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Monthly Archives: December 2011

#29: Miracles

We are due June 12th. We are pregnant, and I can’t quite believe it! I haven’t written for awhile, because the news of our pregnancy has kind of been an all-consuming thing for me. I wasn’t comfortable sharing with everyone until we knew that we were out of the early weeks… We are now almost 17 weeks along and all I feel is joy in my heart.

There are so many things that are special about this pregnancy. First, is that it is so, so welcomed! From the day we lost Alex, I had prayed to God that he would still let Benjamin have a sibling on earth. There was a time when I wasn’t sure if Ben would want to have another child. There was a long time when I wasn’t sure we would be able to physically have another child. All things I worried about. All examples of how God is ultimately in control of what happens.

Ben and I are a little ‘fertility challenged.’ It took us 2 years to have Benjamin. We waited almost 18 months with Alex, and ended up doing two rounds of clomid. I’m not sure if it takes us a little longer to get pregnant, or if I’m just impatient. Either way, each pregnancy felt like a miracle after a very long wait.

Alex died June 9th. My doctor suggested we wait 6 months from Alex’s birthday before trying to conceive. That window was for our emotional healing, as well as to reduce the risk of miscarriage with a subsequent pregnancy. Waiting until October seemed like a very long time for me. My doctor agreed to start a prescription for progesterone in August if my period hadn’t returned.

It occurs to me that there will be a lot of female information in the subsequent paragraphs. I promise it’s nothing graphic, but words like ovaries, and ovulation will be used. Sorry for anyone who is faint at heart… these details are important in explaining what a miracle this baby is for us.

My period didn’t come back and two rounds of progesterone did not restore it. My doctor had some sad news for me. If my body wasn’t responding to the progesterone, it was because my brain was preventing ovulation. Apparently our bodies ovulate on two levels: at the ovaries, and at the hypothalamus in the brain. If I wasn’t responding to the prescription, it was because my brain was telling my body not to ovulate. Bad news. He said he wasn’t surprised by it… I was still in shock over losing Alex and my body wasn’t ready. He didn’t have any idea how long it would take for me to ovulate again- I needed to be patient and wait. Did I mention that patience is not my strong suit?

With a heavy heart, I explained our situation to Ben. I begrudgingly agreed to wait until the New Year to start efforts again. I kept praying. This is where the miracle comes in. I saw the doctor in August and was told to postpone any conception plans in September. At the end of October I was peeing in a cup and looking at a “+” sign in disbelief. We were pregnant.

How pregnant were we? It was a Friday night. I had taken two at home tests, so I knew I was pregnant. How far along were we? No idea. I never got a period, so we had no way to know. Desperate for answers, I went to the walk-in clinic the next morning. I knew there was a blood test I could take to get a range on how far along we were. Trying to explain that to various nurses and doctors at the walk-in clinic was another story…

“What’s the reason for your visit today?”

“I think I’m pregnant. I took two at home tests and I want to know how far along we are.”

(Eyes rolling) “Well, if you took two tests, you are definitely pregnant. You can tell how far along you are based on the date of your last period. When was your last period?”

“Yes, I understand the math, but my period never came back after my last child.”

“Let me calculate it for you. What was the date of your last period?”

“July of 2010.”

“Oh.”

“Exactly. I’m not a moron. This is my third pregnancy! I just want the blood test that will tell me how far along we are.”

I was then transferred to another nurse, where we repeated the same conversation. Long story short: 8 weeks!

Wow- all those times I was praying for a child, I actually was growing one. Amazing. So this baby is a miracle not just because we wanted this baby so badly. Not just because we didn’t think we could get pregnant. But also because there are signs of how God has planned things for us. This baby is due within 3 days of the one-year anniversary of Alex’s death. There is always a plan for us.

I know that God is in the business of answering prayers. I believe that- in my heart and in my soul I believe that. I also believe that we have to do things in order to make our prayers and dreams come true. I thought that God would answer our prayers by letting us get pregnant after more waiting, cycle counting, clomid, etc. It never occurred to me that he would let us skip all that and just make our prayers come true.

Humbling. That is how it feels when God answers your prayers, and answers them earlier than you ever thought possible.

Before I had announced our pregnancy, people would ask how I was doing with everything, and it was so hard to explain. Once I became pregnant, things with my grief got so much better, so much easier. Not because I had this ‘replacement’ baby on the way… it was because God had trusted me to raise another child.

All those feelings of guilt I had, those worries that I had done something to cause Alex’s death… none of it mattered anymore. Once I became pregnant I felt forgiven. Divinely forgiven and entrusted to raise another happy and healthy child. To have that weight lifted from you is inexplicable. One day you shoulder the burden of guilt and grief. The next day you are literally soaring with the joy and weightless freedom that comes from knowing you are forgiven. It is humbling.

I feel a little guilty because it seems a little “too easy” for us. We get a miracle baby and one year later we’ll be almost in the same place we were in when Alex was born. What about all those families who lost a child, or never met a child and don’t have the chance to experience another birth? Doesn’t it seem unfair that we get to benefit from all the healing a new pregnancy offers?

I don’t know. I mourn for the families and the parents who don’t get this same feeling of redemption. I hope that they find divine peace in another way. Being pregnant again, having this baby changes everything about how I see the world and how I know that God loves our family.

I don’t mean to overstate things, but this baby is proof to me that God has plans for our family and assures me that he is in control. All I can do is sit back in quiet awe, and give thanks that we are so divinely cared for.

Miracles happen every day. I believe that. I just never thought we would get our own.

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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Blog #28: Six Months

Today is six months. I didn’t really realize it until I was in the shower this morning. I was trying to figure out which date it was, and then I realized that today is six months since Alex died. I’m conflicted. I’m not sure if I should feel bad that I didn’t remember right away, or if I should feel happy that I haven’t been completely fixated on this date for weeks. Should I be relieved, or proud that I haven’t been anxious about this day, and that I haven’t been counting down the days?

Today is six months, and other than that, I’m not sure that there is anything especially symbolic about today.

Alex would be 8 months old today. I’m sure sitting up, rolling over, on his way to crawling. Probably close to 20# if his brother was any indication about what was in store for him. I think about him of course, but I more just wonder if he’s aging in Heaven, or if he’s as little as he was when he was here. I don’t have a particular preference, I’m just curious.

When I first started writing this blog, I thought about publishing a book for other grieving parents- so that other families could see our journey and not feel like they were alone. I was pessimistic about the prospects at the time though. I figured that I would need at least one year’s worth of material, and I also figured that I would need to show some sort of “progress” through the time. No one wants a grieving book that doesn’t show the family actually getting better. One year worth of misery would be pretty depressing. The more I thought about it, I wasn’t sure that I could ever think about a book. At the time, I couldn’t even envision our family feeling happiness and joy. I thought that we were destined to wallow in darkness because Alex was gone forever.

Six months into our passage, there is love, light, rainbows and sunshine. I say this not to brag, but to remark on how miraculous and healing the love and support of others has been. When you feel absolutely terrible and completely defeated in life, it is indescribably amazing to feel the love and support of friends and family around you. To feel that there are all these people cheering you on and rooting for you and your family. It’s like you’re running a marathon (not that I would know *anything* about that…) and you have people yelling for you when you feel you can’t fight anymore. It’s encourages you to go on and keep fighting because of them.

To actually feel like you are getting better and that you have happy news to share with all those people who are supporting you… that feels nice to. It feels good to thank people for their love and support. It feels good to reward them and show them that you’re finding happiness again.

On top of that, there is the gracious, forgiving love that God gives to us everyday. Even if we didn’t have others around us, God will never let us walk alone. I am struck by the support we’ve received and I am humbled by the power of God’s love. As it turns out, I am not at all concerned about the next six months.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Blog #27: Paperwork

There can be such irony in life sometimes. I am taking Benjamin to the doctor for his three year old check-up today, and I am also bringing the most depressing paperwork I can think of. We have some paperwork our physician needs to complete related to Alex. Our insurance company needs an official physician statement because Alex died at such a young age.

My heart is heavy with this task. It’s one of those things that I know I need to do, yet it’s indescribably hard for me to think about compiling all the paperwork they want and need to process our claim. They want the death certificate, physician statement, guardian statement, obituary. Good grief, do they want audio from his memorial service too? I know it’s just a formality, but shouldn’t it be easier to process this type of claim?

The irony comes in because I am lamenting how quickly Benjamin is growing up. With the arrival of his third birthday, Benjamin has given up using a nuk at bedtime. Watching him go to bed, not sucking on his nuk suddenly makes him look 15 in my eyes. I mentally fast forward a few years and soon he’ll be off to school, driving, and off to college. Where did these last three years go? I remember him being a baby, I remember him not walking yet, and now all of a sudden he seems so mature.

The contrast is that we don’t get to celebrate anymore birthdays for Alex. He is always two months old in my mind. Always a baby. Always snuggly and cuddly, loving to sleep and nurse. Not walking, not talking, certainly not bound for school. As a parent, how do you handle the mix of emotion this presents?

You have your first child growing so fast, literally right before your eyes, you want time to slow down or stand still to truly celebrate this perfect age he’s at right now. Then you have your second child, now gone. Permanently a baby, never destined to have a first birthday, or any of the other milestones you got to celebrate with his brother.

It hurts all over again and I don’t know why. The sudden realization that Benjamin will always have celebrations his brother won’t. It hurts. Not having cried for what seems like months, it’s so weird to have my eyes fill with tears at a pace that seems won’t stop. I was not expecting this. Not today. Not at all.

How do you celebrate the life still on earth, without dwelling on the life that’s now gone? I’m open to suggestions.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Uncategorized