Lettered Hope

Broken.

MiscarriageJessica ScheksComment

B r o k e n. I can think of no better word to describe how I feel.

Melissa and Abby gave me such a comforting gift -- This ultra soft blanket, essential oils, chamomile lavender tea, super cozy pajama pants, and a beautiful card with such sweet words inside.

Melissa and Abby gave me such a comforting gift -- This ultra soft blanket, essential oils, chamomile lavender tea, super cozy pajama pants, and a beautiful card with such sweet words inside.

On August 1, 2016 I found out I was expecting our second child. I was surprised how hopeful I quickly became. I always imagined I'd be more reserved in future pregnancies, but I found so much joy and hope through this child. Of course I was also fearful of losing this child, but I tried so hard to just trust the Lord, knowing that He alone opens and closes the womb.

Since my first loss I had switched doctors because my previous doctor was anything but comforting. In March I met with Dr. Domingo for the first time after he came highly recommended for the way he treats women who've had a miscarriage. I immediately loved him. Which says quite a lot coming from me; the girl who used to swear she'd never ever see a male doctor claiming they were creeps. Maybe some are, but Dr. Domingo has such a calming presence and makes me feel extremely safe and cared for. And when all you want is a healthy child, you don't really care who is treating you. So in March he had told me that as soon as I found out I was pregnant again he should be my next phone call.

Since I took the pregnancy test in the evening, I called him the next morning and they got me in an hour later. Crazy, I know. At my appointment they ordered blood work to monitor my hCG and progesterone levels. The numbers came back looking good. About two weeks later, though, I went to the bathroom and saw that dreaded spotting. I had been much more physically active the day before and it seemed to be getting better within a few days so I dismissed it. But a few days later it started up again. I hadn't been physically active this time, I'd been the opposite trying to take it easy. This time I panicked and called Dr. Domingo right away. He fit me in the next day.

I was so nervous that day waiting for my appointment. My anxiety was truly terrible. But I finally found some peace, and by the time we were in the waiting room I had a peace settle over me that I knew was from the Lord. Then we went back and saw that sweet little flicker. The heartbeat was 115 and they gave me a due date of April 15, 2017. My last baby was born on November 15, 2015 so the number 15 has become special to me. I'll admit that I even will wait to stop the microwave at 00:15 seconds just because. So I loved that the number 15 showed up twice with this new little one.

About a week later I had some bleeding. Very minor, hardly any at all, but of course that scared me. So I was back in the office the next day. This time I was nervous again, but I opened up to Jeremiah 1:5 before my appointment and then read through the whole first chapter. I just felt like the Lord was telling me He'd protect our baby. And there was that sweet baby with it's heart beating away at 130.

Throughout this pregnancy I just felt the Lord working on me to trust Him. Hormone levels, measurements, and heart rates were all looking good. The doctor was confident that everything seemed to be progressing the way it should.

My favorite mug from my friend Leah from my first miscarriage with the most delicious chamomile lavender tea while writing this blog post under my cozy new blanket.

My favorite mug from my friend Leah from my first miscarriage with the most delicious chamomile lavender tea while writing this blog post under my cozy new blanket.

On September 1, 2016 I just had a strange feeling. The way I felt reminded me of the way I felt the morning I woke up on November 15, 2015, the day of my first miscarriage. I tried to brush it off. Feeling slightly crampy and achey can be normal in the first part of pregnancy. I also felt nauseas, but it was just a different kind of feeling that resembled the way I felt the morning of my first miscarriage a little too closely for my comfort.

I had my "OB History" appointment and an ultrasound scheduled for 2:30. I had to reschedule pretty last minute so the only way they could fit me in was to do the OB History first, where we sat down with a nurse for an hour and were asked genetic questions, family history questions, where we wanted to deliver, who our pediatrician would be, etc. Usually they do the ultrasound first.

So we were taken back for the OB History and I was asked to give a urine sample. After I was done I met Michael and the nurse in her office to begin the appointment. About five minutes in, another nurse walked in and seemed a little concerned as she told the head nurse that there was a decent amount of blood in my urine. Not visible to the eye, but apparently very visible as she analyzed it. It made me feel nervous and I was kind of annoyed that she'd barge in acting so alarmed right in front of me.

Towards the end of the appointment the nurse gave me a form to fill out for free formula samples. I could feel my face getting hot as she went over the details; I had no desire to sign up for baby items to be sent to me this early in my pregnancy. I shakily took the pen and clipboard but I just couldn't do it. So I asked with a quiver in my voice if maybe I could wait until later in my pregnancy to do things like that. Then she handed me a gift bag filled with pregnancy magazines and with information we'd gone over in the meeting.

It made me want to cry for some reason. I almost told her I didn't want it. I was so, so joy-filled and blessed to be pregnant and I didn't want to send her the wrong message. But I didn't want all of those things lying around our apartment taunting me if I had another loss.

My nightstand filled with mementos from both losses.

My nightstand filled with mementos from both losses.

During my first pregnancy I was obsessed with looking at material things: Diaper bags, cribs, maternity clothes, etc. This time I wouldn't let myself go there. I didn't even think about names. The less I thought about, the less hurt I'd be if my dreams came crashing down. It sounds so negative, but I was just being cautious. Looking back I feel regret because I didn't bond with this baby nearly as much as I did with our first one. I think that's partially because I had a dream about the first one which really connected me to her.

Anyways, after my OB History was done we waited in the waiting room for about 50 minutes before being called back for my ultrasound. I totally regret rescheduling my appointment so late in the game; it really messed things up. Finally I was called back.

The tech doing my ultrasound was a woman I hadn't met before and soon learned she wasn't as qualified. She came in and began the ultrasound. Usually the first thing they locate is the baby and say, "Oh! There's the heartbeat!" But she was silent. One minute turned into two, two into four. All of a sudden it'd been five minutes and still not one word. After about two minutes I knew something was wrong. The TV screen they usually have on so you can see what they see wasn't turned on, so I couldn't see what was happening.

I looked at Michael with concern in my eyes, searching his for reassurance. He looked hopeful and confused. There was definitely something there, but he didn't see the flicker. After tons of probing, measuring, typing, printing, more measuring, strained looks, and more measurements she got up. She said she'd be right back. Why couldn't she just tell me she didn't see a heartbeat? I'll never know. As she pulled the probe out I saw a lot of blood. It confirmed my worst suspicions.

She came back in and told me to get dressed, then she'd take me down the hall to wait to see Dr. Domingo. I wasn't scheduled with Dr. Domingo that day and usually after an ultrasound they have you wait in the waiting room. But still she wouldn't tell me what was going on. So we sat in a new room waiting for Dr. Domingo. Then a medical assistant walked in and said Dr. Domingo wanted another ultrasound done for a second opinion.

So I walked out of the room and saw my favorite ultrasound tech waiting for us. As we walked down the hall I received sympathetic stares from several nurses and staff. "The look" they give to people when they feel bad for you. Even though I still didn't know what was going on, I began to get a pretty good idea.

A hand-lettering workbook I ordered last week came in the mail on Thursday; just in time since all I can do is sit and lay around as I heal.

A hand-lettering workbook I ordered last week came in the mail on Thursday; just in time since all I can do is sit and lay around as I heal.

She took us to her room and left me to change. She started the ultrasound as soon as she walked in and said those dreaded words: "Okay, so Catherine couldn't find a heartbeat but Dr. Domingo wanted me to take a look and give a second opinion." This time the screen was on in front of me so I could see what was happening. She had our baby in view, but I saw no heartbeat. Seconds later she said, "And I'm sorry, I don't see a heartbeat either." She used a filter to look at blood flow and showed me how there was no blood flow in our baby, indicating no heartbeat.

She kept looking around, for what I'm not sure. But for the next minute while I saw our lifeless baby on that screen I was screaming on the inside; pleading with the Lord to start that little heart again right in front of our very own eyes. I had so much faith that He could do it. But then the ultrasound was over. Still no heartbeat. I felt so numb.

Losing this baby was such a fear of mine that I thought about how I'd react often. Last time I felt so sad, yet still had confidence that I'd make it through and be okay again. This time I just felt broken. I wanted to die.

We were taken back to the room again to meet with Dr. Domingo. As we waited I told Michael that under no circumstance did I want a D&C -- I wanted to let it happen naturally. Then Dr. Domingo walked in followed by a medical assistant. One of the first things I remember him saying was that since this was our second loss in a row, we'd do a D&C to test the tissue for any problems along with a lot of blood work for chromosomal testing. As soon as he mentioned a D&C I began crying. With each word I got worse, until after another sentence or two he stopped talking.

The medical assistant came over to me and set the box of tissues beside me and just held me. When she finally let go I was still pretty upset but I could sense we still had more to discuss so I tried to calm myself down. Dr. Domingo was silent, waiting for my cue, but I couldn't speak. Finally Michael realized this and asked what the next steps were. He is amazing at staying strong in these types of situations. Dr. Domingo went over a few more details and then asked if I had any questions. I mainly wanted to know if he would be the one doing the surgery. When he said yes I felt safe and relieved. 

The medical assistant gave me another hug after Dr. Domingo walked out and told me they were here for me if I needed anything. I asked her for a heavy duty pad and then she walked me to the bathroom. The nurse who had done my OB History happened to be walking out of the bathroom with urine samples as I was walking in. She set them down and just hugged me for a long time, letting me cry. I really appreciated how people in this office were so sympathetic towards my loss.

Diffusing oils with a picture of our sweet little one in the background.

Diffusing oils with a picture of our sweet little one in the background.

Next we met with an administrator to schedule my surgery. It was squeezed into Dr. Domingo's schedule for the next day because he wanted to get it done. At this point I was so numb I just didn't care. I kept thinking to myself that maybe I'd be lucky enough to die during the surgery. The lady doing the scheduling told me I couldn't eat or drink anything after midnight and my surgery wasn't until four. Usually going that long without food isn't the end of the world, but when your world already feels like it's ended, it's overwhelming to say the least.

We left the office and unfortunately we had driven separately but Michael left his car there and drove me home. I was so angry. If I had driven myself home (which I didn't feel capable of doing) I think I would've screamed at the top of my lungs. But it doesn't seem as satisfying to do that with someone else in the car. So I unleashed my angry feelings, venting to Michael all the way home. Life just felt so, so ridiculously unfair.

We got home around 5:50 and I got in bed. Michael's mom was coming to pick him up around 6:30 to take him to get his car. At first I wasn't going to go with them because I did not feel like talking to anyone besides Michael. But the thought of sitting at home alone seemed even worse. So I put my sunglasses on and sat in the back seat like a movie star, barely speaking. 

Once we got in Michael's car he forced me to pick a place to eat because I hadn't eaten for awhile and had been so hungry before receiving the bad news. I chose Chick-fil-A and also got an order of biscuits from Bob Evan's even though I didn't really want to eat anything. I didn't feel like going back to the apartment yet to sit around all night. It just sounded depressing. So we drove around for awhile and wound up at Sippo Lake. We parked in a spot overlooking the lake so I didn't have to get out.

I was terrified of bleeding too much and miscarrying before my D&C. I was sad I wouldn't be "delivering" my child naturally which is what happened during my first miscarriage. November 15 2015 is the day I found the very early beginnings of our sweet little one in my clothing when I went to change for an ultrasound at the ER. Even though it was shocking and sad, it was peaceful to get to "hold" our child in my arms. I was sad I wouldn't have that with this one. It felt more like a c-section; at least that's what I told myself to make me feel like our child still would have a birthday.

Around 11:30 p.m. Michael forced me to eat even though I had absolutely no appetite. I had part of a biscuit, some carrots, and a lot of water, even though it wasn't much, I can't imagine not eating something at all.

Sweet little memento from the hospital.

Sweet little memento from the hospital.

September 2, 2016 was one of the longest days of my life. (Not so) surprisingly I didn't sleep well because I was so nervous.  I was hoping I'd sleep in so I wouldn't have to be awake for hours upon hours before my surgery, but no such luck. We were out of the apartment before 10am and the hours slipped by so slowly I could've cried. I was so hungry and so thirsty. It was just downright miserable.

Around 1:00 we headed home. We had just been driving around all day looking at pretty scenery, driving through parks, and enjoying farm houses on country roads. Time continued to go by dreadfully slow, but as it got closer and closer to 2:30 (the time we needed to arrive at the hospital) I began to regret wishing time would go faster. My nerves were kicking into overdrive and I just wanted to escape reality.

Thinking about the surgery made me feel so violated. I cringed and clenched my legs as tight as I could every time it came to my mind. I had a lot of questions I hadn't thought to ask from the day before as we scheduled my surgery that the lady had not addressed: Did I have to put my legs into stirrups (I didn't think I had it in me to do that)? When would I be put to sleep? What would they be doing from 2:30-4:00 as they prepped me for my surgery? How long would Michael get to stay with me? Would I be in any pain after? All of these unanswered questions made my nerves even worse.

But we made it to the hospital and were called back not too long after. Michael came back with me and we were placed in a room with a curtain. I had to change into my hospital gown, everything I had to put on was from the hospital down to my socks and underwear. It was freezing and eventually they gave me a blanket.

Early on in prep a nurse told me she had an odd question but that she had to ask. A perk (if there is such a thing) of having a D&C in a Catholic hospital, and maybe other hospitals, too, is that you can choose to have the remains of your baby to be properly buried. That was the best part of my day; signing for my child to be buried in a place where I can visit if I want to. They also gave me a little book on Miscarriage and information on support groups in the area as well as how to obtain a "Fetal Death Record" if I wanted one. They also gave me addresses to write to if I wanted to request for all baby-related mailings to stop being mailed to our apartment. As much as I hated the thought of having a D&C, there are some perks: You receive more resources, your baby gets a proper burial, and you don't have to experience the traumatic events of a miscarriage occurring naturally.

Thankfully everyone who worked with me was nice. So many times throughout the prep I would just start to cry. At first I felt a little embarrassed, but then I realized that my baby died and was still inside of me as I sat there waiting to have him/her surgically removed and I had every right to cry. I knew the underwear they gave me was the same kind of underwear they give mothers after delivering their healthy babies and that stung. Then I heard nurses outside my room talking about my order of pitocin. I turned to Michael and said, "You know what makes me sad?" He asked what I was thinking about and all I could get out was the word pitocin before I started to cry hard. Finally I was able to whisper that pitocin is also used to induce expectant mothers ready to have their healthy babies. And for some reason that just broke me.

Not too long after I was saying goodbye to Michael and being wheeled away from him. I couldn't have been more miserable. I was taken into the OR and saw the table waiting for me with huge stirrups with large straps and places for my arms to be secured. They moved me from my bed onto the operating table and covered me with a lot of blankets because it was freezing. Thankfully I didn't have to put my legs into the stirrups. They took my arms and laid them over the boards where they'd strap them down. A nurse put a mask over my face with oxygen and told me to take deep breaths. Around that time I began crying again and the nurse asked me if I needed a few minutes. I shook my head no and then she put a new mask over me and told me I'd start to feel a little sleepy. 

Delicious tea and my cozy new pajama pants. I bought that mustard blanket awhile back with hopes to use it in a nursery someday, but finally got it out to use myself after this loss.

Delicious tea and my cozy new pajama pants. I bought that mustard blanket awhile back with hopes to use it in a nursery someday, but finally got it out to use myself after this loss.

The next thing I remember was waking up to myself crying in recovery. Michael wasn't there yet, a nurse was nearby and they sent for Michael. I felt pretty unaware and kept finding myself crying. Michael told me later that when they notified him that he could come back they told him I woke up crying. I was crying before I even realized I was crying. I didn't have even one second of waking up and wondering where I was. I knew right away. And I felt empty.

After a few minutes of being pretty disoriented I was ready for some ice chips. Michael fed them to me and it was so nice to finally have some moisture in my mouth that had been dry for 16+ hours. Eventually I was ready for some ginger ale. Then some saltines, and finally some sherbet. I didn't know they'd be putting a tube down my throat, but they must have because my throat felt extremely sore. Michael fed everything to me. Once I became more aware and was able to eat and drink, they moved me from recovery to another area where I could rest a little more before getting to leave. I ordered hot tea to help my throat and more crackers.

Once in the other room I started to feel a lot more like myself again. I asked Michael if he for sure had to work the next day and he said he did, so I asked him to text my best friend Melissa and see if she could come over for awhile so I wouldn't have to be alone. When she said she would I cried. I'm so thankful for good friends.

I felt so tired and they had a heated blanket over me that was so wonderful I just wished I could stay there over night. I didn't feel like exerting the energy to change into my clothes and to leave the last place I was where my baby was still inside of me. But around 8:30pm Michael was sent to get the car and I was wheeled out to meet him. All I could think of was that my arms were empty. Usually mothers are being wheeled out with a sweet little one in their arms. I was being wheeled out completely empty. 

The inside of this sweet little card the hospital gave me.

The inside of this sweet little card the hospital gave me.

We went to Panera because I wanted chicken noodle soup; I wanted something light and my throat was killing me. Then we went to the pharmacy to get my prescriptions. I felt like I was in a very irritable mood and kept crying because I thought I was being rude to Michael (he says I wasn't being rude). But apparently that's common as you come off anesthesia.

We finally made it home and my parents stopped by with a home cooked meal and then took our laundry home so we wouldn't have to worry about it. I continued to text people to let them know what had happened and to update those who knew I was having surgery. My parents didn't stay for too long (it was already after 10pm). After they left we got in bed. And I just couldn't fall asleep. I looked on social media and looked through Etsy forever. I plan to order a necklace to commemorate my TWO children. It's really hard to believe I am a mother of two children.

I have never wanted Jesus to come more than now. Suffering reminds you not to get too comfortable with this cursed world we live in and to long for the next where there will be no more sorrow. I can't even imagine a world with no heartbreak, but it's my true heart's desire right now. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

I finally fell asleep around 3am. When Michael's alarm went off for work at 6:30 I never fell back asleep. I worked on this blog post, looked on Etsy some more, checked Facebook, and eventually showered. I hadn't showered since Thursday morning (it was now Saturday morning) and I felt disgusting. I was told not to shower since I still had anesthesia in my system because I could lose my balance. So I sat down and showered and felt a lot better.

Then I texted Melissa and told her she could come over. I'll admit I wiped the bathroom down so she wouldn't be grossed out. Definitely wasn't supposed to do that, but there's nothing worse than being a guest and having to use a dirty bathroom. 

When Melissa arrived she didn't say anything when she walked in, she just hugged me and cried. I'm such a private person with my grief that it's nice to have someone cry and make you feel okay to cry. Usually I keep most of my feelings to myself, but I still feel like everything is so fresh and raw that it spills out of me more than usual.

Melissa and I talked a lot about how I was feeling and how unfair this world is. We talked about how sad God must have felt when His own Son cried out that He had forsaken Him; I'm sure He wanted to spare Him from that cross and was so grieved that He couldn't. I mentioned how I feel like people that aren't acquainted with grief assume that you are mad at God or something if you aren't acting happy. But I think God wants us to be sad and to grieve and be disappointed and recognize that this world is not our home and there is something so much better on the way.

We talked about how we can't imagine going through trials like this without the Lord and the hope of a new life with no sorrow. But that it's also so hard because we both have pleaded with God to restart our child's heart, having so much faith that He could do it, yet He didn't. Why? I'm so thankful for His promise of eternity, but also for the promise that He can save us and resurrect the dead -- and when He chooses not to grant us that promise it's so, so incredibly hard to understand. But it makes you look forward to that glorious day even more.

Practicing in my new workbook. Feeling thankful for such sweet friends.

Practicing in my new workbook. Feeling thankful for such sweet friends.

Melissa's visit really helped me. I felt some of my burden lift while she was here and even after she left. I am so, so, so thankful for sweet friends willing to step into my grief. In the freshest and most raw days, I feel like it's the hands and feet of Jesus that wade through the mess and hold onto me to keep me from drowning. I would sink without these precious friends who send sweet texts, gifts, cards, let me vent to them, constantly check up on me, pray for me, care for me, visit me, etc. I'd feel so alone without them it's a suffocating thought to imagine them not being in my life. But they are and I am just beyond grateful.

This has been an extremely long post and if you'd made it this far I am so thankful for you. 

Even though I feel broken, I still trust that the Lord will mend my broken life, piece by piece. He is so good.

Waiting before surgery. I love how there's a cross in the background. Michael took a lot of pictures, some of them look utterly heartbreaking because I look so scared and sad. I am so, so thankful I have him to hold my hand through such dark times.

Waiting before surgery. I love how there's a cross in the background. Michael took a lot of pictures, some of them look utterly heartbreaking because I look so scared and sad. I am so, so thankful I have him to hold my hand through such dark times.