Sophia means "Wisdom"
33 weeks ago I was laying in a hospital bed recovering from an emergency surgery that almost cost me my life. Had things gone the way I expected them too back then, I would be basking in the joy of a newborn. I should probably know by now that things hardly go the way I expect, but I still hoped through most of that cold January.
I wasn't expecting to be pregnant when I ran to CVS to buy the home test that December 15th. It was the last thing on our minds and quite a shock when we figured out the reason behind my newfound love of afternoon naps.
In all honesty, I had a hard time with the news and called my husband in tears to tell him. I had been raising children since the age of 14. The idea of starting over, at a point in my life when I was finally able to begin to follow some dreams, was something I hadn't considered. I was scared.
My husband, on the other hand, did not have a hard time. He assured me that he would support me and make sure I'd be able to continue to grow my art business and take care of our baby.
The fear began to dissipate and I remembered having my boys and the sacred experience of parenting along side the man I loved. And the idea settled in...a baby, our baby.
Everything about this pregnancy felt different. The fatigue, the morning sickness, the aversion to chicken. I had never experienced any of this with my boys. I had a feeling that this was my little girl and I was in the position, finally, to truly give her everything I didn't have as a child. The relationship between my husband and I was stronger than it had ever been. It all felt so right...like magic.
A few days before Christmas we shared the news with our families. I have never been superstitious. I didn't believe in the three month rule. We were full of joy and wanted to share it with the ones we loved.
On December 28th, as I was in the shower imagining the scrambled eggs and pancakes I was going to cook, I began to bleed. It took a second for the realization to sink in as I watched the blood swirl at my feet. I had never had issues with my pregnancies. Miscarriages didn't happen to me. This wasn't supposed to happen.
I some how managed to get out of the shower, call my husband, and wake up my oldest to ask him to keep an eye on his younger brother. I drove myself to the hospital. I don't know if I've ever prayed so hard.
again, This wasn't supposed to be happening.
Within 30 minutes, my husband and I were at the ER. I hadn't even had my first prenatal appointment yet or met my new OB/Gyn. My appt was weeks away. I didn't know who to tell the ER doctors to call. They ended up calling the doctor I had used when my youngest was born 13 years ago.
After hours and tests, we were told I was about 7 weeks pregnant and that the fetus was not viable. I was sent home with instructions to go for a sonogram the next day to ensure everything was moving along the way it was supposed to. I don't know how I drove myself home. I know at one point I pulled over on the side of the road to cry.
24 hours later we went for our next sonogram appointment and we were told our baby was viable. There was a heartbeat detected and we drove home stunned, with instructions to see our Ob/Gyn the next day. There were concerns about the position of the baby in my uterus.
The next few weeks were full of blood tests, sonograms, and doctor appointments. There were concerns that the pregnancy would be too high risk to continue due to the baby's position and the possibility of placenta percreta, (when the placenta penetrates the uterine wall and attaches to other organs). It was all to early to tell and thankfully, my doctor wanted to wait as long as possible before determining whether termination would be necessary. There was also the possibility that the pregnancy would terminate on its own, due to it's low position.
When I look back January 2016 seems like a heart-breaking blur. I spent my days running back and forth to appointments, and my nights alternating between moments of hope, grief, and shock. In a matter of a few weeks, i was having to make life and death decisions regarding my health and the health of a pregnancy i had not been expecting.
On January 11th I went for what felt like my hundredth sonogram. It was at this point that we were told that the pregnancy was no longer viable. It was a Monday and i was to return that friday for another sonogram. This time to make sure I was miscarrying normally. "As if there is such a thing", I remember thinking.
If you know me at all, then you know i don't do anything "normally", including miscarry. When we returned to the doctor friday, nothing had changed. I was given my first dose of Cytotec that day and returned the following Monday, January 18th, for a follow up sonogram. again, no change. I was given another dose and sent home, assured by the nurse practitioner who had seen me, that this second dose would definitely help. She didn't tell me that I would have contractions as if i was in labor or about the amount of pain it would entail. I guess Nothing can really prepare you for that.
By 5am the next morning I was on my way to the local ER after being unable to handle the pain with the medication prescribed and becoming faint from the amount of blood i had lost. I was told at the hospital that the fetus was still intact and I would now have to have a D&C to clean everything out. I think at this point i was completely numb from the whole ordeal. I went into surgery that afternoon. I was told that there was a possibility I would be able to be discharged that evening after.
Instead I almost died. I lost more blood, requiring two blood transfusions, and a five day stay in surgical intensive care.
I was not the same person when I walked out of the hospital on January 23, 2016. There is something about "almost dying" that makes you reexamine everything.
At first I was angry. I felt betrayed by my body, by god. I felt like insult had been added to injury. I wasn't looking to have a baby. why did this have to happen to me? I felt like a failure as a women. I felt guilty for struggling with the news of my pregnancy, as if losing the baby, was my punishment. and then there was the sadness that would wake me from my sleep and make it hard for me to catch my breath.
I wish I could say that I was able to paint during this time but I wasn't. The pain was too much. There were days that I just cried and questioned God. I knew that it was all ok...that it was part of the process of grief, that god could take my questioning and anger and give me the grace to handle the sadness, the loss and the confusion. I remember a good friend, Stephanie, telling me that this experience would serve me and I held on to that during the darkest of those days.
I had chosen the baby's name years ago after reading Dance of the Dissident Daughter by ue Monk Kidd. I would name my daughter sophia. Sophia means wisdom. I know now how fitting her name is.
Although I never got to hold her, Sophia managed to teach me a lot during her short time in my life, lessons I never would have learned, had it not been for our experience together. She was here for as long as she was supposed to be, and in a sense, losing her, and almost losing my life, woke me up. It woke me up to a braver way of walking in this world, to a deeper relationship with my higher power, and my husband. It woke me up to new ways of creating art that I never knew were possible for me. For that I am forever grateful.
I'd like to share with you guys a doll I completed today. She stands peacefully holding one hand over her heart. The other hand clutches a baby's blanket and a child's teddy bear rests at her feet. She wears a handmade necklace around her neck with an elephant charm...symbolizing the power of connection and remembrance. The text on her base reads "although I never held you on my arms, I carry you in my heart forever". She is a whisper from my soul that lets me know I'm healing, that Sophia is always with me.
This art doll will be available in a very special auction hosted by Stephanie Gagos on FB. The auction is titled " A Survival and Triumph Auction" and it will be running from October 12 through October 19th. The event page can be found HERE.
This past mother's day my husband gifted me with silver bands in different finishes. Each one has one of my children's names engraved on it. He gave me four....one for each of our boys and one for Sophia....it reads "wisdom", her gift to me.