Life

In Living Memory

 

I had a moment the other day- and it felt like it was a sign that I was ready, ready to share this, and also ready to stay hopeful and positive about what’s in front of us.
Since last year on 1 July- I made a promise to myself and Jeff that to honor our lost baby we would give new life to something- in the garden/mother nature variety. Buy a plant, and watch it grow. Plant a tree, and know that in the years to come it will flourish. Donate to a charity that helps perserve forest/wildlife. Volunteer at a community garden. That sort of thing- and  I know that through the years we will become even more creative with plans.

The moment: Last year, after the miscarriage, I went with my mother-in-law to this local garden/produce place and we found two lovely plants for the house- in living memory of baby. I love the atmosphere and the folks who work there, so… I went back {a few different times since} and this most recent visit to find more “give new life” items. After picking up a large and beautiful hanging begonia, a standing fern, a gorgeous ivory zinnia, a “rio grande” portulaca {which is one of the most beautiful plants I’ve seen- in the sun- the buds open wide and the colors are fantastic}, and an in-door plant called the “butterfly ivy” I was talking with the owner- she told me that I managed to pick two of her favorite and most colorful plants, my immediate response was: “That’s so awesome! This entire lot is a living memory to our lost baby”. The words just came out. We had a moment, there were a few tears, but I haven’t openly discussed the pain with many folks or “strangers”…. so I knew, it’s time. Hence the story that follows. This has been edited/written/added to since last year. Raw and unfiltered.

 

flowers.jpg
A few of the beautiful items I picked up.

 


July 2016

I think about the moments when we heard of others having a miscarriage or losing a baby, and how the thoughts and prayers poured out of us to heal their pain and their loss… and we didn’t think “this can happen to us”- until it does, and then you’re there, living it.

There’s a lot of sadness in my body- that’s the best way to describe this feeling. Grief. Like bone deep, hallowed out, despair. Heart. Soul. Stomach.

I think one of the hardest parts about this entire situation is reliving the pain over and over- as you explain to the nurse, the doctor, the technician, your family, your close friends, and while you cancel the appointments you excitedly scheduled and they want to know if you want to reschedule… no, I’m sorry, I can’t, we’ve lost the baby. Reliving the moments of anguish, over and over. Sometimes the tears wait, sometimes they are immediate, other times I wait for them to come and instead there are no tears. I don’t know if this is normal, none of this seems normal.

You get through it, you will cancel the appointments and learn how to say you’ve miscarried in the best way that you can.
You will feel the elephant in the room with friends when no one wants to talk about the miscarriage but it’s in the air around you.
The sleepless nights messaging a dear friend will get you through parts of the unbearable pain.
Eventually the medical appointments will run their course and you won’t have to keep telling random strangers all about the loss you two experienced {in excruciating detail} but you will have to mention it at every new doctor visit and while you do so, you’ll once again look at the face of pity as they type in your “procedure and date” into their system.

Gauging one’s loss is completely ridiculous- while the pain might be different from another- the struggle we face is no worse than theirs either. Can we just hold each other, knowing that we both just need the comfort? I’d like that- less comparisons and more love. This sort of tore me apart- as some of the comforts were that our baby wasn’t older, or stillborn, or whatever they may have said- the loss is still there. Did our baby have to be a certain “something” for it to hurt? No. It still hurts, a lot, losing a baby is difficult, let’s not try to sugar coat it by looking at the “worse-case” scenario and just comfort those who are grieving.

I know that over time, the pain will become less and less, but the memory stays the same. I feel that still. I know this still.

I feel different like I’m not as outgoing or talkative as I once was. The topic of babies will come up, and I want to leave the room but I also want to talk about our future children, I want to talk about this pain that I have, I want to see if I’m the only one, I want comfort from fellow ladies who know this “feeling”, this loss. But am I ready for that? If you asked me right now to discuss it with you- I would tell you, tearfully, I’m not ready.
There are people who don’t know about the miscarriage {truth is, we never made it public, at all} and they ask why we don’t have children yet, and I don’t have the same answer I would have given a year ago- when I felt a little lighter and the idea of losing another child wasn’t weighing heavily on my heart. Our hearts. Our marriage. Our life.

I longing looking at children and there’s an envy in my heart, that we won’t see our little one in this light, ever. I constantly feel like there are pregnant women everywhere- new born babies in every direction that I look. As a reminder of what we lost. My heart breaks a little, every time I see a baby, for the love they must know and for the family they have. I longed to be “that” pregnant, to be pushing our child in a stroller- a little tired, still round from pregnancy, and a mother. I want to be happy for the glowing ladies around me- that fresh pregnancy face, the excitement of the great news… but I close down. I want to smile and share in their joy, but I literally block it out- I don’t want to hear their joy, because our joy is diminished, our joy died. How terrible is that? I don’t know who this person is, but it doesn’t feel like me. I cry at the mention of babies sometimes, I lost my entire self when I had to talk to a client about their dog losing her puppy- I was a complete mess. That’s part of who I am in general {very mushy}, but that’s also the desire to have a baby and to know the pain of losing one.

I’ll always be a mother, in my eyes- I’ve always felt like a mother- to friends, other family, our dogs and other animals, and now even more so since there was a small life that started to grow inside of me. J will always be a father- to our baby and to our furry children, always.

Truth is, I have this tremendous amount of guilt that sits in my stomach and my heart every day. Every.Single.Day. I was so scared when I took that first test- we were ready, but were we really ready? I walked into every room in our house and started to inventory things that had to be gone, and soon. I looked in the mirror and wondered if I was fat because I was pregnant or if I was just fat. I was shaking. I was crying. I was shaking more. I walked from our bedroom to the bathroom about 50 times, debating what to do next. Then I started to google “cute ways to tell your husband you’re pregnant”. I was so scared. I was excited. Life was going to change- and soon and in a very real way. I feel this guilt, like maybe it was my hesitance or my nerves that made my body reject being pregnant. Like my body was telling our baby something- not ready, not yet. Can that happen? I feel like that’s exactly what my body did, and I’m responsible for that. No medical test will ever tell me that, and it’s not a logical way of thinking, but that’s where I go every time I think about losing our baby… a sense of guilt. It was my fault. Not our fault, but my fault. Would I ever tell a woman her lost her baby she needed to feel guilty? HELL NO! Would I talk my friend through how this isn’t her fault? ABSOLUTELY! Why can’t I talk myself through this? I don’t have an answer for that.

There’s a lot of “me”- and that’s all I can use, because I can’t speak for my husband… who I know feels this loss just as greatly as I do. He’s a quiet man- he observes and then reacts. He’s a rock in every sense- his continued love and support is why I’m here. His dedication to me, despite what I see as pitfalls, is astounding and I know he’s meant for me. They say that challenges bring us together, and while I’ve always thought that rings true, he’s been this close to me all along- and that’s exactly what I’ve needed.


A brief overview of our Story:

“We were so newly pregnant and this was our first, we weren’t sure what was normal-so we decided to make sure everything was OK-nothing a ER visit can’t fix… right?
No conclusions were made that day at the ER; some blood was drawn, ultrasounds were done, many a tests were taken- but no conclusions, open-ended-positivism. Then, on my 30th birthday, we found out the our first child was “non-viable”.
I feel like there was this gray fog that descended while the doctor was talking to me on the phone- my words were just “OK”, “I see”… and willing myself not to cry while this gentleman was bravely and tactfully telling a family {he didn’t know personally, at all} that they were having a failed pregnancy. He used medical terms, and spoke about hormone levels, there were other things- but I don’t recall them. I remember that he was describing what needed to happen next, they needed to remove our failed pregnancy from my non-pregnant belly. A procedure called D&C- dilation and curettage.
We scheduled the procedure for the following day, the day after we celebrated my birthday eating at a great pizza place and indulging chocolate birthday cake with chocolate icing.
I kept crying all morning and while at the hospital, to the point where I could no longer tell the medical professionals why I was even at the hospital. J just took my hand, and spoke for us both. The nurses were hilarious, and they had a difficult time drawing blood, they loved my nail polish, and kept making me laugh about some other guy nurse who was losing his hair but had a terrible comb over. I wish I could remember their names, I owe them a tremendous thank you. Then I was getting tired and the nice Navy doctor told me to relax and then I woke up- they put me in a chair and a nice nurse had to walk me to the restroom. Bless his heart- truly- he was a very kind nurse. I believe I told him, I might be peeing on myself and the floor right now- he told me everything would be OK, he’d take care of it. I don’t think I actually did pee, but I was certain it was happening. The faces of loved ones appeared and then the doctor showed up- the procedure went well- they would send out the “products of conception”- and I was already dilated, my body was trying to push the baby out. I remember being mad at myself for that, I don’t know why I was but I was. They wheeled me out to the lobby doors and Lin and I saw a man who looked like Elvis entering the building- Lin and I were both silent for a moment while he walked past and we both started talking about it. Maybe that was a sign- I don’t know of what, but I do have an obsession with Elvis. Home and sleep. I remember wanting to hold Roxie and Riggs forever, like they would heal this hurt with their fur and their slobbery kisses. I cried a lot, silently and loud.”


Since our marriage, strangers and acquaintances have been asking us when kids are on the horizon, and close friends {who all know the story and the heartache}… and it all started out innocent and our response was “in time”, and then it changed to “we have a 5 year plan” and while those were the truth, the questions felt intrusive and some would joke about our family getting bigger sooner, and how the car we bought was us prepping for the baby that was surely headed our way. Again, innocent comments, I’m sure of it- but the comments were still coming. I’m going to say the following- for our sake, but also for those of you who want to start a conversation with someone you just met by asking “when do you plan to have kids”….

There are so many reasons why life has different plans:
-Maybe we have too much debt and finacially we can’t have children right now.
-Maybe we’ve lost a baby or miscarried.
-Or we are dealing with infertility or infertility treatments— given that as a military family we PCS every 2-3 years.
-There’s also the chance that our family is dealing with an array of different health issues.
-Maybe we’re considering adopting or fostering and are looking at options, or it’s honestly taking this long to persue that avenue.
-Or we’re looking at a 365 day deployment and don’t want to start just now.
-Maybe we don’t want to have children while we’re attached to the military.
-Or we’re putting our careers before family planning.
-Maybe we’re terrified and have been putting it off.
-Maybe we just really don’t want to have kids right now or ever.

Next time we meet- ask about my dress, the book I’m carrying, my favorite coffee/mixed drink, the curent “diet” I might be trying, my favorite TV show, where I got my shoes, what my next DIY project is- but please don’t ask about children right now.

There’s a part of me that writes this, because I need to say it- even if the words don’t leave my mouth but rather just stay on this page. There’s another part of me that writes this because I want other women to know-

It’s OK to cry.
You are not alone.
What you’re feeling is yours.
You are a mother.
The pain lessens, but the memory will be with you for always.
Don’t compare, just love.
You do you, grieve as you need to.
This sucks.
Let others in, let them love you and support you.
There is so much support out there, get it if you need it.
You don’t have to talk about it, if you don’t want to.
Some people won’t understand, but some will.
There is life after this loss.
It happened to your husband also, he needs you too.
Lean on those who surround you
It’s OK not to cry.

~SJW

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