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.