Category Archives: pregnancy

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.

rough day.

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if you had told me this morning what today would hold, I don’t know that I would have believed you… or that I would have gotten out of bed if I had believed you.  I went at 7am for bloodwork, 10am for an ultrasound and 10:30 for a doctors appointment.  We knew by 10:30 that we were facing something bigger than a “normal” miscarriage.  But I guess I knew that for a few weeks because of the pain I’ve been having and the other strangness going on… this process has been over a month so far with no real end in sight.

Turns out that we didn’t miscarry… we had an ectopic pregnancy.  Originally our pregnancy hormone numbers went down, which seemed like a “routine” miscarriage.  But then the symptoms didn’t end.  So, last week I called the doctor and went in for more testing.  And the hormone went back up.  That’s not really a good sign.  And then it went up again.

Basically, an ectopic pregnancy is where an embryo implants in the wrong place… in this instance in the fallopian tube instead of in the uterus.  There is no chance really for the baby to survive because there is no space for it to grow.  And in our case, though the gestational sac was clearly visible, no heartbeat was detected.  The big problem with an ectopic pregnancy is if the tube ruptures there is a high chance of death.  So, no chance of survival for baby and high chance of death for me.  Worst case scenario in both conditions.

Basically our two options were 1) Methotrexate (a chemo drug) to shrink the gestational sac / tissue in my fallopian tube so that my body can miscarry naturally or 2) surgery to remove it.  Since the surgery comes with a longer recovery and the potential of infertility issues in the future, we opted for the chemo.

I never thought we would face a decision like this.  How I wish there was another option.  My heart is broken.  And yet again, we say goodbye to the baby we have grieved over for the last month.  So grateful for my friends who have prayed with us, cared for us and helped us through this. We are confident that God is leading us and we know He is holding us through this time.

will post more later.  going to lay down and cry.

God’s people are prone to be discouraged because of the difficulty of the way. In the bitterness of their spirits, they are often apt to say, with desponding Zion, “The Lord has forsaken me;” or with the faithless prophet, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

But the Christian has his consolations too, and they are “strong consolations.” The “still small voice” mingles with the hurricane and the storm. The bush burns with fire, but the great God is in the bush, and therefore it is indestructible! “The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock; and may the God of my salvation be exalted.” Earthly consolations may help to dry one tear, but another tear is ready to flow. God dries all tears. There is no need in the aching voids of the heart that He cannot supply. (John McDuff)

my children.

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i’ve been dreaming about them when I sleep.  i wish i could hold them.  my womb and heart are empty.  the average american household is 3.14 persons.  we’ve lost nearly that in 7 months.

Let me introduce you to our children.  Ted and I decided to name our babies.  Folks ask “how did you know if it was a boy or a girl since you lost them before you knew?”  Funny, but we never talked about it.  January and July were just girls.  May was a boy.  And somehow if we get to heaven and named our boys a girl name or vice versa, I don’t think they’ll mind :)

Our oldest is Ceana.  Her name means God is gracious.  Ted wanted that reminder every time we think of or talk about our babies we lost.  God is kind and good to us.  Even in taking our sweet babies who we so greatly miss, He is gracious. We had her for only 5 weeks and didn’t even really know for sure until months later.  But I didn’t need lab results to confirm that she was ours for a short time.

And then there is Amos.  He was the first we named.  He was our first “confirmed” pregnancy.  We had him for a little more than 7 weeks.  We named him Amos because he was carried by God (that’s what his name means).  I can’t think of anyone better to carry my son than God himself.  If I can’t hold and carry him, at least I can be comforted knowing he is in amazingly loving hands.

Then comes the newest baby… our sweet Marah.  Her name means bitter.  Remember the children of Israel?  they were in a desert with no water for 3 days and they came to Marah… a salty pond that was not drinkable.  And then there was Naomi. She came back to her homeland after her husband and two sons died and she said “do not call me Naomi. Call me Mara because the Lord has dealt harshly with me.”  Both harsh circumstances.  Yet God redeemed.  He turned the bitter waters sweet.  He provided for Naomi and Ru1h as a result of bringing Naomi back to her homeland.

that’s our prayer with our kids… that we remember that He is gracious… He has our children and He can turn the bitter waters of infertility/loss to sweetness.

We met with the doctor this morning.  She is able to help with some treatments if you’re unable to get pregnant.  But since our problem is keeping, not having pregnancies, she is referring us to a reproductive endocrinologist for further testing.  We’ll most likely have an appointment scheduled within the next few weeks and though we may take a few months off from trying for another child, this will give us things to consider and pray about while we wait.

As for right now, how you can pray for us…

1. Pray that my body will get back to normal quickly.  My uterus is so swollen and inflamed from everything this time that I literally “look” four months pregnant.  That’s hard emotionally.  This miscarriage has been much more painful than the previous ones.  If the pain doesn’t stop by Thursday, the doctor will do an ultrasound and some other tests to make sure my body is doing all it needs to properly.

2. Pray for wisdom to know what doctor / specialist to see and what steps to pursue (and when).

3. Pray for patience for me.  Right now, with how I’m feeling, its easy to want to take a break from this for a while.  but I know once my body gets back to normal, I may struggle with the patience needed to wait until we are able to start trying again.

4. Pray for us financially.  Specifically for Ted.  This puts stress on him in knowing how to budget and prepare.  He’s doing an amazing job but I know he would love your prayers in that area as well.

 

Thanks for your friendship and care for us . You all have been so helpful and encouraging to us over these past few months!  we are grateful.

waiting. and goodbye.

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on June 13th my grandpa passed away.  He had 82 years here but I still didn’t want to say goodbye when the time came.  When he died, so did several dreams I’ve always had.I wanted him to meet our kids one day. I cried knowing that day would never come.  And then I cried even more wondering if my PopPop was up in heaven holding my sweet baby Amos who we lost in May… and the baby we lost in January too.  the funeral was the following week and Ted and I really enjoyed having  a few days to spend with my grandma and other family members.  God is clearly at work even in the midst of heartache and loss and we got to observe that in many little ways during our trip.

we came back to SC and life has found a new routine.  We are enjoying the fellowship and friendship of our care group in this season and grateful to have so many good folks surrounding us with prayer.  I’m loving the summer weather and the pool in our back yard.

And now we find ourselves in another waiting room.  wondering if God will say yes this time to our prayers (and the prayers of so many).  Last week we got a positive pregnancy test.  Monday we got another one even though there was some spotting and other reasons for concern.  Yesterday I went to the doctor for some bloodwork and to start on a progesterone supplement.  And now we wait.  I do know that I have been exhausted more than what would be normal.  I do know that the spotting is not the same as it was last time.  But I also know that this little baby’s life is fully and completely in the hands of my precious Savior and He knows how many moments we will have together.  I pray that the moments will turn into years.  I pray for a baby to hold in my arms.

knowing my dream is so close, I don’t want to have to say goodbye again.  I don’t know what will come of this season.  But God keeps reminding me He is good.  I shouldn’t grieve the unknown or assume the worst.  Today, God has given me a gift and that gift is a little life growing inside of me.  So, I rejoice in that truth.  And I pray for grace and help no matter what tomorrow brings.

I was trying desperately to remember that when the doctor’s office called with the results from yesterday’s bloodwork.  My HCG level came back as a 16.  The doctor was expecting somewhere between 75-100+.  She is not hopeful but wants tomorrow’s blood results to confirm what we expect.

waiting. goodbye.  things that are so uncomfortable, but have seemed to become almost routine in my life lately.  I need strength.  I need help.  I don’t want to do this again.

up and down

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i was not prepared for what a miscarriage does to you physically.  apparently its normal for my body to “act” pregnant for a while during this process…  sigh.  That’s emotionally harder than I expected.  I’ll spare you the details.

It’s shocking how many people have had 3 or more miscarriages.  I’m kind of scared to join their ranks.  I know we want to start trying again as soon as we can, but oh how that reveals yet another area of trusting God… for His timing and His protection over our future little ones too.   I know the day will come when I want to try again, even if it means going through this again.  I’m not there today.  Thankfully I don’t have to be for a while…

Today was the first day the anger crept in.  Driving to church I didn’t want to sing.  I didn’t want to worship.  I wanted to lie in bed and feel sorry for myself.  We got to rehearsal and as they prayed for strength and comfort for us, I just sat there and cried.  I try in public to control the tears so I can seem somewhat composed, but its hard to be pulled together at a time like this.  So, knowing I was among friends who loved us and cared, I cried.  And God met me.  And gave me strength.  Worship was refreshing this morning.  One of those refreshing yet I-want-to-throw-up because I-don’t-want-to-do-this kind of things.  I made it through with only one tissue being used.  My pockets had 6 others on standby.  I probably looked like I had lumpy hips.  I didn’t care.  I needed them nearby just in case.

When Matt (our pastor) asked the moms in the room to stand up,  my friend Hannah who has had 2 miscarriages came over and grabbed my hand. She held me up while the tears fell down.  I felt painfully exposed and vulnerable yet completely safe.  I love my church.  During the break, 2 of my first-time-mom pregnant friends came over and hugged me and encouraged me.  I cried some more.  I love that we can somehow simultaneously rejoice and weep together.  Then a friend came over and gave me a gift card… the gift for the moms in the room.  I feel honored to be counted among those ranks.  Honored and heartbroken.  And a little jealous.

After lunch with Ted’s parents who were in town for the weekend, we came home.  It was the first moment all week that I’ve felt like enjoying anything.  Ted and I watched Ally McBeal while sipping Earl Gray tea and just holding each other.  It was nice.  I actually felt happy.  Until I started crying again.

My gift card to Starbucks only lasted in my wallet 6 hours.  Somehow those kind of things burn a hole quickly.  Hannah and I had a great chat at Starbucks until they closed and kicked us out… We talked about what to expect from your body during a miscarriage and the coming months, on how to care for your husband through this time and communicate effectively so he knows where you’re at, on the different changes your doctor doesn’t tell you about, on fear and trusting God and so many other things.  It was so helpful and practical and fun too.  Almost felt normal.

And then I came home to my house.  A house that is just like it was last month.  Me and my sweetheart and our two dogs.  Yet it feels lonely.  It feels empty and big.

I wish I had a vacation.  Though I really didn’t work last week, somehow I feel like I need time off to rest.  But maybe its true… maybe I need to get back in the swing of things and life will slowly readjust back to whatever normal is now.  But I find myself wishing life could just stop for a bit.  Or better yet, rewind.

I’m clinging to the truth I know though right now it feels lifeless… that God is faithful and is using this.  And maybe one day I will even see fruit of this season.  But oh, I just ache.  People said they saw a strong and confident woman today on the worship team… rejoicing in God in the midst of pain and heartache.  But I feel like a broken and sad little girl.  Grieving but not sure even how to.  Feeling emotional and weak.  God’s power was clear even to me this morning… that’s something I can’t deny.  I felt encouraged.  I felt joyful somehow in the midst of my sorrow and I know that wasn’t from me.  Yet tonight, I feel sorrow and fear again.  Maybe I just need sleep.  Maybe it will all be better tomorrow…

worship and sorrow

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I waited patiently for the LORD;
   he inclined to me and heard my cry…
He put a new song in my mouth,
   a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
   and put their trust in the LORD.

This is how we felt when we found out we were pregnant with our baby.  We have waited and prayed for this child for the last 10 months.  God answered our prayers and I couldn’t even begin to fit into one post all the specific ways He has encouraged us through that process.  We rejoiced and cried and thanked God for what he had done.

And then on Tuesday, the worry crept in.  Everyone said the spotting was normal, but it didn’t seem like it to me.  So, instead of waiting until Friday, we went to the doctor that morning.  She did labwork and the results came back  low.  I knew we had to go back in 2 days for more tests.  I felt like God was saying whatever the result number was, it would correspond to a specific Psalm.  Well on Thursday in between tears as I pulled out my Bible app to pull up Psalm 22, the first words I saw were “my God, why have you forsaken me.”  Oh, how desperately I long for a baby to hold.  How I look forward to the day that I’m not just a mother in word, but in practice… in daily life.  How I wanted this day to be different.  But Psalm 22 says I will eat and be satisfied.  It says He has heard my cry and that’s why I can rejoice.  It says he knows.  Christ on the cross said the words “my God why have you forsaken me.”  I might feel forsaken right now.  I might feel barren and lonely, but I am not alone.  Later in that chapter, I read:

“From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
   my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
   those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
   May your hearts live forever!”

I’m not exactly sure if I’ll be able to make it through worship tomorrow without bawling.  It is my first Sunday back on the worship team since I stepped down due to my migraines and health issues.  It is Ted’s first Sunday on drums. And its mother’s day…the one day I have been looking forward to more than any other since we started trying to conceive.

Our worship leader called us earlier in the week and said if we wanted to postpone to another week that was fine and he understood completely.  Everything in me wants to say yes to that.  Nothing in me wants to stand before the congregation and lead them to worship our God.  I feel so weak and weary that it seems like it should be the other way around.  Yet, God has been clear to both Ted and I.  This is something we need to do.

So, I’m not quite sure what tomorrow will hold… what emotions and fears and sorrow will come to the surface.  But God is faithful and I know He’ll give me strength.

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by the way, we have chosen to name our baby Amos.  It means “carried by God” and not only is it a name we both love, it seemed appropriate for this situation.

“On you was I cast from my birth,
   and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

falling

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I have felt felt greater joy and deeper grief in the past week than I can remember for a long time.  To see God so greatly bless and then so swiftly take is something that rocks you to your core.

We found out today that our baby did not make it.  As simple as that last sentence is grammatically, it has taken me about 5 minutes to even write it.  And I want to throw up even thinking about it.  I don’t want to admit it.  I don’t want to let go.  I want to cling against all hope that there might still be a chance, though I know there is none now.  The blood numbers, the doctor and my body all agree.  My heart is broken and our baby is gone.

Last night Ted and I talked about trusting God with hope, even though we know those hopes could be crushed and that crushing would be painful.  I said its not a matter of putting your fingers in your ears and pretending all will be fine but rather it’s realizing that no matter what God is faithful.  It’s like what Stephen and Mary Beth Chapman said when their daughter Maria died…  “when we fell, we fell hard.  But when we landed our foundation was firm.”

Ted and I haven’t quite landed yet.  I’m not honestly sure when that will happen.  But I know from experience and I know from God’s Word that when we do land, our foundation will be firm.  Thank you to everyone for your encouragement, for your prayers and for your care for us.  Part of me feels guilty for bringing you all into this journey of ups and downs, but then I remember that God has called us to both rejoice and weep together as a family.  So, thank you.  Thanks for your joy with us.  And thank for your tears.  God is kind to have given us such wonderful friends.

On a side note, Psalm 40, 86 and 22 have been very comforting to me today.  In a later post, I will explain why.

Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

…my heart fails me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!

I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.