Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hope in the Holidays

This time of year can be so difficult when you are grieving. The holidays are times when we gather with family and when a family member is missing, the pain sometimes seems unbearable. Last Christmas was so hard without our twins and I know that many of you are facing the holidays for the first time with a hole in your heart.

How can we find hope and stay away from the pits of bitterness and anger and despair that seem all around us? I think we need to remember the whole Christmas story. When we think of Christmas, we think of babies, particularly the baby Jesus. This can be really hard when we are suffering the loss of a precious little one. What we forget is the whole story...

The Father sent His Son to earth knowing He would die a tragic death, executed though innocent, tortured though undeserving, suffering for sins He would never commit. Our dear Father knows grief and loss. He understands our pain and He loves us. He loves us so much He sent His Son to suffer in our place, to die for our sins, that we may live. When you remember the whole story, it takes the emphasis off the little newborn to the grandest story of all - The Creator who died for his Creations.

Please, throw yourself into His arms this season. He won't make light of your grief, but He will wipe away your tears. This season, let's keep our eyes on the end of the story, and the end of the story isn't the Cross... It's the eternal life we will share with our little ones where there is no more death, no more pain, no more loss. Look at the Christmas tree and think about how it's evergreen nature reminds us of eternal life and the lights of the Light of the World. Look at the wreaths and remember the circle is a sign of life everlasting and the red bows can remind us of the blood shed to give us that life. Look at the holly and think of the thorns that hurt Him and the blood He shed for us. There is so much in Christmas to remind us of the incredible love of our Savior.

May He wrap you all tight in His arms and wipe away your tears during this holy-day season.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Biological Clock Sometimes Lies

This week on one of my favorite forums, a poor sweet mama who has been desperately trying to conceive wrote in frantic because she was turning 30 and her biological clock was telling her she was running out of time. Folks, it wasn't her biological clock, it was our crazy, over-medicalized society that evidently thinks you should only conceive your alloted 1.8 children between the ages of 26 (don't want you to marry too early, the culture says!) and 34 years old.

Thankfully, life isn't restricted like that. God made us fertile from our teens to our forties and I don't see any Biblical justification (and not a heck of a lot of scientific justification) for limiting your child-bearing in any way from marriage to menopause.

For the record, after the very difficult miscarriage of our twins last year, I'm 44 and pregnant and I feel great. The babe is growing nicely and kicking constantly and I'm looking forward to another great birth.

If you are hoping and praying for another child in the wake of a devastating loss, please don't add to your stress by buying into all that age/biological clock business. Yes, my eggs are older, but my God is still sovereign. I serve the same God Sarah (Abraham's wife who bore Isaac in her old age) did. Why should we fear?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Resisting Bitterness

One of the reasons I started this site is that the vast, vast majority of what I found when I googled miscarriage was absolutely saturated with bitterness and anger. I was reminded of that recently on one of my favorite forums when a grieving mother just poured out her hostility toward a pregnant relative. I do understand. It is so hard to watch those who have what you want so desperately and don't seem to even appreciate it. However, I am convinced that bitterness and jealousy just hurts us even more than we have already been hurt.

First of all, jealousy is a sin. I know. We have all been taught that birth control is so important, that you can get pregnant so easily, and now... we have empty arms. It seems like it's a right to have a family, to hold a child and it makes us angry to lose one instead. And then to look at all those for whom it seems so easy... it's hard not to be jealous. However, something being natural doesn't make it right. We are naturally sinners and jealousy is natural, yet the Ten Commandments say:

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

Including your neighbor's easy pregnancy or baby. Likewise, bitterness is not appropriate for a Christian:

"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice."

And so, if we examine our hearts and repent of all jealousy and bitterness, why is it still so hard to see little ones the ages of the ones we miss? Because we remember and we wish and our loss is renewed. I am crying writing this because I so wish our twins were here. Is that wrong? No. Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus even though he knew Lazarus would be raised from the dead - right away. Death is our enemy and a result of the curse of sin. It is appropriate to grieve. It is not appropriate to grieve as those who have no hope.

Only those who do not understand the Sovereignty and Mercy of God have an excuse for bitterness and jealousy. Our Father knows our grief and loves us. Our children will be raised from the dead. We will see them again. Let's not give way to the sinful emotions of jealousy and bitterness. Our sin causes a separation between us and God and really, we need to be close to Him in this time of grief far more than we need to give way.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Incompetent Cervix

Many women lose one or two or even more babies to second trimester miscarriage before their doctor will diagnose them with incompetent cervix. This is so sad!! I have an incompetent cervix and I want you to know something about them so you don't have to have those multiple losses if you suffer from it.

An incompetent cervix is a cervix that can not hold up the weight of a baby. It most commonly shows up in the middle of the second trimester, but that is not always true and it is important that you understand that. With my first child, my water broke and cervix began opening at 35 weeks. With my second, it was about 24-26 weeks, and with my third, 13 weeks! All over the place. So how can you know if incompetent cervix is your problem??

If you are showing cervical funneling (shown on transvaginal ultrasound), cervical shortening, cervical ripening (softening), dilating or effacement before the end weeks of pregnancy without having significant preterm labor, you may have an incompetent cervix. It is hard to tell whether it is your cervix or preterm labor because the cervical opening can provoke preterm labor. There is no real test for this.

Some doctors advocate a wait and see approach. Unfortunately, cervical change can happen very, very quickly and I know moms who appeared to be fine at their appointment and then lost their babies two or three days later. No thanks.

I think it is much better, if IC (incompetent cervix) is a possibility, to do a cerclage anyway. It should be done before 17 weeks and the earlier, the less likely you will have complications or infections. It is a simple, no problem stitching of the cervix and I would a whole lot rather have an unnecessary one than lose a child.

Sometimes, though, the opening is found too late to do a cerclage - it wouldn't be safe for the baby. At that point, there is still much that can be done: a Smith-Hodge pessary, anti-tocolytics (anti-labor drugs like nefedipine or terbutaline), and complete bedrest in the Trendelenburg position (lifting the foot of the bed a few inches). I was too late to get a cerclage with our second child, but with the help of these things was able to get him to 37 weeks anyway. It's much, much easier with a cerclage, but don't despair!

I highly recommend the IC Forum at Healing Our Broken Hearts for support and encouragement if you think you might have this problem!

Hope in Miscarriage

Dear Friends,

It's been awhile since I've posted: I couldn't really think about it during the first few months of this pregnancy I was so nervous about losing this baby. I think that is one very hard thing about miscarriage - you never just trust that it'll be alright during other pregnancies. I have found it much harder to bond with this baby and to anticipate the baby's birth because I have worried so much about losing it. I hate that and I'm working on it seriously!

Much love,

Monday, June 30, 2008

New Hope and Fear

Well, after quite a few months of wondering if I had reached that certain age, I've found out that we are expecting again. Pregnancy has always been a time of concern, even fear, due to my many pregnancy problems (incompetent cervix, gestational diabetes, preterm labor, low progesterone, etc), but this is a new feeling. Losing the twins last year has made me afraid to look forward to the future.

We have always told our children right away that we were expecting because we have to start getting ready right away! Now when we talk to the children about the baby, I wonder if we will soon be talking about grief. I wonder how much they will be hurt. I don't like this. I don't like the lost innocence of no longer assuming that one day we'll have a baby from this pregnancy.

I refuse to succumb to the temptation to wait and see before we tell anyone. I know that if we do lose another baby, it will be very hard to talk to everyone about it, but I also know that our baby deserves to be acknowledged, deserves to be known. Perhaps our love for our children, whether here with us or in heaven will encourage others to value life and to welcome children.

Perfect love casts out fear. Dear Heavenly Father, give me rest and peace in your perfect will and perfect love. Please take care of this little one and allow us to raise it if it is your will. In Christ's Name, Amen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Long Term Bleeding After Miscarriage

I really thought I had posted this when I figured it out last year, but when I went looking for it, I couldn't find it. As those of you who've been reading this blog know, I had bleeding for a *long* time after my miscarriage of twins last year. Weeks and weeks. I would bleed for awhile, then it would taper off and stop for several days, then start again. It was extremely frustrating!

Finally a reader of this blog wrote me and suggested that I look at the pattern of breaks and when it restarted and sure enough, each restart was exactly 26 days apart - I was not continuing to bleed with a few breaks, but my cycle had reestablished itself, but the time of bleeding in each cycle was extremely long and the cycles short. I wish I had realized this sooner because I wonder if there is something I could have done to regulate my hormones (herbs or something) and shorten that bleeding that was keeping me worn out. By August, my cycles were more normal.

I hope this will encourage someone else to check the pattern when she seems to be bleeding for weeks and weeks. I pray for those who are reading this blog that our Lord would hold you in His arms and heal you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Research on Miscarriage

I always hesitate to share research on miscarriage causes because I know we survivors beat ourselves up so badly if we can possibly think we did something wrong. However, I also know that we would go to great lengths to do anything that might keep this from happening again, so here goes:

In a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kaiser Permanente researchers report that women drinking less than 200mg of caffeine daily were 40% more likely to miscarry than those drinking none. Those drinking more than 200mg were twice as likely to miscarry as those drinking none. The study included over 1000 women and they allowed for differences in morning sickness.

On the other hand, researcher David Savitz, in Epidemiology, reports on a study of over 2000 women in which he found no link between miscarriage and caffeine. He did say the women in his study were light caffeine drinkers.

So where do we go from there?? Okay, 200 mg is about two cups of coffee or five cans of soda. The first study showed that caffeine from any source was a problem - soft drinks, coffee, even hot chocolate. It really upset me that one of the OBs at Kaiser Permanente who was not involved in the study advises women in their first trimester to limit consumption to that 200mg level. Is 40% increased risk acceptable to keep from giving up coffee - I don't think so!

I think it would be far wiser to say, "We have conflicting studies, but while this is resolved, avoid all caffeine. It won't hurt you and it may reduce your risk of miscarriage drastically." And that's my advice. Bye-bye caffeine!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Christmas Joy and Tears

We were so blessed this Christmas. We are having a very difficult time financially and my dear brother stepped into the gap and provided many wonderful gifts for our children. It was a very confusing time for me. I was so happy to see my children's dreams fulfilled, yet I couldn't help remembering that we could have been holding our twins.

The hardest time for me was late in the day when we were helping the children put together their toys. My little princess, our only girl, received twin baby dolls and a whole set of equipment for them - a twin stroller, twin high chair, twin cradle and more. The set was precious, but oh, was it hard to put together. When Hal and I were sitting there screwing it all together, it suddenly came over me how dear it would be to be putting these twin things together if we had the twins with us. I just lost it. Not upset at the toys, but instead sorrowful that we didn't have that. I had so been looking forward to our little girl playing with her twin dolls while I took care of our twins.

I really understood for the first time how difficult holidays can be. It reminded me of the first Thanksgiving and Christmas after my father died when I was fourteen. This Christmas, through my tears, the Father reminded me that He knew what it was like to lose a child to death and He would bring me through it, yet we were not to grieve as those who have no hope. I will not let bitterness have a place in my life. I will chose to rejoice in the reunion to come. May we have Merry Christmases that do not depend on the absence of sorrow, but instead are all the sweeter as we remember that this is why the Savior was born - to take the sting from death - Oh grave where is thy victory?????? He is risen, and so will we be one day!