Category Archives: Volunteer Bloggers

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Learning to Love My Body Through Recurrent Loss

The title is aspirational, mostly. After infertility and recurrent miscarriages loving my body is a daily challenge. As a woman, I’ve struggled with body image my whole life. Too thin, too chubby, not athletic enough, way too short. My hips are too big and my head is too small. But there were things I appreciated about my body even as I picked it apart for its flaws. I danced for many years and felt strong and graceful. My legs were capable of walking me to work, to the bus, to the store, for many years living without a car. Even if I didn’t like it all the time, it worked.

Part of the brokenness of infertility and pregnancy loss is having your body fail at the most mundane of tasks. Getting pregnant, a basic function for many people, became an impossibility for me. “Where is your biological imperative!? Why can’t you manage this simple thing?” the voice inside my head angrily scolds my body, which helps nothing and changes nothing. Staying pregnant proved even harder. In moments of desperation I tried the opposite approach. “Please, please work. Please keep my baby alive. You can do it.” But my body doesn’t – can’t – meet that plea.

Some days I feel trapped inside this skin. Disembodied. Acutely aware that with every breath I take that I am coexisting with this shell I live in, the body that killed my babies. I feel hatred and guilt. If I could claw my way out I would, but there is no easy fix for this pain.

After each miscarriage I’ve slid into mistreatment of my body in a combination of grief and anger. Sometimes I eat only cereal for four days in a row. An entire package of chocolate candies in one sitting. Or I don’t eat at all, the hunger pains dulled by the emotional fog. When we start the next IVF cycle each injection, each ultrasound, feels like penance and punishment. This is what you get for failing again. More needles, more discomfort, more heartbreak. More loss.

When I prioritize “self care” it isn’t me I am prioritizing. It is easier to focus on eating well or exercising when I think of it as something I must do to maximize our chances of a successful pregnancy. I do it dutifully, like homework. Less than 50g of carbs a day, barre classes 3 times a week, a pill box overflowing with supplements and vitamins. Not to care for myself but to coerce my body into sustaining a baby. Trying to punish good eggs out of the scrambled mess of my insides. I am thin and hollow. I am afraid to fail.

Over time, I’ve tried to reconnect with my physical self. My therapist recommends deep breathing and mindfulness exercises. At first I couldn’t do them at all because the thought of being present in my body-prison was terrifying. With practice it comes more easily. Breathe in, breathe out. Center yourself. Hear your inner thoughts, acknowledge them, and let them pass.

Acknowledge them. “Wow, those are strong feelings. Do you really hate yourself that much? What could you have done differently? It’s not your fault, don’t blame yourself.” I come to my own defense. I rescue myself. I begin to think of that subconscious voice beating up on myself like a bully hurting my inner child. No! Be gentle to her. Nurture her.

I practice on other people experiencing infertility and loss, treating them how I wish I could treat myself. I’m not alone in these feelings of self-loathing. In my support group circle I’m the first to jump in: “You did everything you could. Don’t blame yourself.” I nurture and caress those scared inner children and try to help them heal to wholeness.

Not your fault. Not your fault. Not your fault. Not our fault. Not my fault.

I try to love them like I want to be loved, like I want to love myself. And slowly I reclaim my sense of self, and with it some of my self worth. It’s a work in progress.

Category : Meredith , Volunteer Bloggers


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When you find a little sense of peace

For at least a week or more, I walked around unaware that my baby stopped growing with no signs of complication. At my scheduled ultrasound, my baby’s heartbeat was not detected. I recall my clinical diagnosis was “spontaneous abortion.” The word “spontaneous” removes blame and reasoning. I left the office feeling void and heartbroken. It left me with a sense of searching. Not sure what I was looking for, but hoping once I came across it, it would give me some peace.

A few weeks later, I came across TTH and this community has been a beacon in a dark, confusing time. The personal stories I read each Tuesday continue to rebuild me and repurpose me. The resources and testimonials helped me reconcile my feelings. I look forward to TTH Tuesdays even after two years since that dreaded day.

A month ago,  TTH posted a NY Times article titled “The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage.” It spoke of how the Japanese culture embraces miscarriage and provides communal and spiritual spaces to memorialize it. Up until then, I kept my first sonogram on my work desk, but after I read the article, a sense of clarity came over me. Immediately I started to search online for a symbol that encompassed my little angel. Nothing really caught my eye or spoke to me. The next morning I walked into my oldest son’s preschool and in the lobby was a lost and found table, and immediately I saw this little angel figurine that was as if it was designed just for me. I decided to search for it online and apparently the brand is discontinued. The next day I asked the front desk if the figurine was not claimed if I could have it and she gave it to me. I was so happy. And now beside my sonogram, a little angel sits next to it.

For some it will be a figurine or tattoo or garden that brings a sense of reverence to represent a time of loss. But it will come. Maybe not tomorrow, but keep searching.

 

Category : Tracy , Volunteer Bloggers


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Sunrise

I spent two years working in an emergency room in a small city hospital. The job was second shift handling patient registration.  After dinner, and darkness, the vibe of the place changed.  You could feel it, as an employee.  The cliché of the full moon causing trouble was in full effect.

Nights had ups and downs. We’d have babies delivered in the ER and, once, in the parking lot. Suicidal individuals would get help and admission into facilities. Emergencies would be addressed, from small to large.  Frequent flyers attempt to get their meds and the paranoid would be comforted by staff explaining what the word “emergency” meant.

They told me I’d never forget my first code. Code, for those of you not totally familiar with medical shows on television, means a patient is dying. It was a car accident and, to this day, I can still see the family in my mind as they arrived to check on their loved one. That was the hard part.  People would walk in at the start of a shift and never walk out.

The hardest part was the children. Some came through critically ill and passed away. As a father of two boys, I’d drive home at midnight and, when I got there I’d go into their rooms and kiss their foreheads. I’d look at them sleeping and be thankful for safety.

The lesson I’d learned is that the sun still crested the horizon. No matter the darkness of night.

Years later I’d be leaving another emergency room. Val had just gone through six hours of struggle and suffering, only to find out we’d miscarried.  She was on her way to a surgical suite. I had told her parents I was going home to shower, then would return.

I stepped out of the sliding glass doors with the new sun rising. That night I’d been a father of two with a third on the way. That morning, we were a family of four again. I’d never met our child, but the void was deep enough in my heart that it felt like a tangible thing.

If you are there today, reading this in your email or through a link someone shared, that void may be too real. Maybe you were me last night and now you are home wondering what will happen.  Maybe you’re a dad and the whole thing is still spinning in your mind, the hours and minutes feeling like some distant dream.

Loss is real. Loss is powerful.  I’m no professional, but hanging your hope on something can make a difference.  For me, it was that sunrise. The night, no matter how dark, is not eternal.

Take your time, grieve, and make your peace. Bond with each other. If you have children already, give them an extra hug. There are resources out there like Through the Heart that offer help, from supplies to a listening ear.

The sun will rise and, one day, you will too.

 

Category : Matt , Volunteer Bloggers


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Appreciating Winry

We lost our grandson Liam when his sister Winry was almost two years old. While we don’t see her that often, now that summer is here, we will probably see her, my son, and my daughter-in-law more often, especially since we have a pool!

Winry is slowly coming into her own and I appreciate her uniqueness more every time I see her. She has an infectious laugh and delights in chasing our dog Kovu around the house when she visits. We never had a dog when my children were growing up, only cats, so watching Winry and Kovu interact is a delight.

Winry’s individuality and personality are beginning to shine. This was so evident when she was here a week or so ago for a swim. She got over the initial shock of landing face down in the pool and had a wonderful time bobbing up and down in the water and “swimming” with her parents. We had an impromptu cookout afterwards, and Winry ate like it was her last meal, ice cream and all!

I know I will miss sharing these and other experiences with Liam. I remember fondly going to my grandparents for a special meal or accompanying my grandfather to his office on a Saturday to “help.” I want to share many such experiences with Winry and cherish her being in my life. So often we take life for granted.

I sometimes need to remind myself what a gift life is. When I was born with a congenital heart disease, the nurse told my mother I would never live. Well, I just turned 62 this week.

While I wish I was given the gift of watching Liam grow and develop, I need to be thankful for Winry and those in my life and not take their presence for granted. I am thankful for the privilege of being able to raise my two adopted children into adulthood. I am thankful for my husband who has put up with me for over 30 years.

Yes, we mourn those we have lost. But we must remember to love, cherish, and appreciate those who are with us.

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers


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A Bouquet of You

I collect their birth month flowers. One for every month our babies should have been born.

Daffodil.

Gladiolus.

Marigold.

Iris.

A year of grief. A due date missed for every season.

I wear the flowers on charms around my neck. I gather a bouquet on every due date. I plan a tattoo to inscribe them tangibly on my skin forever.

Endless death that even the beauty of flowers can’t erase.

I only hope that one day there will be a flower among them to symbolize a living, breathing child for us to mother.

Category : Meredith , Volunteer Bloggers


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Confessions

In one of, if not my first, posts I documented how I was going to process my grief. I did the “right” things. I went to therapy, I allowed myself time to physically and emotionally heal. I bought a stone to put in our garden with his name and a quote I had read. I bought a white rose bush.

But I never put it in the garden. I bought the white rose bush when the weather wouldn’t sustain it. I purposely did not want to put either of these things out because that means it’s it. That means it is done. Clearly, 2 years later, I don’t have a baby in my arms, so I know he won’t be coming. But when I put that stone out and plant that flower, that’s it. And then that means it happened. I struggle so much with the ridiculousness of my rationale because clearly, it is not rational. And that says something about grief. It can turn a generally emotionally competent person into a mess of emotion and quiet turmoil that exposes itself in angry moments and fits of crying.

So while I refuse to set an end date, I’m going to work on this. Because holding on to something like this does nothing. It doesn’t help me heal and it doesn’t help me grow. I’ll never forget those 6 days of elation, but I cannot keep waiting to become whole again because I won’t without him. I’ll have to forever be comfortable missing that piece. Moving on doesn’t exist, so I’ll just have to move through, instead.

 

 

Category : Jessica , Volunteer Bloggers


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Number of Pregnancies

“Number of pregnancies”

“Number of live births”

I had to fill out a new patient medical history form the other day at the doctor’s office. Those two prompts made my heart sink. I clutched my belly. My miscarriages surged to the forefront of my mind. I have a healthy baby girl now, why am I letting this affect me this way? I realized nothing can ever make me forget where I started. Moments like this trigger me and my heart and mind go right back to those events.

I have to put extra energy into maintaining my happy attitude. I am so grateful for my baby girl and that she is doing so well. I sometimes feel guilty that I still let myself feel defeated. Why do I feel guilty for having feelings? I have my rainbow baby and I can’t let my past get me down. I need to be strong for her.

But then again, I need to show her the importance of embracing life and dealing with feelings. I overthink about what others will think of me. What does she know? She has her baby now. I have to continue to try to not be affected by what others think. I am still learning to embrace all of what has happened.

Three pregnancies, one live birth, all in about two years. Writing about everything continues to be so helpful. It’s so important to take time to step back and evaluate where I started, where I am, and where I am going. 

I am always learning. I am learning how to cope, learning how to grow, learning how to be the best mother I can be to the baby I have, while also never forgetting the two that could have been.

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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