Thursday, May 13, 2010
Introduction of Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage for Latter-day Saints
I'm posting the introduction of my book below. Please note that there have been some minor changes made to the published work. Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage for Latter-day Saints is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and more bookstores near you.
When I discovered I would become a mother I never imagined anything would go wrong. My husband and I were overjoyed and excited to be pregnant with our first baby. We had been married for almost two years and felt ready to start a family; so we immediately began preparing for the day when we could bring our baby home.
It was an exciting time. Each day I awoke with a smile, thinking about the new life within me. I immersed myself in baby books, magazines, and any information I could find about pregnancy and becoming a mother.
About six weeks into my pregnancy, I was overcome with fear and anxiety that something was wrong with my baby. I began crying uncontrollably. My husband was concerned for me, and asked me why I felt that way. I told him, “I don’t know. Maybe I’m just emotional, but I’m afraid that something will go wrong with my pregnancy.”
He gave me a Priesthood blessing to overcome feelings of doubt and depression and I felt at peace. I went to my first doctor appointment for my ten week check-up and was told that everything looked good. My uterus was an appropriate size and I was in good health.
Over the next few days, I felt better and was once again excited about my pregnancy. We went shopping for a few maternity clothes. It was so fun to try on the little pregnancy pillow to see how I would look at five months pregnant. I thought back to all the Young Women lessons I had heard about the joys of motherhood and the sacred and specials blessings we as women are given to be mothers. My joy was full.
When I was about eleven weeks into my pregnancy, I began spotting. I called my doctor’s office and the nurses reassured me this was common for a lot of women. After it continued for a few days, I insisted on seeing the doctor.
I prayed constantly that all would be well, but I worried about the appointment. My doctor tried to find the heartbeat using the Doppler instrument for several minutes. When he couldn’t hear anything, he explained that sometimes it’s hard to find the heartbeat in the first trimester of pregnancy. He sent us over to the hospital for an ultrasound.
I was nervous as we were admitted to the ultrasound room. The radiologist worked quietly and passed the ultrasound transducer over my abdomen. He kept looking at the fuzzy black and white images with a furrowed brow. Then he asked me, “Have you been on any fertility drugs?”
Surprised, I said, “No, this was our first try at getting pregnant.”
He nodded his head and continued looking at the screen.
My husband and I watched anxiously as the radiologist enlarged the picture on the screen and three small sacs came into view.
“Is that triplets?” I asked in disbelief. He only nodded and then I observed him make a small X in each of the three sacs. My heart sank as I watched him silently working. He didn’t offer any explanation and I was too afraid to ask. All I could do was stare at the screen with the three X marks. I wondered if he was going to wait for our doctor to give us “the news.” My fears were confirmed when he finished the ultrasound and told us he would have some pictures for us to take back to our doctor in a few minutes.
I knew something was very wrong with my pregnancy. I had three sacs in my uterus but had heard no heartbeat. Still, because the radiologist had said nothing I held on to some insane shred of hope.
My husband and I returned to our doctor’s office with pictures of our ultrasound. The doctor looked them over and said, “I’m very sorry, but there was no heartbeat evident and no sign of a developing baby.”
He explained that I had been pregnant with triplets, but they looked to be possibly three separate blighted ova, a pregnancy failure which has occurred so early, no clearly defined fetal tissue has formed. He explained that sometimes a pregnancy ceases to develop several weeks before the uterus actually “miscarries.”
The doctor said that the gestational age looked to be about five or six weeks, which is too early to see a heartbeat. He asked that they draw my blood and then again in two days to check if the hCG or pregnancy hormones in my blood were dropping. This is how we would know for sure that I would miscarry because in a viable pregnancy the hCG levels double every two days.
He offered his condolences and told me to go home, rest and try to deal with the loss of our pregnancy. I didn’t receive any instruction as to what I could do to ease the process, just a warning that if the bleeding became too heavy I should head to the emergency room.
When my husband and I returned home, I didn’t want to believe I was going to have a miscarriage. Somewhere in my mind, I argued that because I had not yet lost the pregnancy, there was still a chance my babies could survive. I prayed that things would look normal with my blood tests—that maybe something was off with my cycle and I wasn’t as far along as we thought. In the back of my mind, I think I knew the truth but I didn’t want to let go of hope.
I thought about all the family members who knew of our pregnancy and how excited we had been to make that announcement when I was about nine weeks along. How would we tell everyone we were no longer going to have a baby?
It was difficult for me to sort out my feelings. For the past eleven weeks, I had been on an emotional high, preparing to be a mother. It was hard to believe that it wasn’t going to happen. Physically, I felt fine and kept hoping some miracle would take place. At the same time, I could hardly believe I had been pregnant with triplets. What an amazing event! We couldn’t help but talk about what it would have been like to have three babies at once. My husband was still in college and I had recently graduated. So we told ourselves we could never have afforded three babies at once in our little trailer home. But this make-believe consolation didn’t offer any comfort.
After a few days, I experienced intense pain and cramping. I was bleeding heavily and couldn’t stop dry heaving from the pain. I called my husband at work and told him I needed help. He rushed home and took me to the emergency room.
That was the worst day of my life. I felt lost. While I waited in the emergency room, my body writhed with pain, which was all the more devastating because there would be no reward for any of it but sorrow.
After I was treated, we returned to our empty home. We were devastated. I spent an entire day lying on the couch crying and asking the Lord why He let this happen. My husband was deeply saddened by our loss. He worried for me and the pain I had gone through and the recovery ahead. After months of pure joy and excitement, we were now left with emptiness. We were in a young married student ward where almost every couple had children. I didn’t know anyone who had experienced a miscarriage, and I had never expected to go through this trial.
All the tears I cried could not wash away the insurmountable level of grief surrounding me. I received a priesthood blessing, but this did not completely take away my grief.
As I went through the grieving process, I was left with many unanswered questions. I wondered what had happened to my babies. Were they developed enough to house a spirit? I was told by many people that I would have a celestial baby to raise in the hereafter, but that didn’t bring me comfort because I couldn’t find church doctrine to support the claim.
The following is a quote from my journal written a year after my first miscarriage:
“I felt prompted to write about how to deal with miscarriage because maybe I could help someone in need.”
At the time I didn’t know that the someone would be me. The Lord was preparing a way for me to face another challenge in my life.
Ten months later I wrote:
“The temple holds such a beautiful and peaceful feeling. It brings life into perspective. All I want is to have a baby. I know the Lord will bless us soon.”
After my miscarriage, people gave me all sorts of advice and although they meant well, much of it was misinformed. I struggled with going to church because it seemed there was always someone asking, “When are you going to have kids?” or offering suggestions and distorted doctrine. I searched for answers to my questions, received priesthood blessings, and met with my bishop to help me through the grieving process.
My husband and I were married for nearly five years before we were able to have our first baby. I experienced two miscarriages and problems with infertility. Finally, our first daughter was born on a beautiful April day nearly three years after my first miscarriage. Two years later in August, we were blessed with another beautiful daughter and three years later a son. Though nothing brings me more joy today than my children, I still remember the deep sense of longing and loss I felt when I had no children.
This is why I have written this book. I hope the information and experiences I have gathered from many books, doctors, and people who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infertility will help you through your time of sadness. I realize there are many who have suffered greater tribulations than I have experienced. For this reason, I have studied diligently to uncover truths which I hope will also help you through your trials.
I have a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and I know my Heavenly Father has a plan for me and for each of you. He loves us and He will never leave us, if we will but ‘come unto him.’