Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bittersweet Valentine's Day

From the moment you discover that you are expecting, everything is changed. Suddenly, the next nine months and beyond are full of possibility that didn't exist before. Josh and I knew that it was time to complete our little family with the addition of a fourth child. We made plans to begin trying in early 2013, but we just couldn't wait. We wanted to feel that excitement again, to look forward to a wonderfully changed future.

Mid-January, I asked Josh to pick up a pregnancy test. We both knew the result would be positive. We have always been blessed to conceive quickly. First try, every time. We knew this time wouldn't be any different. I took the test and hopped in the shower to pass the time. Josh snuck a peek before I could dry off, and the smile on his face told me what I would find.

We were thrilled! Instantly, life was changed. Normal bedtime conversation that night was traded for baby girl names and how we would reveal the pregnancy to our boys and our families. I became a constant daydreamer. I bought supplies to begin a pregnancy journal. I started three secret boards on pinterest: The Next 9 Months, Pink, and Blue. I began planning our pregnancy announcement.

About a week later, I experienced some spotting. I had spotting once with my third pregnancy, and it was very minor compared to what I was seeing. I made an appointment but had to wait all weekend. My daydreaming turned to worrying. Afraid that my job (teaching dance) may be playing a role in the bleeding, I launched into online research. Nothing I read seemed to calm my fears entirely, although I did learn that dancing could not be affecting the pregnancy.

On Sunday, I asked my husband and father to give me a priesthood blessing. You can read more about these blessings here. Josh and I sat the boys down and told them our good news, then also told them that Mommy wasn't feeling very well and that she needed a blessing. The blessing was sweet. I was touched and comforted by the Spirit. I knew that no matter what happened, my Heavenly Father loved me and had a plan for me. The rest of the night was spent cuddling. The boys kept rubbing my tummy and asking if it was a girl. They were so excited.

Monday morning came and the doctor's visit went well. My symptoms had already eased and the ultrasound brought beautiful, happy news. I heard my baby's heartbeat. I saw the little heart chamber beating. It was so beautiful. The doctor reassured me that everything looked fine and that what I was experiencing was implantation bleeding. I didn't need to worry. My chances of miscarriage at this point were very, very slim. I left his office in peace, feeling very blessed and grateful.

My symptoms declined through Thursday, but then on Friday my spotting changed. I had begun teaching my Friday afternoon classes. I ran to the restroom between classes and there was bright red bleeding. My heart started pounding. This was not a good sign. Not really knowing what to do, I went back to class. Surrounded by delightful, rambunctious and beautiful three year old girls, we practiced our plies and chasses. However, a horrible feeling overcame me. I could feel hot tears building up. Not wanting to upset my students, and not wanting to seem unprofessional to their parents, I finished class and returned to the restroom. More bright red blood. I went to a fellow teacher and asked her to combine our next classes for warm-up. I needed to call my doctor.

I couldn't reach my doctor, but talked to an advice nurse. She was not the warm and comforting person I needed at that moment. She basically told me that my symptoms were not severe enough to be a miscarriage or anything else that demanded medical attention. And that I needed to calm down. Now, I'm not a hysterical person. I'm certain the worry in my voice came across loud and clear. But, she said I was poisoning my body with this worry and making things worse. Seriously? I'm sitting here wondering if I have lost the life growing inside of me and you want to place the blame on me, at this moment?  A good nurse would have done what she could to calm me down, not frighten me.

I knew that dancing could do no harm. I knew that if I were miscarrying, there was nothing I could do to stop it. I decided to finish my classes. I shoved my fears down as deep as I could and put on a brave face for my kids. I was not present that night. My thoughts constantly wandered. I love my job, but that night I almost resented being there. Once home, my husband comforted me the best he could. At this point, I think I knew.

My symptoms did not change throughout the day Saturday. After finishing my classes and private lessons, I rushed home to email my doctor. I wasn't about to talk to another advice nurse. That night, my symptoms were much worse. The blood clots frightened me. At this point, I knew. I couldn't say it out loud yet, but I knew.

Sunday came. We went to church. I was distracted. My heart was heavy. That afternoon, we kept our appointment to take our announcement photos. I allowed myself to forget my worries and pretend that everything was just fine. In the back of my mind I was thinking, there are still a lot of photos that we are taking that I could use for other projects. The boys are having fun - let them.

Here is the official announcement:

Cute, right? We were going to surprise our families first, then announce it to the world on Valentine's Day - today.

However, Monday morning came, and along with it, an email from my doctor. When I read, "I think you may have lost the pregnancy," I fell apart. I already knew it was true, but seeing the possibility in black and white was still somehow a big blow.

My doctor couldn't see me right away, but made arrangements to have me seen by a colleague. When I arrived, I sat in the waiting room with several other women. A few were obviously pregnant. One was complaining about her discomforts and I thought to myself, "At least you have a life inside of you. I wouldn't complain. If I still had my baby, I wouldn't complain." I am sorry now for being so judgmental. I was barely holding it together when they called my name.

I related all of the events of the past week to the nurse. She was being so kind. I really needed kindness and compassion at that moment. The doctor came in and he, too, was very kind and compassionate. He asked if anyone was with me and I said no. I had told my husband to stay at work. He wasn't going to make it in time, anyway, so I told him I would call with the news. The doctor left to get the nurse, and while I waited, I prayed. I didn't pray for the baby's life. I didn't pray for a miracle. I just prayed to not feel alone. I knew that I could handle the truth of the situation as long as I didn't feel alone. I needed my Father in Heaven and He was with me.

When he returned, I could tell that the doctor was not hopeful. He performed an ultrasound. As soon as I could see my uterus on the screen, any tiny little hope that I still had vanished. There was nothing there. He had to look and look to find the pregnancy, and when he zoomed in on the little dark spot, there was nothing inside. No heart chamber beating happily. No heart beat. Nothing. My heart sank. I tried not to cry. I don't know why, I guess I was trying to be brave. He had another colleague come in to verify. She confirmed that I had lost the pregnancy.

I cried then. They gave me a moment. I dried my eyes, took a deep breath, and said, "What happens now?" The doctor gently went through all of my options with me. I told him I would discuss it with my husband and get back to him. As I left the office, I felt different. I felt hollow, empty. I immediately called Josh and he left work. I drove to my parents' house to pick up Jaxon and told them. They held me, reminded me that it wasn't my fault, that God has a plan. I went home and waited for Josh. I made arrangements for all of my responsibilities over the next several days to be taken care of. I waited for the doctor to return my call about scheduling the procedure. It was all surreal.

My sister arrived with flowers. She is expecting, and our due dates were just one day apart. We were looking forward to being pregnant together, to racing to the finish line, to seeing our mom go crazy making two baby quilts at the same time. I was very grateful for her visit. I got a text from another sister. To know that she and her new husband were praying for me was very comforting. Then the boys got home.

They were devastated. They were confused and very upset. I regretted ever telling them that I was expecting. Now, I realize, that this has been a blessing in disguise. The talks we've been able to have since then have been beautiful teaching moments. I hated to see them hurt, but I feel like we are a stronger family having gone through this together. We asked my dad to come over and give the boys and myself another blessing. I again felt peace and my Father in Heaven's love.

I was visited again by another sister. Josh shared the news with his parents. We scheduled the procedure for the next morning. All went well and I have been healing very well.

It has only been a week and a half, but it seems like it has been months. Life didn't stop, and I allowed myself to be swallowed up in the normalcy of day to day living. I allow myself private moments to think, to grieve. Every once in awhile, though, I am caught off guard. Earlier this week I opened my planner and noticed an entry that said, "Appt. 11:45 a.m." It took me a moment, but I realized that it was an appointment with my ob/gyn. I stared at that square on the calendar for what seemed like an hour. I cried at what could have been. A week after my procedure, my son had an eye appointment. The office is across the hallway from the place I had my procedure done. I knew this ahead of time, but as I walked down the hallway my feet became heavy and I couldn't breathe. We couldn't get into the optometrist's office quickly enough.

I keep wondering if I should be more upset, less upset, upset in a different way. What is the appropriate response to this? I have decided that I will react how I need to. I will allow myself to cry when I need to cry. I will allow myself to laugh if I want to. I will continue to find strength in my family, my marriage, and my testimony. I will look forward to the future with hope - hope that we will conceive again, hope for a healthy pregnancy and child. I will count my blessings and love the family I do have with all of my heart.

I couldn't think of a better way for myself to celebrate Valentine's Day than to share this story today. I don't normally share things of such a personal nature so publicly, but I have felt strongly for several days that this needed to be posted here on my blog. We celebrate love on Valentine's Day, and even though this chapter of my life contains heartache and sadness, it's still a story of love. I am grateful for this experience. I can be more loving toward others who have been or will find themselves in similar circumstances because I've been there. I am more mindful that my family loves me and that I love them. I am more acutely aware of the love God has for me. I have felt it. I have witnessed it at work in my life. As time goes on, I am sure I will still have moments of sadness. That's okay. I know other trials will come, but I also know that this one has made me stronger in ways that will help me deal with future challenges. I understand that my circumstances were nothing compared to the trial and heartache of many other women, and for them I have nothing but respect, love and compassion. Many friends in the past days have shared their stories, and as I debated sharing mine online, I realized that hearing their stories strengthened me. I am not alone. There is a shared heartache and strength out there, one that can lift us up. I hope that by sharing my story, someone feels less alone. Someone feels lifted up, at least a little bit.

I hope you enjoy your Valentine's Day. As you celebrate with your families, children, significant others, etc., take a moment to think of someone who might be going through a difficult trial. Make sure they know you love them, too.



  1. Oh, Tessa, I'm so sorry. Thank you for sharing. How blessed you are to have a family and Heavenly Father who love you!

  2. Tessa, I am honestly crying right now as I read this. You are an amazing and strong woman and all I would love to do is give you a hug. Thank you for sharing your story, and the photos are adorable even though now they have a different story to tell.

  3. Tessa~ I am moved by your story and words of faith. I will be thinking of you and your family.

  4. Blessings on you and your family Tessa. Thank you for sharing such a touching story. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I am a follower of your blog and I am also someone that has experienced this grief. Your words are beautiful. You are correct, there is no "appropriate way" to respond, just do and feel what you need to do and feel. Peace to you.

  6. I am soo sorry for your loss, Tessa. Unfortunately I am all too familiar with it, having gone through it twice. :( Your story is beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I'd love to tell you what ultimately worked to support my pregnancies and granted me the two beautiful girls I have now when you are ready. Much love to you!

  7. Tessa, you are so sweet and brave for sharing this. I'm so sorry to read your sad news : ( I really feel for you all. I lost 3 between Hollie and Louis and although it was awful during that time and everyone around me seemed to have tiny babies or be expecting, now I have Louis. I'm pleased that it did happen as I wouldn't have had him. Wishing you lots of love today. Big hugs xxx

  8. My sympathy to you and your loved ones. Thank you for sharing your story.

  9. My heart goes out to you, Tessa. You are such a strong and loving person. Thank you for sharing your most intimate thoughts and feelings with us. It puts many things in perspective when you know a friend who is struggling with things much greater than your own. Hugs to you and your entire family.

  10. Oh, Tessa. My heart is aching for you right now. I'm humbled that you were vulnerable in sharing your story and feelings. I will be praying for you as you continue to grieve! *hugs*

  11. Caitlin FitzpatrickFebruary 14, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. It's inspiring that you can be so honest and open about it-- you're really a wonderful person. Your family pictures are precious and I'm glad you're able to share them along with your story.

  12. Tessa - I am sorry for the loss for you and those you love! Thank-you for sharing your story!

  13. You are most certainly providing comfort by being so open and honest. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your selflessness in sharing this blog post publically. What a great testimony.

  14. Tessa I am so sorry for your loss..I know it is corny but time heals all wounds and with time comes new beginings...I pray for a new beginging for you and your family.
    Take care

  15. Your strength is evident in your families bond and in your ability to share your will probably comfort more people than you could imagine. Thank you for sharing and know there is always a plan...Praying for continued health, happiness and hope.

  16. Tessa, I am soooo sorry to hear about your loss. I know it is sooo hard and not easy for you right now. what you shared was soooo close and personal and I cried reading all the way through it!!! you are brave and amazing... I miscarried once and thought that it would just be a matter of time before we had our 3rd baby... well 8.5 years after my second we were finally able to have our 3rd baby. soooo many hard times were in between those years and going to church made it harder to sit through a year of over 20 baby blessings in our ward. You will gain strength you never knew you had and feel HF's love... {{HUGS}} and hope you find peace.

  17. Hugs to you my sweet friend. Prayers for comfort and family bonding in your time of loss. Having fertility issues myself and (impatiently) awaiting adoption, I sympathize with your struggles. Wishing you only the best moving forward!

  18. Tessa, having experienced my own miscarriage on Feb 12 last year, I can completely relate to this post. Your words of faith are inspiring, and I will keep you in my prayers and thoughts. It never gets better, but it does get easier. Hugs!

  19. my BEAUTIFUL friend, I'm truly sorry for your loss--I wish I could be there to give you a HUGE hug! I know that we talked about your special #4, thank you for sharing your testimony-it strengthens mine. Know that I am praying for you.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment :). If you don't see your comment appear right away, don't fret. I'm screening for spam and will approve your post as soon as I can. Have a great day!