When Mother’s Day gives Mixed Emotions

I didn’t always want to be a mom. In fact, I thought that I’d live happily childfree for all of my days. Around 5 years of marriage, I started to wonder if I’d regret not having a child. I thought of and pursued the possibility of building our family through adoption. That door closed. Then we tried for a baby and had a miscarriage. Mother’s Day 2014 was dark and sad. I didn’t know if we’d ever have a child.

Here I am now in 2016 with a 13-month old on Mother’s Day. Becoming a mother has changed me in a way that I didn’t imagine. I now feel certain things so deeply in my heart. In particular, my heart aches for all sorts of mothers on Mother’s Day. Especially today, I think of:

The woman who wants to be a mother

The one who has lost a child

The lady struggling with the demands of motherhood

The mother who has an estranged child

Those living without their mom

And this week, I think of all the mothers affected by the Fort McMurray fires. There have been women who’ve given birth during this past week while fleeing from their home.

I am glad to be a mom. It is seriously hard work. Challenging. Tiring. And the lovey-dovey stuff too. But one thing I’m grateful for is the way in which my journey of motherhood has given me a deep love for any struggling momma. I’m feeling both sad and glad this Mother’s Day, and I think that’s okay.

Miscarriage: Early Pregnancy Loss

Since October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I thought it appropriate to write a blog post on early miscarriage. “At least you weren’t far along” and “it’s likely that there was a problem with chromosomes” are examples of unhelpful statements made to those who receive a positive pregnancy test and lose the baby days or weeks later. If you believe that life begins at conception, losing a baby at any time is devastating.

It was late March of 2014. My period was late. But since I had wacky cycles, I didn’t get too excited. I finally decided to take a pregnancy test on a late Saturday afternoon (I know you’re supposed to test with first morning urine but I couldn’t wait any longer!). A faint but definite second line appeared. I went straight to google without even telling my husband. I read that there aren’t false positives but there are false negatives. This confirmed: I was pregnant!

I revealed to my husband our good news with a present and a card. The blanket was soft yellow with a monkey on it (my husband’s nickname was “monkey” as a child). The card read that we’ll be having a little monkey join our family on December 5, 2014. Eyes were teary.  We were excited. But with no personal history to feel this way, we also feared getting our hopes too high. We had good friends who experienced multiple early miscarriages so we weren’t naive to the fact that this could also be our reality.

7

A couple days after celebrating our pregnancy, I began to spot. I called my doctor’s office and they instructed me to go to the ER. The ER doctor gave me a 50/50 chance of carrying the baby based on the spotting. The only thing I could do now was wait and see.

I took the following day off work and that seemed to help the spotting to slow down. But the following day the spotting picked up again. To make a long story short, I spotted for 4 days before the miscarriage began (full, heavy, red flow).

Our miscarriage happened at 5 weeks. I would describe it as the most painful period of my life. An early miscarriage can’t be compared to a period because it’s traumatic. SOMETHING IS HAPPENING TO YOUR BODY THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO HAPPEN. I wanted to scream, “stop it! Stop it! Stop bleeding. Stop getting rid of the life that I so badly want! STOP IT!!”

I spent my 30th birthday miscarrying our first child. I hated the fact that the pieces of our baby were being flushed down the toilet. Our baby was not a goldfish. Our baby was human being and deeply loved.

Early miscarriage is no big deal, right? Wrong. At least for me, I will never be the same after the traumatic experience of miscarriage at *only* 5 weeks along. I will remember December 5, 2014 as our first little ones due date. And having our first pregnancy result in miscarriage caused me to have a fear and anxiety ridden second pregnancy. With all that said, I think I’ll end with this quote by Winnie the Pooh. To our first little one, you are forever loved!

tumblr_inline_n7h7eb9mLS1sp793h

A year ago today we discovered that our rainbow baby was on her way

Definition: A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage or stillbirth. A rainbow after the storm.

A year ago today, we were driving home from my in-laws. My period was due to arrive that weekend but it never showed. Since developing hypothyroidism in 2012, my cycles were wacky and unpredictable. I figured that I was just having one of those off cycles. I had convinced myself during that two week wait that I wasn’t pregnant. I had several “signs” of pregnancy but didn’t believe one of them because I had experienced “signs” on cycles before and wasn’t pregnant.

When I got my first positive pregnancy test in March of 2014, I had zero symptoms in the two week wait. Our first baby ended in miscarriage at 5 weeks on my 30th birthday. So the fact that I had some symptoms during the 2 week wait in July of 2014 made me convinced that I WASN’T pregnant. If I was a betting person, I would have bet all my money that my period would show up.

We stopped at a Panera Bread prior to crossing the border for home. Without telling D what I was thinking of doing, I decided to hold my pee til home and then take a test. When home, he was busy unpacking when I called him to the bathroom.  I told him that it wasn’t an emergency but that he needed to come and look at something. He thought there was a mouse. He stood there and looked at the test much like I did: in disbelief. Within seconds a second line had appeared indicating that I was pregnant.

I said, “you don’t get a second line without having the pregnancy hormone present. There’s false negatives but false positives are extremely rare. This means that at least for now, I’m pregnant.” We both were shocked. We both felt uncertain if this pregnancy would end in miscarriage or be our rainbow baby. We decided that for right now, for this moment, we were expecting. D suggested that we go out and celebrate! So we did. We went to a waterfront restaurant in town. While there, a little girl sat at a table over from us with her parents. During our dinner, she kept looking at me and smiling. I wondered if this was a sign that we not only would have a baby 9 months from now but also a baby girl.

A year ago today, our lives were forever changed. She was tiny but on her way. On this day, I’m sleep deprived and haven’t showered or brushed my teeth. But I’m happy. I’m forever grateful for our rainbow after the storm. Baby girl, thank you for being the experience of a lifetime. We love you and cherish the light that you have brought to our lives.

original source unknown
original source unknown

Mother’s Day after Miscarriage

Saturday March 29th, 2014: I took a pregnancy test and much to my surprise, it brought good news instead of disappointment! I was pregnant. I decided to wait until the following day after church to tell my husband the exciting news (he had a commitment Saturday night and he’s “on” for Sunday mornings as a Pastor). During lunch on Sunday, I gave my husband a card and a present to reveal how our lives were about to change forever. We were both happy, in shock, and also had fear for we know people who have experienced miscarriage. It was my biggest fear that I’d get pregnant only to miscarry, although I had no reason to believe it would happen to me more than the next person. We decided that for today, I was pregnant. We were excited.

A couple of days later, when the spotting began, I feared the worst. I went to the ER by myself (Derek was out of town for the day) and they gave me a 50/50 chance of carrying to term or miscarrying based on spotting. For the next 4 days, I continued to spot. While they say that spotting in pregnancy can be “normal”, I didn’t have a good feeling about it. Then on day 5, the miscarriage began. Day 6 was the hardest as it was my 30th birthday and this was the day that I passed all the clots. While people wished me the best day ever on facebook, I was having the very worst birthday.

As you can imagine, Mother’s Day 2014 was very difficult. It was a month after our first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. My worst fear came true.  To outsiders, I wasn’t a mother. Sure, I hadn’t told many people about our miscarriage. It doesn’t naturally come up in very many situations. But also, women who have experienced miscarriage and no live births aren’t often recognized as Mother on Mother’s Day. As Christians we believe that life begins at conception. If the life of an embryo were to end due to abortion, we view that as tragic and expect this life to pass on to an eternal home in heaven. And yet, babies who die in utero as a result of miscarriage don’t seem to receive a similar level of mourning from outsiders. This seems to especially be the case with an early miscarriage. “Something was wrong chromosomally” and “the body has a way of knowing when life isn’t viable”. While these statements may be true, we also know that people are born every day with chromosomal challenges. We also know that sometimes there’s nothing wrong with the embryo but the body for whatever reason doesn’t carry the baby to term. Suffice it to say, miscarriage and the depth of grief it causes is vastly misunderstood even in this day and age. When sharing our story, people appear to be relieved when I tell them that we had an early miscarriage at 5 weeks. The fact that it was “early” doesn’t erase the reality that it was so very painful – both physically and emotionally. I’m forever changed by losing our first child way too soon.

Today, I’ve been wished a “Happy 1st Mother’s Day” and I get what they mean. It is my 1st Mother’s Day with a squishy baby in my arms. She’s our first live birth. But she isn’t our first child. Isabel has a brother or sister in heaven whom she’ll meet one day. I was a mother last Mother’s Day although very few knew of our reality. I love our little one in heaven with my whole  heart. They are our 1st child, Isabel our 2nd. I don’t love one of them more – just different.

I share a piece of our story for those who have empty arms this Mother’s Day. I wouldn’t wish the trauma, grief and isolation of miscarriage on my worst enemy. Know today that you are a mother even if it’s in a confusing way. Even if no one else recognizes you as mom, I do. I’m so sorry for your loss and look forward to you meeting your child(ren) one day.

Why I don’t post ultrasound photos or pregnancy belly shots on facebook

Facebook can be a landmine of triggers for those experiencing infertility or pregnancy loss. For some, signing into facebook and being hit with an imagine of an ultrasound photo or belly shot is a painful experience.

As an avid facebook user, I felt conflicted with whether or not to share with “the world” (i.e. facebook) about our pregnancy. At first, I thought it would be odd if I use facebook regularly and don’t share our news there. But I also thought about the fact that there could be someone (or a couple of people) who are struggling  to conceive or grieving a pregnancy loss that may see our announcement post. I couldn’t think of anyone in particular but I’d be naive to assume that just because I don’t know = no one is struggling. Pregnancy struggles tend to remain very private even in this day and age.

So for our facebook pregnancy announcement, I decided to not share an ultrasound photo. This, instead, is what we did:

We have a special reason to be thankful.
Can’t wait to meet our little pumpkin in April!

index

As far as pregnancy belly shots go, I haven’t posted any of these to facebook. And I don’t plan to. People have asked to see belly shots and if I decide to share any it will be here on the blog. I figure that at least with the blog, people can decide to read something pregnancy related or skip along. With facebook, when you post a photo, it comes up in the news feed and people happen upon the photo whether they’d like to or not.

You may wonder if I feel like some of my pregnancy joy has been robbed by not sharing pregnancy related things freely and often on facebook. I’d honestly say that it hasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times where I’ve posted pregnancy items on facebook such as reaching 24 weeks/viability and how satisfied we are with our Midwife clinic. Also, a couple of times I’ve posted a link to this blog with a pregnancy related topic. And in those cases, I wonder if my sharing will sting (hurt others) or not. But overall, I feel satisfied with sticking to my no-ultrasound photos or pregnancy belly shots rule for facebook. And I try to reserve pregnancy related writing to this blog. If people on facebook wish they heard more about our pregnancy they can always come on over here!

Using social media and being sensitive to those currently in the midst of pregnancy trails can be challenging. I may not get it right every time but I will at least try to be kind and thoughtful. What about you? What are your thoughts on the topic or attempts?

On my heart this Christmas

favim.com
favim.com

I’m in awe that I get to experience feeling our baby move and kick at this magical time of year. I’m so grateful. December 2014 could have been such a dark time for me. And while heartache and pain never really go away, I can’t believe that I’m not only pregnant but feeling baby’s movement this Christmas. It brings me to tears. Tears of thanksgiving. And tears for those in a dark place this Christmas.

Thank you God for this wonderful gift of life. For the joy and peace that the timing of this little one brings. Please be especially near to anyone with hopes and dreams gone unfulfilled this Christmas. Let them feel your love. Please give them strength in the coming days. Wrap them in your comfort in a way that only you can. Amen.

Reproductive gossip and being enough

This August, I’ll be married to my Yankee husband for 7 years. I’m 30 years old, he’ll be 34 in September. I was married at 23 years old, young by today’s norms.

There’s something about being married for 7 years + turning 30 in April that seem to have people talking. Talking about us. When we aren’t around. Talking about when we are going to have kids.

I had a feeling that this was happening (the talking) and recently it has been confirmed. I’ve had a friend tell me that several people have made comments to her re: when we’ll have kids. And earlier this summer, an old acquittance asked me the bomb of a question in a large group setting (after asking how old I am and how long we have been married). The “so when are you going to have a baby?” question came flying out before they had asked me about my job, how my husband was doing, etc.

Sigh. I don’t know which one I’d prefer. Either people talking about our reproductive plans behind our backs or being asked the “when are you going to have kids?” question in a public setting. Can I pick neither?

I’m 30 years old. I’ve been married for 7 years. I love my husband dearly. He’s the best gift I’ve ever received. He’s enough. I’m enough. We are enough whether or not we have children (biologically or via adoption). The talking about us having a baby + asking when we will have one makes me feel as if others view me as not enough, that we as a couple aren’t enough. But we are. We really are.