Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Three years later. A letter to myself. ::trigger warning: miscarriage::

It seems that the only time I visit this blog anymore is to commemorate this difficult time. I'm not sure why, maybe it's because I don't want to burden my friends with what I'm experiencing. Maybe it's because I want to process the emotions, and this place had always been where I do that. Maybe it's because I want a permanent place to house these thoughts unlike facebook posts that are here and gone.

So, it's been three years since our miscarriage. The weekend was so busy that I really didn't get a chance to grieve. So I'm taking the time now. As busy as Friday was, I kept thinking that I wish I could go back and talk to my myself that day. So that's what I'm going to do.

Dear 2013 me,

Before I go any further, I want you to know that it gets better. I know you feel like you can hardly catch your breath and you're running in a million directions at once to try and keep the darkness at bay. I know you think it will always be this dark, that you'll never smile or laugh again... but I can tell you it will get better.

How are you (I) doing today?  I'm ok. Better than you are doing right now. I can laugh and dance and smile and enjoy the simple things in life. I can go days, weeks or even months without crying. I'm weathering this year much better than I did last year. I'm not going in a million directions trying to crowd out the pain. I actually put the date in my calendar, repeating every year. For a while I told myself that it didn't matter and I didn't need to remember the exact date. But as the weeks and days approached I found myself getting more and more anxious. Like what happens if it sneaks up on me and I'm not prepared. Or what if I miss it! I kept looking and relooking at the 2013 calendar to remember the date. So finally I just put it into my calendar. Surprisingly that seemed to relieve some stress. Knowing always seems to be better than not knowing.

I still remember the drowning feeling you are experiencing. The feeling that you can't catch your breath, like there's a rock on your chest. That will pass. You'll be able to walk by the maternity section at a store and not feel like you got the wind knocked out of you. You'll stop resenting every person you meet who is pregnant.

It will get better.

But........... you'll never be the same.        

And that's ok.

You have more compassion, more grace, more understanding for other people. You're a kinder person than you were before. You'll feel a slight twinge of sadness anytime a friend tells you they are pregnant. But it won't feel like you got punched in the gut anymore. You'll be able to smile and hug them and be genuinely happy for them. You'll be able to hold new babies without crying. In fact you'll come to love it and be known as the one who calls first dibs anytime there's a baby to be held. And your friends will let you because they know how it helps you.

Your friends will know that this time of the year is hard and will both check in with you and understand if you don't get back to them.

I know you feel like you're drowning, like the darkness is going to overtake you. I know you can't let yourself feel the pain for fear that it will crush you. Trust me, it won't. It will get better. You will smile again and laugh and dance but you'll never be the same, and that's ok.

2016 me

Fly free little one. Fly free.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Two Years Later... ::Trigger Warning - Miscarriage::

One of my guiding principles is openness.  I've grown and developed grace for others in part through the personal stories shared by friends and strangers, online and in real life.  This knowledge of others' life experiences and struggles has helped me through numerous tough times.  If they had not been open and honest, I would have suffered in the dark, not knowing that others had or were dealing with the same thing.  I would not have known there were others I could reach out to.  I feel a compulsion to do the same.  I've always been open, in real life as well as this blog, about my struggles as a military significant other, my journey away from organized religion, my mental illness and our miscarriage.  Today I feel the need to share more about this last subject.

Today marks two year since we found out we had lout our baby.  (Although that phrase kind of annoys me because it's not like we are negligent parents who "lost" their baby.  We know what happened and were he/she went. But that's neither here nor there.)  At only 9-10 weeks we were still fairly early.  First of all, this timing has always contributed to a feeling that I didn't have a right to grieve so deeply.  It's so common.  So many others have been through this and seem to be fine.  Others have lost little ones much later or upon birth and after, which all seem "worse" or more deserving of grief.  At least, more justifiable. 

In my head, I know this to not be true, but that doesn't really help.  Plus, I've been known to silently judge the grief of others.  Whether is was a miscarriage, the lose of a pet, or a grandparent, I didn't understand the bond and therefore didn't understand the grief.  I am now horrified by the offensiveness of those judgments, but they affect my own grief experience. 

Secondly, sometimes friends and family who have not been through an experience like this don't know how to react.  They love you deeply, they desperately want to help, but they have no idea what to do and fear saying the "wrong" thing.  They can't fix it and that makes them nervous.  I totally get that!  I've been there!  That same thing happened two years ago.  I had no problem with people knowing what had happened, but I hated being the one to tell them.  Often times folks would get this panicked look in their eyes.  Then I would find myself assuring them that I was ok, we were ok, everything was ok... when in fact everything was far from ok. 

Two years later, it's a little different.  When I mention the loss, I see (or at least perceive) a progression of reactions.  1) panic that they have forgotten (which is totally fine.  I certainly don't expect people to remember.)  2) a flash of judgment as they may not understand the grief.  3) then finally that discomfort of not knowing how to help.  My advice to those supporting someone though something like this... press in.  Press in to the discomfort, press in to the grief, press into the person.  (This is assuming of course that they have initiated the sharing.  Always follow the lead of the grieving person.  When it first happened I did NOT want to talk about it!)

1)  Validate the person's grief and their feelings, whatever they are.

Phrases like "everything happens for a reason", "they are in a better place", or "God has a plan" seem comforting but they can make the person feel like they shouldn't be grieving.  A sincere, "This really SUCKS!  It's not fair that this happened to you and you have every right to feel the way you do."  When in doubt, ask them how this makes them feel.  They may need to process through it themselves.  Plus that gives you more to validate.  "I can understand why you would feel angry/sad/lost/overwhelmed."  Keep the focus on them and their feelings/experiences.  Even if you have been through something similar it's honestly not relevant unless the person asks.  Their grief, there experience, that's what is important.

2)  Gentle encourage them to do small things that might help.

Ask when they ate last and can you get them something?  Can you take them out for dinner?  Would they go for a walk around the block or a car ride?  Can you watch other kids, etc. while they take a shower?  Just be careful to not imply that these things will "fix" the grief.  Taking a shower will not make everything ok, but it might help just enough to make the pain bearable.

3)  Be wiling to simply "hold sacred space".

I know that sounds like some hippy, female nonsense but it's really not.  Allowing yourself to truly experience grief can be extremely scary and vulnerable.  It takes a strong friend to stand watch and protect someone while they are so vulnerable.  Sometimes this may mean turning off or monitoring someone' cell phone for them.  (With their permission of course.)  It may mean validating their experience even if they can't validate it themselves.  It may mean calling and canceling/rescheduling appointments for them.  Sometimes is just means being quiet and helping them feel safe so they can process the grief.

It's easier to write about this kind of thing in the removed 3rd person, but honestly the above is strictly my opinion and suggestions.  It's not intended to be the final word on anything.  Always follow the lead of the grieving person.  It's also not meant to make any of my friends or family feel like they did anything wrong or let me down.  Please don't read through this again and try to figure out which of these you did or if I'm talking about you.  I'm not.  What I am doing is sharing my experience so that others might find comfort and understanding. 

I am a miscarriage survivor.  I will never again be the person I was prior to 12/9/2013.  But that's ok.  Today I will be gentle with myself.  I will put one foot in front of the other all day long.  I will validate my own grief without judgment.  Then I will go to dinner with my dear friend and have a drink.  We'll drink to what could have been, what is, and what will be. 

Fly free little one.  Fly free.  We love you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Am the Face ::trigger warning::

I haven't written here in awhile... a LONG while in fact.  After Lily was born I was convinced that I could do it all.  I could be a good mom, a good employee, a good wife, a good friend AND a good blogger.  I mean, so many other's did it!  After J went back to school when Turtle was 6 months old, I soon realized that something had to go, otherwise it would be my sanity that left.  Honestly, it was well on its way out the door.  Thankfully, with the help of my mom and my bestie I was able to retrieve it.  My house is a disaster and this blog is all but forgotten, but my life is fulfilled. 

So why am I writing here today?  This has always been a sacred place for me.  A place to explore feelings.  A virtual therapist's couch even.  It's also a place to record important experiences and possibly even make a difference in someone's life.  I've always tried to be real and honest.  I've talked about my Bi-Polar disorder, my struggles over Turtle's birth and our short lived breastfeeding experience, among many other topics.  Today I am here to be real and honest about a subject we don't often talk about.  

This time last year I had no idea I was pregnant, and it would be another 2 weeks before we found out.  Obviously, you haven't seen any pictures of a new baby, so you know where this story is going, but I have yet to write it down.  Today, October 15th, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day seems like the best time to finally do just that.

Just over two years ago, we found out we were pregnant.  In typical Mama Turtle fashion I freaked the eff out.  Going from having baby fever to "what have we done" in the few seconds it took that second pink line to show up.  Also in typical fashion J was completely calm.  Yes, life was crazy, I was living my dream job and giving way over 40 hours a week to it, but that was ok!  We could do this.  I quickly became came extremely excited.  A couple weeks later we saw a heartbeat on the ultrasound, and we started making plans.  What room would the baby have?  Would Turtle move before then?  We gave away all of our gear!  What would we need?  I spend most of my pregnancy with Turtle convinced something bad would happen. Having done this before I had a much more calm and optimistic outlook on the whole thing.  Well, as calm and optimistic as I get.

A few weeks later, at about 10 weeks pregnant, while at work I started to bleed.  It was a Friday afternoon so I called the doctor's office immediately.  They listened to my description and assured me that it was common and didn't sound like anything to be worried about.  They told me if this, that or the other started happening to call them back.  Cool and optimistic Mama Turtle vanished in that instant, though.  As the weekend progressed I started to see the signs they had mentioned.  I didn't call back because I knew if I were miscarrying there was nothing they could do about it.  We had a big event planned at work, so I did my best to put on my party shoes, a happy face, and keep plugging on.

That Monday morning though, I finally called the doctor.  I told them they had to get me in and someone had to tell me something, or I was going to lose my mind.  They were able to get me in that afternoon and it was one of the longest days of my life.  J had been assuring me that everything was most likely fine, and I was hoping he was right, so I didn't insist that he go with me to the doctor's office.  That was a mistake, but hindsight is 20/20.  

One of the things I'll be forever thankful for is that the ultrasound tech told me right away.  If I'd had to wait for the doctor to break the news there's a good chance I would have had a stroke while waiting.  They put me in a room and the OB came in to tell me what they wanted to do next.  I could barely concentrate, and I remember very little of what she said.  They wanted to do surgery.  I consented and they scheduled it for the next morning.  

I'm not sure how I got to my car, but I sat there for probably an hour.  I called my mom and texted my best friend. Then I messaged the only person I was close to and knew had been through this situation.  My supervisor at work knew what was going on so I texted her to say I would be going dark for a few days.  I texted my day care provider and 3rd grandma to Turtle to say I would be a little late picking her up.  And then I just sat there and wailed.  I remember thinking it was appropriate that it was dark and raining so bad I couldn't even see out of the windshield.  My life changed that day.  I changed that day.  J was at school that night, and I will be forever grateful for our day care provider who let me and Turtle hang out at her house for a while until I was confident I could care for Turtle on my own.

I took a whole 48 hours off of work, and honestly if my mom hadn't been here and insisted I take that much, I probably would have been back earlier.  I just couldn't think about it.  I ran a thousand miles an hour for at least a few weeks.  I hadn't told everyone we were pregnant, but I had told a few people.  I couldn't bring myself to say the words, "we lost the baby" so I pawned the task off on other people.  Beyond the difficulty of saying the words, there was the horrible look that washed over peoples' faces when they heard the news.  A look of sadness, and pity, and panic.  They didn't know what to do, and I felt the need to assure them I/we were ok.  But *I* wasn't ok.  J was wonderful and supported me the best he could, but he hadn't created a bond with the baby yet, so he wasn't experiencing the same thing I was.

I will admit, in those early days, I felt like I didn't have a right to grieve.  Our miscarriage was so early.  Our pain could not compare to those who suffered later miscarriages, still births or the loss of an infant.  J assured me I was allowed to feel however I felt, and to grieve as much or as little as I wanted, but it took a long time to absorb that myself.

As the weeks turned into months I found myself crying more instead of less, but that was a good thing.  As the pain began to dull, I found myself able to break the loss into smaller pieces, pieces that I could process.  I no longer felt like the darkness of the loss would overtake me.  I began posting about it on social media and was overwhelmed by the number of people I knew who had gone through this.  Why did I not know this about these people?  Why was it something we only shared once someone else had been inducted into this tragic order?  

There's an understanding in my culture at least (white middle class) that you should wait until after the first trimester to announce your pregnancy, at least to the majority of people.  This becomes a double edged sword, though.  Yes, this saved me from having to announce on Facebook that we'd experienced a loss, but it also meant that I grieved alone.  It meant I had fewer people to reach out to that weekend when I was unsure what was going to happen.  Do I plan to bombard every pregnant woman I meet with my tale of miscarriage?  Absolutely not!  But I do plan to be open and honest and to talk about it enough, that if someone I'm close to goes through it, they know I've walked that path.  Even if all they do is read my tale and know they are not alone.  

One of my life's guiding principles can be summed up in Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote, "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."  I know I'm not the first to walk this path, but I do hope to leave a trail... a trail of hope and survival.  

I am the face of early miscarriage. I am the one in four.

Friday, October 12, 2012

International Babywearing Week - Friday

Happy Friday everyone!! Today we are celebrating DAD's!  There is nothing more awwwww-inducing than a babywearing dad! Of course dad's can and do wear all types of carriers, just like moms.  However, soft structured carriers seem to be a popular choice, especially around our house.  Jay loves using our Boba.  Although he doesn't back carry by himself he loves to carry her with my help.  What do the dads in your life prefer?

Are you a new parent wanting to learn about babywearing?  Are you a veteran wearer wanting to meet others and learn more?  Join us for a sling party or other get together! The Charlotte Babywearers

Thursday, October 11, 2012

International Babywearing Week - Thursday

Happy Thursday everyone!  The gateway to the weekend!  Today we are celebrating soft structured carriers.  Ah... Soft Structured Carriers... my favorite!  Our Boba gets used on an almost daily basis... weekly basis at the least.  The thing I love most about SSC's is their ease of use.  They have a very small learning curve which is why they are a big hit with dads.  The buckles are similar to a back pack, in fact if you can put on a back pack you can wear a SSC.  Although some can be used for squishies, they really excel for older, heaver babies.  This is the one you can put your toddler in and hike all day with.

Are you a new parent wanting to learn about babywearing?  Are you a veteran wearer wanting to meet others and learn more?  Join us for a sling party or other get together! The Charlotte Babywearers

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

International Babywearing Week - Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everyone!! Today we are talking about woven wraps. The major advantage of wovens is that they can go from the first day you want to babywear to the last. They are amazingly versatile and offer infinite options. The hard thing about wrapping is... well the wrapping. I have to admit, I never got the hang of it. But we have lots of people in the group who are awesome wrappers. If you want to see more wrap awesomeness then check out Greetings from Eisenbergia

Are you a new parent wanting to learn about babywearing?  Are you a veteran wearer wanting to meet others and learn more?  Join us for a sling party or other get together! The Charlotte Babywearers

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

International Babywearing Week - Tuesday

Happy Tuesday everyone!! To celebrate International Babywearing Week, today I'm featuring a pouch sling.  These are so nice and easy!  We used one especially between the time that Turtle decided she no longer wanted to be snuggled in the stretchy wrap (such a big girl even at 3 months old) and the time she was sitting up enough to do a back carry in a soft structured carrier.  I put her in a hip carry even before she was fully sitting up.  I would put my arm around her and support her.  Although not completely hands free, it helped us during a strange few months.   Of course the big limitation of this type of carrier is that it distributes the weight across one shoulder so it's not something we use often now that she's 19 months and 20-something lbs.  But it's a great carrier to keep in your diaper bag or the trunk for an emergency since it's is so compact.

Have you ever used a pouch or sized sling?  What were your thoughts?

Are you a new parent wanting to learn about babywearing?  Are you a veteran wearer wanting to meet others and learn more?  Join us for a sling party or other get together! The Charlotte Babywearers