Another baby? It’s complicated.

It’s my “blog-aversary” I guess. So says WordPress. Four years ago I started this baby….and wow does time fly. Four years ago I started this blog as a rant of the struggles of first-time motherhood. And now that little baby I was talking about is four. He knows how to write his name. He knows the alphabet and he can count to 100. That little baby is also a fantastic big brother and says the funniest and craziest things. It’s nuts how life works out and flies by all at once.

I’ve been in kind of a funk these days. I know I talk about my miscarriages often, and many of you who read this blog may be tired of hearing about it. I apologize, and want to kindly remind you that you don’t have to read what I write, it doesn’t bother me one way or another. But be warned, this blog does touch on my unborn babies.

I have begun the process of writing a book I once dreamed about. Both my husband and the readers of this blog have encouraged me to push forward and make that dream a reality. Though it won’t be remotely written for many years, it is in the works.  Writing on this topic has been something I have been passionate about. Miscarriage and the loss with it has been so taboo in our culture and I’m tired of it, and so are the other mothers out there who have experienced it. It’s just time to talk about it and not in a “everything-works-out” kind of way. It’s time that miscarriage is recognized as the anger and grief inducing tragedy that it is. It should be called out for what it is: a life altering, never the same again, event.

But, that is only part of what is on my mind today. Really, what my mind is mulling over is whether or not to have another baby. I want another baby. I crave it. I hated being pregnant with Lennon, but in the long run, it’s so worth it. But honestly, I am petrified. The condition I have, which presumably caused my previous miscarriages, only worsens with age, so each day that passes, each moment, increases my chance of miscarrying all the more. And honestly, I don’t know if I can mentally and emotionally handle the possibility of losing another baby.

Recently, my husband and I have started a small group within our church dedicated to the common bond of miscarriage. Because of this and the start of this book, I have been dwelling on and reliving my experiences more graphically than  usual on a daily basis. It does a number on one’s emotional state. I typically think of my lost children at least once a day, but lately, I have been graphically re-living every detail of their loss.

I have been trying so hard to soak in the moments with my four year old and treasure the fleeting moments of babyhood with my sweet Lennon. But always in the back of my mind is the craving of another child, and the reminder of those I have lost. It’s a tough place to find myself.

I tried to fool myself into saying I was done after two living babies. I have a beautiful boy and the most awesome girl. Perfect, right? But I crave another. A few weeks ago, I held a friend’s sweet newborn baby and was so happy to give her back once she cried, but now–now I long for that moment when you hold a new baby for the first time. I want to hear those sweet and unforgettable newborn cries. I want that first look into each other’s eyes. I want to mother another child. But I’m scared of the journey to get there. My heart cannot take another loss. My heart can hardly manage another pregnancy. The mere thought makes my stomach churn and my eyes tear up.

Pregnancy is a complete crap-shoot. You don’t ever know until the moment that beautiful, pink, screaming baby is placed in your arms, that everything will be okay. And there in lies the risk.

This is where I am, folks. Truly caught between a rock and a hard place. And seriously hoping time will tell.

5 Years

This past Friday, Kyle and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. Holy crap. Are we really at five years already? Our wedding day literally seems like it was yesterday…yet also such a long time ago. Over the last five years, we have grown so much both individually, and as a couple.

The night before our anniversary came, I looked over at Kyle and said, “This year’s been a doosey hasn’t it?” We laughed about it, but really, it has. This year alone, we have been stretched in more ways than I think each of us have experienced in one short time span ever in our lives. Roughly in the last year, we have and continue to grieve three miscarriages, we moved across the country leaving our family and friends behind, faced job uncertainty, and lost significant friendships.  Honestly, I think we’ve had more arguments this year alone than our previous four years combined.

However, these trials we have faced are also some of the best things that have happened to us. Experiencing the loss of our unborn babies has opened up new conversations for us about our family structure and what we really want that to look like. It has also, in a strange way, given us a renewed love and appreciation for the beautiful son we have. Our time with job uncertainty has helped me to learn the value in the way my husband relentlessly pursues his passions. He does not give up. And he ALWAYS wants the best for me and for Judah. Leaving our friends and family has caused us to rely on one another in ways we haven’t always needed to. Yes, it’s caused some strain for obvious reasons, but it’s also pushed us to finally consider what is best for our core family unit, not everyone else’s. It has allowed us to step back and begin weeding through what we want and don’t want as parents, as a couple, and as a family.

This year reminded us that marriage is tough. It’s not all happiness and fun times. Marriage takes hard work, and it takes commitment. Though this year has been both amazing and difficult, I wouldn’t trade it in. This year has opened up our eyes to new ways in which to communicate to each other, to encourage one another, pray for each other, and love each other. For me personally, this year has shown me the amazing patience Kyle has for me and my shortcomings. It has also revealed to me the length that he would go to help me become the best person I can be.

Looking back five years ago, I didn’t think this is where we would be now. Sure, some things have lined up, but others haven’t. And you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Doing life with this man has been an incredible ride that always keeps me on my toes, and I cannot wait to look back another five years from now.

Thanks for asking me to be your wife, Kyle. I’m one lucky lady.

Photo Booth pictures courtesy of Roth Photography

Photo Booth pictures courtesy of Roth Photography

 

A not so happy birthday.

Well, it happened again. The day that I welcomed age 27 was the day that I said goodbye to another baby. The third baby in less than a year.

I struggled with whether or not I wanted to share this…yet again. But after reading this blog post last night, I felt a duty to do so, more than anything. I don’t write these blogs to receive your pity or for you to say, “oh, you are so strong to share this!” In fact, I hate that this is my story, but it is. And I know God gives us our stories to share them with others, as a way to heal and to help others do so themselves.

I’ve always felt this way, even though I am a sucker for reading them, but sometimes lifestyle blogs are just crap. I’ve heard the argument time and time again that “my blog is written because I want to remember the good times, the highlights.” Sure, we all do. And, if you’re like me, reading the highlights is pretty great. But reading the real stuff is just as good. And posting it, to me, is important. After all, the highlights usually come after the storm. The lows are what bring them. No, I’m not being a pessimist, I’m just being real. This is life, and sometimes life is wonderful, and sometimes life’s a bitch.

Sure, it’s the internet and you can post whatever you want. I always say, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. And I still feel that way, but here’s my challenge to you: Understand that by posting only your “highlight reel” that you are perpetuating the comparison, competition, and struggle for perfection that is simply unattainable. You make people like me hesitate to share a story about my unborn child for fear of seeming “less” or “unfortunate” when that is so far from the truth. Sure, we all know it’s your highlight reel. We also all know that every perfect and thin woman we see in a magazine has been photoshopped. Does it stop us from comparing? Nope. I challenge you to continue to share the highlights. But also share some of the struggles. Share your story.

Thank you to the blogger who shared their disappointment from losing out on purchasing their first home. Thank you to the blogger who shares about her struggles to get pregnant. Thank you to the blogger who lets you know her house is just as messy as yours, and that it’s perfectly okay. Thank you to the blogger who was brave enough to share her story of loss.

I share my stories because miscarriage is something we cannot sweep under the rug any longer. It’s the loss of life, the loss of a child, and it deserves the grief it’s due. I’ve lost three, and each time, I’m expected to live life normally again within a day or two. Would I be treated like that if my son passed away? Absolutely not.

Kyle and I found out we were expecting again on Easter Sunday. After having gone through two miscarriages before, we were overjoyed to have conceived so quickly, yet apprehensive to become attached. We scheduled a visit with our doctor, and were able to see this itty bitty being, about the size of  a grain of rice on the screen. Our doctor told us the heartbeat was strong, and we could even see it pumping. Our fears and stress were lowered a bit more and we began to envision becoming a family of four. Another miscarriage was a looming thought, but it also seemed so unlikely.

A few weeks passed. We had only told our family at that point, which was kind of fun. It was our little secret growing and thriving in my belly. One Saturday morning, Kyle and I were getting Judah ready to head out the door to attend his first parade down the street. I ran to the bathroom, as I was always doing being in my first trimester, and my heart immediately sank. Bright red blood.

I called for Kyle and we immediately called the doctor on call who instructed us to go into the ER. There was nothing we could do but hope for the best. After an eternity of waiting and anxiety, and after four ultrasounds, they were able to find our baby and told us its heart was strong. “This must be a fluke,” they said. “Just ride it out,” they told us. “You’ll be fine, and your baby is healthy.”

We went home relieved. I researched online and found hundreds of women who testified to bleeding during their pregnancies to go on and deliver healthy babies. My spirits were high, and I felt okay.

Later that day I began to experience some cramping, and I thought it was just the effects of the multiple ultrasounds. Sunday the discomfort worsened, but I again blamed it on something else. On Monday, I called my doctor and requested an appointment just to be sure everything was fine. Though I trusted the ER doctor, he wasn’t an OB/GYN and my bleeding hadn’t slowed, nor did my cramps. Being the wonderful doctor that she is, she squeezed me in during her lunch break so that I could have an ultrasound done.

Again, we were flooded with relief. There was our baby. It was so much bigger than the last time we saw it that clearly. It was thriving and growing. Our doctor turned on the sound, and we were able to hear a steady and strong heartbeat. Our doctor reassured us that everything looked fine and that she would give us another ultrasound in a week and would continue to do so until the bleeding stopped.

Home we went, hopeful.

Two days later, it was my birthday. It started out being a fantastic day. It was sunny and warm, and we spent most of the afternoon at the park. When we got home, I was cramping pretty badly. I chalked it up to the discomfort that occurs when your body is growing and stretching, making room for your baby to live. I received some relief when I loosened my pants, and I was pretty excited that my belly seemed to have grown. But deep down, I knew better.

A few hours later, that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach was confirmed. My cramps were now coming in waves and my bleeding was increasing. Th next thing I knew, I was fully contracting. I was in labor. I was in labor at seven weeks and six days.

After an hour and a half of intense pain, I lost the baby.

I remember falling to the floor, weeping. My child was in the toilet and I didn’t know what to do.

I called my mom later that evening and she knew immediately why her phone rang. I cried to her and told her that I just flushed my baby. She calmly said to me, “Honey, it’s okay. You didn’t do anything wrong. You know where your baby is now. That was only its earthly shell, you know where it really is.”

I do know. And that is the only thing that keeps me afloat some days. My babies are together. My babies are in heaven where they are receiving more love, more joy, and more fulfillment than Kyle or I could ever dream to provide them here on earth.

I will never erase that picture of my baby from my mind. I will never un-hear that little beating heart.

I write these blog posts to remember my children. To share their little lives and give them recognition.

I don’t understand why God took them away, and I never will. I don’t understand why it’s so easy for me to become pregnant, but so hard for me to keep my babies.

This year has been so tough. So, so tough. But also, so good. God is so good. He doesn’t do these things to harm, but to further his plans. Yes, I have often, and daily, wondered why this will further his plan for my life, but it will. I know it. And that is what I hold on to. That is my hope. That is my strength. That is my peace.

 

The Possibility of A Book

Wow, it’s been a minute since I’ve posted. It’s just been so beautiful out here that it’s hard for me to justify staring at a computer screen for anything other than work.

I promise I’ll try to be more consistent in the future, but bare with me for this one…

This post isn’t typical. Instead, I’m looking for some feedback from you, my readers. A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine was chatting with me about babies, life, and our mutual experiences with miscarriage. After talking with her and going through some of our thoughts, she mentioned to me that I should write a book. The thought of ever writing anything like that has never crossed my mind, but the thought has intrigued me ever since. A few days later, I casually mentioned the subject to my parents. They also agreed right away and were quite excited about it. However, I’m still in the doubtful/can I do it stages, which is where you come in.

The topic of the book would be about miscarriages. When I have shared with you the stories of my babies (read about them here and here), I have received so much feedback. So many women have reached out to me and told me that they too have experienced this loss, and all the emotions that come with it.

One thing that always strikes me is how common miscarriages are, yet how little they are spoken about. The subject is often tiptoed around and overlooked, meanwhile a mother is left to silently grieve the life of her lost child. To me, it shouldn’t be that way.

I firmly believe that a woman becomes a mother the moment she knows she is pregnant. That’s it, right there. When that privilege of being a mother is abruptly taken away, there should be grief. There should be discussion about it. That baby shouldn’t be quickly dismissed, gotten over, and forgotten. That baby deserves to be remembered. That loss deserves to be recognized.

I know that for the rest of my life, every April and every September, I will think about what life might have been like had my babies survived. I will rejoice in the blessings I have, but I will still grieve them. They are not something to be forgotten. Though my babies lives were short, they were lived. They were a part of me. They will always be a part of me. They will always be a part of Kyle.

One of the biggest aspects of my healing process has been the ability to relate to other women who have gone through this same grief. Hearing their stories, remembering their babies, and knowing that my pain is understood has been so powerful. The suggestion was made that I write a book to capture these stories in an effort to help others grieve, and to shed light on this common tragedy that millions of women experience.

I believe women are continually feeling forced to “get over it quickly,” because people don’t understand how to help them grieve. If we keep sweeping this issue under the rug, how can we heal?

There’s something about pregnancy that makes people think all social norms are dropped. For example, when you’re pregnant, why do people think it’s okay to comment on how “huge” you are? Why is it ever okay to ask how much weight a pregnant woman has gained? These same tactless comments are true after having a miscarriage. Questions like, “When will you try again?” or comments like, “Oh, it’s no big deal, you’ll get pregnant again,” or worse, no comments at all, only further the perception that since the baby was so brand new, it was like it didn’t exist.

My question to those of you who have gone through this experience is, would a book like this have been helpful? Would you have wanted to know about others out there, would you want to hear their stories and learn from their experience? Would you take comfort in sharing in their grief? Would you find encouragement in knowing you’re not alone and that your baby won’t be forgotten?

Would a book like this have been helpful to those of you who have watched a loved one suffer from this loss? Would a book like this be something you would want to give to others so that they could help you grieve?

If yes, what would a book like this look like to you? What specific areas should it address?

I want our babies to be remembered, and not just silently. If you have suggestions, questions, or feel that you would somehow like to participate in this project, please send an email to bethanyrlewis@gmail.com.

Thanks Leilani for this idea, even if it does nothing more than spark a conversation–one that shouldn’t be kept silent.

 

Another Goodbye.

Early in the morning on January 6, Kyle and I rejoiced together–we were going to have another baby. We excitedly told our son, Judah that he was going to be a big brother. We had wanted our kids to be fairly close in age, and were elated to be expanding our family.

Being new to the area, I had no idea what doctors were the best, but some friends filled me in, and we were able to find a great one. We scheduled our first appointment to meet her and begin the journey to having another child.

Because this wasn’t my first pregnancy, I began to show pretty quickly. Here I am one evening before bed, approximately seven weeks along. It was exciting to me to be looking pregnant so soon, I always loved the “cute” pregnant time, when you have those small baby bumps, regular sized ankles, and a normal amount of energy.

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Kyle and I Skyped with our parents, who were all overjoyed with the news of adding another grandchild to the family. A bit later, we told our siblings and a select few friends. We began planning out how we’d configure our living space for another little one, and I dug out all my old maternity clothes, and began taking inventory of new purchases I’d need to make to keep myself comfortable in the upcoming summer months with a big belly in tow.

A few weeks passed, and we were scheduled for an ultrasound to pinpoint a more accurate due date. On February 4, one month after finding out our exciting news, we woke up early and excited. We never had an early ultrasound with Judah, so this was a new experience for both Kyle and I, and we were so excited to see our little babe. I remember going into the doctor’s office and seeing a fellow patient come out of the door to the waiting room looking at pictures of her ultrasound, a smile spread across her face. She was looking at some of her baby’s first precious photos. This made my excitement grow ten-fold.

Shortly after observing this woman, Kyle and I were called back to the ultrasound room. I got ready, and my doctor came in, time to see our baby! She spread that warm jelly around my belly, and immediately, we saw our little babe. There it was! So small, but so defined. We could see it’s little nose, and the beginnings of what would be hands and feet. As soon as I saw it, my heart was overflowing with love. It was real. We were a family of four now. Judah was a big brother, and we were parents of two. I couldn’t wait to meet my child.

The doctor adjusted the wand once, and asked me if I had been experiencing any abnormalities. When I said no, she smiled at me. Then she let me know she was going to refocus the picture and walk us through what was on the screen. First, she said, “Here is the pregnancy.”

I beamed. That was my baby! Here it is! But I should have known. It was foreshadowing. She didn’t call it a baby. She called it, “the pregnancy.”

The smile that was spread across my face was quickly swiped away with the next five words the doctor spoke. Five words that changed me. Five words that changed Kyle.

“Unfortunately, there is no heartbeat.”

Unfortunately. Unfortunately. That word echoes over and over in my head on a daily basis. Unfortunately.

Immediately I began to weep. I could see my baby, my precious baby, but it was gone. Taken from us in an instant. Gone before I could ever hold him or her. Gone before we could meet it. Gone before we even knew if it was a boy or girl. Gone before Judah was able to play with him or her. Gone before we could say happy birthday. Gone before we could whisper, “I love you.”

Gone.

The rest of the appointment was a blur. I remember asking her how far along the baby was and she told me 8 weeks. After that, all I kept hearing was, “unfortunately” over and over again. That, and feeling the strongest desire to run so fast to the car and just sob uncontrollably. Somehow, we made it through the rest of the appointment, and thankfully, no one was in the waiting room when we left. I don’t know if I could have bared to see a happily expecting mother in that moment.  (*Side note, I’m okay with seeing expecting mothers now. In fact, it still makes me smile just as much as it did before.*)

Kyle and I cried together in the car, and I wept for the rest of the way home. The worst part to me was that my baby was alone. I couldn’t hold my child during their final moments. I couldn’t kiss my baby and soothe any discomfort it might have felt. I was helpless. Sure, my baby was with me, but I couldn’t mother him or her the way I wanted to–the way I would have, had I been able. I felt so devastated that its life and final moments were spent alone.

Kyle was so strong, has been so strong for me. He’s let me cry, talked with me, weighed our next steps, and took care of Judah when I couldn’t.

In the midst of our heartache, we have been surrounded by so much support. From new friends who barely know us, to old ones who call or send texts from afar just to check in. We have felt so much prayer from both family and friends, and our healing has begun because of it.

During our days of hardest grief, we were battling with what steps to take next. Frankly, insurance blows. It’s terrible, and I was so angry that we had to navigate over-priced deductibles and fees when we should have solely been focusing on grieving and celebrating the life of this little child. Luckily, God answered our prayers and has provided for us in ways we never expected.

This weekend, Kyle and I will be saying good-bye to the earthly parts of our baby. We know our child’s soul is already dancing in Heaven, and we cannot wait to be reunited someday.

Sweet baby, it was such an honor, such a privilege to carry you for the time I was able. I hope with all my heart that you know how loved you are. That you know how highly anticipated your arrival was. That you understand the joy you brought to our lives. And, so you don’t go without hearing it, happy birthday. I love you. 

A Life Lost

I’ve had this post saved in my drafts for a few days now, I think it’s about time to share.

Some may think this, and several of my other posts for that matter, are “too much for the internet.” Sure, I think a lot of people over-share via social media, and I will openly admit, I am one of them. Who cares what I had for lunch? No one. Do I snap a photo and post it to my Instagram (bethanyruthalcock) feed anyway? Of course I do! That being said, I think there are certain topics of conversation people avoid because it’s too personal and usually kept private.  One example being my post on my struggle with an eating disorder. However, I think there is healing and empowerment in talking about some of these “personal and private” matters. Everyone was given a story, and stories are meant to be shared.

A month ago, I had a miscarriage.

It’s weird. It’s sad. It makes me feel guilty.

Last month, I had the suspicion that I was pregnant. I had many of the same early indicators that I did with Judah. I was super tired, my hormones were going crazy, and I wanted to eat everything we had in the house, all day long. And, I was late for my monthly visitor. When she finally came, it was different, and I knew it. I trust my instincts a lot when it comes to my body, I really believe God designed our bodies to tell us what we need and don’t need. He’s pretty smart like that. I knew something was off.

I called Kyle and told him I thought I was experiencing a miscarriage, and he immediately came home from work. I told him not to, that I’d be fine, but he knows me, and I’m so glad he didn’t listen to my stubbornness. Just having him around was such a comfort.

I called my doctor and spoke with a nurse who ordered up some lab work and later that week, my results confirmed that I did in fact experience a miscarriage.

I had what is known as a “chemical miscarriage,” meaning I wasn’t far along, and in fact, many women have these and don’t even know. But, I knew, and it hurt.

No, I didn’t get to the point of celebrating that positive pregnancy test, of going to the doctor and hearing the heartbeat, or seeing that little, growing body, and then later being told it was gone. For those of you that have, I simply cannot imagine that pain. For risk of causing upheaval, to me, a woman becomes a mother from the moment of conception, whether she knows it or not. When you have a miscarriage, you lose a child, no matter how early they are in their development.

On July 12, I lost a child.

I still feel the weight of that loss, and I feel so guilty. I know that it’s silly to feel guilty about something that I cannot control. But I still feel it. I didn’t even concretely know I was pregnant, and I feel guilty that that little life didn’t receive the proper love and grief it was due. I feel guilty when I look over at my little boy playing so well by himself. I feel guilty that my body failed in some way and that I lost his little brother or sister–his playmate.

I feel guilty. I feel sad. I feel loss. And that’s okay.

Just because I didn’t know for sure that I was pregnant before it happened doesn’t make it any less of a daily struggle. In fact, earlier this week, I broke down crying while getting dressed for the day. I’m crying right now, as I compose this post. A loss is a loss, no matter what stage.

Going through this has made me realize how precious these little lives our bodies carry are. I am so grateful for my son. I am so grateful that he defied the odds he was given after his first ultrasound. I’m so grateful for his smile, his endless energy, his laughs, and the joy he brings to Kyle and I.

This one is at the top of that list of many questions I have to ask the Big Man when that glorious day comes that I get to meet him. Why does it happen? Why does it always seem like the women and men who would make the best parents have to struggle when it comes to so easily to others? Why do you create something only to take it away so quickly? I guess I just have to chalk this one up to His infinite wisdom and my minuscule, earthly brain that couldn’t possibly understand the complexities of His creation.

All I know is it’s hard. It makes me stop and think. But I’m working through it, and sharing this with you was a big step in that process. So thanks for listening and helping me heal.

Now I’m off to play with this gem and give him a couple extra squeezes.

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