I have never been one to share my life on social media. I struggle even sharing the good, but for sure I don’t share the bad. I don’t want pity and I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. However, if by sharing my story it can help even ONE person, then it will be worth coming out of my comfort zone. This is a brief summary of some of the struggles I have had in my life. I probably could have written a book, but I will give you the short version!
I feel like I’m about to address a support group:
My name is Jill. I have been pregnant 13 times. I have 4 healthy children, 3 stillborn baby boys (Berkley, Beckett, and Bronx) 6 other miscarriages, and 4 D&C surgeries.
What have I learned?
Bad things happen to good people, and it sucks.
Derek and I married young. Like 2 weeks after I graduated high school, young! Soon after, we moved to Liberal, Kansas, where Derek played college baseball. Two years later, he transferred to Springfield, Missouri to finish out college baseball. We waited about 4 1/2 years to get pregnant with our first baby. We were still living in Missouri when we became pregnant. This pregnancy was great! Everything went smoothly, minus a little hypertension at the end. In February 2003 we were blessed with a healthy, chubby, 9lb 6oz baby boy, Easton.
When Easton was about 6 months old, we moved back to our hometown in Idaho. Derek decided that he wanted to go to PA school. He applied to Idaho State (in our hometown) and Missouri State, where he had received his undergraduate. Unfortunately, he was an alternate at ISU and got into MSU. Back to Missouri we would go. Shortly after moving back to Missouri, we found out we were pregnant again.
This was the beginning of a long, often devastating, sometimes rewarding, 10 years.
Everything seemed to be going fine with the pregnancy. I had an appointment when I was just over 17 weeks, and the PA that saw me had some extra time so she did a quick ultrasound to see if she could tell us if it was a boy or girl. Everything looked great. She was almost positive it was a boy. She took a bunch of pictures, which I will forever be grateful for.
My big ultrasound was scheduled for 3 weeks later. By this point I was far enough along that I could feel the baby move. A few days before the ultrasound, I mentioned to Derek that I didn’t think I had felt the baby move. He assured me that everything was fine. The day of the ultrasound we gave the ultrasound tech our video tape, and she put it in and started the ultrasound. She started just whipping through things, measuring the baby really fast and not saying anything. She then said she had to make sure the video tape was recording, and would be right back. I was sick. I hadn’t seen a heartbeat while she was quickly scrolling around, and her silence was eerie! Our worst nightmare was confirmed when the Dr. opened the door. He informed us that the baby had died just days earlier.
At first I didn’t believe it. I wanted them to look again. Surely they just missed the heartbeat! Sadly, I knew they were right. I hadn’t seen a heartbeat either. The Dr. said that because I was so far along, I would have to go into labor, and deliver the baby. We headed to the hospital to be induced. When we got settled into our room, the nurse came in and started asking us all these questions:
“Do you want to give the baby a name?”
“Do you want to hold the baby?”
“What funeral home would you like to come and get the baby?”
My mind was spinning… what were they talking about?
A funeral home???Holding the baby???? This was too much to handle…
After one of the most painful labors I would ever experience, I delivered a beautiful 1lb 10in baby boy. We decided to name him Berkley, which is Derek’s middle name. He was perfect. He looked just like Easton. We decided that we wanted to hold him. I can’t imagine if we would have chosen not to, these were moments I will cherish forever. After spending our time with him, the funeral home came and picked him up. We made the decision to fly him back to Idaho to be buried with my Grandma. I could not bear the thought of leaving him in Missouri when Derek was finished with school. We flew back to Idaho and buried Berkley with my Grandma, who I was very close to. It gave me great comfort to think she was watching over him!!
After Berkley, I felt like I just needed to get pregnant again. I thought that if I got pregnant again everything would be better and I could get through this. I had several more miscarriages in the next year and we decided that we would take a break from trying. I needed some time to heal both emotionally and physically. Derek graduated from PA school and we then moved back to Idaho to live. I just kept thinking that I was not okay with one child. I felt like there was more and I was ready to try again.
We decided that with the next pregnancy, I would give myself heparin shots twice a day. My clotting tests had come back normal, but we were willing to try anything. This was not fun. I do not like needles and the thought of giving myself 2 shots a day was overwhelming at first. My abdomen would often be so sore from hematomas that I could not touch it. The Dr. told me that the discoloration caused by them would most likely be permanent. I didn’t care.
I could do this!!!!
If this would help us get a healthy baby here then I could do it!!
With a few more miscarriages mixed in, we were able to welcome Cannon (7/20/07) and Peyton (3/28/10) to our family. Cannon did spend a week in the NICU, and Peyton had a broken collarbone but they were here, alive and safe! I was sure that the heparin was doing the trick and we had figured it out.
Every time I would become pregnant the nurse at the Dr’s office would give me her extra doppler so that I could listen to the baby’s heartbeat whenever I wanted. This was both a blessing and a curse. My entire pregnancy, I was filled with anxiety and fear that I would go to listen for the heartbeat and there would not be one. I would seriously listen to the heartbeat 10 times a day.
In October 2012 I became pregnant again. Everything was going great. I had my 20 week ultrasound and everything looked perfect. About a week later, I was listening with the doppler and could not find a heartbeat. Our friend was an ultrasound tech and took us to his office. He confirmed. There was no heartbeat.
How was this happening again?
In my mind I was always terrified that this would happen again, but thought surely it would not happen twice. On March 24, 2013, I gave birth to Beckett. He was once again perfect, which was frustrating. It may have been easier if we could see that something was wrong. Then maybe I could feel like it was for the best, but he looked perfect. We buried Beckett with his brother and my Grandma.
After we had Beckett we were referred to a specialist at the University of Utah. They ran all sorts of tests which all came back fine. The Dr said that he was 90% sure that this was something genetic between me and Derek. Sometimes our genes were just not matching up. This was hard for me to understand. How could we have these beautiful, healthy, perfectly normal kids if our genes were just not matching up?!?! He told us that based on history, he could tell us that we would have another healthy child. He just couldn’t tell us how many times we would have to keep trying to make that happen. He told us that we needed to think about it and decide if we were willing to keep trying knowing this could continue to happen. He also told us that he would not do the heparin shots. We had the same result on and off heparin so it was obviously not doing anything.
I was happy with the 3 healthy kids we had and was content to be done trying. Derek still felt strongly that there was one more that needed to be a part of our family. In July 2013, I found out I was pregnant again. When I was about 20 weeks along, I again could find no heartbeat with the doppler. Our friend again took us to his office and confirmed. Bronx was born on December 31, 2013. He is buried with his 2 brothers. It almost makes me sick to go to the cemetery and see my 3 little babies.
It is sad for me to say now, but the only way I knew how to cope with these repeated losses was to not allow myself to become attached. I kept myself emotionally at a distance, knowing full well there was a good chance my heart would be broken again. I could not let myself get excited or bond with the baby until it made it here safely and was in my arms. Derek and I talked and we decided we would try one more time and no matter the result, we would be done. In October 2014 we became pregnant for the 13th and final time. I was so worried that 13 was not a good number and this was not going to end well. On July 15, 2015, a healthy baby Brekkon was born.
She was perfect and is such a blessing in our lives. I cannot imagine if we would have given up and not tried one last time.
For us, this stage of our life was now over. It was long, hard, and at times rewarding.
During those 10 years, I was good at putting a smile on my face and saying I was doing just fine, but there was so much that was going on that no one could see. People were constantly saying to me “You are so strong. I don’t know how you do it?!?”
I would be thinking….If you only knew!
I would wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat because this is when the anxiety would hit me. I was so mad at myself, mad at my body for doing this to these babies. I couldn’t help but think I must be a horrible person, otherwise why would this be happening to me? I was dealing with my milk coming in because I had just delivered a baby. My stupid body didn’t even know that I had no baby to feed. Just another reminder of how my body had failed me and my babies. There were a lot of days when I couldn’t even get myself up off the couch because the reality of the situation was just too great.
After Berkley and 2 more miscarriages, I was an emotional disaster. I would sit in the Drs office, and he would ask me if I needed something to help me get through this. Derek would reassure me that I was fine and did not need any medication. The third time, when I was sitting in the Drs office sobbing, Derek finally said he thought I needed something to help me through this. I took an anti-depressant for several months. During this time I was finally able get myself up off the couch and realize that I had to do this. I had a little 2 year old that was depending on me to do this.
I got a membership to a gym and Easton and I would drive 20 minutes everyday so I could workout.
This is when I learned to love running.
It was therapeutic during this time and proved to be many other times during my life.
As funny as this sounds, I’m thankful for Regis and Kelly!
I would go to the gym the same time everyday. I would run and watch Regis and Kelly. For this 1 hour a day, I could forget about my problems. During these runs, I would come to realize that I couldn’t just let myself sit on the couch and have a pitty party. I had to get up and live life. My kids would only have one childhood, and I refused for them to look back and only remember a mom that was broken and depressed. I made a conscious effort to not let them see me fall apart. I stayed busy and involved. As Dory would say- just kept swimming.
This quote hangs on the wall in our front room.
I had to make the conscious decision to make every day count. I had to chose to live. I had to pick myself up off the ground and try each day to leave behind something good.
I am so thankful for family and friends who have been there for us through this all. I am especially thankful for my amazing husband.
He was my rock through it all. He cried with me, listened to me, talked to me, and put up with all of my craziness! We became much closer to each other during these hard times.
We are told we will learn to be grateful for our trials. Honestly I don’t see that in the cards for me.
I did learn that I am strong, that I CAN do hard things.
Sometimes, I feel like my experiences have made me a more bitter person and sometimes I find it harder to be empathetic. When going through all of this it was hard for me to hear people say “I know what you are going through”. They would say things like “I had a miscarriage when I was 8 weeks along”. It was so hard. I wanted to to scream.
“You have no idea what I am going through! Did you feel your baby moving inside of you? Did you go through labor only to hold a dead baby in your arms? Did you bury your baby in the ground? You have no Idea what I am going through.”
I know I really have no right to feel like what I have gone through is more than another person. I know that miscarriage and loss affect everyone differently. I have met people who have had one miscarriage and cannot bring themselves to try again. I know that we are all different and deal with things differently. I am not by any means saying that I did things right and that everyone should keep trying until they get the result they want. We are all different and should do what is best for ourselves and our families.
When we met with the specialist in Utah, he told us that sometimes we can get consumed by this. It is all we think about and center our life around. He said sometimes we have to look at our life and say, “Would our efforts be best put towards other things?”. I agree with this advice.
Many people would ask us, “Why do you keep trying? Why do you keep doing this to yourself?”
To them I say:
I am not a quitter. I have never been one to give up. Look at those 4 beautiful faces. They are why we never gave up. I cannot imagine my life without any one of them in it. They are worth every tear, all the pain, and I would do it all again to get them all here!
Through everything my testimony (faith) was shaken and at times shattered. To be completely honest, I don’t know if it will ever be the same. Derek and I had a lot of talks during this time. I would say, “What if this is it? What if there is nothing after this life?” Derek would say back to me, “What if there is?” So when doubt would set in, then would come hope.
Hope that there is more after this. Hope that this will all be worth it. I have come to believe that God lets life happen. Does he have the ability to step in and prevent bad things from happening? Absolutely! How lucky are those people that are able to receive the miracle of God stepping in and preventing the bad from happening? Sometimes I look at my 4 healthy kids and think maybe THEY are miracles. Maybe we were not supposed to have any kids and maybe we are the recipients of 4 precious miracles. Unfortunately, we all don’t see the miracles.
Bad things happen to good people.
Babies die, spouses die, car accidents, school shootings, abuse, disease, and many other horrible things happen. Not because he wants us to suffer, but because we chose this. We chose to come here and deal with the things of this life. We knew at times it would be painful and hard to bear. Hopefully in the end, the joy outweighs the sorrow, there is more happiness than pain, and having amazing moments are worth enduring the devastating ones. Unfortunately, in this life, we will all come to know the meaning of the words:
Bad things happen to good people and it sucks!
We just have to remember that good things happen to good people too, and when the good things happen, it makes everything else worth it!