“Our story isn’t over yet.”
Those are the words my husband told me after our first miscarriage in May 2018. Those are the words I clung to through another miscarriage that left me hemorrhaging in a Target bathroom. They got me through the hardest two years of my life.
Every day I’d wake up, and my story wasn’t over yet. It was miserable, but it wasn’t over. It was a reproductive endocrinologist who figured out the problem — a random genetic quirk that makes my blood clot too easily. I never knew about it, and had I never gotten pregnant, I probably could have lived my whole life without even knowing I had it.
The fix was easy enough, too. When I became pregnant again, I needed close to 750 shots of blood thinners in my stomach combined with a handful of vitamins and a daily baby aspirin to keep blood flowing to the baby.
But even having an answer didn’t make it easier. Pregnancy was — and I say this without exaggeration — the worst nine months of my life. It wasn’t the shots. You get used to those pretty fast. It wasn’t the pills. It was the overwhelming anxiety I fought every second of every day.
Infertility will emotionally kill you. It doesn’t matter if you can’t get pregnant or you can’t keep a pregnancy. The grief is still there. And what’s worse is even though you know it’s not true, even though you know it’s a lie straight from hell, even though you try to block it out with all your might, there’s a little voice in the back of your head whispering, “What if God doesn’t think I’ll be a good mom?”
This story has taken me two years to write. I wanted to wait until I had my baby sitting here with me because the internet is overrun with stories of people who are still waiting. That’s a skewed picture of fertility because the women who have their rainbow babies are too busy to return to blogging.
So, here I am, trying to type while almost laying down because the redheaded baby on my chest is finally asleep.
I’ve always been skeptical of signs from God. It’s not that I don’t believe people who see a flower and take it to mean everything will be OK; it’s just that I want to fact check it. I’m a journalist, after all, and “trust but verify” is my motto.
Still, looking back I can see God did send me signs. He sent so many signs that this part of the story will get frustrating because you’ll think “How can she be that stubborn?”
Well, I am. I am that stubborn.
It started when I first got pregnant. This phrase kept getting stuck in my head, “I will sustain you.” It was like getting a song in your brain, but worse. I couldn’t escape it. When I finally looked up its accompanying Bible verse, I found Isaiah 46:4:
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am He, I am He who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you, and I will rescue you.
That’s not a common verse. It’s not painted on wooden signs. You won’t find a framed version of it at Hobby Lobby. It would have been easy to miss or write off as my brain being weird — except that I went to Waffle House later that week, and the waitress wrote “Isaiah 46:4” on the back of my receipt. She didn’t know I was pregnant. She didn’t know I had been thinking about that verse. We hadn’t even talked to her except to order our food.
Then, a few weeks later, a Walmart cashier, someone I’d previously thought was nonverbal, randomly said, “I see you with children.”
At 15 weeks, when the anxiety started really ramping up, I was praying for a sign from God and got an immediate kick — one way too powerful for a 15-week-old baby. It was undeniable. Once you feel that kick, you know exactly what it is.
But the anxiety continued.
Just that Stubborn
It got worse, actually — I told you I was just that hard-headed. I tried yoga, prayer, Zoloft and therapy. I smelled all the lavender things. Nothing helped. There were so many nights when my husband would come home to find me in bed crying. My husband, mom and a handful of friends had to put me back together on a daily basis when I’d lose it. They’d answer 2 a.m. texts when he wasn’t kicking, and I couldn’t bear to hear my husband say, “He’s fine,” one more time.
But, just like the anxiety continued, the signs from God continued. I was watching a questionable show on Netflix one day and prayed, “God, send me a sign if I shouldn’t be watching this.” Within five seconds, Netflix crashed. So I prayed, “OK God, send me a sign this baby will be OK.” The next second I got a kick so hard that, had he been near my ribs, I’m confident he would have broken one.
Things really started to change at 31 weeks. I was thinking about a story I wrote where this woman wanted a baby named Justice, and a stranger came over and said, “I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but God told me to tell you that you will have Justice.”
So, in a moment of sarcasm I now regret, I told God, “OK, I’ll really believe you if you send a message to someone else to tell me that this baby will be OK.” That was on a Thursday, and the next Sunday my family threw us a baby shower.
Everyone knew I’d had miscarriages, but no one had any idea how bad the anxiety was. By 31 weeks, even people with multiple miscarriages are usually fine because the risk of something happening is so low.
I should have been fine.
The shower was wonderful, but I’ll always remember what happened as we were leaving. My cousin came over to us and said, “I have to tell you something. God told me to tell you to stop being afraid. He knows you’re scared because of past losses, but He’s given you the desires of your heart.”
God sent a third party to tell me everything would be OK — just like I asked.
I’d love to tell you the next eight weeks were anxiety-free, but they weren’t. I told you, I’m just that stubborn.
My doctor decided to induce the day before Thanksgiving. We went in at midnight and had a 35-hour labor that ended up with an emergency c-section on Thanksgiving day. Everything went great, and within a few minutes, I had the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. He’s named after both his grandfathers, and both families are over the moon.
Still, I thought a lot about what I wanted to tell you readers if you’re going through this. I have a lot of advice:
- Delete Instagram. It’s too easy to filter tragedies to make them look good.
- Google responsibly. If it doesn’t come from the Mayo Clinic website, don’t read it.
- Find a good doctor. Sometimes it takes a team of people to get you to the finish line.
- Hold on to good friends. You’ll need them.
- Try not to throat-punch people who tell you to relax, and it will happen. However, if you do that, call me, and I’ll bring you bail money.
While that’s all pretty solid advice, the one thing I wanted to leave you with was this: God hears you. You’ll find a lot of blogs where these beautiful women with unshakable faith are praying for a baby, and you think, “Well of course God listens to them.”
That’s not me. I was a hot mess before it was cool. I gave up countless times. My faith was shaky at best during some of those dark days. I set the bar pretty low, but God still heard me.
And if He hears me, He hears you.
If you’re in the middle of your fight, just know your story isn’t over yet. As long as your heart is still beating, it’s not over. It might really suck, but you’re not at the end.
As for me, my story of being a mother is just beginning. One day, I’ll have a heck of a story to tell baby Charlie. But today we’re just going to focus on eating and naps.