Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Distractions and healing

 As some of you know, I am a singer/songwriter. I enjoy music to the fullest. I come from a whole family of singers and musicians of all kinds. I have been singing in church and in the public for as long as I can remember. Most of my singing is of cover songs/tracks by other artists. So about 5 years ago, I picked up a pen to start writing some of my own songs. I got some advice from a friend and musician at church who had already written and recorded and album...he told me to start in scripture and use repetition. He helped me with two of my songs: Come To Me and Don't Be Afraid, two songs which I have not currently recorded. It sparked my interest so much that I began writing more each day. I also started practicing guitar, which is really hard. :( I know enough to play a couple worship songs and children's songs, but I need more practice. I recently picked it up again. Let's hope this time is more successful.

So anyway, back to the songwriting. I never really thought that it would come that easily to me, but it has. I love to sing to God and worship him and so in my quiet times and prayer times, I worship him and then just jot down the words. Sometimes the words are prayers to him, questions, complaints, or praises. It just depends on the day. I can't say that every day is peachy. I won't lie and say that I haven't questioned God on many occasions about the fairness of the bad situations in my life. And I will tell you that I'm convicted almost daily to straighten up my mood when I see the face of my precious son. It just hurts quite a bit when my son constantly questions me about his baby brother or sister. He is lonely. He's a very outgoing and loving child who needs a playmate, someone to share his days with. And whenever I was pregnant for almost 4 months in 2010, I was showing him cartoons with the "New baby" theme to help him understand what to expect. Sometimes it makes me angry whenever I think of how I could have had about three children by now, but those children were taken away from me and not only me, but my husband and son, too.

This post was supposed to be about my album, so....songwriting for me has been a little therapeutic, in a sense. I mean, I just set out to make music, but it has helped me cope with some of the pain and anger that I deal with. I wrote a song called, "I Should Be Fine" which is a description of how I have been feeling since the recurrent miscarriages. I wrote it last fall after the last miscarriage. I wrote it with all my babies in mind. It's sort of ironic because it's a sad song with a peppy melody. I guess it wouldn't have been as catchy in a minor/sad key? And with the help of my musician friend, Brett Baird, we came up with a pretty great sounding acoustic version. I hadn't written the second verse until very recently and it was neat how it came about and how it ministers to me, even today.

So to say that I thought songwriting would help me cope with recurrent miscarriage would be nonsense, but has God used these quiet times with him to speak to me, reassure me, hash it out with me, and love me, YES! And I'm proud to say that all the shows I've done over the last few months, the songwriting, and recording have all been great distractions to this somewhat constant pain and longing that I'll never understand. I know that God wants the best for me and my family and I believe that it means blessing us with another beautiful and healthy baby so in the meantime, I will just keep writing and singing praises to God, who is worthy of all praise. And I hope this song and all the songs on the album speak straight to your heart. The album is titled, Justified by Amanda Carson Riley, if you'd like to check it out on itunes.

 I Should  Be Fine, written by Amanda Carson Riley 2010

I thought of you today, in no particular way
it's just that I can't say, that I'm alright
I try and try to bid your memory goodbye, but after all I've tried you won't subside.

but then you come to me on an autumn breeze and I'm wondering why I can't see

that after all this time, I should be fine and I'm not.
and after all I've seen, I should be in a good spot
but one thought of you is all it takes to bring to mind everything that's at stake

your memory is pain, but I will take the blame
but blame won't help me heal, so mercy reigns
and mercy and good things will follow me today and I'll walk on in faith, though you remain.

but then you come to me on an autumn breeze and I take a breath, cuz I can see…

that after all this time, I should be fine and I'm not.
and after all I've seen, I should be in a good spot
but one thought of you is all it takes to bring to mind everything that's at stake

And my heart will hold you, and remember when, all the love I'm feeling, it will never end, yah.


Friday, February 11, 2011

The Best Valentines Gift Ever!/Bragging on God

So I had to share some photos...My life is not consumed by miscarriage although, I do think of the babies we lost, often...I have a constant and beautiful reminder each day of God's blessings on my family. Carson was born and I was finally a mother! He is now four years old and is smarter than ever! Everyday, I am surprised by the things he says and by how much he knows.

I recall the morning that I took the pregnancy test...it was February 14, 2006. I had waited all weekend because I did not want to be disappointed once again by a negative result. Do you know how hard it is to wait an entire weekend with the test in your bathroom drawer? Anyway, I woke my husband and shared the great news! And eight months later, I had a beautiful, tiny baby all my own. My pregnancy wasn't without complications, though. I threw up everyday for about ten weeks, until week 16! It got so bad that I started carrying containers and plastic grocery bags in my car for the drive to Nashville. 
Even my coworkers didn't get concerned when I'd leave the room and return a moment later, several times a day. I would have sickness morning, noon, and night! When that was over, I felt great!

Then I started having swelling and seeing stars in my eyes. My doctor did not catch it, but it was early symptoms of pre eclampsia. I delivered Carson by emergency c-section at week 36. Carson was very tiny because he had suffered from iugr (intrauterine growth restriction). He wasn't gaining the proper amounts of weight because my body wasn't giving him all the nutrients he needed. Scary, huh? He was immediately whisked away by ambulance to the NICU in Nashville at a hospital called Centennial. And oddly enough, it was the hospital organization I had been working for for 6 years. I was released on the Saturday after he was born and went to see him straight away. The nurses offered us a room that wasn't being used and we stayed the night. I got to see and hold my baby and even breastfeed for the first time. I was in so much pain from the incision and I was also dealing with high blood pressure and head aches. I was also trying to pump milk with some ancient, rusty, breastfeeding pump and it was a huge pain...literally. My husband thought it would be funny to play around in my wheel chair. He was spinning around on two wheels (as I sat on the commode, I know tmi...) and laughing hysterically that is, until he tipped over the wheel chair and landed flat on his back! All I heard was a loud, thud, and "I'm Okay!" I laughed so hard and cried from the pain of my incision for over an hour. 

In the two weeks following, I pumped my milk day and night to take to the hospital for my baby and patiently waited for my husband to get home to drive us into the city to see my baby. I would call at all hours of the day and night to check on him and see if he had gained weight. I talked family members into driving me to the hospital during the day. And many friends and family went to be with my baby during the day when I couldn't be there. That was so special to me. I was overcome with emotion each time I had to leave him, but I was very thankful for the nurses who took care of him round the clock. I was thankful that he had no breathing problems or underdeveloped organs. I keep thinking of how many people were praying for us and my little baby all through out my pregnancy. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about how many people were pulling for us and still are.

So, although I have had some heartache in the last year. It has also been the best 4 and a half years of my life! And if I don't have more children, I will be forever grateful to God for my son. He's my joy! He's growing up way too fast. And I know that what my mother says is true...they grow up quickly and time flies because it seems just like yesterday that I was looking into the isolette and now we're looking at schools in our neighborhood to decide on one before he starts kindergarten! I guess I'm writing and sharing my wonderful son with you because I know that some of you don't have children yet and long for your very own baby. We are living proof that there is power in prayer and the power is God! One of the most recent visits to my genetic specialists revealed the chances of my husband and I having a healthy baby were slim to none...something like 10-13%. 
So before I was plagued by miscarriage and 
before any knowledge of any faultiness in my body, God gave me a son. Thank God.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thank God for Springtime...

It's amazing how sometimes your mood or attitude mimics the four seasons. I think that God's creation of the four seasons was so special and necessary. Winter is sometimes depressing since we are sometimes stuck indoors and missing our vitamin D. And whenever my miscarriage happened (at Christmastime), it made me long for Spring even more. And when spring came, I started to feel better about things. 

I had some testing done at my OB/GYNS office, which revealed that I have issues with absorbing folate (folic acid) and possible blood clotting issues. The two gene mutations are called MTHFR and Paig4/g4. I started on large doses of folic acid and low dose aspirin, right away. And I met a new doctor who specializes in genetics. She was great! She and my OB/GYN seemed to think that the problem was definitely on my end. I guess in most cases of early miscarriage, the problem is maternal. So the genetics doctor said that we should have a DNA karaotype done to make sure there were no other issues to be concerned about. We agreed. 

The month of April came and I had that 'feeling'. I was afraid that my doctor would be mad at me, but we hadn't tracked ovulation and it wasn't planned. I had hope that it would be okay this time. I tested positive on April 30th, 2010. I called the Dr. and told her that I hadn't received results of DNA karaotype and was curious because I was now pregnant again! We went in right away. She told us that my husband's DNA wasn't perfect. He has a balanced translocation of two chromosomes and that she was unsure of whether or not it would be the cause of miscarriage. The fact that it's balanced, is a great thing! The pregnancy ended two weeks later. I missed more work. I spent time questioning that herbal tea I drank or that seafood I had the week I found out...

It really makes the months drag by when you are thinking about how old you're getting and how you're ovulating. Then you think about how it might end in miscarriage when you become pregnant again. I know, it seems obsessive, but it's hard to describe when it's happening to your body. You feel everything. And as women, we're naturally attracted to our husbands, but sometimes I found myself afraid because of what might happen if I got pregnant again? My OB suggested contraceptives, but the genetic specialist suggested to wait on more blood tests to make sure there were no serious blood clotting issues.

It's a hard pill to swallow when your doctor tells you that the reason for all of the miscarriages is because of DNA and gene mutations. I mean, why would a loving God (who knows how much I adore children) allow such a strange condition to befall us? I know that is part of life and there are more serious health and medical conditions people are facing, but this was our struggle, and one struggle that I thought I'd never have to deal with. 

Over this sad and long winter and springtime, I met a friend. We'll call her Billie. She had had several miscarriages like me. She had also had d and c surgeries. Billie had no children yet. We talked about our struggles. We started to have lunch each week. Most of the time we ate at taco bell. It wasn't about the food (because she doesn't eat much), but about the conversation. Here was a person who actually understood what I was talking about when I talked about feelings of guilt and sadness, progesterone and folic acid and horrible cycles. Just when I felt alone, I had someone who could empathize. And even when others around us criticized, we found comfort in each other's trials. I think I may have stopped working if it hadn't been for her. Some days it felt like most people were tired of bearing my burdens with me. But Billie always understood.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Heartbroken and Judged

My husband and I were heartbroken. And not to mention, I was in extreme pain and very exhausted. I guess it's different for every woman/family, but it hurt me badly. I didn't really know where to turn. Obviously, I turned to God because I love God and want to serve him. But, I needed someone to talk to who understood. I called a family member who had experienced a miscarriage. I asked them if we could come and visit for New Years and we did. It was very therapeutic. Of course, my son loves my family and he is cherished and spoiled by all of them so he was occupied. It was also good to be distracted for a couple days. We stayed up late watching TV and eating. We ended up staying the night and slept in the next day. My doctor called to check on me and that was very kind. I'd never had a doctor call me personally. She said to call her if I needed anything. In the days to follow, I talked with my Dr. on the phone several times. She was a great support.

And then the doctor's appointments began. I first visited my OB/GYN's office and they were very kind and did their best to comfort me. I was actually seen by a Nurse Practitioner who was great. She suggested to wait 6 months and try again. She said that there was no way to know any specifics unless we gave the baby over for testing. This didn't seem okay for me. I had heard a lot about low progesterone levels related to miscarriage so I asked if I could have a prescription for the next pregnancy. She said as soon as I got pregnant to come in and she would start the progesterone.

I found that it didn't matter how many days passed, I still felt sad about my baby. It doesn't mean I didn't enjoy my life, my precious son, or my husband, but I was dealing with small bouts of sadness. It wasn't debilitating in my opinion, but there were a few times when I couldn't hear the alarm in the morning and was late for work. Now anyone who knows me, knows that I am habitually late. So it wasn't much of a surprise to anyone except me. It's very frightening to not be able to hear the alarm and wake up for the day. I thought I might lose my job for being late. They changed my schedule, which seemed to help a bit. It's still hard for me to get up and get moving.  It took a toll on my body that I was not expecting. Maybe I was somewhat depressed for a short period of time?  Oh, I forgot to mention that the Nurse Practitioner prescribed an anxiety medication for me to take. I was not all together convinced that I should take it. I thought I should deal with my grief instead of pushing it away for another day. I mean, who knows when that grief would reappear?

I understand that life has to go on. And believe me, plenty of people were ready to tell me that several times a day. One lady at my work even told me not to cry. And plenty of people were ready to give me all of their odd and "helpful" opinions. I know people mean well, but sometimes a hug or a note saying, "I am praying for you" works as well as a long and drawn out explanation of how god works in mysterious ways. Or, "Well, how selfish you are for wanting more children because some people don't have one child." And "you should be thankful for the son you have already." As if I do not love my son and have not thanked God for him each day. And thanks, but no thanks to those folks who asked me what I had to eat or drink or if I did any strenuous exercise or lifting! Don't they realize that I have questioned myself thousands of times to think of what I could have done differently? It is a strange and terrible feeling to think that it was your fault or feel that something is wrong in your body that you can't fix.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

It has taken me by surprise.

So I am on this journey of 'I want a baby, but I have issues'. I mean, we all have issues, but I have DNA issues, folic acid issues. thyroid issues, and blood clotting issues and the list goes on.  I know some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. Things that are stopping you from carrying a baby to full term. Things that make it extremely difficult to have a baby or at least a healthy baby.

I had my first miscarriage in 2004. My OB told me not to worry because I was young and healthy. She said it happens to a lot of women in their first pregnancy. I became pregnant 8 months later and gave birth 8 months after that to my beautiful son! What a blessing and miracle! We planned both of those pregnancies so it was disheartening when I lost the first baby, but my son brought me so much joy that I never thought about miscarriage at all.

I never thought about miscarriage for 4 years...
Miscarriage was a huge part of my life in 2010. I became pregnant in October of 2010 and it was so exciting! I had a lot of dizziness and a BIG scare at the er when a nurse told me the ultrasound showed that my baby was too close to my tube to survive. She said I would undergo surgery that night to have 'it' removed. It was so stressful. I stayed overnight at the hospital. The physician came in the morning, I had an ultrasound and the physician said that my baby had plenty of room to grow in the uterus. My husband and I got to see/hear the heartbeat on the ultrasound that day.  It was a special day.

22 days later, after an awkward ultrasound, I was told that my baby had no heartbeat. I had three options; to have a d and c, to take medication to speed up the process, or let it occur naturally at home.  What a sick feeling. I wondered how this could happen? My doctor was very sweet and escorted me out the back door of the office. It was a sorrowful day and week, to say the least. I miscarried on the day after Christmas. I hid the issue from my family and son so everyone could have a happy Christmas. My husband was strong for me. He and I went through it together.  I missed lots of work and wondered what were the odds that it was happening to me again...6 years later?
Little did I know that this was just the beginning of a very confusing and very painful year ahead.