I got the opportunity to Facetime with my sister today and watch all three of her little sweeties. It is amazing to me that she is now a mother of three. She went in Tuesday at 9am to start the induction on this little guy and then finally Wednesday at sometime after 6pm he appeared. He followed his older cousin Captain E in taking his sweet time in making an entrance (all five of our other girls came in 10 hours or less) but mom and baby are doing great and seem really happy. Both his sisters are ecstatic at his birth and I personally can't wait to get my hands on his sweet little goodness. That being said there is a part of this birth that is particularly bitter sweet for me. I happen to be at what I hope to be the tail end of a miscarriage.
It feels so heavy to type those words, especially since most people didn't even know I was pregnant but about eight weeks ago Dr. J and I found out we were expecting our fifth child. It was a surprise and I can tell you that the news was met with tears and fear. First off I'd already been feeling the strain of four children. When your spouse is so busy and you spend so much time on your own, motherhood can be a highly demanding occupation. That week in particular it seemed that so many people had made commentary about the size of our family already and I just didn't see how I could scrape up any more energy and if I could face what already seemed to be the judging disapproval over our family size. Then came the fear. Cheetah's birth was horrible and scary and while there is no reason to suspect another birth like that, in the back of our minds it loomed heavy. Finally there was the panic. We had planned a trip to Kenya for this summer, lots of people had jump through many hoops to make it happen, and now rather then being ready to go, it looked like we'd be having a baby right in the first week of our trip. We were freaking out.
But what was done was done and as I started to be overwhelmed with feelings of nausea and exhaustion a growing acceptance entered our hearts. When we saw that the baby was due the same week that Captain E and Peach were born I was instantly calmed. Through no planning of our own, our children were all due exactly 2 1/2 years apart. It is something that through the years has brought me a lot of comfort as a testament to God's divine order, that he had a plan for my life outside of what I was aware. As each child was born I had actually seen divine confirmation as to why they were born when they were. That due date was like the promise of something better. As we talked over our summer plans we finally decided that after I had the baby Dr. J would leave for Kenya right away with his group as planned. I would stay state side but would go home for the summer and this little one would get to spend his first two months of life surrounded by grandparents, something none of our children had gotten to experience. While not necessarily an ideal plan there was a part of me that felt a little relief over this turn of events after the mall shooting in Nairobi. And once our summer plans were solidified in our minds we actually started to get a little excited about the idea. We felt strongly that this would be our last child and felt strong confirmation that it would finally be the boy that Captain E so desperately longed for. In a complete opposite of normal events we came up with a name almost immediately that both of us were in total agreement on. While I couldn't completely shake the fear of Cheetah's birth a love began to plant itself deep within my heart and it brought me hours of joy to plan how we would announce the pregnancy to our older children and the rest of our family. Then two weeks ago I started to miscarry.
M is for misery.
This was probably not my first miscarriage. It seems to me that some point in our past I missed a period, had a confirmed pregnancy test and then started to have bleeding, but this was by far our furthest along. At ten weeks I almost felt like I was in the clear and had already had plenty of time to enjoy the not so great parts of being pregnant, but here I was heavily cramping and bleeding, and it was misery. For me physically the miscarriage was awful. I had intense cramping that of course like all of my labors was accompanied by back pain. The first week I also had to suffer through the injustice of still dealing with morning sickness and fatigue. It was insult to injury. The bleeding was intense, much more severe then any period and the feeling of passing material made me physically ill. It was incredibly isolating. I didn't go anywhere for weeks because when you are soaking through pads and cramping you don't want to go anywhere. In the last two and half weeks I've worn jeans exactly two hours, at a MOPS meeting and even then I had to go to the restroom twice. Most of the time I've just sat at my house in sweat pants or leggings, confined to a ten foot radius from my bathroom. It has been emotionally isolating. There were only two people who knew I was pregnant. In some ways that was a blessing to not have people constantly asking, in others it was painful. At one point I went to pick Peach up from preschool and one of my workout buddies commented on how she hadn't seen me in weeks. I mouthed the words, "I'm having a miscarriage," and in just seconds she had crossed the hall and wrapped me up in a big hug. It was a huge comfort to me. No real words to be said, but an action that told me she knew what I was going through and she was sorry. But most people didn't know and my pain made me feel separate from them. It was isolating from my husband. He was kind and compassionate but for him it was maybe a relief and for me it felt like a crushing blow.
M is for Monster.
It is hard for me to know if it was the hormones or the experience but these last few weeks I have felt like a monster, like I'm going insane, like my emotions have been all over the place. I have been angry at everyone. I've been angry at God for putting love in a my heart for a child I was not going to get to raise. I've been angry at my husband for not feeling the devastation I've felt. At one point for about five days I actually went and slept in the guest room because seeing him enjoy this online game he plays (that I already hate) while I ways laying in bed feeling like I was bleeding to death was just more than I could take. I've been angry at my children for any disobedience. It is hard to be patient and loving and kind when you feel horrible. I've been angry at my doctors office for having the worlds "failed abortion" on my paperwork. I've felt angry at the whole world for just continuing on as if today was the same as yesterday. I've been sad, so sad. What seems like an almost constant stream of tears while I'm driving, wracking sobs in the bathroom, random tears springing to my eyes when I'm in the hallway at pickup or looking in the mirror or watching my other children play. It reminds me of the intense sadness I felt when I had to leave the hospital without Cheetah only then I knew I would eventually be bringing her home and now I know this child is never to be. And even that thought leaves me with feelings of confusion. This baby hardly was, just a few short weeks of life, never outside of my body. The laws of heaven tell me that God has a plan. The laws of nature tell me that if I miscarry it is probably for the best. My mind says, "how can you love something the size of a large grape that you've never seen, that you will never hold, that you will never take care of," but my soul is so profoundly sad that I know that my heart doesn't understand those laws. I feel guilty that when I first found out I was pregnant I was so upset, so scared, so disappointed. In the dark corners of my mind I worry that my child choose not to stay because he didn't feel loved enough.
M is for Mercy.
Even in my sadness, anger, pain, and my guilt there is a small glimmer mercy, this small place open waiting for God to show me what I need to know. I felt real joy at the birth of my newest nephew. I plan to find balm in his sweet baby cheeks. I've found comfort in my sister and my mom, and in a few good friends who have been willing to share their love and the wisdom they've gained through experiencing loss themselves. I've heard my sister who is always insisting I have too many children say the words, "You know, you can always have another one." And interestingly enough as our plans for our family trip are back on all the fear I had about travelling since that horrible terrorist attack have left me and instead been replaced with a desire to do some good in the world. Maybe it was just that reminder that even just sitting at home bad things can happen, but I felt a renewed desire to follow a greater plan and show faith in the direction God is pushing me. I don't have any magic answers for our future. I don't know if we will ever have another child, if this empty feeling in my arms will ever fill, and I certainly still have no idea what God's greater plan is for my life but I do have faith that there is a plan and I hope that someday I can fully understand its purpose.