Trigger warning: I talk in detail about miscarriage.
It's funny to think a little over a week ago I wasn't in the 2% (or 5% or 1% depending on the statistics you read) of recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). But I was already on my way there. As my numbers showed a week ago today, on Monday afternoon, the pregnancy was no longer viable. Friday I had received the exact opposite of results. But something in my gut felt off.
I was sitting in my office when my doctor called. I knew when he had called - it wasn't good. I vaguely remember the conversation. What little I do remember from my kind, compassionate doctors comments was "how are you?" and I wanted to yell "I'm not good if you're calling me", but I didn't. I said "ok" and then he gave me the results and went on to say some things along the lines of "we'll be doing a lot of testing over the next month - genetic, auto-immune, a biopsy of your uterus...". Being a healthcare professional - I've been the one who knows my words aren't being digested. He knew it. I wasn't hearing or digesting it at all. So then he simply said "I'll have the nurse follow up with you later".
Quickly thereafter my lead nurse and medical director were in my office surrounding me. We all had such hope for this pregnancy. I had to tell my husband over the phone as he walked into class.
We won't be having a May baby.
Just like we won't be having a December baby.
In the blink of an eye - we went from a miscarriage that could be written off by chance to the small percentage who has two in a row - no longer was it written off by chance.
I had to get through the rest of the day. I had an interview coming in and things to accomplish. So I put on my brave face for 3 more hours. Let our families know and my bosses know. But kept moving.
I kept moving until I couldn't anymore. Because at some point, you can't be strong anymore. I tried to convince myself - you're the only management right now you have to keep going. But I couldn't. And my wonderful bosses didn't expect me to.
The child you dreamed of, prayed for, hoped for is snapped away in the blink of an eye.
The bleeding started the next morning. It confirmed what my doctor had said the lab values indicated. Though it stayed light for several days. I didn't dare hope that he was wrong and the pregnancy would bounce back - but I did have the thought dance around in my head a little, but quickly shoved it back down.
I spent Wednesday through Friday off work. I couldn't handle work. I couldn't handle a lot. I still felt pregnant, yet I knew it wasn't viable. It felt like a cruel joke. I felt like an empty shell of a person. At one point I just had to call my friend who had been through 3 miscarriages to talk about how crappy it was. Because she get's it. And she sat there and talked about it with me.
The cramping and bleeding would start and stop until Friday evening when the full fledged miscarriage would start. It was a long night. About 2:30 AM what looked to be the sac finally passed. The cramps calmed down after that. But the grief didn't.
I'm honestly not certain I have ever been this angry at God. I'm not certain my faith has ever been so shaken. God - what are you doing? Why are you allowing this to happen? Why is my dream of being a mother being danced in front of my only to be snapped away like a cruel joke? I wrestled and yelled and cried.
Why would a good God allow this pain? What have I don't to deserve it? Why is the only thing my body does good about pregnancy is get rid of them?
I've come to a better spot, but still have moments of struggle. The funny thing was, I felt like God impressed on my heart "Finally, you're being honest with ME".
I shook my fist at Him and said "the word you gave me this year was HEALING, how is this healing?!". The tears just seemed to keep coming. For someone who doesn't cry - in fact I've gone years without crying - I couldn't stop crying. I'm not happy about it, but I felt Him impress on my heart "you don't have to hold back the tears anymore - that is healing".
I'm not sure I'm done wrestling, but I can say I've come to a better place. I'm not quite as angry, at least.
Healing - Steps Forward
Through my wrestling with God, He helped me to remember times I put my head down and fought through the tough stuff. The verse "The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still" kept popping up all around me.
I'm not exactly sure I know what being still is like. I'm kind of a mover and a shaker. But I'm trying to learn. I don't think being still in this verse is all about just sitting though.
Saturday night, my husband and I watched a movie that I was sobbing the whole time through. I then spent an hour reading others RPL stories. It made me feel not so alone. And I thanked my husband for just sitting in the yuck with me. I don't sit well, but he sat with me in the discomfort.
Sunday I spent the day reading about RPL research and work ups. I listened to podcasts on RPL and Rachel Hollis's podcasts on resiliency. And I became eternally grateful we are in the Chicago area. I became even more grateful for the physician we had been randomly paired with when I re-read his profile and that he had done extra training in RPL. And as I listened to the most up-to-date research on it, I heard my physicians plan and next steps aligning with it.
I thanked God for the house we recently were given the gift of buying. For the comfort of its walls through the pain. The backyard to sit in. The streets to walk.
We have a dream of a family. We don't know if it will happen in the way that we hope. But right now, we're willing to continue trying in that direction.
I share our story - not for sympathy, but because of the comfort I found in reading others stories. I hope that if this is bringing you comfort right now, knowing you're not the only one you know I wrote this for you. I also hope that if you are reading this to better understand what someone in your life is going through - that takes courage. It takes deep courage to step into the yuck.
So my husband and I rounded out our first week of being in the 2% by reading the book together my sister sent "Unexpecting" by Rachel Lewis. I'm thankful for others who have shared and written about the yuck of RPL. I'm eternally thankful for those researching and daily working to better understand. Oncology is the only field I've ever researched in depth, until now. I'm thankful for the people who have found this to be their life's passion and work.
And I'm thankful to learn what it may mean to "be still". - Being still means that I know, in act and deed that God is with me.
I don't think being still means doing nothing. I think it means knowing that He is there, with me, in the good and the bad.
He's there - fighting, even if I don't understand it or understand how. He's been fighting before I even knew I would be in this 2% through the research going on. He's been fighting in the constant progression and understanding going on within RPL.
So whether it's God or the universe you believe in - I hope you know that you aren't the only one to struggle. I hope you know that you are not alone. I hope you know how royally awful this is and it's ok to sit in the yuck and need time off work and to unfollow people on social media or stay off social media. It's ok to be angry and cry and to feel empty. It's also ok to laugh and smile. It's ok to need that friend or significant other to just sit with you. It's ok to need to hug your dog or cat and just need their comfort. It's ok to set boundaries for what you can and cannot handle. It's ok to protect your space. It's ok to need whatever you need.
I hope you know, it's ok to just be exactly where you are at.