Friday, November 13, 2015

Too beautiful for earth.

Last night I dreamed that I had an ultrasound, and I was told miraculously that my baby was still inside me, that there was a heartbeat, and I was 22 weeks along.  I was filled with an astonished kind of hope and I went racing to find my husband to tell him the good news. 
 
Then I woke up. 
 
And I remembered that my baby hasn't been inside me for 6 weeks now.  That it didn't have a heartbeat for much longer than that.  And that there is no plausible way for that dream to be a reality.  


                         -----------------

I have been avoiding this post for a long time, but with the pain of avoiding, grows the pain of my loss.  I need to put a voice to my pain.  Since the day I found out that my baby's heart was no longer beating, I started writing. Writing every thought, every heartache, every revelation, and tucking it away for when I was ready to put it all together.  I have not opened that box of writings except to add more in, for fear that the contents inside would create a great explosion when opened.  But it's time. I need to pull them out, slowly and gingerly, and weave them together to create something meaningful, rather than something to be feared. 
 
When I hurt, I search desperately for relatable words.  I need to read and feel that I am not alone. So I humbly ask that if you know anyone suffering the loss of a pregnancy, anyone silently drowning in that pain, will you share this with them? If you think it will help, if relatable words are their medicine, will you please share? Even if you don’t know of anyone, will you share it anyway? Because through the channels, it might reach one person that is feeling so very alone.

 I don't believe everything happens for a reason, especially loss.  But I do need something to come from this experience, and if that is to help even one person know that they are not alone, that it is ok to hurt, and sink, and feel utterly lost, then it wasn't for nothing.

This one is long, and it is raw, but it is truth.



                         -----------------

The miracle that is growing a whole little person inside your body is a phenomenon I don't know if I'll ever be able to fully wrap my head around. 

It was a warm summer day in July when I discovered our third miracle. The little voice in my head that whispered, just pee on a stick already! laughed triumphantly at my shock upon reading the digital +YES that appeared on the pregnancy test.

Yes, I know how this happens. But we weren't exactly trying for this, not yet anyway. And it's always a shock to find out that there's someone growing inside you, especially when my littlest is still so attached to me, she’d most likely crawl back in if she knew the way. Still, we always talked about three children, and surprising as this was, we knew that our last puzzle piece was fitting into place because it was meant to. This person was meant to be part of our family and we were ready.

Cue nerves, excitement, and an ecstatic 4 year old who was counting down the days until she would be a big sister again to yet another little.

At my 8 week appointment we were comforted to learn there was only one miracle in there, and it had a strong heartbeat.  Weeks seemed to crawl by, and my morning sickness seemed to ebb, and I felt quite good.

Then another little voice started to whisper in the back of my mind. Something isn’t right, it would say. You don’t feel this good when you are pregnant. Something is wrong.  Anxiety started to build, and I would calm myself by the self-assured notion that I felt this good because we were having a boy this time.  Still, that 12 week appointment couldn’t come fast enough. I needed to see that heartbeat again to shut the voice up for good.



                         -----------------

As difficult as it is to wrap one’s mind around the miracle of life, I found equally so, the mystery that is losing that little person. 

It was a rainy day in September when we were given the news. My much anticipated 12 week appointment had arrived.  The doctor squirted gel onto my stomach and looked at the ultrasound screen... I waited... she was quiet for just a beat too long. She put a gentle hand on my knee and said, "I'm sorry."

There was no heartbeat, no baby that could even be seen.

And just like that, a hole opened up inside me. It was as if all the air had left the room.  The voice in my head, the one that had whispered so many times that something was wrong, slunk into a corner, devastated that she had been right.



                         -----------------

The next day I log on to social media to take my mind off of the nightmare I am living. When I see friends and family have posted updates and pictures I find myself thinking, How can you go on living like everything is normal? Don't you know what I'm going through? This is selfish. I know that. The logical side of me knows that. But I am all consumed. I can't leave my house. I forget that the world goes on out there while I slowly grieve inside the walls of my home. 

I sit in the cave I have created and I wait -- wait for my body to complete this process since it has shown no signs of trouble whatsoever. Waiting is torture, but deciding what to do if my body can't do this on its own feels impossible. I am a zombie, trying to hold a brave face for my sensitive girls, but wanting nothing more than to just sleep and forget. But when I wake up, reality hits me hard and I wait some more.

And while I wait a heavy fear grows. I am terrified to see people; people I know, people that don't know me at all. I don't want to talk to those I know. Though I can't fathom walking among strangers wondering, Can't they see this dark cloud hovering above me? Can't they see I am in pain?

As it turns out, I am among the 20% of women whose body refuses to abort a miscarriage naturally or with medication (two rounds of medication to be exact). And after weeks of turmoil, a decision to take the pills that would start the process, the aching pause before swallowing those pills, then the strange crushing defeat when they didn't work, I was left with no other option than to have a D&C.

The night before the surgery I fall asleep with my hand protectively placed over my stomach. It seems silly, since my baby is no longer living, but it is comforting all the same. That baby will forever be our baby, even if (s)he only lives in our hearts.

The next morning, two weeks after finding out that we'd lost our third, I was officially empty.  It was a strange closure -- waiting, for what felt like a lifetime, with the knowledge that I had a lost life inside me was just too much, and now I could start to figure out how to heal.

This is a unique kind of grief. I don't have memories of interaction to hold onto, I don’t have kicks, I don't have movement. What I do have is an ultrasound picture of a tiny peanut with a little beating heart. I have hopes and dreams and plans for a baby that will never be able to live them. I have a little girl whose excitement to be a big sister again was shattered by a heartache no child should ever feel. And I have two new tiny yellow jammies that will never feel a wiggly body inside them.

My most prominent memories are of worry and anxiety. Memories of shock and heartache, drawn out misery and pain. Rather than missing what was, I long for what will never be. An aching longing, deep in my heart and down to my stomach. Sometimes it hurts so much, I just need to curl into it for a moment until it passes.

The sorrow comes in waves and I am still learning how to embrace the impact of the wave when I feel it coming.  There is often no warning and no logical reason for it, but I can feel it rumbling my way.  I know what I need is to stand still and just feel it, let it crash into me, wash over and out of me. But too often I cower and run the other way, I swallow the tears and move away from the wave.  I am always able to find a reason to run – I am at work, my girls are around, people are around. I am never really alone enough, and for me to stand under the wave, I need to be alone.

Truth be told, I am scared of the wave. It is dark and ominous, it requires wails of sadness, not just silent falling tears, and I am scared to feel it all the way.

For me, I know that there will be a mix of feelings over every new baby I come across for some time; joy intertwined with a throbbing sadness. 

I feel a bitter jealousy at the announcement of friends’ pregnancies.... Babies that will be born when mine should have been. 

I swallow tears when I see baby boy onesies.

And the need to be pregnant again -- it is at times so strong I feel like I could scream. The desire to have a life inside me again rocks me to my core.



                         -----------------

For some reason, miscarriage seems to be a taboo topic.  We aren’t supposed to share our pregnancy news too early for fear we will miscarry, as though sharing your joy will jinx your pregnancy, while suffering in silence is hardly healing for anyone. We share our accomplishments, the loss of loved ones, what we made for dinner for F-sake… why are we afraid to share the loss of a pregnancy? I lost my baby. And I am hurting.  I am grieving a life that will never be, but was so desperately wanted.

I am still figuring out how to heal. I have nothing in this physical world to hold me to my baby. Since I had to have a D&C, I was left with nothing to bury. I need something to grab onto. And I have to believe my something is hope. I have to have hope.

Hope that we will be able to have another baby someday.

Hope that this experience will make me and my family more compassionate human beings.

Hope that soon I will not run from the wave of grief, but stand still enough to let it wash over me and cleanse the hole in my heart.

Hope that sharing my experience, my tender pain, will help even one woman know that she is not alone. Your story is your story, your grief is your grief.  And there is no limit to your heartache.



                         -----------------

I am very fortunate to have a large support network. I have a loving husband, a big family, and close friends.  And these people kept me afloat by understanding my need for physical distance but emotional closeness.  A bouquet of flowers delivered to my door, a daily text saying simply, “I’m thinking of you today. The sun will shine again.” A cup of hot tea, an open ear as I poured my heart out, and those that were willing to share their own experiences so I didn’t feel so lost and alone in my own grief.  These moments saved me, these people built a protective bubble around me when I was too scared to face the world, and for that, I am deeply grateful.

I am working towards healing by sharing my pain, I am breaking the silence. I am sharing to change the belittling stigma that surrounds miscarriage -- to acknowledge that it is not a minor loss, it is the loss of a life, of a puzzle piece that was supposed to complete your family, of a sibling, and a part of yourself.

When you are ready for it, I believe there is hope, but until then, it's ok to just feel. It needs to be felt, all of it, for as long as it needs to be felt.



An angel from the Book of Life,
Wrote down my baby’s birth,
And whispered as she closed the book,
Too beautiful for earth.


-unknown

I will forever hold your heart in mine.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

By the glow of the nightlight.

By the glow of the nightlight, I feel renewed.  As I rock my koala baby to sleep, her body entangled around mine, I am calmed. The rabid gremlin she resembled just moments ago, fades from my mind.  I look at her angel face, and I am with her, in this moment.

She asks me to sing, and as I do she sings along, her words a jumble of sounds, but the sounds match mine. And as she sings, my heart bursts at the seams.

As she reaches up to caress my face and I stare into sky blue eyes, I forget the pull of today. I no longer feel unable to satisfy her needy demands. We rock together, fulfilling each other’s needs for once. When I tell her to close her eyes, It’s time for sleep, I can’t help but laugh at the glued tight squint she attempts.

Funny how the glow of the nightlight can illuminate things much brighter than the light of the day.  She needs me, more than I’ve ever felt needed. And though I often feel inadequate in my attempts to fulfill this for her, right here, in this moment, rocking in this glow, I am all hers.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Grown-up status

 Well, it's official. I'm a grown-up.

 I thought I was a grown-up when I could vote legally, then again when I could drink legally.

I was convinced I was a grown-up when I got a taste of independence in college. 

When I moved in with my boyfriend. 
           Especially when that boyfriend became my husband.

When we had our first baby and I used the term "my daughter" for the first time in conversation; that felt very grown-up. 

Buying a house recently felt like an adult thing to do -- more points in the grown-up bank. 

But now it's really official.  Now I am surely a grown-up. Because now... now I am not only the owner, but the PROUD owner, of a minivan.

That's right. A minivan.  The thing I SWORE my entire life I would never own, never drive, never desire -- I now own, drive, and adore. 

Practicality beat out a false sense of lowered self-esteem.  My old thoughts; Minivan's are for MOMS.  I will be a Tahoe-mom, NEVER a minivan-mom.

Well, this minivan-mom can't afford the gas in a Tahoe, not to mention the automatic sliding doors in my minivan make me so happy I'm fairly certain I could do a triple flip, land on my index fingers alone, and break into a flawless cartwheel. 

I've gone from this assumption...




To this reality...



My reality is that I don't care if you see me coming and try to pull out quickly before I pass for fear I will drive 5 mph under the speed limit because I'm in a VAN.

My reality is that I don't need head turns and honks anymore, I find it rather juvenile and annoying to tell you the truth.  Minivan invisibility is rather freeing actually.  I can rock out with my girls to Andy Grammer's Honey I'm Good like my life depends on it, with hardly a self-conscious thought in my body.

My reality is that I am a mom.  A proud mom. And we need space.  We need room for our family of 4, our dog, all of the essentials and future babies.  I need sliding doors so I don't have to negotiate big sister’s exit from the car for 5 minutes while I wait to lift her out and close the door.  I need this.
 
It's stupid, really, to think that your car determines who you are or says anything about you. Your character determines who you are. A vehicle is a means to an end.  Literally, a vehicle, to get you from one place to another, and the roomier and safer this journey can take place, the better, in my new grown-up opinion.

Yesterday, we all sat in the driveway, all doors open, back row stowed into the floor, and played for at least an hour in this minivan.  No joke. It's still new, so it’s cleaner than the house -- which feels peacefully delightful to me.  And little imaginations are going to town with this new 'playhouse.'
 




I can even see sneaking out to the van to find refuge with just myself and a glass of wine in the near future. It's quite lovely in there.

What I used to think was; What will people think?!

What I think now is, Check me out! My stress level has plummeted and I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK.

It's really liberating – not to care.  And to add a cherry and some whipped cream to that sentiment, to actually enjoy and be proud of the one thing I used to care too much about. 

So there you have it.  My official welcome into grown-up status. 

And if the minivan wasn't enough, I happened to notice that the capris I purchased at Target the other day are Levi brand. LEVIS. (The fact that I can bend over or squat without having to hold up the back to ensure modesty should have been my first clue.) I wear Levi's and I drive a minivan.  I am officially a mom.  Officially a grown-up.

And it feels pretty damn good.




 


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Will I Be Okay?

I had a moment of panic today.  As I, exhausted and recovering from a stomach flu, chased little sister around the Parks and Rec Senior Center during big sister’s ballet class, I was hit with one of those quick flash forward visions into the future.  A future that is seemingly far away, but it made my heart race and my vision blur for a moment. 


There is a sweet old woman who sits at the desk at the front of the Senior Center.  I’m not sure what her job is exactly, but she sits there, quietly and pleasantly.  As little sister and I passed her desk for the tenth time this morning, the woman made eye contact with her and said “Well hello there!” I gave a tired smile, little sister just kept walking, old woman pulled out a cell phone and began scrolling. 


And I wondered, does she miss this stage of life?  All its exhaustion and joy, does she miss it? Or does she look at me and feel relief that she’s well out of the marathon?


Then I wondered; does she have kids? Grandkids? Do they visit? Do they live close? Does she see them regularly? Does she just go home to an empty house?


Cue heart racing panic.


I will be “the old woman” someday. My children will be grown and out of my house. No more messes, no more tantrums before bed, no more needy whines to be picked up, --- no more snuggles, no more asking to be read to, no more “Moooommmmmmyyyyyyyyy!” called throughout the house. 


And I just sort of panicked.  When I think of myself, I identify as a mom. An always needed mom.  They are my world, and I need them too.  Who will I be when they are grown, strong, sufficient adults? This sounds unhealthy, I know that. I have other interests, but none I’ve been able to pursue fully because THEY are my life right now. 





And then I wondered; will I be happy? Will they visit? Will they live close? Will I be ok without them?


My days (and nights) consist of constantly thinking, and worrying, and planning; meals, outfits, schedules, activities, counting screen time, staying calm, coming up with solutions, balancing, balancing, balancing.   And sometimes, it gets the best of me, there are days that I. Am. So. Done. by like 2:00.


But I love it.


And truthfully, it scares me to think of my life someday without them always there. Without the need for the constant thoughts and planning. What if they don’t live close? What if I don’t get to watch my grandbabies? Because watching my grandbabies was the only way I slowed the heart today. 


I mean, I have plans.  A Master’s Degree, a career working with children in some very meaningful capacity. I have hopes that these plans will be fulfilling in other ways. . . . someday.  But I don’t know for sure.


Tonight as I rocked little sister to sleep, after a very whiny and clingy day from her, I remembered my vision this morning.  And after she fell asleep, I rocked her a little longer, traced the lines of her chubby little face and whispered sweet nothings into her ear.


These girls have my heart wrapped up so tightly, that sometimes it’s hard to breathe. I can’t truly envision the day when I’m not running around after them like a crazed chicken. And it scares me to think that day will come.


So again, I have to remind myself that this is it.  These little moments, they won’t come back.  Even the tough ones.








And I’ll probably be ok – if the Master’s Degree plan doesn’t pan out, I’ll become a crochet master in my old age, crocheting and custom fitting little baby booties on tiny feet.  That will hold me over until the grandbabies visit.