Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Beautiful Reminder

This miniature rosebush is my absolute favorite thing in my flower gardens. It was planted in my home in American Fork and when we moved, I never thought to bring it with us. Two years after we moved, while visiting with the neighbors across the street from our old home, I realized I had to have that rosebush. A replacement one wouldn't suffice. I needed that particular one.

The kind homeowners (not the ones we sold the home to) allowed me to dig it up one hot June Sunday afternoon. After transplanting, I babied the rosebush throughout the hot summer until it acclimated to its new home. I wanted it desperately to survive.

I've had bits and pieces of this story of mine in various blog post drafts over the years, but until now, I've never felt like sharing it. A few months ago, I read a heart-wrenching blog post from a friend who suffered a miscarriage. I felt inspired to send her an email sharing my own experience more than a decade ago. As I shared my experience, it felt so good to get it all written down and recorded (even though it was a mumbo-jumbo, disjointed email). Though I wrote a little in my personal journal 15 years ago, I didn't write much. It's probably time to share.

First of all I must say that I completely recognize the difference between early-term miscarriages and later pregnancy still-births. However, until a woman has had an early-term miscarriage, they have no idea of the grieving that does (and probably has to) take place. I believe the second a mother finds out they are pregnant, their mother bear instincts kick in, and they fight for that baby to survive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Unfortunately, there are times we don't win the fight.

In early December of 1997, I found out I was pregnant. I announced it to Mike with a baby bottle sitting on our bathroom counter. On January 1st, we decided to announce it to our parents. I was 9 weeks pregnant. Within hours of announcing it to my family, I began to realize something could be wrong. Although the symptoms were mild, upon arriving home to American Fork, we opted to go to the hospital. The ER doctor performed an ultrasound and there on the screen Mike and I saw a little baby's heartbeat. We of course were relieved, and the doctor told us that usually the baby dies first and then spotting/bleeding begins, not the other way around. He assured us all was well and sent us home with instructions to take it easy for a few days. (He also told me his wife spotted monthly throughout her pregnancy.)

(FYI-this wasn't "my" doctor)

I'm not going to give specific details here, but "the details" led my doctor to believe, nothing was serious and to continue to rest for a few days. It was during my first day of rest that 'somebody' (it's not my story to tell) stopped by my house with 'necessary purchases.' (We'd been married less than a year, Mike was not willing to go to the store for 'such necessities.') This dear woman, beyond child bearing years, confided to me that her last pregnancy had ended in an miscarriage. She shared her feelings of sadness having wished for a baby to be close to her youngest child. Fifteen years later, I feel as though this person was the only one who really understood my fear that I really was miscarrying.

After 2 days, all my symptoms stopped. Based on the mildness of them, my doctor assured me all was surely fine and to keep my scheduled appointment for 6 weeks later. (I was naive and didn't know to ask for anything different at the time.)

Six weeks later was February 13th. I was "supposedly" 14 weeks pregnant, and was going to hear the heartbeat for the first time. (Obviously, I'd already seen it.) Now, I realize how stupid of me to even think I hadn't really miscarried those first few days of January...

Of course the doctor couldn't hear the heartbeat and ordered an ultrasound for later that afternoon. I went home, drank a billion ounces of fluid and returned a few hours later with Mike. Fortunately, my uncomfortable ultrasound with the nurse didn't have to last long, before the doctor came in and said, "I guess you really did miscarry last month after all. I'm sorry."

I was devastated.

I went home and sobbed and cried on the top of my bed. Mike sat in the office next to our bedroom working and didn't say or do anything to comfort me. Of course that added to my heartbreak, but I guess being our first, and not even a year into our marriage, he didn't "get it". (He since realizes his mistake.)

It took me several years to forgive him of that major faux pas.

After sobbing for several hours, I got up and decided to go to the store. I went to Fred Meyer's in American Fork and bought myself a potted plant and Mike a CD for Valentine's Day. The plant had no significance, but I thought it was pretty, and being the day before Valentine's Day there were plenty to choose from.

That potted plant is the rosebush that is now in my front yard. This is the time of year it is in full bloom. I smile every time I look at it, and occasionally shed a tear. Of course I went on to have 5 healthy pregnancies, but I have never ever forgotten the heartache of that miscarriage. I will mention, I spotted during my last pregnancy (Drew). I sobbed all that day as my mother bear instincts fought full force for him to make it. Obviously I didn't miscarry, but my fears were very real.

I know it doesn't take a math wiz to become confused when knowing that on February 13th, 1998 I was told there was no baby inside me, yet on October 12, 1998, Megan was born. The details surrounding that whole part of the story are really quite detailed and very personal. I'll leave out the specifics and summarize it this way...

About 10 days after my February 13th ultrasound, I began to feel really sick and had an awful pain in my upper stomach area. On February 25th, my doctor thinking perhaps I had a gallstone, had me return for an ultrasound. I'll never forget the ultrasound tech saying, "Your gallbladder looks fine, and so does the 6 week old fetus."


The doctor soon came in, and with tears in his eyes said, "Guess you were really meant to have this baby!" Then with tears still in his eyes, and his hand clasping mine he said, "Congratulations, you are pregnant."

(So, technically I was pregnant on that February 13th ultrasound, but with Megan, not the "original baby" and until 6 weeks, a fetus isn't always seen. There are a few more specific special and to me, sacred details of the whole event, but none that I'd share publicly.

For all intents and purposes my experience with a miscarriage was a fairly minor trial compared to many people, but it is an experience that I hold dear to my heart. I love that I have my rosebush as a tangible reminder. It is in full bloom right now, and as it does every year, it reminds me life is good. Difficult things get better and life moves on.


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