from the highest highs to the lowest lows

I told myself we would share the joy…which we did when we quite miraculously got pregnant for the third time (our first was an ectopic) when Ellie Sue was only five months old. It was surreal. Completely unplanned and totally unexpected. We were so excited. We waited the “standard window” before we went public. We made it way past the 12 week mark after all. {insert massive shoulder shrug here…boy, do I feel naive. I’ve learned that life has a way of doing that to you sometimes}

But now I feel like I need to share the other side of it…

We lost our unborn baby boy (who we named Charles Francis) at 21 weeks. I refer to the experience as…when the floor dropped out from under us. Because it truly did. We went in for our routine 20 week anatomy scan and the next thing we know we are sitting with the doctor, referred to Children’s Hospital, and from there it only got worse.

Instead of getting rid of the vases that came with the flower arrangements we got from family and friends – I decided to plant some wildflower seeds in them and place them by the creek in our backyard. I don’t know if they’ll grow but I’ll be sure to post an update pic if they do. It was also a nice project to do at the time.

This post is not to go through ‘what happened’ because what I’d rather do than re-live that piece* is to share some tools for how we are healing, trying to heal…

Why?

To hopefully help another couple who may find themselves in a similar place. Be it an early, late term, or stillbirth loss…those who suffer are not alone.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this roller coaster of “a journey to family” – it is that connecting and sharing with others makes us all feel less alone and helps with healing.

1 in 4 pregnancies result in miscarriage. Although, less than 1% result in a late term loss such as ours (so please, let this be a comfort to you who are worried. It is very unlikely to happen).

Dealing with a pregnancy loss literally involves so many emotions. Sadness, guilt, anger, disbelief, anxiety, fear, jealousy etc. all of them. I’ve told myself many times to “let myself feel my feelings.” Sounds cheesy but allowing myself to process is the only way. As our nightmare unfolded, I spent nights crying, hysterically. I had hours of pure distress…it all f&cking sucked but it has helped to have people who have reminded me all of this is ok and normal to feel. And ohh I felt it. I still do.

A few tools that have helped me – I am sharing in hopes they could help someone else.

A diverse support “team”:

  • Firstly and maybe the most obvious, a good, supportive medical team. Good is an understatement, I couldn’t think of another word. We are lucky enough to be in one of the best cities for medical care in the world. As unlucky and bitter as my heart felt during the heat of our loss and trauma, I reminded myself we are lucky to have had ready access to such incredible and compassionate medical care (not to mention insurance – which is seriously a whole topic within itself. Having the means to actually afford good care knowing how staggering our healthcare costs are, again we are grateful to have)
  • A therapist/psychologist – it is critical to me to have access to a professional I can talk to help process and heal. I am lucky to have someone I’ve known for years but ask your OB for a referral and someone who specializes in women/couples dealing with pregnancy loss. They will give you one.
  • A psychiatrist – which is someone who can prescribe medicine. There is no shame pursuing additional help if you feel you need it.
  • Friends and family – if people offer support (meals, dog walks, to run errands) do not hesitate to say ok. I know it’s difficult to accept help. But some of our lightest moments have been eating a meal from a friend. Not only does it remove the burden of cooking during such an emotionally and physically draining time, it also brings great comfort beyond just something to eat. Hard to put into words.
  • Someone(s) who can relate – be it in person or virtual. One of the harder things I had to do (believe it or not) was ‘unfollowing’ my August 2019 Babies Facebook group. Up until then it was a little outlet to connect with mothers from all over the world who had a baby due the same month. Suddenly, I didn’t belong and it’s not that anyone obviously said that – I just couldn’t be there anymore. So I left. It was hard. I wondered if anyone noticed but I couldn’t see anymore of those pregnancy posts – my focus was no longer there. So I guess my advice is, unfollow anything that is causing you pain. Maybe it’s a friend who recently announced a pregnancy on social media or a group you were part of; know that maybe one day you’ll reconnect but for now it doesn’t serve you. I’ve learned there are many online support groups out there for grieving parents. From forums to private Facebook groups, I combed through many and I am grateful those types of communities exist. You can find them and they can help.

Other resources that have helped:

  • A journal – one night my mind was racing with what I knew were irrational thoughts. The next day I had Nick pick up a notebook for me at CVS. The next night, back in a dark place (the nights are the worst) I got it out and just wrote – all my thoughts and feelings – and told myself maybe one day I’ll burn this f&kin thing but right now I’m going to scribble down all these repetitive, terrible thoughts so they fall out of my brain
  • I also dusted off this daily planner/journal called The Desire Map daily planner by Danielle Laporte. Each morning I fill out a page which includes writing down what I’m grateful for. It is a positive ritual to start my day. I recommend this journal regardless if you’re going through a difficult time or not. It is wonderful.
  • A book or something to turn to for support during quieter moments (aka a non-electronic). Reading was one of the things I leaned on in the earlier days. As an avid TV watcher, TV did not help me, I felt like I just stared at the screen. Even the real housewives couldn’t do it for me (and that’s says a lot). But a good book, it took me in and brought me peace and more productive thoughts. Below are a few I recommend.
  • Yoga and general movement – at first it was hard to be motivated to do anything. getting out of bed was difficult. But once I was medically cleared, I pushed myself to get up and move outside my house, even if for just 15/20 minutes.

How am I feeling today? It depends on the day and sometimes the hour. I’ve learned that grief is like that. Unpredictable. I am learning to carry multiple feelings around this experience – including gratitude (because there was so much good I experienced during this time, I cannot deny it) as well as a deep sadness, that I know might never completely leave me. Sometimes I can’t believe this all happened but I know we will move forward. We have vowed to honor Charlie by being a stronger family and remembering him in peace. We want to set a good example for Ellie –  that tragic things happen and we want her to know that it’s ok to be sad (and angry etc.) but that we can also carry on with love and light in our hearts. We will do it for Charlie and thank him for that gift. Even though he’s not with us physically – he’s here and we’re a better, stronger family because of him.

I want to thank everyone who reached out to us, be it a text, Facebook message, card, flowers, or any of the other gesture of sympathy and support that were shared with us. We are so grateful for all the support we received and continue to receive. I don’t think I could say thank you enough.

In yogi fashion, I’ll end with a Rumi quote: “the wound is the place where the light enters you.”  And I believe that now more than ever.

*one caveat being, if you or someone you know finds themselves in this situation, you can reach out to me directly and I will share whatever I can to help. It does help to talk with someone who has been through it.

2 thoughts on “from the highest highs to the lowest lows

  1. It’s good to hear from you again. I’ve wanted to ask but know grieving is such a personal thing and I would know how you were doing in due time. I know you’ve heard from many to take as long as you need which is so true because it’s different for everyone. It’s one of those things that puts what’s important in life in perspective. Your blog will definitely be a stepping stone for those who find themselves where you are today. Sending positive thoughts to you for a continued recovery ❤️

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  2. Love you Beth and I love your blog and I cry for you and I send hugs. You are an amazing woman and writer. Love you. Hugs to you Nick and that cutie pie Ellie Sue.

    Like

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