These are the words promised on one of the happiest days of my life, and the same words that echoed through some of the most trying days my wife and I faced throughout the years of struggle with pregnancy and loss.
The first of our tests came when we were 1000 miles from home and any immediate family from which to physically feel comfort and support. We only had each other as the words "ectopic pregnancy" were first uttered by a doctor and explained to both of us, forever changing my wife physically and us completely.
It all happened in a flurry. Pain I had never seen my wife experience, the hospital trip, the ectopic diagnosis, to immediate surgery. The best result would remove the implanted egg and likely the fallopian tube it was attached to, and the worst result was it rupturing inside my wife causing internal bleeding and potential death.
I remember them wheeling her away and feeling like my world was collapsing. I was broken, helpless, utterly and completely alone. I had no idea how long the procedure was going to take, but I knew I had to let at least let my parents know in order to start praying, the only thing my Catholic upbringing knew to do in times like these. I could hardly formulate words into sentences when I spoke to my mom on the phone I was so uncontrollably overcome with emotion and the enormity of the circumstances.
After the call I waited in knots of worry until after an eternity they finally called me back to see her. She looked so fragile, tired and sad when I saw her, all I could do was put my arms around her, hold her and tell her repeatedly that I loved her.
When the doctor reported to us ‘all went well’, meaning they were able to get the implant out along with a portion of her Fallopian tube, our world went dark again. My wife screamed for them to put it back in, over and over and over again, and all I could do is squeeze her tighter and tighter trying desperately to keep out the menacing thoughts of never having kids from trying to creep into my head. At the same time I struggled with the reality of having absolutely no control, no plan of attack, and no way to make the situation better...the essence of my job as a loving husband.
You instantly become scholars of your circumstances when life schools you with a hand of crappy cards. Ovulation normally occurs one month on the right, the next on the left and now she had no pathway on the right for any miracle to travel. Mentally I took these now severely reduced odds and multiplied them by the insane miracle of life occurring from a single sperm meeting a ready, accepting egg, and my analytical brain was reducing our chances to having our own natural born kids to nearly zero.
I felt I could never utter those thoughts, though. I had to try to keep a brave face, for her, for me, for us. It's not over, it can't be. I've honestly dreamed of being a Daddy since before I knew what action was required to become one. In reality it was far from over. This was simply the first of an eventual nine pregnancies, four ending successfully with our beautiful eldest girl, Clara, and three amazing boys Nolan, Finn, and Elliot.
The other losses were not easier because we had experienced this one prior. They were all painful, heart-wrenching, disbelieving, soul wrecking experiences. They tested everything we were made of as individuals, as a couple, and as believers in God. We never had the movie version of a positive pregnancy test, followed by gleeful celebration, and then sharing with friends and family. Instead we had wishful, hopeful, long embraces filled with silent racing thoughts of how can we endure this again, and please, please, please God if you exist, don't do this to us again.
In the early days and weeks of pregnancy we waited for doubling HCG numbers like anxious lottery ticket holders. Then we looked to 'getting through' the first trimester as the ultimate test, knowing chances of loss significantly lessened after getting to that magic mark. We were hit with early loss, we were hit with late loss. They all sucked. When you’re in it you think no one can possibly know what you’re going through, I mean TRULY know what you’re going through. There are many of those dark times where snippets of the past can roll through my head unexpectedly at any given moment. It’s easier now chasing those out of my head and allowing the magic of what we have created with Divine help to replace them.
I can never let go of one moment in the hospital, and I realize now why. It happened all the way back during that first loss. I was broken, tired, hollow, and alone in the waiting room when a woman approached me and recognized my pain. I don’t recall exactly the conversation or how deeply I shared, but I must have gotten the gist of it out because I remember her softening, and with kind, all knowing eyes tell me one day we were going to bear witness to others and to be strong.
I do feel like “A Little Ray of Sunshine” is our chance to do exactly that...bear witness to others who feel lost, broken, and without hope. We and many others do know what it feels like to want so badly for something you cannot control, only to have it slip through your grips. And although there are never any promises in this life, we can at least share our happy ending to let you know that happy endings are possible.
Thank you to my wife, Melissa, and all the other courageous women and men who have been hurt physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and are willing to share their stories on this site. And to Michelle, who is one of those women, who not only shared her story, but was inspired and driven to create this site and put it out there. Hopefully it will serve as a place from which those in the midst of hellish times can draw strength and to begin to see glimmers of hope through the darkness.
Disclaimer: This is not a medical resource. The information is related to individuals and their unique situation. If you have questions or concerns about your health or fertility, please contact a medical professional.