Mary’s Story: Losing the Kids

 In Health Problems, Pregnancy Loss

In my story, I talked about how we lost three babies. I didn’t want to share all the details there as I felt it deserved a story of its own. Losing our children has been the most life-changing thing in my life. Not only did I lose my babies, but I also lost hope of ever having any babies and my health too. I had to learn a new normal. Life never goes back to normal after losing your child. You just learn a new normal. It was also a very challenging in our marriage. There are so many lessons we learned about grief, communication, and healing. I believe wholeheartedly that Solomon and I were meant for each other. I could never have made it through these challenges without him.

Mary’s Wrist Tattoo in Memory of the Kids

Rachel Rose Rodgers

A year after we got married we found out early on a Sunday morning that we were going to be parents. We were so excited that we told our church and all of our friends and family. We were on cloud nine, but I lost the baby after one month. I was so angry that yet another thing in my life had gone wrong. I had the feeling nothing would ever go right. My childhood was messed up, and many other important things that should have been joyful had been marred because of family issues. I was overcome with wanting to have a baby. Now looking back, I know my obsession with getting pregnant put a strain on our marriage. I was focused on forcing what I wanted to happen that nothing else mattered. I was consumed with the desire to have a baby.

Enoch James Rodgers

A month later, we got pregnant again. We didn’t tell anyone for the first three months because we were scared that I might lose this one too. I was afraid to get attached, so I didn’t allow myself to feel joy or even get excited about it. I could say I never connected in some ways. I later regretted not just enjoying him as much as I could given the circumstances.

I spent five months sick and vomiting. Solomon took such good care of me. I can remember crying because I was so hungry, but knew as soon as I ate anything I would vomit. I comforted myself with the knowledge that it was all worth it if, in the end, we had a healthy baby. The doctors keep telling me it was normal, but I knew something was wrong.

Being a nurse has it’s advantages and disadvantages too. I knew the symptoms of problems. We went to my five-month appointment and found out that it was a boy. My blood pressure was very high, and I asked my doctor if I might have preeclampsia, and he told me that there was no way. I was far too early in my pregnancy for that. The very next day I went into distress with blood pressures through the roof and chest pain. I honestly thought I was having a stroke.

Solomon took me to the ER where I spent 24 hours not knowing if I was going to stroke out, all the while they said my baby was healthy. They finally got me stabilized and planned to send me home the next day. But, that night when they came in to check for baby’s heartbeat they found problems.

Enoch’s Tiny Footprints

The nurse was having problems getting the heartbeat, so she did a sonogram. There was a slow flicker, and I remember my husband commenting “If that’s the heartbeat we have serious problems.” The nurse just stated that she thought she needed to have the doctor check, but there was no need to worry. I knew in my heart that it was the heartbeat, and there were problems but felt like as long as I didn’t say anything it would not be true. A few minutes later, the doctor came busting into the room. She said, “I would like to tell you I am not worried, but that isn’t true.” She did another sonogram, but this time there was not even a flicker. We had watched his last few heartbeats on the monitor and then he was gone.

It was a nightmare. The doctor said that they would have to induce labor to get the baby out. Solomon took me downstairs and outside to get some fresh air before they started. It was a bad dream. I didn’t want to go back to the room.

When we went back walking back down that hall was so hard. I had nightmares for years about walking down that hall. They induced and didn’t explain anything to me. Like I said, being a nurse has advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage being people sometimes assume you already know everything. I was not a Labor and Delivery nurse, so I had no clue and was so scared. I finally had to ask what was going to happen. The labor was fast, excruciating, and horrible. I remember all the pain, but sadly they pushed a heavy dose of pain meds just as I delivered, so I don’t remember holding him or saying goodbye to him.

It was May 6, 2006, when Enoch James Rodgers was born into this world. After my recovery, I had so many questions. I had a picture to prove that I held him, but didn’t remember him. Somewhere in my drug fogged state, I thought that I had just wanted them to take him away and my family had to reassure me I didn’t say that and I had loved him as much as possible.

Because he was stillborn and so early they didn’t require any funeral arrangements. We were so lost, confused and clueless that when they asked if we wanted them to dispose of his body, we had said yes. This decision was also part of the reoccurring nightmare because I felt like I had left my baby behind like a piece of trash and that devastated me. I had no closure at all between not remembering him and leaving him behind.

As I was wheeled out of the hospital, all I could think was that I was supposed to have been doing this with a baby, but instead, I had empty arms. I slipped into a depression like never before. I wanted to die and was on medication to keep me stable. I was on suicide precautions, and I know this was difficult for my husband. Solomon could not leave me home alone for weeks because he was afraid that I would harm myself. I very well might have if I had been given to opportunity.

The doctors said I might have Lupus and might never have kids. I was told I had antiphospholipid blood clotting syndrome and that my placenta had clotted off. My body had starved Enoch to death. In turn, that meant to me that I killed our baby, even though it could not have been helped, I blamed myself. Doctors can be so insensitive to how they put things. They explained this to me just a week after losing him.

I spent the next six months having test after test and seeing doctor after doctor. They finally decided that I did not have Lupus and could have kids with the right care.

Joshua Logan Rodgers

In November, I got pregnant again. This time, things went so well. I did have to have heparin shots twice a day to keep my blood thin, but I didn’t mind that. I had felt so guilty because I didn’t connect with Enoch, so I was determined not to let that happen this time. I enjoyed every minute of this pregnancy.

At the fifth month, I started feeling bad and told the doctors that something was wrong. They thought I was just freaking out because I had lost my last one at five months. This went on for a week, and they had me feeling like I was just crazy. The pain was real though, and it was unbearable.

Finally, a different doctor was on call for my doctor on one of my many ER trips that week. I was admitted to the hospital because my labs were off. By the time they figured out what was wrong, I was in kidney and liver failure. The pain I had been feeling was my liver shutting down. I had early HELLP syndrome. They told my husband I was as good as dead, but they would try to save me.

I was almost in a medication-induced coma because I remember not being able to communicate with Solomon, but understanding what the doctor was saying. I realized I was dying and he was alone. I wanted to tell him to call his family to be with him. I wanted to tell him how much I loved him, but I couldn’t.

Josh Holding Mary’s Finger

They induced labor to take the baby, Joshua Logan Rodgers was born April 1, 2007, some April fools joke. He lived for about 10 minutes, and we got to hold him and say goodbye. This time Solomon had told the doctors to decrease my pain meds so I could remember and be awake for it. To this day, I remember holding this tiny baby and the feel of him grasping my pinky.

Within 24 hours, the doctors said I was almost a new person. They told me at best they expected that I should have been in ICU for three weeks and needed 30 units of blood. Instead, I never needed any blood transfusions, and two days after delivery I was sent home.

Once again, I left the hospital with empty arms. There was another lady who was being wheeled out at the same time with her baby. The pain was incredible. I was diagnosed with Lupus and told I would never have kids.

I tried to look at it differently this time; I knew that it was only by the grace of God that I lived and felt that I couldn’t let my son’s death, so I could live, be in vain. I can’t say it was easy, that I never got depressed, or that I didn’t at times want my life to end because I did many times. I shrank into myself and didn’t seek counseling or any support groups.

My husband got a job on staff at a church shortly after losing Josh, and I was surrounded by “Christian people,” but no one who truly knew what I felt or what was going on with me. Because we were on staff, we had to put on a good face and be ok, even when we weren’t.

Solomon and I had many arguments because I felt guilty because I could not give him kids and I even asked him to divorce me so he could find someone else so he could have a family & be happy. He always assured me he wasn’t going to do that and that it didn’t matter. Solomon didn’t talk much about his feelings, and I really didn’t know how he felt. Sometimes I thought he blamed me and sometimes I thought that he didn’t care about the loss and that hurt too. Often, I thought something was wrong with me because I could not just move on and he had. I even had thoughts of ending my life to free him from me.

Later, I learned that he did grieve and was just trying to protect me. Ladies know that you are not alone your partner is mostly wanting to protect you and does not want to hurt you by saying something wrong. (Solomon wrote the guy’s version of this post, that might help them work through it.)

I did eventually go to a counselor, and she encouraged me to journal my feelings. That helped some, but not much. Later, I did Celebrate Recovery, a Christian-based program for hurts, hang-ups, and habits. I began to find some peace. Slowly, I realized that I could comfort other women who had experienced loses.

Lessons Learned

People say some really dumb stuff, even though they mean well. I remember a week after I lost Josh we were at church and a lady that had three kids running around her came up to me and said “I know exactly how you feel. I had a miscarriage once too.” It took everything I had not to punch her in the mouth as I thought, “How the f—k do you know. You have three healthy happy kids, and I can never have any.” From that and many other painful encounters, I learned never to tell another person I know exactly how they feel. I usually tell them that “I have had a similar journey and I can walk with you in this and understand a lot of what you might be feeling.”

I also learned that there is no time limit to grief. So often, you are surrounded by love and people right after something happens, but weeks, months, and years later you are alone with that pain as everyone else has moved on. They often make you feel like something is wrong with you because you have not moved on.

I learned that grief is like an ocean because sometimes things are calm and smooth and other times you are in the middle of a storm and the waves of pain are washing over you. Little things can set you off when you least expect it.

I also learned that it was not good to grieve alone and I needed to reach out. Years later, I joined a couple of support groups. Honestly, I did it because I was wanting to be an encouragement to others and wanted to know what the groups were like so I could suggest them, but what I found was that I needed it too and found a great deal of healing myself. I went to a local support group called Glory Babies and joined a private Facebook group called Grieve Out Loud.

Remembering the Loss

Over the years, we have done different things to celebrate our children. We planted flowering pear trees in our yard. It helped that they bloom around the same time of year that we lost the boys and to get to watch them grow as if they were my kids to some degree.

Mary’s Ashes to Glass Ring

We got tattoos with the boy’s footprints, and I got one later with all three babies birthstones for the month I lost them. I had a ring made by the company Ashes to Glass with Josh’s ashes (he was the only one we have ashes from). I have three my mother-in-law gave me that I put on my Christmas tree every year in remembrance of them. My husband got me a necklace this year with all the birthstones and names on it along with our adopted son.

There are days that I miss my kids, but I cling to the joy I have in knowing that we had them for a short time. There has been a bible verse that I have clung to many times as well.

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart, the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away may the name of the Lord be praised. Job 1:21

There have also been several songs that I have listened to that help, Blessing by Laura Story, Held by Natalie Grant, and Who You Are by JJ Heller. I still have my bad days, but it does get easier. I saw people’s stories where they had lost babies then had a miracle baby or a fantastic adoption story and thought, that will never happen for us. Eventually, it did (7 years later).

Adoption was something we thought about but quickly discovered that we could not afford it, so we gave up. However, there were other plans for our lives, and we did end up getting to adopt a beautiful baby boy. That is an awesome story in and of itself that we will share later. In the end, it still hurts, but I know I am stronger and we have a stronger marriage today.

I defiantly encourage you to seek support if you have had a loss. You are not alone. If nothing else Solomon and I are always willing to talk. Feel free to contact us.

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Being a wounded healer means being able to share your story with others so that they are comfortable trusting you with theirs.
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