Pregnancy after loss

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My rainbow baby

Today is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. I have to admit in the past I didn’t give much thought to this day. I knew people suffered losses and actually can tell you stories of people who have lost babies or who have miscarried, and have shed tears for those moms and those babies. As I write this, their faces come to my mind, but never did I think I would become one of those moms.

I didn’t even want kids when I got married and my husband was ok with that. Then we got pregnant with my first and I was super excited. After we had our first I was ready for a second. We decided to try earlier then we usually would because we had heard of second child infertility but we conceived right away and baby two was born 20 months after baby one. The I had to convince my husband for a third but all was well and we had a third 3.5 years after the second. Well, then came time for a fourth and really my husband had his reservations, but I FINALLY convinced him. We were able to get pregnant right away and I was due on his birthday! We had the 8 week ultrasound and everything looked good. Went in at 10 weeks and all was well. Next appointment was at 14 weeks and NO heartbeat. All my kids were with me and I was devastated. You can read more here. There were some blessing that came out of my miscarriage though.

  1. I was able to miscarry on my own at home without any medical intervention which was my wish. As a result I was able to see and hold this tiny little life. Although this was an incredibly difficult moment, it was AMAZING to see how God knits together a child in my womb. The teeny tiny fingers that were the size of string, the tiny little arms and legs. All of it just perfect.
  2. I realized I was not alone. As I told others I was SHOCKED by the number of people that also had experienced miscarriage or lost a child. It also gave me the opportunity to relate to people that I could not have before. This is a unique experience and although we may think we know what it may be like or can imagine… you really can’t.
  3. It brought my husband and I closer together and made us truly appreciate all we have.

One thing that isn’t talked about often that goes along with miscarriage is what happens when you get pregnant after having experienced a miscarriage. We decided we still wanted to try and have another child but now I was getting older. We knew that we might not be able to have more and we didn’t want to go through the ups and downs so we talked about putting a date on it. If we aren’t pregnant by X, then we stop trying. Usually we got pregnant right away but after the miscarriage we did not. Each month was a disappointment and I started to get a TINY glimpse at how people that cannot conceive or who have trouble may feel. Each month I would “feel” pregnant and each month I was not. I had given away most of our baby stuff by then and was ready to give up the rest and just be done. A full year and one month after my miscarriage we were pregnant. I didn’t realize the panic, anxiety and intense worry that would come with this pregnancy. I never dreamed it would be such a big deal.

I started to worry about if it would happen again. I reasoned that I didn’t even want to go to the doctor until 12 weeks because what was the point? There is nothing they can do. And what if I miscarried again? Around 8 weeks I started to not feel pregnant anymore and completely panicked. I called the doctor and they encouraged me to come in. It turned out they had an appointment that same day. I was so nervous getting that first ultrasound and there was our baby, healthy and with a heartbeat. I completely lost it and started sobbing. There was a wave of relief yet this was only the beginning. I had lost the other baby at 11 weeks 5 days but didn’t find out until 14 weeks. Each day I was wondering what was going on inside me. Finally at 12 weeks we heard the heartbeat and my blood pressure at that appointment was 165/110. This prompted much worry by the doctors which caused them to want me to go on medicine, monitor my BP, and have extra appointments, which stressed me even more. We heard the heartbeat and again I sobbed! I had no clue how emotional this pregnancy was going to be. I kept thinking at every turn I was going to lose this baby! The doctors encouraged me to call any time and that I could come in and hear the heartbeat. There were a few times where they couldn’t find the heartbeat and so they would go and get the handheld ultrasound and I was panicking because it felt like the same circumstances that surrounded my miscarriage but then I would see it on the screen.

A big hurdle was the 20 week ultrasound when we could see that baby was ok and then when I could feel her move then I had more peace of mind. If I was worried I would eat some sugary food, drink water, and lie down. Then I could feel her and know she was alive. She was born healthy and happy Aug 22, 2017 and she was perfectly healthy. There are days that I still wonder if she will remain alive. I know it’s lies that satan puts in my head but these are real struggles and I know I’m not alone. I had reached out to a friend who was also pregnant after loss and she helped me get through my pregnancy. I tell you all this because I know there are other women out there that are pregnant after loss and it is so difficult! The mind games you go through are tough but know you are not alone and there are others that have gone though it. Take one day at a time and reach out to others for help and support.

Jessica

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Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.

The past few months have been crazy ones. I’ve had 3 friends move away, three other friends lose parents or in laws, a couple friends adopt and a few more have babies. Each time I wanted to make a meal, send a gift card, buy an outfit, or visit. So why am I telling you this? Because we cannot help everyone. Although I wanted to, I just couldn’t keep up financially or from a time perspective. Yes, each person is important to me and I wanted to help but we just couldn’t.

Now maybe everyone else doesn’t feel the tug to help others as I do? But I really feel like if I don’t do something other than comment on a Facebook post or text them that they won’t really think that I care but that isn’t the case. I think it’s ok to send just a card or just make a phone call or just text. The thing is we all go through these crazy seasons of life and even if we aren’t in a crazy season we still sometimes have a lot going on. I wish I could give some wise words on picking and choosing what you do and for whom but I don’t have a good answer other then pray about it and do what the spirit leads you. If you can’t help out, it’s totally ok!

I always forget that in order to take care of others I need to first take care of my family and myself. If I had run out and done something for each of those families I may have neglected myself or my family. It takes time to make meals, send cards, stop by, etc. It’s ok to take care of ourselves and then do what we can.

On the other front it’s ok to ask for help and say specifically what you need. I have a couple specific thoughts here. I know I have said this before but it’s worth repeating!

  1. I remembered asking several people years ago what I could do to help or if I could bring by a meal and they said no. I went to Adam quite upset and asked him why no one would take my help. He said “What do you say when people ask if they can help?” That phrase was so convicting. I always tell people, “No thanks. I’m fine.” I was not allowing others to help me and although I thought I was helping them by saying no I then realized maybe they really did want to help and I was taking that opportunity from them.
  2. It’s ok to say what you need and what is helpful and what is not! When I bring someone a meal the last thing I want to happen is for them to accept it graciously and then not eat it because it’s not something they like OR accept it when really it would have been more helpful for me to clean their house or watch their kids for a few hours. I know this is hard because no one wants to say what they really need because then we feel like we have to follow through even if they ask for something we can’t really give them. So what if someone asked, “How can I help?” and you said, “I need my house cleaned.” I could then say “sure” or “I don’t think I can take that on right now but I can bring you a meal or watch your kids for a couple hours.” or “Maybe I can organize a group to come help.” It’s a two way street. Both parties need to say what’s on their mind and neither person offended.

Sometimes I look back on a time in my life and the way I acted and I am so embarrassed but at the time I acted according to what was going on and what I could handle. It’s easy to look at back and tell myself how dumb I was or what I should have done or said but in the THAT moment, state of mind, and time, I did the best I could.

I hope I’m making sense here! Now I realize that there are some people that are the opposite of me and maybe have never done anything for anyone else or very rarely. If that is you I encourage you to look for a way to bless someone else big or small. You won’t regret it. I have a friend that told me she doesn’t mind helping other but she doesn’t just see the need and execute. She needs someone to say, “I need….” That is completely ok too! We are all different and that is the beautiful thing about life!

How about you? How do you balance your time, gift, giving, etc? Anyone have any tips for me?

Jessica

Choose JOY!

I recently posted an article on Facebook and it got quite the lash back from people. I find lots of thing interesting and enjoy reading research. Now just because research is done, doesn’t mean it applies to all. Just because we do something, have an opinion, and share it, doesn’t mean we think everyone needs to do it OUR way. Yet I find people take things posted as a personal attack and feel the need to defend themselves and their opinion when anything is contrary to their beliefs. There are certain issues that I will go to bat for but there are also many things that I think there are several ways to do. For instance, there is ONE way to heaven and that is through Jesus. There are several ways to teach our kids how to read but how we each go about that may look different. Some may homeschool, public school, private school, private tutor and they may use phonics or whole language. I think they are all good options and may also depend on the child. There is no need for me to tell you that the way you are teaching your child to read is wrong just because my experience was different than yours. I hope that makes sense.

I saw this article someone posted. And then I saw this article.  Now I know this will take some work on your part to read through these and once you do I have a few questions. Both of these women approach the same topic and their feelings toward it. After you read each article take the stance and attitude of the author and answer the following questions:

  1. How do you feel after reading each article?
  2. How do you feel toward your spouse when you have the attitude and feelings of the author?
  3. How do you treat your husband as a result of those feelings?
  4. What is the state of your mental health?

I once went to my counselor, yes I have one and have been to one throughout my life on different occasions. I walked in and told her that my kids were driving me nuts and that they never listen to me. She asked me how I felt when I thought of my kids that way and how I treated them. I responded that I felt mad, angry, short tempered, and irritable with my kids. She asked me if I always listen. Of course I do not. There are times when people have said things and I’ve been absorbed in something else. She then asked if my kids NEVER listen. Well, no there were plenty of times that they did listen. See it had to do with my focus and my attitude more so than my kids behavior. I could choose to be frustrated and annoyed or I could choose to be patient. My kids behavior will mostly likely be the same but I can be mad or joyful as I deal with it.

My point in relation to these articles is I can choose to be upset, angry, bitter, resentful, etc. or I can choose to see it differently. See no one asks me to keep the house clean, buy gifts, manage the kids etc. What would happen if I stopped doing those things? I imagine they would figure it, but they would handle it differently than I would. See my husband and I have very differently priorities and I don’t see that as a bad thing. We both tackle a problem in different ways. Sure if I hired a maid I would call several places and do the research and figure out the best price. Left to my husband he would call the first place and give it a try and if it worked great, if not he’d probably fire them and go to the next one.

I’m sure there will be lots of comments on this and some not so nice ones but my point is this. You can try, if you’d like, to change people and circumstances. You can be frustrated, bitter, and angry. You can also accept things and choose joy. It’s solely up to you. You cannot control others and I fully believe in what Charles Swindoll said:

charles-swindoll-longer-i-live-attitude

What do you choose today?

Jessica

 

Overwhelmed… Did you ask?

As many of you know we just had our fourth daughter 4 weeks ago! When my first daughter was born I asked for a couple meals when I went back to work. Right after birth my sister stayed and helped a bit. Then I had c section with Maya and recovery was harder but Hannah could go to daycare because I was working. Even though I took time off, I still had to pay for daycare. So I mine as well use it, right? I also had my mom help for a week and then my mother in law for a week. Again a couple meals when I went back to work. Then with Kayla we had just moved into our house a couple months prior and we had lived in an apartment before that. Life had been in the air for over a year with our house being on the market and trying to move but no bites on the house. We finally took a leap and moved into an apartment and had two payments. Our house sold but we still needed to make it to closing. Still then Hannah started school and I only had Maya at home and a newborn. AND I went into labor on my own and so it went smoothly. I felt great afterwards!

This time was a little different. I was now staying home and homeschooling all three girls. I had cleared my schedule and froze some food to be prepared. Isabella came three weeks early because I was induced because of preeclampsia and I wasn’t quite ready yet. Not to mention when you are induced the recovery is a bit slower. I had a lot of things happen after labor which caused me to need to rest and be home. I needed help. I don’t like to ask for help but as my husband pointed out to me a long time ago, I need to allow others to help me. Years ago I had told Adam how disappointed I was because I wanted to help others and no one ever took me up on the offer! Adam then said well do you allow others to help? I didn’t even need to answer. I got the point. It’s a humbling moment and one that helped me to realize I need to allow others to help.

In college I worked at a summer camp. They would bring in inner city families that were on free and reduced lunch. We would bus them from the city to the suburbs to experience the country. As a part of the training experience the staff did a team building course. It was the first time I had ever done anything like it. It was a ton of fun. I learned to have to trust and rely on others and to ask for help! I distinctly remember one activity that we did. See there was an obstacle and the facilitator would give us a little info and we had to figure out as a team how to tackle that obstacle. I can’t remember the exact set up of the activity but the solution was simple…. ask for help! How easy yet difficult that is to do?

Sometimes I make it so hard but this time I told people exactly what I needed and I think it makes it so much easier for people to help.  No one has to guess what I wanted and everything was actually helpful. I don’t want to bring someone a meal if what they need is someone to watch their kids. I want my help to make a difference not cause more stress. I hope that makes sense. I tend to say to people, “What can I do to help?” but a lot of times people will just say, “nothing.” Maybe they don’t actually need anything but sometimes, if they are like me, they are afraid to ask or think they are asking too much. I’ve found that people were happy to help and it was incredible. I am overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of others. It made the recovery process so much easier! I have learned also what people did for me that was above and beyond helpful that I wouldn’t even think of. So now next time I go to help someone, I can reflect back on what others did for me and pass it along.

Do you like to help others? What do you find helpful in a circumstance of losing a loved one or having a baby or a trial in life? Each of us is different. What one person finds helpful another person may not! Is it easy for you to ask for what you need or do you feel like you are imposing?

Jessica

PS Thank you to each and every person that has reached out to me. People have brought meals, Tylenol, diapers, come to take pictures, and the list goes on. People have been VERY respectful of our time and my need to rest. I am overwhelmed with their kindness. I can’t thank them enough. I also know I cannot possibly repay each person BUT I know that it take a village and we all can do what we can, when we can. We can help some and not others and that is ok!

Whoops! I did it again!

compare-643305_1920So I just had a baby. On 8/22/2017 we welcomed our fourth daughter into the world, Isabella Theresa. I’m fell instantly in love but one thing was wrong. I immediately started comparing myself to others again.  I’ve been induced 3/4 pregnancies! Kayla, (my last before Isabella) I went into labor on my own and things went very smoothly and I felt so great afterwards. I even started jogging the next week. But this time things were different again. I was induced at 37 weeks. I could have opted for a c section but have been that route and knew what recovery was like. I starting beating myself up over things I couldn’t control. When the doctor told me Monday, August 21 that I had to go to the hospital I started sobbing. I was so upset. My blood pressure had been high in the office from the start but I would take it at home and have normal readings. They kept checking and testing and everything was fine until Monday. They found protein in my urine which meant I had preeclampsia and needed to have the baby right away. I was devastated.

I see women who bounce back fast from labor and delivery and look like they have very few issues. I can relate because after Kayla I had few issues and felt wonderful. When you are induced, have back labor and either you water breaks early in labor or they break it early, it is a completely different ball game. I had to remind myself to have grace with myself and that is a very humbling thing. I’m prideful! I don’t want to have to ask for help! I want to be able to do life on my own. I feel like I’m bothering others and I can’t possibly return all of the favors! There are simply too many. BUT I had to ask for help. A friend organized a meal train and people brought meals. We had very few clothes for the baby, so friends brought clothes. I was told by the doctor to take it easy and not even go for short walks. She just wanted me resting because my blood pressure is still high. I have to go in and get it checked weekly for the next 6 weeks! The funny thing is I look fine. I look capable. My heart is overwhelmed by how kind and loving people have been. A friend brought me the groceries I needed. Another brought me personal things I needed. Several people brought meals, gave clothes, called, stopped by. There were days I was literally sitting on the bathroom floor crying because I felt like I was going to pass out.

What I need to realize is people want to help. I always want to help people but I don’t want to do something that they don’t need so if they just say “Can you……” and lay it out specifically it goes much better. They are satisfied because they could help and I’m happy to get the help! People aren’t keeping score either. They don’t sit here and think well I did that for her and she didn’t do anything for me. I think everyone realizes that people do what they can when they can. Sometimes I can provide help for someone and they can’t ever help me in return and that is ok.

Where are you needing to ask for help? Do you want something in return? Where are you comparing yourself to others? or maybe this isn’t a struggle of yours?

Jessica

You will NEVER be good enough

I sound so cold and harsh don’t I? Growing up I always thought of myself as a “good” person. I was nice to others. I didn’t do the “bad” stuff other people did. I worked hard in school and got good grades. I did the “right” thing. I also always put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. I don’t like making mistakes. There was one problem will all of my thinking. I was NEVER going to be good enough. No matter how much I tried my best efforts would always fall short.

It took me a long time to realize this and what it fully meant. By whose standard was I “good?” What exactly does that even mean? How good is good enough and who is the judge of what is good and what isn’t?  Who is good enough? From a secular perspective, we can argue this point a LOT. We could go rounds and rounds and never quite agree. However, the answer from a Christian world view is quite different. You will NEVER be good enough. That is the point.

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:6

We are ALL sinners and all fall short of the glory of God but we like to categorize sin into degrees of bad. Really no matter the sin, it is all the same to God and this is a TOUGH pill to swallow. So the murderer is as sinful as the liar? The rapest is as sinful as the gossiper?

Once I got over my pride and realized I wasn’t all as great as I thought, there was a peace in this knowledge.  There was this acceptance that came with this knowledge and a certain amount of freedom in my mind. Talk about taking a weight off my shoulders! I cannot nor will I ever be good enough. I can’t earn my way to heaven or earn favor. I can never do enough good in this world to get into heaven.

Romans 3:23 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 3:10 10As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

Romans 5:12 12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned-

So what happens to us as imperfect people in this fallen world? We go to hell. BUT there is another way.

Romans 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is Jesus! Even while we were sinners and God knew we would sin, He died for us. He took our place because what we really deserve is death. See we really don’t deserve anything.

Romans 5:8 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So what can I do? You can admit that you are a sinner and ask Jesus to forgive you for your sins.

Romans 10:9-10 9If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is LORD,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Does this mean you are going to be perfect? NO! Does this mean you won’t ever sin again? NO! So what does this mean? It means that you recognize you are not good and will never be good enough. You need help and that help is Jesus. This doesn’t mean life is going to be easy or that you won’t have any issues. When you mess up or sin you should feel the conviction of the holy spirit and feel that something is not right. Whereas before maybe you didn’t feel bad and kept on doing it. Take heart and REST! You cannot be perfect and there is no point in trying. Have peace!

Jessica

 

Do they deserve less?

Over the years we have encountered more and more missionary families. We have also run into more and more families wanting to be plant churches. Of course all of these families need to raise support in order to do missions, plant a church, etc. You get the idea. Well, it wasn’t until we were doing our own mission trip and raising support that my own attitude was revealed.

We all like to have what we want. Maybe some people like nice houses, others like nice cars and yet some value vacations. We all have an area in life that we spend more money in or make a priority. Some are called to plant a church or go into the mission field and many times that involves relocating. Do these people deserve to live a life any less comfortable than the ones we live? I find myself thinking that a pastor should live in a small house and drive a used car and not have any luxury items. I mean after all they are a pastor!

Why is it that we feel certain positions in society should get more status? I found myself looking at families in mission field or pastor’s families and wondering why they drove such a nice car or wore such nice clothes. Should they really be allowed to take their family on a decent vacation? It was like I expected them to live in poverty in order to have the correct spiritual life. It comes down to they are just people like you and I. Sure the bible holds them to a higher standard because the pastor will have to answer to God in a different way then I will since he responsible for teaching in the church, but does that mean he shouldn’t have nice things? It comes down to the heart. Sure if he was spending all of this money on luxuries instead of tithing then we have a problem. But if they are spending responsibly is it an issue? Maybe they even got some of the things we see as a gift.

We had missionaries at our church in Michigan that basically spent their entire lives in Africa. They would pack their belongings among toilet paper as to not waste any space in the box and to have it when they arrived. They really had to think ahead and lived very simply. Absolutely nothing wrong with this at all. Even as I went to their house once they retired in the United States they lived very simply. I guess they just realized what they needed and what they didn’t.

So a few thoughts to challenge ourselves:

  1. Do you look at people in spiritual positions and think they should have less than us? Where do we draw the line? What is too much and what is too little or too luxurious?
  2. What do we have in our homes currently that we don’t really need? Where are we spending money in excess? What could we get by without and give that money to someone else or to a need or cause?

Maybe you don’t agree with me and that’s ok. Share your thoughts anyway.

Jessica