Sunday, March 16, 2014

In the midst of it all

Several of you have been calling or texting to see how I've been. And maybe you've noticed I'm not responding super quick. (OR maybe you haven't noticed. After all, being slow at communicating is kinda my M.O.)

I'm honestly not sure where to start. I have so much to say, and yet how do I say it without making you worried about me?

So in no particular order . . .

I'm super struggling with failure.

I know it's not like I've purposefully failed in pregnancy. And yet, I have failed. My body has, and I'm made up of my body. Saying my body failed but I didn't is splitting hairs.

I have failed to keep this last pregnancy -- or any of the last 4 pregnancies -- going. I have failed to even create a baby with a heartbeat. I have failed my husband. I know we said for better or for worse. But neither of us thought "for worse" would be me becoming a "habitual aborter." Yep, folks, that's the technical phrase for what I am.

I kill my babies -- out of habit.

I know it's not true -- yet how do you NOT take that personally?

As a result of this so-called failure, I am seeing failure everywhere in my life. I'm not trying to look for it. It's just what I see when I open my eyes.

You know how they say, "OK, try NOT to think about green. Look around the room, and whatever you do, DON'T THINK ABOUT GREEN!" Well, what are you going to find? Suddenly, you realize your room is covered in green things.

So that's me -- but with failure. Looking around my life and noticing all the places that I've come up short.

My business has been at the top of the list. I know that I know that I know I'm not a failure, because I don't quit. BUT. That doesn't mean I don't feel like one.

I feel as though I have failed my friends. I have a lot of friends, a lot of people I thoroughly enjoy and care about. And yet, I can only think about the ones I've disappointed. The people I haven't stayed in touch with, or the friends I've hurt by not being as supportive (as they deserve) in their own pregnancies.

It's not just a notice of failure. It is a deep-seeded fear.

As I look around my house, I don't see all the places where I have kept the clutter out. I only see the clutter I've failed to clean.

I have struggled my entire life seeing the glass half-full. Being wracked by anxiety since I was a kid.

I have made major strides in growing personally to be more optimistic, hopeful and confident in myself. And yet each loss has just brought all those old feelings right up to the surface.

When the bleeding starts -- when the pregnancy test comes back lighter than before -- when the nurse calls, and the first words out of her mouth are "I'm sorry . . . ",  the wind is knocked completely out of my sails.

Depression sets in again, and again, and again.

The last two years feel like a roller coaster of completely the wrong kind. The one where as soon as you get on and are strapped in, claustrophobia claws at you, convincing you you'll never get off. And when you're at the scariest points, terrifyingly defying the vast space between you and the ground, you just know that those pesky straps you've secured your future on will prove to be weak and broken.

I'm on that roller-coaster now. And I don't know when, if or how I'll get off.

Sometimes when you are with me, I look to be just fine. When I am with family, that tends to be the easiest for me.

Ryan's grandpa (who will be 101 in a few weeks) is not doing well and was placed in hospice today. We've been visiting him almost every day for the last week, and I think seeing the kids really cheers him up.

So when we are around grandpa, or Ryan's family, I try try try not to think to much about Sophie. About the fact that I hate my body. I try to remind myself to just be present, to enjoy grandpa while we can, and to not burden anyone anymore with my feelings.

And so there, I can play "happy wife, happy mom" quite well.

But other times, actually almost ALL other times, not so much.

Today I went to a birthday party. I stuck by one women, pretty much the whole time, because she knew what was going on with me and she cared. As I sat on the couch, silently observing, I could see the old me flit about the room. "OOOH, a whole room full of people to get to know!," old me seemed to be thinking. She'd walk up to a stranger, start a conversation, and by the end of the day, they had a playdate or coffee date on the books.

She looked inviting to me. Beckoning me to come, just be like her. It's not so hard . . .

But I couldn't.

I sat glued to the couch, coffee cup cemented to my hand, silent and watching. And feeling my heart break.

I am not who I used to be. That person is a stranger to me. I wondered what it would be like for life to feel light again?

An acquaintance at church asked how I was today. I think I said "fair." (My usual answer when the more accurate -- less socially acceptable -- one is, "I'm tired of life.") She prodded gently a few times, and then it came out. Like vomit. All the stuff I'm worried about and, of course, the miscarriage.

Why? I think. Why do I even bother going to church when I just become socially awkward? Why can't I just keep my mouth shut, and stop wearing my heart on my sleeve?

And so today, and yesterday, and the day before that, the thought is heavy on my heart . . . How many more times can I endure this?

After Olivia, the doctor told me that I can't think about how many losses I might have. I just need to figure out if I can handle one more.

This whole journey, that's what I'm thinking. Can I just handle ONE more?

And today, my answer is, I don't think I can.

I. Am. Not. Strong. Enough.

When we shared the news that we were pregnant with Olivia, it was met with great excitement and joy. Now when we share the news, I often must share it with tears. And there are very few congratulations. Mostly people look at me with trepidation, wondering whether to say "I'm sorry" or "I have hope for you." Sympathy describes the looks I receive --- not joy. Very rarely does anyone take my pregnancy announcements to mean "We're having a baby." Mostly, I feel it with a sigh, "Here she goes again . . ."

How many more of these announcements can I get through?

How many more due dates? We have enough. 8/4, 5/14, 1/15, and 11/12. All empty. Do I really want to fill the whole calendar?

How many more shoes do I want to buy? The one and only thing I have bought for my last 4 babies.

How many more kids do I want to name? I have named 6. Madelyn Jane, Olivia Joy, Caleb Michael, Elliott James, *little miss*, and now Sophie Grace. I will likely run out of names before I run out of room in my house for my kids.

How many more times will I ask my friends and family to support me through a loss? Through the subsequent depression/grief/general suckiness?

How many more times can I fight to get on top of these feelings of failure and hopelessness, just to find myself drowning in them again?

How many times can I hole myself up at home because I don't have the energy to make others around me feel good?

How many times can I put my Arbonne team and business through a leader who is inconsistent at best?

How many times can I ask our finances to pay one more medical bill? Cover one more test? Endure one more month of me not working?

How many times can I ask my body to try so hard to get pregnant, watch my boobs swell, feel my abdomen bloat, and feel the exhaustion of making a baby -- only to fail? To watch my body quickly become un-pregnant?

Today, even one more time feels like one time too many.

One baby too many.

One "You were not far along at all" too many.

One "I'm so sorry" too many.

And yet, I still can't tell myself I'm really done.

To make myself not TOTALLY be a downer on this post, I'm going to write a few things I AM thankful for. I have to. I have to remember that I don't own the rights to misery, and that my life really IS good, even if I'm struggling to see it.

-I'm thankful for a beautiful piece of art that a then stranger, now friend, has created for me:

Miss You Memorials, by Rachel Davis

-For a gift card to one of my favorite places ever, Trader Joes, from a dear friend. (And for the yummy flourless cake said gift card bought me today.) :)

-For a family day yesterday to Mount Rainier:

-For my friends and family who keep calling and texting, even when I don't respond. Or being kind to me when I respond with how I'm really feeling, and I know that's not what they want to hear.

-For my mother-in-law, who fully believes in retail therapy, and is happy to share some of her therapy with me. (Yay for cute, new clothes!)

-For my mom, who brought me snacks from Trader Joes (catch a theme here??), made my family dinner, has talked to me almost every day, and has folded clothes and washed my dishes. Love you, mom.

-For my sister Judy who just knew I was sad by the say I said "OK." For her wrapping her arms around me, tears down her face, when I wept for the little baby I desperately wanted. For her taking me to the doctors, and sitting in the waiting room for an hour, without complaining. For making me feel not so alone.

- For my sister Sarah who has called to chat. But mostly for her sending me this beautiful song that helps me to cry. (Wait, do I really need help in that area?) Still, it's a beautiful song, and it helps me know that she gets how I feel:

-For my two precious girls that DO call me mommy. They may keep me on my toes, and sometimes I'm not the mommy I wish I was. But they love me all the same. And I'm forever grateful for my two miracle kids.

-For Ryan, who holds my hand when I cry, and doesn't blame me when I blame my body and blame myself for each loss. Who has also lost so much of his family -- but he still takes care of me and doesn't complain. (At least, not usually.)

-For Stacy, Joanna and Katherine for holding me and letting me cry after our last MEND meeting.

-For Anna, for reading and editing some of the guest stories that I can post on here.

-For the encouragement of Mel at Stirrup-Queens, for encouraging me to start my book.

-For Randy Alcorn reposting my blog. I'm thankful for Crosswalk, iBelieve, Life News, Eternal Perspective Ministries, Live Action News, and of you bloggers/facebook people that shared my post.

-For every comment I receive on this blog -- and all those thoughts and well wishes I know so many of you have, even if I never hear them. I read them all. I know that none of us wish we could relate. And as much as I wish none of you knew my heartache -- I'm so thankful I'm not alone in it.

-For the meals that our foster care director has brought to our house the last two losses.

-For Cari and Deb who have watched/offered to watch my kids so I could have some time to take care of myself.

-For Elizabeth for meeting me for coffee when I just needed out of the house, and needed a good cry.

-For strangers who care. And for friends who care.

-I'm thankful to God that death does not have the final say. That he has some sort of redemption in all of this. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa. 55:8-10)

-I'm thankful for Robin. You stick with me through thick and thin, and chase after me just like I should chase you. Love you.

-I'm thankful this life is not all there is. I'm thankful that I will one day meet all my precious babes, and all tears will be gone.

-I'm thankful for heaven.

-I'm thankful my babies will never know pain or heartbreak.

-I'm thankful that the first face my babies saw was Jesus'. I'm thankful that they will never know anything less than love.

So I guess, in the midst of it all -- there is still good.



  1. I've had four losses, too, and after the last one, I felt the same way you do. Never again. But that was a year ago. Time has allowed me to heal. Somewhat, anyway. Hubby is having a vasectomy in three months- we are much to old to keep at this much longer- but I'm telling you that I would give my right arm just to have one more shot before it's all over for good.m Even if it ended in miscarriage again. Somehow, that would make me feel a bit better. I guess what I'm saying is- don't make any decisions in the wake of this loss. Give it time, and see how you feel. Thinking of you...

  2. I remember after my second miscarriage I went to a party to welcome the newborn I held the day it became official. I sat there surrounded by my friends but felt like I wasn't there. It was as if a movie was playing out before me. I could see them and hear them but it didn't feel as if I was really there. I see pictures from that day and it instantly takes me back but to look at me you couldn't tell. I had a smile on my face. I was wearing that mask but I was broken. I didn't want to be the Debbie Downer but if I had let that smile drop someone would have asked me what was wrong. I knew the flood gates would open and I wouldn't stop crying. I just received the invite to this special boys 4th bday party. I hope that the smile isn't fake this time even though I am already flooded with emotion. I'm not sure why I felt the urge to share this story perhaps just to remind you someone has been there. Big Hugs and in time you will heal again. Forever changed but healed. Hugs.

  3. I am so sorry for your losses. I just can't imagine the pain you are going through. The enemy is desperately trying to drag you down making you feel like a failure. You are not a failure. The Bible calls us children of God and through Him we are overcomers. The devil wants you to forget your position in Christ so that he can have victory over your life. I know you are tired and weary but Jesus will give you rest and the strength you need to continue on your journey. My prayers go out to you!

    "The Lord will fight for you, you need only remain calm." Exodus 14:14

    The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him. Psalm 28:7

  4. My heart aches for you and your losses. I've had 5 losses & will never be a mother. Feelings of failure have been my companions for many years. Typically, I can move past them but lately, they just linger. Your story has helped me this evening as I needed to bring focus to the good in my life. Thank you for sharing your story so openly & honestly. Thoughts of peace & healing for you and your family.

  5. Rachel,
    You know the greatest peice of comfort I ever received was this... in life our job as a mother is to get our children to heaven. You my dear have done just that with 4 of your beautiful children. They are your guiding force your own special Lewis army and the extra prayers and protection you need. You know in the first few weeks after my miscarriage I went to work and other were 2 ladies who were also pregnant and both due in the summer. You could tell they had a good sized belly. I was sad to see them be able to keep their children while I lost mine then I realized how horribly negative that was. I turned the thoughts and every time I was negative about losing my child I would pray for them and the safety an health of their baby. When it got reAlly hard I would ask God to bless the newborns I felt sad over seeing. Then I requested my little girl to whisper a few prayers for me and her daddy. It has brought me tremendous comfort in know in I have an angel keeping watch over me. You are a beautiful person!

    God's love