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*Note – This will be a long and personal post. But I think I need to write it. I need to let it out and let it go.
I made a post on our family blog recently about what we did all summer. We did a lot of fun things like cherry picking, Michigan’s Adventure, my brother-in-law’s wedding, baseball games, camps and time with family. Sounds like a typical summer in Michigan.
But I left out one teeny, tiny detail.
I left out a detail so small that you can’t see it…without an ultrasound. And at some point you can’t see it at all.
I did a lot of fun things this summer. But I really spent most of my summer feeling sick and sad.
On June 1, 2013 I did my 7th IVF transfer (just getting to this point was a bit crazy with our endocrinologist getting sick and retiring in the middle of the process and having to go to a new office/doctor). The transfer went well. I waited through the two weeks of torture.
I felt every pregnancy symptom possible. And on June 11, 2013 we got the exciting news that I was pregnant! Two days later I had my second test. Another great hcg level. I was feeling sick and so excited.
On June 24, 2013 I had my first ultrasound. We were so excited about possibly seeing a heartbeat or two! Instead we saw a sac and what was probably an embryo. It was still early (5 1/2 weeks). I had another hcg test – normal.
|Strawberry picking on June 28.|
On June 28, 2013 I started to have pain. And after a quick strawberry picking trip with the kids I started bleeding. I was terrified. I went in for another ultrasound. Again, inconclusive.
I had another hcg test – it hardly rose from a week earlier.
On July 1, 2013 I had a final ultrasound that confirmed there was no heartbeat. It was a blighted ovum.
I stopped all medications/hormones and waited for the process to begin.
|4th of July parade the day before things started – my face says it all.|
On July 5, 2013 my miscarriage began. It was quite difficult the first night. I was up in the night in pain. Then the physical part gradually got a little easier. I had no idea what to expect. A lot of emotions. A lot of physical discomfort. A lot of isolation and sadness and anger.
What I did not expect was for the process to take over a month to complete. To be reminded of what would not be day after day after day and not being able to start the true healing process. It was brutal.
What I did not expect was how lonely it felt. Even people that knew what was going on did not say a word. Nobody asked how I was feeling. Nobody asked if I needed help. I did my best to keep up with daily life, taking care of my kids, cooking meals, writing, etc. But inside I was crushed. Some days about all I could do was get myself dressed and make sure my family was fed.
My hormones were still crazy. My emotions were all over the place. And physically my body was making changes that were completely out of my control.
|A trip to the beach in July – trying to enjoy some time with my precious kids in the midst of pain.|
Over the course of about 2 months I gained almost 20 pounds. My body was swollen. My belly was puffed out. I couldn’t fit into my clothes. So I wasn’t pregnant, but it kind of looked like I was.
My mind pondered the “why” and the “what now.” This was not our first failed IVF cycle. But it was likely our last. And we’ve never been in this situation before. There was always a next time. A hope for the next try. But not this time.
So what has happened to the “why” and the “what now”? God has given me some answers.
I have struggled with disordered eating and obsessive compulsive disorder for almost 20 years now. I have gone through ups and downs with both disorders over the years. But they still had a tight grip on me.
And I didn’t know how to give up control. I longed to give it over to God. But I couldn’t. Until he stepped in and made me do it.
I knew it would be good for me to gain a little weight. But I couldn’t do it on my own. So God took it completely out of my control. And it still is. I have not weighed myself in almost 2 months. But I know I am still up about 20 pounds from where I started in June. And there isn’t really anything I can do about it.
I’ve wanted so badly to let go of my compulsions for many, many years. But they controlled my life. They controlled my daily routine. But over the last 2 months I have let go of almost all of them. And I feel so free.
God knew that the only way to get these issues resolved was for Him to take control. And for me to have the only motivation possible that means more to me than anything…more than being thin, more than looks, more than being in control. The only thing that I would give up everything for is to have another child.
|My precious little guy after coming home from the hospital.|
And that is my drive now. On days where I feel so uncomfortable in my skin and in my clothes I remind myself what I’m longing for. On days where my legs are so painful from the swelling I think about all the healing that’s going on and what could be possible. On days when I don’t feel like eating much I think about how important it is to nourish my body to get it fully functional again.
Why? If I had gotten pregnant through this last round of IVF I would have called our family complete. I would have stayed in my same disordered frame of mind. I don’t know how long or how much damage it would have done to me or my family. But I am thankful that God gave me a way out. I wish it didn’t have to happen this way. But I am stubborn. I like to be in control. And God had to get me to listen.
That’s a tough question to answer. For now I’m trying to heal in so many ways.
The miscarriage spurred on some disordered eating healing without me even realizing it. My body is in repair mode right now. And I have no idea how long it will take. I still have swelling all over. I still have a lot of extra weight in my belly as my body makes sure there is no sign of starvation any time soon. It’s not fun, but it is necessary.
And it is working. My adrenal system is back to full function. I get plenty of rest now. And I have much less stress. So my body can start to wake up other systems again.
And they are. My reproductive system has been shut down for over 10 years now. Ever since starting birth control in 2003. The birth control itself made me sick. It made my digestive issues worse. It made my anxiety worse. It made my OCD worse. And lead to a long journey with restricted diets, trying to figure out how to feel better. But it just fueled my psychological problems and made me lose a lot of weight. Which in turn shut things down. Even just earlier this year all of my reproductive hormone levels were in the pre-pubertal range. Basically non-existent.
After 3 years on birth control my reproductive system was completely non-functional. And my health was poor.
I do have two children. Both through IVF. Going through that process put more strain on my body.
But now just a couple months after a miscarriage I have ovulated without medication/fertility treatments for the first time in over 10 years! That is truly amazing. And I praise God for how he has already started this healing process.
I still think almost daily about what life would have been like if I hadn’t had a miscarriage. I’d be over 20 weeks pregnant and getting excited about a new life in February. I still cry sometimes because the sadness is great.
It’s still a struggle to see other pregnant women. I think the miracle of a baby is such a blessing. And I am truly happy for anyone that gets to experience it. But it still reminds me of what will not be and how messed up my body is. (If you are pregnant and I tend not to look at you/talk much with you please don’t take it personally. It’s not about you. It’s just hard for me. And if I don’t congratulate you on a pregnancy announcement I apologize. I really am happy for you. But it is hard.)
It’s still a struggle to go about life feeling like I have a big secret. It’s hard to appear happy on the outside when inside you’re crushed. Which is why I wanted to write this. Walking into church last Sunday I realized I felt like I was walking around hiding something. Three months after this pregnancy ended and my hope was crushed I am ready to share my story.
I am thankful for a few friends like Renee and Donielle that helped me walk through this by sharing their stories and allowing me to talk to them and ask questions. And I hope I can be that person for someone else.
I am hopeful for the future. But I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot of healing to do. I still struggle each day. I struggle each time I’m with other women and I don’t feel “normal’ because my body can’t do what most can.
I’m still trying to figure out each day what my body needs – what to eat, how much rest to take, how much exercise my body can handle. But I know it’s in God’s hands.
The waiting and wondering is hard. Sometimes I don’t think I can wait one more day. Sometimes my entire body aches with the desire for another child and I can’t bear the thought of the “what if” it doesn’t happen.
So I’m holding on to hope. I’m focusing on the good that has come from this experience. I’m focusing on how God has taken control and allowed me to heal in so many ways. I’m focusing on the little triumphs each day as I see more signs of healing. I’m trusting that God has good things planned and that He will use this as one more part of my story to share with others and be a help to others.
Throughout the last three months God has allowed me to open my eyes and ears to his little whispers throughout the day. Little things that I may not have noticed before. Little reassurances from him that He’s taking care of things. Maybe a book my child picks out and brings to me to read. Or a song that comes on the radio. Some little reminder that makes me smile.
|A few days before my first ultrasound – trying to hide how sick I felt while seeing family.|
Yes, we had a fun summer. But it was also the saddest summer of my life. I can hardly even look back at pictures from June and July. All I can remember is what was going on at the time. I hope and pray that next summer is much more joyful.
And I hope and pray God will use me through my experience. God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.