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I am not in a “box” (or at least not just one!). Are you?

Why is it that we seem to be expected to fit into a specific “box” and to be able to stay in that box until we can move to another one?  Like we can only be in one box at a time?  There are many other challenges we’ll face – many of them will relate directly to our losses, and many won’t, but there will be other things that are going to matter in our lives.  Aren’t all of the parts of our journeys important to be able to talk about?  And isn’t it okay to grieve our losses while also being happy about something else?  Going through a loss (at any stage) will forever change the way that you look at future events, and I think that we need to be able to talk about more than just loss… but we need to be able to go back to our support groups, not just to talk about our losses, but about our other worries too.  That’s what support groups are for – support.  Right?

I’ve been watching some pretty harsh comments today on a couple facebook support group pages that I’m on for miscarriage/loss, and I feel like I really don’t know what to do about some of what’s being said.  There are women who are completely bashing others for things they’re posting about their own emotions/grief/struggles/etc, but I keep reading the original posts and thinking that the women who posted them must be in so much pain, and why aren’t they being encouraged instead of being told to vent somewhere else??

I posted awhile back (on this blog) about defining moments, and how we all have things that define us, that may not be at all what others would think of.  But those things matter, even if they only matter to us.  And when we’re in a group that’s supposed to listen and be supportive, I really think that if you don’t have something nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all.

But who am I, right?  Sigh.  This path isn’t a fun one, but today, I think it got a lot worse for a lot of people and that just grieves me.  On so many levels.  I wish this journey could be easier… somehow…. for all of us.  I really do.

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Sometimes I really wonder “why”….

Does anyone else just wonder “why”?  Loss can be completely overwhelming, and what’s even harder than the fact that you’ve lost a child (not to mention the hopes and dreams for that little one!), is the fact that before your loss, you probably thought that miscarriages happened to “other people” because you had no idea at all why they happened and no reason to think it would ever happen to you.  Why is that?  Why don’t we talk about our losses?  Why doesn’t society want to hear about it?  Why is it acceptable to talk about burying a child, but not losing one before birth?  This may not be popular to talk about, but I really believe that people don’t want to talk about it because it makes THEM feel uncomfortable.  If you talk with the moms (and dads too!) who have lost children, almost all want to be able to talk openly about them.  They don’t talk about their losses out of a sense of trying keep other people happy, not wanting to make anyone feel bad.  But why do we worry so much about everyone else, when we’re the ones who have gone through so much pain?  Why can’t we just be completely honest, instead of only partially honest?

I don’t have the answers, even though I wish I did… I wish things could be different, and people could be honest instead of having to weigh out the pros and cons of what they share with who before they share anything.  Maybe someday… right?

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Calvin’s Hats

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I received this little hat in the mail yesterday, from an organization called Calvin’s Hats.  They make them for people who have lost a child, as a way to remember and honor the little ones that they would have been.  I found the information online, but when I received it in the mail, I was deeply touched.  Deeply, deeply touched.  I truly appreciate the fact that someone took the time to make it for me… what a beautiful gift.

Please check out their website, so you can see for yourself… the information on requesting a hat, as well as information on making hats to give away are on the site.  It makes me wish I had the talent to help out, because this little hat is such a precious gift.  I am so very grateful to have it!

http://calvinshats.com/

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The redemptive side of my c-section…

As you have probably read by now, my first miscarriage (first pregnancy) was considered a missed miscarriage, and I made the choice to have a D&C.  I detailed all of my emotions related to that in my last post, so I won’t go over all the details again, but suffice it to say that I really struggled over the fact that I was having a procedure done that I had always associated with abortion.  I honestly didn’t know they did them for anything else!  But I opted to go forward with the D&C when they told me that our baby had stopped growing two weeks prior.  Without any physical signs of a miscarriage happening, it seemed like it would be the best thing to do.  (And because of the complications we found out about after they got the pathology results, it was a good thing I went that route!)  But remember how I said that I seriously about had a breakdown on the table, as they were trying to knock me out?  When it came time to have baby number four, (who is four months old this week, by the way!), I had to get a c-section because he was breech, then of course, before they cut, he turned sideways… so my scar is seriously huge.  But that’s not what this is about.  =-)  They took me back to the room, and made my hubby wait to come back.  As I’m walking back to the room, I couldn’t help but notice – they took me to the exact same room.  The hospital only has two rooms they use for these procedures, one to the left and one to the right.  As they made me go into the room on the right, I tried VERY hard not to think about the first time I was in that room… but I couldn’t help myself.  I wasn’t excited about the c-section (I mean, who ever is??), but I just couldn’t get the reason why I was there the first time out of my mind.  I really tried, but I honestly felt like I was going to have a complete panic attack.  Eventually, after trying twice to do the epidural and deciding to do a spinal instead, they let me lay down, and my hubby got to come in, and then the fun started.  =-)  By the time I was taken out of that room, I had a perfect baby – one who was alive, that I got to see, and who was okay!  But I’ve come to see that God had a plan in that, in allowing me to deliver a baby in the same room where I had lost one.  It took a truly horrendous experience from my past, and turned it into a memory that’s now a good one (well, as much a c-section can be “good” – ha ha!).  Does that make any sense?  Maybe I’m not explaining it very well, but I really did appreciate how God allowed me to go right back to where I was “before” and take that memory, which was honestly one of the worst possible days of my life, and make me see that without having gone through that experience, I couldn’t have appreciated what being back in that same room would mean for me.  I was a little bit more freaked out at first, because that room wasn’t one with pleasant memories, and while I was seriously tempted to beg them to let me have the baby in the room on the left, I also felt like there was a reason for my having to be back in there.  And while I don’t want to be back in that room for any reason anytime soon, I don’t feel scared of that room anymore.  It doesn’t hold the same negative feelings in my mind, because now it’s a room that isn’t just a place of loss… it’s a place of joy too.  =-)

It will never cease to amaze me how often God takes our “negative” experiences and does some kind of redemptive work on them… so that they turn from being negative into positive.  If that doesn’t show His love for us, I really don’t know what does.  I am humbled, and in awe, I really am.  He doesn’t have to do any of this, but I am so very grateful that He does.  What a way to redeem my D&C and the memories of that room on a truly awful day, and turn them into memories of something really great instead!

Do any of you have things like this, where something bad/negative from your loss, was turned around and you’re now able to look at it through a different lens?  I’d really love to read about it if you have!

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The complicated emotions involved when getting a D&C…

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who really, really struggled with having to get a D&C, but I might have a few extra reasons why it was rough.  I grew up in a family that was completely pro-life, was very involved in pro-life everything as a kid/young adult, and have always (always!) believed that life begins at conception.  I’ve associated D&C’s with abortion, because that’s the only thing I had ever heard of them being used for.  Needless to say, I felt like I had to get it done, the baby’s heart had stopped beating over two weeks before, and I still didn’t have any signs of anything being wrong.  I didn’t want to keep waiting for the miscarriage to happen naturally… but going in and getting a D&C was really VERY hard for me.  After a lifetime of thinking that the only people who get D&C’s are those who get them done to end a life, even though I had watched the screen during the ultrasound (on the big machine) that confirmed the ultrasound done by my OB the day prior (the office ultrasound – much smaller machine), and knew the baby wasn’t alive, I still had a large part of me that felt like it was “wrong” to get a D&C done.  It took them a very long time to knock me out, I seriously think I was on the verge of hyperventilating.  And no, that’s not an exaggeration.  But they did finally put me under, got it done, and took me back to my room… and I kept thinking that not only had I lost a baby, I had gotten a procedure that just wasn’t supposed to be something I ever did.

While the experience didn’t change anything about how I feel about abortions, it did completely change my perspective on how the women who choose to have one done (not because of the same circumstance that I was in) must feel – I went through the exact same procedure they do, and it was definitely not fun.  Not only the procedure itself, but the recovery afterwards.  Having gone through a D&C, a natural birth (although induced), a natural miscarriage at home, and a c-section, I can safely say that the worst experience of all, physically and emotionally, was the D&C.  After a lifetime of thinking that it was “wrong” to get one, being in a position where that was really the only option made me look at it differently.  And now I wonder – four years later – if I had to go through that experience because it helped me to understand something I never would have otherwise.  Could it be that my having the D&C puts me in a position to be able to really empathize with the women who choose to have one?  I’m not saying that I will ever understand the reasons why they did it, but I could absolutely sit down with them and let them know that I understand how hard it is to handle the emotional side of a D&C, and I also understand the physical side.  I wish I didn’t, but the truth is that I do.  Should I call a crisis pregnancy center?  Should I look at volunteering with them?  I don’t know.  But this has been on my mind quite a bit lately, that I don’t just understand how hard a loss is for women who have had a miscarriage – I also understand how hard the loss must be for women who chose a D&C.  I think God has a purpose for me in having gone through the experience, I really do.  But maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t for me.  Maybe I went through it in order to help someone else.  And as much as I hate to say this, because I don’t wish that anyone would have to go through a loss of a child, I do think that I can look at it and know that if God meant it to be something that would allow me to help others, then I see the good in that.  I really do.  Now, it’s been nearly four years since it happened, and I definitely wasn’t ready to say before a few months ago… I haven’t even been thinking about helping in a crisis pregnancy center for more than about a month.  So this change in how I was looking at things didn’t happen overnight… or in the first year… or even in the second year… but I feel like I am finally (finally!) at a place where I think that even if it happened to allow me to help one person… I’m okay with that.  Because if that’s what God wanted me to do, then ultimately, it served a purpose.  Isn’t that what we hope for in everything that happens in our lives?  Good or bad, we want to know that there was something bigger going on.  In this case, I just want to know that I did what I was supposed to when I was faced with a challenge.  I can’t say that I think I’ve done all that well up till now… but maybe, just maybe I’m on a new path… and I think I’m finally heading in the right direction.

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Due Dates

As I started writing this post, intending to talk about the due dates that we haven’t made it to, I realized that I’ve now had four different due dates, but I never did make it to a single one of them.  I had never thought about that before… due dates are days we really look forward to (with great anticipation, and some fear and trepidation at times, too), but even when you have a baby and all is well, that doesn’t mean you were able to get to the due date.  Both of my two kiddos (the ones that are her with us) came three weeks early.  One was induced early, and one was forced to come via c-section.  (Wanna guess which method of delivery I liked better?)  But our other two kiddos (the two we never met), I only know one of their due dates.  Does that make me an awful person?  I don’t think so.  I’ll level with you here… the first baby (first pregnancy) was one that I was extremely attached to.  I saw that heartbeat flutter three separate times before the ultrasound where it wasn’t moving.  I was invested in that child, and I loved that child with all I was.  I definitely knew the due date, and after we found out that we lost that baby, it was deemed a “missed miscarriage” and I opted to have a D&C instead of continuing to wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally.  Many women remember the date they saw the baby on an ultrasound, or the date of the D&C, but I made the conscious decision that I wasn’t going to remember those days (although I do remember the general time of year), I was going to remember that baby on the due date.  The due date was a happy date in my mind, one that I looked forward to, a day that could be kind of like remembering a “birthday”.  I would really rather remember a happy day than a seriously awful day – wouldn’t you?  With our second baby, he came three weeks early and I definitely know his birthday.  =-)  With our third baby, this is where it gets a little bit more complicated.  We never saw that baby on an ultrasound, never saw the heartbeat, never really knew the official due date.  Because of the complications from the first pregnancy (you can read more about that here: https://miscarriagesmatter.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/molar-pregnancies/), they wanted to be sure it wasn’t another molar pregnancy.  I had to go through weekly HCG testing until levels were back down, but only had to do it twice.  It was obviously not molar.  Because I lost that baby at home, there was no testing done, and we don’t know what happened.  We only know (from the one ultrasound I had), that I WAS pregnant – but the OB couldn’t see a baby on the office ultrasound.  He was initially concerned that it could be a tubal pregnancy or something else equally as complicated, and if the 48 hour HCG testing that I had done after my appointment had been okay, we would have had to get more ultrasounds done to be sure what was going on.  While I could look up the dates in my planner and find out when we lost that baby, I really don’t know what the due date would have been.  I could have guessed within about a week of it, but I didn’t know an exact date, and somehow that just never seemed like the right thing to do.  I don’t want to make up a date to celebrate.  As quickly as we thought we were pregnant, we weren’t any more.  I don’t think that it doesn’t matter, but I just never felt like I had to have a date for that one.  With baby number four, he also arrived three weeks early – and I definitely know his birthday too.  =-)

All that said, I think the due dates for the babies any of us have lost are important dates.  I really do.  I also think it’s important to tell you that I believe life begins at conception, which is why I count baby number three – even though I never did see it.  Lives should be celebrated, and not just the lives we have with us – the ones that aren’t with us are equally as important.  If they weren’t, then why would there be people who cremate their animals?  Seriously, we value life.  But I’m saying that children, before they are born, have just as much value as a life that is lost much later on.  I don’t think there are levels of value here, I just think we all have value.  A baby lost before birth, a baby lost at birth, a child lost when they were six weeks old, a teenager lost in an accident, an adult lost after a long, happy life.  All of those losses matter.  We just have to figure out how to celebrate, and what’s the best way to do it.

For my first due date, I was already 20 weeks pregnant with baby number two (no, that was definitely not planned that way – it was a huge surprise when that happened!).  I took the day off of work and scheduled a massage appointment smack dab in the middle of the day.  It was with someone that I had never seen before, who didn’t know me, and didn’t know my story.  I was able to go, be pampered, and have a full hour where someone wasn’t asking how I was feeling (well, apart from the normal massage related questions – ha ha!), if everything was okay, talking about how sad I must be, or how I needed to move on.  I spent all morning looking forward to that appointment, and all afternoon happy because of it.  It was blissful, and such a blessing on that day!  But I had to spend the whole day alone, and my hubby didn’t get home till after midnight – he was off with kids on a field trip and they left early, then didn’t get back till super late.  So I did struggle with that part, being alone on a day when I felt like I really needed someone else to be around.  Not even “with” me, but around, so I wasn’t alone.  Anyone know what I’m talking about?  Still, I enjoyed having the day off, and being able to celebrate that baby.  With our third one, because I don’t know the day, I have made the first baby’s due date into the day I honor both kiddos.  I recognize that they wouldn’t have both been due then, but it makes it easy for me – a happy date, and one that allows me to honor both of those kiddos.  We don’t do anything as a couple or as a family, I do it on my own.  This year, I stopped and got an ice cream cone in honor of the day.  I just feel like it’s important to DO something, even if I’m the only one who knows about it.  Am I alone in that feeling, or do other people do that too?

So all of this to say that the big days in our children’s lives should be celebrated, no matter how long we had them with us.  Period.

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Hopes and Dreams – Adjusted

This might make me highly unpopular to say, but I really think the main reason most of us struggle so much after our losses is selfish.  Now before you bristle and say “who in the world is SHE to say that??” – hear me out.  If you believe your child/children are in Heaven (as many of us do!), then I think it’s safe to say that they are VERY happy where they are.  We struggle because of what WE lost.  Our hopes and dreams for those children never have the chance to be fulfilled… and that’s hard for us, as the parents.  From the time we first see the two lines on the pregnancy test, we have all these things that we wish for our child – we look forward to seeing what they’ll look like, if they’ll have grandpa’s nose or daddy’s silly grin, if they’ll play an instrument, be outgoing or shy, if they’ll love books as much as we do, if they’ll be able to spell, and so on and so on.  But if we take the time to just back up, and look at it from our baby’s perspective, they are incredibly happy where they are and would any of us wish that they weren’t there?  My feeling has always been that I don’t want to feel like I begrudge our children the joy they’re experiencing, but I just wish I could have had some time with each of them before they were gone.  I wish I knew if we lost two girls or two boys, or one of each.  I wish we could have known that, because I hate having to call them “Baby” and not by a name.  But at the same time, I find large amount of comfort in knowing that they’re with their grandparents, that my grandpa and grandma are loving on them like they loved on me.  And when I have moments of gut-wrenching grief, I have to remember that – each one of those kiddos (the two that I’ve lost) is in a much, much better place than I am, and would I really want them to give that up to be with me?  No… I wouldn’t.  It’s just my selfish desire to have what “I” want that makes me want them back.  But you know what?  I believe that God does understand when we’re selfish like that, He really does.  And I believe that as much as He delights in holding my two babies in the palm of His hand, He also feels my pain and anguish over not having them here with us.  There is a lot of comfort in knowing both of those things… God is with me here, and with my kiddos there.  Ultimately, could I really ask for more than that?

Hopes and dreams have to be adjusted after a miscarriage, but that doesn’t mean that they just disappear.  We will always wonder about those kiddos… now, instead of looking forward to our due dates, we look forward to the time when we’ll be with them again.  The hope of being with them hasn’t changed, but the timing did.  And that’s okay.