Fragile

Yesterday, I started my first scuba class. I read the book, watched the videos, and aced the written test. In the afternoon, we geared up and got in the pool. Using a regulator made me feel super human and it was amazing being underwater without having to come up for air. Then the instructor started to teach us the skills I’d read about – how to clear your mask when it floods with water, how to recover your regulator if it drops from your mouth, and how to share air with your buddy if you (or they) run out of air. I’m not joking, I came unglued. I panicked, and couldn’t do the tasks because I was unable to stop crying. I picked up all the gear I’d bought and never used, grabbed my bag and left. Frustration and embarrassment set in once I got to my car. I’d been preparing for the class for weeks and I know that it is only smart to practice for things that could go wrong during a dive. But something in my soul realized that I pushed myself too far too fast. I’m not ready for something else to go wrong. If I were to go for a dive I really believe I’d enjoy it if everything went smoothly. The thought of something going wrong, and my life (or someone else’s) being dependent on my actions and ability to problem solve quickly and calmly…that’s a big NOPE…at least right now anyway. And that’s the weird thing about grief. Months later you think you’re holding it together and doing okay and the next moment your running out of a scary situation and crying in your car (which has become a safe, judgement-free zone). 

It’s highly likely that I overreacted, but I have limits. I’m the kid who breaks her leg on the trampoline, the girl who breaks her wrist and tailbone ice skating for the first time. The young lady who has skin cancer for the first time at 24. The woman who’s pregnancy results in a loss and possible cancer diagnosis. So maybe I did overreact in the moment, but I’ve decided to not complete the course. I’m frustrated that I feel this way and can’t just make it through the simple skills, but I’m proud of myself to be able to say I am too fragile. 

I’ve met a friend through this grieving process, and though I’ve never met her in person she’s become a wonderful source of comfort and quiet strength. She grew up here in the US but has been living on the other side of the world in a Southeast Asian nation. Somehow our worlds collided when we both lost our babies and had our D&C procedures done the same week. We’ve walked each other through blood tests, grief, and heartache. This stranger turned friend has become a beacon of light for me.

Coincidentally this friend had mailed me a package back in May. Due to some vandalism at our community mailboxes, the package was held at the local post office. I picked it up on Friday and noticed the warnings that the contents of the package were fragile. I carefully unwrapped it, and revealed a beautiful hand blown glass vase. With it, a lovely letter explaining the history of the vase. It was made at the Nagar Glass Factory, in Yangon, Myanmar by the owner who was trained by Murano glass blowers. The factory was destroyed in 2008 by Cyclone Nargis and was never rebuilt. My friend explored this factory and after some searching, she found the glass vase for me. It’s a beautiful, transparent, and shattered on the inside. Yet it survived a cyclone, almost a decade of being buried in the ground, and a month in the hands of the U.S. Postal Service.

It could not have arrived at a more perfect time. I feel broken at times, barely holding it together. One tiny nick could seemingly shatter me. Yet it hasn’t.

There are so many wonderful things to come from this storm. I’m forever thankful for the women turned friends who stood by my side as we weathered the storm together. You’re a fragile treasure I hold near to my heart. 

Time

“Water, over time, destroyed this smooth land, and made it beautiful. I’m sure the land was upset as it happened. Now, I bet it boasts. Life, over time, can carve away the life you thought you’d lead, the plans you made. But it’s busy, slowly, slowly, working.” – Jedidiah Jenkins

Today is my last blood draw. Hopefully I will get a call in a few days from my doctor saying this chapter of my life is over and I’m able to move on to the next chapter. I’m calling this a chapter in my life because it is just part of my story. A period of time that carved away the life I thought I’d lead and the plans I made.

For the last hour, I’ve been sitting in the waiting next to a mom and her infant. Hearing a baby cry and laugh makes me want to cry and laugh. It’s torture in some ways and healing in others. Everyone here assumes I’m getting a blood test because I’m pregnant. I’m sitting next to another gal getting the same test because she is pregnant. I should be pregnant. I should be a month away from holding my own crying baby in a waiting room. But in other ways, I know being forced to be around other pregnant moms and babies is what helps me heal. A few months ago this would have reduced me to tears, but today I find myself smiling when I hear that baby laugh. And even though I can feel the sadness rising in my throat, there aren’t any tears.

Closing this chapter is really bittersweet. It’s bittersweet because I’m obviously I’m ready to put some of this behind me. I want to be done with being a human pincushion. I want to be done sitting in waiting rooms, waiting for phone calls, and praying I don’t need chemotherapy. There’s a lot of waiting after a molar pregnancy.

But I’m not ready to put everything behind me. Every day pushes me farther into the future, away from the days of being pregnant. And I loved being pregnant! It’s such an amazing thing that we are able to create a life. I’m dreading my due date, because it’s a date that has been special in my heart for a long time and I’m worried the actual day won’t be special at all now, just another Tuesday. I’m trying to feel happy to be “free” from my molar pregnancy, but I feel sad making plans to do things during a time when I had thought I’d be caring for my newborn. And I’m scared to move forward. As much as I don’t want to be stuck in this place I’m scared to see what the next place holds for me.

Time is a bizarre thing. I remember back in January, they told me they thought I’d be cleared in 1-3 months before we got the molar diagnosis. Three months sounded like an eternity and I assumed my heart would be healed in that amount of time. It wasn’t. It’s been 6 months and I’m not healed. It amazes me that in 9 months we can create a human life but can’t heal our very human hearts. I can’t believe I ever thought I’d be “over it” by now…because now I know you never get over it. A mother doesn’t stop loving her child. A grieving mother never stops missing her child. It’s hard for me to call myself a mother, because my arms are empty, but I am a mother in my heart. Just like the Love You Forever book goes “as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

Just like that, time marches on – carving a new life and new plans.

“Time is very slow for those who wait. Very fast for those who are scared. Very long for those who lament. Very short for those who celebrate. But for those who love, time is eternal.” -William Shakespeare

Every day, I can feel myself healing. When I look back a few weeks or months, I can see how wrecked I was spiritually and emotionally then – even though at that point I thought I was doing okay. Though I don’t consider (or ever expect) myself to be back to “normal,” I do feel better.

The reason a woman will never feel normal again after losing her child is because her heart will be broken over and over again. The future she expected is forever altered. A piece of her is forever missing. Certain dates and holidays will fill her with dread for weeks or months. Pregnancy and birth announcements, even though they bring happiness, also stir up sad feelings. Wondering why getting and staying pregnant is so easy for some people. Wondering why babies are born to mothers who don’t want to or are unable to care for them. Wondering if you’ll ever have a baby to hold in your arms.

There is a long list of “triggers” for mothers who have lost their babies. But one of the worst is hearing of another loss. My heart breaks all over again for a woman who has lost her first child. Knowing how much pain she is in and how that loss will forever change how she feels about future pregnancies. My heart breaks hard for the woman who has had multiple losses, for she’s no stranger to the unimaginable pain that has wrecked me. Doubt overshadows her hope on a regular basis, yet she still holds onto hope.

I’ve never been more aware of my heart than I am now, because it’s breaking. It breaks every day for my baby and for yours.

“Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.” ― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Gloria

Two summers ago, your daddy came home excited with a huge smile on his face. “I know what we should name our first baby, I just heard a song on the radio that gave me the idea!” My mind was racing, trying to figure out what song he was talking about. He said he’d heard the U2 song “Gloria” on his way home and couldn’t think of a better name for our first baby. I agreed that I loved the name and it stuck. Even before you were conceived, your sweet name was on our lips and in our hearts.

At our wedding, we had two versions of “Gloria” in our playlist – the one by U2 and also the oldies song by Them. We’ve spent 2 years singing your name and smiling!

I remember back in junior high in choir we sang the song “Gloria in excelsis Deo” in Latin. Later, in high school, I took Latin classes and learned the translation for the song which I’ve included below. Turns out, you’ve been on my lips and in my heart for years and years. I can’t think of a sweeter, more perfect name for my angel!

Every day I give God thanks for His great glory. Every day I thank him for giving me YOU – my sweet Gloria! G-L-O-R-I-A!


Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te, gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam, Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens. Domine Fili unigenite, Iesu Christe, Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis; qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis. Quoniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Iesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen

Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will. We praise You, we bless You, we adore You, we glorify You, we give You thanks for Your great glory. Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.  Lord Jesus Christ, only begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Receive our prayer.  You who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For You alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lord, You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.


Lyrics to “Gloria” by U2

I try to sing this song
I, I try to stand up
But I can’t find my feet
I try, I try to speak up
But only in you I’m complete

Gloria in te domine
Gloria exultate
Gloria, Gloria
Oh Lord, loosen my lips

I try to sing this song
I, I try to get in
But I can’t find the door
The door is open
You’re standing there
You let me in

Gloria in te domine
Gloria exultate
Oh Lord, if I had anything
Anything at all
I’d give it to you
I’d give it to you

Gloria, Gloria

 

Daddy

One of the biggest perks of meeting someone who has children from a previous relationship is that you immediately get to find out what kind of a parent they are. There’s no guessing or surprises in that department! It was easy to fall in love with Bill after seeing what an amazing dad he is.

The love that he shows his kids on a daily basis is what made me sure I wanted to have a baby with him. The thing I looked forward to the most was seeing how Bill would love our baby. When he looks at his kids, I swear I can see him beaming with pride. His face softens and a sweet grin curls up the corners of his lips. When we watch movies as a family, I look over and find him running his fingers through their hair and sweetly smiling at them without them even realizing he’s not watching the movie. It melts my heart.

Bill is a hands on kind of dad. He makes breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. He totes kids to school,  practices, and doctor’s appointments. He’s gentle, patient, and understanding. He’s funny, lighthearted, and careful to use kind words. I’m lucky that all of those qualities also apply to me. Just this morning, I got up to get ready for work and he got out of bed on his day off to make me breakfast before I left the house. When I was pregnant, he used to tell me “bye” and that he loved us. He went prenatal appointments with me. Some people say that men don’t become a dad until they hold their baby in their arms, but Bill is the exception to that. He was a good daddy to our baby before the test strip turned pink.

In the last 5 months, I’ve learned that we grieve differently. Bill made sure our house kept running at the same speed when I wasn’t even able to crawl out of bed on my own. Food appeared in front of me even though I insisted I didn’t want to eat. He’s the rock in our family. Every day, I strive to be a little more like him or at least a person worthy of his love.

While I’ve had my doubts about being a good mom, but there’s never been a doubt in my mind that our baby has the best dad. There have been so many moments when I wished our baby could have lived instead of me because I have no doubt that all they would ever need is their daddy. I could see the love for our baby in his face the morning they wheeled me back into surgery. He squeezed my hand and big silent tears ran down his cheeks.

In that moment I realized…”I never knew how much I loved your daddy until I saw how much he loved you.”

Happy (early) Father’s Day to one AMAZING daddy!!! We love you!!

Chasing Rainbows

I got my results back – my second monthly test was still negative! Woohoo!!! This means I only have one more test at the beginning of July and if that is still negative, then I’m free!

We are on a family vacation at the beach this week, and it’s been amazing to escape reality for a bit. I’ve been mostly “unplugged” and it’s felt so nice to reset and enjoy being with family and the beautiful ocean.

One day, I volunteered to be buried in sand by my sweet nieces. We all laughed at how fun it was to make a mess and know the ocean could just wash away all the muddy sand. As they were covering me in sand, my youngest niece asked “Aunt Ter-Bear, why did you miscarry your baby?” I flashed back to the first time I ever heard of a miscarriage. I still remember vivid details about that moment, because it seemed like the saddest thing that could ever happen. I looked at her sweet, curious face and hated that at her young age she has to find a way to understand what a miscarriage entails. I told her I really wanted the baby, and it made me sad to lose it. But making a baby is like baking a cake, you have to have the right amount of all the ingredients. My baby didn’t have the right ingredients, and it didn’t work out this time.

It amazes me how perfect things have to be for a life to exist. It makes me feel hopeful, especially when I see a tiny crab crawling across the sand, a dolphin jumping out of the waves, or a beautiful rainbow after a day of rain. Life finds a way, and that’s such a beautiful thing. 

The Road to Recovery

Written by Teri for Courageous Mothers Community – the original post is here.


Broken. It all starts with the words “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.” In that moment, I felt my own heart shatter into a million little pieces. I’ve been wrecked – mind, body, and soul. 

Body. My whole life I’ve faced illnesses, broken bones, and allergies. I’ve had multiple minor surgeries over the last 12 years. Nothing has been worse than the surgery to remove my unborn child. Even though the procedure itself was easy, I woke up the following day tense and stiff from stress. I felt as though I had whiplash from a car accident. I’ve spent months resenting my body for failing me and my baby.

Mind. The negative thoughts are constant. You wonder what you did wrong, what you could have done better, and what your life would be like if things had gone according to your plan. It seems inevitable that there’s a blame you place on yourself in an attempt to regain control of the situation.

Soul. Losing my child was absolutely without a doubt the worst thing I’ve ever faced. It’s an experience and pain that is with me all day every day. Though I was able to find comfort in meeting women who have had a similar experience, the realization that so many women know this pain has weighed heavy on me.

These are the things I wish I could have told myself 5 months ago:

Body. Love your body. Appreciate that you were able to create a life, because that truly is a miracle. Find ways to care for it. Eat well, exercise, rest, relax, indulge. Taking care of your body and loving yourself is difficult during the grieving process, but it’s so important.

Mind. This is not your fault. If you had a friend going through this experience, would you say the same hurtful things you’ve said to yourself to her? Of course not! If you wouldn’t say the words to a friend, make a point to not say them to yourself. Blame is not a helpful tool in the recovery process – make no space for it in your mind.

Soul. Recognize that this is a tragedy. It’s absolutely awful, and you deserve time to be sad. Allow yourself to process the loss and make space for that child in your heart, it will always be with you. Find ways to remember them and smile. Buy a set of wind chimes that will make beautiful music in the wind. Find ways to reconnect with nature. Make a keepsake box to hold all the physical reminders you have of your little one. Go ahead and find ways to remember them, because their presence will always be with you.

I’m so glad that you’ve found this site, and I want to remind you that you are not alone. There is an entire community of women who know and understand what you are going through. The thoughts and feelings you’re having right now are something we’ve thought and felt, too. Please be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time and space you need to work through your loss. We are so very sorry for your loss and we are holding space for you. ❤

Today is the last day of school for my stepchildren. I’m full of warm feelings, excitement, and hope as we kick off summer and I’ve decided to make today the start of a new year for myself. I’m done with the difficult times that 2017 brought, and I’m moving on (possibly with my middle finger in the air, flipping off the worst 6 months of my life as we drive to the beach next week). I’m not even sorry that I’m not sorry!

During this year, I’ve realized that rock bottom has a basement and I’ve been stuck in there for months. Just like the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I’m breaking out and taking on the world, and I’m determined to do it with her same enthusiasm. I’ll be starting a new role at work sometime this month. I’ve signed up for scuba training in July and I’m ready to explore a part of the world I’ve never seen. We’ve (finally) booked our honeymoon trip for the end of the summer and I’ll be able to put those new diving skills to the test. I’m determined to get my body back into shape and start feeling like myself again. Start loving myself again.

There’s something about the warmth of the sun on my (overly sun screened) face that makes stress melt away. I’m ready to feel the sand sink under my feet instead of feeling like I’m the one sinking in quicksand. I’m ready for the cool waves to wash over me and carry my sorrows back into the sea. I’m ready to listen to the sounds of the world and let them drown the noise in my mind. And I’m ready to comb the beaches looking for a beautiful, unique treasure to take home with me. There’s nothing that cures you like salt water…sweat, tears, and the sea.

So, I close my eyes to old ends. And open my heart to new beginnings.

Memorial Day

Today was the first time since our loss that I had to face someone in person who was grieving a recent loss. I honestly thought I’d be better prepared now to comfort someone, but as soon as my eyes met hers, all the words I had thought I would say flew out of my mind. The only things I could come up with were “I’m so sorry” and “let me know if there’s anything we can do.” I could feel myself cringing as I said them. I’m so disappointed those were the best words I could manage.

I’ve spent the rest of the day thinking about the people I’ve lost. My grandpas, an aunt, a few friends, a school principal, a neighbor of mine who never came back from war. I keep trying to wrap my mind around what it means for these people to be gone. It hurts and stings because you know you’ll never see them smile or laugh again. Endings are always difficult, especially when you didn’t have a chance to say goodbye.

At some point, the cards stop arriving, the flowers wilt, and the sympathy comes to an end. Grief never stops for a loved one. Like the ocean, memories ebb and flow. Sometimes they roll in just far enough to tickle our toes and bring a smile to our face, and other times they crash into us and knock us off our feet.

So what’s the one thing that you can do for a grieving person to make them feel better?

REMEMBER.

It’s that simple. We all just want our love ones remembered. We want them to live on beyond our memories. Say their name, share a story, and find ways to honor them.


On this Memorial Day, I remember Kristopher Higdon. The boy across the street who never came home from war. You are not forgotten!

It’s okay to not be okay.

This post is going to be a tough one to share. It’s about all the things that have gone on inside my head but I’ve been too scared to say out loud. I’m worried that saying them will result in a family member calling a mental health professional and telling them I’ve lost my marbles and need help. Then I remember I’ve already seen my counselor and she ended up crying in my last session as much as I did. Maybe more people have experienced these feelings but they are just difficult to discuss. Maybe all these abnormal thoughts are actually normal?

Distractions have become my best friend and my only comfort. I find it difficult to focus on daily tasks and find myself wondering how things could have been. The only way I can make it through a day is to listen to an audio book, stream a podcast, or play music. These distractions keep the tears at bay and make me feel like I’m normal. More than anything I want to feel normal again.

Talking about my feelings helps. I know the dead baby topic is tough, but I am so thankful when someone asks me how I’m doing and opens the door for me to discuss all the things going on in my mind. I like talking about my baby as much as any mother would!

Death has become a fascination for me. Not in the sense that I’m contemplating it, but that I want to understand more about it. I go to bed every night watching Forensic Files. I stream podcasts about killers, cold case files, and solving murders. Being able to talk about death makes it feel more scientific, and less emotional.

Fear consumes me and I worry that I may lose someone else close to me. I’m always worried that I’ll lose Bill or my family or the kids. I hug people more. I tell Bill I love him so many times a day I lose count. I save voicemails from my grandma and cherish that I have a recording of her telling me she loves me. I find myself checking on my dog while she’s sleeping to make sure she’s still breathing.

Sleep seems more important than oxygen. I crave it all the time. Never enough sleep. And I look forward to a time when my thoughts go silent and my body can rest.

Home is the only place I want to be. There’s a comfort in being in my house surrounded by familiar things. Home is the only place in my life that’s free from emotional triggers.

Emotional triggers limit my desire to leave the house. A couple of months ago, I broke down in a restaurant when I was seated next to a new mom and her infant. Hearing the baby cry sent me over the edge. I began crying hysterically and had to leave the table until they left the restaurant. My sister in law hugged me and held me as I cried uncontrollably. Honestly, I’m humiliated by the incident and terrified it might happen again. I find myself longing to hold a baby, but I am not sure if that will cause another meltdown or if I’ll never want to give it back.

Baby seems like the only answer. It’s so strange for me because I used to think I never wanted a child of my own, and now it’s all I can think about. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel normal again unless I have one. Not that another baby can ever replace ours, but it can make me a mother and I long to be one.

Anxious that another pregnancy could lead to another loss. I’m not sure I’m strong enough to face this again. I don’t think I can lose another part of myself, when I feel like I’ve already lost so much.

I want a break. I wish there was a way to take off work for a while and let myself grieve and heal. It sounds like a dream to have a day with no commitments when I could sleep in, sip coffee in the back yard, and read a book. I’d love to fill my days exploring a hillside during a hike and seeing nature’s reminders that life finds a way. I want to find a way to be okay.

It’s not okay. Previously when people would ever tell me “I’m sorry,” my go to answer was “it’s okay.” The first time someone told me they were sorry about our loss, my instinct was to reply “it’s okay.” I stood there silent, trying to think of a way I could respond. I’ve found that the best thing to say is “thank you” and let myself keep believing that it’s not okay and I’m not okay, but that’s okay.

If you’re struggling with a loss and want someone to talk with, I am here for you. Please feel free to email me at teri@babybumpsintheroad.com and I will always be here to listen to your worries and fears. Sending you big hugs! ❤

 

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