Something inside of me is driving me to write about a major event that took place about two and a half years ago.
Hearing stories of several friends who are struggling with infertility and the loss of unborn children makes me acknowledge, even more, the need for a stronger fellowship among woman when it comes to this topic of motherhood.
All women are different and have different comfort levels when it comes to sharing their personal lives, especially when it pertains to struggles, but we have to remember that it is “ok to be broken” – a message from our preacher this past Sunday. We want so badly to have it all together, but the truth is we don’t and even when we do, that glory is God’s.
The topic of motherhood and pregnancy is a scary one for me. It sounds crazy, but that is the strongest feeling I get when talking about these subjects. I love every minute of being a mother, for the most part I loved every minute of being pregnant and plan to do it again sometime…however, to this day when I hear someone announce they are pregnant, my first reaction is fear. I am scared that they might have to go through something that I know the pain of all too well. Don’t get me wrong, I am always happy for them…it is just that fear that takes over for a little while.
I don’t think this fear is irrational either. If you know me, you have probably heard me say this before, but it is something I think it is important for everyone to know…the statistics show, one in every three pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. That number shocked me considering hardly anyone ever talks about having a miscarriage. I honestly think I knew of two women who miscarried before I got pregnant.
I understand that you can’t live in that fear, but it is still there. It makes you see just how much of a precious gift life really is.
In order to bring my part of the fellowship to the table I want to finally write about our story of starting a family…it’s a long one.
June 2009: Nathan and I were married (I was not quite 22 yet and he was 25) because of our four year age gap, Nathan was ready to be a father, but also willing to wait for me to be ready. Although one of the reasons I married Nathan was because I knew he would be a great dad, at 21 I wasn’t ready for the role of motherhood anytime soon.
There were also fears that crept into my mind: I was scared of childbirth and I also feared
for no great reason that I wouldn’t be able to have kids.
August 2011: A little over a year later we decided we would stop all forms of birth control and see what happened (fully expecting that we wouldn’t get pregnant for at least another six months.) I still had mixed emotions, I think you are never truly ready for motherhood and that thought made me nervous, but the thought of having a little baby of our own was just too wonderful.
September of 2011: I started to feel a little “different” and took several pregnancy tests that had a faint second line on them. We called the doctor and set up an appointment for a week and a half later to have an ultrasound. It seemed unreal…just like that, we were pregnant. We spent the next few weeks discussing how we would tell our families and what life was going to be like.
It was a long wait for our appointment, but when it finally came it was magical. The ultrasound tech was the sweetest lady ever and the room was adorable, we couldn’t stop smiling. During the ultrasound, the tech’s face turned very quickly and my gut started hurting immediately until she placed her hand over her mouth and said there are two!
When the doctor came in, he discussed with us that one of the babies’ sacs was a lot smaller, it was about a week younger in age
something I still don’t quite understand, and its heartbeat was a lot slower. He told us to prepare ourselves for the possibility of losing one.
Again fear crept in but I remained hopeful, put my faith and trust in God, and prayed…a lot.
It was a hard decision, but we decided to tell our families about the babies the next time we saw them (about a week and a half later.) I wanted to tell them so that I had people I could turn to if the worst happened.
We told my parents by using a gas can. It sounds weird, but when my parents told my grandma and grandpa Schmidt they were pregnant with me they wrote in a Christmas card that they would be getting a “GC” (grandchild.) My grandparents continued this by getting them a different type of “GC” (a gold coin.) We thought for a long time about how to incorporate this before giving my parents a “GC” (hence the gas can) that would help them make the constant trips to Indy to see the grandkids.
We told Nathan’s family by sneaking in the ultrasound pictures in a bunch of photos of my classroom kiddos.
Both families were elated, but with both we had to deliver the scary news as well. The news that we just might lose one.
October 2011: The babies were just about eight and nine weeks when I was brought to the doctor’s office because of that tell-tale sign. We stayed as optimistic as possible, as did the doctor. We were taken from one room to the next to double check the babies and find out that neither’s heart was beating...they were gone.
The next few months were hard.
The day after the appointment I decided to go ahead with the DNC so as not to have the constant, painful reminder of our loss. Being prepared for that surgery was the moment I remember breaking down the most. My mom and Nathan were both there and the finality of it all really came crashing down.
After the surgery, Dr. Mernitz told me that he wanted to check me out because of something he noticed during surgery...something different about my uterus.
I waited for months for that appointment…I was googling different things thinking I was right: I can’t have kids. I felt broken…like I failed as a wife and as a woman. I realize now that that is not the case, but I had all kinds of ridiculous thoughts going through my head at that time. So ridiculous I don’t want to type them out, but holding back isn’t helping anyone else who is going though anything similar, so here goes:
- I unfairly blamed part of it on Nathan: if he hadn’t wanted a kid so bad
- I unfairly blamed part of it on myself: I could have done this, this and this differently
- I unfairly blamed God: why would he take this love away?…didn’t he know that it was my plan to have children
- I felt selfish for grieving: How can I be so upset when other people have to deliver their dead child or deliver a child only to spend a limited amount of hours/days/weeks with them?
I was a mess. But you know what? God pulled me through with the help of friends, family, and some great reading material (I highly recommend the book I Will Carry You by: Angie Smith to anyone who has gone through the death of a child.)
Through all of this I learned a lot. I learned that it is easy to say you are putting something in God’s hands, but still secretly try to be in control of the situation. It is way harder to actually give something up to the Lord and trust in his timing and his plans.
No matter what it is you are going through…be it years of trying and failing to get pregnant, having to give birth to a baby you know will not be able to come home with you, or any other struggles of motherhood, it is so important to pray and talk or at least read about people who are going through/have already been through something similar. It makes you feel more human and less broken. God put us all here for a reason and I believe the more we share, connect, and become a community, the easier it is to see God working in us.