Last year I shared my thoughts and feelings about loosing a child to a miscarriage. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Ezra Faith, on Sunday March 3rd, 2013 at the Belleville General Hospital.
I wasn't ready last year to give the details about the story. But I will share them today, on the 2 year anniversary of her birth. The facts are clinical, true, and sometimes alarming (I just want you to be warned and prepared). But I feel comfortable enough to put these facts out there, and I want to be able to be a life line to any woman going through a miscarriage and searching the internet for stories about what the experience could be like (like a full-term, live birth, each miscarriage is different) and to find help here, and to know they are not alone.
To read about my first miscarriage of my little boy Abraham, look here. Or to read about my version of coping, read this post called Feeling Blue.
The pregnancy was not planned (at all). I had suffered a miscarriage a few months earlier, and we weren't thinking we would try again, but knowing I was pregnant again did have a healing effect. Like my body could be trusted a little again.
The pregnancy went along really normal, with no sign for concern at all. But deep down, I was really struggling to be hopeful. I can read now through some of my journal entries during those early weeks that I was excited, but still feeling nervous about going full-term. We decided to wait (as most people do) until the 12 week mark to tell people, but as the date approached, I changed my mind. We had told people at 12 weeks with the last pregnancy, only to call them/tell them all a few days later the baby had passed away.
With each passing week beyond the "magic 12 week mark" we were feeling better about telling people. So, after my mid-wife appointment at 16weeks 5days where we heard the heartbeat still, we slowly started making our announcement. At 20 weeks, we made the announcement at church (which was a big deal to us). We thought, we're halfway through the pregnancy, I'm starting to show a little (I don't show much until I'm nearer to the 30 week mark), so let's do it. There were a few other women pregnant with due dates around mine, so I could talk freely with some of them now about the pregnancy.
The 10 days or so leading up to the end are a strange mix of blur, and extreme clarity. On the Wednesday after we had told our church we were pregnant, I had my first dance rehearsal for a production I was working on with our local theatre. But that Wednesday night as I got dressed for the rehearsal, I went back and forth in my mind about if I would tell some of the cast I was expecting. I knew some of them well, but decided to wait until it was really obvious. That moment feels clear to me, and I think it was because the Lord knew I would need a corner of the world where I was still "me"-not pregnant, not grieving, just neutral. This show turned out to be a refuge for me. It gave me dances to work on and choreograph during the week, a goal to have, a task. Going to rehearsals was a God-send; it was the only place people didn't know what was really going on, so I felt free to go to rehearsals and smile, have fun, talk about things besides loss, like in another life I was suffering so much inside, but in that life things were chugging along as usual.
The next day, on Thursday February 21st, I had a mid-wife appointment and ultrasound booked. I remember my secondary mid-wife was doing my appointment, and I had never met her before. We made our introductions, and then she started asking the usually questions about how I felt, etc. I cut her off and said, "I don't want to be rude, but could we chat after you listen for the babies heart beat?" I told her I was really nervous, and didn't want to chat about a baby I was still feeling un-sure was even there......
She couldn't find the heart beat......she tried to give me (really sweet) excuses, "maybe the baby is farther back, etc", but I knew. I asked her to go and get my primary mid-wife (who I knew well, and trusted). She came in, with a grim look on her face. I love her. She is strait forward, but still really kind and caring. She checked for a heart beat too, and said something like, "This doesn't look good".
Because I was already booked for the 20 week ultrasound after my appointment, she told me to go there, and to call her after.
The ultrasound tech is someone I still would punch in the face if I ever saw him again. I went into the room, feeling sick to my stomach, and sat down on the bed. He was looking over my information, and said, "o.k., so this is a scan just to check that the baby is developing normally", and I said, "well, it was supposed to be, but I just came from my mid-wife, and we could find the heart beat, so, this scan is really to check if the baby is still alive". He looked a little annoyed at me for even saying it, but I knew they had rules. The patient is not to know the results of a scan, they are supposed to wait until their healthcare provider calls them with the results. But I wanted to know. I needed to know. He quietly did the scan, making little grunts under his breath, looking disapproving. Then, he suddenly turns the machine away, and tells me we're finished. I've been to ultrasounds before, and they always end with the tech letting you hear the heart beat, looking at the baby, and printing off photos from the scan for you.
So, I sat up, and said, "can you tell me?". "Oh no", he replies, "I will pass the info onto your mid-wife, probably in the next day or so, and she'll get in touch with you". I was too mad/shocked/heartbroken at that point to know how to react to his coldness. I walked out of the room, and looked to my left where the waiting room was. My husband turned to look at me, and shrugged, as if to say, "do you know?", and I burst into tears, and ran to the right, and locked myself in the bathroom.
When I finally told my husband about the scan, but more about how the tech said he wasn't going to tell me, or pass the into on for a day or two, he pleaded with the receptionist, who did have a heart, and promised to send the results to the mid-wife the minute they were ready. So, we called the mid-wife about an hour after the appointment, and she told us that the scan showed the baby had stopped growing (therefore he heart had stopped beating) around a week earlier.
Fast forward to Saturday, March 2nd. The day booked for me to go to the hospital to have my labour induced. The time between finding out the baby had passed away and this date was a blur. I wrote this same Psalm in my journal over and over....
Psalms 6: 1(b)-3, 6 "Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; oh Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish! How long, oh Lord, how long?". v. 6 "I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow...."
That is the most honest way I can describe the time I spent trying to mentally prepare for what was ahead. I wasn't allowed to try to "wait it out" at home as I had with our last miscarriage because I was farther along, and the baby would be bigger, and there was a bigger chance of complications.
I arrived at the hospital at noon, and I was brought into the labour and delivery ward. I was told what "the plan" was, and then we settled in for what we thought would be a few terrible hours.
They gave me the meds for induction (misoprostol) at 2pm, and again at 6pm, and again at 10pm......my body was not ready for this. My mid-wife was very apologetic and alarmed that I hadn't gone into labour yet. She thought (because I had previous pregnancies and deliveries) I would go into labour with the first dose, but it wasn't happening.
This day that I was dreading was stretching out before me, with nothing good at the end of it. The mental capacity it took me to stay there and not run like a lunatic through the halls, out the doors, and never stop, was just barely in my reach. A really nice nurse gave us the WiFi password for the hospital so we could watch shows online on the iPad we had brought along. It helped to pass the hours, and gave us a mental rest. There are saints working in the Belleville General Hospital.
I kept getting doses of meds, hoping it "would take". The OBGYN who was "technically" in charge of my labour and delivery told me to rest, and she would be back at 2am to give me another dose of the meds if I needed it.
Lying in our semi-dark maternity ward room, I could hear newborn babies crying down the hall. They had put us as far away as they could, but I could still hear them, and I couldn't stop crying.
The contractions finally came in waves about midnight. Looking at the clock, I could see they were getting to be 2 minutes apart. I was in a lot of pain. As much pain as any of my other full term labours, and at this point, this ordeal had been almost as long as my longest labour. I went to the bathroom, but after peeing, I felt pressure. I felt down there, and could feel something coming out. So, I pulled the emergency cord, and when the nurse came in, she helped me back to my bed. The OBGYN came back in, and quickly checked my cervix. She said, "I can't feel anything coming down at all?". I told her for sure I not only felt the pressure, but I felt with my own hand something. Because I was being given vaginal misoprostol, when I would go to the bathroom, the pill would often fall out (it is only placed right inside the vagina, to be at the cervix opening to soften the cervix). So, when I felt that pressure and felt something coming out, the meds also fell out. I saw the pill, and I told the OBGYN, but she felt that if the last contractions were so strong, they would continue on their own. So, we waited 30 minutes (until 2am), and nothing happened, so, she gave me another dose, and we waited some more.
Another hour.....and nothing was happening. She told me to rest again, and left the room. At about 5 am, I felt the contractions again, but they were suddenly intense, horribly painful, and extremely close together. The OBGYN, some nurses, and my mid-wife all came in, I wasn't going to let this stop this time. I was tired of waiting, tired of wondering, tired of being the in hospital for what was supposed to be a quick induction and labour. 15 hours had gone by, I wanted to be finished.
Very suddenly I said I needed to push, and in one push I was finished.
My baby was still in the sack, so they broke it open, and told me she was a girl. They wrapped her in the same white/blue/pink blanket they wrap all newborns in, and gave her to me to hold. She was tiny, but perfect. She weighed so little (5.7 oz) but I could feel the weight of her in my arms. I still can.....
My husband and I sat crying for a long time. Eventually, we cleaned her up, and wrapped her back up, and placed her into her coffin. We packed up our things and headed home with our daughter.
It is a dark and hollow feeling going home from a labour and delivery, and bringing home a beautiful white casket, and no baby to care for. My husband and I went to sleep for a few hours, and then I just needed to get up. I wanted photos of my daughter. I had a foot print from our son we had lost, but was unsure about pictures. But, leading up to going into the hospital with this miscarriage, I had read every blog and forum about miscarriage, and a lot of women regretted not having some photo or another (and I felt that regret from our last baby lost). So, I got up, and took some foot and hand prints, as well as photos of her feet and hands. I decided against a photo of her face because (the morbid & natural) truth was that she was in ‘poor condition’. Because she had passed away at least 10 days previous, she had begun to deteriorate. So, I got what I felt I would want (whether I looked at it in a day, a week, or if I wasn’t ready again in 10 years to see the photos), I now knew I had them.
We held a service for her at our house on March 15th, and it was terrible, and wonderful. The support from those who came was enormous, but the event was one I dreaded. I didn’t hardly sleep leading up to it. We planned on burying her before everyone got to the service as we felt it would be too emotional for us to do in front of others, and also possibly awkward for those coming as this whole situation was different than a usual "funeral". Our pastor was there and he said a few words, and I said a few words too.
We choose the gerbera daisy as Ezra's flower, and handed one out to each person who came to the service as a remembrance.
All of the post-partum stuff came to me, as it would have if I had delivered a full term baby. My milk came in 3 days after having her, and that was heart breaking. Then, to add more complication to it, after my regular post-partum bleeding was finished, (after about 3 weeks), suddenly a week later I started bleeding again, but violently, and unstoppably. I had to go in for 2 more inter-vaginal ultrasounds, one to confirm that I had pieces of placenta attached to my uterus, which was causing the bleeding, and the second a week later to confirm it was all out. I opted out of a scraping of the uterus and promised to let my mid-wife know if I felt too ill, and told her I would ride it out. This bleeding stopped on April 7th. I got the news I miscarried on February 21st. 46 long, terrible, unbearable days later, and it was finally all over.
The following Sunday I went back to church for the first time since we had made the announcement we were pregnant back in February. I felt so overwhelmed with emotions of being there, seeing those same pregnant ladies who were still pregnant. Most of them who told people they were pregnant when they were 4, 5, 6 weeks pregnant. I waited until I was 19 weeks pregnant….half way through the pregnancy! I felt so much anger, sadness, hatred. But, I also felt a love, knowing a lot of people in this “family” had made me meals, given us money for groceries (which my friends would buy, and bring out to me), given us flowers and cards, but mostly their prayers.
I purchased a beautiful photo box from the craft store Michael's, and put the things into it that I wanted as a remembrance of Ezra. My positive pregnancy test, then cards and notes from friends and family after the loss. The hospital bracelets, little knitted cap, and blanket they had wrapped her in. Her hand and foot prints are in this box, as well as a "Mary's Bear" we purchased for her, because all of my other kids have one.
Here I am, 2 years later, and I still struggle with knowing the balance between remembering and forgetting. Is there even a balance?
I don't "ooh & ahh" over new babies, but I have at least gotten close to them. This is mostly because I have 5 and 6 year old girls who want to see every baby they encounter! If that's the method God is going to use to get me to stand within a 10 foot radius of a new baby, then o.k. I don't feel excited over a new pregnancy announcement; I mostly feel nervousness mixed with irritation that someone else is pregnant. But I feel this less now than I did 2 years ago, so I can be hopeful that one day I may have genuine happiness for other pregnant woman and woman with newborns.
I miss the little girl who I never really knew, but I had her worked into my life already. I was already planning my sons summer birthday around her (actual) due date. I wondered how we could re-arrange the kids in their rooms based on if we had a baby girl or baby boy. I was happy and prepared to have her at home with me when all three of my kids went off to school this year. But I am alone at home.
I think about Ezra literally every day. I sometimes imagine her here with us and what she might have been like. I sometimes imagine her in heaven, looking sweet and beautiful and happy.
I feel pain so deep knowing that she is being forgotten by everyone except myself. I know others think of her, though not every day, and not with the pain I feel. I am the only one who knew her, who felt her. I don't blame anyone for forgetting; each person has their own life. I don't remember/know the birthdays of some of my own siblings, or the exact day one dear friend of mine passed away. I know he passed away in the month of June, but the exact day? I'm not sure I've ever remembered it. So thinking someone should remember the passing of a baby they never knew or met is unreasonable. This is important to remember because if I decided to be angry with anyone who didn't pay tribute to Ezra's honour I would be forever unhappy and would push others away from me. This attitude is not one that will bring healing, but more loneliness and grief.
I pray that my feelings, my thoughts, the story I share can be an encouragement and help to others. I hurt deeply thinking about this loss, but I can say that time does heal. But, you have to let it. Time spent lying in bed, grieving endlessly, thinking of nothing else but the loss is not time spent healing. We heal by equal parts grief, sharing, giving of ourselves, and working towards goals. Don't be afraid to feel happy, it doesn't mean you have stopped loving the baby you lost, it just means you can still love life without that baby. And that is allowed. You can cry, look at ultrasound scans, and remember the feeling of a baby growing inside of you. But you also need to laugh, look at real life happening around you, and feel what you still have inside of you to give to others.
Today I remember Ezra Faith and the loss, but I remember most what she's done for me. She taught me to feel deeply, she reminded me to be real, to be present. To know that God has each day planned for us, from birth until death, and we can't stop it. The grief and fear that get tangled together in the middle of the storm can seem overwhelming, but it will settle.....eventually. I remember the love of friends and family who reached out to us and cared for us during the storm, and how they were a beacon of light.
I remember the weight of her in my arms, the tears I cried from deep inside of me while I held her in that hospital room.
I am thankful for Ezra Faith and every moment I got to spend with her. And I look forward to holding her again someday.
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
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