Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Crazy mom

I have to say, it's been far too long since I've written on this blog.

The other day at church, I had a hard time concentrating (which seems to be a theme). I decided to write on my iPhone all the different blog subjects I had "written" about in my head at least partially, but haven't yet put to screen. I listed 14 different posts.

Oh my.

This past week, I've been working hard at my business and ramping it up. Which for a short time has been good, but it's meant I haven't had the time or the energy much for the blog.

So tonight -- even though I should be asleep -- I'm making myself write through the yawns (and there will be many.)

I'm not even sure where to start. Other than simply admitting that since we lost Olivia, I have been

T E R R I F I E D 

of losing Madelyn.

Sometimes I don't feel like I'm just grieving Olivia -- I'm grieving a world where babies die. A world where there seems to be no rhyme or reason. A world where bad things happen, and while God might use them, there doesn't seem to be any POINT. A world that no longer feels safe.

When I first got pregnant with Madelyn, I remember not being sure I wanted kids. Because having kids opens you up to losing kids. And I imagined that to be the worst kind of pain in the world. It's so scary to open yourself up to pain like that!

Over the last 3 years, I convinced myself that I really wouldn't ever lose Madelyn because there is no physical way I could ever endure that loss. It would be way too much to handle -- so it just won't happen, right?

Nope. I found out recently that's not how life works. I really could lose Madelyn. Or Ryan. Or my parents. The list is endless.

Before you believe I'm just looking at the glass as half-empty, let me assure you that I understand that I need to be grateful for every single breath they do take. And I am. very. very. grateful.

I often sneak into Maddy's bedroom at night. And after making sure she is, in fact, still breathing, I lay my hand on her chest, kiss her sweet, sweaty cheeks and offer a silent thanks to God for this day that I had with her. And in that same breath, I beg for God's mercy on us that He would grant her a full, long life, and spare us the pain of losing her.

I go in and check on Maddy a lot more since our loss. I hold her tighter. Kiss her more. Let others babysit her less. And I have a hard time letting go.

The truth is, I'm this close to becoming that mom . . . .

. . . That mom who goes in and checks on her kids if she hasn't heard a squeak come out of their child's mouth for a milisecond. The mom who is terrified to let her child munch on anything unless she is right there, armed with the instructions on CPR in one hand, and a phone with 911 on speed dial in the other, just in case they choke. The mom who sees a few bruises on her child's legs and assumes her child has some rare uncurable disease that will steal away the life of her precious baby overnight.

Ok, maybe I'm not that bad. But I feel myself slipping ever so close toward becoming a crazy mom.

When we went on a hike, I had a hard time relaxing. I kept picturing her slipping down the steep side to the river. And the worst was when we were on the bridge over the waterfall. I had to keep my hands on her at all times, even though there's no way she could fall off unless someone picked her up and tossed her over. (The thought of that just made my blood pressure rise.) I eventually had to just take her off the bridge because I couldn't deal with it.

On Saturday, I had a mini-revolt against crazy mom. Maddy was begging to go the the kid's playland at our local grocer. The room looked clean enough. The woman looked sane, even nice. (Is that possible??) But still -- had she been trained in CPR? Does she care if my child is safe and happy? How will she respond if Maddy throws a fit? (In case you want to know the answer, I learned that they page you. I guess they thought through that too.)

We walked by, Maddy asked to go in, and I promptly said, "No . . . maybe when you're older." In my head, I added . . . "Like when you're 16." Later, we pass by again, and she asks again. And I hesitate. And the internal debate begins . . .

"So, Rachel. It makes more sense to have Madelyn miserable and complaining in the cart while you fill 20 bags in the bulk section . . . instead of letting her play for a few minutes in a fun-looking, toddler-themed play area? Is that right? The whole room is made of plastic, and there are no other kids in there. So -- how do you propose she might get hurt? Jump off a 12-inch chair and become paralyzed from the neck down?Maybe you really are a crazy mom."

In the end, I gave in to logic and let her play for 20 minutes while I filled my cart with weird things like oat flour and wheat bran. And it was actually nice not to have to worry about her "jumping cart" or throwing a fit. Although it still felt weird. And I missed her for those 20 minutes!

I just think about death and accidents more. When I say goodbye to Ryan, I wonder if years down the road, I'll remember this as our final goodbye. I struggle to let Maddy go to swim lessons with her grandma because I'm afraid she might go under and I'm not there to watch her. While Maddy sleeps, I check in on her more now than I did when she was a baby! I've actually considered installing the baby monitor again!

Recently, I drove across the narrows bridge, and this weird thing happened. I don't know how to describe it, but life just felt so tangible, like it was moving and pulsing around me, and I could feel myself move through it. I just felt so ALIVE. "Is this what life feels like before you die? Like you are totally alive . . . and then, you're not?" I wondered. I think I half-expected to immediately get in a car accident and die. And I was surprised (and happy) to make it home safe and sound.

I totally freaked out when my parents told me about a test my dad would have to take, even though they didn't expect a single bad outcome from the test. But immediately, my mind jumps to worst-case scenario.

I wish I weren't this way. But I feel like my loss of Olivia has served to heighten my fears about almost everything.


One thing I don't fear anymore is ruptured organs. Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt (or rather, the hospital socks.)

Now that I have survived both ruptured organs and the loss of child (and have the socks to prove it), I need to figure out how to really live and not just survive.

 How do I attain that healthy balance between holding on and letting go? How to make the world as safe as I can for Madelyn, who needs me to encourage her to step out a bit more on her own, while not protecting her from every little ouchie?

I guess the playland was the first step on a really long journey. A journey away from crazy mom to healthy mom. And, fingers crossed, healthy mom = healthy Madelyn.

Anyone else ever turn into crazy mom? Please tell me I'm not alone. :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ryan's Story -- mourning a life lost and a life changed

Of all the stories I've had the privilege to share, I'm feeling the most honored to share this story -- my husband Ryan's story.

When people began questioning how he feels about my blog, as well as how he and Maddy are handling my grief, he offered to write out our story from his perspective. He wanted to share because he believed that it might help women understand their partner's actions a little better during a loss. He also thought that if men read my blog, they would have a post that they might be able to relate to more.

I agreed with all his reasoning, but secretly, I was just excited because I would finally learn how he was feeling about our loss of Olivia!

I was surprised to learn how differently we have interpreted events, even things that I thought were cut-and-dry.

For instance, our ER Dr. mentioned all of the reasons this pregnancy might not have been viable, but I latched on to the last thing he said, "I'm not giving up hope for this baby." Ryan, on the other hand . . . well, I'll let him tell you what he thought about that.

Thank you, love, for share sharing your story! You are my hero!


On Saturday, December 3, 2011 (and I only know that date because I asked Rachel for it), Rachel and I were preparing for a road trip to the wonderful city of Yakima, WA. She was going for work, and I was going because it meant I would get to spend time with her. While I was getting ready . . . ok, while I was procrastinating . . . Rachel decided to show me her positive pregnancy test.

What went through my mind when I saw it was . . . nothing . . . or perhaps everything at once, and it was all so fast that my decidedly slow mental dexterity couldn’t track it.

Excitement for another kid.

Oh wait, how much is this going to cost?

What about sleep?

At least I’m not in school this time.

How much is this going to cost?

If this pregnancy is anything like the last one, this is going to be a rough nine months.

I’m going to have to get a second job to pay for this.

What are we going to do?

Even with all the crazy thoughts going through my mind, I was still excited at the potential for another little rugrat to be crawling around our house. Our trip to Yakima actually turned out to be pretty enjoyable as Rachel and I laid down some dreams and plans for the future. The nice thing was that our house was already set up to receive a 0-2-year-old foster child, so we didn’t have any major furniture expenses to deal with. But the fear of another difficult pregnancy loomed over our heads.

Rachel’s first pregnancy was pretty rough. On top of the midnight trips to the grocery store for whatever she was craving and the puking every time she walked past a trash can, she was plagued with intense morning sickness, was on and off bed rest, and had a couple of scary bleeding episodes. Not to mention the blood pressure and liver issues (HELLP Syndrome) she faced at 37 weeks that resulted in an emergency C-section and a beautiful, healthy, baby girl. I found out later that Rachel in fact could have come close to dying, and we also came close to losing Madelyn.

I really didn’t want the next nine months to be similar to the first pregnancy, and so I hoped and I prayed that Rachel would be well and that I wouldn’t have to wait on her hand and foot for nine months while taking care of Maddy, working full time and running a bicycle repair business on the side.

Everything seemed to be going good . . . too good. Rachel wasn’t sick, just slightly nauseous and only a few smells bothered her. I was happy for Rachel and I really wanted to believe everything was ok, but deep down, it just didn’t feel right. I kept a strong, happy and supportive face for Rachel, but I expected the worst. I just hoped that the worst didn’t mean I would have to choose between my wife and our new baby.

I don’t remember what the date was, but Rachel uncharacteristically called me while I was at work. She told me she was headed to the hospital because she was in a significant amount of pain. I asked her if it was serious and if she thought I needed to leave work to come be with her . . . dumb question. She said I could decide.  I quickly realized I would be a horrible husband if she were in pain at the hospital and I wasn’t there with her because I didn’t want to use any time off and I didn’t want to ride my bike up the ridiculous hills on the way to the hospital.

Rachel had been in the ER for about an hour by the time I got there. We waited another two hours before the doctor came in and nicely explained to us that she probably had an impending miscarriage, but there was a chance that it could be any number of other things. He said Rachel should have her blood drawn Friday and then see her doctor on Monday to either confirm or deny a miscarriage.

Honestly, I was expecting the news. It hurt, but I was expecting it. I was sad, but Rachel was devastated. I didn’t have time to be sad. We still had hope, but our moods were decidedly sour. Two days later, on Friday, Rachel bled a lot and passed some large clots and what we thought might have been the baby. At this point, our hope pretty much disappeared.

The following Tuesday came, and again I received an uncharacteristic midday call from Rachel. This time however, the only words she could get out between gasps and sobs were, “. . . my dad . . . is taking me to the hospital . . .”

I didn’t hesitate this time. I knew I had to get to the hospital. (I also drove my car that morning, so I didn’t have to ride my bike up any hills.) I told my coworkers I was leaving and went to my car. As I was climbing into my car, it hit me . . . my wife really sounded like she could be dying. I was afraid. My best friend could be dying.

At this point, I would like to say I raced off to the hospital, lovingly embraced my wife, we just had a little scare, and little bean-shaped Olivia was fine. But that isn’t how this story goes. Instead I just sat in my car and cried. I was so worried that I might lose Rachel that I froze . . . and I cried. After a few minutes of just sitting in the car with the door wide open, I pulled myself together enough to start the car. I thought at this point it would be good to call my parents and tell them that Rachel was on her way to the hospital. When my dad answered the phone, I just cried. I don’t think I said anything for the first minute or two.

I’m not normally an emotionally expressive person, so to cry on the phone to my dad was rather embarrassing. He handled it well and said he would pray for us and would contact my mom (which was good, because I didn’t really want to do any more crying).

At the hospital, Rachel was waiting to go into surgery and was in obvious pain . . . but she was still alive and to my relief, was expected to live. She had an ectopic pregnancy and her fallopian tube had ruptured causing internal bleeding.

After the surgery, we went home, and for me . . . it was relief. There was finality to our pregnancy. There was no more waiting to find out if the baby was going to live or die, and there weren’t going to be any more trips to the emergency room. We were on to the healing.

But for Rachel, things were very different. And I was very ignorant.

Rachel was doing pretty well for the first couple of days after getting home from the hospital. It wasn’t until the drugs wore off that the devastation and grief hit Rachel. She was experiencing emotions and grief at a level I could only grasp at, let alone try to understand and help her deal with. She shut down. Her actions were mechanical, her interactions were forced and she was depressed beyond anything I had ever seen before. I had no idea what to do.

By nature, I fix things. I love to fix things when they are broken. I run a small bicycle shop out of my garage because I like to fix broken things (and I like bikes, which is a great combination by the way). I get really frustrated when I can’t fix something, especially when I can’t fix it because it doesn’t make sense to me.

That was Rachel. She was broken and I tried to fix her, but she didn’t make any sense to me. So the more I tried, the more frustrated I became. I prayed and I worked to make her “snap out of it.” I was trying to confine her ever-changing grief to a box of my own design and it didn’t work.

Eventually and unfortunately, the frustration came out at the other people in my life: my daughter, my coworkers, and even my family. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t get my wife to just deal with the grief and move on that I would yell at my daughter and hit walls (because that makes sense). I couldn’t yell at my wife because I felt like the tiniest wrong word would send her off the deep-end and I would never get my fun, motivated, strong, and joyful wife back.

When I failed to fix the problem, I became depressed, and I began a new type of mourning. I was mourning for the loss of my wife. There was no hope in the foreseeable future. My mood and my actions became very sour and very bitter. I no longer cared. I just wanted to get away from everything, to go on a vacation from life.

For three months, I struggled to fix my wife and only became more frustrated and depressed. I couldn’t handle the household by myself (at least not while wallowing in self-pity), I turned my back on God, and I was failing to fix my wife. I felt like a failure. I was a failure. My wife needed me, but I couldn’t handle the failure. My daughter needed me, but I didn’t want to lash out at her so I just wasn’t there. I needed my wife and my daughter, but I couldn’t face them without feeling guilty for not fixing things. I needed God, but my failure and guilt were too great a burden for me to lay at his feet.

I would love to say that I just gave up and God fixed everything without me needing to do much, but again, that isn’t how this story goes. I did give up, but I didn’t give up quickly. Eventually I gave up on trying to fit Rachel into my box, and slowly she is finding her own box. I gave up trying to control my family, and slowly I’m getting to know them again. I gave up trying to find the quick solution that would make everything hunky-dory again. And I realized that very few things will ever be the same as they were.

It has been a slow, painful process. In my frustration I have hurt my best friend,  I have hurt my beloved daughter,  and I have hurt myself. But I am very thankful I know an awesome God who forgives even me, an awesome wife who loves me, and a daughter who is not yet old enough to carry a grudge.

Are things perfect now? No. Every day is a new day that brings its own set of problems. We are still dealing with the after-effects of a lost pregnancy, depression, and frustration (not to mention all the things we were dealing with before we even got pregnant), but there is at least some hope. Things are slowly returning to something that at least appears to be “normal,” and we have a few things we are looking forward to.

I feel like every pregnancy loss story is so important and deserves to be told. If you would like to share your story, please email me at renyeart@gmail.com. We can post your story anonymously.

My goal in sharing stories on this blog is:

1) To honor our beloved babies and keep their memory alive.
2) To validate and honor the grief of the moms who have lost their little one.
3) To be a resource to women who are hoping to find someone, somewhere out there, who can relate to their feelings of loss. I hope this blog will be that resource.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kristi's Story -- A lonely journey through ectopic pregnancy

I'm honored to share Kristi's story of a loss due to ectopic pregnancy.

Her story highlights several factors that are unique to an ectopic pregnancy or other early pregnancy loss:

  • A husband often feels so different than the mom about the loss because he hasn't had a chance to bond with the baby.
  • His reactions are often NOT helpful to the mom, which can make the loneliness in an early loss that much more painful. (Though I admit that his actions legitimately might be helpful to him.)
  • Ectopics are hard for doctors to diagnose. This is why it's so important that we moms are in tune to our bodies and demand the care we (and our babies) deserve. When something is wrong, we have to trust our instincts.
  • Medical personnel often don't treat ectopic pregnancies as the loss of a baby. The lack of compassion gives off the the feeling that we are just being "drama" and that "people miscarry every day, so what's the big deal?" The lack of validation for our loss -- and, therefore, the invalidation for our grief -- creates a very tricky journey of grief to navigate.
Her story also highlights what I'm sure all of us in the pregnancy-loss camp would agree with:
  • Your loss changes you in a deep and profound way. And no matter how much you want to go back in time and have things the way they always were . . . you simply can't. And that is really hard to deal with.
  • Your loss opens you up to a new world . . . a world of grief. A world where babies die. And a world that will probably never feel safe to you again.
On Christmas Eve, I was finishing up work and noticed that my eyes kept getting blurry and I felt dizzy.

Earlier in the week, I had started to wonder if I could possibly be pregnant because I wasn't feeling the usual signs of menstruation about to start, and I was tired more and having some nausea. So after the blurry vision and dizziness started that night, I decided to take another pregnancy test. (I had taken one a few days earlier which was negative, but thought it might have been too early to test.)
When I saw a faint second line on the test, I was overcome with joy . . . as well as full of anxiety about how my husband would feel. I decided not to say anything to him until I saw the doctor on Monday and knew for sure. 

On Sunday, Christmas Day, the spotting began.

It seemed to take forever waiting for Monday morning to come so I could call the doctor's office.  When Monday morning came, my husband planned a last-minute trip out of town to drop off some car parts at a machine shop and maybe to stop on our way out to see one of his daughters who is pregnant. While he was loading up the van, I called the doctor's office and found out that they were closed that day.

On the way to my step-daughter's house, I suddenly had to throw up, and hung my head out of the window to do so. When we got to the house, my daughter immediately told her half-sister about mommy throwing up, and she in turn immediately asked me, "What are you, pregnant?" I just kind of brushed it off, but told her later when we were alone that I thought I might be. 

Later that day, I admitted to my husband that I could be pregnant, and as I feared, he wasn't happy about it. He was constantly being negative about it, saying that he was too old to have another baby (he was 42 and I was 34) and that he had nothing to show for his life.

When we got home, we noticed our pet guinea pig was acting funny and wouldn't eat. I called and made an emergency visit to the vet and found out that she had an obstruction probably from chewing on the string to my pajamas a few days earlier, and she might not make it.

The next morning, the vet called to tell us that the guinea pig didn't make it. Then I went to the doctor and anxiously waited in the room for the doctor to come in and tell me for sure if I was pregnant. With my husband acting the way he was, I didn't know how to feel.

When the doctor came in, I could tell she looked nervous. She told me that the urine test came back negative but would call me with the results of the blood test. I immediately started crying and told her that I wasn't sure if I wanted to be pregnant because of the way my husband was treating me. I had wanted a baby for so long and just wished he could be as happy as I was.

I left the doctor's office and went to the vet's office to pick up our dead guinea pig. The nurse called me later with the blood test result and told me that I was pregnant. According to the hCG number, I was about 5 weeks along. Because of the spotting and cramping, I had to keep having my hCG checked.

The following weekend, my husband actually came with me and my daughter to my parents' house  to celebrate Christmas (which is something he never does.) We had a good weekend . . . we bought a couple of new guinea pigs, and he seemed to be taking the pregnancy news better, even though he never talked about the baby. The spotting had stopped for most of the weekend, until it started back up on New Year's Day.

That next Wednesday, my husband was being a total jerk . . . ranting and raving about everything except what was really bothering him (which I knew was the baby), and then storming out to his shop without even saying goodbye. My cramping had gotten much worse that morning, and I finally decided that afternoon to drive myself to the ER. 

I dropped off my daughter at the shop with him and told him where I was going. I spent several hours alone in the ER waiting to have a transvaginal and abdominal ultrasound. The doctor told me that my hCG levels had been very low for as far along as I was. (The doctor's office had always told me they were rising, but I guess they were never doubling like they should.)

The woman who did the ultrasounds is an old friend of mine, and I could tell from her face that something was wrong. The doctor told me I could just not be as far along as everyone thought (which I knew exactly when I conceived), or it could be either an ectopic pregnancy or an impending miscarriage. With no solid answer, they sent me home.

That Friday, the doctor's office called and told me that my hCG dropped a little and that the doctor wanted to try another ultrasound that Monday. The weekend seemed to drag on forever waiting for Monday to come. When I had the ultrasound, once again I was told that they couldn't see anything on the sonogram, but that my cervix was still closed. The official report came back saying that there was no evidence of an ectopic, and that the radiologist believed it was consistent with an early pregnancy. 

But the next morning, while I was working, I could feel the bleeding start. I ran into the bathroom and saw that the bleeding had gotten heavier. I told my husband I believed I could be miscarrying.  He had a physical therapy appointment he was getting ready to go to for his shoulder surgery, and I told him to go ahead and go. As the bleeding continued to get heavier, I called the doctor's office and they told me to come in and get checked. 

I was devastated to hear that my cervix was now open. It was hard to listen to a baby crying in the room next to me as I waited for my hCG number to come back. My number had risen a little and was told it could be an impending miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy, or that my pregnancy still could be viable. Again, I was told I should just go home and rest. 

When I got home, I decided to take a bath to help relax. When I got out, I started to freak out when I saw that there was blood running down my leg and that the tub was filled with blood and several clots, including one the size of my hand. I yelled for my husband to come in, and he helped me get dressed and had me lie down. 

I called the ER since the doctor's office was closed and told them what happened and what the doctor had told me. Once they heard which doctor's office I went to (the hospital and a doctor at the clinic are in the middle of a lawsuit and he is banned from the hospital), they told me that I was having a miscarriage and there was nothing they could do for me. They told me to come in if I was bleeding through more than two pads in a half an hour. 

The bleeding stopped a few hours later, but the following night, I was cramping a lot worse. I had taken a Percocet and it wasn't doing anything to help with the pain. I called the ER again and told them that my doctor told me it could be ectopic, and again (once they heard what clinic I went to), they told me that if the doctor really believed I could have an ectopic, they would have done something by now. They inisisted I should just take another Percocet.

The next day, I had another hCG drawn. I was sure that it would be 0, and that I had miscarried. Instead, I was shocked to hear that my number had gone up again. 

The next week, my hCG levels kept rising slowly, but still nothing showed on the ultrasound. My doctor referred me to a gynecologist out of town who wanted to see me the next day. He told me that there was no way that this was a viable pregnancy and that he believed it was in my right tube. He said that on the ultrasound, there was more fluid developing around that tube. The ultrasound also showed fluid behind my cervix and around both ovaries and tubes. 

I told him about all the bleeding the week before, and he was shocked about that, too. Nobody could explain what was going on. My case was not the typical ectopic. 

The doctor suggested that I have the methotrexate injection. [This is a drug that will dissolve the baby and placenta, which would help prevent further damage to the tube.]

I had to wait for the pharmacy to get it ready, so we left to go shopping and kill time for a couple of hours before wereturned. By this time, the wating room was full of pregnant women and women with new babies. I couldn't stop crying as I waited for them to call my name. 

When the nurses brought me back to the room, and I saw the sonogram machine and the chart on the wall showing the various stages of pregnancy, I bawled harder than I ever have in my life. After the nurses gave me the two injections in my hips, they let me out the back way, so I wouldn't have to see all the pregnant women again. 

I cried the whole way home. I had told my husband that it made it even harder knowing this was my last chance to have a baby. At first, he seemed to be more open to trying again, but he hasn't even touched me in so long, like he's afraid I'll get pregnant again.

 I feel so alone. Not a single day goes by that I don't think about the baby. It's my first thought upon waking and my last thought before going to sleep each night. 

Tomorrow I go back to see the doctor who gave me the methotrexate injection to have an HSG test. [This is a test where they inject die into your tubes to see how if there is any blockage.] I am anxious to find out how much damage to my tubes there has been. 

I have had two laparoscopic surgeries in the past, with lots of scar tissue, adhesions and cysts having to be removed. I developed pelvic inflamatory disease after the second surgery, so I am worried what the doctor will find. I don't know if my husband will be coming with me or not. I might be going through this alone as well. 

I just wish I could back in time before any of this ever happened. It's so hard even getting on Facebook now, especially when I see pregnancy updates from two of my step-daughters, some friends, and my husband's cousin. It seeems like every day, somebody else is announcing their pregnancy. I even had to suspend my account for awhile because it just got to be too much to bear.

I don't like this woman who I have become . . . this woman who is angry and hurting all the time . . . this woman who knows that everything that you have ever wanted can be taken from you just like that, and there's nothing you can do about it.

A word to other mommas . . .

I would tell other women going through this that they should not be afraid to let their feelings out . . . that it's okay to be angry, it's okay to be sad. I felt so bad at first that I was angry at God until I talked to my pastor, and he made me realize that it's okay and natural to be angry with God, and that "God's got big shoulders and can take it."

I also have realized that I feel a lot of guilt and anger at myself. I've realized that I sometimes blame myself for being anxious about being pregnant, that maybe somehow my fears caused it. I also have been so angry at my husband for his reaction to my pregnancy and have blamed him, but I know deep down it's not anybody else's fault that this happened, that no one caused it. 

Also, it's very important and helpful to reach out to others who have been there for help to get you through it. I feel so alone with my friends and family, because none of them have any ideas what I am going through, so the support pages on Facebook have been a godsend for me.

Thank you, Kristi, for sharing your story of your baby, and the experience of your loss. I know the loneliness of losing a baby to ectopic -- but know that you are never truly alone in this loss. Thank you for being brave in sharing your story.

I feel like every pregnancy loss story is so important and deserves to be told. If you would like to share your story, please email me at renyeart@gmail.com. We can post your story anonymously if you would prefer. 

My goal in sharing stories on this blog is:

1) To honor our beloved babies and keep their memory alive.
2) To validate and honor the grief of the moms who have lost their little one.
3) To be a resource to women who are hoping to find someone, somewhere out there, who can relate to their feelings of loss. I hope this blog will be that resource.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blog list on pregnancy loss

I just wanted to pass a link along to my readers!

I know that for me, reading other blogs has been very helpful in my journey, but it can be hard to find such blogs.

So, I'm super excited to find a great list of pregnancy loss blogs. Here is is:


www.stirrup-queens.com also has a blog list for other issues such as infertility, adoption, diagnostics and more. And her articles are great too!

Just wanted to pass along this great resource I recently stumbled upon.

Happy blog reading!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Facebook revisited

Sometimes your message can get lost in your words.

I don't know if that's what happened with my post about Facebook -- but based on some of the comments I received -- I fear that that might be the case.

I've read over my note several times, and besides a few minor word choices, there's not much I would change. However, I do feel like a follow-up post is important.

First, I think it's important to clarify who I write for. I write for couples who have lost a baby or have struggled with infertility. I also write for others who are going through a loss of some kind and can relate to the grief I share. I also write to others who are looking for helpful ways to support those they know who are going through a pregnancy loss.

My message is intended for those particular men and women. If you find yourself reading my blog, but you haven't gone through a loss, or you aren't trying to support someone, you just might not understand my message. And that's OK. You're still welcome to read. But don't be surprised (and certainly don't judge me or my readers) if you don't find yourself in the same place.

You'll notice in my first post that I really just said two things:

1) For those who have recently suffered a loss, being on Facebook can feel like an emotional minefield.

Based on the feelings I've heard from other women, I know that this is not just my experience. But it is an experience shared by many of us women suffering through a loss. I simply want everyone to be aware that Facebook can be hard. I am not trying to place blame anywhere. Just know that what you post does affect other people.

It's like if you just lost a very dear grandma. If you constantly saw posts on your newsfeed saying  . . . "Just hung out with my grandma, God has blessed me so much to have her in my life!" Or . . "My grandma is giving me such a hard time tonight. It's so hard to take care of her, and I'm just so tired!" Or "Just found out my grandma is going to live with us! I can't wait to spend every day loving on her!"

Each of those posts might hurt. Not because you hate grandmas. Or because you are angry at your friends. And not because those posts are wrong.

But they hurt because you are bruised and hurting. You have suffered a loss, and every reminder of that loss -- no matter how innocent it is in itself -- feels like someone has just pressed in on the bruise of your loss. And it makes your soul ache with longing and regret.

That is how I feel when I see pregnancy-related posts. I am not bitter or resent babies or others' joy. I am bruised and hurting. Whether the reminder comes from a Facebook post, or a baby commercial, or a Babies R' Us catalog in the mail -- that reminder hurts. Even if the reminder is not wrong in itself.

I do my best to navigate those reminders, and avoid as many as I can, because some days I'm just not ready to have someone or something press in on my bruise and cause me pain.

Which brings me to the second point I made on my note . . .

2) If you are pregnant and are going to announce a pregnancy, and you know someone who recently suffered a loss, please let them know privately before making a public announcement. This can really help someone who is struggling with loss to be emotionally prepared for your announcement and subsequent posts.

I was not asking every pregnant woman to go through a mental rolodex and think of every single person they might offend each time before they post. I was simply asking that ONE TIME, before you make your first announcement, to give a friend that you know is struggling with loss or infertility a heads-up. This will help them to navigate those painful reminders -- whether that means they unsubscribe to your posts for a time, choose not to look at their newsfeed, or whatever they need to do to protect their heart.

Vintage Farm Girl felt that the burden should fall on those of us struggling with loss to protect ourselves on Facebook. And in part, I believe that we do need to be responsible (which is why I've stopped checking my newsfeed most days.) But your private message can help us be responsible for guarding our emotions while on Facebook.

Because I am writing to those who consider themselves support people, I wanted to give them one more tool in their tool box of ways to support someone. So often people tell those of us going through a loss, "Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help."

Well, I am giving a suggestion of one thing you CAN do to help. And it DOES help.

I want to reiterate what (in bold) I was NOT asking people to do:

I'm not asking everyone to stop posting about their pregnancies. I'm not even trying to complain. And I'm not saying that your FB life should revolve around sensitive people like me.

A few of the comments I received were that I was "holding people hostage in my pain." That I could not recognize the joy of others because I did not have that particular joy. And that I was criticizing others for celebrating their blessings (amongst other things . . . ).

Let me address those criticisms for a moment.

A few weeks after our loss, my sister called to very sensitively let me know that she was expecting. If I could hold anyone up as an amazing example of how to be sensitive to others going through a loss, I would hold up my wonderful sister.

Did her announcement hurt? Terribly so. But it was not because I resented her. It was not because I resented her baby. It was not because I was a bitter woman who was holding my sister hostage.

It hurt because I had always wanted to be pregnant with my sister, and we would have only been a few weeks apart. It would have been wonderful to go through each stage of pregnancy, each milestone, together. I imagined being able to call each other as our babies learned to roll over, smile, talk and start to eat. We'd be able to compare notes on nursing, sleeping (or lack thereof) and all the adventures of being a mom the second time around.

But Olivia was dead. And even if I got pregnant right away (which I couldn't), it still wouldn't be the same.

Her announcement hurt because I couldn't be the one to simply cry with tears of joy as she had done for me. Please hear me say that if I could have only wept for tears of joy, I would have done it happily and with abandon. When we announced our pregnancy with Olivia, my sister was one of the few people that was simply so happy for me that she cried in the middle of wal-mart. Her excitement meant the WORLD to me. She had given me an amazing gift with my pregnancy that I could never give back, no matter how much I wanted to.

And trust me . . . I wanted to! Because she deserves it. Because I love her with all my heart. But I just couldn't. There was pain mixed in with my joy for her, and I couldn't sift that out no matter how hard I tried. Even Ryan couldn't understand that there was pain in her news for me. Part of what hurt was simply that there was pain where there should be none, and that I couldn't ignore that.

With her news, I realized that I would now have a very tangible reminder of Olivia. As her pregnancy progresses, she will reach milestones I never will. You can call me bitter if you want (but not on this blog) -- but the truth is she has what I do not. She announced her pregnancy on Facebook, I never got that chance. She will bless my parents with their next grandchild. I will not be able to do that with Olivia. As her child grows, I will see where my baby should have been at that age.

Her baby is a miracle. He is a blessing, and will be a wonderful addition to our family. I love my new nephew. But I also deeply miss my daughter. I miss my pregnancy. I am so very sad my sister and I will not be comparing belly pictures, pregnancy aches and pains, delivery stories, and our babies' milestones. I'm devastated that our babies will not know each other and be close cousins.

My grief is real. So is my joy for my sister. Both feelings live together in the same heart, sometimes like best friends and other times like fighting siblings. Sometimes the grief feels stronger. Other times joy wins out.

My pain for Olivia and my joy for my new nephew must coexist. There is no other way.

One last thing I wanted to share . . .

Last Sunday, I woke up feeling happy and content. This is unusual for me. I questioned it at first . . . then gave in to the wonder of waking up sandwiched between Maddy and Ryan watching the rays of sunlight filter through the curtains to announce a peaceful morning. I snuggled my family, and drank in the peace that was overtaking my heart in that moment.

During church, though, I had difficulty concentrating. I wanted to hear the message, but my heart and mind were fixed on what Olivia was doing in heaven. Was she happy? Does she look down on me? Does she know I love her? While we worship here, is she singing? Is she just a little baby . . . or is she big? I couldn't get my mind off of her all morning.

Lunch was fine. On my way home, I casually browsed through my Facebook newsfeed for a few minutes. Two friends had announced pregnancies.

I knew that it was April's Fool's Day. But my own sister had announced her very real pregnancy on Facebook on April's Fool's Day two years ago. I needed to give both of these friends the benefit of the doubt, because neither seemed to me like the type to joke about a pregnancy.

For a few hours that afternoon, I wrestled with my emotions. Besides the bruise I mentioned I feel earlier, I also knew I needed to be happy for these women. But I had pain, and it was hard to feel happy. I also had to prepare myself for seeing them with belllies, seeing posts about ultrasounds, and the like.

While I wrestled to have joy for these women, I was painfully aware that I had begun spotting the day before. We were trying to conceive this month, and I was hoping to be pregnant. I was terrified of having another ectopic as I had lots of pain earlier in the week from my fallopian tube. A late period + spotting + pain in my tube + a negative pregnancy test =  the potential that I might have another ectopic.

Could I withstand another loss? If I didn't have a loss, then I was still not pregnant, which was disappointing, though not as devastating as an ectopic would be. Just dealing with the disappointment and fear surrounding my spotting would have been enough in the day to warrant a breakdown. But there was more . . .

Because it was a nice day, and because our memorial tree was finally ready, Ryan and I had decided to bury the tissue I had passed with Olivia and plant her tree. (Don't worry, I kept the tissue sanitarily.)

Before we went outside for our the burial, I checked Facebook one more time. It turns out that those pregnancy announcements were just April's Fool's jokes.

But it didn't feel funny to me. Not at all. I wrestled for hours that day to try to muster up happiness for my friends, on a very emotionally-charged day. And it was all for nothing.

It was then that I posted my note about Facebook.

I hope all this background info helps you understand my original post. And no matter how you first felt about my note, I do hope that it encourages you to still be sensitive and to know how to help your friends on Facebook struggling through loss.

And . . . if you've actually read this far, thank you. I think this has been my longest post to date. I appreciate you hanging in there with me while I hash through my intentions and background on what has been my most controversial post so far.

If you have gone through a loss, what other helpful things have your friends done to help you navigate the emotional minefield that we live in day-to-day?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Am I over it?

Yesterday was weird for me.

It was a good day mostly -- I had a friend come by for a few hours for lunch before we both headed off for our support group. We stopped by wal-mart on our way to group and picked up ovulation predictor kits . . . laughing because it would be clear to the check-out girl that we both just wanted to get "knocked up." It felt good to be carefree for a little bit, to laugh and to think about getting pregnant again without sheer panic.

I told her, "Wouldn't it be fun if we got pregnant at the same time?!" We both agreed that it would be fun, but deep inside, we knew the potential for how painful that could be. What if one of us loses our baby, and the other goes on to have a healthy baby? A pretend innocence can only last so long. I had to add, "Well, it would be fun anyway if we both had healthy pregnancies, and healthy babies that we could keep."

Yesterday was also good because I was able to figure out our vegan meal plan and go grocery shopping, as well as run some other errands in the morning/early afternoon. It was nice to be productive earlier in the day. The check-out girl at Fred Meyer told me she wanted to come eat at my house because we eat healthy. I laughed -- but honestly, I take a certain amount of pride in filling a grocery cart with produce and very little else.

Overall, it felt like a very good day.

But I also felt kinda weird yesterday.

My friend and I talked about our losses a lot. It's weird that your baby's death can become normal and natural conversation. But as we talked -- and later at our support group -- I felt like I was talking about Olivia and our loss in a very cerebral way. I just couldn't feel emotional about it. I actually felt far more emotion for my friend's experience yesterday than I could for my own.

As we drove to wal-mart, I thought, I just wish I could put this whole experience in a box, shelve it and forget about it. Just move on, and completely forget this chapter in my life. I want to pretend again that the idea of getting pregnant isn't terrifying. I want to pretend like I'd never experienced a loss, and that life was normal. And not a "new normal." Just NORMAL.

At our group, this was the first meeting where I just didn't feel like I belonged. I was feeling very disconnected from my own feelings. In the past groups, I always could relate to the feelings others shared. But this time, I really just felt like a spectator.

I saw people there that I really cared about. I saw girls that I now consider friends. And one that I have "talked" with over FB and our blogs, but hadn't officially met yet. But deep inside I wondered . . . Does this lack of emotion mean I'm over it? Is this part of an early loss . . . feeling this way after only 3 months? How long will I come to this support group? When will I be moving on?

When I got home, I found Ryan working on his post to tell his side of Olivia's story. I curled up next to him, tried not to read over his shoulder, and eventually fell asleep to the sound of his fingers tapping across the keyboard.

As I lay there in my almost asleep state, I realized that I could never box my loss up -- tempting as it had seemed earlier in the day. To forget my loss meant to forget my love. And the truth is, I had loved Olivia with all my heart from the moment I knew she existed.

The problem is that thinking of my love for her hurts. It's easier for me to be intellectual about my loss. It's a lot harder when I think about my love for her.

Even as I know I couldn't do it -- boxing up everything and pretending to be the old me still sounds pretty tempting.

I got up early this morning and read Ryan's post (which is still just a draft, in case you try to look for it). Reading his side was very eye-opening for me, and yet, very hard. Our loss of Olivia has impacted our marriage and family in such a huge way. I felt yet again that I just can't deny that we had this experience. If I did, I would not just be denying my love for her, but I would be denying my husband's grief too. He grieves for a lost baby, but even more, for his family that would never, ever be the same.

Have you ever felt like boxing it all away, and pretending your loss, and your grief, didn't exist? If you did box it away, what was it like?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Angel Baby Rose's Story -- a life lost to ectopic pregnancy

Tonight, I'm honored to share the story of angel baby Rose, whose life was lost because her implantation was ectopic (outside of the uterus). Ectopic pregnancies are so scary because two lives are at stake -- and one of those lives is always lost.

This momma is so brave in sharing her story, in hopes that other women will be able to recognize the signs of an ectopic pregnancy and get help sooner. I know this mom is devastated by the loss of her precious Rose. If you choose to comment, please keep your comments kind, supportive and full of love!

-- Rachel

It started at Zumba class.

I'd gone with a friend of mine, but was unable to do the class because I was getting what felt like crampy pains in my groin. I had to leave the class and sit in the car, it was that bad. My friend came out and drove me home.

The pain got worse as the night wore on, and became unbearable. I was feeling like I was going to faint, and almost did twice. My husband had had a virus the night before with similar symptoms, so I thought I was just catching that. Little did I know . . .

My pain got so bad that I was not able to hold my head up and couldn't sit. I made it to the lounge room chair where I just flopped in it. It was at that point that my husband called for an ambulance.

The ambulance took me straight to the ER and out to a back room where I waited. None of the doctors knew what was wrong with me. They had the nerve to put it down to a bug, and then chlamydia, even though I'd been married to the same man and was with him for 10 years.

It was about 8 pm when I went in to an examination room which held 3 other people. By this point, I was in terrible pain. I was given Panadol, Nurofen and Endone with no effect. (Usually the Endone alone would knock me out.)

The pain was unbearable and I was calling out . . . I kept waking up the poor lady beside me. By 3 am, I'd had enough. I was yelling in pain because the pain was unbearable on my right side and the tip of my left shoulder. (I was later told these were classic signs of an ectopic.) Still, the doctors didn't know. I yelled out at one point, "You are not listening to me!" This is when they actually took notice of what I was saying . . .

I heard whispers that I was pregnant, which I couldn't understand. Then the doctor came back, and I got the news I wanted to hear, followed by what is one of the worst things you can hear: "You're pregnant, but it's ectopic."  :-(

They asked me if I knew what that meant, and I said I did . . . that the baby was growing in the fallopian tube.

I think that was the worst moment of my life, to hear that news. I then asked them, "I will have to have surgery won't I?". . . to which they replied yes. My heart sank and I felt like bawling my eyes out.

It was 3 am. . . I was in a hospital room with only doctors and no family. I wanted my family -- my son, who was 3.5 years old at the time, my husband and my mum -- around me. I asked if I could ring them, which they said I could. I rang my husband, who then rang my mum. They came up . . .

I was tying to be strong, but inside I was dying.

The gynecologist was called in who told me I'd have to be rushed in for surgery at 5 am. . . but I was taken in at 4 am. I remember being so scared in that room full of people, but I was terrified my husband couldn't come in the room with me. I was so alone . . .

They told me they'd count backwards from 10  . . . that's the last thing I knew . . .

I woke up about 7 or 8 am. The doctors came to see me. I'd ruptured and was bleeding inside. If  I'd left it much later, I would have died. I lost my left fallopian tube, too. They did a keyhole surgery so I'd  have a small scar. But the scar was nothing to the emptiness and grief I felt.

The next couple of days were very hard. I was in so much grief. I had lost 2 litres of blood as well, and almost had to have blood transfusions (though luckily I didn't). My husband and mum and sister came in to see me regularly. I had a friend who came in, but she tried to ignore why I was in there. I coouldn't stand that, so I ended up telling to her leave. I was very upset.

They discharged me after 4 days. I felt the nurses didn't care, they didn't want to talk, or listen to me. I still have bad days to this day, but it is gradually getting easier.

But I will never forget her. (I thought she was a girl because, the week before, I'd gone off vegemite -- one of my favourite foods.) Later, we called her Rose.

Rest in peace, Rose. You are gone, but never, ever forgotten.

A word to other mommas:

Make sure, if you're in pain, that you are heard and looked after.
Take each day by day.
 Don't let anyone tell you to “get over it” or that you haven't suffered because you didn't know, or it was barely formed, or not a stillborn baby.
Take as long as you need to grieve.

I feel like every pregnancy loss story is so important and deserves to be told. If you would like to share your story, please email me at renyeart@gmail.com. We can post your story anonymously.

My goal in sharing stories on this blog is:

1) To honor our beloved babies and keep their memory alive.
2) To validate and honor the grief of the moms who have lost their little one.
3) To be a resource to women who are hoping to find someone, somewhere out there, who can relate to their feelings of loss. I hope this blog will be that resource.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pics on life, loss and love

Ryan and Maddy have been using Olivia's name more recently, and that is very nice.

Some of it might be because after the fallout from my FB note, Ryan and I have been talking more candidly with each other about our loss.

Whatever the reason, her name is really nice to hear.

Today I wore the necklace my friend Emily sent me.

Madelyn plays with that necklace more than with any of my other necklaces. Today, while fingering the "O" charm, she says, "Mommy, this is 'Livia's necklace." She held up the footprint charm. We compared her foot to the charm, and we both decided Maddy's footprint would never fit on a necklace.

I asked her who Olivia was. She answered, "My best friend." I told her Olivia was also her sister, but that we wouldn't get to know Olivia for a very long time.

The other day she told me, "Mommy, Audrey is my favorite friend. And 'Livia is my second favorite friend. And 'Livia has a special tree."

She sure does, baby.

On Sunday, Ryan, Madelyn and I planted the willow oak tree seedling my sister gave us in honor of baby Olivia.

Once we finished planting the tree, we looked up to see a deer pass through our yard. I don't think it's symbolic or anything . . . but it was peaceful.

It was a nice moment. I wish the rest of the day could have stayed peaceful.

It will be nice to watch her tree grow . . .even though I still wish I were watching her grow, and not just a tree.

One more thing I wanted to say . . .

I keep this blog mostly related to pregnancy loss. But I know most of you don't know much about my life outside of my loss. You don't know how I take care of Maddy, take care of my husband and take care of my business.

I still take care of important things in my life -- and Maddy and I still have fun together. So here's a glimpse into the rest of my life . . .

Maddy's favorite breakfast: Alphabet pancakes!

Maddy wanted to do spa night with the girls. Instead, I convinced her to do spa morning with Mommy. She was the perfect little client!

Maddy loves to take pictures around the house. Here's one she took of me:

Maddy's artwork on display in her room:

This was taken right before she dumped the flour in and turned the mixer to 10.
You can imagine the fallout . . .

Showing off her pretty nails . .

Snow time fun! (Sorry it's sideways! I don't know how to fix that!) :)

So, now you know. My blog is mostly about pregnancy loss. But my life is a mix of loss and love, grief and joy.  Sometimes the picture of my life is bright, cheery and happy. Other times, it is murky, dark and desperate. And sometimes, it's all of the above all at the same time.

P.S. I apologize if I brought anyone pain  by posting pics of my life with Maddy and Ryan. But I did want to give you a little bit of a bigger picture of who I am and why I write they way I do. I still do love those around me very much, even as I grieve the lifetime I lost with Olivia. Since I post so often about the hard times, I wanted to include a few of the good times we've had since our loss.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I came across these words today on the comment section of a different blog.

"I don’t like the fact that every little issue along life’s path, from miscarriages to spats with family, are glorified these days. Blogged about. FB statuses, galore. Sometimes, just for extra annoyingness, cryptic FB statuses. People spending hours whining about what used to be commonplace events.

I’ve had two miscarriages. I have two lovely, healthy girls.

Was I sad about my miscarriages? Yes, very much so. Did I name them, or write a memorial to post online, or turn the conversation back to myself every time anyone spoke about loss or bad luck? No. Because I have perspective.

And I’m counting my blessings. What I actually have more than makes up for the loss of a beautiful idea. And don’t even get me started on people who say they found it hard to care for existing children because of a miscarriage …. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees."

Well, I guess if she knew me, she'd disapprove of just about everything I've done since we lost Olivia.

I left cryptic FB posts when I really wanted to share with everyone that we were pregnant, but that we might lose the baby. I wanted to beg for the prayers of those who love me so that together we could flood God's throne on behalf of my baby. But my husband and I weren't on the same page about how and when our news should be shared. So cryptic message it was.

I do spend hours thinking, talking and writing about Olivia. Whining? Well. I don't know. Maybe sometimes I whine.

Did I name my child, write a memorial post online, and occasionally turn the conversation back on to my loss when I talk with my friends. Yep.

Do I struggle at times to meet my daughter's every demand on a particularly difficult day? Guilty as charged.

The commenter above does not approve of my actions because she admittedly has "perspective."

But I have done all of these things for the exact same reason. I have perspective.

I've shared in previous posts about how we almost lost Madelyn during my pregnancy twice. Once to threatened miscarriage at 12 weeks. I had hemmorhaged, and after going to the ER, found out I had a 50/50 chance to keep her.

My whole family was prepared to lose her. And we were all very happily surprised when she clung to life.

I named her "Madelyn Jane" in part because of this experience.

Madelyn means "strong woman." She was one strong little girl to hold on even while my body made it so hard for her to do so! Jane means "believer in a gracious God." What a gracious God we serve to let me keep my little girl!

Often -- especially now that I've lost Olivia -- I look at her deep hazel eyes and think, "I almost missed this." I came this close to never knowing the feeling of her arms when she "squeezes the words out of me." I came this close to never snuggling with her in bed, her soft sweaty body squeezed as close to me as possible. I came this close to never hearing the sweetest words ever spoken: "You're my best friend, Mommy. I love you sooooooooooooo much."

I came this close to losing 3 years of precious, beautiful moments with my daughter. I came this close to losing a lifetime more.

And THAT is my perspective.

With Olivia, we too went to the ER early in my pregnancy. The doctor gave us hope. He said he would not give up on our baby. He wasn't willing to call it a miscarriage, or ectopic. He was choosing to believe our little one could make it.

The nurse who called to inform me my hcg numbers had risen also had hope. She hoped everything would be fine, and that our baby would live.

I had hope. Ryan had hope. Our families had hope.

We all had so much hope, and so much love for this little tiny creature we knew would be Maddy's best friend and our beloved child.

The morning we had the final blood draw, I had read in scripture that "With God, all things are possible." I clung to that hope and to the faith that God would do the impossible, and give us Olivia too.

But God's not that predictable. He was strong enough. Her life was possible. But for some reason, He chose to take her straight to heaven.

God had a purpose for Olivia's life. I don't like it and some days, I simply don't approve. But He had numbered her days. Her purpose was not to love on me and let me love on her. Her purpose was not to whisper sweet words, give big hugs, and bless us most amazingly with her adorable presence.

But she DID have a purpose.

And that's why I'm on this journey. That's why I blog, I write, I cry, I talk, I think, I post messages on FB and attend support groups.

Because I have the perspective of a women who almost lost a lifetime with a child . . . but didn't.

And I have the perspective of a woman who almost lost a lifetime with a child . . . and did.

Baby Olivia,

I'm missing you so much today. I hope you are having fun today playing at Jesus' feet. I hope you have become friends with some of my friends' babies. Let me tell you, their moms are amazing. I wish we all could have had playdates together here on earth.

Can't wait to meet you in heaven.

Until then . . . all my love.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Swimming with sharks

I'm a big fan of Shark Week.

Which is weird, because I am TERRIFIED of sharks. And every episode has my heart in my thoat, my hands sweating, and my muscles tense.

I remember watching one episode where a woman was attacked by a great white shark while she was kayaking near the shore. The shark rammed her from below, flipping her kayak and dumping her in the water. Her husband was far ahead, and was only getting farther away as he continued stroke after stroke, unaware that his wife was battling one of the most feared predators the world has known -- an 18-foot great white.

She eventually made it back into her kayak, with a bite to her arm, and paddled to shore where her husband met her. At one point during the attack, he had looked back to check on her, but couldn't paddle quickly enough to help.

The next day, this woman did something I never would have done.

She got back into the water.

She figured if she didn't do it right away, she might lose the guts to ever get into the water again. She didn't want one shark to ruin a sport she loves.

Today that's where I found myself. Facing the water. And wondering if today I will be swimming with the sharks.

Recently, I got bitten. Doing something I love, in a place that I had considered both safe and sacred.

I was bitten by words. Ignorant, vicious, cruel words that attacked my character, my motives, my purpose, my message, my family, my spiritual walk, my relationships . . . just about everything one could attack.

And let me be the first to admit . . . IT HURT. Bad enough that I really didn't want to get back in the water again. For the first time, this place has truly made me feel vulnerable. Losing a daughter is painful enough. Having people kick you while you're down is pain on a whole new level.

The thing is . . . I'm not a quitter. And I might be sensitive -- and some might consider that a weakness -- but I'm also really strong.

I am strong enough to get back in the water.

But I'm arming myself against the sharks.

From now on, readers' comments will be filtered through a second party. If a reader attacks me, my family or another reader in any way, that comment will be deleted before I will ever see it.

Also, there will be no more anonymous comments. You will have to register your name if you are going to comment.

If you want to comment, please keep your words helpful, kind, and respectful to me and to all my readers. You might disagree with what I write, but realize that my writing is about my journey and my feelings along the way. My feelings are valid -- whether or not you agree.

I stand 100% behind my character, my motives, my grief, my journey and my blog. And so, by the way, does my husband.

 I will never claim to be perfect.

But I do claim to be as honest as I can be. I will do my best to honor the very short life of my daughter. I will stand up for those of us in the club that no one wants to belong in, and share what life is like from our perspective as moms who have lost their babies. I will do my best to help others understand how to support the women in their lives struggling with pregnancy loss. And I will fulfill what I feel like God has called me to do -- to grieve out loud and break the silence of loss.

Into the water I go . . .

P.S. To all of you who have called, texted and Facebooked me during the last 24 hours to encourage me . . . thank you. I have visited your words numerous times, drawing from them the confidence and courage to continue my blog. I love each of you very much, and am blessed beyond blessed to count you all as friends.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Facebook -- I love you, and hate you. Sometimes, I really really hate you.

So -- I kinda have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.

I love it because I have connected with past friends, and seriously love some of those renewed friendships. I love seeing pictures of my nephew. I love my 2 support groups I have where I can post in the middle of the night, and I receive prayers and encouragement right then! I love having a platform to share my blog, and a way for it to spread around the world.

But then again, I also hate Facebook.

Mostly because of it's uncanny ability to set my emotions reeling so quickly and unexpectedly.

Those of you who have gone through a loss or have struggled with infertility probably know what I'm talking about . . .

The unexpected announcement of a pregnancy. Or belly pictures. Or ultrasound pictures.

I get that I'm in the stage of life where this is normal. And when I was pregnant with Olivia, I was innocently wracking my brain to figure out a fun, creative way to announce our pregnancy. (I was going to take a picture of a Starbucks' cup with our baby "order" on the side. Never quite figured out what to write -- but being in the NW, I thought it would be appropriate.)

Now, though, I am not sure  how I'll announce another pregnancy (if we have one). However I treat it, it certainly won't be the same.

Because now I know that my announcement can hurt other people.

I know that pregnancy should be innocent. That announcing a new little life should be a celebration. (As my mom said, Every life should be celebrated. No matter how long they are with us.)  But I also can't ignore this horrible feeling in my gut every time I come across a pregnancy-related post. I WANT to feel happy for that person. And no matter whether I'm happy or not, I still get this sadness that comes from deep within every single time.

I'm not asking everyone to stop posting about their pregnancies. I'm not even trying to complain. And I'm not saying that your FB life should revolve around sensitive people like me.

But I do have at least one suggestion to help those of us that are hurting . . .

Before you begin posting about your pregnancy, and you know someone who has recently gone through a loss or struggles with infertility, please let them know privately about your news before sharing on your main page.

My sister and a few friends have done this for me. And allowing me to process those feelings before it's all "public" has been very helpful for me to not get that sadness in my gut whenever they do make that big announcement ... or subsequent posts about their pregnancy.

And please give your friend your blessing if they choose not to "like," "comment" or even view your posts.

Your sensitivity and understanding will go a long way in helping those women for whom checking Facebook is akin to walking through an emotional minefield. You can really help your friend navigate those mines with just a little forethought, respect and sensitivity.

P.S. A friend who has also gone through a loss commented on Facebook that she agreed, but she has added two feelings that I want to include here because I also feel the exact same way, and wish I had included them in my original post:

1. MY pain does not and should not negate HER joy.
2. I feel awful that her blessed event evokes a reaction of extreme sadness in myself.