Thursday, April 6, 2017

Infertility and Miscarriage: My Thoughts

I thought I would be 40 weeks pregnant today, not 21.

Grieving a child you never met is a process I'm still figuring out. Being pregnant soon after a miscarriage brought excitement that I should never feel guilty about, but it overlaps two concepts in my brain. I don't constantly think about my second child anymore because I'm about to have, Lord-willing, a second-born child. That does not- in any way- make that second pregnancy less important. If anything, I continually remind myself that my husband and I had the privilege of loving a child with a very short life on earth in a world where innocent children don't have complete protection in the womb. We waited over a year for that child, and we waited a year and a half for our little girl who is about to be born. We have learned God's sovereignty through the whole process.

Although miscarriage and infertility effect many homes, supporting families who are suffering is still difficult. Many families suffer silently, others share the struggle with a select few, and some find solace in sharing widely for others to comfort them and join in their road to healing. It is not for outsiders to choose or condemn how a family chooses to give or withhold details. But what can others do?

1. Stop assuming everyone is fine.
We all know the question "How are you?" can be said without care. Too often it is just something we say. But it doesn't have to be. Everyone is facing some kind of struggle, whether big or small. We need to stop taking fine as an answer. There needs to be a willingness to ask for prayer (and it doesn't have to be specific), and there needs to be a genuine person asking. If you know someone is suffering, instead tell them that you are praying for them- but only if you truly are. Prayer is something we all need.

2. Stop asking questions about having children.
To be honest, for one year solid I had people asking me every week about having a second child. There were jokes, questions, insinuations, and remarks. Some were genuine and innocent, but I wanted to hide from people- and sometimes, I wrongfully did hide. I wish people would have commented on other things instead of making me feel like having one child was incomplete- like what a blessing it was to be a mother. I felt like God had brought me far in my contentment with the size of my family, and then I would have a talk with someone and feel like I was falling back again. We need to affirm the blessings in other people's lives instead of trying to know the next juicy gossip topic or delve into subjects that have a high probability to make someone uncomfortable.

3. Build genuine relationships.
I already touched on this, but be actively building relationships filled with openness and love. If someone knows you to be a wise and loving person, he or she is more likely to share and confide in you. It should be no surprise that someone never told you of a deep struggle in their life if the only things you talk about are local news and the weather. If you do know of someone going through a trial or grief, find ways to encourage and build up your friend.

4. Give real hope.
At times that I did share of the ongoing painful situations I was facing, I received a mixed bag of bad advice and misplaced hope. I slowly learned over time that my hope could not be in having a child. Even if I received that child, I would find that true joy cannot come from anything on this earth. God gives us blessings, and we can be joyful with the things and people God places in our lives, but unless we find our joy in Jesus, we will never truly be satisfied. And that hope does not disappoint. It is the hope of eternity with Christ that can comfort every believer. Share that with anyone suffering, especially if it is a trial you have never faced. Tell them that you will pray that the love and hope of Christ will comfort them in their distress. Those who pointed me to Christ glorified God and left me encouraged to keep fighting for joy.

This list is not exhaustive, and my experience with miscarriage and infertility is my own unique situation. My fears and anxieties over my children still exist, and I still have to fight those emotions daily. I want this to be an avenue for us all to be unified in the body of Christ and open up discussions for growth in our relationships with one another.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Look for that encouragement

Today is just one of those days. Zoey did not sleep well last night and won't sleep well today. Every project I start, I can't finish. I have a whole colony of ants invading my kitchen. Overwhelmed? Just a tad.

Sure, when I look at that perspective how could I not be discouraged? I'm tired, and I don't have things my way. Encouragement is close, though, and I choose not to look at it.

Encouragement knocks everywhere. Your Bible, your husband, your child, your home, your wallet (yes your wallet!), your neighbor, your family, your life. We don't have it as bad as we think. Sure some bills might not be paid, and your child may not be sleeping well, but you have food in your kitchen and a little one to make you smile! Some people's lives are definitely harder than others- I cannot argue otherwise. I know moms whose children are really giving them are hard time, and I know wives that long for a child to make their days crazy joyful. When we look at our blessings as difficulties we will nearly always be discouraged. Turn those complaints into thankfulness. Are you thankful for your job simply because it pays the bills? There you go. Are you thankful for your family? There you go. Are you thankful for your peanut butter and jelly sandwich? There you go! We'd much rather have a steak, but don't let your mind wander there.

My husband reminds me of a verse so often that sometimes I can hear him say it in my head before he does verbally,

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

This blog post is obviously rushed, but I needed to "preach" it to myself and thought I'd share it so that I was accountable to it. Choose joy and thankfulness! It's about time I do. Well, my daughter is starting to wake up, so now is my time to act upon this encouragement I had so readily available to me. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Zoey Means "Life"

                Zoey’s labor and delivery was filled with so many emotions for me. You can only prepare so much for such a big day because even the smoothest pregnancies can result in a complicated delivery. One of the biggest helps for me was praying that I’d be flexible with what would be best for our little Zoey instead of what I wanted. Anyway, now I’ll answer some really common questions.
Did I have the natural birth that I wanted? Not completely- I had an epidural for part of it. I wanted to make it to active labor before I got one, and I ended up getting the epidural part way through, but I let it run out before I started pushing. Does that mean I am weak or a bad mother? No, and neither do I feel bad that I got one. My contractions were so close together that I had no time in between to prepare for the next wave of pain. I knew I needed some relief or I wouldn’t have strength to push. I was in labor for about 20 hours, and I had an epidural for about 5 of those hours. The nurses kept joking that I had both a natural and a medicated labor! My biggest goal for this aspect of labor was not to use pitocin, a drug that makes your contractions stronger but can put your baby at a stronger risk for fetal distress. Since I was pushing for so long, the nurses offered it so that she could come out faster, but I declined and am still glad I didn’t even though I pushed for over 2 hours.
                Big question of the day- did I scream at Tyler? No. He was my biggest help and support by far. I couldn’t have done it without him, even though the nurses were amazing. He was everything I needed and then some. I snapped at the doctor, but besides that I just screamed when I was pushing! I think I freaked Tyler out a bit from that…
                Was it painful? Um, yes. I don’t think any mother would say otherwise, but I could be wrong about that.
                What was the worst part? Well, in retrospect I think the very last push, but it was met with extreme joy, so it was over pretty fast! Other than that, recovery was actually very hard because I didn’t expect that to be difficult. Going into active labor comes in at third.
                Becoming a mother is not something that happens in a day. I think God made pregnancy lengthy for a reason! Although I don’t miss being pregnant, it really was essential preparation for me. I kept thinking about the verse John 16:21, “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” I was very curious to see how this would play out in my life, and now it has such a different meaning for me! I cannot describe at all how I felt when they put that slimy and warm little girl into my arms. I always wondered why moms didn’t mind the gross slime, but now I know that you don’t even think about it! You just want to cuddle that little being! I have taken care of many children in my short life, but none have been such a joy as this little girl (and some of those children were extremely fun!).  In Greek, Zoey’s name means “life,” and her life has given our lives such a different meaning.
Now, the detailed version. If you'd rather not hear labor and delivery details, I've given you fair warning, but I promise I'm not that disgusting!

Zoey’s birth story doesn’t start out very dramatically, but don’t worry- there’s plenty of drama and suspense throughout the rest of it to keep it exciting…all at my expense, but all totally worth it!

September 19th
1:00 pm- I started realizing that I was feeling contractions, so I started timing them and found out they were about 15 minutes apart and not very painful.

3:00 pm- My contractions were now 10 minutes apart, and I had to decide if I would call Tyler to come home or let him stay at work and hope that I wouldn’t need him when he was in the middle of traffic. I knew that Tyler would rather have me call, so I did and asked him to come home at 4. Boy am I glad that I did!

4:30 pm- Tyler got home and my contractions were about 8 minutes apart and still not painful. We decided to just relax and watch a movie. So of course we were mature adults and had supper in bed and watched Emporer’s New Groove on Netflix. My contractions started to get more intense and closer, so I just tried to stay as comfortable as possible.

7:30 pm- I was starting to get anxious from just sitting around, and my contractions were 6 minutes apart from our calculations, so we decided to get all of our stuff together and go to the hospital.

8:30 pm- We arrived at the hospital, and the nurse brought us to the assessment room where I found out that I was 3 cm dilated and having contractions that were 2 to 3 minutes apart. I was originally 2 cm so there had been some progress, and we were really excited! She had us wait an hour to see if there was more progress, so we hung out in the room expecting to get a labor and delivery room really soon. Well an hour went by and there was no progress, and the doctor on call and the nurse wanted to send us home! To say I was dismayed is an understatement- I was crushed. I felt like this was the real deal, and that I would be progressing fine. I told Tyler that I could not go home- I just knew that I couldn’t. So after tears and long talks, the nurse said that we could stay til midnight, and if there was still no progress we agreed that we’d go home.

September 20th
12:00 am- After walking as much as I could to see if that would help, the nurse checked me, and I was 4 cm! We were so relieved. A few minutes later they brought us to our labor and delivery room, which felt like heaven at this point. I wanted a nice long soak in the tub and a much better bed. My contractions were getting much stronger, and they were still 2 to 3 minutes apart. The tub felt good, but I was not feeling okay anymore. I was starting to have a hard time breathing and walking through the contractions, so I took to my bed (which no longer felt comfortable).  The nurse came in around 1, and I was 5 cm. She said that whenever my water would break, it would BREAK. And BREAK it did at 1:30! It was gross! After that, I knew I needed an epidural. My contractions were so much more painful, and they were so close together that I was throwing up and shaking uncontrollably with no relief in between contractions. (Contractions are better if you can relax, but the shaking was keeping me from being able to relax.) The anesthesiologist was in the middle of a c-section, so I had to wait until 3:00 to get an epidural. It was the hardest hour and a half of my life (well, until later lol).

3:00 am- The best time of the whole pregnancy- sweet relief. For the next 5 hours I progressed about 1 cm an hour roughly.

6:30 am- I had my last dose of epidural because I wanted to be able to feel the contractions when I was pushing.

8:00 am- Fully dilated! We thought we’d see our sweet baby girl in the next couple hours. The nurses decided to see if she would naturally descend a bit more before pushing, but we couldn’t wait anymore- I had to push.

10:00 am- I was pushing…and pushing…and pushing. At first I was a little hesitant because I didn’t feel the “urge” to push like people say you do. But then I was so ready to see her that I gave it all I could. But then I just kept pushing! I was starting to hyperventilate so Tyler started giving me oxygen in between pushes. Then I started going numb in my face and hands, which made the nurses worried (although they said they weren’t concerned, you don’t call a doctor in unless you are). That made me concerned, too! They decided that they had no idea why I was all numb, so then they focused back on pushing. I had about 5 or 6 other nurses come in recommending different pushing positions, and I ended up with a big bar over my bed. I put my feet on either side and then they wrapped a sheet around the middle that I pulled on. Odd, but it worked best for me. Then the doctor came in about 2 hours into pushing. Ugh. She came in demanding that I push when I feel a contraction and ordering me around very rudely! I wanted her out. The nurses were doing perfectly well, and she was being mean. So I said something snippy, and she left. Finally about 20 minutes later our daughter’s head was half way out, and they made me stop so that mean doctor could deliver her! I waited about 5 minutes for her to come, and I couldn’t wait longer. I kept pushing. Which made her more angry. Lovely doctor. Then about 10 minutes later I had the most excruciating pain of my life, and my little girl was suddenly in my arms! For some reason, it shocked me. Tyler said my face went from extreme pain to ultimate happiness in about 1 second. She was so beautiful, and she was ours. I will never forget that moment. Ever.

11:48 am- Zoey Mae Eason was born into the world :)

                                                                  First day photos

Our little family

So much beautiful hair!

My favorites :)