Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Miscarriage Part 5

The nurse came in to tell me I was all set to go home. My bloodwork
had come back and was "within normal limits," and stable enough to
leave the hospital. My discharge hemoglobin level was 11 (it was 12.6
on Saturday, and had plummeted to 8 before the transfusions). My
platelet count was 108,000, up from the LOW 44,000 that it was the
night before, but still less than it should be. Normal is 150,000 to
400,000 in adults. When I later called Khristeena and mentioned what
my bloodwork was at discharge, she told me it would probably take
between 4 and 6 weeks before I felt "normal" again, and I really
needed to build up my blood again before I ever considered trying for
another baby.

The nurse quickly read over my discharge instructions. I realized
then, that she must have overheard that I had been planning a
homebirth for Samuel, because all of a sudden she started to lecture
me! "You know, homebirth can be extremely dangerous, especially with
a prior cesarean. You have a scar on your uterus and it could rupture
at home-- and you'd be too far away for any help. I know you VBAC'd
once already, but that scar gets thinner and thinner every time your
uterus expands. It's not a good idea." What the HECK??? Why does
everyone think it's ok to yell at me about homebirth???

"Ok, PLEASE stop right there. This is not an appropriate conversation
for this time. I am an OB nurse and- believe me- I have thoroughly
read about and researched VBAC and homebirth and uterine rupture. I
*KNOW* my risks and I am perfectly comfortable with them. Besides, I
am no longer pregnant and I don't know if I ever will be again... so
please, just stop."

She pursed her lips together, like she really had to force herself to
stop talking. I mean, honestly, I am also an OB nurse... I am her
peer. How the heck did she think she had the right to tell me that I
was making a poor choice? She knew nothing about me... She didn't
know that I spent countless hours reading about HBAC or that I spent a
long time discussing risks and benefits with my certified nurse
midwife (who is also a women's health nurse practitioner and a
certified professional midwife, by the way. Yes, I will trust her
medical opinion over some random nurse who has no clue what she's
talking about).

After all these frustrations with the hospital, I opened my chocolate
milk that I had ordered with my lunch. I figured a little chocolatey
treat would perk me up... Guess what? The milk was spoiled!!! GAR!
Haha... Nothing was going right!

I was REALLY getting anxious to get out of that hospital. I had been
poked, prodded, ignored, yelled at, and looked down upon. I was not a
happy patient. I had been in the hospital for over 5 hours before
transfusions were started and surgery was done. If only they had
taken care of me when I got there, I honestly don't think I'd be as
sick as I was. I keep thinking about how different things might have
been if I'd gone to the hospital that I work at instead.

::Sigh:: But now is not the time for the "what-if" game. God is
sovereign and he planned for me to go through all of these things.
I'm praying that much good comes out of these unfortunate trials, if
only the growing of my character.

The transport aid came to the room with a wheelchair. isaac had
already gone down to pull up the car to the front door. I held
Galilee in my lap as I was wheeled through the halls. I was SO glad
to be holding my daughter in my lap... I didn't feel like I was
leaving empty-handed.

We got to the front door and there was a huge line-up of cars waiting
under the overhang. We got all loaded up in the car, but then
couldn't leave because two cars were idling in front of us, waiting
for valet parking. I started to get panicky and had a little anxiety
attack. I started yelling at the cars to move. Of course, they
couldn't hear me, but I was getting so irritated with everything that
was happening and I just wanted to go home to take a nap. I was
exhausted... I hadn't slept since Friday night, and now it was Monday

When we got home, my mother-in-law was waiting for us. She had just
flown home from serving in Columbia, South America as a triage nurse
for a medical missions' trip. I knew she must be exhausted. Poor
woman. She came home to a son and daughter-in-law who lost a baby,
and to a daughter who delivered baby. Just this crazy shift between
life and death. I know it was just a weird time for everyone.

I was glad to see her. She brought souvenirs home for everyone and
showed us pictures of her trip. It was really great to hear her
stories of what God had done on her trip, but I was just so exhausted.
I told her I had to take a nap. She totally understood.

That week was filled with loving gestures from friends. We had
dinners prepared for us for the rest of the week and some of my MOPS
friends stopped by with cards and books about grieving. Those books
were so helpful in learning just how to grieve and that it was OK to

Khristeena came by the house to see me on Wednesday. She had to
repeatedly remind me that it was ok to be sad, and that I shouldn't
bottle up my emotions. "Just let every feeling flow," she told me.

I began to think about my other two babies. Judah was turning three
years old that Friday. There was NO WAY possible for me to throw him
a birthday party or go shopping for presents. I sent out a plea on

"Sigrid Chapman
I have a big favor to ask to all my fb loves! Judah's turning 3 on
Friday and because of my health issues (aka near death experience), I
don't think I can manage much to make his day special. Would you dear
friends write him birthday cards and send them to the address below in
the comments? He loves mail and I think that would be so sweet for
him. Thanks!!!"

WOW, did we get a great response! Judah received over 40 birthday
cards in the mail that week. Some of the envelopes included stickers
and gift cards. We received over $100 for him in his cards to buy him
presents (although most of that money went into his savings account
for later use!). We received balloons, a cake, a lots of toys. He
got art supplies, cars, play dough, a toy cell phone, a dairy queen
gift card. Amazing! He really had a great birthday, and we got to
celebrate all week long. Everyone's spirits were lifted when we would
open the mailbox every day to discover a dozen colorful birthday

I also received lots of sympathy cards. I was very touched. One
anonymous friend (I didn't recognize the handwriting and there was no
return address or name written on the card) sent me a beautiful
sterling silver necklace with a baby footprint and "Psalm 139:13"
written on the charm. On the back of the charm it says "Our little
angel." It is beautiful and I wear it every day. The same person
(same handwriting, still anonymous) sent Judah $20 for present
shopping. To whoever you are: THANK YOU!!!!! What an incredible
blessing you are to my family!

The first few days home from the hospital are all a blur in my memory.
I think I slept more than I was awake. Isaac took care of everything
at home (and I know he was also exhausted, so this is amazing). I had
to keep taking that methergine in pill form (with those terrible side
effects), iron, strong antibiotics, and some motrin for the cramping
pain that I still had. My midwife also recommended that I take
probiotics to counteract the antibiotics I was taking to prevent
infection. I started taking Floradix, a liquid dietary supplement
with iron, Vitamin B, and Vitamin C, instead of those
hard-on-the-stomach iron tablets. I had so many pills to keep track
of (some with food, some on an empty stomach, no iron at the same time
as my synthroid, etc)... there were so many rules. Isaac kept track
of all my medicines and supplements and actually set an alarm to help
me to remember when to take them. I felt like such an old lady.

We had lots of visitors. Including my sister-in-law and her new baby.
I was SO NERVOUS to see a newborn for the first time after the
miscarriage. I did ok, I think... (I didn't freak out!). I think
that because he was such a reality to me before the miscarriage, that
I was ok with him. I'm more nervous about when my friends that were
also due in February start to give birth. My midwife told me: "But,
Sigrid, you'll be a different woman in February. You'll be in a much
better place then. Just take each day one at a time." Great advice.

My sweet baby nephew, Devon, was just beautiful. I even held him for
a little bit... although he cried the entire time he was in my arms!

We got word a few hours later that my brother's wife had just had her
baby. My niece, Eden was born! Oh my goodness, so many babies at
such a vulnerable time for me. God was really testing me.

Later that night, after we put the kids to bed, Isaac and I both sat
and wrote letters to Samuel. What a heart-wrenching time! I poured
out my soul to him, telling him how much I missed him and that I would
always love him. I asked Isaac what he wrote in his letter and he
said "I told Samuel that I can't wait to meet him in Heaven one day."

I knew we had to bury him. (It was so hard to see that little white
bundle of his blanket every time I opened the fridge door!).

We placed him inside his blanket and then we both kissed it. We
wrapped that in a green cloth (the one we laid his little body on to
take pictures of him right after he was born), and then placed
everything inside a brown keepsake box. Isaac and I decorated
Samuel's box with stickers and then duct-taped it closed. We then
placed the box inside a large zip-lock bag. It was ready. Isaac had
already dug a big hole in the backyard earlier that day. We picked a
little shady spot next to some evergreen trees in the corner of the
yard. It was dark outside by now, so I brought a flashlight, and we
walked out to Samuel's little grave. We prayed over our little baby
and just simply said "Goodbye." I gingerly placed his little box
inside the hole and then Isaac started replacing the dirt over top of
it. This was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever had to
do. I ran to the front yard and grabbed a colorful garden pinwheel
out of my flower bed and stuck it in place over his burial site as a
marker. The pinwheel is so colorful and happy-looking. It makes me
smile whenever I see it.

Over the course of the following week, I started to notice that my
sadness was affecting the rest of the family. I could tell Isaac was
exhausted and getting frustrated. Galilee was much more clingy and
needed to nurse more often than she had before. Judah started moping
around the house. One morning, I caught him just laying on the wood
floor sucking his thumb. He looked so sad.

"Oh, honey, what's wrong?" I asked.

"Mommy, I just sad, like you."

Later that day, Judah came up to me and told me (like every other day)
"Mommy, the baby in your tummy stopped growing." Then, he started to
look worried. He furrowed his brow and asked: "Mommy... will I stop
growing, too?"

My heart just broke! "Oh, honey, of course not! You are healthy and
strong! You are a big boy! Our baby was little and very sick. You
will just keep growing and growing, taller and taller! I love you, so
much, Judah!"

"I love you, so much, Mommy."

I knew at that moment that I had to do something to distract us out of
this cloud of sadness and grief. My family needed something joyous
and exciting!

I asked Isaac: "what do you think about adopting a dog?" We had been
discussing dog adoption for a long time. We seriously looked into it
about 6 months before, but then, we got pregnant, and I said there was
no way I was taking care of a dog and a newborn!

But now... life had changed. And we desperately needed to do
something to bring us some happiness! I knew that Isaac was home on
vacation for another week and would help me to acclimate a dog to our
family. I looked up the Erie County SPCA and saw what seemed like the
perfect dog on their site. A 4 year old Spaniel-Retriever mix.
Judah's only request for a dog was that he was a "big black one!"
Well, this dog was a "large medium" black dog and Isaac agreed that we
could go to the SPCA to check him out.

We went on Monday (a week after discharge from the hospital). We
spent the whole morning with this dog, and he just seemed perfect. He
was very gentle with the kids and mild-mannered. He's so mild, that
after a few days, Judah proclaimed that the doggie was "broken" and
needed "batteries." He was going to be great for us. We didn't want
to make a rash decision, so we put a deposit down and went home for
lunch. The volunteers told us that if we didn't get him, he would be
gone by the next day, since he was such a nice dog.

We went home, put the kids to bed, and then prayed about it. We knew
that if we didn't get him today, we wouldn't be able to get this dog.
We weren't interested in any other dog there, so it was either him or
no one. Call us crazy, but we decided to go for it!

We named him Lincoln and he's been a great addition to our family. He
was very attention-starved when we got him, and he is constantly
looking for affection. He is such a lover. Judah keeps exclaiming "I
just love my big doggie!" The first thing he asks every morning is
"where's my doggie?" Galilee just giggles and giggles at him. It's
really beautiful to see my kids so happy! Isaac and I decided that
Lincoln would be our five year anniversary present to each other.

I know it's going to be a long road... full of bumps. I have no idea
how I'll be at work. I am a newborn nurse and attend births and take
care of babies for a living. I'm praying that by the time I go back
to work, I'll be emotionally prepared. I do alright most of the time,
but there are definitely things that "trigger" my grief to rise to the
surface and I often just need a good cry. Isaac has been so
supportive, allowing me to rest and grieve (and not do any
housework!). I can't even make breakfast without getting short of
breath. My lungs just start to burn if I'm moving around too much.
I'm anemic, and I just don't have enough oxygen-carrying red blood
cells to feed my body. I know it will take time to recover, and it's
so hard to not be able to do things as simple as walking around the
block or carrying around my daughter.

I've been very burdened by the question: "will we have any more
children?" I absolutely loved being pregnant with Judah and Galilee,
but as of now, I'm terrified of trying again. This last pregnancy
almost killed me. I had my heart set on having a third baby, once we
knew we were expecting Samuel. But... if we have a third baby, it's
not a replacement... it's not the same. It will be different timing
and an entirely different situation. I'm just not ready to make those
kinds of decisions right now, and I'm not even ready to talk about it
with Isaac. This past week, in church, I felt God telling me to just
release this burden back to him and let him carry it for me. He told
me that if I'm to have more children, he will surprise us, and I don't
have to worry about this. What a relief! [update 1/12/12: it turns
out that I became pregnant again 3 months later, and lost that baby,
too, at about 6 weeks... it's been a VERY difficult journey!]

I love my family. I love my friends. I love my God. I miss my
baby... but I do believe that I'll see him again one day. And who
better to take care of my child for me, but God himself? Jesus loves
children. And I know he greatly loves me!

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