Hannah #1's Story

Happy Friday friends! Today we have another beautiful story of God's faithfulness. Sometimes our stories are still painful or they are private and you want to keep them that way. That's okay! Nothing is diminished from your story by not including your names. That is the case today, and I know that after reading this you will be so thankful that this brave woman still chose to share with you all. I put some thought and prayer into how I would title the stories of the unnamed. There was no way that I was going to put "Anonymous #1's Story" ha! Lame sauce. Although, for the past week that was about all that I could come up with (it's the accountant in me - not an ounce of creative juice in this head). Just a few moments ago it dawned on me to use the name Hannah, a once barren woman who cried out to God in anguish asking God for a son, who later bore a son named Samuel. Samuel was a great man of faith and the first prophet. You can read more about the story of Hannah and Samuel in 1 Samuel 1. So from here on out, when you see "Hannah #X's Story", you all will know that just means the story is anonymous. And maybe someday we'll have a real Hannah - I'll be sure to let you know :) Hope you all have a beautiful weekend and enjoy!
Love & Prayers,
Mer 

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, oh Lord, even as we put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:20-22)

Every woman's path to motherhood is one of the most significant journeys of her life. Leading up to this time, many women wonder what their journey will look like; after all, you have no idea until you start "trying", right?

Our story begins a bit differently than most that you will read on this site. We got pregnant right away, without trying, and, yes, just that "one time". The timing of conception didn't even make sense. None of it made sense. After an unexpected episode of crying while singing happy birthday at my nephew's second birthday party, I decided to go home and take a pregnancy test. I was shocked, shaking: I always thought that I would be carefully planning and calculating exactly when I would become pregnant and have our first baby. A January baby? No way, I wouldn't have chosen that. We live in Chicago, after all! Little did I know, God was beginning his work on my heart to help me stop feeling like I needed to be in control of everything.

After our first appointment at 6 weeks, where we saw that beautiful little beating heart, it became real. As my husband put it, "life began when we saw that heartbeat." We were in love with that precious little miracle. We kept it a secret from most, because, that's what you do, right? You don't share that you are pregnant until after the first trimester. We saw the heartbeat at 6 weeks, and once again at 8 weeks; everyone, including my doctor, told me that once you see the heartbeat you have an 80% chance of everything being OK. But I was still nervous. Other than being a little bit tired, I honestly didn't ever feel pregnant. I had the ultrasound pictures taped on our bathroom mirror as a reminder, but it really didn't feel real. People with morning sickness were always saying that it was a comforting sign of a really healthy baby. Was mine not healthy? (Cue in the beginning of the constant Googling and stalking of message boards).

On June 22, 2013, my husband and I were in northern Michigan for a wedding. I was 11.5 weeks pregnant. My pants were already getting a bit tight, and I definitely had a "pooch". My 12 week appointment was right around the corner, and we would get to tell all of our friends over the 4th of July weekend that we were pregnant! I went for a jog that Saturday morning around the harbor. It was a foggy morning and a bit chilly for June. I talked on the phone to my mom about changing my bridesmaid dress size and style for my sister's wedding in November, and walked around the farmers market, looking and smiling at all of the little kids and babies. That would be me next summer! I came back to the hotel and used the restroom. On the toilet paper was a teeny tiny bit of brown, maybe the size of a grain of rice. The average person probably wouldn't have noticed it. Maybe it was the toilet paper? It looked like they use the recycled kind. I instantly felt sick to my stomach. I called and left a message with my OB. It wasn't an emergency, so I didn't page her; I just took to trusty Dr. Google. It confirmed everything I already knew: blood can happen, and be totally normal. Particularly brown blood, which means that it's old. You only need to be worried about red. I had my mom call one of her nurse friends, and she said the same thing. But deep down, I just knew. Call it mother's intuition, or call it just knowing your body better than anyone else. Something was not right. We went on to the beautiful wedding, but I was sick on the inside: drinking my faux cocktail, and going to the restroom every 10 minutes to "check". It was a lovely northern Michigan evening, with an incredible band, food and a full moon, but I felt like I was dying on the inside. I just wanted to roll into a ball and go to sleep for weeks.

Nothing else happened the rest of the trip, we drove the 6 hours home the next day, mostly in silence, as I tried to convince myself that everything was fine and normal. Then we got home. I went to the restroom and had a glob of mucous, which I would later learn was my mucous plug, and I knew things were once again not OK. I don't really remember that evening or night, but I remember going to sleep that night with my hand on my belly, like I did every night, and feeling like I had failed to protect my baby in some way, while also begging and pleading for it to be alive and OK. I woke up the next morning and had some more brown on the toilet paper. I called the OB office and they said, I kid you not, "unless you are soaking through 2 pads in an hour, you are fine, nothing to worry about." Are you kidding me?! I'm almost 12 weeks pregnant and you are telling me that unless I am hemorrhaging, there is nothing to be concerned about?! I insisted that I needed to come in that morning and have an ultrasound. The nurse said that she didn't think it was necessary, but if it would make me feel better, that she would try and squeeze me in.

I remember walking down Michigan avenue to my appointment, on that beautiful sunny summer day, thinking "I will walk out with either the best or worst news of my life." The rest is a blur. My husband met me at the Dr. office and we got the "rude" ultrasound technician that we didn't like. She couldn't find the baby with the belly ultrasound device, so she had to go internal. That was bad. I turned to my husband, holding his hand, and said "that's not good." I was already numb. There's the baby. Measuring just over 8 weeks. "You're supposed to be almost 12 weeks, right?" No heartbeat. If you guys can go back in the waiting room, the doctor will talk to you soon. (side note: how cruel is it to make two grieving people, with puffy, tearing eyes to go wait in a public waiting room full of PREGNANT people?!).

The doctor was compassionate and gave us a few options. I chose to have the D&C, and wanted it immediately. She had me call the hospital, who said they could fit me in the following Thursday (it was Monday) or I could wait until the following Tuesday, when the doctor's office had anesthesia onsite. The problem with the latter is that I would probably start miscarrying on my own in the meantime and would have to rush to the emergency room if I started to lose too much blood. So, wow, great options. We went home to just "see how it went", because we weren't really left with any other choice.

We walked out of the building and felt like life was moving in slow motion. I guess we should go home? We decided to just take the bus, no reason to rush home to sit in silence in an empty house. We got home and started making tough phone calls. I will never forget seeing my husband weep on the phone calling his parents. That was when we really just let our guard down and let the tears flow, and held one another until the tears slowed down. We decided to take a walk and go to the new brewery around the corner. After all, I could try the beers, now (an incredibly sad consolation, but a consolation nonetheless). That night the Blackhawks won the Stanley cup. We sat in bed, eating the Mexican food a friend brought over, and literally heard the city cheering and celebrating outside.

Then later that night it started. The cramping and the bleeding. I just sat over the toilet crying and in pain. I called the OB on call and could barely get the words out. I wanted this all to be over; emotionally this was too much and I couldn't bear for this to go on another day, let alone another week. She had me come in at 7am, did an ultrasound, and saw that the bleeding was just the preliminary shedding. I wasn't even close to beginning to miscarry the baby. They saw the pain I was in, and gave me one other option. They could perform the D&C, in the office, that day, but I wouldn't have any anesthesia. I said yes. To say it was barbaric would be a nice way of putting it. I was in a back storage room, without my husband, and a sweet nurse holding my hand and talking to me while the doctor performed the procedure.

I left in a wheelchair feeling delusional and empty, but ready to move on. We picked up chik-fil-a, I talked briefly on the phone to my best friend in Indianapolis, and we went home and slept for what felt like days. That night, I was checking my email on my phone and we had an e-card from a couple in our small group at church. They were announcing their pregnancy. Due date 1/11/14. That was our due date. Our baby was supposed to be born on that day, our baby that I wasn't able to grow and keep safe in my body. Why did that baby get to live and ours had to die? I got out of bed, walked into the living room, and fell to my knees sobbing. It felt so cruel, salt in my wounds. I felt so empty. My body felt empty. Our sweet little miracle, whose home was my body, was gone.

The weeks and months following this period were incredibly hard. I felt like a mother without a child. There was a lot of crying, a lot of self-diagnosing, a lot of Googling. I just felt like I needed a reason for why it happened. My doctor that performed the procedure sent a sample of the tissues to be tested for chromosomal abnormalities. She called at the end of July with the results: all looked normal; the baby was a girl. Deciding, evidently, that this information wasn't all that significant, the Dr. left all of that on a short voice mail -- and the wound was reopened. It was even more real. My baby girl died in my belly and I didn't even know.

I became obsessed with being able to get pregnant again, but we weren't able to start trying until I got a period again. That took 2 months, and then the period after that took 9 weeks to come. My body still wasn't right and had not fully recovered. Finally, in November, after a frustrated and tearful night of my husband telling me that I was different, and that he missed the old me, I decided to swear off the ovulation tests, the temperature charting, the websites...I was done making myself crazy and it was putting a strain on our marriage. I decided to make an appointment with the doctor to discuss why my periods were so long and irregular. It's impossible to try to get pregnant without a cycle you can't track, and the absence of a period constantly makes you think, and hope, that you could maybe be pregnant. Taking pregnancy tests almost every day was draining...emotionally and monetarily! So I made an appointment with my OB on Tuesday, December 10 to discuss using drugs to regulate my cycle and help me to ovulate. This appointment was just meant to hold me over until we could get into the fertility clinic on December 23.

The morning on 12/10, I woke up and decided to take a pregnancy test (my husband was out of town so I wouldn't feel like I had to hide it.) It was around day 45-50 of my cycle. I took a test and a faint line appeared! No way. I took another, and there it was again! This is a miracle! Praise the Lord! I started dancing around my apartment. On my way into the OB, I called my husband. He was in a cab in New York, traveling for work. I told him the great news and he started crying in the back of the cab. When I got to my appointment, I couldn't wait to tell the OB the great news. Unfortunately, she told me that the pregnancy test that I took when I got there was actually negative, but that she would take some blood work to check. I heard back the next day and she said that, based on my levels, I was "about a second pregnant".

The rest of the first trimester was an absolute roller coaster. I thought that I was miscarrying several times, including when I was on vacation around 6 weeks and heavily bled for an entire week (they never found the cause for this). God consistently showed that his hand was on this pregnancy throughout the entire process. From the "miracle" conception, to the first trimester scares, to the delivery that could have gone terribly wrong. We have been so incredibly blessed by our sweet little miracle baby, our "precious angel.

The Psalm that I posted in the beginning was my guiding light through all of my trials. I had it pasted on my bathroom mirror and can recall countless times of looking at that piece of paper through tear filled eyes and feeling hope. We later used that verse in our son's baby dedication at church, as our hope and prayer for him is that he puts his hope in Christ.