On August 23, 2016 I discovered I was pregnant. My husband kept insisting that he thought I was pregnant. He had noticed that I had been overly tired and no matter how much I slept I just couldn’t get enough sleep, I had nausea, and I had been craving orange flavored food and drink. When he went to work that night, I decided to take a test. I figured it would give me time alone to be disappointed by what I knew would be another negative pregnancy test. August made one year and eight months of us trying to conceive and we had only ovulated for the first time in July. There was no way in my mind that we had conceived that easily once we finally ovulated. I took the test set a timer for three minutes and came back to check it. Much to my surprise, there was a faint line. I froze. I just knew that I had to be seeing things. So I took a picture of it with my camera. There was a faint line. I looked at the test again and was in disbelief. I was pregnant. After all this time, I was finally pregnant. I fell down and could not stop myself from smiling so big that my face literally hurt and I was sobbing. The amount of happiness that I felt was just unbelievable. I could finally tell my husband that we were going to have a baby! When I finally stopped crying I jumped in the car and ran to Walmart to get another test. I wanted to be sure before I told my husband. I knew that his heart broke along with mine a little each month that it was another negative test and I did not want to give him false hope. I got two more tests at Walmart and ran home. As soon as I walked in the door, I took another test. Same result! A positive! I sat down and thanked God. He had finally given me and my husband a child. We were finally going to be parents. I felt such a peace as I prayed to God. A verse I have always loved is Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This is a verse I have in our home and it was there in my vanity room as I sat there crying and praying. I sat down and debated on calling my husband. There were still five more hours before he came home and it took everything in me not to go to his work at that very moment and tell him the news. I decided that I would make another trip to Walmart and get some supplies to surprise my husband. I left the store with some pretty yellow ribbon and an adorable blue elephant rattle. I came home and tied the pregnancy tests to the elephant with the yellow ribbon and wrapped it up in a cream colored bag. It was beautiful. I wrote him a card telling him that I could finally give him something that he had been wanting for a long time and told him how much I loved him. When he came home I immediately brought him into the living room to give him the present. I had my camera and told him that I just knew he would be excited and I really wanted to record this surprise I “got” for him.
When he opened the gift, he just stared at me with the most adorable confused look on his face. He took a quick glance at the tests and didn’t even notice that they were positive (I will admit that I had some trouble tying them to the rattle so the window was a little covered). I told him to look again. His eyes lit up and he asked me if I was really pregnant. I started just laughing and crying with the excitement as I told him yes. The very next day we took another pregnancy test so that he could see it for himself and get the excitement of seeing that second line appear and we made a doctors appointment. They got me in for the 26th.
From the night of the 23rd to the night of the 26th I was overwhelmed with excitement. We had decided to tell our families that following weekend but we saw my mom on the 24th and just couldn’t hold the excitement in. We made it an hour and even drove off before we called her and asked her to come back and meet us so we could tell her something. When we went to tell her I just doubled over and couldn’t stop laughing and smiling. I was so happy. My husband was so happy. My mom was so happy.
My husband and I in that short amount of time had already made a list of baby names that we loved. We had pinned several things on Pintrest showing nursery ideas, timelines for when you should do things in your pregnancy, ideas for telling family, and picture ideas. We had begun to imagine our life with this child. My husband even went and listed his ping pong table for sale the very next day so that we could begin clearing out the spare bedroom for our new addition .
When I went to the doctor on the 26th, I was so excited. I didn’t get my regular gynecologist that day because he was out for surgeries, but I got another very kind doctor in the office. She asked about my history and I told her how long we had been trying to conceive, when I switched to my regular doctor and what procedures and medications he had done and prescribed. I told her about the pregnancy tests and she ordered a urine test and blood work. She did ask if I had been experiencing cramps or bleeding and I answered yes. Beginning on the 25th, I had begun having some cramps with a small amount of spotting but had read that it was normal in early pregnancy so I did not worry about it. She advised that if it got worse to call them and come back in but she would call me with my test results. I got a call about an hour later that my blood work came back lower than she would like. She said not to worry that it could be early and that every woman produced HCG differently. That was a Friday, I was set to come back on Monday for repeat blood work.
Saturday morning when I woke up, I knew something was wrong right away. I was cramping like I had never cramped before and I was bleeding a lot more. My cramping had gotten bad enough throughout the day that I was throwing up, passing out, and couldn’t move. My husband wanted to take me to a hospital but I felt so weak that I just kept telling him I wanted to sleep. That day was horrible. I wanted to hold on to hope, but I knew my pregnancy was over. There was no way with that much pain and blood that I was still going to be pregnant. I slept most of the day on Saturday, I didn’t feel the emotional or physical pain while I slept. Sunday, I still hurt so badly but it was nothing like Saturday. With the level of pain I felt, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was no longer pregnant. All I could do now is wait until Monday morning. I didn’t really cry much that day. I just shut it all out and decided to wait and see.
On Monday while I was doing my lab work, I told the lab technician what had happened because she had noticed that I wasn’t feeling well and I was immediately sent into an exam room. The doctor came in, asked what had happened, what I had felt, and did an exam. She left and told me she would come back with the lab results. That was truly the longest 15 minutes of my life. When she came back to the room, I immediately knew what she was going to say. She was a very bubbly and happy doctor and she was walking into my room frowning. She sat down beside me and said that she was sorry but it appears that I had a miscarriage. She said that my body had naturally gotten rid of the baby and I wouldn’t need a D&C and that it was completely okay to grieve. She was trying to make me feel okay and she was so kind and she was explaining the reasons for a miscarriage and how long I need to wait to try again and all of a sudden I interrupted her and asked if I could go home. I’m not the kind of person to interrupt like that. I remember sitting there while she said of course and asked if I needed anything before I left and she hugged me and I was just thinking that I need to get in my car because I was about to lose it. And I did lose it.
I called my husband and told him what was going on. He was at work so the conversation was a quick one. I told him that I was going to head into work, the appointment should have only been 30 minutes tops and I was now 2 hours late to work. I called my mom and told her the news and then I went to work. I only stayed at work another 45 minutes. My boss had noticed that I was really not there emotionally or mentally and it was affecting my work and sent me home. To this day, I have no idea why I even tried to go to work. I think my body was in a type of shock and denial over the situation. The second I got home I lost it again. I can honestly say that I have never felt a grief that overwhelming. All of the dreams I already had for that baby were gone. I felt broken, lost, and hopeless.
My husband shut down. He did not want to talk about it for a couple of weeks and then I couldn’t stop talking about it and I couldn’t stop crying. I had so many questions. Why did I have this miscarriage? Did I do something wrong? Why would God allow me to become pregnant after all that time just to take our baby away? I was angry, I was hurt, and I was confused. I think one of the hardest things for me was that I had nothing to remember my baby by. I did not have an ultrasound, I never heard a heartbeat, I never got to pick out a name, I never got to know the gender, and I never got to feel or hold my baby. After a few weeks, I was doing a little better and my husband opened up to me some. We had read an article that suggested naming our baby to help us grieve, to give us something to hold on to, something to identify our baby with.
We set aside a day in which we had a picnic planned and we were going to go to the park and choose our angels name. When it came down to it, however, we were not able to do the picnic. We got too emotional and I didn’t want anyone to see me crying because it was inevitable that I was going to cry. We did find a quiet area in the house and we sat down and made a list of baby names that was much different than the list we had made just a mere three weeks prior. We had a list of gender neutral baby names. We took each of the names we had and also wrote down the meaning of them. It was important to us to have a meaningful name. In the end, we decided on Riley Ray Gilbert. We chose Riley because it meant “courageous”. It seemed fitting to use and it was taking all of the courage we had to come to face with our loss. This was our child and our child was gone. We chose Ray after my grandfather that passed away in 2010.
Losing Riley is something that I still struggle with. Riley was my first child and always will be. I still do not know why Riley was taken home but I know that there was a reason for it. I know that God has a plan for myself and my husband and I know that losing Riley plays a part in it. Losing Riley pulled my husband and I closer together and it has made us already more appreciative of the gift of a child. I’ve struggled with nightmares of my miscarriage, I’ve struggled with seeing family members become pregnant and being invited to baby showers, and I have struggled with what people sometimes think are words of encouragement but actually hurt me to hear. My husband bought me a charm for my charm bracelet about a month after we lost Riley. It is a heart that says “You will always be in my heart.” It’s fitting. On days that I struggle, sometimes I just hold that charm and it helps me to be calmer and it means I have something to remember Riley by.
Another Bible verse that I cling to at times is Psalm 27: 13-14 “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed. That I would see the goodness of the Lord. In the land of the living. Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” There are still days in which I struggle and I will most likely never fully understand why Riley was taken from us. What I can know, is that God is here for me and He DOES have a plan. He will help me to stay strong on my difficult days if I just ask for his help. I can also rest assured knowing that God is taking care of Riley for me until we can be reunited one day.
I know many people question if they should tell their families as soon as they are pregnant or if they should wait until their first trimester. In my situation, I am glad that I told family. By telling my family, it meant that I had some support when we lost Riley and it means that when I am having a difficult time I don’t have to try and push my emotions away and hide it, I can be honest with why I am sad.
I think women to often immediately think that a miscarriage happens through some fault of their own and that’s why we are sometimes scared to talk about it. I know I did for a while. I think society stops many women from talking about their miscarriages too. When I lost Riley, I was 5 weeks and 1 day. I did receive the response from people that “at least it was early” or that “that wasn’t really a baby”. It’s these comments that are so insulting to any couple who has lost a child and it is so inappropriate. My thoughts are if you can tell someone you are pregnant at five weeks and people say you are having a baby and can be excited, how come when a woman losses that baby, they are no longer a child. It is a sad fact that many people have lost sight of what a life is and have lost sight of what God says life is. I hope this post will help someone out there to realize that your aren’t alone. There are other women and couples out there feeling what you feel right now.