Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Last week I saw this invitation to write about bravery. About you being brave, and facing a fear. (more thoughts on bravery here.)

And you know what, I doubt many of us would consider ourselves 'brave'. We might look at someone else, and think, man, THAT person is brave, but not me.

Well, right now I am claiming the bravery title.

Three years ago today, I lost my third pregnancy. There was no explanation, his heart was no longer beating. I found this out at week 16 1/2. You might think the following hours were a bit blurry for me, but they are very clear in my memory. Of course I fell apart in the exam room. I didn't know where my husband was at the time, and the doctors were trying to find him for me. It was taking some time, and finally I just went out to my car, keeping myself together for the five or so minutes it took to leave the clinic in the hospital and get to my car. It was decided, between myself, my husband (a Physicians Assistant), and my doctors that I be induced and deliver the baby. We made arrangements for Superhero and Blondie to be taken care of overnight, and the next morning, as soon as they had a bed, we went to Labor and Delivery.

Before I go any further, I want to say that my doctors and nurses were truly amazing. Perhaps they were extra nice to me considering my situation. I know there are many out there who have terrible experiences with military health care providers, but that has not been my experience. I don't know how we've gotten lucky each time that our family has needed to be in the hospital, but we just have.

They induced me, and I'm not sure why I didn't figure this out, but at that point in development, there is no need to dilate to a 10. It took some time to get me to a 5, and at that point I was asked to start pushing. This was the only time I have ever delivered a baby vaginally. As well as without pain medication. After I delivered, they put him on a warmer, as I tried to emotionally and physically recover from what I just went through.

About an hour later, they asked if I would like to hold him. I did. My husband did not.

Later that night, while talking on the phone to my best friend, I seemed very calm. I was calm. In fact I had this sense of peace that I knew was not coming from myself. I can't describe it any other way.

They kept me overnight, to make sure there was not bleeding. They sent me home the next day, with a box of things. They had dressed him in a small blue outfit and had taken pictures of him, and the outfit, as well as a few other things provided by organizations for situations like this had donated or made. That hour of peace was no more, and in pretty much every aspect, I was a wreck.

My milk came in the next day, which was a nightmare. They had said it wouldn't, but boy did it come. Having milk with no baby to give it to was....um.....don't really know the right word for this, but maybe you can try and imagine.

I recovered, and eventually found some peace with what happened, and with that peace was able to move on.

Fast forward two years, (and two moves and a deployment) and I found myself pregnant again. Just a few months after my husband had come home from deployment. We kept it to ourselves for many weeks. Things were going well. One Thursday, I started to feel these odd pains. I know that when you're pregnant, things hurt sometimes, so I didn't pay too much attention to it. I told my husband, and we both figured it wasn't a big deal. Saturday, right at about my 16 week mark, in the afternoon, those very same pains became a much bigger deal. My uterus was contracting. I drank massive amounts of water, put my feet up, and prayed the contractions would stop. They did not. My husband, somewhat in denial about what was really happening, didn't think I needed to go to the hospital. I felt a pop in my cervix and my water broke. He took me to the ER. I also remember this very clearly. I won't go into the details, but once they got things mostly taken care of, my uterus wouldn't stop bleeding. They decided to do a D&C to try and get it to stop. They got some blood ready just in case they needed to give me a transfusion. And then blessedly I was knocked out and got to forget what was going on for a little while. I ended up losing about a liter of blood, which really takes you out for a few days. I couldn't walk without some help, could barely keep my head up. I have never felt so exhausted, even after my c-sections.

Obviously, I was a disaster yet again. Thankfully, this time around I had a therapist already, and went to her as soon as I could. I didn't have that feeling of peace like I had the first time. Perhaps it was because of the pain meds. And yet again, there was no way to know why this had happened. The two incidents were so different, there was no way to be able to know. It really messed with my head. One good thing was that my milk didn't come in. That probably would have sent me over the edge.

After these two experiences, I was unsure as to what my next step was. Should we try again? Should we call it quits? What the heck was wrong with my body? Why was this happening? As I was having the contractions I told my husband that I just couldn't go through this again...and then he watched me go through it all over again. As I was recovering after my D&C, one of the first things he said was that we should just try adoption. Me, in my medicated and lacking a liter of blood state, could barely focus on having a conversation let alone try and make a decision. But of course he had been wide awake and thinking for the entire time I had been under.

After seeing my therapist a few times and talking to my husband, as well as praying and meditating on what the next step for our family should be, I came to a decision. I decided that I would try one more time. So, I knelt down and had a conversation with Heavenly Father. I told Him I would try one more time. And if it ended like the others, or somewhere in between, I would be done. And then at that point we would decide if we would try to adopt or be glad for the children we had and stop adding to our family. Five months later, I found myself pregnant again. I couldn't believe it. I went to the doctor that had done my D&C and asked if I was high risk. Believe it or not, I wasn't. But thankfully, she did agree to be my doctor. (Usually at a military hospital, you're assigned to a team of docs. And when you call to make your appointment, they put you with any of those docs. Luckily, she agreed to allow me to only see her so I didn't have to go through my history multiple times.)

She did a vaginal ultrasound to determine how far along I was (I practically knew the day it was conceived, but she wanted to make sure). I brought home the pictures she printed for me, and showed them to my husband. He made a comment that I will always remember. Usually when you look at ultrasound pictures, there is an excitement, a happiness. He talked about how looking at them, all he felt was hope. Hope that it would work out. Hope that I wouldn't have to go through a nightmare yet again. No excitement, no happiness. Just hope.

So, back to the whole reason I wrote this: bravery. So far, in my life, the bravest thing I've ever done is try and get pregnant for the 5th time. Some might say supporting my husband in joining the Army was brave. Or maybe going on a mission to France, or maybe moving our family overseas to Germany for the Army. Or even sending my husband off to deploy to Afghanistan. Nope. All those things were easier.

Being brave is so subjective. For me, trying this again was the biggest and bravest thing I've done.

And so far, it's been worth it. We are good, healthy, and doing lots of kicking. I still have anxiety. I still like to stop during the day and be still so I can feel him in there. My friend said at first that I was bonding to him....nope, I just need reassurance that he is still alive (maybe there is bonding, I'm just really concerned about him staying alive). I have moments of panic, where I think that now that I'm telling people, everything is going to go downhill. Or that now that I'm starting to accept and get used to the idea, it's going to go downhill. I think up to the moment that I hear him cry, I'll have that anxiety.

Not really sure how to end this, because this story doesn't have an end yet. My plan is just to get through this one day at a time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Had an interesting conversation with my dad tonight.

He was on his way home from visiting my grandma. He goes over pretty much every Sunday after church. He was telling me about this latest visit. My grandma doesn't have any major health problems yet. She lives on her own, in the house that she's lived in since 1956. So far, her living on her own has been ok. I have an aunt that live somewhat nearby, as well as some other family members. And of course my dad, and my uncle go over almost every Sunday. Anyway, my grandma is notoriously cantankerous. She's been like this pretty much her entire life. And right now the difficulty is trying to convince her that she really shouldn't be living on her own anymore.

We got to talking a little bit about why the heck grandma is the way she is. I know we all come to this earth with our own quirky personalities, but grandma was a lot more than quirky. My dad talked about what he remembers about her growing up, and about her parents. She had some issues with her father, and by the time my dad was born and able to remember things great grandma and great grandpa were no longer sleeping in the same room. While we don't know exactly why grandma was/is always so angry, she did have a hard time forgiving and letting go. There is a rumor that great grandpa had an affair, and perhaps that is why, amongst other things, that she just couldn't forgive her father. In fact, he has been dead since I was a little girl, about 30 years ago, and only in the last 6 has she said that she has forgiven her father.

All this has gotten me thinking. As a little girl, I looked just like my grandma when she was a little girl. In fact, my grandpa showed my mom a picture of my grandma at the same age I happened to be at the time (maybe 5 or 6) and when asked who it was, my mom said it was me, but knowing it wasn't since it was a black and white picture.

And now as an adult, and as a teenager, I have had a heck of a time forgiving. I cannot say why (perhaps this was a learned behavior, probably from my mother who had somewhat the same issue) I have this problem, I just do. And it causes me problems all the time. Because one of the biggest things in marriage is learning how to forgive the other person, pretty much daily. But not just that, there are other things that I need to forgive. Granted, forgiveness does take time and effort, but I really struggle. And seeing and hearing about what my grandma is now, kind of scares me. I don't want to become like her. I want to be able to forgive easier, and not turn out holding onto grudges for so long I've become angry at the world. And I really don't want to take more than 30 years to forgive someone. I don't want to be like her.

My grandma was a good grandma. Came to our games, bought us Christmas gifts, came to birthdays and baptisms and blessings. Was there for graduations, band competitions and anything else we did. Babysat us when we were kids, always had froot loops for us for breakfast. I never felt like my grandma didn't love me or any of my cousins. She did have her favorite that could do no wrong (they were nightmares), but overall, she was a good grandma. But she probably could have done better, been happier, if she could have learned to forgive.

I've been examining my own soul lately, about why I am having a hard time forgiving, specifically, my husbands father. He was truly terrible. The emails, personal attacks on my old blog, how he treated everyone, was terrible. I cut off all communication to him over two years ago. It was the best thing I could have done. Since that time, he has apparently made a lot of changes, and is active in his ward (as active as he can be since he is in a lot of pain due to neuropathy throughout most of his body) and has also been through the temple. I knew I was progressing in the forgiveness process when I saw pictures of them at the temple and I didn't feel that anger that used to instantly come over me when it came to his dad.

I think the hard part for me was that phrase that you hear so much 'forgive and forget'. I mean, NO WAY was I going to forget what this man did to me and my family. No freaking way. And if forgetting was part of forgiving, then I guess I would never do it. I believe it is dangerous, especially when abuse of any sort is concerned, to forget. I will never allow myself to be in that situation again, as a protection for myself and my family. But a few weeks ago I read this story on CNN, that gave me a new perspective on the whole forgiveness thing. (this was the fourth part in the story, there are links to the first three on the story) The daughter witnessed a man shooting her mother and killing her. And she had this to say about forgiveness:
"Sometimes, when people forgive, they feel like they're saying what that person did was OK. That's not what it's doing. When you forgive, you're letting go of the pain and giving it to God."
That was my problem. I didn't want to forgive because of that exact reason. I don't know why I thought that way, I just did. And that quote keeps going through my head, and I've been thinking a lot about the work I have to do to be able to completely forgive. Giving it to God seems so easy. But it is dang hard sometimes. I hope that with practice I'll get better at the process. I mean if this woman can forgive, why the heck can't I?

So, new personal goals are to really work on forgiving. I don't want to carry around extra emotional weight that I don't need. I read somewhere someone's visual on how to give it all to God....you're getting all of it in a ball, and tossing it to God, but he doesn't toss it back. I am going to do this. I have to. Cause I am not going to be like my grandma. At least in this I won't. Although I may end up with her mostly salt and a little pepper hair....seems to run in the family.