Monday, September 30, 2013

Surrender

I posted this on our family blog back in March about the loss of our twin pregnancy in February.  Hoping this can help others find hope and healing.

Below is how we announced our pregnancy to our families over the holidays.  We just pinned these signs on the kids and Mark and let them just walk around until people put it together.  It was so funny!




Back in September, Leland came to me one day and said "you should get a girl baby and a boy baby in your tummy."  We knew we weren't finished having little ones, but we knew it wasn't time yet.  I wasn't even really thinking about what he said and just brushed him off and told him, "well, you will have to talk to Heavenly Father about that because He is the one who puts babies in their mommy's tummies."  I was shocked that night that as I was listening to him pray before bed, he said "pweaz bwess mommy to get a diwl baby and a boy baby in hew tummy..."  He CONTINUED to pray regularly.  Again, I wasn't feeling like it was time yet.  By the end of November, we knew it was actually time.  Infertility hasn't ever been our issue, so we conceived within about a week. :)  As we shared the news with the kids that Mommy had a baby in her tummy, Leland insisted, "no, Mommy, there is a girl baby and a boy baby."

Twins was in the back of my mind.  I was taken aback by how insistent Leland was about a girl baby and a boy baby.  Now I can look back and I am confident he has actually seen them whether in a dream of they are his little guardian angels.  I felt different this pregnancy too.  Just something different, but not anything I could even necessarily put my finger on.  As for the nausea and vomiting, I did great!  I didn't throw up until 7 weeks along, and maybe threw up 20 times tops.  That would need to be a post for another day, but we've been blessed to learn some great things to help curb the nausea and vomiting, and it seems it worked.

I was very careful to eat well and keep up with my diet almost every day.  I made sure to take my pre-natals.  I did pregnancy yoga usually 5 days a week.  I was careful to rest and nap as needed.  I started my hypnobabies CD's as soon as we decided it was time to start trying.  I avoided anything that would even potentially be harmful for my baby (essential oils that MAY be a problem for the first trimester included).

I WAS SO CAREFUL

and we were so hopeful.

We knew we were going to have a different pregnancy.
We were knew it would be positive and we would avoid the high-risk issues we had with the boys.
I just knew it.
I was so prepared and so ready.

Beginnings of a baby bump at 9 weeks


It will have to be a post for another day too, but my beliefs about pregnancy and childbirth have had an almost 180 degree turn.  We were seriously looking into homebirth this time.  As I researched and looked at my options, I felt good about it.  A friend who was also doing her home work for homebirth e-mailed me about legislation that was passed in Idaho in 2009.  Direct entry midwives (those midwives who do NOT become nurses first, and those who are usually the midwives present at home/birthing center births) are not recognized by the state of Idaho as licensed professionals.  They are covered, but not recognized.  I have no problems with that.  The frustrating part is that Idaho passed legislation to really limit who they can see and who's births they can attend.  As I read the list, twins was on the list.  As I chewed it over and pondered and prayed, I was pretty sure the midwives for homebirth would not do ultrasound.  I finally made an appointment with my OB and planned to see how many were "in there."  If it WAS twins, I would "have" to stay with the OB office and could see the nurse midwives.  If I was carrying only one, we would look back into homebirth.  A huge tender mercy is when I called to schedule the appointment, I requested either my favorite midwife or my favorite OB.  It was actually easier to schedule with the OB, which turned out to be a blessing.

I had always had my other first appointments earlier, but with going back and forth on health care providers, we were almost 11 weeks for the appointment.  I had been spotting lightly for a few days, and had called the office.  Where I was coming in for my appointment in a few days, they said to wait.  I did everything I could to hold off an impending miscarriage.  I took it easy.  I even stayed home from church "just in case."  I applied some essential oils and did some energy work.  (Yet another post for another day).  I even did a "fear clearing" hypnosis sessions with hypnobabies.

Before the ultrasound tech did the ultrasound, I told her about Leland and to get a good look to make sure she knew how many were in there. :)  The ultrasound was similar to my last pregnancy.  I could tell right away that there wasn't a heartbeat.  I know she couldn't tell me much, but I told her what I was seeing and she confirmed that, but asked for a few minutes to look around and then she would talk to me.  She had a good look, I had silent tears streaming down my cheeks.  She was very compassionate, and teared up herself.  We had seen this ultrasound tech weekly with Leland from 26 weeks on, plus multiple times earlier on and with Gavin's pregnancy too.  It hurt.  I felt like my heart was being ripped out.  I had planned so carefully and listened to my body this pregnancy.  Why?  This wasn't "the" plan!

The Dr. came in and said that there were indeed two babies, both in separate sacs (a girl baby and a boy baby would have had to be in separate sacs).  He asked if it was possible for me to be a month off on our dates.  I told him no.  I had a positive pregnancy test in December and I had signs of pregnancy by the end of the first week of December (it usually "kicks" in for me 2-3 days after conception).  He said the babies were measuring about 6 weeks.  At 6 weeks, you can't always detect a heartbeat on ultrasound.  He didn't want to terminate a pregnancy where we just didn't know for sure.  I very much appreciate that!  We decided the best thing would be to come back for an ultrasound in one week.  In a week the babies should show signs of growth and have a heartbeat, otherwise we would know for sure that we had lost them.

I left the office doubtful and without much hope.  My Grandma had been watching the kids for us.  When I shared the news with her, she told me about how sometimes a woman could miscarry and instead of the usual passing and bleeding, her body can just absorb it.  The loss would go undetected and Mom could "re" conceive the following month.  If I was off by my dates that was the only possible way.  Although rare, it was possible.  I held onto that positive thought.  I told Heavenly Father that I was going to need His continued help and strength either way to continue to carry twins and be a mommy of twins or to go through this loss. I told Him my preference would be to continue this pregnancy.  As I learned with Leland's pregnancy, I know He could make anything possible and we need to ask in faith.  He can make a way when there is none.  I know God is good, so why not?  Why not have such a miracle?  So I prayed for a miracle, nothing doubting.  I also told Him that I trusted Him and placed myself and my babies into His hands and loving care.  That prayer brought me much peace throughout the day.  (and the weeks since)

That night I began to lose the babies.  This was the first time in all the miscarriages I needed to seek immediate medical attention. Loooooong story short, because of neglect, miscommunication, etc., I ended up hemorrhaging and lost about half my blood volume that night. I would have greatly benefited from a blood transfusion, but that too was overlooked.  Hemorrhaging and being ignored was one of the most fearful events I have ever had in my life.  It also hurt deeply that my loss was not acknowledged until heading to the OR.

My OB did not leave my side from the time he called for a stat D&C other than to scrub in.  At that point, I was with the anesthesiologist and the OR nurse being transferred to the OR.  Once he was scrubbed, he just held my hand until I went under (they did general anesthesia).  I appreciated that so very much.  Not only the reassurance because of his past great medical care, but also the reassurance that he understood my loss.  He has been with us for 7/8 pregnancies.  He watched the silent tears trickle behind the "gas" mask and didn't say a word.  He didn't have to.

I woke up warm and comfortable.  The D&C was an A+ job just like last time.  I didn't have to take anything for pain and my bleeding was completely gone within a few days.  Recovery was great and the Med/Surg staff I spend the night with were fantastic.


As I started to turn to my feelings and process the emotional trauma from the ER, I had a strong realization that I may have likely gone through that experience to save lives.  The next day after my loss, my mom (who had been there too) returned to her L&D nursing class and did a post-partum hemorrhage scenario with her students.  Hopefully there are some future nurses who will now be able to recognize hemorrhage. My case is under scrutiny with the hospital.  The ER manager has been communicated with.  The ER doc, the ER nurse, my OB office, the OB panel.  It has been discussed for such a long time at the patient care committee they they continued talking about it in a second meeting.  As I have followed up multiple times, I have been reassured that thorough changes have been made.  Although this is an OB case, it is applicable for any patient with trauma who will walk through those ER doors and I feel grateful it happened to me and hopefully won't happen to somebody else.  At one point we had a family friend in the room, so 3 nurses.  Because of my previous miscarriages, I knew the bleeding wasn't normal.  I was blessed with the right circumstances to be assertive, and God was in control of the situation.  It happened for a reason.

As I began to regain my physical strength, I felt able to then look at the emotional needs of myself and my family.  I had been so exhausted and unable to care for the physical needs of my family, I had almost completely overlooked the emotional needs that week.  Sennika and Leland both had cried about the loss.  Gavin initially seemed unaffected, but a few weeks later had some unusual for him aggression and anger.  As Mark and I discussed how to make this intangible loss tangible, he had the wonderful idea to take the kids to my sister's grave.  We loaded them up in the car and Mark took them to walk around her grave.  When they got back in the car, we talked about grief.  We talk openly about feelings with our kids and go through the 9 core emotions every night with them.  We realized; however, that we had not talked to them about grief before.  As we described what grief is, Sennika piped up, "like when my pet fish died?"  and "like when my favorite toy got flushed down the toilet?"  YES!  That is grief.  We talked about how it's ok to feel grief and that we need to let ourselves feel it and "get the grief out" in positive ways.  We then brainstormed as a family how to "get the grief out:"  take a bath, listen to calm music, give/get a hug, sing a song, punch a pillow, cry...then Sennika piped up again: "how about drawing?"  YES!  When we arrived home, the kids pulled out their crayons and paper and all began to draw.  Gavin's and Leland's were both just little scribbles.  Sennika; however, drew a beautiful (to me and my heart) picture of our family of 5 plus our twins (and she drew me pregnant again in the picture) :) 

The healing had begun.  There were some negative emotions I had to release.  The anger was so hot and consuming for me.  One night Mark came home for his dinner break and I was just sobbing.  He gently asked what was going on and through clenched teeth I said, "I feel so angry."  He held me as I cried and reassured me it was ok to be angry and it was normal to be angry.  I so appreciated his sensitivity and gentleness.  He grieved in his own way and was strong for me too as I have been grieving my loss. 

About a week and a half after we lost the babies, I was doing my assignment for our group counseling.  We were to finish a workbook.  As I got to the last 2 pages, there was yet another tender mercy with the timing of everything.  We were asked to create a "surrender box."  I went and found an empty shoe box, and cut a slit out of the top, just like I had days before for Sennika's Valentines at school.  I decorated it simply with hearts and wrote meaningful scriptures and quotes on them.  I filled that box.  I printed a small picture of when I was pregnant with Sennika and wrote on the back: pregnancy.  Not sure if/when we will have another baby.  My twins.  My 5 babies I have now lost with our 4 miscarriages.  I put in my experience and recovery from hemorrhaging in the ER.  I put in Mark's addiction and all of the things that belong in his "fence"...all of his "stuff."  I put in each of my children.  I put in my short-comings, my weaknesses, my sins.  I put in Mark getting a better paying job.  As I filled this box, my heart felt lighted.  As I knelt down and prayed and offered my "box of stuff," and told Heavenly Father I wanted to surrender it, I told Him that these were all things I cannot change.  Since I cannot change them, I asked Him to please change me.  I asked Him to bless me with those things needful to bear it and to take this burden from me because it is too much.  I cannot carry it.  I feel I have been trying to surrender my whole life, and especially in the past few years.  I've either only given Him part of my heart or from time to time, I will take back, or place it in His hands and still hold on to the other end.  That night is was different.  For the first time, I can say I did surrender it.  I gave it all to Him...and I He took it.  You see, Heavenly Father has already prepared the way through the atonement.  The burdens and sins are already accounted for BUT it's not enough to come to Him and ask Him to take it.  We have to GIVE it to Him.  He will not take that "box" out of our hands, even if we ask Him too.  We have to place it in His hands and let go.

I have had to re-surrender every day.  Sometimes every hour or at difficult times every minute.  I'm getting better at recognizing when I am trying to carry it again and re-surrender it.  Just like He respects us not giving it to Him, we can take our burdens back.  There is a line from the 3rd step of the 12-step program I love and is along these lines as I'm learning to let go and let Him carry my burdens:
"At first our efforts were anxious and halting. We
kept giving the Lord our trust and then taking it back.
We worried that He would be displeased at our incon-
sistency and withdraw His support and love from us.
But He didn’t." 

Surrendering doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.  It doesn't mean we don't grieve.  I have grieved every single one of the "change of plans" that are in my surrender box.  I still long to kiss the chubby cheeks of two darling babies I won't be able to this fall.  My heart aches to know that right now is not the time for us to try for another pregnancy and it may never be again.

If we could but see that with every loss, God gives us a gift in its place.  
I feel my trust in God has grown in the past few years.  I KNOW I can trust Him when I don't see how or why.  I KNOW I can trust that His only intention is to bless.  This loss gave me the opportunity to demonstrate that.  To prove to myself and to Heavenly Father that I would be true to the knowledge I have been given and not slip back into old ways of thinking.  I feel in that regard, I "passed" this test.  That knowledge and putting my trust in Him has given me a firm bedrock to stand on when it felt like my heart was broken.

A few last thoughts.  I play the piano for our Primary.  On my first Sunday back, they asked me to play "Whenever I hear the song of a bird."  This is Leland's song we have sung to him every night since early on in his pregnancy.  This song always turns my thinking to the miracle we were granted with him.  As I began playing, my mind reflected on those beautiful and miraculous events.  My heart stung a little bit as I realized I had prayed with that same level of faith---nothing doubting.  Why didn't I get a miracle this time then?  Just as quickly as my heart had hurt, I felt a warm reassurance that Heavenly Father Still Loves Me and my loss...just is.  I did all I could and I feel peace about that.  He had to take my babies.  He didn't want to.  He just had to.  That doesn't mean He loves me any less or I am somehow any less faithful or did something wrong to cause this.
We have been grateful this has been a more public loss.  Where I was showing so early, we had many who knew.  Where I was 11 weeks, the Relief Society president even announced it to our ward.  We are grateful to not have to carry this loss alone.  As we shared the news of facebook, a friend posted the following picture on my wall:
 I also realized we haven't shared the finished "red wall" in our bedroom you saw behind all of Leland's pregnancy pictures 3 years ago.  Here it is now.  There is a picture of each of our little ones and the last picture we changed to the above.  We face this wall from our bed, so it was a wonderful reminder all of those days I was in bed and a beautiful reminder of recognizing with gratitude what I already have and need to be focusing on...


nurturing and loving my 3 beautiful children! 



and the hopes I have for what I can look forward to someday: :)
 "Our lives have been compared to a tapestry that only the Lord, as the weaver, fully knows and appreciates. He sees the beautiful work from the 'right' side, and we see only the tangled mess of threads on the 'wrong' side. We must believe in Him and trust that the intricately-woven fabric that makes up our lives is being fashioned according to His masterful design. The beauty of the fabric is in the perfect blending of the threads-some light, some dark, each one a miracle...There is no doubt that the loss of a baby can shake us to the depths of our souls. But we must remember that the loss can also take us closer to heaven. And that's where we want to be---for indeed, to lose a baby must mean that heaven needs another angel." (From the book Gone Too Soon, pg 96 by Sherri Devashrayee Wittwer)
Katy Willis
RN, HCHI, HCHD, Thetahealing Practitioner

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