This Small-Town Life

I was low on energy, lonely and I started feeling trapped.

I grew up in a small town and met my husband in a small town. At least, I thought they were small. He kept telling me how big they were to him. I always laughed. I learned to drive in Seattle, albeit, the ghetto of Seattle, but I still had to hit the freeway during driver’s training. I also lived in a good size city, though it was no Seattle. I traveled across the country by train when I was 21 and when we stopped for a few hours in different cities, I would go explore by myself. Denver was my favorite in that trip. The town we lived in when we were dating and first married was not big enough. I didn’t realize how small it could get.

When the opportunity came to move to Andy’s hometown, we took it. I had visited a few times and always imagined living on the coast. I had no idea how much a small coastal town would challenge me. In every way. Within two weeks I got a job at the local coffee shop and loved it. It is still my favorite coffee shop! In that first week I found out how fast news spread. I was at work and a woman came in and asked if I was the Aimee who had done childcare.

After 6 months of living in our small coastal town I was doing childcare full time and left the coffee shop. I was happy to be with the kids, but when I took them to the park there were hardly ever any other kids and only one time was there another adult. We hadn’t found a church yet and I was not having any adult interaction. I was getting very lonely. Our second winter began, and my doctor already had me on Vitamin D for energy levels since us, in the great Pacific Northwest spend most of our year in clouds and can’t get the sunshine.

I was low on energy, lonely and I started feeling trapped. Back “home”, Andy and I were able to pick from a multitude of restaurants, walk along the river without the fear of waves taking you out to sea, had dozens of hikes to choose from that could be hiked no matter what the weather, were less than an hour from an actual city and even had a Walmart. Here, to the North 30 minutes is a town smaller than ours. To the South 30 minutes is a town that is bigger than ours, with a Fred Meyer, but still smaller than any town I lived. To the East 40 minutes is a small town with a population of 55 (half of those are Andy’s family), and to the West is a family of Mermaids… or seals. I began shopping in the town over just to get out of town.

After a year of searching for a church, we finally found our “family.” Our church is 40 minutes a way from our house. We love it but it is hard to go to the evening services because I don’t like to drive at night and usually have to get up early the next morning (not early as in 7am, early as in 4 am). I am now head of creating a children’s department. I am excited about the things to come with the ministry but did not realize how hard not being 5 minutes from church would be. I try and plan my days accordingly, so I am not spending a lot on gas money. Therefore, I am not working on random projects as much as have in the past at my church.

Does it sound like I am complaining? I am. I have told Andy a few times recently that I can’t stay here anymore. I hate our apartment. I am lonely. We are far from our church. I want to go to a good hippie restaurant and get kombucha on tap. I miss my family. And then, there are the other days.

There are days when I think about all the memories, we have made in the past two years in our little apartment. I have started making true friends and relationships. Every time I walk into church I truly feel at home. I still miss good food and my family. However, when I walk along the ocean, I have a peace wash over me. When I cuddle with Andy, no matter where we are at, I feel at home. When I think about the past two years and how close Andy and I have grown, the friends that I have made, bringing Jax into our family, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

God leads us places and there are times that we don’t understand. Most of the time we don’t even see the “why” until years later. That is okay with me. It is not always okay when I am upset but when I pull myself together, I get excited to see what is next, and what God is going to bring. Whether God moves us to somewhere else or fills our life with the relationships we need to prosper, I know He has a plan and that He can, and will use our story.

I know many of you out there have felt upset with your lives. You felt lonely. You felt like something was missing. You felt unfulfilled. You wanted good food.  It’s okay. You are not alone. You will get through this time and in the future, it will make sense. You will look back and realize how much you grew. You will not be able to count the abundance of relationships you have formed. You will see the gifts that you have cultivated in this time. Take heart my friends, as you grasp your current adventure.

Good-bye my Monster

There was no heartbeat. My tears turned to sobs. I didn’t know how much I loved my Monster already.

Good-bye my Monster -October 8, 2018-

It was a Saturday night on September 1st, 2018. I was home alone because my love was at work. We had been talking about kids for quite some time and I had been off birth control for almost two years. I was bored and decided that I should look up more information about ovulation and fertility. I remembered that a friend had given me some ovulation and pregnancy tests. I had never looked at them and went upstairs to open the pack. The pregnancy stick was a bit bigger than a toothpick and the package said I was supposed to stick it in a cup of urine. Everyone hates peeing in a cup so I awkwardly went into the bathroom to see how hard it would be to pee on it itself. I know, its weird, but it happened. I set it on the counter and went about household chores.

It was at least 15 minutes later if not hours that I was walking past the bathroom and saw that the stick had two lines…. Not one but two. I thought it must be wrong because I didn’t follow the instructions. My mind was racing so I dug in the back of the closet for an expensive test from a year ago when every other weekend I was hoping I was pregnant. In the past the one line took awhile to truly form so I figured that I would be on the edge of my seat. Within seconds the test popped up positive. I still couldn’t believe it so I drank some water waited an hour or two and used the last expensive one. Before I could even set it on the counter it was positive. I was pregnant!

I was asleep before my husband came home and had gone to sleep thinking about how I would tell him. I had many cute ideas but in the past he had always told me that even when I had an urge to take a pregnancy test that he wanted to know about it. We had planned on having lunch with friends from church and I didn’t know if I should tell him before or if I should wait. I woke up and took a shower with a smile on my face. I woke up my love to tell him he could jump in the shower now. I sat next to him and he turned his face towards me and I couldn’t help it; I reached in my nightstand and grabbed the baggie that had all three of the tests and put it on the bed.

“What is that?” he asked with his head smashed into the pillow.

“What do you think it is? Look at it closer,” I said as I scooted it closer to his face.

“Is that what I think it is,” he asked in a morning gruffy voice, “Are you pregnant?”

As he got off the bed and walked to the bathroom he stretched and said, “It’s too early for all this, I am still sleeping.”

I giggled as he walked into the bathroom because I knew how happy he was. I laid there waiting and letting him process. Before he jumped into the shower he said, “I can’t even see it, I am still sleeping.” He took a shower and came into the room with an emotionless face. As he fell on top of me to give me a hug he said, “We are having a baby.”

On our way to church we talked about the next steps and he told me that he wanted to tell my parents right away. We were going to sushi for lunch, so I was researching what I could and couldn’t have. As we were getting closer to our favorite coffee place I reassured him that I looked up how much caffeine I could have and that he needed to stop. We smiled all through church and lunch we had to suppress our excitement. We stopped at the store on our way home to grab another test, because, that’s what some people do when they are in disbelief.

When we got home my love asked me if we were going to tell my parents. He knew it was earlier than most people say anything but he had talked about how it is our family and they are here for us no matter what happens. He also talked about how as people of faith we can have a circle of people around us praying. We facetimed them that evening. They were excited, but you could see the fear in my mother’s eyes knowing that it was so early. She promised that she wouldn’t tell anyone before we were ready. We chuckled at that and didn’t know how long that she would be able to keep it a secret. We said goodbye and spent the evening smiling and talking about the future.

We made an appointment with my PCP as soon as possible. That appointment was the most anti-climatic situation that I had ever been in. The nurse asked some questions and was incredibly supportive and sweet. The doctor came in and asked how many tests I had taken, if I was experiencing certain symptoms and when my last period was. She congratulated us and talked about options for care. My love asked her about testing there and she shrugged and said that it was the same but cost more. We were shocked. We knew she was saving us money but now we were a little hesitant. I made an appointment with the local midwife and wasn’t able to get in until the following week. My husband was able to make it but they weren’t able to get to us in time for him to meet the actual midwife. She congratulated me and said basically the same thing- I had all the symptoms and the tests were positive. I spent an hour talking to her and went home to go over things in my head.

There were some days where I felt very pregnant; I was bloated, gassy, nauseas, exhausted, craving different foods, moody, and half way through September I had to go to the bathroom all the time. There were other days that I didn’t feel any different; I had energy, I was happy, I wanted my normal foods… but I still had to pee all the time. I started talking to my baby and praying over him. My husband would lay on my belly and kiss it and tell him not to like any of my music. My love downloaded an app right away and according to it we were due May 11th, 2019. When we were past week six I called both of my grandmas and told them. They were overjoyed. My maternal grandma made sure I wasn’t talking about another animal. She knows us very well.

I  was starting to schedule more appointments and decided that I should tell my manager. Everyone at work soon knew because I was so happy. My husband’s supervisor caught him looking up things so everyone at his work knew. I told a woman from church and asked her to be praying with us. We had my in-laws over for a “game-night” and gave them onesies and a cute outfit to open. We didn’t want the world knowing yet, but we had a good circle around us.

We had another appointment with the midwife where she examined me and we talked about my health. She said that I was doing well and showing all the symptoms, therefore my hormone levels were good. She noticed that when I got my first blood tests that they didn’t test everything she asked for. I also needed to schedule my first ultrasound, so we could hear the baby’s heartbeat. We scheduled an appointment at the hospital for October 8, 2018.

I jokingly nicked name the baby fetus monster after a young girl I work with drew a picture of me and baby when she was bored. We talked a lot about the baby and joked about how it would be a trouble maker. A lot of people have said that I would be a good boy mom. My husband really wanted a girl so said we should just have twins so we can have one of each.

On October 6th, I went to the town over to go grocery shopping. I spent longer than I planned so like normal I grab a jerky stick and some sort of grab and go bar for the long ride home, that way I don’t binge when I get home. When I grabbed the jerky stick I saw someone had put a different one in the bin and put it back to get the one I normally get. Even though I knew it was the right jerky stick I read the ingredients twice before putting it on the belt. I am quite allergic to honey and beeswax and my throat has been swelling faster with each encounter. When I got to the car I grabbed a new bar out of the groceries and put it into my bag. I had read the label three times before putting the first one into my cart and then when I realized what a good deal it was, I read it one more time before grabbing three more. When I got in the car I read the ingredients one more time before driving across the parking lot to the fill up the tank. While waiting in line I read the ingredients again wondering how easy it would be to make. I drove off not thinking about the ingredients again since I already did my job by reading it so many times.

I was driving home and opened the bar and took a bite. It was really good. It wasn’t too sweet like I feared and had the perfect amount of salt. I took another small bite and then set it down. A few minutes later my lips started itching. I started biting them without realizing it. I started itching my face and then coughing when it hit me what was happening. I took a drink of my coffee and thought to myself that I was being over dramatic. I turned up the music and tried to ignore it. I got to the bridge and was stopped because of the ever-lasting construction. I read both of the labels again and thought of everything that I ate that day or used on my body. The only new thing was the stupid bar and the only thing that it said that would indicate that something might be an issue was, “Natural flavoring.” Honey is natural and for a company that is trying to make its name on the least amount of ingredients possible….. that is an easy way to do it.

It was a scary drive home. I was keeping myself in check constantly. I knew I had my epi pens with me. It was the first time that it was bad enough that I thought about going to the hospital. My breaths were becoming more shallow but I could still breath. I realized that my phone had disconnected from the car so I couldn’t call my husband to wake him up. I decided to keep driving because if I stopped there was a high chance that I would have no service because of where we are. I got home and left the groceries in the car. I struggled up the stairs and took two Benadryl. I woke my husband up and laid down next to him. I had to worry about keeping myself okay and then worry about the baby. I started looking things up. The internet told me all different things of course- baby could be fine…. I might need to go the ER. I didn’t want to go to the ER because at this point I felt like they couldn’t do anything. I called the midwife but she was in a spot with bad service. The call dropped. I called 15 minutes later but it went to voicemail. I felt crazy. She called me back within minutes and told me I did all I could do and to rest, and if my throat got worse then to go to the ER. My throat didn’t get worse and I decided to let the Benadryl kick in instead of pushing myself. I slept from 6pm to 4:30 am. My husband woke me briefly around 11pm to see how I was doing before he went to work.

When I woke up Sunday morning I was good to go. I cooked breakfast sandwiches to freeze, did all the dishes, and did loads of laundry, plus I made it out the door in time for Sunday school. I came home and hung out with my husband before he went to bed. We talked about how we were excited for the ultrasound and discussed how he would meet me there so I could start on the paperwork before he got off work. I was pretty tired after my busy morning so laid around most of the evening. I went to bed early and was excited for the appointment the next day.

Monday, I woke up sad and tired. I didn’t know why. I was cranky though. I was hungry but had fasting labs. I had to use the bathroom but had to have a full bladder. I got in the shower and started to cry and worry about the ultrasound. I tried to push the thoughts out of my head and finally told God, “I trust you no matter what happens.”

I did the paper work and my love was able to make it before I went in for labs. He came in and joked about needles. After I was done getting poked we went back into the waiting room. I had to go to the bathroom so bad and my husband thought it was hilarious. We got called into the back and the tech explained everything she would be doing. I slid my pants down past my hips and she began. I saw my little Monster and started smiling, it was all becoming even more of a reality. She told us that it would be more clear when she did the inter-vaginal ultrasound. She had me go to the restroom and come back to disrobe. I had a problem getting the sheet unfolded and my husband made fun of me. The tech came in and explained how this process would go.

I laid there waiting to see my baby Monster again. She inserted the wand and I began to see images again. She checked a few things out and then I saw him again, my Monster. I looked at her face and knew something was wrong. She had her lips pursed and was concentrating. She explained that at this far along she should see a heartbeat. I asked if it was possible that we were just not as far along as we thought. She told me about the sizes and how there must be a heartbeat now and it looks like it may have stopped growing a few days ago to a week ago. I started blocking her out as tears began to form. I said silently to God, “You are the God of miracles and the God of life. You can make there be a heartbeat right now.” There was no heartbeat. My tears turned to sobs. I didn’t know how much I loved my Monster already. She said she was going to have me dress and she was going to call the midwife.

My husband embraced me as I was half-naked in a cold room. I sobbed into his shoulder. He made me look into his eyes and said, “We are going to be okay.” I awkwardly got dressed with tears pouring down my face. My husband was comforting and I knew he was feeling pain too. I wanted to run out of there. I wanted her to check again. I knew though…. I knew.

We drove straight to the midwife’s office, because she was waiting for us. She walked into the waiting room and embraced me. I had tears rolling but didn’t want to say anything. We went into the office and she talked about the grieving process and told us our options but to not necessarily think about it today. I had already told my husband in the car what the options would be. We already knew we wanted my body to take charge and run its course. I didn’t realize how long the process could be though. She said it could take a few weeks.  That horrified me.

She then mentioned my allergic reaction over the weekend. No one knows me better than my husband, and he knew I was beating myself up and blaming myself. He asked if it could have been the Benadryl or the reaction. We found out that Benadryl is safe to take and that she didn’t think it was the reaction, but it could have been. My body could have been trying to save itself and my body could have harmed Monster. It’s more of a chance that it was just one of those things that happen that is only talked about in hushed tones about other women.

We went home. We embraced each other. I cried some more. My dog knew my husband was hurting. He set down in his chair and Jax climbed up and snuggled him protectively. He text his mom. I text my dad because I didn’t want my mom knowing at work. I text my manager and told him that I wasn’t coming in the next day and he called with a million questions and only got the response, “I am not coming in tomorrow.” We watched a funny show to get our minds off of it. I cried here and there. My husband kept looking at me and telling me how much he loves me. We went upstairs so he could sleep and I laid next to him and we talked. We talked about how we want to have hope that there was a mistake but we also didn’t want to get our hopes up. We talked about the fact that now we know that we are able to get pregnant and that maybe God had a reason that this one couldn’t stay with us. He told me that he was worried about me because he knows that I bottle things up until depression hits and also am really hard on myself. I promised him that I would be open with him about my feelings and that it is okay for him to expressive himself too.

I laid there with him until he went to sleep and then went downstairs to go out and feel the wind. I sat in in the cold and found a devotion on an app about miscarriage. I cried some more. I called my mom and she talked me through some feelings. I hung up and just sat for a bit. I got up and brought the computer outside and decided to write about the last month. I have not fully processed my feelings and wont for some time. I am realizing that my faith is stronger than I thought. I am not mad at God. Confused, but not mad. I am not looking forward to what my body is going to go through in the next few weeks. And I am definitely not looking forward to the sympathetic faces or the hugs. I only want a hug from a few people and I know there will be a few people who hear through the grapevine that I don’t want touching me. I will take it with grace and then complain to my husband and mom later. They will tell me that it is good to have people who care in my life. The tears are not over and it will be a hard few months, but I have joy in God. I will have happy nights with my husband as we carve pumpkins, and then prepare for Thanksgiving. I will laugh at my silly puppy. I will roll my eyes at work when someone says something ridiculous. I will be strong. I will be the best me and prepare for the future….. after I grieve my baby. Good bye my Monster. Uncle Jon and Grandpa Roger will take you fishing with Jesus.

 

 

-November 29, 2018-

I wrote the above thoughts and feelings shortly after I found out that I had lost my Little Monster. When my midwife told me that it could be a long process for my body to expel my baby, I had no idea what all that would endure. I have been avoiding writing about this but know that I must. Not only will writing everything out help me to heal, others need to know the stories of the women and men in order to understand others and also to prepare for them that you can’t always prepare.

When we found out that we had lost our baby, Andy and I both took days off from work. I prayed that the process would happen sooner than later. I wanted to get on with it so I could start the healing process. I cried off and on for about three days straight. I went back to work and left early everyday the first week. I had started cramping a little bit and thought it may be time. I didn’t know what I was looking for.

My love and I would lay in bed and search for what to expect during a miscarriage. We found others’ stories but not a lot of scientific and medical articles. Stories ranged from simple period like cramps to intense pain that made them pass out. I had took a few more days off since my cramping was increasing. I passed a blood clot and didn’t know if that was it. I looked up pictures of 8-10 week old fetuses. DO NOT do that!! I burst into tears. Andy told me that I wasn’t done and was sure that there was more to come. I didn’t want to believe it.

I continued to cramp and then got and incredibly upset stomach. This is slightly more information than anyone needs to know but it is part of my story. As my stomach continued to turn I got so frustrated. As many women know there are times that gas cramps and period cramps feel the same and you sit on the toilet in pain. If I passed my Little Monster there was no way to tell. I knew in the deepest part of my heart that I did not but I wanted it to be done.

My cramps subsided and were non-existent on Thursday. I went to work on Friday and my cramps had increased and so had spotting. On Saturday the 20th, twelve days after finding out our baby had died, I felt off and knew that I needed to go home early. I left work and collapsed in bed with Andy. After a few hours of a nap I went down stairs. I sat and barely moved. Around 9pm the cramps intensified to something that I had never felt. I went into the restroom and sat down. I was trying to be strong. I never want to be considered weak. I felt like I needed to push but also felt like I was making it up in my head. I googled if I should push or not. Of course, I could not find anything medical but found stories of other women who felt the same thing. The only position they found helpful was the same as me, sitting on the toilet. I began to let myself cry. Cry in pain, physical pain and emotional pain.

Andy came down around 10:30 to get ready for work. I tried having a normal conversation but told him I had to go upstairs. He came up and asked if he should call in. I told him to go to work. I figured that I was just having cramps and would have to deal with it. Right before he left shortly before midnight, he asked me to call someone, anyone. He just wanted someone to support me emotionally. I called my sister and made dark jokes. As I laid there I could feel I was bleeding a little bit. I had been wearing pads since I found out, so I just finished my conversation.

It was only a five-minute conversation and the bleeding felt heavy. I hung up and as I stood, I knew I needed to get to the bathroom immediately. As I pulled down my pants it felt as I imagined how it feels when women’s water breaks. The blood was streaming down my legs. I sat down and let my body empty. I stood up to clean up but it wasn’t stopping. I flushed but filled the toilet with blood again. I jumped in the shower to try and lessen the mess. I stood there for about ten minutes before calling my mom. She answered knowing it must be an emergency to call after midnight. She told me that I need to go to the ER. I called Andy’s cell phone and work a few times until I got ahold of him. He said he would be home right away. As I stood in the shower waiting, I became weak. I had to go down on all fours because I could no longer stand. When Andy came home he just stood in the bathroom doorway in shock. He later told me that it looked like a murder seen. We were having to clean the blood off of me as I got dressed. My body was still wet from the shower as I got into the car.

We went to ER and they moved me into a room fairly fast. Thankfully my ER room was connected to a bathroom. I begged them to let me use it. They had to put a bowl in there in order to analyze my blood. Before I could sit down the blood began to flow again. My blood ran down the sides of the toilet and the floor. It was humiliating. I lost count of all the times that I went to the bathroom. It was the only place I was comfortable…. well, more comfortable than lying down. When I tried to lie down on the bed I feared that blood would pour from me. Andy kept knocking of the door and encouraging me to lay on the bed long enough for the doctor to see me. I was in so much pain.

I was finally able to lay down long enough for the nurse to take blood. The doctor came in and had to examine my cervix and see what was going on. I felt like I had lost all dignity because at this point, I did not care if I was covered or who came in the room. I just wanted everything to be done. He explained that part of the placenta was still attached to my uterus and that my body would continue to cramp and bleed until it was gone. The hospital was not set up to do the procedure, so they would have to transfer my ambulance to the next hospital…. Almost two hours away. I begged for something for the pain. My love knew it was bad if I admitted to having pain.

Apparently, the Morphine hit fast and I was nicer once it was in my system. Andy and I have never been in this situation before. Not even a situation where I have been in pain like this. There have been plenty of times that I have been in pain but I have always been able to hide it. I wasn’t sure what I needed from Andy. I wanted him near but did not want to be touched. He wanted to help but wasn’t sure what to do. I am sure I snapped a lot but he will not tell me the extent of my rudeness. I was only able to give him a blanket apology since I know how I am. Later, Andy told me that he knew when I was going to be in pain after the morphine because he could see my heart rate rise before I would yelp out in pain.

The EMTs came to get me and loaded me up. One happened to be one of Andy’s cousin I had not met yet. I felt a little bit more at ease because his family puts family first. I passed out in the ambo but would occasionally jerk awake in pain. I woke up when we went through a mountain pass and knew exactly where we were because of the turns. We got to the hospital and I was trying to stay calm because Andy wasn’t there. He ran home before driving to town because we were told we may have to stay for a few days.

Two nurses came in and one blurted out a bunch of questions. I looked at her and said, “I do not know. I was given morphine for the first time and am not all here.” The other nurse brought me disposable underwear and pads and brought me a bag for my clothes. I asked him if I could just throw my underwear away and he smiled understandingly and told me that was fine. I was feeling a lot better but incredibly tired. Andy was about a half hour behind me and I was happy to see him. I do not remember much about my short time in the second hospital. The doctor came in and examined me and saw that during the drive my body had expelled everything. They kept me for a few hours to watch me. When Andy ran out to get my clothes from the car the nurse took me on a short walk to see how I was doing. I was dizzy and had to stop a few times. When we got back to the room he asked if I felt like I was okay to leave. I knew that my body needed food, water and true sleep. I told him I needed to go home. Andy and I drove home before 7am and I had him stop at DutchBros and at a fast food place. Normally we avoid fast food but my body had been through a lot and I needed protein, and I just wanted coffee because I always want coffee.

On the way home, I drifted in and out of sleep. When we got home I thought the bathroom would need a scrubbing but Andy was amazing and had already done it. He is a Saint! He told me he threw my underwear away because he didn’t want to deal with it. I just smiled. I didn’t realize how many pair of underwear I would lose during this process.

I took more days off. Throughout the next week I bled like a heavy period. I went back to work. My first day back someone called at 6:20am to complain. I nicely told her that I hadn’t had a chance to look into it yet but I was sure that it would work out in her favor. She was rude and kept poking at me. I snapped and my voice became flat. I went home and cried.

The process was more than 3 weeks long. I have curled up in Andy’s arms multiple times. There are days that the tears just flow. I went into a slight depression. My poor pup has not been walked like he should. I physically couldn’t for awhile and then I had to push myself emotionally to get out. As I was coming out of my depression and trying to pick up my house for my family visiting for Thanksgiving, I saw the blanket that we had bought for my Monster. I smiled.

I have been sad but I have hope. I am not sure if I am emotionally ready to have a baby so soon after all this but we are not stopping it. I have told God that I trust Him no matter what. I don’t know why He decided that we could handle this. I don’t know if my story will help anyone through their heartache. I don’t know if my story will help another couple not feel so alone as they google ‘what happens during a miscarriage?’ in the middle of the night.

Throughout this year I have lost my Grandpa, a friend and my brother. We both have had job challenges and job changes. We had to spend many nights alone as Andy went through training. I went through the deepest depression this summer that I have ever been through. And then we lost our baby. Many couples grow apart during such a hard year. As we have called on God, we have grown closer. We have been more open and truthful with our emotions. Our love has grown for God and each other.

I don’t know what you are going through or if my story will help you but I encourage you to tell your story. I want to hear your story. If you need prayer, let me know and I will stand with you. Remember, we are not in this journey of life alone.