Thursday, May 31, 2007

This Isn't How I Planned...

Monique Stam, who I met through MOMYS (mothers of many young siblings), sent me this poem after the loss of our twins. It really blessed me.

My eyes long to see you
Now you behold Him.
My arms ache for you
Now you know perfect love.
My ears yearn for your voice
Now you sing His praises.
I desire to feed you
Now you will never know hunger.
I anticipated the pitter-patter of your feet
Now you play at His pierced ones.
I dreamed of years of love and laughter
Now you will never know pain.
I longed to watch you grow and develop
Now you are perfect.
This isn't how I planned
But I know He loves you.

By Monique Stam (Used by permission)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Prayer for Us

Well, yesterday was one of those days! Just before breakfast, my beautiful little 2yo girl tripped over her own feet and whacked her face on a wooden cradle. The poor thing cut her face open on it! We had to take her to Duke Children's Hospital to be stitched by a surgeon and just as I'm getting out of the jeep to carry her in, whoosh! I had another big bleed and passed a big clot with possible membranes. What a circus! I thought I'd lose my mind getting cleaned up fast enough to get to her and her Daddy. I had to wash the spot out of my skirt in the sink and totter back to them. I felt faint for about an hour, but thankfully held together.

They stitched the poor dear up (with all the residents and nurses watching through the observation window - she won everyone's heart) and I prayed my bleeding would stop and she wouldn't scar. Arrrggghh. Got to tell you that as she's coming out of the anesthesia, her daddy asked, "Do you want a popsicle, Sweetheart?" She answered, "I need chocolate." That's my girl!

The bleeding did stop - and this morning I had none at all - not even any mucus. This really worried my because I was afraid I had a clot on my cervix and might be bleeding without seeing it. I talked the situation over with two midwives who are friends of mine and decided to go to see my doctor for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed an empty uterus, the HPT was completely negative this morning, and the bleeding, though starting again, is scant. Please may we be done with this? BTW, my hemoglobin was up to 10.9! A wonder after all the blood I've lost. My blood loss recovery plan must be working!

In the midst of all this, our seventeen-year-old son, will be leaving this Sunday to spend three months in an Asian country, working with my brother. This will be a *very* challenging time for him -- he speaks a little of the difficult language, but he will be living with our sister-in-law's father, who speaks no English at all. He will be making his way around the largest city in the world by himself and working very long hours with my very demanding brother. There are no known believers in the situation, limited if any fellowship with the expatriate church, and not even Christian websites, because they are blocked there.

In other words, he will be simply living faithfully among them. What an opportunity to impact the world!

This Wednesday is our day to fast and pray for John, as well as the many trials we have been undergoing in business, ministry, health and even our house and we would appreciate any of you who feel led pray for him and us as he starts this great venture. Thanks for all your friendship!

In Christ,

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Love of the Brethren

I had a really hard time this weekend. I was bleeding again and it was behaving strangely, I was pretty exhausted, and we had to endure a huge power struggle in a nonprofit board of directors my husband and I serve on - and we lost. I was absolutely ragged. Just at the end of the day, a dear sweet MOMYS (mother of many young siblings) came up to me and gave me a gift: a beautiful memorial bracelet for my twins. It has two sets of precious feet for the twins, seven pearls for my living children and the birthstones of the twins' month of conception and due date. This is so dear to me!!!!! I have so wanted something to remember them by - but we just can't afford it right now. And to have it given to me made it extra special. God was so good to bring me that encouragement just at that time. Thank you, sweet Savior, and thank you, Holly!

I'll try to post a picture of it soon.

Miscarriage of Twins Resources

I knew that miscarriage is more common in twin and higher multiple pregnancies, so I could not understand why there was so little information on the internet about it. That's why I started this blog. I recently found a site that helped me understand a little why I felt like I was grieving a little bit differently than my friends who had lost single babies. Note: I didn't say I was grieving more than they, just that I was having some issues they weren't. I realized I was grieving not just one baby, but two and not just two babies but the whole twin experience - their own relationship to each other and the relationship of twins to our whole family and even the rest of the world. The Center for Loss in Multiple Birth seemed to get it.

The Sorrowing Secret Sisterhood

I had the opportunity to speak to families three times this weekend at the North Carolina homeschool conference and each time, for one reason or another, we mentioned our recent miscarriage of twins. It was amazing how many people spoke to us afterwards of their grief and losses. If this is as common as it seems, why in the world are Christian ladies not talking about it and helping the hurting women around them? Let's not let our own vulnerability keep us from comforting others in the way we've been comforted!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Need Your Prayers

Well, I had another bleeding episode this morning, but was able to get it under control, so I came on to the conference. I would greatly appreciate your prayers that this bleeding would stop and that I would be kept safe while here. I have some things I really want to say in our workshops and I just don't want to miss them!

Love you all,

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Live Blogging the NC Homeschool Conference

I just wanted to let those of you who have been wanting to know me better than I'll be live blogging at the NCHE conference this weekend: NCHE Conference Blog

Immediate Tips for When There's No Heartbeat

If this is your first ultrasound, your dates may be off. Everything may be fine, but you need to do another one later to make sure. If you see a heartbeat then, rejoice! If the news is bad again:

If you have already seen a heartbeat and now there is not one, or if your second ultrasound confirmed an early loss, I am so sorry!!! I wish I could put my arms around you and pray for the Lord to comfort you. Thinking carefully about what to do next can really make a difference in how you recover.

Don't feel like you have to be in a rush to make a decision. Many women are rushed into D&C and have second thoughts afterward. There is no hurry at all unless you are hemorrhaging. Many women have waited weeks with no consequences.

If seeing the baby and burying it is important to you (and many, many women don't realize how important it is to them until it's too late because they were too numb to make decisions and were rushed), then you may want to opt for waiting for a natural miscarriage. At the very least, you should make it very clear to your doctor and the hospital that you want the remains if you have a D&C. Some are helpful with this, many are not. Contrary to what some hospitals say, you need no special permission to take the remains of a baby that died before 20 weeks (in most states, this may vary a week or two) or to bury it. Please don't miss this just because you think it will be gross - it really isn't and helps many women.

If you opt for a natural miscarriage at home, you may benefit from talking to and consulting a midwife. The midwife in my area was far, far more helpful, informative and resourceful than my very good OB. Also, if you've consulted a midwife you'll have someone to call if you have questions or difficulties whose automatic answer is not going to be "go to the hospital."

If you don't want to wait at home, or to have a D&C, there are meds the doctor can give you or herbs the midwife can, to induce your body to go ahead and labor, either at home or at the hospital.

If you are a friend or a relative of someone in this position, particularly if they are waiting for an ultrasound to confirm a loss, it is hard to support her, because I'm certain she doesn't want to talk about miscarriage right now. However, if she goes into the doctor without thinking over her options, she may get railroaded and have a harder time emotionally recovering. Pray you'll have the wisdom to know how to talk to her. Maybe even to just say, "I really recommend you don't make any decisions there at the doctor's office. Many women regret the decisions they make in a hurry like that."

I hope that helps some :-(

Will It Ever Be Over?

I think the short answer is "Yes, you will get to the point that you can function again and you will find joy in life again. Time and God's mercy will heal you." AND "No, you will never be the same. You will never forget - and you don't want to." I know these are both true, because my father tragically died when I was fourteen and I have lived grief, recovered joy, and have never forgotten - and don't want to. His memory is precious to me. I sometimes feel sad, but I don't ever feel overwhelmed. I know our present grief will be comforted as well.

My current issue is when will it be over physically??? I know no one can tell me that, but even after the Big Fat Negative, yesterday when I was getting my son a Chinese visa, I passed a little more tissue and started bleeding some more. Enough already!

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Still Bleeding Blues

Just when I think that maybe, possibly the physical part of this is done, something else happens. I thought we were done with the bleeding last Monday but it started spotting again on Saturday. I think I'm just overdoing it, but for crying out loud, I've just got too much to do to not to keep moving some! I'm speaking three times at the NCHE Conference this weekend, my eldest is leaving for a summer in China in a couple of weeks, the a/c has just died at our house ($1000 for a new compressor, $4000 to replace the 20+ year old, constantly breaking unit, neither of which we have available), and if I don't at least supervise, nothing much gets done by the children. Arrrrgggghhhh.

All that to say, that the most comprehensive explanation of the recovery after a miscarriage I have read is at Facts About Miscarriage It's a little weak on natural miscarriage, there's more info about D&C, but there's more information there than I've seen anywhere else. It's very comforting to read the wide range of experiences that other women have had and to have an idea of what's normal and what needs follow-up.

I'd really appreciate your prayers this week, as I have no idea how I'm going to manage at conference - it makes my heart beat out of my chest to walk up the stairs =:-O

Love you all!

Friday, May 18, 2007

HCG and HPT - When a Big Fat Negative is a Good Thing

We are a family that welcomes whatever children the Lord gives us, so for us, getting a BFP on an HPT was always a great thing. (Wondering what that is? It's a Big Fat Positive on an Home Pregnancy Test) I just yesterday had the weird experience of being very excited to get a BFN (Big Fat Negative). What's up?

HCG or human chorionic gonadotropin is the hormone that it released into your body when you first get pregnant. That's the hormone that HPT tests respond to in your urine. When you have a miscarriage, it can take up to 7 weeks or more for the HCG to be completely out of your system. Until it is, your regular fertility cycle won't work. Lingering HCG can be a sign of a molar pregnancy, retained fragments from the pregnancy, another baby in there, or just your body taking a long time to break the hormone down. It was the retained fragments part that concerned me.

I had a miscarriage of twins a few weeks ago with a hemorrhage. A week later I visited my OB's office for a check up and she found some tissue in my cervix. She and I were both extremely concerned that I could have retained tissue and could have another bleed when it let go. That would have been extremely dangerous since my hemoglobin was very low from the hemorrhage. I didn't want to go back for HCG testing because money is extremely tight right now. I did have a stock of very sensitive HPTs, though, so I decided to check every week until I got a negative. [Update after checking the test later that day.] This week the test had only a very, very faint positive line. Maybe we're almost to the end of the physical part. That'll warrant a Happy Dance!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What to Say About Miscarriage

If you have a friend who is suffering or has suffered a miscarriage, you have a wonderful opportunity to minister to them! What can you say or do, though in such a painful situation? Here are my suggestions:

The best thing to say is: "How are you doing?" and then really listen. This will mean so much to her! You can ask this as many times as you see her for as long as you remember - she'll remember longer.

Some other great things to say:

"I'd like to bring you a meal. Would Thursday be good or is there another day that would help you more?"

"I'm so sad about the baby. I feel so sad not to get to know my grandchild (or niece or friend's child) yet." It helps so, so much to know others love your child, too.

"Can I give you a hand with the laundry? I'd love to come to your house to do it or just pick it up, either way!"

"I'm going to Wal-Mart, can I pick you up anything?"

"I'm going to the grocery store. Can I bring you some milk or other groceries? Do you have a list of what you need?"

"I've been thinking about you and praying for you."

"I'm praying for your whole family."

"I'm so sorry. I will be praying for you." Don't say I'm sorry again and again, though, because then she feels compelled to say, "It's okay," but it's not.

"Can I give your children a ride to..." Sometimes she just doesn't want to go out in public, maybe emotions are too near the surface. Sometimes she isn't physically able to go out in public.

"I had a miscarriage and I still think about my baby. I still cry sometimes, too." She may especially want to talk to someone likely to understand.

Some great things to do:

Send an email. It will likely be printed out and saved.

Send a card. These will be treasured as a physical connection to her baby.

Send flowers or a plant. Physical reminders of your love and her baby are such a blessing.

Make a meal.

Wash a load of laundry or cut the grass. When you are grieving, it is hard to get the basics of life taken care of - it's hard to care.

Buy or make her a memory box to put her things in. When my sister-in-law lost her firstborn son to stillbirth, the Lord enabled me to find her a beautiful blue victorian-looking box with cherubs and script saying, "How bright things are here..." She placed her little one's blankets and footprints and everything else she could in it and it is one of her most treasured belongings. Wish I could find one for myself now!

If she will be able to have a burial, buy or make her a white metal box to put the remains in.

Give her a hug whenever you see her.

Pray for her and her whole family whenever you remember.

Do something special for her and pray for her when her due date nears - that can be a very difficult time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What Not to Say About Miscarriage

Miscarriage is called the silent grief because it is just not talked about in the same way other losses to death are. It's sad because families who lose children to miscarriage are grieving the loss of their child the same way someone who loses a child that is older does. In many ways, the grief is hard to bear because often the parents never get to see their child and must wonder for the rest of their lives what that little one looked like and what kind of personality they had and even what gender they were in many cases. There is also so little to remember them by - there are usually no pictures, few memories, not much to hang onto for a lifetime.

Friends and family can be a huge blessing during this time or they can be a great challenge. I know before I had a miscarriage I didn't know what to say to people. Here are some bloopers that sweet, well-meaning people say that make things much harder for the family:

"Aren't you glad you aren't big and pregnant right now? - It's so hot!" Well, no, she's not glad. She'd cheerfully crawl across the Sahara to be carrying her baby again.

"It's for the best. There must have been something wrong with it." Really, she doesn't care. She'd much rather be holding her baby with some birth defect, than be left with empty arms.

"You have other children." Anyone who has other children knows that each child is incredibly special and unique and no one can take their place - and no one can take the place of the lost baby.

"You can always have another baby." She really doesn't know if she can. Only God can open and close the womb and she may not get pregnant again and she knows it.

"You couldn't afford a baby right now anyway." Maybe it doesn't seem so, but she'd sell everything she owned to be pregnant again.

"At least you have another baby! (to a mother expecting twins)" She is grieving not only a child (which is plenty!), but the loss of the relationship between the two and the whole special experience of twins.

"I'm so glad that's over!" You may be happy her physical miscarriage is over - you were probably worried about her, but realize it's not over for her and in many ways, it will never be over - she has lost a child.

"Maybe this is God's way of telling you to stop having children." This is a terrible thing to say. This is not the way the Lord deals with His people. He does not rebuke them for trusting Him. His Word says that children are a gift from Him, a reward - he's not going to punish someone for welcoming His gifts!

"It's the Lord's will." This is absolutely true, but if she's an unbeliever, this may feed her anger at God and make it harder for her to flee to Him when she really needs to. If she is a believer, she knows this already and it can feel like you are rebuking her for grieving, though I know you don't mean to.

"Don't worry, you'll forget all about it." Nope and she doesn't want to.

"You ought to be grateful for the children you have." She is! That's why she is grieving this one so much!

"I know just how you feel." This one doesn't bother me, but many women don't like it because they know everyone grieves differently.

"_______" Lots of folks don't say anything because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. This makes a mother feel like no one recognizes her loss and she feels very alone.

Wondering if it's okay to say anything? It is so important to say something! Tomorrow we'll talk about what TO SAY :-)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lessons Learned - Things I'd Do Differently

Writing the story of my miscarriage made me think of a whole host of things I'd do differently, or lessons I'd learned. I thought it might help someone else avoid some mistakes:

Don't go out of town or let your dear husband go out of town if you are waiting on a miscarriage!

If you start the active part of a miscarriage and you are alone or just with your children, call another woman to come stay with you until your husband or midwife can get there. You don't need privacy as much as you need safety.

Make sure someone stays in the room with you - if they have to leave the room, they shouldn't leave earshot.

If you have a feeling you need help, get it. If you think you might need the midwife to come, ask her to - don't wait for her to volunteer.

Don't sit or lay on a towel - especially a dark colored one! - if you can help it. It is easy to underestimate how much you are bleeding if you can't see it. Chux pads are a better choice.

Don't despair, thinking this is going to take forever, or mar your life, or take away your joy. If you have Christ, you can know for sure, that he has come:

3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of
heaviness; That they may be called trees of
righteousness, The planting of the LORD,
that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

Friday, May 11, 2007

My Twin Miscarriage - Too Much Information For Some

If you don't want to read a very frank account of a natural miscarriage of multiples with some complications, please skip this post. I was desperate to hear how it really happened for other mothers when I was waiting to miscarry, so I am writing this for others.

Five days after the day we found that our second twin had died in utero at 10 weeks, I foolishly encouraged my husband to take our children to the science museum in another city to celebrate my 7 year old's birthday while I stayed home to take our eldest for a doctor's appointment. After the doctor's appointment, while I was checking out, I realized that I could feel blood coming out and it felt like my pad was barely holding it. I had been mildly bleeding for six days, so was wearing a pad. I rushed out to my son's jeep, calling my husband on the way and telling him to rush home. He was an hour away, though! By the time I got to the jeep (not far), I could feel blood on my thighs. Thankfully, I had put a towel on my seat in the jeep just in case. I have precipitous labors (very fast - less than an hour) and didn't know how quickly this might go. I told my dear son to drive us home as quickly as he could under the speed limit. He took one look at me and said, "Mom, are you sure you want me to stay under the speed limit??" I told him we didn't have time to get stopped by a policeman and we had to drive right through town! By the time I got home (6 or 7 minutes) I needed the towel desperately as I was bleeding quickly.

I need to tell you here that I have an incompetent cervix. That means that my cervix dilates without labor until about 7cm. Now obviously, you don't have to be fully dilated to pass a first trimester baby. Most stories I've read start with perhaps slightly heavier bleeding, but mainly cramping and a good bit of it. I did have some cramping the day before we found out the first baby had died and I also had cramping the first night I found out the last baby had gone home to heaven. My lower back hurt - the best way to describe it is a hurt that makes you want to arch your back like a cat - and I felt some menstrual type cramping. My husband was out of state and I think I couldn't let go with him gone. It stopped before morning. I had no cramping the day I actually passed the babies. I think my incompetent cervix had just been stretched enough without it.

When I got home, I rushed upstairs with my cell phone and told my son to keep his cell phone in his pocket. On reflection, it would have been wiser to tell him to stay upstairs so that I could just call out to him to call for help, but I really didn't want him traumatized by this - I want a lot of grandchildren! :-) Thankfully, the first night when I couldn't sleep, I brought some supplies up into my bathroom - some paper towels, some small bowls, the HemHalt and PlacentaOut my midwife had recommended, some towels. Knowing more now, there are some things I would have definitely had in there.

There was definitely a lot of blood. Pretty quickly I passed the broken sac and broken placenta of the little one who died first, over a month ago. I then began to bleed more heavily, so I moved into the tub in case I fainted since I was alone. I had been told by some if you soaked more than one pad an hour, to call for help, but another medical professional told me to soak more often is fine, but you didn't want to soak more than five in a row without help. Well, within 30 minutes, I had soaked 5 and it showed no signs of stopping. What confused me is that at this point I felt fine - not weak or faint at all. I called my friend who is a midwife and talked to her and she recommended that I wait fifteen minutes to see if I passed more tissue, then take HemHalt. I think she did not realize how much I had lost because I sounded so calm - I have this problem in labor, too :-) On reflection, at this point I should have told her I was alone and asked her to come. Wish I had. Fifteen minutes passed, but I was concerned I had not passed everything. What I had passed did not look like a ten week old and I knew one had been alive after 8 weeks. I took a dose of PlacentaOut, knowing that things had to draw to a close pretty soon at the rate I was bleeding! Very soon after that, I passed a perfect little placenta and attached sac.

Moments after that, my dear husband walked in and I praised God that he was there! I told him that I needed HemHalt and that is the last thing I remember. He says I took it, put it in my mouth and then slumped forward unconscious. The next thing I remember is fighting my way through swirling dream images sucking me down like a whirlpool, trying to reach my dear husband who was calling me to come to him. How I love him!! As I came back to consciousness, I was so confused, I didn't know where I was or why. I was so thankful that he was explaining to someone on the phone the whole situation, which clued me in. He told me the midwife was on her way. Then we realized the HemHalt had spilled out on my tummy and I immediately took another dose. We rubbed my fundus, took HemHalt and prayed! I am so thankful the Lord brought my husband home at that moment. Who knows what would have happened if he'd been even 15 minutes later?

In a short time (there is no way to accomplish what she did under the speed limit :-) my old friend and midwife walked in. I was so happy to see her and know she'd know how to manage. She treated me with emergency medications and got the bleeding stopped. I lost a lot of blood! She was so tender and gentle with me that I did not feel her prescence an intrusion, but a blessing. She administered what we needed to get the bleeding stopped, plus electrolyte drinks to get the fluid volume back up. We were all three in the bathroom for some time while we got things under control.

Eventually, we got me moved to the bed and cleaned up and my dear friend cleaned up the bathroom for us. She found some pretty material in my sewing basket to wrap the babies in. I decided I needed to really see them. The littlest was harder to discern. This one had gone home a long time ago and was very little, but the placenta and sac were very clearly there. I was grateful to know absolutely for sure that we'd had twins and I had not grieved in vain. The bigger baby was a perfect, beautiful little tee-niney baby floating in a perfect little sac and attached to a perfect placenta. I can't understand why these little ones went home. All I can do is trust the Lord who made them and me and made me their mother. He does nothing whimsically or in vain, but even a word of His does not return void. I trust His purpose. How precious heaven became to me in that hour! One day I will meet my children again and never be separated from them for eternity!

The bleeding had almost stopped by about 10. The whole thing started about 4:50. The worst of it was the first hour and a half. After that, I continued to bleed and pass clots, but not so dangerously heavy. After 10, it had slowed down to just spotting. I had a very hard time sleeping that night. I had to go to the bathroom every hour or even less. I felt hot and weird all over. The hot I think was from all the HemHalt (it took about half a bottle over several hours - plus Wombstringe and other emergency meds to stop the bleeding). The weird thing was my blood felt strange traveling through my veins, like a rush, then pause, in my hands. I think this was probably because my blood volume was so low.

After all was cleaned up, I was very hungry (which is typical for me, I am starved after labor!) and ate a big meal. We then got my dear children upstairs to explain that it had finally completed and to open my poor, dear 7yo's birthday presents. It was such a comfort to me to see their tenderness with me about the babies and also to see their happy, carefree joy in his birthday even in this. Their trust in the heavenly Father's will is an amazement and glory.

I am so grateful for my dear, dear husband. When we saw the babies, I saw him choke up and then he went into the bathroom. I knew he went in there to cry and I loved him so much for it. I was so thankful to be in unity with him in grief and sorrow, just as we had been so long in joy and happiness. Although it tore me up to see him hurting, I was so thankful he loved our children like I do.

I am so grateful to have a friend who is not only a midwife, but a Christian, and one who shares our conviction to welcome whatever children the Lord may place in our family. What a comfort to have someone likeminded to share this time with us. How comfortable I felt with her there. May the Lord raise up an army of godly midwives like those in Egypt. What a blessing it was to stay home where all were in sympathy during this time our feelings were so raw.

We saved what our little ones left when they went home to heaven. We will bury them at a spot precious to us and remember them with two trees there. Even little ones who never drew breath should be treated with reverence as made in the image of God.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My Story

One day in March, the day my cycle was due, I woke up and didn't want any breakfast. Now that is remarkable for me, because I usually can't stand to wait a second for breakfast, but I didn't think much about it until the next morning when I woke up nauseous. Suddenly I remembered the pregnancy tests I had just bought from one of the MOMYS. I did a test right away and got two dark red lines! Wow! That was unusual, usually I didn't even get a faint line until a day or two after my cycle was due, and my cycles had been rather short lately, too. I immediately sent my dear husband, who was away on a business trip, an e-card congratulating him on his new baby. When he called, I could hear the joy in his gentle, choked up voice. What a great husband! I then told showed the children the card I had sent their daddy. They shouted and yelled with joy! They were so excited that the Lord had given another gift to our family! Everyone wondered if it would be a boy or a girl - we had six boys and one little girl - the youngest.

Within a couple of days, I was having very strange symptoms. My blood sugars went wild (I tested as I felt funny after eating a lot of carbs) and they usually didn't become a problem until much later. I started having heart palpitations. I didn't know if all of this was because I had been on a low carb diet, or if something was different with this pregnancy. One week after the positive test, I went in to my OB's office to check out these weird symptoms. There on the screen, we plainly saw two nice little gestational sacs. I was ecstatic! I knew before she even told me - that's why the sudden, strong symptoms - there were two little ones in there. Hal knew right away when I called him, too and we laughed together over our double blessing! That was week 5, day 1.

We were both euphoric at the idea of twins. It seemed daunting to face the difficulties I deal with in pregnancy with twice the weight on my cervix and twice the risk, but it was obviously well worth it. That weekend it looked like one of the children might have the flu so Hal banished me to Mama's house. I had a fantastic weekend searching the internet for all sorts of information about twins and twin pregnancy. Again, daunting, but delightful. I was so excited. When I got home, I kept sneaking a peak at the ultrasound picture I'd brought home showing two little sacs. I'd tucked it in the bill container and everytime I sat at the computer (which is way too often :-) I'd pull it out and stare in amazement. My grandfather was a twin - the youngests of a large family and I'd always wondered if we would have any. It was a thrill!

By the next week, I started feeling better, less heart palpitations, lower blood sugars. It didn't worry me much until week 6, day 1 when I started having some cramping. I drank water and went to bed and the next morning at the OB's the ultrasound showed only one sac - one of our precious twins had gone straight to the arms of the Savior. I was so stunned, confused at the doctors and it didn't really sink in until late that night when weeping overtook me. As soon as I knew about the twins, I had pictured the two of them lying like spoons between me and the bedrail and me reaching over and laying my hands across them, feeling them breathe. I had to accept that our little one to come would never know his twin until heaven.

At my 8th week appointment, we saw the little remaining child's heartbeat and we finalized plans for my cerclage surgery to be at 11.5 weeks. I never had any bleeding or cramping beyond that one afternoon, but I had read that was not unusual when a twin was lost early. I was very conflicted during this time. It was very, very strange to have suffered a miscarriage and still be pregnant. I felt like I couldn't enter into either the grief or the joy without conflict. I was so busy during this time, frantically cleaning house and tying up lose ends preparing for the bedrest to come and never even considering that we could lose the other child.

The night of the 10th week, the first day, I saw some spotting when I went to the bathroom. Oh no! I asked my husband and eldest son to pray and I prayed, but I really wasn't anticipating the worst news - I had a lot of spotting with two or three of our other children and had been given progesterone until it was well stopped. I thought I probably needed a little extra progesterone and that would be it.

The next morning I went to the OB's to see what was happening. He checked with the old ultrasound in the room and we certainly thought we saw a heartbeat. He checked my cervix and it was closed tightly. Just to be sure, we went to the newer machine. After much checking with both ultrasound wands - there was no heartbeat. I was absolutely stunned after seeing it just a few minutes ago. I was in shock. I talked to the doctor about what would happen. We agreed that a D&C was a bad idea for me with the incompetent cervix - I couldn't afford to weaken it further. I also well remember a friend who had a difficult, bloody miscarriage when we were younger, but refused a D&C - seven months later she gave birth to that baby's twin.

This was so hard! My sweet husband was in Nebraska on a customer call for our business - how would I make it through the day without him?? I went home and told our precious children who were so sad - I will never forget the sorrow and tears in their eyes for their young siblings. How I rejoice to have children who value life - who understand what is important. My dear eldest son took all of the children to my mothers' for the day so that I could cry for awhile. I can't cry with them here because they are nearly all guys and they think they have to fix it - tears them to pieces for me to be upset.

I told my dear husband when he called after his calls were all done - we are truly one and I can't keep things from him for a minute. He had to pull over because he couldn't see for the tears. Many people would not understand our sorrow - this was, in a worldly sense, not a great time to be pregnant: we were starting a new business and no money was coming out of it at all, our house is too small for us and we are at our wits' end how to manage with it, we have all sorts of commitments in the next few months. Those who don't understand, though, need to see children as we do - gifts from God, rewards, precious unique additions to our family. When you have had seven children, you know how different, how dear, how incredible each new soul is. When you have had children grow from infancy to adulthood, you know what you have lost in miscarriage. You know the years of interaction, conversation, joy, and happiness you are losing. You know that you are losing decades of joy and friendship, pleasure and pride in your children.

Therefore, we weep. We weep for what we wish we were able to share with those children. But, we don't mourn as those who have no hope. We do not weep for our children, because we know that they behold the face of the Father. We know they are in the realm of the Great King, where there is no sorrow, no pain, no sin. They are the gainers by it, even if we are, for the time being, the losers. We will know them one day.

I will share about the actual physical miscarriage in another post, because I know that there are some for whom it will be too much information! On the other hand, I was desperate to read stories with all the details so I could have an idea what to expect.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Need to Talk? Need to Listen?

When I found out we were facing an inevitable miscarriage, I was desperate for information. I'm a control freak and I feel like I can handle most anything as long as I know what to expect. Well, miscarriage isn't like that, but that's another story. I did find some message boards that were active - my main criteria - because if you are facing a miscarriage anyday now, you can't wait til next month for an answer to your question. Here are some I'd recommend:

Facts About Miscarriage Forums This is one of the most active out there, with many posts every day.

Silent Grief Forums These are detailed, supportive forums that are pretty active. I liked that it had separate forums for all sorts of situations.

There are some others I'm thinking about adding that I got good information from, but some aren't very active (and it can hurt when you don't get a response to your posting and you are in no mood for more hurt) and some are just kind of brutal emotionally. As believers, Hal and I remember that we do not grieve as those who have no hope, and sometimes witnessing the full-blown grief of those who are indeed without hope is very hard to bear. The above boards have both kinds certainly, but the tone is okay in most cases.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Most Helpful Thing

I posted a prayer request on MOMYS when I found out our second twin had died. Right away, Rebekah, one of the MOMYS, emailed and asked if she could send me a book a friend of hers had written about miscarriage. Providentially, the book arrived two days after the miscarriage when I woke up thinking, "I need to write all this down."

Teardrop Diary by Erin McSparron is a journal for your journey in grief and healing. Erin wrote it following her own miscarriage and it is a tender, tasteful, and encouraging help to record your thoughts and feelings. Pages of Erin's poetry and encouragement are alternated with pages for journaling. Journal pages are lined and each is headed with a Bible verse about grief, sorrow, hope, healing, or providence. The verses are incredibly well chosen. Erin's poetry is right on target in hitting the feelings and tenderness of this time. Some are unpolished, or not quite on meter, but I don't think that in anyway lessens their value for helping you to express your feelings.

I felt an urgent need to record everything I could about our brief time with the twins. I especially wanted to record the happy times - the surge of joy I felt when I saw we were expecting twins - how fun it was to tell Hal. I wanted to record the things the Lord did to show me His love and care during our trial - the hymns our church sang the first Sunday after the first twin died - the food and messages everyone sent. I wanted to record what happened physically, so that I could look back at it later and try to understand. I even wanted to record our sorrow and grief, because these memories would be all we had until we met our twins in heaven. This book made all of this easy. Thank you Erin and thank you, Rebekah!

Recovery from Blood Loss

I hemorrhaged during the miscarriage of our twins, though I didn't go to the hospital because a dear midwife friend was able to stop the bleeding. If I'd gone to the hospital, I'd have probably received a transfusion, though I'm glad I didn't because then I'd be worried about exposure to disease. Anyway, I've had a tough time finding out how to best recover from blood loss, because everything assumes if you had significant blood loss, you had a transfusion. So, there's my mandate again: I had a tough time finding out about it, so I'll record it here!

I remember reading in the novels of G.A. Henty of heroes who would be sorely wounded in battles and lose a lot of blood. It would take them months to recover! I thought, "What Victorian baloney!" but now I know better! True, now we have antibiotics to prevent infection, but the reason we don't hear about recoveries like that any more is that nearly everyone who loses a lot of blood these days, gets transfused. Those who don't get transfusions, though tell about weeks and weeks of weakness and recovery time. I read on a Red Cross website that it takes 3-4 weeks for your body to replace the red blood cells in a pint of blood.

What can you do to get up to speed more quickly? My OB's office recommended taking twice the normal dose of iron supplements and vitamin C to increase uptake. My midwife friend recommended liquid iron like Floradix and liquid chlorophyll. The chlorophyll molecule is very similar to the heme molecule which hold iron in our body. The theory is that the body can use chlorophyll as a shortcut - remove the magnesium and add an iron. Everyone recommended eating lots of red meat (especially liver - if you don't like it you haven't had it cooked right!) and dark leafy greens (collards are my thing!).

Well, I've been mostly in the bed for almost two weeks and am still pretty weak. I don't want my experience to frighten you out of a natural miscarriage at home. Hemorrhaging is very rare and seems to be often connected to something unusual - like an already anemic mom who's losing twins - me! I'm still glad I did it at home because I don't have to worry that they made a mistake with the ultrasound, I got to be with people I love and didn't have to hear the smart mouths at the hospital, and I got to say goodbye in my own way to our beloved babies.

Kristi's Story & Her Good Advice, Too

My friend Kristi is not only a midwife and mother of many, but is also a survivor of twin miscarriage and early twin loss. She and I had a long visit just a few days after I lost our twins and our conversation really blessed me. Read Kristi's story and then be sure to click on the pdf's at the bottom for her good advice. To read her story, go to her website, click on Midwifery, then on Early Loss.


I just read a very good short article that well describes the emotions of a Christian during the great trial of pregnancy loss. I'd call this one "crashing waves of sorrow and deep peace."