In an effort to jump-start Jill's blog, Jill has graciously allowed me (her husband) to update all of you on the goings on in our household. Jill has not written at all because she has been so busy (and tired).I promised her that I would not turn this into a sports blog. However, if any of you want to post any thoughts concerning off-season moves the Cincinnati Reds should make in order for them to return to their former glory, please feel free to comment. I myself could write, talk, think, mull, etc. about why the Reds are terrible and what they need to do to improve for more hours than my wife would want to know about. (For nonsports fans, the Reds are the oldest and some (myself) would say the greatest professional baseball team in the world).
Now, on to important news. As many of you know, Jill and I adopted a daughter, Sophia, in late July. Since that time we have had many ups and downs, but the good news is that we are all doing well. Sophia is a wonderful baby and she is changing everyday. We are thrilled that she is a member of our family. I have to also say that she is a very cute baby. I am sure that Jill will post some pictures in the near future.
As Jill indicated in her last post, Sophia was born with some health problems. In short, her urinary system does not drain properly and she will require corrective surgery soon. She has a tube in her abdomen to empty the excess urine. Although we have had a few stressful days in the emergency room because her tube almost came out (twice), by far the most stressful part of our new parenting life has been Sophia's eating.
Sophia has never been a good eater and this was compounded by an acid reflux condition that took the doctors over a month to treat. There was a period of time during which it was very difficult to get Sophia to eat because she was so uncomfortable. Getting her to eat required perfect timing. As soon as a feeding would begin, Sophia would scream for up to an hour. Eventually, she would become exhausted and start drifting off to sleep. The feeding would have to continue while she was drifting off but before she was in a deep sleep. If you tried to feed her too early, the screaming would begin again. Feed her too late, and she was too drowsy to finish her bottle. Needless to say, it was quite stressful and we seriously began to worry if we could get her to keep gaining weight. (By the way, so you all know, Jill was basically a cool customer during all this. Most of my references to stress, worry, etc. apply to me.)
Eventually, after many visits to doctors, nutritionists, and an occupational therapist, Sophia was properly diagnosed and put on baby Previcid. She was also placed on a special formula (Emfamil A-R) that contains rice starch so that it thickens in the stomach and does not come back up easily. Since her diagnosis, she has been improving slowly but surely. Her eating has improved, she is gaining weight, and she is getting quite long (90th percentile). She also has become a very smiley baby. She loves to smile at her mom and at me and she loves seeing relatives and meeting new people. She also loves to look at books, look at her Winnie the Pooh mobile, and most of all, take a bath. She is growing and changing all the time. She loves to be held (she really can't stand not being held).
There is much more to talk about, but I will let Jill fill you in on everything. We feel very blessed by Sophia. We have learned that parenting is challenging, but it is also rewarding.
I am thrilled and grateful to announce that a new little life has entered our lives:
Born: Tuesday, July 24, 2:38 p.m.
7 lbs., 1 oz., 19 inches long
Adopted into our family (pending subsequent finalization in six months that at this point is just a formality):
Friday, July 27
All I can say is that she is the most beautiful, best baby EVER, and I have so much more to tell you about how the way this situation has unfolded has been such a spiritual, faith-affirming experience.
C., Sophia's birthmom (I will use the term birthmom because that is what C. prefers), is a strong, 28-year old Christian who, after much prayer, felt that if my husband and I were open to it that we should be present at Sophia's birth and involved with the baby during her time at the hospital. At first, we were hesitant because we wanted to guard our own hearts during that time period when Sophia was 100% C.'s daughter and also because we didn't want our presence at the birth/hospital to be intrusive to C.'s time with Sophia or to impart any sense of pressure or obligation to C. (we kept telling C. that even though we would be thrilled to parent Sophia, we would understand and support C. if she had a change of heart and decided to parent Sophia herself). Anyway, we are so thankful that we were able to be there at the birth; it turned out to be an incredible gift to experience her arrival, and I will write more about her birth story later.
The only unfortunate news is that little Sophia is having some health issues and is in NICU at a nearby children's hospital. She is a normal baby, except that she has an anatomical abnormality involving her urethra, etc. The doctors have assured us that the problem is correctable with reconstructive surgery, and in the next week we should get more specifics about what that will entail. As the pediatric urologist explained it to us, Sophia is a basically healthy, beautiful, normal baby who has some plumbing problems that are fixable.
In the short term, the problems caused some scary issues for us all right after her birth when, a few hours afterward, she had to be transported from the hospital where she was born to the children's hospital for emergency surgery to drain urine that had built up and caused her poor belly to be distended to the point that it interfered with the ability of her lungs to expand fully. She got through the surgery like a champ, though, and is doing fine and eating well, although right now she has a tube in her abdomen helping to empty urine for her. She is scheduled for more tests on Monday and we expect her to be in the hospital for at least a good part of next week and perhaps longer.
As you can imagine, the health issues in tandem with the adoption process have been quite a roller coaster ride, but here is the part that is so faith-affirming to me: there was no relational tension whatsoever between us and C. the whole time; to the contrary, we prayed together, communicated extaordinarily well, and totally worked together as a cohesive team to deal with Sophia's health issues. C. had a normal, uncomplicated delivery and was/still is recovering well, but she was stuck in the hospital where she delivered after birth while Sophia was being rushed to the children's hospital across town. She told us to go with Sophia and signed releases so that we could be with Sophia at the hospital and so that the doctors could talk with us directly about Sophia's condition since we had been present with C. at prenatal doctor's appointments and ultrasounds concerning Sophia's condition and could help to answer some of the doctor's and nurse's questions. Also, C.'s cell phone wasn't working properly and for some reason that was the phone number that kept popping up for her in the children's hospital system, so I was able to be right there to hand the doctors the direct phone number to C.'s hospital room whenever they needed to talk with C., such as for consent to Sophia's emergency surgery. I constantly called and updated C., and she was thankful that we could be her eyes and ears at the children's hospital; I usually got information to her more quickly than the doctors did.
There is so much more to write about that whole situation. In short, C. told me that the hospital social worker told her that they had never seen a birthmother and adoptive parents work together in such an amazing way; C. responded that "Well, then, maybe that's because you haven't seen a situation before where those parties asked Jesus to be in the middle of it."
We LOVE Sophia, and what a beautiful blessing from God that we also love C.
We are parents at last, and there's nothing better. I now want to go back to feed my lovely daughter, but in the meantime I will leave you with this:
Hello, everyone. It has been a while, and I hope that you all are doing well. I have some exciting news on the adoption front: we are matched with an expectant mother who has chosen us to parent her child!
We finished the last of our paperwork and completed our homestudy in June, and at that time our social worker told us that we probably could expect to wait AT LEAST a year for a baby. However, she informed us that there was a possibility that it could happen any time, including very soon, if an expectant mother were to choose our profile from the agency's website before contacting the agency. In that event, if the agency were to determine that her preferences match ours, we could be matched at that time regardless of the amount of our time on the waiting list.
EIGHT DAYS after our homestudy was approved and our profile went up on the agency's website, we received a call from our social worker that a woman had chosen us, our preferences matched, and she wanted to meet us. My husband and I met her at a restaurant for lunch two days later (coincidentally, for the meeting she picked the same time of day and the exact restaurant where my husband and I had our first date 14 years ago), and we all "clicked." We really like her! I'll call her "C." We all have a lot in common, and I am especially happy that she is a Christian. (Unfortunately we will never get to meet the man who fathered the baby because he is totally out of the picture at this point.)
C is due to deliver a baby girl on August 10. However, C may be induced earlier because an ultrasound earlier this week revealed that the baby has a health issue that may or may not turn out to be serious (an enlarged bladder that may be affecting her kidney function).
If the adoption plan proceeds, though, we could be parenting a baby in the very near future!
My husband and I are feeling such a roller coaster of emotions. Mainly we are THRILLED, excited, and happy at the potential of adding a little daughter to our family. We would love her to pieces! Our extended families are very excited, too; my husband's sister even cried happy tears when we saw her because she is so hopeful and excited for us. I feel sad that my dad isn't here to share the news with because he would have been SO excited. We also are feeling a bit overwhelmed and our heads are spinning that it is happening so unexpectedly fast (we made a mad dash to Babies R Us with my mother-in-law and my husband's sister and went on a wild shopping spree because even though we have been trying to have a baby for over 5 years, we still hadn't acquired ANY baby paraphenalia and were woefully unprepared in that department). In addition, we are concerned about the baby's health and hoping and PRAYING that the bladder problem will turn out to be nothing serious (an amnio already has determined that she is chromosomally normal and doesn't have any of the genetic conditions that commonly could cause an enlarged bladder, so that is good news).
We also feel sad for C; we told her that if she has a change of heart and decides to parent her child, we would understand. We told her that we don't want her to feel pressure just because we are matched; in order to feel good about adopting her child, we need to know that she is doing it because she truly believes it is the best option for her as well as for her baby and not because of any outside pressure. She assured us that she has prayed and prayed about it and independently feels that she truly is making the best choice for everyone involved, including herself. However, I certainly would understand if that all changed when they put the baby in her arms. We would be very sad and disappointed if she has a change of heart, but God would give us the strength to deal with it, and regardless of what happens with this match we have faith that there is a baby in our future, some way, somehow.
All you pray-ers out there, please pray for God's will and guidance in this situation. Please pray for the baby's and C's health and that the delivery will go smoothly and safely (C wants us to be there for the birth, by the way). Please pray for guidance and peace for both C and us and that this situation really will turn out to be a good one for all involved, whatever happens.
Thanks! I'll keep you posted!
I have neglected this blog to such an extent lately that I am not quite sure how to start this post, and I imagine it being greeted only by the sound of crickets. I am still here, though, still alive and well. I'm especially thankful to be well because the status of my physical health was called into question during the past couple of months.
It started with a trip to my OB/GYN in mid-March because I was concerned that I hadn't had a cycle since my miscarriage in January, and that wasn't normal for me. Always before, my cycle was back to normal within four weeks after the bleeding from a miscarriage resolved. This time, I waited and waited...and there was nothing. I started to worry that something was wrong, maybe Asherman's Syndrome. After all, I have had four D&Cs; it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that my uterus had developed scarring that could prevent the normal build-up and shedding of the endometrium. For some reaon, that thought really bothered me. Even if I wasn't ever planning to use my uterus again to try to carry another child, I didn't like the thought of my reproductive system being even more broken than it already is. So I made an appointment with my doctor.
An ultrasound showed my uterus to be empty, with a very thin lining, and a blood test revealed that I still had hcg (the pregnancy hormone) in my body; the level was 13, which was low but would be enough to prevent a new cycle from occurring. I was relieved and figured that the number probably would drop down to normal by the blood draw scheduled for the following week.
Well, the number didn't go down; it went up for three consecutive weeks, and I definitely had not conceived a new pregnancy. No pregnancy, but my body was pumping out increasing levels of hcg nonetheless. That's a problem. My doctor was concerned that I might have developed a type of rare gestational trophoblastic disease, probably the variation known as choriocarcinoma, in which trophoblastic/placental cells leftover after a pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or normal live birth morph into malignant, cancerous cells. Because the cells originated as products of conception, they pump out increasing levels of hcg as they grow. Also, the only marker/test for that type of cancer is increasing hcg levels; it's the only type of cancer that isn't diagnosed via a tissue sample. The treatment is chemotherapy with methotrexate.
During the weeks that my hcg was rising, I went to a different doctor for a mammogram. (My mom is a breast cancer survivor, and I have had problems with breast cysts, so I get checked out periodically by an oncologist merely as a precaution.) Well, you guessed it, the mammogram looked a bit suspicious, which led to me being scheduled for a breast MRI, which also looked suspicious. This breast cancer scare dragged out for a few weeks before it finally was concluded that the areas of concern are benign and there's nothing to worry about. No breast cancer here, thank God.
Now, you probably can imagine how I was feeling during the weeks when it appeared that not only had I lost my dad and my baby in the same weekend earlier in the year, but that I also may be diagnosed with two separate types of cancer at the same time. Really, it was getting absurd, to the point that I was beginning to wonder exactly how dark the cloud was that seemed to be constantly hovering over my head, and to the extent that I didn't even feel like talking about it, much less writing about it.
To make matters worse, in early March my husband and I had pulled out and dusted off our adoption paperwork that had been languishing since late last year (it had fallen by the wayside in October during my mom's cardiac bypass surgery and then again when we unexpectedly discovered in December that I was pregnant), and we once again were getting excited about the hope of building our family through adoption. We even scheduled our homestudy for early April...and then cancelled it because of all my health concerns. If I were diagnosed with cancer, there would be no adoption for us, at least not for a while, not until I was healthy again. I couldn't imagine that an adoption agency would approve/ a birthparent would choose a prospective adoptive parent who was fighting newly diagnosed cancer...and even if they would, I couldn't imagine that I would have the physical and emotional resources to undergo treatment while at the same time caring for a baby in the way that I would want to care for a baby.
At first, I was very frustrated because it appeared the rug was going to get pulled out from under us again in our attempts to have a family, very angry that our hopes were dashed not only with seven pregnancies but also now with the potential path of adoption. I tried to take things bit by bit, to not get overwhelmed with the upsetting possibilities, to let go and trust God...but I must admit that I didn't succeed very well. I was already so emotionally depleted by grief over losing Dad to cancer, on top of losing all the babies, plus I was trying my best to be supportive of my good friend who is fighting ovarian cancer (she had major surgery around that time) and the pace of my job was getting more hectic. To add to all this the prospect that our hopes of adopting a baby could be dashed by my own potential cancer diagnoses on two separate fronts...well, it was almost too much.
But it was not quite too much. Through God's grace, I kept functioning, getting up and going to the office daily, as usual, getting my job done, going to church, cooking, trying to eat healthy foods, going for walks in the evening, being a wife, daughter, sister, friend. My sister said, "I don't know how you keep going," but really, what other choice is there? I just kept on going because there isn't any other good option. Still, I felt so tired, so worn out. I miss my dad so much and still found myself crying often about it. I kept trying to pray, even though I didn't feel much like it. I went to prayer services at church and had people pray for me and with me, and believed that it would have to help in some way, even if my circumstances didn't improve. I knew I had to hang on to my faith in God even when I wasn't emotionally feeling it.
I was grateful when the specter of breast cancer was lifted from me, but I continued to have weekly blood draws to check my hcg. This cycle of getting up extra early for a blood draw before work, then waiting breathlessly (sometimes up to 2 1/2 days) for the nurse to phone me with results continued throughout April. During that time, I had frequent spotting and a few irregular bouts of very heavy bleeding and severe cramps.
After the initial weeks during which my hcg increased, it dipped lower, and then bounced around in between 10 and 20 for a while. My OB/GYN thought that we could stop worrying about the potential of choriocarcinoma because if I had it, my hcg numbers probably would have gotten much higher by that point. Instead, the theory was that I had retained some products of conception that were taking a long time to release; the miscarriage was still dragging out four months after the D&C.
Finally, this week, my hcg finally dropped down to 4.9; below 5.0 is considered to be a normal, nonpregnant level, so it appears that the physical aftermath of my seventh miscarriage is now officially over, thank God.
I am extremely grateful and relieved. Now that we have confirmation that I am in good health, my husband and I have gotten back in touch with our adoption social worker and scheduled our homestudy for the beginning of June.
It took us a long period--years, actually--of talk, research, thought, and prayer to get to the point where we felt as though we could let go of our dream of having a successful pregnancy ending in the birth of our "own" living, biological child and to embrace instead adoption and all the issues that it entails, but now we are feeing hopeful and excited about adopting a baby. Our paperwork is almost completely done, and this weekend we are going to plant annuals around our yard to make it prettier for the first home visit. It feels good to be closing (hopefully) the miscarriage chapter of my life and moving forward on a different path to parenthood.
I am not quite sure what to do with my blog at this point. All the women whom I have connected with through it have been such a blessing to me that I hate to leave it, but at the same time, I am not sure if I want to morph this into an adoption blog. I haven't felt much like posting lately and therefore have been wondering if maybe this blog is something that I was meant to do only for a season.
I'll figure it out, but regardless, I always will deeply appreciate and be grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read my story and to offer words of support and encouragement; they have been a godsend, and I know that in large part your kindness and prayers are why I am still standing despite all the losses that I have chronicled on this blog. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to anyone who is still reading, and God bless.
Thank you for all your kind comments in response to my last post. Once again, I was very touched by your compassion and support; it has been a real blessing to me.
It has been two months since I lost my baby and my dad died. I am still here, still suiting up and showing up for my job and other responsibilities, still putting one foot in front of the other. Thanks to the grace of God and the support of others, I am okay. I am grieving and sad, but I am okay.
The grief is not easy, though. I miss my dad, and I am sad that I lost another baby. These days, tears need only the slightest encouragement before rolling down my cheeks. Sometimes the tears stream out in messy, prolonged, torrents and sometimes they only dampen my eyelashes, but they are always near.
My dad was such a foundation in my life; he was my protector, my encourager, my friend, my biggest fan, a person who was always there and whom I could always count on to be there if I needed him for practical help or emotional support...except that now he is gone. In this world, I will never again talk to him on the phone, spend a holiday with him, buy him a special gift or card, see him, hear his voice, or share a hug or a laugh with him. Sometimes it feels incomprehensible, unfathomable.
Each time I have been pregnant in the past several years, he always was the most excited and hopeful. It breaks my heart that if I become a mother he will not see it, he will not know my child, and my child will not know him.
Sometimes the realization of all I have lost sweeps through me with an engulfing sense of emptiness and despair that feels almost unbearable, and it is at those times that I cry in ragged sobs until the tears temporarily wash the emptiness away. It's exhausting to continue living out my normal everyday life when my heart is so heavy.
Sometimes I feel like Job (for example, shortly after my D&C and my dad's death, I got the worst stomach/intestinal virus I have ever had and was throwing up too violently to go to my dad's calling hours). I sometimes wonder, "What else can go wrong?" and then in answer to my own question I become fearful when I remember how much I still could lose and how much worse it actually could get. However, I am determined not to stay fearful and discouraged.
I have been here in the dark pit of grief before, and I know that if I try to rely on God and if I allow myself to feel the painful feelings as they come, it eventually will get better. I didn't get a chance to teach my babies anything, but they have taught me a lot about coping with loss. Even though I sometimes thought I couldn't bear my sadness over losing them, I did bear it. In fact, I came out even stronger than before.
As Albert Camus put it in one of my favorite quotes, "In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." I know that I can continue to trust God to give me the strength I need.
I am going to keep hoping and praying that things are going to turn around for me. I am going to hope and believe that sometime soon the sun is going to shine on my face and I am going to feel joy again.
"Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5
On a different note, I have been wanting to post an update with some news that we got concerning the most recent miscarriage. A while back we received the results from the chromosomal testing that was done on the baby's tissue: chromosomally normal female. Those results are a bit maddening because one can never know with absolute certainty whether they are accurate due to the potential that my cells were mixed in and karyotyped by mistake. However, I was assured that odds are high that the results are accurate. Therefore, it appears that we lost a daughter, a normal little girl. I am comforted to know more about the baby that I carried and that I wanted so much, but I am also saddened by the knowledge.
My period, which always before has showed up like clockwork within 4 weeks after the resolution of bleeding after a miscarriage or D&C, still hasn't appeared. Last week I saw my OB/GYN about it because hormonally I just wasn't feeling back to normal yet and because I had been having some unusual light spotting. She did an ultrasound, which showed an empty uterus with a very thin lining. They hadn't tracked my hcg back down to zero after the D&C, so I asked for a beta. It was still 13! I went in this morning for another blood draw and am hoping that the hcg has dropped back down to a nonpregnant level by now.
Remember my friend who was dealing with a possible diagnosis of ovarian cancer back in January when my dad went into the hospital? Well, she has stage IV (the most advanced) ovarian cancer. She already has been through three rounds of chemo which, thankfully, have been working. A scan last week showed that the main tumor has shrunk from softball size to golf ball size and is small enough now that they will be able to do surgery to remove it on April 4. Unfortunately, my friend, who has no children and who has been dealing with unexplained infertility for the past four years, probably is going to have a hysterectomy at that time, followed by at least six more rounds of chemo. Ovarian cancer is particularly deadly, but I hope and pray that she will win her battle and will be healed; the alternative is unthinkable to me at this point.
My friend (her name is Josie) is the first person who immediately popped into my mind once at church when, during a sermon, our minister asked us to picture in our minds the person whom we know who is the best at consistently extending Christ's love to others. She has a true kindness and purity about her and is full of faith, very intelligent and deeply knowledgeable about the Bible, but at the same time is really fun, loves to laugh loudly, and is one of the most humble and least judgmental people I know. I don't know why she has to go through this trial, but she is doing it with more strength and grace than I could have imagined. SHE actually has been concerned about comforting ME in my losses.
Of course, even with her strong faith, fighting the cancer is incredibly hard physically and emotionally. If you are the praying type, please say some prayers for healing and comfort for her. She just turned 35, and as she blew out the candles on her cake at the surprise party her husband threw for her last weekend, my wish for her and for all of us who care about her was that she will be blowing out birthday candles for many years to come.
By the way, have I mentioned that I HATE CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????
Earlier this month my mom turned 80 and I hosted a little birthday celebration at my house for her. My sister and college-aged nephew also have mid-March birthdays, so we celebrated their birthdays, too. Each previous year my mom and dad, my sister and nephew, and my husband and I would get together in March to celebrate the birthdays at my parents' house. We would put the leaf in the dining room table, put the "good" tablecloth on it, and have a big family dinner followed by the traditional cake from our favorite bakery. Dad would cut the cake and the rest of us would tease him about how precise he was about making sure that the pieces were perfectly even, followed by the unwrapping of presents.
This year, the March birthdays celebration was the first family celebration since Dad died. My sister suggested that we have it at my house. We all were going to be missing Dad no matter what, but doing the same old traditional things at my parents' house without him, with his empty chair at the head of the dining room table and his empty recliner staring at us, seemed too sad to contemplate.
I threw myself into preparations for the celebration. After all, my mom only turns 80 once, and I don't know how many more birthdays I will be able to celebrate with her...and after so many sad, hard memories that my family has from this year, I was determined to do everything in my power to create a good memory for all of us. I spent hours shopping for and wrapping gifts that I hoped were meaningful. I scrubbed my house from top to bottom. I washed sheets, blankets, and duvets. I pulled out my good wedding china and filled the rooms with fresh flowers. I baked a two-layer cake from scratch, made homemade buttercream icing, and decorated it. I cooked a five-course meal from scratch (for you foodies out there who are interested, I made smoked salmon canapes with herbed cream cheese, capers, and fresh dill; corn bisque; mixed greens with Granny Smith apple slices, candied pecans, goat cheese, and maple dressing; beef bourguignon; and the previously mentioned cake with ice cream).
Even so, when I thought of the fact that for the first time Dad wouldn't be there with us to celebrate the birthdays, I felt sadness and trepidation.
You know what, though? It turned out okay. Yes, we all missed Dad; no question about it. And yes, there were poignant moments of sadness. But overall, we were still able to rise above the sadness to be thankful that we still have each other, not to mention having blessings like a warm house and all the food we can eat. We even shared some laughs while playing cards and other games. I think my mom, sister, and nephew felt pampered and a bit rejuvenated during their weekend at my house, and I was glad to be able to offer the hospitality. We have lost so much, but we can take consolation in what we still have.
Hello again (said sheepishly after a long absence from the blogosphere). I didn't actually drop off the face of the earth; I am still here. Thank you so much for all of your lovely, kind comments and prayers in response to the last few posts. I appreciate them more than I can say, especially the prayers. I believe it is people's prayers on my behalf and the grace of God that have enabled me to keep my head above water emotionally for the past several weeks, and I apologize for not updating or expressing my gratitude sooner.
For the first few weeks after my dad's death and my latest miscarriage (the seventh, in case you're counting), I didn't post because I just didn't have the extra emotional or physical energy for non-necessities like blogging. At first there was so much to do to get ready for my dad's funeral and to help my mom out, and then when I came back to my own home my time between crying jags was spent taking care of the basics of life, like doing laundry and starting back to work.
Grief is so draining, and I am dealing with a double dose of it after losing my baby and my dad in the same weekend.
Slowly, I have regained some of my energy. I am starting to find it a bit easier to concentrate and focus at my job and at home I have been doing a lot of cooking, which is something that I enjoy. Still, I when I have considered what to write about the miscarriage and losing my dad, I have found myself at a loss for words. It reminds me of a quote I once read that said, "Life's small sorrows are loud, but its biggest sorrows are silent."
So I guess I'll start by just telling you the facts regarding what happened, chronologically. I think I left off at the point where I was on my way to my hometown to visit my dad in the hospital after receiving news from my doctor that our baby was measuring small and its heartbeat was slow. The doctor said it was possible that things could turn around for the better--she has seen it happen--but that it was more likely that I would miscarry.
I arrived at my dad's bedside on January 11, the Thursday of his first week in the community hospital in my hometown. The previous Sunday he had gone to the emergency room because he was experiencing shortness of breath that he attributed to an allergic reaction to a new medication that his doctor had prescribed for him for hip pain. Unfortunately, at the ER an X-ray revealed that his lungs were 50% filled with nodules, and he was told that it was probably lung cancer; he was admitted to the hospital for tests in the hopes of securing a definite diagnosis.
At this point I should mention that prior to his trip to the ER, Dad had been living a normal life: he had just gone grocery shopping on Friday, and other than a few aches and pains that were worsening, he seemed fine. None of us suspected anything was wrong. We were blown out of the water by the news about his lungs. How could he have lung cancer? He never even smoked!
We still had some hope that it wasn't cancer. Without a tissue sample that shows cancer cells, cancer cannot be diagnosed with certainty. The doctors said that there was still a slim possibility that it wasn't cancer and perhaps was something else like a fungal infection.
The doctors suspected that the cancer in Dad's lungs had spread from somewhere else. They didn't want to start with a lung biopsy because there are significant risks of collapsing a lung, which could be very dangerous to a patient who already only has 50% lung capacity. So my dad had test after test, and none of them revealed cancer anywhere else.
During that first week in the hospital, he was on oxygen and breathing treatments and was in stable condition. He still was able to carry on conversations, even though he got a bit breathless. The nurses were still getting him up to walk and move around. On Friday morning the nurse walked him all the way down the hall to the family waiting room, and we enthusiastically said, "Wow, look at you go!"
It's the last time I ever saw Dad walking.
That same day, despite the fact that we still didn't have a definite cancer diagnosis and that multiple doctors were giving us differing levels of hope (or hopelessness, actually), one of the doctors was straightforward and let us know that Dad's condition was almost certainly cancer that almost certainly was terminal and that he probably would only live a few months at most. None of the other doctors would venture any guess as to how much time Dad had and were evasive when I asked.
My mom, sister, and I had to meet with a hospice nurse to discuss his care after he was released from the hospital to die at home. We planned to set up a hospital bed in my parents' dining room. A hospice nurse would visit periodically, but we would be the main ones responsible for his care. Hospice wouldn't do anything for Dad but make him comfortable, and once he was under hospice care he never could go back to the hospital again. The nurse explained the stages of dying and how Dad probably would withdraw from us, how dying people usually remember their spouse but sometimes don't even know their own children at the end. She explained that when someone dies of lung cancer, they basically suffocate to the point that the lungs put so much stress on the heart that the heart gives out and that's it.
It was horrible. I wanted to clamp my hands over my ears and yell, "LA LA LA, I'M NOT LISTENING TO YOU."
Less than two weeks prior to this, I had been sitting at my parent's house on New Year's Eve eating pork and sauerkraut with Mom and Dad while Dad expressed how much he hoped that 2007 would be a great year for all of us.
Emotionally during the first week that my dad was in the hospital, I think I was shell shocked. Yes, Dad had talked to me from his hospital bed and told me that he probably would die soon, and that he was as ready as he probably could be at that point. He felt that he had a good life and had been blessed with a good family. He told me that I had always been a good daughter and that he loved me. He talked about what he wanted for his funeral and asked how I felt about what he wanted.
But it all seemed surreal. The constant, ubiquitous Muzak piped through the hospital halls didn't help the feeling of unreality. When I left the hospital at night, Dad would be sitting up reading his newspaper as usual, just as he had done almost every evening that I could remember. How could he be dying? I still was praying for a miracle and hoping against hope that the tests would reveal that Dad's problems were treatable.
It seemed real enough to me, though, that I often was overwhelmed with sadness, for the suffering that he would endure and for myself at the prospect of life without him. Down the hall from my dad's room, there was a small, one-stall bathroom that I could lock and have some privacy. I closed myself in there and cried every time that I had to go to the bathroom (which was a lot due to being pregnant and having to pee or heave or throw up all the time; I had morning sickness worse than I had ever had it before and was constantly nauseated).
When I was at my parent's house, I often used the bathroom in their finished basement, which was my dad's domain. He kept all of his clothes there. I can't tell you how many times I wrapped my arms around his hanging pants and shirts and dampened them with desperate tears, whispering "Don't go, Dad!"
You have to understand how it was between me and my dad. We were always close. I was born when my parents were in their 40s and my sister and brother were in their late teens. Dad didn't have as much time to spend with them as he would have liked when they were little because he was in his 20s and trying to make his way in the world (serving in the Marines, going to college, and starting a small trucking company). By the time I came along, he was more settled professionally and he relished having another chance to parent a small child.
When I was a baby, Dad gave me most of my night feedings and still often would say that those times were some of his favorite memories. He was the one who was with me at the park near my parents' house when I took my first steps. During my pre-school years, I would eagerly await his return from work in the evening, watching out the front window for his car, then tearing through the house to the door to greet him yelling, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" We spent a lot of time together when I was a kid, and I have great memories of bike rides, sled rides, and playing games with Dad. Each Saturday morning for years I would go grocery shopping with him and he would buy me a smiley face cookie as a treat.
As I grew up, we stayed close. He always was my biggest cheerleader and my biggest fan; he always was interested in my life. I was embarrassed at how he sometimes would brag about me to other people; he often introduced me as "his daughter, the attorney;" he was so proud of that. He was a family man first and foremost and loved his wife and kids (he and my mom would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this October). He put us first. I could count on him not only for practical help but to always be in my corner from an emotional standpoint. We often had long, meandering phone conversations that always ended with an exchange of "I love you" at the end. He and my husband became great friends.
As my sister so aptly put it, Dad was the heart of our family. We all love Mom, too, of course, and she is great in her own way, but her way is more quiet, more reserved. Dad was outgoing, active, talkative and loud, expressive, affectionate, rarely critical, and had a child-like sense of fun. He had an attitude of gratitude and tons of vitality.
How could that vitality fail? How could he be dying? Instead of a grown-up woman, I felt like that toddler who had pressed her face up against the window watching for Daddy to come home...except that this time he was never going to come home again.
The weekend after Dad was admitted to the hospital, he had to have a colonoscopy to determine if he had colon cancer. I don't know if you are familiar with the procedures that one has to go through with a colonoscopy, but it's hard on someone who is in the best of health. He had to drink about a gallon of horrible tasting liquid laxative called "Go Lightly" (which, believe me, is a misnomer). My poor, sick dad had to sit on the toilet for hours. The colonoscopy, which didn't reveal any cancer in his colon, is the turning point at which he started to go downhill very fast.
The night after the colonoscopy, one week after he originally was admitted to the hospital, Dad was moved to intensive care because his breathing was deteriorating rapidly. They told him that if his oxygen level stayed above 90% (with an oxygen mask on, of course), then they finally would do a lung biopsy the following afternoon. Test after test had failed to give us any definite diagnosis, and the lung biopsy was our last hope. My dad desperately wanted to get a diagnosis. He wanted a diagnosis so badly that he stayed awake all night, deep breathing and watching the oxygen monitor to make sure that he was doing everything possible to keep it above 90.
He was fighting, and he succeeded. During the night and early morning his oxygen level stayed consistently just above 90 and his lung biopsy was scheduled for 1:00. Even though we knew there were risks, we all desperately wanted that lung biopsy to be done. Dad's condition was worsening, time was ticking, and we still didn't have a definite diagnosis. If he had something other than lung cancer or if the type of lung cancer he had was amenable to treatment, we wanted to know and to start treatment as soon as possible. For a week we had been spinning our wheels with no answer, no treatment, and time was running out.
Late that morning, I stood by Dad's bedside for hours, holding his hand. We reminisced about many good, fun, and funny times that we had shared together over the years. It was a great conversation, and the last time he had enough breath to speak with me at any length.
1:00 p.m. rolled around, and nobody had come to get Dad for his biopsy...then 2:00 rolled around. A nurse came in to explain that the radiologist had refused to do Dad's biopsy because his blood clotting time had been too slow and they were worried about bleeding in the lung. The radiologist said that we could take Dad off the aspirin that he was on for his heart, wait 10 days, and try again for the biopsy.
We all knew, then, that Dad wasn't going to get the biopsy. His lungs were deteriorating too quickly; each day he required more and more oxygen. Even if his clotting time improved, there was no way that in 10 days his oxygen level would be where it needed to be, barring a miracle.
Dad was deflated. We all were deflated.
After that, Dad continued to go downhill fast. His breathing deteriorated again, and the next day, Tuesday, one and one-half liters of fluid were drained from the tissue surrounding his lungs (they tested the fluid for cancer cells, but none were found). Draining the fluid helped.
On the following day, Wednesday, Dad seemed to improve enough that they moved him out of intensive care to a regular room. However, that did not go well and did not last. I was alone with him that afternoon, and after he ate a few bites of his lunch he got nauseated. The anti-nausea medication that they subsequently gave him seemed to make him disoriented. He kept moaning in pain, constantly shifting positions (his hip hurt), speaking loudly and unintelligibly, slurring words. He kept taking off his oxygen mask and trying to get up out of bed. His heart rate increased. I called the nurse for help a few times and did my best to keep putting his mask on and to keep in safe in bed, but it was hard, physically and emotionally. It broke my heart to see my Dad like that. I began to pray for mercy for him.
Meanwhile, I was exhausted and nauseated from my pregnancy, and weak. I was so sick to my stomach that all I had been able to eat for days were a few crackers and some homemade yogurt/fruit smoothies, except for a brief reprieve every afternoon when I was able to keep down part of a plain hamburger. Everything else made me sick. I gagged and heaved in the hospital bathroom, in the parking lot, at my parents' house. Secretly, hope for my baby was growing in my heart. Everyone always said that nausea was a good sign of a healthy pregnancy, and my nausea was getting worse and worse. Surely that was a sign that the baby could still be alive. I prayed and prayed for a miracle.
That Wednesday night, Dad was transferred back to intensive care because they couldn't get his heart rate below 140. He was agitated, his hair was soaked in sweat. When I had to leave his room around 10 p.m., his heart rate still hadn't dropped at all.
The following morning, Thursday, I had an ultrasound appointment at 11:30 with my OB/GYN back in my own city three hours away. Before leaving, I got up early and went to the hospital to see my dad. His heart rate was stable, but his oxygen level wasn't good. Despite his obvious suffering, Dad smiled and his gauze-swathed hand reached for my hand when I walked up to his bedside. His hair was still matted with sweat and his shortness of breath was making it harder and harder for him to talk, but the disorientation of the day before was totally gone. My Dad was back. He knew about my pregnancy and my appointment. He told me that I should get on the road because he was worried about me and didn't want me to have to hurry and to speed on my drive. As I left, he waved, saying, "Take good care of yourself and get some rest. Love you."
That's my dad: thinking of others despite his own suffering. He was so brave when he was in the hospital, rarely complaining, always thanking the hospital staff for the care he was receiving, thanking me and the rest of the family for being there with him, trying to make the best of a bad situation.
I wondered if I would ever see him alive again. I prayed that I would.
I made it to my appointment on time. My husband, Bill, was with me. He had been with me most of the time at my parents' house and at the hospital. He had been great the whole time. I am so grateful for his support. Early each morning, when I was too nauseated to get up and out of the house quickly and my mom was still sleeping from exhaustion (she was still recovering from her cardiac bypass surgery), he would get up at the crack of dawn and rush to the hospital so that my dad wouldn't be alone and so that Bill could talk to the doctors as they made their rounds. Late each night he held me as I sobbed into his shoulder.
At my appointment the doctor I saw was very kind. His own father had died of lung cancer, and he was empathetic. He asked me how I was feeling, and I told him that I was exhausted and very nauseated. "Great! That's what I want to hear; severe symptoms can be a good sign." I hoped and waited with bated breath as I clutched my husband's hand and the wanding began. However, the image on the ultrasound screen was motionless. The slow flicker of the heartbeat that I had seen over a week before was gone. I was at 9 weeks, and the gestational sac looked great and measured a little over 9 weeks, which explains why my symptoms were so strong. The baby, however, was small, measuring at slightly over 7 weeks. Dead. It seemed like a cruel joke. I felt numb.
My doctor advised a D & C, and I agreed. He said it could take days or weeks before I miscarried naturally; the timing of it would be unpredictable. Given the size of the sac, I would have a lot of tissue to pass, and the bleeding could be heavy. I wanted to have a D & C and get it over with; I didn't want the specter of a natural miscarriage hovering over me. I wanted to put the physical part of the loss of my baby behind me so that I could get back to my dad's bedside.
Thankfully, the hospital operating room was able to schedule my D&C for the first thing the next morning (I think my doctor may have pulled some strings). I went home and picked out clothes to take back to my parents' house with me, including clothes to wear to calling hours and a funeral. I also went through photos and picked out good ones of my dad to take back with me, in case we needed them for display at calling hours. My husband went to work. I cried some, but mostly felt numb.
In the afternoon, my sister called to tell me that my dad was being transferred to a hospital in a larger city where a radiologist had agreed to do the lung biopsy (why they didn't transfer him sooner is beyond me). The procedure was scheduled for late the next day, a Friday, the same day as my D&C. That evening I talked with my brother, who said that the doctors at the bigger hospital had not given up hope that my dad's condition was treatable; they still thought that there was a possibility that the nodules could be due to a fungal infection and not cancer, or that the cancer could be of a type that is more amenable to treatment. Hope for my dad sprang up in my heart. Maybe I wouldn't have to lose my baby AND my dad right now after all.
My husband and I arose very early the next morning. It was still dark outside as we drove to the hospital and checked in. My D&C was delayed because the doctor who was performing it got called to deliver a baby (that was like salt in my wound, but I guess it makes sense that women having live babies take precedence over those carrying dead ones). I laid there in pre-op wearing my hospital gown and paper cap for over two hours. Strangely, I mainly was calm. It had to be the grace of God.
The doctor who did my D&C is a part of the group practice of OB/GYNs that I go to, but I had never met her before. After she had finished delivering the other woman's live baby, she finally was able to come in and speak with me briefly before my procedure. She was 8 months pregnant. I didn't exactly feel like seeing her big belly at that particular time, but she seemed nice enough.
After the procedure, when I woke up in the recovery room, I was crying. I couldn't stop. The nurse asked me what was wrong, and I told her that I had just lost my baby--my seventh miscarriage--and my dad might be dying. It was hard for me to believe everything that was happening all at once.
Thankfully, I did not get nauseated from the anesthesia. My husband got me dressed, took me home, and tucked me in bed. I slept deeply. Later he got me some delicious soup from my favorite restaurant and brought it to me in bed on a tray (he's a keeper). After being nauseated for weeks from the pregnancy, I was grateful to be able to eat again, and the soup tasted good to me.
In the evening, friends of ours from church brought us dinner and prayed with us. They were very comforting, and I was so glad to see them. While they were there, the phone rang. My dad's biopsy, which he had wanted so much, was over, and it had gone well. Dad was stable and his lungs had neither collapsed nor filled with blood, thank God. The pathologist had been right there during the procedure to make sure they got a good tissue sample.
Later that night, we got another call from my brother: the nodules in Dad's lungs definitely were cancer; he said that the pathologist should be able to tell what kind of cancer within a day or two. I prayed for mercy for my dad.
Somehow, I was able to sleep that night, but was awakened the next morning by the phone ringing. It was my sister. The hospital had just called and said that the family should gather quickly at the hospital because it didn't look like Dad was going to make it through the day.
His lung cancer was Stage IV (the worst), primary (meaning that it had not originated somewhere else), non-small cell, very aggressive. It seemed as if Dad had been holding on until he got a diagnosis, and then when he learned that his cancer was untreatable, he was letting go.
My husband and I quickly packed, including our funeral clothes, and drove to the hospital almost three hours away.
Tears flowed down my cheeks. Would Dad die before I got there? Would I never get to see him alive again? I fervently prayed that I would get to say good-bye to him. My entire family already was at the hospital, except for my husband and me.
We arrived at the hospital around noon and hurried to the intensive care unit. My poor Dad was suffering greatly. His chest heaved violently with the struggle of taking each breath. He had not taken the larger dose of morphine that would have eased him because he wanted to be awake and lucid to see me. For the same reason, he was wearing a powerful oxygen mask that forced air into his lungs, which was very painful but kept his blood oxygen level high enough for him to be mentally alert. He had kept the mask on for hours and eschewed more morphine the whole morning while I packed and traveled. He wanted to see me one last time, and he knew how heartbroken I would be if I never got to say one last good-bye.
This loving sacrifice was so characteristic of the kind of person he was, the kind of dad he always was to me. Every time I think about him hanging on, suffering, but waiting for me to get there, I can't help sobbing (tears are flowing as I type this).
The rest of my family left the room as my husband and I said good-bye to Dad. I told him how much I loved him, what a wonderful father he had been and how blessed I felt that he was my dad, how much I will miss him. I asked him, for my own reassurance, whether he believed that he would have eternal life due to Jesus' saving grace. He nodded emphatically and, despite his breathless, almost complete inability to speak, forced out "Yes!" I cried and said, "I will see you in heaven, Dad, and it will be wonderful. Take care of my babies until I get there." I leaned over and hugged him, and he smiled and managed to say "Love you."
Then my mom had some time alone with Dad before the whole family came in and surrounded his bedside: his wife, all his kids and their spouses, and all his grandchildren. We held his hands, caressed him, hugged him, spoke loving words as the nurse came in and swapped the oxygen mask that forced air for an easier, more comfortable one, and then put more morphine in Dad's IV. His family surrounding his bedside was the last thing that he saw on this earth.
I felt God's presence there in Dad's last conscious moments. What a blessing that I was able to get there in time to say good-bye, what a blessing that the whole family happened to be there on that particular day (my brother and his family live out of state and, due to work and school commitments, weren't able to come that week until two days prior).
God hadn't answered my prayers for a miracle, but he did answer my prayers for mercy for my dad. Yes, Dad was suffering a lot, but he had not suffered long. Dad had always been an active, independent person who would have hated a long period of disability more than anything, and he was spared from having to face that. Dying is inevitable for each and every one of us, and there could have been many worse, more drawn out ways for my dad to go.
It's strange, given the circumstances, but in Dad's last conscious moments I was filled with peace and gratitude to God: gratitude that I had a dad who loved me, that we had always been close, that I had had him as long as I had, that--even though I was going to miss him terribly--his suffering was about to end and he was about to start his new life in heaven.
Dad's last words were "Love you" then "morphine....hurry." As the morphine eased his pain, he became unconscious shortly after 1 p.m. The next several hours were filled with sounds of his tortured, shallow breathing while our eyes intently shifted between him and the monitor showing his oxygen levels and heart rate. They gradually decreased but stayed relatively stable throughout most of the afternoon. Around 4:00, I started holding his hand and didn't let go. I prayed for mercy.
I had strange, random thoughts. I looked down at my shoes and thought about how I had bought them to go on vacation last fall. When I got them I had no idea that I would be wearing them at my father's deathbed a few months later. I kept staring at Dad's face, his hands, trying to soak them in, to memorize them and imprint them on my brain, knowing that soon I wouldn't see him anymore.
Shortly after 5:00 p.m., Dad's oxygen level started dropping more quickly, as did his heart rate. Shortly before 6:00 p.m., his heart rate plummeted and he slipped away without ever regaining consciousness. He took one last breath, and then the only sound in the room was the white noise of his (now unnecessary) oxygen mask. It was a Saturday, January 20, fewer than 2 weeks after he had gone to the emergency room with shortness of breath, fewer than 3 weeks after we had optimistically celebrated the New Year together.
I put my head down on his chest and wept onto his hospital gown. I was still holding his hand.
It's so hard to let go.
This is Jill's husband Bill writing on behalf of Jill to update her blog. She has not had any easy access to a computer or the internet while we have been at her parents during her dad's illness. She wanted me to quickly let everyone know what is going on. Since I am not much of a blogger, I will keep this short. Basically, the past several weeks have been very difficult for Jill and me. As she wrote in a previous post, her father was very ill and she was pregnant. Unfortunately, I do not have good news on either front. We had an ultrsound last Thursday and the baby's heartbeat was gone. On Friday Jill had a D&C. On Saturday her dad passed away from lung cancer. The whole family has pulled together during this difficult time. Jill's physical recovery from the D&C is going well so far and she is hanging in there, but of course she is very sad about the loss of the baby and her beloved father's death. She told me that she would appreciate any prayers for strength and comfort at this time.
She will update you later with more details about the last couple weeks. Thanks for all the support.
First of all, THANK you for all of your kind words and prayers. They mean more to me than I can express. Since I had been away from my blog for such a long time, I wasn't even sure if anyone was still checking it. I was touched and humbled by your generous response, and especially by the people who told me that they would pray for me despite the fact that they don't normally pray.
I had my ultrasound this afternoon. The good news is that the subchorionic hemorrhage is resolving nicely; it's noticeably smaller than last week. The bad news is that it appears that I am going to miscarry anyway. The baby's size/growth is measuring a week behind. We did see a very, very slow and sluggish heartbeat, but it was way behind where it should be for seven weeks. The doctor said that where there's still life, there's still a shred of hope, but it looks pretty certain that I am headed for miscarriage #7.
The doctor didn't think I am going to miscarry in the next few days (although she does think it will happen in the next two weeks), so in the morning I will be on my way out of town to my dad's bedside. He has been having more tests today and probaby will get a more definite diagnosis/prognosis tomorrow or Friday. One doctor said that it if it is indeed cancer in his lungs, as they think it is, it is rampant. They have ruled out that it is prostate cancer that has spread (he was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 1999). They think it is a different kind of cancer that has spread from somewhere else. (I should mention that my dad has never smoked or worked in a smoky atmosphere.) They did a bone scan to check for bone cancer, which would explain the debilitating pain he has been having lately. We are bracing ourselves for the possibility that he may not have much time left at all. My heart aches for my dad and what he is going through, and for my mom, too. She has not even recovered yet from her recent cardiac bypass surgery and all the subsequent complications.
My friend has had more tests this week that indicate that it's looking more and more likely that she has ovarian cancer. She has spots on both her ovaries and a baseball sized mass between her liver and kidneys. She has a hard road ahead, no matter what, and she could die. I feel terrible for her and her husband.
It is hard to fathom so much horrific news coming all at once. I am reeling and a bit numb. I don't even really have much opportunity to deal with the miscarriage news because I need to go and be a comfort to my dad. I can't fall apart yet.
I really was hoping that the pregnancy would miraculously work out, that there would be the bright spot of new life in the midst of all this darkness. I was feeling pretty hopeful and confident before the ultrasound because my pregnancy symptoms had come back with a vengeance. I have been feeling utterly wretched physically, exhausted and nauseated. I even vomited on Monday later in the day, the first time I have ever actually thrown up due to morning sickness.
I don't understand why all of this is happening, but I keep coming back to the fact that it is a fallen world where death and disease flourish. I don't know why God couldn't have extended his mercy to me by allowing me to have this baby, but I am going to continue to trust him anyway. I am not going to let any of this steal my faith or make me bitter; I don't have control over much, but I DO have control over that.
I am trusting God to give me the strength to get me through this, bit by bit. I very sad and am probably going to get even more sad before this season is over, but this is not going to break me.
Hello again. I hope that you all had a nice Christmas and a good New Years. I have some news. First, right around Christmas (when, by the way, I had a bad respiratory infection), I discovered that I was pregnant, unexpectedly and unplanned. Pregnancy #7.
Of course, I was apprehensive, given my track record, but also thankful to God for this new life, and the hope and chance, however slim, of bringing it into the world. Because I hadn't been trying to become pregnant, I hadn't been taking progesterone supplements as I otherwise would have. To be honest, I was expecting a chemical pregnancy. At times, I was experiencing some brown spotting. My husband and I both felt like we didn't want to share the news with anyone until I was much farther along, God willing. I trusted in God to either help my to have the baby or to give me the strength to deal with another loss, and I felt some peace. I didn't feel any need to write about it or talk about it. I felt badly that I have dragged people through my miscarriage dramas so many times already. We didn't tell anyone.
I also just couldn't face getting betas, and I decided not to get on the roller coaster of weekly ultrasounds. I didn't even contact my doctor. Since we know from repeated HSGs that my fallopian tubes are wide open and that I am at no particular risk for an ectopic pregnancy, I couldn't think of any medical necessity for getting the betas and the early ultrasounds. I think they are mainly prescribed for recurrent miscarriers as a means of TLC and reassurance, but they do nothing to reassure me and only serve to make my stress level shoot through the roof. I have had great betas and still miscarried. I have had great ultrasounds and have seen babies' heartbeats and still miscarried. I find no reassurance in betas or ultrasounds, and in my last pregnancy I remember feeling so stressed about them that I had trouble breathing. Either a pregnancy is going to work out or it isn't; in my experience, the medical profession has offered me nothing to prevent a first trimester miscarriage. Also, after the complications that I had with my last D&C and the lack of conclusive results on chromosomal testing of the baby, I am not now particularly inclined to choose a D&C over miscarrying naturally. I decided that ignorance was bliss, and I would assume that everything was okay unless red bleeding or cramping alerted me otherwise.
The days continued to go by, and my pregnancy symptoms increased (sore breasts, loss of appetite, some nausea, fatigue). The symptoms weren't as strong or as debilitating as they were in my most recent pregnancy last summer, but they were strong enough that it was making it harder to keep up my normal schedule. Going back to work after the holidays (while still battling the last remnants of the respiratory infection) was difficult, but I kept plugging along.
I prayed often and fervently, begging to be able to carry this baby to term and give birth to it, to get to know it, to raise my child, but telling God that I trust him and will accept his perfect will no matter what it is. I was acutely aware that I have no control over the outcome of the pregnancy, and I kept saying to myself "I am letting go, and letting God. He will take care of me, no matter what the outcome."
Then, last Wednesday evening I was at home, and during a trip to the bathroom I discovered bright red bleeding. Definitely more than spotting. I wasn't surprised, but I was sad. I didn't have any pain or cramps, but I figured it was the beginning of the end of the pregnancy. I told my husband and wept quietly in his arms. I actually felt some measure of peace was able to sleep well that night. In the morning when I got up to go to the bathroom, I was surprised to find that the bleeding had miraculously stopped. There was no bood on the pad that I put on right before going to bed, only some slight reddish brown spotting on the toilet paper. Thankful but puzzled, I called my OB/GYN for an appointment. They got me in that morning and did an ultrasound.
Due to being crazy busy at work in December and working long hours and weekends, I remembered that there was only one time mid-cycle when I possibly could have conceived, and I noted the date. I must have ovulated almost a week later than normal. Therefore, although on the day of the ultrasound I was six weeks, five days from my last period, I was expecting that, if I hadn't miscarried, the baby would measure right around six weeks. I completely expected to have miscarried, though, and was looking for the ultrasound to confirm it.
Instead, the ultrasound revealed a yolk sac and fetal pole measuring right around six weeks, and the doctor thought she may have seen a heartbeat flickering, but it was inconclusive. It also revealed a dark spot in my uterus, a pool of blood that in actuality was about one millimeter across. A subchorionic hemorrhage, the source of my bleeding. It is not a good thing to have; it increases the risk of miscarriage and, if miscarriage is avoided, of some other serious complications that could result in stillbirth or other problems. It's not a good thing to have, but it also does not necessarily spell doom. Sometimes they resolve on their own, early. The doctor was hopeful and upbeat and said, "It's still very possible that this pregnancy could work out for you." She asked me to come in again in a week to monitor the growth of the baby and the status of the hemorrhage. She said to contact her if I have cramping or more red bleeding that doesn't stop relatively quickly.
I left the ultrasound feeling extremely grateful that the pregnancy still had a chance, but also a bit shell shocked. From past experience I know that the farther the pregnancy progresses, the higher the stakes and the harder it is for me, emotionally and physically, to miscarry. I resolved to keep trusting God, but I must admit that the red bleeding and the knowledge of the hemorrhage stole most of the peace I had been feeling about the pregnancy.
I came home to receive the news that one of my friends, who is a few years younger than I am and has been suffering from unexplained infertility for the past few years, had just found out that she probably has ovarian cancer. I felt sickened for her. Why, Lord? She is one of the sweetest, truly Christian people I have ever met, and I didn't want her to have to face such suffering.
I continued to have brownish spotting, which the doctor had told me to expect, and by Saturday (two days ago) I had just started to recover emotionally from the bleeding episode. My husband and I had dinner plans with one of my old friends from high school, and I decided to keep them. We had a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant, although I was queasy and couldn't eat much. I didn't tell my friend about the pregnancy; we still hadn't told anyone about it. After dinner, we went out for coffee and dessert. While drinking my decaf tea, I decided that I needed to go to the ladies' room. It is a restroom with only one sink and toilet, and if anyone is using it the whole thing is locked. Someone was in there; it seemed like forever. While I stood there, waiting, I felt something gush out of me. I silently panicked, as the cappucino machine whooshed an wailed and people chatted casually around me. It took a few more minutes for the bathroom to open up. I discovered bright red blood, again, more this time, and a clot. I felt shaken. It was surreal; was I losing my baby right here in the public restroom of the coffee shop?
I woozily walked out an told my husband and friend that I wasn't feeling well and needed to go home. Once there, I laid down on the couch, and my husband made me a cup of herbal tea. Periodically I went to the bathroom to monitor the bleeding. Again, it suddenly tapered off. There was no more overnight or in the morning. Just some brown spotting, old blood. I chalked it up to the hemorrhage again, not a miscarriage, but I worried for my baby.
The next morning, Sunday, yesterday, I felt exhausted. Not well enough to go to church, even. However, my nausea seemed a little less, which concerned me. By afternoon, I was feeling a bit better.
The day before I had called my friend who is facing the possible ovarian cancer diagnosis and asked her what I could do for her. She asked me to come visit her and pray with her, and we agreed that I would come over at 5:30. Shortly before I left for her house, my sister called to tell me that my 79-year old dad who lives three hours away was having shortness of breath, and she was taking him to the emergency room. They thought he was having a reaction to some new medication. What next?
I dithered temporarily about canceling my visit to my friend, but quickly considered what she is going through and resolved not to let her down. There was nothing at that point that I could do for my dad, anyway, but I told my sister to call me on my cell the minute they had news.
I arrived at my friend's house with a big, cheerful bouquet of flowers for her, and was saddened to see her looking so ill. She was wan, pale, and her abdomen was noticeably bloated. In my mind, I wailed "No, no, no!" We hugged and talked for a while, until we were interrupted by the ringing of a cell phone. I explained my dad's situation to her and took the call. It was my sister.
I was not prepared for what she was about to tell me.
At the emergency room, an X-ray performed on my dad's lungs showed both of his lungs filled with numerous nodules that to my sister looked like marbles. More testing and a biopsy is required to diagnose with 100% certainly, but....
It appeared clear to the attending physician that my dad has advanced lung cancer, and what's worse, it appears to have spread from somewhere else.
I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. My eyes welled with tears. I choked out some questions without really registering the answers. I heard that my brother and his wife were on their way from out of state.
I confided to my sister my dilemma, of my pregnancy and bleeding and the higher risk of miscarriage that it entails. She told me that we can't tell my parents my news, not right now. They would worry about me, and they have enough on their plates.
I felt at a complete loss as to what to do. I wanted to jump in the car and drive straight to the hospital, but I also am very afraid due to my recurrent, frightening bleeding episodes that could turn into a full-blown miscarriage at any moment. I feel afraid to be on a driving trip, afraid to be away from my doctor, and it will only make it worse for everyone if I have a miscarriage at the hospital in the midst of my dad's cancer diagnosis. But I really want to be with him and my family.
My sister took charge and told me not to come right away, to talk to my doctor about it. She decided to tell my parents that that I am not feeling well and can't make the trip to be with them immediately, but that I will come as soon as I can.
I called my dad in his room and talked to him. He has already made it up in his mind that he is about to die. He kept saying that he has had a good life, not to worry about him, and that I am a good daughter and he loves me. He has been in such bad health for the past few years, with cardiac bypass surgery, hip replacement surgery, and more recently, debilitating chronic back, arm and hip pain that the doctors could not find a reason for (I suspect that the prostate cancer that he had treated seven years ago came back and spread to his bones, explaining his pain, and then spread to his lungs). He does not want to go through chemo, and probably not radiation, unless his prognosis is very good, and it most likely will not be good.
So this is probably how I am going to lose my dad. If so, it will not be an easy road for him or for any of us.
I fell asleep after crying profusely last night, but awoke at 1:30 to go to the bathroom and couldn't get back to sleep until about 5:00. My poor dad, my poor mother. She is just barely back on her feet after her cardiac bypass surgery in October and subsequent string of complications. When I talked with her on the phone, she just kept saying "I just can't believe it. This is like a nightmare."
Today I am waiting to talk with my OB/GYN to tell her about my weekend bleeding episode and seek her advice on what I should do regarding my travel plans. In the meantime, I don't feel nauseated and my breasts are losing their soreness. In the past, decreasing symptoms always have been a harbinger of miscarriage for me. I always have missed miscarriages, so my baby already could have died; I don't know.
My dad is in the hospital having more tests and waiting to see an oncologist. Hopefully by the end of the day we will know more, have a more definite diagnosis, perhaps a prognosis.
I am at a loss, and all I know to do is to cling to God, to take things bit by bit and to trust him to give me the strength to get through whatever I need to get through. I am praying for my dad, my family, my friend who is facing surgery and a biopsy for ovarian cancer this week, my baby, my husband, and myself. If you are the praying type, please add your prayers to mine.
Hello, all. I have been contemplating my schedule between now and the end of the year and realized that it probably won't leave much time, if any, for blogging. I am anticipating much craziness and many long hours at my job, plus holiday-related activities, plus I REALLY need to use any leftover time to work on our adoption paperwork. Therefore, if you don't see a new post from me for a while or if I am unable to visit your blogs as I would like to, it's not because there is anything wrong; it's just because my life has ramped up into hectic high gear. Hopefully things will slow down a bit in January so that I can get back to my regularly scheduled blogging. In the meantime, I will be thinking of you, will miss you, and hope that you are doing well.
Creepy music swelled in my ears as the giant Tootsie Roll bent menacingly toward my prostrate form with pliers while a nun hovered grimly in the background....
No, it was not a nightmare; it was my orthodontic appointment last week at which the staff donned costumes to celebrate Halloween. Notwithstanding the horror soundtrack playing over the sound system in honor of the holiday, it was a happy occasion.
I finally got my braces off!
I may not have mentioned it in a while, but over two years ago I had my wisdom teeth pulled and then had braces installed on my teeth to correct a problem with my bite that was contributing to jaw pain and cracking (i.e., TMJ) when I chewed. The main purpose of the braces was functional, not cosmetic, but the cosmetic part definitely was a bonus that I was eagerly anticipating. I had an overbite, plus my bottom teeth had become crowded and a bit crooked since my wisdom teeth came in.
I distinctly remember rushing to my car two years ago immediately after the braces were put on and eagerly flipping down the visor to peer at my new mouth in the mirror. "I'm hideous!" I shrieked. I had paid extra to get the clear brackets so that the braces would be less noticeable (and the clear brackets did help...the braces are on my teeth in my blog photo, and I don't think they are obtrusive), but I what I wasn't counting on was how BIG the brackets were. They seemed large and clunky and pushed my lips out in a decidedly unflattering fashion. When I smiled, I had to struggle afterward to force my upper lip back down over the enormous brackets. In addition, the wires laced through the brackets were all squiggly and crooked and crazy-looking.
It was nerd central.
On top of looking goofy, my mouth quickly began to hurt. My teeth were sore, and the metal appliances gouged sores in the insides of my cheeks. I had to eat fruit smoothies, mashed potatoes, and applesauce for a few days.
All of these unpleasantries subsided rather quickly. Yes, the soreness reared its ugly head every six weeks when I had my braces tightened, but that wasn't too bad.
I think the hardest part of having braces was that they are Food Magnets. No matter what I ate, it became wedged in the front brackets. Dining out in social settings became more of a challenge as I realized that talking or smiling during a meal easily could reveal a heinous chunk of spinach or other nourishment lodged firmly in an embarrassingly conspicuous location. I knew I had a Situation when my husband averted his eyes and quickly shook his head; that meant that it was time to head to the ladies' room with a toothbrush for some damage control. I was thankful that I was comfortably married and not out on the dating scene!
But that angst is all history now. Now my teeth are totally! all! *nude!* except for a permanent retainer adhered to the back of my bottom front teeth...well, okay, and also except for a removable upper retainer that I have to wear at night and for four hours during the day. The main thing is that today I can safely eat spinach in public with abandon.
I must admit that I like the way my teeth look now, too. I confess that I have often pulled a little mirror out of my desk in the past week to admire them. I'm considering getting them whitened.
The day the braces came off, my husband and I went out for a special meal at one of our favorite restaurants to celebrate, and then I celebrated again later that evening by eating candy such as Tootsie Rolls and Milk Duds (sticky treats that are forbidden to those with braces) while I handed out Halloween candy to trick-or-treaters who came to my front door.
When my braces went on, I remember thinking that surely I would have a baby in my arms by the time they came off two years later. Well, that hasn't happened yet, but I still have a lot to be happy about. One of the things that the past several years has taught me is that you have fully take advantage of the little causes for celebration in life and relish them.
Excuse me while I go eat a Tootsie Roll.
As I take some very early steps toward adopting a baby, I sometimes question the wisdom of talking openly with people about it at this point. At times it is excruciating to work through my feelings regarding trying to ease my grip on my dream of a successful pregnancy and a biological child while trying to learn about and digest and cope with the realities and complexities and losses that adoption entails for all involved. I sometimes feel that it would be wise to keep my plans to adopt to myself until I have more thoroughly worked through my thoughts and feelings about adoption. This might be preferable to telling people that I am pursuing adoption and thereby subjecting myself to hearing their often woefully uninformed opinions.
This feeling is not at all aimed at those of you who have left thoughtful and supportive comments on my previous posts regarding adoption; I greatly appreciate those. Also, I am not trying to stick my head in the sand and avoid input from people who have experience with adoption in various forms. To the contrary, I have gone out of my way to seek people out and to hear the stories of adoptive parents, adopted persons, and mothers who made adoption plans for their babies. I have sought input from people involved in domestic infant adoptions, adoptions of older children in foster care, adoptions with varying degrees of openness from totally open to totally closed and situations in between, international adoptions, transracial adoptions, etc. I have also been reading various books about adoption.
No, I'm not trying to stick my head in the sand. I'm not trying to avoid difficult realities about adoption. I just would like to avoid being the object of unsolicited and usually uninformed adoption comments for a while. For some reason, EVERYONE has their own opinions about adoption and, despite the fact that most people in the general public are fairly ignorant concerning adoption issues, they still for some reason feel entitled to share their opinions with me when they find out I am planning to adopt when a simple "that's nice" or "congratulations" would suffice.
Fertile couples can make decisions about how to build a family in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Couples who seek to build their families through adoption (usually after a long and heartbreaking struggle with the inability to conceive/pregnancy loss) must expose everything about themselves to strangers (adoption agency personnel, etc.) who determine whether they are worthy enough to become parents--understandably so and with good reason, of course: a vulnerable little human being should not be handed over to just anybody. This process of exposure and evaluation is a very necessary process, but not a necessarily comfortable and pleasant one for prospective adoptive parents.
This aspect of being a prospective adoptive parent--this being opened up for judgment--seems to bleed over from people who have a right to have a vote in the matter (adoption social workers and parent[s] who are seeking adoptive parents for their baby) into the general population. It seems that if a couple conceives a biological child together in the privacy of their marriage, they are lauded and generally are not bombarded with inappropriate commentary about their decision to build a family. After all, that's their business; it's their "own child." When a couple seeks to adopt someone else's child, it seems that every acquaintance of the couple and everyone under the sun who knows about the prospective adoption feels that they have a stake and an opinion to share in the matter and the right to question or judge the couple's choices.
Let me share some of the unsolicited input that I have gotten in real life when I have expressed that we are at the beginning stages of pursuing a domestic infant adoption: "Oh, you don't want to do that...(cue myriad adoption horror stories)." "We have been been wondering why you have been putting yourself through miscarriage after miscarriage when there are so many needy children who are already here and need good homes." "Wow, that's really wonderful of you. There are so many poor orphans who need a good home." "Why would you choose a domestic infant adoption when there are so many AIDs orphans in Africa and children in orphanages in Russia who desperately need good homes?" "Well, I'm glad that you're not adopting from Korea like so-and-so did; I think it's wrong for Asian children to be raised by white people who have no connection to their race or culture (this from a Korean American)." "Good for you for adopting an American baby. We should be taking care of our own first." "Why are you ruling out the adoption of a black baby? Is your family racist or something? Do you feel unable to love a black child?" "If you stay in touch with the birthmother through letters and pictures, aren't you worried that she might change her mind and kidnap the child?" "Are you going to have contact with the REAL mother?" "Once you adopt and relax, then you probably will get pregnant and have your own baby."
Why would a person think that any of these comments are the appropriate response to "We have started the process of adopting a baby"?
There are some themes that run through the pesky comments, such as adoption is second best, babies and children who are available for adoption are pitiful and adoptive parents are saints to take them (or sometimes, conversely, are baby stealers for doing so), adoptive parents aren't real parents, and the only acceptable motivation for adopting is helping a child in need by rescuing a poor orphan or a child with special circumstances or needs. Balderdash.
Let's focus on that last opinion regarding acceptable motivations for adopting. Do I think that it's a laudable, positive, wonderful thing to help orphans living in poverty and children with special needs ? Yes. Of course, I totally agree that those children deserve good, loving homes where their needs are met. Absolutely.
However, it irks me that, in my experience, the people who have expressed the opinion that it is my particular moral obligation to adopt such a child are always, without exception, fertile people who have one or more biological children and have never pursued adoption themselves. Why do those people think that because I have been through the heartbreak and hell of six miscarriages that it is more my responsibility than theirs to adopt an orphan from an impoverished nation or an abused/neglected/special needs child? Do they think that because they are fertile that they get a free pass from any responsibility to provide a home to a child in need? Do they think that they don't need to "go there" because they have children of "their own?"
Furthermore, have they researched attachment disorder or the results of fetal alcohol syndrome or in utero exposure to crack, for example? Do they understand the struggles of an older child who has been sexually or physically abused or neglected to the egregious extent that a court terminated their parents' right to them (and do they understand the child nevertheless considers those parents his family)? Do they understand what that all entails? Are they willing to integrate a child with those issues into their homes and their own lives? The answer for people who have touted their unsolicited opinions to me is "no."
God bless people who ARE willing to adopt children with particularly difficult special needs. I respect and admire them, and I also suspect they are the last people who would try to shame a person who realistically and thoughtfully decides not to pursue a special needs adoption.
After much consideration, I think that adopting a special needs child can be a wonderful thing, but it is not something to choose lightly. Especially for someone like me who has absolutely no parenting experience, it is not something to choose lightly. I think it is a calling, something that God particularly puts on a person's heart and gifts them to handle. I considered adopting a special needs child--particularly an abused/neglected older child in the foster care system. I trawled social services websites, looking at photos and biographies of waiting children. They broke my heart. I attended a two day conference on issues regarding the child welfare system and such children, and I walked away with the feeling that I honestly just don't have the heart or the skills and experience to handle the challenges that are involved.
After prayer, I don't feel that I am being called to a special needs adoption. I'm not particularly proud that I don't have that calling, but I'm not ashamed, either. It is what it is.
Like most prospective parents, I am hoping for a relatively normal, healthy child. Why do some people think that it is that okay for a pregnant woman to want a healthy, normal baby but not for a prospective adoptive mother to want one? I know that at least one of the babies whom I lost had a trisomy. If that pregnancy had continued to progress, and if that baby had been born and survived I would have loved him dearly and done my best to care for him tenderly to the best of my ability, but I certainly would not have chosen that trisomy and the troubles it would have entailed for the child or for me.
I think the crux of the matter is: what is the point of adopting for most prospective adoptive parents? According to a book I just read, 95% of people who adopt do so because they are unable to have biological children. Their motivation for adopting is that they want to be parents, to experience the joys of raising children and having a loving relationship with them, plain and simple. It's the same motivation that anyone has for having children. They just want to have a family.
That's why I am considering adoption. I just want to have a family, hopefully a happy one. I am childless at this point and have no experience whatsoever with parenting. Like any prospective first-time parent, at times the prospect of parenthood, while wonderful, makes me feel a bit unsure of myself. The prospect of the realities of of parenting a normal, healthy child in today's world can at times seem daunting. If I adopt, I already will be adding a layer of adoption issues to the parenting realities. As a first-time parent, that's enough for me to handle.
So, when considering adoption, I choose to pursue the domestic infant route. I chose this route in large part because if offers the opportunity to adopt a very young baby. According to my research, if an infant does not bond with a caregiver properly by having his needs consistently met during the first six months of life, it can create some devastating and lifelong emotional, relational, and behavioral consequences that to me as a prospective adoptive parent seem pretty scary and overwhelming. If I'm going to parent a child then I would prefer to be there during those first six months to create that bond with me and to make sure that the child is well cared for and not neglected or abused in any way during that crucial developmental period.
Likewise, in filling out the adoption agency's paperwork that requires me to state my preferences regarding a baby whom I am hoping to adopt, I am not going to check the box indicating that I would like to adopt a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome or in utero exposure to cocaine or certain other similar issues. Like most prospective parents, I would prefer a healthy baby.
There are mothers of healthy babies in this country who choose to make adoption plans for their babies. These babies need good homes, too; special needs babies, children in foster care, and children from other countries are not the only ones who deserve good, loving homes.
My personal choice--after much research, soul-searching, prayer, and discussion with my husband--is to pursue the domestic adoption of a healthy baby (a white baby, as I discussed in a previous post) through a reputable agency that, from everything I have been able to learn, interacts respectfully and in a non-coercive manner toward pregnant women who go through the agency to make adoption plans for their babies. If some people negatively judge my choice, so be it; that's their problem.
No human gets a vote or the right to judge why or how I adopt except my husband, the adoption agency personnel, and the parent(s) who make an adoption plan for their baby who choose us to raise the child...and I'm going to point that out to the next person who mistakenly assumes that they have some say in the matter.
Thank you to all of you who left supportive comments to my last couple of posts and particularly for the prayers and good wishes for my mom's health. She had her cardiac bypass surgery two weeks ago today and came through the procedure okay. We all were thankful that it involved only a single bypass that was able to be done through a small incision on the side of her chest. Thus, she was able to avoid the more invasive traditional open-heart surgery in which the sternum is cracked open, and therefore her recovery was expected to be much quicker and easier than is the case with the traditional surgery.
On the day before the surgery, my parents called me and asked me to drive to be with them over the weekend rather than arriving earlier on the day of the surgery as I had planned. Since my sister was going to take time off from her job to be with them during the surgery and initial hospital stay, they thought it would be a better use of my limited time off from my job to arrive later to assist my mom during and after her discharge from the hospital. They wanted me to be there to help get her settled in at home.
I arrived two days after the surgery and ended up being there over a week because unfortunately my mom's recovery involved several complications. First she experienced severe heart arrhythmia which delayed her discharge from the hospital. Then, when she was discharged, she experienced symptoms that landed her in the emergency room less than 24 hours later because her lungs were filling up with fluid (a condition associated with congestive heart failure). She was re-admitted to the hospital and her lungs were drained, but unfortunately she developed a nasty infection via the site on her arm where an IV was administered in the emergency room. After a few more days in the hospital and some strong antibiotics she was deemed well enough to go home, but she was very weak.
My mom is 79 and had already been looking elderly, but now she seemed noticeably more shrunken, small, old, frail, and vulnerable. Her condition during her initial recovery required me to care for her like almost like an infant. Seeing my normally independent mother like that and realizing that our role reversals were bound to continue as she aged broke my heart a little bit. After all my mother has done for me, I was glad to be there to care for her, but it was bittersweet. I realize the great blessing it is that both my parents are still living and am so thankful that God answered my fervent prayers that my mom would pull through her surgery. Still, it is sad to watch my parents physically deteriorate and suffer through repeated health crises.
Many thoughts came to my mind as I sat in my mother's hospital room hour after hour. Mainly I reflected on the importance of family. I have a bond with my parents that makes me more than willing to drop everything at the blink of an eye to be there for them as they have been there for me so many times. I contrasted the support my mom received from loved ones with another elderly cardiac patient down the hall, a man who never seemed to have any visitors. The nurse confided that he didn't have any children, no family to help buoy him up and care for him during his illness. How sad. This is a hard world, and we all need a family to circle the wagons when times are tough.
I feel caught between the preceding generation, my parents, whose lives are winding down, and the total lack of a subsequent generation, my children. I have been feeling the loss of all my unborn children more sharply than I have felt that loss in a while. I realized that if my most recent pregnancy had not ended in yet another miscarriage, I would be entering my sixth month right now, round and ripe and full of hope (instead, my womb is empty and my period arrived, complete with severe cramps). Losing my parents is inevitable, like a freight train coming down the tracks, and even if I adopt and have the incredible blessing of raising a child, I still grieve the abrupt amputation of my family line. Once my parents are gone, it doesn't seem likely at this point that I will have a child who echoes their faces, frames, talents, or mannerisms.
As my mom reclined in her hospital bed, I looked at her midsection and marveled that my life began inside her body, that it nourished and protected me for nine months before performing the miracle of birth. I must admit that I like having one sole mother--one mother who conceived me, carried me, gave birth to me, and raised me. It's normal and simple and uncomplicated and awesome. It saddens me that if I adopt a child it won't be simple like that for them as my child...or for me as their mother. With adoption, there will always be another mother, and I understand that, I accept it, I am gradually embracing it, but it's a loss to me nonetheless not to be a mother who conceives and gives life to the child she parents.
I also was faced squarely with mortality, not only my mother's but also my own. If we live long enough, bit by bit almost everything that we hold dear will begin to fall away: our physical abilities, our mental sharpness, our independence, our looks, our friends and peers. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I personally can't fathom how people with no faith in God deal with that. If this life was all there is, then it would be a horribly cruel joke to deteriorate and die. It's hard enough even WITH faith, with the hope and promise of eternal life and the understanding that the inner man is being sanctified even as the outer man is falling away.
Sorry to get so heavy on you, but I have been feeling a bit heavy and blue lately. Maybe it is an emotional hangover from all the stress of last week but it saddens me that at this point in my life, after six pregnancies, the only mothering I am doing is of my own parents.
At the same time, I'm thankful for so many things...that my mom and dad are still alive, that I have a loving relationship with them, that I have the health and ability to be able to help them when they need it, that my boss was supportive and let me take time to be with them, that I can get in the car and go see them or pick up the phone and talk with them, that I have a wonderful husband, that adoption provides a possible avenue for me to have a child even if it's not a perfect avenue, and most of all that I have faith and hope in a God that is bigger than deterioration and death.
I just discovered that The Today Show (on NBC) is planning to air a short documentary tomorrow morning(Thursday, October 12th at 8:09 a.m.) about the struggles of infertile couples. It will discuss the topic of surrogacy (although I'm not sure that surrogacy will be the sole focus). I thought I would pass the information along in case others struggling with miscarriages or infertility would be interested in watching. If you have an opinion on the segment that you would like to share with NBC, you can e-mail them at [email protected].
I thought the segment was well done and did a good job of conveying the anguish of losing babies and the importance of being enabled to grieve. It tells the story of a couple who experienced two stillbirths followed by the loss of a premature son after birth and who eventually had three children through the help of a surrogate mother. While interviewing the couple, Meredith Vieira shared that she has experienced five miscarriages, which I did not know. Here is a link where you can view the segment if you missed it: