How my first pregnancy began (im)perfectly …
I still remember heading to our first OB appointment … we were living in southwest Colorado and had to drive an hour to see a practitioner in Durango, CO. Shun-Luoi and I were nervous, excited and could not believe that we were pregnant! Yes, we knew how it happened ;), but when something that big happens, it can be so hard to believe because you know life is going to change forever, but you really have no idea how …
I still remember the nurse practitioner (NP) leaving the room after confirming our pregnancy via ultrasound. She had some concerns with the shape of the yolk sac (hey, no shame if you don’t know what that is … I am a RN by training and even I had no idea!) and had noticed some abnormal, old blood present in my uterus. Although we weren’t sure what all of that meant, we understood enough to know that we were not experiencing a “normal’ pregnancy”. The NP came back into the room and explained that they were not going to proceed with the normal initial OB work-up because they suspected I would probably miscarry the baby. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The NP proceeded to tell me that 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, a fact that was not helpful to hear (as if that percentage was comforting? Or made miscarriage normal and ok?).
I still remember feeling a bit numb, then leaving the OB office and heading toward the nearest bathroom, where I sat and sobbed for a bit. This was not how things were supposed to go, I thought. At your first OB appointment, they would tell you that the baby was healthy and strong, you and your spouse would be ecstatic, and all of the staff would be excited and congratulatory. That’s how it went, right?
I still remember calling my parents (in Wisconsin) to tell them that we were pregnant, then promptly dissolving in tears as I relayed the information we had been told at the OB office. Again, not exactly how I thought telling my parents about our first pregnancy would go …
We had been told by the NP that they wanted to see us again in 2 weeks (I would be 10 weeks along then). In the meantime, Shun-Luoi and I had to make some decisions on whether or not we were going to worry ourselves sick daily about whether or not the baby was still alive within me as well as agonize over the “what-ifs.” The other option was to really think hard about some important questions … did we really believe that God had given this baby life and could save it, no matter what healthcare professionals were telling us? Did we really believe that God knew the exact number of this baby’s days – whether 9 weeks in the womb or 80 years outside of the womb? Did we believe that God not only loved us, but also this tiny baby, with a deep love and knew what we were experiencing? And maybe most importantly – did we really believe that God was good, no matter whether our baby lived or died? I wish our answers would have been a consistent, emphatic “yes” to each of these questions, but it was a daily struggle at times, especially for me. However, we chose to believe and trust what Psalm 139 in the Bible said; that God had “fearfully and wonderfully” knit this baby together in my womb and had known the number of the baby’s days even before s/he was conceived. In essence, we let go of the illusion that we were in control and could do anything on our own to save this baby.
Ten weeks came, and we headed back to the OB office. We were told that the baby was still alive and that the amount of blood that had been present had diminished. However, we were also told that they would feel much better if we made it to 12 weeks with the baby still alive. We headed back home for 2 more weeks of praying that God would spare this little life, but also that He would give us the grace to trust Him if he chose not to.
We made the trip to the OB office once more when I was finally 12 weeks along. We held our breath while watching the ultrasound screen, waiting for signs that the baby was still there and had a little beating heart. And … yes! There was the baby and a tiny, rapidly-beating heart! There is no way to describe the emotions that came with seeing those two things. We were so grateful. However, the prior month had set the stage for us learning some important lessons, lessons that would need to be remembered throughout this pregnancy (and especially at the end, although that’s for the next blog post …) and subsequent pregnancies, Lord-willing.
I learned that God, and God alone, is the giver and sustainer of life. Ultimately, the “odds” can be completely stacked against your baby and it doesn’t necessarily matter. Medical personnel only know so much (and yes, I realize they were speaking according to the knowledge they had – I understand why they told us what they did). God is the only one who gives life. Along with that, I realized that God, and God alone, knows the number of days we will live.
I learned that I am not entitled to my pregnancies going the way I/we always expected they would. Pregnancy is too complex of a thing and many factors can affect the experience and outcome.
And among the above-named lessons and many others, I also learned that being able to get pregnant and stay pregnant are gifts and should never be taken for granted. I am guessing that we all know women who have experienced miscarriage(s) and/or infertility issues; two very painful situations*.
The baby (who was a boy, we later found out) who we were told would probably lose his life is now a healthy, strong, almost 3-year old kiddo. We are grateful for Elijah’s life. But, as eluded to earlier, I was again challenged about my expectations about pregnancy when 37 weeks of pregnancy (with Elijah) came. And again, I would be challenged to trust God regarding the lessons I shared above. Pregnancy, I have learned, even if “uncomplicated,” is always an adventure …
*To those women reading who have suffered miscarriage(s) or struggles with infertility: Please know that I am deeply sorry for your loss(es) and in no way can say that I understand the pain you have or are currently experienced. I will offer no trite words, but will pray that your pain will lead you to a more intimate knowledge of the God who loves you and cares about your pain.