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Miscarriage

signs of miscarriage, miscarriage symptoms, causes of miscarriage, grief, sadness, loss, miscarriage, lost baby, how to carry on after a miscarriage

I’ve realized that loss never really leaves you, not truly; not the big ones. They remain right beneath the surface, just deep enough for you to get by, to go on living in that forever changed, never the same way only the loss of someone you love more than yourself affects you. A miscarriage or losing a baby/child is different than losing anyone else.

Last night, I watched the movie Return to Zero on Netflix. I stumbled into it like a drunk falling into a wall and then I stayed there for the duration because even though it hurt when the wounds were reopened, it was familiar. The knowing washed over me like a warm surf pulling me into the undertow. Gasping for breath, the pain of drowning reminded me that I was alive.

READ ALSO: All I Can Do is Cry

I think I’ve been living in a protective state of comfortable numbness for the past 7 years. Maybe it’s where I need to stay for the rest of my life because I can’t let myself feel everything, all the time. I can’t live like the exposed nerve that my soul sometimes is. I mask it with levity. I tell myself that I’m letting go but then I see something, hear something or remember something and my dam of grief breaks wide open and it all comes flooding back. Vulnerability replaces the protective cover around my heart.

Return to Zero is a movie about a couple who loses their child in utero at 9 months from a health complication. The baby’s kidney develops a cyst and the organ bursts. The baby, thought to be completely healthy and normal, dies. No rhyme, no reason and no explanation that can ever console a grieving parent’s heart. Just immeasurable and unfathomable loss. The kind of loss that swallows you up whole. The kind of loss that makes it painful to breathe. The kind of loss that is almost not survivable.

A couple of things have happened in the past month that has really brought it all up for me again and least of all, not being that I am less than a month away from the anniversary of my own loss. I know it sounds weird to remember and mark a day of loss but when you are left with a loss this big, that no one else seems to feel as strongly as you, you feel like you have to hold on to that memory with everything that you are or your baby will disappear forever. You have to fight for it. If not, it will be as if he/she never existed and that is too much to bear so you hold on because, as a parent, you feel like it is your responsibility to that child to make sure the world knows they were here. You are the keeper of their legacy; however short lived it was.

READ ALSO: The TRUTH about Life After Miscarriage

Last month, my friend lost her full-term baby to Trisomy 13. She went through 9 months of unimaginable hurt and loneliness, culminated in the worst kind of pain. That is what losing a baby is like, you feel so alone with your anguish and emptiness. A different friend lost her baby soon after announcing. Other friends are still learning to live in the losses of their children who are gone. Yet, another friend is struggling with fertility and I keep finding myself getting angry because I am afraid that she is going to get pregnant and experience loss. I was so afraid after my loss that I never tried again but I don’t want my fear to color her experience. There’s just been a lot of things going on that have been reminding me of my own empty arms and since I had to have a hysterectomy last fall, the finality of it all has been hitting me harder than I ever could have anticipated. It’s been 7 years since my miscarriage with our third child but the weight of that loss is as heavy as it ever was.

I don’t cry every day anymore. I don’t wear my grief like an armor these days. It’s much more subdued and quiet but it is there and can be felt as strongly as it was on May 1, 2012 in my heart. There are certain things I will never forget; the minute they didn’t see the heartbeat, sitting in a waiting room full of beautiful bellies full of living babies as I sat there with my silent womb. I remember calling my husband to tell him and no words coming out of my mouth, the primal screaming and sobbing that I did alone in my car in the parking lot as my heart broke in between the doctor’s appointment and preschool pick up, the emptiness that I felt in my soul that afternoon, my 4-year-old hugging and kissing my belly telling the baby she loved him at 4  in the morning before I left to the hospital for my D&E, A Thousand Years playing on the seemingly eternal drive to the hospital, the sick child I saw at the hospital that morning and feeling sorry for her mother.

Surviving the Grief, Loss and Aftermath of Miscarriage

I’ll never forget the way I refused to go ahead with surgery until they performed one last ultrasound, the photo I made my husband snap of the ultrasound machine of our baby, the helplessness in his eyes, the loneliness that I felt as they wheeled me back to surgery as the nurses lovingly told me of their own losses, the sadness I felt when I saw their eyes fill with tears and the helplessness that I saw on my brothers’ faces when I found them waiting with my husband in the waiting room while I was in surgery. The love that I felt for each person who tried to hold my heart and protect me from the inevitable pain that was to come next.

The emptiness that emanated from my womb throughout my entire body. The endless crying and guilt. The disappointment at my body’s failure. The blame that I wholly accepted. The solitude and hatred that permeated every single thought for those coming weeks. Laying silently in stillness feeling unworthy of breath. Looking into my daughters’ eyes and seeing the confusion. Fake smiling to survive. People telling me that God has a reason. Someone asking me if I was relieved. People telling me that my baby was in a “better” place as if my arms were not good enough. Having misplaced love and anger and not knowing what to do with either. Trying to be normal for everyone else.

READ ALSO: When a Tattoo Heals Your Heart 

Celebrating my husband’s 37nd birthday, 2 days after my D&E, because I refused to let my pain make things weird. Celebrating my Godson’s communion that same weekend after sending a text to everyone not to bring up the miscarriage to me. The next weekend, going out for our 13th wedding anniversary and celebrating Mother’s Day. The next weekend, attending my 4-year-olds preschool graduation, my 6-year-old’s violin concert and a few days later throwing a party for my 5-year-old with all of our friends and family; the same party where we were going to announce our pregnancy. That Thanksgiving, the due date of what might have been, and someone asking me, “don’t you miss the pitter patter of little feet running around the house?” as my nephew played and I had to run to my room to not break down in front of a house full of people. Between all of these brave faces I was putting on for everyone else, I was crumpled up in a ball sobbing in my bed. I stayed in my room alone as much as I could. I felt like I was dying. Secretly, maybe I hoped that I was.

I’d pushed all of these feeling down. I’m scrappy and I’m good at being stoic even when I just want to give myself over to my grief. Some parts of Return to Zero felt like watching it all happen to someone else but all the same things were being said and I could relate to the hurt, the pain and the fear. My heart cracked wide open for the first time in years and all that pain resurfaced. It flooded my heart and every thought. That’s why I’m writing this post. I know that there are so many women who have lost a pregnancy, a baby or a child and it all really is the same to a mother; we’ve lost the possibility of what could have been and that changes you in ways you never expected. We are irrevocably and molecularly changed from the person we were up until the moment we experienced that loss.

READ ALSO: Some Things Change You Forever

I’m damaged. I’ll never be who I was before the words, “I can’t find a heartbeat” were whispered to me in a poorly lit, sterile room on the second floor of the women’s health center by a kind woman who didn’t know what else to say as I stared back at her begging her to change her mind and take it all back. You are not alone. We might all process it differently and it might look different from the outside but on the inside, we are gutted and speechless and feeling more helpless than we’ve ever felt before.

As much as Return to Zero broke my heart, I found comfort in the fact that someone wrote an honest screenplay that so accurately portrays the realness of loss; the humanity of it all. The primal part of loss that no “I’m sorry for your loss” can ever salve. Losing a child is losing yourself in the world, becoming completely unrecognizable, and being sentenced to a lifetime of living. It’s cruel. You will survive and you will never forget. Tiny time bombs of grief will unexpectantly go off for the rest of your life and you will find yourself a broken mess at the most inopportune times but this is your heart reminding your mind not to forget. This is you living. This is you loving your baby forever and there is something beautiful in that pain; something comforting.

How do you process loss?

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Mourning Orca Mother, Tahlequah, Orca Whales, Loss, J-35, Orca mother mourns loss of newborn calf

Tahlequah, also known as J-35, is a 20-year-old female orca whale whose calf died just 30 minutes after being born. This mourning orca mother has refused to let go of her dead baby calf ever since, carrying the infant either by one fin, or pushing it through the water on her head. Today marks day 17 and this grieving mother is still carrying the body of her baby through the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

The world is watching and mourning the loss with this grief-stricken Orca mother as she has swum hundreds of miles with her baby. Orca whales have a gestation period of 15 to 18 months. To feel your baby alive, growing in your body and then just as suddenly be gone is incredibly hard to process. Herself and others in her pod are in grave danger because they are neglecting themselves in tribute to this loss.

I get it. I think any mother who has ever lost a child gets it. You don’t want to let go because letting go makes it real. Being real means finality. Finality means that your baby is dead and that is a hurt too hard for any mother’s heart to bare. It is inconceivable and when you are experiencing it, you do lose sight of everything and everyone else.

READ ALSO: ALL I Can do is Cry

As much as you want the pain to go away, you want to embrace it and feel every bit of it because “it” is the only thing you have left of your baby. That pain is the placeholder of where your baby is supposed to be and some part of you never wants to let it go even when the pain is so heavy and dark that it burns your lungs to breathe. You don’t care. You don’t care if you breathe because when your baby dies, some part of you (as a mother) dies too. We feel it and it hurts beyond measure.

Tahlequah is part of an endangered pod of southern resident killer whales. There are only 75 left in the PNW. Her calf was born alive near the San Juan Islands in Washington state but died just 30 minutes later. She has since swum hundreds of miles toward British Columbia, carrying her child with her the entire way.

My heart breaks for this mother whale because I know this deep, unrelenting sadness too well. Unfortunately, too many mothers do. It has been 6 years since my baby died. I spent a month in bed sobbing and tortured. I numbed my pain with medication and solitude. I was not fit for company and I was so sad and felt such despair that I had no appetite. I had no desire to exist. All I could do was focus on what I had lost and scramble to try to hold on to it before even the clarity of the memory disappeared.

I was not logical or rational. I was grief-stricken and heartbroken like only a mother who has lost their child can be. It is a loss beyond comprehension. The pain of living in a world where your child does not is the cruelest there is. To wake up every day knowing that your child is not afforded that same luxury brings with it a guilt that one cannot begin to understand without having tasted its bitter reality for themselves.

READ ALSO: Some Things Change You Forever

Tahlequah is just doing what every single mother who has lost their baby, no matter the stage of pregnancy or life that “baby” may have been at would do, she is holding on for as long as she can because she knows that once she lets go, she will never feel that baby again. Once her baby is gone, she is gone forever.

I am glad the world is watching and empathizing with this mourning mother Orca. I am glad that this whale’s desperate actions can give words to the universal feelings of loss all grieving mothers, especially humans, feel when they lose a child. I hope the compassion spills over and the next time a mother comes into our lives who has lost her own baby, we can treat her with a little more tenderness and compassion.

We mothers who have lost our babies, we carry on. We survive. But we are not the same woman we were the day before. We are broken and we have a hurt that is eternal and can never be healed. Just because time passes and from the outside, it looks like we are ok, know that we are not and we will never be again. Our wounds leave more than our arms empty; they leave irreparable scars on our hearts. When our babies die, they take a part of us with them.

As soon as I knew that I was pregnant, I loved that baby. I love the baby I never got to hold as much as I do my two daughters who I hold every single day and I don’t think that love will ever dissipate. But where all this love lives in my soul, there is no tangible direction to guide it. It exists and yet, sometimes it feels like my third child only existed in my mind. This is why we can’t let go. We mothers keep their memories alive so that the world knows they were once here, no matter how briefly.

I think every mother who has lost a child can relate to Tahlequah on a cellular level. We wish that society could recognize how deep this loss is felt and how it changes us down to our very core. Too soon, Tahlequah will have to let go but at least she’s had these days, few as they may be. Most human moms are not privileged to have that time. We are told that our baby is dead and just as quickly, our baby is gone from our eyes, from our arms and from this world. There is no gradual time of acceptance.

Our society dictates that a dead baby is taboo. They’ve decided that it’s better for us to remove the evidence but its too fast. Our hearts can’t shift gears so quickly. I remember, quite literally, howling in pain like a wounded animal when it hit me that I had to let go of my baby. Thinking of that moment in my car, alone with my dead baby inside me, before a preschool pick-up, trying to digest it all and not die breaks my heart right now. Our culture dictated that I pull myself together and move on but I had no idea how to. I couldn’t even speak. How was I supposed to function and go on like nothing happened? How was I supposed to forget.

I know that soon Tahlequah is going to have to let her baby go. Her body will grow too weak and weary to carry on, though she will try. She may even try until her very last breath. Believe me, I get it. There were dark moments when it first happened that I wished I could just die so the pain would stop but, unlike Tahlequah, I had to carry on for my living girls. That’s what mothers do. We push through the most difficult moments of life by loving and serving others. This is not as selfless as it sounds, this is them (our living loved ones) giving us the purpose to live even when it hurts so bad we’d rather die.

Tahlequah is in a grief loop. She can’t let go but she has to. We all have to physically let go of our babies but we keep them in our hearts for the rest of our lives. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember, but eventually, you are able to breathe again.

Tahlequah is every mother who has ever lost a child.

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miscarriage, loss, pregnancy, I forgot, fertility, motherlode, babble.com, babble, amy klein

I Forgot

It was a crazy busy day last Tuesday.

I was flying across the country.

Headed to a conference for this blog.

Excited to see old friends.

Trepidatious for a reason I couldn’t quite place.

I Forgot.

6 years ago on that day.

All I could do was cry.

I lost my baby.

There was no heartbeat.

I turned primal and feral.

But today, I forgot.

READ ALSO: Unexpected  Pregnancy at 40, what would you do?

Every day, I think of that day.

Every moment, I know something is missing.

There is no closure but I have made peace with the pain.

It took 6 years to not wince at the thought of it.

But today, I was busy with minutia and there was no marking of time.

I Forgot.

The lady next to me on the plane had a beautiful little boy.

He climbed into my lap and held my face.

I was moved.

His little arms and legs, that smile.

I’ve missed it.

READ ALSO: Missing that New Baby Smell

But on the plane, I Forgot.

I arrived and met my friends.

I was weary and distracted,

Discombobulated and put out.

Disconnected and distant.

I was there but I wasn’t.

That’s when I realized that maybe I hadn’t remembered to cry

but my heart did not forget and it never will.

Have you ever forgotten an important day in your life and if you have, how did you deal with that?

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tattoo, memorial tattoo, inked, Crimson Knight Tattoo, Jose Cruz, miscarriage, loss tattoo

Today is November 24th and for the first time, in a long time, I don’t feel lost. For me, it’s an annual day of retrospection; of looking back at what could have been, what might have been and, honestly, what should have been. While many of you are coming out of your tryptophan coma this morning or maybe sleeping off the remnants of yesterday’s all night Black Friday power shopping, I’ll be marking time but I won’t be sad. Not today.

Today, I pause to remember. In the past that could have meant many different things. Some years, it involved pills or booze to numb the pain and a day in bed. Some years, it meant Netflix and sobbing or a welcomed distraction. Some years, I hardly remember at all. Some years, it felt like the anniversary of the end of the world. But none of it ever seemed real because, though my heart shattered from the pain of the reality my mind was never quite able to digest the loss of what my eyes never got to see, what my arms never got to hold and what my lips never got to kiss.

I never got to touch his cheek. Kiss his warm gooey forehead. I never got to smell his head or feel his heartbeat beating next to mine. I never got to feel him wiggle in my arms. I never even got to see his eyes fixed upon me suspended beyond all space and time like only a newborn child can do to his mother. I got nothing. I was cheated in the worst possible way.

I felt failure. I felt like I had a very vivid bad dream. The worst dream ever. The dream in which every possibility of happiness was on the horizon and just as quickly snatched away. I felt empty and sad and mad and angry. I wanted to punch the world and sob and be held and left alone, all at the same time. But I never had closure. I know now that I never will. There is no closure for this situation. It’s an open-ended question of what might have been.

Worse, I had nothing. In many ways, it feels like he only existed to me, like some cruel imaginary friend, a figment of my imagination conjured up just to break me down. It felt like to everyone else…everyone…he was nothing more than a glob of cells and he was gone before most knew he even existed. No harm, no foul. But there was. I was harmed. I was egregiously fouled. He was real, as real as my other 2 children are to me.

You know how I spent that first November 24, 2012? It was Thanksgiving, I hosted 40 people. It had been 6 months since my miscarriage. I had to go on living. But on that day, my heart was raw. I was vulnerable and my sanity was being held together by a stick of bubble gum and a tic tac. It wasn’t going to hold.

I just kept telling myself, you just have to make it through dinner. Then it happened. My 1-year-old nephew was running around my house when my someone (I’m not naming names because it was a total accidental foot in mouth moment) looked directly at me (on November 24, 2012), and said, “Don’t you miss the sound of little feet running around your house?” I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t speak, for if I did, all the tears that I’d been holding back for the past 6 months every time someone said something stupid, or I ran into a pregnant friend, or baby Center send me an alert would surely come pouring out and drown me dead right there on the spot.

I knew I needed something, more than fragility as a souvenir of my third child. I needed a way to move through this grief without losing my mind. I decided that I a permanent mark on my body that reflected the permanent mark on my soul. I didn’t want closure. I wanted something more but, at the time, I wasn’t even sure what that was.

After 5 years, I knew what I wanted and I knew I had to have it before November 24th (what should have been a birthday). I was compulsive in my pursuit. My brother, Jose Cruz, an established tattoo artist obliged my desperately grasping heart last Friday. I needed this like I need air to survive.

tattoo, memorial tattoo, inked, Crimson Knight Tattoo, Jose Cruz, miscarriage, loss tattoo

What was this life-altering body modification? It is a story, wrapped in a metaphor and held by my heart. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Explanation; the big bird is the Big Guy, the next bird is me, the third bird is our Gabs and the fourth bird on the branch of our family tree is our oldest, Bella. We are all looking in the direction of the tiny baby bird, that we never got to hold, as he flies away.

tattoo, memorial tattoo, inked, Crimson Knight Tattoo, Jose Cruz, miscarriage, loss tattoo

I wanted it all done in black silhouettes because sometimes our family feels like a shadow of its former self. We are not broken, but we are not whole without our baby bird. We remember. I remember every single day.

The baby bird is flying up towards a small heart within a heart. This is in reference to a line from my favorite E.E. Cummings poem I carry your heart with me; I carry it in my heart. It’s on my left arm so that they are always close to my heart.

tattoo, memorial tattoo, inked, Crimson Knight Tattoo, Jose Cruz, miscarriage, loss tattoo

[i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart]

BY E. E. CUMMINGS

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Maybe you think this makes me sad. It doesn’t. In fact, it makes me immensely happy. I think it’s because for the first time ever, I can look down and see my entire family; all three of my children; my three little birds.

Maybe this makes me sound crazy? I honestly, don’t even care because it makes me feel whole again.

Through this tattoo, the baby who never lived outside of me lives on forever on my wrist surrounded by the family who loves and misses him. He was here. He is here, in my heart, forever and for always. I told my story without saying a word and maybe no one understands it but me, but that’s more than enough. The baby I lost was not a secret. I want the world to know he was here.

More importantly, I finally have something tangible, proof that I am the mother of three and not just two; even if it is only a tattoo of a portrait of silhouette birds.

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grief,loss, parenting, miscarriage

Five years ago this morning, I broke the news of my miscarriage to you in a blog post, as I was undergoing my D & E. It was the only way that I could process any of it. It was the only way that I could carry on and your support meant everything to me but every day since, I’ve had to live alone with that loss like we all do. Try to make sense of something so senseless.

Recently, I did something that surprised even me. I shouldn’t have looked. Until, I saw it, in person, in the flesh, it wasn’t “real”. It was just this terrible thing that happened to me five years ago. It was the bill I paid for what is referred to by the medical billing department as a “missed abortion”. It was a child I will never hold. It is the faint whisper of sadness that lingers forever and leaves me melancholy just around the edges. It wasn’t real in the way that you could see it with your own eyes.

But I’ve seen it now and I can’t unsee it.

Last month, we took the girls to Chicago for Spring break. It’s my hometown and the girls have been many times but they’ve never done the touristy things so we took them to some museums and the zoo. It was a fantastic trip.

Then, I saw something that I’ve seen before but with fresh eyes and a heart that’s survived a miscarriage.

As we entered the exhibit, one I’d seen before, I suddenly felt anxious. Like I needed to know. I was borderline obsessive and I couldn’t control myself. No one noticed what I was doing but I think the Big Guy caught a glimpse of the desperation in my eyes as I walked up to the dial upon entering the Your Beginning exhibit and turned it to the first trimester; I wanted to pinpoint specifically the 4th day of the 11th week. What could he do?

grief, loss, anniversary, parenting, miscarriage

 

The exhibit was different than before. It was completely in black, darkness was everywhere and only the fetuses were lit up as if my very soul had put this exhibit together. It is somber. I tried not to do it. You’re not supposed to do it. You’re supposed to carry on. Push it down and pretend it never happened. You’re supposed to move on. Go on living as if your entire life is not tinged by the hole in your heart. 

I didn’t want to make a spectacle with my mom, my sister, my daughters and my husband there. I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole of grief facing anger and sadness head on but I had to know, so I turned the dial.

Such a little thing and to anyone who didn’t know or even just wasn’t paying attention, this was naturally inquisitive behavior. Only I never twisted the dial to progress to the second trimester. Instead, I left it frozen in time, suspended in disbelief, as is my daily existence since that day 5 years ago.

I try not to overthink it or linger too long in my loss. The emotional time bombs are less and less frequent but I remember every single day. I have two children but I am the mother of three but most people don’t know that.

It’s not like I wear a t-shirt that says so. It’s not like I’m marked in any way but on the inside, I am scarred. I don’t howl like an injured animal as I did on that day or fall apart anymore; so silently I continue on, remembering but not making too big of a deal about it.

Pregnancy loss is so common that some people believe it’s almost normal. I could never subscribe to that way of thinking because for me it was profound. For me, losing my pregnancy changed me forever. But still, after a while, it feels like it happened to someone else and you learn to live with it. It feels like a wound that’s healed and the scar has faded and you hide it beneath your clothes so no one has to look at it or think about it or feel sorry for you ever again.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

But you want to feel it. The pain makes it real. It reminds you that it happened. The pain is the only thing that proves your baby was here at all. So, I looked and now, I can never forget.

The scarred wound of my miscarriage has been ripped wide open.

On the morning of my D & E, I frantically demanded that they perform another ultrasound. In complete desperation, I refused surgery without one more ultrasound. I was desperate for rescue. I needed this to all be a mistake. I needed my baby to be alive.

But when they did the ultrasound, there in black and white, the perfect baby with absolutely no heartbeat. He looked like he was sleeping. Like a little astronaut exploring the space of my uterus and that was the last thing I saw before my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces. I broke, just before they wheeled me into the operating room and I’ve detached myself as much as I can since.

My heart still aches but it’s in survival mode. But on that day in April at the Museum of Science and Industry, I purposefully opened my wound. The pain makes me feel closer to my baby. I walked into the exhibit and I slowly made my way to the 11 wks. Fetus. Yes, the exhibit has fetuses from conception until 40 weeks in formaldehyde. Then, I saw it, the closest thing to my reality; 11-weks and 4 days and 11-weeks and 6-days.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

I felt the wind get knocked out of me as it has been almost every time I think of what will never be. My eyes began to go blurry and the room began to spin. It was hard to breathe. There it was; bigger than I’d thought; a fully formed person; with 10- fingers and 10-toes and ears and a tiny little mouth and eyes. It wasn’t a “pregnancy” that I lost, it was a person.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

 

I wanted to run away and howl, like I did in my car on that day 5 years ago. But I was frozen and trying to digest the truth. I couldn’t speak. I only lingered. Truthfully, part of me never wanted to leave because it was like seeing my baby for the first time. I know it wasn’t my baby but it was what my baby would have looked like could I have seen him; touched him; held him in my arms.

My miscarriage robbed me of all of that.

No one said a word. I was like thin glass in an earthquake and it was taking everything inside me to not collapse and sob like a baby on the floor. My legs were shaky. I could feel myself getting wobbly. It hurt reopening that wound but it was something I needed to do. In some small way, it gave me closure just knowing/seeing what was. It made him real and less than a memory cloaked in sadness and emptiness.

On this day, I forgive myself and give myself over to the grief. I get no birthdays to celebrate with my third baby but I will never forget he existed, if only briefly. Every year on the 1st of May, for the rest of my life, I will be alone with my grief and allow myself to remember the worst day of my life because it’s the only tangible memory I have of my third child.

Today, I am frail and vulnerable and my heart is heavy because my arms are empty and my house is filled with the laughter of one less than it is supposed to be and I can never forget any of that.

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grief,loss, parenting, miscarriage

Last night, I dreamt about a baby. A tiny, baby boy who perched his little bobbling head atop my shoulder right in that perfect cradle made just for babies between my collar bone and my ear. Then his tiny head would wobble and bob and little lips would fall on my flesh like kisses from heaven.

I woke up this morning feeling happy with my visitation from the sweet baby boy in my dreams. Then, I realized that it’s November 24th and it wasn’t just any baby, it was our baby. The one who should be turning 4-years-old today. Instead of celebrating together, I’ll be choking down tears and turkey while he (that pregnancy just felt completely different than either pregnancy with my girls so I assume it was a boy), my sweet Declan Wayne (that would have been his name…in my heart it already was) will be missing from our table and our lives.

It’s been 4 years and I still can’t feel the loss any less. Only now, it seems my sadness is turning to bitterness and anger. It took 4 years but all I keep asking God is why? Why did you take my baby? Why must I survive this?

There are so many unwanted pregnancies and babies, so many children born into families where they are mistreated and unloved and all we wanted to do was love our baby. All I wanted to do was hold him in my arms, even just once. It wouldn’t have been enough but it would have given me closure. Instead, I live my life like an open wound that never closes; vulnerable to all of existence. I need some kind of closure, some tangible marking that you were here, so I am writing you this letter.

Dear Declan,

I wish you were here. More than anything in this world, I wish that I could hold you in my arms and feel your little heart beat against mine. I wish I could see your sisters love on you and fawn over you like big sisters do. I wish I could see the pride in your dad’s eyes when you two connected over something boys do. I wish there was a little Big Guy in the world.

I wish you were here to have booboos kissed and tears wiped. I wish you were here to smile lovingly at your sisters when they had a long day at ballet or a hard day at school. I wish you were here to make us smile and giggle as only little boys can do. I wish you were here for me to see grow up.

I wish you were here to love because you see each time I got pregnant, I fell deep in love and my heart grew to accommodate that enormous love. Only now, who am I supposed to give all that extra love to? You made me better before you were ever here.

I won’t talk about the day I lost you or how my entire world crashed down on me. I won’t talk about how all I wanted to do was be with you, to stay with you forever because if I do, I’ll start to cry. I’ll never forget you, my sweet boy, and you will always be in my heart. That’s where I carry you. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it once more and every single day for the rest of my life, I wish you were here.

Forever yours, Mommy

I know it’s Thanksgiving and I am thankful for all that I have but it’s also what should have been the 4th birthday of the baby that I’ll never get to hold. So while I am thankful for all that I have, including those few short precious months of pregnancy with my third baby, I am still sad beyond belief that I will never get to celebrate his life with cake and ice cream surrounded by family and friends.

I will never see him play soccer or go to prom, get married and have children of his own and every November 24th, I will be just a little melancholy around the edges knowing that one child is missing from our table and from our life. I don’t think that sad emptiness ever goes away and to tell the truth, I’m not sure that I want it to because it is the one reminder that I have that he was ever here.

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miscarriage, grief, loss, pregnancy after miscarriage

Yesterday, I saw that one of my friends has been posting articles about miscarriage on her Facebook page. Then, I noticed there were more instances where she had shared about this topic. She never said she had one and they were not scholarly or medical articles, they were the kind of articles those of us who have suffered one read. They were the kind of articles we read to make sense of it all. I recognized it because I’ve done the same and written many. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, she’s probably had a miscarriage and I didn’t know. After all, it’s not something you lead with in an introduction or just bring up out of the blue or at all, especially if you’re not a writer. I forget that sometimes.

I sat there staring at the screen blankly, hoping and praying that I hadn’t made any stupid comments or jokes like people have done to me over the years. Like me, she has 2 daughters in close proximity and like me, she’s probably gotten the, “when are you having another one?” or “when are you guys going for the little boy?” I’ve got to say, these questions always killed me just a little bit inside because I knew that we had been pregnant that third time and we miscarried. It stings but what am I going to do, explain to every single person that asks me that I miscarried? Spend the rest of my life being able to do nothing more than cry.

In the first place, it’s not everyone’s business. In the second place, it hurts to talk about it. It’s still a touchy subject for me and I’m not sure it ever won’t be. Some things change you forever. Plus, when I have told people, that still doesn’t guarantee that they won’t say something stupid. I’ve learned that when people are at a loss for what to say, they tend to fill the space with words that they should have kept to themselves. When does this stop hurting?

It’s been 4 years. This November, I should be celebrating a 4th birthday for my youngest but instead, I will remember while everyone else has forgotten. No, I am not allowed that luxury. I can never forget; the feeling of loss, emptiness and sheer loneliness. I’ve never felt so lonely and alone as I did in those first days after my miscarriage. There were people there who tried to help but having my miscarriage felt as though I had been exiled off to a planet of one, everything else was just noise and none of it made sense.

I don’t cry anymore, not usually. I do think of my lost baby almost daily. If I see a child the age he/she would be or a family with three children or see my youngest with one of her younger cousins. Or when I see our last name and realize that my husband is the end of his line. I still feel like a failure like I did in those first few days.

That’s one of the worst parts of a miscarriage, feeling like your body failed you and betrayed the life you were supposed to bring forth into the world.

I’ve talked about this to my husband and I don’t think he understands exactly what I went through when I lost our baby. For him, I lost a child that never was. For me, I lost the child that could have been; that already was. That loss broke me forever. I have not been the same. I used to feel like God himself betrayed me. This betrayal scarred me too much to ever try again. I knew then and I know now that I cannot survive the pain of a new loss. I’ve still not recovered from the last time.

People who haven’t had the misfortune of losing a child have said the most unthinkable things to me like… “there must have been something wrong with the baby”, “it must not have been meant to be” and, the absolute worst, “in a way, aren’t you relieved?” And the ever popular, “one of these days when you go to heaven, you’ll get to hold your baby.” I know the intention is well but have you ever thought for one moment that the possibility of holding a child in heaven is a poor substitute for getting to hold him/her everyday here on earth? Every time I’ve heard any of these comments, I’ve had to choke back the tears and stifle my rage. Why would you ever say these things to someone, especially a grieving mother? And no, there is no time limit on grief. I can’t just get over it.

Which brings me back to why I wrote this piece in the first place, I pray I never ask any woman who experienced a loss when she is going to try for that next baby (because I probably have without knowing it). I know how even the mention of a new baby after a loss feels like a kick to the guts and I never want to be the person who kicks another mom when she’s down. The scary truth is that we don’t get over it, ever. Getting pregnant again, for some of us, is unthinkable and, for others, one of the scariest things we will ever face.

And to all the moms who have lost their babies, I don’t know when it stops hurting or when we get to stop feeling like a raw nerve, maybe never, but I’m here and I’ve been where you are. I see you. I know the hurt that lives in your heart and I am sorry that any of us ever had to know this reality. All we can do is keep living each day and carrying our lost babies hearts in our hearts. They were here. You are their mothers, forever and for always.

This is my truth about miscarriage.

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signs of miscarriage, miscarriage symptoms, causes of miscarriage, grief, sadness, loss, miscarriage, lost baby, how to carry on after a miscarriage

Lost baby. No crying. You’re lost to me. Helpless, my only option to carry on. 4 years ago today, I lost my world as I knew it and what was to become of it. My life was shattered into a million pieces and scattered to the wind, blown around the universe like a zillion tiny particles of air. But with all that “air” blowing around, for the life of me, I couldn’t breathe all I could do was cry for my lost baby. I cried until I no longer had any tears. I cried until I felt numb. I cried until I felt like an empty shell of who I was.

I couldn’t speak. Words failed me. They formed at machine gun speed in my broken mind but got caught in my throat and I nearly choked to death on them, right there in the parking lot of my OB, again in my bed and for several months following. The emotional time bombs of grief that come with a mother’s loss blew up beneath my feet and left me in tattered, bloody parts; strewn far and wide.

All I could do, while witnessing the end of my world, was fall to my knees, howl at the world and sob inconsolably at the inhumanity that the world had thrust upon me. I could not draw breath in the fog of my sadness; I suffocated beneath the weight of loss a little more with each passing breath I took. Each time more painful; crueler.

They say God doesn’t give you more than you can handle but I felt as if God gave me so much more credit than I deserved.
The entire world came crashing head on at me and I was stunned, dumbfounded and all I could do was wait to see if I could withstand the impact. I braced myself and prayed for swift death.

I’m not meant to survive this sort of blow. It’s too much. I didn’t even want to come out the other end because I knew, in that one moment, I would never be the same. I would be changed forever and there is no coming back from that. There is only surviving and that’s not the same as living, as you were.

For months, there was only sobbing and darkness. Solitude and Vicodin were my only comfort. I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up, I wanted to fade into forever because I was no longer any good to anyone. What good is a mother without her child? What is a childless mother? This was not how nature intended it.

Lost baby.

In the mirror, all I saw was pain and loneliness. All that I could feel was overwhelming anger and bitterness. I was in the deepest recesses of hell and no one could reach me, save for my living children. Like a tether to life, like a far off whisper begging me to step back from that ledge. I had one foot here and one foot in another world, lingering in the loss. All I wanted to do was step off that ledge.

I couldn’t make out where I belonged. All I knew is that it hurt to breath. It was torture to exist. I wanted to die. I deserved to be dead. I didn’t deserve to live. I had failed my child.

I don’t know if I’ve ever said that out loud but it’s how I felt. How could I live, knowing the child growing inside me had died? A part of my soul had died. The best part of me ceased to exist. I felt worthless and worse, undeserving to even love the children I had because in losing one, I had failed them all.

It still hurts; not every day and not always. But I feel like I’ve spent the past 4 years changing and hiding in the shadows; afraid the sadness would find me and inflict it’s cruel punishment once again. The grief is too unbearable.

But I hear my daughters laughing and something inside me, tells me that I deserve to know this happiness. I don’t have to feel guilty for living and loving these girls because it’s not wrong to go on living for them. It’s not wrong to feel pride, unconditional love and overwhelming gratitude for the gift of motherhood. I deserve to be here and it doesn’t diminish the loss because I’ve been able to carry on when once all I could do was cry.

I think of my baby that I lost, every single day. I am mother to three children. If I’m lucky, I get another 50 years on this earth with my girls and then, I look forward to finally meeting the child I never got to hold but have always loved just as much as I do my other two. One day, we will all be together and I deserve to live, to thrive, until that day because my children deserve nothing less; I deserve nothing less.

As long as I can draw breath into my body, I will love you always my lost baby.

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gynecological misadventure, gynecological visit, mammogram, pregnancy, miscarriage, fibroids, mammogram, menopause, millenials

A gynecological misadventure is never fun, especially when they involve surprises and words like fibroids, pregnancy, menopause, miscarriage and mammogram all in the same visit. Last week, I had my “yearly” exam and mammogram because women’s reproductive health is my jam. And, I discovered the meaning of life or at least solved one of life’s great mysteries, why women start getting mammograms at 40 and not 25.

As the mammogram tech, the same lady who did my first mammogram last year, gingerly fondled my breast as she positioned and repositioned my very pliable breasts I realized, had I not given birth, breastfed and subsequently fallen victim to gravity, there is no way that she could maneuver my breasts into this machine. Mammograms are not a young woman’s game. Then I laughed because I remembered that I used to be known for my breasts and my legs. How’s that for irony? Broken and Broken. Check and Check.

Pert breasts could never do what these ever so gracefully aged, slightly used breasts can do. No way my 25 year old tits cold be placed into a machine as an entity in and of itself, separate from my body, as if I could remove them.., place them in the machine, walk out of the room and come back after pressing the imaging button. No way!!

Mature breasts have lived more and while they may be slowly creeping into my armpits because my hatred of bras has increased almost as much as my newfound love of full-coverage panties, they still have some life in these old girls… even if they are 3 inches lower than they used to be. You know the story, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

I thought my advanced maternal aged” pregnancy at 31 made me feel old, well… you can imagine what being referred to 3 times (by 3 different medical professionals) as menopausal at “my age” made me feel like?

It was like suddenly my lady bits dried out, shriveled up, got arthritis and no longer functioned. I felt old, like my uterus suddenly needed a walking cane. Like the fruit that were my loins had suddenly rotted on the vine. Hey ladies… Don’t you worry about my bits, they’re working just fine, every 28 days just like clockwork and my ovulation could give any 27-year-old a run for her money. The shark week force is still strong with this one. 

The gynecological inner workings of my lady bits were insulted and then my ego was grievously injured. Shot through the uterus. Menopausal? Jesus! Had my moisturizer stopped working? This was more embarrassing than the fu man chu incident of 2005!

I knew this exam was different because for the first time in my lifetime, the doctor didn’t have to grab for the world’s deepest speculum, you know the one that feels like my uterus is in my throat? Nope she was able to use the “regular” speculum, just like she uses on everyone else. Whomp whomp. In a weird way I took pride in that crazy deep cervix of mine, it made me feel special like a gynecological unicorn but alas, now I am “average”.

I balked. “Wait? Is something wrong down there?” My doctor, whose sense of humor is just as randy as my own, replied, ” No, sometimes this just happens to women when they get “old”. Their uterus begins to fall.”

Not “older” that bitch said “old” and then she giggled, signaling to me that she was in fact giving me a hard time. I mean, I’m not Michelle Duggar, my uterus should be firmly in place and this lady wants to play Chicken Little with jokes about my uterus falling! Did I mention she’s only 3 years younger than me? Hey now!

Luckily, she quickly followed that by, “It’s hormonal. At different times of the month it can feel differently.” That didn’t give me any relief. And then while doing the physical exam, she gave me the head tilt and ” Hmmm?” Not a combo I like to see at my doctor’s visit.

Wait! What’s going on? Is my fucking uterus actually falling? Nope, she followed with this, ” Well, your uterus feels about the size of a 10-12 week pregnant uterus.”

Dumbfounded.

Silence.

Silence.

Gynecological misadventure number 1; possible pregnancy.

If you thought an accidental pregnancy at almost 40 was scary, you can’t even imagine what one today would do to me.Whispering as all the color and blood rushed from my face, “What? I’m not pregnant! Am I?” I hoped she had the defibrillator near by. Obviously being “menopausal and of the reproductive age of retirement ” I was going to have a heart attack any second now. Then, my brain, “Booyah bitches! Who you calling menopausal now?” Strangely, momentarily, I felt reproductively vindicated.

Wait? Was I one of those morons who didn’t know they were pregnant until they went into labor? 147 IQ, you failed me. Oh God, senility is setting in, maybe I am menopausal?

Then she tilted her head the other way and said, “Hmmm” again as she manhandled my uterus.., “Nope! Have you been having regular periods? When was your last one?”

Gynecological misadventure number 2; a possible miscarriage!

“26 days ago. I’m starting again on Thursday.” In my brain, ” oh dear Jesus, I’ve had a miscarriage again.” Holding back tears, saying a rosary in my head.

More uterine fondling, this time it felt personal. She tilted her head back in the other direction, “Hmmmmm, nope!”

Silence

Silence

Waiting

Jeopardy music playing in my head.

“Probably just fibroids!”

Just fibroids?” Que loca? There’s no such thing as just tumors in your uterus.

“Just tell the front desk to schedule you for a ultrasound and we’ll take a look next time.”

Gynecological misadventure number 3; cancer?

I tilted my head, “Hmmmm, Nope!”  I suddenly staged a sit in of one. I refused to leave the building without knowing whether I was dying or not. Damn you webmd. Just like the 108-degree bronchitis fever incident in 2009. I’ll sit here forever. I’ve got nothing but time, lady. She knows that I’m was just crazy enough to do it.

Needless to say, I was seen immediately for my transvaginal ultrasound. Suddenly, I found myself pantless in stirrups having trouble breathing. Then I remembered the last time I was in this room, on this table, I was told, ” I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.” The day that all I could do was cry.

Gynecological misadventure number 4; fibroids?

As a middle-aged tech, at least 10 years my senior explained to me that fibroids are common in women who are “menopausal” I nearly lost my shit. If only I could breathe. Then she showed them to me, my fibroids. All 3 of them. I had gotten my first one with Bella, a second with Gabs and I’m assuming a third with the pregnancy I lost. I wanted a tattoo to commemorate the baby I lost but instead, I got fibroids as a parting gift.

So, I go upstairs and wait to see my doctor again. She confirms that I’ve got the fibroids (guess its better than hemorrhoids?) but it’s nothing to worry about. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I quietly asked her the question that we’re all dying to know the answer to, “Am I menopausal?”

Gynecological misadventure number 5; menopause?

She giggled, no hmmm or head tilt this time, “No, you have no symptoms and you are still regularly menstruating and ovulating. Some women do start the process at 35, though. But no, you’re not menopausal.”

I felt like she should have handed me a damn t-shirt saying as much. I felt reproductively spry. Then, I gave her a hug bye and said, “Can you pass the word along to the rest of your staff and… I’ll take that referral for a vasectomy for my husband now. You know since obviously, I’m still fab, fit and fertile!” My uterus is a millennial even if my breasts are looking middle-age ish these days. Damn you breastfeeding.

And we both laughed.

Have you ever suffered a gynecological misadventure or (any doctor for that matter) and how did you handle it?

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three tiny rings, grief, loss, commemoration, parenting, miscarriage

Today, I woke up and remembered that I should be snuggling a 3-year-old in my lap this morning. Celebrating with giggles, random hugs and sweet, baby voiced, “I love you”s. Instead, my lap is empty. The only things I have to commemorate what should have been are three thin stackable rings, the birthstones of the three babies that grew inside me once.

Two I kiss and adore and hug and cuddle into my lap every single day, one I never got to hold, not even once. I looked down at that ring a thousand times today, a secret for only me. Suddenly, these three little stackable rings are my most prized possession. They are not worth much money but to me they mean everything. They are tangible, right there on my finger to look upon at will.

Sometimes I feel like that baby was a figment of my imagination. My third baby is like a whisper that lingers for always in my heart; like the sweet smell that lingers after a breeze carries in the smell of fresh flowers on a warm sunny day. It’s a glimpse of happiness quickly followed by sorrow and only for a moment; never enough time to make it tangible.

For three years, I’ve spent this day alone in my head. There are always people around. Sometimes I wish there weren’t so I could wallow a bit in my sadness rather than pretending that the day is like any other day.

Every year on May 1st, the day I miscarried, I allow myself to feel my loss to my very core. Sometimes it hurts terribly. Sometimes not as much. But to do it again on what should have been the day my baby was born, feels overindulgent. I feel like making the leap from one day to two takes me from normal grieving to “weird” as if you can quantify grief.

I don’t know how this is supposed to work or when/if November 24th will feel like just another day. In actuality, nothing of distinction happened on that day. It’s just a due date that was printed on a scan of a baby that I never got to hold. But to me, that day is imprinted on my heart and I’m afraid it always will be.

Does it ever get easier?

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