Friday, July 26, 2013

the bad and the ugly

I've really struggled these last few months with being honest about everything—the good, the bad and the ugly. It was easier for me to skim over the bad parts ("we're devastated," "I cry a lot," etc.) and focus on the good parts. There's this need we all feel to keep conversation lighthearted... as if people won't want to be around us if we're honest with them. No one wants to be a downer. Plus, it was important to me to speak of the good that was coming out of our situation: God's faithfulness and compassion, the outpouring of support from family and friends, the increased intimacy in our marriage... we may have been facing terrible, unimaginable news about our precious firstborn, but we were still SO blessed.

Still, the bad parts were still there. Ugly parts. Parts that were really hard to share with people because voicing them made them real. I kept most things inside. People would say, "I don't know how you're doing it... I would be crying all the time." I hated hearing that. I did cry. I cried in the shower every day for weeks as I held my stomach and sung "Soon," changing all of the "my's" and "I's" to "you." (You will be with the One you love, with unveiled face you'll see Him. There your soul will be satisfied, soon and very soon.) I cried when the lights were out and my face was smushed against my pillow. I cried against Andy's chest. I cried in front of my friends. I cried in front of strangers at the pool. But I couldn't cry ALL the time. I hated all the crying! I hated being sad, because I hated the reason why I was sad. I wanted to smile and laugh and not lose sight of joy. It was a huge relief to me when I could be at a party or out for coffee or wherever and not cry!

I was extra irritable, extra impatient, extra prone to thinking (and sometimes saying) cuss words. I filled my social calendar so that I would be distracted, and then when that got too exhausting I practically fell of the face off the earth and became a hermit for a while. I stopped going to church. Public worship was too hard—I wanted my sob-interrupted praises to be kept private. I couldn't follow sermons because I'd hear a baby cry or a toddler babble and all I could think about was how much I wanted my home to be filled with that noise.

Andy and I had to have conversations about what we were going to name the baby. Those conversations are supposed to be fun and filled with anticipation. They weren't fun. We had to talk about if we were going to hold the baby, if we were going to have testing done, what we were going to do with the remains... all totally crappy conversations to have.

Then, on top of all that, I bled, puked and peed for three days in a hospital room in front of the guy that I have a huge crush on. We held our stillborn son. My body started producing milk not long after I left the hospital. My chest hurt so much I thought I was going to scream. It especially hurt whenever I cried, which was (and continues to be) multiple times a day.

It continues to hurt to laugh, cry, turn over, sit up, sit down, get out of bed, use the stairs, ride in the car... it just hurts. My incision looks horrifying and huge (to me, at least) and all of the severed nerve endings feel like flashes of lightning inside my lower abdomen. My legs ache because they hardly get any exercise.

Oh, and our fridge broke the day before we left for the hospital and it has still not been repaired.

I don't really feel better after typing all the bad and the ugly. I much prefer to share the good. The good is what is important. The good is the moral of our story. The good is what will endure... and what I hope we will choose to remember.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

God is gracious

I haven't written in so long. In mid-April we had a confusing ultrasound, but my OB didn't seem concerned, so we didn't let ourselves worry either. Then, at the end of April, another ultrasound confirmed that not only was the baby measuring small but also that the baby simply wasn't growing. We began seeing a group of perinatal specialists and each one told us the same diagnosis: our baby would most likely die in the womb within days or weeks. They had zero idea of what was causing the IUGR. It was horrible and devastating and confusing and sad. I wanted to curl up in a ball and never leave my room, but I fought that temptation as hard as I could and tried to smile and laugh and hang on to my personality. As the days passed I chose to adopt an attitude of thankfulness and focused on being grateful for the time left that I had being my baby's mother. Then June came, and my grief hit full force. I didn't feel grateful anymore. I was angry. If God wasn't going to give us a baby, then why couldn't He make it easier on us and just take the baby already? I hated myself for wanting it to all be over, but it was so hard to feel the baby move and know that all of my baby dreams were being dashed. I was terrified by the idea of delivering a dead baby. I didn't think I wanted to hold a dead baby. I didn't think I wanted to know the gender. I wanted this horrible chapter of my life to be closed shut and for a new chapter to begin.

Living in a state of pre-grief was unimaginable and I know we only survived it by the grace of God and the encouragement of our friends and family. I have more to say about the last few months, but I'll save those stories for another time.

By the beginning of July I was resigned to the idea of making it all the way to my due date (the doctors said if that happened then the baby would only live for seconds or minutes). I couldn't believe our baby was still hanging on! I had no amount of extra amniotic fluid for the baby to move around and grow in, but our little one seemed content to chill out all scrunched up in my uterus. I couldn't help but fall in love with our baby with every passing day, even though a part of me tried to put walls up to keep me from getting too attached. I began fervently asking God to surprise us all and give us a perfectly healthy baby. I had visions of us needing to run to Target after my delivery to buy a crib and diapers and all of the things that we registered for but never received.

This time last week I was being prepped for an emergency c-section to deliver our stillborn baby. I had arrived at the hospital at 11:30 p.m. the night before due to excessive bleeding, and in the early hours of Saturday morning I heard my baby's heartbeat slow down until it didn't exist anymore. I was 34 weeks pregnant carrying a baby who was only measuring around 20 weeks.

We had a boy, and we named him John Andrew. John means "God is gracious/generous." Andrew means "man" and "strong."

It's been one week since we lost our son and his name seems more fitting than ever. God is gracious, and we are being carried by Him right now as we learn to live without the presence of our precious baby.

More to come when I am able.

Psalm 13

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.