my journey through miscarriage

No one ever expects to walk the road of loss. In our minds and hearts, we hope for better things, happier things, but sometimes life sets us on a detour.

My detour came in 2011 when my husband and I lost our first child, and then it happened again in 2012, when we lost a second baby. Heartbreak doesn’t begin to fully encompass the pain. It doesn’t describe the complete let down, ripped open, barrenness of dream, time, and life. I have wept and still weep many tears. It’s hard to describe the great depths of emptiness and grief. It’s a messy thing, this grieving. It rolls in and out. It is never once and done. Sometimes, it will catch you off-guard when something triggers a memory. Suddenly, I’m standing in an aisle at Meijer wanting to weep.

One thing I have learned about grief—it’s oftentimes lonely. I rested in a space of unyielding pain, feeling lost. The world continued to go on around me but I was cemented in place.

Every year, I encounter more and more friends that have grieved the loss of a child. It’s like a secret club that you only discover once you yourself have suffered loss. It’s a sad thing that most women don’t talk about, and yet, it’s so very common. So many women have suffered the death of a child. Many of us are in the club.

That’s why I decided to share my full story in a book form. Standing Lost is a collection of my journal entries, my pleas to God, and my grasping for ways to somehow go on. This small book is a way of saying- “You’re not alone. I’ve been there too.”


The book is currently available as an eBook on amazon
CLICK HERE: https://amzn.to/2HjjTPm

The paperback copy will be available on May 24th

 

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A STORY OF LOVE AND LOSS: I NEED YOU TO VOTE TODAY: Here’s Why…

You probably don’t know my dear friends, Jake and Kari Dunham, but I’m asking you to help them today.

For anyone who has experienced Infertility or Miscarriage, you understand the longing, heartache, and pain. Jake and Kari understand these two things all too well.

JAKE AND KARI HAVE A BEAUTIFUL STORY. They have been married for 11 years, but they knew each since the fourth grade.

They became best friends and that friendship never stopped. Only grew stronger.

 

They married on May 4, 2007. They’ve wanted a baby since. They tried many procedures that have not worked. On April 15, 2017, Kari finally received a positive test, Jake and her thought their dream was finally coming true. But on April 29, the doctor called saying the pregnancy was ectopic and would require immediate surgical attention. After 10 years of hoping for a baby, their hearts felt shattered.

But the desire to grow their family has never left. Only grown stronger.

And now, they have a big chance. The Fertility Center is offering to pay a full procedure of IVF to a couple in the Flip the Script contest. There are 8 finalists. Whoever receives the most votes will win.

Jake and Kari NEED this. They need to win because IVF is very expensive. Please, help make their dream of a baby into a reality.
WE NEED YOUR VOTE. Voting is open until Thursday, May 3rd.

HOW: click this link: https://www.facebook.com/tfcmi/ (This is the homepage of the Fertility Center. Then scroll down to Our Story: Jake and Kari Dunham. LIKE their actual post, not the video.) LIKING THEM IS YOUR VOTE.

Thank you for taking time out today to help them.

I TOLD YOU: a poem of hope

This poem was written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox in 1905. I painted this watercolor today  in honor of spring and new hope.  Dear readers, there is always hope. No matter what your “winter” has brought;  spring will come.

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Band-Aid the Broken

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In life, we all experience being wounded and broken.

I’ve gone through seasons of deep sorrow. I lost my first baby girl, Shiloh, in December of 2011, and my heart felt like it was ripped open. And ten months later, I lost another baby, Selah. I felt my heart’s wound widen and the pain grow deeper.

In those times, I could hardly muster creativity or the desire to write. But my counselor advised me, “Catie keep writing. Journal through your thoughts and emotions. Writing is your outlet, and it will bring you healing.” (For those of you who are also writers, I want to say that out of the heart, our writing springs and when our hearts are wounded and broken, sometimes it leaks more than it flows. But that is okay.)

In my pain I journaled:

Surviving a Broken Heart
The news comes so unexpectedly
At first all is well, then ends in tragedy
To lose a life so small it seems
Unfair with all the sorrow it brings
How can a heart survive the blow
That grief drives in so deep, so low
It filters through the body and more
The spirit, the soul, they all feel sore
Lord mend the wound that bleeds inside
Send peace and grace into my mind
I can’t walk this journey alone
I need your help to make me strong

 

Not only did I journal, but I would pray, which wasn’t easy when the last thing I felt like doing was praying. But God showed me something very special as I brought him my pain. He showed me a picture of my heart with a jagged wound down the middle, but sealing the tear shut was a big pink “Hello Kitty” Band-Aid.

A memory flashed through my mind of me as a child repeatedly falling off my bike and scraping my knees. I would come into the house crying. My knees would be torn up and bleeding. Dad or Mom would rub my back and tell me it’s going to be okay. They would wash away the blood, put on triple-antibiotic ointment, apply a Band-Aid, and place a kiss on the boo-boo and say, “All Better.”

This is what Father God did for me.

I came to Him with my torn heart. He looked at the wound and said, “It’s going to be okay.” He wiped away my tears and rubbed my back. Then He washed the wound clean with His love. He applied an antibiotic salve of peace and covered the wound with a Band-Aid. Placing a kiss on the boo-boo, He said, “It will heal.”

This is the truth I have found. The Lord desires to Band-Aid our broken hearts. We can take our pain to him.

If you are struggling in a season of brokenness, I want you to know that God desires to bring you healing. Sometimes it is hard to understand how a loving God can allow the hardships of sickness, impairments, grief, loss, and death. And though it is a paradox to me, I know that it’s still better to press into God, than pull away from him. It’s in his arms that I find hope.

Release the Cat…my new motto

Sometimes, claws are a good thing.

Recently, I dressed like Catwoman for a costume party. And I quite enjoyed being a cat for the night. It was empowering. I felt like Anne Hathaway all in black ready for the attack. Yes, I was all fired up.

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But the next day arrived, my costume was put away, and I went back to my daily apparel: t-shirt and yoga pants. Wasn’t quite as empowering. But a thought occurred to me…just because I don’t have on the costume doesn’t mean the cat is gone. She just needs to rise up to the occasion.

Life can get tough, or boring, or frustrating, or many things. It can disappoint and bring self-doubt. The mind can race with anxiety or critical, self-deprecating words.

And it in those moments, the claws need to come out and fight against the doldrums. Fight against the depression. Fight against lies Satan is whispering in your ear. It’s then that you need to: RELEASE THE CAT.

Get a little mad. Release the cat!

HA! I love this new motto. It’s completely silly and kind of stupid, but let me tell you, it does work. It helps put you in a mental place to fight.

Today, I had some internal battles and just thinking to myself: “Catie, it’s time to release the cat,” made me feel better.

Try it out. RELEASE THE CAT.

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Picture References:

http://www.hollywood.com/news/movies/34622682/the-dark-knight-rises-why-anne-hathaway-s-catwoman-is-the-best-one-yet

http://www.bubblews.com/news/1219997

http://stuffpoint.com/home-pets/image/75449/angry-cat-ready-for-fight-wallpaper

http://www.2funnycats.com/super-cats/silly-cats

http://www.hahastop.com/pictures/An_Attack_Cat

Beautiful Sounds

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Sometimes in life, we become bogged down with the day-to-day that we lose our hearing. Everything becomes static, and we fail to enjoy the beauty around us.

I’ve realized in the recent days how true this has been for me. Instead of looking forward to the day, I looked forward to it ending. Things would wash over me. I failed to listen and take in the moments.

But God has put a Q-tip in my ear and wiped away some stubborn thinking and revealed this verse: Philippians 3:13  (NJKV, paraphrased) “Forget those things which are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead.”

This verse struck me upside the head and heart. Two words hit me: FORGET and REACH. These are both actions.

First, I FORGET-I actively choose to RELEASE the past. I choose to release the past hurts, pains, disappointments, sorrows, shortcomings, guilt, and failings. AND THEN…

I REACH ahead! I REACH forward. I take physical action to move forward because God wants MORE for me.

God is always available, but I have to respond by making myself available too. A relationship takes two people. God is reaching for me, now I must respond by reaching to Him.

If I choose to keep living life as a routine of busywork, just trying to get another day done and over with, that’s what my life will continue to be. But if I choose to see each day as a fresh start, full of new, unopened opportunity, then that’s what it will be.

Today, I awoke and let out my chickens. I heard the birds in the trees chirping with happiness. It was a beautiful sound.

I came into the house and my daughter was singing in the living room. My heart swelled. What a beautiful sound.

I said, “Thank Lord for improving my hearing.”

My words to Him were a beautiful sound.

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Selah

I’ve gone back and forth about posting this story.

Alas, I decided that it’s something I need to do.

Back in April, I wrote a blog entitled, Shiloh. This was the story of my second-born child, a baby girl, who even though was not physically born on earth, lives and breathes in heaven. This was the hardest, most emotional blog I ever wrote. Until now.

On Wednesday, August 15…Heaven welcomed another one of my babies.

I had no forewarning that this pregnancy wouldn’t go to completion. Everything felt good. Felt normal. I was healthy and had a healthy appetite. I had no pain. No cramping. I even had a tiny baby bump. My heart was elated and fully embracing the new life within me.

We had driven to Florida to visit Jonathan’s family on August 6th. We were having a lovely time, and I felt great. However on Sunday, August 12th, our last day of vacation, I used the bathroom and noticed something that made my heart stop. Within the bowl was red. I called for Jonathan.

He came in and saw it. He tried to encourage me, but I knew what was happening. Tears poured. We made our way to Emergency in Port St. Lucie. After several hours and several tests, I was diagnosed “Threatened Miscarriage” because the ultrasound still showed the baby and sac in the uterus.

But the bleeding didn’t stop.

As planned, we packed up the Impala Monday morning and started the journey to Michigan. I popped Advil and reclined my seat. The terrible pain and cramping continued the 816-mile drive to Tennessee. Each stop, every rest area plagued me. Each time I would use the toilet, I checked the basin for my baby. Isabella would stand beside me in the stall and notice me looking into the bowl. Curious as she is, she had to see too. Her eyes widened. She’d announce loud enough for the entire restroom, “Mommy, I see blood.” Cringe. My jaw cringed. My heart cringed. I’d whisper. “Yes, honey. It is blood. Mommy doesn’t feel good.”

It was the same story at every forsaken pit stop.

That night, as exhausted as I was, I tossed in my aunt’s guest bed. Even with a sleeping pill, I slept poor. My nerves and emotions were pulled beyond tight.

The very next morning, we piled back into the car. We still had 530 miles to our house. The pain grew worse as my muscles contracted inside my stomach and abdomen. My body fought to push the baby out, and I was powerless to stop it. Nothing hurts more than yearning to hold onto a baby that my body is determined to release.

Tuesday night, we pulled into our driveway at 8:30 pm. We unloaded the car with heavy hearts and tired minds.

Wednesday afternoon, Jonathan and I went to Zeeland hospital for the ultrasound. I stared at the screen. My uterus showed empty on the black and white monitor. I asked the nurse. “It’s empty isn’t it?” Sadly, she nodded. “It is.”

All hope of the baby making it was over. My child was gone. My body was once again empty. Heartbreak doesn’t begin to fully encompass the pain. It doesn’t fully describe the complete let down, ripped open, barrenness of dream, time, and life.

Shiloh, my second child, has been joined in heaven’s nursery by sibling, Selah.

Oh how I’ve struggled with this loss. This loss has hit me very hard. My heart still bleeds for the loss of my time with Selah here on earth. How I wish she were still in my womb, growing steadily and healthily. But ah, that was not meant to be. For reasons, I will never understand.

My precious, beloved Selah is so very special to me. This is why I have written this blog. I am proud of her, and I wanted to share her with everyone. Just as a mother posts the pictures of her newborn baby, so I needed to post the knowledge of my recent Heaven-born, Selah.

Her name is derived from the Hebrew word calah which means “to hang,” “to weigh” and “to value” and the word salah, which means “to pause.” As I think of Selah in Heaven, I indeed pause. I hang on the brief moments she was in my womb, and I will value her always. She will always by my third baby.

For now, I find strength in knowing that Shiloh and Selah are in the best of care. Together they grow strong. Beautiful in their bassinets. Covered in pure white lace. Flawless.

My arms long to hold them and cuddle them, but I know that in time I will. I have hope. Earth is for a short while, but Eternity is for always. There is much life yet to live. It will be lived as a complete family in Heaven. We will all be united.

I love all my children. I love them so.

While I carry my two-and-half-year-old Isabella in my arms, I carry Shiloh and Selah in my heart.

OUR FAMILY PHOTO

Though the Fig Tree Withers

The prophet Habakkuk’s words resonate with me as he sang this hymn of faith:

http//thinkhebrew.files.wordpress.com

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NKJV)

“17 Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail,

And the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,

And there be no herd in the stalls—

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19 The Lord God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills.”

Today, I cling to Habakkuk’s words.

No matter what troubles and trials I befall, I will rejoice in the Lord, the God of my salvation. He will give me strength and make my feet like those of a deer. I will overcome and will walk on the high hills.

No matter what trials and troubles you might be facing today, know that God will strengthen you. You will bound out of the valley and ascend upon the high hills.

To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Band-Aid the Broken

God amazes me.

I have a vivid mind and oftentimes that is how He speaks to me, through colorful images.

As many of you know, I lost my daughter Shiloh in December, and my heart broke. I felt like it was split wide open, aching and bleeding. Four months later, my sister lost her first baby. I felt my heart’s wound widen and the pain grow deeper.

In that pain I journaled:
   Surviving a Broken Heart
The news comes so unexpectedly
At first all is well, then ends in tragedy
To lose a life so small it seems
Unfair with all the sorrow it brings
How can a heart survive the blow
That grief drives in so deep, so low
It filters through the body and more
The spirit, the soul, they all feel sore
Lord mend the wound that bleeds inside
Send peace and grace into my mind
I can’t walk this journey alone
I need your help to make me strong
A few nights ago, I lie in bed thanking God for helping and healing me through the heartbreak of the last five months, and He showed me an incredible picture.

I saw my heart with a jagged wound down the middle, but pulling the wound closed was a big pink “Hello Kitty” Band-Aid. I could tell the wound wasn’t bleeding anymore and that it was sealing shut with the help of the Band-Aid.

A memory flashed through my mind of me as a child repeatedly falling off my bike and scraping my knees. I’d come into the house crying. My knees would hurt so bad. They’d be torn up and bleeding. Dad or Mom would rub my back and tell me it’s going to be okay. They’d wash away the blood, put on triple-antibiotic ointment, apply a Band-Aid, and place a kiss on the boo-boo and say, “All Better.”

This is what Father God did for me.

I came to Him with my torn heart. He looked at the wound and said, “It’s going to be okay.” He wiped away my tears and rubbed my back. Then He washed the wound clean with His love. He applied a potent triple antibiotic salve of peace and covered the wound with a Band-Aid. Placing a kiss on the boo-boo, He says, “It will heal.”

Thank you Lord.
Thank you that you Band-Aid the broken hearts.
I put my trust in you.
My heart is safe in Your hands.

Thanks Daddy, I’m feeling much better.

Shiloh

When the test read positive, Jonathan and I did a victory jig in the bathroom. We were ecstatic to have another baby. We did some quick calculation and figured I was five weeks.
My plan was coming together beautifully. I wanted my children two and half years a part. Bella would soon have a playmate. Peter Rabbit would be the nursery theme. The baby name book was off the shelf and names were cycling through my mind.
My first pregnancy with Isabella went wonderful. I never had a moment of doubt that the second would be any different. I had no fear. No women in my immediate bloodline have ever lost a baby. I never could have anticipated it happening to me.
As the weeks of my pregnancy progressed, I felt more sick and fatigued than I had with my first pregnancy. I summed it up to each child is different, and lovingly bore the sickness because my mind wasn’t focused on the present day. I was already anticipating July 9th: the arrival of our child.
At ten weeks, I went in for my routine appointment. Everything seemed fine, until they did a scan for the baby’s heartbeat. My doctor rolled the gel scanner over my belly, back and forth, but we heard nothing. Her eyebrows scrunched a bit and she said, “Well it’s still early, so the baby might be small. Let’s do an ultrasound to be sure everything is okay.”
At the Zeeland Hospital, I laid on the bed watching the screen, hoping that we’d find a heartbeat. The ultrasound technician was taking plenty of pictures and measuring things that looked strange to me, but what did I know, I wasn’t certified in reading images. So I asked her, “Do you see the heartbeat?” She paused before looking at me. Her smile was nice, almost sympathetic. She replied, “I’m not sure, maybe.” It was then that I knew something was definitely wrong.
That night, my doctor called me from her cell phone. Her first words were, “I don’t like to call with bad news, but….” My heart stopped at that moment. She explained to me that the images appeared to be a rare Molar Pregnancy. The tissues inside the uterus were abnormal, the placenta didn’t look right, the fetus wasn’t forming properly, and a cyst was also present. Ultimately, the baby was no longer living, and we needed to schedule an extraction surgery. I hung up the phone and wept in Jonathan’s arms.
I had to wait five days before they could get me into surgery because the hospital was booked. So for five days, I not only felt physically ill, but utterly devastated. As Friday approached, I battled with anxiety over the surgery. Jonathan suggested that I look up scriptures on peace. During my search, I came across Isaiah 26:3-4, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” I read that verse and thought, Okay. I will trust in you Lord. You will be my Rock through this.
On December 16th, I entered surgery. Molar pregnancies are tricky because if the abnormal tissues are left inside the body, they can become cancerous. It is important that everything be fully removed or the tissues may continue to grow and enter other parts of the body, namely the lungs.
I was put under anesthesia and the doctor worked on extracting the tissues. I started to hemorrhage. The anesthesiologist hooked me up for a blood transfusion but once the placenta and fetal tissues were out, the bleeding reduced significantly. Praise the Lord, I was able to avoid transfusion. After my uterus was scraped twice and the last tissues were suctioned, I was wheeled into recovery.
An hour later, I awoke feeling shaky and weak. I remember looking around the room. It was all white. White walls. White curtains. A nurse stood beside me looking at a monitor. I stared at the wall and thought, It’s done. I’m empty. Before the surgery, I knew that my baby wasn’t living, but now, my baby was truly gone. Tears filled my eyes and washed down my cheeks. The nurse rubbed my arm and told me it was okay to cry.
Recovery has been a very very hard process. The physical pain after surgery was horrible. A week passed and I wasn’t getting better. I went in for my one-week follow-up and found I had a clinical infection. After ten days of antibiotics, my physical body felt almost completely healed. But feeling physically whole is very different from feeling emotionally whole.
Losing a child is devastating. I’ve never felt such a deep loss ever before. I have wept and still weep many tears. It’s hard to describe the great depths of emptiness and grief. I loved that baby from the moment I knew she was inside my tummy. I wanted that child even before she was conceived. And I miss my baby more than words can say.
We have named our second child Shiloh, which means “His gift.” We never were able to hold Shiloh or rub her smooth face or see her color of eyes, hair, or skin. But Shiloh is still my gift from God. I have lost the time with my child here on earth, but I have not lost my child.
I miss my Shiloh. I will miss Shiloh until we are reunited in Heaven. But oh, that time is coming. I look forward to the time when I enter the pearly gates and Shiloh will run across the streets of gold and into my arms. What a wonderful gift!
Right now, I know my baby is whole and healthy in Heaven’s magnificent nursery. Each night Shiloh hears the most beautiful lullabies sung from the voices of angels. And my precious child will never know pain, sorrow, or fear for she is already in the presence of Jesus.
I prayed the other day, “Jesus, could you go to the nursery and hold Shiloh in your arms, tell her that Mommy loves her and that I miss her. Kiss her for me. And tell her that Mommy will be there soon and very soon.”
I know the Lord did just that.