I am so thankful that the Lord has given me 22 weeks of pregnancy with this baby. The past few months on restricted activity with a subchorionic hematoma have not been easy, but I am learning so much through my trials. I wanted to update you on how my second trimester of my subchorionic hematoma pregnancy has been going so far. I also included some exciting news at the end!
We welcomed the second trimester with my eighth subchorionic bleed at 14 weeks (April 24, 2017). Once again, the Lord’s hand in each circumstance leading up to the event was unmistakable. The week before, our only car had broken down and required extensive repairs. We were still without a car when the bleed happened. Providentially, a lady from church was at our house cleaning that day so she was able to drive us to the hospital. She had also brought me a cheer package with some snacks, colored pencils, and a pocket coloring book. Since we had Em with us, these were a great way to keep her busy while we waited.
Another Hospital Visit
Unlike my last hospital visit, I was not having any contractions with this bleed. Because of the heavy blood loss and the large clots I was passing, my OB office wanted me to go straight to the ER. They assured me the doctor would come over and see me from Labor and Delivery. At first, the ER staff balked at this since I was still under 20 weeks, but the OB did come eventually.
Without waiting for any testing or diagnostics, she flatly announced that I was having a miscarriage because of the size of my clots. Since the baby had been fine after the other bleeds during this pregnancy, I wasn’t alarmed. I also knew that God was in control of the situation and would work it out for his glory. Otherwise, the doctor’s lack of knowledge and compassion would have been more upsetting.
After a few hours, the ultrasound technician finally came. Once again, our baby was peacefully gliding around and had a strong heartbeat. This was Em’s first time seeing the ultrasound performed. She surprisingly seemed to understand what she was seeing. Despite the other unpleasant circumstances, I will always treasure that special family memory.
Once again the placenta and gestational sac appeared unaffected. The subchorionic hematoma had shrunk another 2cm. Distracted with our relief, we forgot to ask for the printouts from that ultrasound. Once the ultrasound tech left we waited for over an hour while the doctors interpreted the test results. Unlike the last ER visit, we were well prepared with food and entertainment. After we were discharged, my Dad brought me home and took Luke to the store for some much-needed groceries.
A Difficult Recovery
Although my test levels were not excessively low, I struggled to recover from the blood loss. Along with fatigue, I was also having digestion and electrolyte issues. Drinking lemon juice and coconut water helped some with hydration and appetite. I spent the next few weeks on the couch and in my bed, resting as much as I could.
On May 14, Mother’s Day, my sister gave birth to my nephew after a long and difficult labor. This was her first child born on earth (she had also miscarried before becoming pregnant with him). Since my sister had been with me for Em’s birth, I wanted to help her in some way with her birth experience. Because of my restrictions, the four-hour drive across the state was not an option. Instead, I spent the night before responding to her texts and praying as she labored. God answered prayer and allowed my little nephew to be born safely, but missing out on meeting the baby in person was disheartening since I was the only family member not at the hospital.
In spite of the blessing of my sister and new nephew being safe, the culmination of unmet expectations and the lack of sleep heightened my confused emotional state.
I wrote the following in my journal that day:
Perhaps due to my limited years of motherhood, there is a hallmark-perfect picture in my head of what my life SHOULD look like. Reality usually ends up embellished with toddler scribbles, dog-eared corners, and tape-sutured scars. Although in their own way, imperfections can be endearing, I often fail to see beauty in anything less than the ideal. In the same way, I am often guilty of letting unmet expectations steal my joy.
As I write this, I am 17 weeks pregnant and have yet to crack open a book or an app about What to Expect when you are Expecting. I could make the excuse that I’m not a first-time mom so I know what I am doing. But the ugly truth is that I don’t want the slap in the face with what a “normal” pregnancy should be like.
I don’t want to read that I will find renewed energy and interest in life as I enter the second trimester. I don’t want to read reassuring articles that I will be able to rest easy about my baby’s survival. Although I have seen hopeful endings for stories like mine, I have also seen tragic ones.
My discouragement and anxiety continued until I hit a crisis that Wednesday. For the first time in this pregnancy, I was sick to my stomach and I couldn’t keep any fluids down. This felt entirely different than the morning sickness I had with Em. It didn’t feel like the flu either. The best way to describe it was that I felt like my body was trying to shut down. It was close to midnight so we decided to call Luke’s parents in Australia so that they could pray. At their suggestion, I tried taking alternating sips of salt water and sugar water. It worked almost immediately! My body continued to crave salt water for days after.
I knew that I may never find the exact physical cause of the crisis. But the anxiety taking its toll on my body was something I could improve. I had starved my thought life of truth and filled it with fear instead. What my physical body and my mind needed most was the truth of God’s word.
Besides Bible reading, I decided to start coloring more since that seemed to help my stress levels as well. One day as I was coloring in my pocket coloring book, an inspiration hit me. I had been pondering what to do about the blank pages on the backs of the illustrations. Why not use them as a scripture journal? That way I could meditate on the verses as I colored. Since the book is so compact, I could bring it with me to my appointments for encouragement.
Scripture journaling helps me slow down and comprehend the message of each verse as I write them out.
The word mindset seems to be a theme for this pregnancy. I have written before about learning to have a growth mindset with my writing. After the crisis, I decided to look for resources to help me have truth mindset. Right now I am going through a series on quieting my mind Biblically. (A family friend is graciously lending it to me.) One statement that stood out was to “focus on the certainties in life instead of the uncertainties (source).”
Many life circumstances have tested this truth mindset. The test I was dreading most was the baby’s anatomy scan. Talk about a reason to dwell on uncertainties! I prayed the Lord would give me peace.
Since this baby is a rainbow baby (baby after a miscarriage), the story of Noah has been on my mind a lot. He trusted and obeyed God through the biggest storm the world had ever seen. At the end of the forty days and nights of rain, Noah sent out a bird each week to see if the flood was over. Finally, on the third try, he received the assurance he needed.
And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. (Genesis 8:11
Sometimes I prolong my storms in life by failing to receive God’s peace and assurance. This verse came at the end of several other encouraging readings from the Psalms (Psalm 127:1-3, and 128:1-2). I had been asking God for peace, but my own unbelief was preventing me from seeing it.
I once again committed this baby to God.
When the day of the anatomy scan came, I wasn’t stressed about what I would see. I was excited to see what God would do. The technician didn’t find any problems, but the subchorionic hematoma was the same size it had been at 14 weeks. Thankfully it has not caused any problems since then. But most of my activity restrictions will need to continue for a while longer.
Since this had been such a difficult pregnancy, we decided to find out the gender with this baby. (Em had been a surprise.) Baby was constantly covering her face, but everything else was easy to see.