am learning to live in the moment and appreciate what I have. Yes, I still dream of things to come, but those dreams coming true, no longer dictate my happiness. I guess all of this waiting isn’t so bad after all. Besides, the best things in life are well worth the wait. :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Healing

Throughout life there are many times that we need healing… mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. In the past 8 months I have needed my fair share of all of the above. 3 pregnancies and 3 miscarriages, there is a lot of healing the body needs to do to recover from that. This last one in particular as I was further along than with the other 2. It has now been 3 and a half months since that ultrasound appointment that I will never forget. The one where I should have been able to see that baby’s heartbeat, but didn’t. The appointment where I was supposed to have these pictures to take home and show family, but  didn’t.

In the last 3 and a half months my body has made alllll sorts of changes. It was weird to know that our baby had stopped growing but I still had the physical symptoms of pregnancy. So naturally, I slept a lot, cried a lot, OH! and did I mention that I ate my feelings? I have a tendency to do that… I gained a good 10+ pounds in the 2 weeks after that ultrasound appointment. Thankfully as I’ve slowly healed emotionally, I stopped stuffing my face and have since lost even more than the 10+ pounds that I’d gained (thank goodness!!!). Before I was able to even begin to start emotionally healing, I had to work on my spiritual health. My relationship with God could easily have deteriorated this year with the trials that have been put in my path, but instead He has helped me to get through each hour, each day, each week. He has given me the strength to keep going. He gave me hope for my future.

I am as stubborn as they come, my family and friends can attest to that, and I just didn’t want to see what was right in front of me. God was telling me to wait, be patient. I had to give up control of my life and the plan that I had made for it and leave it all to Him. He has a perfect plan for me and my life. I no longer have a clear picture of what my future looks like and probably for the first time in my life, I am okay with that. I’m ecstatic about it! Do you know how much less stress it is to give up your troubles and hardships and know that God will get you through? I couldn’t have imagined how at peace I could feel, especially in light of what this year has been like.

Up until now, every child or baby related commercial would make my heart sink. Every time I saw or heard a baby, I couldn’t breathe. It actually hurt to hear that other people were pregnant. All of the sudden I realized, I was surrounded. By pregnant women, babies, children, families. It wasn’t my imagination. God was placing them in my life because I needed to be broken in order to see that I needed Him to put me back together again.

I know friends and family have sort of walked on eggshells around me since the miscarriages. Careful not to talk about their own pregnancy or their friend who just had a baby, for fear of hurting my feelings. And while I am touched that they care that much about me, I am happy to announce, they needn’t do that any longer. The cracks are still there, but the pieces are put back together again. I recently learned of yet ANOTHER friend who is now pregnant, and instead of the pain, I was happy for them! I’m not sure if I was more happy for them or more happy that it didn’t hurt. I didn’t cry, I didn’t have to remind myself to keep breathing and force a smile. I was genuinely happy.

Maybe this was something that I needed. Maybe I needed to be broken down to realize that I can’t keep trying to be okay and do things on my own. I need God, I need my family, I need my friends. I need. I am one person and I can’t do it on my own anymore. I have been so incredibly lucky to have been blessed with an AMAZING support system in my family, friends, co-workers, etc. I know that for many people, miscarriage and loss in general is an awkward subject. It is easier to pretend it hasn’t happened than to break down and cry and tell someone how you really feel and what you are going through. But I cannot explain just how much sharing and venting and crying actually helped me. I know that every person is different, but if you have kept everything to yourself and want to try, do it. Reach out to someone who is willing to listen. Don’t be afraid to start that uncomfortable conversation. You are not alone.

Somewhat off topic are these photos that I took this weekend. It’s funny how I didn’t realize how sad and out of it I truly was until now. I didn’t see the beautiful things around me. It was as if I was in some sort of fog and finally that fog has been lifted and I’ve just been looking around amazed at how gorgeous this place is.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

3 pregnancies... 3 miscarriages

Yep, that’s right. I’ve been pregnant 3 times already! Sadly, all 3 pregnancies have ended in miscarriage. Let’s start at the beginning.

As I stated in my first post, husband and I decided that in the beginning of 2013 we would try to start a family. Sure enough, as that time of the month approached that first month, I felt… different. A short time later, a test confirmed what we’d already suspected, I was pregnant. Unfortunately 2 days later, I woke up to bleeding. My heart sank. Husband was out of town for work and not wanting to make him worry, I mean, people talk about “implantation bleeding”. Maybe that was what this was. I sent a quick text to my mom and within minutes she was at my house. My mom has always been one of my best friends and though I wasn’t sure that I needed someone to come over and talk with me, she knew me better.

Within a few hours, there was no question that this was not implantation bleeding, I was miscarrying. I cried. I pouted. I vented. I ate my feelings… No matter what I did, I knew nothing would change what was happening. With the support of my husband, my family and a few close friends, I began to heal emotionally. As I wasn’t very far along, my body healed quite quickly. Husband and I talked through it all and decided, well, miscarriage is common, what are the chances it’ll happen twice in a row.

Not long after, I was getting those weird feelings again… I knew I was pregnant again before a test could even confirm that fact. My body gave me a few new symptoms to add to the list from last time… I was passed out and drooling on the couch by 8pm every night. I was nauseous. I was starving every hour… it was bizarre. It wasn’t even like “oh, I could used a snack…” No, it was more like I HAVEN’T EATEN IN YEARS; I’M STARVING TO DEATH! I didn’t care though… I’ll take whatever symptoms as long as it meant I was carrying our child.

One week after that positive test, I again woke up to bleeding. This time my first reaction was, no… no. This is NOT happening again. As if I could will things to change (logical, I know). This wasn’t how this was supposed to work. I had morning sickness… they say that’s a sign of a healthy pregnancy, right?… The first time I miscarried, I was devastated, but this time, this time I was PISSED. This wasn’t how starting a family is supposed to go.

Again, I rationalized. Okay… one miscarriage, that’s bound to happen. Two miscarriages, that’s just cruel. What is the likelihood of 3? This time, the symptoms didn’t hit me quite as early as the previous 2. I was sure that I wasn’t pregnant this time. That was until one Saturday morning, I was watching tv and ESPN was on. Of all things on tv, it was bowling. BOWLING. One team lost some national title or whatever you get in college bowling… they cried. I cried?… Why was I crying over bowling on tv? Maybe I am pregnant. I went upstairs and took a test and yet again, I was pregnant.
I was a bit nervous, as one could imagine. I debated on whether or not to set up my first doctor appointment, but I did anyway. I was terrified that I’d miscarry before I got to it and I’d have to call and cancel. Each and every day that I woke up to no bleeding, I prayed. I thanked God for each day that I’d been blessed with this baby. I decided that whether I made it to 5 weeks or all the way to term, I’d thank God for every day for this gift. New symptoms with this pregnancy, wake up somewhere between 2 and 3am to pee and then I was wide awake between 6 and 7am every day, regardless of when I’d gone to sleep. Again, fine by me. I’ll take any symptoms as long as it means that I am still carrying this child.

Finally, it was the day of my first appointment. We were ecstatic! No ultrasound for the first appointment, just paperwork and blood work. Oh, and they scheduled my next visit which would include the first ultrasound, but it wasn’t for another 3 weeks. 3 WHOLE WEEKS. Hey, when you are anxiously waiting, 3 weeks feels like an eternity!

The day of the first ultrasound finally arrived. All day at work, I had to try to stay distracted otherwise I would obsess. We get to the appointment, and again we wait. I swear the last thing you should ever make a hormonal, pregnant, nervous woman do… is wait. They did the usual first appointment stuff and after waiting and waiting and waiting, it was time for the ultrasound. They brought husband into the room and started with the ultrasound. Now I will admit, I am a bit Google obsessed. So I knew what to expect to see. We should see the sac and the flickering of that little heartbeat. But all that I got… SILENCE. I knew what that meant. I knew it wasn’t good. Finally the doctor spoke and told us that she wasn’t seeing what she’d hoped to see. She explained that they’d run some tests and bring me in for a follow up to see if maybe the dates are wrong and I’m not as far along as they’d thought. I held it together very well and when the doctor left the room, I made sure to let husband know… “don’t hug me until we are out of here. I will lose it and I can’t lose it yet.” He sat with me while they drew more blood, we set up the next appointment for me to come in for another blood draw. We made it to the parking lot and husband put his arm around me and as I’d expected. I lost it. I bawled my eyes out. My mom was waiting for my call to tell her how things went. I hated making that call, but I needed to.

Over the days and weeks that followed, there were blood tests, ultrasounds and follow up appointments. The doctor confirmed that it was a missed miscarriage. She also recommended that we consider testing to hopefully shed some light on why I’d miscarried 3 times. While I hated that this meant more waiting before we could try again, I knew that if I didn’t and I miscarried again, I’d be so upset with myself. So we waited and waited and waited. AGAIN. I’m getting pretty good at this waiting thing. I had more blood drawn, and by more blood I mean, I think they literally took all of my blood. But that’s okay, I just want to know what is going on and how we can fix it. Blood tests came back normal. While I was happy to hear that, it was incredibly frustrating to be still left with no answers. The next step was a saline ultrasound, which by the way, weirdest feeling ever! If you aren’t sure you understand what I mean, you haven’t had one. Trust me, you’d know what I mean.

Yet again, this test showed everything is normal. Great. I’m NORMAL, but I can’t carry a pregnancy to term! What’s the point in having all the parts and having them all technically functioning properly, if they don’t do what they are meant to do?! Thankfully, I’ve been seeing an AMAZING doctor who has helped so many women. We have a plan, yes more tests included. So again, we wait.

I know that my story isn’t exactly rainbows and butterflies, but it is my story. While it has been hard, it has brought me and my husband closer. This journey hasn’t gone the way that anyone would ever want it to, but it brought me to a few realizations. I became so focused on a baby that I made my happiness depend on this child. God brought me to the breaking point. He made me realize that I was trying to force things to happen on my timeline, the way that I wanted them to happen. I was being taught patience. This will not happen on my timeline, but His. I don’t know that I’ll ever give birth to a child, but I know that it will all happen exactly as God has planned. I am at peace now. I know that I already have all that I need for happiness in Him. He has blessed me in so many ways already, an amazing husband, a wonderful family, great friends, a good job, health, and SO much more. I do hope and pray that one day in the future, we are blessed with children, but I know that whatever happens, I will be happy. I am happy. I needn’t worry about what my future holds because God already knows, and it will be exactly as it is supposed to be.

Friday, August 23, 2013

About me...

Alaska. I was born and raised here, and I am lucky enough to call it my home. Oddly enough I’m not exactly fond of winter. Yes, it is pretty but other than Christmas… I’d be quite happy with no snow or cold for that matter. In fact 70-90s and sunshine, now THAT is what I call perfection!

Regardless of the sometimes unwelcoming weather, I consider myself lucky to have been raised here. This is where I grew up, where I met my husband, where I got married, and where we’ve started our life together.

I think I’m getting ahead of myself… maybe I should start with more information about me…

Name: Shelby

Age: 23

Married: YES!… to the most amazing man by the way :)

Children: Someday

Pets: Of course! I have an adorable Yorkshire Terrier named Gidget… I consider her my child. Yes, yes, I’m one of those people… I thought I was pretty darn witty when I told my husband that he’s her Dogfather… but maybe that’s only funny to me. I think he just rolled his eyes when I came up with that one.

Favorite Color: I would like to say glitter but as some say that doesn’t count, the other favorite would be pink.

Hobbies: Time with friends and family, shopping, reading, camping (my version of camping MUST include running water), fishing, clam digging (razor clams are fast little guys!), doing hair and makeup, cooking and baking, watching sports, all things fashion, obsessively watching episodes of every fashion, cooking and home improvement related show ever made… I have a slight addiction to HGTV and Food Network. Poor husband…

Future hobbies: I had to add this because for years now I have been toying with the idea of getting a nice camera and maybe taking some photography classes. I’ve always thought it would be fun and I just love seeing what moments can be captured… don’t judge the picture above too harshly as it was an iPhone picture that I took through a window while my husband and I were driving.

Why I started this blog: I’ve always liked the idea of blogging and though my first instinct is to start one about baking or doing hair and makeup, in the past few years my life has been full of so many changes, and I thought it would be nice to document my journey. In the recent few years I have gotten married, moved, bought a house (another move), remodeled a good portion of that house, changed careers twice, and most recently husband and I decided that it was time to start our family… which is when God brought it to our attention that our plan was not the same as His plan.

When we got married, the usual questioning ensued… “When will you have babies?!” We discussed it and decided, we wanted some time at the beginning of our marriage, where it was just the two of us. We also wanted to own our own home beforehand. A year and a half into our marriage (December 2012), we bought our first house. Just over a month later, I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. My whole life my ultimate career goal had always been “mom”. Two short days after my exciting news, I began to miscarry. We were absolutely devastated. You know the possibility is there, but you never truly think it will be you… I cried, a lot… I tried to rationalize the whole thing, as I typically do. We talked it over and decided, what are the chances it will happen twice in a row? I mean really. March came around, and again I was pregnant! One week later, I began to miscarry yet again. This time I quickly skipped from sad to straight up pissed off.

Yet again, I rationalized… Okay 2 miscarriages, now what on earth are the chances that I would miscarry 3 times in a row? Right?! Am I alone in thinking the probability SHOULD be pretty darn low?! April, I am pregnant again! This time, I passed the time frame of my first miscarriage, and the second! I actually made it to my first doctor appointment. This was a HUGE step for me. This time felt different and I just felt really good about it all. As week 8 approached, I couldn’t wait for my next appointment. We would be doing my first ultrasound! I made it past weeks 6, 7, and even made it to week 8. I made it to my first ultrasound appointment! We were so excited, the husband and I watched as the Doctor looked for our sweet little one and the heartbeat. SILENCE…. My heart sank immediately. I knew what this meant. One of the only times in my life that I desperately wanted to be wrong. Finally the doctor spoke… it wasn’t looking good and she was worried. The weeks that followed were some of the toughest weeks we’d endured in our marriage. We were heartbroken.

There were numerous follow up appointments to confirm that this was in fact, another miscarriage, or more specifically a missed miscarriage, as my body had not yet started to actually miscarry. I’m not going to lie, it SUCKED. It took weeks for my body to finally get the message that this baby was not going to be growing anymore.

I went through the typical phases of why me? why 3 miscarriages? what did I do wrong? what could I have changed?… just WHY?! During those months it started to really sink in. Things do not happen on my own timeline, but God’s. Not at my will, but His. God has a plan for me, and just because I decided I wanted a baby now, that doesn’t mean the time was right. I prayed a lot for comfort and strength. Each day, sometimes each hour, I would pray for the Lord to give me the strength to keep going, the strength to get up, go to work, live my life. I needed Him to give me the strength to keep it together. I had multiple co-workers tell me how amazing it was that I was handling it all so well. I can honestly tell you, that was NOT me. I still cried, sometimes at very weird times and for no apparent reason, but God helped me to keep moving and to heal. I needed to heal not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Recently, I happened across this verse, Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This verse spoke to me in a way that it never had before. While I don’t know what my future holds or what God’s plans are for me… I need not worry because God knows. He has a plan for me. God has plans for my hope and my future. I have to be patient and follow His path.

I’m sure this post is ALLLLL over the place, but that’s okay. I’m new to this and I felt it was necessary to start to get my story out there. I have been lucky enough to find a few blogs of other women who have had similar pregnancy/miscarriage stories. It helped me to hear not just “you aren’t alone” but to truly go through their stories. I also have been blessed with multiple women in my life who have been through miscarriage and have been gracious enough to spend time talking to me, supporting me, and listening to me vent and whine. These amazing women have helped me in such an unimaginable way and I hope that maybe one day, my story will be able to help someone else. I believe that miscarriage is something that is so common, but it is never talked about. I can say that from experience, the last thing you need when going through a miscarriage is to feel alone.

If you have somehow made it through this freakishly long and all over the place post… you are amazing. Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of my story with you.