Saturday, May 22, 2010

Unexpected Plans

(Author’s note: It is with Katie’s approval that I share this story with you, my closest readers.)

Last week Katie was three months pregnant for the seventh time.

This week she’s not.

It didn’t sneak up on us, but I’m not sure how you prepare for something like that. Katie knew something was wrong for a few weeks, and was grappling with the possibility of a miscarriage long before I considered it. And even though she told me when her concern started, I dismissed it. I didn’t discount that something might be wrong, or insist that it wasn’t a miscarriage. But I held on to the thought, or maybe hope, that it was something else. Something less definite. I don’t think I realized how much of that day for Katie was spent processing what was most likely happening or what could be happening or what she hoped wasn’t happening. As the husband, without the constant reminder that life is growing within me, I operated on the daily assumption that when Katie wasn’t telling me something, it meant that everything was fine; and when she did tell me something, I could take a moment to wish and hope it away.

I prayed often for Katie. More than morning and night. But I remember the palpable moment I realized that my prayers and supplications were subconsciously, or maybe intuitively, always for Katie, and not necessarily the baby. And I think that’s when I started to slowly, but not out loud, accept what was already impressing upon me in small waves.

This baby was not coming.

A few days later Katie asked me for a priesthood blessing. (For anybody reading who may not be familiar with a priesthood blessing, it is an ordinance in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where a worthy man who has been ordained and set apart to an office in the Priesthood has the authority to anoint and bless an individual who asks in faith for such a blessing. See James 5:14-15, in the New Testament. In its purest form and intent, personal and spiritual revelation is received for the individual asking for the blessing.)

I had a close friend come over and help me minister to Katie. I love Katie more powerfully than I ever thought I could love anybody. And it hurt to feel her concern about this pregnancy. As I put my hands on her head to give her a blessing, I could feel how known and loved she was to her Father in Heaven. I felt impressed to promise her that this experience would draw her closer to Him. That whether a baby came or not at this time, she would be at peace in her heart and mind and in her soul.

The next morning Katie seemed remarkably calm. Not carefree, but peaceful. She said she knew this pregnancy would not develop into a child for us to raise. And she felt calm and comforted by the blessing. I could see that she was blessed with understanding and insight. I felt reassured by her confidence. I felt bonded to Katie. I thought I was fine and in step with her. I thought I was okay.

I jumped in my car to head off to work and was a few miles down the highway when I found myself not okay. With Katie feeling centered and confident, I found myself finally processing my own reaction to the reality that a child I was anxious to meet would not be arriving. I felt swallowed up in sadness. I wasn’t angry or resentful. I didn’t feel cheated or that life was unfair. I just felt sad. And I felt sad for a while.

We had an appointment with our midwife for an ultrasound. As we drove to the office, our conversation included speculations from one side of the spectrum to the other. From “Maybe I was never pregnant?” to “What if we’re completely off and everything is okay?” But when the ultrasound showed what we had already suspected, that a miscarriage was imminent, we weren’t startled. That sadness briefly stung my heart again, and I studied Katie’s face, searching for any detectable sorrow. I thought I could see it, but it was buried under a brave, accepting face, so I didn’t say a word to her. I felt like speaking would have pulled the foundational block out from under her pyramid of strength, and her calm exterior might have given way. And that just seemed unnecessary. So I simply squeezed her hand.

We drove home, somewhat oddly comforted in knowing for certain where we were at, physically. We didn’t say anything to anybody else, as we hadn’t told anybody yet, not even our parents. The next couple of days were just watching and waiting, but brought us closer. I felt conscious of Katie and what was going on inside her.

At the end of that week, my parents were set to arrive at our house for the weekend, and literally, as I heard my kids squealing that Grandma and Grandpa were here, Katie found me and told me that it had just happened. She cried a light, heartfelt sigh of relief, finally feeling that she had turned a page and felt closure from a long, uncertain experience. I hugged her so close I wasn’t sure if my hug was sustaining her or vice versa. She assured me she was okay, but I could see she was physically and emotionally tired.

I walked outside and met my parents at the car. I hugged them, helped grab their stuff, and then told them a little about what the last week had been like. I wanted to let them know so they could be sensitive to Katie.

My dad and I were taking my boys camping for the night, and Katie and my mom and the girls had planned to do a Girls’ Night at home. As Katie went into the kitchen to start their special dinner, my mom pulled Katie in to her and said, “Don’t you worry about dinner. We’re going out. Let’s take it easy tonight.” I watched Katie melt into my mom’s embrace, crying. It was more than the promise that she wouldn’t have to cook dinner. It was being understood, being cared for. It was the profound link between women, between mothers. It was an answer to prayer and the fulfillment of a blessing.  My mom had had a miscarriage between my two youngest brothers and so understood much more deeply than I, though I wanted to. And Katie felt that. I will always be grateful that my mom was there; that she is exactly who she is, with the instincts that she has, and the love she’s had for Katie since day one.

As I thought about that moment I realized how many people I know and love who have had miscarriages. But for how common they are, rarely are they discussed. I imagine it’s because the event may be common, but the experience is personal. It was for us. It seems like a very private grieving; mourning the loss of possibilities, of plans. It often happens before others even know it is a possibility and so is rarely shared until long after comforting arms are needed.  Yet, we’re grateful for the comfort and understanding that did come at the right time in the right quiet way; to be surrounded by people who love and support our little family, and who come running to our side when they are needed most.

(Author's Postscript: I've left the Comments button on. I know I don't usually do that...I suppose I just felt like this was a topic on which people might have something to say. And I thought I'd offer a place to say it. If anyone feels so inclined.


Jonelle Hughes said...

Beautiful post, Ken and Katie. You expressed what many have not been able to regarding miscarriage and the many facets of it. Thank you for sharing this bittersweet experience here.

Angela and Mike said...

Ken and Katie, I'm so sorry for the roller coaster of emotions you've been through. I'm glad you can have the comfort and peace of the Spirit, but I bet it still must be hard. I'm so sorry for your that I'm a mom, I can't even imagine how difficult it would be. For a while during my pregnancy I thought I might be miscarrying. I think mentally preparing for ALL possible scenarios is exhausting...and it's at least nice to actually know the outcome and move on.

We'll have you both in our prayers. Lots of love!

Josh said...

you guys are my favorite people in the world. I hope to grow up and be just like you, Ken.

We love you!

Side note: word verification "brost" which made me think, "We love you, brost!"

Anderson Family said...

Ken and Katie,

I wanted to chime in a little here and tell you how much your strength and example mean to so many people whose lives you touch. Some of us have experienced miscarriages in our lives and for you to feel comfortable enough to share your experience is inspiring. If I may express a little of our experience, I think the overwhelming emotion that Michele and I had was confusion. As I have told you, we were expecting a special needs baby and we were excited. We had friends and family members telling us how special it was for Heavenly Father to trust us with one of his choice spirits, etc. and we were humbled. When we went in for Michele's appointment, and there was no heart beat, we were confused and somewhat in shock. We weren't bitter (as you have mentioned) but it was difficult. To say we felt like the wind had been let out of our sails would be grossly minimizing what it is to expect a child and not be able to realize that expectation.

Having said all of that, however, I believe Michele and I grew closer during that experience in our lives than possible any other experience we have endured together. Another blessing that came from our miscarriage was the love and support Michele received from friends and family. It was almost like my family respected her even more than they had (if that is possible) because of how strong she was and how optimistic and positive she was. She cried and struggled at times but, as I mentioned, I believe her grief was brought on by the loss of the opportunity to get to raise and grow to know another child than it was anything else. As you know, we later found out about the special personality and struggles William has and I honestly believe the literature we read and the mental and emotional and spiritual preparation we underwent when expecting a baby with Turner Syndrome really prepared us to better serve William and love him and help our other children to understand that he is special and needs more patience and understanding from all of us.

Anyway, this has grown longer than I expected. Let me just say thank you again. We love you and your family and feel blessed that we are a part of each other's lives.

Julie K said...

I haven't been here in forever (major blog slacking going on over here) but I am so glad I clicked over today, because this was a beautiful and important post that I wouldn't have wanted to miss. Katie is amazing. There have been friends I've known going through this that I was really worried about. Not you and Katie. While I feel sad for your pain, I am happy to know that because of who you are, this is an experience that will strengthen you both even more. You are a great family and we Konchars love you.

Marcie Francis said...

I don't have any profound comment, except to say that we love you and are praying for you.

Susy said...

Thank you for sharing that!

The Yates Family said...

Ken and Katie, you guys are an inspiration to us and we are awed constantly at your love and patience with children. Not only do you love your own, but you have loved countless others, including our girls. We are so grateful to have you both in our circle of friends. Our hearts and prayers go out to you. And I agree, it is a very personal experience - anytime discouragement of this type comes your way, it is personal. Thank you for sharing. We love you guys.

Carie said...

Sending love and good wishes to two of the best people we know.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Lisa said...

I'm so sorry for you both and for your loss. It's such an unusual loss, even if it is uncommon, and it's not easy. I'm glad it brought you together, but I'm sorry you had to go through it. Your perspective is right on and I'm glad you shared it. When there's some distance between you and this experience, I will share with you ours. (Basically, Topher was sweet, but made some inappropriate jokes and it wasn't funny at the time, but now it is.)

mrsfussypants said...

It is not surprising to me at all the grace and faith you and Katie have when faced with sadness and loss like this. It still, however, makes me so sad to know that you are suffering. Please know you are so loved. Please feel our hugs from Chicago.

Kim H said...

Thank you for sharing. You two are amazing and I am grateful to know you and be inspired by you and your family. I wondered if Katie was expecting but never said anything. I am sorry for your loss and want you to know my prayers and love are with you and your family.

Travis said...

We just wanted to say-thank you for sharing that. We love you guys and think the world of you. And the whole time we just kept thinking how wonderful it is to have the gospel and priesthood in our lives.

Amy said...

Dear Ken,

Could you please share the following message with Katie:

Dear Katie, I felt inspired to log onto Ken's blog tonight (I never usually take the time to read it--too busy!). After reading about what you're going through, I know I was inspired to check in on you two.

I want you to know, Katie, that I love you so much. I know it wasn't a coincidence we were placed in David John Hall together our freshman year. You are a woman of strength and courage that is rare. You led me by your example to be a better, more caring, more generous person. I have learned so much from you and continue to do so, even from far away.

Katie, I know you have the fortitude to get through your challenges. Keep reaching within yourself for that incredible reservoir of tender strength that you have. And remember that it's ok to cry. Pretend I'm there putting a washcloth on your head like old times.

I love you and miss you. Thank you for all you have taught me.
XOXO from your old roomie,
Amy Reid

Jennifer said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. How grateful I am for priesthood blessings and for the comfort we can feel from our loving Heavenly Father during the challenging times we face. And how super wonderful to have a loving mom - That is the part of the story that got the tears rolling for me. There is just some mother to mother, woman to woman bond, especially when it comes from family. May you both continue to feel love and peace.

Team C said...

My heartfelt prayers go out to you both. Katie,you are a rock! I have always admired you and I do even more so now! Love to you both

Anne-Marie said...

I'm sorry to hear of your loss. I wish you all the peace that the Lord can provide to calm your troubled hearts.

DeNae said...

I almost don't know what to say. You both know how much you mean to us, and to see this heartache come into your lives is just so saddening. We love you and your sweet family. You'll be in our prayers.

Heather said...

I am so sad to hear this, but so happy to hear about the peace and comfort you have received. I too had a miscarriage between Hailey and Spencer. It was so hard, but I grew closer to Heavenly Father because of it and was grateful for the trial in the end. You are such a wonderful woman and great example to me. I know Heavenly Father will bless you with strength.

tammy said...

Thank you for sharing such a tender, personal thing.

merathon said...

crying. just love you guys.

Anonymous said...

Bishop and Katie,
You both are in our prayers and we love you so very much. I can tell you Katie that you will never forget the loss you feel but time does heal you pain. There is always reasons for our trials and when I get sad I just remember that someday I will see and raise my baby just as you will see and raise your baby we just have to be patient our turn with them will come :-) We just love both of you and your sweet family.
Tara Tiraada and family

Anonymous said...

I have gone through 2 late-term miscarraiges this past year. Painful, lonely, discouraging. It is so inspiring to read about it through a husband's eyes. My sweet husband never did know how to support me through it, and therefore did nothing.

I don't blame him; I didn't really know how to deal with it myself. But I am so thankful that you are willing to share these things with others and thereby help them through something that is all too often kept hidden and private.

(Sorry to post anonymously, but I know some people who read this blog and who don't know about my experiences, and I'm not ready to talk about it yet.)

Braden said...

Ken, that was a beautiful post. Extremely well written and it really conveyed the depth of feeling behind the words and experience. My wife had a miscarriage several years ago and I was unprepared for how emotional I was about it, how much we mourned. I'm glad there is that sweet peace in your hearts. I will keep you and Katie in my prayers.

Tober Family said...

I appreciate you sharing so much of your life with us on a somewhat monthly basis. I think this post is just additional confirmation to what an amazing couple you two are. Selfishly, I draw strength and compassion from this post and again I thank you for sharing. We love you and pray often for you guys.
Love ya!!

Anonymous said...

Our hearts go out to you and your family. Thank you for sharing this experience and for being the great examples that you are.

Your family will be in our prayers, as you frequently are. May you continue to receive peace and comfort.

The Murray Family

Mitzi said...

Bishop and Katie, I was so sorry to hear of this news. I know from experience how difficult and heartbreaking a miscarriage is. Your family is regularly included in our prayers, but we will certainly be saying extra ones for your comfort and healing during this time of grieving. We love you guys!

Ken said...

I want to thank you all for your sweet words of love and kindness. We have felt marinated in love and support through these comments, phone calls, Facebook postings, emails, personal hugs, and prayers.

To Anonymous, I pray you will find peace and comfort as well. I know it is scary to open up and share things like this, (or even to let someone share them for you), but it is through that scary sharing that we allow others to care for us and help us heal.

Beej said...

I love your entire family so much. I wish I was back in LV to hug, talk, think, cry, laugh, all the stuff we do together. All of you are in my heart. And prayers. Thanks for posting such a personal experience so that the people who love you can do so more effectively!

Becky Baird

Joanne said...

If not experienced, so many do not recognize or acknowledge the loss and sorrow; however, they also do not enjoy the support, love and peace that ensue. Bless you both and thank you. Keep those arms tight and knees bent. We love you. Aunt Joanne

Me said...

I love you guys and am so sorry to hear of your loss. Thank you for the courage to share such a personal matter. Pain shared is lessened, hopefully for your family and others who read this that have or may go through the same thing.

Charles said...

You don't know me, but I feel like I know you. I follow your blog via google reader because I like your humor. I began reading this post expecting to laugh at what you had to say (my wife and I always crack up at your comments), but instead, I'm sitting here in tears.

I can not imagine what you feel because I have never experienced it. I am sorry for your loss, but I am glad that the two of you were able to grow closer through this experience. I am also glad that you have a mother that loves your wife like that and can be sensitive to her needs. It sounds like you have a wonderful family.

Matt and Shannon said...

You are both amazing. I cried and was so sad when I read this, and had to revisit it a week later to comment. For some reason this topic is sort of tabu in our church and I am glad you shared this experience because now so many people will have someone to relate to and learn from.

Margie said...

Thank you! I wish these comments were available to me 26 years ago when we lost our second pregnancy at 5 months and it was so difficult for my husband and I to understand each others feelings at the time. You put it into words so perfectly.
On the upside, we will be grandparents for the first time within two weeks! Past sorrows lightened but not forgotten.
Best wishes!

Vickey said...

I just read this post. I know I am late in making any kind of comment, but I wanted to thank you for sharing this experience. My sister-in-law recently went through something similar, and your insights have helped me understand what they must have gone through at the time.
I will utter a little prayer for you and your sweet Katie this evening.

Alison said...

Thank you for showing how such a sad experience can also be a spiritual one. We have experienced a miscarriage as well. Our experience with it, along with the rest of the emotional roller coaster rides we took to bring each of our children here, are among the times that we have drawn closer to each other and our Heavenly Father. We love you guys.

Qait said...

I'm yet another DeNae fan sneaking over here-- in browsing your blog, I decided to see how you write about your wife, and I loved it.
And I could seriously write miles about how wonderful it is to see couples who treat each other so beautifully...
but I mostly want to thank you for sharing your beautiful experience. I have very often wondered what it's like to have a miscarriage as a way of preparing myself for the possibility. I think most pregnant women want to know what it would entail, and I've always thought it would be so horrible, so tragic and even horrifying, that it was hard to think past the actual fact of miscarriage.
Thank you for your testimonies and strength in carrying the trial with such inspiring faith. Thank your wife for both letting you share something so very private and for being a woman to look up to.

I know it was some time ago, but I'm grateful you opened comments to it. I'm currently pregnant, and it was beautifully comforting to read.