Monday, July 1, 2013

A Story of Love, Loss, and Learning to Move On.

“Each new life, no matter how brief, forever changes the world.”

The morning of April 7th was a lazy one.  It was conference Sunday.  We were watching in our bed wearing our jammies.  The morning of April 7th I took a pregnancy test.  I had been feeling off for a while.  EVERYTHING was making me nauseas.  I was super tired.  My boobs hurt.  Typical pregnancy symptoms, right?  Besides those telltale symptoms I just knew.  So I peed on a stick.

A blue line!  There was a blue line!  It was so faint.  I mean I really didn’t know if it was actually there or not.  I showed Kyle and he could see it too.  Barely, but he could see it.  We laid in bed feeling a little numb.  Well, I shouldn’t speak for Kyle, but I was feeling numb.  Numb and so excited.  I held my tummy.  I just knew that I was pregnant.

I called my doctor the next day and she confirmed that there wouldn’t be any sort of line unless there was HCG present in my urine.  The pregnancy hormone.  She told me to wait a few days and take a digital test.  There are no faint lines on digital tests.  There is either a negative or there is a positive.

Wait a few days?  Yeah right.  I drove to Walmart and I bought a 2-pack of digital tests.  I went to the bathroom, the bathroom in the front of the store in Walmart and I peed on another stick.


It was crystal clear.  I was pregnant.

I immediately texted my closest friends and swore them to secrecy.  I sent them pictures of the positive result.  We exchanged excited messages that contained far too many exclamation points.  My friends were happy for me.  I was happy.  I was so happy.  I was going to have another baby.

With every wave of nausea, every food aversion, every time I yelped with pain when my chest was brushed by my arm or bounced on by my child, I was thrilled.  Kyle and I were expanding our family.

I daydreamed of a blue-eyed baby.  I wondered how different this baby would look than Ayla.  I wondered if it would look enough like me to still resemble Ayla, even though they have different fathers.  I got out my What To Expect When Expecting book.  I read and reread the chapters that I had read so many times 4 years ago.  Kyle and I discussed names.  A lot of names.  I looked at baby clothes.  I visited the doctor and they confirmed my pregnancy.  It was real.  It was happening!  I was just over 6 weeks along.

Then the bleeding started.  A lot of bleeding.  I sat on the bathroom floor and I cried.  Kyle consoled me.  I tried to remain calm but this bleeding contained large clots.  There is nothing good to be said about bleeding and large clots when you are 6 weeks pregnant.  I made an appointment to be seen by the midwife the next morning.  They did an ultrasound.  They couldn’t find a sac.  There was nothing.  My uterus was completely empty.  We sat in the little office and I cried.  The ultrasound tech hadn’t said a word but I knew what I saw on the screen.  Nothing.  The midwife came in and she spoke with me about miscarriage.  She let me know that I might keep bleeding.  I might experience pain.  She told me that they needed to take some blood to test my level of HCG and that we would need to do a couple of more tests 48 hours apart to confirm that my levels were dropping normally.  To confirm that this baby was no longer there.

I drove back to work, sobbing the entire way.  I walked back to my desk, sobbing quietly.  No one asked what was wrong.  I sat and I cried for the last two hours of work.  I assisted customers with their insurance and billing questions for two hours while tears ran down my face.  That was a terrible day.

April 19th was a hectic and wonderful day.  My stepsister Haleigh was getting married that day.  I got up extra early and went in to the clinic to have my blood drawn.  She said they were ordering it STAT and that I would get the results later that day.  I felt sick to my stomach.  I just knew that  they would tell me that the levels were falling and that my baby was gone.

We headed up to Bountiful.  Kyle and I went to the Temple and were there with Haleigh and Adam when they were sealed for time and eternity.  I cried.  I cried because I was happy for her and she looked beautiful and so happy.  I cried because I was so sad.  I cried because I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be that day,  in the Temple with my husband next to me.

Adam and Haleigh tie the knot!

The Bountiful LDS temple.

We had an amazing lunch with the Willden family at Maddox.  The food was spectacular.  Catching up with the family was fun.  The whole time I was trying to keep my head in the conversations.  I was trying to smile and stay distracted when really I wanted to be curled up in a ball in my bed crying my eyes out.

Ayla having fun with Great Grandpa Willden

In the van on the way to the reception I FINALLY heard back from the nurse at the clinic.

“You’re levels have gone up.  From these results we can only assume that you are still pregnant.”

My levels had gone up!  I was still pregnant!  Of course I was trying to stay calm.  I said things like, “It’s still early.  They need to take blood again on Sunday.  Anything could happen.”  I was really trying not to get my hopes up.  I was trying to remain calm.  Needless to say, I could finally breathe again and my smile wasn’t forced anymore that day.

My husband and I at the reception.

April 21st.  I woke up to more bleeding.  So much bleeding.  I was scared.  I called the emergency room.  They told me to come in right away.  I woke Kyle up and let him know that we needed to go to the emergency room.  I asked my brother, who was still staying with us, if he could take care of Ayla while we were gone.  We headed to the emergency room.

This time I knew.  There was no baby.  There couldn’t possibly be a baby after all of the blood that I had just lost and was still losing.  There was no way.  I wasn’t crying.  I was staying calm.  I was trying to be upbeat.  I kept reminding myself that I had already been told once this week that I had lost the baby.  I knew that I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up when that stupid nurse called me and told me my levels were rising.  I just needed to get through these tests, be told the terrible news, and move on.  However, emergency rooms are even slower than the normal doctor’s office when you aren’t first priority.  {The family who was saying goodbye to a loved-one a couple doors down was priority.}  It took forever.  Blood was taken.  An ultrasound was done.  They should have been able to at least see a fetal sac at this point.  Even I could see that there was no sac.

Stay calm.  Keep breathing.

Eventually the doctor came in.  He had looked at my ultrasound.  He had seen my levels.

“Your HCG levels still indicate a pregnancy.”

What?  How is it possible to still be pregnant after I had bled not only once, but twice.  And bled terribly!  What is going on?

He told me that my levels were still very, very low.  He said that I wasn’t as far along as we had thought.  He called my situation, because of the bleeding, a threatened miscarriage.  I was supposed to take it easy.

There was still a baby.  I had questions.  Why did I have a positive pregnancy test on April 7th when these levels are indicating that I conceived basically the day before?  Why was I bleeding?

I was fine and happy to be pregnant.  I was told to see my doctor in 4 weeks for an ultrasound, unless I bled more, of course.  In 4 weeks they would be able to find a sac.  In 4 weeks they would probably be able to see a fetal pole.  Maybe a heartbeat if we were lucky.

I bled more.  I bled for 12 days.  We checked my HCG every 48 hours.  It was rising normally.  I was still bleeding but my levels were rising.  They kept telling me that the bleeding was nothing to worry about.  As long as your levels are rising, you can ignore the bleeding.  Well, friends, that is easier said than done.  Bleeding for 12 days is not awesome.  Bleeding for 12 days after you have been certain, twice, that you have lost the baby you are carrying is unsettling.  To say the least.

Even still, I felt pregnant.  I felt so very pregnant.  These not-so-fun early pregnancy symptoms were what kept me holding on to hope.  I started holding my tummy again.  I started daydreaming about names again.  My husband sweetly kissed my tummy goodnight.  We told Ayla what was going on because somehow her cousins knew what was going on and when your cousins know what is going on, you hear about it.  {Brynn asked me, “Did your baby die?”  That was a rough one.}  We let ourselves be excited again.

My tummy started to bloat.  My pants were getting tight.  It had been a couple of weeks and I was confident in the fact that I was pregnant.  There was a baby coming!  Due December 27th, 2013.  A baby!  I bought a cute pink shirt for Ayla.  I sent it home with my friend Carissa so that her boyfriend would print the words “Only Child Expiring December 2013” on it.  This would be the way that we announced our family growing.

A week before I was supposed to go in for my ultrasound I decided to call and see if they would let me come in earlier.  The nurse said, “Why not.  Let’s bring you in tomorrow.  We’ll be able to see something tomorrow.”

Kyle, Ayla, and I headed in to the office.  I was so excited to see my baby.  Or the sac that would be housing my little baby.  Or the fetal pole that would grow into my baby.  Maybe to see his heartbeat.  I couldn’t wait!  I was on the verge of wetting my pants because I had filled up on water so that they could have the best possible view.  I mean, I could hardly walk.  I hopped up on that table, trying not to pee, and I stared anxiously at the screen.

She felt around my tummy with the wand.  She pushed really hard and I wanted to scream with every push because I was certain that I was about to pee on her table.  I stared at the screen and do you know what I saw?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Unlike the other ultrasound techs that I have had to deal with, she told me that she didn’t see anything.  She apologized for the lack of a baby.

I wiped off the goo and I ran to the bathroom.  I went pee and I cried.  How is this possible?  What is happening to me?  How can I feel so very pregnant yet be so empty? 

“Let’s do some more blood work.  Let’s see where your levels are at.”  Carol, the sweetest midwife ever, let me know that we wanted the levels to be down.  She was very sorry, and she was so gentle with her words.  At this point, seeing as there is no baby, we want the levels to be down.

I knew she was right.  The levels had to be down.  They needed to be.  I needed this to be over.   I needed someone to tell me, “THERE IS NO BABY.”  I needed closure.   They took more blood.

I got a call that afternoon.  "Your levels are high.  We don’t know what’s going on.  With these levels we should be able to see a baby.  This is worrisome.  Someone will call you."

No one called.  By the evening I was worried.  What the hell is going on?  Why hasn’t anyone called me?

I called the clinic.  I got through to the on-call nurse.  Jen.  She pulled up my information.  She apologized that no one had called.  She explained that she hadn’t been able to get a hold of either of the on-call doctors to discuss my situation, which is why I hadn’t been contacted.  She the told me that they think that I am experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.  She let me know that my tubes were fine, the baby was not in my fallopian tubes.  However, that means it was somewhere else outside of my uterus.  This is scary, and painful, and life-threatening.  For the baby and for me.  She discussed stats and options.  It was the first time I had been made aware of a possible termination of pregnancy.   We talked for a long time.  I asked a lot of questions.  She answered them the best she could.  She promised that she would let me know more once a doctor has taken a look at my situation.

A little after 9:30 PM that Friday night she got back to me and let me know that the doctor thinks I am safe to wait for another blood draw on Monday before taking any immediate action.

On Monday, May 6th, I went in to have my blood taken again.  I was praying for low levels.  I knew that they needed to be lower.  We needed to know that this pregnancy wasn’t a valid pregnancy and that my body was going back to normal.  I hated the thought of a “life-threatening” situation.  I hate the thought of having to terminate a baby who had attached outside of my uterus, where it should not be.  They took my blood and I went back to work.

An hour later I got a phone call.  It was Jen, the ever-so-faithful nurse.  The nurse who had spent almost an hour on the phone with me discussing what could possibly be happening with my body.  The only one, at this point, who had given me any information at all.

“I have bad news.  Your levels are much higher than they were on Friday.  This is definitely an ectopic pregnancy.”  I asked what my options were.  She said that we could do another ultrasound and try to locate where the baby has attached, but we would most likely need to still terminate.  She said the longer I wait the more likely it is that something will go wrong.  I would be jeopardizing my future fertility.  She said, “We need you to check into the hospital and we need to test your kidney function.  We need to terminate this pregnancy.”  I asked if I could go after work.  I had only been at this job for a couple of months and had already missed so much work for these medical issues.  Plus my boss was not super friendly and I didn’t share with him what was going on and I was dreading having to tell him that I had to leave and go to the hospital.  Her response?  “We are considering this a medical emergency.  We need you to get to the hospital ASAP, like NOW, get your kidney’s tested, and have the IV started by 5.”

So I shot my boss a quick email, sent my husband a text to meet me at the hospital, and took off.  I was shaking the whole way there.  {The whole 10 minutes.}  I felt so sick.  I hated that I was terminating my pregnancy, but I knew that I needed to do it.  I wasn’t going to risk my life or my possible chances of future babies.  I still hated it.

I checked myself in and I tried to stay positive.  I snapchatted away with my friends.  I joked with the nurses.  I pretended like my heart wasn’t shattering all over again.  Kyle showed up after they had taken my blood to test my kidney function.  They took a lot of blood for that test.  Kyle got there in time for me to learn that I wasn’t actually getting this medication that would terminate the pregnancy through an IV drip.  Kyle was there in time to be with me while two nurses injected two massive needles, one in each kidney, injecting the Methotrexate.  This hurt.  It hurt so bad.  A massive needle straight into the kidney HURTS.  The Methotrexate hurt.  It stung.  I could feel it spreading through my lower back.  It was cold but it stung so bad, which almost made it feel hot.  They put a couple of bandaids on me and sent me on my way.

I didn’t even get out of the lobby before the tears were running down my cheeks.  Kyle asked, “Are you crying because it hurt or because of the baby?”  Both.  It did hurt.  And I’m not too old to cry when a shot hurts.  But I was crying because this was it.  This was the end that I knew was coming but still hurt so very bad.  There wasn’t going to be a baby in December 2013.  In fact, this Methotrexate that was hurting me so terribly made sure that there wasn’t going to be a baby for quite a while longer.  This was the end of the road.  Only, it wasn’t.

I still needed my HCG levels to drop.  They let me know that we would need to test my blood every week to make sure that the levels were dropping.  They warned me that sometimes HCG levels will reach a plateau and I will need to have a second, or even third, injection of Methotrexate.  I crossed my fingers and I prayed that my levels would drop quickly.  I was done with this.  I was so, so done with this.

I was talked to about the rarity of my situation.  Why did I have a positive pregnancy test on April 7th only to have my levels drop and come back up?  Why did I bleed so terribly and pass blood clots that matched every description written about a miscarriage?   The midwife believes that I may have been pregnant with twins.  In separate sacs.  I lost one that would have implanted in my uterus, the second one somehow attached outside of the uterus and continued to grow.  What are the odds?  Why would this happen to me?

I have had my blood drawn every week.  I have had my blood drawn 7 times since my injections of Methotrexate.  I get to talk to Jen every week.  Every week she apologizes that I have to get my blood drawn again.  She laughs and says, "I know you hate having to talk to me every week".  I still have HCG in me.  I still FEEL pregnant.  Not as much as 3 weeks ago, but it’s still there.  It is a cruel, cruel thing to feel pregnant when you are not.  It has not been easy.  Even my last blood draw, the one last Wednesday, showed that my levels are 37.5.  It’s a very small level, but I need to be below 5.  I’m not there, but I have finally been told to stop my weekly blood draw.  We will test again in a month.  There is a light at the end of this hellish tunnel.

Through this whole situation I have tried to keep my head up.  I have kept smiling and I have dealt with it the only way I know how.  “I’m fine.  Yeah it sucks, but what can I do?”  Really I just want to sob every time someone asks me.  Really I wish that no one else knew at all so that I wouldn’t have to explain the situation or pretend like I am fine, when on the inside I don’t feel fine.

It’s amazing how quickly you become attached to a baby that is inside you.  It’s amazing the loss that you feel when you find out that there really isn’t a baby anymore.  It’s amazing how empty you feel on the inside.  It’s amazing how much it hurts my heart every time they take my blood and tell me that my levels have dropped.  It’s amazing how much it hurts every time I see someone with a cute pregnant tummy because I remember that my tummy isn’t going to look like that any time soon.  It’s amazing how bad it hurts when Ayla says, “Is there still a baby in your tummy?  Did it go to heaven?  I want you to have a baby in your tummy.”  It’s amazing how sad I am.  There is nothing that I could have done to prevent or fix this situation.  It is what it is.  And it is sad.

I am so thankful for my husband.  Kyle has been nothing but supportive through this entire situation.  He has been my rock.  He has cried with me, he has been angry with me; he has felt all of the emotions that I have felt.  He has held my hand the whole time.  I have fallen in love with him over and over again.  I am so lucky that he is the person I get to share these trials with.  I am so lucky that he is going to be next to me forever.  I am so lucky that he will be the father to our future children.  I am so lucky that he is the father to our current child.  I am so, so lucky.   I would not have made it through the past 3 months without Kyle.

Having said all of this, how sad I am and how badly I hurt, I know that I have so many great things ahead of me.  I know that it wasn’t the last time that I will be pregnant.  I know that someday I will get to see that positive pregnancy test again and someday I will actually get to feel the flutter in my tummy of an active little ninja baby, and I will hold another beautiful little child in my arms.  It’s all about timing.  I have faith that there is a plan for me and a plan for my family.  I will probably always hurt inside when I think about the baby that was never meant to be, and I will probably always cry when I read this story, but I am a stronger person for it.  I have gained some empathy.  My heart aches for every woman who has miscarried their baby or has had to terminate their pregnancy for the sake of their own life.  My heart aches.  I know that nothing can fill the emptiness that is felt.  Only time.

As for now I am really trying to be thankful for what I do have and not focus on what I have lost.  I have a beautiful family, immediate and extended, who are here for me.  I have a great job.  I have wonderful and supportive friends.  I have so much and I am so thankful.

Here’s to bright futures and better tomorrows!


  1. Well written. It is hard to read of the heartache that you and Kyle experienced. The sadness will not go away. But, I know that you will have joys in the future that will overshadow this loss. Your compassion and empathy will grow. You will grow in a way that can only occur by the process of experiencing trials in our life. Love you!

  2. This is beautiful. You are a strong woman. I have had a few miscarriages and they are very hard to go through. Someday you will be able to help ease someone else's pain because of your experience. I know that blessings will come.

  3. Wow what a rollercoaster. I'm so sorry Tonja. I can't even imagine how hard that would be. I will be praying for you and your family.

  4. Tonja, I am so sorry you had to go through this. Just reading about it made me cry. I know someday soon you will hold in your arms a beautiful new baby and all the hurt will be washed away. Before I had Bowen we tried for well over a year to get pregnant and then when we finally did i miscarried. I know that was a small thing compared to what many women experience but it was so hard on me emotionally. I have learned that everything is in the Lord's timing and not ours even when we want really good things. I love you so much and I am so sorry for what you have been through physically and emotionally.

  5. You are the strongest friend I know {that's why I keep you around}. You are truly an inspiration. You have had more obstacles in the past 5 years than most people experience in a lifetime, and you are still so strong. Reading this took me back to the day when you told me you were pregnant to the scary texts when you said you didn't know. I love you friend. Thanks for sharing the whole story.

  6. I'm sitting here at work, crying! I'm so sorry for you and your little family! You and Kyle are already such great parents, and I know you will be again when the timing is right! But, I'm still so sorry for your loss :(

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