January 28, 2006

Aliana Elizabeth

It was 4 days before Christmas when I took the home pregnancy test and passed. I was so excited...I had felt for awhile that we were to have at least one more child. However, I was a little nervous about breaking the news to Ted, who had mentioned on more than one occasion that he was content with our three children, and, having followed in the footsteps of his grandpa and dad, was thrilled by having a girl and then two boys. I needn't have worried, as Ted responded happily that evening when the children were in bed and I gave him a stamped "bundle of joy" and a typed copy of my journaled thoughts from the past few days.

We began making plans. Should we find a bigger house? Ted wondered. Absolutely not! I told him I felt God had led us to this house, and if He was giving us another child, we would certainly find a place for a new baby! The boys already share a room, so we decided that the baby could move into Charis' room after the sleeping-through-the-night thing fell into place.

One thing seemed all but certain. Since early in 2005, perhaps around March, Charis had been praying for a baby sister. When she first asked me if she could get a baby sister, I smiled and told her that she would need to ask God if that's what He wanted for our family. Let's just pray about it, I said. We'll see what God wants for us. If He wants you to have a baby sister, He'll send her in His perfect time. Although I had not heard Charis specifically praying for this in a few months, as Ted has been doing special bedtime prayers with her recently, Ted mentioned that Charis was still praying about a baby sister. We chuckled and decided that this baby must be a girl.

About a week and a half later I experienced my first instance of spotting. It was very light, but since I had had no spotting or bleeding at all (with the exception of one more period after getting pregnant with Arden), I was immediately concerned. I spent a good hour on the Internet looking for answers, since we had loaned out our What to Expect When You're Expecting book awhile ago. I was reassured when I learned that spotting is quite common. I didn't think much about it when the spotting disappeared after a few hours.

A few days later, more spotting. A few days later, cramps. The spotting was light, the cramps were mildly uncomfortable, and more reading on the Internet convinced me that all of this was very common, probably about as common as morning sickness, which I have never had. I noted the signs to watch for in case something really was wrong, and I continued on with life, making mental changes in preparation for another addition to our family by the end of summer.

We'll need a new car seat, as this one "expires" in December of 2006.

I wonder if I can get Charis' old clothes back from my cousin, who had twin girls?

Perhaps the baby can sleep in the loft during the night. We could easily fit our playpen/bassinet and a rocking chair up here. She can nap in Ted's and my room during the day.

I'll need to get our baby swing back from Page. But no rush.

I wonder how in the world I'll manage four children?!

My mom arrived in town on January 8 to spend 16 days with us. I left on the 11th for a training event in Memphis. It seemed my spotting was getting more and more frequent, but as it was still very light, I didn't really know if it was worth worrying about. I had called the OB clinic on base the day I learned I was pregnant, and they said that I would have to come in, take a blood test, and then be scheduled for their orientation. But they wouldn't schedule me until I was at least 8 weeks. I was only 5 weeks when I did my home pregnancy test, so I figured there was no rush to get to base and take the test there, especially since it's a half-hour drive to get to the hospital. I decided it would be best to do all that stuff after I returned from Memphis, while my mom was here to watch the children so I wouldn't have to take them in with me.

We shared our news with Mom the night she arrived, after the children had gone to bed. She was as delighted as we knew she would be. Though I had hoped to tell the children our exciting news as soon as possible after my mother knew, the next two evenings were a whirlwind of activity, and we never had the opportunity to sit down with them to make an announcement. Now I know that was divine intervention.

The next day I went to a MOPS meeting. As usual, they asked who had any pregnancies to announce. Since we had shared the news with my mom (we were planning to tell Ted's mom in person during our Colorado trip in February), I went ahead and raised my hand. I had to take a bracelet (without looking) from a basket to find out if I was having a boy or a girl--purely in fun, of course. I drew a pink bracelet. A girl, just as Charis had been praying for.

During my trip to Memphis I talked with a friend who has one daughter, had a miscarriage, and is now expecting their next child. I mentioned my concern about the spotting, and she reassured me that she had bled quite a bit when she was pregnant with her daughter, and everything was fine. I put it out of my mind, since the spotting was still overall quite light, and I wasn't having any more cramps.

The day I flew home, however, I noticed more blood. Enough blood that I wanted a pad, but there was no machine in the bathroom. Sigh. I had to do the high school girl thing and sidle up to a fellow Stampin' Up! demonstrator who looked to be about my age. I whispered my need to her, but she couldn't help. I explained my situation, and she promptly began to reassure me. She experienced spotting, sometimes heavy, with both of her children, and nothing went wrong.

I made it to the Phoenix airport and found a pad. By now I just wanted to get home and rest. I had run on the treadmill at the hotel before I left that morning; perhaps the exercising had caused more bleeding. I wasn't sure, though, since I had been running for several months, and there were many times I ran even after knowing I was pregnant and nothing had happened. At home Mom encouraged me to go to bed and rest, then see how things were in the morning. She was concerned enough to tell me that if nothing had changed overnight, she thought I should go in to the hospital to get checked out.

I was exhausted from my trip and slept soundly. I do remember a vivid dream, though, proving I must have been worried about the whole situation. I dreamed I was at the hospital having an ultrasound. The doctor was telling me that I had miscarried a child, but that there were twins and one of them was still alive. I awoke immediately after this dream. Ted was already awake and making breakfast. I prepared to shower and discovered that I was no longer spotting--I was outright bleeding. I showered as quickly as I could, crying the whole time. I dug out my pads, packed some in a bag, and went downstairs to tell Ted and Mom what was going on. After a hasty breakfast and a phone call to the pre-school hotline to tell the workers I would not be coming to church that day, we were off to the hospital.

The day was incongruously sunny. As we drove in silence, my mind latched onto a name for our baby. I don't know why--we weren't even planning to consider names until we knew for sure whether we were having a boy or a girl. But my heart told me this baby was a girl, and the name Aliana Elizabeth sprang to my mind. I didn't dwell on this too much, but tucked it away, choosing instead to focus my thoughts on praying for God's will to be done...for strength to endure whatever lay ahead.

The emergency room was fairly quiet. I was checked in as quickly as an Air Force hospital can check in a spouse who apparently isn't registered in the Tricare system, despite her active duty husband having already filed the paperwork months before. After the nurse took my blood pressure and asked me some questions, she told me they would go ahead and do a urine analysis. Ugh. When I went to do my thing in the bathroom, I knew immediately that things were not good. The bleeding had increased exponentially, with clots being passed that I knew could mean nothing but bad news. I cried as I told the nurse what was going on, and immediately we were ushered back to a bed with a curtain around it. Then came the infamous ER waiting. To our left a man snored so loudly we couldn't help but smile at the discordant sound. I suppose there is comic relief in almost every difficult situation, if one is able to see it.

We were eventually informed that we had to wait for the ultrasound technician to be called in. As it was a Sunday morning, no one was on duty, and they were having difficulties getting through to the lady on call. So we continued the interminable waiting.

At some point (I think we had been there about 2 1/2 hours or so total) an aide pushed me in the bed to the outside of the room where the ultrasound would take place. She said Ted had to wait behind, though I'm not sure why. As I waited alone in the hallway, the words from the song "Blessed Be Your Name" came to my mind. It was during that time, those few minutes by myself, that I made a conscious decision to bless the name of the Lord no matter what the outcome was to be--though by this point I admit I would have been surprised to find out that anything other than a miscarriage was happening.

The tech arrived, wheeled me into the room, and began the ultrasound. She was very kind, with a soft, quiet voice. She didn't say much during the process, and I lay on the bed staring at the cracks in the ceiling, trying to ignore the discomfort.

Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise. When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I'm going to say...blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your name, Jesus, blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your glorious name...

When the ultrasound was finished and the data entered, the woman sat back with a small sigh. "Technically I'm not supposed to say anything," she said, staring at the computer screen. Then she turned to look at me. "But you pretty much knew already..."

I nodded, a lump in my throat. There was nothing to say, and I wouldn't have been able to speak even if I needed to.

The good news, she said, is that the pregnancy looked to be normal, not tubal or anything like that. She continued by saying the results would be sent to the lab, and then the doctor would notify Ted and me and speak with us further. She left to go and get Ted for me, and I lay waiting and praying.

You give and take away, You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say,
Lord, blessed be Your name...

Ted and I had some quiet moments together in the ultrasound room before the tech came back to wheel me back to our cubicle. The delays were all the more unbearable at this point, since we knew what had happened, and there was nothing more to be done but sit around waiting to be released.

Finally the doctor came to inform us of what we already knew. Though he seemed sympathetic, he irked me when he referred to me likely passing more "products of conception." It's a baby, I wanted to shout. I've lost my baby, not a fetus, not a product of conception. By this point our baby would have been about the size of a grain of rice. Fingers and toes were forming, bones were developing. Though I have no physical evidence to prove the gender, in my heart I know I was carrying a girl, just as I knew Charis was a girl when I was 8 weeks pregnant with her. We named her Charis Noelle at that point, figuring we could come up with a boy name later just in case, but we never did.

I don't remember much about the ride home, but I remember falling into bed for a three-hour nap, mercifully dreamless. Waking from my nap was one of the most difficult times of this whole ordeal for me, because I had to go through everything all over again in my head, reminding myself that I was no longer pregnant. It all seemed so surreal. That didn't really happen. It couldn't have. I've wanted this baby for a long time. Charis prayed for this baby for almost a year. Why did God seemingly answer our prayers, only to take it back after 8 1/2 short weeks? I found comfort in the thought that Ted's dad, our baby's Grandpa J, would get to meet this little one before the rest of the family did. He missed out on seeing his other grandchildren, going to heaven just 3 days before Charis was born.

I was so thankful to have my mom with us, thankful also that the next day was a holiday and Ted could be home with me. My brother-in-law, Joel, sent me a link to a poem he wrote after Ted called to tell him the news. We hadn't even told him we were expecting, figuring we would be able to tell him and Ted's mom when we saw them in person. Ted didn't tell Joel we thought the baby was a girl, didn't mention my thought (that I didn't even voice to him until after his conversation with Joel) that our baby was in heaven with her Grandpa J. Nevertheless, Joel's poem reflects both of these ideas. I read the poem Monday morning and slipped upstairs unnoticed to our bedroom, where I crawled under the covers and sobbed for at least a half hour without interruptions. It was a painful time, yet somewhat healing. When Joel called our house later that evening, I could hardly speak to him when I answered the phone, thinking of how much I appreciated his tribute.

We announced our loss via email to a few friends and family members who already knew of our pregnancy, and I was overwhelmed by the response. Over the next few days I could feel the prayers of loved ones--they truly upheld me and gave me strength.

On Thursday (4 days after the miscarriage) I went running for the first time since it happened. When I turned west, about a 1/2 mile into my run, I could see the mountains rising in a purple haze, dusted with snow on top. The sight took my breath away, and I thought of Psalm 121:1-2, "I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." I felt in a tangible way the presence of my Almighty God, Creator of all life, including the short-lived earthly life of our little one. I drank in the morning air, praising God for Who He is and ALL that He has done. After awhile, I remembered the name I had thought of for our baby as we made that dreadful drive to the emergency room.

Aliana Elizabeth. Yes, I knew in my heart that was to be her name. Aliana, a name I had heard from a godly mother I met briefly in a fast food restaurant in Maryland. When I asked her what her daughter's name meant, she told me, "Light bearer, or giver of light." Elizabeth, God's oath.

Aliana, you never had the opportunity to personally give light to others while you were here, but it is my prayer that through the pain and sadness of losing you, your daddy and I can somehow bring light to others, the Light of the world Who knows and understands our pain. Aliana Elizabeth, God never promised me a perfect pregnancy, or even a healthy newborn baby. But the promises He has given me are even more precious, for they are eternal.

I will see you someday, little one.


Bob & Claire said...

Beautiful post, Beverly, and I can imagine how difficult it was to write. Know that you are still in my prayers. May the Lord fill you with his peace today. (((Hugs)))

Melissa said...

What a beautiful post Beverly. It was very touching to read. I continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Stephana said...

Thank-You for sharing your story. Please know that my heartis with you and that Your beautiful baby's life was not in vain, God will use her life in ways we have yet to understand.

Bless you my friend.

Natalie said...

The song you mentioned meant a lot to me when I was going through my loss. I had heard it for the first time at a Women's conference a few months before my miscarriage. I never thought any more about it after that. I started hearing it on the radio a few days after my first miscarriage. It brought me to tears as I was driving down the road. Now, I think of my 2 babies I lost every time I hear the song but know that God is to be blessed even when He takes away!

Megan said...

A day or two after I read your post, I was picturing our two little girls (whom neither of us has met yet!) running around Heaven together, picking flowers for their grandparents and great-grandparents, and enjoying God's presence face-to-face.