I always thought I understood what it meant to experience a miscarriage-until it happened to me. I can honestly say now that unless you have personally gone through this yourself as a woman, you can never really understand the complexity, the mix of emotions, and the pain involved.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Upon my wall hang 2 crosses with the words "In Loving Memory" on them. To those who know us these crosses need no explanation. They hang here on this wall to remind us of two very special people we will finally have the honor to meet one sweet day in Heaven. Their names are Jonah and Mary, and they are our Twin Children, whom we have only met in our dreams. We we have never had the opportunity to hold them, to hear them laugh, to see them smile, or to play with them. They were created by the Grace of God via IVF, on January 16, 2008 at the same time as our living 3-year old Twin Children Noah and Dovie. They were kept safe for us until this past July, when Joshua and I knew we were ready for them.
Having been through IVF before we knew what to expect, and just as last time, we left no room for doubt in our minds that we would become pregnant with our second set of Boy/Girl Twins. We followed each step of the IVF process exactly, we prayed, we believed, and we made plans. When I attended my 20 year high school reunion July 16 I was already pregnant, which I already knew, and would find out "officially" the following day. It was so exciting seeing my friends after so many years and having such wonderful and exciting news to share with them!
Finding out I was indeed pregnant with our second set of Twins was even more exciting this time because we had Noah and Dovie to share in our excitement. When we started our IVF protocol in May we began explaining to and conversing with Noah and Dovie about how "Mommy would be getting pregnant and having more babies." To our surprise and delight, at just under three years old they understood what was happening, and took great interest in being a part of this very special time in our lives. They watched me take my shots and helped me put the patches on my belly. They asked many questions, which we gladly answered. They would look at, rub, kiss, and even talk to my belly. Soon the waiting became too much for them-especially Dovie Grace, as she would say to me constantly, "Mommy I want to see my Baby Brother and Sister!" I just knew I was in for 9 months of this talk, and although she began to sound like a broken record, I was looking forward to hearing that record play every day for the remainder of my pregnancy. However, these days those are not the words I hear from her sweet little mouth. Instead, she says almost daily, "Mommy I miss my baby sister and brother." When the tears fill my eyes I take a deep breath, hold her in my arms and remind her that they now live in Heaven with Jesus.
Never before in my life have I experienced such a mix of emotions as I have over the last few months. I have been sad, shocked, in disbelief, dumbfounded, confused, in angst, heartbroken, numb, and angry. I have some peace because I know that our precious Jonah and Mary are being held in Jesus' arms, waiting for Mommy and Daddy to come join them one day. If it weren't for my faith and trust in God, I know I would not have made it through these difficult months. I thank God for giving me the strength to get through this. I also thank God for giving me my Husband Joshua, who has been my rock. As hard as this has been for me I know he has suffered equally as much with his grief, and yet he has always been my strong set of shoulders when I lose all my strength and completely break down. My family has been a strong source of support, as they always are for both Joshua and myself. Still, with all of the resources of support I have had, including some counseling, it is just so hard to believe that it's over. How could I be pregnant one day and then not pregnant the next? For Joshua and I, the possibility that this pregnancy would end without two healthy babies was simply unimaginable. We still do not, nor will we ever, at least in this life, understand WHY. There is no closure.
I have chosen to use the written word to communicate my experience, as it is difficult for me to verbally talk about our miscarriage. When I hear myself saying the words "I had a miscarriage," it hits me like a ton of bricks and I am flooded with a tsunami of emotions that suffocates me to the point I feel like I am drowning. It feels completely overwhelming. I thought that by now I would be over this. Ok, who am I kidding, I knew when it happened I would never completely heal, and I would live the rest of my life thinking about my children, wondering what would have been, and missing them. The place in my heart reserved for Jonah and Mary is now filled with emptiness. Still, each time Dovie or Noah ask me about their little sister and brother, I gather up all my strength and I sit with them and talk about what happened, and reassure them that one day we will get to be with them when we get to Heaven. For them, this is sufficient explanation. For me, is simply isn't enough. In 2008 when we had IVF the odds were stacked against us having a sucessful pregnancy, but we don't wager on odds, and Joshua and I both knew with all certainty that we WOULD become pregnant with a boy and a girl-we just knew this to be true.
When God answered our prayers he gave us hope for our future with two additional perfectly formed embryos. While I wanted all four implanted simultaneously, our IVF doc put in two and we chose to keep the others in what I like to call their "luxury hotel" for safe keeping. In the last 3.5 years I have thought about and prayed for them-Jonah and Mary, every sincgle day. When you know that at a certain time your life will be blessed with more children, you begin making plans, you prepare, you hope, and you look forward. Since our miscarriage I have felt like my world has stopped spinning in a sense. Noah and Dovie have kept me going, because there have been many days when after my Husband leaves for work I just want to crawl into bed and sleep the day away, but I must continue to be the best Mommy I can to Noah and Dovie, who deserve nothing less. I sometimes find myself wanting to sleep in order to dream about Jonah and Mary. Other times I find myself not wanting to go to sleep because my dreams about them are so real, that waking up from them feels like I am experiencing their deaths all over again, and the pain is almost unbearable. I'm afraid I have developed a pattern of insomnia because of this cycle.
Additionally, this experience has put some fear into my head concerning Noah and Dovie. I remember bringing them home from the hospital after they were born, and I was terrified of everything-the ride home with them in our car, walking down the stairs while holding them, even cutting the little hospital ID bracelet from their ankles scared me. It hit me like a ton of bricks how fragile their lives were, and how I was now responsible for them for at least the next 18 years! I am not sure how many parents-if any, feel this way or if I am alone in this, but it was really a scary time which took a lot of prayer to get through. I don't remember when it was that I finally stopped letting fear run me over like a truck, but I can tell you when it reappeared in my life, and that was when I had my miscarriage. It was then that I realized that just like Jonah and Mary, Noah and Dovie could be taken from us at any moment, and that thought both terrifies me and makes me hold steadfast to my faith and trust in God.
I believe that in life it is important for us to learn from experiences we have. If there is one thing I have learned from this, it is how to comfort someone who has suffered a miscarriage, and what NOT to say. I have heard so many words of "comfort" from people, and albeit I do believe they mean well, their words sting like bees. The comments I have heard are too numerous to post here, but some of the most memorable include, "It just wasn't meant to be," "Well at least you already have two children," "At least you weren't that far along," "You can always adopt," "Are you going to try again?" "You shouldn't spend time being sad because you have two beautiful children, and that should make you feel blessed because there are so many people in the world who can never have any children." "Oh well it just wasn't in God's plan I guess," "Well think of it as a blessing, I mean how would you have gotten anything done with FOUR kids?" Yes, they REALLY said those things, and yes they really said them to my face. Recently a friend of mind sent me this message via Facebook, and it meant so much to me I thought I would post it here, as an example of the kind of words that comfort, show sympathy, and also encourage.
"I am so very sorry about your miscarriage and the sadness that it brings. I can not even imagine what that is like to go through and my heart breaks for you. I know you have a wonderful husband and sweet little angels to drive you on those really sad days, but i hope you do find time to allow yourself time to go through your grieving and emotions. you deserve that. Big hug to you!"
This is the kind of response that helps because it is honest, caring, and a simple but important reminder that although it may feel like it at times, you are not alone in your pain. People who know you are hurting too. They feel the pain of your loss through you because they genuinely care about you. I don't want others to be in pain. I just want them to allow me time to grieve this loss, because that is exactly what this is-this is a tragic loss. I know our angels are living it up right now in Heaven with sweet Jesus. That, and only that knowledge, gives me peace.
Thank you for reading my most private thoughts, and thank you for your prayers.