On Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019, Deb, my midwife, slid the handheld ultrasound into her white coat pocket and placed her hand on mine. “I don’t think this is a healthy pregnancy, sweetie.”
There had been trouble finding both my other two children’s heartbeats at their eight week appointments, so there was probably nothing to worry about. But then again, I thought, at sixteen weeks there shouldn’t be a problem.
“I’ll see if our ultrasound technician can squeeze you in.”
Deb slipped out and came back a few minutes later to escort me to the ultrasound room. Within seconds, the technician found my little one. My heart filled with warmth seeing his or her precious little form for the first time. My baby was there, but after pushing down from every possible angle and using the most advanced features, the answer was still no. My baby had stopped growing at about eight weeks and a day.
My breath caught in my throat and forced its way through my teeth in the shallow, rapid spurts of a panic attack. The technician grabbed my hand and handed me a box of tissues.
“Breathe,” she reminded me gently.
I nodded, or at least tried, my whole body shaking. I recalled my strategies for fighting panic attacks and took a few deep breaths, rubbing my fingers along the fabric covering my knees.
“Oh, God. Daddy. Daddy? God, why?” My heart cried aloud.
“I’m going to go get Deb so you can talk, okay.”
Moments later, she popped back in and ushered me back to the exam room. Deb walked in shortly after with tears in her eyes.
“I’m so sorry, sweetie.” She reached out and put her hand on my knee. “Sometimes this just happens, usually because there’s just something not right with the chromosomes. In fact, about twenty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.”
I wrapped my arms around myself and nodded, still taking it all in.
“Is there someone here with you today to drive you home, or someone who could come pick you up?”
“I drove myself.” I heard my voice shake and stutter. “We didn’t think there would be anything wrong. I mean with Charlotte and Minette there wasn’t. That’s one of the reasons we waited so long for this first appointment.”
“Well why don’t you call your husband, I’ll check on my next appointment and come back in. Can I give you a hug?”
I reached out and we embraced.
When she pulled away, I saw the tears in her eyes as her heart broke with mine.
After she left, I pulled out my phone.
“Hey.” Brian answered, kids making noise in the background.
I focused on calming the sniffles and tears before responding.
“Hun? What’s going on?”
“They can’t find the heartbeat. At all. Deb tried with the doppler, then a handheld ultrasound, and the regular ultrasound.”
“There’s no heartbeat, and I’m supposed to be sixteen weeks, and he or she is only measuring eight weeks and a day.”
“Oh… Okay. Um.”
“Can you get someone to watch the kids and come pick me up? If not, I can call someone else to give me a ride, but I don’t trust myself to drive right now.”
“Um, it might take me a moment, but I suppose.”
“Wait, you have both car seats. Can you just come and bring the girls with you? I want to hold them.”
“It’ll take us a bit. They’re not dressed yet, but yeah. We’ll be there as soon as possible. I love you, dear.”
“I love you, too. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay. Love you, bye.”
“Love you, too. Bye.”
I hung up and stared at the phone. The tears poured out of my soul; the Spirit interceded the wordless groans of my heart.
I flipped through my contacts looking for the next person I should call.
“Hey sweetie, what’s up?” I heard either fellow teachers or students in a background.
“Hi, Mom.” The tears and gasps of breath caught her off guard.
“Amber? What’s going on?”
“I had my first Ob appointment today.”
“They can’t find the heartbeat. Deb tried with the doppler, with a handheld ultrasound, and with the regular ultrasound. He or she only measures eight weeks.”
“Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry.” She choked up a bit, obviously not wanting to cry in front of students. “Well what is Deb going to do? Do you know yet?”
“Not really. She said something about waiting for my body to just let him or her go, or there were these pills to jumpstart the process. She also said there’s the D&C, but I refuse to do that.”
“Okay, well, just let me know. Do you want me to come over today?”
“No, I’ll be okay. I know you don’t have that many days to take off, and I’d rather have you here when I actually deliver him or her.”
“Alright.” She gives a sympathetic sigh. “I’m so sorry, honey. I love you. You’ll get through it.”
“I know, Momma. I love you, too.”
Then I waited, crying out to God until Deb brought Brian and the girls into the room. I held them as much as our squirmy three-year-old and adventurous almost one-year-old would let me. We all talked a bit more, but decided it would be best to just go home, then come back in a week.
My mother called me barely two hours later and let me know she was going to be coming over. I tried to reassure her that she didn’t need to, but she insisted. I had discovered my baby was gone and just wanted to cuddle the children I did have; she had discovered her grandbaby was gone and just wanted to cuddle the grandchildren she did have.
A few hours later, as the tears were refilling and my mother was getting comfortable, I started thinking clearer. Eleazar David and Lily May were going to work for names since we wouldn’t know the gender until Heaven, so we searched for unisex names. Brian, learning Hebrew for his Master of Divinity program, wanted to choose a Hebrew name. Leor Eden is what was finally decided. Leor meaning “my light”, and Eden after the garden of Eden which was paradise on Earth, as he or she would always be in paradise.
Then it hit me. Why was I giving up so easily. I stood in front of Brian and grabbed his hands.
“No. This isn’t the time for tears and mourning. We have a God who does miracles, and He can bring our baby back.”
Brian looked at me with his sad, kind eyes that melted my heart, but gave a small smile. “You’re right.”
We folded our hands together, bowed our heads before our God, and prayed hard for a miracle. We prayed that He would have our baby’s heart start beating again, and, if not, that He would hold our hearts close.
We reached out to our parents and church family to have them join us in prayer. The rest of the night, I kept the fierce, determined attitude that God would work a miracle.
The rest of the night seemed surreal, but Charlotte had a blast with Grammie which lifted her spirit and mine. Whenever I see the joy my children bring to my parents, it fills my heart with joy and pride over them.
That night I had a bit of a reprieve from the emotions, but the next morning, they flooded me again. I cried. And cried, and cried, mostly silently for what seemed like hours.
I looked over at my mother and apologized.
Her response will never leave my heart. “Amber, it’s okay to not be okay right now.”
I nodded and clutched my Bible, repeating those words to my heart. “It’s okay to not be okay right now.” And I sobbed. For another ten minutes.
Then I smiled at Charlotte who was trying to put bows in Grammie’s hair, and played with them. I had just needed to remember that I was allowed to mourn and be sad.
Later that day, my mother left and said she would return when we decided what the next steps would be. Brian went back to work that afternoon, and I was left with my girls for the night. I was feeling better and knew I had people I could call on to help. I also knew that I needed to go to the prayer group my church always has on Wednesday nights.
That meeting was exactly what I needed. As soon as I walked through the door, everyone gave me hugs and asked how I was doing. Carol, our pastor’s wife, asked for more details and let me explain, then shared how she and her daughter-in-law also had miscarriages. Her daughter-in-law was able to lay the remains of their baby to rest which helped them to grieve and was what Carol wished she had done with her baby. Linda, another dear friend also shared her story of her two miscarriages, and how she would have tried to keep the remains or bloody pile where the remains where to lay them to rest, too.
Already, I was starting to have peace. Where the enemy whispered, “Have the D&C and get it over with. It’s just a clump of cells and will be hard to distinguish amongst all the blood that will come,” I had the church, the bride of Christ, reassuring me, “This is your baby. He or she will be with God, but mourn and weep as Jesus had over Lazarus.”
As we grouped in our circle, I sat on my cajon, my box drum, and played “There is Power in the Blood” to open the meeting.
Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s power in the blood, power in the blood
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful power in the blood
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the blood of the Lamb
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb
As I played, the Spirit filled me with His supernatural peace and joy. Never forget, praise is a powerful weapon. Even when your heart is besieged by darkness, losing yourself in bringing glory, and blessing, and honor to God will break through the strongest of the enemies defenses.
The following Tuesday, Brian came with me for our next appointment. Even though Deb had said our baby had a zero percent chance of being okay, we insisted on another ultrasound, even though it wouldn’t be covered by insurance.
Deb understood and went to see if the technician could squeeze me in again right away because if Leor was still with Jesus, it would be best to make decisions sooner rather than later with the up-coming holiday.
She left the room and Brian and I held onto each other’s hearts through our interlaced fingers.
Before long, she returned saying the technician could indeed squeeze us in and wasn’t going to charge us. Brian and I praised God because of their kindness.
It didn’t take but five minutes until the technician had the ultrasound pressed up against my stomach again, and found our little baby.
Still no growth and no heartbeat. Leor Eden was a “missed miscarriage.” He had been with Jesus for almost two months, and my body just hadn’t realized it.
With a bit more discussion between Deb, Brian, and I, we decided to go in the next morning to have her put four small pills by my cervix to ripen it.
I called my mother and Brian’s mother. My mom had been there as moral support for the birth of Charlotte and Minette, and I wanted her there for Leor, too. I asked my mother-in-law to come watch the kids for us, because Deb warned us that it was going to be painful and bloody.
The next morning, we went back into the office, leaving my mother with my girls. After the typical, long doctor’s office wait. Deb, Brian and I discussed the specifics, before she left me to strip down as she retrieved a small coffin for us.
She came back and had me go on the paper-lined bed. I squeezed Brian’s hand as she inserted the pills. Physically, although uncomfortable, it didn’t hurt. Emotionally, my heart screamed in agony. I looked Brian in the eyes as he stroked the back of my hand.
“This is happening.” I kept repeating. “This is happening. I don’t want this to be happening, but it’s happening.”
He nodded and squeezed my hand.
Before we left, Deb held my hands and, meeting my eyes with her tear-filled ones, she said, “You are strong. I don’t know many women who would choose this option. I gave you my personal number, so let me know if you need anything.”
She gave us another hug before we left. I hung my head as I walked out, not wanting to make eye contact with the pictures of mother’s holding newborns on the wall or the pregnant women in the waiting room. .
The next few hours passed by like a dream. My mother-in-law and thirteen-year-old sister-in-law, Lynnea, whom Charlotte adores, came. I cleaned, did laundry, and rested as we waited the few hours we were told it would take to start. Every time I went to the bathroom, I checked for blood. At 3:30PM, four and a half hours after the pills were inserted, the cramping started. I waited another half an hour to go to the bathroom, and there was indeed blood on the pad.
I let everyone know, and grabbed the heating pad as the pain started getting worse. It was then that Minette started fussing. I asked my mother-in-law to take them out, maybe go walk around the mall which has a small in-door playground for them, or take them to the library, but Minette fell asleep in the car practically before they left the driveway.
As soon as they were gone, I drew up a bath and got in. Both my mother and Brian asked me if I wanted anything, but there was little to be done.
“I’m probably getting in the tub too early because it’s not that painful yet, but I really want a bath to help relax.”
“That’s fine.” My mother comforted me and went to do my laundry.
Brian stood by my side and held my hand in the tub as we waited for the cramping to increase or blood to start pouring. After about an hour, I just couldn’t get comfortable and my back started to hurt more, so I figured it would be a good time to get out and try using just the heating pad.
Feeling the need to use the toilet, I sat down and did so when I felt a gush of fluid.
“No!” I put my hands underneath me to catch anything that would fall out, and sat back in the slowly draining tub.
Brian, who had been fixing the bed for me came back in the bathroom and asked if I was alright.
“I think my water just broke.”
“Is there blood.”
He nodded and went to finish the preparation.
I took a deep breath and looked down.
In the few inches of water draining out, was a small form, about the size of my thumb tip. Carefully, I scooped it out of the water.
He raced back in.
“I found Leor.”
I held out the small body on my finger. Brian and I exchanged small smiles as we took in our little baby’s form. By no means was he or she a bloody mess or clump of tissue-y looking cells. Two small black circles where little eyes had been forming looked back at us, and four itty-bitty buds where hands and feet started growing rest against his or her round belly.
Brian brought over the coffin and I laid Leor down. On Wednesday, December 11th, 2019 at 5:14 PM our baby was born and laid to rest. Brian held my hand as I walked to the bed and laid down with the heating pad, still feeling crampy and waiting for the gushing of blood I was promised. My mother came back up stairs, and Brian showed her her third grandbaby.
“He’s so tiny. I know they said he was only eight weeks, but I’m still surprised.”
I nod. “He or she’s really cute, too.”
Brian came and laid next to me on the bed. He held my hand and stroked my hair. “You know. Leor’s little body is really precious. I wasn’t expecting that.”
I few tears trickled down his cheeks as I nodded in agreement.
After thirty minutes or so, the cramping died down a bit. I dressed and went to the living room to watch Christmas movies, keeping the heating pad on. My mother-in-law returned with the girls, and Brian showed her the picture he took.
They all ended up spending the night which was a huge comfort to me and a joy for the girls.
Over the next two weeks, I bled a lot, sometimes a lot more than others, and I cramped on and off. I also let myself be okay with not being okay, resting when I needed it.
After two weeks, the bleeding and cramping had stopped, but my heart still aches. I find comfort in knowing that I will see Leor Eden Mileusnich again in Paradise with our Lord when I get there, but I still do wish for one last chance to hold my baby. For now, I’ll continue to pray and ask God to do so for me.
Until we meet again, my little Leor Eden. Give God a hug for me, thanking Him for how He orchestrated all these event so kindly. Mommy loves you.