It’s been quite a while since I have had the chance to sit down and write and for some reason I have an itching to get it all out – to be vulnerable and share what had been going on the last few months in the Eshleman household. If I could describe the last five months in one phrase it would be this: The longest emotional roller-coaster ride ever (2nd to adoption); full of highs and lows, twists and turns, and quite honestly, pretty jerky.
But somehow, in the midst of all the unknowns, our newest addition and blessing to the family is due to arrive on Christmas Eve this year! Our Littlest Esh has already given us sleepless nights and trips to the ER, but despite the whirlwind of emotions and scares, she is still with us (yep, we’re throwing a girl into the crazy mix of two rambunctious boys!). Although we don’t know what tomorrow holds, we are thankful for this baby and have hope that we will get to meet her by the end of the year.
One thing I have learned since starting a family is that it isn’t always an easy task to accomplish, whether it be through adoption or pregnancy. In my younger years I really didn’t know that people struggled with infertility or that getting pregnant could be such a process. You “do the deed and plant the seed”, right? Sometimes but sometimes not.
I have struggled to really write about our difficulties conceiving because I know of so many people who still yearn for a family and have waited so much longer than we have to start a family. We only know a portion of that pain.
Our journey started when I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease about a month after we were married. I lived with the disease for about a year, along with its’ nasty symptoms, before deciding to have a full thyroidectomy. I basically went from a more dangerous disease to a less dangerous one: hypothyroidism. My entire thyroid was removed so I will live with this disease for the rest of my life. I take medicine daily to replace my thyroid hormones, but getting on the right dosage/ brand of medication has been extremely difficult for me. One of the side effects: difficulty conceiving.
About 6 months after my thyroidectomy, I found out I had two large cysts on my ovaries/fallopian tubes that needed to be removed and I was also diagnosed with endometriosis. Yet again, difficulty conceiving is also a side effect from this disease. We both wanted a somewhat big family and even before we got married we planned to adopt. I think this made the struggle of getting pregnant a little easier to deal with because we knew we would adopt sooner vs. later. We started the paperwork to adopt from Ethiopia, but before submitting it, found out on April Fools Day of 2011 that little Landon would be joining our family! We decided it would be best to wait until after having Landon to adopt since we would be going through such a huge adjustment already.
After having Landon, it took us about 3 years to get pregnant again. I can look back on that time and thank God that we were given that perfect amount of time to find and adopt our Max! At times it was painful to see friends get pregnant the first month of trying, or to get questions about when we would try for our second, but I am truly thankful for God’s perfect timing in their stories and ours.
So, fast forward to April 11, 2015 and we find out I am pregnant with Littlest Esh! Dave and I were actually celebrating our 6th anniversary on a weekend getaway and took about 4 different tests to make sure it was truly positive. We were elated.
As you can see in this video, Landon was pretty excited too. Max, on the other hand, didn’t seem too thrilled…
I’m so thankful for the joy we experienced the first two weeks of the pregnancy.
Right around 6 weeks, when we first started to tell a few close friends and some family members, I started bleeding. Dave went with me to the OB and they did an ultrasound, couldn’t find the baby, and diagnosed me with a miscarriage. I will never forget the emptiness I felt in that moment. The pain was so real, deep and I felt cheated. I kept asking myself “why would God play such an evil trick on us?” and “why did you even let us get pregnant again after years of desiring it?” Theologically I knew that wasn’t true, but I couldn’t get rid of those questions. I spent the rest of that day in bed, crying and waiting for the the baby to come. I was told it could take a few hours, days or weeks, or if I didn’t want to wait, I could take medicine to help it happen sooner. Two days later, I got a phone call from the doctor saying my blood work still showed I was pregnant, but that can often happen in early miscarriage. He suggested I come back in a week and have another ultrasound. In all honesty, instead of feeling hope, I felt like the “mean trick” was dragging on and boy it was a long emotional week.
When I went in for the 2nd ultrasound an empty sac was found, but still no baby. I was prepared to go ahead and continue grieving, but we were told I could still be pregnant and to wait another two weeks to see if things progressed. My HCG was rising, but at around 7 weeks we should be able to see a baby. At this point I didn’t know what to feel at all, and if I am completely honest, I even had a difficult time praying. Do I pray for a baby that I don’t even know is there anymore?
During the wait for the 3rd ultrasound I experienced daily bleeding and sometimes pretty severe cramps. Each day I thought “ok, it’s happening”. And then it hit me: severe nausea and vomiting. A full day of it. I was sick for Landon’s entire pregnancy and I remember praying “God, please give me a sign if this baby is still alive”. Well I think that was one of my reassuring signs because I have been sick almost daily since then ;)
When I went in for the third ultrasound they found two sacs: an empty one and one with our little girl. In addition, they also found something called a Subchorionic Hematoma: a gathering of blood between the membranes of the placenta and the uterus. Basically, it was a blood clot that was causing the continuous bleeding. Although I was so relieved to finally have some answers, and to see our baby’s heart beating, I had a hard time getting excited. At some point I could have been pregnant with twins, and even though the blood clot was actually not that dangerous, there was still a higher risk of miscarriage. Finally, at around 12 weeks, the bleeding stopped. Since then, there have been a few more scares, and two trips to the ER within 48 hours, BUT things are now getting a little less “dramatic”.
Thankfully, I haven’t had any complications for the last few weeks. I am about 21 weeks and our due date is December 24th! We are praying daily for our little girl and I remind myself often that all of our children are not our own and are ultimately in God’s hands.