Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How a Little Known Therapy Changed My Life

When I found out I was pregnant in Novemeber 2010, I was shocked by my reaction. I was so stunned it was as if I had been slapped. I felt tremendous guilt because I never imagined I could have the feelings I had after all the losses we had endured. How could I not be happy and grateful for this blessing? What was wrong with me? As I dug deeper, I discovered that there still lingered fear. Memories rarely die, and my heart, mind, soul, and body could remember all I had endured during each pregnancy. I was not physically, mentally, or spiritually ready to endure all that again. I broke all my own rules and allowed worry to consume me to the point where I fell into a depressed state. I had studied a therapy we'll call EMDR for short. (It actually stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Another therapist shared that he had learned about the therapy after his own son had died and it worked for him, soooooo I searched for and found a certified practitioner in my area.

My therapy experience

To my utter amazement, after the first session of actual reprocessing, I felt good about being pregnant. By the end of the second session I felt I could handle any drama with confidence. By the third session, I was dealing with life experiences that I had no idea were even linked to my reactions to the loss of our three children!  By the fourth session, I was feeling light, bubbly and EXCITED about being pregnant. I felt positive and didn't feel the need to simply "go along" with every suggestion the doctor made. I felt confident in my body's ability to handle this pregnancy. I began to even do pregnancy yoga and consider my options for a natural birth over having a repeat c-section. By the sixth session all anxiety, apprehension and negative emotions completely went away! And I wasn't dreaming!

What has made life even better is that I can see the difference in other areas of my life. It's like the therapy has helped me see perspectives I was completely oblivious to before. For example, situations or comments that used to bother me, don't bother me anymore. I'm not as sensitive about things (which is GREAT when you are married or have a significant other!) and I feel like a physical burden has been lifted from my shoulders.

The thing I love about EMDR is that it wasn't some weird hypnosis or anything like that. Research has shown that back and forth eye movements (think REM sleep) somehow help our brains switch between the emotional center (limbic system) to the more logical center (neo-cortex). So when we experience trauma or something disturbing our brain automatically taps into the emotional databank, which gets the common fight-or-flight reaction going. Sometimes the memory gets trapped there, so the mind and body never heal properly. EMDR helps the brain take that memory and deposit it into the logical databank, which allows us to finally heal. I was in complete control and thank GOD I did not have to re-tell all the painful details that brought me to the session because EMDR isn't what we call "talk therapy".

I pulled up a mental image, tapped into some negative and positive beliefs I had tied to that image than did the eye movements. It was like I was watching the scenary go by and when the "train" stopped, the image didn't bother me anymore and the negative belief system was gone, too! Each session lasted an hour and although the scenery went by, there were moments when I cried my heart out or felt upset, but it only lasted for one or two minutes. After many sessions I felt completely exhausted and sometimes would have dreams that gave me further clarity about the topic we had worked on.

The most interesting thing about EMDR has been experiencing first hand that painful memories don't just get trapped in your head. They get trapped in your body, too. So when I talk about a weight being lifted off of me, it turns out it was not some figment of my imagination.

Please share your questions ... I'll do the best I can to answer all! Have any of you experienced EMDR or any other therapy? What was your experience?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Here's How I Know that You Don't Know God

I admit it. I don't know. I don't know the answers to the "why" questions. There is only one thing of which I am certain. I could not have survived (and yes, thrived) without God. It is becoming so common to just leave Him out of the discussion, but this is a post where I have to get real.

I read your posts when you rail against God and the injustices "He has commited against you". I even get it, because I've been there ... I've done the same thing. I read your posts where it is only the anger that gets you through each day. I read your posts when you search for meaning, and the posts where you meditate on the ugliness others have so carelessly tossed your way. I cry when you write about your pain, your emptiness, your sorrow. I hurt when I think of your little boys and girls who left this world before gray hairs could grace their heads.

It is healthy and normal to dedicate a season for our grief. To mourn fully, flat on our faces, with all we've got left. But no, we are not created to carry the weight of our grief with us the rest of our days. Those who try doing this anyway live dark, empty lives where her companions are bitterness, sadness, and fear rather than joy and gladness. This is a life that leads to more loneliness, depression, medication, and it's a downward spiral from there. I do not argue that we stop feeling sad about what happened ... I argue that we were never intended to carry the weight of sadness with us hourly - for life.

When we talk about letting go of the pain's intensity, many misunderstand and think I mean they should forget or "get over" their baby. I would never suggest such foolishness. I admonish you to stop the cycle of blame. God has not taken your baby. No, He literally records your every tear ... He is the Lifter of your head ... He is the Healer of your soul. But, these things won't just happen on their own. You are required to take action. Reach for Him and He will reach back! 

Try it. When you feel like you have lost everything, what else have you got to lose?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hope for Incompetent Cervix

Sometimes it is quite difficult to grab ahold of hope that you can have that rainbow baby despite seemingly insurmountable odds. When I had three back-to-back late-term losses, I only knew of one person who had suffered through something similar. Now I know two people. Finding and learning from those who have experienced such tremendous grief was greatly encouraging for me. I pray that you too will find encouragment if you have an incompetent cervix and have not found the answers you seek. Here's one woman's story.

Samone had written her story in my book Stolen Angels, but when the book went to print she had lost one precious baby. I like to stay in touch with the writers, and when I learned that this dear woman had lost a second daughter at around the same gestation and in the same way as her first loss, my heart cried out for her! Recently she contacted me, and had this amazing news to share:

"Hi Sharee. Please share my MIRACLE! I would like for women to know that if they have lost a baby (or babies) due to incompetent cervix, there is HOPE. I believe that the Lord placed me here in _____________  for a reason, although I don't like it here. Had it not been for my being placed here and coming across an obstetrician who looked at my history, LISTENED to me and referred me to me to a perinatologist, I probably would not have had my miracle baby. If anyone should contact you, wanting to know about the transabdominal cerclage, please let me know!"

Samone has welcomed a little boy into her family in March 2011 and is available to tell of her experiences with the abdominal cerclage ... just shoot me an email and I'll forward to her. I'm on yahoo ... momax3angels. You can also read the first part of her journey in Stolen Angels beginning on page 133.