On Miscarriage

Saturday, January 18, 2020

It feels surreal to write that we lost our fourth baby last Thursday to causes unknown. The grief comes in waves. I don’t know for sure if the baby was a boy or a girl, and I am as yet uncertain whether I will ever meet the person who could have inhabited the tiny body that resided in me for just under 6 short weeks. Today would have marked 6 weeks exactly. It is curious to me how much attachment I felt to this baby already even though I felt completely unready and insecure about the task of caring for another child come September. I had inklings from the beginning of realizing I was pregnant again that this pregnancy would not end on a happy note. Or that circumstances would be odd. Or perhaps I would be rendered permanently infertile. These imaginations often run wild in my mind, but as my medical history has tended to be somewhat dramatic it also never surprises me when terrible things happen.

It is tempting to ask myself why we continue to live in such a way that babies might grace us with their presence at any time. We do our best to track my fertility windows and avoid them, but still we tend to be careless sometimes. I can’t say I mind. I desire greatly to have as many children as Heavenly Father sees fit to send to our family. But I often question my mental ability to care for them all. The love comes naturally, but so does the anxiety and stress over keeping them alive and helping them grow in the best ways I know how. And with this being my first real tangible experience with having a confirmed pregnancy fail…the fragility of life has suddenly become so much more apparent to me. That we even have three living breathing tiny people in our home is a miracle to me now.

In all the years that we struggled to even conceive a child, I never once considered the fragility of life; for the reality of pregnancy had never been realized until I had three in succession. All of them surprises. All of them viable. None of them without trial, but all of them viable. It seemed to me that out of four years of barrenness, suddenly I was a baby making machine and if I were to be pregnant at all that was the process and a baby would be the end result. And now, here I find myself writing about the death of my fourth baby. I was reminded by the holy spirit a day or two before the bleeding began that “all things are in the Father’s hands”. This phrase has given me strength when I am tempted to be afraid of the reality of building and raising another child. But in it, I have also learned that raising children has very little to do with me and very much to do with my willingness to serve these tiny bodies. These tiny souls. These tiny beings who have all the same emotions and fears as I do, but lack the life experience that informs them of the things I have learned about life. The responsibility of a parent is great. And children test boundaries and patience like no other beings I have yet met. And yet, the growth I have experienced from submitting to the will of my Father has been far greater than any terror I have experienced at the hands of these tiny people. They are my teachers. In life, and now in death. The time which a child is with me does not matter. I have learned more about myself and my folly from each of my, now 4, children than I ever learned without them. They are my teachers. And while I grieve the loss of a child I never knew, I feel grateful for the lessons I have learned. And I value life just that much more.

Peace be with us. –Caitlin

A Birth Story – The Gift of Light

She came a few days late. But I’ve always thought having a specific due date was kind of silly… so as far as I was concerned she was right on time. I woke up around 12:30 am February 26, 2014 to some practice labor, which by that point I was pretty used to. So I didn’t think much of it. It was also customary to pay a visit to the loo around this time every night so I did that. But the practice labor didn’t subside like it usually would.

My husband, as per usual, was sleeping like a log. Completely impervious to the world outside his dreams. So, I wrapped my legs around my body pillow that had become the intruder to our bed and tried to get comfortable and breathe my way through these surges (as the hypnobirthing method calls contractions). It helped. Then I realized that my husband was still asleep, and this must be labor.

I tried to wake Mr. Hummer. It took three tries and over the space of about 10 minutes he finally awoke with a start to “Hummer, I really need you to be awake right now” as I continued to breathe through surges that were now definitely early stages of labor.

We had planned and waited for this moment, and it was as surreal as surreal could be. Part of me thought this day would never come and I would be pregnant forever more. We had rented a birthing tub from our midwives, and I had planned on doing a water birth. So now that Hummer was awake he ran to the main house (we were renting a small house on his parent’s property at the time) and woke up D, our adopted little brother to help him get the tub out and bring it to our house.

The winter air was quiet. Everyone was sleeping. But I remember the life inside me and the turmoil that was beginning inside my body and starting to envelope my entire being.

While we are very grateful for the opportunity we had to live with my husband’s family for a time, there were some quirks about the house that must be explained. First, our water heater was such that you could not take a full 15 minute shower without turning the water off to soap up and scrub down. At least, not if you wanted hot water. The water tub, at this point, was completely empty. And as this was our first experience with real labor we had little idea of gauging how long it would be until the real action began. So, my husband, bless his soul, used what water we had in reserve and then spent most of the wee hours of the morning carrying a 5 gallon bucket to and from hot water spigots to fill up this tub. Little did we know at the time, that the cover was underneath the tub liner. Second, our house was about 600 square feet, 1 bedroom and was packed full, or so it seemed, of birthing supplies and dirty dishes.

So we called the midwives at 1 am and then at 3 am and then at 5 am telling them I was definitely in labor, but it was still pretty early and each time they said okay, well just try and get some rest and call us in a few hours. They had given us a sheet of paper so we could know the signs. I didn’t want to bother them too early so we just kept updating them every few hours. By around 6 am I felt like we ought to tell the midwives to come. Two of them came and checked my progress. I was only dilated to 3 cm, but the surges were regular and long. Until about 9 am.

Then? Nothing. Labor halted after that. It tapered off into quiet land. So the midwives left around 10 am and said to eat and drink normally and sleep as much as possible. I have to admit I was a little frustrated that labor just slowed off into nothingness. I wanted this baby out!

I returned to the uncovered, completely filled birthing tub and a laborless body. So we pulled out the futon, tried to organize the dirty dishes, ate breakfast, and took a nap. Or I tried to anyway.

I still felt surges come and go every 10 minutes or so. But they seemed puny compared to what I had experienced earlier that morning. By mid afternoon I had essentially given up on giving birth today and just decided I would be laboring for awhile.

Well, come 5 pm, the most interesting of hours, and just as quickly as it had stopped, labor began again. This time with an agenda. I’m not really sure why it took us so long to tell the midwives to come back. I guess it must have been a combination of me having no real concept of time, and underestimating the feelings I was feeling. By the time I was in heavy labor, on our bed…because the water tub water was around 80 degrees by then, which was entirely too cold… my husband kept asking me should we call the midwives? I kept saying, I dunno! How silly we were. Suffice it to say, we called the midwives and told them It’s time! My hair was a disaster…it had been clipped up, but the clip was lost in my wild mane of mess. I remember rocking back and forth in the polar bear position for what felt like an eternity. I was so exhausted, and so alive at the same time. Finally the midwives came.

It was probably around 9 pm. All the windows were wide open and the fan was on, it was the middle of winter and I still felt like I was about a million degrees. And I made sounds I didn’t know I could make. And I believe that oxygen makes all the difference to being able to handle the intensity of surges…I recall one that felt like it was about five waves of contractions that didn’t end. During it I thought if it never ended, I might cease to exist. But the beautiful thing about surges is that they always end, and they are cyclical, and every one you have is one closer to meeting your baby.

I had heard that moms in labor often start to say things like I don’t want to do this anymore, when they’re a few surges away from the head coming out. That’s exactly how I felt and what I said too. My waters broke somewhere around this time. And when her head finally came out, there was a relief through my body that no words can adequately explain. It is the practice of these midwives to wait and see, so while Peanut’s head was out they told me I could push the rest of her body out, but I just let the next surge shoot her out. While I was relishing in the brief relief, she moved her head around and started flailing her legs and arms, still half born half in utero. The sensation was the strangest thing I had ever felt…it tickled. And finally her tiny, slimy body slid its way out. She didn’t cry. She just coughed a little and started making these high pitched singing noises. The midwives said they had never heard anything like it before.

I cried. Half from bliss, half from relief. At 11:49 pm it felt as if time stopped. I told our daughter that she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen, that we had waited so long for her to finally be here, that we were happy she was safe and healthy and strong, and that she smelled like a little slice of heaven pie.Looking back on it…I can’t remember ever feeling more powerful and more raw in my entire existence. And next time, I am definitely making sure the birthing tub is set up right.

A Homeless Birth Story

When I was pregnant with our second born child we lived in a garage.

Up to that point, the garage was probably the biggest place we had ever lived… And what makes this story even better is that we had moved into this garage after learning a $10,000 lesson about what NOT to do and came back to a place who’s rental market was abysmal for a renter. We had a duplex, with a yard!, lined up. It was perfect. We would move in, a month or so before the baby was born. It had everything we wanted in a home at the time.

But the date of availability kept getting pushed back and pushed back because the tenants were trying to close on a house and it wasn’t without challenge, and the wife had just had twins.

And then the duplex burned down.

I could not believe it actually burned down.

I was too pregnant for comfort, and in denial about giving birth to a baby in a garage. And there were forest fires with lots of smoke. Suffice it to say, her due date eeked ever closer and the rental scene remained terrible. So in the garage we stayed. My expectations for post partum were very low because my previous experience had taught me that babies never stop crying and there is hardly any relief from the pacing around the kitchen table and the first year of a new baby’s life is just plain terrible.

I had a lot of PTSD associated with post-partum. It didn’t really help that my first baby was just barely 18 months old when the second baby was born. My heart broke in half for her. She had to grow up so quickly. But I digress.

The actual day of birth far surpassed my expectations. Not so hard to do, I don’t think. I knew that Friday night, that this baby was going to be born the next morning. And she was. I woke up after a blissful night’s sleep (which was a rare commodity) at 5:30 AM and I knew it was go time. My husband began to fill the birthing tub that we had waiting for us…another lesson we had learned. My in-laws eagerly awaited in the living room next door with Luci. We called the midwives. They arrived around 7:30 AM. And with more ease than I thought was possible our spunky, hilarious Zoe was born at 11:30 Saturday morning.

We have to meet our babies before we can settle on a name, but we were pretty sure this one was a Zoe. It was her middle name that we couldn’t settle on.

Remember the forest fires that were blazing around us?

Well, it had been raining all morning. That beautiful August morning. And the smoke cleared. She had brought the rain, so Rain became her middle name. And she was a blessing to behold. I thought there was something wrong with her because she just slept and ate and pooped and slept some more. Surely, it was too easy. Everything surrounding her pregnancy prior to her birth was like a nightmare…

I had a Placenta Previa which is where the placenta is covering your cervix.
So I was planning a C-section after having one successful home-birth.
We got the news that it moved out of the way of my cervix the week we moved into the garage (I was 20 weeks).
We were living in a garage.
She was breech until the very last possible moment.
We were on a complete 180 career change for my husband. And thus completely broke.
Our house burned down before we ever got to live there.
And shortly after she was born a rat infestation started to take over the garage… by then we had moved back into the one bedroom house on my in-law’s property. Thank goodness!

Having an easy baby and an incredibly beautiful birth was like eating a delicious ice cream sundae while the world burned around us. It was the best damn sundae I ever had.

Caribou National Forest :: Bear Creek – Idaho. Part One

We went backpacking in celebration of our two year anniversary last week.  Actually our plan was quite brilliant…we would spend two days and a night backpacking after which we would then spend the next night in the honeymoon suite of an awesome bed and breakfast (but that is another story).

today – the hike

We crossed the pallisades dam into “calamity campgrounds.”  They have the weirdest names for rec parks and trails in Eastern Idaho…

Calamity Campgrounds
Crater’s of the Moon
Dead Man’s Trail
Beaver Dick

Really? Who comes up with these? …but i digress

so we drove about six miles through a windy gravel road to get to bear creek trailhead (the mountain roads here are a million times better kept than oregon mountain roads–just sayin).

we lacked a map, and the sign didn’t tell us how long the trail was supposed to be, but by previous research we knew our plan was to hike about 7 miles in.  we never did find these hidden hot springs we had planned to find, maybe another time.

We hit the trail around 1 pm.  While on the trail we saw a moose not twenty yards away! Also countless snakes (I have a habit of almost stepping on snakes), mosquitos, nasty looking caterpillars, clicky locusts (they make a funny clicking sound when they fly away), squirrels, angry bucks and twitchy does… but the kicker was probably when we stopped to eat “lunch” at a pile of rocks in what we now call “scary meadow.” We heard a sound overhead that I thought was an airplane at first.  But airplanes make a constant droning sound.  This sound started up and then stopped, and then it happened again.

I felt my chest tighten and I’m sure my eyeballs popped out of their sockets.  I was eating a peanut butter nature valley granola bar.  Hummer looked at me, and I looked back at him and we knew we had to get out of there.  The sound was like a big animal breathing…which seems kind of odd to me now because we never would have heard it if it wanted to eat us…hummer thought it might have been a mountain lion.  We may never know…

Needless to say, I wanted to throw my granola bar and run away.  Hummer didn’t even bother zipping up his pack and we booked it out of scary meadow faster than you could say “boo.”

After awhile, our senses still peaked, we were probably a mile away from scary meadow we finally relaxed a little and tried to be as loud as two average people could be–so we didn’t run into anymore scary animals like that.

Next obstacle were the nasty caterpillars that were hanging out on some bushes that were overgrown on the trail…from the ground to the tops (about 6 feet) were covered in caterpillars. This was probably more unnerving to me than scary meadow…


And we made it through, alive and well. and i accidentally threw one of the caterpillars in the creek.  oops.

We found signs of human existence about six miles in.  So we decided to take a break here, eat a snack, take pictures of the sap covered trees, and go pee.  Little did we know this would be our camp site as well.

But we were still on our search for these natural and hidden hot springs… since we didn’t have a map it was hard to tell where exactly we were and how far we had to go.  So we continued on…

…and came to what appeared to be the end of the bear creek trail…so we took a right at the fork heading up north fork bear creek about an hour.  It was about 5 pm by now and there were no signs of the hot springs or any other kind of worthy camping spot… so we made an executive decision, decided to scrap the search for the hot springs, go back to that camp spot that had access to the creek and shelter, and buckle down for the night.  Did i mention it was overcast and raining?–perfect weather for hiking!

Backtracking we went, another hour to set up camp. We were starving by now and ate between the two of us, 6 MREs I think…

Read part two here.

The {Greyhound} Bus Trip Across the United States. Part Three

Okay.  The tower almost worked.  Seriously, though, this entertained us for hours!  I’m really surprised no one told us off for practically breaking their chair…or their table…or their flower pot.

Anyway…After Galesburg, our next stop was Chicago. Another 5 hours. Only to snag another bus that would take us back to our final destination which was the Quad Cities.  I really don’t know why we had to go to Chicago. Instead of just connecting with a bus that went directly to Davenport, IA. Chicago is 176 miles east of our final destination only to get on another bus headed back the way we came to Davenport, IA which was still not our final destination.  Either way, we eventually made it there.

For the record, Midwest Trailways buses are SO MUCH NICER than anything the Western States had to offer. Maybe it’s different now.  Thank you for being clean and spacious!

Chicago depot was arguably the most awkward place we had to wait for our connecting bus.  We were the only Caucasian people in the bus station, except for a group of Amish people.  I kid you not.

Context:  I grew up attending a high school that was a pretty good mix of all kinds of races, Pauler was a home schooled boy in a retirement town.  He told me once he could probably have counted the people he knew who were not white, on one hand.

So one could imagine the culture shock we felt.  Although I have more experience with other racial cultures (having grown up in such a diverse place) than Hums, I am still a by-product of the culture I was raised in …I can pretend like I am all tough and know all kinds of things because I have black, mexican, asian friends.  But let’s be honest here.  I am still painfully white.  And that’s okay.

There was a young teenage girl traveling with her grandma.  We were all waiting for our respective buses to arrive so we could get on with our lives.  For one reason or another, the teenage girl became agitated with one of the terminal/guard people because she was disrespecting her grandma or something. I missed the first part of the argument.

It got pretty heated and the girl started threatening to jump the guard lady.  

The grandma was trying to get her granddaughter to be quiet, but it was futile.
Eventually these two big guards, upwards of 6’6 and at least 200 pounds easy, had to come and tell the girl that if she didn’t calm down they would have to void her ticket and she wouldn’t be able to leave Chicago or get arrested or something like that.

I was intrigued, and amused that the girl didn’t seem to care about the implications of yelling at Bus Station Personnel, she just wanted to get up in everybody’s faces and tell them to stop disrespecting her grandma. Eventually, I’m pretty sure her grandma’s voice finally penetrated her brain and she let it go.

Then our bus finally arrived. We traveled awhile longer and finally got to my parents. Grungy, greasy, and tired. On the way back to school, we packed my bike with us…but that is a story for another time. I’d like to say we’ve learned our lesson about packing light…

And thus ends The Bus Trip Saga.

Read Part One. Read Part Two.