On Friday, January 10th I woke up and took a pregnancy test. It was the fourth month in a row where Calvin and I had been trying to get pregnant. I was beyond thrilled when I saw a faint second line on the test. This was what I had been waiting for! During the morning routine I was not able to tell Calvin the great news since Kathleen was with us so I opted to call him that morning when I drove to a mid morning meeting and had a minute alone. That very evening we drove to visit my parents and Saturday we had a family play date with a couple of our best friends from divinity school.
To tell or not to tell: With each pregnancy there is always the question of to tell or not to tell. The first trimester is the most common time for miscarriage and most often couples hold the news of their new pregnancy to themselves in the event something goes wrong. Calvin and I opted to tell our parents and several of our closest friends and confidants. We wanted, and still want, to protect Kathleen from any feeling of loss so we did not share the news with her. The benefits of keeping the information to ourselves was to help protect others from riding a roller coaster with us should the pregnancy fail. If we did not tell them in the first place, then we did not have to go back and share of the loss with everyone should something go wrong. The trouble with this is that it means you are riding a roller coaster of emotions and the people around you have no idea.
My pregnancy confirmation appointment was first scheduled for Thursday, February 13, but was moved back to Thursday, February 20th due to snow. (That was the Wednesday Durham hit gridlock and it took me 6 hours to get home!) Calvin came with me to Durham on the 20th to enjoy the site of seeing our second baby for the first time and hearing the long awaited heartbeat. We expected the baby to be 9 weeks and 4 days at that time. When the ultrasound technician measured the embryo at 6 weeks 1 day with no heartbeat we knew something was wrong. The doctor came in and questioned me about symptoms. She said we would do a blood test that Friday and I would come back on Monday to repeat the same test then we would perform a second ultrasound a week later just to confirm there was no additional growth. In the meantime she prepared me for what to do should a natural miscarriage occur. Of the people who knew we were pregnant, we only informed a handful of them of the pending complications until we confirmed the obvious over the course of the next week.
The following week Calvin went back with me to the doctor for the follow up ultrasound and it was confirmed that the baby had miscarried. It was a missed miscarriage. The baby had stopped growing, probably due to a chromosomal defect, and my body had yet to figure out the pregnancy ended or let go of it. From there we scheduled a D&E procedure to end the pregnancy so that we could move on as quickly as possible and avoid any additional complications. The surgical procedure took place on March 4th in the middle of another ice/snow storm. Luckily my mother came to our house Monday to be there in time to help with Kathleen for the day and allow us to leave Monday night and stay at a hotel in Durham in order to get to Davis Ambulatory Surgical Center by 7 am the following morning. I took the day off work under the appearance that the weather had kept me from making the commute to Durham. My husband was called to help with driving a friend from Spring Valley UMC home from the hospital and had to explain he was tied up all day with no further explanation because we were not sharing this news with others.
I am blessed to have a husband, who is also my pastor, to be with me each step of the way on this journey. I am thankful for my health, our family and that now on the other side of this we will be able to try for a baby again in just a couple months. But I’m left with the question that still seems to have no one easy answer: Why is it that we as women work so hard to hide the fact that we have had or are having a miscarriage?
After the miscarriage for our family was confirmed Calvin and I proceeded to share the news with the dozen or so friends who knew about the pregnancy. Several of them explained to us that they had gone through exactly the same thing and reassured us that they went on to
additional children. Other stories about friends of friends also came to us in
abundance, and even the anesthesiologist for my procedure shared the story of
his wife having a miscarriage and going on to have two more beautiful children
after that. We are so thankful for all of these stories that reassured us what
we were going through is normal and common. That miscarriage does happen even
when you do nothing wrong and it does not typically doom you from future
children. So if this is such a common
complication in women who are healthy, then why are we so bent on keeping the
news to ourselves, bottling up all the emotions and trying to act like
everything is ok as we walk through the journey alone? By not telling our church
families they were unable to lift us up in prayer during this trying time. They
were also not able to share the community love Jesus taught us to share with
one another because they had no idea anything out of the ordinary was happening
in our lives. While I understand it is a form of protection not to take the
whole world on a now I’m pregnant, now I’m not journey with you it is also a
form of shooting yourself in the foot by not allowing others to know what is
really affecting your daily life during a time of trial. Trying to act to the
outside world like nothing was happening different to my body from January 10th
to March 4th felt like a lie. A lie by omission. Was it?
We will try to get pregnant again in the near future. Once two pink lines appear I do believe we’ll keep the news fully to ourselves (just Calvin and I) until the pregnancy confirmation doctor’s appointment gives us good news. But from there, I expect we’ll share the news openly to anyone with an ear. Why? Because we want our family and community to lift up the pregnancy in prayer on our behalf. And should another unfortunate miscarriage be the case, we’ll share that openly as well. For the exact same reason. There is strength in prayer and community.
The question is often posed to me that since Kathleen is getting older, “Isn't it time for another one?” In the past I’ve answered with, “talk to my husband about that” or “maybe someday.” Shouldn't I instead say what I’m really thinking? “That would be wonderful, we would love it. Please pray with us that we’ll have news to share soon of a new little one on the way.” What is the true harm in sharing? How does keeping hopes of future children to yourself really protect you from anything? The good or bad still happens just the same. Simply because you haven’t told anyone doesn't make it any less sad or hard should a loss occur. And think about the good that could come of sharing. It’s the opportunity to show strength, share faith, and empower other women who might go through the same thing one day! Our plights are not unique to us.
Overall, Calvin and I really are an open book type of couple. We have nothing to hide and we like it that way. It’s freeing. Ask us about our finances, past, hopes for the future, food choices, or now our family planning and we’ll be happy to share. Having a secret didn't really suit us well. In our ministry we hope to serve as an example to others. How can we do that when others don’t know what we’re going through?