Dear BCF

IMG_0984Dearest BCF,

Some may say that I shouldn’t share this story, that it’s personal and should remain private. But your story, while short, is important and has made an inpact. I want the world to know that even if it was only for 11 weeks, you made a massive difference in this world. You made a difference in mine.

It was a year ago today that we said goodbye, but we really didn’t get the chance to have a proper goodbye.  It all happened so fast. One minute I was whispering words I could never live up to, “It’s all going to be ok.”, “I’ll protect you.”, and then the next, a kind and young emergency room doctor was taking you away.

I write a lot about the hurt that followed, the feelings of inadequacy and failure. I write about what it’s like to live in the 365 days since that horrible night. But I’ve never written about you. Who you were and what you brought to my life. While I didn’t get the chance to celebrate your birth and the subsequent years of your life, you are still one of my biggest blessings.  I remember the day we found out about you. We had plans to celebrate the end of summer with friends but I had this suspicion that you were there. I wanted to know for sure before we ventured out. I had taken a pregnancy test earlier that week and it had been negative. I had tried not to get my hopes up, but I really wanted to see that positive result. I remember being excited, scared and nervous as I waited for the result. I had daydreamed about this moment before.  How would I react? How would I tell your dad? How would we shape your announcement into our world?

I returned to the bathroom to view the results and there it was, the double line that started our journey together. You were real. It was finally happening and I felt an overwhelming calm come across me. I was beyond ready to welcome you into this world.

The weeks that followed were exhilarating. I rushed into planning mode. You know, that type-A personality that I can’t seem to escape.  I started with daycare and finances.  It was important to us that you be afforded the best things in life and provided the opportunities to thrive and discover who you wanted to be and how you’d make an impact.  We found the perfect daycare. It was just around the corner from our house. You’d be so happy there and we’d rest easy knowing you were in good hands while we focused on providing for you. The financial sacrifices came easy. We could give up elaborate vacations, nice bottles of wine, bi-weekly manis and pedis, new clothes, nights out with friends. You were worth it and we would make it work.

A few weeks later you gave us a scare and we found ourselves at the doctor’s office for an early ultrasound.  My heart was racing and I’m pretty certain I held my breath for minutes as we got our first look at you. And then we heard your heartbeat. The world stopped in its tracks. Nothing else mattered. I’ll never forget that sound and the tears that welled up in both your parents’ eyes. There you were. Everything was ok. You were healthy. This was just a fluke and there was nothing to worry about.  The ultrasound tech said so. She told us that the risk of miscarriage after hearing a heartbeat was extremely low and everything looked good.

I was suffering from a subchorionic hematoma, but it was minor and other than reduced exercise we were in the clear! What an enormous sense of relief.

The weeks continued on and we started preparing for ways to tell our families and friends. Your soon to be best friend was about to make her debut into this world and so we had to share the news with her parents, our best friends. We then waited to tell anyone else until I could join my mom for one of our Mother-Daughter weekends. I was looking forward to you and me building our own traditions like this. Time together where you’d feel comfortable sharing with me all of the things going on in your life. I’d offer the best advice I had to give. We’d share new experiences together and I’d be your biggest cheerleader guiding you towards your hopes and dreams.

The day before I left to meet my mom you gave us another scare. I found myself on the phone with the on-call doctor that evening, but the bleeding subsided and everyone seemed to feel confident that it was related to the Lovenox shot from earlier that day. With such a long flight ahead the doctor wanted to take every precaution to keep you safe. The blood thinning shots would ensure no clots formed on the flight. I was cleared for travel and headed out to meet my mom.

I arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday and she opened the “Blame it all on my roots” onesie we had gotten to share the news with her. It was the perfect way to tell your country music loving grandmother that she was going to have a grand-baby to spoil! We called my stepdad and grandparents. Everyone was so excited to meet you. We would call the other family members the next day and then tell the rest of the family at Thanksgiving, which we were hosting at our house. It would be perfect.

Mom and I had a great dinner that evening and enjoyed ourselves in Las Vegas, sans booze for me! We talked about registries, nurseries and all of the fun things we would all do together. I asked her if she would be there and spend time when you arrived and of course she couldn’t wait to be a part of your earliest days. She was already making plans for summers and winters in Tahoe.  You’d learn to ski, like I had learned to do at the age of three.

The next morning, we facetimed with Dad and he showed us the nursery he had finished.  He’d done such a great job building you a space that you would have loved. It was cozy and warm and we would make great memories together in that space.

Mom and I went to a great brunch and took a walk. I was happy. You were going to have such an amazing support system. You were one lucky kid!

After brunch I started feeling sick. We headed back to the hotel so that I could lay down and take a nap. An hour or so later I woke up. And, that’s when things started to take a turn for the worse. I wasn’t feeling normal and after a conversation with my OBGYN, it was obvious we needed to head to the ER.

I don’t remember when, but I knew that things weren’t going to turn out the way I had been planning. I knew that you were no longer a part of this world. You’d moved on and you’d left us for something far greater than we can imagine. I miss you, BCF.  I miss everything that we were going to do together.  I miss the things about you that I never got to know and all the experiences we won’t be able to share.

For the last year I’ve felt like I have failed you. I wasn’t able to protect you. I couldn’t give you the life that you deserved. I share our journey together with others because your life mattered. You have provided other people in our situation comfort in knowing that they aren’t facing this struggle alone. You’ve given them hope that they’ll find the light at the other end of that dark tunnel. You’ve given me strength to continue to make the days ahead count. 

Through the many sleepless nights and the days of agonizing pain, I’ve realized that I haven’t failed you. You are exactly where you are supposed to be, with God. And He has protected you from day one. For that, I am thankful and grateful. We will get to see one another some day and it will be a homecoming event like none other.

Until that day. All my love,

Mom

 

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#FuckLoss: Removing the negative stigma that veils pregnancy loss

Children of all ages wear bracelets displaying, “I (heart) boobies!”, #fuckcancer and #savethetatas messages take over social media, and men wearing “Save Second Base” shirts is a normal sighting during the month of October. But, there was a time when those sights were considered lewd or vulgar. Openly talking about breasts was considered taboo. The whispers, “can you believe she’s wearing a shirt that says her boobs are fake because the real ones tried to kill her?”, gasp! Those shocking gasps, however, continue today surrounding pregnancy and infant loss, which shares its awareness month with Breast Cancer.  That negative stigma women feel when they first experience the loss hangs over their heads like a dark rain cloud. That sense of feeling alone, ashamed and at fault are hard to shake.

It wasn’t until last year when I was affected by that loss, until I became a 1 in 4 statistic that the awareness month caught my attention. Much like when breast cancer awareness month began, Pregnancy and Infant Loss month exists to remove the stigma that comes along with miscarriage and other losses. It’s about bringing the reality of living with this loss to the forefront of the discussion and removing the things that we do as a society that isolate the women who are affected by it.  While there’s no amount of awareness about the issue that can take away the grief that we live with every single day, there is a way to change the conversation.

Stop shaming women

Not every woman wants to have a child. Stop asking the insensitive questions like, “do you want kids” and “when are you having kids”. Stop making us feel like having children is the natural progression in our lives. Parents, this includes you. Stop it with the never ending pressures you put on your children after they get married about when they’re going to give you a grandchild.

It’s no wonder women feel a sense of shame after a miscarriage or pregnancy loss. Society has tied our purpose in life with a desire and ability to have a child. We feel like we’re going against the grain if we can’t deliver a healthy baby.  We feel like we’ve failed as women and we carry that feeling of failure with us every single day.  We blame ourselves and we feel like we don’t fit in.

So, please, just stop with those questions. Remove them from the discussion.  They are not innocent questions.  They’re intrusive and they create a culture of expectation that’s impossible for many to live up to.

For those of you that continue to be pestered with those questions, remember this, your worth is not defined by your ability to carry a pregnancy to full term or bring a child into this world. You are worthy and loved by God and child bearing doesn’t define you.

Find ways to help honor the losses 

Ronald Reagan said it best back in 1988 when he declared October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month, “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.”

Help those experiencing miscarriage or pregnancy loss honor the life lost. While there might not be memories to think back on or pictures to remind you of that life, there are ways to remember. Some things that people did that helped us honor our babies – a butterfly bush, an angel wing necklace with the babies birthstones, prayed with us, brought by dinner, gave me time off from work. There may not be a funeral to attend but helping the parents feel like the life they lost mattered goes a long way.

Companies need to provide bereavement leave for miscarriage. It’s provided for losses of grandparents and parents and children, but not for miscarriage. That sends a message that you don’t recognize the loss as real.  Businesses will have a better employee return to work if you give them time off to grieve and find a new normal.

Share your pregnancy news when you’re ready and the way you want

If and when you are pregnant, don’t let our culture set the timeline or shape the story. Want to share a picture of the pregnancy stick the minute it shows a positive? Want to keep it private until you find out the gender? Not interested in making an official post on Facebook?  You do you. It’s not a requirement to wait until the 12th week to announce your pregnancy. You also don’t have to feel guilty about keeping it secret for as long as you want. This is your journey, your story to tell. Tell it your way, not society’s way.

Together, we can change the way our culture views motherhood, pregnancy and loss. Let’s make a difference!

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The Moment of Totality

Eclipse

Photo courtesy of Flashnick Visuals

There have been five times in my life when I remember experiencing an event that filled my heart with unconditional love. Continue reading “The Moment of Totality”

Why I stopped publishing blog posts

I posted on this blog exactly four months ago today. While I have continued to write every day since my miscarriage last year, I stopped publishing blog posts. I didn’t feel that I had any positive insights to share. Most of my writings were dark and depressing and I didn’t believe that they would give anyone hope. What I had written also seemed unfinished and I didn’t feel right about sharing. Instead of providing insights that would help someone continue to put one foot in front of the other, I had written a string of random thoughts without any silver linings. I made the tough decision to break my promise and I stopped my blog. It wasn’t a decision that I came to overnight but rather one of those things that happened gradually. On Saturday mornings I would sit down to publish a post and I would question the words on the screen. With each passing week the posts just did not make it to the blog.

Since my last post in February, life has handed me more than my fair share of heartache. Continue reading “Why I stopped publishing blog posts”

The Lenten Positive Acts Challenge

It has been entirely too long since I’ve published a blog post. I have at least 60 written posts but I haven’t felt like any of them are ready to be shared.  Frankly, they’re depressing. I’ve been trying to plug positives into them and to find a way to share the silver lining, but I’ve been struggling. I mean REALLY struggling. I’m not sleeping, still. It either takes me hours to fall asleep and then I get maybe two hours in or I fall fast asleep at 9pm and am wide awake by 3am.

But that’s not the purpose of this post.  I told myself today that I had to publish something.  Even if it wasn’t perfect.  Even if it didn’t follow my prescribed order. Continue reading “The Lenten Positive Acts Challenge”

Day 14: Vulnerable

After two weeks of soul-searching, uncontrollable tears, rage, nonstop prayers and a host of millions of emotions it was time, time to share our story. Today I hit the publish button on my first blog post and shared our story on Facebook for the entire world to see. I felt incredibly vulnerable in that moment. As soon as I saw the little orange notification on WordPress signifying the post was live, I stepped away to make another cup of coffee. In that moment while the Keurig made its whirring sound and I waited for my breakfast blend, I questioned myself. Had I done the right thing? What would people think? Would friends or family who didn’t hear the story from me directly be upset? Was I in danger of work colleagues walking on eggshells around me now? Maybe this was a bad idea. I needed a walk. Continue reading “Day 14: Vulnerable”

Day 13: Fierce Bravery

Over the last few days, I began sharing with people the story of my miscarriage. Someone told me that I was going to be okay because I was strong. They said that it must have been hard to go through the miscarriage, but even harder to talk about it and share my story. I was surprised by their perception of me. What was being said was kind, in the most innocent of ways. And I appreciated their words. But their opinion of how I was handling the circumstances and the reality of how I felt were so far removed from one another. Continue reading “Day 13: Fierce Bravery”