February 1, 2014

MY STORY OF RECURRENT PREGNANCY LOSS

& Finding Hope Through Small & Simple Things

I'm afraid to publish this post. In fact.. it's been sitting as a draft for months now. I'm afraid because I don't know how people will react. I'm afraid to offend someone. I'm afraid I will be judged or misunderstood... and the biggest reason why I am afraid? I'm terrified to talk about it myself. For one, it's so painful and personal. For two, my shyness isn't exactly excited about a topic that's generally unspoken of and taboo.

Though I have so many fears going into this, there's something strongly pushing me to say something. So you know what? I'm gonna take a leap of faith here... Despite this being the most difficult time of my life and the saddest thing I have ever been through, I have witnessed more miracles than ever before. So how can I selfishly hold in what the Grace of God has done for me?

I also came across this quote:

"Your heartache is someone else's hope. If you make it through, somebody else is going to make it through. Tell your story." -Kim McManus


As I have sought support during this hard time, I was surprised to find that so many women (just within my own family) have gone through similar situations. Though their stories saddened me, I took comfort in knowing that I wasn't alone in this dark and empty place. 

I know not very many people read my little blog here, but I truly pray that those who do will find hope or at least have a better understanding of what it's like to go through something like this. Because really, if you haven't experienced it yourself, there's a pretty good chance someone else in your life has.

So.. maybe I'm just sick of looking at this post every time I log into my blog. Or perhaps this is my own form of therapy. Regardless of what's moving me, I sincerely hope that it benefits someone else in some way.

I've decided to do just that. Tell my story. I have no fancy terminology--in fact, I've tried to exclude a lot of the medical stuff. Nor do I expect others to react the same as I did. But this is my experience, and despite how often miscarriages occur, never did I ever think it would happen to me--but it did. Over and over...
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Last summer, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised to find out that we were pregnant with our first child. We could not contain the joy! I flung the pregnancy test and jumped into Cam's arms. Both of our cheeks glistened with happy tears.

We made arrangements quickly. We began looking for a home. I made doctor's appointments and studied the "do's and don'ts" of pregnancy. I sought out advice. Did mild exercise. Ate well.

We kept it a secret from mostly everyone. Sure, we wanted to be out of the "scary zone," but really, we wanted to surprise our loved ones and do a cute announcement. We were positive nothing would go wrong. How could it? 

Six weeks into my pregnancy I started experiencing some bad warning signs. However, I didn't become too concerned until a few days after when the symptoms started getting worse. I remember I was on my way to the lab for blood work and I started breaking down. Everything in me wanted to believe that my baby was still alive, but in my heart I knew something was terribly wrong.

The results from my blood test showed everything could still be fine, but my hormone levels were a little low. My nurse wanted me to come back in a few days to see if they increased or decreased. Though after feeling more and more cramping, I became very worried and I really just wanted a straightforward answer.

Cam and I went that night to the emergency room. They did every test in the book it seemed including an ultrasound. After what felt like hours, the doctor came in and told me that he was very positive that I was miscarrying. I remember hearing "I'm sorry to tell you this" from the doctor and "our first was a miscarriage, now we have four kids" from the nurse. That was it. It was over. Somehow, I wanted a better explanation or just any explanation would do.

I didn't want to accept it. It all felt like a very bad dream. I wept every day for weeks. I could not believe that it was happening to me and I had a very hard time labeling my feelings. It was a huge mixture of grief, anger, sadness, guilt, blame, etc. I started feeling like it was all my fault and that if I had only done this or done that (which I later learned is a common reaction amongst women who have suffered miscarriages). Ultimately, I didn't know why or how it happened. I just knew that our baby was gone and so were all the hopes and dreams that went with them.

I wrote a letter to the baby to give me some closure, which helped. Then after lots of discussions, prayers, blessings, and physical healing, we felt ready to try again the next cycle. The weeks dragged on and on and each minute felt like eternity. Finally, I took a pregnancy test (as early as I possibly could) and it was positive! I was so excited I jumped on the bed yelling, "I'm pregnant, I'm pregnant!" It was five in the morning. Oh he thought I was crazy, I'm sure.

I was very optimistic and knew this next baby would make it. I immediately told my nurse, and they had me come into the lab that week so they could check my HCG levels. Then I came in again a few days later and see if it had increased. It had! Dramatically, even. I was then allowed to come in for an ultrasound. That visit went well, too. The nurse told me everything looked good, but the baby was too small to see yet, so we scheduled another ultrasound for two weeks later.

I came in for my second ultrasound feeling anxious. As soon as she placed the probe on my belly we saw our little peanut. So tiny, so perfect. My baby's heart was beating strongly and my eyes filled with tears as I watched that little heart pulse. She said everything looked normal. However, the baby measured smaller than predicted, but the nurse reassured me that that happens and they would just change my due date. This put me back about nine days. Even though I had to wait even longer to get out of the "scary zone," I was happy. Happy that the baby was alive and doing amazing! They scheduled another ultrasound two weeks later just to make sure things were still going well, and I was so excited to see how much the baby would progress.

At my next ultrasound, you couldn't see much since my bladder was so full and pushing on everything. I asked if I should go to the bathroom to relieve it some and the tech said, "Yes, but I'm going to have to use an internal wand anyway, so just go empty your bladder all of the way." I was confused, but did as I was told.

I came back excited to see the heartbeat again and hopefully get to hear it this time. Everything looked smaller with this other ultrasound. Being completely oblivious, I just thought things looked odd because we were using a different probe. I kept looking at the baby and she kept avoiding it--measuring all of my other insides. Everything was still. She chimed in a few times to say, "and here's the yolk sac," or "yep, that looks good." But mostly, she was silent. Finally, when it seemed like she was nearing the end, I spoke up. "Are we going to get to see the baby's heartbeat this time?" Awkward silence. "Yeah.. we'll see. I'm gonna have your nurse come talk to you about that." Still confused and thinking that this lady didn't know what she was talking about or that this other ultrasound couldn't see anything, I just shrugged it off and got dressed.

After a little while, the tech came back and told me to meet the nurse at the other side of the office. It was then when my suspicions started to form. Why does she need to talk to me over there? Is there something wrong? What's going on? I was so lost. The tech brought me to the room where I met eyes with my nurse. She told me my doctor was coming in to speak with me and then left me in the room alone. My heart sank. I knew. But then I began to question it, because how could anything go wrong? I hadn't felt any pain or experienced any bad symptoms like last time.

I began to cry when my doctor finally came in and handed me a tissue. Then he said the dreaded words: "I wish I had better news for you." I must have been in shock or something because everything he said after that was such a blur. I remember asking him what was wrong--meaning, what's wrong with my baby? I couldn't understand how my little angel's heart just miraculously stopped beating. He said I could be having bad luck. He then went over all of my "options". Nothing registered in my mind. I needed a hug. Someone to cry with me. Something?! All I could think about was getting out of there and being with my husband.

Cam had planned on meeting me there, so he was waiting outside the doors of the office. I pretty much football tackled him when I saw him. I bawled into his arms hysterically not knowing what to say or do. He held me tight until I was ready to say into words what had happened.

I felt like someone had ripped out my heart and stomped it into a million pieces. I longed for my babies--these tiny people I loved more than anything. Cameron and I both described our feelings as
"empty". I mean, one second we were bursting at the seams with joy and the next it was all gone. We didn't just have a miscarriage. We lost a child. The grief was so real and raw for us. I mean.. the moment I see that second pink line, I picture myself holding that little one in nine months. I had to accept that the room we picked out for our first baby would stay empty a while longer.
A glimpse of the conversations we had while our baby was still doing well. 


Though it was just as hard, it was different than the first. This time, we had actually seen the baby and watched our little one progress. And that heartbeat. Oh how I yearned to see that heartbeat again. I wondered more this time too. Wondered why. Wondered if I would ever have children.

Because I chose to do everything naturally, I lost the baby three (very long) weeks later on Thanksgiving morning. The physical pain seemed to try to match the emotional because I have never experienced anything that painful in my life. It was not like it was with the first baby at all because, of course, I was much farther along. I was truly unprepared for it. And I don't know what labor is like, but whatever this was it didn't end with a beautiful, healthy child in my arms. I know I couldn't have done it without my sweetie by my side. Even when it was all over and the pain had subsided, the ache in my heart still lingered. I just wanted my baby back.

Soon after my second miscarriage, I became pregnant again. There was a little miscalculation on my part, so this new baby was a total shock and surprise! Though I couldn't help but feel happy, this worried me. I was afraid my body had not healed enough yet. However, I remember speaking with my doctor before about this and he told me that it was fine. He said the only reason they recommend the wait is because they'd be unsure of my dates. I know every doctor recommends different things, but this made me feel a little more positive.

However, after taking another pregnancy test I noticed something very upsetting... The second line had become very faint--almost non-existent and barely there. But... wasn't the line supposed to get darker as the pregnancy progressed? I knew that I had already lost this baby before my blood test confirmed it a couple weeks later. Again came the tears. I wasn't even finished grieving for my first two babies, and now I had this third one come upon me so suddenly. It was like a cruel, cruel joke.

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With this particular trial of mine, I struggled to understand why? Why had this happened? My husband and I tried our best to be good, faithful people. Even though we knew there'd be a whole new adventure ahead of us, we felt ready to be parents.

Little did I know that I was being blessed. I was being given the opportunity to learn something tender and precious. I was given a chance to grow

After we lost our second little one, I asked Cam for a priesthood blessing. I'll never forget the words. "This is not to punish you. Be patient. Keep faith and continue doing what you know you should and you will be blessed." I had spent so much time doubting myself and feeling like my body had failed--that I had failed. One miscarriage is difficult enough, but multiples? And once you've had three and no living children yet, words like "infertility" and advice like "you should go see a specialist" doesn't exactly make me feel like I'm doing a good job here. But that blessing has been something for me to hold on to through this. As soon as I heard it, the weight of feeling like I was the cause of our problems had been lifted. It's also helped me stay as patient and as hopeful as possible through all of the waiting and wondering. 

I remember thinking that I really had two choices... I could either 1) turn from God in anger or 2) turn toward Him. It was simple, so I made my choice. 

I don't think I have ever relied on the Lord as much as I did after the loss of my three babies. I poured my heart out in prayer. Daily. Hourly. Constantly. I needed Him. I prayed for peace and understanding. I pleaded for help! There were days where I felt that just simply breathing was unbearable! I knew I couldn't do it alone. 
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This new reliance on Him allowed my eyes to be opened. As I prayed for comfort, I felt impressed to pay close attention to everything around me and to remember my blessings especially. 

I began to see so many wonderful little miracles. They were simple, but Heavenly Father knows me. And He knew exactly what to do to help me understand that I truly wasn't alone. 

He knew that if He sent my visiting teacher to me, we would become good friends. Which was something I needed so much--especially after moving to a brand new area. 

He knew that all the text messages, scripture references, and quotes that my mother-in-law sent (and continues to send) me would be timed perfectly so that I received them during my worst moments of despair.

He knew that the fasting, praying, and phone calls from my Papa and Gram would help me feel so cared for and loved.

He knew that the condolences from my Dad and the long, beautiful talks with my Mom would help me increase my love for them and build a stronger relationship with them. 

He knew that the late night phone calls and beautiful letters from my little sister would help me feel thought of.

He knew that the day I found a "Box Full of Sunshine" sitting on our doorstep from my sister-in-law Brittany and my mother-in-law Lisa would be a day when I didn't want to go on.

He knew that a surprise bouquet of flowers from my sister-in-law Marli would bring a smile to my face every time I smelled them.

He knew that the prayers and concern from others would help me endure.

He knew that if I was willing to open up, He would send listening ears....
Shelbi who sobbed with me.
Kaity and Marli who let me ramble when I made no sense.
Lisa who bore the pain with me.
My mommy who encouraged me.
Jennica who acknowledged my feelings and never made me feel like they were insignificant.
Jillian who understood and gave me hope.
Aunt Shir whose hugs were more than enough.
Aerika who checked in on me, gave me Gospel insights, and let me feel her baby kick.
Christine and her team who expressed only sympathy.
Stacie who gave me so many new perspectives.
I know there were more of these guardian angels.
But there were also others who didn't know about me.. and probably didn't realize that a simple compliment made my day. Heavenly Father truly does use His children as tools. 

Each time I had one of these tender mercies happen, I jot it down in my journal. Then, whenever I felt especially heartbroken, I'd go back and read those little gems. I had a source of comfort in every direction!

In doing this, I also discovered more blessings. For instance, the three weeks of waiting to lose the second baby was actually timed quite perfectly. I lost my little one at home when I was so worried about it happening at work or somewhere public. Or the fact that I would go to different church events and hear tender stories of mothers losing their babies and how they were able to overcome it. Or the countless spiritual experiences I had during talks from general authorities, temple visits, and ROC Firesides. I was also uplifted from reading my Patriarchal Blessing each Sunday. I felt the spirit almost everywhere I went! 

I could truly feel the power of the Atonement in my life. For the few weeks following each miscarriage, I didn't want to believe that things would "work out". I knew this was true, but I couldn't let go of all the fears I had about the future. It was in moments such as the ones I've just discussed, however, that helped me learn about trust. Where was my faith? He was showing me, even in my darkest moments, that there was light. 

Laying out all of my burdens at Christ's feet and letting Him take the wheel was the most difficult part. Yet, once I was able to let go, I felt a powerful sense of calmness and assurance. 

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Of course, the pain is still there. It doesn't go away completely. But I'm able to bear it because of Christ and His Atonement. He's there. Always beside me. Every day I find something that reminds me of my babies. My first one's due date is coming up here very soon. But you know what? I've got a special big brother guiding me through all of it. I don't think I have the words for the amount of gratitude that I have for Him. For this struggle, I am grateful because my relationship with Jesus Christ has grown so profoundly. 

Life is so full of trials. Everyone has something in their life they wish they could change. We all have hardships. We don't really want them, and yet, we continue to get them. But if there's anything specific that I've learned about all this it's that there is a reason for everything. Even the bad things. We know there has to be opposition in all things, but do we always stop to think about it when it's happening to us? I don't always do. 

Had it not been for my losses, would I have learned to rely on Him so completely? I don't think so. In fact, I don't think that I would have gained a bunch of things without this hardship. I mean, look at all the things I just talked about alone. I also feel as though I now have a better understanding of what it means to be a mother... what a privilege that is and what miracle having a child is. I also felt that love. I couldn't believe the amount of love I felt for someone I had never even met. What a gift that has been for me. To feel it--even just a glimpse of it--is truly something I'll never stop fighting for. 

One of the biggest blessings from this, was the opportunity Cam and I had to strengthen our relationship. It wasn't easy, though. We both dealt with the sadness differently and because of our varying needs, it took a deeper level of concern and understanding on both parts. But it was that extra effort from both of us that helped us grow nearer. I tried to distract us with something positive if Cam didn't want to talk about it, and he would hold me tight in the middle of the night while I sobbed (which happens quite often still). I love Cameron for each little act of service he offered me. The fact that he was trying and that he showed his concern helped me feel like we were in this together. It was, after all, just as painful for him as it was for me. 

The difficult thing about pregnancy loss is that there's just not a ton of closure. There's no funeral. No one really celebrates a life with you. As I've read stories about women suffering their losses alone, I've related to them. However, the more I open up, the more I realize that it doesn't need to be that way. We are not alone. We have each other. And we have Christ--who truly is the only person who knows exactly how we feel. I may not know everything you're going through, but He does. And you know what I've found? It's okay to hurt. There were so many times where I tried to suppress my feelings and it just didn't work. I've learned that if I take the time to grieve, I am able to release all that's built up inside. It also has helped to talk about and remember my babies. Because they were there. They existed. And they came here for a very special purpose. I will always keep them in my heart. 
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I don't know what the future will tell, but I have faith that it is good. I know that everything that has happened in our lives up until now is preparing us for something greater. I want to be a mother, but I also want to be my best self for my other children. And if I have to hit some bumps along the way, I know it will be worth it.

I've realized how much I want to--and need to--improve myself before bringing a precious son or daughter of God into this world. One of my friends is serving an LDS mission right now, and she talks quite a bit about how she's being refined out in the field and that it's been painful but she's been grateful for it. She told me that I didn't need a mission to be refined. When she said that I realized how much each of us are refined in some way through our trials. We suffer differently, but it is all for one great purpose.

I love how Elder Neil L. Anderson put it in the October 2012 General Conference:

"Like the intense fire that transforms iron into steel, as we remain faithful during the fiery trial of our faith, we are spiritually refined and strengthened."

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I know there are so many of you out there dealing with your own journey of infertility and heartache, and my support and prayers go out to you--you brave mothers and fathers who will do anything to hold that little one in your arms. You inspire me!

Through the storm, there is hope. We find this in all different ways. Heavenly Father knows you well enough to help heal your wounded heart. For me? It's through the little things. The small and simple things that tell me that He's near. That testify of Christ. That answer my prayers. That bring me peace in knowing that everything will always work out the way it's supposed to.
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Thank you for reading my very long post about this! Feel free to post a comment or send me an email at kerimiguela@gmail.com. And if you're feeling up to it, tell me about your story. As I mentioned, the stories of others have brought so much perspective and comfort. It's especially hopeful when I hear from mommas who do end up having children after they've miscarried multiple times. Those stories are very much welcome too!

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15 comments:

  1. Thank you Keri. Your are beautiful.

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    1. Thank you so much, Shanae <3
      You're amazing. Thanks for reading.

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  2. I'm bawling like a little girl who wet the bed.

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    1. Oh love! I was too. I read the post aloud to Cam before I published it and was blubbering all the way through it!

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  3. I wish I had words to even share. I'm so sorry for your losses. I related to this in so many ways. When Tyson was placed in my arms I felt like I had made it through a huge war and looking back one of the greatest gifts of that struggle was an understanding of what a miracle we have been given in being mothers. What a gift that is and I treasure it so much more because of the trials of our infertility and the refiners fire. Hang in there, you are doing everything right. I truly know that we are lifted up and carried through our trials and the bitter makes the sweet all the better. We are praying for your sweet family.

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    1. Thanks so much, Jamie. That's so awesome that you were able to gain that perspective through your trials. I know that once we are able to have a child with us they will be all the more precious! Thanks so much for your thoughts, prayers, and support! You guys are really inspiring to me and I relate to a lot of what you've been through and are going through as well! You are also in our prayers daily. Love you guys. xoxo

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  4. This is an absolutely inspiring post. Thank you for sharing your journey. I have three angels in heaven and I agree, you have a choice. Go towards God or away from him. And I have to tell you, I need him more now than ever.

    http://acalmpersistence.wordpress.com

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    1. Thank you so much! It's really true, it seems like the most difficult times bring you closer to God. Thank you for your very sweet comment. I've checked out your blog and I am inspired by your story too! I'm going to keep reading! I love the care package ideas. So creative! I also love that you acknowledge that our babies existed and that the pain still lingers.I'm so sorry for your losses and admire your strength. Individuals like you really keep me going!

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  5. I've experienced 2 miscarriages. You are in a better place spiritually than I am with my losses. I commend you for that! I still struggle everyday with the why and the what if. My firat due date is 9 days away and I'm racked with pain. Writing has helped me though. I understand why you shared on your blog. I have as well and it's very therapeutic and so many people have opened up to me that I feel less alone in this journey. Good luck to you and I pray you get your Earth bound baby soon!

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    1. Suzanne,

      I am truly so sorry about your two losses. It is so difficult to understand and having faith through something so horrible is very challenging. I am also so sorry about your due date coming up. I feel your pain. My first is coming up on April 1st and I don't know how I'm going to handle it. That's awesome that you have chosen to tell your story as well! That's very true. Opening up gives others the opportunity to do the same and we can all just find support through one another! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and for your comment. And thank you--best wishes to you too! You will be in my thoughts.

      Keri

      Ps. I hope you don't mind that I checked out your blog--it is darling! I'll have to follow ;)

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  6. I stumbled across your blog through pinterest- and I am glad. I just lost my triplets. <3 your aren't alone and that what keep hearing from everyone. It's beautiful. We are not alone. Strong women stand together and support. XO thinking of you.. i haven't read past this post... I hope you are doing well and your dreams are coming true. Jesusmeandphotography.blogspot.com

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    1. Samone,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I am so sorry to hear about your sweet babies--that is just heart wrenching! Losing one after another was hard, but I can't imagine losing three all at once! Thinking of and praying for you during this difficult time.
      It's so true... we have each other. I know that to be true now more than ever! I wouldn't have been able to get through everything without the support of the strong women in my life. And I can see that you must be one of them--I feel so blessed you found my blog.
      I actually ended up losing a fourth baby not too long after I posted this. But... we kept trying and with some help and working with a specialist, we were able to bring home our beautiful baby girl this past March. Dreams do come true, and I hope that yours will soon! Thinking of you! xoxo

      Ps. I'm following your blog. It's beautiful!

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing your journey! We lost our angel Hope in June. In my life I usually ran from God when trouble was brought my way. The loss has brought me closer. I am so grateful for that. That's not to say that this has been one of the most painful things I have had to go through and I have had my share. We are still trying and each time I get a negative test its difficult to see. But I am encouraged in knowing your story and that God has plans for our future! Thank you for sharing this. It has touched me so much!

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing your journey! We lost our angel Hope in June. In my life I usually ran from God when trouble was brought my way. The loss has brought me closer. I am so grateful for that. That's not to say that this has been one of the most painful things I have had to go through and I have had my share. We are still trying and each time I get a negative test its difficult to see. But I am encouraged in knowing your story and that God has plans for our future! Thank you for sharing this. It has touched me so much!

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    1. Stephanie,

      Oh my goodness, I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet angel. That's just devastating! I think you put it so perfectly. It's true that the pain is still so tremendous, but I have always felt a sense of gratitude for the perspective it's given me and the opportunity I had to fully rely on the Lord.

      I admire your strength and courage to continue trying and I pray that God will bless you with another sweet little one soon. Thank you so much for sharing!

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