Miscarriage Milestones and Bodily Betrayals (The M Word part V)

Tomorrow I would have been five months pregnant.  Big enough to find out the sex of the baby with an ultrasound.

Would it have been a boy or a girl?  Would she have had my eyes?  Or maybe he would have had his daddy’s smile.  Would we have been collecting things in blue or pink?  Would his middle name have been Michael?  Or maybe her name would have been Sophia.

This milestone, or lack thereof, really sucks.

My coworker is pregnant.  She was only a couple of weeks behind me in pregnancy, and she has a nice round baby bump.  Today at work she was showing it off with a fitted t-shirt.  It took all I could do to not just sit and stare at it.  I tried desperately to avert my eyes.  Is that how my belly would like right now?  I felt transfixed, and when she finally walked away, a relief flooded over me.   Every day I see her at work is like a slap to the face.  A reminder of what I will never have.

My baby died.  Hers survived.  Would you like to know why?  Because the universe does not play favorites.  Mother nature is not a warm cuddly maternal figure, but rather a cold, biological, unemotional entity that doesn’t care.  There is no god or higher power.  The world owes you nothing.

Sometimes when I see a woman holding a baby, my arms physically ache knowing I will never hold mine.  When I see a father holding his child, I see T holding ours and feel the acute pain knowing that will never come to pass.  When I think of pregnancy milestones, by body hurts.

Our child would have been beautiful.

I have never, in 31 years on this earth, known how much I want to be a mother until I miscarried my baby.  It was easy to get pregnant, but I have always known there was a chance I would have reproductive troubles.  I worry that my miscarriage was not a chromosomal abnormality, but rather my body being fucked up inside and unable to carry a baby to term.  I wonder if I will end up like those women who have miscarriage after miscarriage, only to have it all end in a divorce, because the relationship couldn’t survive all those years of broken dreams and failed pregnancies.  My relationship certainly didn’t survive an experience that, in such a heartbreaking way, brought out the worst in both of us.  We couldn’t survive the grief.

Miscarriage feels like a failure.  It feels like your body has betrayed you.  As a woman, this is the one thing that I am biologically programmed to do, and instead of successfully carrying out that task, my body malfunctioned.  On Christmas Eve, one of my favorite days of the year, the cramping and bleeding began that tore away the lining of my uterus, taking my baby with it.  The ultrasound scan displayed a now empty uterus.  Where I once saw a heartbeat, I now saw a blank screen.  This was visual proof that my body’s pre-programming system had failed.

Seeing my pregnant coworker makes me ask What is her body doing right that my body did wrong?

Miscarriage makes you feel like damaged goods.  Defective.  Insecure and self-consious. I can’t imagine telling this story to someone new without them running off into the hills.  What man is going to sign on for all of this?  Who is going to want me now?  Because it’s not just the issue of my defective body, but also because of my lingering abandonment/commitment issues.  I’m like a giant walking red flag.  I actually hid on the Max the other day because an attractive man kept looking at me and I was afraid he would walk over and start talking to me.  I hid behind a group of obnoxious teenagers.  Talk about a low point.

But that is the majority of my days now- a smattering of low points amidst moments of joy.

I am on the road to healing, but I will never forget this loss, and I will never forget these emotions.  This was my baby.  My little nugget.  A treasure that I shared with another human being, who would have been an amazing father.  An amazing father to our baby.

No, this will be with me always.

Until next time ~ B







Tonight I Had A Brush With Suicide

Tonight I had a brush with suicide.  At around 9:00 pm, our neighbor knocked on our door and said she needed help.  Her fiance had left, she hadn’t taken her Paxil in three weeks, and she wanted to slit her writs in the bathtub.  She said she couldn’t reach her son on the phone and didn’t know what to do, but she just wanted to make the pain go away.  She said she was afraid she would hurt herself.  She kept apologizing for bothering us.  We told her to stop apologizing, she was doing the right thing, it was not a bother, and we were going to help her.  We got dressed and just as we were leaving the driveway of our complex, we ran into her son who was on his way to check up on her.  We told him what was happening and he followed us to the hospital.

She cried and cried on the way over, talking about her lost love and how she can’t go back to her house, and how she doesn’t want to go on anymore and doesn’t know what to do.

My mom sat in the backseat with her while I drove us over.  As I listened to her tell us her story, I fought back my own tears.  I could literally feel her pain, as I recently suffered losses myself.  I could feel her heartbreak and her loss and understood her desire to make it all go away.

I know how you feel, I thought.  While I have never been on medication for a mental health diagnosis, I have reached some incredibly low points.  Five weeks ago I stood on the Astoria pier alone, having left my then-boyfriend sleeping alone in our hotel room. I looked up at the Astoria-Megler bridge that spans the Columbia, joining Oregon and Washington together.  It is a daunting bridge to look at, and I watched the cars drive north, disappearing into the night, leaving only the faintness of their tail lights as proof they ever existed.

I stood there, defeated.  It was barely one week from my miscarriage, and the baby’s father had grown suddenly and incomprehensibly distant.  I could feel the end of my relationship speeding towards me like an out of control freight train.  I wanted to disappear into the night, just like the cars were, and leave all of this pain behind. 

The next morning I found myself back in the same spot.  Once again, I stared at the bridge.  Once again, I had left him sleeping in the hotel room, but this time, he was my ex-boyfriend.  The previous night, after my solo trip to the pier, he finally admitted he wanted to break up with me.  I was grateful we got a hotel room with two beds, and after a few scant hours of sleep, and I watched the sky grow lighter through the crack in the draperies.  As soon as I deemed it light enough, I threw on my clothes and walked back to the spot I was in the night before.

What is to stop me from climbing the bridge and jumping into the icy river? 

I stared hard, feeling like I would almost do anything to make all of the pain and memories go away.  The breakup.  The miscarriage. The feeling that I was completely and utterly worthless.  That clearly I had nothing to offer him now that there was not a baby, so he was free to find someone who was worthy of his time.

Looking up at that bridge, I have never felt so small and insignificant.  So unworthy of love.  So alone.

I just stared for an unknown period of time.  The air was frosty and my breath was visible.  I watched boats anchored out in the water.  I watched the tourists walk hand in hand down the marina.  And I watched the cars.  Hundreds of cars, filled with people who have their own troubles.  I knew that jumping off that bridge was not the answer.  I knew that jumping off that bridge was something I would never do.  But I won’t deny that as I stood there, I felt like there was nothing left for me.  It was the lowest of the low.  And perhaps if I didn’t have the most amazing family and friends waiting for me back in Portland, I might have seriously considered the worst.

But I knew, deep down, that even though it felt like I had just lost everything, I still had everything waiting for me in a small little duplex that overlooks a cranky farmer and his dahlia fields.

I wanted to tell all of this to my neighbor.  That I understand the pain, I understand what it feels like to hurt so bad and all you want is it to go away.  I wanted to tell her that I know it hurts because she still loves the man who left her, just like I still love the man who left me.  I wanted to tell her that I don’t know how long it will take for her heart to heal, because I’m still working on mine, but I believe it’s possible.

Instead, I silently fought back the tears and took her to the ER.

She is getting the help she needs now.  I am grateful we were there to help her, and she seems to have a loving son and friend who took over for us at the hospital.  I hope she will be okay.

Mental health and suicide continue to be stigmatized in our country.  People are judged for their thoughts and feelings.  They are judged for taking medication for a chronic condition, as if it is any different because it’s above the neck and not below.  Depression, anxiety, and similar mental health diseases are hard and painful and continue to be viewed in a negative light.

I will admit it right here, right now:  I am depressed.  I am in counseling.  I don’t know if I will need medication.  I hope not, because I don’t like being on medication of any kind, but that is a bridge I will cross if/when the time comes.  And while I would never commit suicide, I understand why people do it.  I understand feeling hopeless and unworthy, two of the worst emotions of the human condition.

We all have our demons that we carry with us, the “devil on our backs” as Florence and the Machine describes it so eloquently.  Perhaps if we were kinder and gentler with ourselves and others, those demons would be a little easier to deal with.  So educate yourself.  Get informed.  Be kinder.  Think twice before you want to judge another human being because he is on an anti-depressant, or she is feeling like there is nothing left to live for.  Life is hard enough without having anyone to rely on, so be someone that can be relied on.  Be someone’s support.  You never know when someone is going to need it.

Until next time ~ B

The M Word, Part III

Every night, I attempt sleep.  I feel my eyelids grow heavy.  I yawn.  I crawl into bed, thinking this will be the night I close my eyes and drift off to sleep.  And each night, I lay there, brain on fire, rapid thoughts shooting across my mind like a military airstrike.  I toss and turn, try counting backwards from 300, try breathing exercises, try anything that will calm my thoughts and allow me to drift into slumber.  Every single night I go through this process.  Last night it was 2:00 am when I last looked at the clock.

Each morning, I open my eyes.  Eyelids are still heavy, but this time from lack of sleep.  My neck and back feel stiff and sore.  It only takes a split second to realize that life since November 1st hasn’t been a nightmare from which I am waking, but the reality of my life in its current state.  I lay there, searching deep within myself for the willpower to throw back the covers and rise from my hiding place.  I know life goes on.  I know this is temporary.  I know I have gone through terrible heartache in the past and managed to find my way out of the deep, thick woods of sadness and loss that accompany such events.  I know this, and yet, it still feels like it will continue to acutely haunt me as long as continue to take breath into my lungs.

Lest one thinks I am in a deep dark hole of depression, I want to say that yes, there is a sense of depression, but I still find some kind of joy each day.  I still find something to laugh at, and no, I’m not just laughing at my own pain to deflect, although I do that as well.  I know there are things to look forward to:  K’s wedding next month, the wine and cheese festival (don’t judge, wine and cheese are two of my most favorite things), the reopening of Saturday Market,  one of the best people-watching spots, heading downtown during the Starlight Parade, when the streets are filled with people and you can walk around seeing cheesy lighted floats at various spots in town, Hood River Fruit Loop.  Soon, Portland will be in the throes of spring time, and the cherry blossom trees will bloom as the sun starts peeking out from the clouds more and more.

I know there are daily things to look forward to as well.  Laughing with my family and friends, birthdays, the first sip of a really good wine, and the first sip of a really good whisky as well.  Cheesecake.  The soothing sound of the rain.  Yoga.  Hiking.  The aroma of the forest is one of my favorite scents, and I really want to make it a regular part of my routine.   These are the things I need to remember when the world feels dark and I feel lonely.

Because even though I am surrounded by family and friends, I still feel lonely.  Tuesday marks one month since the M Word, and I will be mourning alone, not with the father.  My mother will be here, but in times like this, you just want to be by the person with whom you most closely shared the loss.  When he wakes on Tuesday, he may not realize what day it is at all, but I will be thinking about him and our loss anyway.

Sometime in the next two weeks I should be getting my first period since September.  I wonder if that will help me feel like my body has returned to normal, and that life is moving forward.  I still need to schedule my post-miscarriage check up, an appointment I am dreading.  I never want to return to that clinic.  And after I have my appointment, I never will.

January is past its halfway mark, and once we get through the doldrums of February, spring will be here.  Although I am an atheist and don’t celebrate Easter, I’ve been thinking about the symbolism behind that holiday, and the season in which it occurs.  The resurrection of Jesus is basically triumph of life over death, and springtime is rebirth, transformation, renewal.  Spring has never been my favorite season.  In fact, it’s generally my least favorite.  Not because of anything in particular, just because I have reasons to like the others more.  However, this year I am keeping in mind what this time of year represents, and I want to incorporate the symbolic nature of spring into my own life.  At some point, I need to really get back out there and really start living life again.  Spend more time with my loved ones.  Work on improving myself.  And eventually, when I no longer feel lonely and broken, open my heart up to the possibility of love again.

So for now, I will continue to be gentle with myself, remembering that this is the time for self-care, and that there is life beyond this experience.  Maybe tonight will the the night that my head hits the pillow and I successfully drift off to sleep.

Just maybe.


The M Word, Part II

I’m here to talk a little more about the M Word.  The M Word that is miscarriage.

I don’t let myself think about it too often.  Usually just once a week in therapy, where I cry and admit out loud how sad I am, and how much I wanted this baby.  Someone told me that it was just a fetus, but to me, to me it was a baby.  A child I imagined holding in my arms, bathing, experiencing the first laugh, first crawl, first steps…

Yes, it was a baby.  If it was a girl, we were going to call her Sophia.

I recently deleted the list of baby names I had saved on my phone.  My mother returned the baby purchases she had made the day before I miscarried.  I deleted the pictures that the father had generated on what the baby would look like.  What our baby might have looked like.

I need to get over the idea of our baby.  We are not having a baby, and we won’t ever be having a baby.

One thing I have not deleted is my baby board I made on Pinterest.  It is a private board that only I can see.  It sits next to the wedding board that also only I can see.  I feel like those two boards just mock me.  As if I am just another 30-something cliche, mapping out my future on the internet, a future that gets farther and farther away from materializing.  A 31-year-old singleton who quotes Sex and the City, shops for men on the internet, and plans for a future that may never exist.

I saw the father last night, the first time since our relationship dissolved two weeks prior.  “How did we get here?” I asked.  Then I laughed a little.  “Well, I know how we got here.  But really… how did we get here?” 

Seeing him was good.  I tested the waters, bringing up the possibility of starting over, going on a date.  He declined.  He doesn’t think we are compatible.  I accept his decision.   There is a certain sense of situational irony in this scenario.  Two weeks ago he said he was serious about going on a date and starting over.  In an emotional huff, I rejected that idea, rejected him, and gave up on the relationship.  After some soul searching, I realize he was right, our relationship was broken, and moving forward in a kind of going-back-to-the-basics style would have been good.  I don’t known if we would have ended up together, but I thought it was worth another shot.  I still do.  Although I am disappointed, it will help the piece I am working on right now, which is chemistry versus compatibility in a relationship.  I’m still fleshing it out in my mind, but I will start working on it this afternoon.

It is hard to not only accept the loss of the child, but also accept the loss of that particular future I was building.  In a way, the miscarriage allows each of us to move forward and find a suitable partner to possibly build a family with, whatever and with whomever that looks like.  When I was pregnant, our relationship became extremely stressful, and I know I did not behave in the best manner.  I freaked out and took everything out on him.  I was really scared.  I pushed him away, he pushed me away, then we would pull back together, and just when we got to a point where things leveled out, I lost the baby.  It’s like a big cosmic joke.  The universe giving us the giant finger.  Mother Nature, the original honey badger, who truly does not give a shit.

Last night he said, “I felt like that was a snapshot on what our life was going to be like.”  I told him I disagreed.  I firmly believe that things would have been entirely different had our circumstances been different.  We weren’t ready to be parents together.  Not after four months.  We were still in the fun dating stage, and that was taken away from us.  Then everything got serious and scary.  I don’t think it’s fair to say that is how we would have been in the future.  If this had happened a couple of years down the road, married, or even not married, that relationship foundation would already have been built.  We both wanted to be a parents someday, but we wanted it when we were emotionally and financially prepared for it.  People said to me repeatedly, “Is there ever really a perfect time to have a baby?”  Perhaps the answer is no, but there are certainly better times to have a baby than others.

He would have been a great dad.  You can’t say that about every guy.  And I know someday he will get the chance to be that “kick-ass husband and father” he talked about when we first met.  He is always so worried about everything, but I know he is going to be okay.  I believe in him, even when he doesn’t believe in himself.

As for me?  Sigh.  Preparing to start over once again is a very depressing and scary thought, but I know in time I will be okay.  I have to believe that there is a family in my future.  The loss of this baby and this family will be with me forever, but it won’t feel so acute forever.  There will be moments where I think I’m doomed to be old and crazy and yell at the pigeons in the park, but I am going to hold out hope that my future will different.

New life plan:  I’ll continue to work on myself, work through these losses, and hopefully find someone that I can grow old with.  I know there is someone out there that I can grow old with.

Until next time ~B

Yelling at Pigeons, Cheese Plates, and the Science of Love: Kickin’ Off the New Year Just Right

In 1971, Al Green asked the immortal question (originally written by the Bee Gees), “How can you mend a broken heart?”

This is a question that has been asked for millennia, and will continue to be asked for future generations, until the earth is wiped out by a meteor, zombie apocalypse, or climate change.

Love, an emotion that afflicts most normal people, can either be the best experience of one’s life or it can be the worst experience of one’s life.  What it is about this emotion that has the power to cause otherwise rational people to behave completely irrationally?  As someone who has experienced numerous heart breaks, I’ve done my homework.  The science behind love and it’s ability to cause infinite joy or pain is interesting.

First, let’s look at falling in love:

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Shhh… It’s The M Word

This blog is raw.  It is real.  It is not for the faint of heart.

Miscarriage, or spontaneous abortion, is estimated to occur in 25% of recognized pregnancies.  There are various reasons for this awful heartbreaking medical incident that no one talks about.  50-60% of miscarriages are chromosomal abnormalities of the fetus.  The rest is a mix of something wrong with the mother, or something happening to the mother while she is pregnant.   When I got pregnant, I was shocked to read the statistics of loss.  No ones talks about the shattered hopes and dreams of miscarriage, because who wants to talk about dead babies?  Who wants to talk about their loss?

Well, I want to talk about it.

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