Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nice to meet you.

I had a plan, and this was definitely not it.  I'd be at least thirty.  I'd have multiple degrees and a successful career.  I would have been married for years and spent time touring Europe (again) and driving across America (again).

But now I was sitting in a tiny room wearing a paper gown, giving Brandon updates over the phone while he worked.  Just days ago we had celebrated my twenty-second birthday and were making plans to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  And now?

I was pregnant.

That flu I thought I had was obviously something more.

I would have waited until he got home from work to take the test if I had actually thought it would be positive.  I took it kind of as an afterthought and set it aside.  By the time I washed my hands, there was that word staring back at me on the digital test.


I couldn't breathe.  I took a walk.  I took a drive.  I took another shower.  I took another walk.  My head was spinning.

OHMYGOD.  This is not happening.  This is not my plan.  Ten years from now, sure.  But now?  Not now.  I'm in college and my first degree is still a year away.  I have no career--I'm a career student.  We're going to Boston next month, and there goes that trip; we'll need the money.

NOT NOW!!  Please.  PLEASE!

Brandon came home and I couldn't tell him.  I just showed him the test, and then he took a walk.

And now here I was in this little room and they were putting cold gel on the wand of the ultrasound machine, looking to see just how pregnant I really was.  Did I know how far along I might be?  No, not a clue.  This wasn't supposed to happen, so I wasn't keeping track of things like that.

Up on the screen was gray and black fuzz, circles, moving lines, and numbers.  The ultrasound tech was really quiet.  I got dressed, and she led me into the doctor's office.  He sat down and looked solemnly at my baby face.

"It looks like there's nothing there but a sac.  We think we should be seeing something by now."

My head started spinning.  I was crying immediately and shaking my head.  (But isn't this what I wanted?  Didn't I want it all to go away?)

"Come back after the weekend if you don't miscarry on your own.  We'll take another look, but chances are that we'll have to do a D&C to get rid of what's left."

What's left.
He handed me some tissues and left me alone for a while.  After I cried (what was wrong with me?) my first round of tears, I walked out of the office, sat in my car, and called Brandon.

Those few days were some of the darkest of my life.  Guttural sobbing, no food, no sleep.  I could not figure out why I was so upset.  Life could go as planned now, right?  And I could finish college, hop on a plane anytime I wanted, grow up before I had to raise someone.  Why did the idea of these things seem so wrong now?

Brandon's mom drove me to the appointment.  He was working his minimum wage job and they fired people who didn't show up, no exceptions.  I never miscarried over the weekend, so I cradled my belly on the way to the office, thinking it would be the last time I'd be pregnant, even if it was with just a sac that never developed into a baby.  I kept thinking that I still felt pregnant and was already mourning the loss of that feeling.

At the office, the OB showed me to the ultrasound room and left me with the tech while he prepared for the D&C.  My mind was trying to be anywhere but here.  Those gray and black blobs popped up on the screen again, and I closed my eyes.  My chest ached as I tried not to cry.

"Why did the doctor say he needed to do a D&C?"
Why was she asking me this?  Couldn't she look at my chart?  So cruel.
"The baby didn't develop."  Tears.

"Really?"  Silence.  "See that right there?"  I opened my eyes and looked at the screen.  What was I seeing?  That infamous empty sac again?
"That's definitely a heart beat."

I stared at the screen, and I was crying more.  My hand flew up to cover my mouth as I just kept staring at that blinking on the screen.  From the seat next to me, my mother-in-law asked me, "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

Good thing.  This is definitely a good thing.  I'll never forget that question, because it's the first time I realized the answer.  This baby was a perfect, good thing.

And this baby was supposed to happen.  I want this.  I want this for my new plan, and I want this for us.
As I called and told Brandon the good news, I could tell that he felt the same.  When I showed him the picture of our little baby with a heartbeat (and the words the tech typed, "Hi, Mom!"), he beamed with the pride I'd grow accustomed to seeing on his face.  This is what happiness feels like.
Our first family photo.  January 2006.

Six years and three beautiful children later, our lives are full of more adventure than we could have imagined back then.

College?  I finished my degree, taught fifth grade, and made another important decision--to stay at home with these kids that are my life.

Travel?  We travel often, as a party of five.

My age?  I have three children at an age before I thought I'd have even one.
And I couldn't imagine it any other way.
Our family today.  Julia, Brynn, and Sawyer (each one a miracle).

I will never forget those days of agony when I thought the baby I didn't even know I loved was gone.  I'm sure that this has something to do with the intense anxiety I feel throughout my pregnancies.
Brandon and I are overprotective parents now, admittedly.  We know that nothing in life is guaranteed, and we know how much our family means to us.  At least this experience helped us to make this realization.  The most we ever leave our kids is to run an errand, and we worry about them the whole time.  People joke with us about it, but nothing is more serious to us than the closeness of our family.

This is the family that might not have been.  This is the life that almost wasn't.  And we will cherish each child, each moment, each gift.

ETA: Each pregnancy has had a moment similar to this.  I had a subchorionic bleed/threatened miscarriage with Brynn at 8 weeks, but it resolved itself within a couple of months on its own.  I was on bed rest with Sawyer for pre-term labor.  With each pregnancy, I've learned even more to cherish the blessing of a healthy child.  I have come close to losing them, but thankfully have not had to experience what so many families have to endure.


  1. Wow Jenn! This actually gave me chill bumps as I was reading it. I actually had a similar experience before we had Conner but the outcome wasn't good so I know that feeling. We had been trying to have a baby for a while and when we found out at the first ultrasound it was possibly an empty sac pregnancy I remember, like you, the hours of crying and the agony of waiting until that next appointment to find out for sure. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I'm so happy for you though because you have your three beautiful healthy children. After things like that we have a tendency to appreciate what we have that much more.

  2. We had a similar experience between Amber and Summer. My perfectly planned baby, exactly the same distance in age, and all there was on the u/s was a sac. The next week, a bigger sac and being told to come back in another week. I called the OB before the week was up and told them I just wanted to get it over with. We went in one last time to see a perfectly timed sac, but still no baby. My D&C was scheduled for the next morning. Thankfully, because of the pregnancy, I found out I had precancerous cells, but I had no baby. I spent more time at the ob/gyn being treated for the precancerous cells than I would have if I had been pregnant. But, one year later (and the entire year of trying to get pregnant again), we found out I was pregnant again! Summer was born a year and a couple of days from my original due date. I think back and realize, that without that blighted ovum, I wouldn't have my sweet, silly Summer.

  3. Oh this brought tears to my eyes! I miscarried my first baby, and I remember just breaking down in the doctor's office when I went in for bleeding, and her confirming that I had indeed miscarried. She gave me a big hug and that meant so much to me. It took us 5 months to get pregnant again, but I'm so thankful to have my Savannah now.

  4. That's an amazing story, and what a strong little soul, your first, to make her heartbeat heart at the crucial moment.

  5. I remember that moment too. I was not sure how you would feel about any results. I know that I was sad, a little scared, and then extremely happy in a blink of an eye. I was honored to be asked to take you and it was at that exact moment that I realized how very much in love I was with my first grandchild! It was a very exciting time in my life - as it has been with each and every grandchild. I cherish being called Mamie - thanks to our very first miracle baby. Julia, Brynn, Sawyer, and Harlan were all meant to be and part of God's plan. Life never really goes according to our (human) plans - I think of it as a roller coaster ride - just buckle up and hang on while you enjoy the ride. I know that you, Julia, Brynn, and Sawyer are exactly what Brandon needed in his life - and, as it turns out, what I needed in mine as well. :)

  6. Oh, Jen. I'm crying at my desk. I love you and those kiddos of yours! I'm glad our lives have worked out the way they have!

  7. What an amazing moment. Such an inspiring story. Such a reminder to me to cherish the little souls that were brought into this world and put under our care. I have 3 of my own, and reading this just makes me want to grab them and hold them close. Such beautiful writing too.

    Thanks for sharing this! Visiting from the RDC.

  8. This is so wonderful. You write beautifully - you had me caught up, sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to hear what was coming next.

    I love how that first unplanned child brought you so many joyous treasures that you otherwise wouldn't have.

  9. ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh! I AM SO HAPPY THIS HAD A HAPPY ENDING!

    I had a miscarriage when I was 17 that they said was a blighted ovum.. a sac that nothing had developed in in the 12 weeks since I had found out I was pregnant. YOUR ending is so much better.. I felt like I was right there in the room when they did the ultrasound and you saw the heartbeat! YAY! I love this!

  10. Beautiful story. I can't imagine what those first few days must have felt like. I love how your life has turned out so wonderfully!

  11. I am all teary! There is nothing worse than that feeling of thinking you're not going to have the baby you didn't even know you wanted.

    I am so glad you got your babies. I also have a Sawyer. ;)

  12. Wow, AMAZING!!! I personally believe that God had always had the "plan" or you. And your story made me teary and gave me chills. You wrote it so beautifully. I don't even know you, as a matter of fact this is my very first visit to your blog, but I'm so happy or your family that things turned out the way they did! :D

  13. beautifully written, thank you for sharing a part of your history in such a sweet and inspiring way!

  14. Amazing story. I'm glad this scare ended up being a happy ending for you :)

    Visiting from RDC

  15. What a beautiful family you have, I am so glad that it all worked out.

  16. After Julia defied the odds I took a huge leap of faith, quit my terrible job the next week, did a crash course to reteach my self some technical drawing and landed a dream job a month later, Jennifer gave me the love and support to take a shot and god has blessed me with incredible luck

  17. Oh happy sighs. I absolutely know how this feels and you captured it perfectly.
    Well done and kudos to the tiniest baby's will to live. Aren't they amazing?

  18. That is a precious story! What a testimony of God's favor!

  19. What a roller coaster, a life-changer, a perspective-maker.
    Great take on this!
    Came by from TRDC...

  20. Great writing! I too and a mom of 3 at an age I never thought I would even have 1 or even be married. Its wonderful isn't it!

  21. here from teh TRDC and my eyes were tearing up as I read "the heartbeat" line. I think I sobbed...and caught myself. What a gorgeous family you have, what a wonderful thing to cherish.

    thanks for sharing it, for showing me who you are.

  22. I have never experienced anything like this, but my heart was breaking all the same. Beautifully written.

  23. This is just what I needed to hear. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me.

  24. I'm a new follower. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    This is a great story. It brought back some painful memories of my miscarriage, but it's nice to hear a happy ending. I can't imagine going through a weekend thinking I miscarried, then finding out the baby was OK.

    beautiful family!

  25. Reading this gives me hope. I miscarried in July and still trying. It really helps. Thanks Jennifer for sharing and every one else who did also. Time and sharing your story helps to heal pain.