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Loss

Behind The Walls | Journaling After Loss

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com February 12, 2017 0 comments

Meeting that moment of loss and digesting your new reality can cause more than just inner turmoil and grief. Losing a baby can cause you to distance yourself from the ones you love and shut down emotionally for a time. Others can move quickly past it -while never really forgetting but embracing the future ahead with a different perspective.

Everyone heals and processes things differently – my process has always been writing and saying how I feel out loud. No filter.

Writing for all to see may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can still share your inner dialogue with yourself – on paper. You can openly process your feelings and thoughts while not offending or regretting what is said.

 

“I’m a little lost, zoned out. Drained. lonely.”

 

“Each passing month pounds me further into the ground.

It’s never going to get easier, only harder

But, you can’t think like that

Yes you can, feel your emotions

But stress will never produce a baby

Neither will masking the truth

Where is that line between acceptance and grief? Finding the balance is breaking my heart.”

 

Tears drip down as I read reflections from my journal. It’s not that far removed and I can still feel the tender darkness that swirls inside me. Hours upon hours spent bathing in tears, while listening to Jewel’s soothing voice on repeat:

 

“There’s a hole in my heart, and I carry it wherever I go.

Like a treasure that travels with me down every road.

There’s this longing, lonesome and deep,

Kind of bitter, kind of sweet.

There’s a hole in my heart in the shape of you.”

 

A week after the loss I chopped off my long, silky hair.

 

A month after the loss we adopted a sweet pooch named Nyx, who has been our healing companion.

 

Two months after the loss I received a tattoo. And then again on my due date I received another. Feeling intense pain on the suggested day of delivery was soothing in a way I can’t really explain.

 

Drastic decisions were a distraction as I dealt with the first few months of grief. Then those sneaky stages came, which are never linear.

 

The only true joy in the journal is seen in the very first entry. We were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary at a quaint inn that boasts healing hot springs along the Columbia River. The joy in this entry makes me melancholy so I always flip right past it.

 

“The peace and contentment I feel knowing our family will now be complete… While enjoying my time in the bath house I meditated on my full womb and tried connecting with the precious soul that chose me as a vessel and us as a family. Baby, you are so LOVED by us ALL!”

 

Two weeks later: “We are in survival mode. Day 4 of bleeding with this pregnancy. Max starts kindergarten tomorrow.”

 

Early morning was the hardest; as our son slept it allowed space for tears to fall freely.

 

Marijuana was my numbing agent of choice. It dried up the tears but only left me feeling emptier. Booze was his choice.

 

As the months wore on grief got more profound for me and he just wanted to fix it. I know he did. But I just needed to fall apart occasionally. Not all the time. So we went to our corners. Lonely. Lonely. Lonely.

 

We crumbled pretty far before putting back our individual pieces through therapy, strengthening our relationship in the process. I will forever be grateful to him for being vulnerable because so much healing came from it. We needed an outsider to show us how well we complement each other, and how the love radiates when we’re in synch.

 

“Everything goes along fine until you see the red mess between your legs that serves as a reminder of that week you lost the baby.”

 

“Trying to conceive after loss is like living with an open wound. The unknown is hell. NO, it’s purgatory.”

 

“I don’t want people to feel sorry for me,” I told my husband one morning. He said, “I don’t feel sorry for you. I feel sad for you.”

 

Family and soul sisters were there with open arms and ears. But, after a time you start to feel like your pain is on repeat and you slowly stop talking about it out loud. You don’t want the sadness to leak into them.

 

Almost a year and a half later and the wounds are still there, but the mourning I feel now is not for the lost child, but the lost dream. I have yet to become pregnant again. Relinquishing control is where I’m at. Acceptance is so damn hard to accept.

 

Where there is darkness there is always light. Someone was looking out for me as I completed my yoga teacher training months before the miscarriage. Focusing on the present, connecting with my body and transforming my thoughts to gratitude are my saving grace. I allow myself the space to take as many baths as needed, and my boys support this. Journaling has been healing for my spirit, and has helped me discover my voice. I work amid writers and they’re right, I do have a way with words.

 

I hope my future journal entries focus on strengthening my creativity, nurturing my relationships, serving others and loving where I am. One day you wake up and realize you have to snap out of it for the good of your people and the good of yourself, and the good of that soul you dream about. It’s a necessary upward journey that gives the blessing of self-discovery in the crawl.

Lori Larson, January 2017

Photo of Jessica Zucker by Amy of Aimleephotography

A window into your own process is sometimes just the view you need to tackle the big feelings you may be coping with after losing your baby. Not knowing how this will translate into future pregnancies may be causing anxiety and complete distrust of your body. The key to navigating this process is knowing you are to alone.

To find your community of loss mothers – head over to @ihadamiscarriage on Instagram 
You can wear your Rainbow Mama pride on your back or bag by visiting the I had a Miscarriage Shop 

Thank you to Lori Larson for sharing your most intimate moments with our community.

Loss

Loss Empathy | An Essay On Second Trimester Loss

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com February 7, 2017 0 comments

New life tucked inside your belly – your swollen womb pushing outward the smallest little bit as you rub and smile.

Thinking of who she’ll be one day.

Thinking of whether she’ll have dark or light hair – maybe her eyes will be turned down a bit like your fathers and how she’ll likely have her daddy’s laugh.
You prepare for this day with manic rearranging and this endless need to eat every single piece of everything sat in front of you. Nausea tinged mornings meet sleepy afternoons with the highs and lows of your first trimester.

It’s all quiet still – no one has been introduced to your beautiful news and it feels like you exist in your own little world – just you and her.

The beat of her heart dances out of the speaker and into your overly sensitive ears.

It’s the sound you’ve been waiting for. The plans you’ve made for her, for your family – are all suddenly real and in motion.

The sun shines through your kitchen windows on a beautiful Saturday morning. Your love wraps his arms around your belly and you sway in unison. You feel at ease. As if you’re in a dream. It’s all just so perfect.

Cardboard boxes greet you as you open the door. They’re filled with little things just for her. Tiny diapers and the sweetest night gown.
You know her routine and you’ve been awake and working throughout the morning.

Your body – Still.

Sitting at your desk – responding to e-mails and answering phone calls… you notice it’s been six hours since you woke and after breakfast and your orange juice – her kicks were missed. No flutters turned your mouth upward into a smile.
No kicks even after you poked around your tight belly.

Drinking a quick cup of cold juice and lying down on the sofa – just like you read in that book your mom gave you.

You wait.

Five minutes pass – and then ten.

Your belly is still.

You dial the number to the doctor’s office a kind voice answers and asks you to please hold.

The music is happy and almost makes you feel like being on this call means everything is ok.

As long as the phone is in your hand, your baby is ok.

the line clicks and you are met with the reception- questions and quick answers follow with an appointment for later int he afternoon. A bit of relief as you’ve held your breathe front he moment you laid down and can’t seem to catch your balance as your world spins out of control. You go into your bedroom to gather a couple of things before leaving and you pass her bassinet. It is still so far away – but you couldn’t wait to make a little space just for her. A place to lay down her things and daydream about your baby and what she’ll be like. muslin swaddles trapped over the side and a little teddy bear that your mom got her at the head.

It’s waiting for her tiny frame and you weep. You just weep.

There’s this something you’re feeling. Like when you get a bad feeling about something and it won’t leave. maybe like when you are in the car with someone and they’re driving too fast.

You just want to get out.

Bending over your growing belly, you put your shoes on your puffy feet.

Here we go.

Arriving to the building you’ve spent so much time in – preparing for the birth of your sweet girl is tinged with worry and panic. Your mind races and makes up scenarios in your mind to ease your fears, but you know in your gut.

Waiting is torture as you look around at the bellies of the women around you. You wonder if anyone else feels like you do.

You’re called into the room with the ultrasound machine and you sigh a breath of relief. Just waiting to see the tiny flicker on the screen. Just waiting for that relief.

Your doctor steps into the room with a smile and a cautious sense of optimism. She spreads the gel on your belly and begins to look for your baby.

Her hands first and then her round little belly appear. You are both in this race to find the sound you are so desperate to hear.

Nothing. There’s nothing.

The screen is still and there is no sound but one heartbeat. Your own.

Your doctor puts her hand on your forehead and sweeps your bangs away from your face. She tells you she’s sorry and you should have someone come meet you – to help you get home.

The appointment is made for induction and you can feel your hope and spirit fade away.

Knowing this life, this possibility in your swollen belly is over before it even began is enough to leave you crumpled up on the floor.

Your chest is heavy and you can’t breathe.

The world around you doesn’t matter anymore.

It’s just you and your self. Your mind.

The induction is like a hazy dream as you are coached and poked. Your belly softens as she is born and there is only silence as she is carried over to the bed where she’ll lay until she’s taken away.

They ask you if you’d like to hold her and your head instinctively shakes no.

It”s almost like you are still holding on to this vision of the ending you had planned for. Not this. This isn’t how it was supposed to go.

If you hold her, it’s real. She’s really no more. Just a memory of what you’d had the sixteen weeks before.

This love and sadness you feel as you look toward the plastic bed that holds your sweet girl is shattering it all. Everything you’d hoped for.

You call your nurse in and she quickly walks through the door.

“I want to hold her”

She brings you your baby and you see her – the little babe you’d hoped for.

She is so tiny and pink, she looks peaceful and as if she’s asleep.

Born sleeping they say and it’s true. After this moment your mind and your heart are at peace in knowing she is here and this is it.

This is your beginning and your end all at once.

She is your baby and your are her mother – always.

 

Miscarriage affects 1 in 4 women.You are not a statistic.

You are a mother.

The mother of a baby whose life began and ended in your womb.

The connection that grew in that time was real.

The way you felt about your child was real and it deserves to be said.

Your grief is real and expressing how you feel to the ones that love you – can help aid in your healing.

 

Visit @ihadamisscarriage on Instagram to hear similar stories and to connect with women for support.

To offer your tangible support to a friend or family member during their time of grief – Shop Here

For personal support in the U.S. please visit:

My Miscarriage Matters

The Miscarriage Association

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep – There is an incredible list of resources here

Support For Fathers / Partners:

The Art Of Manliness (This is an article) 

Silent Grief

For personal support in the UK please visit:

The Miscarriage Association

___________________________

This piece is a work of fiction

Written by: Katherine Emrick

Loss

Miscarriage | Second Trimester Loss

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com January 30, 2017 0 comments

Trigger Warning

Once upon a time the word miscarriage seemed like a minor blip in the world. A semi sad, longer than normal period. I think it’s portrayed that way because it’s too awful to understand the magnitude of what it is and how deeply it hurts and also that it may not always happen in the early days of pregnancy.

Thinking of all the things that have to go right in order for a new life to begin, has always left me filled with awe. Even with that overwhelming sense of awe, it doesn’t make it easier when somewhere along the way something doesn’t go right and the body decides to hit the erase button.

I don’t know exactly when the madness started but that’s what it felt like. My period didn’t return until 21 months post partum (thanks full term breastfeeding) Maybe it was a hormonal surge, biology; the urgency in my body to be pregnant almost felt manic. I was charting my cycle as a science experiment and even though it only took 3 months to conceive each day seemed much too long until the double line on the pregnancy test appeared. I was over the moon excited.

It seemed everyone I knew was pregnant and I felt like a girl in puberty waiting for her period to begin when all her friends had already started.

We had told family and close friends about our first pregnancy early out of necessity to plan our out of the country wedding and this time I didn’t see a reason to wait.

Everything started out pretty normal, with the usual nausea and fatigue.

I would search for the perfect chicken fingers. Unsweetened iced tea with lemon, tasted absolutely divine.  The urge to spit was overwhelming, especially in the shower and at night. I held my breath for an instant at our first prenatal appointment until I heard the sound of the heartbeat like strong galloping horses and felt instantly it was a boy.

I’d never been so certain of something. Everything seemed as normal as could be and I was sure we’d be meeting our son on thanksgiving.

My belly started to swell. I was soon past the first trimester “danger zone” and settling into pregnancy.

My next appointment with the midwife said I was measuring 2 days ahead. There was a little trouble finding the heartbeat with the doppler but it was explained away with tight pants. An ultrasound was done to put my mind at ease and there was baby swimming laps, wiggling so much it took several seconds to get a view of the heart beating.

A few days later while eating pizza at my sister’s I felt the baby kick for the first time. I didn’t know that later, I would be saying goodbye. When we got home that night I went to the bathroom before bed and my underwear was lined with a streak of brown blood. Something didn’t feel quite right about the sight even though nothing else had changed.

“A house wall, once inside, now the exterior of a building beside a vacant lot, where the house used to stand. These walls are very typical of Athens” – Kouk
Image: Kouk

I called the midwife and she reassured me that it was probably nothing. She reminded me to take it easy and rest.  I spent the next day resting and not much changed. We decided to take a short walk to the park in the evening. When we got home to get ready for our bedtime routine, I noticed the bleeding had increased.  I called my m midwife again. She was still reassuring that it was probably nothing. She offered an appointment the next day to check the heartbeat so I could relax, but I knew that something wasn’t right.

I laid in bed that night trying to figure out if I felt cramping or if my mind was making it up. I fell asleep counting 20 second contractions that were mild and ignorable. Forty minutes later another woke me up and I got out of bed and called the midwife again who suggested some Epsom salts and to go back to bed. The chances of a miscarriage at 15 weeks were rare and the fact that we had seen the baby moving was an even better “good sign”. Trying to relax was difficult when my body had other plans. I pleaded with the baby in my head, “just kick baby, give me a sign you are ok.” It was complete silence and stillness.

I soon found myself unable to get comfortable and the mild cramps became stronger. All of a sudden, I found myself breathing deeply on all fours about every other minute. It dawned on me that I had done this before- when I was in labor with my daughter. I went upstairs terrified and told my husband we had to go to the hospital, something was not right.

The 15 minute ride was excruciating. I walked into the ER in the middle of a contraction and leaned against the front desk, “I’m 15 weeks pregnant and am having contractions.” They got me a wheel chair but I had to wait for a room. The nurse came out to take my vitals as I felt a gush. All hope escaped out of me as my water broke and I said, “oh no. Something just came out.” My friend demanded a room for me as I cried and asked for my mom.

Shortly after that we were wheeled into a room.

The doctor came in and gave us a game plan. This would never come to fruition as the doppler remained silent on my abdomen. Instead he did a pelvic exam while the ultrasound tech banged on the door, him yelling not now as he extracted my baby and placenta with forceps.

A short while later the nurse came back to let us know we could take the baby with us but if we choose not to, the hospital would take care of things by way of cremation.

It was such a shock, it was all just such a shock. I didn’t even know what we would do with this tiny soul that we would never get to meet. Part of me wanted to ask if they knew the gender, part of me wanted to see the baby and part of me didn’t. They gave me a pair of paper scrub pants to go home in and we left.

It was the most unnatural feeling. Leaving the hospital without my second child, I couldn’t help but wonder where he was.

I reached out to my close friends and let them know.

I took down my pregnancy announcement on Facebook.

A friend dropped off extra plants for our garden, since I hadn’t had a chance to get anything started during early pregnancy. We stood in the driveway- her car running. She gave me a hug as I cried and said to me, “This is just something to feel right now, don’t get lost here. We all have our shit to deal with. Just feel this right now.”

I couldn’t believe how many people remembered I had been pregnant. It seemed I got notes or ran into people who would casually ask how I was feeling. We would then find ourselves at this awkward part of the conversation. “Actually, we lost the baby.” I hated that part most because I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. Slowly it got better. What struck me most was how many people shared they had had a miscarriage as well.

It was still raw for many women who would share their memories. It didn’t matter how much time had passed. Whether it had been a few months, or years or decades, or if they had other children or not. 

I was at a loss because for whatever reason it had never occurred to me how painful a miscarriage could be.

It was like being completely hollowed out physically and emotionally.

This piece was shared by Sarah Zendar 

This is the first piece in the I Had A Miscarriage series in collaboration with Dr. Jessica Zucker of I Had A Miscarriage. 

Loss

My Mother Said All The Wrong Things After My Miscarriage. But That’s Not A Surprise!

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com December 13, 2016 0 comments

Coping with loss while surrounded by those that we love may be the most difficult step in grieving. It is not always an easy thing to openly express how deeply an event like miscarriage has affected us and theres no way for our family and friends to really know just how to react or comfort us during this time. Often times words can hurt when they aren’t thought out carefully and can leave us feeling even more lonely than before this conversation.

Jessica Zucker of #iHadamiscarriage shares her experience with having that tough conversation with her own mother.

“Oh my goodness, you still look pregnant!” my mother said as she looked me up and down. “My miscarriage was two days ago, mom. What do you expect?” I instantly regretted letting her visit while the trauma was still palpable.

This wasn’t the first time I had been besieged by one of my mother’s off-handed comments. This interaction, however, marked a turning point. For years, I made excuses for these kinds of exchanges. I tried to protect myself from admitting that my mother was not able to mother me in the way I needed. But this time, I expected – I needed – more.

I was 16 weeks along with my second child when I began to bleed. Though everything seemed healthy throughout my pregnancy, a daughter I will never know emerged while I was home alone. I called the doctor in a panic from my bathroom floor and she guided me through how to cut the umbilical cord. She told me to wrap the baby up and instructed me to get to her office immediately. While hemorrhaging, I underwent an unmedicated dilation and curettage – physical pain that rivaled the emotional pain pulsating through my body.

My mom stayed for a couple of hours but the toxicity she spewed further darkened my porous state of mind. By evening, I was so upset, I was spun out by our interaction. I needed to be frank with her.

“What you said today really hurt my feelings,” I said trenchantly over the phone. I knew that my openness would likely be met with anger, or at the very least, surprise.

“Oh, you are so sensitive,” she replied flatly, a mantra she had bestowed upon me throughout my childhood. “I never know how to get things right with you.”

“Commenting on my body days after a miscarriage is completely inappropriate. I just lost a baby. At home, alone! I saw a dead baby! My dead baby.”

She hung up.

I called back. She refused to speak to me. With my anxiety spiking, I persisted. I called again.

“You are always finding fault with me,” she said with an adolescent defensiveness. “I just can’t do anything right.”

“Of course I still look pregnant! I wish I were still pregnant. How can you not see the cruelty in what you said?”

And with the sound of that dial tone, my grief swelled. I couldn’t un-know the decades of mother-daughter disappointment, just like I couldn’t un-know the devastation of seeing my dead baby dangling from me.

Months later, during my subsequent pregnancy, my mother and I revisited what happened between us. What I came to learn was that my mother had not known anyone who had miscarried – or put more accurately, because of the silence around miscarriage, she wasn’t aware that she knew anyone.

Art by Merakilabbe

She hadn’t been confronted with having to find the “right” words, until now. Though her comments were unfathomable, it opened my eyes to a larger cultural issue: our lack of conversation surrounding miscarriage and stillbirth.

Though approximately one in four pregnancies end in loss, we are surprisingly silent about these traumas. Shame, stigma and fear – fear of somehow conjuring the loss in future pregnancies; that this was our fault; that something might be wrong with our bodies – keep us quiet. What if we handled this topic differently?

I can’t help but wonder if my mother – and others who have floundered in the face of this kind of trauma – would know what to say if we refused the current state of silence. I am not minimizing my mother’s transgressions. Instead, I am calling for a cultural framework that aims to normalize, destigmatize and provide tools for mothers and daughters (and others) to empathize more wholly.

We might, for example, witness a sea change if we rebelled against the notion that we should keep pregnancies “secret” until the second trimester, when we are “out of the woods”. Those who have lived through later losses might argue that we are never completely “out of the woods” anyway. That way we would begin to see loss as “normal” (or at least sadly common) and in doing so, break down commonly reported feelings of alienation and isolation.

When a grandparent dies, we typically know what to say. But because pregnancy loss is not something we see or hear much about, we barely know it exists until it happens to us, or to someone we love. As in any loss, we honor a woman’s experience best by listening to her, by simply saying: “I’m sorry for your loss. I’m here for you.” We don’t have to “fix” the pain. In fact, we can’t, and when people try – with all-too-oft repeated phrases like: “At least you know you can get pregnant!” or “It’ll be different next time!” – it often minimizes the situation.

I wish my mother had supported me differently after my miscarriage. My hope is that by attending to our cultural patterns of communication with regard to pregnancy loss, we will all have access to more loving, less fraught interchanges. By the time my own daughter is considering pregnancy (if she so chooses), as a culture we will be better equipped emotionally to deal with the possibilities that come along with endeavoring to create life.

This article originally appeared in The Guardian

You can follow Jessica’s project on Instagram @ihadamiscarriage

Shop Rainbow Baby + Rainbow Mama + #ihadamiscarriage apparel and flair here.

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