Do any of you watch or used to watch Grey’s Anatomy?
I once tuned in religiously. I loved it. Sometimes I actually go back and watch the early seasons. But killing McDreamy was unforgivable in my book, (yeah, I know, he wanted to leave the show) and I’ve never recovered.
Why am I talking about Grey’s Anatomy?
Oh, right. Well, despite how great a show it is, did you ever stop and wonder how SO MUCH TRAUMATIC SHIT can happen to the same people year after year? Near drownings, car accidents, a mass shooting, a plane crash, brain tumors, cut LVAD wires (RIP Denny)… I mean I could go on.
It’s a titch ridiculous, I’d say.
But, a few days ago, I unfortunately found myself comparing my life and the lives of my friends and family to this very show. I said something like, “Why does it feel like we’re living in a season of Grey’s Anatomy?”
Why does life kick us around? Why does illness prevail? Why are our hearts broken by those who should never break them? Why does infertility and miscarriage exist?
I wish I had the answers to these questions.
My dear friend Rhi has been at her husbands bedside in the hospital for two weeks now. And somedays, most days, feel like one step forward, one step back. She’s tired, and we’re all trying so desperately to hold her up, but relief only comes when Brian walks out of that hospital, never to look back. We try to make her laugh. We discuss mundane things like whether or not Kacey Musgraves hair at the Grammy’s was a wig or not. Or her joy over the presence of a Chick-Fil-A next door in the adjoining hospital. We tease her about turning into a nugget, albeit a delicious nugget. We’d all give anything for her and Brian (and their kiddos) to not be going through this. But carry her, we will.
Another friend is experiencing extreme heartache, and our hearts break with her. Another friend begins the daunting, emotional task of a second IVF attempt after devastating loss. Jimmy and I are also starting down the IVF path. And it’s a path that feels confusing and riddled with possible land mines. It’s something I prayed wouldn’t be necessary, and still often wonder if it’s the right decision. After so many negative pregnancy tests, it sometimes seems impossible to imagine there might one day be a positive one.
But press on, we will.
I titled this post peaks and valleys, because right now, it feels as if most everyone I love is desperately dragging themselves out of a valley. We put aside searching for reasons because I’ve found this can drive you mad. But I have to believe those glorious peaks are within reach. Even if the peak is fleeting and lies only in a moment of laughter. Or a great piece of cheesecake. Or hopefully, one day soon, in the mending of all our tattered hearts.
In the midst of my friends’ struggles, my sister experienced a miscarriage last week. I was down in Houston with my gals visiting Rhi and Brian, and I received a call from Kasey. I was speechless, without words, because what words could possibly heal this moment? But you know that adjoining hospital with the Chick-Fil-A? That’s where my sister’s appointment was. The timing was equal parts ridiculous and perfect.
Like myself, Kasey finds comfort in the written word. We can both be stuffers. Both unsure what to say aloud. But we do okay on paper. My sister asked me if she could write about losing her baby and if I’d include it on the blog.
Like she ever has to ask. Below are her words. Her feelings. Her pain. Her valley.
Laugh today, my friends. And know my love is BIG.
Until next time,
I would be turning thirty years old that year, and it scared me to think I don’t have kids yet. I always knew I wanted three or four, to my husband’s chagrin. Went off birth control, got a nice ovulation tracking app and prepared for pregnancy! After that first month of trying, I Googled all the symptoms – I just knew I was pregnant. But I wasn’t. Month after month – negatives. You hear over and over so many people get pregnant the first month they try. It was so hard. After ten months of trying weI decided to go to a fertility doctor that work friends recommended, just to make sure everything looked ok.
Eric and I met with the fertility doctor, Dr. Pinto, and reviewed the plan and options. His first comment—that I needed to lose weight—was a huge shocker (eye roll), but thanks Pinto. We did all the tests and everything looked great. Into the category we fell of “unexplained infertility.” Dr. Pinto recommended a low dose of Clomid – ok cool don’t know much about that but sure. At this point I thought nothing would work—it’s been ten months.
BUT…Three follicles, no trigger shot, and a great time in NYC later, we got twins! Let’s be clear – I NEVER WANTED TWINS! I literally would tell Mom and Kelly, “If I ever have twins, you guys are taking one.” I was naïve in thinking nothing would work because it actually did. Eric now says we should’ve been more patient and maybe we just needed the timing – we’ll never know. I wouldn’t trade those nuggets for anything.
Moving forward to December 2016, andweI was ready to try for baby #3! Eric was, and still is, perfectly content with the twins, but I constantly tell him, “I warned you before marriage I wanted three or four and you agreed.” Ha ha! I knew when we tried this time it would work! We got pregnant right away on Clomid and you’re always more fertile with a second pregnancy, right? Wrong! I tried everything – ovulation apps, bought a bracelet that I wore every night to track my temp amongst other things, ovulation sticks and on and on. Despite all the tracking, I didn’t really get crazy with it, I kind of just went with the flow. I told myself the second time around I wanted to have a better peace of mind. And I did until six months in when I decided to see a fertility doctor in The Woodlands. Dr. Griffith was great, and I loved him. We did all the same tests as before, and once again, everything was fine. But when IUI was put on the table, my insurance wanted me to head downtown. I work at Texas Children’s Hospital and attached is a Pavilion for Women and Fertility Clinic. So, I made the 45-minute trek to see Dr. Zarutskie at the Family Fertility Clinic.
Little did I know the Lord’s hand was moving in all these steps that I felt were completely annoying. My first meeting with Dr. Z ended in tears when I found out that due to a trip to Mexico in June 2018, I was unable to start any fertility treatments for 6 months (Zika). Funny looking back now and picturing those tears because as it turns out, they didn’t matter. During our 6 months wait, we began all the tests again. But Dr. Z is thorough. Very thorough. On my (what felt like) 3,000thHSG—a test where dye is shot into your tubes to make sure they’re open – Dr. Z decided to pull and prod a bit more. What do you know, everything was a hot mess! Turns out the communication was almost entirely blocked, something an MRI confirmed just a few days later.
After reviewing our options and being urged to “simply” move forward with IVF, Eric and I settled on surgery. I had surgery on my lady bits November 2018. More surprises ensued – endometriosis, uterine polyps, and massive amounts of adhesions from my C-section. Dr. Z was very happy with the surgery and felt that we might have a chance! Only hiccup he said was we really only had about six months before the adhesions grow back. So once again we set out to try (Eric’s favorite part of our infertility mission).
January 26, 2019 was one of the best days of my life. My period was three days late. I decided to “torture” myself with another test as I knew my period would be coming any minute. Two lines appeared. I laughed and thought “Ohhh, something’s wrong with that one.” I took another one, got in the shower, and low and behold that second little line appeared again. NO WAY! Off to work I went, freaking out! I never thought I’d have kids again, honestly, let alone conceive naturally. I couldn’t tell Eric that night because I had to work the next day, and he was working late at an auto show.
When I got home from work the next day I got the kids to tell Daddy. We told Eric to wait in their room, and I gave Addi the pee stick (gross, I know, but there was a cap on it). She burst into the room and screamed “MOMMY’S HAVING A BABY!” Eric said “WHAT” so many times, he was in shock! It was amazing. A moment I never thought I’d see again. I took a test every few days just so I could see those beautiful two pink lines. I woke up every day with a smile on my face and we told several people. I’m an open book and try to live a very authentic life, so I knew if something did happen these people would be my support.
I basked in this bliss for 11 perfectly beautiful days. Two HCGs were great and I completed my third a week later while I was at work. Around 1235 I noticed a missed call from the Fertility Clinic, and my heart sank. I called back and the nurse said that my HCG levels hadn’t doubled like they should – mine was 2290 and it needed to be 8000-9000.
On Monday, when we were driving back from a visit to Dallas, I had a feeling – like a light went out, and I knew in that moment I was no longer pregnant. I noticed my symptoms started to go away Tuesday and Wednesday as well. But when I got that missed call I knew it was over. I immediately text my sweet friend at work and said I need you. She came and I just sobbed. I decided to go home. In the Lord’s divine workings, my sister happened to be across the street visiting a friend whose husband is in the ICU. I went to Kelly and burst into tears. She made me laugh through the tears as she knows that’s what I needed. We sat for a little while, and her friends comforted me some more.
Thursday, February 7, Eric, Kelly, and I went to get my ultrasound done. I told the tech it doesn’t look good. She somewhat acknowledged, and we continued on like everything was ok. Kelly and I talked, and Eric shed a tear in the corner. I don’t think he wanted to believe it until the ultrasound showed the truth. Being the nurse that I am, I knew as soon as the labs came through.
After the ultrasound we met with Dr. Zarutskie. He came in, said it doesn’t look good, and then began to offer me options on how I’d like to miscarry like I was picking a dessert. I started bawling. I’ve never done this, never been here. How am I supposed to make this decision? I immediately started texting friends that I knew had been here before. Conflicting choices and paths. Our choices were: a natural miscarriage (which could take weeks), oral medications that induce strong cramps (but are not a guarantee that all the tissue will pass), and finally a D & C (which completely takes care of it and has the least risk for infection).
Eric was lost. Had no clue what was up or down. I asked Kelly, consulted my friends, and ultimately picked a D & C. I said I’d like it done as soon as possible so we can move on and start healing. In the typical fashion in which my life goes, we were offered Monday. Ok, not ideal, but it will work. Oh, wait my doctor was going to be out of town Monday and Tuesday, so it’ll be Wednesday now.
The appointment took forever. We arrived that morning at 11:00am, and it was approaching 5 in the evening. I completed my pre-op consents and pre-anesthesia. We were exhausted, confused, and so completely sad. We fought that next day to get in on Monday. We made numerous calls. We tried everything to no avail.
So now I wait. Wait for the bleeding to come so I can go downtown to have the procedure or wait until Wednesday for the procedure. Either way I wait with this ball inside of me. What was once shocking joy and unexplainable happiness now turned to unimaginable grief. I’m trying to hold in my tears. I deleted September 27, 2019 in my calendar, which would have been our due date. I’m now a part of a club I never wanted to join, albeit a club that so many women hold membership.
When we told the kids I was pregnant, of course Addi wanted a sister and Lincoln wanted a brother. Addi wanted to call her sister “Lisa,” and Lincoln would call his brother “Bubba.” For those few short weeks we joked about Lisa. Kelly said she’d be our 50-year-old baby. Ha ha!
This is my journey so far and one that I can finally share thanks to the bravery of my sister for sharing hers first. I don’t know why the Lord chose to give us a baby then take it away, but I know He is good, and we will continue to trust and follow Him wherever that leads.
Here’s to Lisa, we love you, we’ll always love you, and we know we’ll see you again one day.
Addendum: Saturday, February 9, 2019
I got a call from Dr. Z around 2:00pm. I initially thought he was calling to check in, so I said I’m trying to keep my mind clear, and my sister is here taking care of me. He eventually got to the point of his phone call – the ultrasound images from Thursday had been reviewed by the radiologist, and they were concerned for an ectopic pregnancy. Enter a whole other realm of numbness. A miscarriage is the deepest pain I’ve ever felt, but then to add that it’s possibly ectopic, I was simply numb. But I had to move. Kelly and I were out running an errand, so we quickly went to Eric’s work, and Eric and I headed downtown.
Eric and I went to the Women’s Assessment Center at Texas Children’s Hospital Pavilion for Women. I know I’m in the best hands, but I also work there and try to avoid any familiar face I can. It took a while for us to get called back, but once we were, I immediately felt a pain in my heart. I knew this room, I’d been there before. Not specifically the same room but when I was pregnant with the twins – same monitors, same bed, etc. I changed into a gown, the nurse asked when my due date was, and I hopped on the bed trying to hide the stinging tears in my eyes.
They did lab work, another ultrasound, and then Dr. Z’s fellow entered the room. He briefly reviewed the ultrasound images and said that nothing was in my uterus but they can’t exactly see where the pregnancy is. Um ok. I asked if more imaging was necessary but the same course of action would ensue. After several hours, I was given a Methotrexate shot to stop the growth of cells wherever they might be growing. Before we were about to go home, my night shift nurse checked my vitals. She said, “Let’s get a few things straight, none of this is your fault.” Her words absolutely wrecked me. The hot tears fell, and I sobbed as she held me.
So now I do not need a procedure as nothing was “in my uterus”. That does not discount that a baby was still very much inside of me. I’ll get labs drawn tomorrow and this time hope my HCG level drops. I’m so nervous that my tube will rupture as that is obviously the concern with an ectopic pregnancy. I’m nervous for what this means going forward trying to get pregnant. The days have been so hard. I find myself crying out of the blue. My friends have shown up immensely. It’s overwhelming, really, to know you’re so loved. Eric and I are trying to walk this road as best we know how. He’s so sweet and is trying his best to take care of me, but this is new and awful and I’m afraid in my hurt I try to push him away. I love him so and pray he knows this. I’m hugging my babies3.5-year old’s so tight. They are such a blessing to me in these days. However, I’m still speechless when Addi says she wants to paint her brother and sister’s room or mention’s her sister will sleep in this room. One day my little love, Lord willing, one day.
…”The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21