This is the space where I share in milestones and birth stories. This will be the space where I share my grief.
I know I said I was done after Henry. That I did not ever want more kids. What happened after his birth, not really ever feeling totally well afterwards (still don’t), the “ruler of the home” he turned out to be like his name means, etc. Stephen was so scared after what happened he didn’t want me to be pregnant again either. Too many ER trips for IVs and prescription anti-nausea medications and being unable to really function, let alone take care of kids from being sick and the side effects of the prescription medicines. I was justifiably done. I had done my part to continue the Wuertz name with two boys. We had three kids in a country where the average is probably somewhere around one or two.
I don’t know when or how I got to the point where I felt like after three I knew I’d survive those hard nine months and it was just so, so worth it, but I did. I guess I’m kind of glad we didn’t decide to be “surgically sure” after Henry. He’s taught us so much about ourselves, our selfishness. And the kid can work the charms on me. His new favorite thing is to come up on my lap and hug me tight and say, “My lap, my mama, my snuggles,” (we are heavy into the “my” phase).
I don’t pretend to be able to explain myself well here. I know big families are kind of a freak show in our culture (with their own Reality TV shows like the other freaks in our nation). And I never wanted a big family or thought I would want one. I never thought I’d want kids, period.
So then there it was, a change in decision, and almost immediately I was pregnant because I’m Fertile Myrtle like that. Much like with the others, especially Jillian, I was already nauseous about a week after conception. My face erupted in major, painful breakouts. I needed a nap every day, but obviously could not take one with two older kids that don’t nap anymore, but are not old enough to be trusted in any way. I could not keep my eyes open past 8pm most nights and I slept like a brick. I had brain fog and trouble focusing. Smells were stronger and I had more aversions. These are things that only happen when I am pregnant. It was obvious to me. So obvious, that I decided a pregnancy test was unnecessary.
At first my symptoms just seemed to coincide with Lent, but it just kept getting more and more intense and I knew, I just knew it wasn’t a Lent thing. In fact, I finally had to get a fasting dispensation from our priest for pregnancy and even then I was having all these really intense typical pregnancy symptoms. My period was late as expected.
I guess what was unexpected was how excited we were. I pretty much put two and two together within a day of the symptoms starting and we were both so thrilled. We haven’t really ever been like that before, especially in the midst of nausea. It took warming up to the idea all the other times.
There’s something different between Stephen and I in our relationship and even just us as individuals this last year that I can’t quite put my finger on completely, but it’s there, this quiet strength and peace and knowing that even in hard times, which have seemed plenty the last year, we are going to make it through. Perhaps we’ll come out a little more battered, but overall we’re going to be OK and we’re going to make it through. I don’t quite know how to articulate it other than that, but it feels bigger than that.
So we knew a pregnancy would be hard. I knew lots of puking was ahead of me, but we knew we were going to be OK and make it through and there would be this sweet little person that would fit him or herself into this family of ours. Perhaps part of it is just having done it three times before.
After three homebirths and in spite of the after-scares with myself after giving birth to Henry, my plan was still homebirth and the midwife that “caught” two of my babies.
She had been at a midwifery conference this past week and got back earlier this week. I checked in with her and asked if I could come by to get lab orders and get my official test.
But then I started feeling too normal for a typical pregnancy for me. After three solid weeks of symptoms, suddenly I felt fine and did crazy adventurous things with my kids like hiking and a day at the farm strawberry picking.
I got scared. I questioned my knowledge of my body and my symptoms. I bought pregnancy tests. I took one at night. It was negative. The best time to test is first thing in the morning, I reminded and consoled myself. The next morning was the same. But my period was late and the symptoms told me these tests had to be wrong. This was the day that I wanted to get my paperwork anyway. My midwife suggested ordering a hormone level check instead of a plain pregnancy blood test.
Surely things were fine. Surely this was just weird stuff. But deep down I knew it wasn’t fine and started to worry. The sudden lack of symptoms was my red flag. I asked a few people to pray. I prayed.
Before I could even get the test results back I was cramping, hard. Then bleeding. Then clots and tissue. I had my answer.
A day that was supposed to be filled with joy went terribly differently than I expected. And the grief hit me. And then I was fine. Then it hit me again. Then I was fine. I think I’m going to be OK and console myself that at least it was only a little ways along and physically this could be much worse and then I find myself slamming cupboard doors for no apparent reason or snapping at my kids for minor infractions. I had a meltdown over Henry trying to help with the laundry carrying his folded pile down the hallway dropping a piece every few steps. I try to keep busy and then fall apart in tears. I know these things happen, happen to most women at least once. I just thought it wouldn’t really be me.
I asked my midwife what to call this. It’s so early. Is it even considered a miscarriage if you are only a week late? By the time I took the test my hormone levels were so low it was “questionable if it was a pregnancy.” The passing tissue, the other symptoms sound and feel more like a miscarriage than just a late period. Hormone levels drop when you have a miscarriage, that’s what causes your body to lose the pregnancy. Stephen said he’s never seen me so ravenous to eat, so nauseous, so tired except when I’m pregnant. We’re calling it a miscarriage.
Depending on the priest, it seems, the same rule that applies to mothers that just have given birth to not return to church until 40 days after the birth, applies to women that have had a miscarriage. I am still waiting to see what this means for me, our upcoming reception into the church and all that.
When I first heard about this whole 40 day thing awhile back, I scoffed. I was back at church within a week or two with my other children, who did these Orthodox people think they were making a rule like that?
Well for one thing, even the midwives want you to take it easy for the first couple weeks. I was scolded for doing too much at first all three times. A friend of mine in the church with a new baby remarked when her 40 days were up that she was finally starting to feel better after giving birth and falling into a rhythm, feeling adjusted and that after experiencing it, the 40 days made sense.
I left the house twice to go three places today. The first time to meet with Stephen for lunch and then the craft store for supplies to keep me busy.
Ethan dressed himself today in this guitar tee with clip-on tie and he dressed his baby doll in a mismatched outfit too. I just wasn’t up to a fight with him about clothes or taking toys out of the house.
The second time we left to go have dinner with Stephen because I decided I wasn’t up to cooking after all.
Both times of leaving the house it seemed like a good idea at first. Sometimes when I am going through something tough I need to leave the house or I feel like I will suffocate from grief and stress pushing in on me from the walls of our house. Being outside feels more breathable.
I listened to this parenting interview today and the mother had lost her child five years ago in a car accident. Her 10 month old son makes it impossible for her to dwell or become useless on certain anniversaries anymore. Life goes on and the baby does not stop or give her a day off to spend looking through photographs.
My kids were up at 7am. They will be again tomorrow. They require attention and interaction all day long. They need us and especially me.
But once I was in public, I instantly realized I was still much too raw. Do you even leave the house after something like this? Is that allowed? Will it seem uncaring? What would we do or say if we ran into someone we knew?
Holding myself together was nearly impossible at times. Crying in Baja Fresh just seemed ridiculous though especially with all the peppy music blaring overhead and I kept it together.
So forty days is making huge sense to me right now. Forty days to hunker down. Get things together. Honor that which was lost. Process through the grief partially.