pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day

October 15th

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. At 7pm in all time zones across the world, we light a candle and keep it lit for an hour, in order to create a wave of light. This light will honor the lives that were lost too soon, but loved deeply nevertheless.

Today I remember my two angels that lived only within me. The were loved every moment of their existence and will continue to live on for every moment of mine…in my heart, in my memories, and in my thoughts.

I think of them everyday, but today I honor them.

Baby S.
7.7.13

Baby P.
12.5.13

photo

my candle, burning for my two angels

what to do when you don’t know what to do with anger

I’ve been grappling with anger lately.

Over the last year I’ve noticed that I spend more and more time agitated and disappointed and feeling hurt by others. I often harbor feelings of anger that seep into my chest and seize me and can’t be shaken off. I find myself awake at night, with a loop of angry thoughts in my head, having imaginary fights. My heart rate increases, the pit in my stomach makes me nauseous. I want them to know, how they’ve let me down, how poorly they’ve behaved. I want them to know how much I hurt. But I don’t tell them, I just lay awake, angry and agitated.

None of this makes me feel good. I don’t feel like a good person or my best self sheltering those feelings. It doesn’t make me feel like the person I want to be. It doesn’t make me proud. It weighs me down, cripples me, impeding my path to lightness and balance.

I’ve always been sensitive, easily hurt, and often disappointed, but this feels new. This level of heaviness and fervor. It feels like too much, and more than I want to carry.

I want to release it all.

So I brought it to my therapist. After my rants, I pleaded with her. How do I let this all go? How do I stop being so affected by others? How do I stop caring what they do and what they don’t do? How do I forgive?

As we broke it down, I realized the anger I was feeling was only directed towards people that know about our struggles of the last two years, know about our losses, and know about the profound effect it’s had on us. But they are the ones that didn’t come through.

The ones that didn’t provide the right kind of comfort, never said the right things, and left us alone in our pain, grief, and isolation.They are the ones that don’t understand how deep this goes. They are the ones that act like life just goes on. They are the ones that said thoughtless things.

I don’t want to have to feel bad about being pregnant around you. Just relax, that’s what I did, look at all my kids! You miscarried because you are too skinny. You miscarried because you are too stressed. Don’t be upset about your miscarriage, it’ll happen, just stop thinking about it.

And then there are the ones that stayed quiet. And continue to stay quiet.

I feel angry at them because I have been hurt by them.

But my therapist and I started to dissect further. Why was it affecting me so much? I have such a huge network of love and support. I have so many people that never let me down. That listen, and try to understand even if they haven’t been through it. That never forget that no matter my smile, no matter my laugh, I’m always carrying a bit of pain inside. And I know, that this kind of loss is not easy to understand if you’ve never experienced it. I know that there’s really no way to understand. 

But eventually I realized the paradox. I have all this anger because I’ve never allowed myself to be angry about our actual miscarriages.

I’ve felt sadness, pain, grief, and loss, but never anger. Subconsciously, I didn’t think I was allowed to be angry. If I get angry at the universe, and start screaming, why me, that means I’m just throwing a pity party for myself. That means I’m not grateful for everything I have. If I get angry that I continue to have to fight so hard for everything I want in life, I’m ignoring all the things that I’ve been given easily.  If I get angry that means I think my struggle is worse than someone else’s struggle. If I allow myself to be angry, what will that do, besides create a pattern of negative, bitter thinking?

Underneath the surface, this is what I thought. And there is truth to it, if you hold on to the anger for too long, you will allow it to permeate, fester, and grip you, making it harder and harder to release and move on. Making bitterness and cynicism a default.

But when something happens to you that sucks, something that’s not your fault, that’s random and throws your world upside down, it’s ok to be angry. My therapist let me know I can be angry about one thing, while still grateful for all the other things. I can be angry without discounting all that I’ve been given. They can co-exist.

I’m a gentle soul with a soft personality, and exploding with anger does not come easily to me. Expressing anger does not come easily to me.

But harboring anger does.

So instead of expressing my anger over our losses, I found targets to direct my anger at, silently and secretly. Easy targets, since I already felt let down by them. But I allowed the anger to grow out of proportion to the slights. I let my anger towards them consume me. I let it dictate my day, my emotional balance, my wellness.

So now I need to go backwards. I need to go back to our two losses, the sweet angel we lost in July 2013, and the sweet angel sibling we lost in December 2013, and I need to allow myself to get mad. It’s not easy for me, when I try to access that I anger I get blocked, like I’m in a dense forest that I can’t get through, and the only thing I can find is the anger I feel at those that didn’t understand, who left us alone. It jumps in front and impedes the true reason for my anger.

But I need to keep trying. I need to get mad.

Get mad so that I can release it, and let it go.

Get mad so that I can feel forgiveness and compassion towards those who have let me down.

Get mad so that I can feel gratitude for all of my loved ones who have chosen empathy, who felt my pain with me so that I wouldn’t have to feel it alone.

So here it goes.

I’m angry.

I’m angry that I lost two babies, two babies that I loved so dearly and wanted more than anything to watch grow up and love and cherish the person they would become.

I’m angry that I have had this joyous rite of passage to motherhood ripped from me, trampled on, and gutted so that it will never resemble what I felt so briefly after that first positive test.

I’m angry that two of the closest women in my life shared my due dates and are now mothers to beautiful babies, while my womb and arms are still empty.

I’m angry that my miscarriages have made me feel like I am not deserving of motherhood.

I’m angry that my miscarriages have taken a toll on my self-esteem, my self-worth, and my confidence.

I’m angry that our once easy and innocent marriage has had to undergo strain, and that now we have to work so hard to stay united and not let the stress of this struggle destroy us.

I’m angry that I have to feel pain with every pregnancy announcement.

I’m angry that we are pressured to stay quiet about our losses. That so many don’t perceive them as real loss.

I’m angry that miscarriage and infertility have controlled our life for almost two years. Causing my career to suffer. Forcing us to always live with uncertainty.

I’m angry that my miscarriages have caused a tear in some of my friendships. The friends that are moms who don’t know what to say. Who look at me with pity and discomfort.

I’m angry that I have to carry this pain, day after day.

I’m angry that my miscarriages have caused so much suffering, for me, for my husband, for my family.

I’m angry for all the other women out there that suffer in this way too.

It’s time for me to work through this anger, the real reason for my anger, and the real reason for my suffering. When I get fixated on how much I’ve been hurt by people, I can remember, it’s not about them. I haven’t been hurt by people, I’ve been hurt by miscarriage. And even though I haven’t completely healed, I am getting there, little by little. And soon, I can release. Pain, hurt, anger. Because this too, shall pass.

i miss my babies today

ItsHurtingAgain_by_stanlowx

I woke up this morning aching. After the failed IUI and then learning I had a cyst that would prevent us from trying again this month, I haven’t felt the same. Even though I’ve resorted to all my usual antics to try and pick back up and stay positive, I feel as if I’m hitting a breaking point, one where the reality of what we’ve been through has finally truly hit me.

They say that after a miscarriage a women not only grieves the loss of her baby, but grieves the loss of her reproductive story.

I never quite knew what that meant. I understood the idea of grieving a reproductive story on an intellectual level, but I hadn’t quite felt that loss in my heart yet. I hadn’t grieved the loss of my reproductive story.

Until now.

I’m finally having that out of body of experience, where I look back at the last two years and I can’t believe what I’m seeing. I can’t believe how this desire to start a family turned into a nightmare, and one I can’t wake up from or claw my way out of. I can’t believe that this is my story. All the heartbreak, stress, tears, and loss is now my reproductive story. And it makes me so sad.

Last night as I laid in bed headed for sleep, my mind was still going and my heart still hurting. I had been feeling depressed all weekend, like I was suddenly struggling through fresh grief. I thought to myself, as I started to drift into twilight sleep, “What am I feeling, really?” And instead of words floating through my mind to answer that question, I saw the answer in images. I say myself in the ocean, in the middle of a violent whirlpool. I was trapped in its torrent. I was flailing my arms above water, towards the side of a boat, trying to lift myself up, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t grasp the edge of the boat to pull myself up. And there was no one there to lift me up. So instead I kept thrashing, trapped, alone, getting pulled deeper and deeper.

When I woke up this morning I mindlessly picked up my phone and opened Facebook, which I often do before getting out of bed. The first picture I saw was a photo of my best friend’s seven month old baby. The friend who shared my due date, before I lost my baby. With time, I’ve healed enough and grown numb enough to see photos of her baby without too much of a stabbing pain. When he was three months old, I even got the courage to go spend the day with him when I was visiting San Francisco where my friend lives. But this morning, I saw that picture and the loss just hit me.

He just looked so….old.

He was growing into a little person. He wasn’t just a little 8 pound nugget anymore, lying helplessly, swaddled in his blanket. He was becoming someone. Something my babies won’t ever get the chance to do. 

With that photo, and with that realization, I closed my eyes and let a tear run down my cheeks. I could feel my losses in a profound way. I could see what I lost. I could see what I lost getting older, growing into someone his mom and dad probably could never imagine their lives without.

I miss my babies today.

I miss the awe and wonder of knowing that they are growing inside of me. I miss the nausea and the fatigue and the changes to my body that assure me that they are in there. I miss imagining the people they would become, and who they would resemble. I miss envisioning the life we would all have together. I miss the promise that they held. I miss the joy I felt knowing they are in my belly, and that my body was busy creating a life.

Although I have faith that I will create life again, I will always miss my babies, always remembering how old they would be, always wondering who they would have been. But someday, I hope that maybe I can make peace with my reproductive story. Instead of feeling loss and sadness, I hope to understand what it’s given me. How it’s made me a better mom. How it’s forced me to never take my children for granted, and hug them just a little tighter knowing how hard I fought for them. How it’s given me more empathy for others who struggle. How in going to these dark places, I will embrace the light in a deeper way.

Today I may grieve, and I may miss my babies. But eventually I hope to understand, and find a deeper meaning into why this had to be my reproductive story.

hopeful but damaged

Flipping the channels the other morning I landed on Live with Kelly and Michael. I paused for a moment, thought about watching, then changed the channel.

That show reminds me of the waiting room at my RE’s office. For some reason, every time I’m there it’s playing. As I wait to get called into my appointments I stare at the TV screen; only half watching because my nerves are usually too much of a distraction to focus on anything.

Seeing that show flash on the screen in my living room, I immediately was flooded with how I feel when I’m sitting in that waiting room.

Hopeful but damaged.

I sit in that room with all my wounds and scars. I take deep breaths to steady my heart beat and eliminate the pit in my stomach, driven by the expectation of bad news. I wearily eye the others sitting in the room, wondering what they’ve been through, and what’s ahead. I wonder if they’ve cried the same tears I have and carry the same dented baggage that I do. I wonder if their perfect composure belies the struggle that they’ve been through too.

But the waiting room also offers the entry to answers and to making our wishes come true. I’ve grown so attached to my doctor. I wish that when we finally do get a viable pregnancy, she could hold my hand through every ultrasound and at the end be the one who delivers my baby. I never want to leave that office. I find comfort there.

Sometime I just feel like people think that you have a miscarriage and you’re sad for a little while and then you’re over it, I cried to my husband once in a moment of self-pity.

But it stays with you! I continued through my tears.

It stays with you. I feel damaged sitting in that waiting room. I feel weathered and sensitive and like I’ll never be the same.

Sometimes I want to scream, just because I’m smiling does not mean I’m ok! Just because it’s been 8 months does not mean I’m ok!

There is a gaping hole in my heart, and it’s still so raw. And it can’t close because I still want this so bad. And everything around me reminds me of it.

I’ve gotten better at coping. And pretending. And managing my emotions. I can feign happiness at a pregnancy announcement, I can hold your baby and tell you how happy I am for you. I can even press ‘like’ on all the baby pics that flood my Facebook feed. I’ve learned how to shut down a part of myself when I need to. I can go numb. I can momentarily force myself to forget the pain.

But privately, it all comes out. I never escape unscathed. Nothing that I compartmentalize and pretend is ok ever just goes away. It always finds me. Finds me in the form of a tightened chest and a stubborn knot in my stomach by day, and then pillow smothered sobs by night. Or sometimes it’s a slow build, where I tell myself over and over I’m fine, until finally it swallows me and I have no choice but to let it out.

I feel traumatized.

I started out with so much happy faith and expectation, but was greeted with blood and loss and uncertainty and heartbreak and having to say goodbye to the babies I would never meet. And ever since, I spend my days fielding a land mine of triggers. This journey is so painful because we can’t hide from what triggers our trauma and our pain. We can’t hide from baby strollers and our best friend’s pregnancy announcement and our 2 month old nephew.

We are forced to face it every single day.

After my miscarriages, I was surrounded by expressions of concern and care and I felt like I could openly grieve. And I believed that all these empathetic faces around me really understood my pain. I’ve been lucky in that sense, and would never undermine just how much love I’ve felt from friends and family.

But time goes on. And I’ve been forced to keep living with that same amount of pain. My family and friends can’t scoop me up every single day, can’t give me a constant swaddle of affection and support. And I know people stop knowing what to say, as days turn to months, and months turn to years. And that’s when isolation starts to creep in, and the silent grief. Because the pain lives on.

And as we try to conceive once again, with faith and hope our only fuel, we ache. Every negative pregnancy test brings you back to that feeling of loss. You spend two weeks wondering, hoping, and imagining you are pregnant. Day dreaming of what that would mean. Loving this possible baby to be. I often rub my belly and leave my hand there, subconsciously  trying to transport the love in my heart to my womb. Please be in there, I plead. And with a trip to the bathroom and a three minute wait, it’s all over. 

My mom often tells me that after her brother had a baby, she got the baby bug in an intense way. I just had to have you, she’s told me, gushing, giving me hugs. Less than a year later, her wish came true, and I was born.

Imagine that feeling, I said to her, that longing, that feeling that if you didn’t have a baby now, you would explode. Now picture almost two years and two miscarriages later, with no baby or pregnancy to show for it….That is what I’m going through.  That is what I’m experiencing.

Miscarriage stains everything around you. It spoils the joyful path to pregnancy. It leaves you unable to feel happiness for friends you love who have growing bellies. It causes you pain when you hold someone else’s baby in your arms. It even takes a silly show, like Live with Kelly and Michael, and taints it with its loaded association. Bringing you to that place…where pain still lives but yet you’re hopeful. Hopeful and damaged.