Tuesday, April 5, 2016

dark nights of the soul {part one}

i'll never forget that first, super-faint line that popped up on the pregnancy test in May 2015. after four months of trying to conceive, it was such a relief to finally see that we did it! i had to laugh, too, because it took exactly four months to get pregnant with Greta too. that evening, after Nick got home from work, i pinned a "Big Sister" ribbon on Greta, gave her a book called The New Baby, and told her to go ask Daddy to read it to her. we laughed and cried, and started dreaming of the baby we'd be holding in January 2016. 

except that just 6 days later, something went very wrong. i began having cramps that continued to increase in severity, and on a Monday afternoon at work, i began to bleed. lots of women bleed during pregnancy and everything turns out fine, i told myself. my midwife ordered bloodwork and an ultrasound, and we scheduled it for the next day. every time i used the bathroom, i prayed that the bleeding would have stopped, but it just continued. i started to lose hope. that night, Nick and i prayed harder than we ever have, holding each other, holding our rosaries, trying to hold on to our tiny baby. i cried to Nick that i felt like my body was betraying me ... that if i would just. stop. bleeding, this baby would be fine. i was completely helpless, and yet still holding out hope that this would be just a bump in the road. 

i am forever grateful for the prayers of our families and close friends. the next day, walking down the hospital hallway to radiology, i physically felt buoyed up by prayer and peace. we were told that our midwife would call within the next 24 hours with our ultrasound results, and we went to one of our favourite restaurants, Tessaro's, for lunch. i remember walking down the sidewalk, Nick holding Greta, thinking, right now, we are still a family of four. 

the next day brought the most devastating news of my life so far. my bloodwork showed an hCG level of 4, which is equivalent to "not pregnant". the ultrasound showed nothing. our sweet baby was gone. 

the next few weeks are hard to describe. i didn't realize how attached i had already become to this little one. we grieved the loss of our dreams for this baby, even though we hoped God would bless us with others in the future. i so badly wanted Greta to be a big sister. i had already imagined being nearly 9 months pregnant at Christmastime. 

at the same time, i was more consciously thankful for Greta than i'd ever been before. selfishly, i was grateful that she, at 18 months, had no idea what was happening, and i could tell her simply "Mommy is sad, but i will be okay" without having to think about explaining the truth to her. but mostly, i was so thankful for her precious little self, and for my normal, uncomplicated pregnancy with her that i essentially took for granted. i have many friends who have struggled with primary infertility and/or recurrent pregnancy loss, and i can't imagine how heart-wrenching that must be. i know others, including my own mom, who lost pregnancies much farther along, making the physical process of miscarriage much more painful, and, in some cases, financially difficult. 

we named our little one Francis, after St. Francis de Geronimo. his feast day is May 11, the day i began to miscarry. he was a Jesuit priest and missionary who, at one point in his life, provided shelter for nearly 200 children. he seemed a fitting namesake for our little one. and when, just two weeks later, i checked into my San Francisco hotel for the national physician assistant conference, i couldn't believe we were staying at the Westin St. Francis. 

the grief ebbs away, the sharpest pains subside, but you never forget. nor would i want to. on Christmas Day 2015, i couldn't help but remember my previous daydreams. my belly felt flat and barren, as i had not gotten pregnant again after another seven months of trying. and though i genuinely rejoiced with each of my friends who announced their pregnancies as the months crept on, it was particularly difficult when some of them had due dates within days of when mine would have been.  just as i began to feel sorry for myself, the congregation around me launched into the second verse of "O Come, All Ye Faithful".

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!


as a mother, my utmost goal for my children is that they would love God with all their hearts, and that they would safely arrive in heaven. our sweet Francis was already there. his or her tiny soul has never known anything but love. in that moment, God gently reminded me of His own all-encompassing love, and that He has a plan. He has always had a plan. and we would just need to wait, and trust.

{part two}

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