Friday, December 31, 2010

Girlfriends

Tonight I went to a friend's baby shower. Over the past year I have generally avoided baby showers because it was just too hard. But this one I knew I needed to go to. This friend journeyed longer than I have on the long road of "trying to get pregnant", had the same surgery as me for endometriosis and wondered, like me, if she would ever get pregnant. And then miraculously- a baby!

She was one of the friends I'd commiserate with about this process and we'd pray for each other to have babies and just listen and encourage one another. When she found out she was pregnant she was so sensitive to me and wrote me an email saying she wanted to tell me the news first so that I didn't hear it through the grapevine somehow, and that she knew this meant we would now be on different paths, and if it was too hard for me to talk with her about her baby she would understand. That email spoke so much love to me and I couldn't hold back my true excitement for her after we had prayed and hoped for this day to come for her for so long. I found out I was pregnant only a few months later and we rejoiced together about the crazy miracles we were both experiencing, and the uniqueness of the pregnancy experience after you've waited so long and tried so hard. Obviously we lost our baby, but thankfully she has had a healthy pregnancy and expects a little girl in February.

But back to the baby shower- I was feeling apprehensive about going since these last couple weeks have been so rough and I just didn't know how it would be to have a whole evening focused on baby stuff.  But I truly wanted to put my feelings aside and rejoice with my friend. So I talked with two dear friends who were also going to the shower and they agreed to hang with me and said if I needed to leave early or talk about something else they were fine with that. Seriously great friends!

Well the evening turned out so wonderful and I was really blessed in many ways and am so glad I went! It turned out to be a little reunion of the group of girls (well, almost all of them) who used to be my main girlfriends a few years ago. It had been years since we'd all hung out like that since life has taken us all in many directions, and especially since the gal who is pregnant and a couple others have been living overseas the past few years. We keep up with each other through Facebook and reading each others ministry newsletters and occasional phone calls, but of course nothing beats face to face conversation and getting to hear each others voices and see the smiles you miss so much. And best of all- laughing LOTS :)

I was thankful for sweet friends who are sensitive to our loss and asked me about it. I was thankful for friends who are at all different stages of life and motherhood and womanhood than me- who have had different journeys to parenthood and loss- and who each have their own story to tell. I was thankful that even though there have been many miles and big oceans between us, the sounds of their laughter and the twinkle of their eyes is still so familiar and comforting. I was thankful for the sisterhood that we have- married, single, mothers with children, mothers with children in heaven- still bonded and linked by a friendship that has lasted. And I was thankful for the unique personalities of each woman and what each one offers- the laughter and silliness, the tenderness and concern, the stories and sharing.

How blessed am I to know all of you and to have you all around me tonight?!?! I am rich with friends!

We bonded years back because of our common passion to follow God's call to the nations and to our neighbors, praying together constantly, being the church together, growing in trusting God in some very interesting situations, seeking God together about our futures, sharing lots of meals and doing some sorta crazy stuff in our neighborhood ;) Now look at all we've gone through and the women we've become and how we've supported each other through life's twists and turns!

And now for a little trip down memory lane with some old pictures. I know you're all gonna love me for this ;)





So all this reminds me that I miss you so and we all live too far apart! I don't have this sisterhood around me physically anymore. I have a couple of you here in town with me, but literally all the rest of my dear friends live out of the country and one is out of state. I miss just the fun and noise and laughter and conversation of a big group of girls all hanging out together. Things have been so sad and down around here lately that I certainly needed some life and laughter around me. So I will treasure tonight and take it as a real gift.

You are amazing women who are all following God's call on your lives, blessing others with the beauty and uniqueness God has put in you, and I am so very thankful to have you as my friends.

Thanks for loving me tonight and for making me laugh till my face hurt :)

Carrie

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Our Christmas

Christmas turned out to be very, very hard. And I had not expected that for some reason.

For most of the month I was truly enjoying the season and Ryan and I were soaking up the cozy evenings at home with the glowing Christmas tree and the peppermint cocoa, going through an Advent guide each week and playing Christmas music non-stop. Then the cycle from Hades came and lingered just long enough and acted just strange enough to give me a bigger than usual glimmer of hope of being pregnant.  My silence since the last post tells the outcome of that part of the story.

I took a pregnancy test on December 23rd and it was negative. And I cried. I thought I had braced myself and that it wouldn't be a huge deal. But that whole week of wondering "maybe?" had been drawn out so long that it was more than I could take when I saw the negative. (My cycle ended up being 37 days long! Come on body- work with me here! Gee whiz!!)

On that same day we had a family gathering with my dad's side of the family. I felt a bit in a haze after having taken the pregnancy test that morning and crying on the phone with Ryan and trying to compose myself and stifle the weeping as my parents were about to come pick me up for the get-together. A dear cousin who lives out of state was there. God knit our hearts together in a very special way when I was young and she was an important part in me coming to Jesus. She has also experienced miscarriage and has written me some sweet encouragements in this time. We hardly had any time to really talk at the get together, but she gave me a gift before she left. She handed me a bag and told me it was "a gift in faith"- for our future children. I could have fallen apart all over again right there in the parking lot. She didn't know what had gone on that morning, but the irony of the gift and the negative pregnancy test was intense. When I got home I peered in to the gift bag to see one package wrapped in blue and another in pink. I couldn't bring myself to open them and decided to keep them wrapped up. I put that bag in the top of our closet where my collection of other baby things stays.

There were a few other things that happened around those couple days- an encouraging note from one of my supporters who experienced repeated miscarriages over the last 2 years and now has a precious new baby- and some other things that were difficult to swallow.

All of that to say, by the time Christmas Eve night came and Ryan and I were all cozy in bed, the flood waters broke through and I dissolved in to weeping. It wasn't until that night that I realized how sad I was, not just over not becoming pregnant this month, but about the fact that our baby that had been in me was not with us for this Christmas. I guess I was expecting that the saddest part was going to be not getting pregnant again. But then that deep longing and just so sadly missing our baby overwhelmed me. I would have been 5 months pregnant and we would have already found out if they were a boy or a girl. "It wasn't supposed to be this way" was all I could think. Christmas isn't happy when your baby is dead.

I remember November or December of last year being at the doctors office and we were anticipating possibly getting pregnant in December and the doctor said "Maybe you'll have a Christmas baby!" But there was no Christmas baby last year and there's no Christmas baby this year.

Christmas day I felt like I was in a fog again. I don't know if my family noticed. I think on the outside I looked normal, but on the inside all I could think was "It wasn't supposed to be this way". And I don't mean that in a "shake my fist at God" sort of way, but more in a way that it's another step in me mourning this loss. This was another milestone that we had to come to and that we had to pass without our baby, and the injustice of it and the wrongness of our baby dying was so tangible. I think mourning is about coming to terms with the reality of your loss, what that means in your day to day life, how it affects the important days of your family, and how you're going to go forward with that loss as part of your life. I needed to mourn our baby not being with us on this Christmas and knowing they will never be with us on any Christmas.

So that has made me think "Then that's exactly why Jesus came!"Jesus came to bring rightness and justice back to this sin-twisted world. Death exists because of sin. Evil, cancer, babies dying, war, broken relationships all exist because of the effects of the fall. And Jesus is the one who came to redeem us from that curse and give us a promise of healed life with him in his Kingdom. We get a taste of that now as we experience our present salvation and bits of his Kingdom already here, but it's still mixed in with the sin-broken life. What our entire being cries out for (even when we don't realize it's what we're longing for) is the ultimate redemption of all that sin has crushed in our lives and the full reception of Jesus as our own.....forever!

So even though this Christmas sucked and I spent Christmas Eve crying in my bed- I celebrate my Redeemer who came as a baby on that day because He is the only hope for no more tears, no more death, and a life lived with Him forever. I celebrate that fact all the more because of the heart-crushing devastation I have experienced this year. More than ever do I cling to him as my only hope and I long, oh! how I long for the day when I will simply be with him forever.....my friend, my love, my savior, my comfort, my Lord- Jesus.

Carrie

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maybe?

Counting days...analyzing the charts...wondering "what the heck??". Ok either something really weird is going on with my cycle or maybe......?? So today I was that girl at Walmart standing awkwardly in the express lane with only one item in my hand- a small pink box. "Is this all for you today?" "Um...yes". Then once I got home I was over-analyzing the feelings in my tummy, that twinge, is it cramps?, maybe I'm just hungry???

There's been more reason than usual to have my hopes up this month. I won't go in to the details, but I don't usually get my hopes up too much as it's pretty obvious each time that my period is on it's way. This time I'm really left wondering.

All I could muster all day was this two word prayer "Please God!", over and over and over. And alternately trying to prepare myself for the let down.

I hate this time of the month- especially the timing of this one. Best Christmas present ever? Or not...

Anyway, my enjoyment of Christmas does not hinge on that and I guess I've gone through enough disappointments that they don't floor me anymore. It can be a "no" and I'll be fine and love this Christmas anyway.

Side note- LOVED the rain tonight! Great chill time with my hubby with our sliding door open and the Christmas lights on. Yummy rain smell + comforting glow of the tree + relaxing with my love = a wonderful evening. Who knows what tomorrow brings...

Carrie

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Comfort food

Last night our house was filled with the delicious smell of wonderful lentil soup cooking on the stove. This is one of my top 5 comfort foods for sure. It reminds me of Iraq, is super-simple to whip up, and is healthy and very filling. Plus, I was having a bit of a down day so it was good that it just so happened to already be on the menu for that night. Yummy, warm, creamy goodness!

Some friends on Facebook asked for the recipe, and since I just make it from memory it forced me to sit down and write out my version of this fantastic soup. So here's the recipe and I highly recommend adding this to your winter menu. My husband even said last night, in between mmmm's, "This is your best homemade soup!"


Iraqi Red-Lentil Soup

Serves 2-4
Cooking time- 50 minutes


1 cup red lentils (they are actually orange colored though- see photo)
6 cups liquid (I use a combo of water, beef and chicken broth- so use what you like, but if you use only water then you need to add bouillon for flavor)
¼ of a medium onion, chopped or 1 tsp dried, chopped onion
1 Tb olive oil (if using fresh chopped onion)
½  tsp cumin
¼ tsp curry powder (I use a bit less than a ¼, so adjust to your own tastes)
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup vermicelli or angel hair pasta broken in to  ½ inch pieces

1. Rinse the lentils and pick out any pebbles or bad lentils.
2. If you are using fresh chopped onion, chop it and saute it in the bottom of your stock pot with the olive oil on med-high heat.
3. Once the onion is softened, add in the 6 cups liquid and the lentils and bring to a boil.
4. Boil on med-high heat for 30-40 minutes or until lentils begin to break down (check often toward the end of the time as they may begin sticking to the bottom of the pot, adjust the heat and cooking time if needed and add more liquid if it’s getting too thick and dry. You’ll get the hang of it after cooking it the first time.)
5. Turn down the heat and add the cumin, curry powder, salt and pepper (and onion, if using dried onion). Stir thoroughly and let simmer another 5 minutes.
7. Place half the lentil soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender) to puree some of the soup to make it smoother, then return it to the pot. (Or if you don’t have a blender, use a potato masher in the pot to break them down a bit more.)
8. If the soup is too thick, add more liquid. (It should be thickened like pea-soup, NOT watery, and not too thick like a chowder would be).
9. Add the broken up pasta and let simmer another 5 minutes

Mine usually looks more like this photo
This soup is common to many Middle Eastern cultures and is served a variety of ways. This is my favorite version and it’s so easy. It’s not an exact sort of recipe, as you can tell, so you’ll have to watch the pot carefully the first time you make it to see how it acts and adjust accordingly.
The most popular additions are lemon juice, with wedges served along with the soup, and fried onions and chopped parsley sprinkled on top as a garnish. Some add rice, instead of the pasta, and others add more spices, carrots or potatoes. Make it how you like and enjoy!

Carrie

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas ups and downs

It's been awhile since my last post. Just didn't have much to share, or nothing new to say I guess. Now we're getting pretty close to Christmas, thing are busy as they always seem to get around this time of year, and I thought I'd pull some thoughts together on here.
 
We're a fresh-Christmas-tree family, so we headed over to Home Depot the first week of December and got us this nice little tree. Last year our tree was a bit large for our apartment, or for the ceiling I guess. We had to cut several inches off the top and yet the star was still scrunched up against the ceiling, a bit crooked if I remember too. It's a fun memory. This year the tree is the perfect height and fits nicely next to the fire place. What I like about this tree are these funny random little branches that stick out here and there (like a real tree is supposed to have) that must have been hiding when the chain saw shaped this tree into it's Christmas tree shape. Once we got it home and gave it a day to relax and let loose a bit, they came popping out. And so they were the perfect place to put these adorable little clip-on birds (photo forthcoming) who look like they were just flitting by and decided to land on these nice little branch-perches :)

My favorite thing to do at Christmas is simply sit on the couch with my hubby, turn on the Christmas lights, turn off all the other lights, play some Christmas tunes and snuggle and enjoy the magical, twinkly glow. Ever since I was little that's been my favorite thing (ok, minus the snuggling with my husband part, since that only came into the picture 2 years ago). It's the ultimate relax, unwind, soak up the moment, enjoy what's happening type of experience for me. So, we've been trying to do lots of that, with some of my hubby's hot chocolate with peppermint schnapp's and various sugary treats added in. Mmmm!

Last weekend we went to see Handel's Messiah. This is our tradition in the making, as this is our second year to attend. We hope to go each year if possible. It's held at various locations each year and this year we got tickets for the performance at St. Mary's Basilica in downtown Phoenix. I classically mis-read the directions for downtown and had Ryan driving us in the complete opposite direction for awhile, thus we got there just in the nick of time and had to sit in the very back. I was very frustrated at myself because this meant we couldn't see any of the orchestra, save for the occasional violin bow poking up in to the air. Ryan had to tell me multiple times to stop complaining about this situation and just enjoy it. And I did. Since we couldn't see the orchestra (we could however see the choir just fine so that was nice) what really made the experience great was the church. This place was amazing!!! It's the oldest Catholic church in Phoenix, at 100 years old. The domed ceilings and soaring Roman columns were awe-inspiring (statues of Jesus and various saints: sorta creepy, but oh well). Take a look:

It didn't feel like something you'd encounter in Phoenix so it felt like we were somewhere else for awhile. It was the perfect setting for music such as Messiah. I always cry at the chorus to "For unto us a child is born":  "Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!!!" It has such a powerful build up and then it just explodes in praise to Jesus! To top off the night perfectly, just as we walked out the doors of the church the bells rang out nine o'clock. A church with real bells that really chime on each hour! Imagine that in Phoenix!!

As you may suspect by now, if you've been reading the last few blog entries, you'll know that I think about our baby all the time. Still. So, even during the warmth and festivities and Advent reflections of Christmas, the sadness and grief and loss are with me. I got several books from the library recently about dealing with pregnancy loss and it helped to read about the grieving process and what can be "typical" experiences in that. They say that the bulk of the grieving takes place in the first year. And they describe the process as being more like a spiral at times that can take you forward, but then spin you right back to where you started, but then take you forward again, and so on. It's just not a methodical, calculated, one foot in front of the other each day type of process. And that's been my experience. It's always interesting to read something that so clearly captures exactly what you've been experiencing, thinking, feeling. Parts of some books have done that, but especially blogs of other baby-loss moms and other accounts of pregnancy and infant loss. It helps us all know that we're not going crazy because we're all experiencing so much of the same feelings and thoughts. But it's too sad that there are so many women out there who share this experience. Too, too many.

But my point in bringing this up is that as I've gotten reconnected with friends at church and gotten a few messages from some dear ladies I am asked the question "How are you doing?" It's always very sensitive and with emphasis like "how are you really doing" and comes from women who genuinely want to care for me in this area. I feel loved by that question and so appreciate their reaching out with those words. But I'm realizing that I just have the same answer to that question over and over, even close to three months later. I usually say that it has it's ups and downs. Our lives are carrying on, but it's steadily here, part of everything I do.

I don't know when I'll have a different answer to that question. It's hard and it's sad and my heart hurts so badly and it's constantly on my mind. It's not "getting better" or starting to fade away. Part of me still isn't ready for it to fade and I don't think actually that it will ever feel better. So as long as these friends are willing to ask that question, I'll keep giving them my honest answer, even if it's the same answer for a long time.

Sundays are especially hard for me. I guess it's the pregnant ladies in the group, the parents kissing on their little ones, announcements of new pregnancies etc. This past Sunday Chris preached about Mary and Elizabeth's pregnancies and I was surprised that there was a little twinge in my heart. I guess any time the word pregnant pops up, even if it's part of a Bible story, my heart aches a bit. Standing right in front of us were two fathers holding their littles, who were sweetly resting their heads on their daddy's shoulders. Ryan asked me last night how I had felt during church, knowing these different things were going on. When I asked him the same question he said that was hard for him to see those dads. It made him think of our baby.

And that's the part of the spiral that takes me right back to the sad place. The gaping loss. The constant reminder of what was and what is not any longer. We want our baby back.

So, to pull together the different pieces of this post- we're really enjoying the Christmas season, taking time to soak it up and celebrate the depth of the Advent together- and through it all our baby is on our minds. Almost three months and it's all still very present with us.

Carrie

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving

Ryan and I spent Thanksgiving with his family up north in Show Low. Since I'm such a desert girl I was overjoyed that there was snow! There wasn't much, but to me it was beautiful and amazing. I was like a little kid looking out the car window, pointing, squealing and getting so excited. To Ryan it was not exciting because he lived in that, but it makes him happy to watch me have fun with it :)



The time with his family was good and we had lots of yummy food. Ryan's two sister's have both lost babies, one of them within this last year, so they're very understanding about our loss and open to talking about it. It's good in a way to have it out there in the open and not have it be the taboo subject. His sister who had a miscarriage this past year is now pregnant again, 13 weeks and finally starting to feel like she can enjoy the pregnancy more and not be so worried about another miscarriage. She talked about how having a miscarriage steals that joy from you in your next pregnancy. My sister is also pregnant- 11 weeks now I believe- and she has experienced the same thing. It's interesting to learn that from them and watch them go through these pregnancies and see how the miscarriage casts that shadow over what would normally be so joyful and exciting.

Our baby was of course on my mind all day and I really felt like there was someone missing- the little someone who would have been in my tummy. With these other babies expected in our families just a couple months after when I would have been due, it's hard to think about what would have been- sharing the pregnancies together and seeing the little baby cousins together.

Since we're trying again we did have hopes for a fun Thanksgiving announcement to our family, but no baby for us this month. But we have hope for the future, so we press on!

We're already geared up for Christmas with decorations and music and yummy treats. It's a welcome distraction from the humdrum of the everyday, and something to help turn my mind from the monotony that sadness can be. I haven't quite formed the thoughts fully yet but I've recognized that there's something that feels different for me about the expectation over Jesus' birth this year than any time before. I think it's coming from the intense longing that's already in me for the baby we lost and for the baby we hope for. So that deep, long yearning is a familiar feeling when I think of our "long expected Jesus". Those feelings of expectation and hope and yearning are the air I breathe- for a baby, yes, but I see how those same feelings can be funneled toward the coming of Jesus too. It wasn't just the Jews who were longing for a King and Savior waaaay back then. I feel that longing and deepest need today, now. So there's a new excitement in me as I walk through the Advent season and anticipate anew the day Jesus came in to this earth.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.


Carrie

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Miss you everyday"

There's this song by a group called Watermark. The song is called "Glory Baby" and they wrote it after losing a baby to miscarriage.  I've had their album with this song for a long time but I'd always skip past it because it was sad and it wasn't anything I related to. But now I know that sadness intimately and this song runs through my head constantly. And I do..."miss you everyday".

Listen here (just wait for the page to load then it starts to play) 

Glory Baby

Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby…baby...
You were growing, what happened dear?
You disappeared on us baby…baby...
Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you…
Until we’re home with you… 

Miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there’s a
day when we will hold you
We will hold you
You’ll kiss our tears away
When we’re home to stay
Can’t wait for the day when we will see you
We will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘till mom and dad can hold you…
You’ll just have heaven before we do
You’ll just have heaven before we do 

Sweet little babies, it’s hard to
understand it ‘cause we’re hurting
We are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we’re stronger people through the growing
And in knowing-
That all things work together for our good
And God works His purposes just like He said He would…
Just like He said He would… 

BRIDGE:
I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies
and what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home
And it’s all you’ll ever know…all you’ll ever know…

Friday, November 5, 2010

Here again?

Last week we went back to see my ob/gyn to follow up on the miscarriage. So the week before that I went back to the fertility clinic to request my records be sent to my ob/gyn. Every part of going back to that place was strange (even though I loved our doctor there and we had a wonderful experience). Pulling in to the parking lot, opening the front door, seeing the other women seated in the waiting room, talking to the receptionist, walking back out. I thought we were finished with that place. I had certainly thought and wished that we'd never have to go back there again. The last time we were there I was so newly pregnant, getting my blood checked for the second time with these great super high HCG levels, with the nurse in amazement that I was pregnant after just one IUI. We had walked out those doors with this unspoken sense of finality. It had worked! We were pregnant! We were finally outside that awful world of infertility. We were on the other side at last. Pregnant!

But then there I was. Just three months later. Not pregnant anymore. And starting all over.

I had forgotten how that place felt. It's like every person there is holding their breath. Suspense and hope hang so heavy. It made my chest ache. Oh God I don't want to be another one of the women sitting in these chairs- again, full of anticipation, questions, pain and just hoping and hoping and hoping that something will work- that a baby will come. It made all of me feel so tired to just remember it and feel it again.

I requested the records and left, wanting to quickly shake that heaviness.

So then last week was the ob/gyn appointment and I had so many of the same feelings going back there. I had found that doctor just a few months after we were married and we had been trying maybe two months. I was suspecting endometriosis and already questioning our ability to get pregnant based on the charting of my cycles I had started doing when I was still single. The dr confirmed the endometriosis at my first appointment and scheduled me for surgery the next week. "Your chances of getting pregnant are even higher right after the surgery!" he had tried to encourage us. I wish doctors didn't even say things like that.

I did NOT get pregnant right after that, obviously, and we officially started down the road of infertility treatment in the following months. I was on an ovulation drug for five months/cycles, still charting my temperatures and symptoms every day, wondering and fearing what would be next. After those five cycles my doctor just said "There's nothing else I can do. You've reached the end of what I can do for you." Whew- that hit hard. Now what?

So the last time we had left that office we were a bit numb and feeling really disappointed. We were moving on to the next stage and I didn't think we'd have reason to return to that doctor again.

(More hard, crazy stuff happened after that, but eventually God led us to the fertility specialist that I really liked.)

Going back to both offices was like: "We're here again?" Seriously? For reals? Did someone just hit the repeat button? This feels all too familiar, but with a new pain, a new disappointment, but also a new hope. At least this time around we know that it is actually possible for me to get pregnant. That had been the huge looming question through everything before. So now we have two new looming questions: Can I get pregnant again? and- Can I have a full-term pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby?

We decided to really start all over and go back to my ob/gyn instead of heading straight back to the fertility specialist. Mostly because we're hoping that we can just get pregnant on our own, with maybe just a little help from some medications. And secondly, we can't afford to do infertility treatment again for awhile, especially with all the bills coming in from my two ER visits ("visits"- as if it was a hotel or something! It sounds so casual and enjoyable, like a "visit" to the zoo or something. Ug.)

So yes, here we are again. It feels different than before in some ways, but other things are so dreadfully familiar. Am I braver? Stronger? Is my heart harder in a way, to just try and get through this? I don't know. All I do know is we're ready to keep going forward and so we're taking the next steps. And that does not deny or minimize the fact that our hearts are still broken and that we are still mourning the loss of our first child. Even as we go forward with trying again, I think about my baby every day, all throughout the day.

In talking with friends who have experienced miscarriage and are trying again or successfully had children I am learning how those two things- grieving for your baby who died and hoping and trying for more children- are strangely able to co-exist and they don't minimize each other. Both things are able to be special and treasured and hold a place in my heart.

I could go on and on about this topic- "Are we here again?"- because that is true in spiritual matters and life experiences too (at least it is for me!). That thing you went through and those hard lessons you learned and you surely thought you really "got" that one and moved on....only to experience something else years later and have those same feelings, struggles, sins, and questions come flying right back out of your heart. "I'm back here again?" Or that trial, that suffering, that wounding you went through and how God led you through that and ministered to you and you really felt freed and walking in healing from the Lord...only to have such a similar pain and injury to your heart all over again, maybe several times again. And you're just reeling and thinking "I'm here again?"

Something in me, maybe some Christian-culture type of thing, wants to write something nice and comforting here that sorta wraps all this up with meaning and purpose. But honestly that doesn't feel real to where I'm at right now. I don't even know what I'd write if I were to try and say something like that. So for now that question hangs there, along with all the other questions. God knows them all. That's comforting to me in a way. And that's enough right now.

Carrie

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkins and soup

Only part of the pumpkin lineup
Tonight was my sister's annual pumpkin carving and soup party. She's done a party like this for probably about the last 10 years I think, but it's definitely grown over the years with more people, more pumpkins and more soup. It certainly didn't feel like fall weather tonight though. Wearing long sleeves and having a fire outside were the only things missing. However, we'd have been sweating for sure. Dang global warming. (No but really- I grew up here and every Halloween when I was little we were wearing turtle necks and leggings under our costumes because it was actually cold!)

This year I tried a new soup recipe that was in the Cooking Light magazine I just got last week. I love that magazine! And no it's not a diet magazine, as the title makes it sound. The recipes are healthy though and they try to strike a good balance between truly enjoying rich, super tasty delicious foods while also minding salt, fat and other stuff that's not so good for us. I usually try several recipes from each issue and get rave reviews from my hubby :) (Especially this one this week, although I used chicken breasts instead of turkey, I did not make them a day ahead, and I didn't have a dutch-oven so I just baked them in a glass dish and secured the seams with tooth picks. Holy cow that was sooo good!) The November issue just makes me drool. The day it arrived I stayed up way too late that night looking through the whole thing with all these fantastic recipes and photos for Thanksgiving. I got so hungry just looking at it my stomach was growling and I had to grab a late night snack. Yummy- I can't wait for turkey day!

Cowgirl Lydia (my niece)
Back to the soup....it was lentil- barley soup and it turned out deeee-licious! And from those who ate it at the party it sounded like there were satisfied taste buds out there. You can find the recipe here.  I renamed it Pale-Ale Lentil Barley, since it calls for beer and I used a pale-ale. I tasted it right after it was done on the stove and it had a funny bitter aftertaste to me, maybe from the beer. But then I transferred it to the crock pot to take to the party and it sat on low for another hour and voi-la!!- the bitter taste was gone and it tasted fantastic. The lentils had broken down more and made it so creamy and full-flavored. It was the perfect fall food!

Fall is so yummy! I just want it to cool off faster so we can get in the holiday mood a bit easier. Even though there's sadness and a lump in my throat when I think of the holidays and what would have been, there's lots I'm looking forward to- especially the food!

Carrie

Our creation! The tongue was Ryan's idea and the kids thought it was soooo funny :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

One month

Today marks one month since the miscarriage. And what a blur that month has been...just a weird, hazy, sometimes numb, gray month. We've learned how the passage of time takes the edge of the pain and sadness off. And I've realized that the more time that passes since when I was pregnant the more I have trouble remembering what that felt like. I'm afraid of forgetting what it was like.

In the herb garden at the Arboretum- one of my favorite spots there
Life has gone on, which at times feels so strange and fake that we can just carry on in the midst of this. But that's what's required to keep going forward. I've had good talks with some dear girlfriends that have helped me feel re-connected with the outside world again. And the change of weather has been a big relief to my soul. It seriously ministers to my heart and body just to be able to spend time outside again- cool air, pretty plants, lakes, taking walks, picnics etc. I was craving that so bad and going very stir crazy as summer drug on! We eagerly returned to one of our favorite places- the Arboretum- and bought a season pass :). I planted my little patio garden and am delighted to have something to tend and just soak up the colors and smells. We've had picnics and walks at our favorite park just across the street- Kiwanis. And we've been refreshed by cool breezes coming through our open windows. Fall at last!

It's made me reflect on the seasons and the cycles that plants go through and how so much of that mirrors our lives. Scripture uses a lot of that type of imagery, but I think us city-folk (especially us in Phx where there are sorta only 2 seasons) are so out of touch with nature and soil and seeds and plants and how all of those have their cycles of life and death. I don't have anything real profound to say about that except that I've found some comfort in reflecting on it- that seasons have purposes and each one brings it's own unique benefits and downsides, and that plants grow from seeds and sometimes they flourish and sometimes they die- even under the best care. Simple lessons as I've put seeds into soil and watched them poke up bright green and get taller and taller, stretching toward the sun, and as I've seen leaves turning brown, ducks returning back to the lake, and the mornings turn chilly. Just like Ecclesiastes 3: 
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew;a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace."

At our staff meeting at work this week we were talking about what life will be like in God's Kingdom when it comes in it's fullness (Yes! Come Lord Jesus!!!). So we were dwelling richly on some passages in Isaiah and these verses pricked my heart in Isaiah 65 (vs 17, 19-20). 

"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind...no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days"

As much as I don't understand our suffering and pain and trials here on earth, I rejoice with my whole being that I belong to a God who will make ALL things right and joyful one day! I long to be part of his Kingdom-come where there will be no more weeping and no more babies dying and I just get to be with him at last. My heart is eager for that rest and comfort.

Carrie

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Healing

Healing (referring to emotional/spiritual healing, not physical healing): there's no prescription for it, no handbook, no class, no right-way-to-do-it. It's not even something I can "get" on my own, but more like something that happens TO me and is granted to me by the Lord. I know there are things that can help it along, and things that can push it away. I know I can seek healing and do things to try to usher it in more, but that it sorta has it's own timeline. And I know that it only comes from the Lord.

I'm still not in a place where I feel like I'm really communing with the Lord and hearing from him. I know he's there, but he just doesn't feel close. And maybe I'm just too afraid to come to him and spill this broken, bleeding heart completely and lay myself out before him and let the flood of emotions that I can't even verbalize or fully recognize pour out to him, to be that vulnerable. Maybe I'm feeling too hurt by him to feel safe enough to do that just yet. And yet...there's no one else to go to. I am not running away from him. I don't want to run away. No, I'm not running away, but maybe just sitting at a distance.

I know he's there and he's patient with me. But the theology in my head is not helping me right now, in fact I think it's just confusing me more and making me feel even more distant from him. He feels so above, so far removed, so huge, so God-of-the-universe- so SOVEREIGN.

And yet just under that I hold these memories of this intensely passionate, intimate, loving, comforting relationship I had with Jesus. How long ago did we have that? How can I get back to that place? Will we ever be the same? When will I feel safe with you and trust your hands again?

You're the Creator of the world, you sustain all life, you have a sovereign plan for everything that exists, you create life and you end life (or you let life end??), you speak and things form and you speak and things end, your ways are higher than ours, there are so many things about you that we'll never comprehend, you don't have to explain yourself to anyone......and on and on....and he's just HUGE and I don't understand....and I feel very small and very far away......and very quiet.

I don't feel like screaming at him or fighting with him over this. I just feel like I'm sitting on a bench by myself, very far away from him, with my head down, hands in my lap, tears silently falling down my cheeks and I feel very hurt and very sad and very confused and I say very quietly "Why did you let this happen?"

And I don't even expect an answer. And he doesn't seem to move an inch. And there we both are, still.

This is a process and I know this is part of that process. And I think healing will start to come even here, even now, even in this sad, silent, unmoving place. I think my heart is open. I hope it's open. Because I want to be close to him again. I need to be. I have to be. Life is there.

Even in my confusion and hurt, I still believe and really truly feel that he's a patient God and that he does love me and that he's with me in this. There's just a lot to chip through between us right now.

Carrie

Friday, October 15, 2010

Still realizing

I've had lots of thoughts roaming through my head that I've wanted to share on here and just update you on where my heart and mind are lately.

It's been just over two weeks since we lost baby. We're learning that mourning and healing are not just a nice gradual upward curve that will lead us to "be ok" and feel "normal" again, but more like up and down and then back and a few steps forward and then a big slide down and feeling ok one minute and then totally sad the next. We're changed forever by this experience, so we're finding a new normal and trying to figure out who we are now and what this means in our story. Parts of this will remain with us for the rest of our lives, but other parts will heal and be renewed and we will go on from here step by step. We just know we can't have expectations about that process- either on ourselves or on each other.

We spent most of the week after the miscarriage up north at my family's cabin in Lakeside. Being outside in the forest, the clean air and the crisp sunshine were good for me, good for my soul in ways I can't really articulate. And it was good for both of us to have time alone together away to rest and reflect. We also had a little memorial for baby. It had been Ryan's idea to bury baby at our special tree- an aspen tree near A-1 Lake that we found when we were dating that Ryan carved our initials in (see it on the trunk in this picture?) and that we've revisited since being married. It's an absolutely gorgeous part of the forest, it has a lot of sentimental meaning to us and it's a place we can go back to when we want. So with very heavy hearts we put our baby into the earth at the base of that tree. It felt horrible and so final, but it was beautiful at the same time (there weren't any flowers around so I gathered some ferns and leaves to put on it instead). All I could think was that I wanted baby to come back. I didn't want my baby to be in the ground, I wanted my baby to be in me. It was another way to say goodbye, and I wasn't prepared for how visually impacting it was- how final it looked- filling the hole in, standing there staring at the freshly dug earth and then walking away.

To bury baby was very physical. Our baby was a human being with a body. I honestly have to keep reminding myself of that. Because I had such minimal physical experience of her/him (never heard their heartbeat, saw an ultrasound, or felt them kick), it was mostly a mental and emotional experience. And that makes it feel not very real sometimes, like it was all just in my head and a real baby never existed. But baby was very real- I did see them with my very eyes after he/she came out of my body, though it was shocking and horrible- and we put a real little human body into the ground. This may sound like crazy talk to you- but it's the kind of thing I've been processing through. It all happened so fast I really end up thinking "Was I really pregnant? Did this really happen?" And reality is: yes and yes.

During the first days I kept weeping (and weep again right now thinking about it again) over how little time we'd had with our baby. Exactly because of what I just described above, I just wanted more time with them, more time so that I could feel them, know them, hear them, be with them. I even thought- "Even if you have to go away, can't you just stay a little longer so that I have some tangible memory of you?" Just a little longer.

Having our baby with us was so sweet and so miraculous and so surreal, but then it was all so short, like it was just the blink of an eye. Too good to be true, and then it was gone. So intense, and then it was just over. With so little to hold and remember. We have no memories of our baby, only memories of our own emotions and thoughts and dreams and laughter. And oh how we wanted to know and experience him/her!!!! But all the wanting in the world won't bring them back now.

A good friend came to visit us in the ER, a friend who understands my heart in all of this, and in talking with her I actually realized that I don't regret being pregnant. I don't wish that it had never happened. I don't wish that I could go back to the time before I got pregnant. Being pregnant, as short as it was and as limited as the experience was, was the most miraculous experience of my life. To know that my baby was created inside my body, that it's cells divided and kept multiplying, that my womb became their cozy little home, that all of their vital organs were developing with the help of my blood and my oxygen and my nutrients, that a person was developing inside me, that fingers and toes and eyes and a tongue and skin were all there, and especially that this was OUR precious baby, part me and part Ryan and that we were experiencing this miracle together.

Before I got pregnant all I could do was try to imagine what it would be like, or hear from other women what it was like. But nothing could have prepared me for the mind-blowing miracle that it really was. And for Ryan and I we had this awareness that it wasn't just the two of us anymore- but there was this plurality. Even when I would be alone it was like I had this little guy along with me, along for the ride for whatever I was doing that day. And now with baby gone, there is a very deep sense of a void, that someone is missing.

But I don't regret it. My heart became a mother's heart in those short weeks. Ryan became a proud papa in those short weeks. We were changed by the miraculous knowledge that we had brought a child into this world together and that we loved him/her more than we ever thought possible. We had witnessed the miracle of life, after wondering for so long if we would ever taste that sweetness. So we wouldn't trade even the 8 short weeks we had with baby. We'd give anything to have baby back with us now, but we're thankful for the time we were given. We're changed forever.

Since there are so few memories to hold on to after losing a baby this early, it is recommended to create a memory box to keep anything that represents the baby or things that were given or written etc. My sister had started one for the baby she lost and knew it was an important idea so she bought me a little slender box and gave it to me just a few days after our miscarriage. (My sister is wonderful.) And we've been adding things to it: all the cards we've been sent, petals from the beautiful white roses Ryan gave me the day we came home from the hospital, the two positive pregnancy tests that had brought us such marvel, a letter Ryan wrote to the baby after the miscarriage, my journal that I had been writing to the baby during the pregnancy, the card that came with the orchids Ryan's parents sent, photos of the special aspen tree etc. But I keep catching myself thinking still that this is something we're saving up to give to our child later on. Strange isn't it? Then I have to remember- no, this is something just for us, to be a marker to remember our baby, to remember the love and prayers that were poured out for him/her and for us. Our baby is gone and will not grow up to see this later on. I guess parts of my brain and heart are still catching up to that reality.

It's good for me to process like this. So I'll keep writing when I feel up to it, even thought it may not be too frequent, and I'd be blessed to continue to have you reading this, along for the journey.

I love you ladies and thank you all so much for the emails and texts you've sent. I don't know if I'll be able to respond to each one, but please know that it means so much to hear from you and we do feel very loved and supported.

Carrie

(This photo: After we buried baby we drove up to Greer and spent the day around there, ate lunch at Greer Lodge and visited this little creek spot that we'd been to before. We're smiling here, which is proof that life does go on after miscarriage, something I never could have imagined before.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The story of the ending

I want to write this and I think I'm ready to, but it's hard. I have the kleenex box parked right next to me.

Last weekend I started having brown spotting. I was concerned a bit but read in pregnancy books that it could be normal. By Tuesday it was getting heavier, but still brown and no cramping. I talked to my midwife and she said she wouldn't be concerned until there was red blood and cramping. On Wednesday things changed and there were a couple times of red blood. My nerves were rising and I was starting to fear the worst. Ryan has Wednesdays off and we were going to go to PCI together that day, but I was so on edge and starting to feel physically very weird so we decided to stay home and lay low. We went to dinner at my sister's that evening and things just continued to get worse. My sister knew what was going on and so she was freaking out on the inside too. She had a miscarriage scare with her 3rd child, but it turned out to be nothing and Lydia continued to grow and was born healthy. But just this past March she miscarried her 4th child at 12 weeks, with the baby only measuring 6 weeks. She was already holding her breath for me to just make it through 8 weeks. I think we all hardly tasted our dinner and just had big knots in our stomachs.

I went to the bathroom after dinner and there was more red. I knew what was happening. I walked out and told Ryan we needed to go. We walked to the front door and just before leaving I turned around and started crying and grabbed my sister. Her worst fear for me was happening and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Ryan and I drove home and I sobbed the entire way. At home I went to the bathroom again, checking to see if it had miraculously disappeared. But- just more red. I came out of the bathroom and clung on to Ryan in desperation with choking, heaving sobs. "I can't do this! I can't go through this!" The thought of the experience that was coming at me full steam ahead was so overwhelming that I literally hung on Ryan's neck, feeling like my body couldn't handle what was happening. He said we needed to go the ER. I didn't want to go because I hate hospitals and I knew it was going to cost us something we couldn't afford. Ryan's only concern was for my health and to get a real answer about whether or not our baby was still with us. So we went to the ER at about 7:30 Wednesday night.

We spent 6 hours in the ER, getting tested for stuff that was unnecessary and waiting in the coldest room on the planet for the worst news of our lives. I was already totally losing it emotionally and then was doubly traumatized by the tests and exams they were doing to me. All we wanted was an ultrasound to see if our baby's heart was still beating. The ultrasound tech isn't supposed to say anything to you about what they see. Only the doctor is allowed to tell you the results after they get the ultrasound report. But this lady slipped. Towards the end of the ultrasound she said "Well, if anything has happened to your baby, heaven forbid, just know that it wasn't your fault and there's nothing you could have done differently." For real lady??? Why don't you just tell me in plain English that my baby is dead??? It was another hour or two after that probably until the doctor finally came in and told us the news. On the ultrasound the baby only measured 6 weeks and there was no heartbeat. Then he rambled on about how usually they can see the heartbeat by then, but just to be sure I should follow up with my ob/gyn to get another blood test to see if my HCG levels are still rising or not. Why even try to offer hope at that point? The baby had died 2 weeks ago.

The doctor left and I fell apart all over again of course. What a horrible place to mourn. All we wanted to do was get out of there. It took forever to get discharged.

We came home in some numb daze. It was about 1:30am. I was so hungry and thirsty since they wouldn't let me eat or drink anything in the ER. Ryan made me some toast and as he brought it to me on the couch he totally broke down. He was thinking of the little flip calendar he got me for my birthday with the baby's development for each day (remember I mentioned that in an earlier post?). It had become a little ritual to read that each evening and laugh and smile about it together. Now it just cut us to the heart to see it sitting there on the table and to know we wouldn't be turning any more pages or celebrating any more of our baby's development. We held each other again and cried together.

I had a prescription for vicodin for when the cramping got really heavy but it wasn't bad yet so we thought we'd go to sleep. It was starting to get more uncomfortable though so I took some ibuprofen. We laid down and in just a few minutes I realized the cramping was really starting and it was getting bad so Ryan went and filled the scrip at Walgreens. I took one and we finally went to sleep.

Maybe an hour later I woke up suddenly with a sensation of a lot of blood coming out. I rushed to the bathroom and sat on the potty (sorry ahead of time for the details) and looked down at my pad and there I could see my baby- a little quarter sized blob of pinkish-grayish tissue. I still swear I could see the spine and tell which part was the head. This was completely shocking, to say the least. I went from being sound asleep to seeing my dead baby in about 2 minutes time. Then immediately I started to feel tingly all over, nauseous and light headed. All I wanted to do was lay down on the floor, but there I was sitting there with bloody everything. I called Ryan's name about 5 times and then he finally woke up to find me in the bathroom. He quickly brought me new underwear and I got them on with a pad as fast as I could. Then I laid down on the floor and I guess my body started to go in to shock or something.

Cramping- with the most intense pain I have ever felt in my entire life- started to take over my body without any pauses. I felt like I was going to faint and throw up and was having trouble breathing normally. Then my whole body started to shake. Ryan kept asking what he should do and if I could get up and go to the bed. I couldn't open my eyes and could barely speak above a whisper and kept saying I didn't know what to do and I didn't know what was happening. He said several times "I'm going to call 911!" and I didn't want him to because even in my delirium I was thinking how expensive that was going to be. Finally, with wisdom and a steadiness under pressure that amazes me, he decided to call 911.

I could hear him talking to the 911 dispatcher and explaining what was happening but it felt so far away from me and I wondered if I was going to make it through this and I just wanted the paramedics to get there as fast as possible. I was thinking "I can't believe this is happening to me" and it felt like an eternity. He kept checking that I was breathing and making me verbally answer that I was still ok, as the dispatcher was coaching him to do. I heard him open our patio door and I could hear the ambulance and fire truck pull up outside. Then about 4 paramedics were in our bathroom hovering over me (thankfully Ryan had put a blanket on me since all I had on the bottom were underwear). They picked me up since I couldn't walk and was still writhing in pain and put me on the stretcher and wheeled me out of our apartment. (I don't know how that stretcher and about 12 firemen/paramedics fit into our little apartment!) Ryan followed the ambulance in our car. Somehow I was so out of it I wasn't able to even care that he wasn't in the ambulance with me. They started an IV and gave me oxygen but said they wouldn't do any pain meds until the hospital.

So trip #2 to the ER. Ryan followed me in soon after I got there and I could see the relief on his face to know that I was going to be ok. (I'll never know really how scary it was for him to see me on the bathroom floor and not know what was going to happen to me.) They got me started on morphine pretty quickly and soon I was feeling much, much better. They ran some tests and I had another ultrasound to make sure that the baby had in fact come out. There was no explanation for what had happened to me, just massive amounts of cramping and pain and shock. This was at Banner Desert at Dobson/60 and we really want to praise the nurses and doctor and staff we had there. They were very sensitive and gentle and gave us choices about how we wanted to handle some things. I am very thankful for a positive experience with them during such a heartbreaking and scary time. All of the baby and the placenta came out clean and I didn't need to have a D&C, which we were very, very thankful about.

That afternoon (Thursday) we were finally cleared to head home. In a daze of heartbreak and sleep deprivation we finally came home to face the harsh realities of what had happened to us. Our baby was dead. I was not pregnant anymore. We were not going to expect a baby around May 11th, 2011 anymore. We were no longer going to track our baby's development each week and expect to see my belly expanding. We wouldn't be looking at baby clothes and brainstorming about names. We wouldn't go to an appointment with our midwife on Monday. I wouldn't spend my evenings browsing pregnancy books and baby websites. We wouldn't expect to hear our baby's heart beat in a few weeks or to find out if they were a boy or a girl around Christmas time. Ryan would no longer pray every single evening, no fail, for our growing baby. Ryan wouldn't be talking to my belly or saying "Bye babies!"(meaning me and the baby) when he left each day. We wouldn't enjoy dreamy conversations about what our baby would look like or what fun stuff we can't wait to do with them when they're older. I wouldn't think of my baby with every food, drink, vitamin, and exercise decision anymore. I wouldn't be breathing and pumping blood for my baby any longer.

Our baby is gone and will never come back and there is nothing we can ever do to change that. We will never get this baby back. We will not know if it was a boy or a girl or who it was going to look like or who they were going to grow up to be. It wasn't just the death of one life- it was the death of all that little life represented to us- all the hopes and imaginings and laughter and life. It wasn't just 8 weeks that this baby walked in our hearts and our dreams- it's been for most of our lives that we've dreamed of this baby. It wasn't just an "it" and a blob of flesh- this was our baby and we had let ourselves fall in love and bond and know this baby as much as we could in 8 weeks. For 8 weeks we had parented this baby as much as we were able.

And so we miss our baby deeply. We miss knowing that our baby is here safe in my womb. I miss that great amazement of knowing that a life is growing inside me and the responsibility of being as healthy as possible for them. We intensely miss just being able to talk about baby everyday. That had become the highlight of each day- the thing sure to make us laugh and smile. I miss seeing the delight on my husband's face when he'd put his hand on my belly and talk to the baby. I physically feel such an emptiness, like a big gaping hole in my belly, like I must surely look concave, since that's how it feels.

I feel very numb right now. The day times without Ryan here are so hard. My mom has been with me the past two days, but it doesn't compare to having Ryan here holding me and sharing in this heart to heart. We've put away the few baby things we had- the flip calendar and the big stacks of books and some other gifts my family had given us (except for this little Willow-brand figurine my sister gave me of a mother sweetly holding her baby with one of her hands cradling it's head. It's precious and somehow it's comforting to me to see it still and to know that even though I didn't get to hold my baby in my arms like that, that Jesus is). But there are reminders of our baby and just pregnancy and babies everywhere it seems, and I haven't even left the house in 5 days! That will be a hard thing about being back out and being around people. It's so weird to think of trying to just go back to normal life after this. I don't feel like I'll ever be the same. This has changed me forever.

We don't know what the road ahead will hold and it's scary to me. We want to keep trying to get pregnant again. This baby will always be special to us and we won't rush the timing on our mourning and healing, but we are still asking the Lord to give us the miracle of a baby with a healthy pregnancy that we can hold in our arms after 9 months. But to remember all that we went through just to get pregnant makes it overwhelming to think we may have to go through that again. Or will it even happen again? Was this a one-time thing? I could go on with what-ifs and questions and fears but I know I can't dwell on that. All we can do is give it time and trust in the only One who gives life and ask him for a miracle.

We're exhausted with sorrow and just clinging to each other to get through these deeply painful days. I know that we can't have expectations on ourselves for how fast we're going to recover and heal from this, and that not every day is going to get better, but that some will be up and then some will be 5 steps back again. I'm so thankful that Ryan is feeling this as deeply as I am. I can't imagine a situation where the husband didn't really "get it" and sorta just tried to make his wife feel better while she really struggled. Ryan is just as heartbroken and heavy with this as I am. We are closer and more bonded than we've ever been. I didn't know I'd be able to love someone this much. I've been drawn to look at our wedding pictures today, marveling at how we had no idea we'd face all this stuff when we got married! We both are amazed at how much more we love each other now than that day that we got married. In the midst of all this pain and darkness, we do rejoice in this gift of marriage and how the Lord has held us and grown us.

This is the length of a book now so I'll wrap up here. I don't know yet where God is in all of this. I don't really sense him or hear him. I know in my head that he's here and that he has a purpose, but I don't see any of it yet. I'm not mad at him or running away from him. I just feel nothing there. And that feels very strange. I'm sure that will change and go up and down throughout this process. But you can pray for that part for me- that I'd again sense that communion with the Lord, feel his comfort and hear his voice.

And just pray for both Ryan and I to not despair and to fix our hope on Jesus and to keep pressing through these dark days. We'll be spending this Tuesday-Friday up north at my family cabin (just the two of us) to get away, mourn together, have a little memorial for the baby in the forest, spend healing time among the fall leaves and let our hearts and bodies rest a bit. Pray for that time please.

I'm very thankful for the notes on Facebook and email I've gotten. I know it can be awkward when someone's going through something like this and you don't know what to do- so I'll just tell you that notes and cards and even voicemails (if I don't feel like talking I won't answer and a message would still mean a lot) are meaningful to me. Don't be afraid to actually mention our baby or the fact that they died or to be specific. And if I see you in person please do ask about it and just know that I'll probably cry, but that's ok. I know there are so many who love us and love our baby and that so many prayers and tears have been sown for this. Thank you and we love you!

Carrie (and Ryan)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Miscarriage

We lost our baby this morning.

I'll write the full story later- it involved 2 trips to the ER, one via ambulance- traumatic experience. We're home now, resting and talking this through. We're so thankful for the amazing support network we have of friends and family near and far offering love and prayers and also meals and visits when we're ready.

Since it just happened last night/this morning it hasn't really had time to sink in yet and I know it will take time to process, mourn and heal and will be up and down. Words can't express how thankful I am for my husband and the strong and tender support he is to me- as well as feeling the weight and sadness of it himself. We're going through this together and know it is strengthening us even more.

Please pray for us as we go through this and face the road ahead.

Carrie

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cat barf and baby bonding

Last night a monster migraine crept up, stayed with me through the night, and was raging full-force this morning. This was the kind that hurt so bad it made it hard to talk or open my eyes. I crawled out of bed and pathetically sat on the couch with my eyes closed and could hardly respond to my sweet husband who was trying to help me in some way. I've battled migraines since high school so it's not all that unusual for me, but being pregnant I can't zap it away with pain reliever. And tylenol, which is ok to take in small doses during pregnancy, does absolutely nothing for any type of pain I have so it's next to useless to even take it. Besides that, we'd given our last remaining tylenol to our neighbor a few days ago who needed to "borrow" some. So I was in total misery with absolutely nothing available to really help me. Since I was pretty much comatose and not really responding to the kind ways my husband wanted to try to help me feel better (food? no. ice pack? no. anything? no. poor guy.) he left to run something to his work.

While he was gone I realized I was also feeling nauseous. Couldn't tell if it was migraine-nausea or preggo-nausea. Great- another symptom I can't do anything about. Then......the cat starts barfing. First I just hear the horrific heaving sounds and then I see her actually do it right by the front door. Then she comes over closer to me and proceeds to finish off on the rug, with more gagging-puking sounds. This makes me start to gag and I can't stand the sight of the barf pile either so I have to leave the room and go to the bedroom. I call Ryan to warn him not to come in the front door or else he'll get quite the foot-full, and I politely tell him he needs to clean it up when he gets here because I'm about to lose it myself.

*Deep breaths. Think about something else. Stop replaying the sounds of the cat barfing. Keep breathing.*

So I never threw up, Ryan came home and cleaned up the cat mess, and I got rid of my migraine by drinking a small cup of caffeinated coffee. Miraculous!!! But the rest of the day I was wiped out and my stomach was so weird. We had planned a date day- lunch at Wildflower, browse Changing Hands bookstore, then go see Get Low at Camelview. Thankfully the nausea was the kind that got better when I ate so I was fine after lunch. It was a lovely day, but I was dragging so hard and just wanted to sit down everywhere we went. In Changing Hands I camped out in the kids section because of a nice upholstered bench and my body was just saying: SIT! Going to the movies was perfect because it was dark and cool and the seat was comfy and all I had to do was sit there! :) By the way, Get Low is a wonderful movie. Great themes, wonderful acting, and a very quality film overall. We hardly ever go to the movies, so it means a lot that we actually paid the dough to see this one.

When we walked out of the movies Ryan put his hand on my tummy- where our little 7 week blueberry-sized baby grows- and said 'That was your first movie, baby!" He's been doing that lately with the baby- first time to the lake by our apartment, first time to the beach and the zoo on my birthday trip, first time eating curry etc. Ryan talks to the baby everyday and is obviously in love like I am. Already. 7 weeks and we're already taken. At the beginning of this he even asked me, "Should we try not to get attached in these early weeks since something could happen?" And immediately we both said "No way!" We couldn't help ourselves. So come what may (obviously there are risks at every point of the pregnancy), we will be able to say that we gave our hearts to this baby and loved him/her before we even laid eyes on them.

So I've been thinking about that this week. It's made me realize how automatic that love was- how quickly it clicked and swept over us. And holy cow!!!!!- if we love them this much NOW- what will it be like when we have them in our arms??? The thought of that depth of love is overwhelming.

We've decided to wait until 12 weeks to do an ultrasound. At 12 weeks is when they can finally do a regular ultrasound, opposed to the internal ultrasound that just isn't so fun. We'll be getting the ultrasound done at a teaching facility and I was not so excited about the idea of getting an internal ultrasound done as several students watch and learn on me :\ So- we'll just have to keep waiting a few more weeks to see what's going on in there. And if there is more than one baby, we'll get the shock of our lives! I think getting to actually see something with my eyes will help this sink in more too and give me some reassurance that things are all fine (which, hopefully they are). Speaking of, you can keep praying that baby grows steady and strong and that all their systems form perfectly and that they stay snug in their little uterus world :)

I get teary eyed just thinking about seeing that first image. Thank you Lord. What a delight and a privilege to be part of this miracle. We lack the words to express all that our hearts hold.

Carrie

Friday, September 17, 2010

6 1/2 weeks

I'm now at 6 1/2 weeks and little baby is about the size of a pea or a coffee bean or some sort of small round edible item- take your pick ;) Yesterday for the first time I was feeling sorta woozy and yucky and was just camped out on the couch all day. I've had days where I've felt really tired, but yesterday I just felt totally gone. In the afternoon my wonderful husband went to the grocery store doing all the shopping for the week so that I didn't have to do it over the weekend. What a help!

Thursday we had our first meeting with our midwife Debbie. That was a step that made this feel a bit more real. I knew her and her husband through Frontiers and have wanted her to be my midwife for a long time now. She's the perfect type of person that you want with you in one your most intense, beautiful and formative moments in life- and that is because she exudes the peace, comfort and gentleness of the Lord. She has one of those voices that makes you feel all relaxed and warm inside. I'm so looking forward to having a home birth experience with Debbie as our wise and calming guide. She spent an hour and a half talking with us and we came home with arms full of wonderful books she lent us on home birth, nutrition and preparing for birth. It's going to be wonderful to be in her care and to have her as such an available resource.

There are still moments where this doesn't feel real and I feel like something is going to snap and I'll realize it's all been a dream. Maybe it won't really seem like reality until I see my belly grow. These months of being pregnant with nothing to show for it are pretty odd. There are still parts of me that are sort of holding back I think, afraid of the risks and the unknowns. Last week I had my first bad dream about a miscarriage and last night I had one where the baby was born but it was really sick. In both it was really scary and the feelings were so real and they sorta creep back up on me. I guess that's the brain's way of processing this huge transition and the fears that are in the back of my mind that I don't even really know are there.

Changing to a much happier subject.....I turned 30 on the 8th! I don't usually make a big deal about how old I'm turning, but 30 is a milestone sort of birthday, and it packed special meaning for me this year. With the timing of the infertility procedure I knew we'd be finding out the results right before my birthday. Great. And that was either going to make it a really, really hard birthday to get through, or it was going to make it even more of a humongous occasion to celebrate. Thankfully, very very thankfully, it was the latter :) So I celebrated my 30th with the happy contentment of knowing baby was growing in my tummy and that the Lord has amazing things planned for my 30th year of life. How fun to think that by my next birthday I'll have a 4 month old :) Eeeee!!!!!

The definite highlight was that Ryan took me to San Diego as a surprise to celebrate! :) It was wonderful! He had planned everything out in advance, every detail, and didn't tell me where we were going until we got in the car to head to CA! The main surprise was that we were going to the San Diego Zoo. I hadn't been there since I was little, but I LOVE zoos and that one is world-renowned- so my hubby knew just what to plan. That zoo is huge and we made it through the entire thing and were completely exhausted by the end of the day. A very happy exhausted :) And boy did I sleep awesome that night! (I think that means exercise is the cure for my pregnancy-sleeplessness.)

We also spent time watching the sunset at the beach where Ryan gave me two fun presents- a little flip calendar with facts about the baby's development for every day of the pregnancy (Genius! It was the sweetest gift and it's so fun to flip the page each day and learn something new) and a precious little sugar bowl. He'd seen me pick it up and check it out several times at Anthropologie (a store we pretty much just window shop at) and so he went back and got it. What a guy!

On our way home we made our way to La Jolla to see the harbor seals who congregate there who were delightfully sunning themselves on the rocks and putting on a great show for everyone. (Can you see the two on the rock and one in the water?)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Our little sesame seed

It's been just a week since we saw the two pink lines appear before our unbelieving eyes- and already so much seems different. All the topics about babies and pregnancy that I avoided before or would have just flat out said "I don't want to talk about that" are now all that we CAN talk about! There's this tremendous sense of relief and release. All the dreams and what if's and fun imaginings that we've been holding back are now let loose. We talk about names, we talk about what features of ours we hope they have, we talk about the birth, we talk about what I'll look like with a big belly, we talk about what it will feel like to just hold them.....aaahhhh. We went to the mall to look at baby clothes. We never go to the mall!! It was my husband's idea- and it was really fun :) Our coffee table is stacked with the books my sister has loaned me- Dr. Sear's Baby Book, Your Pregnancy Week by Week, Bradley's Husband Coached Childbirth. We're browsing those websites that give the weekly updates and show the little baby turn into a mini dinosaur and then a lima bean with flippers. We can't help but laugh at those early stages!

It's hilarious how quickly this has flooded our lives! I guess because this is what we've been waiting for so earnestly. We want to experience it all and to go through it all together. Ryan's right here with me reading the books and checking the websites and looking at the baby clothes. His heart is so tender to this baby already.

Wow there's so much to celebrate! Thank you Jesus!

And yet, it's all very sobering as well. Things could still go wrong. In these books I'm reading about all the horrible things that can go wrong between now and week 40. There are no guarantees. (I love it- in one paragraph they're saying 'relax, enjoy your pregnancy!' and in the next one they're talking about all these risks and problems!)

And it also makes us totally think through our future and our plans and what all of that will look like. I just started with Peace Catalyst International on Monday. Ironic that that was the same day I got confirmation about the pregnancy. "Hi it's my first day here. By the way I'll be leaving in about 9 months. Thanks." There was definitely some background-story-giving that had to go on that day for those in PCI that didn't know our story. Basically- if this had been according to OUR timing we'd already have a baby in our arms. Apparently God thought NOW was awesome timing to give us a child! It's only funny looking at it from THIS side of the story :)

Plus, we're smack-dab in the middle of support raising- in a recession- and it's slow to say the least. Just as pregnancy makes all sorts of mothering instincts and such kick in for me, it also causes my husband to think practically and seriously about making sure his wife and soon-coming child are provided for. Will our support come in? Will it come in time? Will it be enough for all 3 of us? Should he look for a better job in the mean time? Lord Jesus bless my precious husband as he seeks you on these hard questions! We need your direction and your provision!

Question- who on earth thought up the system for dating your pregnancy? Start from the first day of your last period??? So technically you're already counting "weeks pregnant" when you're having your last period? It makes no sense to me- but I'll go with the flow anyway. And that means I'm at the end of my 5th week. Baby is the size of a sesame seed :) And boy is that sesame seed making me feel tired already! I can't believe the tiredness starts this early, but then I read about everything my body is doing to grow that baby and it's little placenta-home and all the hyper-crucial development that goes on in these very early weeks. I guess that's reason enough to feel a bit more tired than usual these days ;) And yet- so frustrating!!!- I have the worst time falling asleep and staying asleep at night. I guess there's too much baby on the brain.

More to come! Thanks for still reading :)

Carrie

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'M PREGNANT!!!!!

The blood test confirmed the news- I really truly am pregnant!!! The nurse said the hormone levels were "beautiful for this stage" :) I'll test again on Wednesday since the levels are supposed to double every 24 hours- and that will yet again confirm that things are going the way they're supposed to! And then in just a couple more weeks I'll have my first ultrasound to see how many babies are in there! Eeek! Since there is a higher chance of multiples due to the infertility treatment, they do that first ultrasound early (although they've really tried to limit the risk of multiples as much as they could).

I called Ryan right away with the results and he was finally freed to say "Ok. We're having a baby!" It's so insane!!!! Now we can finally talk about all of this as reality and not just a far away dream or something that's too painful to even mention.

Lord Jesus what a gracious gift! I know I have done nothing to be worthy of this or to deserve this more than any one else. Your timing has always been perfect and I know that even the times of pain and tears and darkness were for your purposes. You have always been good and perfect, even when the plan wasn't how I wanted it to be. I'm so humbled that you'd choose to give us a child. May we know you more and love you more and see more of your glory through this experience. Thank you Jesus!!!!

Thank you all for your prayers and compassion and notes and for being part of this journey with me. It was a great blessing and source of support to have a community tracking with me through this- even if just through the blog and emails :) I guess since I started this thing that I'll keep it going with more updates as they come.

Love you!
Carrie

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blood test tomorrow

Alas, I could not have the blood test done over the weekend so tomorrow will be the day. But pretty much everyone we've talked to has said- if the home test was positive, then it really means you're pregnant. But still, the blood test will be the ultimate proof in our book and then we'll really unleash the celebration!

Most of our sentences the last two days have started with "So, if you ARE pregnant....." or "Ok, if I really am pregnant..." and then we dare to wander in to the world of baby. It's just so crazy we can barely believe it!

A lesson learned has been that this process of waiting really never ends. Ug. Waiting to get pregnant. Waiting for my period to start. Waiting for the next doctor's appointment. Waiting for the ovulation meds to work. Waiting for the IUI. Waiting to take the pregnancy test. Waiting for the blood test. Waiting for the first trimester to pass safely. Waiting to give birth. Waiting for everything!!!!!

And I only come through as a sane woman because Jesus is with me and I can sense him here and he carries me through.

Not sure if we'll get the blood test results right away or if we'll have to wait- so I'll post as soon as we have those results.

Carrie