Tom and I have been through a lot of ups and downs in our marriage but probably nothing has challenged our relationship with each other, with our families, and with God more than our struggle with infertility and miscarriages. So, I wanted to share our story with others who may be facing this same struggle. I am posting a chapter each Wednesday during Lent and will post the conclusion on Good Friday. Maybe it can give someone a little hope. If you missed Chapters 1 & 2, you can read them here and here.
Another summer was coming to an end and a hint of autumn was in the morning air. The leaves were already starting to turn gold and yellow; winter would be coming early that year. It was September 2006 and in one more month, Tom and I would be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary, but I didn’t feel like we had much to show for it.
I can’t say that I had reached the point of complete acceptance of our infertility by this time, but I tried to convince myself that I had. However, I hadn’t really accepted anything. Instead, I was consumed by anxiety and restlessness. I put all my energy into my career and hid any outward signs that I longed to be a mother. Tom and I still tried with every cycle to maximize our chances at becoming parents by using NFP, but we had long lost all optimism.
And then that September, my period never came. I felt a wellspring of long-buried hope building with each day. I asked Tom to make a trip to the drugstore for an EPT (early pregnancy test). I no longer kept any in our house…they had only served as painful reminders. He said he knew before he saw the results that it would be positive, in spite of the fact that I’d taken many before and they’d all been negative. And his intuition was right. It was positive. After years of trying to conceive, we were finally pregnant! This was going to be the best anniversary ever!
But our elation was short-lived. My blood work indicated that the pregnancy wasn’t progressing. An ultrasound at 5.5 weeks failed to reveal anything more than a “possible pregnancy” and an empty gestational sac. The doctor, trying to be encouraging, said we’d do another ultrasound in two weeks. But we never made it that far. Instead, follow-up blood work one week later confirmed our worst fears… we were going to lose our baby. A few days later, the bleeding began. Our baby, the one we’d prayed for, tried for, waited for and longed for was gone within two weeks of our learning that I was pregnant.
We named him Francis Gabriel. I had chosen to miscarry at home and gave birth to little Francis on our anniversary, which made the emotional pain even greater. We had initially been planning to spend our anniversary in Kentucky, which would’ve given us the opportunity to tell my parents our great news in person. Instead, we had to stay home so that I could miscarry our baby, and we had to call our parents with the sad news.
On that anniversary, we weren’t celebrating our marriage and the blessing of children; we were discussing where to bury our first child. It all felt like a very cruel and heartless joke. We decided on a peaceful spot under the oaks at the edge of our property and over the next few months, instead of watching my belly grow, we watched as autumn leaves and snow fell and covered the grave.