Friday, September 16, 2011

The Beauty

I was SO excited yesterday! I was going to go back to work!!!

I love being a nurse and I was really glad to be doing something "useful" again (besides 'just being a mom/wife').

Unfortunately, when I went to Associate Health to get medical clearance to return to work, my blood pressure was only 80/60. The nurse practitioner checked it like 6 times, ha. She was like "are you feeling ok?" I was. I mean, I had dropped my 3 year old off for his first day of PreK (kicking and screaming, unfortunately... I mean, he was excited, but he's soooo shy) and then drove to the appointment. I chased my daughter around while waiting the half hour to be seen. I thought I was feeling ok... and then she had me stand up. WHOA. I got really dizzy, nauseous, and my peripheral vision got really dark. The NP freaked out and told me that NO, I could not go back to work, and, I wasn't allowed to drive myself home. She wanted me to go straight to my primary's office to get checked out.

So, I had to wait for a ride... we were late picking up my son from school and then I had to go to my primary doctor's. While there, my BP was normal! I was like "I'm really not faking this" haha. She was concerned about my "episode" and had me go get a ton of blood drawn. She told me to double my iron intake (I'm already taking the max dose of my liquid iron supplement), go home and put my feet up. I'm not really supposed to do much.


Just when I'm finally thinking life will get back to "normal," everything changes again. I just have to laugh. I have NO CONTROL over my life. It's all in God's hands. He's really stripping me bare right now so that he can rebuild me somehow in the way he wants me. I don't like the process, but I have faith that the end result will be worth it.

Now I'm home... trying to take it easy (not a simple thing when you have two kids under 3 and an attention-hungry dog).

Oh, if only my husband and I had just gone to bed on May 23rd instead of getting amorous with each other, haha. Then I would never have gotten pregnant.

I can't do that. I have to stop playing "what-ifs" with myself. I'm here for a reason. I don't know why, but Jesus does. Khristeena (my midwife) encouraged me to "see the beauty" in my circumstances. I really feel challenged by this. It's hard to see beauty in losing a baby, almost losing my life, and feeling stripped of control and ability to do pretty much everything I want to do.

But... Let's try. The beauty in Samuel's pregnancy/birth/and aftermath:
*Getting to make Galilee's "big sister" onesie and imagining how cute she'd be as a big sister.
*Seeing the looks on my family's faces when we announced we were pregnant!
*Feeling empowered when deciding to plan a homebirth with Khristeena.
*Meeting and becoming friends with Khristeena. She is a wonderful person and if it wasn't for this pregnancy, I wouldn't be her patient.
*Getting to see our sweet little baby, Samuel, after he was born. What an amazing experience.
*Learning to play "angry birds" on my iPod touch during the loooong wait in the waiting room.
*Joining the "bereaved parent club" and growing closer to my friends who have lost babies.
*Feeling totally loved by friends/family who brought us meals that first week.
*Opening the mailbox every day for a week and seeing dozens of colorful birthday cards for my son's 3rd birthday. What an exciting thing for him! Thank you to everyone who rallied to make his day special.
*Meeting Fran, the bereavement coordinator at my hospital. What a Godsend!
*Feeling loved by our new church-- two people came to pray for us while in the hospital.
*Feeling Jesus' presence so closely and so real during my blood transfusions.
*Being told I was the paramedic's bloodiest patient ever. Is it odd that I'm kind of proud of that accomplishment?? haha
*Getting the blood stains out of my clothes... Biokleen is amazing stuff!
*anonymously receiving my lovely "psalm 139:13" necklace that I wear every day! I love having a reminder of Samuel with me all the time.
*the colorful pinwheel that we used to mark Samuel's grave. Every time the wind blows, I feel like he's saying "hello" to me.
*Having my little baby buried in the backyard. I love that I can go talk to him whenever I need to.
*Having time off to stay home and snuggle my kids!
*the fact that I'm still breastfeeding Galilee. I REALLY love having a baby to nurse right now. Even though she's not the snuggliest baby, she loves nursing, and it's so good to not have empty arms.
*Getting to nurse in front of all the firemen and paramedics while hemorrhaging on the couch-- that was hilarious to me. My daughter's little "MMMM" sounds as she looked up at me and rubbed my face with her chubby little hands and rubbing her chubby little legs all over my bloody shorts was just... so... comical and precious. I don't know. It's kind of morbid, but I love this memory of the two of us.
*I loved drinking Khristeena's raspberry leaf tea in the ER.
*I really secretly loved telling off the resident under the influence of the dilaudid... I was totally unhindered and got to speak my mind, lol. I don't think I'd have been able to do this if I wasn't drugged out of my mind. I was satisfied that I got to stand up for myself.
*I felt TOTALLY empowered that I stood my ground and did not let them take my baby's body. I turned into overprotective mama-bear and was ready to attack if they went near him! I am glad that I was able to bring him home with me... at least I got to do that much. Even if I couldn't protect him in the womb, I could protect him and honor him after death.
*Understanding the world of infertility and pregnancy loss. There are so many grieving mothers. Now I "get it."
*Drawing closer to my friend Meghan (my best texting buddy).
*Before surgery, as I gave my wedding rings to Isaac to hold, I loved the way he so sincerely told me he loved me and kissed me... like it was just us... even though there were a half dozen people watching us. I love that he didn't care.
*Seeing my babies in the hospital room for the first time since the hemorrhage... they were SO BEAUTIFUL!
*Realizing that my rash/joint pain/muscle aches/exhaustion was ONLY a transfusion reaction and not LUPUS! And that I wasn't just a hypochondriac!
*Knowing Jesus and not having to walk through this alone.

Thanks, Khristeena for suggesting this exercise. It was really helpful! There is beauty around me even in the darkness... it's just harder to see.

Monday, September 12, 2011



In the last 6.5 weeks (45 days), I have only had 16 days without uterine bleeding. I'm so tired of bleeding. When will this end?

I can't wait to be "normal" again. I feel so sick and weak.

I go back to work on Thursday. Attending births and caring for babies. This is the true test! On one hand, I'm thrilled to go back to my job-- I always feel so useful. My job is incredibly rewarding. However... babies. ::sigh:: I know there will be many triggers there. Especially since I know my coworkers will want to know my story and how I am doing. God, please help me to be strong. I need my job. I have to get out of this house! I so have cabin fever right now. I don't want to be sad.

One thing I do have to rave about: Floradix. I'm loving the stuff right now. It's liquid iron and herbs; it's high in B vitamins. My body seriously craves it. My midwife joked that if you like the taste, it means you really need it. If you think it's gross, then you don't need it anymore! If you are anemic after a birth or miscarriage, you really have to get this. You can order it on amazon. I'm trying to get my strength up.

God, please help me to forgive the hospital and give up that bitterness. Help me forgive people from being insensitive. I want to be free of anger.

God, thank you for a supportive husband who is letting me grieve in my own time. I don't know how long it will take until I reach acceptance.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What to say to a woman after a loss

Today is another sad day. I'm not sitting around and crying or anything... but I just don't have any joy. Like yesterday, I just don't have any desire to get out of my pajamas. I probably wouldn't even be out of bed yet if it wasn't for my (early rising) kids. I just... feel... like there is a huge void in my life right now. And then I feel guilty even admitting that, because I have been so blessed with a home and a husband and two beautiful children. I love my family... I just feel like a piece of me died with Samuel.

I'm constantly shifting back and forth between emotions. I feel sad. And then that sours to anger and bitterness at the hospital and at insensitivities. And then I feel self-pity. Why did this happen to me?? And then I feel guilty for feeling that way! I think: "Some people have it so much worse, it's not appropriate for me to grieve this way..."

Studies show that any pregnancy loss, whether at 6 weeks or 36 weeks, can trigger the same grief response in parents. That makes me feel just a tiny bit less crazy for feeling so deeply.

People can really be so hurtful.
When I reached out to my mom for help (I was so exhausted and physically incapable of caring for my children), she said "no offense... but maybe it's a good thing that you're not having a third baby since you're having a hard time taking care of the first two." OUCH!! that hurt on so many levels and I just started crying in front of her.

Later that day, we went out to lunch with my sister-in-law. She had just delivered my baby niece the week before (4 days after the miscarriage). She exclaimed without thinking "Oh, I'm so glad I'm not pregnant anymore so I can eat this hotdog!" I didn't say anything, but that hurt so deeply. I WISHED with my entire being that I was still pregnant!!!

A coworker told me (2 weeks after the miscarriage): "Not to be crass, but it is what it is and you just have to move forward and put it behind you."

The ultrasound technician right after she told me that my baby had no heartbeat: "Well, at least you already have children. I feel bad for the parents who come in here and have no kids at all." Does that mean that you don't feel bad for me? I just lost a baby, lady! Have some compassion!

If you want to know how to support a woman who has just experienced a pregnancy loss, here are some ways to show your love without putting your foot in your mouth!:
*Just simply say "I'm so sorry." No need to say anything else!
*Just tell the mom that you are there to listen. She might not feel like talking at that moment, but knowing that it's ok to talk to you is such a comfort! By the time I actually felt like I wanted to talk about it, it seemed that nobody wanted to hear about my story and I felt so lonely.
*Hold her hand or give her a hug. It seems that people are so awkward around grieving parents... just hold them! It makes them feel validated in their grief.
*offer to help! Miscarriage is VERY physically taxing on your body. Making a meal or helping with laundry or child care is HUGE. What a BEAUTIFUL way to express your love! Don't say "just call me if you need help with anything!" This is such a vague statement. I know that in my grieving, the last thing I wanted to do was schedule who was going to help when. It's also a pride issue to ask for help when you irrationally feel guilty for feeling the way you do in the first place. Please just say "I am coming over on Tuesday with dinner for your family and I will babysit your children on Thursday morning from 9-12 AM." Be specific! It really is so helpful.
*Offer to pray for the mother and her family and then actually do it! Lay hands right on the woman and pray over her. Pray for physical healing, not just emotional healing.
*Some of the most meaningful gifts that friends dropped off were: books on grieving. These were very helpful to understand my emotions in the immediate aftermath of the miscarriage. Some good titles include: What Was Lost: A Christian Journey Through Miscarriage and Grieving the Child I Never Knew.
--Another very thoughtful gift I received anonymously in the mail was a sterling silver necklace with a round pendant that has a tiny footprint on it with the reference: "Psalm 139:13" on the front and the words: "Our Little Angel" on the back. Jewelry like this is very personal, and you may not feel comfortable purchasing a gift of this nature... However, I was SO excited to receive this memorial necklace and I wear it every day and I am grateful to have had it given to me so that I didn't have to go out shopping for one myself. I think the act of shopping for a memorial necklace may have triggered strong emotions.
--Also... flowers. I know people say not to give grieving people flowers because fresh flowers eventually wilt and die... but I so wanted someone to give me flowers. I mean, there are flowers at funerals and memorials... I think a beautiful flower arrangement would help to validate the little life that was lost.
*Another fantastic thing you can do is (if she has other children) take her kids to a playground or on a fun outing. I remember feeling so terribly guilty that my kids were watching SO much TV because I could not get off the couch. I felt like they were missing their entire summer. Giving her other children some loving will really make her feel better! And, it gives her time to rest without distraction.
*Attend or create a small memorial service for the baby. Again... anything to validate the life that was lost and to validate the mother's grief feelings will be so helpful!
*Contact the mother to let her know you are thinking of her on special days like the due date or the anniversary of the miscarriage. Knowing her baby is remembered is so important! Again... validation of the life. My due date is valentine's day and it is a week before my birthday. I anticipate that will be a hard week for me!

What NOT to say!:
"You're young, you can have more children."
"It's for the best."
"It's God's will."
"Did it happen because you _________ ?" (miscarriage is NOT the mother's fault!)
"Now you are free to do _________!" (go back to school, work that dream job, go on vacation, etc.)
"At least you don't have to give birth!" (This is such a dumb thing to say! A miscarriage often feels like a birth! Mine was more intense than birth, and a LOT of work... I'd much rather have had a newborn to go home with than empty arms).
"You've got to put it behind you and move on. It is what it is."
"At least you weren't farther along." (again, studies show that no matter the gestational age, the grief response is the same).
"At least the baby died before birth so you didn't get too attached."
"It wasn't the right time... you can just have another baby." (yes.. but I wanted THAT baby.)
"When are you going to get over this?"
"I know another woman who had a miscarriage and she was fine with it. Why are you so upset?" (ugh... please, don't compare! Not cool.)
"Oh, I had a miscarriage, too, and I know EXACTLY how you feel!" (this was a really upsetting thing to hear... I'm so sorry for your loss, but with all due respect, you do not know exactly how I'm feeling. Each experience is unique. Please do not say this.)

I don't want to say "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" either. This past month has been so incredibly lonely for me. I feel like everyone is giving me so much distance and space... like they're afraid to talk to me. It would be so nice to just have a listening ear... and someone to tell me it's ok to feel this way.

I really wish that no one else had to go through this... but since 1/4 of childbearing women will experience a pregnancy loss at some point, it is unfortunately a common experience (although each miscarriage is completely unique to that woman and you cannot compare). I guarantee that at some point you will know someone who will have or who did have a miscarriage. Please tread carefully! Hopefully this post can help give you insight into the needs of the grieving woman.

Words have power!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Moving on?


This past month has been very very difficult.

If you haven't seen the past few posts, I'll recap for you:

I was 12 weeks pregnant when I miscarried our sweet little baby. I started cramping and bleeding suddenly on July 30th. We went to the ER and were there for 6 hours before they confirmed: indeed, our baby had stopped growing and he had no heartbeat. I went home... couldn't sleep. The next day, contractions picked up and after 45 minutes of true labor, I delivered our tiny little baby into a bowl. He was so perfect and beautiful. What an incredible view at the beauty of God's creation. To see my tiny little baby... it was really a surprisingly happy moment.

Unfortunately, my body just could not let go of the rest of the pregnancy. The placenta/membranes would not release and I began to hemorrhage. I wound up losing about 2 liters of blood, or about 40% of my blood volume. I began to show signs of shock as I was rushed to the ER by ambulance. After a terrible hospital experience due to very insensitive staff members (you can read the whole story under the label: miscarriage), I received four units of blood and a unit of fresh frozen plasma, as well as about 5 bags of other IV fluids. I was given a bag of Pitocin IV to contract my uterus down but it didn't do any good. I was then given shots of Methergine to contract my uterus down... and let me tell you, that's a nasty drug. I was still bleeding, so then I was taken to the OR for an emergency D+C. (This is where they dilate the cervix and scrape out the lining under general anesthesia).

I left the hospital feeling totally bewildered. What had just happened to me? I was pregnant... excitedly expecting my third child. And now? Now... I have nothing to show for those three months of hard work-- morning sickness and exhaustion of the first trimester. A labor and birth. No more baby bump. No baby to hold. That chapter of my life was suddenly and without warning just ripped out of my life story. It left me reeling, confused, and very sad.

The first few weeks I couldn't even begin to process my emotions. I was so physically weak. I had to focus on my physical recovery, first. Three weeks later, and I was finally starting to feel a little better... and then I was struck with fatigue, joint pain, and a hot itchy rash. It was a delayed transfusion reaction.

With this new set back, I had to take benadryl around the clock. This, of course, made me even more exhausted. I couldn't take care of my kids. I felt useless to my family. I began sinking deeper and deeper into loneliness and grief. I kept thinking about our baby and desperately missing him.

My midwife told me I was much too weak to go back to work so she gave me a full 6 weeks off on disability. I'm grateful for the rest time, but this meant that I had nothing to do but think about my loss. I am just so... so... sad.

This experience has totally opened my eyes to this whole world of pregnancy loss/infertility. There are so many women who have gone through this. I never before had any idea how physically painful miscarriage could be. Or how postpartum hemorrhage can completely ravage your body. Or just how difficult it could be to tell your three year old that the baby in his mom's tummy died. I never thought I'd be jealous at a pregnant belly-- but wow! Where did those insane feelings come from??

I vacillate back and forth every day between wanting to get pregnant again *right now!* and being terrified to ever get pregnant again. Getting my period back again a few days ago totally threw me for a loop. Seeing the blood and having the cramps... it was like a flashback. And it was like my body screaming at me that I wasn't pregnant anymore. It was really difficult. I'm just so tired of bleeding.

It doesn't help that I know so many women that are newly pregnant or just had babies (including a new nephew and a new niece born the week of my miscarriage). I don't know how I'm going to respond when my due date hits: 2/14/12. Valentine's Day.

Please bear with me as my next few posts will most likely be my journaling through this miscarriage. I still have so much to process.

I miss you, Samuel.