January 14th was the Saturday before MLK Day, so I knew that if I was to get into a doctor it wouldn't be until Tuesday. I also knew that I needed to stop taking a couple of the pills I was on but if I changed my regiment, I would surely get a migraine. To add insult to injury, the migraine medicine I lovingly call "bitch slap" is definitely not safe for pregnant ladies. Many things will throw me into a migraine and hormone imbalance combined with changing a prescription is the recipe for two days of darkness and packing my entire head in ice for 24 hours. This one I would have to take head on. So to speak. I didn't care.
There was no decision to make. After seven miscarriages, I knew what my doctor was going to say and so while I was lucid I packed up four or five ice bags with our new ice from our new refrigerator. Did I tell you about that? I've never seen Andy so excited about an appliance. We had been tying the door shut on our old one, until the Lazyboys were paid off. Only then could we go back and exchange a Lazyboy payment for a fridge payment. But the new fridge shoots ice like a leaf blower. Awesome!
With the old fridge, I would sometimes have to send Andy up to the gas station for ice. Poor Andy is sometimes like a little delivery boy from the 1920's: "Hello young man. Today I'll need a stick of butter, a loaf of bread, a few pregnancy tests and 17 bags of ice. Hurry along now." (Best if you say it in a little old lady voice.)
Sunday the 15th was the migraine. I forgot to get a sub for Primary (children's Sunday School assignment) so I went because it wasn't raging yet...but after two hours of listening to children scream the songs "Do As I'm Doing," and "Scripture Power," there was that migraine in full bloom. Oh....yeah. Home to die.
Living through a migraine is like forcing yourself to go to war, with yourself, and surrendering about ten minutes in. But without the meds...you stand in the field with your white flag, waving it and waving it and no one gives a crap. No one even notices. The migraine eventually gets tired of warring against itself and goes home about 48 hours later. Bored.
So I was vomiting all day with the headache until about 7, then vomiting with the nausea from the baby until about 2. That was F.U.N. I'd lean over the toilet and say to myself, "...this is awesome!" (SQrtrTBLEAPPlahPojrjrPPQ!)... "I'm so glad I'm pregnant! (StrTBLAPPlahPojrjrPQ!)... Thank you Heavenly Father for this opportunity! (SQrrTEAPlahojrPQ!)... I am going to raise this child in the light! (SQrtrTBLEAPPlahPojrjrPPQ!)... I'm sorry I'm not feeling well but I'm trying to have a good attitude! (SQrtrTBLEAPPlahPojrjrPPQ!)... Isn't there a better way to do this...(SQrtrTBLEAPlahPorjrP)... Did Eve throw up, because if she....(SQrBLAPlahPojrPQ!)... son-of-a- b@!*! I might die before morning... SQrtrTBLEAPlahPojrjrPPQtrTBLEAPPlahPojrPPQ!)... !) Cry....sob....sob some more....say a lot of curse words....(SQrtrTBLeap). And then...over. Just like that.
That's what you do when you have three positive pregnancy tests laying there next to your bed, grinning at you, haunting you, and you are 47 years old. Nothing else mattered and you lived through it, and you would again. It's unexplainable. It's madness. It's love. It's the kind of love you have never known until you have held it in your arms and that's the truth. I use to think that was a ridiculous cliche. HA!
Sucks to be true. So heartbreakingly true.
So on January 17th, I returned to work and after school I went to the doc. It was Tuesday, which means no college classes. I could sit down and work. I planned on telling no one and soon enough, the lies started...."migraine weekend," I told everyone..."hangover from the drugs..." Andy was able to keep the kids out by threatening not to cast them in Titanic if they bothered me. "She had a bad migraine this weekend, best leave her alone." They are good kids because they know Migraine Jan. She is not someone you want to run into at school - on purpose. Kids would see me and take two steps toward the hall walls and avoid eye contact, as if I was Moses parting the Red Sea.
Non-Migraine Jan is also a little scary. I may have trumped up that reputation on purpose over the years, but it works for me. It keeps rehearsals quiet and moving. It brings in homework. It creates a mysterious kind of respect... you can hear it in their little brains...how could someone so focused, so abrupt, so honest (I've been known to say "Let's go back and take the suck out of that" at rehearsal) be so darn good at breaking me down and building me back up? (Cause that's the trick sillies.) But why can't I do that for myself?
It didn't matter that I got pregnant on my own, I still wondered H.O.W? It didn't matter that the pregnancy tests were positive instantly, I was sure they had learned to make a more receptive pregnancy test in the past 18 months. It didn't matter that I had been off Diet Coke for 6 months now, I still wish I had an intravenous drip. It didn't matter that aside from the migraine...I felt great during the day...just GREAT. Is this what real pregnant people are supposed to feel like? I was so sick with Noah right up until the delivery. It had been 5 years since his birth. I couldn't remember ever feeling good in a pregnancy. He would have been 5 on December 23 this past Christmas. I wasn't going to cry... but I did, so much, and looking back it's probably because I was pregnant on his birthday and he was probably laughing at us as I wept over his graveside this year.
I decided that I needed to give away the fear and the anxiety and say "D.A.M.N.I.T.! It's a miracle and I deserve it!" Don't I?
But it's very hard to do that when you are 47 and the past is not that far away.
On Wednesday morning, at about 4:30am, January 18th, I was spotting... a lot. Not bright red blood (that's very bad) but the dark, placenta stuff that smells like moldy lemonade (that's only sorta bad). Still, it was a sign. So I did what I always do...I went back to bed and waited for the baby to come. Andy woke up at 5:30 as usual and he knew immediately what was going on. He said "did you call a sub?" I said "Yes, and I emailed all my students at the college and cancelled class." So true to form, Heather and Jan (the secretary at the college) were the first two to know that I was pregnant.
I laid there all day, waiting for the pain to begin. I got the trusty colander out from under the sink and stuck it in the toilet as usual. But nothing happened. Did I just need to keep my feet up? I called the Doc and he said "Keep your feet up."
I could not stand the confusion. I called my amazing sister Penny who lives about 1 mile from us and asked her to go buy me a pregnancy test and she was at my house in about 7 minutes, opening the test as she entered. She didn't say a word, she was just shaking her head. I went in to the bathroom and BOOM! Instant plus sign. Penny listened to the story and still she was neutral. I know why...she knows too much. But she did take a couple of deep breaths and said "I'll go put your name in the temple." We laughed about the situation, but it was only because we thought we were going to have a heart attack. I sure love my sister Penny. She was there when we delivered Noah and I've put her through hell and back again over these miscarriages. But she has the most amazing faith and I needed to borrow some of that.
48 hours later...I still had not lost the baby. I was doing NOTHING but lay around and listen to the dogs whine. I graded papers, I watched Netflix, I slept! I slept! And on Friday morning I still had not lost the baby. Saturday...Sunday...Monday...more tests and the HCG was still climbing! I went back to work and laid low.
I did everything I could do to keep that miracle baby. I was delirious with worry, but couldn't take anything for it. I decided that I didn't want to add Diet Coke or crack cocaine or some ridiculous thing to the list of things I already felt guilty about. I went to the doctor, did everything he said, walked around the block every day, carefully, bought the $4 a pill Prometrium, went to bed at 9pm and slept with my feet above my belly button and waited.
You see, when I told Doc C. I was pregnant, I watched him think about that. He's been such a good doctor. But he's a realist, as I'm sure many of them are. We're exactly the same age. I knew what he was thinking and I was thinking it too. I shrugged my shoulders, then he shrugged his shoulders and said "lay down." And off we went. He explained what I had heard seven times. He poked around and scribbled out a lab order. And on the bottom of that order this time it read "STAT." I knew what that meant.
STAT meant that he didn't want me to suffer for very long. He needed to know right away how low my HCG levels were and if there was anything that could be done about it. I was already about 7 weeks along and I read the hesitation in his eyes. But his mom was 49 when she gave birth to the lawyer...or is she a teacher? Anyway..she's perfect.
See...there isn't a pill I haven't taken to keep a baby. There isn't a snake oil I haven't tried. The minute I found out I was pregnant, he was on vacation so I went to a faith healer who told me that there was no reason I could not carry this baby. I have tried so many things and truthfully, one of the worst days of my life was when I found out that my eggs were aging with me. (Blog #?) It somehow deflated my hopes and they never recovered.
Still there's always a little hope. Just a tiny glimmer. And with all the strange circumstances surrounding this one... I thought for sure I had finally earned a miracle. I knew it would take a miracle for this to happen and I wasn't sure I had the faith for it. Miracles happened to other people, not to me. Prayers are answered for other people, but not for me. You know what I'm saying because we've all thought it. But we are CHILDREN OF GOD and with God all things are possible! Right!? Even for me? I felt myself mustering my faith every second that I was awake because I felt the innate instinct to just give up my fear...give it up...but it would not go away. It was clinging to me like a fog and I was desperately trying everything to shake it off but it never went away. No matter how hard I prayed, how hard I begged to keep this baby...how many times we put our names on the temple prayer roll... in the back of my mind, was the picture of the green colander.
When my HCG levels turned out to be NORMAL (for my age) and CLIMBING (woot!) WE HAD A PARTY! Then Doc sent me to a specialist. I had an intervaginal ultrasound - those are the...intervaginal ones. S.O. M.U.C.H. F.U.N! But I didn't care because I was having a baby and it was going well! (Knock on wood. Go to the energy healer again, shake the Navajo stick over my belly, turn around three times and spit...blah, blah, blah...)
And then on Friday morning, Feb 3d at about 5:15am, I woke 15 minutes earlier than the alarm. I thought I felt someone touch my face. And then the distinct feeling that someone was standing there just flooded the room. I got my bearings, and sat up. But at that second the feeling left. I knew I wasn't pregnant anymore. I felt the blood start its descend.
I add the asterisk because I want you to remember that I know how short this life is. It's as little as an asterisk. There is a great sister in the Lehi Second Ward that has a giant piece of crossstitch fabric in a frame. It's as long as the sofa below it. And in the center of that frame is ONE stitch. It symbolizes how long we are on this earth in comparison to how long we will live and how grand and vast the universe is. I've never forgotten that. It keeps me sane.
I drove to the doctors office on Monday morning not expecting the next event to be so hard. I had decided that in order to ease my mind, give me time to heal, and prevent any further surprises, I was going to get a birth control shot. My first one ever. Nobody judged me. I think they were happy to do it. And sad too. It was quiet. No one said anything to me except "I'm so sorry." And then I left. Feeling defeated. I'm 47 and I am done. I have not cried so hard since I left the refugee camp in 1988.
I wanted to write that I'd had the miscarriage in the first sentence of this blog, but I didn't think you'd read the rest, and I wanted to get to the important part:
That's all I know. He teaches me as I become the person He knows I can be. I want to be a mother! But He does not need me to be a mother on earth. He needs me to use other gifts right now. He sees my potential and He knows it's just going to take me a while to see it for myself.
So many sacred things have testified this to me since February 3, but I cannot write them in a public blog. Still... you should know that He lives. I hope that you can feel it through my little blog. I think back on a blessing I got from my brother-in-law after Noah was gone and he said "God knows your sacrifice." And He does.
And He owes me. ;-)
Come thou fount of every blessing tune my heart to sing Thy grace:
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of God's unchanging love.
Here I raise my prayer to Heaven, hither by Thy help I'm come,
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger wand'ring from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.
O to grace, how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be;
Let Thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love,
Here's my heart; O take and seal it! Seal it for Thy courts above.