Halted and Altered

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to ignite a fire. My fire is creating – sewing, knitting, painting, printmaking, playing music, writing – but it has been laying dormant for a while now. I have a studio set up but I also have distractions that get in my way. From silly little things like doing washing or making dinner to the more important things like playing with my boy and spending whatever hours available with my husband, time just gets used up and whatever time I have left over I’m usually too tired to do anything.

My tragedy is a miscarriage. Actually, it was a miscarriage and then an ectopic pregnancy – a rare occurrence in someone with no prior health issues, no previous fertility problems, and no genetic dysfunction passed down. It was so rare, in fact, that all of the medical staff that treated me dismissed the thought of a heterotopic pregnancy because it was “too rare”.

So rare that only 1 in 1,000 woman who has had some form of fertility treatment would go through it. So rare that only 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 30,000 women without fertility treatment but with some form of reproductive or pelvic problems would understand.

So rare – but not impossible – because I had neither.

Jude 

The week before my 30th birthday, I found out I was pregnant (I did five home pregnancy tests just to make sure). We were so excited. We already had a list of names picked out and it was just a matter of getting to know the bump over the next 9 months to figure out which one would suit. We began thinking of our new joy’s future, wondering if they would be wearing pink or blue shoes. I had just bagged up all of my maternity clothes and Rafa’s newborn clothes in the midst of moving house, and I was making plans to drag them all out and start washing them all again in Lux (love that fresh Lux smell!). I bought Rafa a book about being a big brother and I put a deposit on a brand new, whiz bang pram (apparently it’s okay to go through a couple of prams in your child-rearing years!) We began telling family, a couple of close friends, and Matt’s boss (you can never be too prepared – she is such a supportive and amazing person and we wanted to give her plenty of notice!) but, in doing these things, something didn’t sit right. I pushed the feeling aside multiple times because I felt like a bad mother for thinking the worst, but every time the words “I’m pregnant” came out of my mouth, I felt I needed to gobble them back up again and retract the statement.

One week in and I happened to mention to my doctor that I had had some spotting over the weekend – nothing too serious (and I’d done my fair share of Dr Googling to put my mind at ease, reading only what I wanted to read). She wasn’t worried but ordered consecutive blood tests to monitor my HcG levels.

Over the few days that I had these I had my fair share of morning sickness. I never actually vomited with Raf but found myself racing to the toilet every morning with this one. It was promising.

Day three of blood tests. 5:10pm. End of the working day. My doctor called me to ask how I was going. I confidently and proudly told her of my morning sickness but something in her response seemed somewhat low.

She didn’t even mean to check her emails before she left work that day, but she happened to come across my results.

My HcG levels had stalled. In fact, they had declined. She quickly booked an appointment for me first thing the next morning and told me she was sorry she didn’t have better news for me.

Matt got home 10 minutes later and I was a mess.

He is such a beautiful soul. He hoped for the best and stayed strong for me as I prepared for the worst.

The next day I woke to bleeding and already knew the inevitable was upon me. It was the day of Cyclone Debbie and everything that was going on in Queensland was going on inside me.

Matt took me to see my doctor and she discussed management plans with us. My day was spent watching the rain, feeling every tinge of pain and trying so hard to hold onto it. I was never going to feel that baby again and I wanted that pain to last. At about 3am the following morning, the physical pain eased, making way for the heartbreak to set in.

No-one can ever describe the pain of losing a child. It doesn’t matter if it was a 5 week old foetus or a 5 year old child. Matt and I had created life and that life hadn’t survived.

Charlie

Three weeks later we felt like we had seen the worst of our dark days. Our heartbreak was still there but not as strong, thanks to our beautiful boy (who we squeeze so tightly even more now) and the promise of Jude sitting in our Heavenly Father’s lap, waiting with excitement for us.

I had had a couple of big bleeds and was still spotting (sorry to be graphic) but I put it down to my body just getting back to normal. I checked in with my doctor and she sent me for an ultrasound to rule out any retained placenta after letting the miscarriage happen naturally.

Nothing showed up on the ultrasound so another round of blood tests was ordered to rule out anything else. In amongst those tests, my doctor needed to prove that I wasn’t pregnant, so she checked my HcG levels again. The results were due back the day after the public holiday of that weekend, but I had randomly started bleeding heavily again. I spent the public holiday in bed with slight cramps and exhaustion, but by 12:30pm there was a strong pain in my right side behind my hipbone. I’m not one to go to the emergency department to hastily but, as it was a public holiday and the medical centre was closed, I had no choice.

Neither did half of Brisbane.

I sat in that waiting room for two hours in absolute agony – 10 out of 10 pain as I described to the doctor – but by the time I had blood tests done the pain had subsided and left a numb, tingly, slightly burning feeling in its place.

The hospital was so backed up and I felt that the pain was somewhat gone, so I requested to go home.

God’s intervention saved my life in this moment. The young doctor who was treating me handed me a discharge form but, as I was filling it out, he noticed it was the wrong one.

The 30 seconds he took to go and get a new one was enough time for me to question what my pain could have been from. My blood results just happened to come back early and, upon returning, the doctor informed me that my HcG reading was 150.

4 weeks prior, the day before my miscarriage, it was 90.

That’s not possible, I thought. It’s too soon.

The pregnancy test they did in the little urine (gross. Sorry) I had given them came back positive.

That was enough reason to stay.

After hours of waiting, an hour-and-a-half long ultrasound, more blood tests, a hospital transfer, a new doctor and a lot of head scratching, I was calling Matt at 1am to tell him I was about to go into emergency surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy and, with it, a ruptured fallopian tube.

We didn’t know this baby. We hadn’t even had a day to wonder about it. It hadn’t caused me any morning sickness or exhaustion. In a way, though, that all made the heartbreak so much harder. Our storm hit us all over again, but this time worse, because there was such a minute possibility that we would have twins and we hadn’t even given the second one a thought because we didn’t know it existed.

I felt so guilty. I didn’t know this baby and it was my job to protect the life inside of me. It was my responsibility to nurture these gifts on the inside so that Matt and I could enjoy them on the outside.

I know – it’s not my fault. Nothing I did caused any of this and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

But it happened. This rare, head-scratching, almost impossible anomaly had happened.

Matt and I ask ourselves daily, “why us?” We had created two lives, and neither had survived.

All we can do is remind ourselves of the unfailing, all-encompassing and incomprehensible love and grace of God, on whose lap our children sit, waiting for us to come home to them.

I can’t help but think how much our lives have changed. They will never be the same again. I never thought my status would read “G3P1”. Three pregnancies, one baby. That disproportion will never change. The numbers will never be even. I will never be the same.

So this is my tragedy. This is my wake up call. Our lives were halted so suddenly and altered so dramatically that we didn’t even get a chance to catch our breath before the next cyclone hit. This tragedy is what has sparked this site, and I hope that I can use my own experiences, these ones and others, to continue to create and to inspire others.

No words could describe how much love we have for these two little angels, nor could words describe just how much we miss them. All we can take comfort in is the image of them playing together in Heaven and being given more love than we could ever offer by our Heavenly Father.

I’ve just realised that this is a fairly gloomy post and I don’t really convey the actual hope I have in Jesus through it all, but it only happened a week ago and I’m still dealing with the pain. After a lot of praying and questioning and searching for answers and reasons for it all, I’ve come to understand that I don’t have to get through it as quickly as people are praying for, and I don’t have to find something good in this.

Not now, anyway.

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