the one about six

Oh, dear.

It's been a terribly long time.

I apologize for my absence.

I have nothing to blame except life. Busy day-to-day happenings, weekly ups and downs, responsibilities out the wazoo and doing my best to avoid responsibilities on the daily.

But, here we are, staring at the last couple days of October. How can this be? I feel like I was just doing the Fall Starbucks Drinks happy dance, and pretty soon that controversial red cup will be making its debut. If there's one thing I know for sure, it is that time is passing...quickly. I also know that I love Dairy Queen Chocolate Extreme Blizzards. Very much.

I do have some news, though.

I am pregnant with baby #4!

I am thrilled. I am excited. I am nervous, for sure. I am hopeful. I am happy.

But I have something else on my mind...something else on my heart. It's not something I have written about a lot, but that sentence right there...."I am pregnant with baby #4," reminds me that I am actually not pregnant with baby #4. I have experienced pregnancy loss not once, but twice, and so while my voice is saying "baby #4," my heart is screaming BUT THERE ARE SIX.

There are six.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you might remember that I experienced my first miscarriage 8 years ago now. It was a surprise pregnancy...our first pregnancy...and I had barely gotten my mind wrapped around the fact that I was going to be a mother when I went in for my first ultrasound at 10 weeks and saw an empty amniotic sac. I still remember our doctor's words to us. "I'm sorry. This will not be a normal pregnancy for you." I still remember that I was wearing Colts socks that day. I still remember not sleeping that night as all I could think of was that my body betrayed me in the biggest way, and perhaps that my God did, too.

My body believed it was pregnant. The bloodwork was all what it should have been. I felt different, but in a good way. I felt like a mother. But seeing that ultrasound and experiencing the deafening silence in the place where the heartbeat should be felt like the hugest, nastiest, Real Housewives-style slap in the face.

I felt like a joke.

And when the weeks went on and I still couldn't "get over it," I felt crazy. I actually told myself that I was being punished...for what, I didn't know, but surely God felt I wasn't worthy to be a mother and this was my sentence.

More negative thoughts filled my mind. Thoughts I have never shared with anyone other than Luke, until now. I couldn't stand how the pregnancy loss was medically termed a "blighted ovum." The very definition of "blighted" is ruined, wrecked, destroyed, infected. What terrible ways to describe what happened to this first baby of mine. Even Luke would describe the miscarriage as a blighted ovum, unable to abandon his doctor role and it would crush me every time. I felt like I must be the only one who actually believed this was a child.

Until even I stopped believing that for a time. I told myself how ridiculous it was to be so sad about something that never had a heartbeat. I went back to the thoughts that there would be no baby awaiting me in Heaven one day because it was never a baby to begin with. We never thought of a name because I thought it would seem silly.

And believe me, I know now how terrible that all sounds, but that is where my mind was for many months, and it isn't until now that I finally feel brave enough to admit it.

I grew tired of being "the sad girl." While no one ever said it out loud, I just felt their burden of having to watch what was said and tiptoe around me so I wouldn't shatter. I would cry at holidays and at church and during the hour long commute to and from work.

Eventually, I stopped crying daily. Then weekly. Then monthly. When I became pregnant with Noelle about 9 months after the loss, I was full of fear and negativity....fully expecting to see another empty ultrasound. But, that's not what happened, and I went on to have not one, not two, but three healthy, beautiful, smart girls.

What more could I want? Well. I wanted one more.

It is hard to explain to an outsider why I would possibly want more chaos, more diapers, more sleepless nights, more messes.... But this is my happy place, and my heart didn't feel complete.

After 10 months of hoping and praying for another child, it happened. Positive pregnancy tests filled my bathroom. And then a couple days later, it become evident that this pregnancy was not meant to be.

Foolish. Empty. Crushed.

Familiar feelings and emotions came flooding back. The scab was ripped off the wound, and there I was again, questioning everything. Revisiting my thoughts of embarrassment that I would even be sad to begin with...given the extremely short length of the pregnancy. I shared this latest loss with no one as I just couldn't put myself out there again. Many reading this will be surprised that it even happened.

Fast forward a couple months later to now, and I am pregnant, again. Just shy of 9 weeks along. And so you say, "Why are you making it public when you aren't past the first trimester? You of all people should know the risk of announcing too early."

Well, the only risk of announcing too early, in my opinion, is getting to actually see joy on the faces of your family and friends instead of just sorrow. With our first loss, we had been trying to wait until the 13 week mark, which is why the first our parents learned of our first pregnancy was when we were telling them it was already over. I never got to see their happy reactions as we announced our our pregnancy for the very first time. I only got to be the bearer of bad news. And while I know that we would ultimately have had to disappoint them by sharing about the loss, at least we would have had the happy memories, too.

And more and more, I am learning that there is no "safe zone" in pregnancy. While the risk of miscarriage goes down substantially after the first trimester, there are so many other tragedies that occur later in pregnancy. Unfortunately, a few women very close to my heart have had to say goodbye to their babies before they ever got to say hello.

So, no. I don't have a guarantee that I won't lose this baby, too. But life hands us no guarantees on anything.

The point of all of this is to say that miscarriage and pregnancy loss can make you feel so many ways, and it effects everyone differently. My experiences will differ from yours and hers and theirs. But the trend is that we don't talk about it. It makes others feel uncomfortable, so we must keep our thoughts to ourselves. I have done that off and on for 8 years now. Share a little, but keep the rest to myself.

But today...because it is October for just a couple more days...and because October is miscarriage, stillbirth, and pregnancy loss awareness month, I will bare a piece of my soul that mostly stays hidden.

And to all of you who, when asked, have to pause when a person asks you how many children you have, because your voice says one thing but your heart says another... I get it. I feel it. I'm sorry.

I say four.

But there are six.