02 February 2017

Moving Forward from Miscarriage

I'm finally at a point where I can really see how much progress there's been--how much better I am doing than a few months ago. Strangely, I realized this first on a bad evening. Something, I don't even remember what, had me spiraling back down into grief, but even as I sat on our bed with my heart aching I realized how far I've come--because now, I can feel this ache and this loss and the intensity of missing my little one and missing the innocent 'me' that existed before I lost her--but now I can feel that way while also knowing it's only for the moment--that I'll feel better tomorrow. There were a whole lot of weeks in which that aching, lonely heart was ever-present, my closest companion though it all, that there was no such thing as feeling better tomorrow.

{For those new here, this is the story of our loss in October}

Thank you, so, so much, to all the friends who have said to me even recently, all these months later--"I'm still praying for you guys." "I still think of you." You don't know how much that means--to know that some realize that for me, it's not all over and behind me and done with. It's still true. My baby's still gone just as much as she was that horrible day in the doctor's office. Several of you have been very thoughtful and have been gentle in the way you announced the news of your own pregnancies to me, and I am honored by your thoughtfulness. But do please know that for me, for these days--I find pregnancy announcements to be a very awesome thing. I think babies are miracles and every pregnancy announcement is a hopeful encouragement that in spite of how miraculous they are, they do come, for real.

But I'm doing a whole lot better than I was. Most of the time I'm okay, now. For weeks afterwards I felt like my creativity, my ability to host events, or to speak in front of people...that it was all gone. I actually stepped down from a few commitments and roles I'd originally chosen to do just because I couldn't trust myself to be able to speak as well or perform as well as I ought to. I mentioned to some that at the time I couldn't even imagine 2017, that I felt paralyzed at even the thought of making new plans for the year--new plans for a year I thought I would spend growing and playing with my precious baby. Here we are, months later, and I have been able to make new plans, and even to become excited about new plans for travel to the USA--right over the few weeks when my little baby should have been born. I am looking forward to our trip. There has been a few moments since we booked the trip, though, that my heart feels squeezed as I think that the only reason we're taking the trip at all is because the baby isn't here anymore--I'd trade the trip, I'd trade anything, if the baby I looked forward to last September was still growing along healthily just as she should have. But that's not an option I was given, so I'll choose the option of looking forward to seeing all the rest of the family members I love while I have the opportunity.

I'm feeling more safe about making commitments to being a part of community projects and stuff of that sort again. My constantly dreaming and scheming mind seems to have switched itself on again, and for that I am ever grateful. I didn't feel like 'me' without my dreams and schemes and big plans that Angel is always trying to tone down. I skip and jump and dance and play with the kids again when just months ago even walking and standing up straight felt like a burden.

There are still unexpected triggers sometimes. Last week I went back to the same hospital for the first time--not for me, but just to visit a friend in the hospital. I didn't think about anything ahead of time, but as we turned on to the streets closest to the hospital I found myself suddenly fighting off panic, realizing that I haven't seen these streets, I haven't seen that hospital since the day I can't bear to think about. My hands shook and I felt sick to my stomach. I very maturely handled the situation by closing my eyes so I wouldn't have to see the surroundings and reciting random nonsense poetry to myself (''Twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe, all mimsy were the borogroves and the mome raths outgrabe..." no one else recites Lewis Carroll to distract themselves?) as Angel drove into that hateful parking lot and held my hand and walked me into that same horrid elevator (yes, I have irrational feelings toward the inanimate objects who appeared as stage props in my story of loss. Don't even ask what adjectives I would use to describe that ultrasound machine). By the time we arrived at the room to visit our friend I was able to be normal and okay and not appear to be a crazy person, we had a good visit, and after we left I high-fived myself for being able to go back to that hospital for the first time without crying.

Once since our loss, a neighbor randomly asked how come we've been married so long and have no children. I am fundamentally opposed to finding that question offensive--I'm not offended by it. But at the moment I utterly froze. I could respond with nothing at all. I was grateful for Angel right there to laugh it off and answer something...I have no idea what he even said. I was frozen. Someday I'll be able to answer that again. I'll figure it out. I'm just slow.

I'm an odd mix of personalities. I'm not the more spiritual kind of person who takes comfort from saying I can imagine my baby hanging out on Jesus' lap while He reads her stories or something of that sort. My take on heaven/life after death is that I have no idea what to expect in a practical, literal manner, but I trust God, He made this world and even with the terrible brokenness of this world, it's still really cool and pretty much downright amazing (the odd paradox of our world), and I figure I can trust Him to know what He's doing. No more tears and no more death and no more pain alone will be a big improvement. I'm also not the more scientific kind of personality who is comforted by the scientific fact that a certain percentage of pregnancies end in miscarriage and it's usually for a 'good reason' and scientifically it all makes sense. I understand the science, it just doesn't really cheer me up. I'm not a scientific/logic-based personality. I'm somewhere in the middle--for me, a loss like this has both scientific, physical reasons, and spiritual, eternal implications. And apparently I'm the kind of person who doesn't get over a miscarriage like it's no big deal. I have wished I was the sort of person who could, though. Who could honestly say, "I'm doing okay" long before now. I would have liked to be that person who can "take a lickin' and keep on tickin'." But I have learned that I'm not really that peaceful, calm, content-no-matter-what sort.

Finding my new place, my new role, my new 'me' through all of this has been weird. I'm a lighthearted, easily excited person, and I'm used to viewing my own life as awesome. I'm married to a prankster without a sensitive bone in his body. This sense of bereavement just seems like a wrong fit for us. And there's the contrasting facts that deep down inside, I secretly consider myself a "mom"...although in a very real way I have no reason to do so. I have basically zero shared experience with real moms--two pink lines, a few weeks of morning sickness and ramen cravings, one sonogram of a tiny spot, and love. That's the sum total of my experience of 'motherhood' and I know that it's not the definition of motherhood at all. And yet it was enough to change my 2016 and my 2017...maybe the rest of my years too, to some small extent. It's not like this is something I'll forget or I'll ever not be sad that it happened. But I've rejoined the land of the living and I'm grateful for the truth in what so many of you reminded me--it will get better.

I'm thankful for health and life and and Christmas vacation and cool people all around--on the internet and in real life. I'm thankful for that beloved husband of mine whose idea of counseling and comfort is to say, "I'm a great counselor! When you talk and cry, I sit there and I say NOTHING." It's true. He says nothing. But his non-scientific "Just let Rachel talk" approach seems to have worked (still, I'm not recommending that he pursue any mental health-related career paths anytime soon).

What I want to end with here is that God is faithful. He's not faithful because I got pregnant right away after the miscarriage (I didn't). He's not faithful because of of some even better kid I get to have in the future as long as I didn't have my first kid (that wouldn't really make any sense anyways). He's not faithful for any reason related to results--He's faithful because it's His inherent nature to be faithful. He couldn't be otherwise than faithful.

Daniel 3:16-18 "Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

"even if He does not."

Linking to Brita.
Tayler Morrell said...

I am so glad you are feeling better!

Michelle said...

I'm so happy to hear you're improving. I still think about you often. Losses like this take a very long time to heal from, and that is completely ok. I love the verses at the end of this post. I'm always trying to remind myself that God is always good, no matter my lot. It's a hard lesson to learn sometimes.

shilpa arya said...

Hugs to you dear 😊

The Lady Okie said...

A friend who is going through a really difficult time right now where there has been a loss was talking to me about grief and how it's like grief is a dot, and in the beginning you keep circling it over and over again, and it feels like all you feel is the grief. But then as time goes on, you start taking larger and larger circles. The grief is still there as a spot on the circle, and you do cycle back to it every now and again, but you aren't constantly in that place. I thought that was great because I really don't think you ever really "heal" from a loss. It's always going to part of your life, and triggers will set it off, but there is also something good about realizing that you can actually be okay the rest of the time. I find myself thinking I "should" feel like this or not feel like that, but you can't help how you feel and how you personally process life events. I feel like I "should" be past the point where I'm sad about leaving R and going to work, and some days I'm fine and other days I'm really not fine. It's hard to understand believing God is good ALL the time while reconciling the hard things that happen. I'm still learning this too, so you aren't alone :) Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Lily Fang said...

That verse really speaks to me--I remember, actually, that my pastor at home had given an entire sermon on the very words you emphasized: "even if He does not." That's exactly what faith is--trusting and believing so fervently despite the uncertainty. That even if God is absolutely capable of delivering us from suffering, he may not. I admire your faith and strength, Rachel, and I'm definitely still praying for you and Angel. It's heartening how you're such a dynamic team in your own way (those counseling sessions sound highly effective haha--it's actually a method of therapy to offer little personal insight and paraphrase what patients have just told you. It's called humanistic therapy--I believe it's supposed to give patients a greater sense of control/initiative. Maybe Angel's onto something!).

I'm glad to hear you're beginning to feel like yourself again. I firmly believe that time is one of the greatest antidotes. Things may not be the same again, but a new normal is out there, waiting for your effervescent, resilient, hopeful self.

On another note, I've finally caught up on blog reading, and I've been so impressed by your travels. I'm incredibly excited that they sold candy apples at the skycab cafe. The views looked magnificient! I would also totally try to boil eggs in hot springs, so I'm glad the signs clarify this important point ;)

Your US trip is also so exciting! I'm sending you the best as you prep. Speaking of logistics though, if you're looking for a pay-as-you-go phone plan, I've had a good experience with tracfone. It should be fairly easy and relatively cheap to use if your phone is unlocked. I pay around $20 for 3 months of service, so I imagine a month is even more affordable!

Much love always <3

imperfect idealist

Amy @ Swag On, Momma! said...

I loved your words. I feel the same about faith and I love that verse you shared. It's an interesting thing as a Christian to have faith in a God and Savior of miracles, and to fully believe He can still do them in our lives today. But, if the miracle I'm praying for doesn't happen for me now, I will still believe. My faith has weathered enough that is is no longer conditional on results in my life. Thank you for sharing your heart and testimony, and even using such a painful and sad time in your life to share your faith and story. It touched my heart. I think part of the healing process is to share our hearts and help others on their journey! Your words can help a grieving mother feel not so alone. I personally have never experienced a miscarriage, but many of the women I am closest to have--including my three sisters. Hearing your feelings helps me to better understand and support those women around me when they go through losing a baby. Because you are brave enough to share your experience, your little baby is making an impact for good to many people! What a beautiful way to honor your baby. You are still in my prayers and thoughts, though I've never met you. And, in my opinion, you feeling like a mother totally makes sense. Your body carried a child of your own. That is a real thing--the length of time that baby was with you doesn't change that. Love to you and Angel.

AnneMarie said...

I can't really say anything to add to the beauty of your reflection. I am so, so glad that God has continued working in your life and that you have been able to grieve and also begin moving forward a little bit. And for the record, I think Angel's approach at counseling sounds pretty great-there are definitely times where I tell my husband, "I just need to talk it out to you and cry. I don't need you to give me a solution, I just need to cry" and it usually makes me feel loads better!

Natalie said...

Moving forward from miscarriage isn't a linear path, for sure. I know that, even a year and a half later, I still find myself thinking of the little boy I lost with a heavy pit in my stomach. Yet, I look at my two children, and I have to remind myself that there is so much goodness in my life to focus on as well. I'm so happy to hear that you've been surrounded by love through this period--and that people are still asking you about your little, as so many people seem to want to "get through" the mourning and move on. There's no getting through it. It's a part of you forever, and sometimes, you'll want to talk about it, months or even years later. Our little boy was due in February 2016, and my husband and I made the decision to go on a trip over what would've been his due date. Instead of waking up in the hospital to the cries of my little one, I woke up in Ireland; we stood on the cliffs of the Aran Islands that day, and I felt the first bit of happiness in a very long time. Hugs to you and Angel as you keep finding your way along this path. :)

Rach said...

That same scripture/story brought so much comfort to me during our times of grief as well. I remember truly embracing that. "Even if He does not." Amen. Amen. Amen. He is so faithful to us simply because that is Who He is. Faithful. Always.

Friend, I know I've told you this, but you are definitely still in my prayers. I know that feeling of "mother" that you describe. Those things you talk about are things you absolutely have in common with other mothers. Especially that love.

Kristy Sayer-Jones @ Southern In Law said...

I am new around here after you left a comment on my blog - and I am so sorry to hear that you've walked this path.

I am so glad you are finding yourself now after all you've been through - of course things look and feel a little differently and it's always going to take adjusting - but you're getting there and you'll get there <3

That verse is one that I have often clung to - saying that EVEN with an incredible emphasis because I know that even if my circumstances stay the same, so does God's faithfulness and love towards me. Even when everything feels like it's falling apart - He is faithful.

Anonymous said...

I have miscarried twice, and it helps me so much to read inspiring stories like this one! Thank you! My heart is still broken, and I'm having a rough time.

Brita Long said...

I am the kind of person who desperately wants to be rational in all things, but who is very emotional. Dan has learned that I will come to him at times, tell him I logically know I'm being irrational, but I still need to him to comfort my feelings until they subside.

There's not a wrong way to BE. There's not a wrong way to react or feel or grieve. I have no idea what it's like to have a miscarriage. My only frame of reference is how much time I spend crying because I'm still too sick to even try to get pregnant. I am so glad that you're healing, that you're feeling better, even if you'll never quite be the same again.

Elizabeth said...

Miscarriage is so incredibly difficult. I lost one at just 6 weeks. It never gets easier...just slightly more manageable. I'm 36 weeks now with our rainbow. I wouldn't have her if we still had the one I lost. It brings up such conflicting emotions! I still desperately miss our little one. I write to him (or her...I say him because of a dream I had) often in a little journal I keep. It helps a lot on days that are harder than others.

Moonofsilver said...

I relate. And I huge you. Oh I relate.

StephTheBookworm said...

A million hugs to you. I am so sorry we had to "meet" because of our pregnancy losses but I look forward to getting to know you more and support you in this journey. I don't think the pain or the missing ever goes away. I am sending you good thoughts and prayers.