Tag Archive | loss

Grief is Beautiful

Grief is part of the human experience. We all know this. By the time we reach our 30s, most of us have already lost someone we loved, whether it be a beloved grandparent or a beloved pet, or if we’re really unlucky, someone much closer to us. Losing someone in death is perhaps the most difficult and permanent of all griefs, but it’s not the only type of grief we experience in life.

As infertiles, we know and understand a lot about grief because we go through the process over and over and over again. With the start of each period, we grieve the end of a dream. Some of us have to grieve the loss of a pregnancy, a much-wanted and already-loved baby. Some of us have to grieve the idea of ever being parents or of experiencing all the ups and downs that come with carrying a child in your womb. We grieve because we don’t feel “normal,” because we don’t feel like a woman, because everyone else seems to get pregnant without much thought and we are reminded of our body’s shortcomings at every turn.

And as a mother, I have come to realize that there is grief in every part of parenting. My friend Leigh and I speak often of this. We grieve because our babies have stopped being babies. We grieve because they are constantly growing up, leaving us behind little bit by little bit in each step forward they take. They start preschool, they start kindergarten, they make friends who become more important to them than Mom and Dad, they stop needing hugs and kisses, they stop needing us…and we grieve. And we grieve when they grieve, for whatever they grieve for and for however long the grief lasts. As a mother, grief is constant.

But grief doesn’t end there either. It isn’t contained to just death, and infertility, and mothering. We face grief around every corner, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in much larger ones. We grieve the loss of a job we loved or needed. We grieve not getting the job we really wanted. We grieve when a phenomenal vacation has come to an end. (Maybe not everyone does this, but I do. Oh! how I do.) We grieve the end of summer, the end of the holiday season. And we grieve relationships that end not by death, but by circumstance or choice. Sometimes someone moves away. Sometimes we just drift away from a friend who once was our whole world. Sometimes we are forced to face a divorce we never could have predicted, as my sister is right now. And sometimes a close friend, for whatever reason, decides that she is ready to end our friendship, and we grieve again.

That’s where I’m at right now.

For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you will probably remember my good friend Lillian. The one who gave me the most face-to-face support during and after my miscarriage. The one who experienced three miscarriages of her own before giving birth to her daughter and another one shortly after I learned I was pregnant with Skittle. The one who kept Cupcake at her house for nearly two days while I was in the hospital giving birth. The one with whom I did frequent Mom’s Nights Outs, and weekend getaways, and jam-making, and cookie-baking, and playdates. Remember her? For over three years, she has been a huge part of my life and, now, she has unexpectedly decided that she does not want to be a part of it anymore.

It’s a long, complicated story that I am still trying to make sense of and much of it remains shrouded in mystery for me. I won’t bother going into all of the details here because it’s just too much. And really, the details don’t matter because, in the end, Lillian still decided our friendship was over. She explained it away by saying it was clear to her that our personalities didn’t fit together. I am too sensitive, too easily wounded, and she apparently felt like a “bull in a china shop” with my feelings. And in that, she may have a point. I am emotional and sensitive and I do get my feelings hurt easily.  And Lillian’s first priority is always Lillian. She has no filter and is quick to anger and says and does a lot of things that can and have stung my heart. But the funny thing is that I have never admitted to any of it unless Lillian has pointedly asked me if she hurt my feelings. And isn’t it odd that I’ve been able to get over and let go of it every time she has hurt me, and yet she somehow cannot let it go? And that the only two times she has confronted me with  issues in our friendship is because I hurt her feelings, not the other way around? Like I said, it’s complicated and mysterious and I don’t understand much of it myself.

I think the hardest part is knowing how much time I invested in our friendship. I gave her a lot of myself and recently worked very hard to fix things when it became obvious they weren’t going well. I devoted myself to our friendship for an entire year while my husband was telling me I deserved better and that I was wasting my time. I was willing to do what needed to be done to find some healing between us and she gave up. And she can say it’s because I’m too sensitive or blame it on clashing personalities or whatever her excuse of the day is, but the truth of the matter is that she made a choice. It was a choice to end our friendship and only she has responsibility in that. Clearly, I valued it more than she did and I’m glad to know that now, but it’s still hard to swallow. And no matter how it ended or why, it still feels like a rejection. Like something is wrong with me. Like I did something bad, even when everything I did had truly good and honest intentions behind it and I wanted nothing more than to be a good friend to her.

But the intensity of the emotions that came in the aftermath has mostly subsided. I have worked through the grieving process rather quickly and am now at a stage of acceptance and, almost, indifference. These days, I am feeling somewhat relieved that the constant drama with her is over for good and I am free to live my life as I please without the concern of what she thinks or how it may piss her off. I miss her sometimes, and all the laughs we had. And I miss the fun things we used to do with our mutual friend Leigh and the three of our families. I miss the memories and the sense of community her friendship gave me. I miss her because, in the best of times, she was a dear friend who offered a lot of support and a place where I could truly let my guard down. But in the worst of times, I felt guarded all the time and I don’t miss that.

It’s a mixed bag of “stuff” you get with a loss. With grief.

And yet, if you live a long and full life, grief is part of the package. It’s part of the price we pay for love. It’s part of being human.

I kind of hate that, but I’m learning to accept it, instead of fearing it. Instead of running from it.

I’m learning to embrace it.

To be grateful for it.

Grief is beautiful.

Even when it’s hard and ugly, it’s always beautiful.

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December 6th

Today is December 6th. St. Nicholas Day. The day we fill our children’s shoes with an ornament to hang on the tree and a special treat, as is tradition in our home.

It is also the one-year anniversary of my unfulfilled due date.

Today, or yesterday or tomorrow or some day nearby, Teddy Graham could have been one year old.

Unfathomable.

Enough time has passed, with plenty of unexpected events in between, that I can no longer imagine the alternative to what I have right now. I cannot imagine living a life with a one-year-old and three-year-old. I cannot imagine what might have been, what Teddy might have looked like, or how he might have been similar to or very different from his big sister. I cannot imagine living a life without the grief from a miscarriage, the pain from enduring another year of the uncertainty of infertility, and the utter relief and gratitude that came from bringing Skittle safely into this world.

Life is so different from what it could have been, and I am glad for that, and sad for it.

Certainly, this year’s December 6th is easier than last year‘s. In 2012, I greeted this day with what I thought was peace and healing, and ended it in tears. It was a hard day. But I have Skittle now and we are not actively TTC and I really do feel peace. And I really do feel the wounds healing.

I have my rainbow baby finally. The baby who came after. After so many tears. After so much sorrow. After Teddy Graham. But the heart is an amazing thing. It’s capacity to love is incredible. And there will always be a corner of it reserved for Teddy.

So this morning, I shed a few tears. Today, I will remember. Tonight, I will light his candle. And then I will move forward again. Never forgetting the baby who never made it into my arms, but continuing to heal and to celebrate the babies I do get to hold.

Sooooo Happy

The other day, while playing and laughing with my daughter, Cupcake stopped and looked at me. “Mama sooooo happy!” she exclaimed as she clapped her hands together.

And I am. I really am. I’m happy.

It does not seem so long ago when I wondered if I would ever be happy, truly undeniably happy, again. I hurt so much. Every bone ached with the longing for another child. Every beat of my heart was the thump of grief for the one I’d lost.

But finally, I’m not a slave to my pain. I am joyful and I am free. Don’t get me wrong…I have not forgotten.  I think of our Teddy Graham often. I pray for each of you still in the trenches every day. I’ve been damaged and scarred on this journey. And I am never far from the fear of losing this baby, too. But this pregnancy, and my Skittle, have brought me immense healing.

No longer does the weight of a future and dream that seemed so impossible sit upon my shoulders all day long. No longer does Cupcake feel the need to pat my hand as I weep and say “Mama sad.” She can declare my happiness instead. I can declare my happiness.

I am happy.

This mama is happy.

At long last.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

I know it’s late in the day and some of you are already resting your sleepy heads and saying hello to Monday, but I want to wish all of you a Happy Mother’s Day.

Whether you are a new mom, a mom-to-be, a mom in mourning, or a mom in waiting, you deserve to be recognized this day. There is an article I recently read (provided by my good friend and fellow infertile Lillian) about hating Mother’s Day.  About how it is insulting to non-mothers, daughters who have lost mothers, and mothers who have lost children. I understand that sentiment, but I also have this to say: I don’t care where you are at on your journey to or through motherhood, you are still a mother.  If you have fought for your children, you are a mother. If you have loved your children before they ever existed, you are a mother. If you have given your bank account, your sanity, your heart, your dignity, and your right hand trying to become a mother, then you are a mother. Maybe the general public does not recognize this, but I do. And I think most everyone else in this community does as well.

And for those of you still in the trenches, I want to add this: I know this day is hard. So hard. It can be a constant reminder of what you don’t have, or have lost. Today, I have thought so constantly of all of you. It is unimaginable to me that, last year on this day, I was just three weeks into grieving our Teddy Graham. And now, one year later, I am nearly halfway through my subsequent pregnancy. My point is this: you never can know what life has in store for you. You can’t know what surprises will come your way, what hairpin turns your path will take, what dreams will unfold or when.

And so on this day, more than wishing you a happy Mother’s Day (though I wish that for you as well, so deeply), I wish you comfort, peace, and a hopeful heart. May this time next year show you, or give you, the true meaning of happiness, if you have not found it already.

Remembering…

Today, I remember.

I remember April 19, 2012 when I started to bleed at just 7 weeks 1 day pregnant.

I remember the sight of the dark red blood on my fingers, an image I see in my nightmares to this day.

I remember my sweet Teddy Graham, whom I knew was gone before an ultrasound ever confirmed it.

Today, I remember the ultrasound, the black space, the firm line the sonographer’s mouth made as she stared at the screen.

I remember the simple text I sent to my sister, a friend, and my mother: “No heartbeat” and the ding, ding, ding as my cell was flooded with texts in response.

I remember the tears that went on and on, that came and kept coming long after I lost all the energy to wipe them away.

I remember the days that followed, how they zipped by and dragged by at once, all a blur of grief and unbelief.

I remember the dissolution of my new relationship with my sister, how it unraveled like a poorly-made sweater, coming further undone with each insensitive or critical comment she made as I mourned my way through the summer.

Today, I remember those who were there for me when I needed them the most, and those who were not there when I was at my most vulnerable.

I remember the fear and the despair and the rage that engulfed me when I let it.

I remember how I was broken and how this blog — and all of you — picked me up and put me back together again, just like Humpty.

I remember that today is not about the baby growing inside of me right now, but about the Baby Who Almost Was, the baby who was but now isn’t and never will be again, and yet will somehow live in my heart forever.

Five Years

Today, Honey and I celebrate five years of marriage. Five years! This feels like a long time and no time at all. And I hate to admit it, but it seems that the last five years have been consumed by trying to make a baby, infertility, pregnancy, loss, and babyhood. These years have given me my deepest heartaches and my greatest joys. And I am so thankful to have someone I respect, love, and trust to hold my hand as we go through it together. He has held me together when I’ve started to fall apart, held me up when I was spiraling downwards, and held me close when I felt utterly alone. Today, as we celebrate this small marital milestone, I have never been happier or felt more blessed.

In celebration, we’re having a date night this evening. With my mom in town, she has agreed to stay with my daughter while Honey and I spend the night in the city. And I do mean spend the night. We have one of the best rooms at one of my favorite hotels reserved. It has a jacuzzi tub with a view over the water. After a nice dinner, we’ll spend a laid-back evening at the hotel and, tomorrow, we’ll do a few of the touristy things we’ve never done before in the big city to the north. It will be my first night away from Cupcake, and I’m very excited. Though slightly exhausted by the thought of all I have planned.

However, I also have to remember that today is a day of remembrance for our family. It was this day, last year, that our cherished Teddy Graham was conceived. I remember the excitement of seeing that super dark OPK and the hope that filled me as my husband and I enjoyed our date night. And two weeks later…just pure joy as I saw those two beautiful lines. It all went downhill from there, but I will never forget the great delight that Teddy brought to us for those few wonderful weeks. I remember, I remember, I remember.

With that, I’ll leave you with a few kinda-sorta-non-identifying photos from our Big Day. It wasn’t a perfect celebration and, in retrospect, there are so many things I would change if I could. But it was still one of the best days of my life and only the good memories have lasted…

My comfy ballet flats with a blue ribbon ("something blue" and the charm I picked out). Two garters...one to throw and one (the one with the light blue ribbon) as my "something old." My mom wore it on her big day!

My comfy ballet flats with a blue ribbon (“something blue”) and the charm I picked out. Plus, two garters…one to throw and one (the one with the light blue ribbon) as my “something old.” My mom wore it on her big day.

My bouquet...all roses, my favorite flower.

My bouquet…all roses, my favorite flower.

our wedding rings

our wedding rings

My mom gave me this bracelet on our wedding day...two months later, it was stolen from my suitcase on our Australian honeymoon. :(

My mom gave me this bracelet on our wedding day…two months later, it was stolen from my suitcase on our Australian honeymoon. 😦

Ignore the heads that have been chopped-off...just wanted to show my dress because I loved it so much. A 10-foot train...I really did feel like a princess!

Ignore the heads that have been chopped-off…just wanted to show my dress because I loved it so much. A 10-foot train…I really did feel like a princess!

Exiting after the ceremony, with our pages carrying my long train.

Exiting after the ceremony, with our pages carrying my long train.

The gorgeous ballroom where our reception was held.

The gorgeous ballroom where our reception was held.

Our wedding cake. I was so pleased with the end result. And it tasted good too!

Our wedding cake. I was so pleased with the end result. And it tasted good too!

The first dance.

The first dance.

No Words

Do you all remember my friend Lillian who had three miscarriages before conceiving her daughter and recently learned she is expecting #2? The one who I can’t quit talking about because having her at my side is like having one of you with me, here, in real life?

Well, today she had her first ultrasound and there is no heartbeat. In just a single breath, we have switched roles and I am the one who is pregnant and she is the one who is not. There are no words to describe the sadness and despair I feel for her. She should not have to go through this again. What can I say? What can I do? Nothing, but offer her the same support and kindness she has offered me on my darkest days.

And this turn of events makes me so much more scared for the fate of my own pregnancy. My Honey keeps reminding me that these events, our ultrasounds, are independent from each other. Just because Lillian miscarried does not mean that I will. I know he is right. But seeing someone close to you go through this can feed into your own fears. And I am good at letting it all spiral out of control.

This is not how it’s supposed to happen. We are supposed to be going through our pregnancies together. Now, no matter what comes to pass on Friday, that won’t be happening. Everything has changed, and I just wish I could fix all that is broken.