I hinted at it a few times through social media, not fully ready to admit what all we've been through since the start of 2018...
And while I probably haven't processed all of it fully, Gerard's post on Sunday let some more details out.
A Facebook post can't fully encapsulate all we've been through either so that's what this blog post will hopefully cover. And I learned yesterday that it's actually Infertility Awareness Week-how ironic! So here's a calendar "break down" of how our 2018 has panned out thus far:
New Year's Day: pregnancy test result reveals we are expecting a child for the first time without fertility drug assistance. (Holy cow!? That can happen?!) Happy New Year to US! I started taking all measures as in past pregnancies: eating extra protein, extra folic acid, prenatal vitamin, prescribed progesterone, baby aspirin-all taken daily.
Jan. 2nd-we started scrolling through Zillow to see if there was anything in Norwalk within our price range that was better than what we were currently living in. There actually were two!!
We contacted our friend and amazing realtor, Jason, and had him do a consultation on our home and line up some showings of those two houses we'd like to see. One of them was taken off the market because the owners decided not to move. We viewed the second one and I loved it. It was my dream layout, within walking distance of work, a park, community pool, the library and the grocery store. We put in an offer and it was rejected without a counter. (Bummer)
January 12th-I had some cramping at work and then spotting, so I left work and got in for an ultrasound assuming I was miscarrying. Ultrasound showed a gestational sac and yolk sac, but no Baby. I started grieving and contacting family. Since it was a Friday, we were told I had to wait the weekend and see what happened, do bloodwork on Monday to see if hormone levels went up or down and we'd do another ultrasound the following Friday.
January 13th-While Gerard had a show choir competition, a friend and I readied the house for listing photos, I came down with respiratory flu/fever, called in more friends to help watch the kids while I rested and stayed away from everyone. The next day, another friend helped Gerard move furniture out of the house to clear the clutter and I finished up photos to send to our realtor. House went on the market on Monday, Jan. 15th.
That same Monday, the 15th, bloodwork showed an increase in HCG-the pregnancy hormone-and I had no further cramping or spotting. We put in an offer on another home and got that accepted and got to the inspection phase. The inspector told us outright, "If you were my children, I'd cry if you bought this house because you will always have water in your basement." He looked at me and said, "This is usually when the wife starts to cry." I was completely calm as I thought to myself, "Buddy, I have bigger fish to fry here-I need to know if I have another heartbeat inside of me or not. I can go without a new house." We left the contract on House #3 and an ultrasound on Jan. 19th showed a heartbeat. Holy crap, I'm still pregnant! Grieving paused and Hope started to grow.
Between Jan. 15th and Feb. 4th, we had 17 showings and 2 offers on our house. Our dog, Ella, was hospitalized in our Vet's ICU twice from the stress of the showings with bloody diarrhea, bloody vomit-symptoms of pancreatitis and gastroenteritis. She was put on 4 different medications and a limited diet. I had ultrasound appointments weekly to check on Baby and we continued to see a heartbeat. Hope grew along with the size of Baby #5.
After we knew we'd successfully sold our home and what equity we had to work with, we went back to House #2 that was my dream layout and made a better offer that resulted in a counter and we accepted. Jason likened the selling/buying of a home to a football game. Thus far, we'd had a good first half. I kept thinking in my mind, "We have TWO MORE QUARTERS TO GO?! What's left?!"
Oh, there was so much left.
February 8th, after the flurry of 5 showings on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 4th), I slowed down enough to realize, I'd been kinda crampy all week. I was so swept up in packing, taking care of Laidy, Loch and Ella with her meds, that I chalked it up to fatigue and lifting/packing boxes. I called in for a triple check of an ultrasound and kinda laughed it off to the on-call nurse over the phone. I even told Gerard I was calm and at peace to go to the appointment alone. The second I saw the screen during the ultrasound, I knew I no longer saw a flicker of Baby's heartbeat. I was facing the worst news by myself. The tech went and got the doctor and I sat in the exam room. In the quiet. In the dark. Alone. Thinking, "I'm the only one who knows this right now. How do I tell Gerard? How do I tell others?" There were no tears. Just quiet thoughts.
The doctor came into the room and forwarded me on to my OB's office-he'd called them to let them know I'd be on my way over and they'd work to squeeze me into their Friday afternoon. (Side note: NEVER AGAIN will I schedule an ultrasound on a Friday.) I thanked him, asked the tech for the pictures of Baby and headed to the car. I called Gerard, told him we'd lost the Baby, that I was headed over to my OB's office and apologized that I had to tell him this news over the phone, "I'm sorry you have to tell me over the phone." Was his reply. And then, "Do you want me there?"
Gerard admits it wasn't the best choice of words and what he meant was, "Where are you?" I headed to my OB's office up the street and checked in at the front desk. I let them know I would be outside the front door making a few phone calls and to come get me when they were ready for me. I called my parents and spoke to my Dad. "Oh Baby, I'm so sorry." was his choked reply. Then my tears started. I left my sister a choked up and stutter-filled voice mail since I knew she was at work tending to patients of her own. I texted work colleagues who knew I was pregnant and Bible Study family. (Another side note: I think if we're ever pregnant again, we're not telling a single soul for quite awhile. In our excitement, we told FAR too many people. Taking that many folks on a roller coaster that ends in disaster isn't pleasant.)
My OB is the best OB in the world. There were hugs, tears, questions to remind me of surgery processes and recovery. I had Large Group Contest the next morning-I was slated to run the Jazz Center at our school and we were forecasted to get a snow storm. I texted friends and family again to pray that the snow storm would cancel the contest.
We got a compromise-a late start to the contest due to icy road conditions caused half our jazz entrants to cancel. It would be a light day with just 4 jazz bands to come through our doors. I needed to be there from 9:00-2:30pm. I made it through by the skin of my teeth, smiling at directors as they came in, working with students to help run the day smoothly, during the lunch break, I sat in our school's gym alone (sometimes in the dark because they are motion-sensored lights) as I readied my Solo Contest ballots because I knew I'd be missing school the following week. I texted Gerard to let him know the miscarrying process was ramping up and that we'd need to go to the ER to meet my OB when I got home from the contest. This would be enacting our Plan B, Plan A had been to do surgery on Monday, but my body made it clear I wouldn't make it that long. Gerard lined up a babysitter, prepped dinner for the kids.
I got home with a sigh of relief, greeted our wonderful friend who watched Laidy & Loch and had brought them all sorts of puzzles and new coloring books to busy themselves. I changed clothes and we headed out the door. Checking into the ER felt like an out of body experience as I told the front desk nurse what was happening. They got me into triage, took my information and got me into a room as soon as they were able. My OB wrapped up her own daughter's birthday party and met me in the ER. I was prepped for surgery, signed paperwork for Baby to be sent to Hamilton's Funeral Home after its trip to the Pathology Lab for testing. The past two times this has happened to us came flooding back to my memory.
It's still hard for me to grapple and accept the fact that my medical history looks so messed up and now details THREE "missed abortions" as the medical community refers to miscarriages. I didn't cry in the ER until I laid down on the OR table-"Not again, Lord! Why am I here again?!" My OB put her hand under the white blanket covering me to stroke my arm and hold my hand as the anesthesia took hold.
I woke up from surgery well-they'd honored my request for no fentanyl and no Tylenol with codeine. With our first miscarriage and D&C, fentanyl and codeine took away my appetite, made me irritable and nauseous, further complicating my recovery. Miscarriage #2 and now, #3 had a much more smooth recovery and I could focus on the emotional side of recovery instead of combating negative side effects physically. We made it home in time to tuck Laidy into bed and I snuggled with her until she drifted off to sleep. As I held her in my arms, I remembered the 18 months it took for us to get her, the one month of clomid, seeing her heartbeat at 8 weeks gestation, the tech telling us she had a "beautiful heart" at 20 weeks, the induction of labor, the difficult recovery, how perfect of a baby she was to sleep through the night at 12 weeks. My mind drifted to the two miscarriages we had while trying for a sibling for her. The timid joy I felt when we found out about Lochlyn's existence, the fear, the reservations that come with a pregnancy after miscarriage, finding out Loch was a boy and the OB appointments that we joyfully had Laidy find his heartbeat with our doctor assisting, the smooth induction of labor, the textbook perfect recovery, how exhausting of a baby he was eating twice a night for the first year of his life.
"How many more times are we going to go through this, Lord?" I fell asleep asking that night. The answer is inaudible to us right now.
As we were in the moving process, people would come up to us and congratulate me and I'd hesitate for a moment to wait to hear what they were congratulating me for. The week we were moving, I was supposed to be announcing a pregnancy. I didn't know that people congratulated you on a new home-call me socially awkward, I guess. Also, the week we were moving, our Old Orchard house got a new roof-twice. There was a roofing snafu/miscommunication and our roofer needed to re-do his work. This put Ella in ICU again, so she stayed there for close to a week while we loaded the u-haul and got the new house set up for Life.
I miscarried/had surgery Feb. 10th. Recovered the following week in the midst of Parent-Teacher Conferences, Show Choir Show Case final home show extra practices for Gerard and a Show Choir Contest on Feb. 18th, accompanying 70 of my students for Solo Contest on March 3rd, and packing our home into boxes and tubs.
Moving Day found our front yard looking like this:
Roofers finishing up on top, their van in our driveway with a dumpster and a U-Haul backed up to our front yard to load our Life into. I put our wedding china and our framed marriage certificate into my SUV with cleaning supplies and headed over to our new home. While there, I met our carpet cleaners, cleaned the bathrooms and started in on the kitchen so we could serve lunch to our friends helping us. And my body kindly let me know that it was back to working cyclical order, not skipping a beat since the surgery. Awesome. At least one thing was functioning as it should in this human shell.
We moved successfully and incredibly smoothly on March 8th with the help of no fewer than 30 of our dearest and available friends. We spent that night in our new home, knowing our Old Orchard home was completely empty, another kind of shell.
Laidy & Loch seemingly, didn't skip a beat either. They slept through the night beautifully, had breakfast and we headed over the next morning to say our final farewells to Old Orchard:
We dropped the kids off at school, continued the work of unpacking, miscellaneous errands, and signed official paperwork at 4:00pm on March 9th. Brought the kids home, a friend brought us dinner and helped me with odds and ends around the house. We went to bed among mountains of boxes and tubs. Gerard left the following morning at 4am for the High School's Choir trip to Florida-3 coach busses full of choir students heading for DisneyWorld for close to a week. Another friend came the night of March 9th and spent the night to help me make the transition from.....well, everything, to being in a new house with kids and no husband. lol :) A few more friends came on the 10th to help bring boxes in from the garage, unload books, kitchen items, the china, we even got some things on the walls! The main focus of mine was to get the kids' rooms set up so that it seemed the most normal for them-consistency and routine.
Throughout Spring Break, while Gerard was gone, I thought I'd have more time to process.....well, everything. Not only had we said goodbye to a home that had begun our marriage, welcomed our two babies, mourned the loss of three others which, in itself is a huge transition I'm told. But we did this transition in the most demanding time of our school year with Solo Contest/Large Group for me and Show Choir Competition season for Gerard. But wait, there's more! We did all of that while pregnant and then.....not pregnant. Each of these three items are doozies and deserve their own space, if you will. To have them all collide in the short span of 9 weeks has stretched my capacities in ways I didn't think physically or emotionally possible.
Additionally, in the midst of all of that, I've been in conversations with my superintendent about what my teaching/Comm. Coordinator job will look like next fall. Yes, there was even more going on under the surface of all of this. Finally, as contracts came out, I could discuss that yes, I will be a full time teacher and Communications Coordinator for Norwalk Schools. Half of my day will be in the band room teaching lessons as I have for the past 10 years, a class period will be devoted to Digital Photography, another period for planning/prep and the remainder of my day will be Communications duties for the school district as a whole. That will be another post for another day as it will dramatically change how things run with Carrie Krupke Photography.
So, yes. It's been a lot to handle these last couple months. There are some relationships that need mending and hearts that need tending to with compassion. There are a few more boxes/tubs to unpack (literally, and probably figuratively) but it's a process that will be ongoing. You don't fully arrive at being done grieving a baby, much less two, much less now three. But, I can say that the Miscarriage Memorial Service that Hamilton's offered to us and a dozen other families this past weekend was incredibly helpful in that process and journey of recovering & grieving.
I've said it before and I will say it again: if our story can serve as an encouragement to others as they are trying to grow their families, I hope it is a help and a comfort and I'm completely open to sharing more with you if you have questions. Each miscarriage I've experienced has its own emotions to unpack: I have two beautiful and healthy children that I enjoy so deeply it hurts. It's different to experience miscarriage knowing that your body has carried other children to full term. My body can function "as it should" (I hate the word "should" by the way), there just happens to have been three other times where the chromosomes didn't line up the way they should. (There's that blasted word again.)
It's a comfort to know we aren't alone. 1 in 8 couples will struggle to grow their families. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Even if all necessary parts are present in a uterus to create a child (egg, sperm, healthy uterus), it happens just 20% of the time. It's still very surreal to me that this 5th pregnancy of mine happened without needles, testing and fertility drugs. It was a "spontaneous pregnancy" as my OB called it and she was very encouraged by that positive change in my medical history. I have now experienced spontaneous and fertility drug induced pregnancies, good (Loch) and difficult (Laidy) recoveries from delivery, an unsuccessful and a successful ECV (turning attempt) for Lochlyn, good nursing (Loch) and challenging nursing (Laidy), so when I feel like I've experienced it all, there are still millions of individually unique stories for each pregnancy, for each woman of how they have brought their child into the world or lost a pregnancy. Each grief is different, each celebration is different and has its own background behind it.
Will we have more children? I don't know-that answer is up to the Lord. Maybe two children for us is His definition of a "quiver full". For now, I will hold my miracle babies tight, bless them, pray over them, love on them as best I know how and thank God for letting me be a mom. Their Mama. What a miracle, what a blessing, what an incredible honor, privilege and joy to have carried them, delivered them and LIVE with them!