“I always thought getting pregnant and carrying a baby was going to be easy. Millions of women have gone through it. Pictures of glowing, happy women are plastered in magazines and on television screens, but it is never as glamorous or as easy as it seems. I had gone off birth control when we decided to just allow things to happen naturally. Whenever we got pregnant – so be it.
I have always wanted to be a mom. I had a very rough relationship with my mom and a rocky one with my sister. Because of these strained female relationships, I wanted even more to have my own family and to raise my kids differently. I would have a great pregnancy, a happy baby, and things would go picture perfectly. So are the dreams of the naïve. Idealism is a mirage your mind comes up with as a way to give you hope during rough circumstances. It’s dangerous because it sets unrealistic expectations. People never expect to have trouble, difficulties, or disappointments. Bad things happen to ‘other people.’ We all have hope for good things. Sure, bad things happen, but not to us. I knew because being a mom was so deeply ingrained in my heart, that surely carrying a baby would be easy for me. I learned anything that’s worth something never comes easily: including having a baby.
I was 25 and my husband at the time was 26. We were both healthy and active. No red flags or health issues hinting there could be a problem. I honestly didn’t worry even after not conceiving for two years. I just assumed it wasn’t God’s timing and I didn’t worry. I remember the moment I knew I was pregnant. I was watching a chick flick and a scene struck a particularly sensitive chord with me and I was so overcome with sadness. I was sobbing inconsolably, all the while thinking, ‘What the heck is wrong with me?!’ I recognized the distraught behavior was out of character for me and I had a gut feeling I knew why. The next morning, I took a pregnancy test and sure enough, it was positive. I was still really early and had some spotting like I was going to start my period, but it never came. I was shocked and happy we were finally going to have a baby.
I hadn’t seen the obstetrician yet and a week went by and I started bleeding. I remember feeling worried but I knew that sometimes spotting could happen so I tried to keep myself from panicking. I remember being at work and that’s when the bleeding really started. I started to cramp really badly and was taken to the hospital. The doctor said since it was so early, I may lose the pregnancy. Thankfully, the bleeding stopped and I went home. The worst was over, so I thought, and things would be fine.
Things were fine, for about a week. I had another OB appointment and they performed an ultrasound to check on the baby and to detect the heartbeat for the first time. I remember the sonographer being eerily quiet. I knew something was wrong because not only did we not hear a heartbeat, but she wasn’t saying a word to us. I knew enough to know they weren’t allowed to disclose any information – that was reserved for the doctors. She said that the doctor would be with us in a few minutes and we were ushered to a private office to wait.
The doctor on call came in and said that with the size of the baby, and the gestational age, they should have seen a heartbeat, but there wasn’t one. He also informed me that I have a bicornuate uterus. When I was being formed inside my mother, my uterus didn’t form correctly and it is shaped like a heart. This would explain part of the reason it took two years to conceive!
The doctor looked at the ultrasound and consulted with another doctor. They agreed they were 99% sure I would miscarry the baby. He was very kind, but to the point. The doctor scheduled a D&C procedure for three days later. I remember feeling my heartbreak as they escorted us out a side door so that I didn’t have to pass the expecting mothers in the waiting room. I think this was for their sake as well as mine.
I remember going home and lying in bed crying. I didn’t want to go back and have the doctors perform this procedure. If it was going to happen, I wanted it to happen naturally and I was adamant about this. I called the doctor’s office and canceled my upcoming D&C appointment. The next few days I tried coming to grips with the fact that I may have lost the baby, but there was 1% of me that told me there was a chance. Doctors and machines are fallible; I knew because of my faith that everything happens for a reason. Despite being upset at the possibility, I also knew that God had a plan.
I remember the next week going into work and passing a huge amount of blood. When it happened, I knew this must be my body finally miscarrying my baby. There was so much blood, I was sure. Again, my husband at the time took me to the doctor. I called ahead telling them what had happened and they told me to come in. I remember feeling such a sense of peace on the way there. I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t scared. That entire week, I was so worried, anxious, and full of fear…but on the way to the doctor’s office, I truly had a peace that was beyond me. I knew that no matter what, everything was going to be alright. I had a calm in my spirit that I can’t explain. I know that it was the Lord confirming to my heart that I didn’t have anything to worry about.
I went back with the sonographer alone and she told me she wanted to do an ultrasound just to make sure. I lay back while she prepared the machines. I remember the cold gel against my lower stomach and I remember not wanting to look up at the screen. I remember her sweet but sad smile. Surely this woman had seen many happy and many sad times in this room. I didn’t want to see my empty womb where my baby used to be. I was looking up at the ceiling, impatiently waiting until I could just go home. The sonographer whispered under her breath, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ I was confused and looked at her in time to see her wiping at her face. I asked her what she was talking about and she turned on her machine, positioned the doppler on my belly, and I heard my baby’s heart beating. I was in complete awe. My baby was alive. I was flabbergasted. There was so much blood, I was sure I lost the baby. She pointed up to scripture that she had hanging in the office that said, ‘With man things are impossible, but with God all things are possible.’
The doctor came in to see us and stared down at the ultrasound pictures for several minutes before looking up at us in confusion. He said, ‘There is no explainable way your baby survived.’ I said, ‘I have an explanation…God did it.’ My faith told me all I needed to know. If I had gone for the D&C procedure that was scheduled a few days before, I would have surely lost the baby. My bicornuate uterus, along with a subchorionic hemorrhage, caused a lot of bleeding. The baby had less space than average so I felt everything a lot earlier than most.
I started having Braxton Hicks contractions at 14 weeks. I struggled with extreme nausea until 15 weeks. I was put on bed rest at 4 months. It seemed every time I got up, even to use the bathroom, my stomach would tighten and twist in an uncomfortable ball that would cause my breath to hitch until it passed. I went from weighing 112 pounds when I became pregnant, to 190 pounds the day I delivered her. I went to the hospital twice for preterm labor. Pregnancy was not what I had envisioned at all. I was always worried about the health of my baby girl. I was in constant fear of losing her. I went to the hospital for my 37-week appointment and I ended up being dilated 4cm. They admitted me, broke my water, and I had her the same evening. She was perfectly healthy and we went home. I was overwhelmed with so many emotions, some of them conflicting.
She ended up being colicky, wouldn’t nurse, and I was an emotional mess. I had no clue this was a part of being a mother. I struggled with mild post-partum depression which I learned was common after difficult pregnancies. My mirage of motherhood was completely obliterated. This is what motherhood is: the absolute loss of control. I couldn’t control my body’s way of handling pregnancy; I couldn’t control this little being I was responsible for. It was trial and error and still is sometimes. It’s feeling completely inadequate while trying to provide for them and do your best by them.
Fast forward three years and we welcomed news of a second baby girl. This pregnancy completely blindsided us. Their dad was diagnosed with testicular cancer a year before and we were told because of the chemotherapy and surgery, he would likely be sterile. So, to find out we were having another baby was jaw-dropping.
I worked throughout the whole pregnancy and actually felt great. I thought, ‘Finally! This is what it means to enjoy pregnancy.’ However, she had a surprise in store. My husband had a schedule conflict and suggested I move my 34-week checkup to another day. I refused because I knew it was important I go. I’m so thankful to the Lord I kept the appointment. My belly was measuring smaller than normal so they ordered an ultrasound. I could see my baby girl moving around, heart beating, but the sonographer was silent. I knew bad news was coming but I didn’t understand what it could be. The doctor told me, for whatever reason, there was no amniotic fluid in the sac my daughter was in. He told me she was also measuring 2 pounds instead of the normal 5-pound weight she should have been. She had stopped growing.
Every time I had a contraction, it put her in stress without the shock protection of the fluid surrounding her. They scheduled me for a c-section that day and I was terrified. The doctor said it would have been a different situation had I not come in on that day. Again, I was overwhelmed at what could have been.
I research and I plan; all of my focus had been on delivering her without an epidural and without pain medication. I wanted an all-natural birth considering I had made it to 7cm with her sister until I got scared by a nurse and opted for the epidural even though I wasn’t having much pain. I knew I could have a drug-free birth. However, she was breech and because of the situation, this wasn’t an option. I just wanted my baby to be healthy, but this was again, uncharted territory for me. I was terrified she wasn’t going to survive, I was terrified because she was so tiny. Were her lungs developed? Was she big enough? Was she strong enough? I still have 6 more weeks, I’m not ready!
She was born at 34 weeks and was 3 pounds and 14 ounces. I heard her cry as she was taken into the other room and what a glorious sound it was. The relief I felt in the moment was like nothing else I’ve ever felt. Even now at 7 years old, she’s tiny but a fighter. She stayed for two weeks in the NICU but only until she started gaining weight and then we were sent home. I remember my balled-up fist was the size of her head. She was so tiny.
It’s amazing to look back and see how if certain decisions had been different, I could have been writing a completely different story. Being a mom is the most absolutely terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced. Both my girls had difficult birth stories; both of my girls have had very serious health complications in their childhood. My older daughter has PANDAS/PANS, and my younger daughter had the flu last February, got septic, and we almost lost her.
God has worked through those situations in miraculous ways as well. I’m so thankful He trusted me to be their mom. I’m thankful for the hard times and the terrifying times because there’s always a reason. Being a mother is excruciatingly difficult at times but it’s also a high calling. It changes you as a person, it makes you stronger than you ever thought possible, and simultaneously makes you feel incredibly powerless. Even though it’s nothing like what I thought it would be, I’m thankful for what motherhood turned out to be. We are all on a journey. Life, like fire, forges each of us in ways we never see coming; but in the end, hopefully, we’re better people because of it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jennifer Wall of Ashland, Kentucky. You can follow her journey on Facebook here and Instagram here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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