Saturday, March 29, 2014

Detox kickoff for April



After one of my posts went viral, I had a lot of questions about the detox I did. (And still help others with.)

For the most part, I keep this blog separate from my business. And I try to keep it on the topic of loss.
 

But one of the things I most appreciate about the nutrition part of my business is that I really feel like I can help people with their health.

And when you're struggling to get pregnant, or struggling to keep a pregnancy, it is really nice to take back some control over your health.

 
When our tests kept coming back as negative (which is good -- it just doesn't help me find the answers), I wanted to do anything I can to get my body as healthy as I could.  For me, doing the detox two months in a row has been really great. My clothes are fitting better, I got rid of my reflux, and up until this last miscarriage, I was getting to bed on time and sleeping so much better. I was able to kick my caffeine habit (which is big).

 
I'm posting all this here because I want to let you know I'm kicking off another detox for the month of April. And if this is something that might be interesting to you, you are welcome to join!

Here are some posts about the detox that explain more:

My first experience on the detox

My most recent detox


Also, a few things to note:

-I am not making any claims that our program will help you get pregnant or keep a pregnancy. Only that it can make you healthier overall.

-You must live in Canada, the US, Australia, or the UK to participate. I know, I know. For those of you from Brazil, Maldova, Germany, Russia, Thailand, and China . . . I'm sorry. One day, we'll be there! :)

-The deadline to sign up for April's detox is Monday, March 31.

If you are interested in joining, or want to know more info, feel free to email me at renyeart@gmail.com.

Little Miss enjoying her healthy shake






Friday, March 28, 2014

Saying good-bye to a Christian culture




Gay marriage and charity.

Divorce and the church.

Tragedy and easy answers.

These things specifically have been on my brain the last few days quite a bit.

What is it that ties these seemingly unrelated things together? Is it God? The Bible?

Or is it something much less definitive, much more septic?

Could it be Christian culture?

I suppose it's unavoidable, really. You put a whole bunch of people together, and you'll get culture.

At times, we Christians really get it right. (At least, right according to the Bible.) We become the hands and feet of Jesus, ministering, caring, loving, blessing and, at times, challenging. We spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

But then there are times when the culture we attribute ourselves to gets it horribly, horribly wrong.

Women who should be embraced and protected by the church are instead forced to wear a Scarlett D, have members of the clergy completely in their business, and are scorned for leaving an abusive and soul-sucking marriage.

Kids who need sponsors to feed them get completely gyped because this culture decided that homosexuality is THE sin of the day (more so than any other), and they are more concerned about being politically correct in the Christian sense -- then in continuing to feed needy children.

Families who are desperate for love, a meal brought over, a friend to cry with are hung out to dry when tragedy strikes. Instead of a casserole, they receive plattitudes and easy answers. Not always, but enough. Too much.

Which spurs the question in me . . . is anything really supposed to be Christian?

Sure, people are. If Christian means "little Christ" . . . if Christian means having a personal, soul-saving relationship with Jesus . . . then by all means, let's all be Christians.

But things -- objects -- devoid of souls? Should those be called Christian?

Can a charity comprised of thousands of people really claim to be Christian? Can they ensure (or should they ensure) that each and every member of their organization not only has a relationship with Christ, but follows every single law in the Bible?

I used to work for a "Christian" company. I use that term loosely.

While I met some amazing Christian friends there, I also met some not-so-Christian ones. And then I met Christians who acted like they weren't Christians. There were divorces, affairs, greed, anger, cussing. There was also corporate prayer, causes that were meant to spread the word of Christ, and some pretty amazing fellowship. (Not too mention a lot of unhealthy food -- and that, my friends, is fuel for another post.)

On days like this, I just want to love Jesus, love people (all people by the way -- even the gay ones), and trash the culture.

Don't get me wrong. I know we are called a Body of Christ. I know we are to stick together. I know the church is God's bride.

Since I'm so open about loss, depression, grief and just generally some hard things -- I've had many people open up to me about going through difficulty in the church. And over, and over, and over again, I hear it. (I've even lived it.)

The church is one of the hardest places to be when life gets hard.

So maybe could we all just hang our judgmental hats up for a while? Could we look around with eyes open, and meet the needs of those around us? Can we stop pretending that just because we have the Bible we know all the answers? Can we stop putting specific sins as pedestals in God's eyes? Can we worry less about politics, organizations, and church budgets and just worry more about making sure the world knows the Christ came to love them and offer them a life-long, eternity-long relationship with Him?

I expect to get some flak for this. And maybe rightly so.

But for today, I'm calling the Christians out. I'm calling me out.

I'm saying no the Christian culture.

And an absolute, resounding YES to my God and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Confessions of a depressed Christian

Have you ever wondered what depression looks like?

It looks like this:



 



 

All of these. I look happy, like I do most of the time in public.

I still smile. I go out. I shop. I attend family events. I attend trainings and help my team. I go to parties. I have family days. I go on dates with my husband. I go to church.

I get out of bed. I clean. I take care of my kids. I make food. I run errands. I grow friendships. I go to sleep. And do it all again the next day.

I also suffer from depression.

Depression doesn't make it so that I can't do anything fun. Depression doesn't mean I don't have an amazing life full of things and people to be grateful for. Depression doesn't mean I don't have a strong relationship with God.

Here's what my depression means:

I've gone through a lot. And sometimes, just dealing with it all takes a lot out of me.

In the last 2-ish years, here are some things I've gone through:

-Ruptured ectopic pregnancy, and the loss of Oliva.
-Becoming a bereaved mom.
-Dad's cancer returning.
-My grandma unexpectedly dying.
-Husband getting laid off of work. (Thankfully, that didn't last long.)
-Loss of a promotion in my business. (I WILL get it back and will grow even more.)
-Loss of Caleb to miscarriage.
-Diagnosis of secondary infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss.
-Unexpected, devastating divorce in the family.
-Ryan's grandpa's health issues, impending death.
-Dad's cancer growing. Unsure of treatment, or if it has spread. Still waiting to find out more.
-Dad's bike accident and pulmonary embolism.
-Loss of Elliott to miscarriage.
-Failed foster placement.
-Loss of Sophie to miscarriage.
-Testing, testing, and more testing to no avail. Lots of health questions for me -- and no answers yet.

This is just off the top of my head. I'm sure if I thought more about it, I could come up with more.

And here's what all that means.

I'm depressed.

I have compounded, complicated grief (which means there are a lot of things to grieve all at once), and that has triggered a clinical depression. Sometimes the line between grief and depression is a fuzzy one.

I'm not just sad.

Sometimes I'm sad. But sometimes I'm mad. Sometimes I just don't care -- about anything. Sometimes I'm exhausted. Sometimes I'm impulsive. Sometimes I'm irritable. Sometimes I feel "depressed." Sometimes I feel numb.

And sometimes, I really feel OK.

I can live my life. It just takes so much more out of me. 

I can still function. Sort of.

This last week, my depression has been horrid. And yet, this last week I've gotten the most cleaning done ever in my life. I deep cleaned Ryan's bathroom, dusted and organized our room, rearranged our room and little miss's room, washed all the windows, dusted the house, deep cleaned the main bathroom, organized a shelf, cleaned my desk, tidied the office, cleaned my kitchen tons of times, did lots of dishes, swept, mopped, and vacuumed. I've hosted out-of-town company, and hosted a baby shower.

And yet, I've not worked my Arbonne business. That feels too overwhelming.

See, my functionality is selective. Some things feel doable. Others feel completely overwhelming. Some things I can't believe I have the energy for (like cleaning.) Others times, I can barely muster the energy to smile at a well-meaning person. That just takes too much out of me.

Nights and mornings are the worst.

Most people see me during the day, when I'm most functional. I'm distracted by the duties of the day and my two kids, and it's harder to be mopey. But in the morning when I wake up, it takes A LOT of energy to get out of bed, facing a life I didn't choose. I want to stay in bed forever, with the covers pulled up over my head.

But I can't. I must take care of the two precious kiddoes God has entrusted to me.

They get me out of bed, and keep me out of bed during the day (most days anyway.) They keep me distracted, for better or for worse, and I find myself going through the motions (and sometimes emotions) of life.

At night, once the demands have ended, I'm faced with the feelings I've been stuffing all day. The bubble up to the surface, and bleed out through my fingers onto my blog. They drip from my eyes when I try to squeeze them shut at night. The loss, the heartache, the lies, the feelings of despair or desperation, the emptiness, the numbness -- it's all right there, waiting fore me.

The distraction of the day is just that -- a distraction. Depression does not leave. It patiently waits for me to visit as soon as I can. And the moment that there is quiet, the moment my heart is still, the claws come out and deeply drag into my heart. I'm in their grips again. And I can't get out.

Then, a new days starts. And the cycle starts all over again.

Faith isn't the answer.

Well, at least it's not the only answer.

I find much comfort in Job's story. When I read my Bible, I find the most camaraderie with those who have suffered. Those whose lives did not go according to THEIR plan. The ones who had tremendous bouts of faith -- then ran away in fear and failure. Those people, those stories, are the ones that resonate with me.

If depression tells me anything, it's that I'm empty.

I have fought that for a very, very long time. I don't want to be empty. I want to be full of dreams, of goodness, of grace, of wisdom, of love. I want my heart, my soul and my life to overflow.

But as I pour into my life, my heart overflows. Not out of fullness, but out of emptiness. It is unable to contain anything I put into it. At the end of the day, I still feel empty.

I'm coming more to terms with this. Because often I try to fill my life with things that aren't meant to be filling. And maybe depression is doing me a favor in not allowing the "lesser" things to fill me up.

My prayer is, "God, if I'm going to be empty, let me be empty for you. In your time, in your way, you fill me with nothing less than you."

So yes, God is definitely the only one who can fill the hole. But I cannot rush it. I must go through this emptying, maybe even cleansing process, before I can be full of the right things.

I feel like that character in the Chronicles of Narnia. The kid who becomes a dragon, and Aslan takes him out in the middle of the night and claws all the scales, the flesh, everything off of him. In essence, tearing him to pieces until he is just a boy yet again.

At night I feel his claws on me, tearing away every wall I have built up. Every lie I have believed. Every false sense of security.

He tears away at the flesh of my heart, till I'm bleeding and empty. And only then can I become who I'm really meant to be.

If I just tried to have more "faith," ignored this cleansing process, and hid behind church-pews, worship songs, and pity Christian sayings -- I would be doing myself a huge disservice. These are Christian band-aids.

I don't need a Band-Aid. I need the Creator of the Universe to heal me.

Depression is not my identity.

I was listening to a TED talk on depression yesterday. He said, "Depression is an issue -- not an identity." What a fabulous reminder. At times, it feels so all-encompassing that depression feels like ME. The whole of me, and not just a small part. Infertility and pregnancy loss can feel this way too.

I must keep in my mind that depression is just a small part of my life (ok, a big part) -- but there is so much more to my identity than this.

I am NOT depression. Depression is NOT me.

It's not just in my mind. And yet, it is.

Depression is not just me feeling sorry for myself all day long.

It is not the result of me having a negative outlook on life. Or on focusing on all the wrong things. It's not a symptom of a lack of faith or the correct faith. Depression is not something I've just made up in my mind.

And yet, it is in my mind. It's a chemical imbalance. It's a breakdown in the functionality in one of the most important parts of my body -- my brain. It's a disease that requires treatment -- not ignorance. It's a symptom that something is wrong in both my mind and in my life experiences.

Depression is realizing that things that are supposed to feel happy, don't. Depression is feeling a heavy burden on your shoulders, ALL DAY LONG. In good times and in bad. Depression is there, even when I'm not thinking about it. Depression requires so much more energy to function than I have. Depression makes it hard for me to feel naturally light, happy or whole.

Depression does not grow when I choose to focus on it. It doesn't have more power over me when I label it. It's claws do not sink deeper when I choose to confess, "Hi, my name is Rachel. And I'm a depressed Christian."

Instead, by naming it, labeling it, calling it for what it is -- I give myself some power back. The power to ask for help. The power to be myself. The power to be brutally honest, and allow others to be honest with me. The power to break down the walls of protection around my heart and let others in. The power to admit, "I can't do it all. I can't be it all. And that's ok."

It gives me the power to understand where others have been, and respond with more empathy. It gives me the power to add . . .

"Hi, my name is Rachel. I'm a depressed Christian . . .  But that's not ALL I am."

IComLeavWe -- Welcome to my blog

Hi new IComLeavWe'ers!


I've been so enjoying reading new blogs this week, and trying to give thoughtful comments ("the new hug").

If you found me through IComLeavWe, welcome!

You'll have to forgive me for not having the appropriate banner on my page. I have tried three times, and in spite of the step-by-step directions . . . and the face that I've already done this in the past . . .  I can't seem to make this work. 

So, in case you are wondering where I am and what I write about, here's the Cliff Notes version (are those things even around anymore?!) . . .

Two weeks ago we had our fourth loss in 2.5 years. It was early (oh how I hate that word) but our baby mattered to me and to my family. 

So if I seem a little preoccupied with grief and baby loss at the moment, it's because I am.

We've had one loss approximately every 9 months since I started this blog. We've been diagnosed with secondary infertility, as we seem to be are unable to carry a baby to term. We have no reason for any of our miscarriages. It is clear why we lost Olivia (she was ectopic), but we have no reason for the ectopic itself. Besides a prior C-section, we had no risk factors.

You'll probably notice I name all my babies, no matter how are when they come to us or are lost. Because they are little people, never to be replaced.

Maddy is our living biological daughter. She's 5 and fabulous.



Olivia was our ectopic baby. We lost her at 7 weeks when my tube ruptured in Dec. 2011.

Caleb was our first miscarriage. We lost him at 8 weeks. I had slow rising hcg and never saw him on ultrasound. He died Oct. 2012.

Little Miss is our foster-to-adopt daughter. She has a real name, but I can't share it until the adoption will be final . . . which I hope will be in a few short weeks!



Elliott is our second miscarriage. My hcg was normal, however he didn't last long. We only made it to 5 weeks with him, and we miscarried May 2013.

Sophie Grace is our latest miscarriage. She, too, made it to 5 weeks, but with low hcg. We miscarried her March 2014.

In hapier news, our adoption is finally picking up the pace. I'm looking forward the adoption, the party we are going to throw her, and a trip to Great Wolf Lodge as a family to celebrate.

I like to share other's stories of loss and love, because just having something written down can bring some healing and validation. I try to organize them so you can read the kinds of loss that you might be most able to relate to.

I also write about grief in general, depression, adoption, infertility, and other life stuff like faith and food. Besides the adoption, I know that doesn't sound like a happy list. And I guess it's not. But it's all a part of my reality, and other people's reality too. And I want to create a space where these issues are a safe place to discuss.

If you are from IComLeavWe . . . be sure to leave your blog in your comments below. I want to be able to read your words too.

Thanks for visiting. And happy (or, as happy as it can be) reading. ;)

Rachel

 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Heather's Story: A complicated grief




I feel guilty writing this, as my circumstances are so very different than most here, and I can only imagine the losses any of you are feeling.

My first child, a son, was a surprise at my young age. I've since had two fairly healthy daughters as well. With my son, when I was right at three months, I started bleeding. The military doctors rotated. The one on duty the day I went in wasn't concerned, so I headed several states away to visit family. My spouse was deployed.

I had my first of several ultrasounds while visiting family. Since my spouse was deployed, my mom went with me to this unfamiliar doctor's office in the medical building she was employed in. I can't remember everything that was said, as I was 18 and this was in 1997.

I remember the term "dissolving twin" being tossed around. When I asked my mom, she dismissed that thought. I assumed she knew more than I did and stopped talking about it. She would correct me when I did share in front of others. I didn't bother telling my spouse at that time. He had enough stress being in the Middle East.

Fast forward several years, and I found the ultrasound pictures and medical records sealed up from that day. My mom had them still.

I don't know if my son was a twin. He overheard me talking about it and said he is sure it was his twin and feels a piece of him is missing. I don't know how to process this honestly, so I haven't allowed myself to. I allow him to share anything, though I wonder if it's wishful thinking for a brother on his part. Beyond that, I'm clueless what is "ok" for me to feel.

Eventually, we did have a young man live with us his senior year. Neither of his parents would allow him to reside there due to his past issues. We loved him, and he went off to college eventually. He was stabbed two years ago and died from this. He wasn't my child in reality, yet I silently mourn his loss daily.

What I do know is that each day, I hug my kids tighter. Earthly existence is temporary. All in my family, including this young man, are children of God's, so we will be together in eternity someday. My heart will then be able to find peace.

Heather

Thank you, Heather, for sharing. Please, don't feel any guilt at all. A loss is a loss is a loss. I'm sorry that your losses have been complicated, which makes it that much harder to know how to grieve. You are so right -- in heaven, our hearts will finally be at peace. Rachel

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jennifer's Story: Recognizing the eternal in her miscarried babies

 
Rachel,

Below is a copy of the note I shared with friends and family on Facebook when we lost our second child to miscarriage in 2011. Like you have experienced the response I received from sharing was powerful and overwhelming. Miscarriage is a silent epidemic until you have experienced it yourself, you don't realize it is all around you. So many people need an outlet to grieve, that our culture does not provide us.

Thank you for sharing your loss, to touch and heal others.

Jennifer

Baby Morgan: Our Poppyseed

 
November 10, 2011 at 8:04am
August – Oct 2011

Noah and I had carefully planned this baby – wanting to have another child close in age to our daughter Aurora, and timed to have the same age gap (18 months) as her older brothers have between them. It was so fun to plan the timing carefully, keeping detailed charts and data to maximize the chances of conception. We conceived in just our second month of trying. Because we were charting and keeping track of temperatures, etc., we were able to determine we were pregnant early  – (on the first day of college football season, to be exact).

When the test came back positive, it was very exciting. We started debating names (or rather, I would propose names, and Noah would shoot most of them down, mocking me for my poor taste.) We discussed gender – I felt rather certain this was a boy.  Noah immediately started looking up all the facts he could learn about Baby’s size and growth. He learned our child was the size of a poppyseed at that moment. We started referring to the baby only as “Poppyseed.” We were due in early May 2012, when Aurora would be exactly 18 months old.  Everything was perfect.

I have had complications in previous pregnancies, and we decided to wait awhile before telling our family and friends. At about 8 weeks, I experienced some cramping and quite a bit of spotting, and we feared we had lost the baby.

However, an ultrasound indicated everything appeared to be fine, and we got to see Poppyseed for the first time; the little intricate body and tiny heart beating independently and strong. It never ceases to be miraculous to me to see that tiny, tiny heart beating on its own.

We told our family the same day, sharing the ultrasound photos and telling them all about Poppyseed. Our sons Trevin (6) and Kaden (4) were very excited and loved to propose “helpful” name suggestions (“Thunder Strike” and “Burpy Slurpy”). They talked about Poppyseed all the time.

However, for reasons we do not know, our baby’s little heart stopped beating somewhere along the way.  I began to have alarming symptoms, and a second ultrasound at 11 ½ weeks – by unhappy coincidence on Noah’s birthday – confirmed there was no heart beat and baby had stopped growing some time before.  We lost the baby at home the next day. It was devastating.

It is so hard to know how to properly grieve a child lost in this manner. Most of the people around us did not even know of the child’s existence, and we live in a nation that chooses not even to acknowledge a baby this small as a real life. But the loss is very real to me, to us.

For my part, I want to properly acknowledge my child’s existence, to give the child the honor of a real name, of some recognition. I want to tell people, but I know that puts them in that awkward place of not-knowing-what-to-say. I don’t need them to say anything at all. I just want to share, to acknowledge the child.

We planted a tree (an exotic, gorgeous Chocolate Mimosa silk tree) in a beautiful spot on Noah’s parents’ property. Our sons helped; digging the hole, throwing in the dirt, tamping it down, and lighting a candle to flicker in the wind and misting rain. I look forward to watching the tree grow tall and strong as a lasting memory and special place for us.

We chose a name: Morgan, (although Noah says he will always think of this child only as Poppyseed).  For Noah, the name Morgan is reminiscent of a close friend. For me it is a strong name for boy or girl, and it means “Great Circle.” I like to think of Morgan’s life as a great circle not yet complete. We thought we were waiting to greet this child to life on this earth. Instead, as it turns out, Morgan will wait to greet us to life after this earth.

Most importantly, I want to remember, and not move on as though nothing happened.

I have always believed that life begins at conception and we are eternal beings, whose souls live on after death. I know Morgan’s soul lives on, and that someday we will be reunited. I don’t know what that will look like – I don’t pretend to have that figured out – but I look forward to it. Morgan joins the first baby I lost to miscarriage in 2004, baby Gabriel.  I don’t know how it all works, but I hope they can be together to keep each other company.

My mother shared a book with me about a 4-year-old. boy who had a near-death experience and came back telling his parents about the glimpses he saw of Heaven. He said he was greeted by a sister he never knew he had – with brown hair like his mother’s. His parents had never told him they had lost a child to miscarriage before he was born, and they had never known if the child lost was a boy or girl. The child and his other siblings were blonde like their father, and the mother had always lamented none of the children had her coloring or hair.

That story takes my breath away. It’s so hard to conceive of your child in Heaven when you never got to see or hold them, or even know their gender or hair color. Yet, I know they are there.

The Yoga culture has an amazing word, ‘Namaste,' for which there is no equivalent in English. Namaste (na-ma’-stay) means, roughly: “that which is eternal in me, acknowledges that which is eternal in you.” It’s such a beautiful concept – that you greet someone and take a moment to acknowledge that they are more than a physical being with material accoutrements, and recognize their eternal spirit within.

The word has special meaning to me now, as it hits at the very heart of what I feel for baby Morgan. I never want to forget Morgan’s life, and I want to continue to acknowledge my child’s existence.

Namaste, baby Morgan, our precious little Poppyseed. I see, I acknowledge what is eternal in you.


Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing Poppyseed's story with us. I, too, loved the book "Heaven is for Real." It was a major deciding factor for me in wanting to name all my babies. I hope that your story encourages someone and helps them feel less alone. Rachel

Kim's Story: meeting her baby who was miscarried 20 years ago



I miscarried a baby in 1984. I was in my first trimester. I too heard all of the "at least" comforts.

I did have two more children, but never got rid of the little white dress with
purple flowers I had hanging in the closet. I didn't know the gender of my
baby.

I was in prayer one night, twenty-two years later, grieving the loss.
In that moment, I was able to take the little dress out of my closet. As I was
praying, The Lord (in the Spirit) laid my baby in my arms. I wept. I rocked
my baby.

The Lord spoke to my heart and said, "Her name is Anna Elizabeth, and
she has raven hair."

He allowed me to love on her for a while and then I lifted her to Him and
had a peace I hadn't known. It wasn't until many years later that I learned
my great-grandmothers names on one side was “Elizabeth” and on the
other side was “Cinncianna” (Anna).

Wow! I know I will see her one day.

I hope this comforts someone.

Love, Kim

Thanks, Kim, for sharing this beautiful story. And for reminding us that God has not forgotten us or our babies. Much love. Rachel

Remembering you always, Sophie Grace


Dear Sophie,

It is hard for me to write this.

Maybe because I'm not ready to admit that you are gone, so quickly after you let us know you were a part of our family. Your life with me was too short, baby. Just way too short.

Not long ago, when I was pregnant with you, I was driving down the road and all of the sudden, this image of you came to my mind.

You weren't a baby. You were in your twenties. I imagined telling you your story. How you were a miracle. How you were loved.

You stood arms' length from me, beautiful, with short brown hair. Not a baby. But mature and wise beyond your years.

Your name came so quickly to me. Sophie Grace. You just looked like a Sophie to me.

When I got home, I looked it up.

Wisdom and Grace.

And then, you were gone. Just like that. The bleeding started, the cramping, and you were gone. Before I ever got a chance to see you on ultrasound, feel you move, or talk to you when you were in your twenties. Before I even had a chance to celebrate you -- you were gone.

In this time of grieving you, I just pray that God would give me wisdom.

Wisdom to let him strip me of everything I put in front of him . . . everything I want more than him. That I wouldn't fight him as he empties me of everything lesser I fill my life with. The stripping hurts me, sweet girl. It hurts, and I want to fight it.

But in the end, I know. Nothing, not you or any of my dreams, is God's best. Only him.

It is worth it to be emptied -- as long as God himself fills me.

May I have the grace to accept God's best. To let go of the need of answers. To let go of the need of a "rainbow baby." Or a "happily ever after." To let go of you.

My grace and wisdom mark my days and shape every part of my character.

May your brief, but so important presence, mark my heart forever.

I will miss doing this life with you. I wish we could have had that conversation I saw in my mind. I would have told you how amazing you were, how proud of you daddy and I are. How you were one of God's greatest gifts to us.

And how much I loved you . . . and always will.

Mommy

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Samantha’s Story: Four Miscarriages and Two Births



When my husband Jordan and I decided to have children, I never thought it
would lead to what it did.

In July, 2009 I found out I was expecting. You can imagine we were completely overcome with joy.

All I could think of was, "Wow that was quick but I am ready!"

Three weeks later, a day after our anniversary, I woke up to the fact that I was losing my first child. I mourned the loss, but knew immediately I wanted to try again.

Luckily, two months later, I became pregnant again.

We put off celebration until we heard the heartbeat. At seven weeks we went in and there was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard: my baby's heartbeat. W never had another problem and I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl.

Our plan was to wait a couple of years to have another child. In 2012, when our first sweet girl was 18 months old, we found out my birth control had failed and we were expecting. Only two short days later, I lost my second child. Since we weren't planning on having a child right away, we decided to wait a few months to try again.

In April 2012, I found out I was expecting again. We were so excited. But unfortunately I lost my third child at seven weeks gestation.

I was willing to not give up at this point and give it one more try.

Four weeks later, much to the surprise of everyone, including my doctors, I was pregnant again. They watched me very closely. At seven weeks, I heard the sweet sound of my baby's heartbeat. So I breathed a sigh of relief and we started telling our families and celebrating the arrival of our second child.

But the worst day of my life came shortly after when I was 11 weeks.

I walked in to my doctor's appointment, and there was no longer a heartbeat. I have never been so sad in all of my life. I had just lost my fourth child. We immediately went to the hospital for my first D&C; all the others I passed naturally.

At this point I was done trying. I had a healthy little girl and I couldn't handle the thought of losing a baby again. But God had other plans.

On October 31, 2012, it was confirmed that I was pregnant yet again. There wasn't instant happiness because I was terrified. But I put my trust in God and he saw me through. I never was at ease through the whole pregnancy but we made it. In June of 2013 our second beautiful and healthy baby girl was born.

My only hope in all of this is that perhaps I can help someone else through their own loss one day.

Samantha, thank you so much for sharing. I think, today, you have helped someone else.

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 every.single.one. 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.

Rachel


Friday, March 14, 2014

6 mistakes to avoid in grief




There's no wrong way to grieve.

Or is there?

Here are 6 stumbling blocks I've found in my own grief journey. They may not be WRONG --  but they certainly will cause more pain and confusion as you navigate through your heartache.

1. Comparison. Just stop it.

Someone once told me, "Curiosity didn't kill the cat. Comparison did."

Comparison really is death, isn't it? If not death, I hope you'll at least agree it's a very unfair way of squelching one experience to highlight another.

However you think of it, it's really not that healthy.

In our pregnancy and infancy loss support group, we often highlight the comparisons others have made about our grief.
"Well, you weren't as far along as so-and-so . . .
could you imagine how hard THAT must have been for her??"
"At least you have your living son.
Did you hear about Cindy, from high school?
Her 4-year-old died from cancer. Now THAT's tragic."
"At least you know you can get pregnant.
I've never even been able to do that."
When you bring it down to the nitty-gritty, comparison is all about judgment. Making one person's experience worse or better to make you feel either worse or better in contrast.
And as awful as it is when other people compare our experiences, it can be easy to do it ourselves. Here are some comparisons I've caught myself trapped in . . .
  
"I know it's not the same as a stillbirth, but I'm dreading the pain and bleeding of my miscarriage."
"I've only had one loss.
And she's had three, and seems to handle it so much better.
What's wrong with me? Am I not as spiritual as her?"
"She got to see and hold her baby and get to know him.
She got validation for her grief.
 I never got to even see mine. It's not fair."
Here's the deal. What's hard for you, is hard. What is tragic to you, is tragic. Period. Grief is not an Olympic game where you get the prize for having the worst story ever. Nor do you get a consolation prize for "only" having a chemical pregnancy.
Your grief journey will be completely unique to you, and it deserves recognition and validation no matter what Sarah or Becky or Stacy or Beth are going through.
You don't deserve the comparison. And neither does anyone else.

2. Denial. Who, me? Never.
Alright, I'll be honest here. This one's tricky.
First, there's the whole shock thing that happens with trauma. (And usually grief is a result of trauma.) Shock is the numbing, the denial, the feeling that "this is happening to someone else, and I'm watching it happen. This can't be happening to me."
Then, once you get past that, there's situational denial.
Maybe you have a really big interview or presentation you've just got to do. So you box up your grief, store it away on the shelf, and blow through your presentation so well that no one in the audience would have ANY idea that you buried your baby a few months ago.
I think of this as survival denial. We have situations where it's not appropriate, helpful, or safe to actively grieve. And so we don't. We pretend for a while that we are our normal selves. (And I'm not talking about our new normal selves.)  And that's ok, even good, to do.
What I'm talking about here is getting STUCK in denial.
This might look like claiming your loss was "no big deal," when it really was. Or thinking that if you could just ignore your loss, it will go away on it's own. It looks like burying feelings when it would be healthy, appropriate and safe to express them. It's about distracting yourself so blindly you don't have to feel anything.
Here's the thing I've learned.
Grief doesn't just go away. It HAS to be worked through, expressed, and felt -- for better or worse. I know, it hurts. It seriously, seriously hurts. But when it's been cried through, taken one day at a time, moment by moment, taking that next step -- that's when growth and healing start.
Denial will not spare you pain. It will come back, I promise. It always does. And usually, it will come back way more complicated and difficult than if you had embraced it from the beginning.

But  here's one thing denial WILL spare you: a beautiful legacy that can be created from the darkest of pain.
3. Isolation. (You are NOT an island, I promise.)
Ok, ok, I'll admit it. I'm not an introvert. So maybe this one is easy for me to write about.
But here's the thing  . . . grief was never supposed to be suffered alone.
Remember that Jesus guy? So, um, He was God . . . and during the time of His deepest grief, He NEEDED (yes, I said God needed something) to be surrounded by support. He craved others around him to just stay with him and pray. He needed to not be alone during his darkest hours.
And when he felt his own Father turn away, that REALLY was his darkest hour. Forsaken. It's a horrible word, and none of us should be able to apply it to our grief journey.
But a lot of people feel that way in grief.
So here are my disclaimers before I totally jump in to this topic with both feet.
I get that most people don't know the right things to say to comfort you. I get that our society is getting away from bringing casseroles and just sitting and crying with you. I understand that right now, maybe the VERY LAST THING you want is to see another living, breathing soul . . . whether they bring a casserole or not.
I get that you might be an extremely private person and don't want ANYONE to know how you feel. (Ok, I don't really GET that. I'm like, 100% the opposite. BUT I can at least appreciate that you might feel that way.)
But here's the thing. You need support. And not just the support you can give yourself when you tell yourself to take one more breath, endure one more day, and survive to see tomorrow. You need real, live, human-being support. (And again, by that I mean OTHER human beings' support. Just in case you introverts are still confused.)
So if someone offers to bring a casserole, take them up on it. (Even if you just ask them to set it by the door and "Knock and walk.") Join an online support group, even if you sign in as "anonymous" and never post, and just read what other people write. Find one or two friends you can call when it's really, really bad, even if the majority of your friends don't know what's going on.
Maybe your support network doesn't need to be huge. But you do need one. I promise.
You are NOT an island.



4. Guilt. Don't let it consume you.
This one is the hardest one for me, I think. So I'm really preaching to the choir here.
Guilt in grief is normal. Just like denial. At some point, it will happen.
I remember thinking with Olivia (our ectopic baby), "Did I just not drink enough water that day that she got stuck in my tube?" With Sophie, our latest miscarriage, I can't help but feel like a massive, massive failure. I failed my husband, myself, and worst of all -- my baby.
I've wondered if I didn't just want the baby enough -- or maybe I wanted them too much. I've wondered if I didn't start my prenatals or progesterone soon enough. I've wondered if I had just abstained from THIS activity or seen THAT doctor, if my baby would have lived.
Guilt is trying to answer the answerless question: Why?
Then there is the guilt of actual things. Maybe you really weren't ready for the baby, and you had an abortion, and now you're grieving. Maybe the old-you made a decision that the new-you really doesn't agree with, and you're full of grief (and feelings of guilt).
Here's what I want you to know.
Guilt -- whether imagined or real -- is not our burden to bear.
 Our pastor explained that God's forgiveness is like the Niagra Falls, and when we come to Him with our biggest burden -- it's like coming to God with a Nalgene bottle, wondering if God could actually fill our little water bottles with his waterfall.
The answer of course is obvious. Yes. Absolutely he can.
Sometimes we are quick to accept God's forgiveness, but can't forgive ourselves. But that's the same as walking away from the Niagra with an empty water bottle, determined to fill it ourselves. God's forgiveness is big enough that we can forgive ourselves too -- for all our real or imagined faults.
Guilt is not a burden we need to bear. Lay it at the cross, my friend. He's big enough to take it all.

5. Judgment. Stop with the verdicts.
If guilt is trying to answer the answerless question -- then judgment is the wrong answer to that question.
"I'm a bad person, and I deserve this."
"Someone else deserves this, not me." 
"I must not be spiritual enough to receive God's blessing."
"I must be super-spiritual, and God trusts me with a loss this big."
"She said the wrong thing to me, and I don't think I can ever forgive her."
"I said the wrong thing to my friend, and I can never forgive myself."
"I'm grieving all wrong."
"She's grieving all wrong."
The blame game is not a fun game. It's not a healthy game. And no matter how you answer, chances are you're wrong.

I think the person we are the quickest to judge is ourselves. "I should be over this by now." "I want to name my baby, but that seems weird. What will people think?" "I must be doing this all wrong because it still hurts." These are all thoughts I've had, but instead of helping me heal and deal . . . they just make me feel bad.

Have you ever thought . . .
"Why me? Why this baby? Why now? Why then? Why not them? Why why why???"
The only answer I can give you is this.
Because.
That's it.
Only God knows these answers. I know it sucks, I know it's so hard to watch others get what you want. I know it's so easy to want to judge ourselves to just answer that obnoxious, never-ending question of why. I know how easy it is to judge others on their journey.
But judgment does not heal grief. It only causes more.
6. Stifle your feelings. (I'll give you a hint. It doesn't really work.) 
Ok, imagine a huge volcano, like Pompeii.
And imagine that volcano is boiling, and churning, and spewing, and right about to erupt. (Is this image clear in your brain? Good.)
Now, imagine you have a sheet of notebook paper. Take that paper, and mentally put it over the mouth of the volcano. Now, sit back, and watch how well that sheet of paper will keep a lid on an erupting volcano.
Ok, silly word picture, I'll admit it.

But grief is like an angry, active volcano. And it NEEDS to find a way out. And it will find a way out, in spite of any of our feeble attempts to stifle our feelings.
There's not really a right way to express grief. I suppose there are a few unhealthy ways to do it. (Burning a house down, for instance. I'm sure my therapist would agree that's an unhealthy expression of grief. Although I admit it works pretty well with our volcano analogy.)
I think it's pretty safe to say that however you need to let your volcano erupt, that is the right way for you. But it really does need to erupt.
I remember days with Olivia when I let my feelings build. I flat-out refused to let them out because I judged them. I felt like sadness was OK, but anger wasn't. So I let it build, and build, and build with disastrous results. Not good.
Maybe you need to go to the shooting range and let off a few shots. Maybe you need to break something. Maybe you need to write out pages in a tear-stained journal. Maybe you need to blog. Maybe you need to yell at God and tell Him why you are so mad. Maybe you need to go for a jog, or paint, or write a song. Maybe you need to write a letter to the person who said all the wrong things, then tear it up.
You can't deal with something if you don't let it out. So let that volcano erupt.

Or else, it really will start to burn.
One last thing . . . this is really not about making yourself or your experience wrong. This is about making your journey about you. This is about letting you grieve the way YOU NEED to grieve. No matter whether you've stumbled or fallen on this journey (haven't we ALL????), you need to know this:
You are doing the best you can. And that IS enough.
Did you have any other stumbling blocks you've experienced on your journey in grief? Which stumbling block has been the hardest for you to walk through?


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What is 4?

I am not OK. 

It's easier for me to pretend that I am when I'm with my parents. I get distracted (like helping my dad navigate FB, and helping him start a blog.) My mom pumps me full of delicious food. They help take care of the kids.

For a time, a short time, I can forget what I'm dealing with. 

But then it comes back. 

I loved my due date. I loved the thought of having a new baby by Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

I know that I can't rest all my hopes in seeing a baby on the ultrasound, but I was hoping for that. The only baby I've seen on ultrasound is Maddy. 

Every other one... Nothing. My hcg is too low. Not a sac. Not a fetal pole. Not a body. Empty, crappy uterus.

It makes it weird to grieve when there is no body. Other people can say, "I know I lost a baby ... I saw the heartbeat."

I have no such validation. 

I believe personhood starts at conception. And it is that belief that allows me to grieve. I don't grieve for a lost pregnancy. Or a lost opportunity. Or a late period. 

I grieve because my baby was real, even if only God could see them.

I didn't want to know our hcg this last time. There are lots of reasons for that, but the nurses ran it anyway and now I know. 

I only made it to 35.

I hate numbers. They just make it too easy to compare. I hate when I feel like my 7-8 week losses are more important than my 5-week ones. 

35 sounds so low, almost like it didn't even matter.

But it did. It mattered to me.

I feel lonelier this time.

Almost all of my close, dear friends that I love are pregnant ... As they should be. It just means I don't feel like I can talk to them about this. I don't want to call them and cry, lest they feel survivor's guilt. Or lest I feel jealous.

For first time ever, I don't want to go to Vegas for my business conference.

It's so weird... I claim that I am lonely, but I can't stand the thought of being surrounded by so many people.  

I realized that this is the first miscarriage that didn't happen on a weekend. I'm so accustomed to Ryan being home, and someone taking the kids, that this is the first day I will have to go through the bulk of the physical aspect of it while taking care of the kids. 

Today my spirit feels broken on a whole new level.

1 is enough. 2 is ridiculous. 3 is incomprehensible. 4? What is 4?

4 is loneliness.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Miscarriage won

Sometimes words just come to me, and writing feels as easy as breathing.

This is not one of those times.

Miscarriage won.

My body has made it impossible, yet again, for my baby to even develop. It has made November 12 an empty day. It is betraying me by cramping and bleeding when I shouldn't be.

I know. Cramping and bleeding ARE what your body is supposed to do in a miscarriage.

But miscarriage isn't natural. As much as we say it is, it isn't. I don't think God created reproduction with the intent of making some of us lose our kids. Just like death wasn't part of his original plan.

I know many of you want to say you're sorry. And I know you are. For whatever reason, I'm really struggling with hearing I'm sorry.

Maybe because I'm not. I did every. single. thing. I know to do to keep this baby around.

I'm not sorry for taking all the necessary pills. Or for eating well. Or for conceiving a baby. I'm not sorry we got pregnant. I'm not sorry for having hope that this time we'd get a baby. I'm not sorry for trying again.

What I am is angry.

I'm angry that no matter what I do, it isn't enough. I'm angry that this is my lot. I'm angry that I'm faced with grief yet again, and STILL, no plan for how to achieve a healthy pregnancy. I'm angry that I must face the pain of a miscarriage.

I'm angry that while my heart is ready to love a little baby, my womb is ready to kill them.

I'm angry as I watch my husband struggle. I feel like I have let him down. I feel like I have let everyone down.

I'm angry that each pregnancy is so short. That it is over before it even has much of a chance to begin.

I want to write something spiritual, about how God's got this, and I still love Him. He does and I do. But I think I want to write this just to make YOU feel better. Not because that actually is how I feel right now. I know I'll get there probably sooner than later.

For now, I feel hopeless with my body. I feel so angry that I don't get to meet this baby yet. I feel so frustrated that I have to write this post to begin with.

So that's where I am.

The hopes, dreams and life of this little baby are gone, swallowed up by an ugly miscarriage.

Today, miscarriage won.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A day in limbo

Several of you have told me you are praying for me and my family, and it means the world to me. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

Today was a blah day, and the weather of rainy (close to) Seattle really matched my mood.

I haven't been sleeping well this week (a shock, I know). Every time I've woken up, I can't fall back asleep. So Maddy came in at 5 this morning, and I laid there for 2 hours just waiting to fall back asleep. As soon as I started falling back asleep, little miss woke up.

At least little miss was a little balm to my heart . Maybe she just knew I needed some extra love or something, but she was absolutely adorable this morning and made me laugh so many times. Her new favorite thing to say is, "Awww, man!" I think it's a revised version of "Amen," but she has impeccable timing when she breaks it out.

Later tonight as I was folding laundry, she wanted me. A LOT. She kept asking for hugs, and would squeeze her little arms around my neck so tight. Not in a clingy way, as she was actually quite happy. But usually, I'm the one offering more affection than she wants, so today was really out of the ordinary in a really good way.

Maddy, not to be outdone by her sister, gave me equal amounts of attention. At times, there was definitely a "fight for mom's lap" going on.

At least I didn't end up like this today.

Ryan graciously let me take a long nap late this morning. After I woke up is when the melancholy kicked in. I realized I didn't want to get out of bed at all. I didn't really want to do anything.

Ryan made me go take a shower. (Thanks, babe.)  Maddy picked out my outfit, and did a pretty good job. (You guessed it. Leopard print. In her words, "You can never have enough leopard print.")

I tried VERY hard not to take a home pregnancy test as the results of those kept freaking me out, and caused a lot of stress. The nurse I talked to said that they weren't that reliable for measuring the amount of hcg, and I should stop.

I'm going to try to heed her advice again tomorrow.

As for the rest of the day, I felt mostly numb. I don't think I've cried a single tear, which is probably making up for yesterday, where I cried buckets of them.

I cancelled all my plans for this weekend. I wasn't sure if I wanted to be around people or not, but my husband is definitely someone who likes to be alone when upset, so I knew that I should just cancel everything.

I know I can't cancel all of my life right now, as we could still be waiting for weeks. (Or maybe just till tomorrow. Who knows?) But I am really afraid of being out of the house when the pain or bleeding starts.

It probably won't just start with a bang. I'm sure I'll spot, or get cramps. There will be signs. But I'll never forget passing what I knew to be my baby at a gas station off the highway with our last miscarriage. I want to do a better job this time of protecting myself from added stress (like being away from home when it happens.)

I guess I've given much more thought to this ending up as a loss, and not as a viable baby.

A few of you are holding on to hope for us right now, and by all means, please do. Today I maybe had a tiny, tiny bit of hope. But it's hard to ignore the fact that my only viable pregnancy had me soooo nauseous by this time. And with all my losses, I felt exactly like this.

I guess that's the update for now. No signs of miscarriage or ectopic. But no signs of pregnancy.

It's just a crazy day in limbo.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Pregnant, but we might not be having a baby

I guess I'm going to break all the norms here on this one.

Most people don't say anything till they are 12 weeks. And here I am at 4.

I'm pregnant.

But before you squeal, or get excited, or even think about a congratulations ... You should know that I likely won't keep this one.

My hcg is low. In spite of progesterone, baby aspirin, eating gluten-free and being as healthy as I can be ... I will still likely miscarry.

I met with my nurse from the fertility clinic today. I happened to be in Seattle visiting my sister already, so the timing was perfect. 

My first positive test was on Tuesday, CD 29, 3 days after my period was due. It was a faint line, but positive nonetheless. 

The next day I had a blood draw to confirm the pregnancy. Instead of just confirming the pregnancy, they did a quantitative test to determine my hcg levels. It was 35. 

My last miscarriage with Elliott I was at 152 at this point, and then with Caleb, I was at 16. 

My heart sunk when I heard the news. I guess once I knew the number I gave up a fair amount of hope.

Over the last 3 days, I've had fewer symptoms. My assumption is that my hcg is dropping, but we won't know for sure until I get another hcg test. 

Of course, ectopic is ALWAYS on the table as a concern. So there is that.

My reproductive endocrinologist did not feel that the lab work for clotting was complete, and I have a consultation with a hematologist on Wednesday. I had a blood-clotting test done today, and they are checking to see if adding Lovenox (a blood thinner) to my "pregnancy regimen" is called for.

I'm not really sure how to feel. At times I am numb, sometimes broken, sometimes angry, and on it goes. How I am depends on the minute. 

It's painfully obvious that the plan to "just try again, and we'll hope for the best" is not working out so well.

A few people have asked what we need, and the only thing I can think of is prayer.

Of course, I want a miracle. I wouldn't be me if I didn't want this baby to pull through. So yes, by all means, pray for a miracle!

But I know that God's miracle is not always the one I ask for. I know that even if we miscarry again, or even 10 more times, God is still good and He hasn't abandoned me. 

You can also pray for comfort. For Ryan and I to help each other and not allow more grief/stress come between us. You could also pray that if we lose this one, somehow we will be able to find what's causing the losses. 

I know many of you want to fix me. I've gotten lots of recommendations from many people about what could be wrong. As much as I understand wanting to find what's wrong (trust me, I WANT TO FIGURE THIS OUT!!!), I'm in the hands of some really smart specialists and we are working on it. Emotionally, I just can't follow every trail head right now on the "what-ifs." I also don't feel up for explaining every single test/scenario the doctors and I have gone through over the last two years.

So, what is our plan?

Currently, Ryan and I need to decide if we are going to continue testing our hcg. It's an expensive process at $100 out-of-pocket per blood draw.

We'll continue the progesterone, etc, until we know for certain what is going on with this pregnancy.

I'll emotionally take it one day at a time, or maye one minute at a time. The miscarriage could start tomorrow --- it could start weeks and weeks from now --- it might not start at all.

You can understand, I'm sure, that the not-knowing and all the waiting are very hard to go through.

Since I blog through loss, I wanted to blog through this period of potential loss/potential live-baby. Below is the post that I wrote the day I found out we were pregnant again.

One more thing... If you are a close friend or family, and you found out on FB today about what's going on, I'm sorry. I made several calls today to the share the news, and it's just too hard. I'll just be keeping updates here.

Thanks for all the prayers and support for our family,

Rachel





I'm Pregnant, written March 4

 

I'm pregnant.

I'm pregnant. 

I'm pregnant? 

I'M PREGNANT. 

But am I really pregnant??

Something like this has been playing in my head for the entire day. Terror. Excitement. Questioning. Guarding. Loving. Breathing. Beautiful. Terrifying. 

I'm pregnant. 

Who knew two lines could mean so much, and yet communicate so little.

I don't know for how long I'll carry this baby. Today has felt like a 24-hour eternity. 

Either it will be a long couple of days or weeks before we lose this one. (And, then looking back, I'll say it wasn't nearly long enough) ... Or it will be a long, scary 9-months until mid-November when this one is "due."

I know well enough to not REALLY expect a live baby anywhere even close to a due date. I know most of my due dates are empty, forgotten by most the day I miscarried. 

And yet there's a spark of hope. Maybe, just maybe this time is different. 

Then again, maybe it's not. 

If you are of the praying sort, pray pray pray that God's will be done, and that He gives me the strength to walk through whatever lies before me. 

And pray my uterus won't be empty again, but there will be a live baby with a blinking little heart if we make it to ultrasound day. 

Much love, 

Rachel



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