Category Archives: Miscarriage

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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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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Day 38: I Dreamt I Had a Son Named Patrick

Last night I had one of those vivid half-awake, half-asleep dreams that seem more real than what happens during my actual life. I kept remembering scenes from this dreamscape today, and these scenes were like actual memories, not fragments from my dream.

I dreamt Darcy and I were rearranging our house and buying new beds for the twins. In the corner of the twins room was a small toddler boy who looked exactly like my son, except younger. Who was he? I suddenly remembered that he was my son, and his name was Patrick. I told Darcy, “We have to buy Patrick a new bed, too.” “Who’s Patrick?” Darcy asked, looking alarmed. “He’s our son, our youngest.” I pointed at Patrick, who was gazing at me with gentle hazel eyes. “We don’t have another son,” Darcy replied. My heart shattered in the dream as the vision of Patrick faded, as if he were a projection suddenly cut from its light source.

In a few weeks, it will be the year anniversary of my second miscarriage. And, not coincidentally, my blogoversary. Now that I have become a member of the ALI community, I feel guilty about the pain I feel about my second miscarriage. I’m so lucky that my insurance covered our treatments, so fortunate that after my first miscarriage I was able to get pregnant. With boy/girl twins! That was my dream, and it came true. Why do I have such an awful pain, still, when I think about that second miscarriage, that unplanned yet joyful pregnancy that ended at 8 weeks, 1 day. What a jerk I am, when I have so much already, and so many people I have gotten to know and admire have had much worse things befall them.

And yet, I had a son named Patrick. But he disappeared, and I will only see him in my dreams. And it hurts.

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Filed under Family, Miscarriage

Day 5: My Mom’s Poem – “Awaiting Your Birth”

Something that brings my mother joy is writing poetry. This is my favorite of all her poems. It’s somewhat prophetic that the poem is partially about me trying to keep my own “baby” alive and failing when I was a child, just like my own body often failed to hold pregnancies when I became an adult. And yet, the poem ends triumphantly with the impending birth of my beloved brother, whose upcoming visit next week I am already celebrating.

Awaiting Your Birth

By Judith Waller Carroll

As you shifted and swam

beneath my billowing dress,

your big sister caught a salamander,

its slippery body sliding

through her fingers into the glass dish.

She tried hard to find the perfect balance

of water and rocks, but gradually

its spirit floated away from its skin,

even as you were about to plant

your water-logged feet

firmly in time.

I need to note for copyright purposes that this poem won second prize in the Tallahasee Writer’s Association’s Penumbra Contest. (She also won first prize for “Leaving Montana” 🙂 ) Both the poems will be published in the 2011 copy of the Seven Hills Review.

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Filed under Discovering joy, Infertility, Miscarriage

My Year of Living Joyfully: 365 Days of Reflection on What it Means to “Get Happy”

Let’s face it: the world kinda sucks right now.

The economy, war, terrorism, the division within our own country, climate change, and nuclear proliferation. The general lack of stability about not knowing whether tomorrow is the day you or a loved one will be fired. Will China take all our jobs? Will there even be a world for our children to grow up in?

And then there’s the personal level of suckiness. For members of the Adoption/Loss/Infertility community, loss is an often ever fixed mark, and personally, it feels that I will never be able to minimize my own feeling of loss from my own two miscarriages. But even people who are “lucky” will eventually have loss happen to them, too. Eventually, our parents will die. Friends will be lost in terrible accidents, to disease, eventually to old age. I may succumb to an early grave, leaving my husband to marry some hot, mean woman who will send my children to ye olde thyme workhouse so she can have his Mr. Darcy-ness all to herself. (It’s a recurring nightmare. My husband is attractively haughty and rude, so my parents refer to him as Mr. Darcy.) Loss is, unfortunately, a part of the human condition.

I know that loved ones and friends are tired of me being down. They want me to “get happy!”  The common prescriptions for getting happy? Exercise! Change your diet! Relax! Organize! Stop stressing! Take a trip! Lose weight! Buy expensive shoes! Eat chocolate! Drink wine!

I have tried all of these things and none of them have worked, at least not on a long-term basis. In fact, I wonder if by building up these remedies in our brains as the solutions to unhappiness, we actually do more harm than good.

My dad once spoke to the author of the book “The City of Joy”, Dominique Lapierre. Lapierre told him a story (apologies if it is in the book, I read it a long time ago), that my father often retells to me. He interviewed a young girl whose family chore was to chase a train in Calcutta for pieces of coal, which her family would then use for cooking meager quantities of rice, which was their daily diet. You would think that this girl would not enjoy chasing the train, catching burning hot pieces of coal. But every day she would leave for her “job” with a smile. Why? Because often flowers grew on the train tracks and she would have the opportunity to pick them.

I may be accused at this point of being a spoiled Westerner, putting a smile on the face of horrible poverty and suffering, and I’m sorry if that’s what it seems. Maybe the girl in the story was internally miserable and sad. But there appears to be a nugget of truth in there about how we all could process the world.

I think a real way to “get happy” is to capture the little joys. (Which I plan to do weekly with Lori’s Perfect Moments, which is just a wonderful place.) But I’d also like to meditate each day on what joy and happiness is, over history, in different cultures. And not in a superficial woman’s magazine kind of way.

Ground Rules:

I will try not to discuss “shopping”, “dieting”, or “exercising”.  There will be no mention of “Eat, Pray, Love” or Oprah. Or shoes. Or boots. I’d also like to try to avoid being sappy if at all possible.

So (gulp!) every day in 2011 I will write about Joy. I think by writing about it, I can maybe feel it. And my greatest hope is maybe others may read this and also come away feeling some joy. And I hope maybe others will also share their own ideas of how to “get happy”.

Endnote: I know the song “Get Happy” refers to Judgement Day, which is not really very joyful, but I like the phrase 🙂

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Filed under Discovering joy, Fear, Infertility, Miscarriage, Perfect Moment

ICLW and the Pursuit of Joy

Welcome to everyone from ICLW! I have really been enjoying reading all the blogs from the ALI community participating in this event. There are so many moving and inspiring stories and strong women. You are all so impressive to me.

This blog has been an outlet for the pain of my miscarriage in March, and writing it has been like draining pus from a wound. We’ve had some good news this week, and it has lightened my load a bit (no, not related to getting pregnant). But I also have made the realization that I’d prefer not to have to wait for good news to be happy. I’d like to find happiness in little things. I’m not sure what those little things are yet, but I want to learn to recognize them when I see them and grasp hold of them immediately.

And so, this holiday season, I wish you all joy. Both little joys and big joys.

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