my last post

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after months of silence i’ve decided its time… this is my last post on this blog. its been a journey for sure, though often not down the paths I would have chosen. my heart and mind just aren’t in a place to continue this blog anymore, so i’m deciding to shut it down. thanks to my friends who have taken this journey with me. it’s been a ride.

and to those who are finding this blog later… as a follow up to my last post, I ended up in emergency surgery the very next day, had a horrible 3 month recovery from the surgery and lost much through the process but i’m learning to put the pieces back together and figure out how to live again.

another ectopic? really?

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we found out Friday that there is a good chance this pregnancy is another ectopic. based on the ultrasound it seemed pretty clear there was a sac on my left side but it was hard to tell if it’s in my ovary or tube. the dr wanted me to do bloodwork again Monday and another ultrasound on Tuesday. hopefully by then we will be able to tell for sure were it is and be able to decide what to do next.

it looks like our options would be methotrexate again or to do surgery and try to either repair or take the damaged tube. since this would be two ectopics back to back on the same side and since I had such a horrible reaction to the methotrexate last year, Ted and I would prefer the surgery to fix or take the tube. if this is an ovarian ectopic, then I suppose they just take the embryo and try to leave the ovary… not really sure about that one.

I’m currently on pelvic rest which means no lifting anything over 5lbs, no sex, no standing and no walking for extended periods of time due to the risk of my tube bursting or other serious complications.

Ted has been working a lot lately. he worked through the entire night last night and got home at 8am. he is doing major systems upgrades to the computers at Furman and once he finishes programming the instal/upgrades then he has about twenty new computers to set up. it’s been difficult having him working such long hours (mostly at night) but I’m so proud of my man for working so hard and being such a good provider for me. he has over and over again made it clear that his main priority is to care for me and if the servers need to wait he will stay home with me to care for me. I couldn’t ask for a better man than that.

depending on if I end up having surgery this week, Ted and I are planning to go to Pa this weekend to visit my grandmother who was just diagnosed with cancer. the surgery should be a quick outpatient procedure so we are hoping either way to be able to go and see her. she is opting not to receive any chemo or radiation and honestly I can’t blame her. I love her and I know our days together are limited so I want to enjoy every moment we have to spend together.

life has been so overwhelming lately with various things happening at our house (our fence got run down by a drunk driver, our lawn mowers and weed eater are all broken, two of our three toilets started leaking, our AC unit is broken, etc) but it has been even more overwhelming to see our friends love as care for us. our car is paid off, our fence was repaired by a dad and his son, our yard was cleaned up last month by our care group and has been mowed by another father and son in our church since then, we have 3 window AC units to use so we have still had nice cool air and since we have 3 bathrooms we don’t really need them all right now…just turned the water off to the other two and are doing just fine.

folks have been loving us so freely and sacrificially and even while we are struggling with God’s love (or seeming lack thereof) it is impossible to deny the love of his people. I’m truly grateful. from those that live farther away or can’t help us physically we have been getting notes and flowers and prayers and all kinds of encouragement. I truly have the best friends in the world.

so all in all we are doing ok…just taking it a day at a time. the relationship between Ted and I has grown much closer as we are leaning on each other so much more right now than normal. I love that man and would rather walk through trials of life with him than anyone else. and our friends and their support has brought so many smiles to our faces lately… and that’s kinda a big deal right now.

what not to say to a grieving mother

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there are millions of ladies around the world who know the sorrow and heartbreak of losing a child. some have experienced it once, others more times than they even care to voice. for me, it’s been a road I’ve walked (and am currently walking through) five times now. it’s a time of sorrow like no other. the grief doesn’t end, you just somehow find a way to work through the pain so you cry less often.

now I’m not saying its the worst situation I could ever face- I’m sure losing my husband and friends in a house fire while I ran out to buy more beer would bring a different level of grief and sorrow. while the reality is that situations always could be worse it’s helpful to know how to walk through this one. I’m hoping this post helps two groups of folks… those who have or are experiencing a miscarriage and those who are our friends and don’t know how to help.

through my five times walking this road some things have remained the same… some kind & loving friend says something that causes you to fall apart. or sometimes acquaintances or strangers make comments that can be very hurtful. or sometimes no one acknowledges your loss and you are left to grieve in solitude. not all of these comments are bad or wrong things to say, but as one who has heard them time and time again, not everyone uses discretion about what to say.

I’m not meaning this list to be rude or offensive and if you have said one of those things to me recently don’t assume I am upset at you. I’m just merely trying to express my heart and how some of these things come across to a bereaved mother.


1. “at least you got pregnant so you know you can get pregnant again.”

note: it’s not pregnancy I have a problem with… it’s a healthy baby cooking for a healthy 9 months. I’m not interested in seeing two pink lines only to miscarry again. please keep in mind that pregnancy for a woman who has lost every child is not an exciting thrilling time – it is terrifying, heart wrenching and terribly hard.

do I want to bear a biological child? of course I do. but I have no guarantee that I will be alive tomorrow… why would I find hope in the fact that I got pregnant once? many women suffer with secondary infertility… getting pregnant again is no guarantee.


2. wow, you’ve miscarried a lot? how many is it now?

note: right now i’m grieving for this baby. while its true I have lost multiple children, my heart grieves for the loss of this sweet baby. if you care, I’d love to tell you some of my hopes and dreams we had for her. I would love to share why we chose the name we did for her. we didn’t lose a number. we lost a life. I’d love to tell you what I learned in her short life as my child.


3. is it you or your husband? maybe you should get tested. I’m sure the doctors could fix you.

note: we already have. sometimes tests come back normal and still things don’t work out. I’m sure you can imagine how frustrating that would be.


4. see? it always happens once you relax then you just magically get pregnant. I told you this would happen!

note: damaged Fallopian tubes and chromosomal abnormalities and low hormone levels have nothing to do with the level of stress in our lives. and stress has nothing to do with our ability to conceive, bear and give birth to a health baby. there are stressed mamas all over the world who can prove this point wrong.

right now especially an “I told you so” is not at all helpful. what’s your point? do you want me to say thank you? or “yes, you were right.”? does that make you feel better? the reality is my baby is dead and you finding encouragement in this failed pregnancy just confuses me.


5. it always happens …. once you decide to adopt… voila! baby on board!

note: my husband’s and my desire to adopt started long before our diagnosis with infertility and will continue after this miscarriage just like it continued after our others. we long for our family to contain all genders, ages and races.

if it was that easy then the first route a fertility specialist would take would be to introduce a barren couple to a scared pregnant 15 year old girl. just because you’ve heard a story doesn’t make it the norm.


6. have you tried chiropractic/ voodoo/ my psychic/ this magic juice from my secret company / this supplement / said this prayer / etc? I swear it’s the only reason I have my sweet (insert child’s name here). he is such a miracle and if I hadn’t eaten one horse tail and one frog’s eye every day I swear I would have miscarried too.

I’m glad that worked for you. again, if it was that fail proof I’m sure everyone would be doing it. but thanks for the suggestion.


7. I understand exactly how you feel.

note: that’s impossible. you’ve never been exactly in my shoes. and honestly I’m not interested in you knowing exactly how I feel. what I’d prefer is a friend who will just listen and mourn and cry with me. even if you have 12 children, you might be the best friend to comfort me through this heartache. don’t try to “one up” my sorrow. just help me carry it.


8. did you remember to take your prenatal/ DHEA/ eat right/ not push yourself/ get plenty of sleep/ drink plenty of water/ etc?

note: after the fact is not the time to introduce thoughts of what I should have done differently. I already feel guilty that my body is broken to the point where it can’t keep a child alive. don’t make my grief worse by feeling like I caused this. I wake up every morning feeling responsible for the death of my child. help me work through that guilt and keep reminding me that it wasn’t my fault.


9. just remember all things work for good; that God gives us the desires of our hearts; that nothing bad happens to us without God ordaining it: that children are a blessing from the Lord; that our adopted child is out there waiting and maybe God let us miscarry so we can find him/ her home.

note: those thoughts just make me angry right now. can you instead just pray that God would show his love to me and replace this view I have of an angry God who planned for and let 5 of my babies die. would you just pray for peace and endurance as my body is about to experience the unthinkable one more time?

even if all these things are true right now is not the best time to give me the best spiritual one liner you can think of. if truth is not wrapped in love it is nothing. please remember my heart through this, think through what you say and help me connect those dots… don’t just tell me truth and feel like the words alone are a happy pill.

i think the biggest encouragement i can offer is this: please don’t try to fix it, just love me and help me through this.

there is nothing that can bring my sweet babies back to me. knowing you can’t fix what’s broken please stop trying. it gets really annoying. you can’t truly understand the heartache i feel, but you can love me. what I need more than the situation being fixed is dear friends who are willing to get dirty down here in the pit with me…to cry with me… carry me if needed, make me smile and help me realize that life goes on. it’s a life forever changed so it will look different but it does go on…

we named her Hope

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Six months ago, Ted and I went to see the fertility specialist. After three miscarriages in seven months, our hearts were shattered. In some ways it was a relief when the doctor did some tests and found out that both of my Fallopian tubes were blocked. Because of that and several other reasons, he recommended IVF as our only option for biological children, stating that there was no way we could conceive on our own due to complications from the other pregnancies. Since Ted and I have always had a deep desire to adopt, we decided to forego the $14k price tag of IVF (and all the other risks associated with it) and start pursuing adoption. It was a relief in many ways for me to close the door to such deep loss, knowing that we would never return there.

Well, a few weeks ago, I feared the worst… what if these symptoms I’d been having weren’t a side effect of medicine after all… what if I was somehow pregnant. I was gripped immediately by fear. Why would God work a miracle to get me pregnant only to have me miscarry again? No, not that road again. It hurt so deeply as pieces of my heart were taken away and I didn’t ever long to go back. So, I ignored the signs, hoping this wasn’t the case. But God had other plans. After about a week of me silently questioning, I decided to tell Ted. He encouraged me to go ahead and buy a pregnancy test and see what happens. Immediately it came back with two pink lines – two really dark lines. We were clearly pregnant. What the doctor said would never happen just did. My heart was full of as much excitement as fear. The thought of a child with my sweet husband’s eyes was a dream that might actually become a reality. And everything seemed different this time around.

I went last Friday to the doctor for a blood test to confirm the levels of this pregnancy. Because my levels were always so low in past pregnancies, we were afraid to hear the results. But what joy we experienced when the lab work came back 3x higher than it had ever been with my previous pregnancies. The nausea, exhaustion and other pregnancy symptoms keep coming in waves. I couldn’t have been more excited… or more apprehensive. Monday, I went back for the second round of tests. The goal is to see the HCG (pregnancy hormone) double ever 48 hours or so. This was the point in our other pregnancies where it started going downhill. But this time, the numbers tripled. We were filled with hope, seeing that this time was indeed different.

And then this past Wednesday, just a glimpse of my fear was realized. Red blood. Never something you want to see during a pregnancy… especially with my history of repeated miscarriages. We rushed to the doctor, only to find that all appeared normal. It was too early to see much detail on the ultrasound, but overall, the doctor was not concerned. It seemed the bleeding was a side effect of a medicine I’m on to help sustain the pregnancy. All in all, once again we were hopeful. The doctor did a third blood test just to ensure that all these pregnancy symptoms were still pointing to a positive outcome.

And then this morning I got the call. Instead of doubling, my numbers dropped by a third. Another Riley baby meets Jesus before we do. And we are left with the pieces to put back together. Again, my heart is shattered. I don’t know even what to say or how to process this… me, the infertile barren woman conceived again. God worked a miracle. And then just as swiftly took it away.

This baby gave us such hope… a renewed faith and trust in God’s goodness that I haven’t had in months… a trust that God does indeed care about the desires of our hearts and longs to give His children good gifts. I was freshly aware of my need for God’s mercy. His hand holds each day of my baby’s life just as He holds mine. How desperate I became again for His mercy and provision. How aware I was that He is over all. All I could do is beg for mercy.

I’m not sure where mercy is found in death. That is one that I just don’t understand. But God chose, yet again to take my dear child before my hands even had a chance to hold them. I’m so angry. I’m so confused. Where is the goodness? I’m not even sure I want to trust Him right now. This baby brought us hope and then our hope was taken away so quickly. So now, I’m stuck in darkness realizing where else can I go? My Jesus, my Savior and my faithful Friend is the one with the words of eternal life. But right now I don’t want to run to Him. I want to cry out in anger because He could have stopped this and He didn’t. He’s the only one I have to turn to yet turning to Him hurts so deeply. But i do know He is true. I do know He is faithful and will work even this horrible loss to bring good in me. I just don’t see how. And this surely doesn’t feel or seem good in anyone’s eyes. I just ache. My heart is broken and my soul feels raw. I cry to him, knowing full well He allowed this and am just left confused because those two pieces make no sense to me. So for now, yet again, I’m asking Him to just hold me until I find hope again.

Kept

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i’m troubled but i’m not cast down
for you are here with me
though winds may blow and waves will roar
your love will never cease

i look to you, i trust in you
i find my rest in you
when seasons change, when storm clouds blow
i’m kept in perfect peace.

Not the way I would have chosen

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I wrote this poem back in 2009 and I find myself feeling the same way three years later…

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Though this would not be the way I would have chosen
And the night is often so dark I can’t see.
Even when my heart’s so cold I fear its frozen
This I know, you’re working what is best for me.

Through the valleys and the darkness that we travel
I will follow as you take me by the hand.
When I doubt your care and on this path I stumble
In my weakness on your righteousness I’ll stand.

There are days it seems this trial’s never ending
Yet you’ve promised in my need you will be there.
So I look to you with faith and hope my Savior
Trusting as your Spirit comforts all my cares.

Help me trust you in the darkness,
Help me look to you, My Guide.
Take my fears and give me peace
For you will never leave my side.

Good wives should do laundry

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… Or that’s what I tell myself. It’s amazing how being in constant pain affects how you view everything. This has been a very trying season for me on many fronts. First, it’s hard to be out of work and feel like the added financial pressure is my fault. Medical bills get expensive really quickly and things were tight when we had both salaries. Now, nearly a month after my knee injury with no end in sight, things aren’t just tight… They’re pretty much impossible. Strike one for being a good helper. Ted is struggling to make ends meet and I feel like I’m not doing my part (and that I “caused” this mess we are in too). I want to be a good wife and fix this (because isn’t that what a good wife does?) and I can’t.

Since I’m in a full leg brace and can only take a few steps without crutches I cannot do much around the house either. After standing for five minutes or so, my knee swells up to about twice it’s normal size and starts to burn with pain. And holding anything while standing puts crazy pressure on my knee so I can’t do laundry or vacuuming or really much of anything. We fought the other day about laundry. Strike two on the good wife chart.

I’ve found it easy to compare my situation to others. I desire to have a family. I long for the day someone looks at me and calls me mom. It breaks my heart as months go by and I am still just waiting. Well this fluke accident with my knee is going to definitely delay our adoption process until we can get our finances back under control and i can heal physically. And while we wait, our care group at church is about to start the next “baby round.” The first of four babies is due this Sunday. I broke down and cried yesterday realizing I can’t have that too. I want to blame Ted for putting a stop to the adoption process, though objectively I know right now is not the right time. Strike three. I’m a bad wife.

I have cried and felt so weary and been a burden to Ted and I’ve complained a lot about where God has me. I haven’t trusted or submitted to Ted’s leadership. I’ve gotten angry at God because I know He could fix it all in a second yet He chooses not to. It tempts me to think He’s just a big all-powerful jerk. I stopped asking God to answer my prayers because it feels pointless. He’s gonna do what He decides is best. It doesn’t matter if I like it. I feel trapped.

Then God gives me a little glimpse. A friend who says with tears that my response to the next new baby should be joy and praise to God. And she should know. She prayed for years and God said no to her prayer for a child. Then another friend reminded me that God always meets our needs. Two years ago, I was reminding her of that when she didn’t know where next weeks groceries were coming from. And my husband, my dear patient husband reminds me over and over again of God’s unconditional and unmerited love. I’ve treated him so unfairly lately and even when struggling, frustrated or physically sick, he has not responded with anger like I’ve shown him. He’s been kind. Stern at times in reminding me to not wallow in self pity, but always kind.

Even in my weariness and sin, God is faithful to remind me of His care. Honestly this season of waiting and pain and uncertainty sucks. I’m so tired of it and I’m tired of crying for it to end. But one thing that has been more evident through this trial than any other is that I am not alone.

Countless friends have brought us meals and cleaned our house or taken me out of the house for a couple hours or prayed with and for me. Seeing the body of Christ so faithfully pick me up each time I’ve fallen gives me a much needed glimmer of hope. If they are showing me Christ’s love, I guess that means I can trust God even when I can’t see, it hurts and doesn’t seem to have any purpose…even when it seems He is harsh or unkind.

Thanks my friends for your prayers. I feel so weak. But somehow through it all, God is still strengthening me one small and painful step after another.

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Lord, who hast suffer’d all for me,
My peace and pardon to procure,
The lighter cross I bear for Thee,
Help me with patience to endure.

The storm of loud repining hush;
I would in humble silence mourn;
Why should the unburnt, though burning bush,
Be angry as the crackling thorn?

Man should not faint at Thy rebuke,
Like Joshua falling on his face,
When the cursed thing that Achan took
Brought Israel into just disgrace.

Perhaps some golden wedge suppress’d,
Some secret sin offends my God;
Perhaps that Babylonish vest,
Self-righteousness, provokes the rod.

Ah! were I buffeted all day,
Mock’d, crown’d with thorns and spit upon,
I yet should have no right to say,
My great distress is mine alone.

Let me not angrily declare
No pain was ever sharp like mine,
Nor murmur at the cross I bear,
But rather weep, remembering Thine.
(prayer for patience by William Cowper)