One of the hardest parts about moving on from the hospital experience is moving on from the reality that life hung in the balance every single day we were in that hospital. With a placenta abruption time is of the essence, and because I had a partial abruption I was always hovering over the reality of a full abruption happening at any moment. For context, a full abruption means almost certain death for the mother and the baby in a matter of minutes. A full abruption gives no warning until it is too late, and then you are on the clock to save mom and baby. That is where we lived for three weeks, death crouching at our door. Every day we begged God not to let it walk right through to take Ben and me.
That first Thanksgiving was hard, so hard that when I think about it I still feel the pain that flowed through my weary body. I remember how I felt that first Thanksgiving, achingly aware that my body was empty. Empty of a baby that I wanted so badly. Empty of the hope of a baby any time soon. I was surrounded by pregnancy in every sphere of my life, and I could barely choke out the words “I’m thankful” when we all shared our Thanksgiving joy around the dinner table. It felt like a lie. I didn’t know how to be thankful when living felt like death and tears came too easily for my comfort.
One year ago today, we walked into an ultrasound room with hopeful hearts. We walked out of that very room heartbroken and confused. February 24, 2015 looks very different than February 24, 2014. I spent the better part of that day last year packing for a planned trip to Florida and processing next steps for our unexpected loss, all while weeping uncontrollably over the baby I would never meet.
On September 29 the baby we lost earlier this year was due. Due dates are always hard when there is no baby coming. They are a reminder of what could have been. They are a reminder of a pregnancy that didn't make it to term. They are a reminder of empty arms. I've faced three due dates now with no baby inside of me. One was because the twins were born eight weeks before my due date.
It's been a sad cycle of news these last few weeks. We've heard reports of children being slaughtered in Iraq, thousands have died and suffer from Ebola, Robin Williams committed suicide, Michael Brown was killed, an American city is in emotional upheaval reminding us all of our nation's rocky history, and James Foley was murdered for all the world to see.
On Saturday our family had the opportunity to run in our first 5k as a family of four. Daniel and I ran one together before we were married, but it hardly counted as a run since I could barely walk the whole thing. This time it meant something to us. We ran in the Race to Remember, which benefits an organization called Mamie's Poppy Plates.
Whenever I hear someone talk about Hannah from 1 Samuel it is usually because of her great trust in the midst of her barrenness. She is the test case for infertility, really. Barren in a culture that gave women their worth by the fruit of their womb. Reviled by the second wife who bore her husband the multitude of children she so desperately wanted, yet couldn't have.
I have thought hard about the goodness of God these last three years. What I keep coming back to is that God's ways are not my ways. The bible tells me that and I know it in my soul. April 2 is a "God's ways are not my own" sort of day for me. You see, April 2 is the due date of our first baby. I could have had a three year old today. In previous years I have marked this day with a myriad of emotions. The first year hit me the hardest and each subsequent year has been a little less painful, yet no less impactful.
Nobody likes pain. I know I don't. We hate pain so much that we do whatever we can to avoid it. We have a headache, we take ibuprofen. We get a leg cramp while running (true confession!), so we stop running. We have surgery, we go under anesthesia. As a society, we have come a long way by means of pain management.
You meet kindred spirits in some of the strangest places sometimes. As I nervously stood in line at my local drugstore I dreaded what I was about to do. I knew I needed the medicine in order to have some form of closure and to complete the miscarriage, but something felt so wrong about it all.