Friday, July 6, 2012

Powerless / Goodbye

The following post takes place over 3 days. It tells the story of our miscarriage and the beginning of our healing process. It happened on the night of the derecho [major wind storm] that swept across the Atlantic Coast. We were powerless; physically, mentally, and emotionally, but not spiritually. God cradled us in His arms as we accepted His will for our lives. 


Frances Lukens looks at the tangle of boards and tree limbs piercing her living room
ceiling in Lynchburg, Va., on Saturday after a huge oak tree fell directly
on the house during a storm the previous night. - AP

The Storm

June 29th was weathered by the Eastern half of the country as our heatwave gave birth to a giant freak windstorm [derecho]. 90 mile per hour gusts swept through the narrow passages between our 1920s row houses as we quickly brainstormed the best place to cower. Our quaint home is one level with many windows – a wonderful trait when looking for a home, but not a strong quality when looking to hide from tornadic-like conditions.  Every room has 1- 2 large windows – even the bathroom. We chose the hallway because it boasted a narrow, windowless space for we three. Joanna was asleep before the storm hit but woke up when the power went out. Awesome.

A solid 40 minutes of strong winds and frequent lighting and thunder. The winds died down, the lightning danced over the mountain, and the power remained off. We pushed Joanna’s pack n play into our room and we slept at the foot of our bed – away from the gigantic window behind our headboard. I held my sweaty baby and sang show tunes to try and lull her back to sleep.  My back and stomach were cramping but my face kept smiling. After all efforts to sing failed, I made her 4oz of a midnight snack and she was eternally grateful. She conked out a few moments later. When I earned my freedom, I went into the living room to look at Facebook on my phone and see what happened. Then I went to the bathroom.
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It is at this point that the story turns grim. 
Consider this a warning if you are not wearing waterproof mascara. 
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Loss

There was blood.
I checked again.
More blood. Like a period. But more. “Your will be done. Your will be done..” I chant like a monk. It brings an eerie calm to know that all things work for the good of those who love Him, even if 'things' involve losing a pregnancy.

I quietly wake my sleeping beau and tell him that I’m bleeding heavily. I then return to the toilet to bleed more. Much more. I stayed there for 10 minutes, texting my mother-in-law asking for advice.  Jonathan rubs the little sleep he gained from his eyes and we start talking about options.

Do we go to the hospital? Do we wait it out? Who do we call? How do we even get phone numbers?

We have no internet to google "heavy bleeding during pregnancy". We have no internet to look up phone numbers of local doctors. We have limited light to find paperwork that may have a phone number of the hospital. We have no power to control our outcome.  10 minutes of using his mom as our Google leads us to prepare our journey for the ER. We called our dear friends Derek and Michelle to watch our sleeping babe. 10 minutes later, we’re out. The massive storm scattered branches, leaves, and trashcans along the road. Thankfully we’re only a mile from the Emergency Room. Our short trip pales in comparison to our long journey of sitting.

The city is in darkness. The hospital is running on auxiliary power and only the vital machines are running. No vending machines, bathroom lights, or television to distract from our thoughts.

12:30: We arrive, check-in, and they tell me they’ll get me back to triage as soon as possible.

1:00 Nurse Betty took my vitals and told us, “Usually you’d be back there by now, but tonight is kind of a disaster. The power outage caused a lot of car accidents and we don’t have any beds. Even the beds in the hall are filled. We’ll get you back there as soon as we can, sweetie.”

2:00 Guy with a tree branch between his toes comes in cussing. Sits near the overweight mother and daughter and adjacent to the homeless gentleman.

2:15 Bathroom

2:45 I’m taken in the back to have an ultrasound. The nurse first tries on my stomach but my bladder is too full and I have too much gas to get a clear picture. She also says I have a tilted uterus. Thanks. So I pee and we try a transvaginal ultrasound. She quietly wiggles the wand to get snapshots of all of my important innards. I can tell when she finds the baby. It’s not moving. She goes to the screen where it shows the heartbeat. It’s a straight line; no heartbeat. She says nothing as she goes to the next screen.

3:00 I’m wheeled back to the waiting room.

3:30 Bathroom

3:50 Bathroom

4:00 Nurse Betty comes up to me and asks how my pain and bleeding are. I say “the same”. She says “You poor thing. You are being so strong. Any other woman would be screaming by now.”

4:15 I’m wheeled into a hallway.

4:20 I’m asked if I can walk well enough to go to another room that is in another hallway.

4:30 Vitals are taken by another nice nurse who assures us that we will be seen soon.

4:50 Blood is drawn from my dehydrated arm.

5:00 We overhear conversations of the doctor and a woman next-door complaining about a rash on her leg.

5:10 Made comments to Jonathan about how a miscarriage is far more important than a rash.

5:13 Started hating the doctor and his stupid face.

5:15 "Where the hell is his stupid face."

5:20 Jonathan got me peanutbutter and crackers from the nurse. 

5:30 I get up to pee as the stupid face doctor comes in. He says he'll come back in a few minutes so I can go to the bathroom.

5:35 Doctor comes back in, asks the same questions as everybody else, wants to order an ultrasound and bloodwork so he can see how the baby is doing. I tell him we already had an ultrasound and he replies with, “Oh, I didn’t realize that. I’ll go take a look.”

5:45 He returns, confirming that there is no heartbeat. He gives two possible prognoses: A miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. He gives me drugs, sets up an appointment for another ultrasound, and says he wishes us luck in the future. His face isn't nearly as stupid as I presumed. 

6:00 The 3rd nice nurse returns with ginger ale and drugs. She seems to genuinely ask "How are you feeling". I love her. She sends us on our way.

We arrive home in the sunlight at around 6:30 after weaving around tree branches once more. Traffic lights are still out but the birds are chirping and the heat has not yet begun its terrible reign upon our powerless heads. It’s a gorgeous morning. We thank Michelle and Derek profusely for helping us in our emergency. I’m still in shock and can’t really accept their “I’m so sorry”’s. I’m still in the logical stages of the news; emotions haven't hit yet.

And now it’s 7:11 on the morning of June 30th. Goodnight. 


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Aftershock

[June 30] Jonathan moved Joanna’s pack n play to the living room to watch her from the couch with his eyes closed. She happily entertained herself until 11:00 when her hunger cries woke me from the next room while Jonathan snored.  I'm feeling more refreshed than expected. Still sore and fatigued but no sharp pains or nausea. I change her, feed her, sing to her, then wake Jonathan to see if he wants to get out of the house. We escape and go to several super-air conditioned locations.

Apparently 15% of Lynchburg is doing fine, with power, AC, water, and only a few leaves scattered across their lawns.  When the traffic lights get dark, you see lawns with debris, broken tree trunks, and smashed cars. Strange winds.

We come back home in the evening for only 30 minutes before we realize that there’s no way we can keep our baby safe in our 90 degree house overnight. Even when she was sleeping in just a diaper, her little body couldn’t cool her down. We call our brother-in-law and take him up on his offer to crash at his air conditioned home. Joanna’s cousin Micah is sleeping in the basement with his parents because they don’t have power or water.

Tonight I find myself thinking about the day’s events. 24 hours ago, I started bleeding. Here I am now on a blow up mattress in my nephew’s nursery next to a sleeping husband on the floor and a sleeping baby in a crib. In 12 more hours we are taking our cat and traveling to Manassas to spend a week with my parents. The strange winds are blowing us home to rest.

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Buddy

[July 1] We leave our temporary home at 7:00 a.m. to return to the saun-ctuary and pack before the heat begins. We open the windows, throw out food and garbage, pack our things, coax the cat out from under the bed, then begin the next leg of our strange weekend. We filled our gas tank and belly tanks before getting on Hwy 29. The down trees were off of the road to the credit of the tirelessly working tree surgeons. We stop to clean up cat vomit. We stop to get coffee. We stop to change and feed Joanna.

My grandma-in-law called us while we were on the road. She said that God knew he wasn't well enough for this world so He took him to Heaven.  I started crying and she apologized for making me upset - I was crying at the beautiful image of God taking care of my sweet baby. 

We arrived at my childhood home and my mom watched Joanna while Jonathan and I had some quiet time to process. It was the first time we've been able to just sit in an air conditioned room with no 'next step' to plan. We sat and talked about what happened. We talked about that it may be God's will that Joanna be a role model and older sister to her sibling instead of an Irish twin. We talked about how we didn't want to push down the sadness but rather use it to remember him. We talked about the nice nurses. We talked about what movies we wanted to see. We just talked. It was so nice to just talk.

This was going to be our announcement picture on July 3rd
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A Bud for Buddy

A few weeks ago, I talked to Jonathan about designing a tattoo to symbolize our family. I was going to do cherry blossoms for girls and dogwoods for boys. The child growing in my womb was a boy, I was certain of it. We were calling him Buddy because he was going to join us for Christmas. I created a design with him in mind. Now that he's gone, Jonathan suggested I have a bud drawn. A bud for Buddy. I cried with a big smile on my face. "That's going to look beautiful."

I know that Buddy is playing with his cousin Oliver in Heaven. I'm sure he'll meet up with other children that were born straight into God's arms. His will was done. 


It's beautiful and comforting to know that 
God is in control, 
especially when we are powerless

3 comments:

  1. Hi Laura. I saw this as I was looking at the pictures of the adorable mass of smiles and cuteness that is your daughter. I just wanted you to know that you and your family and Buddy are in my prayers.

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  2. Thank you, Marley.

    The cute pictures will resume shortly. Joanna always gives us a reason to smile :)

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  3. Your words describing this terrible tragedy are so eloquent. May God continue to bless your family with the strength to get through this.

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