intensely trivial



Between Ellie’s and Jonathan’s births

Jonathan’s third birthday is coming up on Monday, and to celebrate, I wanted to tell the story of his birth. But, since his story is interwoven with Ellie’s and was shaped by what happened between the two births, I’m telling those stories, too. For those of you who are taking the time to read, thanks. 🙂

If you’d like to read Ellie’s birth story first, start here.

[Warning: This story has some semi-graphic, disturbing details, so feel free not to read.]

Since this is the story of the births of my children, I have to include some things in between Ellie’s birth and Jonathan’s birth. As I mentioned at the end of Ellie’s birth story, the transition wasn’t a terribly smooth one. The hardest thing was probably that we tried to do parent-directed feeding, because we (I)thought that was what Christian parents did, and the book Babywise implied it was the only way to retain any measure of control over your life. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, I can be somewhat fanatical if I don’t watch it.) Well, Babywise techniques made us crazier than we would have otherwise been. It didn’t matter whether we were following the directions or not; Ellie did not do what she was “supposed” to. My confidence as a mother was totally undermined. I followed a schedule more than I did her cues, all the while feeling tortured because I intuitively knew what she needed but couldn’t give it to her, since she would have then succeeded in manipulating me. Yes, this is what I learned about my newborn from reading the Ezzos’ book. My rigidity in following it led to conflict between Dan and me, and kept me from comforting my beautiful daughter who happened to need me more than the book said she should.
Besides the scheduling, breastfeeding went well. We never had any physical problems. Eventually, we made it through the colicky first few months. Eventually, Ellie slept more than 30 minutes at a time. Swaddling was a godsend. In the end, we tried everything with her to preserve our sanity, and happened to do all the things Dr. Harvey Karp recommends in The Happiest Baby on the Block, without having even heard of the book. When Ellie was eight months old, we bought a different house and moved a few blocks up the hill. Things were starting to calm down in the parenting department, and we were able to enjoy things more, although life never would be the same as it was pre-kids. My confidence level grew, and I signed up for the Perspectives class the spring semester of 2005. While Ellie napped, I worked on my homework. Dan put her to bed on the nights I was at class, and I’d come home and breastfeed her later. It was working great.
elliefeb05
Early that February, when Ellie was 10 months old, I woke up one night in a puddle of blood. My period had returned a month or two earlier, since Ellie had started eating solid foods and I was no longer exclusively breastfeeding. But this was a lot of blood. I cleaned up, and in the morning, since I couldn’t figure out what was going on, I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. I was suddenly excited and hopeful, even though we hadn’t been trying to get pregnant. What could be more wonderful than to be pregnant again? But the bleeding hadn’t stopped. It ebbed somewhat during the day, and that evening, I went to Perspectives class. During the halfway break of the lesson, I went to the bathroom and found myself bleeding heavily again. With a sick feeling, I had to admit that I was having a miscarriage. I went back into the class, hoping the blood wouldn’t soak through. OK, sometimes I don’t have a lot of sense. I didn’t think to just go home, which would have been the sensible thing to do. Instead I powered on through, sick at heart the whole time. Even though the pregnancy hadn’t been planned, I’d had a day to get my hopes up, and that’s a long time for me. The bleeding had almost stopped during the day. I was pregnant. There was a baby in there, and I was pregnant with hopes and dreams for it.
That night I went to bed with my sweet husband, a towel under me. I slept for a couple of hours and then woke up having contractions. I got up to go to the bathroom, and blood ran out of me. I took care of that and then went back to bed. The contractions didn’t stop. They were regular, and they hurt. I practiced my breathing techniques I’d learned when pregnant with Ellie, and I got through the pain. I didn’t want to wake up Dan, so I just got up every once in a while and went to the bathroom. In horror, I watched, felt, and heard the blood pouring out of me as I repeatedly went to the bathroom for the next few hours. The physical sensations of losing the life inside were sickening, and there was nothing to do but go through it. There was a moment when I knew the baby had emerged, but I couldn’t bring myself to look. The truth was I was hemorrhaging, but I didn’t think there was anything I could do about it. I didn’t want to bother Dan, who was sleeping. Eventually, I lost enough blood that I thought I was going to pass out, which I knew wasn’t safe to do on my own, and I just spent a while lying on the bathroom floor. Shortly after that, the bleeding started to taper off, and I made my way back to bed like a ghost and fell asleep exhausted.
At 4:45, Ellie woke up and needed to be nursed, and I asked Dan to help by bringing her into our bed, because I wasn’t sure I could walk and carry her. Bless her; she was so sweet, and so alive. She was mine. I had lost a baby that night, but I was so thankful for the child I still had.
Over the next few weeks, I grieved for the child I didn’t have anymore. It wasn’t that I’d even had much time to get used to the idea of being pregnant again. The miscarriage was the death of possibilities, and that was the most tragic thing. Most miscarriages, I learned, occur because there is some genetic problem with the embryo, and I believe this is God’s benevolent way of taking care of these little ones. I managed during the day with Ellie and Dan; I still carried out the work that I needed to do. I still did my homework for Perspectives. But when I explained to people what had happened, I couldn’t keep from weeping. Singing in church turned into mourning.
Thankfully, my season of grief didn’t drown me, and it didn’t last too long. Kind, loving friends surrounded me and reminded me to take it easy on myself. Other women who had had miscarriages came out of the woodwork all around me, and I knew I wasn’t alone. And I had Ellie and Dan, and they were complete delights to me. Even though I never want to go through such a nightmare again, the truth is that losing a baby deepened me in some good ways and took me to new places in my relationships with people and God.
And then, in my typical fashion, I wanted to make it better by getting pregnant again and this time not miscarrying. I wanted to be pregnant and stay that way.

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Comments

  1. * Jill says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I know it’s a painful part of your story, and it was probably hard to share, but thanks….
    Love you!

    Posted 8 years, 5 months ago
  2. * Leslie says:

    Rachel:

    wow! that’s incredible. I can’t help but compare your descriptions of your emotional journey with losing that baby to something similiar that I went through with losing a marriage. I love the way you put it: you had to grieve over losing the possibilities. You had one day to be excited and dream. I had a really long engagement and then a horrible first year of marriage. Still, I know what that’s like to really hope and dream for something and then . . . . lose it. Even if God has something better for us, it’s still necessary to grieve a loss. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted 8 years, 5 months ago
  3. * manhattandoula says:

    Thank you, Jill and Leslie, for your gracious, thoughtful comments. I am so glad I didn’t have to remain in that state of grief. There is some mercy. 🙂

    Posted 8 years, 5 months ago
  4. * Echo says:

    thank you for sharing this painful part of your story. Most people don’t realize the realness of the loss till they read something like this or experience it for themselves. anyway, thank you for sharing this portion of your life.

    Posted 8 years, 3 months ago


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