Wednesday, March 28, 2012

a lesson on grief

If I was still pregnant, I would have been 20 weeks along today. We would have found out the gender of our baby yesterday.

The following blog post was originally written as a guest post for Annie over at Letters to Mo. I've edited it a bit before deciding to post it here. It's heavy stuff, but it suits my mood for today as I think back to that moment six weeks ago when we realized something was very, very wrong.


The day before my doctor's appointment, I threw up in the car on my way to work.

It was the morning of Valentine's Day. I had to drive back home with chunks of food hanging off my wrist and bile seeping into my pants. I thought, today can't get worst, right? I thought, damn pregnancy. I'm almost 14 weeks. The nausea should take the hint already. I thought, I gotta call the school and tell them I won't make it. Awesome.

Later, I'd regret most of those thoughts.

The evening of Valentine's Day, my 20 month old son decided to bend over to pick up his sippy and busted his eyelid open on our coffee table. Oh, the jokes! Once stitches were ruled out, anyway. How'd you not see that coming, G? Seeing as how it hit you in the eye. People would sympathize with our toddler, about how he had fallen on the coffee table. Oh, no, we would say. He just bent over. Ha.

This was the day before my doctor's appointment. I still wish I could go back to that day of barf and blood and four hours in the emergency room. That day sucked so hardcore, but I would trade it in an instant with any of the others that have followed. I cursed my pregnant body, thinking nausea was the worst of my woes. I held my toddler close, silently tsking at his random injury that cost us $400.

But that day, my 14 week old second-child, baby #2, my son or daughter, Grayson's brother or sister, was probably still alive. Because by the day after Valentine's Day, second-baby just wasn't.

I have learned a lot about grief in the weeks following my missed miscarriage.  

One. There is a lot of silence you'll want to fill up. Your doctor will search search search  for that damn sweet little heartbeat you were supposed to hear for the first time that day. The flatlines of your baby's no-heartbeat won't make that low tone of the movies that signals that life doesn't exist - it'll simply show up on the screen, smooth lines where there should be waves. The ultrasound technician will check the baby over and barely speak a word to you. You'll be handed so many tissues, the white wads of paperthin stuff spilling out of your hands, but no one will hand you a "your baby died" or "you miscarried" or "sweet Jesus, life will really suck for you for a long time now."

No one will even want to tell you how far along the baby was before it died, and so you'll have to ask. 14 weeks exactly. The horror of that will never go away. It could have happened only moments ago.

Two. A D&C makes things a little quicker, a little easier, than letting nature take its time. But when you wake up from anesthesia with tears streaming down your face, your hands outstretched even though you don't remember lifting them, mid-sentence of "give me my baby back," no one will look you in the eye. The nurses will ignore you until they decide it's time for you to pee now and get out, thank you very much. The minutes between consciousness and when your husband walks into the room feel longer than they are. He says your doctor heard you say, "the baby waved at me," when you first woke up, but you'll never remember saying those words. Only dream every fuckin' night of a tiny red hand held up in the air.

Oh, by the way, you'll throw up in the car on the way home, just like you did on Valentine's Day three days ago. But this time it's not from pregnancy hormones but from the anesthesia that kept you asleep while they took your dead baby out.

Three. Everyone and their sister has lost a baby just like you. A tiny few are worse, a few were further along or stillborn, and your heart can't even consider that pain. But most came early, way early, and you'll wail inside, I saw my baby at 9 weeks and baby was fine. Baby was healthy. Baby was kicking its miniature feet and tossing that head - oh god, its brain wasn't growing right and we didn't even know - and we should have heard a heartbeat that day, not silence.

You'll learn that people are awesome, even the ones you barely talk to anymore. You'll learn that your boss gets nervous, in a way you've never seen him in the past 12 years, when he brings up that in an effort to be a friend, and you'll be really touched. You'll learn that you can't keep your mouth shut about it, and it's not that you want to broadcast to everyone that you miscarried, but that it's all you can think about.  

Four. You'll grasp at any way possible to keep that baby alive in your life. Could I get a tattoo, when I have never considered one before? Could I get a special necklace or ring? Could I print out a picture of the 9 week ultrasound, put it in a pretty frame, and stare at it day after day? Could I get a stuffed lion, second-baby's birth sign would have been Leo, and cry into its fur in the middle of the night?

You'll have nothing but some old ultrasound pics and a hospital bracelet and three extra pounds that won't fit into your old jeans and a $4000 bill. And you can't change that. And you've never felt so helpless.

Instead, you'll cling to your toddler's life, your throat closing up anytime you let yourself pause. Every time he stumbles, somewhere deep inside, you gasp with fright. You'll have nightmares and think he's not breathing until you turn on the light and shout his name and shake his shoulder like a lunatic until you hear his sweet wail because you scared him you freak.

Five. Your toddler has an incredible ability to heal you from the inside out. When you come home from the hospital, he will sit in your lap and not want to leave, touching first the IV bandage on your left wrist and then the hospital band on the other, a furious look of concentration on his chub-chub face. He will hug you tightly and often, sometimes refusing to be parted by your side except for food and sleep. How does he know, you will wonder, that this is exactly what I need because he's not even two and he doesn't even talk yet. Maybe it's because you talked so often about the baby in your tummy and suddenly you didn't. Maybe he just knows in that psychic baby-just-knows-his-mama way.  

Last. Eventually, people stop talking about It, and you don't bring It up anymore because you'll sound depressed or obsessed or something else that makes people uncomfortable. Those on the fringes of your life will nod and think everything is okay now. Those with the down-low might know better. Really, it's because you become better at hiding the crack in your armor, the knowledge that perfect life can so quickly become broken life.

Eventually, or maybe instantly, you'll start to obsess about getting pregnant again in 1 or 2 months. Every twinge in your body becomes a sign of ovulation, and you'll count the days until a possible period over and over. And every once in a while, you'll stop and cry and promise second-baby that you're not trying to replace it, that if you had any choice you would still have him or her snugg-a-bug in your belly and dreaming of finding out its gender. Dreaming instead of refusing testing on the body so that you'll selfishly never know because your heart probably couldn't take it.

Eventually, or at least hopefully, you'll get pregnant again and give birth to a healthy baby with a healthy brain, and in the darkness of 2 am, with that baby tugging at your breast, you'll whisper, You had a brother or sister that we lost. Second-baby was so *beautiful*. 

And the memories, out they will spill.

Monday, March 26, 2012


If you're new around here (and even if you aren't), welcome to MCM, my home where I get to ramble about anything that strikes my fancy.

I've updated things a bit around here. To the right, you can find pages on me, my toddler, and the site, as well as a new page on our recent miscarriage.


You can also add me on Twitter.

Or Pinterest.


If you especially like me, you can follow me via Google Friend Connect or subscribe to my rss feed!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

that female thing we go through

I'm currently on my period.

And before you all run screaming to the hills - "oh my gawd, Alicia, TMI!" - let me say that I'm currently on that period. Oh yes, the first aunt flo after my miscarriage.

I feel kinda betrayed by my body. I'm still grieving, but my body decided almost two weeks ago to ovulate as though the past five weeks were the same as any normal month. It's like my D&C was the first day of my last period, and I ovulated right on time, and here I sit, having my period like it was any normal month.

I know I should be oh-so thankful - and I am! that my body didn't take forever to get back on track. Some women take months to get their first post-miscarriage and some need help from hormones to jump start their system. Some were never regular in their cycles to begin with, and I have never skipped a cycle, never been late. Got pregnant with G in one month and second-baby in two. I certainly know all of this.

And yet. And yet.

I was so happy when Fertility Friend, an awesome site for women who want to know more about their cycles, put up my crosshairs showing that I'd ovulated. Even more thrilled when I felt those tell-tale signs of a period approaching and then it started right on time. We want to start trying for baby #3 soon, and the sooner I started my period, the sooner we could start trying again.

And yet, there's a huge amount of bitterness that hangs in my mouth during all of this, a clench in my heart, a melancholy blanket that settles over me now and then. It's the period that never-should-have-been, another reminder that I'm not pregnant anymore.

I guess that feeling never goes away, does it? Everything will remind me of that, every period I have between now and when I (hopefully) get pregnant again. Every child I have after. Every time February 15th, the day we discovered the miscarriage, and August 15th, second-baby's due date, rolls around. Every time people ask me how many kids I have, and I struggle between saying one or two because that'll open a whole can of soap opera.

I was lucky that I never saw the blood of my actual miscarriage. The bleeding I had after my D&C was just leftovers, like what you have after giving birth. So my period is just that - a period. The bleeding all of us women go through in our lives, the bright red that's so normal for us.

At least for my body, it's just a period. My body has decided it's back to the usual business of being a woman, no matter what my heart says in protest.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

outside, outside, outside, everybody, outside!

You know, I keep getting asked when I'm finally going to cut my boy's hair. I think some dirty looks aimed at my husband has silenced the talk on this side of the fence. However, I usually just point out the obvious: you really want me to get rid of those curls? I mean, curls, people. I love the way they curl around his ears and spiral in the back.

As God as my witness, I'll wait as long as possible before cutting G's hair!


Last weekend, we went to visit my family in Alabama. G freakin' loves my mama, which makes my heart go pitter-patter.

G decided that tunnels were da bomb after I crawled through this one. After that, he's attacked every tunnel with gusto. We're heading to baby gym in the morning, so we'll see if his new-found appreciation of tunnels continues.

The weekend was so nice and hot, so we headed out to several parks. G has been whining to go outside a lot this week. I'm guessing he got spoiled with all the outdoor time. I wish not for the last time that we had a decent backyard. Heck, I wish we had any backyard instead of the steep hill of death out back.

This pic of the two of us cracks me up. He was pointing and jabbering at the fountains, and I look like I'm very focused on explaining that he can't walk across the water to check them out. Seriously, he pitched the biggest fit when the hubs wouldn't let him leap into the water.

Oh, did I mention the hand-holding? My baby has decided that it's okay to hold our hand, and he'll hold it often and for lengthy periods of time. My kiddo will finally hold my hand in a parking lot! Or just for fun! It's all kinds of awesome.

Yeah, he wanted to dive off into that water, too.

This is my mum and grandmother (her mum). Cute, yes? It's not the first time I've taken their picture together on this little train that travels throughout the park. I'm aiming to get one every year.

G enjoyed the train much more this time around.

And we, being the grown-ups we are, road the roller coaster! If I can't be pregnant, I might as well have fun, right? Of course right!

G was very focused on that roller coaster.

More hand-holding and tunnels at another park!

He's also become more obsessed with swinging. We went to the zoo yesterday and he literally swung for 30 minutes like whoa. My arm was about to fall off.

All in all, a grand weekend. My brother and his girlfriend are coming to town for some soccer games this weekend, and I'm looking forward to hanging out. Keeping myself busy is the best medicine right now!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

keep your politics off my body

Yesterday was my follow-up appointment with my doc concerning my D&C. We hit the four week mark on Saturday. Today, of course, marks five weeks since we heard no heartbeat, five weeks since that moment of horror in the doctor's office, five weeks of this nightmare that will never go away.

I must say, I love my obstetrician. She's been fantastic throughout the process. She told me point-blank to ask for whatever I needed the next time I get pregnant. Once you've lost one baby, you freak out that you'll lose each one thereafter. My OB understands the neuroses of those women in the miscarriage club, and she's guaranteed weekly sonograms and an early anatomy screening at 13-14 weeks for our next baby. I can even just walk in to get a sonogram. In fact, she said she'd be disappointed not to see me often; the shock of my later miscarriage affected her too and frequent sonograms would ease her mind as well. Sweet, right?

I don't often get political on here, but given what I've been through the past month, I have to say something about the proposed Georgia law which could very well prohibit women from being able to receive a D&C after a miscarriage. The law basically states that a woman must carry a fetus until birth, despite the circumstances.

We chose to have a D&C instead of a natural miscarriage because that is what my doctor highly suggested. She said that a miscarriage at 14 weeks would be painful, very bloody, and last a long time. She said 20-40% of women who miscarry naturally need to have a D&C anyway due to hemorrhaging. Not to mention there is the emotional trauma of passing a 4-inch long fetus into the toilet. A natural miscarriage can also take a while to even begin, with some women carrying the dead fetus for 6 weeks or more.

I'm sorry, Terry England, but as a woman, I should have the right to decide between a D&C and a natural miscarriage. If my baby had survived further than 14 weeks, we would have discovered its fatal brain defect at the 20-week ultrasound. At that point, we would have needed to make the decision between aborting at that point or trying to carry the baby to turn, waiting at any moment for the baby to spontaneously pass away either inside me or soon after birth. Terry England, as a woman, I should have the right to make the decision to abort a baby that could not survive past birth.

You, Terry England, have no right to decide what is best for me or my family. You are not a doctor nor a woman. You apparently have no experience with miscarriage or pregnancy since your only plane of reference is to compare women to farm animals.

Oh yeah, I wish I was making that up.

This article does a much better job than me of explaining the situation and a woman's reaction to it. She so clearly writes with the rage I'm feeling right now.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

it's guest-blogging time

I'm guest-blogging over at Letters to Mo today! Annie is so funny, and her son Cash who just turned one is seriously cute. I'm blogging about my miscarriage and what I've learned about grief. It's heavy stuff, but if you've been here for a while, you kinda know what to expect from me, right?

Go check it out!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

escapism, part 1

There are moments like these. I'm researching a necklace or tattoo or picture frame - something to remember baby by. And then BAM, I stop, put down my glasses, and start crying.

Or a song comes on the radio. Too many songs are about bleeding hearts after a relationship ends, but for me, they all translate to the loss of baby.

Or pieces of a poem flash on the computer screen. i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
Yup, that one hurts most of all.

Or I'm running in the park and I pass a tiny baby sleeping in a stroller.


Most moments aren't like that. Nowadays, I don't often let me myself stop and think about what happened. I've found the most excellent coping skill, at least for me, is escapism. Oh yes. Others might throw themselves into work or school or whatever. Nope, not me. I throw myself into the world of geekdom.

I haven't talked about this much on here because I tend to define myself as "mommy" first, but I'm a bit of a closet geek. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm a huge closet geek. Anime, video games, scifi, fantasy - oh yeah, I'm into that.

In college, I had anime posters plastered above my desk and bed. My obsession with anime is really an infection; if you get to know me too closely, or hang out with me too much, you'll probably get sucked into the madness. My husband certainly wasn't immune. I think I dragged him off on our third or fourth date to buy up the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, and we were probably watching anime soon after that.

Oh-em-gee, that date was sexy, right?
We're currently - or at least, we were until Transformers took over - watching equal parts Dragon Ball Z (oh, shut it!) and Death Note. Oh boy oh boy. Me and DBZ, we go way back. To my high school days, even, when my brother would watch Sailor Moon with me if I agreed to watch Dragon Ball Z afterward. Of course, it only took a few episodes of sweaty men grunting and yelling as they powered up their bulging biceps, and I was hooked.
Why, hello, lover!
Death Note is a sleeker, prettier anime when compared to the older and testosterone-driven DBZ. But it's rather heavy in material and contains little of the humor that DBZ does. The main character, Light, gets a hold of a notebook that allows him to kill anyone whose name he writes in it. With mass murdering teenagers, a young sweet-toothed detective, and Shinigami who started the whole mess because they were bored, Death Note has something for everyone! Just watch this one after the kiddies go to bed.

cute but psychotic. sorry, ladies
It's easy to lose yourself in anime, which is known for its engaging plot and complex characters. Not to mention the pretty of Japanese animation. Let me know what interests you, I could probably recommend an anime that would suit your tastes.

For those brief moments I'm engaged with something like this, I'm not focused on the thoughts that swirl in my head. And that is a precious gift right now!

On part 2 of my ramble, I'll introduce the other animated series that is keeping me preoccupied. Let's just say for now, Autobots, it's time to roll out.

Oh yeah, I totally went there.

I'm a geek. I did warn you.

wordless wednesday: first forward-facing at 21 months

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

21 months, or, where's my baby??

Dear G,

You are 21 months old, as of Sunday. How crazy is that?

You're just so much fun to be around these days. You laugh easily and often. You love to read, and now one of your favorite games is to go to your room, pick out a book, bring it to us on the couch, read the book, then head back to your room to get another one. You also love to sit on our laps to read. I'm more than a little smug that I'm your favorite reading partner, but you usually turn to Daddy when you get hurt, so I take what I can get!

You finally started doing a little communicating this month, and no, I don't mean with words. You learned to shake your head "no" and nod your head "yes," and now you use them often, letting us know how you feel about something or answering our questions. I swear, those simple gestures have made somethings, especially mealtimes, so much easier. You also learned the sign for "diaper," so that makes - what? - four signs? More, all done, milk, and diaper.

You also learned some more body parts: back, teeth, and penis. Yes, you learned where your penis is, but you kept pointing at it in the bath and asking, so I told you. This is definitely way more weird for me than it is you, but your mama doesn't want to be a prude so I'll do my best to be open and straight-forward about these things.

Man, I'm gonna embarrass you so much when you're older.

This month, we've dealt with you testing your climbing skills. You're figured out how to climb on the kitchen chairs but not how to get down. I'm so afraid you're going to break something! At least you call for help once you can't get back down. You can also climb up in the large recliner in your room, and make mama have a heart attack with that.

You cut the rest of your incisors this month. That means we are all done with teething until those second year molars start coming in. I hope those wait at least a few months. You had a time with the incisors, and I think we could also use a break. I'm a little freaked out by your mouth full of teeth, but I love your toothy grin whenever you flash it. You've relaxed a little about getting your teeth brushed and you're actually opening your mouth again, but you still jerk that head around all over the place. Seriously, dude, what's with that?

We've got an appointment with Early Intervention this Friday to talk about your lack of speech. You still only say "moo" and it's really starting to break my heart. I'm very hopeful that you'll qualify. I know you want to communicate because you try every other way to do so, but you just don't want to form any syllables. Who knows what the matter is. I hope we can get you the help you need - whatever mama is doing isn't working!

Love you, baby G. I know we still call you a baby, but you ought to quickly learn the old cliche. You'll always be my baby. Thanks for being such a trooper the past couple of weeks as we've dealt with the loss of your little brother or sister. Your kisses, hugs, and ready smiles are exactly what I need right now.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...