Category Archives: Miscarriage

Healing – A Decision and Process

By | Miscarriage, Pregnancy, Spirit | 5 Comments

Today I am thinking about how to heal from pain in a healthy way. I actually borrowed my title from Scott Savage, a friend and the author of The Joshua Collective blog. You’ll see his name in my writing from time to time because he also happens to be the pastor at Crash, a group of service oriented followers of Christ among whom I’m grateful to be counted. Anyway, I digress.

A few months ago at Crash, Scott talked about forgiveness and how it can change our lives. He talked about the true definition of forgiveness and whether or not it’s always appropriate to reconcile with the forgiven person (it’s not, btw – think abuse etc). It was a very powerful conversation for me – so maybe I’ll talk about that sometime. But today, I want to share a phrase he used that has rung in my ears ever since.

He said, “Forgiveness is both a decision and a process.”

As I mulled over those words, it occurred to me the last part of the sentence applies to far more than just forgiveness. Since then, the phrase has re-attached itself to something else in my life, the concept of healing. Healing – “is both a decision and a process.”

Healing has been a significant part of my life the last several years. In that past 6 years, my brother, mom and dad all died of cancer. Healing from pain that profound has been a long process. Many of you know that I had a severe miscarriage last year. I’m not going to recount that all right now but suffice it to say, it was a scary experience for me and I felt very grateful to still be here in the end.

I determined immediately afterward that I would be open both to the grief and the healing I wanted to experience as a result. Part of me wanted to be authentic and part of me wanted to speed the process. (After all, as a mom, I didn’t have time to wallow in grief, right?) From time to time, I’ve shared what it’s been like to recover from the loss of our baby and deal with the “scary” factor of being pregnant after such a traumatic miscarriage.

So, that was the “decision” part. I’ve often heard people say that the only part of life we control is our response to it. The decision to seek healing was within my control.

What I wasn’t as prepared for was the “process” of healing – which has at times smacked me in the face like a ton of bricks.

There have been odd moments like when I reached my 11 week mark in the new pregnancy (the week of pregnancy in which I’d last miscarried) and realized it coincided with the due date of the baby I’d lost. Ugh. Or the wedding where I suddenly found myself gulping back huge sobs as I happily squeezed the chunky little rolls of my dear friend’s baby. Most recently, I surprised myself by bursting into tears at the feeling of practice contractions squeezing my belly. The last time I felt those labor pains, my baby was dead and I feared I might be joining him or her.

For a while, I stopped writing about these things because I didn’t want to seem to be drawing attention to myself and because I don’t have a pat answer for how to resolve those feelings.

But my experiences and the support of friends over the last few weeks has convinced me that sharing is not only a good thing, it’s part of the healing I so want to have.

A few weeks ago, I did an incredibly (un?)-acrobatic move (for which I’m not currently in shape!) in the bathroom of a hotel room that literally landed me on my bum for a week and limited my ability to walk or do basic tasks for several more. During that time, several friends and my mother in law supported me with love and help in the form of meals, healing herb teas, help cleaning and words of encouragement.

In the meantime, I had a chance to sit quietly and face the fear I’d been unsure of how to resolve. Somehow, just sitting there, being honest about how I felt and letting myself grieve quietly healed my heart in a way I cannot explain. Allowing friends to express their kindness so sweetly left me feeling surrounded and safe.

Finally, last week, my honest answer to a friend who asked how I was feeling about the upcoming birth of my new little baby resulted in an eye opening response from her. I had been hoping to “overcome” my anxiety before labor and go in feeling strong and utterly fearless.

But she said, “It would be strange if you didn’t feel a little fear after what you went through. Instead, why not acknowledge it as part of your experience? It doesn’t mean you’re weak. Just human.” Her words helped me to know that feeling fear doesn’t necessarily mean I’m “not dealing” with it.

Those little moments of help, of support and of wise words from friends reiterated what I’ve been starting to believe about healing.

Healing takes different lengths of time and different forms for all of us. I think it’s possible to become lost in grief or to pretend that our experiences haven’t affected us. I have seen this happen but that’s not what I want for me. For me, healing has taken the form of being open to those tears when they come but also being determined to get up and move as soon as I recover even a little strength. I pray when I feel afraid and ask for courage. And, not least, I’m learning to share honestly with those who love me about how those experiences are still changing me – and letting those friends strengthen me when I’m not sure I have any strength left.

I don’t know what healing you might be seeking in your life right now but I hope just knowing that you are not alone in looking for it will be encouraging to you. Decide you want to heal, pray, share with those who love you – and be open to the process of healing that will surely follow.

With love…

Monna

p.s. if you’re looking for more information about healing from Miscarriage, I’ve written quite a bit about it. Start with Recovering from Miscarriage, One Month Later.

I share my story in the hope that it will make you feel less alone. Please pass it on if you know of someone who it might encourage.

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Erin - home w boys

Birth Week: Erin’s Birth Story – Twin Style

By | Birth Choices, Miscarriage, Parenting, Pregnancy, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Erin is a long time friend and has recently started blogging her adventures with twins. She’s funny, honest and an all-around amazing woman. I know you’ll enjoy her story!

 

My Birth Story

or Why I’m Never Doing That Again So It’s a Good Thing I Had Twins!


“Are you FREAKING kidding me?”

This is what I uttered to my doctor when he informed us that we were definitely having twins…maybe quadruplets.  I didn’t use the word “freaking” either.  He just nodded enthusiastically and told me very matter-of-factly that if I did indeed have quads that I’d be bedridden in the next few weeks and for the duration of the pregnancy.  He did all this with a huge grin on his face, like this was the BEST. NEWS. EVER!  I didn’t exactly see it that way.  My next statement was, as I turned to my husband, “I told you we should have gotten the Honda Pilot!  I can’t fit four baby seats in a CRV!”

The doctor went on to explain how unusual it was to have four gestational sacs in a natural pregnancy.  Then he said I was old.  Then he said that because I was old, my ovaries went off “like the grand finale at a fireworks display” and that’s why we had four.  Also, this doctor could only be described as a human bobble-head doll.  I was in the throes of major not-morning-but-all-day-sickness and he was making me incredibly nauseous, so he was not my bff at this moment.

Let me give a little background as to why I wasn’t exactly over the moon to be possible having quads:

This all happened in December ’09/January ’10.  I had found out I was pregnant back in July of 2009 and was over the moon.  Then we discovered that I’d miscarried and I required surgery to correct the situation.  So this incredibly joyful occasion had turned into one of the worst experiences of my life.  I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it out of the operating room and I was scared out of my mind.  The surgery went perfectly and recovery was smooth, but I was terrified of getting pregnant again.

So, when I spewed all over the bathroom two days before Christmas, I thought, “Well, this is familiar” and sure enough the test said I was pregnant.  I called my wonderful husband, and between uncontrollable sobs and hyperventilation I managed to squeak out, “Aahhhh, ahhhmmm, I’mmmm pr, pr, pregnannnnntttttt!!!!” (continue with the uncontrollable sobbing.)  I was sure this one would end the same way.

Because of the previous experience, my physician wanted to get me in for a blood test the next day (Christmas Eve) and confirmed that I was indeed pregnant, but this time they thought I was way further along than I could have been.  Apparently my “mitichlorian count” was incredibly high.  Higher than normal. *Nerd alert: I’m a Star Wars fan, and I use the term mitichlorian count to describe the pregnancy hormone they can detect in pregnancy tests because I can never remember the acronym for that actual name and I like to pretend that I am a Jedi and so are my kids.*  I insisted that I was not that far along and they said they wanted to do an ultrasound right away to confirm.  Here we go again.  We were happy but really nervous.

Being the overachiever I am, I Googled what an ultrasound should look like at the time I figured I was in my pregnancy.  So I was ready to go, but still nervous.  We get to the ultrasound lab and we see on the screen two black orbs and two more orbs with little flickering heartbeats.  Holy crap!  I looked at the tech and asked, “Are we having twins?”  She said, “Your doctor will talk to you.”  Not the response I wanted.  Ok, back to the bobble-head Dr.  An HOUR AND A HALF LATER he did confirm that I was having twins and the possibility that the two other orbs could develop into embryos also.

This is where I started to panic.  It is a cruel joke that I carried twins, let alone almost quads.  I am only 4’11” tall.  Not built for multiples.  I was showing at 9 weeks.  Like really showing.  Like couldn’t-button-my-pants-living in-sweats showing.  I also switched doctors.  I didn’t like being told that 31 was old.  We had ultrasounds frequently because, apparently, twin pregnancies are automatically considered “high risk” no matter how well it’s going. We didn’t have many options in the city where we live for alternative types of prenatal care, so our options for a home birth were immediately quashed and the midwife situation was less than desirable.  She creeped me out and the doctor she worked with wasn’t licensed properly.

We looked for a triplet for 12 weeks and the final two sacs diminished and never turned into embryos.  I think every twin mom should be told she’s having quads because then twins sounds so much easier!

The next months of the pregnancy were pretty normal except that I was sick for 20 weeks and had one good month, March, before I got so big it was incredibly uncomfortable.  I always looked like I was two months farther along than I really was.  Oh, and I was also working full time this entire time.  I had just taken a new job, not knowing I was pregnant, and was a sales manager for a wine distributor.  I was given the ok to keep lifting cases of wine until I physically couldn’t anymore.  They are 42 pound per case.  I did that until my sixth month when there just wasn’t anywhere for me to hold the case!

All this time we were planning for the birth.  We moved homes, set up the nursery, picked names–all the normal things.  We took a Birthing from Within class and created a natural birth plan because I was adamant that I was going to birth the boys naturally.  I did the birth art.  I did the yoga (as much as I could.) We read the books, and let me just tell you that the books out there geared toward multiples are crap!  All of them!  They are unhelpful and condescending.  I threw most of them away.  And What to Expect When You’re Expecting and The First Year are not much better.  Literally one page of the whole book is devoted to multiples.  And forget any books that help you out after the babies are born!  Ok, stay on target.

My doctor was incredibly supportive and wonderful.  I love my doctor.  I recommend him to anyone in my area.  I loved our birth coach.  Dr. Smith is still my angel to this day.  He was so encouraging and supportive.  He still tells me that I’m the toughest twin mom he’s ever seen, in all his years.  I am against invasive testing and he listened and never pushed anything I didn’t want.  We did decide to have me get the steroid shots about three weeks before the boys were born and he says I was a trooper through that too.  He even gave me the go-ahead to see Tom Petty in concert on June 12th, about 6 weeks before the boys were born and he gave me the handicapped parking pass because he didn’t want me waddling all the way through the parking lot!  Have I mentioned how much I love him?  Part of why we chose Dr. Smith was because of the framed Boston Marathon number and medal hanging in the hallway–I wanted a doctor I knew could run fast across the street to the hospital in case I went into labor suddenly, and partly because he was on board with our natural birth plan.  I also love him because he didn’t judge when I explained that because I work in the wine industry, part of my job is to taste wine and he was supportive of that.  My last month, he actually recommended I have a Guinness!

Well, the birth plan changed.  Six weeks before they were born, Harry decided to wedge himself butt-first in my cervix.  He wasn’t going anywhere.  Jack was transverse and wasn’t going anywhere either!  Ok, plan B.  C-section.  Again, I’m so glad that I had my doctor because he gives “the fastest C-sections in the west!”  Or so I was told by EVERYONE!  Good deal. The month of July sucked.  I was in active labor for a good four weeks before we decided that the boys were doing all the things they should be doing and if we waited any longer, I could go further into labor and we’d have to have an emergency C-section, so we scheduled their birth for the 22nd of July.  My parents were in town and I was soooooo ready!

Amazingly, my naturally neurotic brain was calm and it was my husband that was nervous.  I was on the phone with a winery taking care of business when my doctor came in and took my phone away saying, “Get off the phone!  You’re having babies today!”  The epidural and spinal block went perfectly.  I was joking with the crew about how I needed some Led Zeppelin or AC/DC playing in the operating room.  My husband came in and did great, and even joked about how many people were in the room and my junk was hanging out!  I had asked to see the operation, but they didn’t move the curtain, so I didn’t exactly know when Harry was born until I heard the tiniest little voice.  He sounded like a dove cooing.  They wrapped him up and I got to hold him for about 20 seconds until they whisked him over to “Baby A” station.  Dr. Smith said, “someone wants to say hi” and he held Jack up over the top of the curtain.  He was whisked over to “Baby B” station and they were both given oxygen.

Harry and Erin just after birth

After that, everything happened so fast.  My C-section was about 8 minutes, start to finish.  The boys were taken directly to the NICU and I was wheeled off to recovery.  I asked to see my boys and I was informed that I had to be able to walk there on my own.  This did not jibe with my plan to breastfeed immediately so I said that I needed a breast pump right now.  I was pissed!  No one warned me that I might not get to at least go see my boys after giving birth!  I felt a little like Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill as I stared at my unmoving feet and repeated, “Wiggle your big toe.”  Finally the lactation consultant came in and I was hooked up to the breast pump.  We discovered that I had enough milk to feed the entire NICU!

Eight hours later,Christopher finally wheeled me into the NICU.  Nothing prepares you to see your tiny babies in a plastic box.  They wouldn’t let me hold them or feed them.  They both had IVs, and oxygen masks on their faces.  It was horrible.

A little twin love...

Finally, I was able to hold Jack–24 hours later!  I was also told that I could start breastfeeding for short amounts of time. Everything was so structured and limited!  But I was wheeled or trudged down to the NICU every 4 hours to feed the boys.

You'd be fussy too!!

For those of you who know me, I lean toward the hippie-ish when I’m needing to be comfortable.  Oh, I also have tattoos.  Lots of tattoos.  I’m up to a full sleeve on my right arm, but at the point when the boys were born I just had a half sleeve of my wedding flowers. Very pretty.  I’m also pierced.  Nose, ears, etc.  I had purchased a couple of those scrunched top maxi dresses because they would be great for tandem breastfeeding.  They happened to be tie-dyed.

On my second day after giving birth, I finally got to shower and felt semi-presentable.
I had my hair in a bandanna and was dressed.  I arrived at the NICU and was asked by the nurse on duty, as she looked me up and down, what kind of drugs I had taken during my pregnancy.  WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I couldn’t believe that she just asked me that!  I looked at her and said I had only taken my prescribed prenatal vitamins!  She said, “It’s just that your babies are really fussy.  You know, fussy like drug babies.”  I replied that I’d be fussy too if I was new and someone stuffed me in a Tupperware box and glued felt sunglasses to my head and stuck a feeding tube up my nose and poked me with needles every few hours!  Chris and I were livid and we filed a complaint with the hospital.

Day five brought the great news that the boys could be moved up to the Pediatrics ward.  This was awesome!  Their first night out of the NICU was Christopher’s and my 2nd wedding anniversary.  He got us our favorite food from our favorite local restaurant and we spent our first night as a family on our anniversary.  The boys got to come home with us the next day.  It is indescribably scary to bring your tiny babies home and go from having them attached to heart monitors and then to nothing!  We were so happy to be home and in a comfortable environment though.  Home, where we could feed them without someone hovering over me!

Harry & Jack

The boys are humongous now and you would never know they were four weeks premature.  They are smart as whips–too smart, like evil-genius smart, Jedi smart.  They have achieved their milestones ahead of schedule and ahead of schedule for most full-term babies!  We love and cherish every moment, even when those moments are trying and tiresome.  Christopher and I are a united team when it comes to child raising and we share duties equally, especially now that we are both working full time.  He is a totally hands-on Daddy and has never balked at anything the boys have thrown at him (or peed at him, or pooped or puked, etc.!)

I am glad that I can look back on my pregnancy with humor, because it was dreadful when I was going through it. I have never been sicker, more uncomfortable and in more pain than during those eight months.  I am also glad that after the miscarriage, we were blessed with twins, because I am never going to do that again!

Erin and Christopher with Harry & Jack

About Erin…

My life has gone from relatively simple to Mayhem, Chaos and complete insanity in the short span of four years. I married the love of my life in 2008, got pregnant, gave birth to twin boys in 2010 and am the tasting room manager for a local winery. My husband and I live and breathe wine, and it’s a good thing…I’ve completely given up on keeping my sanity! Just call me Mayhem.

You can read more of Erin’s writing at her blog, http://justcallmemayhem.blogspot.com/

Recovering from Miscarriage, 9 months and counting

By | Miscarriage, Parenting, Pregnancy | 4 Comments

It’s been 9 months since I had a life-threatening miscarriage due to hemorrhage in February 2011.  At the time, I promised to share a little from time to time about healing after miscarriage. So here are some glimpses into the past – almost year.

****************

April 2011

My moon-cycle (period, monthly etc) started today. I’ve been feeling grumpy, bloated, snarly, feeling giant and everything that sometimes accompanies that time of the month. When I saw that red today, I felt raw and vulnerable. Everywhere I turn I see pregnant women. Even my four year old notices it. As we watched another family walk into the store with three kids she remarked sadly, “You know, I really wanted us to have three kids in our family, Mom.” I gulped and said, “Me too, baby. We still may.”

****************

May 2011

This month one of my dearest friends, who shared both my early pregnancy journeys, came for a visit from out of state. It was both healing and heartbreaking. I loved seeing our kids together, playing happily. As I held her youngest and third little one, I squeezed his sweet, chubby rolls close to me and breathed in his perfect baby scent. And my heart felt squeezed a little too as tears rolled down my cheeks without my permission. I couldn’t help but think about the baby I should have been heavy with by this point.

I don’t begrudge her the joy of her baby, of course. I just wish mine could be here too.

****************

June 2011

The “real” bills are starting to arrive regularly and the dollars are adding up. At first, it felt like insult added to injury. Not only did I not bring my baby home, a miscarriage cost more than a live birth! I’ve decided instead of dreading those little square envelopes, I’m going to say a little prayer of thanks every time I open one. After all, if it weren’t for the ambulance service, hospital and doctors who are sending bills, I wouldn’t be here to worry about paying them!

postscript: YES!! Due to our being on a single income, we discovered that not one but TWO of our largest bills were completely forgiven. I spent an afternoon in happy tears and feeling gratitude for unexpected blessings.

**************

July 2011

I find myself thinking of my little one more and more as my due date approaches. Was the baby a girl or a boy? It doesn’t really  matter, I suppose. But seeing pregnant women who are just about the stage I would have been at this month sometimes brings a stab of pain to my heart. In my more tired, vulnerable moments, I find tears coming to my eyes.

But most of the time, I trust that my baby was just not meant to come for some reason. I am starting to recognize how different that pregnancy was from my first two. I wasn’t very sick – and I was wretched with my first two. I just felt different last time.

Fears about getting pregnant again definitely surfaced this month since I am at a point physically where I’m healthy enough to get pregnant. My cycle was regular within a month of the miscarriage but I wanted to build my system back up again after the severe blood loss. This month, I have to admit I’m completely back to myself. But, the thought of getting pregnant and possibly losing another baby or almost dying again really gives me pause. I spent about a week before my cycle was due reliving the experience, feeling that faintness and seeing blood everywhere. Maybe it’s kind of like PTSD?

Then, I reminded myself that one of the primary lessons I learned from almost not being here – was to BE HERE. I am determined to experience life to the fullest and not let fear hold me back. So, I put those thoughts out of my mind and decided I’d cross that bridge when I come to it.

August 2011 – November 2011

While I still miss my little one and always will, I am not morbidly depressed or constantly in mourning. This may be because I already have two children to keep me busy. I want to grieve in a healthy way but still stay engaged in life.

I am learning to speak of my baby – not only here but in “real” life too. I am open about admitting I have had a miscarriage when it is appropriate and I’m not afraid to stretch the realms of what is appropriate either. I hope that kind of honesty from me and others will open the door for us as parents, family and friends to mourn miscarriage loss as legitimately as the loss of  loved ones we have had a chance to meet and love in person.

Lastly, most of you know that we are again expecting a little one sometime next year. I hope this encourages those of you who’ve had a miscarriage – whether or not it was as physically dramatic as mine. There IS life and hope after grief and loss!

Please keep commenting and sending me your stories. My hope is that women searching for hope and encouragement will find this blog and your comments and know they are not alone.

Recovering Physically from Miscarriage & Hemorrhage

Recovering Spiritually from Miscarriage & Hemorrhage

Please pass this on if you know of someone who it might encourage.

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Pregnancy after Miscarriage

By | Miscarriage, Pregnancy | 2 Comments

Being pregnant after a miscarriage is very different from just “being pregnant”. In my first two pregnancies, I knew there was always a possibility of a miscarriage but I pushed it from my mind and chose to believe my babies would be healthy. After a miscarriage, that kind of mental discipline is a little harder to find.

There have been times on and off throughout my current pregnancy when I’ve particularly struggled. In my last pregnancy, I was about 11.5 weeks when I miscarried. In this pregnancy, that week just happened to fall during the week my miscarried baby would have been due. Talk about emotional! Other difficult moments happened between nausea and the time when I actually felt the baby moving.

After my initial week of terror at the thought of pregnancy after a scary miscarriage, I settled into an uneasy acceptance of my pregnancy. I chose to push aside terror but found that niggling doubts about the baby’s health still plagued me.

For example, I was reticent to be excited when people asked me about the pregnancy. What if I miscarried this baby too? Should I wait to announce it? Did I really want to have to talk about it if this baby didn’t make it? Were my pregnancy signs strong enough?

Early on, I asked Robert if I seemed different this time than in the miscarried pregnancy. He was unfailingly reassuring. “Oh babe, you are SO emotional this time – like you were with our other kids!” He sounded enthused as he says it. When I doubted that I was nauseous enough, he laughed “You’ve been really sick!” Again with the enthusiasm – over nausea! But, I appreciate his encouragement and love and I am glad to know that sign is so strong. Though, it is hard to think straight or get anything done when I’m nauseous 24/7.

In my doubt, I also reverted to my faith in friendship. We all need friends around us in the good times, the bad times and the in between times. Moments of doubt are the times I need friends to remind me to have faith and enjoy life even when it’s uncertain. That’s why I’m choosing to be honest with you, friends, about how this pregnancy has felt.

I don’t have a neat, tied-up-in-a-bow kind of reassurance for you today. If you’re pregnant after a miscarriage, it’s likely that there will be moments of fear and doubt in the midst of the joy. That’s ok. Pain and doubt are just as much as part of life as joy and certainty. The question is, will we let ourselves be crippled by doubt or hold on to hope in the midst of it?

For today, I will wrap myself in your friendship and choose hope.

I share my story in the hope that it will make you feel less alone. Please pass it on if you know of someone who it might encourage.

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