Thursday, July 07, 2011

Small steps forward

I think I am finally ready to talk about the last 3 months in our lives. I have sat down to write these words so many times and yet, the words wouldn't come. It is weird because I have no problem talking with friends or family about our recent struggles. I don't cry when I talk about it with friends or mention it in passing as our lives move forward. For me, writing is so personal and putting my thoughts and feelings down on paper (screen!) makes everything feel more real. Writing gives me time to sit and dwell on my experiences and feelings which often leads to true transparency. With that in mind, please forgive me if this post gets long and wordy and quite possibly very untidy.

On 23 March we went to the hospital for the 12 week ultrasound of our unexpected but very welcome newest addition (Announcement) set to arrive at the beginning of October. I had been feeling all the normal 1st trimester sickness but at 12.5 weeks things were starting to improve. We were beyond excited to finally see this little one! We decided to take Madeline with us and looking back I will always regret that decision. The moment the technician started the ultrasound I knew something was wrong. I have seen plenty of ultrasounds and knew that everything looked too small and that there was clearly not a heartbeat. The technician quickly confirmed that the pregnancy was not progressing and that there was no heartbeat. I remember feeling like the air had been sucked from my lungs. I couldn't breathe. All I could see was my little girl excitedly watching the monitor hoping to see a baby and just past her head the screen was empty. What do you say? How do you explain what is happening through your own tears? How do you take in what the nurses and doctors are communicating when all you can think is that you must be dreaming? Of course, we then have to leave and walk out in front of all of the people waiting to see their healthy babies. The nurses and doctors were all amazing and sympathetic but there is nothing that anyone can say in that moment.

So much of that day is a blur. I do very distinctly remember sitting on the bus headed home. We had taken the same bus to the hospital just a few hours earlier. What a difference those few hours had made. The ride there had been full of laughter and joy while the ride home was quiet and tearful. So many things raced through my head - how were we going to tell people, should I have the surgery or not, what would we do with Madeline if I did have the surgery, why did this happen, did I do something wrong? The questions wouldn't stop.

We did decide to go ahead with the out-patient surgery. Not an easy decision but once it was made I knew it was the right thing to do. I am so thankful for my dear friend Betsy who offered to keep Madeline in her home all day while we were at the hospital. She has two little girls of her own and her husband was out of the country at the time. That is a true friend and was a huge blessing to us.

I could go on and on but the basics of the last few months can be summed up pretty easily - I recovered great, have a clean bill of health and we are moving forward. What can't be summed up is the emotional healing that comes in stages. I know that there is no perfect prescription for getting through a miscarriage. There are no immediate answers and no 5 step plans that can make it all better. No one can tell you when you will stop thinking about it or how you will feel every time someone announces a pregnancy. It is different for every person.

Initially, I dealt with all of the normal and probably expected emotions. Sadness, hurt, disappointment, anger all within a few short hours. I was surprised that after the first few days life seemed to settle back to normal. I didn't think about the pregnancy every minute of the day. Being a wife and mom took up my  time and I was able continue with every day tasks without breaking down. Then one day it hit me. We were at a function with friends and someone who I had only met that day excitedly shared that she and her husband were expecting their second child. Of course, in the moment, I smiled and said congratulations but inside I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. She had no idea of what we had been through just a few short weeks before. I couldn't be mad at her - it wasn't her fault. I knew what it was like to have such exciting news and to be about to burst to tell people. For the first time that afternoon (since the initial news and surgery), I completely broke down sobbing. It was what I needed. I needed to get it all out and say the things that you're not supposed to say. I was angry that I was the one who was supposed to be pregnant, I was the one who was supposed to find out the gender of our baby in a matter of weeks, I was supposed to be looking for summer maternity clothes and double strollers.

Since that day there have been plenty of opportunities to break down - pregnant women at the park, newborns in my moms weekly Bible study, when someone innocently asks if Madeline is our only child or if we are thinking about having another. Thankfully, the breakdowns have been few and far between and every day gets easier. I know that it is common and at this point there is no reason to think we won't go on to have more children. I know that I didn't do or eat anything wrong. I know that God has a bigger plan and for some reason that I don't understand this is the path that we are walking. I sent an email to a dear friend a few days after the ultrasound and said this:

"I keep remembering that God's ways are perfect and he is sovereign in all things. It is times like this when you go back to the basics - God loves me, God only wants the best for me, God is not surprised by anything."

I have held onto those truths through the past 3 months. I have seen God's mercies throughout the whole time. I couldn't ask for a better partner than Chris who has provided such strength and love. Madeline is as always the light in my life. Although I never thought I could love her more than I already did, I am so much more aware of how grateful I am to have her. Our families and friends have prayed for us and sent encouraging words from afar just when we needed them. I have a dear friend here who has stepped into my life and loved me exactly as I needed without pretense or judgment. 

We are taking small steps forward. We are very excited to be almost done with our first year in Oxford. Hopefully only 2 more to go! I have recently accepted a part-time administrative position at the university that starts in August. Chris has been able to work his schedule to stay home with Madeline for 2 days and she will go to a friend's house for another half day. It means some adjustments to our family but we are confident that this is what God has for us right now. I am excited about a new adventure. 

As always, we would appreciate your thoughts and prayers for our family. We are stronger today than we were 6 months ago but that doesn't mean that there aren't hard days as we make these changes.


partofthemain said...

Dear, dear Amberly! I was so encouraged by this--by your transparency, by your thankfulness in the midst of very hard times, and by your deep trust in God. Thank you!! I am so blessed to have you in my life!

Nathan and Nicole said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Amberly. Your post was so touching. Thank you for writing.

TheFerebeeThree said...

Thank you both. I can't say it was easy to write or that I particularly enjoyed it, but I am glad I did. Thank you both for reading and or your encouragement. I am blessed to have wonderful friends both near and far.

TheFerebeeThree said...

*for your encouragement. That changes that whole sentence!