This Thanksgiving was supposed to be different. In fact, it was supposed to be one for the books.
A holiday we would claim as a favorite for years to come.
It was ordinary. It was good. We had our families in a joint Thanksgiving. (Yes, joint, because our families are that awesome. We can have both immediate sides together to feast and no one bats an eye. #theluckiest)
What it wasn't... it was no longer the signal of our second trimester beginning.
Ooooopppphhhfffff. Yep, there it is.
Our beautiful baby announcement wrapped up into a single sad sentence instead of glowing photos and letterboards.
Thanksgiving would have made us 14 weeks pregnant. We were supposed to get to tell the world of our joy and that a sweet Baby B would soon be here. We were supposed to get to wear funny tees like this.
We were supposed to get to post on Facebook and Instagram photos showing how clueless Shaggy and Garth (and us) were of what was to come and thank each of you for sharing in our excitement.
Instead you're getting this blog post to announce we had a miscarriage.
Our babe grew for at least seven to eight weeks. He or she was loved for every single second of those days and is still being loved every single second.
And our babe was a miracle.
You see, you all have no context. Because I haven't shared a very private part of our story. This babe was 2.5 years in the making. 2.5 years down our road of growing our family. But, unexplained infertility has been an uninvited, unwelcome, and wretched guest on this journey. You see, all those times when well-meaning family and friends have asked us about having kids, letting us know it was time to begin to start our family, or that we should get to work filling up all the rooms in our new house, what you didn't know was that we were trying. And, trying. And, trying/not-trying with no luck. So, when I kindly smiled, or laughed it off saying we have pups, or joked it away saying we're too busy just managing each other... I was deflecting. I was saying it is none of your business. I was saying, please, just don't assume that we're not having kids because we're selfish, or ill-prepared, or something else negative. I was saying if only you knew how much we want that too.
When you've been a planner your entire life, you don't plan for things like this. You don't ever think you'll be one of the women who has trouble (except it is TOTALLY more common than you imagine!). You never dream that the four kids you knew you'd have may not actually ever become a reality. You never even consider that things won't fall closely to the imaginary timeline you've set forth. EXCEPT THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS.
I've been relatively healthy. I've never had any of these types of women's health issues. Nick was in the 99-th percentile on his health exam for life insurance. I mean c'mon on. How can it be that we can't produce a healthy babe? HOOOOOOWWWWWW is this freaking possible?
Well, frankly, I don't know. And pretty much, neither does KU. Yes, we've been to see a specialist. Yes, we've had tests and conversations and more tests and conversations. What we know is we were told we would probably never have children without intervention of some sort.
Well, we must have had intervention from the universe and Heaven, because Baby B made his or her unexpected presence known in mid-September on the heels of celebrating the union of one of our favorite couples. The thought of being pregnant never dawned on me until a wave of nausea knocked me to my knees, and it did. Four positive tests later, and blood work the following week, confirmed it. A miracle upon miracles had occurred.
And we were OVER THE MOON.
Literally, shocked and surprised in the very best of ways.
All my tests and blood work showed we were in good shape. Progressing just right. But we didn't tell a single soul because I wanted sight and sound confirmation.
We went for our nine-week ultrasound with eager anticipation. We'd planned a surprise get together so we could tell our closest family about the secret we'd been keeping. We began brainstorming how to pivot on the room that would become the nursery. And then at the appointment we saw in grainy black and white, our miracle. What a relief! BUT... then the doctor questioned how far along we thought we were and then said he couldn't find a heartbeat. And the air left my lungs and the room. And Nick just squeezed my hand a little tighter.
And there it was. And wasn't. All in the same moment.
The long and short of it, we were told we needed more blood work to confirm that a miscarriage was pending. But that blood work came back not indicative of what was expected. So, we had to wait two more excruciating weeks to see if maybe we were behind on the dating or if in fact my body just hadn't gotten the memo that our babe had stopped growing. At eleven weeks, we got the news we already knew, our miracle wasn't growing and there still wasn't a heartbeat. It was a missed miscarriage. And, with that we scheduled a D&C because my body wasn't going to miscarry on its own.
The picture I led this post with was from the morning of our surgery. Unfiltered, raw, and emotionally charged. But we consciously, unconsciously smiled. We smiled because it's who we are. We smiled because we had each other. We smiled because we had created a life. We smiled because we were part of a miracle. We smiled because sadness can't sneak in when you're filled with love and positivity. I, also, smiled because I've had Nick by my side through all of this without pause and with great resolve.
And now we're three weeks post procedure. And, for all intents and purposes, we're in a good place. We have had time to process. And we've had a lot of distractions (thank you home building!). And, we've got our sights fixed on the bright spot in all of this: WE GOT PREGNANT ON OUR OWN.
We've tried to keep this whole trying time really positive. Don't get me wrong, it sucks. It is enormously sucky, and sad, and heartbreaking. And unfair. For us. And for our families. We've taken solace in knowing we got pregnant once so hopefully we'll be blessed enough for it to happen again. We painted what will one day be the nursery "Dusty Olive." It's fitting that the color we previously picked and purchased pre-pregnancy, apparently, symbolizes hope, understanding, a meeting of will and heart, and a new life. The universe always provides what we need and I am never one to overlook symbolism and providence.
I've also taken comfort in knowing that infertility and miscarriages are more prevalent than many know. Our society makes this part of parenthood hard, kind of taboo, and quiet. Sharing isn't something that we readily do because this part of life is messy and private. Infertility and miscarriage aren't easy to experience, talk about, or reconcile. They are gut-wrenching. They are tear-filled. They are terrible.
Throughout our healing process, I've learned about many more women and couples who have struggled with infertility and/or loss than I ever knew. Which is why after much tumult and heartburn, I decided to blog about this part of our lives. Words are my therapy and this is my space. Often times blogs and social media posts are our highlight reels. It's where we go to share our good stuff. But we don't put the hard stuff, the real stuff, and the ugly sad stuff out there because we don't want to be judged or to be thought of as seeking attention. If we talk more, and share more of the real, we might also realize no one has the perfect life. No one has it all together. At the end of the day, we are all human beings, sharing the same planet, trying to navigate life the best we can and reach the end of each day relatively unscathed.
With specific regard to infertility, few talk about the ugliness of ovulation predictor kits, diet changes, charting, medicines, and the process of baby-making. Few talk about how freaking hard it is to see baby announcements, newborns, and adorable toddler or family pics flood our newsfeeds and pinspiration boards. Few talk about how you have to quell jealousy like a boss when even your closest friends share they are expecting or talk about their #momlife/#dadlife. Fewer talk about how you have to resist the urge to scream "quit complaining about your kids' behavior, your stretch marks, or your exhaustion because I'd trade you in a heartbeat."
BUT, they are very much reality.
One of the best comments I received during this whole rollercoaster ride came from a longtime family friend, who experienced both a struggle to get pregnant and miscarriage, she said in effect, 'this is going to be hard but remember throughout all of it, no one is going to know exactly how you feel or even understand. They will try. Just know the feelings you feel are yours, and whatever they are, they are right.' Talk about a load off of my shoulders. That is the truest of trues. The emotions are like a Six Flags mega coaster, one you didn't willing get on even though you may have stood in line for it.
If we, those of us in this camp, share more we may realize we're not alone in irrational shame and guilt, palpable frustration, and utter sadness we feel. We might start to take comfort in that we actually did everything right including our vitamins, our nutrition, our scaling back on activities, our quest for more rest. We may realize the range of emotions from high to low is absolutely acceptable. And, maybe we'll realize this was so out of our actual control that we understand we couldn't have predicted this outcome and surely couldn't have done anything to prevent it. And, finally, hopefully, we'll reconcile that after a loss, it's okay to get back to routine, to laugh, and to try find "normal" again, sooner rather than later.
Sometimes you run life like a baller. Sometimes life owns you. And, the latter has been my case in this brief season. I've earnestly worked to squelch and squash the ugh-ness of everything, on most days better than the other few. I've tried to find routine in my 8-5er. I've stepped away from one of my side hustles only to be more immersed in the other. For a few weeks, I've quietly, quasi-intentionally taken a social media posting break for the most part as I recognized I didn't have the energy or desire to cultivate my content or wholly participate in communications. I also still fulfilled a commitment to a committee I was serving on that reminded me of who I've been (and who I am still), what has helped shaped me, where I want to be, and what kind of world I am dedicated to helping create for our future babes. Our actions, as well as our reactions, matter. And, it's these moments that make us.
My wish for myself, and those who've experienced this, and those who are yet to: know this does NOT define you. You have so many things that can't be taken away -- strength, intelligence, ambition, friendships, true love, quirks, funny talents, and potential. You have mercy and honor. You were a whole person before, and though it might feel like something was ripped away without permission, you are still whole. Now, you might not be exactly the same, but you are still Y-O-U. You have grit and a fire in your belly. And, above all, you can still have hope. You are enough now, as you were before, and your life is still being blissfully and wonderfully written. So, find your therapy -- cooking, running, crafting, shopping, organizing, reading, praying, or serving. Or mesh them all together. Find what brings you back to you.
Even though I know very little about any of this, save for my own experience, and what I've learned from the experiences of others, I know enough to ask you all -- those in our same boat, the parents of the world, the ones who had it easier than some of us, and the ones who have opted not to take part in this part of life (yet or forever)--, let's all give each other some grace.
Y'all, let's not put our perceptions, assumptions, and expectations on others. Let's let everyone take their own path. Let's agree there is no one right way people should move through marriage, parenthood, infertility, or loss. Let's not shove alternatives, whether it be adoption or otherwise, in their faces. Let's let each other honor his or her own pace. Let's accept that "starting a family" doesn't have to mean adding children; it's selecting who you surround yourself with. (which BTW, I already have a family, one I adore in its current status and the one I'll have in the future.)
Let's love a little more, pray a little more, laugh a little more, share a little more and just let each other be.
In hope, with positivity, and with unstoppable determination, until next time,
ps for those of you who we consider our nearest and dearest, who are reading this and finding this out along with the world, we didn't tell many folks. We didn't intentionally not tell you, or mean to leave you out. We didn't keep it from you on purpose. We hope you'll understand that this isn't something you just want to drop on anyone in casual conversation or at a holiday or birthday event, especially to those we don't see as often as we'd like. So, please give us a pass on not notifying you in person or via phone. It doesn't mean we don't value you or consider you trustworthy of an event of this magnitude. It just means we've been in a fog. We've bumbled a lot of stuff in the last few weeks.
pps thank you to those of you who have lent support, kindness, and space during this time. We so appreciate your presence in our lives. And, a special thank you to our families for your love and quiet patience and undeniable positivity.