This is the next post in a two-week series which chronicles my journey through a miscarriage that occurred in the fall of 2011. Although it is a story of heartbreak, it is also one filled with God’s tender mercy. Made only more beautiful knowing we will welcome our newest baby in September of 2014, the very month our last little one went Home.
It may seem a bit absurd that a day given such a name began with me lying in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. But sometimes, the greatest days begin with the hardest of mornings. Just as the saddest moments can birth the greatest joy.
This Thursday morning began with a sharp, gutting pain. At first, I dismissed it as indistinguishable from the fibroid and hernia pain I already felt. But four hours later, drained of energy and barely able to walk to the bathroom, I realized it was something else …
It was death, it felt like death.
I knew it within minutes of making it to the bathroom where I found myself only able to lie on the linoleum floor. Feeling the relief of its coolness beneath me. Relief overwhelmed only by the rhythmic bouts of nausea that came every few minutes.
Finally, barely able to catch my breath, I called out to Nathan.
It took him only seconds to realize what I was trying to say. Even though I’m sure he didn’t hear a word. Because before I knew it, we were making our way to the car in the darkness.
The silence was marked only by my labored breathing. Silence that was shattered by a little voice. “Mommy, where are you going?”
So I mustered all the cheer I had within me. Told my girl I was going to get a check-up at the doctor’s (a common occurrence at our home.) And assured her that we would be back as soon as we could.
Seemingly satisfied, Grace snuggled closely to her Aunt Boo and waved goodbye.
Somehow, I remember thinking at the time, “You must get back soon, Sara. She needs you to come back soon.” Little did I know how strangely prophetic that thought would be.
The next 24 hours were a blur. Fading in and fading out from consciousness and memory. Memories filled in only by the accounts of others who were with me.
I can remember nearly crawling into the ER. Grateful that a doctor was leaving at just the right moment. And realized even crawling was beyond my capability.
My nurse that morning would later well up with tears upon seeing me a few weeks later. “Your face was so white, it was translucent—I have never seen anything like it. Normally, I don’t get scared. But that morning, I was scared.”
In truth, so was I.
I can remember hearing the sound of the doctor’s voice shouting, “Stay with me! Sara, stay with me!” And looking around to see my husband’s face with tears streaming down it. While I whispered, “What happened?”
Plummeting blood pressure, dangerously high fever, heart rate too high, septic shock…words that swam around in my head as I struggled to understand the chaos around me…as I heard the doctor’s voice say over and over and over again,
“Sara, keep your eyes open….Sara…Sara?!? ”
Strangely enough, I doubt I could recognize the doctor who saw me that morning. But I would later find out that he told a colleague of a critically ill patient he treated and helped to stabilize. About how worried he truly was and how he feared for her life.
I can remember being transported by ambulance to another hospital, trying desperately to stay awake at everyone’s insistence. The paramedic kept asking me questions as I fought with everything I had in me to keep my eyes open. Blood pressure up, fever down from 107…
Once I arrived in my second ER of the morning, I began pestering the staff for ice chips or something to drink. I was even getting a little sneaky, asking different people to see if one would give in. Soon I settled for swabs that tasted like frozen limeade.
Super gross frozen limeade.
In between the ER and the preoperative room, there were more doctors. More tests. More IV’s. And fewer memories, I’m afraid.
I do recall, however, being truly touched by the kindness of all who entered as I lay waiting in the preoperative room.
Nurses and doctors. My husband. My sweet friend.
The tone of their voices. His kisses on my forehead. The touch of her hand holding mine.
I also vaguely recall a cute, older gentleman coming into my room and identifying me by a name that was certainly not mine. “So sorry, wrong room!” he said. Two minutes later, he returned with a grin, “Not the wrong room after all. I had the wrong name!”
And then everything went black…
I awoke to beeping sounds. Piercing, loud beeping sounds. Overtaken by bright lights that illuminated unfamiliar faces.
As I opened my mouth to talk, I felt a long tube coming out of my mouth and heard the sound of a ventilator beside me. I knew it meant something was wrong. Or rather, something went wrong.
My husband would later come into the recovery room. And I was so relieved to see him. But I had no idea how much fear he must have faced in those few minutes.
When he later shared his account of the moment he saw me, it didn’t sink in until the second or third time he relayed it, “You looked like you’d been in a car accident. Bruised all up and down your arms. Your face was so swollen, it didn’t even look like you.”
It was that knowledge that gave me great relief that someone had not been let into the recovery room earlier that day. Someone whose heart would have broken further had she seen my swollen face and broken body. Someone who did not need such a picture of me in her memory bank.
That someone was my mom.
I faintly remember hearing a male voice speaking soon after I awoke, “I don’t know if I should let her back. I can’t find the husband to confirm that the relationship is a good one. We have to keep Sara stable.”
”I wanted to shout, “It’s okay!! Send her back, she’s my mom!” But mercifully, I could not. The tube got in the way.
All I have to prove that she was even there is a note she left behind. A note that went like this:
It is 7:10 and I had hoped to just look at you and tell you how much I love you—even if you were asleep—I did that a lot when you were little. I know you are where you should be to get the best care. I am so sorry about the baby.
Just want to hug you and hold you.
Soon my dear…
Even now, her words undo me.
Because until just hours before these words were written, she hadn’t even known I was pregnant.
We had been waiting to share the news with the entire family until the magical 12 week mark had come and gone. Until we knew everything looked good. Until it was safe.But sadly, that week never came.
Undoubtedly, you may read this and think this is blatantly unfair. That my mom had to go through such an experience. That she had to find out about many things, horrible things in such an abrupt manner.
And you would be right. It had all been unfair.
It was unfair that I lost my baby. It was unfair that she nearly lost hers. And it was unfair that it didn’t all fit into a nice, neat Hallmark package.
But even when life is unfair, even when it stinks, God’s grace still shines through. Just as He graciously spared my mom the irrevocable picture of my broken body. Just as He graciously prevented me from speaking the words that would have brought her back.
Soon after my husband left that night, I remembered my little girl and my need to get home to her. Little did I know she had dubbed this day “The Greatest Day Ever.” For her, the title meant time with her beloved aunt and uncle, eating out at her favorite restaurant and staying up past her bedtime.
For her mommy, the day looked a little different. But the title fit just the same. It was “The Greatest Day Ever…”
Because it had been the day that God had mercifully spared my life.