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What Helps Me Through Miscarriage Grief and Clarity Through the Pain

The shock of loss is one of the most profound perspective shifting traumas I have ever endured.  I'm learning there's a gift through loss if you are open to it.

The gift of vulnerability.

I admit to being one of those hardened single moms.  I know I'm not the only one and that's the sad reality of families that transition.  I felt strong and independent.  I was making ends meet with family support.  I was making my own choices and doing my own thing.  Letting someone in was the hard part.  With the boyfriend that was consistently choosing me, no matter how hard I pushed him away, I was constantly on guard, and looking for him to fail me.

When we lost our children, I was completely vulnerable. I was lost and directionless.  In the past week and a half, I wasn't looking for anything as grief worked through us, but I found every time I started crying, strong arms wrapped around me and cradled me.  He took care of me, making sure I ate, and seeing to all of my needs.  I stopped looking for failure and discovered he's a better man than I deserve for the way I've treated him.

Problems that seemed to be insurmountable are now insignificant after going through our loss while holding hands.

Finding strength through adverse reactions.

I am a strong woman with an intense personality.  This is who I am and I am content with defying what is expected of me.  I've learned that my strength can inspire and offset others.  I've had people tell me they needed me to help them through my loss in the past week.

Finding your voice sometimes means saying nothing.

I've had people push their needs on me, and I've decided it's not my job to make others feel better about how I feel or what I am going through.  Sometimes that means ignoring calls.  I'm the only one that can decide how I grieve and what will comfort me.

Connection is healing.

I was lucky to find Natural Grace Funerals.  They have picked our babies up from the hospital and will cremate them for us.  Aside from the crematory fee, they work pro bono for miscarried children.  When I spoke with the director, she told me that she is also a mother to twins. We shared a moment of knowing that no matter how small they were, this was something I need to do and as a mother, she felt the same way. We'll release them into the ocean.

Earlier this week, I went to Armstrong Garden Center to look for the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bushes we will plant in their memory.  My boyfriend likes purple and I do too.  I saw the plants in my neighborhood growing up and the idea of seeing them and thinking of our children (we named them Sunny and Rain) was comforting. I was asking questions of one of their staff and told her about the miscarriage.  As I was leaving, she handed me a couple of crystal angels with purple wings as a gift to keep my angels near me. Other than the plant, I never discussed purple or that I have a lavender scrapbook for them. She told me about a friend that had just lost a 15 year old child and we shared a hug and tears.

4.26.2017

Connecting with someone else is healing for me, but being open to the words she offered and the hug that came with it was healing for her as well.  Connection is what binds us through our community and with our humanity.

Letting go can feel natural.

I've been purging junk all week.  It started with heavy weeding in the garden.  Then I started clearing out things in the storage shed, and laundry room.  I started cleaning out things in the house.  For so long I held onto junk.

When I worked at a mini storage, a woman once told me that she had to go through her mother's things because she was tired of making monthly installments on delayed grief.

I was doing that too.

I finally went through that plastic bin full of pictures and sorted out what was mine and my ex's, and each of the kids.  I set aside family pictures and wedding things for the kids because who we were as a couple is part of their identity.  They'll want that one day.  As I was cleaning out the bathroom, I realized I still had a bottle of the ex's shampoo and I realized it didn't hurt to let go.  It felt liberating.

For the twins, I had started a scrapbook and today I will complete it and put it on the shelf.  I won't wait to process it all.  It's painful.  There is so much longing and I miss the feeling of life inside of me, but I can't be the mother my sons need if I'm intentionally waiting to live again.  I'll celebrate the process and really enjoy the memory of the time I had with them, but then I will give myself permission to let go and to cry, as I have been.  Sometimes several times an hour.

Grief and loss are natural, but not normal.

As I know this pain will ease up and pass as life cycles with change, transition and rebirth, I also know that I'm where I need to be.  I need to feel the loss.  I need to accept I will not always have a smile on my face.  At the same time, there has been laughter.  It's not that I can forget my babies or compartmentalize my feelings.  Life is full of variance and joy comes with the pain.  I'm experiencing each moment as it comes, specifically staying away from alcohol or anything that would numb my feelings.

Sometimes there's laughter.  Sometimes there's tears.  Sometimes I cling to my boyfriend with intense desperation because I can't handle the surprise gut punches that remind me I've lost something wonderful and incredible. What I'm feeling is completely natural, but life only offers moments of grief every so often.  We are built to get through it to appreciate the lows as well as the highs, but it's not constant.  This pain is natural, but living in it constantly would make it normal and that would take away from what we are given to grow through. And I'm growing through it.

Actively Grieving Through My Miscarriage

I woke up reaching for my children, knowing they weren't there anymore and sobbing that they were gone.  My nurse drugged me into silence with both dilaudid and percocet and a prescription for 800 milligrams of ibuprofen for when I was out of hearing range. Her relief began when I was too drugged to cry for a pain she couldn't soothe. Even through my pain and the opiates, her relief was such a contrast from what I felt.

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You Were Meant to Face What is Coming Because the Life We Live Was Created For Us: My High Risk Pregnancy Announcement

img_2502 A little over a month ago I did another Facebook live video.  I was in the hospital on pain meds for the gallbladder that was later removed.  I don't like being high, so I didn't handle it well and the video was kinda all over the place, but authentic.  Not one of my best Facebook live encouragements, but one I wanted to flesh out here.  While not on drugs.  All of my live videos are public and I'm easily searchable.

This year has so far been a series of events that were foreshadowed by something else in my life at some point. Something complex and scary before me was similarly experienced in a previous experience that is now part of my history.  It's about getting through on the strength earned before.

Taking it back a few years, I chose to be a surrogate mother after having my 3 children.  I did 6 IVF cycles.  This means weeks of intramuscular injections into the upper, outer quadrant of my rear end.  It was typically at least a shot if not two a day and I still have the scar tissue from it.  Any shot in that area is super painful because of all the shots I had before.

When I had pulmonary embolisms, I was given lovenox shots until my blood was thin enough to be sustained without the risk of blood clots on coumadin pills. I was already past the fear of injecting myself with medicine, and I was already accustomed to the schedule of medication because taking hormones on time is so important in IVF assisted pregnancies. It's just as important when you want to not let your body create blood clots that can travel to your heart or brain and kill you.

My last pregnancy was twin girls born at 29 weeks.  I was hospitalized at 25 weeks because my body was trying to deliver them early.  I was technically in labor for a month.  I have had five easy labors before that which means I didn't feel a thing until just before they were born.

Back to that hospital visit for my gallbladder . . . I started feeling pain and while doing standard tests to treat me at the hospital, I found out I was 3 weeks pregnant.  Too early to miss a period, feel body changes, or see anything by ultrasound. I knew the lovenox shots would start and they did within 24 hours of that positive test.  I have been here.  It was a stretch, but not one that was unfamiliar.

At the start of my 5th week of pregnancy, I had my gallbladder removed.  There was no way it could have waited for the pregnancy to end or the second trimester to begin.  It needed to be done. The pregnancy had already survived 2 CT Scans with Iodine.  We were already defying the odds and I hoped we'd get through general anesthesia and my surgery.

After surgery, refusing to take pain meds just 4 days after surgery (because I hate being drugged), and just before 6 weeks, I found out I am carrying twins. The baby split and they are growing in two sacs while sharing one placenta.  Identical twins with two older brothers on the autism spectrum.  I should be a gambling person.

At 8 weeks, I was feeling the strain of becoming parents with a man I had known 3 months.  This wasn't planned but I'm good at working with what I have, accepting that it's not the situation but my interpretation of it that gives me control and empowerment. All of my insecurities about being drawn to an abusive relationship because it's what I'm accustomed to and my pride over being a single mom doing well on my own hit me in a defensive way.  We're still figuring things out and making heroic efforts for each other, but part of me is content with being a single mom to these twins because that is the cowardly and easy road for me.  I was a wife, entirely dependent on a husband and I had to figure out everything on my own, and giving up that control is painfully hard.

At 9 weeks my doctor went over some of the complications that could potentially come in serious depth.  I have had embolisms, but it's a genetic thing I was born with.  I have Factor Five Leiden.  It means my blood is great at clotting but not so great at stopping the formation of those clots.  My doctor was a bit puzzled because it's usually seen in caucasian and europeans but I look black.  (My black genes can be traced back to slave ship America and there is history in my bloodline.) I laughed and told her it just means I'm special.  It's been that kind of a pregnancy and luckily she seems to see this as a challenge but not one worth giving up on.  This chat has me sitting in the present as much as possible because it's possible the pregnancy will be all I have. I've been a surrogate 3 times, so again this is familiar.

At 10 weeks, maternity clothes are a must.  I was sitting down and a stranger asked how far along I am.  Two prune size babies and I have an obviously pregnant belly.  I am in between jobs and going on interviews, hoping I just look like I'm sporting a stress belly. Since it's a pretty large momma belly, I'm ready to announce it because it won't matter what I write here when I show up for an interview as a party of 3.

I have been in similar positions on this road so far, and some areas are new.  I didn't know that my liver would have to learn to function without a gallbladder and it would look like a breakup.  Painful and messy.  New lands in familiar places. I have had to give myself injections before to sustain a pregnancy and prevent blood clots, and I'm doing so again.  I will probably have siblings or parents visit in the hospital but when I get home I don't know if I will be on my own, caring for my older kids, and figuring out life with two infants. And gosh,  I get to find a car big enough to carry me and my 5 minor children.

I'm looking at the future and I can see the road that lies in my past.  I can see where I am strong.  I can feel where I need to grow and how I need to ask for support.  The road I'm on was created for me.  No one could compare my journey to theirs because this life was created for me.  I grow as it forces me to and no one else can do it for me.  No one else can encourage me through it.  They have their own lives to figure out.

Be your own cheering section.  This road called life is a life you were called to.  It's meant to help you grow and reach places others will marvel at.  It's not what we're given in life, but how we choose to grow from it that defines where we will one day land and the impact we'll have on the lives of others.

Entering the Pro Choice or Pro Life Debate

I'm pro choice.  I always have been.  I have had one of those in the trenches motherhoods that taught me not everyone is cut out to be a parent and it's not a decision that should ever be forced on anyone. When I was a teenager, my mom gave me a book on Christian abstinence, but also made sure I got birth control if I needed it at the doctor.  I had boyfriends, and I didn't always practice abstinence.  I had tried every temporary form of birth control available before I finished high school. With the amount of time I spent peeing on a stick, it's miraculous that none of those tests were positive until Kid1, 8 years after losing my virginity and after getting married.

I think back to the possible fathers in my expression of experimental irresponsibility and I'm grateful that I never had to face a pregnancy with the boys that were all ephemeral ideals of lust with hope for love. It was usually infatuation.  I liked the boys that liked me back, and it's only in my late 30's that I realize how much better it feels to be selective and picky.

When I imagine what life would have been as a teenaged mother . . . In a relationship that was built on teenage hormones . . . During a time when I was unable to take care of myself. . . A pregnancy created out of irresponsibility is what I escaped and  I'm so grateful I never had to choose when I was unable to make a decision from a place of empowerment. In my youth I was never put in a position to have to choose.  That only came once I was married.

I never had anyone force their decision for my fertility on me. The parts considered private have always been under my control. I couldn't imagine the way I would feel about a pregnancy resulting from incest or rape.  Still, we have politicians trying to use "Beauty from Ashes" as a natural consequence disguised as a euphemism to help stomach the idea of being brutalized and further victimized by legislation enforced by men who will never experience the consequences of their control. Thank you George Faught.

It's not just a financial decision.  It's emotional.  It's religious and ethical.  It becomes physical and affects families.  No one person's ideals should force itself on people they will never meet.

I would want the women I love to be able to choose when or how she has a child.  I would want her to feel safe and protected in making choices for her body.  I say this but as for me and my body, I'm pro life.

When I was pregnant with Kid3, I felt extremely lonely.  My poor OB doctor stood uncomfortably as I sobbed and contemplated a late term abortion over several appointments.  Late at night I would sit on the floor next to my sleeping husband and cry.  My son would kick and remind me of how much he wanted to live, and so he did.  My reward has been his light and love and hope.  He has inspired me and encouraged me with his sweet smile and the way his tiny arms would wrap around me for a hug, patting my shoulder with his tiny hand.  I made the decision then, that any child trying to fight for life within me, would have every opportunity I could offer.

The test of your belief is how firmly you stand on your word as difficulties and finances assert their authority over you. When you say you believe in life, do you put your money where your mouth is? Do you pass judgement from the high tower of the distance you keep from your own life? If you found a young mother in need, would you try to support her with a kind word, or anything she might need?

A pregnancy for me would involve daily injections of blood thinners and be high risk.  I know this. My last pregnancy delivered prematurely.  I'm 39 this year.  The risk of birth defects jumps with that 50% fertility drop once a woman hits 40.  My youngest is 10 and I have long gotten rid of all baby gear and maternity clothes.  I would need a bigger car for my minor children.  All of this said, my personal stance is pro life.  A child trying to stick to my womb deserves every chance I could offer it, but the point is, it's a choice I would make, no matter the cost.

A woman should have the option to do as she chooses with her body.

What It Means to Make Space for Someone or Something In Your Life

When my ex first left, there was space. I had room in the closet and where furniture left bare walls. There was space in my bed and I always filled it with books or kids when they were with me. I had to adjust my cooking so I didn't always have way too much food. The new man in my life has been around a few months and the spaces I try to make feel tight. It's like a stretched rubberband. There are times that I see a shadow or hint of my past in our future and I stand back and snap in anger and he makes space for me, responding quietly and patiently. He might respond to a comment the way my ex did. He might blow off a concern the way my Dad does. He gets the full weight of what it feels like to know I am not afraid to be alone from the ways I keep trying to push him away and reject him.

And yet, the first time he took out the trash or helped with laundry before I asked, I started sobbing because I'm not used to that kind of help.

I'm fully aware I'm holding him responsible for a past he had no part in and I'm trying not to. He's listening. He's shifting from his own comfort as a bachelor and we're both figuring out how we fit.

At one point we discussed making space and I emptied a dresser drawer for him. There was excitement. There was fear. There was a stretch and space was made. It was a moment to celebrate in our relationship but for my eldest it was a space made that he didn't have room for. It didn't affect his things or his personal space other than being in the same common areas but it bothered him. He didn't make space.

I'm between jobs right now and the timing was perfect for my gallbladder to announce its existence. I just had it removed. Moving slowly, resting fully and asking for help (and being receptive of it) is a way my situation made space for the needs of my body without pressure of work responsibilities.

In October of 2014 I had pulmonary embolisms. There were several blood clots hanging out in my lungs. They could have easily taken a ride in my blood stream and ended up in my heart or brain with fatal results. My birth control pills tried to kill me and I take medicinal side effects seriously. I was told any pregnancy after that would require a shot of blood thinners daily until birth and then it would have to be quickly reversed.

My youngest was 8. I felt it was time for permanent birth control for my irregular cycles. My kids still wanted a sibling but they were open to adoption. My ex wanted more kids. My tubal ligation was scheduled. Just before I was ready for it, my ex told me he was leaving me.

Suddenly I didn't need birth control. It didn't make sense to have surgery and no one to help with the difficulties of post op. I was ready to make sure there was no space for more kids but it really didn't matter.

In the following 2 years I would lose about 40 pounds and my monthly cycle became regular for the first time in my adult life. I would become more patient with my kids and so much anxiety would melt in the shadowed beauty of a sunset.

I went from not wanting more kids to actively creating space for life.

We do this in every area of our lives. We allow things to happen or we do all we can to prevent it. We make time to exercise or we refuse to get out of bed. We make time for friends and loved ones or we find ways to be too busy for them.

Can you see the ways you make space and why some of the promises you keep making end up being consistently empty?

How We Compare Past Pain To Gauge Present Pain But It's All Relative

My writing feels broken. Life still moves at the speed of "slow down, WTF!"

That hasn't kept the words at bay.

My love life has been moving in a positive direction.  It has made change for me and my boys and we're riding the waves as a family.  For the most part we're okay but in one very specific way, we're not.

My firstborn is having a hard time with the changes and not having my home whole has made writing a challenge.  How do I write about doing what feels good, when so much of what I feel is tied into how my son feels and the ways we're not blending our lives into ways where I can proclaim we're all doing epic shit.

Friday I drove myself to an ER after pushing through a job interview and saying I had a little indigestion.  The chest pain was bad enough that I was crying.  Not sobbing or asking for attention as much as silent tears and gritting my teeth through the nurse's questions.  It was bad.  I found my sense of humor.  She was hiding out but given free reign, she's a bit snarky and had no patience for the whiny bitch next to me.  (If a nurse or doctor is trying to help you after you go see them for help, don't bother trying to justify kicking them.) I was sent home after being given really good drugs and felt better through the weekend.

Monday morning I called an ambulance after a night of chest pain, vomiting and being unable to sleep.  I know, pretty bone headed of me.  I kept thinking, it hurts, but it's not as bad as the pulmonary embolisms.  And then it was.  It went from kinda uncomfortable to more painful than full on labor pains pretty quickly too.  I think at some point I may have begged for death while running to the bathroom to vomit and it was only after getting through the night that I called an ambulance and had the paramedic act pretty bored as he realized I wasn't actually having a heart attack.  They hung out with me and waited for another ambulance to take me to a hospital where I was taken in and tested and poked and prodded and drugged.  The 7 am call included a transfer to my plan hospital and a discharge after 33 hours, with lotsa fun follow up appointments in my near future.  Gallbladders are like lungs.  They're supposed to function without using pain to grab your attention.  If you feel pain, play it safe and see a doctor.

I kept thinking of my worst possible experiences and I held them up to what I was going through.  I held up the past with the present in a way that let me see that I was not actually dying.  I matched up battle scars to see that I've been through bad situations and it doesn't make the current better or worse.  It reminds me there's no point in whining about it.  I will get through it.  There are no other options.

That moment helped me find the funny and crack some jokes.  That comparison gave me the clarity to see that I haven't been able to write, but it's about me.  It's not the boyfriend.  It's not wondering what I can write or if I should. It's my relationship with my firstborn that makes me feel so shattered that the words stopped.

It's new territory.  I get to learn and we get to stretch, and in time, this will be one of those battle scars in our relationship I will hold up.  I'll remember how hurt I am that I have hurt him.  I will remember how torn I feel by the directions my heart is pulling me in.  I'll remember that in this moment and every moment around it, I've been trying to go by my gut and do what is best for me and my family, without sacrificing myself for my family.  It's a marker.

I will see the parts that were broken.  I'll compare them to the next terrible thing.  I'll remember how we managed and the ways that made us stronger.  It'll be okay.  The words will flow again.