The Unforeseen Road To Parenthood - Our Pregnancy Journey
Truthfully, I've been trying to find the right time to share our “in detail” miscarriage journey. I've put it off for a long time. I figure that there is no better time than now to share about the unforeseen road we were lead through to get to our current pregnancy. I have gone back and forth, doubted who would or wouldn't want to read it, and struggled with whether or not it would even make a difference. But if it can help other women in their grief, then that is all I care about.
I don't mean to share for people to feel sorry for us or to drag out the fact that we had a miscarriage because if I could choose to not have this be a part of our road to parent hood, I would in a heartbeat. Nothing is worth loosing a child. I do, however, refuse to not let anything good come of it. Experiencing God in and through it has made our pain not in vain.
There has been a lot of tears, grief and confusion along the way, but my hope is that by sharing our redemptive story, that more and more women will feel less alone and isolated. I pray they can regain hope through one of the most difficult things ever experienced. So here goes nothing!
We are PREGNANT!!!
Finding out I was pregnant the first time around was sort of a surprise to most people around us. It didn't take us long at all to conceive our first child, and we were extremely grateful for that. As we shared our exciting news with family and friends, surprising them each with fun ways to share we couldn't contain our excitement and wanted to tell everyone our secret so badly! It seemed as if I was already pregnant for a while. When sickness hits and you are down for the count and nausea seems to rule your life, worry isn't exactly hanging over your head too much. Most doctors and women tell you that sickness is a great sign and that it means for a healthy baby. That was reassuring. I ate good, took my prenatal vitamins, cut everything out I needed to, and did everything I physically could to ensure I was doing my part for a healthy baby. A lot of excitement came from this pregnancy. It felt like a little piece of joy in the midst of my grandma being diagnosed with cancer. This news was a true blessing to her. We even had my mom’s aunt out here from Hungary at the time experiencing this joyous time with us. We moved into a new place to have room for our expanding family and though it may not seem like it, a month and a half is a LONG time to get used to the idea of welcoming a baby into your life. You grow to love that little one and imagine the life of your child and daydream about what it is going to be like when they are here. You think of how you would decorate a nursery, you buy a few clothes, and you dream of the day you get to welcome them in your arms.
Our first appointment going in was full of excitement… some nerves, but mostly excitement. Miscarriage and complications are always a possibility in the back of your mind, but realistically you never think it's going to happen to you. They called me back. Dan, my parents, and I went back into the little ultrasound room. My parents, so eager to see their first grand baby, and us just so eager to see our growing bean. The OB came in and before we got started I already filled her ears with questions, but then we proceed. The screen lit up and you could see our precious baby so clearly. With us all wide eyed and in awe, she measured the baby at 8.5 weeks which was exactly where I should have been.
I took my eyes off of the screen and looked at the doctor, her face sort of reading hesitancy and my mind already racing. Why? Trying not to jump to any conclusions she tells us she is going to look for the heartbeat. In that moment, I already knew. I looked up at her. It already seemed to be as if hours flew by, and I saw it on her face. She knew. I knew.
“There is no heartbeat…”
The room was suddenly at a stand still, yet at the same time it was going too fast. I felt as if I was in a movie, something so surreal that it couldn't actually be happening in real life. I fell silent and was blank in my mind, with the shuffling of people around me, the words “I was afraid of this…” came out of my mouth. Still laying down, I cupped my hands over my face. I paused. Froze. I sat up. Hand over my mouth, whimpering, crying, and immediately hyperventilating.
Trying. To just. Catch. One. Breath.
I was able to tell exactly what was going on in the room in slow motion but it was at the same time chaos. The doctor stood in the corner with a disheartened look on her face holding printed ultrasound photos of our deceased child. My husband, Dan, was standing across from me, experiencing tunnel vision from shock, told everyone he needed to sit down because he was about to pass out. My mom was in shock with tears rolling down her face knowing she just lost her first grandchild, and my dad crying and leaving the room after he said he needed to step out for a second.
It was all too much. I didn't know what to do. My body didn't know what to do. I couldn't even process that such a thing like this just happened to us.
When you hear of miscarriage stories a lot of the time you hear that you spot and bleed and have symptoms that lead up to having the miscarriage. That wasn't true in our case. Expecting to go in and experience an exciting part of pregnancy turned into our worst nightmare.
I sat in the room for what seemed like hours, just crying as a nurse handed me tissues. She kept saying "you're so young you can try again." I so badly wanted to reach out and punch her. That was the last thing I wanted to hear. I wanted THIS baby. I don't want to have to "try again." Don't write this off; we just lost a life and that means something to us. As we left the doctors office, I was in shock. Tears wouldn't stop. I had to be guided to the lab to get blood work. People starred, probably wondering what happened, and as I sat there with a blank face and tears streaming down, a lady took my blood and I was then guided home by my husband. I couldn't even function. We waited to go to an appointment my OB made for me that day to confirm no heartbeat with an ultrasound technician. The technician looked and looked at our still baby. When she was finished she sat down next to me and hugged me. I immediately started to cry, as did she, and she looked at me and told me how she had three miscarriages and how she now has three beautiful children but there isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't remember her first three. She reminded me that there was hope. Though I was still in shock and unable to process what was even happening, that moment meant SO much to me later on. How was I lucky enough to get someone in that exact moment who could fully relate, yet be a stranger, and still know the exact emotions and pain that we were going through. But, God right? He placed that stranger in our path in perfect time when I so easily could've gotten an insensitive person (like that nurse) or something who was just doing their job. She just knew.
We got in the car, devastated and heartbroken and just sat there for a second. Dan looked up at me, as I was grasping his hand so tightly (I was probably cutting off his blood circulation) and looked me in the eye and put his forehead to mine and said, “thank you for taking this risk with me.” I will never forget that moment. Grieving something like this with your spouse brings you together and closer in a very different way—pain tends to do that. That day felt like it lasted a lifetime. So much confusion, so many questions. I had realized that the baby measured exactly where it was supposed to also, so the baby must have passed not long before our appointment too. At the end of it, my OB called and gave us the news again after receiving the report from the second ultrasound. She continued to tell us our “options” which were: to wait it out and miscarry naturally but I couldn't wait longer than two weeks; to take misoprostol which is a two day dosage of pills that induce labor to move the process along quicker but you would still pass everything naturally; or to have a D&C for a missed miscarriage which is a surgical procedure that you get put under for as they go in and remove everything.
I couldn't even bare thinking about the options in that moment so I didn't. Our friends and family surrounded us, loved on us, prayed for us, and grieved with us. We truly had a village and felt supported and cared for. We grieved and began to process this news over the next few days.
When we revisited our options a few days later, my immediate response was that I wanted to do whatever I could to avoid having to get a D&C. I personally wanted to be able to miscarry naturally and not have to go through the trouble of being put under, especially with my GERD and anxiety, but since I didn't have any indication or symptoms that my body was recognizing an unviable pregnancy any longer, Dan and I came to the decision of choosing the misoprostol pills to induce labor. This way we could plan a weekend to be at home together and know at least a little bit of what to expect.
In the beginning of pregnancy, it already feels so surreal that there is a little human growing inside of you; you can't feel the baby move yet but you know the baby is there. So processing the emotions of loosing a child you never watched grow or felt kick was also surreal. In a puddle of grief, still trying to work through and process that we had lost our baby but he/she is still inside of me, I started my first dose of misoprostol. I was an anxious mess! I woke up really early to take the first dose in hopes that it would make this terrifying experience less long and dragged out. It seemed like such a long weekend when I was in it, anticipating pain, bleeding and passing our baby… waiting and waiting. The weekend went by and nothing happened with the two day dose, besides extreme nausea that caused me to throw up a few times. No pain or cramping and only one second of spotting. I was so confused. I waited another day and then called my OB. She wanted me to come in at the end of the week to check me out. Still nothing happened and I can tell my body just wasn't recognizing this pregnancy as non viable. It was dreadful having something like this drag out, not having closure but still processing what we were going through each day.
When I went in to see the OB I couldn't help but cry walking through the door and sitting in the waiting room thinking that last time I was here I was sitting right over there so excited to see our baby not knowing what was going to happen next. Being there was like re-living it. Watching the pregnant women walking in and out and by me thinking of how I hope they cherish that life growing inside of them because life is so fragile and how I wished I was them, experiencing something I felt robbed of. I got called back and my OB checked me out, telling me nothing has changed and nothing has passed and that I was at the two week mark and didn't want to risk an infection and having to get an emergency D&C anyways. So we went ahead and scheduled a D&C for the next day. I remember thinking that none of this is what I wanted, how I couldn't even miscarry how I wanted to. How I wanted to honor my child by miscarrying naturally and I couldn't even do that. The D&C was emotional, difficult, and overall scary. No one likes to be put under but the fact that I couldn't know what was going on and wasn't present or aware just made it harder for me. Waking up from something like that knowing that our child was no longer inside of me was heart wrenching, but it was done. It was over. That was it and a part of me was relieved that we can finally grieve and move forward.
Grief comes in waves, it hits when it wants to, somethings are more sensitive, and some days are just easier to deal with it than others. There were ways we chose to deal with our grief. One of those ways was to name our child. Our baby was a living human being and had a life; our baby had a beating heart before it stopped and we wanted our child to be honored by having an identity and a name. Peyton Moher Marino was perfect. Special to us because Peyton was ours, and Peyton made us parents, even if we didn't see our road to parenthood looking anything like this. We also chose to bury our baby. I know that may sound weird to some of you but physically doing something like that helped bring us healing and closure. I also couldn't bare the thought of flushing our baby down a toilet or having him/her be medical waste. I am of course not saying that it's wrong for those of you who choose to do what you wish, but for us we personally didn't want to do that. We planted a succulent next to our baby in memory. Some other ways that helped us grieve and honor Peyton was to talk about him/her with friends and family. I got a tattoo to honor Peyton’s life; we got special momentos to remember Peyton by; I wrote about and to Peyton in the pregnancy journal I bought for him/her etc. I feel like we are still even now finding ways to honor Peyton’s life and memory.
We also had our village through our grief. We had people who have never been through anything like this but still offered so much comfort and prayer to us, and we had a small handful of friends who knew our pain and exactly what we were going through who also offered wisdom and encouragement. I understand why a lot of people don't want to open up about miscarriage, it's hard and painful. For me personally, however, I am a very open and social person. I have to verbal and say things out loud to process and work through something. I need people to talk with about it otherwise I shut down. I know not everyone is like that, but I found that sharing helped me heal in a lot of different ways, even when it was hard. I didn't want people to be afraid to ask me questions about our experience because even helping others understand what we went through helped me understand what we had just gone through. I know its such an intimate detail and part of our lives now but everyone grieves differently and processes grief differently. I already knew Dan was going to grieve a lot differently than me but that was a good thing. It strengthened our marriage a lot understanding that he was going to grieve differently than I would. Plus, if we were both word vomitting messes, then we wouldn't have gotten anywhere. God knew we needed to balance each other out and compliment each other with how different we are, having understanding towards each other and granting each other grace in our grief. It made the process a lot smoother than it could have been otherwise. Fighting with my spouse and getting angry at him for not grieving how I expect him to… I didn't even have an inch of energy for that in the first place and who am I to say how someone should or shouldn't grieve?
I also had to remind myself through this whole process that people mean well; they want to be there for you and show you they love you and care for you however they can even if they don't fully understand or relate. The truth is, people will say the wrong thing. I expected to hear things that weren't helpful, or maybe things that were insensitive, it's just what happens in situations like these. However, people don't do this intentionally (at least from what I've expereienced). People mean well, they want to be there to listen and walk in the thick of it with you and that's what I needed, I needed people. I remember venting to someone about how angry and confused I was and they came back and said something that made it worse and was not helpful at all. I easily got frustrated and emotional thinking that they just didn't understand and I could have so easily written that person off and not talked to them about it anymore. I realized later and reminded myself that it was not intentional and that this person meant well and was just trying to help encourage me and that maybe in situations like these its not always about me and God is using it for others. I realized I was hindering this person from learning how to deal with a situation that they couldn't necessarily relate to because they've never experienced it. So I ended up talking to this person and telling them what I specifically needed, what was helpful and not helpful, what was comforting and encouraging, and what wasn't. After that, this person became a huge source of grace and love and encouragement and now if they know someone else who ends up going through something similar, they just might be able to do the same for them with confidence.
Allowing people to walk in the valley with you whether they've experienced what you have or not is so rewarding for relationships later on and that was definitely the case with me. Vulnerability is hard but we were not meant to bear things like this alone. I've already shared a lot of my grief over time when we announced our miscarriage over social media and through triggers and dates that were important. I've found that there are so many women and men dealing with this same pain. I have gotten messages and comments and text messages over and over about people who are going through the same pain right this second. It's a pain I wish no one would ever have to know. The confusion, anger, heartbreak, and turmoil that come with it is truly difficult, but a friend reminded me that I survived it and am surviving it every day.
I became a childless mother. We became childless parents. That stuck with me for a long time knowing we didn't have much to show for becoming a mom and dad. For a while, I felt hopeless as I watched others start or continue their families. I felt forgotten and left behind. As time went on some things got a little easier and we returned to doing every day things slowly but surely. There were things that made it harder some days and of course triggers never helped. Pregnancy announcements were hard to swallow not that I wasn't so happy for people because they should be celebrating the life they are growing, it was just another reminder of what we lost and where we should be and what we would've also been experiencing. There were things I planned for when I was pregnant, like the pumpkin patch and wearing a cute skeleton shirt with a baby skeleton on the belly and watching another pregnant mom at the pumpkin patch do that as I sat with a pit in my stomach triggered with all these emotions. I couldn't walk in the room that was meant to become the nursery for weeks or look at the few clothes we bought for Peyton expecting our child to fill them, but now never will. Some days brought hopelessness and some days I was completely fine. Friends and family kept me sane, reading the book Grieving the Child I Never Knew was a huge blessing of healing and being distracted definitely helped.
I bled for two full weeks after my D&C. Some days were more emotional than others. Trying again for a baby wasn't even a question for us. I know some people aren't emotionally ready and some people want to try right away to replace their first pregnancy but we were ready. We grieved our child, worked through and processed what we needed to and still were working through it but we waited for my cycle to come back. Our OB told us to wait two full cycles to try again. I got my first cycle 6 weeks post D&C and I had never been more happy to have started a cycle, (like who is actually excited for that?) but it was an indicator that my body was doing what it should and it was the start to being able to move forward to try again for baby #2. After that cycle I had some random dull pain on my right lower side that seemed to be getting worse and not moving. I found out that I developed some ovarian cysts after miscarriage which is common, but definitely just another thing to deal with. I started to also realize that my hair was falling out. I had the full on pregnancy hair loss like a lot of women do after they have their babies. On top of that, no one really warns you about the hormonal drop after miscarriage. Your one rising level plummet and your hormones are bouncing all over the place like a pinball machine trying to figure out which slots they need to go into to chill back out. I also had acne all over my face and chest and upper back near my shoulders that made me look like I was having an allergic reaction to something, how attractive right? Then there was the weight gain and loss shifting all over the place too. I had a really hard time with all these things and not even having a baby to show for it. A baby is what is supposed to make these things worth it. A friend had to remind me to give my body grace which was really hard for me to do and I'm still learning.
Two cycles passed by, they weren't my normal number of days at all and I assumed it would take a little while to get back on track. However, all that I needed was to make sure I was ovulating and thats all that mattered. The holidays became a good distraction and kept us busy and our minds on other things and then it was time to try again for the first time since our miscariage. A lot of emotions got brought up and a lot of fear and wondering. A lot of questioning if something was wrong with me or how long its going to take, if it didn't take that long first time around when we got pregnant then it shouldn't this time right? I was convinced that if I didn't get pregnant fast that something was for sure wrong with me. I questioned if I was even capable of sustaining a life inside of me, so many things go through your head.
We still tried. I used ovulation sticks this time around to make sure I was ovulating and everything was good to go and it was. The waiting and anticipation to find out and take a pregnancy test killed me. I already thought what it would be like to see that positive and how I would know if I was pregnant on New Years and that it would be a great start to the year, a fresh start for us. You build up a lot in your head already wondering what your due date would be and what months you would be pregnant etc. The holidays flew by, New Years came and five negative tests later, I started my next cycle. That first month of trying was probably the hardest for me. I almost felt like I was grieving all over again and a lot of emotions of our miscarriage got brought back up to. A couple days went by and I slowly started to feel a little better and was constantly reminding myself that it was only our first round of trying. During this time my grandmothers health was declining and she was in and out of the hospital. We knew she wasn't doing good and there were even a couple of moments we thought we were going to lose her. It was a hard season of grieving already as it was and seeing my grandma not doing well made it harder. I so badly wanted to give her hope and good news and bring her joy. I thought about how I wanted to so badly tell her that I was pregnant again. We tried again on our second go around in January this time with out the added pressure of those darn ovulation sticks (for those who know what I'm talking about, those little happy faces felt like they were mocking me saying oh your ovulating but still no baby) and instead just measured my temperature every morning and inputted it into an app to track ovulation. It wasn't as consistent as I had hoped but that two week wait rolled around again and this time I swore I was pregnant. I was dizzy and nauseous and had sore breasts; it didn't feel like normal PMS symptoms. Negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy would go by and I was at the point where my cycle still hadn't come when it should have and I was late. I tested again and negative. That day I received horrible news from a friend as well as the news that my grandma would be going on hospice. I got home and there was my cycle. It seemed like a cruel day of three pieces of devastating news. I was in tears, and heartbroken all over again. I wondered how I can have so many symptoms that weren't normal for me to have and thinking that it was some sort of joke, that I would get my hopes up that there was a tiny sliver of hope. So many questions arose and so many fears slip in during those vulnerable moments. You wonder what is wrong with you, if you will ever get pregnant, and why you even miscarried in the first place.
With everything going on, the next week or so after that seemed like the days just flew by. Things happened with my grandma and we watched her decline so quickly that we were preparing ourselves for her to pass and to not see her in anymore pain and suffering. We ended up saying goodbye to my grandma and whole new waves of grief washed over us. With in a 4 month span we were grieving someone we never got to know or meet and someone I’ve known my whole life. The next couple weeks were a blur as we planned, prepped and got ready to have a funeral. We sort of counted this month as a loss for trying to have a baby and I was devastated I wasn't able to get pregnant and tell my grandma before her passing. The grief at this point was just a common part of our lives.
February 25th, two days before my grandmas funeral, I was sitting on the couch watching Dan put together a piece of furniture we had bought from Ikea for a project I was working on. I was going over some emails and details for the funeral and I had the random thought that popped into my head to take a pregnancy test. I didn't tell Dan, I just got straight up and went to the bathroom. I took the one test I had and my eyes were fixated on that test already thinking “there is no way I'm pregnant” (plus I was five days early to starting my next cycle), and slowly but surely a line started showing up. I almost couldn't believe my eyes! My jaw dropped, I screamed “DAAAANNN” he had no clue what was going on since he did know I was taking test and I walked out with my eyes wide and looked at him and said,
“I think I’m pregnant!”
He was like “WHAT!?” I fell into his arms as he opened them both of us shocked and in awe as we started tearing up. I couldn't believe it. The line began to get darker and I couldn't believe that the test looked the way it did five days early! We were excited and that day we wanted to celebrate and felt like we should. We told my parents and my siblings very casually since we were so nervous and didn't know what was going to happen this time around and I hate that miscarriage robs of that “first time” telling everyone and have it be surprising aspect but we were still celebrating and rooting for this baby to grow and be healthy. I texted a couple of our closest friends to let them know the news and to be praying for us as we leaped over the first hurdle and we were entering into the next. It did still bring up a lot of emotions of our miscarriage and because of the miscarriage it brought up a LOT of fear. I felt as if we had one day of celebrating and then it instantly turned into fear. What if its a chemical pregnancy and that's why the tests are showing up so early? What if I don't even make it to my first appointment this time? What if we experience the same thing again? So many fears that easily creeped in. We ended up having my grandmas funeral, still grieving the loss of her and so sad I couldn't tell her our news. However, I pictured her being in heaven pain free with Jesus watching us celebrate this new God given baby. Almost like she was with God as he gifted this life to us. I sat imagining her holding and rocking Peyton singing beautiful Hungarian songs to our baby just like she sang to us when we were little.
I ended up taking series of pregnancy test through the week to make sure they were getting darker and the wait even just day by day killed me. I was consumed by fear with out being able to help it. A couple weeks went by and my OB wanted to see me when I was around 6 weeks. My appointment would have marked me around 6.5ish weeks according to my last cycle date.
I was so nervous I don't even know how to explain how nervous I was. I was getting ready and I was praying the whole time for God to redeem this appointment and this experience for us and I just kept praying for redemption. I got a text moments after that from a friend who said “I was just praying for you and for your appointment and the word Redeemed kept popping up and I was just praying that God would redeem this for you guys.” Okayyyyyy God. I was in tears, thanking God for the encouragement through his people and thankful my friend shared that with me in that exact moment.
We got to the appointment and my mom and dad joined Dan and I and I felt as if the whole time I couldn't breath. It was all too familiar, sitting in the same seats in the same office just waiting for good or bad news. 30 minutes went by and we still hadn’t got called back and it felt like a century. I was fidgeting with my fingernails and my foot couldn't stop moving as it made my knee bounce up and down with anxiety. I just kept thinking I can't go through this again, and kept praying for God to redeem this. We get called back and I was ready to go in the ultrasound room and we waited a little more, my parents and Dan trying to distract me from my nerves so I didn't throw up from them. The OB comes in thrilled to hear we are pregnant again and doesn't even say anything except “lets check this baby out first!” I sighed and agreed, the faster the better! She checks the baby and as soon as we see the baby she says,
“THERE’S A HEARTBEAT…!”
I’ve never heard such beautiful words in my life, she then proceeds to put the heartbeat sound on the machine which was music to my ears and shows us that beautiful flicker in that babe and I cried. The baby measured at 7.5 weeks and I was so relieved to hear I was farther along than I thought. I was given a due date of November 3, 2018. We were all so relieved and so happy and couldn't believe that 150bpm heartbeat was going strong! We were praising God and all that was going through my head was “God REDEEMED this.” We got to celebrate that baby and that beautiful heartbeat and I kept watching the video over and over again to reassure myself of that little growing bean. We love this baby so much already.
I have no words for just how redeeming this pregnancy has been as a whole, but that first appointment was a huge part of seeing the physical redemption to me. There is no doubt that this pregnancy has been very hard emotionally and physically so far and has contained a LOT of emotions and not just because of my hormones. Fear has played a huge factor and some days I was drowning in it and some days I still am. There are still some days that are hard to deal with and I miss Peyton. There are milestones and dates that make it even harder. There is no part of me that will ever say that having a miscarriage was worth it and it was an unforeseen road to parenthood we never expected, but because we have refused to not have any good come out of it, God has allowed us to experience him and his redemption in a way we never known. It’s brought his Word to life in our lives and has proved that it’s living and active in our experiences. I share our story not because we want people to feel sorry for us, but to contrast tragedy and redemption, life and death, hopelessness and hope, and to be open about the reality of miscarriage when so many suffer in silence. There is no shame or embarrassment in miscarriage and it can happen to any one. Getting pregnant is risking vulnerability and opening yourself up to so many possibilities good and bad and its scary. My hope and prayer is that people who have experienced this can feel less alone in their grief and pain and can heal from it. It's already so isolating as it is to experience something like this but there is still so much hope even when you are at your deepest despair of hopelessness. You are still loved by an almighty God despite your circumstances, or even when it doesn't feel like it. You are not forgotten and you are not alone.