life is a vapor {a post about our recent loss and my visit to the ER}

This has been an interesting year. It started with me telling Jason in mid January, "this isn't going to be a good year." and I hated that I said it the minute the words came out of my mouth. I hate being the pessimist, but I was admitting what I felt deep inside. The truth is, I typically don't like the odd numbered years. I can go all the way back to 1983 when my Grandma died so suddenly of Ovarian Cancer and that kind of started all of it. Some odd numbered years haven't have anything terrible or tragically significant happen in them (that I can remember) but 1989 was full of deaths and a very bad earthquake, 2001 was September 11th, 2011 is when we lost 2 babies, etc...
There are more in-between but I didn't want to completely depress you :)

This year seemed to be going fine. I was actually shocked, especially when we found out we were pregnant! September greeted us with that exciting news and boy, were we excited. It was going to be the biggest age gap in our family (four years) and it just felt like it had been WAY too long.
I had horrible morning sickness. Even saying it that way doesn't seem like it does it justice. It started days after finding out we were expecting and continued into November. Like, getting out of bed only to crawl (literally) to the bathroom to throw up. And doing that so many times a day I lost count. I ended up in the ER around week 9 with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which is pretty much a fancy, medical way of saying "you are REALLY morning sick." haha!
I was dehydrated even though I was drinking and eating, and just so so sick. We saw baby on a bedside monitor though and were so thankful to see a nice strong heartbeat!

Fast forward 6 weeks to my 14th week of pregnancy... I was finally starting to feel amazing; getting energy back, enjoying food, and excited to get on with life.
On November 20th it all came to a crashing halt when I woke up with what felt like contraction pain and within a few hours my water broke and I was in labor. SO not the plans I had or direction I saw things going.
That's always hard for me. To first adjust my thinking and to redirect it to reality.
When I realized what was happening I just burst into tears. I remember crying out and asking God "why?". And then I felt so bad, because I don't need to know the "why", I just want to because for some reason I tell myself it will make me feel better.

These moments during miscarriage are so private, but I will share what I look back on and realize I am most thankful for in those horribly sad moments.
I am SO thankful to God that Jason was home from work that day. He had taken the day off because we were going to go out for the day to celebrate his 34th birthday. 
If he wasn't home, I'm not sure I would've lived.
I am so glad he is strong and amazing during these moments. I'm so glad he holds me and cries with me and encourages me that everything is going to be OK. Because in the midst of it all, everything feels far from "ok". I love that he prays over me and doesn't mind me sobbing so loud the neighbors can probably hear :( 
We had a friend from church who dropped everything when she heard I was in labor, came to our house and watched our kids while Jason and I were in the bathroom, and kept them so busy and entertained they never even knew what was going on. She is a God-send to our family and we will forever be so grateful for her. 

I felt ok after labor; as ok as a person can feel I guess. I sat down and called my Mom to let her know what happened. We cried together and its somehow comforting to hear my Mom share in our grief and tell me how sorry she is.
It was maybe 40 minutes post labor that Jason realized I looked pale and started asking if I felt ok. I told him I felt weak and tired and then within a few seconds I just remember saying I knew I was going to pass out. He told me I passed out for a while, then had a seizure (which I've never had before) and he called 911 when he realized I was in bad shape.
I remember waking up in an ambulance, talking to a paramedic, asking her if I had my baby. I remember dreaming that I had our baby, but I was full term and the baby was healthy. She let me know what happened and I remember smiling because it made me laugh to see the drastic difference sometimes between our dreams and real life.

They admitted me to the ER and for the sake of time I will just say that NO ONE in the ER took the paramedics seriously and decided I was fine and just a lady who miscarried her baby. I heard the paramedics say, numerous times, "she just gave birth at home and is bleeding out fast, she needs immediate attention." They thanked the paramedics, wheeled my bed into a room and closed the door. No joke. No call button near me, no one checking in on me, nothing.
Jason was driving in his car but was delayed because he didn't get to drive fast with sirens :)

I laid there in the bed realizing I had started bleeding badly again. So badly I could feel a lot of blood down by my ankles. In my mind I yelled for help, but in reality I think it was barely louder than a whisper.
No one heard me, no one came. The door stayed shut and I could feel my heart just slowing way down. The room became dark and then light and far away and strange. I had some weird euphoric moments where I felt like I was floating high up out of my own body. I remember realizing I was dying and could feel my body shutting down. I felt total fear at first and then this weird, incredible calming peace came over me. I saw this really bright light kind of far off in the distance (but it also felt close at the same time) and I remember realizing if I die I will see Jesus and that suddenly didn't seem so bad at all ;-)
I just remember feeling so peaceful and calm (and actually subconsciously thinking that was weird).
I took the deepest breath I could take and closed my eyes, assuming I would die.

Jason walked in seconds later and saw me white as a ghost. I opened my eyes and as loud as I could muster, I told him my heart was stopping and I needed help. I remember saying, "I started bleeding again" because I knew he knew how much I bled at home.
He ran to get the nurses and they came in and (this part is all Jason now because I passed out again and don't remember any of it) he said they walked in kind of nonchalantly and the minute they saw me they panicked. He said suddenly there was 12 people in the room yelling stuff he didn't understand and basically trying to get me back. They freaked out at how low my blood pressure was and he said they got an IV into me as fast as he's ever seen.
I remember waking up and thinking I had died. Its kind of funny but I looked around the room and only noticed people's faces, nothing else. I remember thinking, "surely this can't be heaven. These people are so ordinary looking!" :) 
They did get my heart rate stable. Its scary to think they were happy with it being at 42 over 18 - The Doctor came in (he ended up being amazing) and was very angry no one had told him I was there or that I was in such bad shape. He was the first person to look at us and say "you came so close to dying."
We heard it from many others by the time we went home the next day. Talk about a huge reality check and change in perspective. We went from being in the depths of grief to total joy that I was ok and alive and getting help.
I did not have to have a blood transfusion. They said my iron levels were really good and it kept me from needing one.
We ended up staying the night and went home the next afternoon.

I was so happy to be home. So happy to see my kids and hear their voices, and so thankful for Jason's brave, strong personality. He had to have many difficult conversations at the hospital. He made so many phone calls I would hate making, he texted friends of mine to keep them in the loop so they knew how to pray. He asked lots of questions when hospital staff came in and switched meds or changed my IV or anything, just to make sure he knew exactly what they were doing.
It was interesting to me at one point when I realized that even in miscarriags and emergencies he's my coach.

This wasn't our first walk down this road. Sadly, it was our 4th miscarriage. We lost a baby at 5 weeks in January of '10, our 2nd loss was at 12 weeks in April of '11 and our 3rd was around 6 1/2 weeks in July of '11. It was after that miscarriage that I started to believe we were done having kids. I felt almost like maybe God was saying "your 3 is enough" and honestly, I felt okay with it. I told Jason I wanted to purposely try and NOT get pregnant for about a year, just so we could focus on getting me better and stronger and maybe figuring out what my issues were.
God has a major sense of humor and decided to use Miles to remind me that HE does that planning, not me. To our shock and amazement, we found out we were pregnant with Miles in August of '11.

And I'm not sure how many of you remember this post I wrote in honor of our son Micah, but I just want to say, we feel the same way, post loss. God is SO good. He is SO faithful and merciful and generous. I know its weird to say after losing a baby, but I cannot tell you enough how close and tender and loving God feels to me in the midst of great heartache. And I'm so glad. Because I could't get through it if he wasn't.
I feel held by Him. I know he's grieving with me. I know he knows loss. God watched His son die on the cross for the sins of a world that hated him. I can't imagine that pain. So I feel Him in those moments meeting my every need and bringing to my memory all those verses that remind me he cares deeper than anyone on earth ever could and he heals the broken hearted.
I don't feel anger when I've gone through the sorrow of losing a baby. I feel great sorrow. I remember how quickly this life passes. I remember my kids belong to God and not me. They're not mine to keep. I remember how I truly don't know what a day will bring, no matter how much I try to pretend I've got it all planned out.

God is God and I am not. That's a phrase I say over and over sometimes and it comes from a Steven Curtis Chapman song I used to listen to growing up. You never know how those seeds planted will come back to bless you :)

I'm physically feeling better and better each day, though it definitely feels like a slow process. It takes about 2 months for red blood cells to get back to a normal state. The body makes plasma very fast, but not so much with red blood cells. So I tire out easier than normal, I need more sleep and I can get very overwhelmed and having panic attack type feelings in situations that normally wouldn't stress me out at all. And I've never experienced panic attacks and have a brand new level of respect for people who deal with them often :(
Its funny how quickly we learn what we can and can't handle. I walked into Costco last week, got about half way down an aisle and knew immediately I needed to just leave and go home. I thought because I was without kids I'd be ok, but I could tell right away my brain was in overdrive and could not handle it.

Because I had been so morning sick since September, I had missed out on so much of life. My favorite season is Fall and I literally missed it. I remember in mid-November when I started feeling better I walked outside and was like, "wait! the leaves are falling off the trees?!" I hadn't been to church since the last week of September and finally went for the first time last Sunday. It was like medicine to my soul. SO good to be back and see everyone and sing with everyone and hear an awesome sermon.

There's always going to be things we can be sad or hurt or even angry by. But I feel like these situations cause us to stop and see how truly fleeting life is and for me, I want to soak up what I get and enjoy the blessings God gives. Because He gives so many. Not only in the good, carefree moments, but in the insanely difficult, life shattering moments as well. In my journal I wrote out all the ways I saw God working in and through the craziness of losing our baby and me almost dying and the list got so long it was ridiculous. And I know there's a ton of stuff I don't even know! Stuff that only God knows and is doing "behind the scenes".
I'm so thankful He loves me perfectly and knows me inside and out.

Its not a post that's ever "fun" to write (and I almost didn't write this one) but I knew the right time would come and tonight was that time.
I will forever be grateful for the 14 weeks I got with my sweet baby. We don't know yet if it was a boy or a girl (we should be getting test results back soon) but it doesn't matter. It was our baby and will always hold a very special place in our hearts. Our family feels the absence of its members we don't know face-to-face here on earth. Heaven has become so much sweeter a place for us knowing we get to meet 4 members there that we only had for weeks at a time here.

Thank you to those of you who've been praying for us and loved us, no matter how far away you are. We felt God's love through each one of you. Even a comment on Instagram meant the world to us. Just another reminder we are loved so deeply. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
My mom got on a plane the day after I had the baby and flew out here, dropping all of her Thanksgiving plans with my family back in California. I know that was no small thing for her to do and I'm so thankful for the ways she shows love to her kids.
We had a beautiful, calm and quiet Thanksgiving and I think my favorite part was praying before the meal. Jason asked us to each pray 1 thing we were thankful for and the whole table either thanked God for our baby and/or thanked God that "mommy is alive." I think Miles may have thanked God for his Kindle Fire as well ;-)

As Christmas quickly approaches I am finding a renewed thankfulness for Jesus' birth and for the life he lived and the death he died on my behalf. And eternally grateful that I have a Father who literally gave his child for me and is building the best, eternal future for me to enjoy... all because he is good.

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe ending to this year and pray 2016 is blessed.

5 {comments}:

Gina said...

Beautiful. I'm so glad you wrote. Thank you for sharing. So much I can relate to on different levels. I've tried to count the blessings in that day as well and there are a TON. I'm SO happy Jason was home (he is SUCH a wonderful man and a loving husband), so happy that your church friend was able to care for the kids so well that they did not hear you or know how bad it was, SO happy you had a caring emergency team, SO happy God held you in His hands. SO much to be thankful for. This that you wrote was one of the things that really resonated with me, "There's always going to be things we can be sad or hurt or even angry by. But I feel like these situations cause us to stop and see how truly fleeting life is and for me, I want to soak up what I get and enjoy the blessings God gives. Because He gives so many. Not only in the good, carefree moments, but in the insanely difficult, life shattering moments as well." I felt like this Thanksgiving was so shadowed with loss and my heart was so tender, but I couldn't help but to feel the love of God, His presence, and to feel so overjoyed by all that He has blessed us with. In these difficult times, I cannot imagine walking the road without Him. We are all truly blessed. I thank Him for giving us more days with you. Having babies in heaven sure does make it a sweeter place. :-) Hugs to you friend as you heal (praise God), reflect, and live on. <3

Melissa Joy said...

Continuing to cry, with sorrow and with thanks, along with your family; and holding you daily in my prayers.

Melissa Joy said...

And by the way, this was expertly written. It felt so familiar, and I just want to say thank you for having the courage, the humility, and the grace to share this.

Emily said...

I'm sitting here weeping. I love you, Stef. Thanks for sharing. Praying for you.

Stef said...

Thank you, sweet friends! From the bottom of my heart <3


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