This blog post is part of a series that I began for telling our story. You can read the first post here.
It occurred to me today that in all of my writing and blogging, I may not have shared much of our Jonah story. Especially since we went through all of that in 2003, just a year and a half into our marriage. Before I joined Facebook. Before this blog. Five years before this blog existed, in fact. Unlike our journey with Samantha, I don’t have a million online reminders of everything we experienced. No, I have to rely solely on my memory, which is not the most reliable thing…
We were married in 2001, just two months after everything changed for Americans. Travis was still in seminary, so we were not looking to get pregnant right away. I threw away my pills as a graduation present to him that spring, and by the fall, we were pregnant.
Pregnancy did not agree with me. There are women who love being pregnant, and find joy in every moment. I was never one of those people. I was moody and uncomfortable. I had “morning” sickness that lasted All. Day. Long. I craved cold and carbs, which meant a lot of ice cream and cereal. I kept ice water in a thermos by the bed because water couldn’t stay cold enough. I threw up. A lot. I was exhausted and swollen and just felt uncomfortable in my own skin.
I started out going to an OBGYN group, where I saw a different doctor every visit. Then, about halfway through my pregnancy, the doctor I preferred broke off and formed his own practice with one other doctor, so I followed him. At my last visit before everything went wrong, I saw his partner, and I didn’t really like her. It made it easier for me for a long time to just blame her internally, because it gave me a target for my blame that wasn’t God.
When I was around 30 weeks, I woke Travis up in the middle of the night, panicking. I hadn’t felt the baby move in a while (days? hours?). He helped me calm down and go back to sleep, and we called the doctor in the morning. He sent us for an ultrasound, which was at a different office.
There was no heartbeat. I still remember the technician saying those words, and in that moment the only thought I had was, “I want my mom.” Maybe that happens for a lot of women. Who knows? I just knew I needed her. We drove to the doctor’s office to meet with him, and on the way called a pastor friend of ours. I think he met us at the office.
I will never forget what my doctor told me that day, words that gave me immense comfort. “There is nothing that you did or could have done to cause this. Women get abortions all the time because they cannot do anything themselves to end their pregnancies.” While those words may seem harsh now, for me, they were a lifeline. Never once did I spend time blaming myself for what happened. I never doubted that I could not have controlled the outcome. I did spend a few years blaming the other doctor, but never found myself plagued by the guilt and shame that could have haunted me forever. For that, I am grateful for my doctor from back then.
I could tell other stories about my doctor, like how the sign in front of his office ended up on Letterman, or how he no longer practices medicine, but those are stories that are for a different time and leave my life experiences behind. Some are funny, some are sad. But I thank him so much for helping me to heal physically and emotionally from losing my first baby.
Next post coming tomorrow.