Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A cardigan, a window, a thief and a lesson on letting go

The other day I had a business meeting at Starbucks (seriously, does work get any better?). I was a little warm, so I took off my cardigan, laid it across the back of my chair, and got back to talking.

Later, at home, I went to put my cardigan back on. I couldn't find it. With dread (yes, DREAD) it dawned on me that I must have left it at Starbucks. I whipped out my handy iPhone, googled the number and likety-split was asking a barista to please, puh-lease, look for it.

New customers claimed stake at our table, making it difficult for her to search. I overheard her ask a customer if "that" was "theirs?" They said yes, and she promptly told me, "Sorry. No cardigan here."

"But you don't understand," I wanted to gush, "this is no ordinary cardigan. It is THE cardigan. The ONE and ONLY cardigan that goes with every outfit, is perfectly soft, doesn't wrinkle, hasn't faded in a year . . . oh, and did I mention, it goes with every outfit?? So you see, not finding it 15 minutes after I leave is simply not acceptable. It MUST be there."

I didn't gush the way I wanted. I said "fine" with half-resignation, half-defiance the way my daughter says "fine" when I tell her to turn off her TV, or go to bed, or to stop climbing up that wall, or to stop picking her nose.

But I didn't feel fine. Every time I remembered that my cardigan was out in 'nowhere land' I felt a little panicky.

The next day, I promptly called Starbucks again.

"Hi, I called yesterday. I'm looking for a black cardigan that I left there."

----on hold for a minute ------

"No, sorry, no cardigan here."

Seriously, I thought, this is not OK. So I persisted . . .

"Well, I know that I lost it yesterday. I was sitting by the window, next to the mugs you sell. Can you please look again? At the very least, I'd like to leave my name and number for when you find it." (Notice I said "When" and not "if." Verbiage is VERY important when you're trying to get your point across!)

------ on hold for 5 minutes -----------

"Oh, look!" the barista acted surprised, "Here it is. Someone moved it. Must've been here all along."


So, that afternoon, now finally at peace with the fact that my oh-so-perfect-Nordstrom cardigan is FINALLY home . . . It occurs to me how much I hate feeling like something that I value is lost. I mean, I really, really hate it.

It's a feeling that is always with me. Something -- someone -- is lost. Someone is supposed to be here, but they're not. It's quite disconcerting.

My brother Andrew posted on Facebook about his own disconcerting experience:

Two nights ago, while I was in another room, a thief climbed through my bedroom window and stole my Macbook Pro, as well as the bag that I carry everywhere. 

My bag had a LOT inside: camera, iPod, checkbook, Bible, journal, books, tools, cash, umbrella, etc. 


Altogether, the bag and laptop were probably my two most valuable possessions, in both sentimental and real value, yet they were gone in the blink of an eye. I felt violated and personally offended that someone would enter my living space in order to take things that didn't belong to them.

And with those words, my brother, who could never know what it's like to experience death inside of his own body, has perfectly crafted the words that mark my miscarriage experience . . .

Altogether, [they were my] most valuable possessions, in both sentimental and real value, yet they were gone in the blink of an eye. I felt violated and personally offended that someone would enter my living space in order to take things that didn't belong to them.

And that, my friends, is how I feel about the death of my babies.

Violated by death. Like a thief snuck into my living space --- my BODY --  while I wasn't watching, and took my most valued possessions. Gone, in a blink of an eye.

Simply -- profoundly -- gone.

That feeling I had when my cardigan was lost, the feeling my brother has right now -- that unsettled feeling that things are not right and something is missing -- is how I feel day in and day out. Because my babies are gone. Stolen by death.

 Maybe I will get used to the feeling, and it will be a new normal, and it won't hurt me so much. But maybe I will never get used to it.

My brother has a great lesson in store for us --- as he's never one to take things at face value without finding a spiritual application (something I could learn from him):

Besides learning to close the window when not in a room, what's the real lesson here?
No matter how much or how little you have, never place too much value on the things you own or invest too much energy in preserving everything you have, because no matter how hard you try, you cannot guarantee the security of your possessions. When you die, you can't take any of it with you anyway. I am reminded that the only thing I can fully trust that can never be taken away by any thief or disaster is the love of God, the forgiveness of my sins, and the guarantee of salvation I have because of Jesus. There is no security in placing your identity in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ.
What else? According to the gospel, no matter how good of a person I may seem to be, I'm just as undeserving of God's grace as the thief who stole my belongings on Saturday night. Now, THAT is humbling and hard for me to accept, but it is true nonetheless. I still feel some anger towards the person who wronged me, and my heart/attitude isn't 100% right, but God is using this experience to help me learn and grow, even if it is painful. I'm not sure if I'm there yet, but I know that I WILL forgive that thief, because God has forgiven me for so much already.

Really, I don't know how much better I could put it.

As much as I might love that cardigan -- it's not going with me. As hard as I try to protect my babies, there is no guarantee for their safety or security. While at least I know they will be in heaven, the only thing that I will NEVER have to be separated from here on Earth is God's love and forgiveness. And the HOPE I have in heaven.

And to quote him yet again . . . .

I still feel some anger [...], and my heart/attitude isn't 100% right, but God is using this experience to help me learn and grow, even if it is painful. I'm not sure if I'm there yet, but I know that I WILL forgive that thief, because God has forgiven me for so much already.

I'm not there yet . . . but one day, I will be.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Alphabet soup

Tonight I find myself in a funk.

I FEEL pregnant.

And I suppose that that should fill me with excitement and hope -- even as it's too early to test. But instead, I find myself in a total, and I mean TOTAL, funk.

Yelling at Maddy, low tolerance for clutter or mess, frustration over just about EVERYTHING.

So why?

Am I pregnant, and I'm just hormonal? Am I stressed because IF (and what a big IF that is) I am pregnant, that means I could lose a baby? Am I simply not ready to hit the restart button on this grief journey?

Am I irritated because I feel so sick to my stomach, and I'm nervous about how I'll be able to cope for 9 months? Do I feel guilty being upset about nausea when 7 months ago I was jealous of women with morning sickness because it meant their pregnancies were normal? Is it because I'm being hyper sensitive to every cramp, every twinge, every possible symptom?

Is it that I'm afraid to get my hopes up? Is it that I've ALREADY gotten my hopes up, and fear there's nothing but disappointment ahead? Is it because I'm afraid of how to break the news (again, big IF) if I am pregnant to some of my closest friends who are wanting babies more than anything? Is it because I don't know WHO to tell, WHEN to tell, and HOW to tell IF I am pregnant?

Is it because I'm afraid to have hope?

Or maybe it's just all of it.

It reminds me of this book Maddy loves that I kinda hate reading to her. It's a Barney book (now you know why I hate it), and it's called Alphabet Soup. Barney throws in ingredients starting with each letter of the alphabet. Cool, right? Except that the ingredients sound like they belong in a mystery basket on Chopped:

Graham crackers
Ice cream

Yep. Pretty gross. Surely there's a way to teach decent cooking while teaching the alphabet at the same time?

Right now, my soul's the pot and it feels like something as undesirable as Barney is throwing a crazy hodge-podge of feelings, all stirred up and boiling over.

Frustration and fear
Jaded feelings
Knotted up inside

Geez . . . this is way more complicated than last time. Last time, I just saw a pregnancy test and was over-the-top happy.

I guess I am over the top right now. But instead of being just excited, I'm boiling over with leftover ingredients from the Chopped basket of mystery ingredients.

I wish I just knew what is the right way to feel, and how to make myself feel it.  :(

P.S. I wasn't pregnant. AF defnitely came. I did get pregnant on the next cycle -- but that resulted in a miscarriage at 8 weeks. :(

Monday, October 1, 2012

A day in the life . . .

Image source: http://b2beck.com/
Today began like yesterday.

Laying in bed, ignoring the world. Texting friends. Chatting in my pregnancy loss support groups on Facebook.  Laying in bed some more. Dozing. Researching. Dozing again.

Anything except getting up and facing my day. Anything except facing my loss.

I skipped church today. I felt like maybe last week was a disaster. People -- some of whom I had a relationship with, others who were casual acquaintances -- wanted to talk.

I did NOT want to talk.

"How are you doing? You look tired . . . "

What, exactly, could I say that would be polite or sociable?

"Hi. Well, I am tired. I just got home last night from a trip to bury my grandma. And I'm actually not OK. Not at all. I'm pissed off at my body. I'm pretty mad at God. I'm beyond disappointed. And I'm carrying what I'm told is a baby that will no longer live. Not really sure how I'm supposed to feel about that. And well, my feelings change like the tide. So I don't even know how I am. Except that I am anything BUT fine."

I didn't say any of that.

I just barely nodded, and gave a half-smile. I couldn't even find it in me to lie and say "Fine."

I. Am. Not. Fine.

So -- I skipped church today. And laid in bed. And felt sorry for myself. And let myself feel so, so very depressed.

Then Ryan came home. Off to lunch we most go. I rolled out of bed at quarter past noon. Brushed my hair and teeth, changed clothes, attempted to smear on some foundation and mascara, and off we plodded to lunch. It actually went OK. I was glad to have someone ask me how I was and be ready to listen to my answer.

My in-laws took Maddy this afternoon, so I suggested to Ryan that we head to Barnes & Noble. I was given no information about what to expect from a miscarriage by my Drs' office -- or even when we would start miscarrying -- so I was ready to dig into some information and figure out what the heck is going on with my body anyway.

Hmmm. Barnes & Noble may not have been the best choice.

They had lots of books available online. Only one dealing with miscarriage/pregnancy loss in stock.


And it was called "How to prevent a miscarriage."

Funny title, I thought. All the Drs and resources I've read say that there's not much of anything you can do to prevent a miscarriage. OK, maybe if you've had three losses, they refer you to a specialist for some testing, you finally figure out (maybe) the causes of your loss, and there's a slight chance they actually have a solution to solve your problem. Then maybe you can prevent a loss. But that's after you've already lost three babies. I guess the fourth time is a charm, right?

Maybe B & N carries that book because it sells. Because it offers the illusion of control. Because who doesn't want to prevent a miscarriage, really? And maybe because it just feeds in to what the rest of society tells us....

Miscarriage happens a lot, but, whatever you do, don't talk about it. Don't admit to it -- unless you KNOW it's to someone else who's been there. Then you can be a part of a secret club, and you don't have to bother anyone else with your pain. Baby loss is not appropriate for the public square. It might upset someone.

Pregnancy loss might happen a lot, but it's true . . . we're all in denial. It's much more fun to pretend that everything's OK. That babies don't die. That moms don't have to say goodbye before they ever said hello. Let's just keep the illusion going . . . That we each have control over birth and our pregnancies. That swollen ankles, hurting backs and loss of sleep are all perfectly acceptable pregnancy complaints. But . . . "My baby died" sure isn't.

So I was getting irritated. Irritated that I was just simply trying to find information, and it wasn't there. Irritated that the only way I could even find the information I was hoping for was to stalk a pregnant woman with a burgeoning belly to the right aisle in hopes of finding a pregnancy book that at least addressed miscarriage. (Which, by the way was nothing but two pages in one book. And even that didn't tell me anything I didn't already know.)

But what about the rest of us? The 1 in 4 going through a loss? Don't we have a voice? Don't we deserve information?

I was so irritated I loudly complained that I need a "Pregnancy for Dummy Bodies" book because my body was so dumb it didn't know how to keep a baby, and it feels like it doesn't quite know how to lose a baby either. I said it loudly in front of other couples. I said it loudly in front of the pregnant woman.

Maybe I'm just tired of trying to keep quiet, I didn't care who I said it to.

"I'm miscarrying." There, I said it.

After I settled on reading a book about fertility, we got cookies and coffee and sat and read. Which I actually really enjoyed.

Then I wanted to walk. I want to get things moving. I don't really know why, other than every day is hard and I just want it over. So we walked, and walked, and walked.

Three times I had pain and cramping, my belly felt a little harder and more swollen, and toward the end I felt a little weak -- which I can't really explain (because I have no information!). The cramping didn't cause any bleeding and didn't seem to do anything but be a magical cure for the oh-so-fun pregnancy side effect we all love to hate. (I'll let you figure it out.)

Afterwards we went home, and I hoped that the cramping would keep up.

It didn't.

Today is the end of the month, and I knew I needed to work at my business. So, I put my pregnancy/miscarriage/whatever I'm supposed to refer to this as, in the tiny little back closet of my heart, and set to work.

For several hours, I managed to stay fairly on top of it. I got a great bonus for my work today. And all in all, it was a decent few hours.

A dear friend even stopped by to drop off dinner for us. It was supposed to be for tomorrow -- but we dug in tonight. We swapped stories, caught up, and sympathized with each other. There's nothing better than knowing someone else just GETS you.

Ryan took care of Maddy all night, and took himself to bed. But I wasn't ready to call it quits today. More googling. More asking for advice from friends on FB. And more ... well ... more emotional denial.

As much as I am trying to grieve, I don't feel like I know how. As much as I want to admit that this is a baby, I don't feel like I can. I know it is. But a part of my heart feels locked away. It wants to feel. It wants to grieve. But my grief is caged. And I don't know how to let it out.

Maybe because I know once it's out . . . it's going to hurt. Very. Very. Bad.

Maybe that's why I want information so badly. So I can deal with my loss on an intellectual level -- not on an emotional one.

I've been struggling with wondering how much to write on my blog. How much to share.

I was afraid to post on FB because I didn't want people to feel sorry for me. I was afraid NOT to post on FB because the longer I keep silent, the more I feel like I was carrying a shameful secret -- not just something that is a very real part of my life right now.

Last night I had a dream where a lady was asking me if we were going to have another baby -- and she said something about hearing I had a baby. Pretty much at the top of my lungs I screamed at her. Yes, I want a baby. More than anything. But I lost two. TWO. STOP asking me if I WANT a baby!!! It's not always a CHOICE!!

It felt really good in my dream to just SCREAM and let it all out.

Maybe my subconscious knows I'm tired of hiding. Tired of trying to be polite. Tired of keeping up with social norms. I'm pretty sure it's just time to share.

 I have to believe that others of you have been in this place. Or you will be in this place. Or you know someone in this place.  And I want to the world to know that pregnancy loss happens. It sucks. IT SUCKS. But it happens.

When it happens, you don't have to be ashamed. You don't have to hide. If you WANT to hide, by all means, do. But don't ever feel like you HAVE to.