Saturday, April 28, 2012



I know that a lot of people who read this know waaaaaaaay more about IVF than they ever wanted to, for whatever reasons, but in every IVF cycle, once the embryos have been transferred, there is the dreaded two week wait...waiting for two weeks until you take that all important blood test.  The beta!

Which is a measure of your HCG...anything over 5 is PREGNANT!  You usually take three tests...two days make sure the numbers are doubling.  If so, HOORAY! (And sometimes, even if not doubling, no big deal.)

Well, what do you think you get to do after you've gotten that fabulous blood test result (mine are always mega, mega high!), then lost the baby, then had a D&C?

Yep, you guessed it.  You get to go back for those blood draws to measure the HCG.

Only these are looking for your levels to go down.

You are looking to see how UN-pregnant you are.

Let me just tell you, this just stinks.

My hcg two days after the D&C was 3869.  This was a huge initial drop, as two days before, it was probably well in the 30,000s.

A week later, it was 169.

Two days ago, it was 22.

My nurse said it's the fastest decline she's ever seen.  And a testament to how careful and thorough my doctor was when she did the procedure.

This doesn't surprise me.  That woman is an angel.  Literally.

If I was to take a pregnancy test, I still may test positive.  No, not hard to think about at all.

Actually, at this point, I probably wouldn't.  Which just hurts to think about too.

But necessary.  I need to test 5 or under (and will probably do so on Monday) because once I do, I will officially start the countdown to when I can do recurrent loss testing.

Not that I expect anything to come of it.  I don't.  Luke is perfect.  Matthew was was the darned blood vessel that formed outside of his cord that WASN'T perfect.

My placental report came back and it was fine.  No infection, no nothing...

Oh, except that there was note of really good and thick endometrial lining and I could expect severe cramping and bleeding.  Apparently, that baby was hunkered in for the long haul.

Anyway, I don't (nor do any of my doctors) expect that anything will come with all of the testing to see if there's any reason I have more babies dead than alive. will give peace of mind for any future pregnancies.  Rule out as much as we can so I can breathe (ha ha, what a joke) a bit easier should we get pregnant again.

Which brings me to another piece of news.

We had two blastocysts frozen from this cycle.  They are the same exact grades as the two we transferred.  The two that both 'took' but we lost...but I'm focusing on that they implanted and grew, and I'm grateful for each second.

We are planning to transfer them in June.  June-ish, depending on a few things.

My HCG.  Another cycle.  When the testing can happen.  When/if we can transfer while waiting for results.  A few things like that.

Essentially, a lot just hangs in the balances while we wait for me to become un-pregnant.

I think it bears saying again.

This stinks.  And that's a total, total understatement.

Oh, and Luke's cool trick of late?  He was getting good at it before we lost the baby; now he's a pro and does it about 5 times a day.

He comes to me, lifts my shirt, pats my stomach and says, "Baby?  Baby?"

Yeah.  That totally stings.  Working toward being un-pregnant is a million, billion times harder than working to become pregnant.  Times a zillion.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Between Neonatal Death and Miscarriage...


Two weeks and two days ago, I still had a baby in my womb.

A dead baby, granted...but still, my baby.

My child.

I've been so, so, so blessed with people emailing and calling and sending cards and flowers and messages and letting me cry...I've had offers of meals and/or anything else we may need, and I can't help but think that people are just so, so amazing.

But then I think of so many friends I know who have suffered miscarriages and wonder why they have not had this...this outpouring of love and help and pity (yes, even that is appreciated because I know it's from a genuine place) that we've had just seems to be so different than what I know so many have experienced.

And still so different from when Matthew died...

I wonder...why?  Why are people being so great?  Do they just not believe (like we can't) that again...after so much hope and miraculous happening...we just end up with pictures?

Do they feel like we have been given more than we should get?

Do they wonder how much more we are willing to endure before we throw our hands up and say, "UNCLE!"?

I also wonder why it's been different from when Matthew died...far, far fewer cards/letters/people throwing themselves at our feet and begging us to just let them help anyway they could.  (Again, not that  we have not been inundated with so many amazing blessings from so many with this baby...just nowhere near the same as when Matthew died.)

Why?  Is it because this baby didn't have the same attachment as people had to us and to Matthew?  Was Matthew more 'real' because he was 'born' living and breathed and was held by his daddy?

Do children rank in the impact their lives have based on their gestation?

Sort of seems like it.

But I guess get it. And I don't judge.

With Matthew, people (us included) were shocked.  SHOCKED.  After Matthew, I don't think ANYTHING would shock us.

With Matthew, it was new territory...for us, for our family, for so many who loved us.

This time...we've all been here, just a little bit.  We've lived through (and you've watched or read about) the days and weeks and years after losing our baby.  This is certainly not old hat, but it bears an ugly familiarity similar to waking up from a bad dream only to go back to sleep and find yourself in that same dream.

Knowing you can't escape, yet feeling like since you woke up once, eventually, you'll wake up again.

We breathe again since we've lost Matthew.  We love again.  We rejoice again.  We are content with our lives again.

And then, content as we are...we go for more.  Are given more.

Only to find ourselves in that same dream.

Is it different because we know there IS light at the end of the tunnel?  Is it different because we know that we can survive and thrive?


But not EASIER.

Just different.

I'm at a different place in my life.  In my walk with God, in my marriage, in my place in this world.  In who I am and what I can survive and what I am so, so grateful for.

This post is certainly all over the place and not necessarily what I was trying to get across.

I'm not sure what I was trying to get across, other than there is surely a difference...but different or not, there is pain and loss and aching for what could and should have been.

That is NOT different than we have with Matthew.  He and his little sister or brother (and I believe it was a sister) are just as precious and loved and wanted by me and their father.

And we look forward to being together again one day.

Here are some pictures from Easter.  The day before Dr. Sweeney had to tell us how sorry he was.  The day we smiled and I glowed because life was so, so, sweet in spite of all the hardship.

It still is.  Grateful for all my miracles.

The day before, he face-planted on the sidewalk.  Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer for Easter!

How I love, love, love this precious little boy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Still Standing...

Do you remember?

Did you know?

I didn’t want to live anymore.

I told people I did.  I told John and Mom and my sister and my dearest and most precious friends and family that I did.

But I didn’t.


I planned to just stop eating.

Grieving mothers don’t eat.  They can’t.  They are sick to their stomachs with grief, right?  I’ve never been a big eater.  It would make total sense.

I’d just wither away.  Too chicken to do anything really dramatic and effective…

Just pretend to eat and then act like it was just my grief that was making me disappear. 

That’s what I wanted to do.  I wanted to disappear.

When Matthew died, I didn’t bother really questioning God.  I didn’t think even He could offer any answer that would make my heart feel ok with things, and I just wanted to be done with this world.

Be with him. 

Have him back with me.

Do you remember this time in my life?

Did you know?

I remember.  I can remember very little about those days and months after he died because really, I was sort of catatonic.  Pretending.  Going through the motions of life.

But I remember this plan very, very vividly.  Don’t doubt for a second that I had full intentions of executing it.

But here I am.  Two years, four months and twenty-seven days later, here I am.

Sixteen days after finding out we lost Matthew and Luke’s little sister or brother…here I am.

Still Standing.

Breathing.  Eating (for real). Smiling (for real).


I am living and loving a life I had pretty much decided was over…not worth continuing.

By the grace of God and with the love and support and encouragement of what seems like an entire world, I live a beautiful life.

A renewed life. 

A precious and amazing and wonderful life.

And I am grateful.

I am honored and privileged to announce the debut of an amazing magazine…created by the amazing Franchesca at Small Bird Studio, and comprised of several unbelievable women…a group of which I am really humbled and honored (and yes, surprised!  Little old me????) to be a part.   Still Standing is not only the name of this fabulous new magazine, but the mantra for so, so many of us who suffer from infertility and/or experience the death of a baby and have chosen to continue embracing life for all its worth.   Those who chose to continue to fight for themselves and their families and to embrace hope as fully as they can…and in doing so, choose to breathe in every exquisite breath they can, in spite of situations in their lives that would make one want to take her last breath.

As a monthly contributor, I will be writing about infertility and treatments, parenting and pregnancy after losses, and maintaining faith and hope through it all.  I honestly have to say that I am really, really excited about this endeavor, and find it hard to believe that I’m at this place in my life.

The place where I remember what wanting to end your life feels like…but cry at the thought of that…how I’d miss out on the incredible things that were waiting for me if I could just make it through…

To this place. 

The place where I am Still Standing.

Please spread the word!  Still Standing will launch on May 5, and can be found  here.  You can also follow us on Facebook (here) and Twitter.  (Not me, though…I can barely keep up with Facebook, much less Twitter, ha ha!)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What I see...

I see this picture and I see a miracle.

I see compassion and dedication fighting to keep my baby alive.

I see hope.

I see brown eyes from a blue-eyed I know they are mine.

I see my chin.  My mother's chin.  My grandmother's chin.

I see a baby no one could ever believe would be buried a week later.

I see 10.5 years of dreams and prayers only hours away from the death...and the beginning of a completely different life than I ever pictured.

I see this picture and I see a miracle.

I see a little boy or girl looking out at his or her mommy for the last time.

I see 10 perfectly formed fingers and 10 perfectly formed toes waiting for mommy to kiss...but never to happen.

I see extravagant blessing in 12 weeks and two days.

I see more shock.

I see more heartache.

I see more devastation.

I see more love than I would think is humanly possible...but is.

And here's what God sees...

He sees restoration.

He sees every precious miracle.

He sees more hope.

He sees redemption of broken hearts.

He sees unbelievable love and commitment.

He sees pure bliss.

He sees gratitude.

He sees survival.

I know we'll survive.  We are.  We will.  We know what it feels like to want to take your last breath as you learn your child has taken his...and in the same lifetime, to beg God for as many years as He can possibly give with the most amazing and healing little blessing.  To hate every second of your existence...but a little over a year later, be so in love with your life that you can hardly believe it's yours.

Two and a half years later, to lose a piece of your heart again and still be so grateful for all you have that you are still pinching yourself to be sure what you have is really yours.

Thanking God I can see what He sees for me.  It seems like it will never come, but I know it exists.

I know it because this is what I see every day.
Okay...he doesn't eat sand every day...but those sweet brown eyes and delicious cheeks...I am so grateful those are mine to mother!!!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Who I Am...

Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

I feel hateful. Angry. Mad. Scathing. Infuriated. Sarcastic. Bitter. Accusing. Vengeful.

I cannot believe how much I want to use the "F" word. Throw it at everything and anyone. Shout it at the top of my lungs and hurl it at the world. I detest this word, by the way. Really cannot stand it.

I am trying very hard to bite my tongue because it's just itching to snap. I'm talking super-sharp snapping. Nothing particular, and directed toward no one particular.

Just feel like I have all this venom on my tongue and I'm going to explode if I don't expel it.

But this is NOT who I am.

These are not feelings I like feeling, nor do I want to feel, nor do I believe are what God is having me feel.

I am not hateful. 
I am not vengeful. 
I am not bitter. 
I am not ugly. 

I am grateful. I am blessed. I am hopeful. I am loved. I am overwhelmed with joy. I am amazed at everything Luke does. 

Once again, the sacred has been torn from me and still, I know I am Held. 

I am grateful. 

Grateful. Grateful. Grateful. Grateful. 

THAT'S who I am. 

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Comparison Of Pain

> Ironically, the last week has had many of the people with whom I am cyber-company up in arms because of a post on BBC about how a miscarriage isn't the same as the loss of a baby. Frankly, I detest BBC and many similar sites because if I am honest, I find those sites are just too full of arrogant people who feel as if they are entitled to judge based on their measly little, "It took three long, horrible, terrible months to conceive, but now that we finally have, I know everything and am an authority on all things pregnancy, baby and child-related." mentality. Blah.
> Look, I'm not judging anyone's pain. Three months could be excruciating to someone. It was for me. Until it turned into four. Then a year.. Then five years. Then ten years. Then a grave. Then a D&C.
> Just saying.

> I am just not into a lot of the BBC type forums, but I know many friends are, and Melissa over at The Stirrup Queen had a really lovely response to the insulting original post. If you are interested, you can find it <a href="">here</a>.
> That said, I think it's important to be real. To be honest. We in this 'community' are constantly supporting each other and encouraging each other and reminding each other, "Pain cannot be compared."
> But it can. And it is. Every day. All the time.
> We are always comparing and judging pain.
> Nightly, as I pray for every hurting heart I know of, I often find myself thanking God that THAT pain is not mine. That it's not MY husband who crashed and died. MY heart that isn't broken as I give that baby back. MY gut that isn't wrenching as I yet again go through another month without any child for whom I can tangibly mother.
> Thanking God that it's not *me* suffering loss after loss after loss as so many I love are.
> I know, with every fiber of my being, my pain...great and heavy and encompassing as it could be so much worse.
> And I know many are thinking that's where I should be right now.
> Losing this baby can't surely be as hard as losing Matthew, could it? John held him. He breathed. He opened his brown eyes. He had curly hair. He peed on the nurses. His room was ready. We were ready.

> Losing This baby couldn't possibly compare, could it?
> Nor could losing Matthew be as horrible and difficult as if God forbid, we were to lose Luke, right?
> Don't doubt that I beg God every day to let me die before Luke because I'd never be able to survive losing him.
> Yes, I am surviving losing Matthew, but to lose Luke would kill me.
> Or so people, and even I, sometimes think.
> Why? Because we love Luke more? Because he is more real than Matthew was? Or Dash 3 was?
> We think these things, and I know there is not a mother of a living child out there who has not let these same thoughts somehow be entertained in her mind, if only even for a brief moment here or there, because the reality is, we DO compare pain.
> We compare it and rank it and negotiate in our heads how we would take this for that...I'd take a miscarriage over a neonatal death...lose my mother over my husband..a failed IVF cycle over a successful one that end unsuccessfully...yada, yada, yada.
> All this comparison done by our finite, tiny minds, as if we can control our reaction to something because we are able to rank it and anticipate its depth of pain.
> That, my friends....that is what is impossible.
> Not the comparison...that's human and inevitable.
> The reaction...the's impossible to rank the reaction because it is simply and uniquely different for each and every person.
> For each and every situation.
> For each and every life and what that life meant to his or her family in its own individual way.
> In many ways, this miscarriage has been easier than losing Matthew. To deny that is just not honest. I only have a couple of things bought for this baby...only a few overt triggers to navigate around...three months of this baby under my heart instead of ten. A different type of attachment.
> But in many ways, this is the most devastating thing I've ever experienced, and I'm including burying my first born son.
> I did not see Matthew's last breath. His still body. A haunting picture of him looking out at me from inside my womb, curled as if I'd let him down and he'd resigned himself to abandonment from his mother and simply let his heart stop beating.
> I did not allow a single thing to be done to alter one precious thing about Matthew's body and not only did I allow this with my littlest one, I chose it. Purposely chose to destroy and scrape and suck every last piece of life that precious miracle was in favor of protecting my own body.
> Purposely chose the most heinous act I can think of to be done to my child. My flesh and blood. My baby.
> I don't believe haunted is even close to the description of how I am feeling right now.
> I was never this haunted with Matthew.
> The point is that it doesn't matter.
> Of course we compare pain. Of course we would prefer one lesser (in our mind) pain over another. We are human and pain hurts and we want to lessen the impact if able to.
> But we aren't. We cannot negate pain and suffering because it could be worse, and therefore can't be as bad as we are acting as it is. But that doesn't mean that the pain we are experiencing is any less devastating. It's just different.
> It can always be worse. That's this world.
> But it is always, always, always different and the reaction will always be different because what we are really comparing is the depth of love for individual souls. Individual people. People with whom, we share unique and precious relationships that cannot ever be duplicated.
> I will never love Matthew any more than I do Luke or do this little one or any siblings to come.
> Or Luke any more.
> Or any other siblings any more.
> But I will always mourn completely different things and completely different losses because they are completely different people.
> Comparable simply by designation as my children....but forever heartbreaking and life-changing in very, very unique and devastating ways.<strike><strike><strike></strike></strike></strike>

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's Not That Luke Is Not Enough....

I believe I've said it a million times before.  I know I said it as we were contemplating what would happen with this last IVF cycle...I meant it then and I mean it now and will always, always mean it.


If Luke is the only child we are privileged to raise and experience the joys of a living child with, we cannot stress enough that we are grateful beyond words.

That said...gratitude does not negate devastation.

The joy of raising Luke does not cancel the grief of losing his siblings.

If anything, it exists as temperance and magnification at the same time.

It is because Luke is so amazing and so wonderful and so precious and healing that we grieve so, so deeply right now.

For Matthew...still...always.

For this little brother or sister...a whisper in our lives but an indelible place in our hearts.

Because we know the amazing and blissful joy that is parenting our sweet Luke...we know with a sorrow so aching how much we are missing in Matthew and the Littlest One.

These words were sent to me...and very eloquently say pretty much what I am trying to say...because our love is so great, so is our sorrow...

From Gibran's "The Prophet" "And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again into your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you may say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay sorrow is the greater." But I say unto you, they are inseparable."

Because we adore every single thing about being Luke's parents, we crave more.  Call us greedy.  We are.  Parenting Luke absolutely made us crave another sibling in a tremendous way.  Makes us miss Matthew even more when we get to experience something with Luke we know Matthew never will.

Yes.  We want more of this sweet, sweet life we have.  Sue us.

And when we are given a chance at it...and then again, it's better believe it's devastation.

Not because Luke isn't enough.

Luke doesn't have anything to do with the devastation.  We lost another child.  We lost more sweetness.

We lost more bliss.

And we wanted it desperately.


I've been in an ugly, ugly mood today.  Really ugly.  Scathing.  I have just wanted to scream, "SEE!  SEE!  SEE!!!!!!!!!  I'm NOT neurotic!!!!!!!  More of my babies DIE than live.  SEE!!!!!!!"

"Think positive."
"Have faith."
"Don't be so pessimistic."
"You can't think like that."
"You worry too much."

Today, I just wanted to scream, "BITE ME."

I didn't.  (Well, now I guess I sort of have...)

I recognize it as ugly and I don't like it.  I'm not ugly.  I work very hard to control ugly thoughts.

But today it was hard to contain it.

And then someone sent me an amazing link. (THANK YOU!) This man says everything that my heart has been screaming.

"At least...." should never, ever, EVER preface any sentence when talking about a lost life.
It's extremely disrespectful and dishonoring of the life or lives you are essentially discounting when you say that at least you have so and so left.

Like Luke is better or more loved because he lives?

Offers of theological explanations simply fall on deaf ears, I'm afraid.  There is no doubt I believe in absolute Truth.  There is no doubt that God and I are working on things minute by minute.

But that's for US to handle.  As this man said, unless you've been explicitly told by God what explanation to give, you are better off not.  (And, for the record, if you have, I truly am all ears.  But trying to speak on God's behalf doesn't work for me.  Speak scripture.  Offer prayers.  Don't offer explanations, please.)

I'm rambling and I'll stop.  This man said it way, way better than I could anyway, in this frame of mind at least.

I should mention, though, my frame of mind is spot on for where it should be.  Diagnosing where I am in grief or if I am grieving appropriately is ridiculous, presumptive and arrogant.

I get the impression that people think this should not be as big a deal to us because losing Matthew was so much harder, and we are surviving and thriving... so a miscarriage at the beginning of the second trimester ought to be a piece of cake, right?

Been here, done that.

WRONG.  We've never lost THIS child.  We've never grieved THIS child.  We miss THIS child.

And Luke being enough is not the issue.

All of our children are precious.  Wanted.  Loved.

Loss is the issue.  Another loss.  Another child.

Another child lost.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Procedure And Providence...

I should just be upfront now.  I'm going to write about a D&C.  If you don't want to know what I think about it, stop reading.

It's awful.  It's horrible.  It's disrespectful and dishonorable and it makes me feel like I am the most horrible person on the planet.  I have no earthly idea how ANY person could purposely walk into a medical facility to 'terminate' a do this 'procedure' on a LIVING being with a heart beating.

And don't bother flaming me about my views, which are obviously very pro-life.  I'm not in a great mood and seriously, don't want to hear it.

I know that really, I had no choice.  If I waited to miscarry naturally (and there was no indication that was happening any time soon), it could be when Luke and I were alone.  I could lose too much blood.  I could put us both in jeopardy.  I could not take that chance.

I would have liked to be induced to deliver naturally, but again, to do so, would have put me at great risk. Considering I've had two c-sections in a little over two years, my doctors were concerned that even a small amount of pitocin to induce labor could have really been risky for uterine rupture.  That again would have put me at risk for too much blood loss, not to mention take any chances for future pregnancies off the table.

So it was the D&C.   Leaving my perfect little baby nothing but medical waste.

I admit before losing Matthew, suffering so many years of infertility, I had the audacity to say, "I'd even take a miscarriage if it would just prove that I could actually get pregnant."

Dear Lord in could I have ever, ever known how devastating this is?

I couldn't and I am so, so sad and ashamed of myself for ever thinking that.

After Matthew died, and I met so many women who suffered miscarriages, my heart just grieved for them.  Ached for the validation that I heard so many were lacking...the way they and their babies were just discarded...treated as if it was something that just happened and they had to suck it up and it wasn't even a big deal because it's not like the baby was really real or anything.

It was for the best.  God's way of saying the baby wasn't going to make it anyway.  Better to lose it early than later.


And I must, even at the expense of offending people who have been really, really supportive of us, must ask that people stop telling me God has a plan.

PLEASE.  Stop telling me that.

I know His plans for me.  They are NOT to harm me.  They are for my good.

Losing my babies has harmed me.  In a way that is indescribable and has forever changed me.

But I know ALL things work for my good.

Including the ones that hurt me...the ones I think He ALLOWS, but not necessarily wills.

Just ask Job about that.

Anyway, for the most ugly procedure I can fathom, I have to say that we were covered the entire day with so many prayers and wishes and thoughts and so much love.

Providence.  That's all I can say.  Dr. Shonekan has now been with me for the delivery of all three of my babies.  God love that woman.  She told John that it was obviously meant to be her...she rarely has her cell phone at work, but if she does, she doesn't keep her ringer on.  IF by chance, the ringer is on, she CERTAINLY would not answer the phone at work, and never while with a patient...yet she did have her phone and the ringer WAS on and she WAS with a patient, but a friend of hers who completely understood that my name coming up on her phone warranted her answering.  She was calm, as I was hysterical.  She arranged for me to be at the hospital the next day, though I've not even LIVED in St. Mary's county for nearly a year, much less seen her in that long.  Debby in her office told me that the scheduler at the hospital didn't even hesitate to just put me right on the schedule.

Our sweet Sarah...Sarah who visits my Matthew so much and shares so much with us... was working and came to stay with me some.  Our precious Margaret Ann...the angel who held my hand when I was delivering Matthew and prayed for him and for me as the nurses did CPR...she was with me as they wheeled me into surgery.  The amazing anesthesiologist who held my hand and took care of me when all the staff was scurrying to save Matthew was the one I prayed to God would be there again...and who do you think walked in and hugged me before he gave me the anesthesia??????

Our dear, dear friends Barb and Tamla came and stayed with us and prayed with us and were such salve to our hearts.  I know it's been almost a year since we've moved to NC, but honestly, it felt as if we had never left.

Again, nothing but pure providence.

Dr. Shonekan was able to save tissue from the baby.  Again, a D&C is an ugly procedure and it just hurts my heart to think of my precious little baby being scraped and sucked out of me.  Forgive the gruesome picture, but that's what it is.  I just cannot get the picture of the baby out of my head...curled with little hands and feet in front of it...just looking out...and then I go and destroy that perfectly formed body.  I am just devastated at the disrespect I feel I've given to my child.

And then providence stepped in again when Dr. Shonekan reminded me that we as humans feel like we can create and destroy...but only the Giver of Life can do that.  We just use processes as means to ends, but that precious little soul was with Him long before we followed through with what we felt was disgusting destruction.

We have been inundated with messages and emails and I just cannot emphasize how every single thought and prayer and sentiment of love sent has been so treasured.  I was not able to immediately feel enveloped (though we VERY much were) after Matthew died, but now with that perspective, I am so cognizant of aware of how it sustains us and has been used to give us peace like we really just don't understand.  My heart simply cannot speak enough gratitude, but know that it is overflowing.

That said, if you are praying for us, please continue and if I may, specifically pray that the tissue that was saved will be able to be cultured and give us chromosomal information.  I of course would like to know if there was anything chromosomal that was the cause of the baby's death, but more, I'd like to know with certainty whether it was a baby boy or baby girl.

I may have allowed its precious little body to be left as nothing but remains, but I am desperate to honor him or her with the name that will always be his or hers and maintain his or her unique and special and loved place in our family.

Make no mistake.  As I've said before, this was no blob of tissue, no almost-baby.

This was my child.  Will always be my child.  Will always be loved and missed by his or her mother and father.

Will always be honored as best we can.

It's the least I can do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Doesn't Feel Real...

I am definitely showing, especially because on a tiny woman, 3 months is pretty evident.

But the baby's gone.

I just pulled out all my maternity clothes because I just couldn't push my regular clothes any more.

But there's no heartbeat. We just saw it wiggling all over the screen two weeks ago. Yesterday, it was curled up in a little ball looking out.

We looked at cribs this weekend.

But I'm going to the hospital today and when I walk out, will not have the baby I walked in with safely tucked inside of me. Same hospital where I've already done that before... With Matthew.

I heard the heartbeat just a few days ago.

Now all my medical bills and paperwork will credit abortion to me. Such an ugly term. Then again, it's an ugly procedure.

I was sort of secretly hoping it would work out that this baby would be born in Maryland like his brothers.

Well, like one of its brothers, I am forced to leave the remains behind in St. Mary's county.

I have been feeling little kicks. I thought it was early, but I've lost some weight so thought it was possible. I still feel those little jabs. Cruelty. I felt phantom kicks after Matthew for nearly 6 months. I'm doing my best to take my lot, but FINALLY looking and feeling pretty pregnant only to find out that the baby is dead just seems cruel.

This does not feel real. John agrees. I just keep asking John, "Are you sure???? Was Dr. Sweeney sure???? Maybe it was just sleeping and we didn't look for it to move long enough????!"

Desperation, I realize, as John tells me again and again, "No, Lori. It's sure. Sleeping babies still have heartbeats."

"But maybe we just didn't look long enough for it??? Maybe since it was curled up, we couldn't see it????"

Dear God, please??????

There is no easy time to lose a baby. I've lost a baby fully-termed the day after he was born. Devastation doesn't do the emotion justice.

This baby had perfectly formed body parts. Little hands I dreamed of caressing. Little toes I dreamed of kissing. A heart beating. The same heart I dreamed would walk across a stage and collect a diploma. This was my third baby. Not some underdeveloped tissue. Not some organism not compatible with life.

My baby.
Another miracle.
Another blessing.

I refuse to use the word fair because there is no doubt that this world is UNFAIR!!!! But, that I have more babies in Heaven than in my arms is so unnatural.
So surreal.
So heavy.

I've said that losing Matthew has proven that I can survive just about anything. I've even been praying that if again, something awful were to happen, I'd be able to maintain my gratitude and appreciation for a good God who has given me so many precious blessings and so much happiness. Just three or four days ago, in my closet, on my knees, I cried to God, thanking Him for such an amazing, wonderful, joyous and happy life I live. Begging Him to not have me endure anything more, but telling Him that if I had to, I could trust that I'd survive and be ok and be happy again.

I promised that with Matthew too.

I can't lie. I don't know that I will be voicing those words any more.

I mean them.

I will do my best to adhere to them.

I look at Luke and know that God MUST be good to give me such a precious gift.

It just seems like every time I say the words, I'm given the opportunity to prove them.

This just doesn't seem real.
Sadly, though, I know that it is.

Real and permanent.
No negotiating.
No begging.

No more baby.

Monday, April 9, 2012

And Just Like That...

Sweet little Dash-3's heart stopped beating.

I don't know why, or exactly when.  We were just starting to pick it up consistently on the doppler last week...maybe Monday or Tuesday we heard it and it was great. Super strong.

We've not been able to hear it for the past couple of days, but just felt like it must be moving or it was still too early.

Surely, it was fine.

I'm good at being pregnant, right?

Guess we can strike that one from my list.

We went for our 1st trimester screening this morning at Dr. Sweeney's.  I knew as soon as the sonographer said, "This baby is all curled up like a little ball," that something was not right.

This baby was a wiggler.  A mover and a shaker.  It was NOT a curl-up-like-a-little-ball baby.

She kept trying to get it to move, but she knew.  Then she turned the heartbeat thing on and off very quickly.

No blood flow.  No movement.  No heartbeat.

Another dead baby...this one still inside of me.

Curled up.  Like a little ball.

I don't know that I'll be able to get that picture out of my mind.  It breaks my heart.  My baby curling up to let its heart beat for the last time...and I am powerless to save it.

I want to ask, "Why?" but there's no answer good enough, so I won't even bother, and really, would appreciate it if I wasn't offered any explanations.  As I've said before, knowing God has a plan and knowing WHAT the plan is are two different things.  I don't think anyone on this earth is qualified to tell me the latter, so I'll just ask that everyone refrain from telling me the former.

Someone asked me if I was just blindsided by this.

No.  Sadly, I'm not.  I've come to expect that the worst will happen, and when it doesn't, I am overjoyed and thrilled beyond thrilled.  I told John last week, "Well, at least if we hear bad news next week, it'll be at Dr. Sweeney's office, thank God."

Absolutely, thank God.  I cannot imagine finding this out anywhere else.

I don't need anyone telling me about my pessimism or any of that jazz.  It's not pessimism.  It's wisdom.  A good friend shared with me that wisdom is built on and from life experiences.  Revelation of how to live and deal with life experiences comes from God.  My wisdom is that my babies can (and do) die.

The revelation is that I survive.

When people say, "I can't imagine," it's really because they truly CAN'T seems impossible to survive the death of a baby, much less babies.

It sort of feels impossible.

But I know it's not.  I am doing it this very second.  We were going to visit Matthew today after we had a great ultrasound appointment.

Instead, we'll visit tomorrow after a D&C.

And I'll survive.

More, I'm still grateful.  I've said that even if I knew what would happen with Matthew, I'd do every.single.thing again, and didn't regret a second and I mean that.

I also mean it with this little lost life.  I am so grateful that I have been able to carry this baby for 12 weeks.  I am so grateful that I have been able to experience the sheer miracle that is conception and the viewing of a precious little heartbeat.  I was filled with joy watching it wiggle and move all over the screen two weeks ago, and I will forever be thankful that God chose me, yet again, to carry a precious little soul...even if just for a little while.

I have been reflecting on three IVF cycles...all three successful...three pregnancies...ONE carseat in the back seat.

One car seat more than I ever, ever, ever dreamed I would have.  How can I not be grateful beyond words for that precious car seat?  For three tests that have been POSITIVE?  For three opportunities to share our jubilation and joy with everyone we know?

For an infertile woman, that's more than I could ever have imagined.

And I am grateful.

My heart is full of sorrow, though.  I wanted this little one so much.  I was so excited about a first holiday season.  I even bought him or her a "My First Christmas" outfit a few weeks ago.

Like I said, no one needs to talk to me about pessimism.  I think buying a Christmas outfit for a baby who is only 7 weeks in utero is pretty positive.  I bought an awesome double stroller too.  Positive AND expensive.

Realistic though.  I sort of felt like the odds of something catastrophic happening after Matthew were sooooo much smaller, and that sort of made me feel a hair more secure about something happening to Luke.

But this was a different ball game.  Not back to back tragedy.

Just more tragedy to already wounded hearts.

Yet I know that unbearable grief and extravagant joy coexist.  That sweet boy of mine has been such a help to my heart today.  I was so blessed by the support at Dr. Sweeney's office.  I was able to immediately pick up the phone and call my wonderful Dr. Shonekan and she didn't hesitate a second to bring me in and take care of me.

We are surrounded by support and by God's providence and though my heart is just broken right now, I am able to see it in very tangible ways.

To be honest, I'm not sure what to expect with a D&C, and I'd rather not have one, but do not want to risk anything happening on its own while I am alone with Luke.  I have a good friend who waited to miscarry naturally, and her life was endangered because she'd lost so much blood.  While my personal preference would be to allow my body to naturally miscarry...I just cannot take chances with Luke.  This grieves my heart, but I feel like it's the best decision to be made in a situation with no good outcomes.

Thank you friends for all your thoughts and prayers.  Please know how much I truly believe they sustain us.  Know that we are doing ok, though obviously heartbroken, and continue to lift us—especially John.  Dads, and especially tough Marine dads, don't ever seem to get the support that we women do.  I guess some of it is simply the difference between how men and women function and relate, but I promise you that my husband's Daddy's Heart is broken and I wish I could do something about it.  So please, just pray for us, as you have already told us you are.  We cannot thank you enough.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I was reading my good friend Fran's blog today, and as I so often do when reading what she writes, I found myself very much nodding in agreement.  If you've not read it, you should.  Go here.

Anyway, many friends have been checking in on me because they are concerned that I've been having a rough time lately.

I have.  Between being sick for what seems like this entire pregnancy, taking care of a sick Luke for what seems like this entire pregnancy, and having lots of Matthew triggers, I really have.

As I've said, this pregnancy is very much like Matthew's, so that brings things up for me.  I've also been saddened by several moms I 'know' (or know of) who have come home to empty nurseries, and I remember that so vividly.  My heart hurts for them, but the PTSD flashbacks trigger me.

I've been invited to speak at a few different things, and that's put me in super-search mode to say just the right thing.  Rather, just what God wants to me to say.  Every time I rehearse something, I am taken right back there.

I'm excited and honored to be a contributing writer for the sure-to-be amazing Still Standing Magazine launching in May.  Writing for that and a few other projects also brings emotions to surface, and I want to be sure I write just the right thing...which is hard when there are a million and three things running through my head.

I'm sure pregnancy hormones don't help any of the roller coaster emotions, right?

All that aside, though, it's very important to be clear that I am ok.

Better than ok.

I'm great. 

I have a wonderful husband and am mother to precious sons and am privileged to spend every single minute with one of them.  I have another miracle on the way and we have some of the most amazing friends and family people could really ask for.  I spend my days doing things I only dreamed of for 10 years and honestly and truly am happy.

Someone left a very sweet comment that said she wasn't sure how I managed to protect Luke from all the grief I hide in my heart and that made me stop and think about it for a second.

First, like Fran said, I do not in any way, shape or form feel I am a victim.  I admit that after Matthew died, God and I were working out why I even bothered to keep praying because I felt like He was just going to do what  He wanted to do anyway...and doing my Beth Moore study this week totally addressed that!  (Isn't that just SO they way it works?!)

I got over that fairly quickly, though...well, somewhat quickly, I guess, because my precious friend Nanci reminded me that I prayed because God told me to and because I couldn't expect a relationship or any healing from someone I didn't even talk to.  She was very, very right.

And I don't, for one single second, believe that God purposely planned to break my heart.

My heart was broken, no doubt, but not because God made me His victim.

More, every single day is such a blessing to me.  I simply do not have the words to express how happy I am with my life.  It stings a bit to say that because it doesn't seem natural to be happy when you mother a grave, but I would just be doing such a disservice to my other son if I wasn't honest about how much joy he brings to our lives.  To my heart.  His little giggles are like magic glue that just seals every crack in my heart closed.  I do not even have to come close to trying to hide any grief from him because my body goes into automatic glee in overdrive proportions when I just look at him.

Again, I say, I am so blessed.

He's 15 months today.  I do not know how 15 months have passed, but I can say that I am so grateful for every single day with that amazing little boy.  He has 3.5 of his molars in, bringing the grand total for teeth up to 9.5.  He is now signing, "More, please," though "More" and "Please" are pretty much interchangeable for "I want" whatever.  He knows where many of his body parts are, and ours too, and he likes to regale us with all his little party tricks.  He loves playing outside and we've set a ton of stuff up in the backyard for him to just go crazy.  He has tons of words, though his favorites are still mama, daddy, doggy, bath, ball, Dixie, and lately, cracker!  The boy LOVES yogurt and crackers!  He's still a 'selective' eater, but I can get him to eat just about anything with yogurt or blueberry syrup, so yes...I'm making syrups because at least when I make it, it's just organic fruit and some boiled down sugar.  No preservatives or high fructose corn syrup, and I'm praying this selective eating is just a phase.

We visited the Easter Bunny today.  I didn't think he'd have anything to do with it, but he had just had a good nap and some pretzels (loves his breads!) and when we walked by, he started giggling insanely at the bunny.  He's all about stuffed animals these days, so maybe he thought the bunny was a big cuddly stuffed animal.  When in the bunny's lap, he was less happy, but a few silly faces and voila!  We were able to get a picture with a little bit of a smile.

That boy of mine.  I adore him.  Simply and with my entire heart...I adore him!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Some Days...

Some days feel like it was literally 10 minutes ago.

I just got the phone call.

John just told me he was gone.  Told me he was sorry.  Begged me not to leave him.

I just sat in the chair and stared for 3 hours while I waited for him to come back from Georgetown.

People just started to tell me they were so sorry...they didn't understand...they'd do whatever they could for us.

I just got wheeled down to the lobby...not holding my baby.  Instead, holding my bags...and a box with a couple of things his little body touched.

People were just looking at me...knowing something terrible must have happened to the catatonic-looking woman.

John just helped me into the car.

The empty car seat took up the whole back seat.

Adam and Charlotte came and held us and cried.

We had to go to CVS and get medicine.

We sat and waited for the prescriptions.  I was thirsty and opened a Sprite.

NO ONE KNEW.  The world kept going and NO ONE THERE KNEW MY SON WAS GONE.

It is impossible to me that my life was so, so drastically broken and shattered...but it was business as usual at the local CVS.

It's been over two years.

Some days, it feels less than twenty seconds ago.  My heart aches for him and I can hear and smell and remember every single thing from those days.

And then seconds later, I can't remember anything.  It's fuzzy.  It's blurry.

It hurts and I don't even want to think about it because I can't stop crying.

I'm still pulling out clothes bought for Matthew to let Luke wear.  18-24 months/2 T is the last tub.  Some days, I can't even take them out of the drawers.  I remember every place every item was bought.  Every happy and excited emotion that was behind the purchases I desperately waited 10 years to finally be making.

Some days, those emotions mock me.  Sting.  Shoot daggers right at my heart and scream, "One more thing he'll never see.  Never wear. He's never coming back."

I know he's not.

Some days, though, it seems like that sears my skin more than others.