Be grateful for every day and everything in it.
I think it’s incredibly important to be thankful for how things are at this present moment. I have tried to make a point of being thankful for at least one thing every day and have found that I can usually think of at least 3. This habit started a few years ago, but while I was pregnant with the Girl, there were some issues that came up that really highlighted that you can be absolutely crushed by despair and fear if you don’t focus on things that are at least somewhat positive and try to realize that the unpleasant things are usually temporary.
When I was pregnant with the Girl there were a lot of ‘unknowns’ in every day. The pregnancy started via IVF and at that point there were 2 embryos that they attempted to implant. Both took and at 7 weeks I found out I was expecting twins. This was so exciting and I was overjoyed that not only did the IVF work, it worked twice and we were going to have 2 babies!! There was a bit of a bleeding scare and I had to have another ultrasound shortly after and it revealed that both babies were still there, hearts beating. Time went on and I was feeling beyond huge by the time the 12 week ultrasound came around. We went into the room and after a few moments we were given some really shocking and horrible news. The technician said that it looked like we had lost 2 of the babies. The Husband and I almost died of heart failure because there WERE only two babies. Then the technician said “but this other one looks fine.” All I could think was ‘but there were only 2. We were going to have twins.’ It turns out that one of the embryos had split at some point and then we lost both of the babies. She disappeared for a few minutes and came back to do the rest of the exam. After all of the necessary pictures were taken we were brought to a room to discuss with a doctor what had happened. We were obviously shocked and disappointed. She explained that the risk of genetic disorders was low with this baby and that we should be grateful that we were going to have one healthy baby. She then went on to tell us that if I was still pregnant with three babies then the recommendation would have been to have a selective reduction done. I’m not sure how they do it because I can’t look it up. I understand that less is healthier when it comes to the number of babies you are carrying, but because we believe that conception is such a miracle (we aren’t religious, it’s just an observation that comes from not being able to have children on our own) this procedure is something that we can’t comprehend and scares us beyond researching it. When you are going through the shocking gain and subsequent loss of babies the last thing that you want to be told is “it’s better this way.” We were devastated. Looking at the situation later we realized that it really WAS better this way. The chances of premature delivery and the issues it may cause were high and there was a chance that we may have lost all of them. From that moment on we were very tentative about sharing the guarded joy we were experiencing.
We decided that we didn’t want to tell everyone who didn’t yet know about our pregnancy because we didn’t want to have to tell them that we had lost the baby if anything went wrong. Our wait until the 12 week ultrasound turned into waiting until 16 weeks to tell our friends. Then at 15 weeks I woke up one morning with a bit of a twinge in my stomach. I went to the washroom and had some of the worst bleeding that I have ever experienced. There is panic and there is PANIC. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything. My husband was the one who helped me get dressed and into the car so we could go to the emergency room. We sat there silently while some drug-addled woman screamed in the alcove next to our room. I wanted to both join in and yell at her at the same time. I was just absolutely incapable of rational thought beyond wishing that woman would STOP SCREAMING. They did blood tests and while we were waiting for an ultrasound we just sat there. Finally the Husband and I made some sort of idle chit-chat and he made a casual remark about how I shouldn’t turn around. And OF COURSE I turned around to see a wall of supplies needed for delivering babies… except in this case it was for having a miscarriage. We stopped talking after that and I definitely did not turn around again. After a while, the nurse came back with a Doppler machine and explained that it was a really old and not very good piece of equipment. It was used for finding arteries or veins or something like that for patients with other problems. “It may not mean anything if we can’t find the heartbeat on here.” She also warned us that the official ultrasound was the final word. So we sat silently sending out all sorts of hopeful thoughts as she tried to find the heartbeat on this old and crackly piece of junk Doppler. She was trying all kinds of positions and finally SHE FOUND IT. I don’t think that I have ever cried so hard in front of people in my entire life. All of the fear, anxiety, sadness, hopefulness, helplessness, and whatever else I was feeling completely melted into relief. I knew there was some sort of issue because no body bleeds that way for no reason but knowing that the tiny little heart of that baby was still beating strong was overwhelming. A little while later an ER doctor with a trainee came in with a small and portable ultrasound machine and confirmed what the sad little Doppler had told us. There was a heartbeat and movement. Life was going on as if nothing had happened. That was such a good sign and such a relief for us. Nothing immediately wrong was showing on the screen but again we were told that the official ultrasound was the final word. We were so thankful when we had the official ultrasound and everything looked fine. There was no reason visible for the bleeding and we were told that sometimes blood can pool behind the placenta and drain the way it did. It could be an issue, but for now everything looked totally normal. After that moment I was especially careful to be thankful for every single moment that I was able to stay pregnant.
Every day, several times a day, I was just so grateful that there was still kicking and squirming going on and that every month, week, day that I was pregnant ensured that I would meet a happy and healthy baby when the time came. We ended up not telling the world about this baby until about 6 weeks before she arrived… we were pretty scared :)
After all of this, I made a commitment to be thankful for something every single day. At night before I go to bed I think to myself “today I am grateful for ____.” Sometimes there is a list, sometimes there are only a couple of things that I am thankful for. I’ve had days where I’ve been thankful for The Girl, a working furnace, running water, and electricity (those days are pretty bad but tend (thankfully) to be very few and far between!).
On Friday September 20th I found out that we were officially expecting another baby. There was so much joy and relief. I never thought I would ever see a positive pregnancy test again. It was guarded joy again but for the next few days we couldn’t think about anything except how lucky and thankful we were to have had a positive result. Then last Wednesday I experienced a miscarriage. I am completely aware that it happens and happens often, but it still doesn’t change how sad and disappointed I am. I am surprised that I am not more devastated by this, however I still have some moments where the misery is crushing. My due date would have been 4 days before our 5th wedding anniversary. Right now I am trying to remember that we have been SO VERY fortunate and that we have the Girl and all of the amazing experiences that we have gotten, and will get, to share with her. She is our miracle and I have to keep myself in the present for her. Unfortunately some of the present moments are very sad. I am letting myself feel any emotions that come up and I am not forcing myself or letting anyone else force me to “get over it.” I am also letting the Girl see that it is OK to be sad and disappointed. All she can do to help is hug and be with me and I really want to teach her that most of the time that is what people going through grief need (along with a listening ear, but she’s a bit too young to understand). I shared with a few people the good news and the subsequent bad news and I have no regrets about doing so even though it breaks my heart anew every time I talk about it. The support that I have received is so worth it. I can’t imagine having to go through this alone.
The challenges that we have faced really helped us understand what a miracle we were involved in. I hope that nobody ever takes their kids (or the fact that they can readily have kids) for granted.
I am so grateful for everything in my life… bad things just serve as a background to highlight the good things that happen.