Monday, February 8, 2010

The truth about pregnancy loss

This is from a post I made on a rather large message board. I wanted to keep track of it because it was something I meant to capture in words so many times but avoided. I was finally inspired by a bit of drama involving "lurkers" on the loss boards. I wanted to try to encapsulate the feelings a woman experiences after pregnancy loss in a way that could help others learn to sympathize. After all, many of us who experienced loss have all experienced well-meaning friends' and family members' less than helpful advice and insight on the subject.

It might seem a strange juxtaposition to my last post, but hopefully it helps someone else voice their feelings.

"Pregnancy loss is real loss. Those who are here and those of us who have passed through have experienced death. It's not what society generally considers death, but that is only because society as a whole chooses to ignore pregnancy loss. It's uncomfortable, surreal, and scary for those who have not experienced it. There was no person, no life, no accomplishments to remember fondly and mourn. People do not ask about our babies. People often do not know about them. Society says things like "it wasn't the right time" or "it's better this way" or "God has a reason," and then they drop it and expect that it never has to be mentioned again.
But these deaths for us are very real. As real as the loss of any grandparent, friend, or loved one. The baby that no one knew was known by its mother, even if only for a moment. We carried these lost children, and we loved them. We loved them with a fervor that is matched by the love of any parent. We wanted them. We wished for them. We prayed for them. Some of us waited days in limbo to find out the worst. For others a moment shattered everything.
But for most of us, the mourning has been done alone. There is no funeral, no memorial to remember the life lost. Many of us experience postpartum depression in the cruelest of all tricks, because our pregnancies ended too. However, unlike those who society sees as having a "right" to PPD, there is no baby to be the light at the end of the tunnel. And because this death was not acknowledged, people forget. They tell us about their pregnancies, they avoid us because we're still "not over it," they call us out for having sad days or bitter days as though we should have more control than others over the grieving process.
I have the bittersweet experience of knowing all sides of the equation. I have been blessed with a child. I have lost pregnancies. I have been blessed again. I have known the sheer madness of grief, the pure joy of expectation, the momentary solace of hope in the face of uncertainty, and the crushing hopelessness of loss and it is enough to drive one insane.
May you never experience it. I truly hope you do not. I hope this is only something you can read and learn to sympathize with. That the next time you hear another woman say something bitter or roll your eyes at the woman with downcast eyes at your OB's office or lurk on another board that you look closer and see the pain behind these simple, insignificant moments and sympathize instead of criticize or condescend or preach to them." (1-3-10, posted on

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Choosing to Celebrate Life

Some of you may know that in 2008 I suffered a series of miscarriages. I'm fairly open about my experience partly because I feel it is important to share to help raise awareness about miscarriage and pregnancy loss. Sadly this week a friend lost her darling daughter at 33 weeks gestation, and I find myself contemplating loss again. I suppose the reality of there never being a safe point in pregnancy has been weighing on me and it's raised some interesting questions in my mind.

You see there is a school of thought that a woman shouldn't announce her pregnancy until she is out of the first trimester or had a good ultrasound. This will save her the heartache of having to "un-announce" should something bad happen. I've heard many women chastise expectant moms who tell too early as being "naive" or "ignorant." And those are the nice adjectives.

Now perhaps my experiences, which I won't go into too much, color my perception of this "rule." During my miscarriages, I didn't find out until I was nearly seven weeks pregnant and already miscarrying. There was no celebrations of those pregnancies. I only mourned them. I never got to excitedly plan a way to tell my husband and family or put my son in a "Big Brother" t-shirt.

So when I found out I was expecting Sydney early and with no signs of problems, I took an unexpected approach. I told. I told everyone. We put our son in a Big Brother shirt and over to my parents only a few days after I got the positive test. I told my friends. I announced it on Facebook. According to most, these are the cardinal sins of pregnancy after loss. I was supposed to wait. I was supposed to have blood tests and ultrasounds. I didn't do any of those things. I just celebrated.

I was scared. I'll admit it. But there was something liberating in sharing so early, as though I had carved a place for this child already and that no matter how long we had with this baby, her life was celebrated. In joy, I found calmness. Because the fact is, we don't know how long we will hold our children. Each moment we have with them is precious and for me those moments start when the "yes" appeared on the test. There is no magic event that guarantees a healthy pregnancy or baby. The loss of little Julia reminds me of this.

But why do I think its important to celebrate pregnancy? Simply because I know how easy it is to get bitter. I've been bitter. I've seen others become bitter. It doesn't serve anyone to hate those who announce a pregnancy early or post status updates on Facebook. And when the time comes, I hope joy and celebration win out over bitterness and fear. Because our time with our children from the moment we learn of their impending arrival and forward are fewer than we would like. There will be jobs and chores and errands all conspiring to keep us from spending every moment doting on them, even if we would like to.

As a mother, I've learned that children change quickly. In the bat of an eye, my son went from a swaddled, sleeping baby to a wild, willful toddler. As I mourned my pregnancy losses, one of the things that saddened me the most was the possibility that I would never be pregnant again, never hold a newborn, or see another first smile. I was mourning all the promise of those lives. Therefore it only made sense to me when the pregnancy test turned positive to start celebrating the promise of this child.

God willing in 6 short weeks, I will be holding a beautiful baby girl. For now I'm trying to enjoy the kicks and rolls, the way my belly button has popped out, and the many tiny baby items filtering into my home or out of storage. I've had 33 beautiful weeks with this child so far and many more to come.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What's making me happy right now: Co-Sleeping Pillow

I whipped up this beauty for about $20 last week. It took me about 3 hours and I couldn't be happier with it. I'm not sure if it's snuggling up to the cheerful pattern or the soft flannel, but it's so cozy that I'm using it now. I'm pleased to say that it really doesn't move much and the pillow doesn't flip or roll at all!