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Grieving in Reverse

These days I am reading a lot about grief and the grieving process and half the time it makes me feel worse. The atypicality of pregnancy loss grief only seems to underscore the magnitude of what we have lost.

Common grief advice is to tell a story about how you remember the person you lost. Or to do something that you liked to do together. To honor the person lost by reflecting on the good times you had or their most positive traits. With the loss of a child that hasn’t yet been born there are no concrete memories. In our case it was just the fleeting failure of pregnancies too new to even be properly celebrated.

Here’s what I remember about baby L: after 2 years of trying we finally saw those two pink lines. It was after our first IVF embryo transfer. My wife and I stood by the bathroom sink staring in awe at the test delivering the news that we would be expecting our first child. Finally. Confirmation that this long process of trying and tests and IUI and failure and finally IVF was worth it. That success was possible. We dared to hope. We went to Target and for the first time in a year walked through the baby section without tearing up. We bought a onesie with a rainbow on it and a box of digital pregnancy tests. I took another test the second we arrived home. “Pregnant,” it read.

And then our baby was gone. Afterwards, I felt stupid for thinking it would work on our very first IVF attempt.

With our second baby, H, things happened pretty much like the first time, minus the unmitigated joy. I briefly wondered if the rainbow onesie we purchased previously could signify that this was our rainbow baby. That short pregnancy was clouded by fear and the longing for our first baby and terror that it would also end in disappointment. By the time I started to miscarry I already knew the signs well enough to know what was happening. Again. I tucked the onesie into the back of the closet where I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore.

With baby O we were afraid to hope at all. We waited on pins and needles for bad news, and bad news came.

I will never know my babies or what they would have liked to do. I have no special memories to remember them by. Not even an early ultrasound. And worst of all, I don’t really have anyone besides my wife to share them with. To most people, it’s as if our babies never existed.

I worry I might break apart from grief. Three losses in less than 8 months is absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. Is grief supposed to get better with distance from the loss? My grief comes in reverse waves, aching more with the passage of time rather than less. All of the milestones we will never experience. The due dates that will come and go. The pain of never being able to meet our babies and watch them grow up.

They were my first children. But I almost never say that out loud. With most people, we don’t use their names. We really aren’t supposed to talk about them at all or it’s considered “fixating” and we are perceived unable to move past the losses in the socially acceptable amount of time. I get the message loud and blunt and clear: these babies didn’t matter to anyone but us. Let’s put them aside so we don’t have to keep being sad, or seeing your sadness and pain. Other babies will surely come, people say. (Unless they don’t, I think.) But even if they do, they won’t replace the children we lost.

The hollowness of missing someone we never got to know feels debilitating. The whole lifetime of memories we won’t ever make as a family. The hole in my heart that feels gaping and eternal. As time passes the loss becomes even more profound, counted in the months and years that stretch ahead. Some days I fear the raw emotions will swallow up everything else in my life until there is nothing left. To cope I do the exact opposite of what every grief expert recommends. I stuff my feelings down and crumple them up into a minuscule ball, so small that it can fit inside the tiny box carved by my grief and pain.

I’ll keep writing about them because it’s the only way I know how to soothe this ache and make sure they aren’t forgotten entirely. I miss them, but just as much I miss the version of me that I’ve lost in all of this pain and hurt. I will live with this loss for the rest of my life, no matter what happens next.

Category : Meredith , Volunteer Bloggers


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Finding Your Rock

I met my friend Kari several years ago when we were both in the thick of struggling with pregnancy losses.

Last year, she sent me a rock that says “one day at a time.”  She had been given a similar rock and found it helpful, so she thought of me and searched for one.

When I’m having a particularly hard time, for whatever reason, it is comforting to take a look at that rock, read the heartfelt note she sent along with it, take a deep breath, and remember that today is just one day. It might not be the easiest day, but I will get through it.

To be honest, it really stinks to meet people because of a shared experience of loss. But I am grateful for everyone who has been there for me. They say it takes a village to raise a child but I’d also say it takes a village NOT to raise one.

My husband has undoubtedly been my rock when I need someone to talk to, someone to cry with, someone to hug. We went through loss together and will continue to go through whatever life hands us together. But sometimes I don’t want to talk, cry, or hug and instead just want a moment of peace or clarity.

Everyone needs a rock, whether literal or figurative. Some of us need more than one. Sometimes the answer is obvious and other times we find it in unexpected places.

I’d love to hear about your rock(s) – who or what helps you get through the tough days?

Category : Karen , Staff/Board Members


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May I Ask You—a poem

May I ask you why this happened?

What is it that I did wrong?

May I ask you how I’m supposed to do this?

How am I expected to be so strong?

 

I live my life by your golden rule

And still you throw me shade.

What is it I have to do

To get what I want made?

 

May I ask you how it feels

To have the power that you wield?

I am running low on defenses.

I am damaging my shield.

 

May I ask you when will things line up

The way that I think they should?

Is it me that is the problem?

Am I not any good?

 

You haven’t seemed to listen.

I don’t know what else to say.

It’s like screaming in a crowded room,

And nobody looks my way.

 

May I ask you when this test will be over?

I’d just like to know a timeline.

I want to know when the day will come

That I will begin to feel fine.

Category : Kate , Volunteer Bloggers


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What makes a mother? 

Yes, I’m a mother. This Mother’s Day I can’t sit by silently without acknowledging that fact.

After experiencing infertility and pregnancy loss I feel strongly that having a living child is not the only criteria that makes someone a parent. I am a mother by virtue of the focus of our babies in my life. My wife and I have made years worth of decisions based on our hope to become parents, and nearly a year’s worth of decisions and actions informed by our parenting of the children we have lost. Even if they aren’t here with us, I mother them daily in so many small ways.

I share their existence with others, even as the world tries its hardest to erase them. I think about them every time I comfort another loss mom or drop a savings deposit into our “next steps” account. When I see the closed door to the unfinished room that is meant to be a nursery. When we plan our calendar around the loss due dates, and the hope of potential due dates in the future. I imagine what we will tell our future child about their siblings someday.

I’m no less a mother because I couldn’t keep them alive. Or because getting pregnant was hard to begin with. I’m no less deserving of recognition because they didn’t make it here. Or because I lost them early.

I know it is a hard concept for many to grapple with, this identity I hold so strongly. Though it might be controversial to some I feel it with every fiber of my being. I’m a mom – their mom – and I won’t shut up about it just to make someone else feel more comfortable.

So while there will be no cards, no festive brunches, no kisses from sweet little ones to their mother for me this Mother’s Day I know in my heart that no one can take that label away from me. Mother’s Day is hard enough without trying to deny myself that.

Category : Meredith , Volunteer Bloggers


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Reflections On Mother’s Day

For many, Mother’s Day is a joyous day in which we celebrate the moms in our lives. However, for many it can be a day of anguish and pain.

Let us remember those whose moms have died; may they find solace in the good memories they hold dear. No matter when you have lost your mom, you often intensely feel the loss on Mother’s Day.

Let us remember children whose moms were not there for them, for any reason; may they recognize their self-worth and value. May they know they are loved.

Let us remember the birth mothers who placed their child for adoption, may they recognize the gift they gave. I believe it is a true, unselfish act of love to want a better life for your child. Having adopted two children, I am blessed to have received this gift.

Let us remember moms who have lost a child, may they find solace in knowing that while their child may not be physically with them, he or she holds a special place in their hearts.

I must admit I am not looking forward to this Mother’s Day. My mom passed away six years ago, and while she wasn’t always there for me, I know she did the best she could with what she had. I will miss selecting the “perfect” card to send to her and making the usual Mother’s Day call.

My heart will be with my daughter-in-law this Mother’s Day. This will be her first Mother’s Day without Liam. I know it will be especially difficult, since Liam’s due date was in May. Thankfully, she has her family close by to support her during what will be a difficult time. I know Liam will be looking down at her with love. I will be praying for her, all moms who have lost a child, and all our angels this Mother’s Day.

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers


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Living My Best Life Now

I am very transparent when I share my experience about having a miscarriage. I want to share. I want to bring light to it so others do not feel alone. I believe that creating a support system is essential in one’s life to help us when the life storms are beating us down. But it just hit me today that I am good with sharing, which is a form of healing, but I do not know how to self sooth.

Last year my husband’s uncle passed away. It was the third death of a family member within two years. We decided to join a grieving support group at our church. Actually, I signed us up and told my husband when and where. My intentions were to help him with his grieving process because he has experienced loss most of his life and he is a very sensitive man. Again, me helping someone else. In that meeting I expressed my concerns for my husband’s well being. When it was his turn to talk, he brought up our miscarriage. It took me aback. At that point I had my second son and I realized that I never took a time out in this game of life. I am always on the move, but feeling like I am going nowhere.

But now it is all catching up with me. The anxiety laundry pile is getting higher and higher. The emotional baggage on my mind and heart are wearing me down. And it’s not the daily routine, but it’s like an internal conflict of past emotions and experiences that I have bottled up inside of me. I want to move forward in my life and seize opportunities to better myself and my family and yet there are emotional chains keeping me from living my best life for me and my family. I need help and I made the first steps to get it. Whether you decide to join a support group or speak to a therapist, it is never too late to ask for help. Live your best life now.

 

 

Category : Tracy , Volunteer Bloggers


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Let’s Grieve Like a Hero

The last place you thought you’d get a mild Endgame spoiler would be a blog on experiencing pregnancy and infant loss, but yes I’m going to write something spoilerish, so if you want to and haven’t seen Endgame yet, go see it and then come back and read this…

Grief for men in mainstream film is rarely depicted accurately. If you’re a dude in a blockbuster movie, grief makes you do two things: Channel all of it into anger and revenge, or channel it into revenge and anger. If you go by the summer blockbuster, your grief is gone the moment you exact revenge. In real life we don’t get that luxury especially when you can’t wage war across universes when it comes to your grief over a pregnancy loss…I mean who is there to even fight?

That is why when I saw Avengers Endgame the other day I was shocked by Thor (no pun intended). In Endgame we see the Thunder God lash out to seek revenge for his grief and frankly gets it, about 10 minutes into the film, but it doesn’t fix anything, it doesn’t fix his grief.

In the following scenes, you see how much it actually impacts him. He isolates himself, he drinks a “God”ly (pun intended) amount, he’s letting his anger seethe out in weird ways, and most importantly he’s low, he’s real low.

I immediately related, and not just because I had a Thor-like body all of a sudden but because I saw my own grief on that screen. I felt what it was like to talk to family and friends, ashamed and anxious. I felt that self doubt that I would ever be “myself” again.

It was real grief on the screen…it was grief that doesn’t just go away with one single act of revenge. It depicts the journey that grief is. In three hours you see Thor’s anxieties and insecurities, you see him run, you see him hide, you see him open up his heart, and watch as he lets some of that go.

One moment hit me hard in particular as Thor stands upright, for what feels like the first time in the movie, outstretches his hand and waits. What he summons isn’t just an old friend but something that defines him as a person, something that tells him he is worthy, and it comes to him.

I can’t tell you how often on my grief journey I have felt less than, unworthy because of my grief, but in truth, grief doesn’t make you unworthy, it doesn’t make you any less of a hero or a person. It means you ARE human, it means you ARE being heroic because you are feeling.

I really urge you to find a way to see that, even if when you hold out your hand you don’t receive what you lost, you may find something else, some power to continue on that hero path you are on.

Category : Paul , 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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