It's Always a Bumpy Ride
Updated: Mar 13, 2019
How do you know you're done having kids?
This is one of those life questions that has a really annoying answer: you just know. It's similar to the question "how do you know you're ready to have kids?", although in that case the annoying answer is usually "you're never ready, so just let it happen when it happens".
Wherever you fall on the spectrum - when to have kids, when to stop having kids, or even whether to have any kids at all - there isn't typically a right or a wrong answer, an easier or a harder answer, or a clear answer at all. Often times we're left in limbo having no idea which choice is the best one to make and basically we want to just have someone else make the choice for us.
That's kind of where I was at when Alice was around 20 months old. I was feeling mentally healthy, feeling confident in where we were at as a family and where I was at as a mother. We had made it over that giant hill called PPA once again and I assumed that by this point in time I would have that confident peace in my heart that we were done. We had two smart, healthy and beautiful daughters. What more could we want? I certainly did NOT want to deal with PPA again, and it was exciting to think about moving into a new season of our life - no more birthing kids, just raising them. David was pretty certain that he felt ready to be done. And most days I felt the same way. But every now and than I had this yearning in my heart for one more baby. One more pregnancy. One more wild, crazy, newborn ride. I couldn't tell if this was just irrational baby fever, or a real desire of my heart.
Since David was pretty sure on where he stood, I decided to live with that decision for a while. For about a month or so I went about living our life as if we were done. And it was great! We thought about things we wanted to do as a family, with the girls being older and more capable. The thought of our finances being less tight because of diapers and formula and new clothes every 6 months was super appealing. We both were working jobs we were happy with, and I even felt good enough to make a career move into a Management role for a new organization (HUGE for me, since where I worked for 6 years had been a massive support during those really hard days - not to mention I loved my coworkers a lot)!
But I didn't feel confident. I didn't feel peace. All it took was looking at baby pictures of the girls and I said to David "I'm sorry, I'm just not ready to be done. I don't know why I'm not ready, but I'm just not." We had a lot of conversations about what that meant - and ultimately we came to the question of: what would we regret the most? If we stopped, we could absolutely imagine our future selves being disappointed that we didn't try for a third. If we didn't stop, and had a third baby, we could imagine our future selves a little more stressed but also a little more happy. And for us, that was enough to tip the scale to say "OK, let's do it".
I write that as if it was a really easy process or decision to make - but it totally was not. By deciding to have another baby I was essentially deciding that I would experience PPA again, and therefore forcing my husband, children and family to experience it with me again. Which was terrifying and often made me sick to my stomach just thinking about it. But at the same time my heart constantly reminded me of a very simple but powerful truth - those two girls were worth every second of pain, fear, worry, set-back, etc.. I needed to just leave this in the hands of God and trust that we would get through it again - and dared to hope that maybe this time would be different. Easier said than done, but my faith in God reminds me daily that nothing is impossible for Him.
We decided sometime in June 2017 that we would give it another shot, and by mid-July my period was late. I was super surprised, because WHOA - that was fast! But sure enough, I took a test and there was a faint positive. It was admittedly pretty faint so I waited to tell David until I had taken another one 48 hours later (TORTURE). The second was still pretty faint but it was slightly darker than the first, so I made David a card that said "#1 Dad" on the front, and inside it said "our 3 babies are so lucky to have you as their father". He was definitely surprised but we were SOOO excited!!!! In those early days we realized how right this decision was, and we were just so happy to be having another baby - and to not even have to wait very long to conceive!!
Sometime around August 26th, 2017 I lost that baby. I remember every minute of that time the same as with Enoch. I was busy celebrating the impending wedding of my youngest sister in a week (I know...it was serious deja vu from 2014), camping for her bachelorette party. I went to the washroom and I saw the SMALLEST amount of red. And even though I didn't want to believe it was happening again - and refused to believe it for a few days - I knew in that instant that I had lost the baby. I was 7ish weeks at that point and I hadn't started feeling the usual pregnancy symptoms yet (tiredness, nausea, emotional, etc.) I screamed. I bawled my eyes out. I felt like a terrible sister because I went home early from the camping weekend. Everyone understood of course, and everyone was so encouraging - friends and family assured me that it doesn't mean I was losing this baby; they reminded me to trust that this isn't what I thought it was; everything was going to be OK. And of course, I appreciated every word of love and hope and encouragement, but in my core I knew we weren't going to meet this baby earth side.
I went for a check up on Tuesday, August 29th. It started really positive - after an examination my Dr didn't see anything that would suggest a miscarriage was happening (TMI - there was no active or excessive bleeding) but she sent me down for an ultrasound so that we could make sure things were fine. The ultrasound did not find our baby at all. It was really hard to be asked "are you sure you were pregnant at all?" during an appointment like that. The ultrasound tech didn't know me, didn't know the tests I had taken or the way my body had felt only a few weeks prior. Of course I was sure I was pregnant!!!! Why would I willingly put myself through something like this if I wasn't sure?!? When I went back to talk to my Dr she just hugged me and let me cry. She was surprised too. There didn't seem to be any indication of what went wrong. She even tried to give me some hope - she thought maybe I was way earlier than I had originally thought and that in just another week or so that baby would show itself on another ultrasound. I left clinging desperately to that hope thinking that maybe this time it would all turn out to be OK. But within a day I knew that it wouldn't - I started bleeding heavier and heavier and had a lot of cramping. Over the next week my body naturally did what it had done with Enoch, so I thankfully did not need any medical intervention.
Right from the start David and I both felt that this baby was going to be a girl. And we were going to name her Dorothy. David suggested that name early on in the pregnancy and my heart melted immediately when he had said it. She would have been just as kind, wild and beautiful as her sisters and I cannot wait to meet her in heaven some day.
The loss was physically more painful than my first miscarriage and was obviously more emotionally painful too. I felt a lot more anger this time, and despite once again being told that I would likely go on to have a healthy pregnancy if/when I decided to try again I felt like this was probably the end of the baby-rope. It was just too hard to even imagine going through all of it again, because what if we lost that baby too? I didn't think my heart could bear it. But it was too early to make any decisions - we had to sit with our grief and disappointment before making any real decisions. Maybe we would feel ready in a little while to try again because it had felt so right to be having a third child. Or maybe this was just a part of our journey to realizing that two kids really was going to be enough.
6 weeks later I realized that my period had not returned after the miscarriage. I figured it was just my body readjusting after the trauma, but I took a pregnancy test one morning before everyone else woke up and it was positive again. [Insert mouth drop here]. Not even a faint positive like just a few weeks before but a strong positive. I remember immediately waking David up and whispering "David, I think I'm pregnant again" with absolute shock. Neither of us could really believe it. As the day went on we wondered if this was just a residual positive, a false-positive, because my hormones hadn't gotten back to normal yet. I decided to do another test but this time use one of the tests that tell you an approximate date (1-2 weeks, 2-3 weeks, etc.). I calculated things in my head and said to myself "if it reads 1-2 weeks than it's probably a false positive. If it reads any higher than that it's possible this is real". The test read 2-3 weeks. At this point I didn't want to get my hopes (or fears) up too high but it finally hit me that this might be real. [Again, insert mouth drop here].
I booked a dating ultrasound for as soon as I could get one (I can't even remember how long a wait it was, maybe a week?), and payed close attention to how my body was feeling. I started feeling a little nauseous in the mornings and was more tired than I had ever been in my life, but I still didn't want to believe it in case it really was a false positive. During that time my emotions were ALL OVER THE PLACE - one minute I was so excited, the next I was terrified. Half the day I felt really hopeful that this was real and it would work out, the other half of the day I was sure it was all just a cruel joke after the miscarriage. I googled (I know, I know...silly Amber) about pregnancies immediately following miscarriages, to see if they were common and to see if that increased risks with a pregnancy. Obviously most of what I read was unhelpful.
The morning of the ultrasound I was so nervous, I probably looked like a ghost and was shaking. Before a dating ultrasound you have to drink a ton of water - enough that you feel like you're going to explode. When I laid down on that table I just held my breathe and waited to hear the tech say there was nothing there. But instead she says "you didn't drink enough water. I can't tell if anything is going on. Drink this bottle of water and we'll try again in half an hour". OH. MY. FREAKING. GOSH. It honestly felt like torture!!!! I drank the water, but within 10 minutes I had to run to the bathroom to throw up. Apparently I really was feeling nauseous and it wasn't a good idea to chug a bottle of water on an otherwise empty stomach, LOL! I worried that since I had regurgitated most of the water she asked me to drink that she would want me to drink more and wait longer, but when I laid back down 30 minutes later she was able to see what she needed to see - there was a baby in there! And there was a heartbeat! Baby looked to be about 7 weeks along. Which means that I got pregnant with that little bean about 2 weeks after I had lost Dorothy. I barely remember anything else about that appointment because I was in such a state of shock, relief and fear. We were having another baby! Again! What is even happening right now?!
Despite this wonderful confirmation it took me a while to be able to actually connect with the baby. After all, my first miscarriage happened after detecting a heart beat. Well thank God that we did not face miscarriage for the third time - but don't get too comfortable people, because there was more than one curve ball just around the corner to make sure this pregnancy and birth was going to be a bumpy ride (as if you could expect less at this point)!
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