mama story: Nova

Today, I'm going to be featuring two mama stories on the blog because I couldn't decide which one to share this week. They are both beautifully written. The first one was submitted by Nova, this has to be one of the most heartbreaking, yet beautiful stories I have read so far. Leave Nova some love in the comments.

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For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a mother.

A few of my childhood memories corroborate this:
Once, in first grade, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.
" A mom, " was my carefully printed response, complete with a hand-drawn picture of a baby crawling in a yellow onesie.
" Pick something else ! " the teacher scrawled across the page.

At another time, I announced to my aunt and grandmother that I wanted TEN children.
Now, as I approach 30, I would be content with just ONE.

Within months of marrying my first husband (at the age of 20), we became pregnant. We blabbed the news to any and everyone, much to the disbelief and disconcertion of the pastor who didn't know we'd wed at the courthouse 2 months prior. We were so excited! A week after the positive pregnancy test, I started spotting. At first, I was assured that it was 'normal' and not to worry. However, the next morning I was taken to the emergency room to be examined. Terrified and alone. Tests left me feeling mortified. An uncomfortable ultrasound where the only sounds were clicks and taps of the mouse and the sound of my tears hitting the paper sheet beneath me. It was the silence that told me:
" ___ miscarriage. And, oh yeah, you're rH negative. " They sent me on my way with informal paperwork and little comfort or support.

That loss - of our child, our hopes and dreams for the future, even our innocence, in a sense. We never considered a loss (miscarriage or otherwise) as a potential outcome because, quite honestly, we had never been exposed to that possibility. In our young and naive minds, the only outcome of a pregnancy was a healthy baby.

What angered me more than anything were the platitudes that ran along the lines of "Everything happens for a reason," "It wasn't the right time", "You'll have more babies", and "God has a plan", etc. It hurt deeply. 'Get over it' was the unspoken message, and I heard it loud and clear.

I couldn't and didn't and haven't and won't 'get over it'.
I grieve(d) deeply. And then, I became hell-bent on getting pregnant again.

As the weeks and months went by, I began to resent my body for not being able to do the One Thing it was designed to do. Each Big Fat Negative and every monthly cycle/period felt like a betrayal and a failure, leading to disappointment and gutteral breakdowns. Finally, at a doctor's office (for what I thought was a completely different issue), the stick turned Positive. Such was the shock and surprise on my face that the Doctor thought it was an unwanted pregnancy! I quickly informed him that it was quite the opposite: my baby was VERY much wanted.

This time, we knew to keep the information restricted to immediate family only. Terrified of a repeat miscarriage, I called my OB/GYN and frantically tried to make an appointment, only to be quite cooly informed that I'd have to wait until my 8 week ultrasound, standard procedure. Near hysterical, I begged and pleaded but to no avail. Barring an emergency, there was nothing to do but wait.

A few days before that appointment, I began spotting.

Once again, I waited, hoping against hope that everything was and would be alright....but the day before my scheduled 8 week ultrasound, my worst fears were confirmed: I was having a(nother) miscarriage. 

Afterwards, the doctor expressed that things were serious now: we would need a multitude of tests and, if I WERE to ever become pregnant again, I would be considered extremely high risk. She also informed me that in her 20 years of practice, she had never experienced a case like mine. 

I think I kind-of gave up hope after that, to be honest. 
I felt like damaged goods. 

The emotional toll of the losses and infertility, combined with a multitude of other issues, facilitated our separation and eventual divorce 2 years later. However, we were on friendly terms before he died suddenly in an accident.

How I wish(ed) I had been able to give him a child and his parents their grandchild.

I remarried, eventually. On December 1, 2015, I confirmed what I alreaxy suspected: I was pregnant for the third time. Happy and excited but filled with trepidation; it didn't surprise me when I started spotting soon thereafter. I didn't even look at the ultrasound this time. The doctors were cautiously optimistic, my husband naive and hopeful. I mentally prepared myself for the inevitable.

Hearing those words, " I'm sorry, but you're miscarrying ", yet AGAIN, broke me. The doctor's assistant infuriated me by commenting that it was "just a bunch of cells and tissue", but I was too heartbroken to reprimand him. 

As soon as I ever suspected that I might possibly be pregnant, something in me changed: I became a mother. My main focus was the life inside of me: protecting, nourishing, loving each pregnancy -- each life, each child -- wanted and loved deeply. Each loss was devastating beyond comprehension, and yet to the majority of the world, it was as if they never existed. 

My grief was heartwrenching.

We 'took a break' from trying to conceive for about a year and a half until we felt that we were better prepared to try again, come what may. We even requested and was approved for a referral for a fertility specialist. Now, I was the one that was cautiously optimistic.

And then, my husband got deployment orders. 

It goes without saying that babymaking/TTC is on hold.

It seems like my lifelong dream to become a mother has been deterred at every turn. I don't know at this point if that dream of mine will ever come to fruition. Will I ever have a healthy pregnancy? Oh, how I long for the whole of it: morning sickness and aches and uncomfortableness and swelling -- the flutters and kicks -- I SWEAR I won't utter a single complaint if granted this ONE THING-!!

I don't know if I'll ever be able to have kids -- be it via natural pregnancy, fertility specialist, or adoption. The not-knowing.......Sometimes, I try to lie and convince myself that I don't even WANT kids, thinking that it hurts less that way. But deep down, I know -- I feel -- the truth.

Every time a pregnancy announcement or ultrasound snapshot fills my social media newsfeed, my heart aches. Every time I see mothers with their infants and toddlers in stores and sidewalks, my throat tightens. 
I caress the tiny clothes and shoes, bottles and diapers and formulas, strollers and cribs, wondering, dreaming...... Wincing at the inevitable question: "Do you have kids?" as my heart completely shatters.

My babies would be 7, 6, and 1 year(s) old now. I miss them every day and wonder who they would have been, what they would have looked like and so much more. All the unknowns. All the lost moments and memories. 
I wonder who *I* would be now, had I been granted that awesome gift to care for them as their mother. 

I dream of them, sometimes. The memory-dream of their weight, scent, and voices cling to me when I awaken to reality. 

I carry them in my heart.

Harper Angels
05/31/2009
08/09/2010

Jackson Angel
12/07/2015

Vivamus pellentesque vitae neque at vestibulum. Donec efficitur mollis dui vel pharetra.
— Hope K.

remembering

TRIGGER WARNING - GRAPHIC DETAILS BELOW


I'm still haunted at times by memories of the worst weekend of my life. Sometimes, the person we want to talk to most about it doesn't want to, so we need to find other ways to get it out. Writing is my outlet.

I remember waking up that morning with the slightest twinge of cramps, but didn’t think anything of it. I had been told all along cramping is “normal.”

I remember bursting into tears as I found out my baby had died, and then being swarmed in hugs from the sono tech, doctor, my manager, and my close friend. One of the perks of working in ob/gyn I guess.

I remember getting in the car, barely able to see the road through tears, and the first song I hear on the radio is “Good Good Father” by Housefires. You are perfect in all of your ways to us…you’re a good, good father.

I remember my husband and I crying in a crumpled mess on our living room chair for several hours, trying to decide which of the three options to take to “evacuate” my uterus (medical terminology is just so kind).

I remember making a decision, and calling my doctor and going in to get the prescriptions.

I remember exactly what I wore that day. Black capri leggings, brown sandals, chambray button up. No makeup, ratty bun, puffy face and eyes. The norm for someone who had spent 24 hours crying.

I remember wandering around Target as I waited for my prescriptions to be filled. I was throwing random stuff in my basket, looking for any way to make the weekend a little more tolerable. Pumpkin chai latte mix, funky purple nail polish, trashy gossip magazines, fuzzy socks. If only I knew none of that would make the slightest difference.

I remember being incredibly annoyed at how friendly the pharmacist was. Could she not READ what prescriptions I was picking up (misoprostol, oxycodone, ibuprofen)? Was it not obvious what I was about to endure? Why was she so damn happy? Did she really think smiling that much would help me?

I remember getting back to my house and finding a big bag of stuff on my porch from my dear friend. A book, a Chemex coffee brewer, a kitchen scale, coffee filters, coffee, a handwritten letter. Strangely, those things meant more to me than anything in that moment and brought me more comfort than any of the crap I had recently bought.

I remember mindlessly watching House M.D. as I waited for my husband to get home so I could take the pills that would initiate “the process.”

I remember setting up my “station” on the living room couch and placing all my essentials on the coffee table. Water, pills, cookies, cell phone, charger, Bible, tv remote. And that stupid purple nail polish.

I remember taking the first dose of pills and being surprised at how quickly they started working.

I remember telling my husband he should call my doctor because I was pretty sure I was going to die. The cramps were too strong. The room was spinning too much. I was too clammy and feverish. I was bleeding too much.

I remember calling my friend, J.K. (no really, those are her initials), probably crying incoherently,  and her saying, “You don’t have to be a superhero. Take the pain medicine.” So I did.

I remember taking the pain pills and realizing it not only numbed my body but also my mind. I liked that.

I remember the feeling of blood pouring out every time I stood up or moved that entire weekend. I avoided moving at all because there was just something awful about seeing all of that come out of me.

I remember passing baseball sized clots and searching through each one looking for my baby. I needed to see that baby.

I remember how alone I felt because my husband refused to come in the bathroom with me at all that weekend. I felt like a freak.

I remember calling my doctor, because about halfway through the process, something didn’t feel right. She told me to come to the office even though it was a Saturday. She was already there doing paperwork from the week.

I remember calling my friend to take me there because my husband wouldn’t go. She got to my house less than thirty minutes later.

I remember laying on the exam table, J.K. holding my hand and stroking my hair, as my doctor pulled out the gestational sac and some more clots. A bunch of it had gotten stuck around my cervix and it would have never come out had I not gone in.

I remember watching as my baby and its tiny home was placed into a sterile container and set on the counter.

I remember asking to see my baby, but being told that no, I didn’t really want to do that. Well, I did. I needed the closure. Looking back, I wouldn’t have asked. I would have just done it. It’s one of my regrets.

I remember  being driven home and stopping to pick up sushi on the way.

I remember arriving back at home and collapsing on the couch, a feeling of emptiness coming over me. My baby wasn’t inside me anymore.

I remember clocking into work at 7:45am two days later, only to clock out again at 7:55am because I just couldn’t do it that day.

I remember showing up to work the next day, trying to push myself to at least stay for half the day. I was crying all morning, eyes puffy and face tearstained. I was told, and I quote, “It’s time to move on now.”

I remember going to our friend’s house that night (which was normally band practice night), and all of us just sitting around the kitchen table crying and praying.

I remember being extremely upset when my Percocet ran out, because now I’d be forced to deal with the emotional pain.

I remember making a shadow box with ultrasound pictures and bible verses to remember Ivory by.

I remember making two doctor’s appointments because the bleeding went on for weeks and never stopped. I was tired, depressed, irritable, and not myself (but who would be themselves after losing a child?).

I remember dealing with depression really badly after my miscarriage, to the point where I stopped caring about myself, gained a little weight, and physically could not get out of bed some days. I was given Zoloft.

I remember making a third appointment for another opinion, 2.5 months after the miscarriage, because something kept telling me that no amount of birth control I was given would fix the “hormone imbalance” that was causing the bleeding.

I remember being scheduled for a D&C for the next day after that appointment. I was scared to death about being put to sleep, but glad that hopefully my bleeding would finally stop.

I remember calling a friend and asking her to drive me to the scheduled surgery.

I remember being so nervous that the nurses pushed two doses of Valium before I was wheeled into the OR to be put to sleep.

I remember hearing, “Doctor, she’s really nervous,” before being put under.

I remember waking up in recovery and feeling good. I was in no pain and had no bleeding. However thanks to the drugs, I was crying hysterically because I couldn’t see my doctor anymore. I was told he was in the OR with another patient.

I remember reading the operative and pathology report from my surgery a few days later at work. Uterine contents, evacuation of contents: degenerated tissue with villous outlines, intact fragments of benign endometrium and cervix also present. These findings are suggestive of degenerated products of conception. Multiple tan-grey tissue fragments with aggregate measurement of 5.0 cm. That’s what was causing all my bleeding – leftover “products of conception” (I hate that phrase with a burning passion).

I remember that day was the start of my recovery. I felt better, and I felt like I could start to pick up the pieces, no matter how long it took me.

I remember wanting to take about my loss with my husband, but he didn’t seem to want to. This is still a problem we are working through. Maybe one day.

I remember telling Naomi (my rainbow baby) that she has a sibling named Ivory Genesis in heaven, and watching a huge toothless smile stretch across her face.

I remember everything, because it’s all I have.