Saturday, March 22, 2008

Loss, New Life, and the One Who Conquers All

*Warning* This is gonna be long. You may have already read parts of it. It's personal...a kind-of pregnancy testimony of sorts...and it's not for the feint of heart. If you are pregnant, just don't read it. It's also late and I'm tired, so it may have some typos or whatever. Yeah. Just ignore all the imperfections in my posting!

This year I feel such a torn spirit around Easter. I still have my child-like sadness that Jesus had to die for us. Yes, I am happy and thankful that he loved us so much. But God's only Son..His child, His creation..put to death for us. I look at sons, my babies, my loves. Oh, it makes you want to scream at the injustice of it all.

But Jesus is the only one who passed the test. He lived a perfect life before his Father and people. He offered his perfect life as a sacrifice for all of us imperfect people. And then He ROSE. Yes, he ROSE and defeated death. Now, the resurrected Jesus offers his righteousness and life to all who trust him as their savior. I try to teach this to my kids every year. Easter is about JESUS!! Sure, we still do the egg thing, but we talk about how the eggs represent new life...our new life from Jesus.

Which brings me to another point. Life. New life. I've always heard that loss is the hardest around holidays. It is for me this year, for several reasons. Oliver was born right around Easter last year. And I had one beautiful precious baby boy...but I should have had two in my arms.

I've written this out, in length, at one other time, but I'm going to recap here.

We've had a lot of loss. This is our 11th year of marriage. We've grown up a lot, and really become strong as a couple. In psychology classes, I learned so much. I really took them to better understand myself and my past, not so much because I had any intention of ever pursuing the field. At any rate, tragedy usually either brings a couple closer or it tears them completely apart. There isn't a lot of middle ground. It may seem grayish for awhile, but eventually it will head down one of these paths. So you have to be determined in the beginning that every trial will result in you clinging tighter to your spouse.

We lost our first baby in 1997. I was devastated and blamed myself. Nobody knew, but Fred, and that made it so much harder. I was young, people wouldn't care, or so I thought.

Within 6 months I was pregnant again. At 9 weeks I started spotting. We lost another baby. This time people knew. We had JUST told everyone. That was hard, because we were already being questioned for having a baby soon. I felt like people were relieved that it would be awhile. Relieved over the death of my child? And maybe I was just consumed by my own shame and hurt. I still felt like this must be a result of my own actions somehow. I had brought this pain and punishment on myself.

In 1998 I got pregnant a third time. I was terrified. I ate all of the right things, exercised diligently (but not too strenuously,) I gave up caffeine and most medications except for Tylenol. I was determined to "be good" and make everything right. I pleaded with God to give me the baby, and I assured him that my punishment was already great enough. I did not know God as I do now. I did not know that He was in pain with me, comforting me, holding me up through it all.

God gave me a wonderful doctor (I thank God for your husband regularly, Trish.)
Isabelle was born in 1999-- a beautiful and completely healthy baby. The child never seemed to sleep and demanded my every moment, but I was totally content with that. My life revolved around her.

In the summer of 2000, after Isabelle had just turned 1-year old, I began having VERY sharp pains one day. I called Fred at work and asked him to come home. The pains got worse and worse. I went to my local doctor and, after some tests, he came in and said that I was having a miscarriage, and I should go home and rest. I was SHOCKED. I had no idea I was even pregnant. I had to call my husband from the office and tell him, and have him pick me up. Well, the pains got worse and worse. Fred carried me to the car that night and took me to the ER. After an ultrasound, they said the same thing and sent me home. I was right back within an hour. Finally, after more ER visits, a doctor had the sense to do an exam....(Hix, if you know him. He may have saved my life.) My cervix was closed. I was NOT having a miscarriage. But I went into shock and had to have immediate surgery. My right fallopian tube was bursting from an ectopic pregnancy. I'll make an already long story shorter, and just tell you that the right tube was removed and the left cleared itself-- yes, I had TWIN ectopics. That is unheard of. I had NO risk factors.

Needless to say, I was devastated. I hadn't even known about the babies, and now they were both gone. And what should have been outpatient surgery lasted for several days b/c I was over-sensitive to the pain meds and I was unconscious for 30 hours after surgery! I woke up to a pregnant nurse. Oh, the pain.

After all of the problems, my doc gave me a 50% chance of having more kids. I had one fallopian tube left, and it was damaged...

It's getting late (and LONG), but I'm going to finish the story. Maybe it will be therapeutic.
That was 2000...I'd been married for nearly three years and I had one baby girl, and had lost 4 babies already.

That winter I found out I was expecting again. On Christmas Day I started bleeding. We rushed to the ER and they did an ultrasound. We were losing one baby--yes, twins again! When you lose one, the chances of miscarrying the other are higher. We prayed, we hoped... I was so scared through that pregnancy... but God heard me cry out to Him... and my precious Ethan was born the following August, in 2001.

So 2001-- I'd been married for 4 years, I had 2 children, and I had lost 5.

In 2003 we lost another baby. It was early. I had just found out. I was going to school full-time and I had two toddlers. I sometimes wonder if it was the stress. After that I decided to get a 5-year IUD. That was a horrible mistake. I bled NONSTOP for 3 months after having it put in. I became anemic and sick. They removed it in January, and I was going to start the pill with the first cycle. The cycle never came...because I had gotten pregnant within days of having the IUD removed. I was still in school full-time, and scared beyond reason that I could lose the baby. At this point, I was obviously a high-risk pregnancy, so my specialist had me come in every three days for ultrasounds. Talk about stress! I relaxed a bit at the 3-month mark. It was a great pregnancy. I was due on Halloween and Trevor was born on November 6th, 2004. At this point my doctor was advising that Fred not even look at me, lest I become pregnant immediately again.

2004-- I had been married for 7 years then, had three beautiful children, and had lost 6.

In 2006 I found out I was expecting again. I waited several days and took three tests before I told Fred. October was the first person to find out. In fact, she bought the second ...and third pregnancy tests for me.

I knew Fred would be happy and excited...but I also knew that we were both scared, we had no money, and I had already postponed finishing school. We were homeschooling and living on a shoestring (still are.) Of course, Fred WAS excited. And scared. We started our every-3-day trips to the OB. Things looked good. Of course, we were very happy and surprised (and scared beyond reason) to be expecting twins again!! They must run in my family somewhere.

This time we got photos of the twins. We started contemplating names. I liked Grant, Adele Lillian, Simon, maybe Oliver and Olivia if they were boy/ girl. It was too early to tell yet. At nearly 3 months, we lost one. An ultrasound showed a problem. We prayed and asked friends, family, our church to pray. But then I bled, raced in, and it was too late. To say that it was upsetting and tragic to us is an understatement. I went on and smiled. I pretended everything was okay. After all, it looked like one baby would be okay, right? But I began to get depressed and couldn't seem to shake the mournful, but hopeful, unnerving, jittery feelings creeping over me. I wanted to be excited about being pregnant again, because I WAS, but I was also so sad for our loss and so scared. Yet I need to be strong for the kids. They shouldn't feel my sadness and my burden. School must continue. Mommy must still "be there" for them.

I prayed constantly for our baby that was left. And he was okay, thank You, God. Oliver was born last April.
This year-- we will celebrate 11 years of marriage. We have four beautiful children, and we have lost 7.
Fred had a vasectomy after Oliver was born. We just couldn't handle losing any more, and Fred said he couldn't handle losing me, if I were to have another ectopic... they are so much more likely after you've had one.

Before I end this, let me just say, when someone loses a baby, just hug them and say how sorry and sad you are. Do NOT say "at least you still have one." Do NOT say "it must have been for a reason" or "something must have been wrong with that baby." Just simply pray for them and tell them that you are praying.

And I will delete any unkind comments to this. I did try birth control, and I don't blame that on my miscarriages. I did want all of my children, and I would have happily had more if I was financially able. I miss my children. I look at Oliver and Ethan, knowing that they were both twins. Will they "feel" that some day? Should I tell them? And when? I kept all of my ultrasounds. I have a tape of beating hearts. And sometimes I just ache for closure, and don't know how to get it. The children I have are just miracles to me. They are absolute miracles, gifts from God.

I do love Easter. I love that God defeated death for us. I know my children are with their heavenly Father. Jesus died to give us all life. I've accepted that gift, with a desperation and urgency...sometimes I just forget how badly I want to see Him and be with Him, and how much I appreciate all He has done for me. And then I remember and it all floods back over me. I want to keep this passion all the time, not just when I am flooded with emotion.

Frankly, sometimes a picture really does say a thousand words. I saw some lovely pictures earlier of beautiful twins boys. So here is my baby boy, when he was about a month old and we were at a homeschool field trip. He was in the baby Bjorn, and Isabelle leaned in to look at him, right as I snapped the picture. Awww...

This God of ours, who gives life and gives it, isn't He awesome? And then to defeat death! He rose, and conquered all sin and evil in the world, simply because He-- the maker of the universe-- loves US that much. Takes your breath away, doesn't it?


Rhinehart Land said...

Wendy, God has a plan, and is rocking your babies in his arms. What a special place they are now. You have 4 amazing children and I know that they love their mom and dad so much. We lost twins, so I totally understand your hurt and pain. This post is beautiful! Happy Easter!

Jerri Dalrymple said...

I know this may not provide much comfort NOW, but one day you will hold ALL your children! What a wonderful time that will see and hold all of your children together!!!
I have only lost one child, but I think of him/her often, especially around the time of the loss. There's a very special pic that we have of us and I didn't know until after we had developed those pics (back in the day of film) that I was pregnant. It's painful to look at and realize what I didn't know and what was to come.
You are right...there really are no words...but I love you, God loves you, your children and Fred love and adore you... I pray for your peace. Enjoy this day that the Lord has made! :0)

The Shan said...

I have NEVER heard such a story! It is amazing how easily you got pregnant and SO pregnant(twins more than once). Does this overactivity have a name I wonder? I cannot imagine the pain of multiple loss like that. I look at my one birth as a miracle and I know that your 4 definitely are! You seem like a wonderful family. :) Praise Him!

Simply Stork said...

I have always been drawn to that I love it even more...thank you for sharing your story...and thank you for not loosing your faith in the process the Lord has brought you through!!!! :o)


Adelia said...

I just love you...all that makes up you...(Hugs)!!!

WendyJanelle said...

Thanks, guys. I don't usually post stuff of this nature. I just don't want to be one of those please-feel-sorry-for-me people. But it was a struggle initially, and I appreciate the prayer.
Last year we came home from the hospital two days before Easter. My, how the time has flown by!!
This was a wonderful day for us, full of games, family, worship. I hope it was for you and your families as well. :-) Hugs to all.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing like having a baby...and there's nothing like losing a baby. You have to remember what an encouragement you were to me. I remember...there for me at the loss of one and still there at the birth of the next. Your pain is a salve to many others. I'm praying for God to give you complete peace. I love you!

Arato Girl said...

I love all your family so much.

Anonymous said...

Wow Wendy.
What an incredible journey you and Fred have been on! I had no idea you all had experienced so much loss in your "short" time together! Such a gentle reminder that we never know the road that another one has traveled.

Praise the Lord for keeping you and Fred on the same path! You both are a testament to His faithfulness!

Ann-Marie said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through this. I love what an amazing person you are, that you'd be so transparent to share it with all of us.

Hugs from me, too.

Mandy said...

Oh Wendy, I had no idea... I am so sorry. It's amazing to me how cheerful and full of the spirit you are in spite (or possibly because of) all you've been through. I cannot imagine your heartache... when you spoke of having the ultrasounds of the lost babies.. my heart broke. To see them there, yet never hold them in your arms... it doesn't seem fair. Everyone is right that you'll hold them ALL one day. I have a lot to learn from you about peace and being full of the holy spirit. I just don't know how I would be if I had walked in your shoes. You are amazing!

WendyJanelle said...

"cheerful and full of the spirit"
Wow. Thanks. I think that is one of the best compliments anyone has ever given me!

(Besides my kids saying I'm their hero, that beats everyone hands down! ;-) )

You all are an amazing comfort.

Ecclesiastes 4:10
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

The Ellcey's said...

I almost never comment on such personal things, especially regarding someone's loss because there seems to be so much emotion and no answers and I'm always afraid I'll say something wrong. I have read your story before and it is just as bewildering and heartbreaking this time as it was the last time I read it. All I can say is you are an amazing woman. You have my utmost respect and my deepest sympathy. I will pray for your peace as well.

Anonymous said...

Your comment of 11 years of marriage, 4 beautiful children and 7 lost children has played thru my mind over and over. I just can't imagine what that must of been like for you both. I appreciate your openess and willingness to be used by God. I will try to pray for you when you come to my mind.

Ellen said...

I had no idea that you had experienced all of these losses. I'm so sorry.

I can't help but thinking how strong you are. Having experienced infertility, and secondary infertility, I've always thought that I was spared the heartache of miscarriage for some reason. Deep down, I felt like I would still rather just keep getting the negative pregnancy tests than lose a child. That would be so unbelievably painful.

I also can't help but think of the brood that God has waiting for you in heaven! You are the momma to eleven beautiful children. Wow!

suzanne said...

i'm glad you shared this. my heart breaks for you.

Anonymous said...

Thought you might enjoy this Easter video

Leslie said...

Oh my goodness. I think I read this with my mouth wide open the entire time. I am so sorry for your losses. I've only been pregnant 3 times and had just the one miscarriage, but it was one too many. I felt how you felt after your very first one. Except for the fact that I was 43, and figured people would just think, "Well, you're old. What did you expect?"

If you would like a copy of the book Threads of Hope, Pieces of Joy that I mentioned in my blog, I would be very happy to send you one of the extra copies I received. This is a gift, no charge. I think God sent me extra copies for a reason. Kristie and I are going to be doing Chapter 2 this week. If you would want to join us in the study, I could let her know. Or if you just want to go through it on your own, that's fine too.

If you want the book, please send me an email with your address. I can be reached at (Otto is our dog, not one of my sons!) Thank you for sharing your story with me!

Blessings and Hugs, Leslie