Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Precious Pain

This beautiful little stitchery was made for Mercy by her Aunt Kelly. We love it!

My previous post got increasingly difficult to write, and I'd find myself staring at it or doing something else in hopes that if I didn't write it, somehow it wouldn't have to be our reality; but I also find comfort in writing it all down, which gives my baby's short meaningful little stint on earth credence and a magnitude in our hearts that will linger, well, FOREVER.

After my 13 week appointment, when I saw little peanut waving about, I was once again assured that everything was going as planned and felt great confidence and comfort in that little person. Shortly after we found out we were pregnant, David found an "app for that" (which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows my darling husband!) on his phone that gave us week by week progress on our baby. Included in the app were comparisons of food (mostly fruit) so we could know roughly how big our little guy was every week....we always got a kick out of our Tuesday notifications, when I'd get a text from David "oh, he's a blueberry!" or "Your son is the size of a kumquat....how big is that exactly?" (And ps we ALWAYS called the baby a boy....kind of just had that in our heads and went with it! We knew if it was a girl we would love her to pieces, but never really entertained that it would be a girl!) Our kiddo progressed from a blueberry to a grape to a kumquat to a fig to a lime to a shrimp to a lemon

and finally an apple! Very appetizing child! The morning of my last appointment (not having any idea it would be my last) David kissed me goodbye as he left for work and I asked if he was going to kiss "the apple" goodbye, to which he put his mouth right next to my stomach and said "I'm gonna eat you for breakfast! Love you kid." My eyes were wide and he laughed as he told me he was grabbing an apple to eat on the way to work! What a nut!
That was week 15, right on the dot. Tuesday October 11th. The worst day of my life.

A perfect apple...just about the same length as our baby at week 15.

Backing up, about a week before, I had had some random symptoms I believed to be related to a yeast infection. Listen, if that's too graphic for you, I'm sorry; but this is also my journal so it's going to be honest so I can remember all my details! Anyway, I called the office and was told I could try some over-the-counter medication to try to cure it. Started using this 7-day cream and was in such agonizing pain by day 3 that I was in tears and told my husband "never again"! Of course that was Friday night so I couldn't call the doctor's office until Monday morning and when the nurse told me to make an appointment for the next day, I felt relieved that I would get seen. Later I talked to that same nurse on the phone who told me after my appointment she had gone into the exam room to talk to me and I was gone. She was so sorry and said she thought she'd get in trouble for bringing me in for a yeast infection; but knowing what had happened, she guessed she was inspired for having me make that appointment...and I thought so too. I was grateful she was so inspired.

Back to Tuesday morning, I drove to American Fork for my 9:40 am appointment wearing my one and only maternity outfit that I had purchased the week before. That soft stretchy waistband wasn't nearly as stretched out as I was hoping it would get, but it felt great to be in comfortable clothes! My husband had gone to work, kissing the apple on his way out, and was waiting for my call to let him know how the appointment had gone. I had talked to my friend who had heard of some possibilities of problems that would cause the symptoms I had been experiencing and my mind went to the worst-case scenarios I could face. Nah, I thought, it won't be that bad. I was led to an exam room and met with Dr Greg Bean who chatted with me about my symptoms and assured me that what I was experiencing was quite normal for pregnancy, and that I would be fine. As we chatted, he examined my tummy and used the doppler to check my baby. He asked about my moods and if I was emotional, which was the exact moment I started to cry. He asked if I cried in anger, sadness or just when someone asked about my emotional state :). One to always cry when I'm angry, I chose option #3 and said I was just concerned about my appointment. When he couldn't find the heartbeat on the doppler, he suggested we go to the ultrasound machine in another room. I followed and noticed that the machine was different than it had been previously; he said it was the "dinosaur" they had to use cause their good one was getting repaired. The picture on this one was too grainy, so we paraded to yet a third room. This final room had the big screen and the most high-tech ultrasound machine yet. He hit the lights and scanned the wand across my gelled abdomen....there was my baby, and I was again comforted by his (or her) presence. Then I realized there wasn't much movement. Dr Bean said something to the effect of "This isn't good, Melanie." "Uh oh; what is it?" And as soon as I said that, I knew. "There isn't a heartbeat." My world stopped cold as he led me from this room to another, empty, one.
Just like me.

He got me a chair and crouched down across from me. He apologized. Then he told me what he said were the most important things I needed to hear; "Number one--there is nothing you did to cause this. Nothing. Number two--this is not your fault. Number three--this is NOT your fault." As he was telling me this and I was crying, but without tears, I thought, "Of course this isn't my fault. I know it isn't." I appreciated what he was trying to do, but my mind knew there wasn't anything I did to cause my baby's heart to stop beating. Yet as the days have gone by, there hasn't been one that I haven't thought about those words and realized his great knowledge about this kind of situation...because I have felt guilty for what I did or didn't do; ate or didn't eat; take or didn't take during my pregnancy and that little seed of doubt pops in and I wonder if only I had done something different that baby would still be alive inside me. But Dr Bean is not only an OB/GYN, that man has a master's degree in psychology and boy did that get proven to me through that advice! And boy am I grateful for his brilliance!! And that's why he gave that advice to me, exactly on the heels of his apologizing that my baby was gone.

And as he was talking, the next thing I remember was thinking "You just said this to "Sundee....and now you're saying it to me; no heartbeat." My dear sweet friend and coworker, Sundee, had been sat down in this same office 5 weeks earlier with the news that her twin boys didn't have heartbeats. It had been tragic for all of us, and although I had spent some time with her, discussing her experience, I had shed tears with her but had no idea how bad it really hurts. I had never thought it would be my fate too. And now Dr Bean was telling me that it was. He told me we can go over to Labor and Delivery right then and start the process of inducing, because at 15 weeks I was too far along for a D & C; but that it would be a bad idea, psychologically. He offered to have us come back every day if we wanted to, to get other ultrasounds to be sure that this was what we had to do; he said we had to make our decision based on the fact that it was the right thing to do, not because he said so. He said he was on call again on Friday and that I could go in any day to be induced but that he'd be happy to assist me on Friday if I wanted. He gave me the room for as long as I wanted but all I needed was to leave and call my husband. Caring and professional, he led me out and told me I didn't even need to check out at the desk.

I held it together until I reached the sidewalk outside and dialed David's number. When he answered I just sobbed, "There's no heartbeat." as I crouched over and held my stomach, as if to shield my baby from hearing the news. I had to say it several times for it to sink in. He said he was coming home and asked if I was okay to drive or if he needed to pick me up. I assured him I was okay to drive, but don't know if I would make the same decision again....I sobbed all the way home to Draper. I had to call my manager to tell her I wasn't going to be able to work. I called my Mom. She told David later that she wouldn't have known it was me except she saw caller ID. It wasn't me though, really, it was a woman whose heart had also stopped back in that dark ultrasound room; a woman whose life had momentarily become meaningless as her baby's spirit had left her womb. A woman in true, agonizing grief.

I walked quietly into our house and saw my strong husband standing in the kitchen waiting for me. He didn't say a word as I melted into his arms. He just stood there, rocking me and holding me tightly as sorrow escaped my body. He tried to shield me from seeing the fridge, where our only pictures of our tiny one were; he knew seeing those black and white ultrasound pictures would break me even more. He was right. I sobbed even more when I saw them. And the perfect lemon we had bought to commemorate our little one a few days earlier. After a few wordless moments, he simply said to me "I love you more now than I did 10 minutes ago." Even now, an eternity later (even though it's only been 3 weeks), I can't recall that memory without tears running down my face, as he lies asleep next to me, and I realize that our sweet baby's death brought us closer together and made us even more in love than we previously were! Amazing kid.

We spent the rest of the afternoon with my parents, who had come straight up after receiving my call. Now, my mom isn't one of those moms who immediately takes over her kid's life or push or assume her way into a situation; she loves to be involved but allows her children to dictate the pace in which she enters and how involved she will be. That day, she simply asked where I was, where I was going and said she'd be right up. I was so incredibly grateful that she knew I was in no position to ask or demand or decide ANYTHING so for her to just be there; priceless. I was loving her and Dad so much that day! I sat on our couch between my parents and rested my head on my Mom's shoulder and held my Dad's hand as David cleaned the kitchen (we all handle grief differently!) It was a special, somber few hours.

Then there was the pickle situation. I had craved pickles during my pregnancy and had even smuggled a baggie-full into the BYU football game the week before. So we went to Jimmy John's for a sandwich after awhile and I was strong to not cry as I ordered. Then the guy asked me if I wanted a combo....so I asked if it came with chips. He said "Either chips or a cookie or a pickle". And I lost it. Completely. I turned to David and cried into his chest as he rubbed my back and told me, "Go sit down, Baby; I'll get you a cookie." My Mom made a comment that made me cry even more. She said it's really hard to be so heartbroken and to look around and see people going on living their lives like everything is ok; they don't even know your heart is breaking. People just go on living.

Later that day my husband took me on a ride, to get out of the house mostly, which I don't know if that was more for him or for me. It was a beautiful day outside, the sunset created such amazing colors. I looked out the window up at the sky and felt peace, that even in this complete heartbreak, we would be alright. We would actually live through this, as hard as that was to believe. We ended up at my sister, Bonnie's house. Her family didn't know yet so we pretended we were just out on a drive...it felt nice to pretend everything was ok...for about 5 minutes. Then when Bonnie asked how we were, I blurted out, "We're sad." as I broke down and told them why. We had a nice cry, my sister and I :). David and I went to bed that night, exhausted and emotionally drained, and praying that morning would wake us from our nightmare. I remember him pinching my arm in the hopes it would wake us both up. It only got him a punch in the arm :(.

Wednesday I went to my dear friend Rhianne's house for a luncheon with friends, cause they knew I needed it. I will forever be grateful for their love and friendship and even their tears...I think we all made a little Tear Soup that day... It was nice to just lay on her couch staring off into nothing, listening to my friends talking and laughing. Total comfort. Those grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade tomato bisque soup, and cookies cured so much that day.

Mmmmm....grilled cheese and tomato bisque! Comfort food at its finest!

Thursday I can't really remember what I did, but I do remember absolutely dreading Friday. I just knew it was going to be the worst day of my life. My sweet David had moved everything that spoke of our preparation for this baby so I wouldn't see it. Good man. That night we had our friend and neighbor come over, not knowing what was happening with us, and was so compassionate and kind when she found out. We chatted on our couch about her recent breakup and our recent heartbreak (it was so nice to listen to her talk, it almost made my brain quiet down. Almost.) Then we had an appointment with our Bishop and were comforted in his presence; his first comment, after I'm sorry, was that we'll be blessed with more children. Those words really helped. I asked him to give David a blessing, which he did, and I appreciated that. David had given me a beautiful blessing of comfort the night before but no one had given HIM one....and I know we were both grateful for a sensitive Bishop.

When we got back after visiting Bishop Layton, our front door was covered in hearts. On most of them were written words of love;

"You are loved",
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding",
"God loves you",
"Fear not let your hearts be Comforted",
"You are SO strong!",
"....The Lord knoweth ALL things....."
"For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, fear not; I will help thee.",
"Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?...."

And we did know that we were in the hands of God and that He would comfort, protect and love us through this situation...no one knows more than Heavenly Father the pain and sacrifice it is to lose a child, so who better to sustain us when we were losing ours? We SO appreciated our heart-attackers....and knew EXACTLY who they were :) Truly blessed in our friends.

Mercy's great grandmother, from whom she got her name
Echo Mercy

EAs we snuggled in bed that night and prayed that our strength would be sufficient to sustain us the next day, and anticipated it being the worst day of our lives, we felt peace and warmth. We also discussed baby names....we had one picked out for a boy, because we thought that was a sure thing, for some reason! But I also had this quiet thought pop up every now and then that it was going to be a girl...so I told David we needed a name for her too! When we first found out we were expecting, we discussed names for either gender, and had gone through grandparents' names to see if there were any we felt a special bond to. My mom's mom was Echo Mercy and David immediately liked Mercy. We never talked about it again...until that night when he said, "How about Mercy?" and without thinking I replied, "Mercy Faith". My husband smiled and that was it!

About Me

My photo
I am daughter, sister, friend, counselor, coworker, niece, caretaker, and world-famous aunt (well, maybe not yet, but someday I will be!) And in September I added wife and stepmother to my titles....I'm loving these new ones! In October 2011 I became a mom to an angel baby, Mercy Faith, whose wings took her straight back to heaven. November 2012 we had the unparalleled joy of becoming the parents to our sweet baby girl, Journey Rose, who has added love, joy and amazement to our lives! I try every day to be kinder, stand higher, love deeper, laugh harder and dream bigger than the day before. One of my favorite sayings is "Women who behave rarely make history". So with that in mind, I do my best to BE, STAND, LOVE, LAUGH and DREAM with a mischievious smile on my face and a wink in my eye! I love my life...in short, it's everything I never knew I always wanted...