I feel like my family lives by the mantra, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It’s how I’d describe my pa, who lived and farmed for decades with Parkinson’s. It’s how I’d describe my glorious aunt, Jane, who’s battled RA since her 20’s and powered through two knee replacements about fifteen years after she needed them. It’s how I’d describe my nanny, who had two toddlers and was 6w pregnant with my uncle when my grandfather died from an aneurism at age 31. There are others, but these three just exemplify it. The Lord won’t give you more than you can handle, and complaining gets you no where.
When I started this blog, it was to share my love of farming and food. Well, food, farming, and two more “f’s” (family and friends) have gotten us through the last month. At the bottom of this post, there’s a recipe that’s always helped me feel better.
So, here goes…
A couple months ago, I excitedly posted about welcoming our son this coming January and poured my heart out about an earlier miscarriage. I talked about us as humans going out of our way to NOT talk about infertility and miscarriages, and being scared to say the wrong thing when it happens to someone we know. I talked about not being ashamed.
And here we are again…
After a long month of trying to piece our world back together, a leave of absence from work, tons of support from our family and friends, a lot of crying, a social media break, and a bazillion appointments later: now I post about the day our world collapsed.
You see, we buried our baby on September 10th, 2018.
We’ve hurt more than I ever imagined we could. We’ve experienced being on the shit end of the “this happens less than one percent of the time” stick. We’ve prayed more than ever. We’ve had to explain to our precious munchkin why we don’t need that special onesie for see his brother. We’ve had to hide his big brother shirt.
I’m not sure how we’re even still standing.
So what the heck happened?
I went for an appointment all by my miss-independent-self at 16.5w. We laughed about not being able to pick a name, about the fact that my farming husband didn’t come to “normal” appointments, and that I really needed to pee. And then the ultrasound started and I immediately knew something was TERRIBLY wrong. My doctor held my hand as tears slid down my cheek. I walked out of the office and called my husband, unable to speak coherently, as I sobbed in agony in the hospital hallway. All I could get out was, “baby…. gone…. can….”
Hubs didn’t need me to finish. He was on his way.
I sat and waited for a second ultrasound in radiology. Alone. Silently crying, praying. I knew we were past asking for a miracle. I prayed for strength. A sweet lady went and asked for tissues; I wish I could’ve told her thank you.
Angela, who does my doctor’s “big” ultrasounds, took me back. She doesn’t know it, but it made me feel better that it was her and not a stranger that day. It was even more obvious that there was no heartbeat. I said I didn’t want pictures, but then I saw his sweet face and quietly told her I needed to change my mind. She gladly listened, and managed to be professional yet compassionate.
Hubs got to the hospital. We immediately went back upstairs to meet with my spectacular doctor. With tears in his eyes, our doctor explained what he knew we could do (induce and deliver) and what he hoped we had as an option (a surgical procedure called a D&E). We talked with the specialists at Roanoke Memorial in his office and they told us they were able to do the latter procedure – I just had to choose.
So on our worst day… when we were landslided, having no idea this would/could happen….we now had to choose the best option out of the worst options.
I can’t tell someone what to do in this horrendous situation. I only know that after we prayed and talked, we went with the surgical option. And the next day my best friend shared her co-worker’s nightmare (also 16w), who had only been given the first option….then four days of labor later, the doctors agreed to do the surgical option she’d never been offered.
I. Can’t. Imagine. I just can’t.
So, it put me at peace with our decision. We wouldn’t be able to look at our son, but we would be able to bring him home.
(There are some that I know would choose, and have chosen, to deliver…some who will probably not understand how we could make the decision we did. All I can say is, the choice we made was the best we could come up with for our family – and that’s all anyone can do. Neither option was part of our fairytale.)
So, two days later we drove more than two hours to get to the hospital in Lexington, where the doctor who would perform the procedure placed rods in my cervix to force me to dilate. It was excruciating.
The next day, Hubs drove us to the hospital. It should’ve taken less than an hour for the procedure. It took almost three. And I walked out with a flat stomach and a complete feeling of loss.
Our precious, wanted, loved son.
And this is where he’s buried… along the fence, within sight of our bedroom window.
And that night I cried more than I can ever remember.
It’s been a month.
And the tough get going.
It doesn’t mean I don’t still cry at night while Hubs holds me. It means we’re choosing to embrace this path we’re on. It doesn’t mean my body doesn’t literally ache for what should have been. It just means I’m having to take better care of myself. It doesn’t mean we’re ever going to forget. It just means we’re choosing happiness.
So, so, so many people have reached out. We’ve talked with others who have shared similar losses, and it makes us feel less alone. Some have been too scared to reach out. I get that too.
There have been joys, like our quick family getaway to Pigeon Forge.
And there have been lows: going back to work, CAREFULLY choosing which clinics I visited, so I wouldn’t have to explain why I’d been out for a few weeks, then getting asked the “why were you out on medical leave” question at the VERY FIRST place. (I actually don’t mind talking about it with the people who already know, it’s having to start from scratch with a new person that gets to me for whatever reason.) Or having to explain to Munchkin why he can’t see his brother and watching him get angry because he just doesn’t understand.
But during the lows, we’ve continued to feel enormous support. Cards with sweet notes have come at opportune times. My work team sent me an acorn and a pot. Funny at first, but now that it’s growing and the first leaf is about to bloom, it makes me happy.
I can’t allow myself to drown, but I do allow myself to cry. Only when I’m alone:)
My wish for those that have never gone through this is this: I hope you never do. And I hope this helps you understand what it’s like.
My wish for those that have, or will, go through this: that you know you’re not alone, and you use the tough opportunities to build you…not break you.
And when sadness overtakes you…try Nanny Texanna’s pineapple upside down cake. It’s my great-great-grandmother’s recipe, and it makes even the saddest moments a little more joyful.