This blog is small glimpses into my heart and soul - attempts to be transparent with friends, and sometimes, to myself. This is my safe place, where I can come and be purely Ness.

Family: If you found your way here, please do me a favor and don't poke through my closets, ok?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

You Miscarried? (Crap, What Do I Say?) - Consolation in the Face of Uncommon Grief

Nobody is an expert at grief. We always feel bad when we don't know what to say or do in the face of someone else's loss, but it's normal to feel awkward and hesitant. Nothing can fix the situation, and some things can make it worse. We don't want to hurt the already hurting person. This all becomes compounded when dealing with a miscarriage. There is an extra level of mystery and confusion surrounding miscarriages, and for many, it's just more foreign. Almost everyone has experienced the death of someone they know and love, but fewer have personal experience with the death of someone who wasn't even born yet. People often feel even more clueless as to how to support and comfort in the face of this unfamiliar tragedy.
Having recently been through this for the fourth time (awesome), I'm beginning to get a better and better idea of what I want and don't want from other people, of what is helpful and what is not. I know that this list wouldn't be the same for everyone, but hopefully it will give some guidance to someone who is stumbling through this unknown. So, a few of my do's and don't's for dealing with someone who has had a miscarriage:

  1. Do send a card, flowers, or food as you feel led. This shows that you acknowledge it as a real loss, not just an unfortunate incident.
  2. Do say, "I'm sorry you lost your baby. Is there anything I can do?" There generally isn't, but is shows you care and want to be supportive.
  3. Don't say it if you don't mean it. Can I really call you to help clean my house because I don't have the energy?
  4. Do feel free to show interest, but don't pry. If I want to share details with you, I will.
  5. Do remember that the pain doesn't stop after the first day. Grief is a long process. I'm not going to be over this tomorrow, or a week from now. One of the most helpful things for me has been my sister who, for the first little while, calls me everyday just to say, "How are you?" It shows me that she cares, she's thinking of me, and she wants to help. It gives me an opportunity to talk if I want to, but the freedom to move on to other subjects if I want that.
  6. Unless you are close to me, please don't ask me how I'm feeling. First of all, I don't know if you are asking about me physically or emotionally. Don't make me guess. Secondly - if it's how I'm feeling physically, your question makes it seem like I was simply ill or have a physical problem, not that I'm grieving my baby's death. If there are physical symptoms I'm going through, I'm not likely to share that intimate information with you if we are not close. If your question is how I'm feeling emotionally, would you actually ask that of anyone else going through grief? They are likely to shoot you an, "Are you stupid?" look.  Pick a grief emotion and I've felt it - sad, angry, bitter, numb, betrayed, overwhelmed, guilty, alone, etc. Again, unless we are "share all our secrets" kind of close, I'm not likely going to want to share the intimate details of these emotions with you either.
  7. Don't tell me about Susie, or Jane, or your three cousins, or whoever it is that you know that also had a miscarriage, or six, or trouble getting pregnant, or whatever their story is. It's so not helpful on so many levels. 
  8. Do tell me your story, if you've been there. It is helpful to simply hear, "I had a miscarriage (or six). I've been where you are." It feels a just a little bit less lonely, and a little bit more understood. Also, a simple statement like that leaves the door open for me to ask about your story, without having it forced on me if I'm not ready.
  9. Don't hint at understanding. "I know that it's hard." Do you mean you know loss is hard, or that you know personally that miscarriage is hard? Please just say it straight out. If you are trying to share, but I'm not sure, you haven't really shared anything. 
  10.  During my miscarriages, the only people who know are generally family. Afterwards, I don't care anymore who knows. It's my grief and it just might be public. For some people, the whole situation is a very private thing. Unless you are very sure that it's ok, don't share your friend's story with anyone else.
  11. Don't ask questions about what I did or didn't do before or during pregnancy. You may simply be trying to help find an explanation and hope for next time, but I'm already wondering if there was something I could have done to change the outcome. Even without a specific reason, a mother is likely to be feeling that she somehow failed her child. I always feel like I've let them, and my husband, down by not being able to hold on to them and support their life.
  12. Don't make comments such as, "At least... you have your son... you can try again... it was early..." Those things may be true, and yes, my son is a comfort to me, but these statements just belittle the loss. This was a baby, they were my baby, and I want them.
  13. Don't tell me that God had a reason for having this happen. I believe in God. I believe that no life begins or ends without his knowledge. I don't believe that God purposely ends my babies' lives. There is no reason good enough to justify the death of my children. Crap happens because we live in a crap world. I do believe that God can and does take that crap and bring something good out of it - nothing good enough to balance out the loss, but some small redemptive measure. Like, maybe after this, my fourth miscarriage, as I'm able to be more aware of what is helpful and what is not, and I'm prompted to write this post, someone will read this and be better able to support and bring a tiny measure of comfort to a friend going through their own miscarriage. Nowhere near worth being justification for losing my baby, but a tiny good thing that could come out of their very short life.
 Overall, what I want is to have it acknowledged. Acknowledge that I had a baby. Acknowledge that it died. Acknowledge that I'm grieving. Acknowledge that I will be grieving for a while. Don't ignore it. Don't try to make smaller than what it is. Don't make it common. This is my grief and it will be what it will be.

If you've been through pregnancy loss of any kind, feel free to add your own thoughts, tips, experiences.

Friday, November 19, 2010


They all think
I'm doing fine
Handling well this grief of mine
But they don't know
Cause I don't show
Collapsing to the floor at times
The silent screams
The bitter cries
The heart inside me tries to hide

They can't see
What it means to me
Another loss that tried to be
It's old hat
She's used to that
It must have lost intensity
Don't understand
There's no old hand
No such familiarity

Each time is fresh
Each wound is new
Pain that I have not been through
I try to walk
But I can't stand
Crouching, clenching empty hands
Betrayed again
Can't make it stop

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Journey Through Baby Sleepland

My Bug is 28 months old and he sleeps with me. We are co-sleeping bed-sharers. (gasp!)
This is not info we share with a lot of people. On the odd time that it gets brought up, it's not unusual to get strange looks or disapproval masked in disbelief. When he was younger, I received a lecture from a concerned friend on how it was dangerous to his development to have him in the room with us. He would never learn to be independent, and trying to teach him to sleep on his own would be a nightmare. Her extreme concern was frustrating and flustering, leaving me with lame replies and half formed sentences. But, trust me, I know what I'm doing.
Before Bug's birth, we prepared for him as any couple would expecting their first child. We painted his room, arranged clothing on the shelves, picked out a tiny first outfit, stocked diapers, and bought a crib. All dark wood and shine, Boy set it up in Bug's room, and I made it up with an organic cotton mattress cover and cute blue sheets. The room was ready. Saying that, we weren't entirely sure when Bug would start to use it. I assumed we would, but I knew there was no way I would be ready for him to be down the hall from me for at least several months. We borrowed a cradle from neighbors and it set it up in our room so that he would be close by. I needed to be able to see him and hear him, to know that he was safe and ok through the night, and at the very beginning he was in our bed, but in his own little spot between us, away from blankets and pillows.
The first night we had Bug at home I began to get an indication that this sleep thing wasn't going to be anywhere near as smooth as I thought it would. I knew newborns woke frequently and needed to nurse often, but I wasn't prepared for him to cry every twenty minutes. It felt like as soon as I put him down, he would cry.  I just fed him. Was he really hungry again? Wasn't he comfortable? Was he hurting? I couldn't figure it out.  After a night or two, it finally occurred to me - this tiny person was used to being completely surround by me every second of day, how could I expect him to suddenly be ok with with not touching me at all? That's when he moved into my arms. Things improved a bit from there, but he continued to wake fairly frequently - anywhere from 30-60 minutes. I wish so much that I had known how to nurse lying down then. It would have made my life so much easier, but I couldn't figure out how to do it. I read one description/diagram, but it just didn't make any sense to me. So, I was getting out of bed at every wake, to sit in the lactation consultant recommend, hard-backed kitchen chair, strap on my (needed in a hard-backed chair) breast-feeding pillow, and nurse my baby. I can't remember how many times I fell asleep sitting there.
As things improved, we brought over the cradle and started trying to get him to sleep in it. I'd nursed him to sleep and slowly lower him into the cradle. Oh, the maneuvers we tried making that transition. Keeping my hand on him until he had settled, not unlatching him until I absolutely had to, even putting a heating pad under his blanket to try to make him think he was still getting Mama's body heat.* He slowly learned to occasionally stay asleep through the move, but his sleep got worse. He went back to waking every twenty minutes, and then it was ten, and then five. He would seem asleep and content, but a few minutes later he would be crying. Ahh! What was wrong with my baby? I asked family and friends for advice to no avail. Finally, a doula we knew suggested that we just bring him back into bed with us and try again later.  I felt so frustrated and discouraged, but it seemed like the only option. So, he came back to bed with us. No more waking after five minutes.
Eventually I stumbled across information that helped me figure out that he had reflux that was greatly worsened by milk in my diet. Cutting out dairy helped, but didn't cure his reflux. We tried raising the head of our bed, but it was no help. Thinking he maybe needed a greater angle, we bought a Tucker sling. Remembering something my sister had done with her babies, we brought that beautiful crib into our room, took off the drop side, and slid it up to the bed.  With the mattress raised and sling installed, we tried to get Bug to sleep there - no go. The angle might have been better for his reflux, but he was not a fan of it otherwise - and trying to get him in and out when he needed to nurse, ugh! It was horrible. The velcro would wake him even more than he was, and attempting to put a sleeping baby back into the sling was ten times worse than the cradle. We gave up quickly.
The sling went out, but the crib stayed. We lifted the head of his mattress for what little help it would give and I relished the bit of extra space it offered, as well as the security of knowing Bug couldn't roll off.  
As he continued to get older, but not sleep any better, I got more frustrated. I kept feeling like I was failing in my job as mother. I couldn't find a way to help him sleep, I couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. I tried everything I could think of - swaddling, an early bedtime, bedtime routine, aroma therapy - everything but cry-it-out. It didn't seem right from the beginning, and as I read more, I knew that it was not an option I would ever try. But, as he grew the pressure was on." It won't hurt him." Yes, it will. "He needs to learn." Not that he doesn't. "He's safe. He's fine." He doesn't know that. But, it was hard to keep the doubt from creeping in. Nothing else I did was helping him to sleep for more than an hour at a time. So many tears were shed over his difficulty with sleep. Mine, not just his. I sat down one day, and thought to myself, "Ok, enough of what the world wants me to do, enough of what everyone else's babies do. If it was just me, no media to tell me how babies should be raised, no other parents to share what they did, no two month olds who are sleeping through the night, just me, alone on an island having to care for my son, what would I do?" "Exactly what I'm doing." I would continue to cater to his needs. Because they were his needs. He wasn't just demanding that we do things his way, or trying to prove who was boss, he was asking for help. He needed me to nurse him to sleep. He needed me to hold him while he slept. He needed me to be there helping him go back to sleep no matter how often he woke. And he needed me to be patient while he developed the ability to do this sleep thing on his own.
I remember the first night that I left him alone in our room. He had eventually gotten to where I could put him down once asleep, and after a while I realized I should try leaving the room. I turned our baby monitor up loud and rushed up to him the second I heard him moving around about his one hour wake up. But, we did it and it was ok!
He was about ten or eleven months old.
I remember the first night he slept for two hours! Amazing!  Maybe he would keep going and start sleeping longer and longer! No such luck, but it was a breakthrough.
He was at least thirteen months old.
I remember his first night hitting three hours.
He was fifteen months old.
He's made it to four hours, but I'm sure I could count on my fingers how many times he's done that. Two months ago, he actually slept for five hours, 45 minutes, and I expect we will see that again, but who knows when.
This is my son. This is who he is. He's beautiful, and smart, and funny, and happy, but he doesn't sleep well.
I've been through many periods of discouragement, days of sleep deprivation, and times doubting my judgment, but despite his tendency to do one step forward and two steps back, despite the fact that he nurses half the night on a semi-regular basis, despite the VERY BAD PATCHES he goes through every three-four months - that I can't decipher, no matter how hard I try - I continue to co-sleep and night nurse. Because - I love my son, and I know this is what is best for him, and what works for our family.

Along the way, I've learned a few things:
  1. Listen to your instincts. They are almost always right.
  2. Newborn babies should not be separated from their mamas.
  3. Your baby's needs won't be the same as their baby's needs.
  4. It's ok to use a swing to help him fall asleep if that's the only thing that will calm his reflux that night. It's a tool.
  5. Only you and your husband are qualified to decide what is best for your family.
  6. Cry-it-out doesn't just feel bad, it is bad. Cons of controlled crying
  7. You will get a lot of unsolicited advice. Ignore all of it. It is almost never any good.
  8. Family beds are nice!
  9. Having a baby that does not do something well does not reflect the quality of your mothering.
  10. Sweet good-morning smiles cover a multitude of night wakings.
Please remember that just like putting a baby in a crib, there are safety guidelines for bed sharing. Family bed safety
*I do not currently recommend anyone using a heating pad on or near their baby. There are far too many dangers in such use.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stress Ball - Being One, not Having One

Do you ever go through times where everything going on is stressful? I feel like our life is stress glued together by stress. Boy has been looking for a new position for months now, and nothing is working out. He keeps interviewing at churches, having them tell him they really like him, he's their best candidate, etc, but - they can't hire him, because they don't have peace about it. How many lines of work can use that as a valid reason for not hiring someone, eh? (insert half sarcastic laugh) Well, the rest of you non-ministry families, thank your lucky patooties, cause it's an incredibly frustrating place to be. In a way it's easier, since it doesn't reflect on personality or a lack of skills on his part, so it doesn't hit his self-esteem in the same way, but on the other side, it can also be harder, since there is nothing he can work on or improve in order to have a better chance at the next one.
This last "no" that came through was our last chance to have a job lined up for when his current one ends at the end of November. So, now we are facing the reality that he will unemployed, and we have no idea for how long, since there is nothing else on the horizon.
We are continuing to try for a baby, but it seems like poor timing right now with this situation. We have no idea when a new job will work out, when we will have to move, and I can't even begin to think about trying to find a care provider in the middle of a pregnancy. That freaks me out the most. Midwives here fill up quickly and if you don't call right away, there is a good chance you won't get in. Having a hospital birth might not be horrible if I could find a doctor who would work with me and all that I want for my next birth, but such people are difficult to find anywhere, and almost completely impossible in a health system that gives little or no room to choose your own doctor. Heck, it's hard enough to find a doctor - period, let's not even contemplate finding one who is natural minded.
Have I mentioned that we're potty training? Although, can you call it training when you aren't actually making any progress? At this point, it's more like poorly working ECing. We don't go through a day without at least one pair of wet pants in the laundry, and more likely two or three. Bug is gaining the control - he can hold it for quite a while when he tries, but he doesn't yet have the self-control to get to the toilet. If Mama and Daddy remember to get him there on a regular basis, we do ok, but that becomes useless when it gets to the pooing. Sometimes, I look at him and realize what is going on, but lately he's started refusing to let me take him to the bathroom, so he just poos in his underwear (or, you know, where ever he happens to be standing pants-less. Which was on my desk chair earlier. I'm typing away on Boy's computer and notice a smell. At first, I think, "Bad fart." Then I begin to realize it's not going away. Turn around, and there is my beloved Bug standing on my chair, straddling a puddle and poo while futzing around on my computer. Awesome. He's, like, completely oblivious to the fact that he just pooed. On my chair. Did I say that part yet?)  I know he's just not ready to full on train yet, and we've talked about going back to diapers, but I haven't been able to bring myself to do it. I wonder how long it will take him to finally learn if we keep up with what we're doing. I wonder if there is anything else I can do to help him get there faster.
Anyone want to trade lives for a little while?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On Keeping My Mouth Shut

How do you know when to say something? I keep running into mothers and hearing or seeing things that make me want to speak up. I mentioned, on an earlier post, one mom I know who was sure her baby was not getting any breast milk, because he cried every time she tried to nurse him, and pumping was producing next to nothing. I'm far from an expert, but I've read enough articles to know that there was a good chance that lack of milk wasn't her problem, but - her boy is now four and she stated she won't be having any more kids, so what would be the point of letting her know she may have been wrong? I didn't know her that well, and as mothers, nursing our babies usually ends up being a very sensitive subject.
A few days ago I met a mom with a cute little five month old. Somehow the subject came around to breastfeeding, and she shared that she had quit nursing at two weeks, because he had "sucked her dry." She continued explaining that she ended up with one breast producing extremely little and one producing gushes. I wanted to tell her that likely she had just been nursing too much on the full side, and needed to work on switching it around so that the emptier side knew that it needed to start producing more. A fairly simple fix, although it would take some patience. But, I didn't know this mom at all. It was too late for her to go back, so do I say something and make her feel bad that she "didn't try hard enough?" Or do I risk it, so that she might have more info for next time, if there was to be a next time?
This morning I went to a program at our local library. As it was breaking up, I watched a mom buckle her tiny daughter into a car seat. I noticed afterwards that the straps seemed loose, but it was hard to tell without actually checking them. I wanted to say something to her, but what? How do you tell a mom that her baby isn't properly buckled in without insinuating that she is being a careless mother? I really wish that I had figured out what to say, but once again I didn't know this mom at all. The group is new and I'm really hoping to make some friends there, and I'm sure I'm already singled out as the freak who comes in barefoot and breast-feeds her two year old. Plus, I'm always waay too nervous about offending or upsetting people. So, I chickened out. I've thought about it a lot today, and I still can't figure out how to approach something like that.
Occasionally, I will approach topics like this with friends, but even then I feel like it's a guessing game on how they will respond. There are these things that I think are so important, and a lot of the time people just don't have good information. I want to share what I have, but I don't want to damage relationships at the same time. Any topic involving how we mother has the potential to become completely unintentionally, hurtful. Ugh, how do we know when to share, how to share, and when to just be quiet?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Uterus = None of Your Business

This will not be an unfamiliar rant to any woman, so why are women the most common offenders?

I don't get how, you, a little known acquaintance, feel the right to ask me questions about my uterus, or perhaps, my sex life. Oh, you say you did no such thing? Really. Well, let's go back a little. There we were sharing a little conversation, commenting on how cute my son is, typical small talk topics, and then, out of the blue, "No more kids yet?" Hmm, well since you don't see any more kids kicking around me, haven't noticed the presence of a tiny being attached to my hip, shoulder, or any other visible body part, I have to assume you are asking about my uterus. Any kids in there? Essentially, you are asking, "Are you pregnant?" But some sort of common sense tells you that that is not an appropriate question to ask someone you barely know, so how does it fail to tell you that your chosen phrasing is still not ok? Seriously.

And you, yes, you, the one who never says more than, "Hello. How are you?" The one time you stop to comment on Bug and ask his age, is not the one time it becomes ok for you to ask if we are going to have any more. Or, decoded, "Are you having, or planning to have, unprotected sex with your husband?"  Sure, that's not what you intend to ask, but really, it's not that much different. It's still personal and not something you should be asking an almost stranger.

And then, my all time favorite, you have known me for a little while, we talk occasionally about children, jobs, the weather, but nothing bellow the surface, except now you decide to ask, "When are you having more?" For some unknown reason you have no idea that this might not be as casual a question as, "How's your weekend?" Well, let's see... first of all I would have to give you the information that my husband and I have indeed decided that we want more, and then of course would be the information that we have chosen to "get it on," and knock me up. Too much info? Wait, I'm not done. Next comes the information that we have been "doing it" for the past year and the result so far has been two miscarriages. Finally, I would need to tell you that we continue to mate on a regular basis, but who knows if the next one will end in miscarriage as well. It could even turn out that I may not be able to have another baby. (God grant that this is not true.) More than you wanted to know? Deeper than you wanted to go? Think before you ask.

If you really feel the need to ask something, try, "Do you want to have more kids?" This question doesn't touch timing - "Are you pregnant now? Will you be soon?" It doesn't inquire into my sex life or personal choices, require me to explain anything, or figure out how to avoid unwanted intimacy with you. I can simply say, "Yes."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Little update on me

Offering a little update for those who might care -

I've just started a Twitter account for those little things I want to express but aren't big enough to blog about. Hopefully, it won't be a flash in the pan for me, but I make no guarantees on how often I will use it. You can find a link in my sidebar if you are at all interested in following.

For those who have been following my baby journey, Boy and I have decided we are ready to start trying again. I've started using a progesterone cream, because I think there is a really good probability that that has been a issue, although it's not entirely certain. We've never had trouble getting pregnant (one or two months trying has always done it), and I may be already. Eeee. So, all prayers, baby dust, best wishes, and good luck will be accepted. Thanks!

My Great Lack of Like Minds

One of these days I might just start my own commune or something, I don't know. I've just been longing to find like minded mama's in my area. Just one would be great. One other mom who wouldn't find it odd that I still breastfeed my little one, or that he still sleeps in our family bed. One mom who cloth diapers her babes, carries them around in a beautiful carrier, chooses for their health not to vaccinate them, and speaks gently to them when they "misbehave." Occasionally, I can find someone who fills one or two of these criteria (baby wearing is becoming a popular trend), but never all. I know you are out there somewhere - "hello, lady." I see you roaming the internet, commenting on some of my favorite sites, writing your own blogs, or even reading this one, but when it comes to real life, you are as elusive as the unicorn.
This morning, I was at a play group Bug and I regularly attend, and a few of the mamas with littles under a year started to chat about formula, which ones they bought, which ones their babies would eat, how much they cost, etc. There was one other who mentioned she hadn't used formula, but pumped when she wanted to give a bottle, but at the same time, you could tell that no one thought it was at all strange that these babies were given formula as just a normal part of their lives. It's just another perfectly acceptable option for feeding your baby.
From there the conversation turned to videos and how much their little ones love to watch certain baby geared shows. One mom expressed her excitement on how a video of animals entranced her ten month old daughter and gave her twenty minutes of peace.
As I listened to these conversations, I realized how little I understand these mothers. I don't get how you can choose processed foods over natural ones. I think formula is a valid and needed choice for a mama who has no other options, who has worn her butt out trying to provide breastmilk for her little one and come up empty handed (although I see far too many mamas who feel they have done this, but are unaware of simple information that would have helped them out, such as: your baby crying every time you nurse does not mean he's not getting anything - it may be reflux, pumping is not indicative of what your baby is able to get - babies are designed to work the breast in ways pumps never could, and, reflux is most commonly a reaction to dairy - consider taking it out of your diet.) Back on track - even if  formula was the only option I felt I had, I would prefer to find an organic or homemade formula rather than buy the chemical filled cans that fill most grocery store shelves. I don't mean to write that I am some how better than these other moms because I breastfed exclusively for at least six months, but simply that I don't understand them. I can't get inside their heads, and I can't relate to them at all. Sometimes it feels like they are speaking a foreign language.
I don't understand how it can be such a hardship to spend time with your baby either, to be so desperate for twenty minutes of peace from her that a baby video is exciting for you. I mean, I could understand it intellectually if she was a really fussy or needy little one, but the (admittedly brief) time I see her, she seems to be a very happy, content, independent girl. Even for a fussy baby, I'm not sure I could emotionally understand the need for a break. A break from the fussiness, yes; a break from my baby, maybe not. Maybe I'm remembering through rosy glasses, but I do know that I always felt a little bit hurt when someone or something other than me was able to calm Bug down. Anyway, it just never occurred to me to put him in front of the tv to get him out of the way for a bit, so I have no understanding of how this mama mind works.
In the end, I just felt lonely. I had no way to connect with these mothers. No one to chat with about how my changing hormones might be affecting Bug through my milk, or how little sleep I've gotten lately due to him having a few very nurse-y nights, tossing and turning in my bed, or what cloth diapers might pull down easily for night time toilet training, or ideas on how to teach him how to be sorry when he hits his cousin, instead of just forcing him to say "sorry," or how to show others that just because I'm not yelling at my son, doesn't mean I'm not teaching him how to treat others with love.

(Sigh) I just need one or two like minded mamas, who I can sit down with and have a chat about being a mama, someone who gets they way I think, who understands where I'm coming from, and who can connect with my mama spirit.

Friday, August 6, 2010


I haven't written in a long time, mostly because I knew I needed to write about this, but it still feels too difficult. It's hard to know what to say - do I write about events, facts, the practical side? or about the emotions and feelings? It's a major part of my life, especially as I'm getting to the point where I have to think about the future and make decisions, but mostly it's background noise, a subtle buzz, and really, I want it to stay there. I don't want to bring it to the front and tune it in so I can hear it clearly. I lived there, I've done that, I want to not feel the sadness anymore. So, I suppose this will start as more factual, to keep the emotions at bay, but eventually it will deteriorate to the personal side - maybe sooner rather than later, as I can feel the tears pressing on my eyes already.
Shortly after I last posted with all the hope my heart could drum up, I lost my baby. I didn't know it yet, wouldn't for two more weeks, but she was gone already. It took two ultrasounds for my heart to catch up to my brain, and seven weeks for my body to catch up to my baby. The bruise still hasn't caught up to my life, which is so far beyond the loss, that it's old news replaced by old news.
The waiting in between was the worst, knowing that she was gone, but not gone; feeling pregnant without being pregnant; ready to move on, but not able to; wondering when, when, when? Some people didn't understand why I didn't just end it with a d&c, some were concerned that I was endangering myself, few understood that I just couldn't do that to my baby. She was still my baby after all, tiny and lost to me, she was still mine, and it was my job to protect her for as long as I could, even if all I could do was protect the little body she left behind.
(And, that doesn't even get into the risks for myself with a d&c. Why must people be so eager to jump on the medicine bandwagon? This is natural and right - leave it alone! I'm not stupid, I know the signs of danger; let me take care of myself!)
When she was finally birthed (what else do you call it? I still can't find a good word for bringing a lost tiny into the world), we could see a tiny, little, bright, white spot in one of the brilliant red clumps. It was her hand, reaching out as if to say, "I'm here, Mama. Come get me."
We got to see her, her tiny inch long body. Fingers the size of candy sprinkles, ears smaller than a freckle, tiny feet to match her hands, and eyes bluer than the sky.  We don't really know if she is a girl, but to us it just seemed fitting. We named her Sayuri, "tiny lily." We took pictures to remember her by, and placed her on a piece of velveteen, in a small box we had.  Tonight we will bury her, underneath a potted bush that used to be in the yard where I grew up, a bush that blooms beautiful pink flowers every summer, a bush that will now be a reminder of my precious "Tiny" Sayuri.

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."  Luke 12:27

Friday, April 30, 2010

Fear and Hope

Almost nine weeks now. Thinking about that, I can't help but smile, but it's a rough road. You might nod sympathetically and comment, "Yes, I see how it would be a bit scary to be pregnant again after a miscarriage," but you don't get it. Really, you haven't a clue. Unless you've walked this path, you probably haven't begun to comprehend what it's like to be here. So let me give you a tiny glimpse - You wake up. Begin to be aware of your world again. Your first thought, accompanied by a stab of fear, "Do I still feel sick this morning...? Oh, yes, there it is." Breathe.
Get out of bed. There's a stab of pain in your side. Fear. "What is that? Is it a good pain? Bad pain? Ok, ok, I'm pretty sure that's ligament pain. That's ok. That's supposed to happen." Breathe.
You head to the bathroom. "Ok, ok, it's going to be ok." Wipe. Check. "No spotting. No spotting. Thank you, Jesus." Breathe.
Eat. The nausea abates while you reassure yourself that it will come back in a little bit.
Intersperse this all with minor heart attacks anytime anything changes, and I mean anything- the nausea, the need to pee, the desire to sleep, the pain in your back/side/arm, "wait, wait, the arm pain's not connected. That one's ok. Breathe," your appetite, mood, bowel movements, no new pimple today, your nursing toddler's sleep habits, mood, desire to nurse... anything.
Repeat entire cycle approximately 10-12 times, until you finally fall asleep at night praying that tomorrow will be as good as today.
You can't possibly know what it's like to be overcome with dread every time you have to pee (which is once an hour), unless you've been there. To be constantly weighing the way you feel, judging your aches and pains. To be truly thankful for nausea.  To feel yourself give up and try to accept that you're going to lose this one too - for whatever random reason your mind has currently settled on. To breathe fear in and out.
And, you are so alone. Because, nobody understands this. My family knows I'm afraid. They know it's hard for me, but they don't get this. This day to day, moment to moment torture. So, they don't call but once in a while and they probably don't think about it all that often. But, I don't blame them. Their babies were all born, crying, into their arms, and I thank God, that they have never had to walk this path.
The only one who can begin to understand is my Boy, because he's been there, holding my hand and going through it all with me. Sharing the losses and the fear.  I'm so grateful for his voice and his arms.
As time goes on, the frequency and intensity of the cycle abates, but never ceases. Each milestone you pass helps your spirit calm a tiny bit more. As the nausea grows stronger and my pants grow smaller, I grow slightly more confident that Tiny is going to make it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Writing for the Sake of Writing

So I promised myself I would write today. It's been two weeks which is a week longer than my goal for writing, but I just feel so tired tonight. Not just tired, a bit weary, you know what I mean? When it goes beyond your body to your soul. But, I will try to put something down, just to make sure I persevere on this blog. It's important to me that I don't give up on this. It's good to have some kind of creative outlet in your life, and while I used to have many - sketching, dancing, singing, occasional writing, it slowly dropped to um... nothing. All these things that I enjoyed so much, eventually became replaced with the more practical - a job, keeping a house, raising a Bug, and the more sedentary - spending almost all of my free time in front of the tv with my Boy. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't give up the life I have for anything, and I love my chillax time with hubby, but sometimes I wonder where I lost my drive and passion for the creative things in my life. I am bound and determined not to give up on them entirely. I'm grateful for my son who daily demands that I put on a "dince" (dance, meaning song). I used to listen to music constantly. I was always singing, or dancing, along to something, but I'd gotten to the point where I basically never put on music. I don't know why, but I just didn't. Thankfully, Bug isn't too discriminate about needing his music to be children's, so he bops along to some of my old favorites. It's nice to hear them again.
I used to draw, not frequently, but every once in a while when something would really catch my attention, I'd sketch it out. I really enjoyed it. I liked that it was something I was half decent at. I haven't done it in ages, but every now and then I look at my son and think how beautiful he is, and I itch to put it on paper. I'm grateful I have many photos of him, because one of these days, I'm going to sit down and capture him in my own hand. Another promise I've made to myself.
I think most teens go through a poetry or song writing stage. Sometimes it's really the only decent way to express the feelings you go through. It certainly helped me through a lot of times when I felt overwhelmed with emotions, as a teenager and beyond. I'm not sure I ever wrote anything that you could make money off of, but I always thought my works were pretty decent. This is one area that I'm not sure if I will ever really get back to. Occasionally, I go through some phrases in my mind and try to put something together, but it doesn't seem to work out the way it used to. Perhaps I'm not angst-y enough anymore.
That's where the blog comes in. There are times when I just have emotions I need to get out. A need to express in more than just a conversation. A challenge to make my thoughts more linear and perhaps to even provoke emotion in someone else. So, I will not, will not give up writing. I need to keep posting, even if my posts are somewhat inane and pointless. I need to keep posting just so this door is always open. I need to keep posting to prevent another burnt out outlet.
So, I post! Yay me!

You'd have no idea that I meant to write about something entirely different tonight, would you? Just got carried away on a train of thought...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I've Got Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

This past week... I'm not even really sure what to say. It's been very up and down and frustrating and exciting and, ugh... 
Inigo Montoya: Let me 'splain.
Inigo Montoya: : No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
(Who doesn't love "Princess Bride?")

Since last week I've had a cold/sinus infection. It has finally been getting better, but I'm still dealing with an ache in my teeth and cheekbones that sets in for an hour or so around the middle of the day. Bug also had this cold at the beginning of the week, but thanks to breastmilk! he got over it much faster than I did.
Woman, Uncensored, followed by Dr. Momma hosted my post The Superior Choice on their amazing blogs. So incredibly exciting that they would think it worth sharing with their vast readerships. It's lead to a huge amount of positive support, moms who said I encouraged them, moms who thanked me for saying what they were thinking, and moms who judged me for judging other moms. (First - that's not what the post is about. Second - So... you're superior to me because you don't think you're superior to other moms? Third - Really, people? Do you read what you write? Perhaps I'm harsh, and maybe a bit of a snob [my sister did nickname me Snob when we were teens], but some of these comments just made me laugh out loud. "we're all superior... nobody is superior..." What? That... it... wh.... I can't even form a reply. Oh -NOT possible.) And, of course,  it lead to over 100 hits on my blog - woot woot! - and, count 'em, 12(!) followers. (Not one of which is me. I'm confused over why some people do that.) Thank you, everybody! It's so awesome to see you here!
We've been waiting and waiting to find out if my Boy (hubby)  has made it to the next step in the application process for a job we really, really want. This week, all we found out is that will be waiting at least a few more weeks. Urrr! Another rant in and of itself. So, so discouraging. 
Today it was confirmed that my cousin, who told me that she didn't want kids, is ten weeks pregnant. Thankfully, she is happy about it, and I'm sure when I'm in a better place I'll be happy for her. But right now, so soon after my loss, it just brings pain and feelings of unfairness.
With all the stuff that's been going on lately, including Boy's need to put in a lot of extra time at work, we've really felt like we need some time away. The IL's bought a "cottage" (read: seasonal house), and we planned to make a weekend getaway to it sometime in the next few weeks. (Hooray!) FIL let's us know today that there is no water hooked up, and won't likely be until May when the risk of freezing pipes passes. (sigh.)
My emotions are somewhat all over the place (or should I say hormones?), in part I'm sure from the miscarriage, and likely I'm getting close to ovulating again as well. So, I spent a chunk of the morning crying and wondering why something can't go right for me. (sigh, again)
But right now - this moment - my Boy has come home from work, my Bug has woken full of sunshine and kisses, and I have time to take a shower. What more does a woman need?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Had a Baby

"I had a baby, and now I don't have it anymore. I feel sad."
A fairly simplistic quote from a tv show, but a fairly accurate summation of my life right now. In some ways it's hard to imagine that this is the truth. How could it possibly be? Two weeks ago, I didn't even know I was pregnant. A week and a half ago, I was celebrating the new life within me with my family. Just over half a week ago, I miscarried. Again. It was all so fast. So unexpected from beginning to end. It almost feel like it never happened. I was never pregnant at all. Life goes on the same as it was before I found out. My husband goes to work each day. My son demands his mama's attention and love. And I move on, taking care of the things that need to be done. There were no cards given, no flowers sent, no outside sign to acknowledge the living and passing of this oh so tiny life.
But, they were here. Oh yes, they were. I have only to remember the excitement and happiness I felt when it had truly sunk in. I was thrilled to be pregnant again. I was calculating and making plans. Figuring out decisions that would have to be made in the future months. Watching what I ate and considering how it would affect the growing life. Talking about names and guessing gender. For one week. One week. That was all I was given. And then they were gone.
How did this happen to me again? I don't get it. How did God decide that I was one who was able to handle this? Someone who is so empathetic that she never intentionally watches a sad movie and constantly finds herself crying over tv shows. Someone who becomes so hard and fast attached to things that she'll turn the house upside to find a missing alphabet magnet. Does that sound like the ideal candidate for multiple miscarriages? Not that there is one, I suppose, but, why me?
I don't know. I don't get it, but it is me, and who knows how many more times it will be me. And perhaps next time it will be a little bit easier, and the time after that will be easier still. Because this time was easier than the last. I don't entirely know why, but maybe because they were with us for a shorter time? Or because we knew how easily it could happen? Or simply because we'd been here before and the terrain was familiar? I know that it was at least in part because of my precious Bug, having a child of mine to hold and hug, and not being simply left with empty arms. I am so grateful for him. He reminds me that just as it's likely that I will have more miscarriages, it's likely that I will have more children to hug and cuddle, too.
And so, somehow my heart was protected from the gut wrenching, world ending, spirit crushing grief that it endured last time, and is working now to heal from the simple sadness and loss, and occasional door slamming anger that has left new scars on my soul.
"I had a baby, and now I don't have it anymore. I feel sad."

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Superior Choice

When I wrote this post, there was so much that was "clear" to me - black and white even. While I still feel strongly about most of these topics, I have gained a lot of grace and compassion for mothers who end up on the other side. I've learned far more about the myriad of reasons why some might make different decisions and seen some of the walls that they are faced with - sometimes even forcing them towards choices they do not want. While I would still make all the same choices again - I feel that they are my better choices, and I've learned that sometimes they are not your better choices. I've been tempted to delete this post entirely, but it's a tiny piece of me, of where I've been. Suffice to say, if I were to write this post today, it would have a very different tone to it.  - A slightly older Ness

Today I came across a comment about attachment parenting mothers having an attitude of superiority. This is not the first time I've heard this. It seems to be a common label given to those of us who practice this style of parenting. My response - Yep.
It's not that we think we're better than you, but that the methods we've chosen are better than the alternatives. That's why we chose them.  Isn't that they way it's supposed to work? You research and compile and listen, and then you decide to do what sounds and feels like the best - superior - thing for your baby. So, yes, we think what we do is better than what you do. Don't you think the same way? What mother says, "Yeah, this is definitely the poorer choice for my kid, but I'm going to do it anyway?"
Honestly there are times when we simply can't understand why you choose some things, like cry it out or formula feeding. It just seems so clearly to be the lesser or more harmful choice. It boggles my mind why some parents make the decisions they do, even when they are presented with evidence contrary to what they believe. It's like watching someone standing in front of a bin marked "Garbage" on one side, and "Recycling" on the other and then proceed to throw their glass bottle into the garbage. Huh? I'm so confused. How did you decide that was the better or right choice?
I know that making the decision to attachment parent is a bit more challenging than moving your arm to the other slot on the bin, but often it's easier to do than not. Bringing your baby into bed with you instead of listening to them cry for hours? Easier. Whipping out a boob instead of getting up to prepare formula? Easier. Throwing your baby in a carrier instead of lugging around a car seat? Easier. Keeping your tiny newborn close to you instead of letting them be strapped to a board while the doctor cuts off his skin? Easier. Follow that with - "wipe like a finger" instead of "protect with antibiotic ointment and watch for infection"? Easier. Letting your child wean themselves when the time is right instead of denying them the mother milk they want so much? Easier. (okay, I know that some people will face quite a bit of flack and criticism on this one that can make it very hard to continue.)
I do know that there are exceptions to the rule - the baby that demands his own space to sleep, the mother who needs medication that keeps her from breastfeeding, but the good reasons to chose else-wise are the exceptions, not the norm.
 I could go on and on about why the choices I make are the better choices, but that really would go on and on... and on. So suffice it to say, "Yes, I think my choices are better. Why else would I choose them?"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sucker-punch of Grief

Woke up feeling somewhat energetic. Somehow, within a few hours,  that changed to murky, crabby, irritable depression. Trying to shed my funk when the first one hit. Remember this? That poor little cat you lost, all alone in a strange neighbourhood in the cold of winter? You're not good at protecting little lives given to you, are you? POW! Left shaking and vulnerable, completely unsuspecting the second hit. Remember this? The time when your husband was happy and confident, had the smile of an expecting father, throughly unprepared for his own sucker-punch. POW! And I was undone. The grief swarmed and surrounded. Relentless pummels rained. Howls of pain and screams of rage emanated from a place I didn't know still existed. Almost three years have passed, but today it feels like I never left that moment. The grief is so strong I can't conquer it, and I lie beaten and bruised.
Little one, I'll never forget you. Every March and November, I'll remember the one missing from my arms. Every time I see the first crocuses of spring, I'll remember the joy you brought me for a few shorts weeks. And every now and then, I'll remember you, JJ, my baby who never had a chance to be, through the sucker-punch of grief.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I hate this feeling. My sister and I have always had this inherent sense of competition between us. I don't know what causes it, why it's so much more present with the two of us than with all our other siblings, but there it is. And I hate it. I hate that I feel left behind sometimes when she's doing something new, or that I often feel like I need to show how I "one up" her on whatever story she's telling, or that I feel this need to do things first. Part of it is definitely personality. She's bold and outgoing. Not afraid to go for what she wants, or to demand what she feels she deserves. I, on the other hand, am more laid back and content in the background. I get nervous asking for small favours. But, I'm still the oldest, so she should have to wait for me, right? I should be able to get to things before she does. Marriage, babies, house, even little things - like writing a blog. This morning I wake to my sister's post, "trying this blogging thing." Urr! "Wait! I got there first! I already started one! I'm ahead of you! Really people, like last week, I started my own blog. Her idea isn't unique, it's just copying the rest of us!"
Everything in me wants to scream those words, to prove that I wasn't left behind again, that I'm right there, just a little bit ahead of her. I know, how childish. How immature and unwomanly. I'm fully aware of the stupidity of this, and how bad it makes me look, but I can't seem to shake it. I don't want to feel this way about her. I don't want to always feel in competition. I hate competition! It makes me antsy, and somehow feel less worthy. And, it puts such strain on our relationship. I love my sister. I wish we could just totally accept each other and where we are in life. I seem to be able to do that with all my other siblings, why not her?
Of course, the irony is that this blog was never meant for her to know about. Her, or any of the people who could look and judge who was "winning." So, I can't tell her about it. I can't prove that I got there first. I just have to accept that she has a "public" blog, and move on. A small exercise in moving past this juvenile competition that defines our lives.

Reality - now it will come down to who continues to write in their blog. Will I still be posting when life and a new baby have overwhelmed her time? Will she keep updating about the growing of her family while I have grown bored with taking the time to write? Who will be the blog writing winner?  
(frustration, frustration, frustration. Why can't I just let go?)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Choose to Be Tired

Sometimes I think I should update my Facebook status. I sit there and think, "Vanessa is... what? What am I right now? Tired. I'm tired." Probably about 80% of the time that is what goes through me head. So, I post nothing. I can't keep posting that I'm tired over and over again. Why not? Besides that it makes me look like I not only have a boring life and must be boring also - since I have nothing better to say, it indirectly reflects on my parenting. I can just hear people thinking, "Why is she so tired all the time? Is that baby not sleeping through the night yet? Man, she needs to train him how to sleep, and stop giving in to his wants all night."
Well, you know what? No, he's not sleeping through the night, not even more than three hours at a time, and yes, I'm quite aware of how old he is, but I will take this happy well adjusted baby over a good nights sleep anytime. Today, we left him in the care of people we had never left him with before (yes, of course he knew them), for longer than we had ever left him, for only the fifth time we have ever left him at all. He kissed us goodbye, waved at the window, and proceeded to have a grand old time, not missing us one bit, until he rushed smiling to hug us when we came home. That's what co-sleeping and night nursing have helped do for my child. He's independent, safe, and secure in his world. He knows he can trust his parents to provide a safe environment and constant security for him. He has no need to freak out when we leave him.
I had one very caring mother tell me that it was so important to put babies in their own room, or they would have such a hard time learning to be independent. To that I say, "Have you seen my son?"