To say that the month of May was emotional is the greatest of all understatements. I turned 33, celebrated ten years of marriage, resigned from teaching after ten years, packed up my classroom, hugged my colleagues, hugged all my kids (some for the very last time), and lost a pregnancy.
Yeah, I know. I should probably back up and hit rewind. After months of testing, and re-testing, and calling around to every doctor that Jason and I had seen regarding trying to start our family, my new doctor in Atlanta was finally ready to meet once again. With a patient file as dense as a 90s phone book, we sat in his office where he literally sketched out a plan on a plain white sheet of computer paper. This number shows this. This lab shows this. This is what we’ve tried. This is what we haven’t tried. “Ok, let’s get started. Today.” He ended the conversation so matter of factly. Jason and I looked at each other in amazement. We like this guy. He’s direct, straight to the point.
We moved across the hall to a pre-treatment ultrasound and consultation. Hormones began the next day. So May began with hope. May began with anxiety. Already knowing that I needed to meet with my principal about my resignation, I would now meet with her on hormones . . . great! This was also yearbook week, with the always-emotional yearbook banquet the Thursday night before distribution Friday where I would tell my staff of my departure as well. And I would be on hormones.
In case you don’t remember how hormones previously manifested in me, go back and read restoration. They make me a hot mess. A crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, emotional, hot mess. And’s that putting it gently. Thankfully, I was not training for a marathon this time and would not subject my running partners to monsoon meltdowns on unsuspecting downtown streets.
But there was no monsoon. No tornados. No hurricanes. No scattered thunderstorms or even summer showers. In what I can only attribute to God controlled, this round of triple dose hormones instead filled me with optimism, excitement, and even energy. When I stood before my students on Thursday night at our banquet space at Mellow Mushroom, all I could do was beam with joy. When I told them I was leaving, I couldn’t shed one tear because deep in my heart I was hiding the greatest secret of all; hope.
Having just told my principal the day before, she cried and I couldn’t. I was fearful she thought I was heartless but I was just really overcome with actual hope. Maybe I was finally getting everything I ever wanted? Still the week continued with a bundle of stress and excitement. Every day during lunch I was self-testing looking for a positive LH surge meaning I was ovulating. All I needed was one positive result and I could schedule the artificial insemination the following day. I kept praying that I wouldn’t miss my last yearbook day and God answered that prayer. With no positive surge indicated, my doctor ordered me a shot that I self-injected to force my body into action. So after the most emotional week of my career, after my last yearbook banquet, my last yearbook day, I drove home exhausted and shot myself up. Jason and I were scheduled back to Atlanta both Saturday and Sunday mornings for two rounds of IUI, intrauterine insemination.
Without going into the awkward details, we emptied our savings and poured out all our faith. Before leaving on Sunday, I asked my doctor the dumbest question possible. “So, what percent of pregnancy am I now looking at?” Without missing a beat, he responded “Oh, about 15%.” Wait?! What? Like 1-5-%? “That’s correct,” he smiled. With a pat on my shoulder he told me to have a good weekend and good luck.
For the second time that weekend, Jason and I drove the 55 miles north in a haze of emotions that even this writer can’t fully put into words. For next two weeks we waited. We held our breaths and we prayed. I told my core group of friends and our families, of course. That might have been a bad idea since I felt like all eyes were on me for the next two weeks. Well, was she, or wasn’t she?
Jason and I were planning our ten-year anniversary get-a-way. We would spend this weekend away to celebrate our first decade as husband and wife and we would also test to see if there was another reason to celebrate. Mother’s Day was the weekend prior. In years’ past where I would hold up in my fortress and avoid, this year I smiled. This was the perfect timing and this feeling in my heart told me that God was granting our desire. My everyday prayers became more and more like chants for life and for hope, stream of consciousness conversations with the creator of all life. I ended every thought with Thy Will Be Done.
The Thursday before we left to go out of town, Jason’s great uncle passed away at the age of 95. Instead of spending the weekend away, we would spend it with family honoring the legacy of a faithful follower of Christ and faithful husband of 64 years.
Before the long Saturday of funeral arrangements, I just had to know. Did I have a reason to mourn or a reason to rejoice? At 5am on that Saturday morning, I peed on a stick, set it down, and walked away. Forcing myself not to wait, I made my cup of coffee and headed toward my spot. I would pass the time waiting with my Father. In prayer. In song. Through tears. I sat in my office begging God for the one thing I could not hustle my way through. For all my achiever tendencies, accomplishment driven traits, He is God and I am not.
After half an hour passed, I climbed my front staircase, entered my bedroom past my sleeping husband and puppies and stood at my bathroom sink. Looking down at the digital test, it read “Not Pregnant.” I stood there frozen in my own tracks for who knows how long. Big ocean tears cascaded down my cheeks. I turned and climbed in bed with Jason. Snuggling up to him I whispered the hard truth. He awoken and held me, allowing me to cry and saturate his chest with heartbreak. Aussie and Quigley came to investigate. They knew. Both cuddled up next to their weeping mom barricading me in their own form of comfort. Within a few minutes I could feel the soft rhythmic breathing of Jason’s snoozing chest and knew he was out once again. I strategically climbed out of bed past three peacefully sleeping.
I did what all-mature adults do; I called my mommy and cried. Yes, at 33 years old, I still want my mom for all those really hard moments in life. And what scares me the most is that I might not ever get to have this type of relationship in return. Who will call and cry to me when their heart breaks?
By the time our funeral duties were required, I had emptied my tank and my reserves of tears. I held it together the entire service. As they laid Uncle Marion to rest his congregational pastor spoke of his 95 years: founding Atlanta church member, devoted husband to Ruth, dedicated businessman, but never a father. “Father God, please don’t let this be our plot,” my heart cried out.
With just one week of school left, I pushed my longing for motherhood aside and readied myself for my last week with my students, my coworkers, and my ten-year identity. But even in the midst of the reality I saw (two negative tests later), I still could not shake the feeling that those tests were wrong. Thursday morning I had another appointment back with my doctor to talk about IUI round two.
I awoke at 4:30 to drink my coffee before my 5:30 spin class. And on an impulse, I took another test. This time, I stood and waited. Within two minutes, the results were clear: “Pregnant.” I didn’t care what time it was. I awoke Jason where we hugged and I cried. The celebration was quick; I had to hurry out the door to class. The entire forty-five minute class, I kept my head down and I smiled. Thank goodness I sweat profusely, because no one could see my tears of joy that slowly flowed.
By 7:30, I was back on the road ready to share my good news with my doctor. My elation turned to anxiety when nothing showed up on the ultrasound. But just weeks in, that wasn’t uncommon. More labs and she would call me with the results after lunch. I held my heart in my stomach till the phone rang at 1:42 pm. In the midst of reading and editing the Valedictorian and Salutatorian’s speeches back at school for a teacher workday, my doctor confirmed what my heart needed to hear. “You’re pregnant,” she said with a giggle in her voice. Still spotting, I was already considered high risk and would need to return every week for testing. Jason and I wanted to protect our hearts and decided to keep our secret just that for one more week. Two weeks of positive affirmations from the doctors would be enough for us to share our news with our families.
You know a lot can happen in a week. That tiny seed of hope can blossom into full-fledged daydreams, secret Pinterest boards, mental nursery designs, baby names, and maternity shopping. In random moments at random times, my mind would wander and I would pray Thy Will Be Done.
We spent the Memorial Day holiday with both our families; lunch with mine, dinner with his. I was bursting at the seams wanting to tell them but something in my heart stopped me. My symptoms had progressed and with Tuesday’s appointment just hours away, all I had to do was wait. We were in and out with blood work for labs in just ten minutes. Same protocol, she would call after lunch. Instead of heading home, we headed to Jason’s Cleveland tax office for work and distraction. With his business partner, clients, and two client dogs popping in and out, my mind raced while my heart prepared. I knew the phone call would confirm my fears and when the phone rang at 1:48 the word “unfortunately” said it all. My body had already begun to reject the pregnancy. That three-minute phone call was too long and not long enough. So many questions. So many answers. All which will “unfortunately” remain unanswered.
I know that some people will read this and will be upset that I’m talking about this already; saying it’s too soon. Others will be shocked and saddened that I didn’t share my heartbreak with them in person. Well friends, this truly is my second time around. I learned so much from my fourteen-week miscarriage last March and even more from this four week one. Loss and heartbreak not shared only breeds fear and insecurity. And I am so tired of being afraid.
When we arrived home, I climbed into the corner of my closet and cried on the phone once again with my mom. My dad just feet away listening with tears in his eyes. Jason contacted his parents who were also shocked and saddened.
Once again, I reached out to a few of my friends letting them know of this heartbreak, asking for prayers. I had already told most of them that I wasn’t pregnant so I know this was a shock. One of my friends, who I haven’t physically seen in almost three years but text often, is currently pregnant with her third daughter. I told her I was fearful that I would never be a mom. I keep mulling over her response still without an answer. She texted: “What’s on the other side of that thought? If not a mother, then what?”
When I sat in my counselor’s office on Saturday morning post spin, all sweaty and dehydrated, I verbalized this fear out loud. He reminded me that my ministry to my students doesn’t have to stop just because I’m no longer in the classroom. I guess I kept thinking that I was leaving those kids to focus on the ones I would birth. As that is currently not the case, I feel more motherless than ever. But am I?
Having none of the answers, I have decided to continue with my thirst for knowledge reading God ordained insights for those closer to God than I currently feel. I promise this summer will not be filled with mourning but instead with praise. My counselor said my “heart seemed different this time.” My friend said “softer.” I think both are right.
Driving home from my counselor’s on Saturday morning I heard a podcast where a writer named Amber Newberry said just what I needed to hear; “God, is not intimidated my our emotions.”
Well, God, I’m not mad at you. How could I be? I have so much to be thankful for: my marriage, my family, my friends, my home, my new job. But I am confused. I do want answers. But I need His presence.
Father God, open my ears and my eyes. Make me aware of the constant reminders of Your presence in my life so that I can have assurance, no matter the circumstances. I pray for a heart that You see and love. I pray for a hunger and a thirst for Your word and Your presence.
Tomorrow I leave for a Vegas vacation with my in-laws. Yep, I’m just as surprised as you. Don’t worry, I’m not going to let the Sin City get the best of me. I don’t drink much and I’m too cheap to gamble. But I’m taking my Bible, my devotional, and two nonfiction works with me. Want to find out what I’m reading and how God spoke to me even in the most audacious of places? Then come back and join me this summer for #whatImreadingthisseason.
Thank you, dear friends, for allowing me to share my heart. Vulnerability and transparency does not come easily. But God has equipped me with a strength that can only come from Him.
In the meantime, even when it hurts, I will praise Him.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation