Upon learning the news of another pregnancy, I am cautiously excited. Having a history of miscarriage, I tend to be a little apprehensive before allowing myself to get overly excited when seeing a “positive” pregnancy test. By now, I know the routine. I call my doctor, and she checks my hormone levels. In the past, I did not make enough progesterone to maintain a pregnancy. If that’s the case again, she will start me on progesterone injections.
My husband and I won’t share the news right away. We will want to get through the first trimester, when, statistically speaking, miscarriage is less frequent. At that point, we will feel a little more secure about making the announcement that we’re expecting another child. Our youngest born child is three years old. He will sure love having a younger brother or sister to play with. But I guess I am getting a little ahead of myself.
For now, we’ll take it one step, one milestone, at a time.
The news comes back, and my levels are fine. What a welcome relief! That means no injections for me. Due to my previous losses and the physician I see, I will have an early ultrasound to confirm that the baby has implanted in my uterus. They will look for the “fetal pole” at my six-week ultrasound, which allows us to see the baby’s heart beating. (This is six weeks gestational age, meaning from the first day of my last menstrual period – LMP). This correlates with 28 days since conception or fertilization, which is referred to as fetal age. This ultrasound will confirm whether my pregnancy has progressed to the point of viability.
This is one of those milestones I’m anxiously looking forward to.
Approximately 28 days following conception, I receive the news I have been hoping for. There it is on the screen – my baby’s little heart beating within me. ‘He’ or ‘she,’ which was determined at the moment of conception, is now considered ‘viable.’ I go home with an ultrasound picture as a keepsake. A reminder of the developmental milestone I have made it to. A life. A beautiful human life. Created by God, for a purpose.
My child, Even though you are only 0.35 cm in length, I see that flicker on the screen. I hear your heart beating. I see hope in the form of God’s creation. The gift of life. A milestone has been met.
Psalm 139:13-14: “You formed my inmost being, you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.”
I go home that day and write this on the back of my 6w0d (by LMP) ultrasound picture:
My darling child – I see you here – your heart beating within me. What a gift from God you are to me. Into this world, God sent you with love, to open our hearts to the fruit of our love. You will have your ‘own story’ as you live your life, but I want you to know how blessed we are to have you – God trusts us with another life! Help me, Lord, to always see the gifts you send from heaven to enlighten me. You teach me so much about love & life & you, God, thru our children – help me to always love with your heart, Lord, let your hands be mine and to see, as you want me to see Lord!
Just 15 days later, I go in for another ultrasound. Wow! Such a difference two weeks makes. Now you are measuring 1.86 cm, which correlates with 8 weeks and three days. (Approximately 45 days since conception.) You are still shy of an inch long, but look at you and at that growth in just over two weeks. Pretty amazing to see.
I’m so thankful for the advancements in ultrasound technology. It creates a window to the womb and allows mothers like me to see what is actually being “knit together” in our wombs. Another appointment, another milestone documenting continued growth. Letting my guard down a little more.
Time passes. Days come and go. Running kids to school, carpool for athletic practices, play dates, homework, meal prep, laundry; life carries on around me. Only my physician, my husband, and I are aware of this new little life forming inside me. I’m finally approaching the end of my first trimester.
Just four and a half weeks later, and I go in for another visit at my doctor’s office. You are now measuring 7.20 cm CRL (crown rump length), which is 2.8 inches from the top of your head to your little bottom. This correlates with 13 weeks, three days gestational age. (Approximately 80 days since conception.)
I can’t believe how much growth has occurred in the last 31 days. It’s so clear to see your head, your profile, your spine, and your legs. Even your little feet. I wonder if you are a boy or a girl! I suppose time will tell. Another milestone met.
Psalm 139:15-16: “My bones are not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.”
Prior to going in for my 16-week visit, I realize that the following Sunday, we will be celebrating Mother’s Day. This is the day we’ve decided to share the news about our pregnancy. We will find out the sex of the baby and then make the announcement. What a great day to share the news with our family. Having a child affects so much more than just myself and our immediate family. It is a generational legacy that continues on through that new life. He or she has the potential to touch hundreds, if not thousands of lives. I’m especially excited to tell my mother and my mother-in-law.
A major milestone is soon approaching.
I go to my 16-week visit (which was actually at 15 weeks and four days) with the hopes of finding out the sex of our baby. The sonographer begins the scan and then gets very quiet as she intently looks at the screen. I do not see the heart beating, so I ask her, “Is there a heartbeat?” She ignores my question and continues to stare at the screen. I ask again as she puts the Doppler on where you pick up the heartbeat. No sound. She says, “I haven’t found it yet.”
I throw my arms over my head and am flooded with tears. They scramble to get the doctor. I just found out my baby has died. He passed away sometime within the last week.
This isn’t part of my plan. I call my husband, who was awaiting the news of finding out if we were having a boy or a girl. He answers, totally not expecting to hear the words, “The baby died.” I can hear the disbelief on the other end of the phone line. I know he needs to see the ultrasound for himself, or maybe I just need him to see it with me. He can be there in 30 minutes. I head to my car in the parking garage, to journal and spend some quiet time with the Lord in prayer.
The following is my entry from that day:
My heart is sorrowful for this loss of life, which you have given to me & now allowed to pass. This precious baby in my womb – which you allowed me to witness its growth. The beating of his heart at 6 weeks, the growing of his little body, precious fingers, moving back and forth within my womb. I know you are in control & have a plan Lord. I thank you for letting me carry this precious soul & provide shelter to this little child of yours. I do not understand why you allowed him to live this long & now pass – but I am grateful for the gift of life you gave me – only if for a short time.
My OB gives me two options: I can schedule surgery, or they can give me a medication in an attempt to bring on delivery. I have a strong desire to attempt to deliver my son, if possible. I spend a lot of time in prayer over the next few days, taking my heartache to God and allowing Him to be with me in it.
I pray that my desire for my will to conform to God’s will be greater than my own personal desire for my child to live.
Isaiah 55:6, 8-9: “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.”
I pray that I will ‘see’ what He wants me to see with regards to this pregnancy.
I realize that the Lord wants me to cry out, sincerely, and with faith to ask for a miracle. That the miracle isn’t about breathing new life back into my child. It is about the miracle of calling out to God and then, with childlike faith, trusting in His divine plan. Accepting the cross, once I am aware that this is His will for me, for us.
I am accepting that the Lord has created this child and called him back home. That the fruit He wants to bring forth from this ‘heart piercing’ is more powerful than anything I can understand at this time. I am also aware that He holds this precious child in His hands.
It is one thing to lay it down and accept God’s will, but another to think of delivering my baby who died. This seems very despairing, depressing, and dark to me, in thought. But I don’t want to have a D&C because I want to ‘see’ my baby if possible.
I do not start bleeding naturally, so a few days later, I opt to take the medication. When I get the medicine out, I have mixed feelings. My baby has died, and I know that this is the beginning of the end of this process. A new milestone of sorts. A journey I never wanted to begin – delivering him at 16 weeks.
I go to take the medication and am overcome with an indescribable compassion for women who take this medication to electively end their pregnancies. The feelings seem to come out of nowhere, but they are powerful. I am sad that I have to take the medication but so overwhelmed with compassion for women who choose to take this medication to end their children’s lives. (Abortions using this method can sometimes be reversed if a mother changes her mind in time.)
I take the medication, and within hours, it begins to work. I call my doctor’s office, and they suggest I come in to be evaluated since I responded so quickly to the medicine. They give me the option to be admitted and deliver at the hospital, or, if I prefer, I can go home and deliver there. I feel more comfortable being at the hospital, so I decide to be admitted. Before I am moved to another floor, it happens. I go into the restroom; he is delivered there.
I am instantly awestruck. To hold this tiny, beautiful, perfectly formed little boy in my hand is overwhelmingly powerful. His sweet little face, his eyes and nose. His tiny little arms, hands, and fingers. His ribcage, so delicate. His legs, feet, and toes. His entire body, perfectly formed. It is absolutely breathtaking to see my child – God’s creation – resting in my hand. I look at him and know that this little soul, created by God, lived long enough to achieve the purpose for which he was created.
I am completely filled with awe, joy, light, and peace seeing this little soul resting in my hand. It is as if I am beholding the glory of God, displayed in this little human life. I am instantaneously filled with a deeper understanding of the immense dignity revealed in the creation of human life.
We are able to spend several hours with Michael John. The event I dreaded most becomes a tangible experience of God’s grace. I know that God’s plan for him was to live for those four months, and my desire for him to be running around with my youngest son and other children pales in comparison to the Lord’s plan (even if I don’t fully understand). I will choose to keep my eyes focused on God and His divine providence. I will beg for the grace to trust Him more, to believe there is a plan, a purpose for me to have had the opportunity to ‘see’ my child, to hold him – although he was not to come into this world alive.
Editor’s note: If you would like to inquire about the author speaking at an event, you can contact her at [email protected]