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A Fairytale Changed

This week will mark my husband and my second anniversary. I still can’t believe it has been two years. I feel like we are still newly weds, and yet I feel like it was a lifetime ago and I never knew a life before being with him. I still remember our wedding day, how we stood in front of our friends and family and gave each other our vows to remain by each other’s side “for better or for worse.” Little did we know that the “worse” we were vowing about would be the loss of a child.

Before getting to how a loss can affect a marriage, I’ll take you back to how I met my husband. We all love a good romance. I had always dreamt of having a fairytale story to tell. After I graduated college and started out on my own, and by on my own I mean I lived in a tiny room at my sister’s place, I started doubting if I’d ever find “the one.” I mean, I never even had a boyfriend all four years of college, and that was when I was around hundreds of single guys my age. Now I was an adult in the adult world. There were not many single guys my age let alone guys I would consider starting a relationship with. My fairytale seemed to be slipping away.

It’s crazy to look back now, and I can’t help laughing. I literally saw my husband for the first time just a month after graduation. Of course, I was completely ignorant of the fact. We both worked retail jobs at the same mall. He was a salesman at Dicks Sporting Goods while I was a barista at Starbucks. We’d pass each other all the time, but I was too lost in my own thoughts of how lonely I was to ever look up and notice. Not so for him. He noticed me almost immediately.

The mall wasn’t the only place we saw each other. He also began attending my church I started going to with my sister. Originally he had just planned to come to the church one Sunday out of curiosity because he had never been to that church before. As he sat in the back of the church with his family, I walked right past him. I remember glancing over and noticing new people at the church. I gave a friendly smile, then moved on without ever really looking at them, and by them I mean my future husband. Again, my husband on the other hand noticed me. He’s told me many times that it was in that moment when I gave that smile that he knew I was the one.

Now, I will spare you the mushy details. Let’s just say it took a year of inching closer and closer to me. I say that literally. He began moving closer to me in church by sitting at the pew across from me. He also began casually striking up conversations. Unfortunately, despite him catching my eye, I was pretty bent on leaving the area and moving South to live at the beach with my best friend. I had saved up money and had all my plans laid out. Then, a month before I was supposed to make the move, in the beginning of April, he asked me out.

That first date, I knew I would one day marry him. I cancelled all my plans to move. I scrambled to find alternate housing within a month timeframe, and I settled in. We went on a few dates, and on April 24, he asked me to be his girlfriend. Six months later, he took me for a walk on Chesapeake beach, planted a note in a bottle along the shore that ended with the most important question: will you marry me? The rest is history. We were engaged for another six months before choosing the exact one year anniversary of his asking me to be his girlfriend as our wedding date. It was the only weekend in April that year that didn’t rain. Perfect weather for a perfect event, complete with a cupcake bar and cowboy boots. Yes, I was the one wearing cowboy boots.

Fast forward one year, and we decide it was time to start trying for a baby. Fast forward six months later, and we are in each other’s arms in a tiny ER room after being told our daughter didn’t have a heartbeat. How could my fairy tale end like this?

So many people’s marriages or relationships fall apart when they lose a child. The father and mother both grieve differently. The dad may distance himself from the loss to help with his pain, while the mother clings on to every little part of the loss because she doesn’t want to let go of her little one. The mother then feels the father doesn’t care, the father feels upset that the mother is constantly crying. Soon it can result in anger, things spoken that can never be unspoken, and eventually a relationship in shambles. Details may be different, but the story is still the same.

My husband and I had such a strong relationship. We were crazy about each other. But, in those weeks after the loss we were tested. I could feel strain and distance threatening us. Thankfully, I had enough support around me that encouraged me to keep communication open. They key was to understand how each of us needed to grieve, then support the other. The second part was to communicate how we were feeling. I had to understand I wasn’t the only one who had a loss, my husband lost his daughter as well. The only way we would get through was to get through together. So, we somehow were able to pull back together. We have become closer than we ever were before because of the loss.

I wish no relationship had to be put through the strain that a loss from a child puts on any couple. I wish the words “for better or for worse” were metaphorical, not literal. I wish our fairytales all had the perfect endings with our smiling little princesses and princes of our own. The truth is that every fairytale has a villain. The villain in mine was loss. Just because your fairytale has a villain, doesn’t mean it won’t have a happy ending. Just because what you have gone through has strained your relationship, doesn’t mean it has to end. You will change in your relationship. This loss will not be the only thing that changes the person you are committed to. If they are truly someone you see yourself with forever, then it is worth making it work. It is worth going to counseling, working on communication, and being open about your struggles and coping mechanisms.

This week, my husband took our anniversary off so that we can spend the day together somewhere. Just us two. We should be going out with a tiny two month old baby girl with my dark hair and his long arms. But, it is just us two. How much has happened since last year when my husband and I were walking along the boardwalk next to Niagara Falls, talking about how we were ready to start trying for a baby. Now, we will be having a small day just to ourselves. Instead of planning for the future and filling the day with hope for what is to come, we will be thankful for the present. We are thankful we still have each other. We are thankful that we made it through one of the worst experiences a couple could go through. We may not have had a fairytale ending yet, but our fairytale isn’t over. We still have hope for the future, but we now also have gratefulness for where we are because we know how quickly everything can change. We aren’t promised a perfect year, and who knows what will happen between this anniversary and next. But we do have this moment.

Category : Sarah , Volunteer Bloggers


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Moving on with fear

The end of this month my second pregnancy would have been due. As the month approached, I tried to keep the thought in the back of my mind by continuing to focus on what IS and not what COULD have been, but it gets tiring trying to pretend something isn’t weighing on your mind. Especially when everyone around you is moving on with life, but parts of you still feel stuck in the past. As much support as I have been given, this journey is still isolating. 

I feel badly that I don’t know the exact due date of this one. I estimated it would be the end of April. It was such a whirlwind when everything happened. I found out I was pregnant and then five days later I miscarried. I didn’t even have enough time to process it. Am I a bad person for not knowing the exact due date? I fear that I am. It’s a tough thing to try to move on and grow, but at the same time remind yourself not to forget. I could never forget what happened, but sometimes I fear that moving on is being irreverent to my little ones that could have been. I keep them in my heart always, but they slip more frequently from my mind. It’s a weird combination of feelings. Feelings that I seem to understand more clearly the more I write about them. 

While I am feeling better with each passing month, I still harbor fear. A fear of never fulfilling my goal of having my own family. A fear that I could have handled my feelings better. Will this fear follow me around forever? Will I ever be able to go back to being the girl who believes in the best? Who is the new person I have become who lets the fear control her? This is one thing that bothers me most about my losses. I let fear overtake me. I let fear decide my mood and my decisions. Looking back on that year, I am disappointed in myself for not being stronger. My family and friends tell me how strong I have been, but I don’t believe them. I am still learning how to be confident in my strength and own my experiences.

I was talking with my husband the other night and I said how it’s crazy to think about what has happened to us and we made it through. We’re moving on and we’re trying again, even though, when we were in the midst of sadness, I thought I’d never get through it. I guess that is strength. I don’t know. That’s a hard concept to grasp and be okay with. I don’t know what’s going to happen and I need to be okay with that. It’s amazing to me how, as human beings, we encounter all sorts of sadness and tragedy in life and yet we carry on. We all instinctively know to tackle obstacles and attempt to overcome. 

I believe in time this fear that I am carrying with me will dissipate and I hope it will encourage me to be stronger. I think I can use this lingering fear as a motivator. Maybe having a healthy fear of the unknown can help us navigate the trying times in our lives and help us appreciate the good times even more.

Category : Kate , Volunteer Bloggers


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Starting Over

My husband and I decided to start trying for another baby at the beginning of the year. I’ve said over and over to myself that it took us five years and three losses for us to have our son, so patience is a definite must. I’ve been dragging my feet to track my cycles, buy those pesky OPKs, and even lose the last bit of weight I know I’ll need to lose to increase our chances. I guess I’m hoping it will happen without me even having to think about it.

The truth is, I’m not that kind of woman. Having a baby was not (and I don’t think it ever will be) a fun, easy thing. Conception is a painful battle, as was each of my pregnancies. It was a disappointing journey that often made me feel isolated and like a failure. But, it was definitely worth every last bit of struggle for the little boy I finally got to bring home.

At least this time around I know exactly what I’m struggling for. With every negative test and Facebook pregnancy announcement that has me feeling like I’m being left behind, I can remind myself that it will all be worth it. It might not happen on my time table, but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. So, I’m starting over. I’m voluntarily re-doing the most painful stage of my life, with the hope it will all work out.

Category : Stacey , Volunteer Bloggers


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Going back to work after a loss

It’s been over 2 years since my last loss but lately I have been thinking about how hard returning back to work after a loss was.

My first loss happened before we told anyone we were pregnant so we just kept it to ourselves and no one at my work was aware of our loss. But my second loss happening at 15 weeks was harder. We announced to all of our family, friends and coworkers that we were pregnant, and shortly after that we had to tell everyone that a baby was not going to be joining us here on earth.

This loss required a D&C so I was off work for about a week to recover physically so that I could go back to work. (I work a very physically demanding job) After that week I was not really mentally ready to go back to work but I also wasn’t mentally ready to stay at home and think things through anymore.

Going back to work was hard as some people felt like they were walking on eggshells around me, and some just tried to stay as far away from me, and the topic of babies/children.

Most of my coworkers did not mention anything about our loss and at times that helped but it also made things worse. I just wanted to be able to know that my coworkers were there for me if I needed anything. The few coworkers I was close with did let me know they were there if I needed them and some helped so much in my healing process.

Category : Amanda , Volunteer Bloggers


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Anxiety After Loss

Today is the first day of Spring! I know, I know, looking at most of our crazy weather currently, that seems kind of hard to believe. Not gonna lie, this was one of the longest and most difficult winters of my life. On top of being one of the worst years for the flu, this winter I was also suffering through Postpartum depression. It made the days longer and darker than they already were. On top of the depression, I was also noticing a sudden increase in anxiety over the slightest most stupidest things. That’s when I did a little research and discovered that it’s actually pretty normal for those who have experienced a loss to also experience increased anxiety.

During those long dark days of winter and the flu, many of use hoarded hand sanitizer like it was gold. We’d look at the label “kills 99.99% of germs!” and practically coat ourselves in the stuff, believing it would make us immune. I mean, 99.99% is basically 100%, right?

Hand sanitizer isn’t the only number we round up. When we see an item for $3.99, we usually just say it’s $4. If we are told the lottery is “one in a million,” we interpret it as impossible. But, in each of those cases, and so many others, there’s always that 1%. We forget about that 1% until we become it.

I’ve read all over the internet the statistic that one in four women miscarry in their first trimester. That’s a 75% survival rate. The rate only goes up from there. I remember when I reached the second trimester mark. I was in a birth group and could almost hear an audible sigh of relief when my February birth group reached our second trimester. My doctor had congratulated me during my first second trimester appointment saying my little one now has a 98% chance of survival. I took that as a 100% guarantee.

When I went into my anatomy scan at 20 weeks, my little girl passed with flying colors. She was wiggling, stretching, and scratching her butt (a trait from her daddy I’m sure). My ultrasound tech told me that she was perfect. From there she shot up to a 99.5% chance of survival. A month later she was gone.

I became the 0.5%

This isn’t so much a story of my loss as how being in the 1% affects the rest of your life. No one expects to be that “1 in 100” or “1 in a 1000.” When we hear “this is uncommon” we take that as “this won’t happen.”

Before my pregnancy, I had slight anxiety. Part of me always worried that something was wrong. Did I have cancer? Was I going to be hit by a car during this road trip? It wasn’t bad, and most of the time I just shrugged it off as me being overly cautious. I’d just tell myself it’s probably nothing and move on.

The day my daughter Lily stopped moving, my anxiety began to act up. What was wrong? Was she ok? Did I hurt her? I used Dr. Google who told me all sorts of doom and despair stories. But, like I always do when anxiety strikes, I tell myself I’m being overly worried and it’s probably nothing. It never is something. All those pains I thought were tumors were just indigestion. All those sore throats I thought were strep were solved with a glass of water. It’s never as bad as I believe it to be.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. That time it was exactly as bad as I thought it was. Ever since then, whenever my anxiety started to flair up, simply saying “It’s probably nothing” didn’t work anymore. Because one time that nothing was something, I now think every time it is something.

I thought I was alone in this, until I read one of my favorite bloggers who also suffered a loss talking about the same thing. Then, there were comments after her post with so many other mothers agreeing with her. That’s when I realized, increased anxiety after a loss is normal.

I wonder, how many of you suffer increased anxiety because of your loss? There is plenty of information out there on the web about dealing with the grief and dealing with the postpartum depression. But, there is very little out there warning us about the anxiety that comes with being in a 1%.

From now on, when people tell you that something is impossible because it only happens to one in a thousand people, you suddenly are very aware of that 1, instead of categorizing yourself as the thousand. You know that even the tiniest percentage means there is a human being who was the exception to the rule. What is stopping you from being that exception? Instead of 98% and 2%, we see a 50/50 chance at everything.

If you have related to everything I’ve said, you are not alone. We are all struggling here together. I know the fear can be crippling. Often times it will seep daily joys out of your life because you spend what should be fun memories in a deep agonizing worry of what could go wrong.

I wish I had a solution for you. I wish there was a magic bean you eat that will make all your worries go away. While I don’t have the secret combination that will take you back to seeing 98% as a guarantee, I do have some pointers that have helped me and others like us get through the worry.

The following advice is completely my opinion, and is not taken from any medical or professional research.

  1. Talk to others!

You are your own worst enemy when it comes to anxiety. The more you stay inside your mind, the worse your anxiety will become. Sometimes all it takes is telling someone else your fears so that they can be a voice of reason. They may even have a solution that will help convince you that a certain fear is ungrounded.

  1. Tell yourself it’s out of your control

This may seem counter intuitive. Isn’t this the very basis of your worries? You are terrified something out of your control will occur? While that is true, our worries are based in the idea that we can do something in order to prevent the out-of-control event from occurring.

If we are afraid of a plane crash, we want to avoid flying in order to prevent the unpreventable. We have to let go and try to tell ourselves that we can’t prevent it. What will happen, will happen. Worrying is a lot of action with very little movement. It won’t keep us from danger, but it will make us more miserable in the process. Just focus on enjoying life now, and deal with the situations when the occur. Half the time things are a lot more manageable when they are occurring versus when it is just a scenario in your mind.

  1. Find out what you believe in

This is mainly true for those of us who are religious. Having a belief can be a huge comfort. I’ve relied on prayer to get me through most of the hard times in my life. The best way to take away your fear of dying is to take away your fear of death itself. If you establish what it is you believe about death, you become less afraid of the event.

  1. Take care of yourself physically

Working out does wonders for your emotional health. It gives you positive endorphins that boost your energy level and your mood. If you are having a bad anxiety attack, try going for a run, or doing some cardio until it passes.

Try to eat healthy. Food has more of an affect on our mood than we realize. Eating healthy, mood boosting food will help combat anxiety. Or chocolate (hey, don’t judge, I’m not a doctor here). Chocolate always boosts my mood!

You can take a bath, clean yourself up, and dress up a little. Taking the time to care for yourself physically will in turn care for your mental health. I find I get a lot less anxious when I’m showered and wearing a nice pair of jeans and a blouse than when I’m in my pajamas thinking of all that could go wrong that day.

  1. Relax

There are several ways to relax. If you are relaxed, your heart will calm down and your mind will not wander as much. I love to read, it really takes my mind off of whatever it is I’m worried about at the time.

Another great idea is to try and incorporate aromatherapy into your morning in order to avoid morning anxiety. I have this lavender heating pillow that I throw into the microwave in the morning. I then lay it on my head or my stomach and breath in the scent. It helps to calm my mind and body.

Drink tea. Tea is another great calmer. I’ve heard that chamomile tea cures everything. I don’t know about that, it may be true. For me personally, I like my mint tea when I’m getting worked up.

I’ve noticed that caffeine has the opposite affect. When I drink my morning coffee, it usually coincides with my first bout of anxiety in the morning. I’m not quite ready to give that dark liquid gold up, but what I’ve found to help is to spread out the coffee. So, instead of guzzling a giant mug-full, I sip on it over a period of time while also drinking water and snacking. This way, the caffeine is absorbed and doesn’t hit my system as strongly.

  1. Get outside

Nature has some great healing affects. Just the air and wind alone can give you a good dose of reality. The sun has been known to have a positive affect with great vitamins (vitamin D especially) as well as being a mood booster. You don’t need to be out for long. Maybe just sit on your porch when you drink your morning coffee, or turn your mail run into a short neighborhood walk.

These are just a few of the methods I’ve found for coping with my anxiety after loss. If you have any other ideas that have worked for you, please feel free to share them. We are here to support each other through this. You don’t have to feel embarrassed about any feelings you are experiencing, no matter how outrageous they may seem.

In a world full of 99% and 98%, I can give you one 100% guarantee, and that is that you are not alone in this. That means you have support and a community to reach out to whenever your anxiety becomes too unbearable. We are here for you!

Category : Sarah , Volunteer Bloggers


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The Last Milestone

Today was my due date.

It’s the 3rd time I’ve reached this milestone knowing that I wouldn’t have a baby coming home. I will admit that I’ve become almost numb to this occurring. With our first we honored her due date by planting a lemon tree. With our second, we threw a stone into the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial.

This time? We don’t have a single thing planned. I’d like to blame it on being incredibly busy lately, including the fact that I am now 21.5 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby due in July. But deep down, I think it’s because I don’t want to do this anymore.

I’m tired. I feel like every couple of years I’m sitting here writing the exact same blog post. The thoughts and emotions are all the same, just the date is different. I don’t want to mourn the child that isn’t with us, I want him or her to be here. These days are hard – I don’t want to keep living through them.

Just in the past few days has it hit me that this is very likely the last major pregnancy loss milestone that we will go through. There’s something oddly comforting about knowing that the worst will now be behind us. At the same time, it’s a reminder that this is, in a way, only the beginning. March 12 will always be a difficult day for us the same way June 24 and January 9 are. For the rest of my life, it will be a day that my baby wasn’t born.

Category : Karen , Staff/Board Members


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Keep Forging On

My Losses

“This is not a normal pregnancy.”

That was the last thing I expected to hear at my first ultrasound appointment for my first pregnancy on January 19, 2017. My husband and I were going in to see and hear our little one for the first time. Instead, we saw a dark, silent womb.

I found out I was pregnant two weeks before Christmas, what a wonderful gift. We shared the news with our immediate families soon after we found out. We were so excited, there was no reason to hide the life changing news. I didn’t need to wait that suggested ten weeks. I was sure I was going to be fine. For nine weeks, I experienced all the typical first trimester pregnancy symptoms. I felt awful and wonderful all at once! There was never any sign that something was wrong.

When the doctor was conducting the ultrasound, I could see her face change. She looked concerned. Instead of seeing our baby, we saw an empty womb. She said it was a blighted ovum, a form of miscarriage. The egg died, but my body continued on as if it were pregnant. I had never heard of such a thing. Why would my body do this to me? I was fooled by my own body.

My husband and I were devastated. The next day I went to the hospital for a D&C. The first thing I noticed when I woke up after the procedure was I didn’t feel the nausea anymore. I never thought I’d miss feeling sick to my stomach.

I struggled for many months after that day. I spent many hours crying, trying to grasp why such a thing would happen to me. I tried to understand why I didn’t see or feel any symptoms leading up to it. I punished myself for being so optimistic and thinking nothing bad would ever happen. With the help of my husband and my family I worked through these dark feelings that come along with miscarriage. I began to write about it and with that writing people I knew came forward about their own experiences. Putting my feelings into words helped me process them better. Knowing I wasn’t alone was such a comfort. With time, my husband and I were able to pick ourselves up and try again.

My second pregnancy was early August. I remember when I saw the positive test I felt excitement laced with fear. Just five days after the positive test, I began to bleed. At first I thought it was implantation bleeding, but as the day progressed the bleeding became heavier. I had a chemical pregnancy. This one felt different because it was a different kind of miscarriage. But I also felt something was going to go wrong before it even happened. Once again I began a journey of grief. I thought I’d take the 2nd one a bit easier since I had already started to learn how to cope, but it was still just as painful. Even more so physically this time. I passed large clots and experienced the worst cramps of my life.

Learning from Grief

February 16th was six months since my 2nd miscarriage. It was warmer outside, so I decided to go for a run around the neighborhood. I ran down the main street, which has a large hill. I got about a mile down and decided to turn back. As I began my ascent, I struggled. “I hate these hills. I am so out of shape,” I thought to myself. A few blocks up, I slowed down to a brisk walk. Another woman jogging up the street ran right past me. She turned to me and smiled and continued running. I smiled back and then thought to myself, “Oh hell no, I’m not letting her beat me.” I crossed the street and kept pace with her up the hill. I pumped my legs harder, steadied my breathing and kept repeating to myself that I could do it. I eventually passed her and beat her to my self imposed finish line (the street where I made my turn to home). As I ran downhill towards home, I reflected on what had just happened. I took it as a sign. That woman came out of nowhere. I didn’t see her jogging up when I was jogging down. Did God place her there as a wake up call? “Hey, quit feeling sorry for yourself. Look how far you’ve come. You can accomplish more than you know.” I took it as a sign that I can do whatever is thrown at me. I do have the strength. I do have the will power. 

After experiencing two miscarriages within a year and a half, I have had my fair share of defeating days. I think because of these sad occurrences I have learned a lot about myself and a lot about life. I have never really described myself as a strong person. I imagined myself breaking down in situations such as these, but here I am. I am a strong woman. I am still alive and I am sharing my story with the world. Every day I wake up I make a conscious decision to be happy, even though I have feelings of lingering sadness for my two losses. I try hard to focus on the blessings I do have. Each month, my husband and I muster the strength to keep working toward our goal of starting a family.

As much as I often wish I could turn back time and erase my miscarriages, I have learned to better embrace what life throws at me. This is part of my story now. I will continue to share it in an effort to help others know that they are not alone and that they can carry on. No matter how steep the hills get, we have to pick up ourselves up and keep forging on.

Category : Kate , Volunteer Bloggers


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If you've come to this blog, it likely means you have suffered a pregnancy loss of some type. We are so sorry you have found yourself here, but hope the stories of life after loss can help you on your road to healing and recovery. Remember, we are all in this together!

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