Thursday, December 28, 2006
Even faith-filled individuals can struggle with these questions or concerns. Here are how other parents are handling pregnancy after loss. Some of their stories are encouraging, others not so encouraging. Pick the meat from the bones and hopefully you'll read something that inspires you.
Pregnancy after Miscarriage
Faith through Loss
Thursday, December 21, 2006
I mean, we can't forget the past, but we can choose not to meditate on it, right? I've been reading through the book of Mark and am amazed at many people's simple faith. Throughout the book of Mark, Jesus tells people over and over ... don't fear, just believe ... your faith has made you whole ... ask, believe and you will receive. And he says we must have faith as a mustard seed, meaning once planted and nurtured it will grow exponentially.
When we're faced with uncertain situations like a pregnancy after loss, we can take the doctor's words, our bad memories and fears as a grain of salt. We can stand tall and full of joy knowing that God will answer our requests. Oh, this is easier said than done.
Many of you have read my story ... three babies all between 24-25 weeks - died - within a three year period. Today is the first day I'm sharing that I am pregnant a fourth time. In this pregnancy, I'm approaching the same point where I've experienced loss before.
You know what? I'm not giving in to the fear. I'm choosing to enjoy each day. I've given this baby to God months ago and I refuse to take him or her back. As long as I think my baby's survival hinges on my own effort ... that I have a bit of control over his or her life, there is room for anxiety (followed by misery!).
I'm happy to share that I do have peace and faith that I will hear my baby's first cry and I'll experience many, many years of such crying!
How I banish negative thinking
- Each day I make a simple choice: I will not compare this pregnancy to my last three. This IS a unique experience and the Most High God is protecting my child.
- I ask God to help me believe, when I feel in doubt. I also share my feelings (and fears) with trusted people who believe as I do. They encourage my faith and discourage doubts and negativity.
- I don't listen to those who want to share their fears with me about this pregnancy.
- I believe in the power of words, I will not allow myself to go on-and-on about the past.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The days passed and I felt such compassion as I loved on her and consoled her during a time of uncertainty. I felt nothing but optimism concerning her little one's full recovery and I looked forward to holding her when she arrived home.
Then the day came for her to actually come home.
This was a scenario with which I had no experience. I never had my own happy ending. I understood the emotional drama a NICU stay could create for a parent, but I never knew the joy of welcoming my baby home.
My heart filled with such longing. An emptiness crowded my initial joy for my friend. I hung back as they walked into the house with their carefully bundled baby. How would I react? What could I do to avoid the uncertainty of the moment?
My friend handed me the baby and a sweet hope pushed away my sadness and fears. She was beautiful and I knew in that moment my time would come, too. I can't see the future but Romans 8:25 says that if we hope for that which we see not, with patience we will wait for it (paraphrase). If we could see the future clearly, we would have nothing to hope for.
Until my hope becomes reality (and after!) I choose to create a life focused on a bright future rather than a painful past.
Oh, and my reaction? Yes, I did go on and cry my eyes out, but I shared my feelings with my friend which opened a dialog between us that we would have missed out on had I kept quiet. She was understanding and supportive and reinforced my belief that it is crucial to talk about how we feel instead of pretending all is well.
Friday, December 01, 2006
An innocent evening out, I supposed. Great food. Wonderful conversation and lots of well-wishes.
But then. The evening took an unexpected turn. The commander began to call all the couples who had babies during the unit's deployment to Iraq and he proceeded to hand them silver baby cups with a special engraving on the side.
My heart hung in the air. I silently, frantically wondered will they remember me? Will they mention our baby?
My more sensible side reminded me that no one acknowledges dead babies. It just ain't gonna happen. Not tonight, not never. But a mother's heart can't always reason - with reason.
As they moved on to the next part of the program, I saw there was still a silver cup up there ... my mother's heart rationalized that maybe they were saving Elyana's cup for the end ... the grand finale even.
My heart dropped and I felt my skin flush and the tears beginning to well. I tried the "oops I gotta fumble for something in my purse" trick and the "I'm going to focus on happy thoughts" trick ... but to no avail. I ended up in the bathroom crying my heart out. I sobbed those deep empty cries and promised myself that I would never forget her. I would always acknowledge her and I would always love her.
In my mind, I truly want to move on from the pain. I don't want to cry for my little ones anymore. I don't like to revisit the hurt of our losses. But you know what? Although I don't want to hurt and I don't want to cry I will allow myself to experience the ups and downs that come with the grief process.
Allowing oneself to feel is the only way to get through this season and return to wholeness. Although I don't experience constant reminders of Elyana's death, they will come at unexpected times ... like last night's event.
Sometimes a familiar song, the holiday season, viewing happy families or eating your favorite comfort food can trigger those uncontrollable crying spells.
Be gentle with yourself, always knowing you aren't alone in your pain and that joy does come in the morning ... but only if you're expecting it to make an appearance.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The date snuck up behind me actually. I thought I was just tired or overworked from trying to promote Stolen Angels. Then depression kicked in, but I attributed that to an ongoing disagreement with a couple of family members. I couldn't explain the uncontrolled crying or the ripping of my heart until I saw the calendar and realized I had the "blues"!
The troubling thing for me is that even with all my "know how" I had actually forgotten all the lessons I learned (and taught) about facing the one year anniversary. This tells me that every person should have a friend who can encourage and uplift them before, during and just after those landmark moments whether it be the birth anniversary, day your baby died or the expected due date.
I published more tips in Stolen Angels but, perhaps someone will have need of a few now. Here are three tips to get you through the one year blues:
Reach out to other hurting parents. Turn your hurt out, don’t keep it in! Grief will isolate you, if you let it. Just like you, other grieving parents need someone to hear about their pain as part of the healing process.
Continue to celebrate your life. Make a choice to enjoy your time on this earth. Any child would want that for their parents.
Find meaning in life. Sometimes staying busy through your usual job no longer cuts it. Aggressively seek out the meaning for your life. Try not to focus on “what happened?” but on “who am I now?” Neither of these answers comes easily, but asking what happened? may leave you stranded in the past while who am I now? speaks to your future.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
If you want to read more, the story was picked up by the following news organizations:
The Associated Press
News Channel 5, Nashville
Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY
News Channel 19, Huntsville, AL
Online City Guide, Honolulu, HI
The Ledger Independent, Maysville, KY
Saturday, November 11, 2006
On another note, I've been neglecting the blog for a bit. I apologize to all the loyal readers. I tell ya, my baby, Stolen Angels, is about to be born and I've gotten caught up in the excitement and preparation for her arrival! This book has been embraced by sooooo many! I pray that it'll be a blessing for all who seek answers between its covers. Check us out at www.stolenangels.com
Friday, October 27, 2006
Here's a few starter tips for getting your own book out of your head and into print:
- If you have been playing with the idea of putting a book together, share your ideas with a few close friends. If they seem enthusiastic about your idea, maybe you're on to something. Despite popular belief, most people aren't plotting to steal your ideas and turn them into books before you have the opportunity to take action. Besides, word of mouth is one of the greatest marketing tools in a writer's arsenal.
- After you have a great idea, do research to see what others have done on that topic. There are probably many books on the subject, but find a hole and make that your niche.
- Carry your research and writing materials with you everywhere you go. If you leave them at your desk with only a cursory commitment to "write when you can" ... more than likely that idea will remain just that - a great idea.
When you dig deep and allow yourself to feel - truly feel - healing will happen. As a bereavement counselor and friend, I have counseled countless women who've lost babies in more scenarios than I can name here. In my experience, those who spend time doing real grief work are most likely to heal. Those who hide or choose "not to think about it" or cry are more likely to suffer silently - for years and beyond.
I've been thinking about teaching an (Internet-based) writing class ... where I teach parents to write a heartfelt, professional version their baby's story. Would any of you be interested in such a class? I haven't worked out the details yet, but if you're interested ... shoot an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, check out some of the writers who've made Stolen Angels the healing work it's come to be. Just click on "Author Bios."
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I think of how many women have offered to be a surrogate for me ... My sisters, friends and even my Mary Kay consultant! I never took any up on their offers. I chose to suffer. Maybe it's due to my own fears, my hope to bear my own children or something else. I don't know.
I do know that I'm wowed by this couple's courage to trust and believe that they could - and would - have a family. Watch the clip here.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Asking "why" has been one of my life's most fruitless endeavors. Why brings zero closure ... it only keeps grief a gaping angry wound. I had enough anger to fuel Air Force One on a world tour ... I didn't need why's inflammatory presence!
So, why do we continue to ask why? Is it simply human nature? Or do we just like to occupy or time with empty ponderings?
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Aliza is the author of six books including:
- Babyfruit: The Miscarriage Poems
- PowerTools for Women in Business: 10 Ways to Succeed in Life and Work (ENTREPRENEUR), Cybergrrl @ Work: Tips and Inspiration for the Professional You (PENGUIN PUTNAM) and Cybergrrl: A Woman's Guide to the World Wide Web (BALLANTINE)
- The Everything Blogging Book
- Working Together Against Violence Against Women
- Everything You Need to Know about Placing Your Baby for Adoption
In this post, I'll detail why my faith has taken a beating in the past and how I've arrived at a place where I'll never lose it again.
In the past, I lost my faith because
I did not have a strong spiritual foundation. Sure, I went to church, I knew the basic facts about Jesus, I prayed and I even served on a ministry, but I didn't know the Bible's promises, nor what God's expectations were for me. I definitely did not have a relationship with Jesus ... I only had knowledge of him. I lived through others' perceptions of God (the Pastor, a teacher, a friend). I did not realize (or perhaps care about) the importance of spending quality time praying and reading the Holy Bible for myself... reading devotionals are not a substitute for spending time in the Bible.
I did not make a "til death do us part" commitment to God. My faith flapped in the wind. If times were good, I was a good Christian. When times grew unbearable, I put distance between me and the Lord. In those times I chose to "ease back into a relationship with him." In essence, any relationship that is sometimey is doomed to fail. I would never approach a relationship with my husband or best friend in this way ... why would I do so to the one who gives me life? The parable of the seeds that were planted, growing but then choked off by the thorny worries of the world described me perfectly.
I only saw God for what He could do for me. The most important thing God could do for me was bless my womb. Give me a baby. The end. I couldn't see the blessings He allowed to fall on me in spite of the fact that I wasn't even a very good friend. I wasn't even grateful that he gave me the gift of eternal life! What was I willing to do for HIM? What was I willing to do for others? Not very much, at that time. When my attitude - and my selfishness - changed, so did my perspective about God's goodness even in my trials.
I did not trust God, nor believe His promises were true (for me). I made up my own truth. In His Word He says All things work for the good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. I didn't believe that my losses could actually be for my good or that they could turn into something good. I didn't believe that pain and suffering established and strengthened a believer. I had to get to a point where I realized God's plan is bigger than my desires or my personal pain. My goal should be to overcome life's obstacles so that my life can be a blessing and testimony for others.
I was not a Spirit-filled believer. I genuinely believed that because I had prayed the "Believer's Prayer" all those years ago, that meant I was Spirit-filled and Heaven-bound! No transformation had taken place and my mind was certainly not renewed after simply praying aloud that I believe in Jesus and am sorry for my sins. It wasn't until I fell on my face and cried out to Jesus to save me, help me and fill me, that His Spirit was poured out on me. In that moment several things happened ... first a beautiful heavenly language poured out of me. Then, I felt new ... I didn't feel like the old gal I had been lugging around! Then, I actually developed a passion for the things of God. I wanted to love, share, teach and forgive. My life was transformed and others would stare at me and with a smile say ... "you are not the girl I knew last week! I actually like the new you!" Guess what? I like the new me, too.
In truth everything that caused me to stumble and fall away had a lot to do with not having a strong spiritual foundation. With the Holy Spirit's help, I have commitment, the desire for serious study and the power to apply Biblical principals to my life and I won't go back to the faithless gal I was before. I encourage you to not let tragedy keep you from obtaining the best gift yet ...
For "Without faith, it is impossible to please God ..." Hebrews 11:6
For more on Faith, its importance and how to cultivate it, spend time in Hebrews 11 and 12
Saturday, September 30, 2006
• “It,” “fetus,” “fetal demise,” “GBS baby,” “SIDS case,” “aborted fetus” and other medical jargon are unacceptable terminology in the parent’s presence. Instead use the baby’s name or terms like “baby boy,” “baby,” “little one” or similar.
• Patient care involves the physical and mental. Don’t get so busy tending to the physical that you avoid taking the time to just be there and listen.
• Talk to the patient about what they can expect to see, feel and hear before, during and after a miscarriage or stillbirth delivery. Describe how the baby will look and what the parent can expect from labor pain and the procedure for delivery.
• Never just hand a stillborn baby to his mother without cleaning and swaddling the baby in a blanket. Offer to take pictures. The parents will value these pictures later.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
This is just plain horrible and on the heels of the Shannon Beck fiasco. You know, there are parents who are doing what they can to make a difference in others lives after our babies have died. I must commend the 25 writers in our book Stolen Angels: 25 Stories of Hope after Pregnancy or Infant Loss.
Thank you for sharing your hope with others.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I think many of us long to find that commonality. This is why I think communities such as these are important to healing. I am a strong advocate of live support groups as well. We need to hear each others' stories. We need to pull strength from one another. We need to see success after others' sad cases ... I think it just fuels our hope and our faith. I believe in miracles. I've even experienced a few of my own.
Why then, is faith in God or in His ability to provide, the first to flounder when a string of disappointments strike? As believers, we already know we will suffer in this life, but perhaps we've related those sufferings to temporary "setbacks" like a lost job, a failed project or even a momentary sickness. We never suspected something permanent ~ like death ~ would creep in and destroy our happiness.
Question for the day: Does infertility, miscarriage or other losses mean a permanent end to our ability to hope, heal and hold on to faith?
I think not, but am interested in learning your thoughts.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Don't get me wrong ... I'm not justifying the crime, only saying I can understand it. Pray for Shannon. Given the wrong situation, no person is any stronger, any better or any holier than the other.
If any one of us were pushed to a particular edge, who's to say we wouldn't jump off?
Monday, September 18, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Sometimes I allow my mind to wander to how awful this part of our lives has been. At other times, I try to convince myself, that losing three babies wasn't the most horrible thing that could have happend. Like I said, survival-mode kicks in whether it makes sense to others or not.
As I tell others about why I organized our book, Stolen Angels: 25 Stories of Hope after Pregnancy or Infant Loss, I recount the facts but try hard not to allow emotion to creep into my voice. Our story is sad enough without me looking like I want to cry. Sometimes a good cry is in order!
You will also have moments when you just need to get through a painful day. Here our recent situations where it was either do (whatever is necessary to get through the day) or die (trying):
- Watching families reunite during the deployment ceremonies. Little children waving American flags while frantically searching for daddy. Mothers tending to babies in strollers. Siblings chasing each other around the airplane hangar. Fathers cuddling children. Pregnant women.
- Recently, I helped a young woman through the painful labor and delivery of her stillborn baby. Detachment was impossible although I couldn't fully "feel" or I would have been curled in a corner somewhere. The crash when I got home was unreal. It reminded me of everything I experienced when Elyana died.
- Overcoming conversations about kids like the following: Listening to other people jokingly tell me I can have one of their children. Especially if they know of our losses. If they don't know of our losses, it is survival-mode (ALL THE WAY!) when a person tells me "it's good you don't have children ... my goodness don't have any!" Or, the ultimate ... when someone asks if we do have children ... I say no ... then they rattle off back-to-back questions ... "why? Don't you want any?" "How long have you been married anyway?" "Are you trying?" followed by raised eyebrows and a thoughtful hmf sound.
- Wondering but never knowing when we will have children.
Share your "do or die" moments in the comments section or by e-mail.
P.S. I noticed recently that Blogger users can't post comments for BetaBlogger users (and vice versa) ... Please upgrade to BetaBlogger ... it's free and your site won't change, but many features will.
Friday, September 08, 2006
It was August 24, 2002 when I rushed to labor and delivery. I had been experiencing contractions and saw a bit of blood in my underwear. I felt panicked and my heart beat outside my chest. What is happening? I wondered to myself. Finally, I headed to a quiet, uncomfortable room to undress and wait. and wait. and wait. During the exam the intern abruptly stands and rushes into the hall. I hear her whisper that she felt the baby's head!
I was flipping out at that point. I interrupted their hallway conference to demand information. I was 23 weeks pregnant and didn't have a clue as to what would happen, why it was happening or anything. I didn't even know what to expect from labor because I hadn't taken my birthing classes yet. The doctor came in, examined me herself then presented a plan.
I was 3 cm dilated and the amniotic sac was bulging through my cervix. They would immediately put me in the Trendelenberg position (the head-down position), start an IV full of magnesium sulfate. Hopefully this combination would halt labor.
Once the drugs kicked in, I ventured into a world were my vision was blurred, speech slurred and my thoughts were in a fog. I could barely lift my arms or head, gravity was doing its job of keeping the baby's weight off of my cervix, but that meant my organs were weighing on my throat making it impossible to swallow or breathe. The drugs burned like a shot of hard liquor but I was determined to deal with it all if it would save my son.
A pediatrician told me Christopher would have only a 30 percent chance of survival if he were born at 23 weeks. Five days later his chances increased to 50 percent. Doctors would examine his little head for internal bleeding and his tummy and lungs for development problems. I held on to the belief that he would be okay. I couldn't imagine a life without him.
I loved Christopher more than I loved breathing. That's a lot of love. Love couldn't stop me from wanting ~ from needing ~ this agonizing season of torment to end. Lying with my head pointing towards the floor, struggling for breath, 5 days of pain-killer free labor, worrying about Christopher, my husband and my own health ... I couldn't take it anymore. God heard my cry, because Christopher was born soon after.
Christopher was born with a silent cry. He flailed his little pink arms and wrinkled his tiny face. He only weighed one pound, but my heart swelled with joy. I was a mother!
The neonatal intensive care unit staff rushed to put in a breathing tube before whisking my little man off to the NICU. That was his home for the next 10 days.
During this time he endured multiple blood transfusions, pokes, prods and other life-saving measures. One day he would be pink and vibrant, the next day his heart rate would drop into the danger zone. One moment he'd be ready to move from under the warming lamp, the next the medical staff was enclosing him in a protective tent. Ups followed by downs. The tension was unreal.
The pediatrician visited us with the latest news: Christopher had a grade 4 brain bleed which was the worst you could have. He'd be a quadriplegic, have cerebral palsy, breathing problems, severe learning disabilities, retardation and the list went on and on. He asked what we wanted to do.
The prognosis seemed grim, but I wanted to do all I could for my baby. I couldn't just "terminate"! I begged God for a miracle.
As I watched Christopher slowly decline, my mind learned what my heart could never accept: my son would die. Would it be prolonged by medicine or would I allow him to escape the pain of this world?
My husband and I went to the Lord in prayer. We begged for Christopher to just open his eyes and see his mommy and daddy. We needed to know that Christopher knew we loved him and most of all, we needed to know that God heard our prayers.
That day, Christopher opened his eyes and grabbed my finger ... he had grown so weak, he was agitated and my tender touch no longer comforted him. As my husband and I took turns holding him and parenting him, we knew it was time to say goodbye.
The skin on Christopher's tiny body had begun to break down, his breathing had slowed and tiny seizures wracked his little frame. His digestive system was failing and as he looked at me, I knew that prolonging this struggle with death was about us ~ not him. We didn't know how to let him go! We couldn't do it and didn't want to feel like we gave up on our son ... but love gave us the strength to hand him over to the Lord. That was the most agonizingly miserable choice I've ever made.
I helped the doctor disconnect the breathing tube and cut the life lines taped to his body. I snuggled Christopher in warm blankets and my husband and I carried him to an empty room.
Two rattled breaths later, Christopher was gone. He left this world listening to the very sounds that welcomed him 6 months earlier ~ my heartbeat.
This is when true agony began …
(Stay tuned for part 2 of this journey)
I can't believe it's been four years since we said goodbye to our 10-day old baby Christopher. As I sit here on this anniversary date it is oh so tempting to wallow in self-pity. To lash out at the unfairness of it all.
I'm a mother with no living children. The birth and death anniversaries of our three angels roll around, colliding in my head, the pain of a life without them hurts my heart and with all we've been through I wonder if I am justified in a bit of wallowing? I stumbled across a scripture* in John 16:21 which states (paraphrased) that a woman's joy after giving birth overshadows the pain and anguish she experienced because her child has been born. It would be too easy for me to stop right there and conclude that I am justified in my pain because I haven't yet experienced the joy of welcoming a vibrant child into this world.
I can't stop right there. It makes me feel so hopeless. Like I have nothing. I kept reading and found encouragement with what I found. John 16:22-23 reveals that now may be my time of grieving, but when I attain the greatest gift of all - life eternal - no one will take away my joy. And the best part: Whatever I ask in Jesus' name will be mine and my joy will be complete.
I believe the scripture and so I will present my requests.
Today I am focusing on the blessings and love surrounding me. Here's just a short list. Whenever you feel discouraged, break out a pen and paper and create your own list of blessings. It truly takes the focus off of self and places it where it belongs ...
- My hubby arrived home on Monday after a year in Iraq.
- Our love and relationship has deepened and intensified during this time away.
- We are financially secure.
- We both have vibrant health.
- God has blessed all that we've placed our hand to whether it is career or personal aspirations.
- I have a sound mind, wonderful family and loyal friends.
Please take a moment and share at least two of your blessings in the comments section ...
* The Bible is a living word, so the Holy Spirit may reveal interpretations that are relevant to our own lives. The literal meaning of this particular scripture was used as an analogy to describe how the disciples would feel before and after Jesus’ crucifixion/resurrection.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
What are your thoughts? Do you have a particular strategy for determining the "right time" to get pregnant?
AfterI hear from you, I'll post my own thoughts on the subject.
Until then ...
Friday, September 01, 2006
The question seemed simple enough, but based on her tone I got the feeling that she was earnestly trying to determine if this loss was a big deal or not.
I simply replied (gently) "It isn't important ... what's important is that my baby, whom I hoped for and loved is gone. It's turned my life upside down." At that point her tone filled with compassion as she said "I'm sorry."
My question is: Why do people (even those who have lost babies) assume that the baby's gestation somehow determines how much pain, loss and love you ought to feel? I know more than 50 women who have lost babies. I've heard many make statements like:
"Oh, I shouldn't feel like this ... I "only" had a miscarriage, but you've been through so much more."
"At least your baby wasn't full-term. I know someone who had an umbilical cord accident ... how terrible."
"I feel so out of place. I never even felt my baby move. I don't belong at this support group meeting."
"Well my baby was born healthy." (said in a superior tone of voice)
In the introduction of my book, Stolen Angels, I write the following:
Have you ever secretly thought it probably hurts more to lose a full term infant than say a baby 12 weeks gestation? If so, you aren’t alone. I think losing a baby feels a lot like a plane crash. Regardless of when the baby died, families still must wade through the same wrangled mess.
Imagine you are heading for the destination of your dreams. Maybe that location is Tuscany, Florence or Brazil. As you settle into your seat during the flight, sudden turbulence violently wrenches your lids open. You desperately claw the armrest and try not to peek while the sky falls past your window. There’s no escape, the plane is going down.
The impact is the same whether the airplane crashes just after takeoff, during mid flight, or when the Tuscan airport is in plain sight. No one would ever think, “Wow what a devastating crash! Well, on the upside, at least it happened only two hours into the flight!” The same is true for the parent whose baby has died. Regardless of gestation, death has stolen an angel from our wombs, our arms, our lives, but never our hearts.
Choose to reach out with compassion when a parent shares their pain. There are no winners in our circle. We all have lost.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
You are the source of my strength
Lift your heads ladies ... look toward the hills. It is where your strength to get through this storm will come.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Lemme tell you, I had myself fooled. I stated on many occasions that I didn't want to get pregnant ever again, blah-blah-blah. But that was before my period was missing in action! Of course, I rushed to the nearest online ovulation calculator and found that my hubby's leave from Iraq and my cycle were aligned perfectly. My pulse quickened. I began experiencing pregnancy symptoms. Other ladies' pregnancy announcements were met with glee because I was SURE I'd be sharing an announcement of my own. I felt redeemed. Finally, I'd be able to make up for what was lost when Elyana died. I felt so energized, so alive ... BUT.
Test #1 was negative. That's okay ... I rationalized. No biggie. BUT. Tests #2-4 were all negative, too!
I experienced such a surge of overwhelming sadness. No special announcement for me. No baby. No redemption. I grieved and cried for the child that wasn't. For the mother that isn't. I slumped into a funk and alienated myself from everyone.
I know, I know. All my family and friends are probably gasping in horror. How could I be so irresponsible, right? I kinda expect that reaction since my hubby and I lost three babies within a three year timeframe. I've written about Elyana who died in November 05, but our two sons were premature and survived for a time before they died. It's been beyond unbearable, but here I am still wanting to try again.
Does anyone understand this desire that can't be quenched by prayer, by reasoning or by chastisement from others? I think of my favorite "barren" ladies of the Bible ... Rachel, Sarah, Hannah and others. And what about those who had children, but they died? Lot's wife, Bathsheba and that one un-named woman whose child was brought back to life ... these women cried and pleaded with God for their children. I'm no different. This desire to procreate has been placed in me and I drown in sorrow trying to deny nature!
How is it that I survived such tragedy, such emotional death but I still want to do the very thing that has destroyed the simple life I once knew? I can't explain it, but I do draw strength and encouragement from the ladies who have persevered.
Here are their stories. I pray you gather hope from their struggle and triumph ...
Christine is a woman who suffered through seven miscarriages. Family, friends and even strangers told her that the number 7 means finality. Give up. Go home. Be happy with one child. For her, 7 was finality ... it signaled her last pregnancy loss. She went on to deliver two more babies.
Meredith is a woman who had 2 children then suffered 5 late term losses before going on to have 2 more healthy kids.
B.J. Lost babies at 16, 24, 32 and 34 weeks ... she went on to have 2 healthy babies. She didn't give up!
A Ghanaian mother had SIX full-term stillborn babies, but went on to deliver 4 healthy children. The woman's daughter's first baby was also full term and born still ... the daughter is determined to try again, as well.
What is it that makes a woman keep trying despite this crushing pain? Is it merely an unquenchable desire or is it something more? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Monday, August 28, 2006
"How many pregnancies have you had?"
"How many live births?"
"What happened to the other two? Miscarriage? Abortion?"
"Isn't this in my record?"
"Okay, so what are the ages of your living children?"
"I have no living children ... this is all in my record."
"But ma'am, you said you had two live births ..."
"They all died soon after birth! I have no living children. Isn't this in my record!!?"
"So ... let me get this straight ... um ..."
Sadly, I had to go to the doctor four times last month and went through variations of this scenario each time. Some nurses would try to guess my babies' cause of death ("Um, stillbirth, huh?"). Others assumed I had multiple abortions! One general practice doctor spent 10 minutes trying to troubleshoot why my babies died (although I explained I already had extensive testing from some of the best specialists in the field of high risk obstetrics). Then the doctor gave up and said: "You're young, you can try again."
Here's how you can gently educate your general practice medical staff without losing your cool.
- Go to the doctor's office with your guard up. Expect to have to answer annoying, hurtful or silly questions.
- Tell the doctor up front about your pregnancy(cies) and explain that it is painful having to answer question after question. State that the facts are in your record.
- Practice what you are going to say before you get to the office.
- Become familiar with basic medical terminology, so you aren't confused by the doctor's questions/comments.
- Know that some doctors are blunt and use impersonal medical terminology like "spontaneous abortion" and "fetus" because they don't want an emotional response to your experience. They may just want to do their job and move on to the next patient.
Share your own personal doctor story experiences with others by leaving a comment here. Post the good, bad and ugly!
Thursday, August 24, 2006
I know several women who have lost babies during this deployment and know I'm not alone in my misery. I know one young lady whose 6 week old infant died, others whose pregnancies ended at 11 weeks, 10 weeks and 19 weeks. Another young mom's one year old died after a tragic accident.
This is the other ladies' first times experiencing such a life-altering experience, so a large part of me ~ the old pro ~ wants to feel like I should be "over this" and a source of strength for them by now. I should be motivating and encouraging others at all times. I should constantly be reaching out to those who are still spending most of their days in bed. I should always be a sounding board for others' complaints and concerns. I should, I should, I should ...
By golly ~ It is so hard playing Jesus!
Well, enough is enough. I'm not playing the should've-would've-could've game anymore. I'm going to live each day to the best of my ability and continue to rely on God to give me strength. I don't need His strength to be source for others. I need His strength to continue pointing others to HIM ~ the source of my joy and strength! I realize that I can't carry others' loads and shoulder my own, too. I just can't.
So ladies, if you are anything like me ... take this bit of advice: Trying to be everyone's shoulder is an impossible job. Instead, encourage others to cast their cares on the Lord.
Jesus says: Come to me, all of you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NIV). Now it's up to us to follow this command.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
How would you respond if your parents refused to remember your baby's name, birth date or anniversaries?
What would you say if other people referred to you as "childless" because you have no living children?
Would you say anything if family members or strangers implied your baby's death was your fault? For example, when they say: "I told you to take it easy." "Maybe you should have waited before trying again." Or even, "What did you eat/do/not do?
Look forward to hearing from you!
Friday, August 18, 2006
Shoot me an e-mail or post a comment to share your opinion of the site, this story or if you have a question you'd like me to address.
Check out the staggering statistics:
4 million newborn babies die each year - world wide. Medical News TODAY
800,000+ women, in the U.S., experience the devastation of miscarriage each year ... that is 1 of every 5 women! Sound Medicine (The last 5 years there were 4,000,000 miscarriages!)
So ladies, we need to speak out about this thing that has traumatized our homes and the homes of millions of others around the world! This entry is directed to the parents who feel unable (or unwilling) to tell others about their life-altering experience.
Although many of us will never understand why tragedy has struck our homes, I think it is important to use our pain to help others out of their own pit of despair.
10 reasons why you should reach out:
- As women why should we struggle with our pain privately - forever?
- Think of 3 reasons why it is a bad idea to offer a tip to a mom who is devastated by the death of her baby? Take a risk!
- Doing well always comes back around. So does doing nothing.
- Reflect on how alone you felt after your loss. Choose to be there for others in their grief.
- Why not?
- Talking and sharing has always been a healing past time for women. Think of other, more trivial, topics you'll readily share. Reflect on how good it feels to offload that bit of baggage. The same is true for the major luggage, too.
- Take a risk (by opening this discussion) and build your own confidence.
- The more you talk about what happened, the less like a "can of worms" it will seem.
- As a Christian, we should develop a burden for the brokenhearted. James 1:27 speaks of visiting the widows and orphans in their afflictions. Is it too great a leap to say this love can include the childless, as well?
- Because you care.
How to reach out:
- When in a group of women we're always talking about our children. So, casually start a conversation that may encourage others to open up and share their experiences. Try: "when I had my miscarriage, I didn't know we'd be able to go on to have Mirabel and Joey." You'd be surprised at who else has a story to share.
- If you know of someone whose baby has died, immediately go to them (overriding your brain, following your heart) and say: "I also lost my baby/had a miscarriage. Do you mind if I call you later? You can also call me when you're ready to talk." Exchange phone numbers and follow through with the call.
- Simply say: "If you need a friend, or if you'd like to know how I worked through my pain, call or e-mail me."
- Sympathy cards with a message saying you've also experienced loss,
- Flowers with a personalized card "you are not alone",
- Starting a blog,
- Sending an e-mail to a grief-stricken parent,
- Visiting the bereaved (even if you barely know them),
- Writing a poem,
- Buying a preemie or miscarriage themed scrapbook online,
- Making a quilt square,
- Enfolding him or her in a empathetic hug, or
- Think of your own creative way to connect.
With so many of us affected by loss each year, there is no reason why even one mom or dad should feel alone after their baby has died. Reach out to one of the broken 4,800,000 women and their families today, and make a difference in your home, circle of friends, community and the world.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
In addition to working on STOLEN ANGELS, I have been playing "Mommy" to my two nephews. It has been wonderfully draining to experience two weeks in the life of a stay-at-home mother. These precious moments will be treasured and I look forward to when God blesses me with a crew of my own!
Just as God brought this book to pass, I have a renewed hope that my dream of parenthood will also come to pass. I recently found delight in a scripture passed along by an encouraging friend.
"He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD." Psalms 113:9 (KJV)
When the praises go up, the blessings must come down! When we sing praises to God, it causes him to move! Take a peek at one example of this miracle in 2 Chronicles 20:12-22.
PFG causes anger, depression, low self-esteem and more. Here's how it works. In your pain and anguish you may think he's probably better off with someone else. Someone who is normal or happy. Someone who can carry his baby to term, protect his child or get pregnant. Unlike you.
Later, guilt may cause this type of thinking to turn into a self-hate or low self-worth. You may tell yourself, I'm nothing ... I can't carry a baby. He doesn't really want me ... he wants someone who can bear children!
You don't feel good about yourself and begin to doubt his feelings toward you and yours toward him. You may even begin to resent your partner and grow confused by your feelings. Do I even love him anymore? Should we divorce and end this heartache? I can't stand that he's stopping me from getting pregnant again! Over time, the situation - triggered by the pain of grief, the fear of losing your mate and the guilt associated with infant and pregnancy loss - spirals out of control.
Under this type of stress, we may feel like we need to cut back on some of life's priorities. Many times, one or both partners incorrectly assumes their relationship is the area which needs to eliminated. WRONG! Do not throw away your relationship because you feel frazzled by PFG! The confusion and insecurities you experience are related to stress. And grief is very stressful!
Do what you can to divorce-proof your relationship. Choose not to make any major decision while feeling confused or stressed. Instead, use the next 6-12 months to work hardest on your relationship.
Communicate openly, understand the grief process, be gentle and gracious with one another, keep God in the middle and experience a stronger, long-lived relationship.
I know we have.
Friday, August 11, 2006
1. Things he may be thinking ... He may feel like he's carrying the weight of both your grief on his shoulders. He may think he'll make you feel worse by sharing his feelings or showing his emotions. He may long for things to go back to normal and for you to be happy. He may long for your tears to dry and your depression to fade. He may feel frustrated by your tears, constant sadness. He may feel like a failure. He may want to talk, but he's always forced to listen. He may feel forgetful or depressed. He may feel you've withdrawn your love and desire for him. He may resent the lack of intimacy and all the attention you're getting.
2. Society has trained men to behave a certain way. This often means that crying and public mourning are taboo. He's taught to be physically and emotionally strong, self-sufficient and unexpressive. He's been well trained to not seek help and to be a provider. As a result, sharing feelings may not come naturally. If this is true for you, try writing letters or have a "middle man" relay messages.
3. Your attachment to the baby may be different than his. Fathers tend to experience the pregnancy through what he can see, hear and feel. When a baby dies during early pregnancy, he has fewer experiences to connect the baby and self. His feelings may not grow as intense until near full-term or after the birth. He most likely sees the baby as an individual separate from himself whereas women may begin bonding from the moment that test comes back positive. She sees the baby as a part of herself; her thoughts are consumed by the baby and his or her well-being. Of course, every person is different, but this is the typical reaction.
4. His method of grieving isn't wrong. Yours isn't right. Sometimes our men have to contain their grief just to keep the household functional. Otherwise, while we're staring into space or stuck in bed, who else would tend to the bills, go to work, cook and take care of the surviving children? Some say the loss really hits the father after the one year anniversary. It is at this point that he may reflect (more often) on what he is missing. Feelings of anger, guilt and sadness may come out with intensity. Expect to take turns grieving.
5. Men redirect their energy. Sadness may surface as anger. Grief may be redirected to home improvement projects or problem-solving at home and work. He may become overly involved in sports, social groups or family affairs as a way of handling his loss.
WARNING SIGNS: Is your man struggling with his grief?
- Over-involvement at work, church, other groups, friends, family
- Increased alcohol or drugs
- Over-indulgence and doting on a surviving child
- No sexual activity for long periods of time
- Lots of talking, little problem resolution
- An affair
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
When answering, or choosing not to answer others' questions, I encourage you to follow some simple steps:
1. Don't attack the person. Extend grace.
2. Try not to defend yourself.
3. Know that it is okay to say, "I don't want to talk about this right now/with you."
4. Know that most people mean well, but words sometimes come out wrong. How many times have we been in a situation where we didn't know what to say or said the wrong thing?
How many children do you have?
- I have two children. One is 18 years old and the other is in heaven.
- I have three children, two on earth one in heaven.
- Four. Two that walk and two that soar.
- I have 3 children, Two are with me, ages 13 and 7, and my other is in heaven.
- I have none that run and two that fly.
- I have Three Beautiful Daughters, One still here with me and Two waiting on the other side.
- I have no living children.
I know how you feel.
- I am sure you may think you do, but honestly there is no way to imagine this pain.
- No you don't, but let me help you understand.
- Look them in the eye and say "God I hope you don't."
- No you can't possibly, and by the grace of God, I hope you never do.
- Oh, you've lost a child, too?
- I'm sorry, have you had a child to die? The loss of a child can't be compared to the loss of any other family member.
- Do you really? I am so very sorry! What happened to your child?
- Perhaps, but unless you've lost a child, I don't think you do. Grief after the loss of a child is very different from grief over the loss of your parents/spouse/pets.
- Choose to make no comment.
You need to get over this.
- I don't ever see myself getting over this. "This" is my son/daughter, a part of me.
- Having your child die is something no one should ever have to "get over."
- Funny, the entire country is allowed to mourn the death of Elvis 23 years after his death, yet you ask me to get over the death of my child. I will never get over his/her death, but I will go on. Walking through the door of grief and not over or around it.
- How do you propose I do that?
- He/she was my son/daughter, he/she was real, this is something I'll never get over.
- I will never get over it. Would you if you lost your children?
- There is no timeline to getting over a loss of a child. It will be with me forever.
- This is not a cold, this is the death of our only children.
- I'm sorry, I will never get over the loss of my child, I have learned to live with it.
It's time to let go and move on.
- This is my first time dealing with the death of one of my children. Grief doesn't come with a handbook on "the right way" to grieve. I do what I have to do to get through each day and until you have spent one day or even one minute in my situation, please don't tell me what I should do or how I should be acting by now. My life has changed forever, it will never be the same again, I am doing the best I can to keep moving forward and yes there are times when I fall backwards and have to start all over again. So please just be patient with me and try to understand this is something I have to work through - my way.
- I shall hold my son/daughter in my heart forever. So there is no letting go.
- I have been moving on ... but let me tell you its hard to let go. They were my children.
- Letting go? No, you can't let go of a person you loved. You carry that love with you always.
- Moving on? Every day we "move on", but that doesn't mean we forget!
- I have no choice but to "let go," but moving on is a slow process.
- I choose go on and embrace the wonderful memories, keeping her alive.
You need to find a hobby.
- I have many wonderful hobbies. But not a day passes where I do not miss my son/daughter.
- No matter how many hobbies I have, I'll never forget my son/daughter.
- You don't replace a child with a hobby. I do have ways to keep me busy, but my child is always on my mind.
- I have many.
Shouldn't you be over your crying now?
- I don't know, this is the first time I have had to deal with something like this. But I don't cry as much as I used to.
- Maybe I should, but this is the best thing I can do right now.
- The crying will ease over time ... but there is no time limit on grief.
- Maybe, but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my girls, and my grandson.
- I choose not to explain my reason for tears over my child to you at this point.
At least you have other children!
- While that is true it doesn't stop the pain and sorrow of losing my son/daughter.
- And my son/daughter is one of my children, I miss him/her every day.
- I am thankful for all of my children but my heart aches for the one no longer with me as well.
- Yes, I do, but there is an empty space at our table every night where my son/daughter should be and an empty spot in my heart.
- Yes, but another child doesn't take the place of the one you lost. They each have their special places in your heart.
He/She is in a better place.
- That knowledge brings me little comfort. I long for the life we would have had together here.
- Yes he/she is and it does help knowing that he/she is, but I want him/her here with me.
- Yes, the Christian in me knows that, but the mother in me wants to hold her son/daughter here.
- There is a better place, but the best place is in my arms.
- My child is in Heaven, but I'm a Mother and I feel that no place is better than here with me.
- Yes, I believe in Heaven, but it doesn't ease the emptiness of the here and now.
- Yes they are, I have no doubts. But I would rather they be here with me.
He/She only lived two years, my son/daughter lived 22. I lost more.
- You may measure the amount of love you have your child with time, BUT I DON'T.
- With an older child you have so many more memories and sometimes the memories are the only thing that keep me going. The pain is the same.
- We were all cheated when we lost our children.
- We're both experiencing the worse pain we've ever faced.
- I am sorry, for your loss, but please don't diminish mine, its just as painful.
- No matter what the age, the grief is just as intense. You cannot measure one person's grief against another's -- everyone grieves differently.
- No matter the time you had with your child, you never fully got to know them, and that is the sharpest cut of all.
If it were my child I would no longer be on this earth.
- There was a time when I didn't think I would survive this either, I used to feel the same way as you, but I don't have any choice.
- I thought the very thing at one time. But we have no choice but to remain here, that is one reason it is so difficult!!
- I'm sorry you feel that way and at times I felt that way, but somehow we go on.
- You survive the only way you can ... by the grace of God and the support of your family.
- Your other living children help you to get through each passing day!
- That thought crossed my mind many times. Thankfully, I was expecting my second child and I knew that he deserved a loving mother also.
But he/she is finally really happy!
- Oh, my daughter/son was very happy with her/his family, really happy.
- Yes, but my child would be happy here with me, too.
- He was very comfortable with us here on earth and I only hope he is just as happy where he is today!
- Choose not to comment.
He/She was an Angel on Earth - not meant to be here.
- God doesn't make mistakes. He/She was meant to be and I am so thankful he/she was no matter how long I had him/her.
- Yes he/she was an angel. But I think by getting pregnant he/she was meant to be here.
- My child was meant to be! He/She was a gift to me from God.
- God could never punish me like that. It was by his hands that I survived here on earth than the human hands that took my child from me.
- He/She was certainly meant to be here, even if his/her visit was but a short one.
- Please show me that passage in the Bible.
He/She wouldn't want you to cry.
- Crying is part of grieving and healing and should/must be done.
- Probably not, but he/she understands.
- Maybe not, but crying is better then being angry with everyone around me.
You'll have to excuse me. I'm a little selfish and I want him/her here.
- Perhaps, but crying does make me feel better.
- My child was only 18 months... I'm sure he/she wouldn't understand the tears I shed for him/her, but somehow I doubt that he/she wouldn't want me to mourn his/her death.
- I'm sure they wouldn't.
Time will heal.
- Time won't heal this hurt, only God can do that.
- I have heard that too and I am waiting, I'll let you know.
- Time only allows you the grace to find a place to go on living.
- No, time doesn't heal, it just makes it easier to cope.
- Time is not what heals, though it does dull the sharpness and frequency, thankfully. But when you are newly bereaved you don't need to keep hearing that over and over because it negates the immediate feelings that you are having.
- Time does ease the Intense pain, but the deep scars are forever.
- Time also punishes me.
This is killing you.
- No it is not killing me, it is hurting me.
- No, it's making me a stronger person.
- No, I'm very much alive. It isn't that simple.
- Maybe slowly, but somehow I will manage.
- Yes, in a way it is a death inside to have one's child die.
- There was a time I wish it would, truly. But no I am alive, at times the walking dead, but alive.
- As time passes you shall notice that a part of me died with my child, you will mourn the "Old me" you once knew, accept the "New me," or choose not to.
How did you live through this?
- What choice do we have? We had to live through this or give up. I chose to live.
I don't know how you carry on, I know if it was me that I couldn't. At least your child lived one-fourth of his/her life.
It was God's will. (God does not close a door without opening a window)
- No, God doesn't try to cause us pain, especially pain like this.
- My God would never purposely hurt me like this.
- Now please explain to me why God would tell you about his plans for me and not tell me?
It is? Why?
- It may have been His, but not mine.
- Yes it is God's will. Doesn't mean I have to be happy about it, or that I don't hurt because of it. God's will is not our will, but I do trust that He knows what He is doing!
- Everything is God's will, but we don't always like it. I realize as a child of God that I should accept His will for my life without question, but I am a frail, fragile being, whom He created, and I want to scream "Why" till the rafters shake.
- A lot of things are God's will, but Jesus himself wept in the garden.
- Not the God I believe in.
You're a strong person, God knew you'd be able to carry this burden.
- Strong people still bleed and believe it or not their hearts still break.
- I don't know about strong, just doing what I have to do to live each day until I can see my child again.
- Well it is no burden I wish to carry, thank you.
- I am not strong, I am just surviving and trying to do what I am need to do. You wouldn't say I was strong if you see me when I really fall apart and can't stop crying.
- How do you know that is what he thought?
- Yes, God did. I didn't. Not for a very long time. It's been years since my son died, but his death was the catalyst for many good things. But right after my son's death I was not ready to accept that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose." I needed to rant and rail. Thankfully, He was patient with me.
- I would take innocence over that particular brand of strength any day. Wouldn't you?
- The death of a child is not a burden, it is DEVASTATION, and God has seen me through, not choosing me as a burden carrier.
- Strong is an understatement.
- Truly I am so very weak, torn and bruised, hiding behind a mask of some sort, one day I hope I may remove it in your presence.
I won't ask/can't talk about your son/daughter. It makes me depressed.
- I wish you would, it makes me happy when people take the time to remember my son/daughter.
- I'm sorry if my life depresses you.
- I'm sorry you are depressed but telling others about my child eases my depression and lets me share him/her with you.
- It's too bad that you feel that way. I, on the other hand, listen to each milestone little (insert child's name here) achieves despite the pain it causes me, because I care about you.
- Do you enjoy talking about your children? I want to talk about mine also, I'm sorry it makes you uncomfortable but even though their not here with me they are still my children.
- Then please, by all means, don't contact me for a while.
- If you feel bad, imagine how I'm feeling.
I don't want to hear about your son/daughter or about his/her grave. I want to hear about you. How are you?
- I am sad and missing my child. Please do not act like he never existed. Cause he/she did to me.
- My child was such a big part of me, that I can't tell you about me without mentioning him/per as well.
- I am miserable, because I miss my child and nothing can make this awful pain go away.
- That is a part of me. If you don't want to hear about that, then you don't really care about what I'm feeling.
- People don't want to hear how we really are.
- You won't like the answer.
When will you try again? Have you considered adoption?
- That is something my husband and I will decide together.
- I haven't thought that far ahead yet.
- I want another baby, but need to grieve the loss of this one first.
- All things are in God's timing.
- That's a personal question.
- I don't want to discuss that right now.
I listed the best responses to dumb-idity here. For the complete list of questions and answers on the Bereaved Parents website, click here. If you have a question to add to the list, shoot me an e-mail and I'll poll the long list of bereaved parents in my circle.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
I haven't felt that way in a long time and you don't have to hold on to such feelings either. Choose to embrace the opportunities to love on a child. Although our hearts and souls long for our baby that has died ... give yourself permission to enjoy the healing that cuddling another child can bring .
Last week, I spent time with my neighbor's six month old daughter. Lemme tell you, it has been such a joy to play auntie for a few hours. It is the first time in a year that I've let myself feel the full enjoyment. Now my nephews (ages 4 and 8) are here and it's like playing mommy for two weeks. I feel right at home doing the stay-at-home mom thing and am grateful my sis trusts her babies with me.
I'm going to get what I can, while I can. You should, too.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
1. It can have you in a choke hold, but you wouldn't even know it. It won't let go after a day or even three ... Depression holds on for weeks at a time.
2. Its mental and physical symptoms lull you into believing you can beat it by yourself.
3. It'll trick you into thinking a little drinky-drinky or a pill or a puff are a good idea.
4. Too much bad food seems "okay" when Depression is whispering the instructions.
5. Depression will trick you into actually believing you can't get out of bed because "you're just tired."
6. It steals the taste of food from your mouth and robs you of your appetite.
7. It convinces you that you hate the activities you used to enjoy.
8. Depression screams in your face: "You're worthless, hopeless, and GUILTY!" and you believe its lies.
9. It will cajole you ... "Go ahead take the pills, cut yourself, end your life ..." and you'll entertain more lies.
10. Depression will talk to you all night so that you can't sleep a wink.
Listen, don't try to wrestle with Depression on your own. Definitely do not try to self-medicate with alcohol, prescription or recreational drugs ~ those "remedies" can only worsen the situation. If left untreated, Depression may take over your mind and body and cause you to do something you won't be around to even regret (we're talking about suicide ~ definitely not an option!). Here are a few things you can do to get an anti-depression SWAT team together:
Contact a trusted friend and ask him or her to look out for the symptoms listed above. Visit the National Institute of Mental Health Website and read about the symptoms and treatment of this disease. There are several types of depression, so diagnosis is best left for the professionals, but your friend can help encourage you to seek further care.
Plop open the Yellow Pages to find a professional in your area. Or find one online here.
Pray. This really should be number one on the list of remedies. I can't tell you how many times, I felt literally chained to my bed and none of my friends or family answered their phones. All I could do was cry and ask Jesus to help me. PLEASE! Within a few minutes I was either ushered into a peaceful sleep or a friend would call, and on many occasions, my dog came up and snuggled against me. Just that bit of love helped me to know God heard my plea and he comes to my aid.
I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me. Psalm 120:1, NIV
Friday, August 04, 2006
It is really awkward trying to act normal when I couldn’t help but feel something because they were happy and pregnant and I wasn't. I still go through that sometimes. I feel like I have to be chipper all the time, so they won't feel uncomfortable with my sadness. But I can't help but feel sad. My reaction to their pregnancy can't help but be bittersweet. In saying that, here are some tips for walking that fine line:
Find a support group and offload your deepest emotions with that group of friends. Why? Because they can relate and you don't necessarily want to burden your pregnant friend. Our hurt, pain and blow-by-blow re-telling of our loss are a burden for anyone, but it's so real for a pregnant person because the same thing could still happen to them. Yes they are your friend and yes, they want to be there for you BUT ... wow what an awkward position for you both to be in!
If your pregnant friend wants to share everything with you, but you feel sad when she does ... keep the conversation short. No need to be rude, but no need to suffer either. At another time, when you are feeling a bit stronger, tell your friend (gently and with love) that because you're still struggling with your loss, it's better if you be the one to initiate conversations about her pregnancy. Tell her you want to hear about her life, but right now this is really awkward for you. Then ask her how she's been feeling about your loss and your relationship.
Find a constructive way to release your emotions. If you want to avoid one of those epic blow up moments when you scream, "I JUST LOST MY BABY! WHAT DO YOU THINK IS WRONG WITH ME, STUPID?" before slamming down the phone ... please find a way to release your pain. Exercise, writing in a journal, talking to a supportive friend/counselor, or even starting your own blog are all good options. Revisit the first tip: join a support group! It really does help.
Because so many friends were pregnant and due around the same time as me ... I still experience a lot of pain that I don't share with them (instead I run, journal and hack at the plants in my garden). When I hear from them, we always talk about their babies, but I sometimes wonder if they've forgotten about me. Maybe they're scared to bring it up. Or, maybe I'm really good at pretending I'm okay. So here’s tip number four:
Don’t pretend you are okay, when you are a sniveling mess on the inside. People will believe you and leave you to your secret tears. We ALL need support in times of grief. Trust me on this one.
So, where did all these pregnant ladies come from? Who cares. One day somebody will be thinking the same thing about you. And maybe even me. So chin up, shoulders back ... a brighter future is just a season away.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Grief has been described as a roller coaster of emotions, a wave that engulfs you, an ever-changing sea of experiences, and a place with no ceiling, floor, walls or protection. C.S. Lewis experienced grief as feeling like fear itself. Whatever our experience is today, we begin to learn that it will most likely be different tomorrow. This is not about clear, predictable "stages."
Rather, it is a natural process of dynamic changes with the power to ebb and flow as it may.Amidst a culture overcome with demands, expectations and stress, it can be difficult to be attentive and intentional about our grief process. Some believe it can wait, while others make great attempts to avoid it. Know that grief will not be pushed aside or denied. Attempting to postpone this grieving is merely postponing the potential for healing.
Another frustrating characteristic of this process is its ability to wait and fester. This intruder will grow in intensity and has the potential to create more misery in the interim. It has the capabiltiy of robbing us of a sense of reality and energy for others and ourselves. It can take away our ability to forgive. It has the potential to rip away our sense of self and the desire to live.The challenge before us is to begin simplifying our lives, acknowledging our losses and making space for our grief. Time spent exploring these life realities can quickly help us re-prioritize what we do and who we are.
How much time do I spend each day acknowledging and taking care of myself?Is time spent with others who truly care about me and help me in my process?Am I able to delegate certain tasks and responsibilities to others?Do I take time for myself to promote a sense of calm, healing and growth?A final approach in this grieving process may be to explore "what helps?"
Your list may include some of the following:Caring and validating people, journaling, creating a memory book, reading, creating a place of sanctuary, therapeutic environments (individual, family or group therapy, religious affiliation), new exercise ideas (walk, run, swim, bike), spiritual journey, meditation, new openness to fun, being expressive (talk, cry, laugh), etc...No one can tell us how or how not to grieve. This is a unique and personal experience. Allow yourself the time and patience your grief may demand.
This grieving journey is like the seasons of change in our very soul - fall, winter, spring, and the renewed sense of hope and courage in the summer of life.
If this sounds like you ... then you have a bad case of the Baby Blues:
Your life has become a sequence of events. Eating, sleeping and hoping for a baby.
Your desire for a baby is stronger than your desire for air.
You live to have another baby.
Every intimate moment with your partner causes you to wonder if this will be the time ...
Being around other families sends a knot right to your throat (and it always seems to happen at the grocery store).
Your thoughts about having a baby have consumed you. Beware anyone who stands in your way of achieving that goal!
You fantasize about your own baby shower, but you aren’t pregnant.
You buy baby items, but you aren’t pregnant (but you will be, darn it!).
You dream about babies then wake up and cry, because it was only a dream.
You've toyed with the idea of kidnapping ...
You stare at pregnant women. You notice them everywhere.
It seems like every woman is pregnant - except you.
You haunt the adoption websites.
You have your ovulation cycle memorized.
At your follow up appointment, you could care less about your personal health ... you just wanna know the answer to this question: When is it okay to try again?
I've spoken to countless moms and they all say the same thing: Having another baby does not replace the angel that died. Another child will not stop the pain, shorten the grief process, or fix the void in your life. Moms have said that caring for other children does give an outlet for their love and it provides a distraction, but at the end of the day, when the kids are tucked safely in their beds ... the grief monster waits.
After my first loss, I obsessed about getting pregnant again. I charted my ovulation cycle, I made baby-making a serious business. Three months after Christopher died, I was pregnant again. Initially I felt joy. Then came anguish. I worried, fretted, fussed, cried and we had a whirlwind of bleeding, surgeries, weekly appointments, 10 weeks of bedrest, abnormalities discovered then cleared up ... the pregnancy ended in an emergency C-section at 25 weeks. Kasimir was vibrant, 2.5 pounds, breathing on his own and ready to feed when a capillary burst in his lung. He died the same day.
Please take this bit of advice ... it may spare your sanity later. Completely grieve your first loss before pursuing another pregnancy, adoption, surrogacy or whatever method you choose. Your next bout with parenthood will probably go just fine, but make sure you are emotionally stable enough to handle the what if factor. Getting a baby before you're done grieving may result in that other type of Baby Blues once you realize that this child isn't the one you were really after.
Tell me about your experience with the Blues. What has helped you through this stage? I'm convinced the only way through it is to spend time providing a constructive outlet for your grief. I wrote in a journal, exercised, focused on my spiritual well-being and redirected my love (to my husband, friends and even my dog). I did go to counseling and developed new interests. I also went back to work doing something I loved. Before I knew it, my obsession dimmed to a strong desire. That desire is still with me today.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Sadly, I'm a grief expert. It's been four years since our first brush with infant loss and 8 months since our last. I've talked to countless women who are facing what you are facing now and lemme tell you, most moms usually feel like a failure after their baby has died. Her self-esteem really takes a beating. In her mind, she failed at one of life's most important jobs ~ protecting her baby. Why add junk-food pounds to an already lowered self-image?
Just keeping it real ... there is a difference between holding on to a little after-the-baby-weight when you have a baby to show for it. Everyone is very understanding about that. For me, when I had nothing to show for all those hips and curves, it's like I was fat for no reason. I felt this constant urge to explain or "apologize" for how I looked and the extra pounds, compounded by my "failure," made me feel absolutely worthless. Here's a more constructive way to relieve stress:
Hey ... I still indulge in my cookie-fix, but I balance it. Every morning I walk my dog and I also started running again. Exercise has been so therapeutic for me! Charging up hills 3 days a week has made my body stronger, built my confidence and has slimmed everything from the belly button down. For a customized running plan visit www.runnersworld.com then click on “Training.” I also have increased my veggies and fruits. My goal is to hit at least 5 a day. Visit www.5aday.gov/index.html for tips about how to squeeze 'em in. Finally, I pay close attention to my blood pressure and have recently gotten my cholesterol level checked.
Today, I reached for the break n bake cookies, but I really should have cried out to Jesus in my despair. After spending the last two days with other people's children, I felt so aware of my childless state. I felt the painful emptiness coursing through my body and I said to myself hmpf. I deserve a treat. Those cookies sure do taste good, but they can never fill the hole left in my heart and my life. Only Jesus can do that.
I'd love to hear about how you are handling your loss. Shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.
P.S. Later today I really will tell you about Stolen Angels and maybe I’ll even tell you my real pants size …
Monday, July 31, 2006
I was 6 months pregnant with our miracle baby. Although we had lost two infants previously, we KNEW Elyana would be different. So, we gave her a name which, in Hebrew, means my God has answered. We were right, Elyana was different and God did answer.
The week leading up to the doctor's appointment, I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I couldn't get Elyana to move. Every now and then she would oblige my constant poking and prodding with a lazy flutter, but that was it. Then one night she gave one frenzied flip, and then she was still. Later, I wondered, was that her last moment? I'll never know.
The next day, at my regularly scheduled appointment, the doctor searched and searched, but couldn't find life in my womb. If he would have listened a little longer, he would have discovered my heart stopped beating, too.
I sat there frozen and stupid. How would I tell my beloved husband? He was in Iraq and had looked forward to our family finally having a new addition. Every day, my man would defy sleep so that he could see my swollen belly and marvel at the miracle inside. He would devote letters to his precious daughter. Sigh. I knew he'd be waiting for an update after our appointment. You see, this couldn't be happening because we had prayed, we had cleaned up our spiritual lives, and we wanted this more than anything! I could not deal with a third loss! No! No! NO!
The doctor tried to tell me important details about our next steps ... NO!
All I wanted to know was what do I tell my husband? Did he have a script for that? NO!
I remained calm ... one of those scary calms. It made the doctor wonder if I'd try to "take myself out" NO!
I actually managed to drive myself home, walk to my neighbor's house and borrow her Doppler. I wanted to listen for myself. I cried and prayed - on my face - begging God to turn this around. He whispered that He would never leave me nor forsake me. Oh, but I felt so forsaken. We were in a new house, new state and I only knew my neighbor - who was pregnant and on bed rest. Then there was my husband. Waiting for an update.
I logged on ... there he was. Waiting. "How was your appointment?" He asked. I wrote back that he should call me. It wasn't good. He called me in like 3 minutes. I told him that Elyana had no heartbeat and the doctor said I would have to endure labor and could not have a C-section. (NO!) My honey was quiet and calm. He prayed with me and told me to contact the doctor and schedule the delivery. Done. Red Cross message to husband: Done. He'd be home ASAP.
There I was feeling forsaken in a place where I knew no one. I called the family readiness leader (It's an Army thang) but she was going out of town and couldn't pick me up from the hospital. The doctor said the labor would be about 6-8 hours then I could go home. I could only cry. I would have to deliver my baby - my dead baby - alone and I wouldn't even have a ride from the hospital. NO!
A woman called me, said she heard about what was going on (through the lady I called earlier) ... she asked if I wanted her to be there with me. What I was enduring was so personal, so scary, so horrible ... but I told her yes. This is where God showed me His loving kindness although I felt abandoned. This woman (we'll call her Mary) held my hand through it all. Those 6-8 hours of labor, morphed into 33 HOURS but she stuck with me. She listened, cried and distracted me with her own heartache. She coordinated my miserable life from that hospital room and made sure the doctor's and nurses were on top of their game. Although she didn’t know me, Mary showed me God’s love. And it’s changed my life.
My sister also went into debt - huge debt - to get to my side the very next day. Sad to say, she went from airport to my hospital room where we both witnessed the most tragic nightmare come to life. I won't relive it blow by blow, but the blood, suffering and agony were more than any of us wanted to endure. Throughout all of this, I prayed and cried ... for I know that anything that is allowed to happen to a child of God, work out for their good.
How can my baby's death turn into something good? I’ve found that God’s plan for my life is bigger than my own plans for my life. What I’m going through, have gone through and will go through aren’t about me. This trial has strengthened me and caused me to reach out to others and share Jesus with them. I’m able to accept my lot because I’m intent on submitting to the authority of the Most High God. Peace is slowly filtering into my life … I’m strengthened by joy and motivated by love. But it really is a massive struggle. Nothing has come quickly or easily, but I have hope.
The longest, most complex, most often asked question in the world is WHY? I’ve finally learned that there are some mysteries that will be revealed only when we reach Heaven.
Tomorrow, I’ll fill you in on some simple steps for staying sane through your most heart wrenching trial! I’ll also tell you about my labor of love … STOLEN ANGELS …