Category Archives: Miscarriage

Another Mothers’ Day Rant


I like to complain about Mothers’ Day on this blog. Hey, it’s my mommy blog & I can whine if I want to…

Mostly, I think the holiday is bullshit. 

Also, I hate making decisions on what I’ll do to celebrate. Do I escape? Pretend I don’t have a family for the day? Do I force my husband to take me to an over-crowded, rushed, & mediocre brunch? Do I demand special treatment? Breakfast in bed & all that? What about my own mother?! In indulging in myself, am I neglecting her?! And I have work on Monday, so there can’t be too much booze or fun because I need to sleep & get ready for the work week. Ack! 

And all for what? So that we can pretend mothers are honored in this land of zero-paid-maternity leave? So we can pretend mothers are important, even in this culture that undervalues family & women & anything remotely domestic? 

WTF, I thought this was supposed to be special & fun! Where are my Instagram-able #mothersdaymoments?! 

So, it’s the Saturday before Mothers Day & it’s been busy as hell. I got to sleep in a bit (which was awesome!) but I woke up extremely groggy & baby was in need of nursing & a nap. Ok. She’s almost asleep when my phone rings. Bam, she’s awake. Also, where’s the coffee?! Husband makes me coffee (yay!) & leaves. Ok. So now martial arts for the big boy & a walking nap for the baby. Then dentist appointment. Fuck, they asked me to come early but now they’re running behind. I’m hangry ’cause it’s past lunchtime & baby needs more sleep. She’s yelling & I admit I encourage her because I’m so grumpy & want our presence to be known. But everyone’s so damned nice. Darn, I can’t be a total bitch… which is a good thing in the end because I love our dentist & it’s not like we won’t be back. No more cavities for the boy. Phew! And then we grab lunch & I get more caffeine & we’re ok. Groceries for dinner. Baby will sleep in the car right? No! She’ll scream bloody fucking murder!! But my amazing son calms her somehow. I’m gripping the steering wheel in random heavy traffic but I somehow remember to breathe. I notice the sky is beautiful. I’m still grumpy but slightly less so. Home. Finally. My husband has picked up the entire house & is halfway through our laundry. Wow! It’s warm enough to throw open the windows. I want to pass off the baby. Hide in a room & lock the door. But of course the baby needs to nurse. Fine! I’ll be a mom for, like, five more minutes!

My Butterball-turkey-sized 10-months-old falls asleep in my arms. My partner & son bring me a beer. I quietly thank my son for being so patient & lovely today. I quietly thank my husband for the beer & for taking care of the house. I’ve found gratitude & I’m no longer angry or even cranky. 
Now I’m sitting here, rocking with my napping baby, sipping a beer, enjoying a beautiful breeze. How could I possibly complain?! 

Three years ago, on Mothers’ Day I was pregnant & and about to miscarry. Two years ago, I was bitter after having suffered a second miscarriage some months earlier & I was also barely pregnant & about to lose a chemical pregnancy & picking up a bridesmaid’s dress that had to be altered because, well, miscarriage. Last year, I was eight months pregnant but still nervous. This year, I have the honor holding the most perfect, napping baby in my arms. 

In the blink of an eye, despite chaos & loss, I feel like the luckiest mom in the world. 

Happy Mothers’ Day. Seriously!

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Filed under Attachment Parenting, Breastfeeding, Feminism, Living, Miscarriage, Mothering, Partnership, Simplicity, Working

Life after loss & the “rainbow” baby

What might have been…


I had a dream the other night about losing a small infant. It was not a sad or scary dream, though it was bizarre & jarring. 

I feel certain this dream was about “Twin A,” who we lost over a year ago during my pregnancy with M (who is thriving!). Both of my kids were in my dream, so the loss was of someone else entirely. 

And suddenly, I find myself emotional about that loss again. It’s a grief I haven’t let myself feel since we found out what had happened. But now, over a year later, a beautiful rainbow baby in my life, I am again sad that my twin pregnancy ended up as a singleton pregnancy. 

I often tell people (when it comes up…) that I had 3 miscarriages. Truth is, it was really 4. It’s just that the last one was, thankfully, hidden in an otherwise healthy pregnancy. It’s weird that I’m just now realizing that or, at least, doing the math.

And perhaps because of the successful singleton pregnancy, I didn’t get the closure I’d had with my other miscarriages. There was no physical sign. Nothing to bury in the small memorial garden. I was, for good reason, preoccupied with the health of “Twin B,” aka M. 

But now it’s as if my soul (or my subconscious, at least) is crying out. It’s telling me with this dream that I am in a safe place now & I can grieve what might have been. 

The truth is that for me, the twin loss was in some way more difficult than the others. Whereas with the singleton losses I hadn’t done any mental planning beyond the vague dreaming of early pregnancy, it took a lot of mental effort to just wrap my brain around the fact that I was pregnant with twins at the beginning. 

I thought about birth. I thought about three car seats in a Toyota Corolla. I thought about sleeping arrangements. Breastfeeding. School expenses. 

I thought, happily, how we’d be thrust into life as a family of five. I’ve secretly wanted three children for a long time & this was my way to achieve that without having to get my partner’s consent. I was secretly overjoyed. 

Now, I’m certain that ship has sailed. And perhaps as a mental safety mechanism, I didn’t really allow myself to think about that until now. I had to remain focused on growing & then caring for the one healthy baby who would become my sweet M. 

So, no more babies. No more miscarriages. 

I have to say, while I find myself occupying a space of unexpected sadness & disappointment right now, I am relieved that we will not walk in that heartache again. At least, not in the present. I still feel scarred & that is quite enough. My whole family would agree, I’m sure. MFA Dad is still touched in his quiet way. T knew about one miscarriage & is still emotional about it at unexpected times. 

The truth is, even though I might idealize a third child, another full-term pregnancy, another birth-day, getting there might include the sort of life-shattering heartache that we experienced in getting to baby #2. I don’t think I’m willing to walk that road again, as joyful as all the rest is. There is something to be said for being happy with what one has. And I am. 

So, I will allow myself to grieve. To get teary-eyed at unexpected moments. To be an enigma to my partner while I talk about Twin A again after a year’s silence. 

And then, when I am ready, I will find a way to commemorate that loss—all of my losses—& compartmentalize that phase of my life. I will “move on.” (I’ll also probably write about it!)

I don’t know what “moving on” looks like beyond not dwelling. Perhaps “moving on” is not the right term because moving on is literally impossible. I am a changed, deeper, better person. All I can do is pick up from a new starting point… allow the pain of loss & miscarriage to fade softly. 

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Mother-Anniversary #8

Sorta-still-life with a seven year old & an infant


I try to contemplate my journey as a mother every year around the time of my son’s birthday. I had a two-week wait between his guess date & the day he actually arrived. I spent those two weeks in quiet contemplation. A lot of solo (& very slow) walks. I thought about birth & I thought about impending motherhood. I like to think of those two weeks as my slow transformation to motherhood before the wild awakening. 

This is the first year I get to write this annual post as a mother of two. 

I’m letting that sink in (for myself), as I wasn’t so sure a year ago or two years ago that I’d ever get to say that. And three years ago, I was pregnant for just the second time, though that pregnancy would end in a missed miscarriage. 

But here I am. Here we are. Eight years after I crossed over in that so-sudden way from not-mother to mother. And the not-mother in me is starting to fade from my memory & my identity. I still have my own independent identity, but as my son grows & ventures more & more into the world, it seems that I identify more strongly as his mother, not less. 

Of course, he’s less physically attached to me (though I relish the brief moments he slows down enough to cuddle with me) but he is still very much attached emotionally, in a way that requires me to be ever more keen to his needs. 

And so, the mother-me keeps growing & changing & trying to adapt. I still fail often. But I am confident in this little family that we have all worked so hard to build. There are moments where I glimpse its vulnerabilities. And I realize how much work there is still to do. 

My own independent actions & words seem to carry even more weight these days. Children are sponges from infancy, but now my eldest consciously understands so much more. 

The baby has made a big difference in my parenting. I enjoy parenting her almost every moment. I’m not as nervous as I was when T was a baby & I was new to it all. And, so, I know I can enjoy parenting my older son almost always. The baby reminds me of that. 

His challenges are opportunities for me to reflect on what it means to be a child. We are now firmly in the age of my own memories. I know what it was like being 7 going on 8. I remember the joys & the difficulties & the weirdness & the excitement.

We are together. Now.

He deserves to be happy being who he is today. My daughter, too. Me, too. 

We’re not always happy. Sometimes I lose my shit. After our latest confrontation, I was sulking (angry-guilty) & my son excitedly told me what he does after he’s upset. He just forgets about it, he said. He throws it out of his mind & moves on. It’s true—He does this often & it’s remarkable. He takes the bad thoughts out of his mind like Dumbledore & his penseive. 

I tried it & it works. 

Of course it does. Children have this whole “being alive today” thing figured out. So, what have I learned in these eight years of mothering? Sometimes I need to shut up & listen to my kids. 

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Filed under Attachment Parenting, Gentle Discipline, Living, Miscarriage, Mothering, Parenting, Simplicity

Miscarriage issues in the news

The New York Times has just published a lovely visual story on miscarriage. Everything Jessica Zucker writes in the piece rings true to my own experience with pregnancy loss, from her description of the deep grief to the more mundane (“On top of losing a baby, now I have to lose weight, too.”)

I love this best: 

After miscarriage, the body grieves. Depending on the length of pregnancy the body may continue to look pregnant after it’s not. Living in a no-longer-pregnant body —longing to be, looking like you are—is a complex aspect of pregnancy loss that gets lost in conversations surrounding grief.

This was definitely part of my experience. While I was not at the point where my pregnancy was outwardly obvious when I lost my pregnancies, my body already looked pregnant to me. Body image issues were confusing & confounding. 

Also, be sure to find Jessica Zucker on Instagram (@ihadamiscarriage) to see other brace women share their stories of loss & infertility. 

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Letter to my as-yet unborn daughter 

Big brother’s picture of baby, mom, T & midwives on baby’s guess date.


Dear baby girl,

I am officially in the final days of what is likely my last pregnancy. With you! This means you will be born so very soon. Last night, I dreamt of your birth & it was amazing. I know your actual birth will be even more amazing… I woke up & you weren’t in my arms but you will be on your true birthing day!

Despite the darker days of uncertainty I’ve had during this pregnancy (sometimes doubting that I’d ever get to meet you), I’ve enjoyed every minute of nurturing you in my womb. I was worried when I was pregnant with your brother, but for different reasons—born of inexperience & naïveté. I worried about you because I knew too much. 

Still, nothing has been more miraculous than feeling you wriggle around in my belly. Feeling you changing inside me & growing stronger, week by week. 

And now that your birthing day is just around the corner, I am relaxing & letting myself be excited to meet & hold you. I’m talking to you more (though never as much as your sweet brother, who I am convinced you will recognize by voice immediately after you’re born). I’m allowing myself to think & daydream about the person you will be on this side of the womb. 

I fear I won’t want to let you go once you’re here. Ever. 

But there are others who are so excited for your arrival. You, who they’ve never felt the way I have. Who nonetheless love as if they had carried you these past 8 1/2 months. Your dad, who pats & kisses my belly every day & takes such good care of us. Your brother, who is so ready to sing & read & talk to you face-to-face. Your loving grandparents & aunts & uncles & cousins & dear friends. 

With birth, I will have to let you go. Even if just a little bit. Which is perhaps why I’ve loved being pregnant so much. I’ve had you to myself all these months! 

When I look at your brother, who is so fiercely independent, I realize that birth will be your first act of independence. 

I’ve been preparing for this birth, but so have you! And, really, it’s your birth, not mine. I’m not exactly on the sidelines, but together our bodies will be working to bring you into this world. 

And as flawed & sometimes horrifying as this world can be, my instinct is to keep you protected inside me. Where you are safe & near me at all times. But only out here can you help make this world a better place. I know you will. More love & more loving can be nothing but healing. Even if it’s just in our small corner or neighborhood. I can feel your love already. 

Soon, others will feel it too. 

Love always,

Mom

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Pregnancy after loss & loss after pregnancy

I’ve written a lot about miscarriage & secondary infertility in the last year or so. In fact, it seems like those two topics took over my blog & my life for what seemed like forever. 

When I became pregnant late last fall & the weeks started ticking by, I didn’t quite know what to think or feel, let alone what to write about. So I didn’t. 

I didn’t think or feel or write. At least not for a good long while. 

Plus, it’s been a bit of a complicated pregnancy. Or, at least it was at the start.

Which is probably where I should begin…

When I first fell pregnant, after three miscarriages, I was in a bit of denial. No way was this going to stick. Just continue on with life.

Well, that worked for about a week or so.

I had found out very early on that I was pregnant. Something just told me to test (though by this point, I had pretty much given up on testing… what was the damned point, anyway?!). It was early, but I got a fairly strong positive.

Then I started to worry… I should check my hormones, make sure I don’t need progesterone… You know, just in case? So I went to the reproductive endocrinologist (RE) I had been seeing, even though I had sworn her off since I found visits to her office so stressful. But her lab was fast & I knew I’d get same day results.

Everything looked good! HCG (that all-important pregnancy hormone) looked great! Did I want an early ultrasound, the nurse asked. No thank you. Not necessary. I was back off the RE, now that I knew my hormones were in tip-top shape. 

Now to wait. I didn’t want to see any medical person until I miscarried again or I got through the first trimester, whichever came first. 

But then my RE called me back. I guess my hormones were a little too good, so she wanted to keep an eye on them & me. You know, to rule out twins.

Twins?! I laughed out loud on the phone. … Oh, shit! Twins! 

Then I remembered. After my foray into Mayan abdominal massage (which was pretty awesome & empowering, I have to say), I had felt pretty strong ovulation pains. Twice. Oops.

So much for my hands off approach. I marched into my RE for blood draws & ultrasounds. My hormones were sky-rocketing. And then, come six weeks, there they were on the screen in the ultrasound room… two tiny, tiny hearts beating away.

I started laughing. Then I started crying. I think everyone in the tiny ultrasound room thought I was crazy. MFA Dad wasn’t with me, so I sent him a quick text message: “2 💓!” Once I left, I called him, laughing & crying again on the phone. Not one, but two!

My doctor warned me about something called “vanishing twin syndrome” but with each passing week & more ultrasounds, it started to look like there would be two babies & we’d magically become a family of five, not three. Those little hearts kept beating. My pregnancy symptoms came on fierce, due to the extra work my body was doing & the extra hormones.

I didn’t like having to go to my RE’s office so often, but then again, a twin pregnancy was a more medicalized & monitored affair. I was getting used to the visits & they really weren’t so bad since I kept getting good news. Looking good!

MFA Dad were already talking about what kind of car we’d need to carry around our gaggle of kids. We started fretting about expenses & how we’d pay for childcare & schooling. I started to consider that we’d have to move to the suburbs & stop paying for private school in the city. I got myself used to the idea that a caesarean was all but inevitable. I was trying to remain detached but it was becoming increasingly difficult. This was all just so surreal & crazy & unexpected & wonderful & miraculous!

At around 9 weeks, I marched into the RE’s office for another ultrasound (knowing full well by now that all this monitoring was getting a bit ridiculous, even for twins). I was alone. Even though the RE encouraged me to bring MFA Dad to my appointments, she never gave me a choice as to day or time. And so, every time I had to explain that we had a son & someone had to get him to school in the early morning, which seemed to be the only time she could ever see me.

I hopped onto the table, let the ultrasound tech do her thing. But something was wrong. I could see immediately that there was only one beating heart that morning. 

At least the ultrasound tech didn’t hide the truth for me (something I’ve experienced in the past). The RE came in & started talking Latin (or what might as well have been non-legalese Latin) to her resident. Um, excuse, me? I’m over here! With a wand stuck you-know-where! Talk to me damnit! 

Twin A was gone. 

I had a million questions & my RE had the wrong answer to all of them. She handed me a brown paper bag that contained a plastic container & gloves. I was to try to capture any tissue should I miscarry. Would I miscarry? Would I miscarry both? Was it possible to miscarry just the one? Hopefully, I wouldn’t miscarry either, but if I did, it was likely that I’d lose both. At least that’s what she told me. 

Later, I’d learn (from my midwife & the inter-webs) the complete end of this pregnancy wasn’t actually a done deal. And the surviving twin’s heartbeat was strong. I tried to take solace in that. 

But it was an admittedly confusing & difficult time. I was feeling hopeful & hopeless at the same time. Emotionally, it felt like another miscarriage, but physically my pregnancy continued. 

It was difficult to go in for my follow-up ultrasounds. Not only was I terrified of finding out we’d lost the other twin, but the technician & doctor always seemed focused on Twin A’s sac. I wanted to focus on Twin B’s beating heart, not to endure examination of the lifeless sac that would “hopefully” vanish to oblivion. 

After a couple follow-ups, I called it quits. An ultrasound wouldn’t change the outcome, so I went back to just waiting it out. My RE thought I was crazy. She couldn’t understand how more ultrasounds weren’t more reassuring to me. But I had to figure out my own path here. Loss in the middle of a pregnancy isn’t exactly easy. 

So I waited until the end of the first trimester. Hopeful & hopeless. I learned I could be both at the same time. I tried to be ok with that. Life is full of gray areas. 

Luckily, I can report that I did not miscarry either twin & “Twin B” is turning somersaults in my belly as I write. My midwife, who was encouraging from the moment I told her what had happened, was right when she told me that losing one twin was common & did not mean the end of my pregnancy. 

I started a Hypnobabies home study course (…reluctantly, I know I need to prepare for labor & birth!) & as I listen to “positive affirmations” about pregnancy & childbirth, I realize that my nagging fears are perhaps more present than I had thought. One exercise prompted me to imagine & connect with my baby. I realized I had not yet imagined or dreamt of this baby at all. Probably out of fear. 

And as MFA Dad & T get more excited for this little one’s arrival, I fear that my body will disappoint. What to them seems like all but a done deal, to me is still fraught with the danger of disappointment & loss.

It’s a nagging feeling & I’m trying to shake it the best I can. Or at least realize that the space of hope & hopelessness is with me, with hope taking a slight lead.

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Choosing peace (finally!)

  

It’s my birthday! And it’s a beautiful fall day. So, I thought I’d post something uplifting, if not entirely light. 

I have a number of light posts I’m working on, but there aren’t enough hours in the day & there definitely isn’t enough horsepower in my brain to get them all out. I’m trying though! And with that, here’s what I hope is my last miscarriage post for a while…

***

Is it possible to occupy two mental states at one time, even though they seem to be in complete opposition with each other?

Trying but not striving. Sadness & joy. Disappointment & gratitude. Hope but not desire. 

I don’t know, but I hope the answer is “yes.” I believe it is. At least, I’m  trying!

I’ve been walking the road of trying to conceive & miscarriage & heartbreak for almost two years now. All of this has taken its toll on me, my relationships, my family. 

I’ve decided I’ve had enough. 

We are not going to give up. In fact, we are about to ratchet up our efforts. 

But I’m choosing peace. 

Finally. I am choosing peace. I don’t quite know how, but I know that I can be at peace with the now. I can stop the maddening up & down emotional roller coaster. 

After all, “now” isn’t so bad. I am healthy (even if something isn’t quite working right). I have a beautiful little family & an awesome partner. My family & friends are supportive & loving. We have a comfortable home & abundant food. We even manage to have some fun, even if it does sometimes feel like there is less joy lately. 

Do I wish we could have a second child? Yes! Do I wonder what’s wrong, what’s preventing us from carrying a baby to term? Hell, yes!

But I have been lucky in love & in life. As my dad often says, even when things are difficult, “life is good.”

Because even when life isn’t good, maybe it is. 

And there’s the proof that I can feel, & be, two conflicting things at once. It’s so clear when I pause to observe my life right now. In this very moment…

Life is good, even when it isn’t. There is nothing lacking, even though my heart has room for more. 

It has taken me a long time (& a lot of emotional & spiritual work) to get to this point. A point where I can choose peace & joy over sadness & anger. 

It has been well over a year since my first miscarriage & in that time I have lived an existence where every time I got my period felt like a miscarriage of sorts. That is the emotional pain I have been living with just about every month. A bitter disappointment & an emptiness. Yet another denial of what I so desired with a feeling in my gut more powerful than anything I have felt before.

Of course, that desire is at the heart of the problem. My initial error was in mistaking an openness for desire. I see that now (thanks to much introspection & meditation & discussions with MFA Dad & my therapist).  

I cannot go back in time (in fact, I think I needed to walk that path to get to today), but I can correct my error. I am open to more children, but I am committed to the child I have. I am committed to my partner. I am committed to my family, my friends, my community. I am committed to myself. Right now.

Because, truly, there is nothing lacking. 

In fact, there is abundance. And even on this often painful journey, I have discovered more. More love, more thoughtfulness, more spirit, more empathy, more compassion, more gratitude. Maybe even more joy.  

Once I decided to get off the rollercoaster (& really, not only is a roller coaster full of unexpected ups & downs… it is also a loop that takes you exactly nowhere), I was able to pause. Take a deep breath. Get my bearings. 

Making a plan has helped enormously. As has taking a break from the whole baby project. 

Just living life, with all that entails. Being happy. Losing my temper. Yard work. Hugs. Rainy days. Sunny mornings. Meditating. Doing yoga. Skipping the yoga. Cooking. Kisses. Being tired. Watching Louis (C.K.). 

I am alive today. The sun is shining. My son gave me a booklet of division problems for my birthday. I have treats for my coworkers in my backpack. 

Life is good. 

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