Heart Shaped

I’ve always loved finding heart shaped things in nature. I’ve never said it out loud to anyone, because it’s a secret I’ve enjoyed since childhood.

I’m not talking about hearts made out of natural things- like rocks arranged in the shape of a heart. I’m talking about being out in nature and finding a smooth stone, worn by water, in a heart shape. Heart shaped cave openings or the curled branches of a tree with sunlight coming through— I love collecting those pictures.

How ironic to wake up from a C-section a few years ago and hear the surgeon say I have a heart shaped uterus. That’s why my daughter came so early and probably why it hurt so much when she moved during month seven of the pregnancy—she ran out of room. That’s why even though miscarriage/spontaneous abortion is common, it happens to me more often.

babymed.com describes it well:

“A bicornuate uterus is a uterus that has…a heart shape. The uterus has a wall inside and a partial split outside. A bicornuate uterus is the most common congenital uterine anomaly and can impact a woman’s reproductive capabilities. In the US, it is estimated that bicornuate uterus is seen in 1-5/1,000 women, though this may be an underestimate since not all are diagnosed, especially when they are not severe.
Several studies show that women with a bicornuate uterus have about a 60% success rate in delivering a living child but have a higher risk of cervical incompetence. The condition is associated with an increased rate of spontaneous abortion, though the miscarriage rate is lower with a bicornuate uterus than with a separate uterus. That’s probably because the blood supply to the midline indentation is better. Premature labor, a breech presentation and/or a retained or trapped placenta are also common complaints with a bicornuate uterus”

On Wednesdays I write to ministry partners involved with our family in international work— usually short notes to several churches & families. I pray for them a few minutes then go to the post office to mail everything. I love tailoring each note for the person I’m writing to because I have good memories with every one. We enjoy having relationships with our partners, communicating regularly, and hearing their family & ministry news.

Today I was doing this from a Panera Bread, but I stopped early and I’m sitting in the van in tears. Not full blown weeping, just some sadness.

At the table next to mine, an adorable little boy was asking his Mom the same question about his sandwich over and over. She was tired of explaining it. I don’t judge her because I’ve been there. Sometimes Mom life is tiring. She also had a baby girl, cooing and gurgling — even with a bandaid on her leg. She’d just come from a vaccination. Adorable brown eyes and chubby cheeks. It was wonderful to see all this. That’s not why I’m crying.

As I occasionally glanced at this family’s hectic lunch time, the parents trying to eat while wrangling small children, a statement I’ve heard from different people through the years popped into my mind:

“You’d better start having more babies before it’s too late”

I usually dismiss these thoughts easily and move on, but today I’m sad.

I’ve just celebrated my birthday. It was great, but a few times I thought about how I wanted two or three kids by this age. Losing them wasn’t the plan. A few days before my birthday the date on the calendar when I miscarried my first son came around. Naturally these things are on my mind often in August.

Unspoken fear and uninvited feelings of condemnation I never share out loud are attacking my thoughts today.

This is what I feel after hearing statements like,
“You’d better start having more babies before it’s too late”

“Too late”
I just had a birthday. In my mid-thirties I’m hoping even with two consecutive miscarriages/spontaneous abortions, it’s not too late. Conceiving is difficult. Even if it does happen I have problems carrying babies. You’re right—I hope it’s not “too late” but you have no idea who you’re talking to. Did you know I carried two sons? Of course you didn’t. One of them a little over a trimester and one only a few weeks. Thanks to chromosome tests I learned the gender. I would tell you about them and share their names, but right now I just don’t feel like you deserve to know that sacred information. I don’t feel like explaining the unintentional blow you’ve struck to my heart

“Start having more babies”
I’m so lucky to have one child. My daughter was born with great risk. We were so happy she was ok. She came so early. I unexpectedly had to fly on a plane in labor to get to a safe place to have her. A few days after she was born we felt a heavy weight lift from us when we realized she was going to be ok.

If I have a third miscarriage, doctors I’ve seen in 3 countries have all said I should probably stop trying. I’ve taken several medicines and collectively spent months on bedrest to no avail. When this time of transition between two countries is over and I’m able to think about another child, it might not happen. How much courage do you think it takes to hope again— probably for the last time? More than I have. That type of courage only comes from God and right now we’re seeking Him about what our family should look like. I’ll either end up with another broken heart— or hopefully a child. I would love to adopt, but with our life situation it could be difficult.

Words from the explanation of “bicornuate uterus” are nagging me. “Uterine anomaly,” “impacts reproductive capabilities,” “60% success rate in delivering a living child,” “cervical incompetence,” “spontaneous abortion”

Different from other women…failure…shame.

When I feel like this (which gradually becomes less often, but never completely goes away) I get some level of comfort and hope from John 9:1-3:

“As Jesus was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth.His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened that the works of God would be displayed in him”

I certainly do not have the physical difficulty the man in the passage had, but the part where the disciples were basically asking, “Who’s fault is this?” always stands out when I read it.

It’s nobody’s fault. It’s not my fault. I was born this way. Maybe it’s from the effects of living in a fallen world. Maybe God planned for me to have a heart shaped uterus. I really don’t know. It doesn’t stop me from living life, but it hurts. Today I’m reminding myself that I’m not lost from His love or purpose.

Neither are my husband and daughter who would also love having another child in our family. We’ve learned what a wonderful gift it is to have each other and we’ll enjoy that no matter what happens in the future.

If our family remains as three people, if we adopt, if I miscarry again, or if we have a child and lose him, God will not lose sight of what is going on in our lives. He will be actively present working for our good. And there will always be hope for us because of Him.

©2017 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved

2 thoughts on “Heart Shaped

  1. When people ask “how many kids do you have?” or “are these the only 2 you have?” I often say, well, that’s complicated, but yes, these are the only 2 I have to hold right now”. I don’t know why we have low fertility, but I know how God has used it. And he will continue to use it. He’s got a plan for you and me and our families. Thank you for sharing these words and thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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