By Rebecca Godlove — Pediatric Alliance, Chartiers/McMurray Division
Several months ago, I shared about my weight-loss journey, which culminated in my completion of Pittsburgh’s Great Race. Although it was difficult to push my body when I didn’t feel like it, and it was difficult to limit my calorie intake when all I really wanted was a Big Mac, I pressed through. (Sometimes I did give up and I ate the Big Mac – I won’t lie!) These past few months, though, my body has gone through a lot more than when I was training for the race.
At the end of December 2013, I was three months pregnant.
Although pregnancy is supposed to be a time of joy, anticipation, and wonder, thing have been a little different for my husband and me. In the past few years, we have suffered three tragic miscarriages; we have no living children yet. Our faith, friends and family have carried us through the grieving process, which is, of course, different for each person experiencing it. For us, it included giving names to the children, even though we hadn’t known their sexes. I also purchased some inexpensive jewelry with what would have been their birthstones. It reminded me that it’s okay to miss them, but I will see them again someday. Something else that helped me a lot, though some people might consider it unusual, was openly blogging about my losses immediately after they happened. It really allowed me to work through the first wave of feelings that washed over me. Seeing the words in black and white helped me begin to accept my own sorrow, shock, fear, and disappointment — an important step in recovering from those feelings. I later learned that some of my friends recommended the blog to their friends who had miscarried, and my transparency helped them cope with their losses. I hadn’t realized how powerful my words were until then!
Anyone who has experienced a loss like this understands that it is an absolutely devastating experience. It was especially hard being surrounded by pregnant friends, and friends with newborns, although I am fortunate that they were all quite sensitive and respectful of my emotions. The losses were made even more difficult because of dismissive “care” I had received from my OB-GYN. I made the decision to change doctors, and in early 2013 I was sent for several tests to determine what, if anything, was wrong. We received good news and bad news. The good news was that I had no blood disorders, no thyroid problems, and no heart problems, and my husband and I both possessed no chromosomal abnormalities that would lead to pregnancy loss. The bad news was that no one could determine why we were losing our babies! We were gently told that, because all of the test results were normal, our chances of carrying our next child to full term were actually about as good as a couple trying for the very first time. It was, medically, a green light to try again. My body was ready, but, emotionally, we weren’t quite there.
Several months later, after a lot of prayer and consideration – and making sure we got in one last spectacular husband-and-wife-only vacation to DisneyWorld – we decided we were ready.
On Halloween Day, we saw that little pink plus sign. Trick or treat?
I had expected that I would feel a lot of fear and anxiety when I got pregnant again because of my troubled history. Instead, I felt peaceful and a little excited. This time felt different; it just seemed right, like it was finally our time. Everything was lining up for this pregnancy to be successful. I took things day by day, trying not to think too hard about the hundreds of changes going on inside my body. We told a few people immediately so that we would have a support system for the months ahead, but we tried to keep things relatively quiet for the time being.
Then, in the middle of November, I started to bleed, and I was terrified. My mind throbbed with the possibility of losing yet another child. I remembered hearing stories of women who had endured six and seven losses before bearing a child. Was I going to join their ranks? I was sent for an ultrasound and was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma – a very fancy phrase for a bleed in my uterus. The good news, I learned, was that, although bothersome, these types of hematomas very rarely cause complications or miscarriage. They’re just annoying – and scary! Still, I was cautious, and I appreciated that my doctor was, too, putting me on pelvic rest until the hematoma diminished. The trouble was, I wasn’t able to exercise during that time. At first, I thought – woo-hoo! An excuse to relax and put my feet up! But then I realized I really missed my daily walks. They had not only become a time for me to take care of my body, but also for me to have 50 minutes entirely to myself. To think about writing, or life, or my plans for dinner. Or nothing at all! Still, if it increased the baby’s chances of being healthy – even in the least – it was worth it. (It helped a lot that my sweet husband has been very helpful with the household chores during this time!)
Happily, on the day after Christmas for my follow-up appointment, the doctor confirmed that the hematoma had shrunk dramatically. It was almost imperceptible on the sonogram. I almost cried with relief. The doctor smiled and said that every time he saw me, he was increasingly confident that things were progressing well. In fact, I was “promoted” from seeing him every two weeks to seeing him once a month. That was the best Christmas gift I could have gotten!
So, here we are and I am past the four-month mark. This is uncharted territory for me. We’re still trying to take things one day at a time, but with each day that passes I am growing more confident that this baby is going to be healthy. I’m allowing myself to mentally plan a baby shower (pink everything, since I think it’s a girl!). I’m allowing myself to look at maternity clothes. I have a support group of amazing women, some of whom have miscarried and some who have not, who are regularly asking me about my health and the baby’s, and who are a wonderful source of encouragement and hope. It helps so much to know that I am daily in the thoughts and prayers of my friends, who want us to have this baby as much as we do!
I look forward to keeping you updated as I journey from miscarriage to motherhood!