A Tribute to Bryan David Blake

BryanMy brother, Bryan David Blake, was an extremely hard worker. I always admired him for his work ethic. He was dependable, reliable, loyal, and respectful. Everyone he worked for knew he could be counted on in any given situation. He always rose to the top at each one of his positions. Even though his work hours were often long and tiresome, he never complained.

Not only was Bryan loyal to his employers through the years, but his dedication shone brightest in his musical accomplishments. He played numerous instruments and had a love for music. In high school, he was passionate about being a part of the show choir, Attache. Throughout his four years, the choir won a number of national awards. In addition, he spent many years as a Boy Scout, eventually earning the rank of Eagle Scout. Bryan also had a talent and love for sports and playing sports. When he was focused on something, he fully dedicated himself to being the best.

Like my father, my brother was a gentleman just as he was raised to be. He also had a good sense of humor, which came out at every family gathering. Bryan would often tell stories, usually about something crazy I had done or about just me being me (for those of you who know me well). He found humor in things as often as he could.

I am sad this world has lost such a sweet guy who loved kids. He talked about how much he wanted children down the road and that he could not wait to be an uncle. He left me a few special voicemails that I still have to this day. Some include him sharing his joy for my first pregnancy for my identical twins, Angel and Joy. In another, he talks about his sadness when we lost them. He also left messages when I got pregnant with Ryan. While crying tears of joy, he proclaimed how he could not wait to be an uncle and who would have thought he would ever be one.

My brother had so many plans ready for Ryan for when they would spend time together – to teach him all about Star Wars and other things only an uncle could. I remember when we spoke on the phone for my birthday last year. The subject came up about how Chris and I named our son Ryan. Bryan kept saying to me, “Name him ‘Bryan,’ which is only one letter away from Ryan.” I am sorry Ryan will never get to meet his uncle Bryan or experience all the great times they were going to have together. Bryan could not wait to come up with my sister to meet Ryan after the birth and see where we live in Virginia Beach for the first time.

Bryan was also a very supportive brother. I have now written two cookbooks. I perform cooking demos on TV, as well as share my story with and cook in front of live audiences. Throughout the whole process, he would cheer me on and encourage me.  He also left messages on my phone sharing his excitement in how proud of me he was in all my accomplishments. We would talk semi-often on the phone, and he always wanted to hear about my story and to affirm how proud he was of me. He truly was one of my biggest cheerleaders. I will always remember he bought six of my first cookbooks. With much excitement, he gave them away to his friends. He never got to see my second book, but I know he would be just as excited and encouraging as he has always been.

One thing I loved most about him was the last thing you heard from him before you got off the phone or hugged goodbye were the words “I love you.” He made sure to say them throughout the last few years of his life. I loved my brother through the thick and thin of our relationship through the years and will always love and cherish the good memories we had. He picked on me more than anything it seemed, but the memories I have from that will always be some of my favorites. I cannot wait to share with Ryan all about his uncle Bryan!

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The Story of a New Life & a Struggle for Life – Part 5

Bryan had passed peacefully with my dad and sister at his bedside, holding his hands. I could not believe it. It did not seem possible that my brother of 39 years was no longer here. He will never get to meet his nephew or see him grow up. He will never get to be the uncle he had always talked about being. He will never have the opportunity to show him things and do things with Ryan he had long anticipated doing.  I will never get to see him again or even say good-bye.

Why did his life have to end five days after Ryan’s life began? Why did God allow the timing of it all? What good can come out of his passing at this very moment in time? Why did the joy of Ryan’s birth have to be a part of this tragic circumstance in my family’s life? How will this affect Ryan’s life, my life, my sister’s life, or most importantly my parent’s life? How was I supposed to have joy for Ryan when I was distraught over losing my brother? All these questions kept racing through my mind. I wanted answers from God, which I knew I was not going to receive at that time or even on this side of eternity. I was overcome with sadness, guilt, and  a great deal of anger.

The next few days were very difficult, to say the least. Devastation set in knowing Ryan and I would not be able to travel safely back to Knoxville, TN for my brother’s funeral. Ryan was only one week old, and I faced the possibility of a blood clot if I traveled. Life is just not fair. I could not even say bye and be there with my family during that time. I truly felt like an outsider looking in, like I was no longer part of the family because I could not be there with them. They would get to be there for each other and share that moment together while I was left behind. “Why me and why now?” That is all I could say to God. The time that was supposed to be the most special and joyful time in my life was stripped away with tragedy and will forever be a part of Ryan’s birth.

Death is never easy, but this one has been one of two that I have not been able to get through easily. With death comes the five stages of grief: denial, isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I have to honestly admit I am still on anger in this process and have been since before Bryan passed. I despise this in myself and have tried to move forward, but I know it will just be a matter of time. I have been angry about the timing of everything – his age when he passed, not being a part of the healing my family experienced with him before he died, not being able to share in those last weeks with him like the rest of my family did. Hearing their stories regarding those last few weeks they shared together has been difficult, along with being unable to travel back for his funeral, withstanding the effects from his death, and knowing the loss my parents have experienced, one in which no parent should ever have to go through.

Like I said before, time will heal and it will get easier, not just for me, but also for my family. I will have moved on through the other stages of grief to acceptance and be able to enjoy the sweet memories I had with my brother. I also will never forget Bryan and will always love him. I look forward to the day where I can share about his life to Ryan and let him know how much his uncle loved him and desired to be a part of his life. 

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The Story of a New Life & a Struggle for Life – Part 4

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

5:15 A.M. –  Chris and I were transported to the operating room. At this point, I was still convulsing due to the past 15.5 hours of physical distress. They quickly hooked me up and strapped me down to the operating table in preparation for emergency surgery. Over the next few minutes, the doctor numbed my stomach and asked if I could feel his touch along my stomach. It didn’t take long before I had no feeling left, and then the C-section was underway.

5:39 A.M. – As I became more aware of what was unfolding, I heard the most comforting and beautiful sounds in the world: my newborn’s helpless, first cry while the doctor and the entire nursing staff sang “Happy Birthday.” RyanAll I could do was weep for joy that both of us survived after all we had endured. I was overwhelmed with love for him when I first heard his cry.

For the entire nine months, I had a difficult time becoming emotionally attached to him out of fear of losing another baby. When Bryan had a stroke, all feelings I possessed about the pregnancy were diminished out of fear, overwhelming sadness, and guilt. Also, I was scared that I would never experience the true love a mother has for her child, but the second I heard his beautiful cry, I was hooked. My love for him consumed me. As I lay there sobbing, I was overcome with complete joy and love for this beautiful life.

A few moments later, Chris carried our newborn son over to me for the first time. I will never forget what happened next. He was the only person who existed in that moment. All the world around me silenced and faded away. There he was, my beautiful little miracle, Ryan Scott Peek – 8 pounds, 3 ounces, and 19.75 inches long. The most beautiful blue eyes stared back at me. I finally had my moment. I just kept repeating to him “I am your mama” and “I love you.”

Shortly afterward, we were wheeled to the recovery room. Those moments I will cherish forever. Before the grandparents were brought back to meet Ryan, it was finally my turn to hold my little miracle. I have no words to express how special it was to hold him in my arms and stare into his beautiful, blue eyes. It was as if, when we looked into each others eyes, he knew how much I loved him and recognized that I was his mama who took care of him all those months. It was as if he knew that I was going to protect him and be there for him for the rest of his life. Those initial moments with him are ones I will forever treasure.

Likewise, I will never forget Ryan’s first moments with his grandparents. Ryan was first introduced to his Papa and Grandpa and then to his Mimi and Grandmother. I saw the sheer joy on their faces the second their eyes met, and as they cradled him and spoke to him. I was overcome with tears of joy at the sight of my mom and dad holding their very first grandchild. As I peered into their eyes, I recognized the love they had for this beautiful life I had given them. Seeing his Mimi and Papa hold their second grandchild was no different.

A few hours later, I was wheeled to my new home for the following five days, as I recovered from my C-section. I was blessed with the best nurses anyone could ask for. Their kindness and gentle spirits truly helped push me through those five, rough days. Even though the nurses were working a job, they showed nothing but love and compassion for both Ryan and me the entire time. I felt like I was their only patient, as the nurses treated me like a friend, made time for me, and cared for me instead of simply rushing in and out.

Of course there were the unpleasant parts of the stay, including being woken up every few hours of the day and night in order for the nurses to obtain my vital signs and medicines.  I was also trying to nurse Ryan, which took a toll on my body and emotions. I was not able to produce any milk, which in turn starved him. Ryan ended up losing weight, and we were forced to switch him to formula. This absolutely crushed me.

In addition, it was torture every time they took Ryan out of the room for a bath or any other procedure. I missed him deeply and just wanted to cradle him and never let him go.

Yet, in the midst of the joy of a new life, my heart and mind were filled with fear, as my brother remained in dire condition.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sadly, my dad headed back to Tennessee to be at Bryan’s bedside. That day was a particularly hard day for me, knowing that Dad faced such difficult days ahead and that he had to leave Ryan after two short days. I wanted him to be able to spend more time with Ryan, as well as to share stories and guide him in all of the aspects life he would need to know about. It was an emotional good-bye, but I knew it needed to be done.

Friday February 21, 2014  

Finally, the moment had come for us to head home after five excruciatingly long days. As the time drew closer for our discharge, the slower the clock seemed to tick. We had every nurse, doctor, resident, and lactation nurse come into my room that morning, one right after another. It felt like the eternal morning.

Eventually, transport wheeled me out of the hospital with Ryan in my arms. The family paparazzi were waiting at the front of the hospital, as Chris and his dad snapped away, capturing the special moment in numerous photos.

As we arrived home, I was elated to show Ryan his house, the place where he would live, grow up for the next few years, and have many of his “firsts” take place. We had a great afternoon just being home with Ryan and sharing those moments with most of his grandparents all together.

Yet, just a few hours later, my life changed forever with the phone call I had dreaded and prayed would never come to fruition.

To Be Continued…

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The Story of a New Life & a Struggle for Life – Part 3

Monday, February 17, 2014

Around mid-morning, I was standing in the nursery putting clothes away. Suddenly, I felt the loss of some of my Amniotic fluid. After a few calls to the doctor’s office, we sped off to the hospital.

hospitalDuring the check-up, the tech confirmed that my water had not broken. However, the baby’s heart rate had dropped to 70 beats per minute, and my blood pressure was elevated. Thus, they made the decision to check us in and prepare me for delivery. We were taken to my labor and delivery room, where we eventually spent the next 15.5 hours anticipating the arrival we all had been waiting for.

2:00 P.M. – My labor began, as the nurses gave me inducing medicines. As every woman who has given birth would say, the pain was like no other, the worst I have ever experienced. While I was given an epidural, the relief was short-lived. The intensification of the pain would mark the beginning of a long night ahead.

With labor progressing, my dad and in-laws changed their original plans, as they had hoped to make the 8.5 hour trek from Knoxville to Norfolk the following day. Instead, they abruptly departed at 5:00 P.M. in order to arrive in time for the delivery.

After many hours of labor had passed, things started to unravel, as I had only dilated 2 centimeters. Every hour, I was given bolus amounts of pain medicine through my epidural to help alleviate pain that never seemed to downgrade to a tolerable level. The anesthesiologist was even concerned that the epidural was not working, after checking the placement of the epidural and given the amounts of medicine she had given to me. In the midst of the agony, my body started to continuously convulse. In addition, my heart rate remained elevated, and my heart condition began to spiral out of control. 

While all of this was occurring, my dad and in-laws were driving through the Shenandoah Mountains in the middle of a snow storm. My mom and dad were conversing back and forth regarding my labor via text through my mother-in-law since my dad was driving.

For those who may not know, I have a heart and adrenal condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia (IST). When I experience attacks/storms, the adrenal glands shoot out large and abnormal amounts of norepinephrine for no real reason and at any time. This then puts my body into extreme “flight” mode.

When I undergo attacks/storms, my body instantly develops a rapid increase of heart rate (in the high-100′s to low-200’s, more than my “normal” elevated heart rate), dizziness, sweatiness, and inability to walk or talk normally. Symptoms also include upset stomach, nausea, the urge to urinate, and strong heart palpitations, among others, and all at the same time. These attacks can last for a few minutes to several hours at a given time. The symptoms are similar to that of a heart attack.

While my body continued to convulse, we discovered that the nurses and the on-call doctor did not know anything about my condition. They informed us they were continuing to research information about POTS throughout the night in order to better care for me. 

In the midst of all the craziness, the nurses burst into the room at one point and confirmed that the baby’s heart rate was fluctuating from the 70’s to high-100’s. He was in distress. I was given an oxygen mask and was told to wear it indefinitely. In addition, I was going in and out of consciousness due to my body convulsing, elevated heart rate, and my POTS/IST symptoms spiraling out of control.

Tuesday, February 18th

12:00 A.M. – The doctor informed me that he wanted to give me a medicine that would speed up my dilation. After talking to him and learning about the side effects, including an elevated heart rate, I emphatically told him, “No, do not give that to me or you will actually kill me.” After a few seconds, he said “Hold on” and thought through the potential for disaster. Ultimately, he agreed and decided against the additional medication.

2:30 A.M. – My dad and in-laws arrived at the hospital after a nine hour, adrenaline-filled car ride. They walked in to find me in my hospital bed, shaking like a leaf, hooked up to an oxygen mask and monitors. The doctor filled them in on all the events that had occurred throughout the night.

3:15 A.M. – After confirming we were still several hours away from delivery, the doctor stated that he would come back in three hours to check on the progress of the dilation and told us to get some rest.

4:15 A.M. – The doctor burst through the door into my room in a panic and expressed to us that he was extremely concerned about the baby’s heart rate and mine. He concluded that we needed to have an emergency C-section as soon as possible to save us both. The baby’s heart rate peaked at 190, and both he and I were in distress for too many hours. By this point, I still had only dilated 2 centimeters, and we could not wait any longer.

4:45 A.M. – I was rushed back to the operating room for the emergency surgery, crying and fearing the worst for my precious baby.

To be continued…

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The Story of a New Life & a Struggle for Life – Part 2

If you are going through hell, keep going.  – Winston Churchill

“Is everyone okay,” I nervously asked.

“No Karen… It’s Bryan.”

Last November, my brother Bryan was involved in a horrific car accident in which he was ejected from the vehicle. It was truly a miracle that he had survived, although his injuries included several broken ribs and a shattered heel, among others. Throughout his recovery while living with my parents, he slowly began to recover. When I saw him at Christmas, he was doing well and getting stronger everyday. We had even talked about all of the family going to the Tennessee/Oklahoma football game in September.

So when I heard Mom say the words “It’s Bryan,” my heart broke into a million pieces and total fear overwhelmed me, to say the least. The next thing that came out of her mouth was the very last thing I would have expected to hear.

Earlier that evening, Bryan had a hemorrhagic stroke and was rushed to the hospital, where his body lay in a coma. I asked if there was any way that he would survive, and she responded that he most likely would not. If he did make it through, his quality of life would likely be greatly diminished in a vegetative state. The stroke had occurred quickly and out of nowhere. Doctors concluded that his car wreck had nothing to do with what had happened that night.

After Mom and I talked a bit, I got off the phone, and all I could do was cry and shake uncontrollably on the inside. I was in shock. I kept saying to myself, “He is just 39 and was doing well the last time I saw him. How on earth was my intuition spot-on that something bad was going to happen around my delivery?” I wanted to be wrong. Yet, I had known in my gut months prior something bad was going to happen. I just didn’t know what.

I kept asking God, “Why now?” Of all times, why did this happen when I was about to finally deliver my first baby and my parents’ first grandchild. While deep down I loved my baby, I honestly have to say that I didn’t care at all about our pregnancy at that point.

For days, I struggled emotionally with guilt, anger, and despair. I was torn apart with guilt of being happy about our baby while my brother was in a life-and-death situation. It felt wrong to be joyful, knowing that the other half of me was distraught over my brother and my parents. How could I be happy knowing their son/my brother was most likely not going to make it?

I struggled with and continue to struggle with anger because of the timing of everything. How could God allow my brother to possibly die at the very moment my first child was due, the one whom we have longed and prayed for for so long? I felt I was being punished, as these circumstances occurred at what was supposed to be the most special time in my life after all the prior circumstances that I had gone through. Instead, I was robbed of my joy. In addition, despair overwhelmed me – thoughts that he may not make it out alive to meet his nephew, that I may never see him again or say goodbye, and because of the pain and emotional hell my parents were going through. I was screwed up emotionally, to say the least.

My dad was so excited about this baby that he had asked off work the month before and after February 12th so that nothing, and I mean nothing, would keep him from Karen 36 weeksbeing at the birth. My brother had never been to Virginia Beach to see where I live and was planning on traveling up to see his nephew. He loved kids and could not wait to meet his nephew and be an uncle. With all this uncertainty, I still had to somehow prepare myself for both the impending birth of our son and for whatever lay ahead with Bryan.

On my due date – February 12, 2014 – I began to have contractions. Chris and I drove to the hospital, but our stay was short-lived. It turns out that the contractions were simply Braxton Hicks, and we ended up coming home. That same night, snow storms were pounding the southeast, from Virginia Beach to our parents’ hometown of Knoxville, TN. My mom decided to head eastward to stay with us just in case I went into labor and to get ahead of the storms. At that point, my mom and dad made the hard decision to split up, with Dad staying behind with Bryan, who was hooked up to machines and ventilators.

For the next few days all we could do was nervously wait for reports on Bryan, as well as anticipate our son to make his grand entrance. As you can tell, everything was up in the air. Would my brother survive? If so, what would his quality of life be like? Would my dad be able to come to the birth of his first grandchild he and my mom had longed for?

To be continued…

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The Story of a New Life & a Struggle for Life – Part 1

The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow. Don’t give up. – Robert Tew

This quote says a thousand words. Off and on for the past couple of years, especially in 2014, this quote has been the story of my life. Due to life’s circumstances, I have not posted anything in a while. Throughout the past few years, I have wondered if I can honestly make it through the struggle of the day to even develop my strength for tomorrow.  Let me go back in time a little bit and share with you a glimpse of my life.

After losing our identical twins, Angel and Joy, a few years ago, my husband and I tried again several months later for another little bundle of joy. After two additional miscarriages just months apart, we finally got pregnant again with a due date of 2/12/14. I was not sure how to respond to it or if we should even get excited and celebrate. In my mind, the dream of being a mommy to my own baby was starting to look like a pipe dream. I said to myself that I would not get excited for this pregnancy in case we lost another one. I just could not handle any more despair in my life.

After the nightmare of our previous group of OB doctors, thankfully we began working with a new set of compassionate and skilled doctors, ironically some of whom I used to work for as a nurse. They are the only high risk pregnancy doctors in Hampton Roads. Because of my heart condition and three prior miscarriages, I am considered a high risk pregnancy. Throughout the pregnancy, shockingly things went well. For the most part, I was able to exercise everyday and function at my “normal.”

121113 Ultrasound 1For the first time, we were blessed to hear and see a heartbeat, as well as have a gender reveal party to discover that God had blessed us with a baby boy. All appointments went well with our little miracle; he was healthy and growing as he should. Approaching each appointment,  I went in with a stomach full of butterflies, expecting to hear the words that tore me apart two years prior: “Your baby is dead.” Instead, we left each appointment filled with joy and happy tears of experiencing God’s power and answered prayers. Seeing the face of our little miracle via ultrasound at each visit provided the most heart-warming and special experience for me.

Sadly, I was yet to fully embrace my pregnancy and couldn’t do so until I heard his first cry. I was truly scared to open up my heart for another loss. The fear only intensified when the doctor took me off Progesterone, a medicine prescribed to me in order to increase my ability for a viable pregnancy. I just felt in my gut the entire 9 months that something was going to happen to the baby, me, or someone else I loved.  Nearing the end of those precious nine months, Chris and I drove to the hospital a few times, even once in a snow storm, thinking with each contraction that the time had arrived. We were eagerly anticipating our moment to meet the little man we and hundreds of others had hoped and prayed for.

On February 10th at 11:30 P.M., I received a phone call that changed my life forever. I was visibly shaking, as I answered the phone. I started to panic, thinking that my intuition had been right all along. I knew that nine months of calm waters had to end sometime. My life has rarely been that easy and smooth. My mom was on the other end, and at that moment, my life shifted into an emotional hell that set off a roller coaster of events.

To be continued…

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Meeting the Authors of Heaven is For Real

Several years ago, I read and loved the book Heaven is For Real. This book depicts Heaven in a way that makes it more real to most of us who have never seen it. In the book, the Burpo family shares their son Colton’s account of meeting his unborn sister in heaven. After being pregnant for two months, Sonja Burpo had a miscarriage, and she never knew whether the baby was a boy or girl. Colton revealed to his family that they had a daughter in heaven who met him at the gate upon his arrival.

This book came alive to me after my own miscarriage at two months of my identical twins, Angel and Joy. Today, I had the opportunity to meet the Burpo family one-on-one after their interview at CBN. I wanted to thank them for sharing about their own miscarriage, as it gave me hope and peace that I will see my babies again. They welcomed me with open arms into the green room. As I shared with them about my miscarriage, I cried, and they wept with me. Sonja came over to me, put her arm around me, and prayed for me. As she prayed, Colton and Todd also laid hands on me. Then, they signed a copy of my book, and also signed and gave me a copy of their new book, Heaven Changes Everything. This book offers daily devotions, including encouragement for women who have miscarried and/or lost a child.

 

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The Story of Our Miscarriage – Part 3

Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, May looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow.  ~Author Unknown

November 14, 2012 – The day before my D & C, my mind was pondering the surgery and how much I missed my babies. I knew that their souls were not here anymore and had not been for some time now, but I missed them terribly. Just knowing that I was still carrying them provided comfort and made me feel close to them.  I was also deeply fearful, not because of what would happen to me, but because of the destructive operation on my babies’ bodies and the home they once shared. I  was tormented with the thought of anything hurting the bodies that my babies once lived in. The D & C marked the end of my pregnancy. It finalized everything that had to do with my twins, and with that came more emotions than I thought were possible.

“We asked God for a baby, instead he gave us an Angel.” -Unknown

November 15, 2012, 9:00 A.M. –  As I was lying in my hospital bed looking towards heaven thinking about my babies, I could not bring myself to watch TV or do anything, since it was the last few moments I had with them before my pregnancy was “over.” I recalled the brief few months I had with them, remembering my elation the day I found out about them. I thought about all the cravings I experienced. When I would lie in bed at night, I would feel the babies in my stomach when I turned on my side. I reminisced about the weekend we went to Tennessee to surprise, and I mean completely surprise our parents about being pregnant. They were overcome with joy and in complete shock that they were going to be grandparents. That weekend represented the most perfect and exciting two days of our married life. Lastly, I imagined them up in heaven playing around and God coming up behind them and scooping them up in his arms. He put them one on each knee to share with them what was about to happen to me.

I lay there for about an hour before anyone came in to do my pre-op. Thankfully, a caring and compassionate nurse came in to prepare me for surgery. She cried and talked with me about my babies, and I will never forget her or her kindness. I was in for a bit of a wait. My surgery was scheduled for 10:30 A.M.  and did not get started until close to noon.

“An angel, in the Book of Life, wrote down my baby’s birth. Then whispered as he closed the book, Too beautiful for Earth.”

After the procedure, I was transported to a recovery room, and all I could do was cry because of both the anesthesia and the emotion of it all. A few hours passed, but we never saw the surgeon once the operation concluded. Unfortunately, she never took the time to discuss the surgery. It felt like old times all over again with this OBGYN group. Thankfully, I will not ever have to see or deal with these people again. At around 3:30 p.M., I was officially discharged. Now all that remained of my pregnancy was the ultrasound pictures of my babies and the memory of the 6.5 weeks I had with them. I don’t believe in fortunes, but how ironic that the fortune cookie from my birthday contained the number “25,” the date of the first ultrasound, and “15,” the date of my D & C. Other numbers were “16,” which is the day of my birthday along with “32,” which is the age I turned this year.

The angels are always near to those who are grieving, to whisper to them that their loved ones are safe in the hand of God.  ~Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

Some time has passed since the procedure, and I have felt very empty and alone. While I was not lonely by any means, I continued to grieve the loss of my babies. I never knew you could love something so much you have never seen. It has been very difficult to pick up the pieces of my life before my pregnancy ended, but I know in time, it will get easier.

Looking back on everything, I truly feel the dream I had prior to the first ultrasound was God foreshadowing what was to come. At the start of my dream, Chris and I were elated, walking hand-in-hand. This symbolized the wrong doctor’s office location we arrived at on October 25th, the place where we thought we were going to hear our babies heartbeat.

When we arrived at the second location, that is where the euphoria quickly dissolved, which signified us in the middle of the ocean. In the dream, Chris represented one baby, and I was the other. The one raft and one window was the one sac that my babies shared in the womb. The tsunami waves symbolized the blood, which was in the sac that was seen at the first ultrasound. At the end of the dream, Chris mouthed, “I love you” before the waves engulfed us. In my heart, I felt it was my precious babies telling me they loved me before they went home.

Throughout this entire ordeal, my emotions have been off the charts. However, my most difficult moments occurred prior to receiving the call about my hCG numbers. I knew in my heart that both had passed, even before I was given the official word. I cried hysterically and had lost all hope that we were going to hear heartbeats at the next ultrasound. In addition, I shared my dream with my good friend, and she confirmed I was mourning their loss even before we knew they had passed.

“Love knows not it’s own depth until the time of separation.” -Unknown

Even though we did not know if they were boys or girls, we felt they deserved to be named. They did exist, even if it was a short period of time. We named our baby who lived 6 weeks and 5 days Angel, and the one who lived 6 weeks and 1 day Joy. We decided on those names because they are our guardian angels now, and they brought us complete joy for the 6.5 weeks they were here with us. I will never forget the short yet incredible time I spent with Angel and Joy. I thank God for allowing me to be their Mom.

“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” -John 16:22

 

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The Story of Our Miscarriage – Part 2

“How very quietly you tiptoed into our world, silently, only a moment you stayed. But what an imprint your footprints have left upon our hearts.’” -Unknown

Chris and I walked back to the ultrasound room, anxious to hear our baby’s heartbeat. It is funny how all the frustration seemed to dissipate after waiting for what felt like an eternity.  It was finally our time. Unlike when I performed ultrasounds as a nurse, I was the pregnant one this time.

As the tech began the sonogram, we heard nothing but silence. She continued to move the probe, causing me a little discomfort. She asked,  “How far along are you?” I responded that I was “about 9 weeks.”  She informed us she could not find anything, but she frustratingly continued to search for the baby and a heartbeat.

For a brief instant, she finally provided us with a glimpse of the screen showing the embryo, and we anticipated hearing “junior’s” heartbeat. The tech’s tone quickly turned solemn. “Your baby is dead; I cannot find a heartbeat. I may have just over stepped my boundaries telling you that.” I immediately started to cry and Chris came over to me to comfort me. “Yes, the daddy needs comfort at times like these so it is good you are going over to her,” she stated.  I could not believe what had come out of her mouth. Seriously? After a couple of minutes, she stopped the ultrasound, told me to get dressed, and checked to see if a doctor was available to meet with us. After a few minutes, she returned and informed us that a doctor wanted to provide a consultation. At that point, she escorted us to another room that looked like a storage room and confirmed, “The doctor will see you when she can.” She closed the door.

We sat there for another long, agonizing one hour wait for a doctor to see us. All I could do was weep for my baby. I agonized over what I could have done to cause this, along with wondering how and why this happened to us. Finally a doctor entered and took us to her office. It was clearly the end of her shift. We were in for another big surprise. “You’re having twins.” Chris and I turned to look at each other. We were stunned. How on earth did we have twins? Not even a minute later she conveyed in a matter-of-fact tone, “But they are more than likely dead.” We felt like we had just been run over by a semi-truck.

Long story short, she opined that she did not have any hope of hearing heartbeats. We asked if it was just too early to detect because with twins it may take longer. She said most likely not but offered for us to return in a few weeks for another ultrasound. On the way out, we scheduled our next ultrasound for November 8th. I informed the doctor that I was going to pray for a miracle, and she spoke aloud, “What is the point?”  By now, we had been at the doctor’s office the entire afternoon and were the last to leave.

We left crushed and torn apart, not knowing how to think or what to feel about everything. The next day, I called the office, only to speak with another rude doctor who reiterated what the other doctor had said – they were dead and that I shouldn’t have any hope. What was supposed to be one of the most joyous times in our lives had turned into a nightmare.

Throughout two torturesome weeks, my nights were pretty much sleepless. In between the first and second sonograms, I had my HCG levels checked to confirm whether or not I was still pregnant. Considering my dream the night before my first ultrasound, I had lost all hope on October 25th, especially after three doctors and a tech had asserted that my babies were dead.  I felt as if I was mourning their loss from the start.

On October 31st, 2012, we received the call we had been dreading. Both of our identical twin babies were in the arms of the Lord. My HCG numbers had dropped by over 15,000, confirming all three doctors’ inclinations. Why did this happen? How could this have happened? I wanted answers. I was beyond devastated.

The next step was waiting on the natural miscarriage process to start or to have a D & C. On November 4th, my miscarriage started. I called the OB clinic the next morning and shared it with them. They requested that I come in to get a RhoGAM injection due to my blood type and to schedule another ultrasound for November 13th to see the progress of the miscarriage.

When November 13th had arrived, we were forced once again to wait for another hour in the waiting room with all the happy couples who were given ultrasound pictures of their growing babies. Those long minutes could not have been more painful. To make matters worse, we heard the heartbeat of a baby while walking back to our room. Tears welled up in my eyes.  “That is what we should have heard,” I informed Chris. “That is a baby’s heartbeat.”

It’s de-ja-vu all over again – same table, same tech, same ultrasound. She was very rough with this ultrasound and once again announced, “Definitely no heartbeat. The only change is the size. Nothing has left your body.” I could not believe what I was hearing. I had been reliving this whole nightmare on a daily basis, and I had undergone daily contractions and constant bleeding since November 4th, which were still occurring. How could that be that nothing had left my body?  At this point, we were told to go over to the other OB clinic to see another doctor regarding the ultrasound.

After arriving at the clinic, beat up as one can get, we waited about half-an-hour to 45 minutes prior to seeing the doctor. Throughout this entire ordeal, we had never seen the same doctor twice, and this time was not different. The new doctor informed us that she was very concerned about the ultrasound and fears the possibility of infection. Her recommendation was to go forward with a D & C as soon as possible. The operation was scheduled for November 15, 2012 at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virgina Beach.

To be continued in part three  (12/3/12)…

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The Story of Our Miscarriage – Part 1

”For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” -Psalm 139: 13-16

On October 25, 2012 at around 5:00 A.M., my husband Chris and I were  walking down a hall hand in hand and both extremely excited. The only thing I was worried about that day was if I did a good enough job shaving my legs. Then, all of a sudden we found ourselves in the middle of the ocean sitting in chairs in a wooden shed with two missing walls.  Chris was seated in front of a wall with a window behind him, while I was across from him with a wall missing behind me. I peered through the window behind Chris’ head and saw black clouds, heavy rain, and a tsunami wave coming towards us.  I then looked over to my left and there was another tsunami wave headed our direction. I started to panic and hastily looked at Chris and saw him mouthing the words, “I love you” to me. And then, the tsunami waves engulfed us.  Immediately, I awoke with a heavy heart and a sense of fear.  My heart was racing and I was covered in sweat wondering if this was just a dream or whether Hurricane Sandy had made an unexpected landfall in Virginia Beach.  Deep down in the depths of my soul, I knew that it meant something more.

On Wednesday September 26, 2012, I woke up, headed to the gym, and went on about my typical day. That afternoon, I had a dental appointment scheduled for a routine cleaning and to figure out why my gums were aching, which I had been experiencing for a few weeks. At the appointment, I was told everything looked fine and they were unsure of the cause of my aching  gums. While driving home, I pondered what it could be.  I wanted to get to the bottom of this nuisance in my mouth.

Immediately after arriving home around 4:30 that afternoon, I did something that changed my life forever. The stick read positive! I was finally pregnant. I did not believe it at first, nor did Chris. I had so many negative results  just weeks prior to this. Could it be true? Could I really be pregnant? After everything we had been through, I was beyond elated. Chris and I have been married nearly 10 years. Yet, throughout the past 10 years, we have had more difficulties and struggles than most seemingly endure during a lifetime.

In 2008, the doctors suggested that I should not have kids due to it being too dangerous with my long term heart/adrenal condition. We were devastated. Last year, however, a POTS specialist confirmed that we could in fact get pregnant, but that it would be considered high risk. After many months of agony and prayer over what to do, we decided to try. We had a strong desire to have kids, and I could not believe after all I had been through in my life that I was finally pregnant.  Just to confirm that it was real,  I took two more pregnancy tests, and both were positive.  It finally made sense why my gums had been aching – it’s a sign of pregnancy. After a few weeks of telling everyone but our parents, we drove back to Tennessee and gave them the biggest surprise and shock of their lives.

Weeks passed, and I continued to get bigger by the day. Yet, I still remained constantly hungry. Some of my clothes weren’t fitting anymore.  I couldn’t wait much longer, as we were getting closer to “Junior’s” first picture. October 16th was my 32nd birthday, and my after-dinner fortune cookie read, “A small gift can bring joy to the whole family.” The lucky numbers were 25, 15, 47, 32, 16, 55. How perfect was my fortune? Even some of the numbers were lucky.

October 25, 2012, the date of the first ultrasound, finally arrived. Hand in hand, Chris and I were ecstatic as we walked in for the ultrasound. Upon arrival at the check-in desk, the receptionist informed us that we have gone to the wrong location. Fifteen minutes later, we made it to the right location just in time to wait and wait and wait some more. After an hour-plus of sitting and watching people who arrived after us go back, we were finally called back to hear our baby’s heart beat. What happened next changed our lives forever.

To be continued in part two (11/30/12)….

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