Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My good, my bad and my very ugly...

This post contains the good, the bad and the very ugly about a part of my journey. Continue reading at your own risk.

Some of my darkest, most private moments that I carry are the stillbirth and miscarriages that I suffered. I have wanted to tell my story for a while but not sure how to start it or if it is even worth sharing. I have alienated a lot of great people from my life because of my personal losses. I think it primarily stems from the fact that I, just like most people, don't enjoy my weaknesses being out for public display. I am just now able to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild stronger relationships that I had with certain people over 10 years ago. I am not sure if detailing my journey through my pregnancy issues will empower other families who are dealing with similar issues or if it will give me some sort of closure, victory or grace.

So here goes... About 8 years ago, I was pregnant with my first child, Makayla. She died shortly after birth, roughly 15 minutes. Those minutes felt so surreal. She was really premature, somewhere during my 7th month. The nurse told me to hold her until she passed because there was nothing that could be done to save her. That was extremely hard on me and the end of who I was at that time. I felt like I was having an out of body experience. It was like I was watching someone else's life. I was so alone and sad. I just kept saying repeatedly, "Why? Why me?" I cut myself off from God because I felt he overlooked me and let me suffer. So in the hospital recovery room while holding my lifeless baby, I left God and the relationship that I had with him right there. Presently, I know that no matter how much something hurts, God knows best.

My obstetrician at the time was completely stumped and ran a battery of tests to find out what was wrong with me. Was it my hormone levels? Did I have some sort of autoimmune disorder? The results came back that I was completely normal but emotionally my feelings were hurt. Fast forward one year, I am pregnant again. I cautiously attended each appointment afraid of what the doctor would find... I am told that everything is fine and that the first pregnancy may have been a sad and unfortunate event. I continue to live my life and work my job all the while hoping and praying that my outcome would be a positive one this time.

I go home to visit my parents in Las Vegas. I was sitting around talking with my parents and got up to use the restroom. I start bleeding profusely and something drops in the toilet. I couldn't look in the toilet but my mom did. I was so numb that I flushed the toilet, cleaned myself up and mentally moved on. I returned to Atlanta two weeks later and I threw myself back into my work and self-improvement all without God, so I thought.

Little did I know that I was still pregnant with another baby, the remaining twin. How was I supposed to know this? My doctor only saw one fetus during my initial ultrasound. After a few months, I go to the obstetrician for my annual check up on my birthday. I am in the lovely stirrups on the examine table and she tells me that I am still pregnant. We are both in shock, I explain everything that happened over the holidays and she sends me to the hospital for a more extensive ultrasound. I was on strict bed rest with this baby, Elijah, isolated from the world and my job. Don't get to excited here though because I lost that baby as well during my 6th month.

Finally after two failed pregnancies of three babies and another round of tests and labs, I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix. Translation: my cervix can't hold the weight of a baby after the 5th month, so my cervix spontaneously opens leading to premature labor and sometimes pregnancy loss. I had no idea that a cervix could even be incompetent! The issue with this is that you have to lose a baby first before a solution or diagnosis can be provided. The remedy for me was a stitch around the neck of my cervix called a cerclage, which is an equally tricky procedure that could also lead to pregnancy loss. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place!!!

At this point, I am numb to life and people. I don't recall much of 2004-2007, selective amnesia, I guess. I actually don't have many pictures from that time. I realized this fact when I was working on a scrapbook recently. I had very, very few pictures from those years. So sad. Now I know you are probably wondering, when does the sun shine again, I am getting there bear with me. Every story has a great turning point.

I felt like my invitation to motherhood was somehow lost in the mail. I was so sad from grief that my analytical side took the steering wheel for this part of my journey. Also remember, God and I are still not on speaking terms or at least, I am not talking or listening to Him. I developed a hard shell that had many layers at this point, no one could get in.

I find out that I am pregnant, yet again, in the early Spring of 2006. I am not excited because I have been here before and I remember how the story ended. I tell no one but my husband for weeks. To be quite frank, I felt sorry for myself and the baby. The bright side is that I knew what needed to be done in order to increase this baby's survival rate. During my 13th week, I had the cerclage inserted. I received the green light to go home after a short weekend stay in the hospital for observation.

Needless to say, the remaining journey was not easy. I was on strict bedrest from the moment I had the cerclage done until I had it removed (week 13 until week 36), which was one month before my due date. Strict bedrest, for me, meant laying on my left side in my bed. My activity was extremely limited: I could only leave the house for appointments, I couldn't drive myself anywhere, couldn't go for a walk and couldn't take a shower longer than 7 minutes. I was taken to appointments by my, husband, my dad or my brother depending on who was available or in town. I would beg my brother to take me somewhere, anywhere even just for a few minutes just to people watch. My mom always called at just the right time to convince him otherwise! A mother's job is never done. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I see God everywhere along my journey when I look back now.

I experienced premature contractions during my 6 month while at an appointment with my perinatologist, so I was sent immediately to the hospital for observation, which turned into an extended hospital visit. I stayed put in the Ante Partum Unit for 36 days, in the uncomfortable hospital bed on my left side plugged up to several monitors, gadgets and an IV in my hand. I wasn't allowed to get out of the bed  AT ALL. The things I do for love. My only connection to the outside world was one solitary tree outside of my single rectangular window. When I entered the hospital, the tree had lots of green leaves. I watched that tree change by the seasons. The leaves turned from green to golden. Finally the leaves fell from the tree and it was bare.

Broken and desperate while on bed rest in the hospital, I cut a deal with God down the hall from the same room where I left our relationship just 3 years earlier. I prayed that God would remember me as he remembered Hannah in the book of Samuel. The overall jest of my prayer was that I would be a good mom and not take my journey for granted. I see the entire experience as a blessing now eventhough it was devastatingly lonely and sad. I believe it was clandestine for me to be in the hospital in the very last room at the end of the hallway isolated, so that I could reconcile with God. He had me all to himself, not distractions. One week in, I was broken. I cried and begged for the life of my child because things weren't looking good for me as well as my child at this point, according my doctor. I kept my mouth shut and heart open for the next 3.5 weeks.

After one of my crying spells and feeling sorry for myself, my dad came to visit me at the hospital. Right on time as usual. He was loaded down with books, movies, magazine and snacks. I remember telling him that this whole thing should remain a family secret because I was too embarrassed. He suggested I do the opposite and tell my story to anyone that will listen because it would definitely help someone. It took me six year to catch on to his wisdom.

At about 28 weeks, my Ob and perinatologist both agreed that I could go home, because I was considered out of immediate danger and if I did go into labor at this point, the birth would be viable. I did have a few more small visits to the hospital ranging from a few hours to 2 days but overall the next several weeks flew by. I delivered my first living and thriving child, Makenzie Simone Skye, one month early but we made it! Quickly followed by birth of Payton Michele Joy exactly 21 months later because I am a glutton for punishment, I'm sure. That pregnancy was just as difficult but not as tedious because we (meaning my family and team of doctors) followed the blueprint laid out during my pregnancy with Makenzie. I am grateful and thankful.

Eight years later, I am still healing from the initial loss of Makayla and Elijah. I have keepsakes that I look over on their birthdays and light a candle in their honor on that day. I celebrate the births of all my children, privately and publicly. Everyday I get back a piece of me that I haven't seen in a while. I am slowly rebuilding relationship that were lost. I did the inverse of what I should have done during my time of distress. I should have taken refuge in their support but I hid and ignored them instead. I can't change what happened and what I did but I definitely do apologize.

Thank you for reading and I hope this helps someone. I have told the story to a few people but never with this much detail. This exercise has been beneficial. I have always wanted to put it into words but afraid of the emotions that would follow.


  1. Wow, Tonya! I cannot even imagine going through this. I simply can't wrap my head around it. I am seriously shaking my head right now because I can just not fathom such an experience.

    It is great that you are putting any fears (and a plethora of other emotions) aside and sharing your story. I truly believe that when we go through difficult situations in life, it is not simply to make us stronger and build our trust in God but it equips us to help others when they experience the same things!

  2. Wow! I cried the whole way through this. I'm so proud of you for writing this. I know it was difficult and a long time coming. You are so very strong, and it's really beautiful to see God healing you. I am so happy that God has given you joy for your mourning and beauty for your ashes in the form of those two precious girls!...God bless your entire family.

  3. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I went back and forth for about a month after I initially penned the post. To publish or not?? Each time I would revise or review the post, it would stir up various emotions. I am glad I was able to write about my losses. I don't fear the pain as much as I used to and I have finally accepted that it is part of the fabric of who I am, no matter how bumpy and rocky that entire time was.