Still Healing :: Mother’s Day After a Miscarriage

(By contributing writer Jessica)

It doesn’t seem like it was nine months ago, more like yesterday. I was shockingly surprised when I saw two pink lines show up on a pregnancy test. I think I must have stared at it for a half an hour before I wandered around the house looking for my husband. I remember my hands were actually shaking as I showed him the test.

Now, nine months later, a time when I thought I’d be snuggling with a sweet newborn, I’m left with an aching heart of longing for a new baby to hold and love.

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This was my third loss,  but somehow, this time, it has taken longer to heal. As Mother’s day is swiftly making its way towards me, it makes my heart pound. Why does it still sting so much?

More than that, why do I feel the need to have my heart not long for that little one? When did I put a time frame on my grief? 

That sweet baby was a part of me. I loved him with all my heart before I even saw the positive result. I had already pictured the part he would take in our family. In my mind I could  picture him in soft baby sleepers or wrapped up in a hooded towel after his bath. I could feel his soft weight that would have been in my arms.

My mind plays the ‘what if’ game constantly. I shrugged it off for too long but right now, I need to dig through all of the images and thoughts so that I can tuck them away and patch up this hole in my heart.

Grief has a funny way of showing up when we aren’t looking for it, the uninvited house guest. However, I’ve learned to roll with it, even if I have tears streaming down my face for what appears to be no apparent reason. Grief that drops me to my knees to hand all the pain over to God. A place where I can hide myself in Him. 

I’ve stopped asking ‘why’ and have come to a place of trust. I trust He knows what is best for me. I trust that when I look back at this valley that I’ll be able to understand. I know that understanding may not come in my life time and I am at peace with that.

I’ve lived long enough to know that some of my greatest pains and losses have brought me to where I am.

This Mother’s Day my heart aches, it’s sore…but it is healing.

What has helped your heart heal after a loss? 

Why we keep quiet about infertility

(by contributing writer Amanda) 

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 20-26, a week in which many of us in the infertility community commit to sharing our stories, spreading awareness, and bringing much-needed attention to the disease that affects an estimated seven million Americans.

But some who carry this burden – who walk this journey, do so silently, quietly, and mostly alone. Infertility is an isolating journey, and many choose to walk it alone. Their friends and family members are often left with unanswered questions, wondering what to say, how to help, and what it’s like. And they wonder why? Why will my loved one not let me be a part of this journey?

Every journey is different, every heart shatters into unique pieces. I can only share from my own experience, but perhaps my own struggle will shed a glimmer of light onto the struggles that others face as they walk this lonely journey.

Why We Keep Quiet About Infertility

why we keep quiet about infertility

1. Making a baby is (usually) a very private experience

We are keenly aware that most couples are able to create new life together without an audience. Babies are made in secret, in those intoxicating moments of love and passion. When a couple experiences infertility, those secret moments of passion are often replaced with gut wrenching moments in a doctor’s office, with doctors, nurses, and receptionists taking a gander at charts and medical tests and all things that once were private. Passion is replaced with frustration, love is sometimes overshadowed by fear, and what once was sacred and private becomes another statistic. We feel that invasion of privacy so deeply.

My husband and I battled infertility for a couple of years before we ever opened up about it – even to family. Clinging to what semblance of privacy we could, we guarded the sacred moments between husband and wife, even the ones in a sterile, cold doctor’s office. We tried to protect our hearts by keeping private those things we inherently know are supposed to be private.

2. You have questions, but we don’t have answers

Infertility introduces a crushing number of questions for which we rarely have answers. My husband and I were diagnosed with unexplained infertility, so we quite literally had no answers for most of our questions. Not having answers to our own questions is brutally painful, and not being able to answer your questions has its own pain and frustration too.

We know you have questions, and we know that most of your questions come from a place of love and concern. You want to know how we’re doing, but most days we really don’t know. You want to know if we’re okay, but sometimes (most of the time) we aren’t. You want to know how to help, but really, you can’t. You want to know why we don’t have babies, so do we.

For many, it is easier to journey silently and alone than it is to give the same answers (or lack thereof) over and over again. The “I don’t knows” and fragile facades of “I’m okay” wear us down and remind us of the never-ending heartache.

3. We feel our barrenness in our souls

I speak here as a woman of faith battling infertility. Christian couples facing infertility often feel barren within their soul. We question God’s plan, we wrestle with God’s will, and in our darkest moments we doubt God’s love for us. After all, God’s Word is clear that children are a blessing from God; so we wonder: is lack of children a curse from God?

Every Christian couple who battles infertility will do so on a spiritual level. Some will do so much more gracefully than I did. My faith was shaken to its core, and I often wrestled with God out of anger and rage. It was ugly and my heart was raw. And for a long time I was unwilling to be vulnerable with my friends and family about my bitterness and anger. Most of us don’t want to air our spiritual dirty laundry for others to see.

Perhaps you are the loved one of a couple facing infertility. Remember that they are on a journey of grief, and there is no wrong way to grieve. I hope you know that you are a much needed source of strength and encouragement. You have the ability to offer comfort, even when you don’t know what to say. I challenge you to value their privacy, to honor the way they have chosen to journey the path of infertility, to do what you can to protect their hearts.

Do you silently struggle with infertility? What are your reasons for staying quiet?

The decision of trying to conceive during chronic illness

(written by contributing writer Jessica)

All of my life I dreamed having a large family. I must have been sheltered because I never once remember hearing things like ‘miscarriage’, ‘PCOS’, or ‘chronic illness’. I thought if you wanted a baby, you would have one.

My bubble of security was busted after my first miscarriage. My feelings were all over the place, but fear of never having a child ranked high up in my list of worries.

A few years down the road, I also never imagined I’d have to weigh my health into the equation about the decision of trying to conceive.

the decision of trying ton conceive during chronic illness

The decision to wait until I’m healthier has been a heart breaking one, that included a lot of prayer and conversations with my husband. It is a joint decision that we pray is the right one at this time. Our hearts are ready to try but my body is not.

Chronic illness, in many cases is a delicate balance from day-to-day depending on the condition. A delicate balance that pregnancy can completely offset.

How do you decide if it is the right time to try to conceive when you are managing a chronic health condition?

 Here is a brief list that helped me to logically see the answer that was right for us.

Prayer. 

Prayer is the first step that our family uses when making a decision.

What does your doctor say?

While I don’t think your doctor is the end all be all in making this decision, they should have an educated opinion on how your condition is going to effect a pregnancy and your baby. They may also have helpful things to do to get your body ready to try to conceive. The other great thing about doctors in this situation is they do not have the same person feelings invested and can give you a logical look at things.

How would your illness effect a pregnancy?

Some times the chronic illness itself until controlled can negatively impact a pregnancy and the baby. Or, will the supplements or medications you need daily have an effect on the pregnancy or baby while in the uterus? These are two things to heavily factor into the process of deciding if it is the right time to try to conceive.

How do you feel?

If you are in mid flair or experiencing a lot of symptoms, how would a pregnancy effect that? I know in my heart right now that a pregnancy would add a very large burden to my already very taxed body. I would be short-changing a new little life and depleting myself of already scarce resources.

What is your time line for healing?

What if by waiting a few months your body can be more fully loaded and healed to take on the burden of a pregnancy? It’s good to have a goal and then prepare the body for pregnancy.

There are so many things to weigh when making a the decision to try to conceive while you are manage a chronic health issue. It’s even more tough when your heart is already longing for a child. However, taking the time to heal and get your body in shape is only going to help pave the way for a healthier you and pregnancy.

What are some of the things that you had to consider when making the decision of trying to conceive during a chronic illness?

 

 

 

Dreaming of babies: the realities of infertility

(Written by contributing writer Natasha)

dreaming of babies

I was in the shower when I realized that I was having a baby. I didn’t even know I was pregnant, but it was obvious that I was giving birth. I screamed for my husband to come take me to the ER. No one answered. I kept screaming for help until finally my mom showed up.

By then I had a teeny, tiny baby boy. He had dark hair and the same chin that all my brothers and I have, very defined with a little dimple in it. He was breathing but I knew he wouldn’t be for long.

But instead of helping me get out to the van, my mom started gathering all these strange children together. Eight of them, to be exact. I stood there, holding this tiny little baby who was turning blue, and watching them all come down the stairs. I was crying and BEGGING Mom to just stick them in the van and she gave me this disgusted look and said, “Now, Tasha, we can’t take them until we get them all dressed and buckled into their seats.” I must have looked shocked because she added, “I can’t believe how selfish you’re being. What’s the point of saving one baby if you’re not going to take proper care of all the rest?”

I sat right down, rocked this itty bitty blue baby, and cried and cried.

The good news? My mother would never, ever, in a million years, be that horrible. The bad news? It was all a dream and I don’t really have a baby boy with dark hair and my chin.

And to be honest, my first thought on waking up had nothing to do with how terrible my mother had been in this dream. It had everything to do with feeling sad and empty because it wasn’t real and I didn’t have a baby or the hope of one. 

I’ve had so many dreams over the years about babies. Sometimes I wake up crying. Sometimes I just lay there, trying so hard to fall back asleep and continue the dream. Sometimes they are horrible and involve me not being able to save a baby or accidentally hurting one. Sometimes they are lovely,  like the time I was finally adopting this beautiful Ethiopian boy.

For a long time it made me angry. After the dream wore off and I was done feeling empty or lost or fearful, I would get so mad at God. I wanted to shake my fist at Him. I can exert some control over my waking thoughts, but what in the world am I suppose to do with dreams? 

I’ve learned since then that dreaming about babies while dealing with infertility is completely normal. People have shared all kinds of dreams with me. Sometimes sweet (those few delusional minutes of rocking a baby that you think is yours) sometimes horrible (the ones where the baby dies or someone in your family does something out of character) and sometimes even funny (like the time I dreamed that Walmart started carrying babies at greatly reduced prices).

In dealing with these (often undesired) dreams, I’ve found three helpful responses:

1. Pray.
God’s shoulders are big enough to carry any of the hurts that rush through our minds. He can handle our pain, our anger, our insecurities. So, when I wake up after a dream that leaves my heart heavy and empty– the best response is to talk to the only true source of comfort, Jesus.

2. Laugh.
Sometimes the best medicine is simply to laugh. I mean, seriously, can you imagine Wal-mart carrying babies at greatly reduced prices? (I must have been reading too much on adoption costs at that point!)

3. Share
Telling your spouse your dream can help tremendously.  It may also free him to share his own dreams with you. I’ve also been known to call up a friend, or my mother, the morning after a dream that keeps plaguing my mind, and sharing it with them. I’ve found that just talking about it– reminding my heart and mind that it was just a dream can be helpful.

What about you? Have you experienced any “infertility dreams”? 

How to reduce stress with time management

This morning I spent twenty minutes in front of my calendar, iPhone at my side beeping and carrying on, my inbox open in front of me and I got to work creating my week.

Did you hear the special word in there?  Creating.  Just say it for a second:  c-r-e-a-t-i-n-g.

Every week we get the privilege to create our week because we have a say in how it will go.  We have a say as to how we spend our time.

If you would have asked me that a year ago I would have blown you off.  At that time I was addicted to and completely run by the three friends I mentioned above: iPhone calling to me like a ship lost at sea, my inbox barking at me for attention, and my calendar telling that I just didn’t have enough time.

It was exhausting.

Worn out woman accounting in the living room

There was no fun in it.  Things fell through the cracks all the time: forgetting about client appointments because I either forgot to enter them while answering an email, my google calendar hadn’t refreshed so didn’t save the new event, returning phone calls, running errands, sending things back to school with the kids and the myriad of other things I can’t think to put in here because I’ve already forgotten them.

And then I feel like a jerk.  Like pulling my hair out because it makes me feel unreliable when I forget things. And the result of that is more stress.  Which makes me think there really is no extra time. And then I am a jerk and my life is ruled by several different colored blocks in my day.

Until I tried something different.  I gave up resisting my schedule.

And saw miracles so exciting I have to share:

Miracle #1:

I created spending five minutes at the beginning of the week confirming my appointments for the week, fewer clients forgot their times and I had double checked on my end so there were fewer mistakes over here.

Miracle #2:

I took my nine colored categories and slimmed them down to five.  Family, paid client time, personal time, editorial calendar and self-care.  That’s all there really is in my life.  Clearly defined time with my husband/our girls and family, time with paying clients, personal development time (Higher Brain Living sessions, work with Landmark, tapping), editorial calendar time (writing, development, inbox), and self-care (exercise, acupuncture,massage/chiropractic, reading/writing, retreat).

Miracle #3:

I hired a virtual assistant eight weeks before the time I allotted.  We did a two-hour productivity session that got me clear on where I’m spending my time and where I need to spend my time.  We cleaned up my laundry lists and set to work a course of action that gets results.

Miracle #4:

I have waaaaay more time to freely spend doing everything I love.  And I have more time to do those things that need to get done (laundry, cooking,  housekeeping, errands) because I can clearly see where I have open blocks of time.

Miracle #5:

I feel very little stress compared to last year at this time.  I sleep better (and longer). I break out less.  I see more clients than ever before. When I am with our kids I’m actually present to their needs.  My gut checks me far more often than before, letting me know right in the moment if I am doing what I said I would or what I know should get done.

My ultimate new ninja strategy is structure.  I feared and resisted structure (insert toddler throwing a tantrum) because it felt so restrictive.  When I began to implement, I could feel the pull towards I Don’t Want To, yet the pull toward Your Life is Craving This won.

woman standing in sun

Structure bought me freedom.

So create for yourself a structure, and consider that by doing that you are creating your life.  Reach out to those around you who are in alignment with that and get the accountability you want to live the best life you have.