Friday, September 21, 2012
I believe in miracles. In fact, I believe that miracles happen all day, every day. Most of the miracles that I think happen are never even seen by us - diseases that are cured before they're discovered, cars that are re-routed before they are in an accident, people that have 'that feeling' to go somewhere or not go somewhere and they don't know why. I know that there are many people who don't believe in a higher power, including some of my close friends and family. But, with the chaos going on the world there is no way that I could justify NOT believing in something bigger than ourselves. Until yesterday, however, I had not witnessed a miracle with my own eyes.
Corey and I have been talking about another child for a lot of reasons, none of which have to do with us getting too much sleep or having too much quality time together. But, for all of the things that instinctively tell us NOT to have a second baby, there was a nagging feeling in our hearts that we are supposed to have one. We prayed and prayed about it, and we had our answer. So, as terrifying as the idea is, we decided to forge ahead again and start the process. The process that took years to bring us our beautiful daughter, and would surely be another long and arduous journey.
On June 7th we had our doctor remove my IUD and we were told to wait three months before he would start the prescriptions and we would induce ovulation three months after that. I took comfort in knowing that at the soonest we were looking at six months to a year. This would give Brooke plenty of time to get potty trained, cut the rest of her teeth, and learn to cook her own meals and sleep until noon. I would be prepared for this one.
Or maybe not.
I can't tell you why, but on July 12th I helped Brooke and Daddy get into their nightly bath, and then I grabbed a leftover EPT from the cabinet. It expired two years ago so I should have tossed it in the trash. Instead, I peed on it. And I waited. And I squinted at the lines in the dim light of the bathroom, because surely my contact-less eyes were incorrect. Two lines.
Instead of buying Brooke an adorable "Big Sister" T-shirt to surprise Corey with, or baking a cute cake with a Daddy-to-be iced on top, I marched upstairs and flung the stick at my husband and daughter who were playing in the tub.
"What the hell is wrong with this thing?" I bellowed, almost in tears.
He laughed at my 'trick' and said, "I'm not falling for that again."
I realized that my April Fool's Day joke had backfired as the tears welled up in my eyes and I tried to make him understand that I was not joking. Eventually he got it.
As terrified as I was at seeing those two lines, that's how happy Corey was. Sure, he was nervous over the prospect of having another minion to chase around, but this meant that we had done it, ourselves, without drugs or petri dishes or voodoo witch doctors.
I didn't care that we had done it ourselves, I only cared that I wasn't ready. Not even close.
But, I made the appointment to confirm and although our first numbers came back pretty low our second number doubled appropriately and it was real - we were pregnant. And the doctor scheduled an ultrasound to approximate a date of conception and due date for us.
That was two days ago and I'm still coping with what happened in the exam room.
We joked with our amazing doctor when he came in the room, telling him that his practice must have magic baby juju. I'd been having morning sickness for a few days so I was feeling cautiously optimistic that everything was progressing well, although I am a pessimist and always very aware of the depressing odds of complications.
When he readied me for the ultrasound he mentioned that we may be too early along to see the heartbeat, but that with a beta (the amount of pregnancy hormone in my blood) as high as it was I was certainly far enough along to see the tiny baby.
We had seen Brooke at 6weeks and 2days so although I knew it was possible I was still ready to see a tiny gummi bear with a flickering heart just like last time.
Only this time, there was nothing there.
No sac, no fetal pole, nothing. The doctors face changed as he angled the wand all around, looking all over my uterus for a sign that I was pregnant. But although we knew from my numbers that my body was acting pregnant, and although he made a point to say that he got a clear view of my uterus, there was no baby. Suddenly he turned the screen away from me, and pushed buttons quickly, scanning things over and over. And then he put the wand down and looked silently at his nurse.
All at once the blood left my head and I remember hearing Brooke scream, "Mommy" while I shoved my head between my upturned knees to try and breathe.
A few minutes and a bottle of water later the doctor started asking me questions about the pain in my right side (that I often have) and explained that the best case was a blighted ovum that he couldn't see clearly on the screen. In other words, we were hoping for a miscarriage because the other option was an ectopic and emergency surgery.
After being satisfied that the pain I had been having wasn't excruciating he dismissed us to come back the following afternoon to meet with the sonographer who has a higher resolution ultrasound device that could see my fallopian tubes and ovaries and would be able to locate the pregnancy.
To say we were devastated is an understatement. I was convinced that I had doomed the baby by not wanting it enough. And the look on Corey's face was the most horrible thing I'd ever witnessed. All we knew to do was pray. We prayed for the baby. We prayed that he or she was already at home in heaven and thanked God that this child would never have to feel pain. We also thanked God for whatever miracle that He was working that was disguised as misery, because we knew that He is always with us and always protecting us.
We cried, and we went home and cried some more. Corey wrapped up some things at work and took a couple of days off to stay with me and prepare what we would have to do if I was to be spending the weekend in the hospital. We prayed so much that we didn't even know what we were praying for, but I remember Corey praying for the 'easy way' which we both knew was a miscarriage but neither of us could say out loud. And we looked at our beautiful daughter and recognized that we had already been blessed so much and had so much to be thankful for. Everything would be all right.
As my pain increased Thursday night into Friday I became concerned that my right tube was the location of the pregnancy and that I was in danger of rupturing it if I waited too long. I toyed with the idea of the ER, but I wanted my doctor to be the one to do it so I tried to hold on until noon.
When we arrived at the office it was closed for lunch, but the sonographer was there waiting for us. The doctor had asked him to come in early and see us first. That told me that he was worried too, and that made me more worried. Had my tube already burst? Was I bleeding internally already? Would I be leaving my beautiful family behind because I was too stubborn to go to the hospital in the middle of the night?
We sat quietly in the dark room while he got things ready, without any of the excitement of the day before. Corey clutched my hand as the man squirted the gel onto my belly and started to look around. Just as easily as the day before he found my uterus and I stared at the dark empty blob on the big screen. And then he said he saw a gestational sac.
I was so relieved to hear those words. All at once I wouldn't be dealing with surgery and recovering while chasing around Brooke. But, I glanced at Corey's face and knew what he was hoping for. My heart broke. I couldn't deal with him being devastated again.
As the tech left us to get ready for the second and more invasive part I murmured to him that this was better, that we could deal with this together, and that a blighted ovum meant that although life had begun it ended before there was a baby and that somehow made it easier. He nodded, but I doubt he heard me.
The wand came back out and immediately the man zoomed in on a shadow in the corner of the screen.
"There's your baby!" he proclaimed like he knew it was there all along.
My jaw dropped. There was a baby? And what was that flickering? I didn't want to ask, but I heard the words coming out anyway.
"Is that a beating heart?"
There was our child. Like nothing had been going on. Measuring exactly six weeks, meaning that his or her tiny heart (the size of a poppyseed) had just started beating in the last 48 hours. While we were mourning the loss, his life was actually just starting.
The tech left us by ourselves to recover and we fell into each others arms and immediately began praying, thanking God for his faithfulness, for blessings, for answered and unanswered prayers.
And then Corey looked me straight in the eyes and told me that he'd had a dream the night before. In his dream we were in a church, and a man was claiming to heal people. To our left and right men were falling over as the preacher pointed at them and blessed them from God. As we got up to leave the certain lunacy and get out of the crazy church, he pointed at us. And then, in the dream, I turned to Corey while clutching my belly and said, "It's going to be okay. The baby is okay."
I have chills re-telling it.
And, here's the thing. I know that ultrasound machines are faulty. I know that doctors are human and make mistakes. I also know what an empty uterus looks like on a screen and I saw one. Save the idea that our unborn child is the ultimate hide and seek player I can't otherwise explain what happened to us yesterday.
All I know is that on Thursday I gazed at a picture of my empty womb, and on Friday I have a healthy baby nestled there with a beating heart.
I am thankful to God in times of want and in times of plenty, although I am well aware that it is much easier to be thankful when you are as blessed as I am with an amazing family and when your story has a happy answer.