On Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019, Deb, my midwife, put 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 two other 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 of the white room and came back a few minutes later to escort me to the ultrasound room. It didn’t take long for her to locate my baby, and I smiled as I saw his or her little form. She pushed it down and used every possible angle and feature, but the answer was still no. My baby who had stopped growing at about eight weeks and a day.
My breath caught in my throat and started coming 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 nod, my whole body shaking. I remember my practice dealing with panic attacks and take 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.”
I nod. “Can I call my husband?”
“Of course.” She slipped out of the room.
As the first ring starts going, she pops back in and ushers me back to the room I had been in previously. Deb walks in a few moments later with tears in her eyes.
“I’m so sorry sweetie.” She reaches out and puts 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 wrap my arms around myself and nod, 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 could hear 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 as well.”
“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 reach out and we embrace.
When she pulls away, I can see the tears in her eyes as her heart breaks with mine.
After she leaves I pull out my phone.
“Hey.” Brian answers, kids making noise in the background.
It takes me a moment to calm the sniffles and tears enough for me to be able to respond.
“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.”
“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 hang up and stare 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 could hear either fellow teachers or students in a background. I was actually surprised she picked up, but 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. They only measure eight weeks.”
“Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry.” I could hear her choke up.
“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, it’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.
In the car on the way back, I called my mother-in-law and let her know.
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 just found out my baby was gone and wanted to just be with and cuddle the children I did have; she just found out she lost a grandbaby and wanted to be with and cuddle the grandchildren she did have.
A few hours later, after the tears had dried up for a bit, I started thinking clearer. We weren’t going to be able to know his or her gender so the names Eleazar David nor Lily May were going to work. We searched for unisex names that would do. Brian, being at the end of his first semester of his Masters of Divinity program, was interested in Hebrew names. After scoring the internet, we ended up choosing Leor Eden. 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 melt my heart and give a bit of a smile and a nod. “You’re right.”
We folded our hands together and bowed down 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 close.
The rest of the night, I kept the determination that God would work a miracle. My mother who was there prayed with us, and we asked our church family to gather and pray alongside us.
The rest of the night seemed surreal, but Charlotte had a blast with Grammie which lifted her heart and mine. It really makes me want to keep having kids when I see the joy they bring to our extended family.
The next morning, I woke up, and it all just hit me again. I lot my breakfast appetite, which for me is extremely abnormal, and cried. I 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 and cried. I sobbed and wept for about another ten minutes. Then I smiled at Charlotte who was trying to put bows in Grammie’s hair and played along with them. I just needed to remember that I was allowed to mourn and be sad.
Later that Wednesday, my mother left and said she would return when we decided and talked with Deb about what the next steps would be. Brian went back to work that afternoon, since he didn’t have any vacation time, 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 group always has on Wednesday nights.
That prayer group was exactly what I needed. I was directing a Christmas play, and my kids had practice, but Carol, the pastor’s wife took over for me so I didn’t need to worry about it. As soon as I walked through the door, everyone gave me hugs and asked how I was doing. Carol asked for more details and let me explain, then went onto explain to me how she also had a miscarriage and how hard it was for her and that her daughter-in-law also had one. Her daughter-in-law was able to keep the remains and then buried them which helped them and was what she wished she had done. 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 world would say, just 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 that this was my baby, and I could mourn and weep as Jesus wept over Lazarus.
Then, even though I didn’t practice with them and hadn’t played for a month, they let me play my cajon, my box drum, during the three worship songs admits the prayers. Our first song was “There is Power in the Blood.”
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 feels surrounded by darkness, loosing yourself in bringing glory and blessing and honor to God is what pleases not only God but will chase away the dark clouds as well.
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 and Deb going on vacation.
She left the room and Brian and I held onto each other’s hearts through our interlaced fingers.
Before long, she came back and said that the technician could indeed squeeze us in again 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.
She checked again using the most sensitive frequency and measured, but there was 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 said it could be pretty painful and bloody.
The next morning, we went back into the office, leaving my mother with my girls. After waiting for what seemed like forever in the waiting room and then in the office, Deb came in. We discussed about the specifics a bit more before she left to let me strip down and she went to find me a small coffin which they gave out to women that this happened to.
She came back and had me go on the bed. I squeezed Brian’s had as she inserted the pills, physically, although uncomfortable, it didn’t hurt. Emotionally, my heart cried out. 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 back.
Before we left Deb held my hands and, looking me in the 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 see any of the pictures of mother’s holding newborns on the wall, and not wanting to look any of the pregnant women in the eyes.
On the way home, I let my mother-in-law know that the pills were in and that it usually takes a few hours to actually start. She reassured me that her and Lynnea, my thirteen-year-old sister-in-law whom Charlotte adores were on their way.
The next few hours passed by like a dream. My mother-in-law came. I cleaned and did laundry, and sat down and rested. Every time I went to the bathroom, I checked for blood, and at about three-thirty, 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 came out and let everyone know. I 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 it. 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 fuild.
“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 hold out the small body on my palm. Brian and I exchanged small smiles as we took in our little babies body. 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 had been forming 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 the 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.”
She nodded and let Brian lay 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, but I left myself be okay with not being okay. I let myself rest more 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 get 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 for how He orchestrated all these event so kindly for me. Mommy loves you.