I joked today about something funny that happened during our marriage prep classes.  There was a question asking "Are you open to having children?"   When the priest who was preparing us reviewed our answers, he was deeply concerned and needed to have a serious conversation with us regarding our relationship and plans for marriage.  I remember feeling trapped..."What could we possibly not be compatible on?"  The question in question was the one about children.  "Well, I'm positive that can't be the issue", I remember thinking, but it was indeed.  See, I answered 'yes', but Tim answered 'no'.  WHAT???  "Of course I'm not open to having children", he said, "we're not even married yet!"  Obviously, he didn't mean having children in marriage!  I wonder if that question was ever re-written to clarify??  LOL!  If I recall, we both said we wanted four children.  I have no idea where that number came from.  We are both one of three, so four must have been rather random.  The funny part is that as it turns out, maybe we were to add those numbers!  :)

The prospect of welcoming another little one to our clan has been exciting...overwhelming...a little scary...a lot joyous...and all together felt quite natural.  In early September, about the exact time that I was just barely pregnant, Joe said to me matter-of-factly:  "Mom, you know you have a baby in your tummy."  "Why would you say that Joe?"  "I just know these things".  I suspected that he was right, but I hadn't yet taken a test to confirm it.  About two weeks later, a home-pregnancy test confirmed and then another one (just to be sure) reconfirmed his statement.  Later, before we had made our announcement to the kids, he told Tim "Do you know that mommy has a baby in her tummy?  Two!  A boy baby and a girl baby."  Hmmm...what if he was right?  It's been in the back of my mind since then, knowing that I would have to likely wait until I was a least 14-17 weeks along to find out if he is indeed a little prophet. 

We were eager to share our exciting news with family and friends, and not at all reluctant to make our announcement prior to the magic 12-week stage.  Our unofficial due date was Tim's birthday...very close to Mother's Day.  What a treat!!  I couldn't think of a better Mother's Day gift than to bring a new baby into this world.  We had just welcomed a new niece into our family and when I held her, I longed deeply for another child.  I know that some people can't even think of how to understand that.  We hear frequently, comments such as "I think my two are more than I can handle!"  "Don't you know what causes that?"  "Wow, you're going to be really busy!!"  and even "Why would you ever want to have another one???"  Clearly they have missed the memo describing the joy that children bring.  In the back of my mind I was making plans...how the bedrooms would be rearranged to accomodate another child...contemplating the idea of a bigger vehicle, even the possiblity of relocating to be closer to Lincoln.  We won't find out the gender this time.  We have for some, but this time, we wanted to be surprised again.  The spring and summer would be busy...a graduation, baseball, end of the school year, field trips, family reunion.  What's one more though?  Really??  It's not as if this is all new!  I mean, we've been through it before.  We know the drill.  Love at first sight, followed by sheer bliss--until the first glimpse of sleep deprivation.  Constant doting followed closely by utter chaos as we transition into being yet a bigger family that we were months earlier.  The post-partum weight loss attempts.  The milestones...one first after another followed by more chaos followed by the return of some normalcy around 18 months to two years.  "Bring it on!" 

I felt confindent with this pregnancy...I had already been running and exercising routinely, so there was no reason to justify not beginning a new  routine.  I planned to run as long as I could...up through the last days, just as I had done with Jakob.  (No delivery day marathon like the woman in the news!)  I was determined to stay fit and healthy.  I was excited to be doing this alongside friends...it's always fun to be pregnant with someone!  The kids were instantly competing over the desired gender...the boys wanting a brother, the girls wanting a sister!  Everyone had their opinion about what to name the baby.  I wasn't worried...I ususally get the final say, and I still had lots of time to think about it.  :) 

Today, I went to the doctor to have him investigate a little rash...turns out it is shingles.  I thought the diagnosis was worse than it really is in pregnancy.  The baby would be fine, I just might be in pain.  My afternoon did not stop there though.  On my way to the doctor, my OB's office called to report that my progesterone levels had dropped significantly which warranted an ultrasound to check on baby.  My thoughts quickly went from excitement of seeing the little person growing inside of me to terror at the thought of what else the concern could be.  I have already beat the odds with seven pregnancies that have resulted in seven beautiful children.  I've never experienced a difficult pregnancy...not even morning sickness...what if something was wrong?

The rest of the afternoon, my mind just continued to explore the possibilities.  Maybe I would get to announce that they found two little bodies squirming around in there!!  As time progressed, my thoughts continued to get a little more bleak.  Please God, please let everything be ok.  I arrived at the hospital for an ultrasound.  I hadn't been able to reach Tim all afternoon, so he didn't even know what was going on.  "It's ok" I thought...it's just routine...everything will be just fine!  As the sonographer lubed my belly with warm gel and began to glide the ultrasound head over it, I asked questions.  "What will you be looking for?"  "Can you point out the baby?"  "Will you tell me when you find the heartbeat?"  Her response was that she couldn't tell me anything.  Nothing.  She couldn't share good news or bad.  She just glides and clicks and then the radiologist would have to read the results and consult with my OB.  Nothing like creating an anxiety filled appointment!  Now I couldn't help but think dismally.  WHY??  WHY???  She was no less than pleasant and warm, but I longed for her to be compassionate and see that I just needed to know what to feel!  "Just tell me something!"  "Either give me hope or tell me so I could stop wondering."  She couldn't.  I understood, yet I didn't. 

I left feeling so helpless.  I didn't even know if the baby had a heartbeat.  She did show me a quick glimpse of him...her??  A little peanut.  Literally...the size of a peanut!  Clearly a baby...CLEARLY.  But not like all the other ultrasounds...no squirming and figiting.  Not even a long enough look to evaluate, but I knew things weren't right.  She sent me off with the instructions of "don't leave town"...like I had just made bail after an arrest of something.  She just didn't want me driving home if my OB would want to see me in person.  Well, nobody tells you to stick around to hear "Everything looks great!"  At this point it was really hard to convince myself to be positive. 

The OB office called..."You can go home, you don't need to wait around."  "What does that mean??"  No real answer to that...just more waiting.  Stomach churning, hot tears rolling down my face.  No one to confirm anything, but all the while I knew something was not right.  How would I tell Millie??  Every day she says to me:  "Mommy...there's a baby in your tummy!  She will be nice and I will hold her!"  Millie has wanted to be a big sister ever since she could sit up I think!  She is a natural gentle little soul, and incredibly nurturing.  I've been saying for years now that she needs to be a big sister.  I cried harder as I thought about it.  Finally a phone call from the OB...it wasn't what I was holding out for.  He was positive, saying that ultrasounds could be wrong, that today's showed the baby at 6 weeks rather than almost 10...maybe I was wrong about how far along I thought I was, although those calculations would have meant I got pregnant 2 weeks after a positive test...four weeks later than originally thought!  There was no heartbeat, and chances are this is an early pregnancy loss.  Devistated doesn't begin to describe how I felt.  "No...this happens to other people...not to me...I have perfect pregnancies." 

We shared with our children right away at home...we shared that the news wasn't 100% for sure and that we could certainly pray for a miracle.  We are...we will.  I am to treat the next week like I am pregnant, unless my body says differently, then repeat the ultrasound.  At 7 weeks (even if it is really 11), a heartbeat should be easier to find for sure.  The kids all handled it differently.  Jonathan was really upset and through tears, said "Mom, I'd rather have a sister than no baby at all."  Mathilda took it pretty hard too...she is afterall a little mother hen herself.  There were tears and silence, questions and confusion.  "Do you think God thinks we already have too many and we don't need anymore?"  "No honey...but God does have a plan and we just have to trust that if He wants your little brother or sister back home with Him that is where he/she will be."  I can't help but ask myself the same kind of questions, even though I know the answers.

Did He change His mind and decide that we really couldn't handle another one right now? Does He not trust me anymore?  Did I do something wrong?  Was I not excited enough?  Did I run too hard or too long or too fast?  Did I not get the progesterone injections right?  Am I not cut out to have eight children?  What did I do wrong?  Did I eat the wrong food--soft cheese or deli meat or one of those things that could be harmful?  We will not ever get to meet this little person...not here on earth anyway.  I won't know what he or she looked like.  What kind of personality or whose eyes she has.  I won't get to watch Millie beam with big sister pride or see a big teenager melt when his baby sibling grabs hold of his finger.  One may think that because my pregnancy is so early, there is no real attachment, but that is so inaccurate.  I have many friends that have experienced the loss of a pregnancy...a baby, but I've always known that I would never really know what that felt like--unless I experienced it myself.  I'm sure there is a real grieving process.  I'm sure I will be thankful as ever in the morning to greet my children.  Thankful that they are healthy and that they are here.  I will of course pray for that miracle...that crazy phone call that says, "It's the darndest thing...there's a heartbeat and a kick...and there is another one right behind the first one!  That's why they're so small!  There's two of them."  Yes, I will hold out hope that God will hear my prayer, but I will also trust in His will and know there is a reason for everything.  Please pray for us.

I wrote this tonight, not specifically to share, but to find some calm in writing...to try to make sense of the thousands of emotions going through me right now.  I'm hopeful that I can look back at it someday and remember a scare or recall a beautiful beginning.