Friday, November 30, 2012

18 Weeks Ultrasound

It has been a year and two months since we lost our daughter Violet and we carry the pain of that loss around with us everywhere we go and into everything we do. It's not so intense and sharp as it once was, but it's there and very close to the surface. As we go forward with our current pregnancy, the loss of our daughter is even more palpable and even more poignant for us, thinking about the kind of big sister she would have been, what she would have been doing at this stage of her life, and how wonderfully crazy our lives would have been had we been looking forward to being the joyfully exhausted parents of two under two rather than constantly anxiety-ridden parents of one who may or may not survive to his first birthday.

We had our first anatomy ultrasound this past Monday before heading down for my Uncle Paul's funeral and as excited as we were to see Baby, it was an excruciating experience emotionally. We had been directed to the high risk doctors in Saginaw for the procedure because, with this pregnancy, our doctors are doing everything they can to cover every single base. This ultrasound was different in that 1) I didn't have to do it with a full bladder (hallelujah!!!) and 2) it came with a consult afterwards which consisted of going over, once again, every single detail of Violet's short life, my pregnancy with her, the minute-by-minute account of what happened the day she passed away, what was done for her intervention-wise, how successful she and I were at nursing in the three days that she lived, and so on. They FINALLY were able to talk the U of M into giving us the synopsis of the genetic consult and test results that we had done with her and basically it was four pages of, "We don't have a clue...*shrug*" Add to that the fact that the doctor who saw us left a WHOLE lot to be desired on the bedside manner front, and it was agony.

I couldn't help but draw parallels between our 20 weeks ultrasound with Violet and this one with Beanie. With Violet, we were overjoyed at the prospect of seeing our baby, of finding out what gender she was, of making sure that everything was alright. I remember Hubs being absolutely glued to the screen until he was certain the baby's brain was developed properly, that the heart was pumping properly, and that movement was happening properly. I am hopeless at knowing what I'm looking at when having ultrasounds, so I just laid there, nervous, and tried not to pee. (Seriously, forcing a woman who is 20 weeks pregnant to drink a full 32oz of liquid and then hold it for an hour and a half while a stranger pushes on her abdomen should be classified as cruel and unusual punishment.) After we were done, I remember fairly dancing out of the small, dimly lit room with an enormous smile on my face and throwing my arms around Hubs, who spun me down the hallway a couple of times. We were elated. Thrilled. Ecstatic. It was a GIRL! And she was PERFECT! WE DID IT!!! We went straight to Walmart to have the photos on the cd we'd been given developed and it was all I could do not to show them to every passing stranger in the store. "See our baby?! Isn't she PERFECT?!"

This time was different. We sat watching the screen, every nerve tense, watching the little baby on the screen punch its little fists and kick its little legs. "Is it moving enough? Is there enough room for it? Is its head big enough? It looks a little small..." Beanie wasn't feeling cooperative and so the nurse wasn't able to get half the shots she needed for the file, and we discovered the reason that I haven't been able to feel much movement (another cause for anxiety)- I have an anterior placenta as well as a slight case of placenta previa (which for those of you who don't know: An anterior placenta means that the placenta attached at the front of the uterine wall rather than on the sides or back, which is more common, and acts as a pillow between baby and mama's nerve-riddled front of the uterus. It also forces the baby to grow further back in the mother's stomach cavity, which can be a lot more uncomfortable since that means internal organs get shifted around a lot more. Placenta previa means that the placenta is growing close to or sometimes over the top of the cervix, which can be dangerous to the mother if it doesn't move over the course of the pregnancy. Normally as the baby grows and the uterus expands the placenta, which is firmly attached to a specific area of the uterine wall, will move along with the uterus and out of the line of danger, but sometimes it will stay put making the odds of having a cesarean section much higher as a way of keeping the placenta from rupturing during labor. My case is very slight, meaning that the placenta isn't actually over the cervix and is very likely to move. The odds of having one of these things happen in pregnancy are not great, but having both of them happen are, according to the doctor, astronomical. Lucky, lucky us.)

We were able to ascertain that Beanie is a BOY though, and we are thrilled about that. We're naming him Wesley Scott, after my dad. That news was overshadowed, though, by the knowledge that the doctors have no idea what happened to our daughter who was born perfect and passed away three days later. This means that they have no clue if it could or will happen again, what to do to prevent it, or what to even test for. So it feels as though we're going into this pregnancy looking down the barrel of a gun, so to speak. When we left the offices after the consult was over we made it to the car before we both started to cry. This whole process is unbelievably hard. There aren't words for it, honestly. It's times like this that I'm reminded of a "Christianity-ism" that I came across years ago-

"The God who made the universe is big enough for your anger."

I think that so often we think that being a "good, faith-filled person" means sitting in church and smiling benignly when bad things happen to and around us, as though nothing affects us. But it isn't. For me, it means knowing that I can get so mad at God that, if I saw Him face to face, I could rant and rave like a lunatic- and He'd still love me. He understands that I don't understand. He knows that it's hard and that He will never be able to give me an explanation that will make me feel okay about my daughter dying. He knows that I hurt so much that sometimes my pain feels like an actual tangible thing that I carry around with me like a purse. He knows that I know that He makes the plan and that He could've stopped this from happening any time. And He didn't. And that burns like fire. He knows I'm angry and He understands. 


Because He IS my Father. I remember getting SO ANGRY at my parents growing up that I could just spit. I'm sure I hurt them more times than I could count. I'm sure I hurt myself with that anger, too. But my getting angry with them didn't mean that they didn't still love me or want was best, not just for me but for the whole family. 

And that's Heavenly Father.

He's big enough to understand my pain and anger, to see me glaring up at the sky sometimes with tears streaming down my face. He can take it. He knows. He knows because His son died, too. He knows that pain. He gets it. And He's okay if I need to be mad for awhile. Because even the act of my being angry at him means that I still believe in Him. If He wasn't there to be mad at, I wouldn't be mad. He loves me and He knows that I believe in His ability to make things right. To have a plan. To know what He's doing. I may not like it (and let's be clear- I DON'T LIKE IT), but I still believe that the whole situation is in His hands. 

So I'm angry right now. But it's a faith-filled kind of anger. And as much as I'm angry, I'm still trusting Him to make things right. To make them work out. To have a plan. Because frankly, at this point, that's all I CAN do. I'm almost halfway through this pregnancy and at some point, Wesley Scott is GOING to come out. There's nothing I can do about that. I just have to wait and try to trust that Heavenly Father knows what He's doing and how much I can take.


  1. Gretchen- I love you! I'm almost embarrassed to leave a comment because I don't how to write what I'm feeling. But I'd be more embarrassed if I didn't TRY.

    You are an amazing person, gifted with so many talents! I cannot imagine the anguish and the heartache that have been going on for the last year and 2 months for your family. I feel sick with sadness when I try to put myself in your shoes and also feel some anger that such a trying experience has been given to you.

    With that said, I also have faith in God. I have faith and hope that He will guide you through this pregnancy, lead you through those worried moments (probably worried months is more appropriate,) and give you the confidence that you will be able to handle everything. Handle the pregnancy, handle the doctor appointments, handle the reliving of your beautiful daughter's life, handle the insensitive comments, handle the constant knot in your stomach, and especially handle His will.

    I'm praying for you and loving on you from a state away. I KNOW you are such a strong girl and I KNOW you are doing amazing job!

    Love you!! Lindsay

  2. Praying you will birth a healthy baby boy that grows up to be a godly man and that God will protect you under the shadow of His wings and comfort you. Many blessings.

  3. This was beautifully written. I'm in tears for you. Praying for you all.

  4. Oh, Gretchen. Do you ever wonder when this emotional roller coaster ride you are on will be over? You have been put through hell, quite frankly. And you just pick yourself up and try to carry on, because really you don't have any choice. I think you're amazing, and that you're carrying this load with grace. You're in my prayers. Much love to you.