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Guest Posts Loss Respect Life Testimonials

My Personal Passion

It was Good Friday, April 14th 2006 and I was watching The Passion of the Christ at home and preparing for Easter with my family.  I had started cramping and just feeling tense. I tried to brush it off as a reaction to the serious subject matter of the movie. You see, I was 11 weeks pregnant with my 7th child.  We had not disclosed this to family, just a few friends. Holy Saturday, found me still feeling “off” and I decided to go to the hospital to “put my mind at ease” that everything was fine, since I had yet to be seen by my O.B.  Everything wasn’t fine.  I knew it wasn’t, just didn’t know definitively.

While at the hospital, a Catholic hospital too, I was greeted with questions like “HOW many pregnancies?!” (It wasn’t what was being asked, but HOW it was asked that was the trouble) and I tried to answer them a patiently as possible.

At first, no one believed that I was pregnant and blood work was ordered. This was frustrating, since I had taken about 5 home pregnancy tests and had been missing that monthly reminder of fertility for a while.  We did the blood work. Yup, I was pregnant.   Then I was shuttled back and forth to ultrasound and watched the tech take measurements etc., all the while she kept the chatter going to distract me.  I knew, but did not want to admit it.  As someone who has seen multiple ultrasound screens, I knew what to look for.  The tech did not have to say a word.  There wasn’t a heartbeat.  All I could see was my child fully formed, but not moving. Suspended.  Perfect. Silent.  I thought I saw some movement and I gasped.  I realize now it was my desperate desire, my mind playing tricks on me.

However, since the scan still needed to be read by the doctors we were sent back to our room to wait.  The hospital staff left us alone.  Hours went by.  I prayed silently.  My husband sat in the corner, silent.  When the door opened and a discharge nurse walked in with the paperwork asking if we were ready to go home.  I felt relief – “I guess there is nothing wrong if they are sending us home without talking to us.” How naïve I was.  This poor nurse, shocked that the doctor hadn’t come in, “The doctor hasn’t spoken to you?! Wait, I’m going to go get him.”

When the doctor walked in he had the ultrasound report in his hand and he tossed it at me from about 3 feet away.  “Here” And he started to walk out.  The nurse, upset at the doctor’s behavior, blocked the door and he couldn’t leave.  I said, “What is this?” “You can read can’t you,” he flippantly responded. “Yes, but please explain what this is.” “It says we don’t know if your kid is alive or dead.” I looked down at the paper in my hand, saw the words “suggests fetal demise” and started to shake.  Still staring at the paper I asked the doctor if he had a heart.  I don’t think that he heard me so I asked a second time, a little louder.  “What?” he asked.  I looked up, tears rolling down my face and demanded “How can you just throw a piece of paper at me and try to leave without speaking the words? Don’t you know that this is a child that has been lost? COWARD! This was a child! My child…” At this point, the nurse came forward grabbed me and held me – my husband too. I pulled my rosary out of my purse and clutched it to my chest.  The nurse, I don’t even know her name, cried with me, prayed with me.

Later on that evening I received a phone call from a person close to my family and they demanded to know what was going on.  This person had called while we were at the hospital and was told where we were.  I answered, “What do you think?” They answered, in a derisive tone, “You’re pregnant!” My heart sank as I answered back sadly, “not anymore…” There was a pause on the line.  “Why that’s awful!” was the response, where just moments before the fact that I was pregnant was the most awful news they could’ve imagined.  I had to get off the phone.  “I can’t talk to you right now.” And I hung up.  I don’t feel bad for practically hanging up on this person.  It hurt. It still does.  How can one go from such a nasty tone to one of sympathy about the same subject? Really?! Now, after years, do I realize that this person did not mean what they said in the way that it was said.  While this person did worry about what another pregnancy meant for me, this person never wished me to not be pregnant, to lose the baby.  However, at the time, the manner in which it was spoken left a lot to be desired.

No matter the number of children I already had at home, this child was just as wanted, just as important, just as unique. I never really got to mourn.  How do you talk about a child people didn’t even know existed?  Miscarriage is not discussed and if it is it is with words like “there must have been something wrong with it,” or some other nonsense.  It isn’t viewed as the loss of a child.  Rarely do you have someone say to you “I’m so sorry.” As a society we need to recognize these CHILDREN.

I feel that there is a serious attitude adjustment that needs to be made!  We need courage to talk about the humanity lost, the person to be mourned.  Just as on Good Friday, Holy Saturday – we mourn the death of Jesus.  Easter has a new, deeper meaning for me.  It was the day I buried my child.  The day I choose to celebrate the brief life that was given along with the everlasting life Jesus gave us with His Resurrection!

As I told that doctor, this is a subject that needed words, not a piece of paper thrown down at someone.  His callous attitude toward us, our child was chilling.  He just stood there. This was not some young fresh out of med school doctor either.  He was older, should’ve known better.  What were needed were words of comfort, words of healing, like the nurse that held my hand and prayed with me as I clutched my rosary.  I’ll never forget the look on his face after I was done with him.  He was truly sorry, tears were in his eyes.  I hope that was the lesson that needed to be learned.  That my child’s death was meant to help that doctor to realize that what was needed was to give voice to the humanity!

 

 

 

Categories
Guest Posts Loss Respect Life Testimonials

My Personal Passion

It was Good Friday, April 14th 2006 and I was watching The Passion of the Christ at home and preparing for Easter with my family.  I had started cramping and just feeling tense. I tried to brush it off as a reaction to the serious subject matter of the movie. You see, I was 11 weeks pregnant with my 7th child.  We had not disclosed this to family, just a few friends. Holy Saturday, found me still feeling “off” and I decided to go to the hospital to “put my mind at ease” that everything was fine, since I had yet to be seen by my O.B.  Everything wasn’t fine.  I knew it wasn’t, just didn’t know definitively.

While at the hospital, a Catholic hospital too, I was greeted with questions like “HOW many pregnancies?!” (It wasn’t what was being asked, but HOW it was asked that was the trouble) and I tried to answer them a patiently as possible.

At first, no one believed that I was pregnant and blood work was ordered. This was frustrating, since I had taken about 5 home pregnancy tests and had been missing that monthly reminder of fertility for a while.  We did the blood work. Yup, I was pregnant.   Then I was shuttled back and forth to ultrasound and watched the tech take measurements etc., all the while she kept the chatter going to distract me.  I knew, but did not want to admit it.  As someone who has seen multiple ultrasound screens, I knew what to look for.  The tech did not have to say a word.  There wasn’t a heartbeat.  All I could see was my child fully formed, but not moving. Suspended.  Perfect. Silent.  I thought I saw some movement and I gasped.  I realize now it was my desperate desire, my mind playing tricks on me.

However, since the scan still needed to be read by the doctors we were sent back to our room to wait.  The hospital staff left us alone.  Hours went by.  I prayed silently.  My husband sat in the corner, silent.  When the door opened and a discharge nurse walked in with the paperwork asking if we were ready to go home.  I felt relief – “I guess there is nothing wrong if they are sending us home without talking to us.” How naïve I was.  This poor nurse, shocked that the doctor hadn’t come in, “The doctor hasn’t spoken to you?! Wait, I’m going to go get him.”

When the doctor walked in he had the ultrasound report in his hand and he tossed it at me from about 3 feet away.  “Here” And he started to walk out.  The nurse, upset at the doctor’s behavior, blocked the door and he couldn’t leave.  I said, “What is this?” “You can read can’t you,” he flippantly responded. “Yes, but please explain what this is.” “It says we don’t know if your kid is alive or dead.” I looked down at the paper in my hand, saw the words “suggests fetal demise” and started to shake.  Still staring at the paper I asked the doctor if he had a heart.  I don’t think that he heard me so I asked a second time, a little louder.  “What?” he asked.  I looked up, tears rolling down my face and demanded “How can you just throw a piece of paper at me and try to leave without speaking the words? Don’t you know that this is a child that has been lost? COWARD! This was a child! My child…” At this point, the nurse came forward grabbed me and held me – my husband too. I pulled my rosary out of my purse and clutched it to my chest.  The nurse, I don’t even know her name, cried with me, prayed with me.

Later on that evening I received a phone call from a person close to my family and they demanded to know what was going on.  This person had called while we were at the hospital and was told where we were.  I answered, “What do you think?” They answered, in a derisive tone, “You’re pregnant!” My heart sank as I answered back sadly, “not anymore…” There was a pause on the line.  “Why that’s awful!” was the response, where just moments before the fact that I was pregnant was the most awful news they could’ve imagined.  I had to get off the phone.  “I can’t talk to you right now.” And I hung up.  I don’t feel bad for practically hanging up on this person.  It hurt. It still does.  How can one go from such a nasty tone to one of sympathy about the same subject? Really?! Now, after years, do I realize that this person did not mean what they said in the way that it was said.  While this person did worry about what another pregnancy meant for me, this person never wished me to not be pregnant, to lose the baby.  However, at the time, the manner in which it was spoken left a lot to be desired.

No matter the number of children I already had at home, this child was just as wanted, just as important, just as unique. I never really got to mourn.  How do you talk about a child people didn’t even know existed?  Miscarriage is not discussed and if it is it is with words like “there must have been something wrong with it,” or some other nonsense.  It isn’t viewed as the loss of a child.  Rarely do you have someone say to you “I’m so sorry.” As a society we need to recognize these CHILDREN.

I feel that there is a serious attitude adjustment that needs to be made!  We need courage to talk about the humanity lost, the person to be mourned.  Just as on Good Friday, Holy Saturday – we mourn the death of Jesus.  Easter has a new, deeper meaning for me.  It was the day I buried my child.  The day I choose to celebrate the brief life that was given along with the everlasting life Jesus gave us with His Resurrection!

As I told that doctor, this is a subject that needed words, not a piece of paper thrown down at someone.  His callous attitude toward us, our child was chilling.  He just stood there. This was not some young fresh out of med school doctor either.  He was older, should’ve known better.  What were needed were words of comfort, words of healing, like the nurse that held my hand and prayed with me as I clutched my rosary.  I’ll never forget the look on his face after I was done with him.  He was truly sorry, tears were in his eyes.  I hope that was the lesson that needed to be learned.  That my child’s death was meant to help that doctor to realize that what was needed was to give voice to the humanity!

 

 

 

Categories
Ink Slingers Loss Marie NFP and contraceptives Respect Life Testimonials

I Make People Uncomfortable

How’s that for the title of a post? The thing is, it’s true. I make people feel very uncomfortable because they don’t know quite “what” to do with me. I am an Infertile Catholic woman.

Six years ago when my husband and I got married we declared proudly that we were going to be married for one year before we started our family. We told people that we knew that if we didn’t have a strong marriage we could never be good parents. We waited for a year – always looking towards that day when we’d start our family. We learned Natural Family Planning, knowing that it was the one way to control our family size that would help us both with conception and waiting. I was taking some fairly heavy duty prescription drugs due to an auto-immune disorder and I took the year to wean myself off of the drugs carefully. I was practically counting the days.

Whenever someone attempted to warn me “it might take you guys a while to get pregnant,” I refused to listen. “We’re doing Natural Family Planning,” I explained, “I know exactly when I’m fertile. We’ll be just fine.”

I had known since I was a small girl that God was calling me to be a mother – so, of course, there wouldn’t be a problem, how could I have not understood God’s call? Of course He’d give me what I wanted, what He’d called me to! (You know that old saying, “If you want to make God laugh just tell Him your plans?”)

That first cycle that we were TTC (internet lingo for “Trying to Conceive”) I woke up four days past ovulation with nausea and I was thrilled. The word was that my mother & grandmother had struggled with morning sickness since “practically the moment of conception” so I was sure that it had worked. I was pregnant! I was going to be a mother! What on earth were all of those naysayers talking about? It doesn’t take “awhile” to get pregnant! You just have to know what you’re doing!

not pregnantAnd then I started spotting at 7 days past ovulation. I was stunned! What was this? It’s too early for my period! My cycle has always been consistent! Eleven days past ovulation is when my period comes! Not seven! What? What? No… it’s impossible. I started researching implantation bleeding, still convinced that I was pregnant. Two days later I was bleeding in full force.

The next month was the same thing. The third month of TTC our timing was a bit off and I had a perfectly normal cycle. No nausea, no spotting at 7 days past ovulation – it was a perfectly normal 11 day luteal phase. The fourth month was the same thing… another perfectly normal cycle. The fifth month was another short luteal phase. I went to my Natural Family Planning practitioner and said, “What’s happening to me? What’s wrong with my chart?”

She immediately told me that I had a progesterone problem. Even though I have a BA in Biology, I knew very little about the female fertility hormones estrogen & progesterone. Like the scientist that I am, I went home to research it. I joined an online community of women who taught me all that they knew about fertility and I quickly got up to speed. I learned that I’d most likely had early losses, around the time of implantation.

I went to see an OB/GYN, who looked at me puzzled, “but you haven’t actually had a positive pregnancy test?” she asked. “Well, no,” I said, “but look at my charts! Look at these short luteal phases! And my NFP teacher says that I need progesterone! Can I get some?” She looked at me with a blank look on her face, as if she was waiting for me to laugh and tell her that I was really kidding. I continued to wait for her to do something. Finally she told me that she couldn’t prescribe me progesterone until I’d had a “documented loss” and continued to tell me that she thought that I was talking myself in to morning sickness because I so badly wanted to be pregnant. (She couldn’t answer why I had it some months and not others – didn’t I want to be pregnant just as much in those other months?)

She told me to come back after I’d given it another three months. So I agreed.

I had another loss during that time, but it was “OK,” I told myself, because I was going to get help! I was going to get progesterone!

But I didn’t. I got testing. I got Clomid (the most common “first line” fertility drug on the market). People started asking my husband and I when we were going to start a family – hadn’t it been a year?

This cycle continued. I won’t torture you by going through month by month, but the summary is that I’ve had seven early losses at the time of implantation. I researched ways to raise my progesterone on my own. I tried every trick that I could find on the internet. I switched clinics and finally found a doctor who was willing to prescribe Prometrium (progesterone supplements) because he looked at my chart and pointed right to my early losses. I thought that this was an answer to my prayers. It wasn’t.

People are very uncomfortable with Infertility. People who’ve never had a tough time conceiving tell you “just stop trying so hard and you’ll get pregnant” or “get a bottle of wine and go to a hotel and seduce your husband” or “why don’t you adopt? You’ll get pregnant right away!” Infertility is thought of as more of a mental disorder by the general public than a specific medical condition. You’d never hear someone tell a cancer patient “just get your mind off of things and you’ll get better” so why do they feel like they can say that to someone who’s infertile?

We’ve had people ask us why we don’t bring our children to church (I suppose since I’m 38 and my husband is 47 they just assume that we have children and let them sleep in on Sunday mornings). I’ve had people ask me “what’s wrong with you? Don’t you know that Catholics are supposed to want children?” I’ve had people say that they could give my husband some “pointers” if he’d like them.

There’s more to my story than what I’ve shared here. I plan to write a lot about Infertility (and other aspects of my Faith) in future posts, but this is just a start. Stay tuned for more specifics about the journey of my husband & I. (That just sounded like the comment at the end of a daytime soap opera, doesn’t it? “What will happen next? Tune in next time!”)

We don’t get to choose the crosses that God asks us to carry. We don’t get to choose who gets cancer or whose child dies in a swimming accident. We don’t get to choose our path in life. God simply asks us to trust Him. He doesn’t ask us to trust when it’s easy, He asks us to trust all the time.

Had we gotten pregnant that first cycle I’d now have a four & a half year old, who I’d be explaining to why he or she needed to wait one more year before starting Kindergarten. I’d have fulfilled what I believe that God was calling me to since I was a small girl. If I had that four-and-a-half year old, however, I never would have met some wonderful friends (met through that on-line community that I spoke briefly about). I wouldn’t have the dog that I have now (I’ll write more about our Sheltie in a future post). I wouldn’t have the job that I have now if we’d gotten pregnant that first time. I probably wouldn’t have the Faith that I have now.

Infertility is a cross that I have to bear, but it’s also the greatest gift that God chose me for. I still don’t know why me. I still don’t know which direction our life is going (more on that later, too), but I know that God will be with me for every step of the journey.

And what could be better than that?