Saturday, February 08, 2014

Our Future and Brazil

It's what we get asked about most often.  And I just want to take some time here today to answer these questions and clear some things up.

If it were up to me, we would've been back in Brazil months ago. 

And because I feel that way, it makes it really really really annoying and frustrating and unfair for me when I hear people assume and imply that the reason we are still here is because I don't want to go back.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  As I said, if it were up to me, we would've been back there months ago.  But not everything is up to me.  And not everything is within my control.

Yes, I love our house here.  Yes, I love the states.  Yes, I love being around family and old friends.  And all things familiar to me here.  My language.  And my culture.  And Target and Wal-Mart, lol.  :)

But our lives, as Christians, aren't based on any of those things.  They are supposed to be based on God's purposes and plans for you.  No matter what.  You are supposed to walk down God's path for you.

And for us, that has been Brazil.  And I personally don't feel like our time there is done. 

Here are a few things there in Brazil that my heart longs for...our friends there (go look at these pictures to see some of them), our routine there, the orphanage where we volunteer (miss these kids so much; read this and my reply to get just a tiny glimpse of my and the kids' 'work' there...also, see video below).  But instead of being back there, we're here just waiting...on something that technically, in my mind, could've/should've happened about a year and a half ago.  But, for reasons beyond my control, have still not come to pass.  We're here, stuck in not moving forward with all of the things that we feel God has for us. 

Yes, I love being home, here in the states, in Saline, Louisiana to be specific.  :)  But, there is a time and a season for everything.  This was only supposed to be a visit after all.  Our lives are much bigger than "I love being home." so many ways and for so many reasons, I long to be back in Brazil.  To continue the work He has there for us...our lives He has there for us.  And I just wanted to be really clear here about that...and answer a few wrong assumptions that have been made.

Having said that, what is keeping us here then? 

While I obviously love to write about things, even things that some people would consider 'personal' (for example, the miscarriage) because I love to process things in that way and it really, really helps me...not everything I can write about on here.  But I can say this...

There are just some things that need to be worked out here before we can move on in our lives.  I can't tell you what those things are right now.  Maybe when we get to the other side of those things I can write about it here.  But for right now, just know and believe me when I say that if these things weren't dire and needed in our lives, we would not still be here.  These are not things that are 'wants'...they are 'needs'...and there's a big difference.  And we can't even think about moving forward until they are accomplished.

So, you can help us.  Pray that those things will be worked out in our lives and those needs will come so that we can move on. 

There are many other things that will need to be worked out after that point.  But, for now...first things first. 

I'll leave you with this video.  This is a video we showed at the VBSs we taught at literally the first and second weeks we were back in the states (we got back here the last day of May, 2012)...we were being major gypsies at that point (we had no other choice), our 12 huge unpacked suitcases in our van with no place to go for about the first 3 weeks, our kids having to climb over them every time they got in to go somewhere (misery; now that I'm writing everything out here, I'm sure I'll write more about this happening at some point).  But, we somehow were able to teach VBS two weeks straight and pull this little video together during that time.  It shows a bit of our lives over the last few months we were there in Brazil.  A little glimpse into the lives we left behind and hope to return to soon.  Sadly, so much has changed since we left, including where we will live once we do return.  But still...we do hope to return soon.

Again, pray with us.  Thank you!!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

This Is a Miscarriage - Follow-Up 1

Well, I lied.  There will be more posts with this title.  :)

First of all, I want to say again a huge THANK YOU(!!) to all of you who have sent/paid for meals for us, sent sweet cards in the mail, and sent sweet messages/comments/emails via internet.  Even though I didn't reply to most individually, I just wanted to make sure you knew here that you will never know how encouraging and sweet each and every little thoughtful action was for me.  So, please...accept here my sincere and heartfelt thanks!!  We so appreciate you all.

It was 2 weeks yesterday that we found out about our last little baby no longer having a heartbeat.  You can read all of those posts starting here on Day 1.  Yesterday it was a week and 2 days since the official birth of the remains of that pregnancy (I wrote about it here).  Some other remains exited my body over the course of the few days after that.  But, that ended by last weekend.  So, yesterday I went ahead and went back to my midwife to see where we were in the whole process (I probably would've waited another week or two, by the way...but we have a few things coming up that necessitated this visit in making our plans). 

I had the ultrasound first.  Everything looks pretty good.  Doesn't seem to be any more placenta parts in there or anything.  My endometrium is still thick though.  My midwife said she had looked at all of my posts/pictures/videos.  And she was pretty positive, given my posts/pictures/videos and the ultrasound, that everything is out (as far as baby, sac, placenta).  But even though our baby died at technically 8 1/2 weeks, we didn't find that out until I was at the 'almost 2nd trimester' point.  And there were a few things that happened in there biologically because of that.  And because of that, for all intents and purposes, I would be considered 'almost 2nd trimester' and the process that occurs in order for the remains of the pregnancy in my uterus to be flushed out at 'almost 2nd trimester' sometimes just takes longer.  At this point, though, the only thing which remains is just that my endometrial lining needs to be flushed out, causing the thickness to return to normal.  I'm thankful for that.

She said that it's really so much in miscarriage, or healthy pregnancy for that matter, is.  I had two use a 'cervical ripening agent' (used to induce labor) or to just let nature take its course, however unpredictable and lingering it may be. 

I chose nature.  She said there's really no predicting what might happen.  I might have more heavy bleeding and cramping.  I might not have any of that, go back in a few weeks and do an ultrasound, and find that my body has just 'reabsorbed' all of the lingering signs of pregnancy I still have as of today.  I might experience something somewhere in the middle of those two possibilities.

So, we shall see.  I am no longer actively bleeding.  For some of you men, this might be a bit TMI.  But...when I go to the bathroom, there is always blood there when I clean myself.  But, none of it travels out.  For instance, I am no longer even wearing a pad or anything, as of this past weekend.  I add this type of information for those of you finding this blog and wanting details about what a miscarriage might be like. 

We did some bloodwork yesterday too...just making sure to see where my HCG, H&H, etc. levels are.  I'll go back to see the midwife in 6 weeks.  All should be back to normal then...we will confirm that with that visit (another ultrasound).  I will also have a regular yearly exam at that point...including more bloodwork, etc. 

So, there you have it.  Just wanted to update you all.  I do pray that the remainder of what needs to be done is done in a timely fashion...specifically within the next week - 10 days is my hope.  Please pray for that with me.  Thank you!!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

This Is a Miscarriage - Day 11

This will most likely be my next to last post with this header.  I've got a very special post planned for the last post in this little series.  < 3  That will come soon.

Just to give you guys an update...

The hardest thing for lots of people to deal with in a miscarriage is most often, I think, the emotions as related to the loss.  As you will read below, I think I might be a little different in that area...unless there are lots more people like me that I just never hear about. 

The hardest thing for me to deal with is that with miscarriage always comes doubts.  Doubts about your body being able to pull off the healthy pregnancy/healthy baby thing.  I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy...had those doubts.  And even though I have now had four back-to-back healthy, wonderful, perfect pregnancies and births (including three perfect home births), after having two back-to-back miscarriages now...those doubts arise again.  After the first of these back-to-back miscarriages back in 2011, not so much...but now with this second's like, hmmm...can I do this again?  Is my body able to do it again?

Then it kind of snowballs into questioning everything.  The doubts continue.  I've always wanted five kids.  That desire has been with me since I was a little kid.  What's going on?  Am I wrong?  God hasn't take that desire away...but, am I still wrong? 

Then add my age to the scenario.  I love that there are doctors who believe and readily admit that the statistics (that say that the risks of not having a healthy pregnancy/baby/childbirth increase with age) are skewed because they are largely based on older moms who are waiting to have their first child at 40, or close to 40.  I love that there are soooo many women who have their babies at 38, 39, 40, and later.  Lots.  I actually have many friends (and a mom :) ) who have done just that.  And I also LOVE what a friend wrote to me about this very subject just a few weeks ago when I was picking her brain about her own age and fertility (she had her two most recent children, her eighth and ninth, at ages 39 and 42)...she told me lots of great things about her own personal story and then said this:  "So...I'd tell you to not worry about the risks and realize that you are not a statistic! :) God's writing your story, not a statistician. :)"  (*is that not the greatest?!?)

But...after miscarriage(s)...yes, for me, it's the doubts that come and try to get me down.  You might think I'm doing great in other areas...and I'd say I am too really.  But, we all have our things.  So, you can pray for me about the doubts.  Obviously I want what God wants...that's always the best thing.  If it isn't a 5th biological child, I pray that He'd take that desire away.  If it is...I pray that the doubts would leave and that He would write that 5th biological child, with a healthy, wonderful, perfect pregnancy and birth to go along with it, into my story.  Thank you for praying along with me.

As far as an update on the other aspects of miscarriage...

Physically - I *think* that as of today, I am pretty much done with the physical aspect of this.  We will go back next Wednesday to get an ultrasound and see how it looks in there.  Hopefully everything will be all clear in there and I will have passed everything and won't need a D&C. 

But, speaking of the physical aspect of it all, I still can't quite get over what happened on Monday (you can read about that here and here).  It is seriously one of the most surprising, interesting things that has ever happened to me.  Because there are no 'miscarriage stories' on the internet like there are 'birth stories' (which are a dime a dozen practically these days, which is text and video form), I really and truly never knew that people could pass the whole intact gestational sac.  I had only known of people (and had experienced myself at 6 weeks) passing the remains gradually...the parts of the pregnancy coming out bit by bit over the course of a few days or even weeks.  Because of this, I also never ever knew that it could hurt so stinkin' bad!! 

A really great friend of mine (I knew we were 'meant to be together' from the start, but this just solidifies it :) ) has 4 children (3 boys and a girl also).  She's had 2 miscarriages.  Her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage (seriously, we could be twins).  She told me this the other day about her 1st miscarriage:  "Was so interesting to read about yours and see how much they were alike. Also over the years I have NEVER met anyone who seemed to understand the pain. I remember thinking during my oldest's birth - this is nothing! It was so different and much easier to deal with than the miscarriage."

Isn't that interesting?  She is a superwoman, seriously.  I think if I had had this 'birth' first, I may have been too scared to have natural births of my full-term children.  So again, I MUST reiterate to all of you who have had miscarriages, or are just reading this and getting fearful...MISCARRIAGE PAINS ARE NOTHING LIKE NATURAL BIRTH CONTRACTIONS!!  You do not have to be afraid.  Again...DO NOT BE AFRAID!!  Did you see what she said?  "I remember thinking during my oldest's birth - this is nothing!" :)  I soooo love that!!  Haha.  Don't be afraid!!

Emotionally - Another sweet friend of mine messaged me asking questions about how I'm doing.  One of her questions was about how I am doing emotionally.  This was my answer for that (and please excuse me...I never ever capitalize when chatting/messaging with someone):

"i think i just process things really quickly.  the reason the past couple of years have been hard is that there is an underlying issue that is constant.  usually when something hard happens, it happens, then it's done, then i'm able to process it and move on.  this underlying issue has been/is a constant thing, so i'm not able to 'get over it.' and all of these *things* along the way that have been super hard have also had this underlying issue.  so, although there is definitely a big stack of super crappy events, without the underlying issue combined with these events, 'process and move on' would've been the norm...the way i've always dealt with things.  but regarding this (the miscarriage), honestly...i had processed the miscarriage and was probably about 90% fine emotionally after about 24 hours.  the other 10% came in the following 24 hours i guess i'd say, if not sooner.  we found out on wednesday.  friday was really bad, but not because of the miscarriage...because of something else going on, honestly.  so, 24-48 hours for me...i just had to go through the physical part after that.  i'm not sure why it's that way with me.  i think most people are different, but it doesn't make me wrong.  just like it doesn't make me right.  it's just different.  i think people think that i'm in denial, or that i don't grieve well or something, though, sometimes.  if i even mention the fact that i had a miscarriage in 2011, people still sometimes say that i have still never fully grieved.  i just have to smile and nod.  because they don't believe me anyway.  hopefully people will see my processing process :) with these blogs and maybe have faith in me when i say that i went through it, i grieved, i wasn't denying anything, and i'm just different.  but, whatever.  if they want to think differently because they themselves would never handle it that way, i can't do anything about that.  but yes...i feel fine emotionally.  it sucks to have lost a baby and those dreams of a baby.  it's a really sad thing.  but...lots of things in life suck.  it'll all make sense someday."

That same friend was also a little surprised about the conclusion I came to about having a D&C vs. a natural miscarriage that I wrote about here.  I knew there would be some people who would be surprised about that...totally understandable since I'm so all-natural about everything.  I even said after I wrote my conclusion..."Surprised?" :)  I knew some would be.  And I'm not saying that is set in stone.  If faced with another miscarriage situation, which hopefully I will never be again, I would have to make a decision of right now, I can't say with 100% certainty what I'd do in a future situation.  But, this was my answer about that:

"everybody's different.  because of how i'm feeling emotionally (my previous answer), i feel like i was healed emotionally already way before that physical part ever came.  i didn't *need* the physical part to provide closure or healing for me.  i am glad that i have had that experience.  it was super neat to see it all, to show the kids, to show everyone in blogland (ha), to have something to bury and a place to always see with our physical eyes and remember not only this baby, but the other 2 in heaven.  so, truly...i'm grateful it happened the way it did.  but, to go through a natural miscarriage at this point in pregnancy again...because i see no physical or emotional need for it, i would probably just opt for the d&c.  you know how people sometimes say about natural birth (of a full-term healthy baby...i had a labor&delivery charge nurse actually ask me this question), "when you go to the dentist to get a tooth pulled you ask for medicine...why wouldn't you do that with birth?" that question is just completely ludicrous.  a full-term healthy baby is not a diseased tooth.  and they are *clearly* uneducated about all the checkpoints of labor and delivery and how God intended it if they can even fathom comparing those two things.  but, because *for me* the process of processing it all and healing is not tied to the actual event of birthing/passing the remains...i can actually kind of use that comparison here.  that might seem just horrible to you...if so, i'm sorry.  but, that was no longer my baby.  what was inside me *was* 'diseased'...obviously.  there was something wrong in there...and that's why my baby was no longer there...he/she was in heaven.  so...i really wouldn't ever go to a dentist and try to tough out them pulling a diseased tooth...would never even cross my mind to do that.  because, there would be no reason to.  it's kind of the same reasoning here.  i don't have that *need* to pass a miscarriage naturally for emotional reasons.  it's been proven in my life...three times now (with a d&c and two natural miscarriages).  sure, there are risks involved with a d&c, but they're the same sort of risks as with most other things/surgeries.  *if* i could be guaranteed that i would not pass the intact sac again, then maybe i would just opt for the natural's so much simpler to just stay home and let your body pass everything (that was my experience with my miscarriage at 6 weeks in 2011).  but, since it can't be guaranteed to not pass the intact sac, again...with none of those other purposes of going through the pain (not for the health of a live baby, not for the emotional/healing reasons), i'd probably just go for the d&c.  who knows...that experience, even though dreadfully painful, might be what some people *need* emotionally.  like i said...everybody's different."

There are some people who need that...truly.  They have to grieve and mourn in that way...through the physical part...the physical passing of the remains of their child.  I really do totally and completely understand that mentality and the psychology of it all.  I am very grateful that I've now experienced miscarriage in three very different ways.  And I can honestly say that *for me*...I do not need it to happen a certain way in order for the grieving/healing process to take place.  It just takes place for me, regardless of the physical aspects...and usually even *before* I even know how it is going to take place physically. 

Is it still sad?  Yes.  It will always be sad.  Do I still get a twinge when I think of it?  Of course I do. baby is fine.  My babies are fine.

My two youngest were here alone with me yesterday.  We had a little manicure/pedicure time and just hung out.  I asked them, "So, how are y'all doing?  How are you feeling about our baby dying?"

Cass (5):  "Sad.  And happy." 
Me:  "Why?"
Cass:  "Sad that it died.  Happy...because it's with Jesus.  And it's safe there."  (pause, pause; got up from the couch and was about to turn a cartwheel)  "And Jesus has good manners.  Way better than us." 

Lol.  Such purity.  Such wisdom.  Our baby is in good hands, and we all know it.  ;)