I have had some struggles this year that I have been unable to talk about publicly. However, due to recent events I feel like I need to tell the story of what we've gone through as a family. Maybe it will help someone else who has faced similar struggles or maybe people just need to know what we've gone through.
In January of this year, 2012, I found out that I was pregnant with our third child. I was so ecstatic. I made a cute little card from Baby #3 to dad that said "See you soon". We told our family members the good news and were really looking forward to having a new addition to the family. I went in for a check up with the doctor at about 12 weeks, it was sometime in February. After trying to use the ultrasound a couple of different ways he apologetically told me that my baby had no heartbeat. I cried, but for some reason I felt like I was sort of expecting this. It seemed to me that almost every mother I knew had suffered a miscarriage. I sort of felt like this was "my turn".
I went home and had to tell Bret. That was hard. I felt like I had failed him somehow... After talking about it, we decided to let the miscarriage process happen naturally at home. Time kept going, but nothing seemed to be happening with my body. I was still having morning sickness and no bleeding or cramping had kicked in, like I'd read about online. I think a part of me kept hoping that the doctor was wrong. Maybe he had missed something. Maybe there was even an extra twin hiding in there that my body was trying to keep alive? I had about a million "maybe's" running through my mind. I went back to the doctor and he did another ultrasound just to be sure. There was still no heartbeat and there was no growth for the baby. I accepted a prescription that would kick start the miscarriage process so that I could start to heal and move on. The day after I found out my baby was dead, our Bishop came to our home to extend the call to me to be a counselor in the Relief Society Presidency. He did not know what was going on with us and I did not tell him. As a new presidency it seemed like there was so much that needed to be done and I did not want to disappoint. On a Wednesday night we were supposed to have a meeting with the Stake Relief Society Presidency to get some training on our new callings. Since I had a busy Wednesday planned, I decided to take the medication on Thursday morning to help me have the miscarriage. But things just don't go the way you plan them, do they?
I went to the meeting with essentially 6 other strangers that I was meeting for the first time. I sat through it and started to feel a little nauseous but other than that, okay. Towards the end, the meeting seemed to drag on as some people chit-chatted and I started to feel like I really just wanted to get out of there. Finally someone was called on to give a closing prayer and the second we said "amen" I stood up to leave. As that happened I felt a gush of fluid come out of me. I was mortified. I sat back down in my chair and my mind raced as I tried to think of a way to get out of the room without anyone knowing what was going on with me. I tried to stand again and I saw blood in my chair. I sat back down and before my mind could process anything else I began sobbing aloud. I buried my face in my hands, trying to hide myself. They were all looking at me and asking me what was wrong. All I could do was choke out the words "I'm having a miscarriage." Amy, my new Relief Society President rushed to my side and helped me up and started walking me out of the room to my car. I can never express how thankful I was for her in that moment. I felt frozen to the spot and just having her help me move and get away was such a big deal for me. She offered to drive me home but I wanted to go by myself. I got home and Bret had already fallen asleep. I was completely hysterical as I was crying and trying to tell him what happened. He walked me into the bathroom and just held me in his arms until I was able to calm down.
As I undressed, I saw the baby in my underwear. That was hard. I showered for a very long time and tried to get all the blood and stuff out of me. Within a few hours I was okay and the process was over. I washed my baby. I could see that he was a boy. There was nothing wrong with him, at least to my eyes. We named him Lucah. I wrapped him in a blue blanket and we put him in a wooden box with a note to him telling him that we love him. Bret buried him.
I tried to find some type of consolation or explanation of what happens to these babies who are not born alive. Are they born into a different family? Do they stop existing? Do they go to heaven and wait for us? I didn't know the answers. There was a book that was passed to us from the previous Relief Society Presidency that talked about miscarriages and stillborn babies. Most of it was about the grieving process but towards the end they brought in some doctrinal information. It talked about a baby being alive once there is a heartbeat. It talked about children who were created under the covenant of an eternal marriage would be forever sealed to our families. It gave me the comfort of knowing that Lucah will forever be my son, maybe not in this life, but we will be together in the next.
That was enough for me. It had to be.
Flash forward to October. My period was late and I had a sneaking suspicion that I might be pregnant. Bret and I were ready for another child. We wanted one. On October 2nd I took a test and it came back positive. I was really happy. But for a split second I became horribly afraid. What if the same thing happened again? What if I lost this child too? As I was praying to Heavenly Father, thanking him but also letting him know my fears, I received a prompting from the spirit that put all my fears aside. He told me "You get to keep this one." The message was clear and there were many times when I would remind myself of this promise whenever I was tempted to be afraid again.
Even though I felt safe and confident that the pregnancy would be just fine, Bret and I decided not to tell anyone this time about the pregnancy until after the 1st trimester was over, including our family. I had a 10 week check up and everything was looking good. The baby was healthy and had a heartbeat. 2 weeks later I took a trip to Alaska to visit family for Thanksgiving and to also promote the Nomemade cookbook. Since I was in my 12th week I told my family that we were expecting. At first my sister wouldn't believe me because I'd never been able to hold out on something this big of a deal before. During my stay there, I had a dream that the baby I was carrying died too, just like the last one. I woke up really upset and with the feeling that I COULD NOT do this again. I reminded myself of the promise I was given, "You get to keep this one" and I held on to that. The fear subsided and I told myself it was just a dream.
When I got back home we called Bret's parents on their mission and told them the good news. They were so happy and so were we. The very next day, December 4th, I had my 14 week check up with the doctor. At first they tried to find the heart beat with a Doppler Fetal Monitor but were unsuccessful. He told me that it can still be kind of tricky to find this early and that we'd wait for the room next door with the ultrasound to open up and we'd go in there instead. They left me alone and I was unafraid. I knew that there was absolutely nothing to be worried about, because I had my promise from Heavenly Father. I would get to keep this one.
They moved me into the next room and used the ultrasound on me. I laid there and looked at the screen and could clearly see that the baby was not moving. There was no fluttering heart. There was no heartbeat. He didn't have to tell me. I already knew that my baby was dead. Tears came out but all I could feel was anger. I asked the doctor if there was something wrong with me. He said that after the pregnancy was over he could do some testing to try to find out. I left the hospital and sat in my car in the parking lot. I was so angry. I was mad at God. I screamed at Him that He was a liar.
I felt so broken.
I went home and went straight to the bathroom to cry. Eventually Bret found me in there and I told him that our baby had died, again. I didn't know how to deal with it this time. I felt like a rug had been pulled out from under me. I was unprepared to handle this. Deep down I knew that God was not a liar. Maybe it was just something that I could not understand at the moment. Maybe he told me that so that I would not cling to fear for the months that I carried this child. Maybe he just meant that I would still get to keep this child in the next life, like with Lucah. I knew I needed to pray, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I wanted to blame God. Close, loving family members would tell me that I could apply Christ's atonement. I knew that. I have done that so many times in my life before. But how could I ask Them for help when I blamed Them for what happened to me?
On Sunday morning, my birthday, I had the miscarriage. She was a girl. Again, she looked normal to me. We named her Leah. We wrapped her in a tiny piece of cloth and put her in a wooden box with a note with her name and a message that we love her. Bret buried her near Lucah.
As the day went on, I got worse and worse. I was unable to stop bleeding on my own. It got to the point where standing up would make me pass out and trying to sit or crawl made me horribly dizzy and cause me to throw up. I wasn't able to keep anything down, including water. We kept thinking that I just needed to pass the last of the tissue in my uterus and then I would be better. Bret called the ER that night and talked to a nurse who didn't seem to think it was too terribly serious or unusual. It was during the night that I got worse. The only time I felt okay was when I was laying flat and my heart and head were at the same level. Bret took care of me. If there was any doubt before about his love for me, I know that it has been erased. He had to see me at my worst and did not flinch. He did everything for me that I could not. Early in the morning he called a friend of mine to pick up our kids. Then he dressed me and dragged me through the house on a blanket to the garage because I could not handle having my head above my heart. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. He tried to rush me into the car and I felt so sick just being upright for a few seconds. He drove me to the ER and went inside to get a wheel chair with a nurse.
As I sat in the car by myself waiting for help to come, I felt so weak. I felt like I was fading. I started to wonder about God's promise to me. Did me getting to keep this one actually mean that I would be leaving with her? I started to cry. I had not been afraid for my life until this point. I pleaded with God. I did not want to leave Bret and the kids. I need them, and they need me. I don't know what Bret would do without me. I know he needs me. I was afraid for him. I begged God to let me stay here.
A nurse came and they took me into the ER. It took them three tries to get an IV into me because I was so dehydrated. Once the fluids got into me, I started feeling better. I was able to keep my eyes open and look around. I still insisted that they keep me lying flat and that I did not want my head propped up. They drew my blood to run some tests and did an ultrasound of my uterus. They determined that I would need to have the D&C surgery to clean out the rest of my uterus and stop the bleeding. During the surgery the doctor discovered that there had been significant blockage of my lower uterus that was keeping me from being able to close up on my own. After the surgery there has been very little blood and I am feeling much better.
They let me go home with Bret yesterday and I have been taking it easy. I still get a little light headed from moving around too much so I try to rest and stay still. There have been so many wonderful people who have been helping us. I am so grateful for them. They are just helping to take care of us while I am unable to by bringing us dinner among other things. We have such good people in our life and I am just thankful.
I am not angry at God. I am just so thankful to be alive. I am so grateful for Bret, Kien, and Ellie. They are the very best part of my life. I love having them and being able to hold them.
I know I don't understand everything yet, and I'm okay with that at this point. Like I said, maybe Heavenly Father didn't want me to be afraid while I was pregnant with Leah. Without that promise, I would have been worried the entire time. Maybe He just meant that she would be mine right along with Lucah in the next life. I feel like I have four children, even if I'm only raising two of them. I do have faith that Heavenly Father knows what he's doing. I just don't understand it yet. That understanding might not come to me in this life. And that's okay.