Since I'm featuring more mom stories here, here's a special one from Stacey Lear, a stay-at-home mom of a 5-year-old boy, and two girls, aged three and two. Stacey, who always dreamed of having four kids and staying at home watching them grow and teaching them, writes of her pregnancy loss last year at 17 weeks.
Falling pregnant with my first child was much quicker and easier than I had thought it would be, and I enjoyed a fairly healthy pregnancy with the only niggle being the ‘morning’ sickness, which lasted all day for the first four months of pregnancy. Our son was such a great joy to us that we decided to try for another child a few months after he was born, but the Lord had other plans for us.
It took me just over a year to fall pregnant with my second child. Once again I was blessed with a fairly healthy pregnancy. The morning sickness was less intense and I enjoyed my pregnancy. After my daughter was born we thought we would take a few years' break before trying for a third, but once again, the Lord had other plans for us, and I fell pregnant with my third child quickly.
Although I was nervous about having three young children, I began to fall in love with my bump and I would never change the fact of having another child so quickly. The only complication I had during my third pregnancy was a two-night stay in hospital due to a bladder infection and thrush, which caused mild contractions in my second trimester. Again after our third child was born we thought it best to wait before trying for another baby, but once again we were surprised to find that the Lord had other plans for us.
My then 4-year-old son came and asked me when I would have another baby in my tummy. I replied we were going to wait a while before that happened but he could always pray and ask God for another baby and we would trust His timing. I then heard him run off and pray by himself, “Please God, give mommy another baby boy in her tummy. Amen.”
And in response to his prayer I fell pregnant again fairly quickly, and once again began to fall in love with my bump. We were all excited to have another baby coming soon. Although this child was not planned by us, he was planned by God and was never unwanted. This time round I decided to wait until I was 12 weeks pregnant before going for my first scan because I didn’t see a need to go any sooner.
However, at at around eight weeks, while busy making lunch for the leaders of our church’s holiday club, I started to feel like I was leaking something. I didn’t think anything of it because I knew that there are excess fluids and mucous that are normal during pregnancy, but when it didn’t go away I went to check it in the bathroom.
When I saw the blood I started to panic. After a few minutes of sitting there I realised that I needed to get to the hospital, so I packed the kids into the car and went to the church. I asked for someone to find my husband for me, and we went straight to the doctors’ rooms.
On the way there I started getting period-like pains. The scan showed both something good and something bad. The good thing was that our baby was still alive and moving around. The bad thing was that the placenta was lying low in my uterus and there was a huge blood clot behind the baby that needed to come out. So I was sent home with the diagnosis of a threatened miscarriage and put onto medication and bed rest until the pain and bleeding had stopped.
They stopped about four days later, and I continued to have what seemed to be a normal pregnancy. The night before my next scan I started bleeding again, but decided to wait until the next day to see the doctor. We never would have thought we would get the diagnosis that we did. The scan showed that our baby had a condition called Trisomy 18, a disease similar to Down Syndrome, but much worse and life threatening.
Most babies with this diagnosis don’t make it to birth, and those wo do have a very short life span with very few making it past a month of life. Most of what the doctor said to me that day remains a blur, as I was crying a lot and questioning if this was really happening to me. What I do remember the doctor saying though is that I didn’t have to go through with the pregnancy if I didn’t want to and that I could terminate it at any point.
That was never an option for me. God was knitting together this little one inside of me for a reason, and though I didn’t know what that reason was I trusted Him. And so we went back home with heavy hearts and began to pray. I longed to be able to meet my child and hold him in my arms, even if it was only for a few minutes.
Once again my condition seemed to improve, but I remained highly aware of every pain, movement and discomfort. For about a week I didn’t even want to know anything about my child’s condition. Then the research phase set in, and I began to look for all the information I could find. At times I felt depressed but slowly I felt myself becoming more at peace with whatever the future might hold. I had many family and friends praying for me and my baby, and many who brought meals, flowers and gave me phone calls and messages. I started feeling normal, and I started feeling hopeful.
Then suddenly one night when I was 18 weeks' pregnant I awoke to terrible pains that seemed to become more intense with time, and came and went at various intervals. Then I felt a sudden gush of blood. When I went to the bathroom the blood started pouring like water from a tap. We thought it best to wait until morning to see what happened. Things just got worse and so my husband drove me to the emergency room the next morning.
The doctor did a scan and we found no heartbeat. I was distraught and didn’t know what to think. Because it was weekend and because my normal doctor wasn’t on duty we decided to wait and see what happened naturally. The pain medication they gave me had no effect at all, and I continued to have what turned out to be contractions for a few hours.
Then I felt a sudden tug and a weight in my lower abdomen, so I rushed to the bathroom. Instinctively I put my hand out in the middle of the flowing blood and caught my tiny child in my hand. He was as big as the palm of my hand, yet so perfectly formed. 10 tiny fingers, 10 tiny toes, a precious little nose and mouth, and clearly a little boy. Another answer to my son’s prayer. In that moment no tears came, and I just marvelled at the wonder of how my God had formed all of my son’s tiny parts so perfectly.
I only really started to cry when I phoned my husband to tell him what had happened. I can only attribute my peace to the fact that so many were praying for me.
The hospital then asked us about what we would like to do with ‘the foetus’, because according to law our little baby was regarded as medical tissue. We elected to let my husband take the body home, and we would later organise a funeral service to acknowledge the fact that he was alive even though it was for so brief a time.
Unfortunately the process was delayed, as my placenta needed to be removed surgically the next day because it didn’t detach. When I did manage to go back home, we organised for a funeral home to store the body until we could organise a small family funeral. The funeral was a very emotional time for all of our family. I have never cried as hard as I did that day. I had many questions and I didn’t understand; but I knew my son’s short life wouldn’t be for nothing, and I placed my trust in the fact that the Lord would one day show me what that purpose would be.
I have since then had it on my heart to write a book about my experience so that I can share my story and my hope with other mom’s facing a similar crisis. I am currently beginning the process of my writing journey and am looking forward to starting up a regular blog soon too. I am also currently 18 weeks' pregnant with a healthy little boy and we are looking so forward to meeting him in November this year. The Lord has greatly blessed our family and has given to us much joy despite our trials. I am and always will be immensely grateful.