Sunday, August 24, 2008

Do you "count" the babies you've lost?

When someone asks if you have any kids, or asks how many you have, do you include in the number the baby or babies in heaven?

This is a great debate amongst those who have lost babies. Some strongly believe you must include every pregnancy in the count, as they are just as much a person as anyone we can see with our eyes. Others don't, often because it just gets messy. In a way, it's a real downer to say "I have two children here and two in heaven," but at the same time, maybe if everyone said that it'd become more understood and more accepted? "Two in heaven" leads most people to assume that the children had been born and sometime later passed away, and when they learn that the deaths were due to miscarriage or stillbirth, it's almost as if they dismiss the losses because they were "only" that kind of loss. Obviously they don't really understand what it's like to lose a baby.

Right or wrong, to many people it seems more tragic to lose a baby after birth than it does before birth. That is part of why we have to join together, share our experiences, and offer support to one another.

So for our own emotional well-being, and for that of those around us, should we not "count" the losses? I'm not going to give my opinion, as this must be left up to each person. I will, however, share what one woman told me: her answer depends upon who is asking, in what circumstance, and how she is feeling at that moment. If it's someone she trusts to handle things right, and if she feels up to going into more details, she includes the baby who died. But if she anticipates that the person will be dismissive or if she just doesn't want to "go there," she doesn't include the loss in the tally.

There are times when including the loss in the count can open up a really good and healing conversation - for you or for the other person. This is especially true if the other person lost a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth as well and has not felt free to talk about it with anyone.

I don't think you're wrong either way. Just something to think about.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Letter from Julie's baby

Julie (see previous post) felt that this letter was for her from Merry-Joyce, the baby who miscarried. Read it and be blessed:

Dear Mama,

I saw you cryin’ the night you found out I was gone. Why were you so sad?

You loved me so much when I was with you. I could tell. You talked to me about my brother and sisters and my dad. And my Jesus.

Mama! I met my Jesus! He helped walk me home. He is so nice, mama. He loves me, Just like you said.

Mama, he loves you too. He said you’re sad because you miss me. Don’t be sad, I am forever a part of you and daddy. We’ll be together soon.

Mama I love you. Daddy, too. Please tell everyone about my Jesus.

Love, Merry-Joyce

Julie's story

Hi, my name is Julie McNutt. I have four children. I have yet to meet my youngest child, as she is resting now in the arms of my Jesus. She was born into Heaven March 11, 2007. Her life verse is Ecclesiastes 3:11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

In January of 2007, I wasn’t feeling well. My youngest daughter, Glorey, 3 at the time, told me, “Mommy, you have a baby in your belly, that is why you don’t feel good.” Well, of course, I dismissed this idea, as much as I welcomed another baby, she was only 3, what did she know.

I made an appointment with my family doctor, for Jan 25th. The first thing he asked was, could you be pregnant. I told him it was possible, but not probable. He ran a urine test. It came out negative for pregnancy. I was sent for an abdominal x-ray, because he thought that might give him a better clue as to what was wrong. The x-ray came out OK. It did show that I MIGHT have a kidney stone, but that wouldn’t be causing the symptoms I was having. He finally diagnosed me with gastro-interitis. I ate a bland diet for 3 or 4 days until I felt better. On Jan 31, I was a couple of days late for my cycle. I had been on a 26 day cycle for 8 years, so I thought, maybe I am pregnant after all. I bought a home test, and it was positive.

When I told my 3 year old I did have a baby in my belly, she said, “No you don’t, you have two.”

On Feb 1, I was scheduled for my yearly exam, with my OB/GYN. I told the doctor I had taken a home test and it was positive. He congratulated me, wrote orders for pregnancy labs, and gave me a script for vitamins. Shortly thereafter, I started feeling really tired. This being my 4th time around, I wasn’t surprised. What did surprise me was that I was getting headaches. They were not horrible, just annoying.

At my next appt. on March 1, I mentioned the headaches. I was told it was not abnormal, and instructed as to what I could take to relieve them. I am not one to take medication if I can function without it, so I just decided to tough it out. At the time I was 38 yrs old, it was my fourth pregnancy, I was more tired than with my other pregnancies and I am fairly tall. The Dr. suggested all of these things can play into having a multiple pregnancy. I told the doctor what my daughter had said about having 2 babies in my belly, and he thought that was funny. Add to that, he usually delivers 3 sets of twins a year, and he only delivered 2 the year before, so he needed to catch up. He scheduled a sonogram for March 29, at which time I would have been about 13 weeks, just to see if Glorey knew something we didn’t.

On March 9th, I was at my best friend, Jeannes, house, for a scrapbooking party. I went to the bathroom, and noticed some brownish discharge. I called the Dr.s office number. Of course, this being a Friday night, and not an emergency, I was told the nurse on call would call me back. An eternity passed, the phone rang, and the nurse assured me everything was fine. If the discharge became red, call back. On Sunday morning, it was red. I called back. Since it was just a light flow, I should just go about my day. But keep an eye on it. We went to Sunday school. I had everybody pray.

This is when I started wrestling. I told God, He couldn’t have my baby. He gave it to me, and although it would always belong to Him, it was mine, and he couldn’t have it back. I wanted this baby. I had already named her. Naomi Ruth. Surely He wouldn’t take her, now that we were calling her by name. That just wouldn’t be nice. He told me, this isn’t about the Baby. This is about you and me. I gave him my baby, knowing if I didn’t give it up, I would be losing much more.

After church, we went to Carlos O’Kelleys for lunch. While waiting for a table, I went to the bathroom. I came out, cancelled our table, and told my husband we were going to drop the kids off at Jeannes. He understood. I called Jeanne, told her we were bringing the kids over to play. She understood.

At the hospital, they did an internal sonogram, a cervical check, and blood work. I never lost hope. Although I was preparing for the worst. Finally, the doctor came in and told me, although my cervix was still closed, I had no baby in my womb. My husband cried. I just accepted it as fact.

Because we had gone to Via Christi, it being a Catholic Hospital, a Sister came in to talk to me. She assured me I had done nothing wrong to cause this. She also reminded me of another mother who lost her son almost 2000 years ago.

The next day, I called my OB, told him what happened, and scheduled an appt. for 3:30 that day. I told my husband I could go alone, so he could watch the kids. I made it to the building, and on the way up in the elevator, my body let go of all remaining pregnancy product. I made my way to the bathroom and called the office from my cell phone. Marsha, my nurse, brought in a wheelchair to escort me to the office. Because he couldn’t stop my bleeding, the Dr. instructed me to call my husband to come get me and take me to the hospital. I underwent surgery for a D & C.

I realized the struggle of giving my baby back to the Father just the day before was the only reason I was able to make it through. The one thing I had wanted more than anything in the world was taken from me. But I know my Father has only the best in store for me. I also have the promise that He has a plan. I don’t know what that plan is. But I trust Him.

The next week was a blur. Not because of grief. But because of love. Our church family surrounded us and showered us with cards, phone calls, meals, hugs. My other mother even arranged a tea party with the Ladies of Royal Purple ministry. (Tea parties are my favorite indulgence next to chocolate.)

One of the most important things I did for me to help with the grief, was to name my baby. I have always been fascinated by names. So I wanted a name that would honor my child, and my experience. Her name is Merry-Joyce. One reason I changed it, was because I needed something to help me remember her with a happy heart, not a sorrowful one. Mary spelled MARY means bitter. Merry spelled MERRY means happy. Joyce means joyful. I know how easy it would be to be bitter about this. But just saying her name, reminds me to rejoice. I still have the Father. In that I can rejoice.

I do have times where all I can do cry. Sometimes it is a song. Sometimes it is a baby belly on another woman. The hardest day so far was my birthday just past. I was supposed to be a mother of four children.

Some day, when I get home, I will get to meet my baby, maybe even my 2 babies. Until then, I will use this experience to bring glory to my Father.

At the beginning of my talk, I told you I had given my baby the life verse Eccl. 3:11. Because my miscarriage was a 2 day event, I decided that it was necessary to give my child a 2nd verse. Eccl 3:12 reads, So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Do's and Don'ts

The following is a resource I found from Bethany House. Please keep in mind that everyone is different and processes grief differently; some people will react in the exact opposite way from what is stated. However, the majority tend to feel similarly to what is described below.

More than anything, my goal is for this resource to make you think about what you say and why you say it. Are you trying to make yourself feel better for saying the "cure-all" sentence? Or do you truly have their best interests in mind even if their grief makes you sad or uncomfortable?

One final word - please do not read this and decide that you shouldn't do or say anything for fear it'll be wrong. You play a very important role in the lives of those around you who are grieving. Don't allow Satan to convince you that you should stay quiet. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak through you, ministering exactly as is needed at exactly the right time.


After My Miscarriage

Don't tell me, "You can have another baby." How do you know? Besides, I want this baby.

Don't tell me, "at least it happened before it was born. It's not like you knew the baby." I did know my baby. For the short time s/he was with me, I loved my baby with all my heart. I had hopes and dreams for this baby. I had names picked out and a theme for the nursery. I knew my baby was going to be a very special person.

Don't tell me, "It's just one of those things." It was not just "one of those things" from my viewpoint. Miscarriage has had a devastating effect on my life, and making it sound as though it was an unimportant event does not lessen the impact.

Don't tell me, "It's common," or "It happens to a lot of women." This happened to me, and all I want is to have my baby back.

Don't tell me "It was just a blob of tissue." In my heart and in God's eyes, I know I was carrying a living being inside me from the moment s/he was conceived. Please don't trivialize my beliefs or that precious life.

Don't tell me, "You should be over it by now." Even though the physical effects may have subsided, I am still hurting emotionally. My child has died, and it takes much longer than a week or two to recover from that pain.

Don't tell me, "You'll get over it." The miscarriage was the death of my child. I will never "get over it." The pain and grief will eventually lessen, but I will always wonder what my child would have been like. Every should-have-been birthday, and every anniversary of the miscarriage will be a reminder.

Don't tell me, "You should get pregnant again as soon as possible. That'll help." Help what? I need time to grieve the baby I have lost. I can't even begin to think about getting pregnant again at this time.

Don't tell me, "It won't happen again. The next time will be fine." Again, how do you know? My second pregnancy ended in miscarriage also, even after doctors said there was no reason it wouldn't be successful the second time around.

Do listen to me when I want, or need, to talk about what I am going through.

Do be sensitive to the fact that I probably won't want to hear about your pregnant friend/neighbor/cousin/daughter, or about your new grandchildren or nieces and nephews for a while.

Do give me time to grieve. Some days I may need your shoulder to cry on after everyone else thinks I should be "okay" by now.

Do understand that there are "milestone days," such as the expected due date or the time I should have felt the first kick, when I will be feeling the loss as deeply as when the miscarriage occurred. I will need your support then.

Do know that I am like any other person who has experienced the death of a loved one. I may not feel like talking when you come for a visit, or I may do things you may think inappropriate - such as clean the house - just to have something to do so I don't have to think. Be patient with me.

Do show care to others who have experienced miscarriage. Treat their loss with the same respect and love you would give if they were suffering the death of any other loved one.

Do let those of us who are going through - or have gone through - a miscarriage know that we are not alone. Send a note or make a phone call to let us know you're thinking of us, especially on those difficult "milestone days." Sometimes we feel that we're the only ones who remember, and it's nice to know that our baby was important to you too.