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Coping When You Finally Get Medical Answers

Coping When You Finally Get Medical Answers

My very first blog for this site was about how to cope if there are no medical answers for pregnancy loss. Ironically, this blog will be about how to cope if you finally do get some answers! For the past several years, I have endured some crazy medical symptoms on top of all my pregnancy losses, and I always knew that my thyroid was somehow involved. It was abnormal after Jonah’s death and stayed abnormal for 8 months following that. Then, with Sammy’s pregnancy, my thyroid was abnormal the entire time. Now in postpartum life, my thyroid has continued to haunt me. For the past 8 months, I have had countless lab tests, doctors appointments, etc. to hear “We have no idea what is wrong” over and over and over.    

Yesterday, I was able to see a new doctor that specializes in thyroid conditions. When she walked in the room to meet me, she said, “You have Graves disease.” She could tell immediately just by looking at me, specifically my red eyes. Over the next hour, she explained to me how Graves disease was the reason for all my suffering. I’ve had the disease for 10 years based on how my thyroid ultrasound looked, which means that I’ve had this the entire time I have been married and trying to have a family. It’s the reason I get so incredibly sick when I’m pregnant, and it’s the reason that I lost Jonah and January. However, she wasn’t sure if it caused Hope’s death since Graves disease isn’t associated with stillbirth. In my heart, I feel like it must be connected in some way, but I’ll never know for sure.   

It was such a relief to hear that there is a definitive reason for my miscarriages, and best of all, that it can be controlled! However, it’s still so frustrating to not know if this is ‘the reason’ for Hope’s death. Half of my heart feels closure with this diagnosis, and the other half feels confusion and anger that everything can’t be wrapped up in a nice little bow. One of the most surreal moments was having the doctor tell me that I could have a healthy pregnancy in the future without being terribly sick. I had given up on having more biological children because it seemed that my body was almost allergic to being pregnant. I wouldn’t be able to care for my two boys if I was sick for 20 weeks again, and I didn’t want to put my life in danger. It was almost as if she handed me back my future and said, “It’s okay to be open to more children if that is what you want.”    

Knowing that this disease was at the heart of all the torture over the last few years is helpful in many ways, but it doesn’t take the pain away of losing three babies. Having an answer doesn’t automatically bring healing like I always expected. In some ways, it’s harder to know the answer because it makes me frustrated with all the doctors that missed the diagnosis. It makes you have more “what if” thoughts, wondering about how life would be different if someone had figured this out sooner. But thankfully, I know and trust that this was the way that God wanted my life to play out. I was meant to find out about this disease at this precise moment, and I’m so incredibly grateful to finally have a treatment plan that should make me healthy again.    

One of the most popular verses that people use when you’ve lost a baby is Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that for those that love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Right after a loss, this is probably the last verse you want to hear. It feels patronizing and simplistic, glossing over all the immense pain of loss. But for moments like today, when I look back at this journey, I can see that yes, all things have worked together for my good. All of the pain and sorrow led me to my two beautiful boys, and all of the medical appointments and strange symptoms led me to this diagnosis. It was a winding road, and definitely not the path I would have chosen, but God has used my story for His glory. He has used it to draw me closer to Him, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.    

If you’re searching and waiting for medical answers, I encourage you to not give up hope. I had completely given up on finding answers for my losses when I got this diagnosis; it was a sweet gift from God to be able to have that closure. And if it seems like your story has no goodness in it, trust that God isn’t done writing your narrative. When He is the author of your story, He promises to work everything out for your good – even if it takes decades, even if it’s unlike anything you ever imagined, even if it seems impossible. Trust Him with your story.    

Catherine Hartel

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