Category Archives: Miscarriage

Project Dreamcatcher: A RANT and Motivation

dreamcatcher

Before I get started with this week, I want to address a criticism one of my Project Dreamcatchers received on her blog. It made me REALLY mad. Like, hopping stinging angry.

One of the biggest reasons I started this project was because of what I was seeing in our culture. So many of us put ourselves dead last, whether because of the demands of caregiving, our careers or whatever the case may be. It seems to be what is expected of us, as mothers, as wives, as professionals. But: this is not good for our relationships, our professional lives, our marriages or our families. When we are more balanced and more fulfilled, we are more productive, happier and refreshed. But don’t take my word for this: many have found this to be true.

What drives me nuts is when women finally decide to pursue an activity or hobby or goal and they get feedback about how this activity is preventing them from spending time with their child or marriage or whatever. THIS IS BS! These women are not running off and chasing a band or whatever self-destructive behavior we can imagine. They are simply taking a little time out of their day, whether it is a few minutes or a few hours, to pursue something that makes them happy. They then return, refreshed and recharged, to their duties and responsibilities. Chances are, they return to these activities with renewed vigor and increased productivity as well.

SHEESH. OK, Rant OVER.

Onto the Ted Talk for this week. It’s by Greg McEvilly and it’s about motivation. Greg has done something I think we all think about doing from time to time. He started his own business doing something he is passionate about, in this case trying to create products that will end Malaria-related deaths in Africa and create sustainable products throughout the world. He used Kickstarter to raise money for his company and way exceeded his fundraising expectations. His talk is really inspirational and moving, because he talks about how each of us are worked on by two motivators: fear and love.

Fear is that we won’t be able to keep up with the Jones, that we are afraid of the “other,” that we need to stay in our own world with our blinders on. Love allows us to connect with others, open our minds to the possibilities of helping others and helps us combine our lives with service for others.

I could really relate to this, because my book is a way to make others dealing with infertility feel less alone, less marginalized, less, well, “other.” It seems just when I lose motivation, someone or something comes through to help me keep going. Last night, as I was feeling kind of not very motivated, I received an email from someone whose acquaintance was going through a third miscarriage. Her acquaintance found “Faces of ALI” through a Google search.

The email said:

“She was so thankful for the message because no one in her life has understood what it’s like…and she has felt so alone. It wasn’t until she read Courtney’s profile and blog that she felt like someone else knew what it was like. So even though you know these profiles are helping women everywhere I thought I’d tell you of yet another instance where – because of your choice to create this amazing thing and feature these profiles on your blog – you just helped another woman to not feel alone.”

I want to clarify that it is the words of the women I am profiling that have led to this project. All of you have made this change, this difference.

And every goal on the Project Dreamcatcher list is making a change for good in this world, whether through a better life-balance, creating a better family and professional environment, creating better health through improved physical fitness, etc.

Rock on, ladies. Rock on.

Does it chap your hide when people accuse women with hobbies or goals of not being engaged enough in their family life? Are you motivated by fear or love, or a combination of both?

{What’s Project Dreamcatcher? Click here to find out.

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Filed under getting published, Miscarriage, Project Dreamcatcher, writing

The Invisible Family

“An apology: it is all true.” Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock

Tonight, my daughter had more severe night terrors than usual. I talked with her for a solid 45 minutes, and it was worth it because finally she shared with me her greatest fear: spiders. And she shared with me her tokens that she hoped would keep spiders away: a virtual sibling family of three sisters and one brother.

My daughter only has one brother. Yet somehow she knows there were three other siblings she is owed.

How on earth does she know that? She’s right, of course. But I have only publicly owned up to two losses. And tbat’s not the truth.

When I was first pronounced pregnant with twins, I wasn’t honest with you. The truth is my RE saw three sacs during the ultrasound. But during subsequent ultrasounds, he never saw a heartbeat in that third sac, whereas he saw heartbeats in the other two sacs. It was a perilous, terrifying time for me.

One of the main ways I released anxiety during that awful, fearful first trimester was to walk the famous beautiful hills of San Franciso. I was within blocks of the famous vistas you see in countless movies and TV shows. Those views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Transamerica pyramid were soothing. So imagine my shock and shame and fear when I suddenly felt a slickness and heaviness in my underwear as I gazed out onto my beautiful city. I hurried home.

What I found I will not describe, but I was certain that the third sac was empty for good. And somehow, I knew the twins were fine: I still felt the extreme nausea that had permeated my early pregnancy. I didn’t call my ObGyn or my husband or my parents. In fact, I have only told one person this story: someone who needed to hear it.

And I have rarely thought about this sorry, until today, when I was confronted by my daughter’s token family. And astonished at its size and accuracy.

All three of the babies I have lost? You have never been forgotten. You will never be forgotten. Somehow, my daughter guessed your number accurately, though I have never discussed you with her. You are felt by all of us. We love you. And we always will.

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Filed under Miscarriage, Sad

A Glimpse of What Was

Our basement is finally being rebuilt after our recent plumbing catastrophe. Today was, as our contractor gleefully informed me via email, “Jackhammer Day!” I was instructed to be gone from 9-5.

I picked up the twins from pre-school and took them to The Cheesecake Factory to kill some time. There wasn’t much parking, so we walked quite a distance to reach the restaurant.

It was raining, and we all had on our galoshes and raincoats, and we were all merry in spite of the grey of the day. I held each child’s hand, as there was some traffic. We rushed towards several puddles together and splashed in each one, laughing each time. I had listened to an interview with Temple Grandin in the car and she noted an urge lately for people to “prettify life.” Which I think is probably true, given the beautiful photos I’m drawn to on Pinterest. Sometimes though, a moment doesn’t need prettifying. It’s movie-ready, primed for a greatest moment montage of your life. I imagine I would remember this puddle moment if “my life flashes before me again” like it did during the world’s sketchiest take-off.

Aside: When many planes don’t fly into an airport because of “too many issues” (cough*Innsbruck*cough) and you hate flying, please oh please take a train from a nearby city. Before departure from Innsbruck, our pilot quite calmly stated that due to the fact that physics dictated our plane must be as light as possible to clear the Alps with the current wind-shear, they would be loading off all of our luggage onto another plane. That made me extremely nervous. Then we hit so much turbulance on take-off that the engines actually whined then rattled (like in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when all the engines died) on my side of the plane. Darcy looked earnestly at me and said: “You know, I really love you.” Which he NEVER says. And then I was watching my life in fast-forward: I saw quick glimpses of my childhood backyard, my beloved metal slide, our Christmas Trees, holding my brother after he was born, a report card with straight As, my parent’s faces when I graduated college, holding the key to the first car I ever bought myself, the moment I met Darcy, and his face when he was on his knee asking me to marry him, the Eiffel Tower glistening in the background. All that in a few seconds.

And because life never lets one forget, as we were still frolicking in the last puddle, I suddenly stopped cold. My spine tingled with dread and then I spotted them. A young couple was walking towards us, she was wiping away tears and they were clinging to one another as if they were drowning in the heaviest gravity. The very gravitational force they were inhabiting was not the same as the one the children and I were in just yards away. And I just knew: she had had a miscarriage. I tried to quiet down the rowdiness of the kids, to respect the heavy sorrow, so weighty it could anchor a battleship, that had so thoroughly pervaded the whole parking lot. As children are wont to do, they ignored me. I nodded to the couple, and while they didn’t even seem to see me, the woman turned as she walked and shot my daughter a glance so full of sadness, envy, disappointment and anger I was visibly shaken.

Tears formed in my eyes, and I was transported back to those awful days immediately following my losses. Part of me wanted to follow her and say: “Have hope: I went through what you did and these children were fought for with all the power I could muster.” But I know I can’t predict her journey. There are so many ways her life could play out and all the paths could be fulfilling to her. I wouldn’t be of comfort in any case. There was nothing I could do.

All I could do was hope that tonight she is writing about her experience, maybe even telling about the salt in the wound of seeing scampering happy kids. And somewhere, whether it is on a forum, Twitter, or a blog, I really hope she is being comforted by those many kind souls in our community who band behind one another during these awful moments.

I wish her to know she is not alone. I too, was once there, in that gravitational force of doom. I will always have my hand out for her and you all.

I was once drowning in grey while all around me, people created the memories that will flash before their eyes before they die.

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Filed under Infertility, Miscarriage, Parenting After IF

Remembrance

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

I only know what it is like to lose a pregnancy. I’ve lost two.

The only evidence of a child who was much wanted and lost. RIP Babies Jaffe, 3/12/2006 and 3/6/2010.

How to put into words what it’s like to lose a pregnancy? It laid waste to my world. Twice.

In February of 2010, I found out Darcy and I had conceived a child on our own.

The discovery was so specifically wonderful: I loved being a mother so, so, so much. I was thrilled. But I was scared. I knew how easily pregnancy could be snatched away from me: I’d had a miscarriage in 2006 before the twins were born. A “chemical pregnancy,” whatever that is.

It didn’t feel like a chemical pregnancy to me. It felt like the very ruin of my life, the ruin of hope, success, my very lifeblood. We visited Rhodes shortly after, and I was struck by the stark, crumbling, ancient city battlements. They looked like how my soul felt.

The best moment of that trip was when I discovered beautiful flowers blossoming in the cracks of the ancient, war-torn, forlorn walls of that citadel. Somehow, joy finds a way. A way to survive.

I remember. I remember our lost children. I remember the blossoming of the love we both had for the world, for the future. I remember how much I loved Darcy: how much I wanted our love to endure. I remember hope.

I remember, because if I don’t, no one else will. I remember, because I want to tell you all, the 1 in 4, you are NOT alone. We all remember. I remember, because these brave women have inspired me to remember.

I remember, because love is never wasted. It will endure. I will love those children for as long as I am here, on this earth.

I love them. And I always will.

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Filed under Miscarriage

Is Miscarriage Finally Becoming Less Taboo?

Ann Romney gave an interview two days ago talking about the fact that she has had several miscarriages. She described the impact of one in her forties in this clip here:

Ann Romney Talks About Her Miscarriage

It’s moving and sad. I am very, very glad to see that she has chosen to talk about this topic and the devastation it causes families, regardless of my political affiliation. This was brave of her and I’m happy she did it.

Unfortunately, the coverage of this clip has attracted negative headlines: “TMI?” says the Associated Press. “Oversharing?” asks The Washington Post. Worse, there is mention that this “oversharing” is a cynical attempt to win over women. I don’t think these articles are very different than this reprehensible MacLean’s piece.

Obviously, the Republican party’s stance on infertility in general and personhood in particular scares the heck out of me. But I am going to put that aside a minute to ask a question: Do you think that maybe the taboo on talking about miscarriage is lifting?

There is another development that I find cheering, and that is the the rise of this project, which has quickly gained public support and the endorsement of Nigella Lawson and Jools Oliver. (Wife of Jamie Oliver.)

What’s unique about Saying Goodbye is that they offer non-denominational services for anyone who has lost a child at any gestational age. In a way, it reminds me of the Japanese cultural of Mizuko.

I spoke with the leader of Saying Goodbye via Twitter today and she said that they will be launching their service internationally and in America soon.

I’ve had two miscarriages, one a “chemical pregnancy” (I HATE THAT TERM) during an IVF cycle and one from a spontaneous pregnancy in 2010 at 8 weeks. Both were devastating. To hear from Ann Romney, Nigella Lawson and Jools Oliver that I am not alone in very public ways is comforting to me, I must admit. And I hope that this is the beginning of a cultural acceptance of talking about loss.

Do you think it is?

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Filed under Miscarriage