Monday, April 29, 2013

six weeks later

Since writing about miscarriage I've been connected with a lot of people who I know personally or only in blog world who have gone through the same loss. Some who found the blog after searching in the midst of going through it. For those who are traveling through the darkest time, I've assured them that the days do get less suffocating just like any loss or disappointment in life.

Today I am six weeks post D&C. Most days I feel like my normal busy, emotionally in control self. I feel light and hopeful. Content with my non-pregnant, almost graduating self.

But, there are still days when it swallows me whole.

Like this weekend when I realized a friend who is due the end of October was announcing her pregnancy because she was in her second trimester. And then I realized I should be in my second trimester, already public with the happy news. So I turned on my sad songs (here and here and here) and cried in between playing with trucks. And then again while Henry was in the stroller, safe from his mama's sad eyes.

Or the days when a well-meaning someone says "Oh, you should have another baby soon while Henry is young."

But most days are good. I feel richer in friendships because of shared sorrow. I feel stronger after being vulnerable and open about my pain. The nights of talking and eating popcorn til midnight help. So do the happy hours on warm patios, the random coffee dates and long walks ending in frozen yogurt. And the heartfelt cards from friends I haven't hung out with in years. But so does indulging every so often in tears and chocolate milk.

I feel blessed. There are things in my life I wouldn't have right now if I didn't also have the sadness.

I know hope begins in places like this. I am counting on it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

20 months

Dear Henry,

You are 20 months old. I cannot believe it. We are amazed at how social, smart and curious you are. Your good-natured attitude and excitement everyday keeps us hopping.

You eat everything somedays and absolutely nothing other days. Your favorites are still Mexican food especially chips and salsa. You drink milk all day long and have recently developed a love of blueberries, apple slices, guacamole and scrambled eggs.

Every morning you sit at your kid table in front of the window and point out the trucks, cars, buses and bikes that drive by. You love to play with your blocks and dump truck, your trains, and Elmo phone. You color, catch bubbles we blow and read books, sometimes to yourself. Lately I have to bribe you with snacks to come inside because you'd much prefer to run around in the backyard.

Staying home part-time has been the best thing for our family. We can get ready slowly, attend playgroups and on Fridays we go to music class where your favorite is still the scarves and shaker eggs.

You loooove to give kisses with "mm-aww" sounds and hugs. You recently learned to say thank you at the appropriate times, without prompting. Before we eat, you always put your hands together to say a prayer and enthusiastically scream "Aaaaa mennnn."

I can't count your words anymore but your most clear words are truck, bus, choo-choo, milk, kitty, moo, meow, thank you, nana (banana), grandpa, mama, daddy, night-night, no, eat, Elmo, Ernie, bike, ball, baseball, mindy, mae, go, apple, Mac, Pica, Ink, shoes, teeth and plane. We're starting to understand your language and you understand a good majority of what we ask you to do. You're starting to show your independence though and love the word NO!, throwing your food across the room on occasion and crying when we don't let you run with your fork in hand. Seriously, we know best.

You sleep from 7:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. You love getting in your crib and listening to your music as you fall asleep. I can't believe how short of a time ago we were dreading bedtime.

I have always felt lucky to be your mother but after the last month, I never have appreciated my job more. 

We love you so much!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

rule no. 1: comfort in, dump out
Talking about the miscarriage has meant opening myself up for comment. Ninety-five percent of it has been comforting, even sometimes helpful. Talking about it and not suffering in silence has opened up the door for burden sharing in the form of flower deliveries, sympathy cards, hugs, milkshakes, cups of coffee, encouraging texts and emails. Sharing the intimate details allowed others to share their intimate details in moments of solidarity. I don't regret sharing about such an oddly taboo topic.

When I read this article in the LA Times sent to me by a friend who suffered from infertility for years, I found myself nodding emphatically. "When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you're going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn't, don't say it."

Oh sister, preach it. Like I said, 95 percent of the comments and actions we've received are comforting, such as:
  • "I am sad with you."
  • "What can I do?"
  • "Here's some dinner for your fridge because I know you don't feel like cooking right now and a home cooked meal is going to sustain your body when your heart is hurting."
  • "We'll babysit so you two can have time together to grieve."
  • "Let me bring you junk food and sit and listen to you talk about how life is unfair."
  • Calling our baby by its name. Or even just acknowledging he or she is a baby.
  •  Listening. Holding. Hugging. Wiping tears away. Crying with me.
  • Texting two weeks later to let us know you haven't forgotten. Because we sure haven't.
  • Deliveries of flowers. Cards. Chocolate Milk.
The other five percent, I try to give grace knowing that it's hard to know what to say when others are grieving.  Especially for things like miscarriage. I've also found that when using the ring theory, my expectations are higher of those I place in the more center rings. When the outer ring people do more than I would ever have expected, the lack of support from the inner ring is more apparent and hurtful. That might be unfair. I am doing my very best to use these experiences to educate and show grace, rather than breed anger.

If you find yourself in any ring for someone going through a miscarriage, here is what was not helpful, at least to me:
  • "This reminds me of my pain/stress/grief when..."
  • "God doesn't give you anything you can't handle." Or similarly, "this was God's plan." This actually doesn't jive with my theology. I do think God knew this would happen and had the power to change it, and didn't. But I also don't think he brought my baby into this world to teach me a lesson or as part of some bigger plan. I think He can see the past, present and future and will use it for His glory.
  • "I know exactly how you feel."
  •  Not talking to me at all, like I have become the miscarriage. I also work, have a son, husband that I will be happy to talk about if you don't know what to say about the elephant in the room.
  • Looking for a reason why this happened. *Unless you have access to my medical chart.
Like the article said, I get it if my miscarriage makes you nervous about your pregnancy or makes you sad again about someone you've lost in the past. That's a totally normal response. 

Just dump it out, not in.

Monday, April 8, 2013

needing a reason

I know it's not my fault.

That's what everyone keeps reminding me. My midwife. The surgeon. My mom. Every single medical website I Google.

There is this list in my head. The one that details everything I might have done wrong, the what-ifs.

I took Tylenol more than half a dozen times.

I missed a prenatal vitamin.

I took hot showers.

I drank eight ounces of coffee every morning to ward off migraines.

I definitely did not get enough sleep.

I did the laundry, which was next to the litter box, which hypothetically could have gotten cat germs on my hands that I probably did not wash.

I got a 24-hour stomach bug that could have created an unsafe environment in my body.

I didn't come close to eight glasses of water each day. Seriously, not even close.

I pumped gas.

I shoveled our driveway. Twice.

I ran 18 miles a month before I conceived.

I was too stressed about keeping all the balls in the air.

I didn't always use natural cleaners.

I ate non-organic fruit. And even then, not enough fruit.

Sometimes I twirl the ring on my finger that holds the birthstone of this baby and say an apology. For doing all those things wrong. For caring more about my cup of coffee and a hot shower than my teeny tiny baby.

I know it's not rational. I know it's not really my fault. I know there are babies born to mothers who do far worse things during pregnancy and their babies survive.

But that means the questions are much bigger. And harder. And most likely unanswerable.

The reasoning my cup of coffee brings might be wrong but somedays it's easier to understand.