Tell us about your pregnancy loss(es).
My husband Josh and I had been married for about 3 years, and we were new missionaries in Ecuador when I first became pregnant. We had no issues or troubles at all conceiving. One doctor I saw early on said we were having twins, but at our next sonogram, there was just one baby. We don’t know what happened there, but I’ve always wondered if that was just the beginning of what really became a difficult chapter in our lives. So, our first baby girl, Isabella Kate, was born March 24, 2009 in Quito, Ecuador, full term and healthy! Our first glance with loss was when she was 2 months old. I walked into the nursery because heard a very strange cry, and then when I picked her up she went limp and stopped breathing. I performed CPR while my husband drove us to the hospital, and she couldn’t breathe without my help.
In the ER, they revived her by suctioning out her lungs and giving her oxygen. Quito is at nearly 10,000 feet altitude, and the air is very thin. She had aspirated on spit up, and clearly as a result, couldn’t get enough oxygen. They said we “walked in on SIDS.” I will never forget Josh’s face when we were in the ER room and her bed was swarmed by the wonderful Ecuadorian doctors and nurses working on her. We were so, so scared, but the Lord was so near to us in our confusion and fear. In the months that followed, there were lots of tests and questions as to why this happened, but everything finally checked out ok, and she had no damage to her brain. We were so very grateful!
When Bella was about one year old, we started trying for another baby. It took me awhile to get pregnant, and when I finally did have a clearly positive test, I had an early miscarriage. The doctor brushed it off, and I just felt so strange about it. I questioned my sadness, and wondered if I was wrong for grieving something so microscopic. It was so early, and there was no physical need to wait, so we kept trying. A few months later, we had a positive test! I had an ultrasound at 6 weeks, and there was no visible heartbeat. The doctor wasn’t concerned, but said that sometimes our dates are off, and that I should stay home from my work at the school and do bed rest for a couple of weeks. We went back at 8 weeks to check again, and there was still no heart beat. They said that we had a miscarriage and I needed a D&C. I cried a lot, but still felt so conflicted about why I was so very sad. It was awful, confusing, and I had no idea what the coming procedure even looked like for me and the body of my baby. There was a bit of a language barrier, but we limped through it and made all the decisions, but really just trusting the doctors to do what was best. My dad had moved to Quito to volunteer at the same school we worked at, and having him live with us and support us in that time what simply a God thing!
A couple of months later, we conceived again. Moving forward again was so scary, but we knew that God wasn’t done growing our family. The baby ache was definitely strong! The doctor was so confident that we would have a healthy baby since I had just had the surgery. Losing a baby made me healthier for the next baby? That was a hard truth for me to swallow, but when you feel a bit desperate for things to be right, I think you grasp onto whatever “good news” comes your way. We moved past the 8-week mark, and all of the symptoms were so strong, I never really feared after that point. God’s grace. Due to a lack of financial support, and a growing family, we decided to move back to the U.S. We felt the Lord telling us our time was done there in other ways too. After an international move, and temporarily settling in to the carriage house of my mom and step dad’s historic wedding venue, Juliana Mae was born September 27, 2011 in Charlotte, NC, a BIG 9 lbs 10z. We were so grateful and excited!
Here we go again. We started trying to grow our family once more when she was about 1 year old. I don’t think it ever really clicked that we could lose more babies. I felt so positive after carrying such a big, healthy girl, that our loss story was over. After about 6 months, I miscarried one baby naturally at 6 weeks, then after several more months, another baby at 10 weeks. We opted for the D&C for the second pregnancy, hoping it would again help my body somehow. It worked, and I was once again not sure how to feel. I couldn’t define the things that my heart was going through, so I just moved forward, learning again, and deeper this time, what surrendering everything to Jesus really means. We conceived in October, and after 10 weeks, I had some very strange symptoms that included bleeding, and seemed to point to another loss. It was over the weekend and I had to wait until to get things checked out. Baby ended up being healthy, but there was a large hematoma that we had to keep an eye on. They said that I had maybe miscarried a twin, but weren’t sure. We just have no idea. By God’s grace, we moved into the second trimester! The pregnancy continued just perfectly. After two more moves, due to the movie “Max” being filmed in our house, I delivered a healthy baby girl on July 29th, 2014 – Olivia Joy, another 9 pounder! Grace upon grace upon grace.
Sadly, after she was born, I had an awful uterine infection and had to have another D&C. I wondered if the tissue causing infection was from the possible twin, but there was no real evidence. My body had simply been through way too much. They said a hysterectomy could be necessary if my uterus was punctured in the surgery, but they seemed pretty confident it would be ok. I wasn’t so confident, because I was miserable in the ER with a fever, and I couldn’t nurse my new baby, and I thought I was going to die. Oh the hormones! Everything ended up just fine, but three of the same surgeries felt like maybe my body was just done. We couldn’t imagine losing another one. We figured we were done.
We were so surprised when we saw the next positive test! God gave us a baby when Olivia was 10 months old. We weren’t planning to try again, and it just brought about a certain peace knowing we weren’t in control, and that everything good is truly from the Lord! Just like my other healthy pregnancies, I was so sick. I felt the symptoms really strong. We had two great midwife appointments, and I was fully in maternity clothes. I really thought I felt kicks. We were so excited to be a family of 6! I was 16 weeks when we had another midwife appointment – she couldn’t find the heartbeat. She wasn’t so sure it was bad news, but I was. She confirmed the baby’s passing with an ultrasound, and I found myself once again weeping in a dark room with that lovely ultrasound gunk on my belly and an also-mourning husband handing me tissues and holding my hand. I asked for pictures. This was the oldest baby we had ever lost. Fingers, toes, eyes… barely visible on the murky ultrasound, but still there. That silly Horton Hears a Who movie was right on – “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” They asked when I wanted the surgery. I told them I didn’t know if I wanted that. They said it was that or I take the pill and labor at home (which was discouraged because of my history). I was scared about what the surgery would mean for the body of my sweet baby. I didn’t want to think about his body going through that. I almost elected to have it at home, but I was simply just fearful of the unknown. Josh and I had a conversation about this world and how short it is, and how our baby is just fine, living in the presence of Jesus. I decided to just do the surgery. They gave me handprints and footprints and a tiny little white burial gown afterward. I regretted having the surgery after I saw them. I wanted to touch actual fingers and toes of my child, not just prints. I named him Jackson.
My babies. Each a gift that I carry with me every single day!
The pain of pregnancy loss doesn’t ever go away. The waves of grief seem to come and go throughout time. Do you have a story to share of a moment when grief hit you when you weren’t expecting it to?
Every time I talk to a woman who has lost a child. When I hear about women and teens choosing this, as if those lives aren’t even real. When I see pictures of tiny unborn babies on social media. When I hear Good Good Father by Housefires.
Approximately 1 in 4 women experience pregnancy loss. What would you like someone who has never experienced it to know?
That the the fact that this is common doesn’t make it less painful. That thinking of loss solely as a statistic just completely strips away all of the meaning of the lives that were lost – each one has a story, a family, and grief attached that will never go away. Mothers and Fathers lose children all over the world all day long, and it brings about the worst kind of agony. The fact that it’s common, doesn’t make it easier for anyone. So, bring meals, bring chocolate, pray together, remember together, mourn together, and truly rejoice in the sweet little ones that make it full term. Don’t ask weird questions. Just love, and be together!