Friday, January 29, 2021

The Unknowns: Miscarriages and Gastroschisis - March 2019

"How many pregnancies?" "Four."  "How many births?" "Two." As a regular blood donor I am asked this every time I give blood. It was also on a recent medical form I had to complete. For most people it's a straight forward question. One that doesn't require much explanation. However, for me it's a little stab in the heart every time I answer.

 My kids were nine and five when we decided to try again. My youngest was getting ready to start kindergarten and my whole heart and soul wanted another baby in the house. We were fortunate to get pregnant pretty quickly. We were excited. The kids were excited. We started making plans. Mr. C bought a little dress because he knew this would be a little girl, Katie Grace. I felt good. Life. Was. Good.

We broke the rule and started telling everyone before the first trimester was over. We were too excited to keep the news to ourselves. 

It was May 2010, I was just beginning my second trimester when I I had a routine doctor's appointment. I told Mr. C not to worry about changing his schedule. I would be in and out. It was just a check up. She said everything seemed good, but she couldn't hear the heartbeat. She wasn't concerned, but wanted me to go across the hall to get an ultrasound. Once there, they squirted cold gel all over my belly and began the ultrasound. The technician went quiet. She kept rubbing the tool across my stomach. Searching. I couldn't see anything, so I wasn't too concerned. She finally put down the wand and said to wait a moment while she got the radiologist. I sat there for minutes that felt like hours. He finally came in, took a quick look, and told me he was very sorry but there was no heartbeat. My baby was not alive. What? No! Not possible. How did this happen? 

They left me and once again I sat in that cold room. Alone. I called Mr. C and tried to tell him, but I could barely breathe. I made it out to the parking lot when my phone rang. My friend, Chris. Ironic. I cried and she listened. I managed to drive home. My doctor's office called me as soon as I got there to schedule a DNC. Mr. C picked up Cade. I almost forgot Randi at the bus stop. Life would go on.

I had to wait a day for the DNC. I already had a little pregnancy pooch. Knowing I had a baby without a heartbeat in me was paralyzing. Everyone tried to be normal, but there was nothing normal about it. The morning of the procedure, my doctor came in with tears in her eyes. This was the first time I saw her since leaving her office when she thought everything was fine. She was so warm and caring. She was genuinely heart broken for me.

I recovered physically, but emotionally it took a while. I constantly found myself thinking about everything I ate, drank, did. What did I do wrong. How could I have prevented this? My doctor assured me there was nothing I could do, but that was hard for me to believe.

We eventually moved on and lived our lives. Over time, my heart healed. A little. But I never got over the want in my heart for another baby. A year and a half later we tried again. Again, we were able to get pregnant pretty quickly. We relived the excitement, but were a little more guarded. We still shared our news and made plans. April 2012, at the start of my second trimester, I went in for an ultrasound. This time Mr. C was at my side. For the second time, I was told my baby did not have a heartbeat. It was déjà vu. It had been almost two years exactly and the same number of weeks of the last pregnancy. I was crushed. Mr. C was an amazing rock for me to lean on.

I had another DNC. My body healed. My heart struggled to heal. 

Afterwards, I decided I could not go through that again. I was months away from turning 40 and made the decision to have my tubes tied. Yes, it's easier for the man to get "fixed", but Mr. C turned green every time it came up and I body, my decision. (I was actually harshly judged one time by another woman for making that choice. I was messing with "God's plan". Not only did that hurt, but I completely disagreed with her opinion. She had no idea what I had gone through or what my beliefs are. We should never judge each other for such a personal choice. Okay. I will leave it there. That could be for a different post)! (For more on my decision click HERE).

There were so many hard things to digest and try to understand, but one reason I couldn't bring myself to try again was because there were so many unknowns. Cade was born with gastroschisis. He had surgery at birth and spent his first month in the NICU. A second surgery happened at 5 weeks old and a week in the PICU. Gastroschisis is an unknown. They are not sure of the cause. My two miscarriages were also plagued with question marks. My last three pregnancies were surrounded with unknowns. I couldn't do it again. (For more of Cade's story and gastroschisis click HERE).

I am greatly, hugely blessed to have my two babies (now 18 and 14). I ache for the women who try and try with heartache following each time. I can't begin to imagine what they go through. A piece of my heart will always ache for the babies I lost, but so desperately wanted. But. I am grateful. I am grateful for my loves and my health. I am grateful for the freedom to make choices. And I am grateful for this beautiful life...with all of the sunshine and broken hearts.