24 June 2011

Why is there SHAME?

That day, several years ago, when my doctor told me that I would never have children ...that day was devastating in more than one way. Yes, I WANTED children very very badly, but it was more than that. There was something missing. There was something I should be that I couldn't be. And I was filled with shame.

Women are beautiful creatures with beautiful bodies and amazing abilities to be tough and tender. And at the same time we are usually take on the impossible task of being a cook, maid, and counselor to our husbands while in most cases also assisting with the financial burdens of the family by either working or managing finances. But we are meant for more than just being beautiful and succeeding at the impossible list of things Proverbs 31 tells us to do.

At some point in her life, a women feels a burn to bear a child. It is something I didn't understand until I felt it. So when you are told you cannot bear children, or when you try and try and don't get pregnant, there must be something wrong.

For me, it was clearly my body. But it was more than that. There was something wrong with ME. I wasn't as much of a woman as my friend who couldn't stop getting pregnant. I was broken or defective in some way. I had lost some worth as a woman, and I was ashamed.

What man would want a defective wife who couldn't help him reproduce? What would happen when all of my friend had children and I didn't? Would they exclude me? Would I eventually end up single, friendless and alone?

To add to it, my boyfriend at the time had already had his grandmother's diamond ring resized for me we I got my news, and he decided to break things off rather than propose. So the rejection was beginning already. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and afraid to tell anyone because I didn't want them to reject me.

After getting married, and when we were ready to officially work on getting pregnant, I was afraid. I started pushing to start fertility meds almost immediately because I didn't want anyone to ask why we didn't have kids or weren't pregnant yet. Stan was not on board with fertility meds yet, so I just tried to avoid the topic.

Why do people ever ask young couples "When are you guys gonna figure out how to have chidren?" or other similar questions when they haven't had a child after a couple years of marriage? Questions like that can pierce an infertile woman's heart with more force than a train. It would take me weeks sometimes to recover from comments like that. I even had someone once ask me if I was waiting until I was secure about our marriage...

When I was desperate to get pregnant and after our first loss, it was hard to be around people with children or pregnant women. And it wasn't jealousy. It was a deep hurt that God had not blessed me, and a fear that there was something wrong with me or that I had done something wrong that disqualified me from motherhood. But when you decline an invitation to a baby shower or skip a function involving lots of pregnant women or mothers, people assume it is jealousy. It makes it very easy to alienate yourself.

The hardest experience for me was seeing what I judged to be 'bad' mothers. I remember one day in a Publix parking lot where this mother of four beautiful stair-step children was barking at them with such anger and disgust in her voice. I stalked them through the store because I wanted to imagine myself with four children, and I checked out and followed them out. When they got to the minivan, one of the children, probably around 3 years old wasn't climbing into the van fast enough, so she smacked him to the ground. This women obviously didn't want four children, and she resented having them and having to take them to the store. I climbed into my minivan, which we bought in faith that we would fill it up, and I wept.Why would God allow that hateful woman have four children when I wanted six and couldn't have them? Why was he allowing me to hurt so much?

For Christians, we are supposed to have faith, which is "the assurance of things hoped for, he conviction of things not seen." according to Hebrews 11:1. So when a Christian woman prays for children and doesn't have any, there are people in the church that say that it is because they lack faith. I can tell you from experience that that was not the case for me. I believed with all of my heart and soul that I was pregnant every month, and I would continue to believe that I was pregnant even after the negative test, and then even after I started bleeding. But I wasn't, no matter how much I believed that I was.

After we lost Angel, I had a renewed shame with a side of guilt. It was a different kind of shame though. I was broken, and my broken body had killed my child. That doctor who told me I would be negligent to try to get pregnant was right. I was not only not qualified to be a mom, I had caused the death of my child. I must have not had enough faith, or I had a negative thought or fear about my pregnancy that caused my child's death.

I was sure that it was because of my uterus shape and because I missed my prenatal so often and I had eaten ice cream and McDonalds a couple of times. At the the appointment, the nurse asked a series of questions including "Have you had intercourse recently?" all of which implied that I may have caused this somehow. And no matter how many doctors, friends, and eventually counselors told me that it wasn't my fault, I still held guilt that it was somehow my fault. I still feel that guilt sometimes.

I think this is why so many people won't talk about miscarriage and infertility. There is so much shame and embarrassment and guilt. The problem is that people not talking about it makes it seem like it should be shameful.

After our miscarriage, I was shocked how many women I knew who had also had miscarriages that I never knew about. I know that it is painful to talk about. Trust me, every time I talk or write about it I weep. But I wish I had known that so many women had also dealt with it so I wouldn't have felt so alone.

So many women don't tell people they are pregnant until they are 12 weeks or beyond, and I understand that now even though I don't agree with it entirely. After our miscarriage, I was still getting congratulations because I had just posted my pregnancy on Facebook the week before. I tried to avoid everyone because I was so ashamed and I was not sure what to say. With each pregnancy after Angel, we have told some friends and family immediately so we can get people praying as early as possible. My take on it is that if something bad happens, we are going to tell them so they can pray so why not get those prayers earlier.

Why is it that when a women has a failed IVF or loses a baby, people don't respond the way they would after the death of a close family member? It is actually the loss of a child with the added physical challenges of recovery. The woman or couple has lost a child, and I believe that the church or friends and family should respond.

Why is there shame? Why do we feel shame when God has not blessed us with children? Why do we feel guilt when our baby dies?

Struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss is a HUGE issue for women and men, and there are so many of us dealing with it. We don't have to be ashamed or embarrassed or feel guilt.

It is NOT your fault.

It is NOT my fault.

19 June 2011


In my last post, I told the story of our first pregnancy. To continue ...

When the doctor told us that the baby had passed away, we had to let people know. I can’t even express the horror that I experienced when it occurred to me that we had to tell people. Once we left the office, we started making phone calls.

I couldn’t call my own parents. I asked my husband to do it because I knew I would be too emotional to communicate. I listened while he told them that we ‘lost the baby,’ and I tried to tune him out.  He called his family and best friend, and I called my close friends and brother. Every time one of us had to deliver the news, it was heart wrenching.

Before I lost a child to miscarriage, I didn’t know what to do or say to others when they experienced that type of loss. Apparently, most people do not know how to react. People say things like, “Everything happens for a reason.” Or “Maybe God was saving you from the heartache of a child with some horrible disease.” Or “When you’re ready for children, God will bless you with them.” None of these make you feel better. In fact, the latter two comments are actually offensive. They basically explain away the pregnancy because something was either wrong with your baby or with you that made the pregnancy not worthy of completion. God allows teenage prostitutes with drug problems to have babies on occasion, and no one can tell me that they are more ‘ready’ for children than I was. And what reason could there possibly be for losing a baby.

For those of you who are not sure how to respond to someone who has just lost a child to pregnancy loss, please don’t feel bad if you have made the comments above. In truth, any attempt to show compassion is usually better than no response at all. Pregnancy loss is the loss of a family member, and it is terribly painful. Simply saying “I am so sorry for your loss” and offering to cook a meal or help in any way needed means more than you could know.

When we lost Angel, I was filled with questions of what could have been. I wondered whether she would be a baby in heaven. Would he have a childhood and be raised by my family in heaven or by Jesus Himself. Would I know her when I met her? What color were his eyes and his hair? And I had dreams about our Angel.

I was dealing with loss. Loss of a child. Loss of motherhood. Loss of what could have been. Loss of confidence. Loss of innocence... Loss of faith.

17 June 2011


In my last post, I talked about infertility and finding out that we were pregnant. To continue...

When I saw that + sign on the pregnancy test, I was beyond ecstatic. I threw the test in a zip lock bag and called my husband immediately. He worked about 45 minutes away from where we lived, so I asked him to meet me for lunch at a mid-point. There has never been a more exciting, happy, overwhelming moment in a gas station McDonalds. You would have thought I won the lottery. I was so excited, I am sure I was shouting everything I said to hubby.

After he knew, I called my mom, a small circle of friends and my OBGYN. I cried with joy and thanked God every waking moment. I was so excited about not being allowed to eat sushi and rare steak, and all of the yummy things I was super happy to give up for a baby. I was excited about feeling nauseous and bloated. I was excited about every aspect of pregnancy, and I even exaggerated most of my symptoms so I would feel MORE pregnant. I was filled with a sweet innocence of a first pregnancy. 

To our knowledge at that time, my uterus was the shape of a heart, most likely with good blood flow to all of the uterine lining. I was a little nervous that the baby would not get what he or she needed from my deformed uterus. My doctor assured me that it should be fine but informed me of the risks later in pregnancy, none of which was early miscarriage so there was no need for concern unless there were issues later in the pregnancy.

At our first doctor's appointment at about 7 or 8 weeks, we saw a heartbeat and everything looked great! It was 4 days before my birthday, and what a great birthday blessing - a healthy baby growing inside me! The baby appeared to be implanted in the right side, which was the larger of the two, which was good news. Our due date was June 30, which was awesome because I had a friend with the same due date.

Despite the concerns, I was confident that this child was a miracle and that God was going to take complete care of him or her. I prayed many times every day for our child, and I remained faith-filled that God had the uterine situation under control.

After we saw the heartbeat, we began to share our news with a slightly wider circle of friends, and I let my boss know that I would be having a baby during his scheduled vacation. I began to get more nauseous, and I got very serious about eating only organic and taking my prenatal vitamins. I wore a constant smile, truly glowing with un-containable happiness.

One day, at about 11 weeks pregnant, I noticed that I didn't really feel very nauseous anymore. I started worrying, and obsessed quite a bit. But I was still confident that God was taking good care of our baby, so at 12 weeks, we decided to expand the circle to everyone we knew, and I posted my news on Facebook. I had  a steady flow of congratulations from people who did and didn't know that we had been trying for years.

One morning I woke up and I had this feeling of doom. Something wasn't right. I didn't feel pregnant at all anymore and was overcome with fear. I started obsessively wiping to see if I was bleeding or something, but I didn't ever really have any proof that something was wrong. I NEEDED to know that things were ok, so I called my doctor and told the nurse that I thought I may have had some weird discharge and that something seemed wrong. I knew that weird discharge would make them want to do an ultrasound. 

They scheduled me for an ultrasound a couple of hours later, so I looked up on Baby Center what things should look like at 12 weeks. I was still believing that God was taking care of everything so when I called hubby, I told him he didn't have to leave work if he didn't want to and that I was sure everything was fine. My emotions were a twisted bundle of confusion, fear, hope, confidence, and sorrow all at once.

When hubby arrived to pick me up, I repeatedly asked him, "Is everything going to be ok?" and he repeatedly responded, "Yes. Everything is going to be fine." I was so nervous on the 45 minute drive to the doctor, but I was also super excited to see my baby at 12 weeks. I would get excited to see little hands and a big head, and then an overwhelming wave of fear would knock out the excitement.

When the ultrasound tech ran the US, she was pretty quick to start looking more closely. I could clearly see a very large black hole with nothing in it. I was confused and afraid, so I asked through a nervous giggle, "Is it bad that I'm not seeing a baby in there?" She said, "I'm not seeing anything either, honey. I'll be right back." And she darted out of the room. 

It felt like she was gone for an eternity, but it was really only a few minutes. I was still hopeful and confident that things were going to be ok. I guess I was thinking that the baby was just hiding somehow, and that she was going to get a more experienced US tech. When she came back, she brought a doctor with her. 

The doctor told me something I never imagined I would ever hear, and something I wish no one ever has to hear, "We are not seeing your baby on ultrasound. It looks like your baby has passed away in the womb. I am so sorry." I immediately started to cry while she explained that the baby had probably passed away a few weeks before, but that my body was continuing with the pregnancy as if nothing was wrong. She called it a missed miscarriage. It also looked like the baby's tissue had already mostly dissolved but that the rest of the tissue as well as the sac and uterine lining would still need to come out of me. 

They left me and my husband alone in that US room to collect ourselves. I cried. I was devastated. But I also still had faith that God was somehow going to save our child and that the doctors were wrong. I mean, once upon a time, a doctor had told me I would never get pregnant. 

I wouldn't believe that God would let me down that big. I had actually told God before we ever got pregnant that I was not strong enough to go through a miscarriage, and I trusted Him not to allow that to happen to us.

Once we came out of the room, we were swiftly ushered past all of the pretty, perfect, pregnant women waiting to have ultrasounds of the perfect little babies. I cried. I avoided looking at anyone. I just went to the lab where they offered condolences and stupid comments from people who didn't understand. Then they led me to an exam room so the doctor could talk to us about next steps. 

They offered to do a D&C that day to get the rest of the tissue out of my uterus. I refused because I believed that we were still going to give birth to this baby somehow. Then they offered me a medicine that would cause my uterus to contract so that my body would get rid of things without surgical intervention. I only accepted the medicine because they promised me that if the baby was actually ok as I believed he or she may be, it would only cause me physical pain but would not injure the baby or cause a miscarriage.

I took the medicine, and I was not at all surprised when it didn't work. I was still determined that we were going to have this baby. A few days later, after taking the third course of the medicine, I started to have extremely painful cramping, and then bleeding. Lots and lots of bleeding. I remained hopeful.

Graphic details alert!
It wasn't until I felt the gestational sac coming out of me that I believed our baby was dead. I panicked and tried to push it back into me, but then I felt an urgency to push. I delivered the gestational sac into my hand on the toilet. The sac was unbroken, about the size of my palm and there was not anything inside that I could see. I didn't even know what to do with it. Should I bury it, throw it away or flush it, save it for the doctor? What is protocol for delivering a sac of tissue that's already deceased? Shouldn't I feel a deep love and connection for this tissue? Shouldn't we put up a monument in the back yard? 

I didn't know what to do, but I felt like burying our baby in the back yard would seem much too much like burying a pet, and in my overwhelmed state of confusion, I decided to flush. I still feel guilty for that, even though I know I shouldn't. I feel like I should have done something to show our child more respect in death. 

We named our child Angel, and we are anxious to meet him or her in heaven. 

That day was December 13, 2008. At the time, it was the absolute worst day in the history of the earth to me. It was the day that God let me down and proved to me that he could not be trusted to take care of my family the way I had always expected and asked Him to.

16 June 2011


Before I met my husband, I was told that I would never be able to get pregnant, and that if I managed to get pregnant, I would never carry a child to survival. In fact, the doctor actually insinuated that I would be negligent to try to get pregnant. The official diagnosis was Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and a uterine deformity called Bicornuate Uterus. The PCOS would prevent pregnancy, and the uterine deformity was very bad and would prevent me from carrying a child.

I believed what the very educated doctor told me, and it rocked me to my very core. I had been so looking forward to being a mommy.

A few months later, while I was trying to spend some alone time with God without another man in my life, I met a guy who irritated me from the start. I mean, he really really annoyed me. I was trying to lead a single women's Bible study, and he crashed it, with his motorcycle and his shoulder length blonde hair. All of the women in the group wanted him, flirted with him, and even came to me asking if it would affect the group if they dated him. Five months after I met him, I married him.

I told my husband the doctor's verdict, and he smiled and said that God wouldn't put two people together with such a burning desire to have lots of kids and not bless them with any. I have been standing on his faith ever since, while I pray for mine to grow.

We didn't OFFICIALLY "try" for the first two years of marriage, but we didn't prevent either. I was, of course, trying to make sure we were giving God every opportunity by seducing at the appropriate time during my cycle, taking vitamins and natural fertility remedies. I was also on Metformin for PCOS the whole time. So by the time hubby was ready to "try", I was already discouraged.

My new doctor was fine with us trying and was willing to give me Clomid to help with the process. We didn't feel peace about trying fertility meds at that time, and in that case. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to take the Clomid! But hubby wasn't there, and when one of us is not at peace, WE are not at peace. I believe that infertility is an issue that God sometimes heals through medical intervention, but not for us ....yet.

We prayed for a miracle, and my heart broke every cycle for the next year. Our marriage began to take a major dive ...like into the toilet. I was disenchanted, frustrated, and ready to be done with it. It wasn't just the infertility ...I mean, that didn't help, but it didn't cause our marriage problems either. I even packed up and tried to leave at one point, but thank God, our good friends stepped in and helped me realize I didn't want to give up.

I stopped taking the PCOS medicine while we were trying to get our marriage right, and suddenly, as if to miraculously heal our marriage, we conceived our first child in the fall of 2008, due in June 2009! We were full of rejoicing, and although we knew I would be high risk because of my uterus, we knew that God would protect both me and our child throughout our pregnancy.

What's this all about?

Hi there! I'm a 33-year-old wife and mom with a story to tell. This story began on July 30, 2005, when my husband and I married. But this story won't end. It is the story of how our family grows from 2 to 8 and beyond.

Why 8? I believe God has promised me 6 children. I believe it so much that I am willing to tell you all about it and the journey we have gone through and will continue to go through.

The Plan

My first few post will be chronicles of the major family events we have already been through. Then I will pick up with where we are now.

I do not hold back or hide feelings. I am truly treating this as a journal of my struggles with infertility, pregnancy loss, parenting, and family life. I trust you, as a reader and friend, not to judge me for my feelings or beliefs.