Thankfulness and Hospital Updates

AuthenticVirtue.com

Today I am thankful for …

Day 25 of still not going into labor! My water broke 25 days ago at 24 weeks and, praise the LORD, Uriah is still safely within my womb at 27 weeks and 4 days. That leaves about 46 days until the doctors feel he would be grown enough to meet the world at 34 weeks; time is flying by!

A hospital room with a beautiful view; I can see the leaves changing and the sun rises on this side of the building.

Nurses and doctors who are both kind and professional.

Dalton Duncan … he is so much the best ever. He had a long, four-day weekend with me and every moment was a joy. We’re in the process of applications and he willingly went home and dug around in our files searching for every article necessary. He washed laundry so I’d have fresh jammies. He fluffs my pillows and makes my bed. Wheelchair rides with him are fun, special, sunshine filled moments. He surprised me with a (delicious!) cheese burger and order of cheese fries (which I’d been craving). He prays over me and talks to Uriah every day. I am so, SO blessed to have such a dedicated, loving man. Thank you, Lord, for my husband!

Uriah Lee Duncan … is also a real joy in our lives. Even though we haven’t met this little man we are so excited as we dream of his eventual birth. What color will his hair be? Will he be a quiet baby or a crier? How much time will he need to spend in the NICU? I dream of bringing him home, outside picnics, and watching him experience grass, snow, and summer heat for the first time. I’m excited that he will be with us for Christmas this year … even though he’ll be in the NICU (most likely) we three can celebrate our Savior’s birth together!  We both yearn for the day when we can take him home and introduce him to our cozy nest and begin finding a new normal of life with a baby; one day, we can take him on our weekly trip to Aldi. Maybe one day we can take him on a cruise.

And while we do not know the extent of his abilities or disabilities we are looking forward to watching him grow, helping him be all that he is meant to be. I’ll focus on stimulation, reading, and daily working in books and audio into his life. Dalton will focus on exercises, stretches and at-home physical therapies he may need to strengthen and relax his muscles. And together we will love, cherish, and enjoy this little boy, one day man, God so purposefully placed in our lives. He is the child we prayed for and we cannot wait to meet him.

Finally, I am thankful for how good God has been to us. Our entire pregnancy has been a bit abnormal but I’ve seen how God has carried us through every moment. I used to wonder why I experienced a misdiagnosed miscarriage and the scariness of bleeding/spotting early in our pregnancy; what purpose could God have had for those experiences? Now, I am thankful for it; the pain and sorrow of those times prepared me for the pain and sorrow and trauma of being told our son had brain abnormalities. I have experienced very little pain in my life; it’s mostly been sunshine, and rainbows, and beauty. So, the two weeks of a misdiagnosed miscarriage toughened (in a good way) the soft skin of my heart enough that discovering Uriah had Lobar HPE and Hydrocephalus wasn’t as difficult a blow as it could have been. At least I still had my son and God has a tremendous purpose for his life; nothing is an accident with the Lord, everything is planned and ordained.

There are countless other ways we have seen God walk with us during this time. Encouraging notes and gifts from family and friends. When I was first admitted to the hospital it was during Dalton’s weekend and he had an extra day off; a huge blessing during those first scary hours! My fluid is very low but I keep producing (some weeks I’m even higher than others!). I’ve been able to connect with real-life families who have children with Hydrocephalus and Holoprosensephaly (which is super helpful as Googling only presents the worst-case scenarios). Our applications for financial help have been processed and begun. And countless, countless other gifts make it known to us that we are not alone, not forgotten, and not misplaced.

God is so very, very good and we love Him.

What are you thankful for today? How have you seen God working in your life lately? Share in a comment below; I love hearing from you!   

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

5 Ways to Care for Someone Enduring a Miscarriage

5 simple, loving ways to bless

5 simple, loving ways to bless

“Some people say it is a shame. Others even imply that it would have been better if the baby had never been created. But the short time I had with my child is precious to me. It is painful to me, but I still wouldn’t wish it away. I prayed that God would bless us with a baby. Each child is a gift, and I am proud that we cooperated with God in the creation of a new soul for all eternity. Although not with me, my baby lives.” -Christine O’Keeffe Lafser

It was a quick moment, the time we were told we had lost our baby at 8 weeks. It haunts me every time I settle in for an ultrasound; what if it happens again? What if we don’t see our baby?

God, in His amazing mercy, didn’t allow our miscarriage to take place. It was a misdiagnosis; human error coupled with miscalculated conception dates and a worthy (but relatively) low-tech machine brought about 2 weeks of waiting for the release of our little one. On top of that, my subchorionic bleeds (blood clots) made me believe I was actually going through a miscarriage, a long, painful process of sending away the bassinet, storing baby clothes, and announcing to the world that we were, in fact, not going to be having a baby in December.

I don’t pretend to have had a miscarriage; countless women do lose their little one’s and it’s an experience I can never fully relate to; yet, our experience has shown me a side of loss I had never known. However false our miscarriage was, it was still a real, heartbreaking two weeks we walked through.

The misdiagnosed miscarriage taught me ways to comfort those facing loss (along with other lessons). Below are 5 ways to encourage, bless, and carry a grieving couple during their miscarriage.

  • Acknowledge the loss … and please never hint that baby was lost for a reason or due to chromosomal abnormalities

If a couple announces their miscarriage then please acknowledge their loss. We had to announce our miscarriage because we had announced our pregnancy and it was too awkward receiving congratulations when I was secretly crying tears of loss.

Perhaps, if you are intimate and the conversation arises naturally, acknowledge the loss of life and the loss of promise. Losing a baby means losing so much more. You’ve lost the chance to experience labor. You’ve lost taking first day of school pictures. You’ve lost the opportunity to drive your 16 year old to the DMV for a permit test. Losing a baby is a true loss and it is genuine, real, and heartbreaking. Acknowledging that loss is multifaceted can communicate how deep and real their grieving is.

And please, do not tell the grieving mom that many miscarriages occur due to chromosomal abnormalities. And do not remind her that “there is a reason for everything.” Please don’t. I know this is a well-meaning set of words but it can be devastating. Hearing the hint that baby is better off not being born because he/she may have developed abnormally is not healing. The last thing a mother wants to hear is that phrase; to me, it didn’t matter what abilities/intelligence our child could be born with, at least he/she would be alive and loved.

  • Prepare a meal, or a hot pad, or a coffee 

In other words, practical gifts can be life-giving. There were moments during our experience when I felt physically, emotionally, and mentally drained — I could barely force myself to shower let alone set the table and prepare a healthy meal for my beloved.

If you have a grieving friend, offer to bring something practical their way. During my pregnancy, I had a sweet friend popover an extra homemade chicken pot pie and a huge box of decaf Keurig cups. This same friend lent me her hot pad in case cramps and pain needed some practical heat. That gesture was huge and incredibly life-giving.

Shortly after we had announced our miscarriage a darling friend drive several hours to bring me lunch and a latte’ — her sweetness brought life and joy to me when the days seemed quite long and draining.

  • Bring flowers

It’s simple, sweet, and incredibly encouraging. The same friend who brought me the lunch and coffee brought along a bouquet of flowers. The beautiful blooms kept my kitchen cheery and seemed to spread energy throughout our house … energy I didn’t have but desperately needed.

  • Send a card or Facebook message

Again, if a couple has announced their miscarriage than reaching out to them privately is totally welcome. Sending a card or Facebook message can be healing. The grieving mother may not respond for days (or ever) but knowing that she has a community of support is life-giving.

I cannot tell you how I appreciated the notes received. (Sometimes from complete strangers!) Some days I didn’t respond to the words, I was too tired and too occupied with managing my loss; however, it was nice knowing I was not alone.

  • Ask how they’re doing

Eventually, loss will begin to heal. While a grieving mother may not want every conversation to revolve around her loss (she probably would like to be treated normally) she does not want her loss forgotten about. A baby is a baby, whether it dies in the womb or from natural causes at age eighty. Life is life and it is worthy of being remembered. Maybe you will be led to send a small card on the anniversary of the loss. Maybe, every once in a while, you’ll ask how the couple is doing. Maybe, you’ll send a little gift card along with the message, “Still thinking of you; you’re wonderful.”

Whatever it is, acknowledging someone’s loss and genuinely caring about how they are is an appropriate way to bless and aide in healing.

Knowing someone facing loss can feel awkward; sometimes, we don’t know what to do or say. But if you feel led there are many ways to encourage and give life to those suffering with a miscarriage. From simply acknowledging the couple’s loss to being practical and offering words of encouragement or gifts, you can make a difference in the middle of sorrow.

How do you feel about comforting those with loss? Is it an awkward situation or do you thrive in bring healing to others? What are some ways you try to bring life to those hurting? Share your ideas in a comment below — I would love to grow in this area! 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Joy V. Happiness in Marriage, Pregnancy, and Daily Life

Joy v. happiness in an unknown pregnancy with a subchorionic hematoma with AuthenticVirtue.com

It’s happening again, the waters are rushing over our heads and I’m struggling to keep up. Being pregnant with our first has been one of the most delightful and trying experiences of our lives. Having a subchorionic hematoma is commonly low risk but tell that to the momma who’s bleeding, making ER trips, and being told the area her placenta needs to implant is filling with blood.

Then, suddenly, it doesn’t feel low risk any more.

But that’s the nature of a blood pocket in your womb. You never know what it’s up to, what it means, and what it could lead to. You simply wait. Monitoring helps (sometimes) unless you get news that it’s grown larger (as is my case). Then, waiting becomes more dreadful and more difficult to accept.

If you can tell life isn’t very happy right now but it is still very full of joy.

Dalton and I have been meaning to collaborate and write a post on the differences between joy and happiness. (As in I should have written it 5 months ago). But now is the perfect time to write because I’m experiencing it tenfold.

Happiness is temporary. It’s bliss. It’s me resting in bed on rainy afternoon with a cinnamon pecan candle burning in the light finishing a long book. Happiness is my husband bringing me dinner and then washing the dishes afterwards. Happiness is the fleeting feeling I experience after finding a good subchorionic hematoma story.

But happiness, however sweet and nice, eventually leaves.

And after the emotion leaves I’m still left with unanswered, scary questions. Will I have this baby? Will baby be hurt? When will I know? If I lose baby will I ever have more children?

Reality sinks in and the weight of it pushes the temporary feelings yummy candles, good meals, and a rainy afternoon brought.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23

This is where Jesus and my Heavenly Father changes things. This is where joy take over. God’s Word promises the fruit of the Spirit includes joy and that I as a Christian can have it. I cannot create this fruit; I can prohibit it but I cannot force it in my life. It’s God working in me. It’s similar to real life planting; I could place vile and damage the root system around an apple tree and expect its growth to be affected. But I could never actually create an apple — I can only enjoy that it was made, given, and satisfying.

That’s joy — it’s present in the lack of happiness. It’s God given. It’s there when I’m dreading our future; it’s present when it’s 3 am and I’m having blood drawn and being wheeled away from my husband to an ultrasound room by a tech who isn’t happy to be working.

When I’m not feeling happy joy remains.

I do get overwhelmed with the unknowns of our pregnancy. I get tempted to fall headlong into fear and the sickness of dread. Happiness sometimes eludes me. (Which is scary for a sunny-disposition person as myself).

But during those moments when the sickening questions fill my head I’m reminded of God’s promises,

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

If I lose baby God is still good. If I am in limbo from now until week 40 God’s thoughts toward me are still good. If I have to live with unknowns until I deliver this baby God’s ways are still for Dalton and I (and baby). If my next pregnancy resembles this one I am still in God’s vision and His plan is good.

And that is joy. God’s Word and promises are joy. God’s loving will is joy. Living life open-handed, as much as it hurts and as hard as it is, is joy.

Joy is peace, God’s presence, and the knowledge that despite the outcome of our lives God is still good.

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

5 Lessons From Our Misdiagnosed Miscarriage

Misdiagnosed Miscarriage @ AuthenticVirtue.com

Thank you, thank you for celebrating Baby Duncan’s re-announcement into the world. For those of you who don’t know, my husband and I were delighted to discover we were pregnant after two years of hoping and dreaming. Then, we were informed we had lost our little one  — after two weeks of waiting for the miscarriage to naturally progress we still hoped, but also prepared ourselves for the loss. However, amazingly, two weeks later we were given beautiful, happy news: Baby Duncan lived and was thriving!

Many women experience miscarriages — it’s a unique, difficult event. In many ways I walked through a miscarriage: receiving the death sentence from our practitioner, losing hope, losing blood and clots, and waiting for the loss of life. It’s an event that changes our hearts and lives forever.

Though rare, there are also many women who experience misdiagnosed miscarriages. My goal is to share a few lessons I’ve been given from our experience. I want to give hope to women who have been told they may miscarry as well as lend courage and practical insight to those who have indeed lost their lovely, darling baby.

5 Lessons I Learned From Our Misdiagnosed Miscarriage

Get a Second Opinion or a Second Ultrasound 

When a couple receives news that they may lose their baby it is devastating. And while many women lose their babies quickly, miscarriages can take several weeks for the process to occur naturally. During that time, I would encourage the couple to get a second opinion and ultrasound.

Physicians make errors and equipment do fail. After being diagnosed with our miscarriage I discovered a site called The Misdiagnosed Miscarriage. Several hundred women were misdiagnosed due to tilted uterus’, low HCG levels, mistaken blighted ovum’s, or quick assumptions and human error.

If your diagnosed miscarriage is taking time and you are experiencing little to no cramps, I believe it is perfectly acceptable and practical for you to ask for a second opinion or ultrasound.

If Possible, Let the Miscarriage Proceed Naturally 

When a couple is diagnosed with a miscarriage they are given options with how to let the miscarriage proceed: medicine to induce the miscarriage, a D&C surgical procedure, or allowing the miscarriage to proceed naturally.

Friend, one thing I am grateful for in my story is that we gave our “miscarriage” time. I am thankful our midwife explained that the body heals faster given time to proceed naturally. I am grateful we avoided medicinal or surgical methods.

If possible, give your body time to process naturally. Of course, there is no judgement; a miscarriage is already a difficult and life altering event. However, if you do decide to advance your miscarriage through medicine or surgical efforts please get a second opinion and ultrasound before you proceed. 

There are misdiagnosed miscarriages and there are women who, unknowingly, took actions to purge their babies when in fact, they were never experiencing a miscarriage at all.

Let Yourself Mourn and Heal 

Sweet person, if you’ve been told you may miscarry give yourself the time and space needed to grieve. Losing a baby at any stage is a difficult, trying experience because you have lost so much. You may feel numb, angry, and depressed. You may feel nothing at all. It’s okay, I know, I’ve been there.

The “strong” thing is press on with life but that is not the real, authentic, needed thing to do. You lost something very precious to you. Take time to scream, cry, and eat a few overflowing bowls of fruit loops.

Then, when you’ve truly given yourself to mourning, heal. My friend Angel has beautiful, life-giving words for those needing to heal. She experienced the loss and gains of ovarian cancer and discovered that, even after a year, she needed healing.Her words might be just the thing you need — I know I needed them.

Let Others Love You 

It’s easy to go through life’s sufferings and trials alone. Women with miscarriages may feel that their “problem” is too small to bother others with. If you had already announced your pregnancy, you may feel needy and embarrassed by the attention announcing your miscarriage brings.

All of these feelings are normal.

Sweet friend, let others help you. Though I was embarrassed by my need I was blessed when people stepped up to fill it. I had one friend pick up coffee, lunch, flowers, and a endearing gift when she heard of our loss. Another promised to bring dinner when I lost the baby and loaned me her heating pad for comfort. Several folk went out of their way to ask me how I was doing. My parents planted a rose bush in honor of our baby and the whole family came to help us move when I wasn’t feeling strong enough to do it on my own.

Dear one, it is especially important to let your husband help you. Your mate may not be expressing his grief as vibrantly but he still feels it. For Dalton, what hurt him most was watching me suffer. Letting your husband hold you while you cry, encourage you, and bless you not only helps you heal but helps him as well.

Continue Taking Care of Yourself 

This is simple yet incredibly profound. After we had been told we lost the baby I sort of turned into a zombie. 😉 A not-showering-all-week, when-did-I-brush-my-teeth-last-?, no shave summer, zombie.

(Sorry for the TMI)

I simply didn’t have the mental or physical energy to do anything let alone wash my hair. Now, looking back, I see that that hindered me and kept me from growing out of the fog and sadness I was in.

Of course, you won’t feel your best and if staying in your pjs helps then do it. Just don’t do it forever. Give yourself grace while taking steps to take care of yourself.

Most of all, trust. 

Losing a baby is so difficult and no one can understand or care for you except for the One Who made that baby and then, in His divine wisdom, took it away. Our Heavenly Father loves the miscarrying woman; He will gently carry you through the waves of grief and days of darkness you may experience. He will comfort you when all else fails.

Some days you may not see His loving hand but it’s there — carrying you when you can’t even seem to get out of bed.

With love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Celebrating Our Baby Again (And Our Misdiagnosed Miscarriage)

Misdiagnosed miscarriage and still pregnant and celebrating!

Well, sweet people, imagine you’ve been given the worst news, experienced two weeks of mourning, and then were given the excited proclamation that hope still lived and thrived.

Welcome to my world of being pregnant with baby Duncan and our misdiagnosed miscarriage.

The facts: 

We’re still pregnant! (Isn’t God good?)

Baby Duncan is 10 weeks and 3 days old with a thriving heartbeat, moving arms and legs and as big as a prune (so cute!) That’s him/her in the picture above at 9 weeks. 🙂

I have a subchorionic hematoma which means I have a blood pocket which has caused the spotting and bleeding and much of the heart ache within the last three months.

The miscarriage was misdiagnosed due to my conception dates being wrong. Due to my irregular cycles, Baby was much younger than first thought. This is part of the reason our midwife missed seeing him/her and assumed we had had a miscarriage.

Although low, I am still considered at risk until the blood pocket is absorbed into the body or empties out.

The Story: 

On June 4th I went in for an ultrasound so we could understand how much longer our miscarriage would take. At this time we had been in the waiting period for two weeks.

Dalton wasn’t able to attend this appointment so I drove to the midwife’s alone, talking out loud, asking the Lord for His will to be done. I’m a very whimsical, imaginative person so hope is very easy for me to cling to; because I know I tend to wear rose colored glasses I spent most of the two weeks preparing myself to be practical, that I was, in fact, going to lose this baby.

But hope is a beautiful thing and deep in the corner of my heart I still asked God to be merciful and let the diagnosis be wrong.

I hopped on the big bed as the midwife jellied my belly and began looking for signs of our miscarriage’s progression. We were both silent, she as she checked and double checked (and checked again!) her screen and I as I looked at what appeared to be a baby where no baby had been before.

I nearly panicked when she remained silent for so long thinking something was amiss or wrong when she spoke words I still love to repeat:

Well, Frannie, there appears to be a baby in there! 

Of course, you can imagine the mass confusion, hysteria and nervous questions which came flowing.

Undeniably, there was an 8 week old baby with a steady heartbeat.

Since that moment, God has filled me with beautiful, amazing hope and praise.

I’ve since been referred to a specialist in Columbia, Missouri. I went in for an ultrasound with him at 9 weeks and he confirmed that baby appeared to be fabulous. The heart beat is high (170 per minute) and growth is perfect for our new due date, January 9th, one day after my birthday.

You can imagine the amazing, emotional roller-coaster life has been. I’m incredibly in awe, shock and wonder. I’m still going to have this baby. Dalton is still going to be a Daddy. God has still given us a little one, that for now, looks like we’re going to keep.

The Fears: 

Of course, fear is never far around the corner. Just last night we spent several hours in the ER due to sudden bleeding. But when the kind ER doctor turned off the lights and began the ultrasound she encouraged us with the words, “Baby’s heartbeat still looks great.” She believes I experienced bleeding because the blood pocket was emptying. Because baby looked so great and I’ve experienced no major cramps she felt she could encourage our hearts and say that all is well.

I’m also afraid of sharing news when I’ve already been wrong. I’m afraid of making mistakes and the thought of announcing our pregnancy, announcing a miscarriage, and now re-announcing our pregnancy freaks me out. I want the whole world to celebrate Baby Duncan (because all life is worth celebrating!) but I’m afraid I’ll have to make another major announcement and that scares me.

Finally, I’m scared of truly having a miscarriage. I’ve already “lost” this baby once; I’m afraid my heart couldn’t take it again.

The Truths:

Despite all my fears the truth is very simple: we have a healthy, growing, heart-beating baby who has surprised us all.

I’m experiencing all the normal pregnancy related symptoms like nausea, bloating, food cravings and aversions, growth cramps, and fatigue. (Whoo-hoo for being sick even though I don’t always feel that way) 😉

The only worry is my blood pocket which many women experience and still have healthy babies

I don’t know why we went through this. I don’t blame our midwife; I believe I am her first miscarriage misdiagnoses after 20 plus years of experience and successful checkups and deliveries. Her equipment isn’t the top of the line tech you’d find in a specialist’s office but I know there are women who have had miscarriages misdiagnosed by even those expensive pieces.

Right Now:

So, here we are, celebrating our baby’s life. I am so thankful that God saw it fit to let baby be well despite all the worry, fear, and misdiagnoses. I praise Him for being good to us, carrying us through a very stressful time. I’m also grateful for all the amazing friends and family who have been quick to celebrate, then support, and now celebrate again.

Currently, I’ve been ordered to a less active life. But according to Dalton that means almost complete bed rest. 😉 He’s been such a darling, sweet, caring husband. He means to do all the laundry, dish washing and other chores I typically care for until the bleeding subsides and we’re assured the blood pocket can cause no more alarm.

We are so blessed; mainly because through all this crazy upset God has carried us both through magnificently. Even though our experience has been so hard God has walked us through and blessed us with growing love for each other and His goodness and Person.

So, that’s it. Welcome back into the limelight Baby Duncan. We think you’re pretty amazing.

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie