Posted by Sarah On September 20th, 2014
Do you ever get the that feeling that you’re finally growing up? That you’re finally coming out of the fog that is childhood, adolescence, young woman, youngish married woman, older young mother, etc…I laugh at myself through these descriptions. I’ve never thought of myself as young and married or a young mother because I started so late. I didn’t get married until I was 34 and that felt like I waited forever. I didn’t have Jasper until I was 35 and by that time I was already very close to having an “at risk” pregnancy just because of my age. But in the last several months, I’ve started to realize just how young(ish) I’ve felt through all of those things. It was my first time, you see. It’s not like I had some other experience before that that made it old hat. I was young in the sense that it was all new. That I was learning as I went just as all those other newlyweds and young mothers before me. And now that I’m 3 years past my son’s birth, I’m finally starting to feel like the fog of only identifying myself as wife and mother is starting to lift and I’m able to see and feel something inside myself that looks and feels more like me. Like the adult version of me I’d always known I could grow up to be.
I am finally making decisions for myself and with my husband that are just for our happiness. We are finally (at the ripe young age of 38) not trying to be the people our parents want us to be, not trying to pretend that everything is perfect in our relationship or our lives and not trying to please everyone around us anymore. We are finally being blindingly honest (okay maybe not blindingly) with each other and ourselves about what we want out of life and we are working together as a team to pursue these things. We are finally not apologizing for the hard decisions we have to make in order to make our dreams come true even when we know it sometimes breaks our hearts to be at odds with those that are most important to us.
I finally feel grown up. This is not the first time I’ve felt this way, and I’m certain it won’t be the last, but for now, I’m basking in the glory of being me. Adult, make my own decisions, take care of myself and my family me. It’s a pretty fabulous feeling and if it only took 38 years to get to this point, I’ll take it!
Posted by Sarah On August 17th, 2014
Things were going so well for me before everything happened. There were times I felt a little like it might be a dream. I was finally feeling the balance I had been looking for and it had taken a very long time (and two nervous breakdowns) to get there. I was feeling awesome with a balanced thyroid and going to the gym. I was eating right and getting most of my food at the farmers market directly from the source. I was sticking to my work schedule boundaries and getting the family time I needed.
It sort of felt like a miracle that all these things were in play at the same time, then I got pregnant and life was so full of blessings I thought I might burst. Since everything happened, you can imagine that all that balance that I had worked so hard to achieve has disappeared. That’s what stress does to you, right? Something happens and it knocks you to the ground. Your face is in the dirt, your knees and palms are stinging and bloody, and really after all that, all you want to do is lick your wounds and crawl away to your little den.
But lots of folks (including your own family) will say to you:
- “It’s okay, you have to get up!”
- “Don’t give up the fight!”
- “Keep on, keepin‘ on!”
- “Don’t worry, you’ll get pregnant again!”
Why is it that we don’t allow ourselves to lick our wounds? We force ourselves to get right back up, and beat ourselves up inside because our life doesn’t look quite like it did before. I don’t know about you, but this is the battle I’ve been waging on myself since I was knocked to the ground. I beat myself up about the weight I should be losing before I get pregnant again. I eat crap because I feel crappy, but then I beat myself up again for not choosing healthy food. I beat myself up because I’m not back at the gym. I beat myself up because the stress at work is causing panic attacks that I’ve not had in months. I beat myself up for using medication to help me cope with those panic attacks. I beat myself up for not being ready to get back up and try again.
The reality is that sometimes forcing yourself to get right back up doesn’t allow for time to grieve, time to process the stress and the emotion of something so big (or so small) that it knocks you to the ground. I am lucky enough to have a counselor that said to me, “Be gentle with yourself right now.” Those are powerful words, right? It was permission for me to lick my wounds for just a little while. It was permission to hide in the comfort of my little den and cry because I was hurt. It was also the acknowledgement that I would get back up when I was ready. I would not give up the fight just yet. I would keep on, keepin’ on. I would, when my body was ready, get pregnant again.
Let me tell you this right now. I am giving you this gift as well. Be gentle with yourself. I am giving you permission to lick whatever wounds you may be suffering. I am giving you time to heal and be ready to get back up. And when you’re ready to (and you will be), I hope you’ll find the balance you are looking for. I’ll be right beside you, cheering you on!
Posted by Sarah On August 11th, 2014
I am so late in getting this post out this week. I was traveling for work and had no time to sit and reflect. Most of the time I hate weeks like this, no time to pause, no time to sit in the moment and feel, not moving out of it until you’re good and ready. This week though has honestly been a welcome distraction. I’ve been so focused on my work that I haven’t had time to cry or be anxious of something that isn’t going to happen. I was in the moment, completely focused on the work and teaching I had to do and that was a true gift.
A change of scenery and being surrounded by people who don’t know my story was less painful than I imagined it would be when I got on the plane to Chicago last Sunday. Although, I did use the flight to cry a little. I’m not sure if that happens to you, but somehow being up in the clouds always brings me to tears over whatever is breaking my heart at the moment. This time was no different and I felt my heart pulled in connection to my angel and was filled with such hope of what is to come.
And that’s really what I wanted to share with you today: a story of hope. My friend Erin gave me the Love Rock pictured above on the night I finally shared my own story out loud with her. She said it was a special rock because not only was it shaped like a heart, but that she was connected to the woman who created this Love Rock movement as a way to spread joy and love in the wake of tragedy. As I listened to Anna and Abby’s Mom’s story, I sat thinking that before I felt like I had nothing to hold on to and how this little rock fit perfectly in my hand. Wrapping my fingers around this lovely weight, there was a physical manifestation of my little angel. I loved that the fabric looked like it had little bandaids all over it, like my heart was being patched up piece by piece. This little token of love has brought me such peace since that Sunday. I love having it nearby when I am going to sleep at night. I love coming across it as I move through my day. Thankfully, it isn’t a sad reminder of what I’ve lost, but instead a place I can put all my love and hope for the future.
Posted by Sarah On August 1st, 2014
I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders today. Sharing my story has allowed me to start the healing process; I now know I am even less alone than I thought I was. That crazy statistic – 1 in 5 pregnancies result in miscarriage – keeps running through my head, and I realize there are likely few women I know with children who have not suffered a loss like this in silence. Let me first say I did not tell my story to make anyone relive something so tragic. I hope that giving a voice to the silent grieving so many go through will help someone else to know they are not alone. That they should reach out to those around them to hold them up while they heal. That is how I feel today: held by the women who read my story and sent a prayer up for my family and that little angel.
Because of that support, I finally feel some calm washing over me. I feel some of the deep sadness, fear and anxiety release their hold on my heart. I feel hope. You can imagine hope was something I talked about with everyone we had to tell about our loss. It makes the other person feel better. It makes the burden of the story a little lighter — that I have hope for another child. The reality is that it was lip service until today. I kept telling myself that God told me to try again, and that is what I would do, but the tiny daily reminders of what I have lost wouldn’t let that light in yet.
First of all, I felt empty when I spent the last 12 weeks feeling so full. Full of life and love and food to keep my morning sickness under control, oh and pee, I had forgotten how much you pee when you’re pregnant. But now, I just felt a big empty hole in my heart and my belly. When you give birth to a baby, you feel a little bit of that emptiness in your belly, but you’ve got a baby in your arms, and your heart feels like it will burst from the love you feel pouring out of you, connecting you in some crazy ESP-like way to this tiny helpless being. All I had at the end of the day was a onesie I had bought on vacation and an ultrasound picture of a baby I would never get to hold.
The anger was almost unbearable. I was angry at Jasper for painting the same spot on the paper with 4 different colors. I was angry with Kent for being so supportive and so distant at the same time. I was so angry at everyone and everything that I was making things up in my head to be angry about. It was making me crazy.
I realized I needed to get out of my own head, so I agreed to meet my friend, Erin, to talk. Here’s what I discovered. I told Erin my story in person, and I didn’t fall apart. Even if I had fallen apart, she would have helped put me back together.
I am certainly one of those people that has to speak to process what’s going on, and despite not wanting to talk, I knew I had to. Erin and I talked about how no one talked about miscarriage despite that 20% number (there’s that crazy statistic again). Furthermore, we talked about how no one talks about death. It’s this experience we spend our lives running from and avoiding and yet we are all affected by the loss of someone in our lives. How much it changes us, how we either mask the emotion or try to feel our way through it to make sense of it all.
Luckily for me, Erin knows a lot about death in a good way. She is a hospice nurse and “an angel of death” and I admire her so much for being the person who responds when it is that time in someone’s life. That night, she gave me a new appreciation for my faith that we are not lost when we go from this world. She reassured me that my baby girl is here with me, and I do not have to let her go. I do not have to “move on” in the sense that I have to forget her to try again. My little angel is a part of me, of my family.
Erin also encouraged me to talk to her, to write her a letter even, and although I have not been brave enough to write that entry yet, I am getting stronger by the day. In my own way, I have found a way to speak to my darling baby without having to say anything at all. I have found that all those lullabies I love to sing to Jasper now make their way into my head over and over again for her. I sing them to myself like I’m rocking her to sleep. I rock myself to sleep and know that she hears every word.One of the songs I sing in my head over and over is a song called We Are Water by Hayden Panettiere, written by Patty Griffin. I discovered it on an album from the TV show Nashville and I’ve been singing it to Jasper (and now myself) ever since. Patty says she originally wrote it for a friend who was moving away, but to me it’s about how we are all connected, and even when someone’s gone they can still flow through you. Link to We Are Water by Hayden Panetierre on Youtube
Posted by Sarah On July 24th, 2014
Likely this won’t be what you’d expect from a first blog entry from a newcomer to the blogosphere. But I’ve never wanted to be what anyone expected. I’ve always wanted to talk about things that other people didn’t know how to share or feel or put words to. I’ve always wanted to put all my friends in a room and ask them their thoughts on the real questions about life, love, God and everything in between. Since I don’t currently have a tribe that I can invite over into my living room (they happen to be spread all over the world), I will begin this blog with a story of my own and begin to engage you as my tribe whether you’re an old friend or a new wanderer into this space.
I had a miscarriage this weekend. There, I said it. I haven’t actually been able to say it aloud to anyone except Yvette, my friend I asked to watch my almost 3 year old son, Jasper, while we went to my follow up doctor’s appointment and even then keeping it together enough to ask was one of the greatest challenges in my life. This is how it all started.
My husband, Kent, and I have always known we wanted more than one child. We adore Jasper and soon realized we wanted another, but as the saying goes, the timing was never right, and that is another story, make that stories, for many other days. By December of last year, we knew we’d better get crackin’ because neither of us is getting any younger and if we didn’t do it soon, we’d find ourselves out of energy and enthusiasm for young children. We tried and tried; I tracked everything. You know the drill.
And finally this May, I had a feeling this was going to be it. We found out I was pregnant 4 days before we were supposed to take a long-planned vacation to Hawaii. Awesome! and a.w.e.s.o.m.e. No ahi poke and piña coladas or mai tais for me. We knew immediately we weren’t going to have much choice than to tell the folks we were going with…luckily for us, we were with both of our Moms and very close family friends. I especially thought, there is no way I’m going to be able to hide being sick, not drinking coffee and everything else from these folks when we will basically be spending every waking moment with them. Not to mention hormones that could make me OCD or ball my eyes out at the drop of a hat. So we told them. And we made them promise not to tell anyone else until we were ready, knowing the risks of early pregnancy and that I wouldn’t be able to see a midwife for a few weeks anyway.
Then there was the morning sickness that lasted all day for weeks, so much so that I thought I might have to tell the people I worked with early because I was unable to get out of bed a few days. Luckily, I was saved from that because I work from home and was able to avoid webcams “due to connectivity issues.”
And of course, I had to tell my close tribe — they would have known if I lived in the same town, so I thought at least I could share my joy (and complaints of being so sick) with them. I took belly pictures, I put away all my regular clothes, I started to dream about having a little girl (since I already have a boy). My friends teased me that my belly was already so big at 11 weeks, it must be twins.
I don’t think this story is unique so far in any way, so if you decide to stop reading here I understand. I will not say this is where it gets good, but I will say this is where it gets real, and terribly sad.
At my 11th week, I was finally able to get an appointment with the midwife. I’d never met this woman before, but she came highly recommended, and I immediately liked her, and even better, Kent really liked her. I could see her helping me deliver this baby and making it an experience very different from my first (another story for another day). She got out the ultrasound so we could take a look at that little baby sweet pea on the screen. At first, she had some trouble finding anything at all to look at. She decided that we needed a different machine (read: internal) and sent us over to the tech who worked us in very late in the day.
The tech found what she was looking for…we saw an image of a tiny little being, and our hearts swelled. I told the technician she was a magician for being able to identify everything on the screen when most of it just looked like gobblety-gook to me. I never even noticed that we didn’t hear a heartbeat. As I was getting dressed, I asked whether the baby was measuring right at 11 weeks. Through the curtain, I heard her say she’d have the midwife go over everything with us. Again, I didn’t think anything of it.
When the midwife finally returned to the exam room, she gave us the news. There was no heartbeat, and the baby had stopped growing at 7 weeks 6 days. That didn’t compute. Hadn’t I dry heaved on my own saliva just the morning before? Wasn’t I still struggling with smells and tastes that weren’t quite right? That would have meant the baby stopped growing almost 4 weeks ago. How did my body think I was still pregnant? Apparently, though this isn’t that uncommon, and as a matter of fact, my uterus hadn’t gotten the message because it had continued to grow. I immediately went into shock mode. You know the feeling, where the news doesn’t seem real but you know there are questions you should be asking about next steps and options, but really what you want to do is run screaming from the room and hope you’ll wake up in a minute from a terrible dream. No such luck. Options were to let it happen naturally, take drugs to make it happen or schedule what is most terribly called a D&C.
Let’s also make this more fun, shall we? My husband and I were leaving the next morning for a Florida beach vacation where we were supposed to tell all of the members of my family. Oh and the very day before, we’d called his sister and brother and made the announcement as well.
So essentially, I was scheduled for a D&C consult the day after I was to return from our vacation. The midwife, as kindly as possible, said I’d either miscarry while I was away or I’d need to schedule a D&C when I got back. Neither option, God, neither option was something I could even process.
Then came the telling…the telling to all the people we’d already told that we weren’t going to have a baby after all. That I was still carrying an angel that went to heaven earlier than she should. That I still felt pregnant.
Despite all of this, there were some wonderful moments we shared as a family on this vacation. My son who is almost 3 got to experience being on a boat for the first time. He also got to watch a Blue Angels air show, not once but twice, and he loved every minute of it. Watching him sit on that boat with his shooting earmuffs on to keep him from freaking out about how loud the engines were overhead. Some of the best days of my life.
And then I started to bleed…just a little bit at first, and then by Saturday, I started to cramp. I walked around most of the day until that evening I finally was crippled by the pain. I was basically in labor, having contractions that I couldn’t continue to move through. I lay down and started to breath through the contractions using all my Bradley Method training and the hydrocodone the good midwife had prescribed for me, knowing this might happen. Then my water broke and the reality set in that my body was doing what it needed to do for me. I’ve never seen so much blood. All of this while my family had a big shrimp dinner on the dock at the marina celebrating summer.
The contractions lasted late into the night, but I was finally able to get some sleep. The next day, I was still cramping but at least able to put a brave face on to see my Dad, sister and brother before we had to leave. Monday morning I was still cramping and worried that it was going to be a very long drive back to Texas, but after breakfast, I passed a large piece of tissue, and my cramping seemed to stop. I will tell you here: there is something terribly wrong with watching a piece of your body that you know used to be a living being and part of you be flushed down the toilet like a piece of trash. And yet, what are you supposed to do with it? Take it out, put it in a box, and bury it? That didn’t seem right either. In the end, you hope that God knows you had to do it and that it was his will that it be done this way. It’s all you have.
I cried almost all the way home to Texas. I have not actually spoken words out loud about my miscarriage to more than 4 people. I realize I am not the only one who has ever had to go through this. According to the amazing doctor I met on Tuesday, 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. That’s a big number. And what seems even more amazing to me is that nobody talks about it. Unless you have someone close to you willing to share their experience, their perspective, the way they were able to heal, you suffer in silence. I am lucky to have some of those women in my life, in my tribe. They have given me comfort and answered questions that I’m sure were painful to answer, but they did it knowing it would help me to grieve, to cope, dare I say to move on?
Right now, I will tell you I’m not ready to move on. In my mind, I’ve just lost a child. It doesn’t matter to me that my little angel was only 7 weeks 6 days old in my womb. I think of the many women who lose babies further along or so early in their lives or later in their lives for that matter. The loss of a child, of any child, stays with you forever. But this is the forbidden one to talk about. This is the one whose life we don’t celebrate. This is the one who, as mothers, most of us carry silently and then grieve silently. I, for some reason, cannot do this, so I must write. Because if I don’t get this out of me, I feel like I will lose my voice. I can’t find the words yet to speak about it out loud to anyone, so it is tempting to dive into the depths of despair and stay there for a while. There are three things keeping me from doing that: my son, my husband, and the answer I heard from God when I asked a friend of mine how you move past something like this. As clear as day, I heard a voice say, “You try again.” So that, my friends, is what I’ll do.