I have finally found time to redesign the main pages at Facts About Miscarriage and have incorporated this blog into the new site.

Corey is now on the main page, and I’m deep in the process of getting all the information on the main site to the new format.

I’m very excited about the changes and hope everyone finds it informative and helpful during those long dark frightening hours when you search for anything on the internet that will give you answers.

 I have closed this blog to comments so that we can move all our wonderful and healing discussions over there.

Thank you!

Deanna

www.pregnancyloss.info

About a year ago, I redesigned this site. I wanted to create the most beautiful ever image of an infant lying on a cloud as an angel, but I didn’t have just the right baby yet–one small and fragile and gently sleeping–to represent our lost babies.

In March, some dear friends of mine gave birth to twins after many many years of trying to conceive. We were all so thrilled for them.

They came for images when the babies were still only a few weeks old, and baby Corey was so tiny (born at 5 pounds) and curled up that I knew she would make the perfect angel image. I gently asked my friends if I could use her, and they agreed. 

The little girls grew over the months and on the Fourth of July, they sent out the cutest little patriotic shots of the twins in their holiday duds.

On July 5, about the time many of us were looking at those images of the girls, the twins’ wonderful and caring in-home babysitter laid them down for their nap.

Baby Corey never woke up. After an autopsy and toxicology report, they could find no cause of death, so she was ruled as one of the 2200 SIDS deaths that happen each year in the US.

Her parents have lovingly agreed all the more that she is just the baby to serve as our ambassador, our sweet respresentative, here to guide our lost babies from this world into the next. I will be incorporating her into the Facts about Miscarriage Site as I make changes.

Rest well, sweet Corey. 

webskyangel.jpg

March-July, 2007

I know it can be a hard day. Every marquee at every restaurant touts it. Sentimental commercials broadcast emotion. Your inbox swells with gift suggestions. The grocery store explodes with floral arrangements.

And here you are. Your baby isn’t here. You expected a swelling belly, or maybe even the bundle to be here. Or like me, maybe yours should have been scrawling crayoned rainbows on handmade cards by now.

But, you feel you have nothing.

Think of this way:

  • Did you feel joy when you learned you were pregnant?
  • Did you plan and hope and dream about the day your baby would arrive?
  • Did you want nothing more than a happy, healthy little one?

How is this different than every other mother? Are mothers whose children die full grown any less mothers because their children are no longer here? Of course not.

You are a mother. You were the bearer of that baby’s future. You brought this baby into the world, however it happened, at four weeks gestation, or full term, in a gush of blood and pain just like every mother does.

Don’t believe for a moment that everything out there isn’t talking about you. It is. And even more so, because you have born a grief that could destroy a mother’s hope–the loss of her child–and you have survived.

It’s your day. Take it to remember your baby. And send up a quiet word of thanks to your own mother, wherever she may be.

Sometimes amazing things happen to remind us that we really don’t understand the machinations of our world. I often think of the line to Josh Groban’s song “To Where You Are” that says:

Isn’t faith believing all powers can’t be seen?

Yesterday my almost-five-year-old (countdown to the big day–seven sleeps!) and I attended a baby shower for her preschool teacher.

One of the games involved each of the kids suggesting what Ms. Lindsay should name her baby boy.

The children mainly chose names of male classmates or dads or brothers. A few provided gigglers–Star, Sunshine, Happy Feet. One future class clown offered up “Poo.”

Elizabeth’s turn arrived. She seemed confused about this, and the teacher asked her if she needed more time. She shook her head, stood up, and said, “Matthew.”

My heart seized. She knew no Matthews. No cousins or classmates or friends. The only time she could have heard the name in her brief existence would be in Sunday School, where it would compete with the likes of Mark, Luke, and John.

But Matthew is a very important name to us. When we were told Emily was a boy at her sonogram, we chose Ryan Matthew as her name. Naturally she became Emily later when the high risk doctor told us–that’s an odd name for a girl!

When we got pregnant with Elizabeth, we decided we still liked Ryan Matthew but would prefer it flipped. So we called the baby Matthew early on when we referred to her in the womb, until her sonogram revealed she was also a girl.

But of course, Elizabeth was a twin. Her little sibling died and my water broke when I was only ten weeks pregnant. Elizabeth survived, although we had a week or two of uncertainty that the pregnancy would pull through.

We’ve named her twin Emma Hope, but after this baby shower, maybe we were wrong. Perhaps Elizabeth knows more than we do, and maybe, just maybe, some little presence whispered in her ear that morning, and for the first time, without even knowing it, she uttered a name she’d never before heard–her brother’s.

How many of you have heard these phrases?

  • It probably would have been deformed.
  • Thank goodness you were only in your first trimester.
  • It’s not like it was a real baby.
  • Just get pregnant again and you’ll feel better.
  • It was just a miscarriage.

When friends, family, acquaintances, and coworkers learn of your loss, they are going to feel the need to say something. They feel awkward and unsure. They definitely don’t want to make you cry.

So they try to come up with something to make you feel better. Somehow, they really do believe that downplaying the loss (only first trimester, not a real baby, just a miscarriage) will help you downplay it too. Or, that they can show you a “bright” side (deformed, nature’s way, not the right time.) Or give you advice (get pregnant again, don’t dwell on it, you’re only making yourself depressed.)

I’m not happy with these people. I wish I could be your personal guardian, walking around with duct tape and sealing their mouths. But usually they aren’t really trying to upset you. They want to say something. They don’t know that “I’m so sorry for the loss of your baby. Please let me know if I can do anything,” is plenty.

Ignore them when you can. Just nod and walk away. And when you’re feeling up for it–tell them. And explain to them what to say next time, before they repeat these things to someone else.

This is a touchy subject, but one I can address more easily in general rather than with someone specific in an email or post. Hopefully some of you out there googling miscarriage and emotional recovery will hit upon this.

Those wonderful female hormones that govern our cycle and turn us into emotional swingers right before a period, in early pregnancy, and in post partum have an extra special role right after a miscarriage–they often get completely out of whack and make our lives hell.

Often when someone writes me in the first two weeks after a loss, upset and angry, wanting to leave her husband, afraid she’s not doing well with the children, and sure that every one of her friends is trying to make her feel worse, I know her body has made life less easy to cope with.

We already are saddled with a lot after a loss: grief, frustration, fear, despair. It’s a terrible kick in the gut that in addition, our confused reproductive system often sends out so many mixed hormone signals that we can’t manage our emotions. In this state, a casual “How are you doing?” becomes a cold-hearted slam. A husband asking, “What’s for dinner?” is grounds for divorce. Can’t they see life is horrible, our baby lost, nothing will ever be the same, and can’t he make his own freaking dinner just once?

What is happening is partly the people around us–most don’t really know what to do or say to a greiving mother–and part of it our inability to process outside stimulus. These hormones literally become a jumbled filter and so much of what we would ordinarily handle perfectly well–a mess on the floor, an abrupt end to a phone call, a comment about our appearance–will become huge issues.

It’s not really our fault. And hopefully everyone will give us the space and understanding we need. We will get better, not because we’ve forgotten the baby or the sadness of our loss, but because our bodies have filtered out these conflicting hormones and now we can think more clearly and organize our feelings into those that bear getting upset over and those we can wave away.

If you’re here, and everything seems upside down and everyone in your life is upsetting you, just take a deep breath, get as much time to yourself as possible, and when the going gets rough, break some small piece of inconsequential dinnerware. You’ll get better. I promise.

Sometimes as I go about life I stumble across something that brings my loss eight years ago flooding back. When I do, I tend to drown in it, obsess over it. Really dig in and let the grief and emotion wash over me again. It keeps Casey close, and even though it’s sad and hard, later I am glad I didn’t let life move on so fast that I don’t stop and devote a little time every once in a while just for him.

Yesterday I was randomly surfing Itunes for music and came across Josh Groban’s song “You Raise Me Up.” I loved his voice and today spent some time learning about this young singing sensation.

A few minutes ago I ran across this song and knew I had to post if for you ladies. I decided to link to this version of it rather than the actual video for the song as it features a woman as the subject, a lost love affair, but when he actually sings the song without images, well…you’ll understand.

Don’t do it at work, if you’re susceptible. Save it for a quiet moment…just you and your baby.

Josh Groban singing “To Where You Are” on Jay Leno:
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/229538/josh_groban/

More information about Josh’s debut CD with this song. He’s done many CDs since:
Josh Groban CD

Take time out for this. It’s sacred time. And it’s okay to grieve. For hours, days, months, and even all your life. It’s how we humans are designed–to mourn our loss in order to hold our love and hope all the closer to our hearts.

Among the emails I receive daily are suicide notes.

Some women just write to express their fears about having thoughts of suicide. Others are in full-blown distress, ready to give up on this world.

When I first began receiving emails like this, I felt panicked. I was not trained in even the most basic psychology. I had no experience with women who were reaching out. I had no idea what I could do or say to make a difference.

But when that first one arrived, I had little I could do but respond, and fast. I actually DID call a suicide hotline and asked them what to say and do. I learned some very important things, and I share those as well as ideas that are specific to us–the mothers of lost babies.

First, there are two categories of thoughts about suicide: passive and active.

Passive thoughts include just wishing for death, considering how others will handle your suicide, and feeling the need to ease the intensity of your emotional and sometimes physical pain. You might research suicide on the Internet or look over books about it. You are just thinking about dying. These are normal and happen to everyone in times of depression or distress.

Active thoughts include considering what method of suicide you might use, counting pills, locating a gun in the house, or making any sort of plans. This is a stage where you actually DO things. If you get this far–then it’s time to get help NOW. The quickest and simplest is to stop everything, pick up your phone, and call 1-800-SUICIDE.

I think it is fine to reach out to anyone who will listen when your thoughts are passive. Most of the women who write me are frustrated with family and friends who are not understanding. I know now that all they need from me is validation that their feelings are real and serious and difficult, that their baby was wonderful and the loss is impossibly hard, and that it’s a long road to recovery, not the three or so days others believe it should last. You can find this sort of help at a pregnancy loss group, on bulletin boards on the Internet, or even among your friends who have had miscarriages that you didn’t know about.

When you get to the active stage, however, you simply cannot rely on friends and family anymore. They may not get it. They might not see. Their failure to take this seriously or to listen will compound your depression and can even trigger you to act. It’s critical you find someone, anyone, who can guide you to professional help.

When I wrote Tina’s suicide attempt into the book, I tried to show how passive thoughts can morph into active ones. Most of the time we can see the shift, as long as we know ahead of time that there is a difference. For Tina, though, it happened too fast. The post-pregnancy hormone changes don’t help, making every system in your body less able to cope.

Here is her segment of the novel. 

On that day she came home from the hospital, all Tina knew was that her baby was dead, her boyfriend gone, and she’d soon be booted back to the horror of public school. Leaning over the sink in her bathroom, she washed her face and hands and the gleam of water on her white wrists seemed too pristine, too pearl. The razors lay neatly in the chest of art supplies and she stopped thinking, stopped rationalizing anything at all. The act wasn’t about killing herself, not in that moment, or about escaping, it was about marring the perfection of her arms. She was tainted, her baby had died, she was unloved and unwanted. She felt she should be marked by this–that her physical body should bear the scars of the death of her happiness.

She leaned her pale arm against the sink and didn’t hesitate once. 

The main thing I wanted to get across today to those of you who have googled miscarriage and suicide, or miscarriage and wanting to die, which are very common combinations that bring you to this blog, is there is an important difference between thoughts of dying and thoughts of how to do it. If you are still in the first category, keep reading, keep reaching out, keep healing. You will get there. If you start to shift, if you sense your thoughts moving toward plans or funerals or even revenge–ACT. Act NOW.

Email me.
Join my forums where others have been where you are.
Or call 1-800-SUICIDE.

But do something. Life the way it is now is not the way it will be a year from now. I once contemplated taking my car off a cliff and into the fog about two weeks after my baby died. We had found out the genetic testing had failed, our marriage was falling apart, and we were fighting like we never had.

I didn’t know then that less than twelve months later I would give birth to a healthy little girl and a few years later to a second. I’m glad I hung around to find out.

Most every day I will receive two to five emails from women who have lost a baby. I try to always respond.

Many just want to share their story–to tell anyone and let it pour out. I always imagine it is like poison, or snake venom, and you simply have to purge it from your body in order to survive. I’ve heard most every situation that can be told after eight years, and I can handle anything laid in my inbox.

The beta readers who are going over Baby Dust right now also email me, mentioning moments in various characters that they feel reflect me. Stella, certainly, in her unabashed devotion to the group for a decade, often will say things I write in my emails to women–encouragement or concern or a reminder that the future will look very different that the landscape currently in view. I too once thought I would never have children, only loss after loss. I probably hit my lowest low when I was pregnant for the second time and my doctor called me to say my screenings with this new baby were abnormal.

“It will happen again,” I thought, my belly already fat enough that I had to lean forward to rest my head on the work desk. “It will happen over and over again until I can’t take it anymore.”

And that was when I formed a resolution I still repeat to women who feel their losses will recur and they can’t face it. “Can you make it through one more?” I ask them. “Not two more or five more or an endless stream of them. But just one more?”

When you say yes, you know you can make it through one more loss, you are ready to try again. Because your last loss may indeed have been your last loss.

I think all of us find ourselves riddled with self-doubt at times. Sometimes I wonder if I am any sort of spokesperson on this issue. Regularly I fear I’ve gone too far, or not far enough. I examine the outline of the book, review the situations, struggle with whether or not I covered everything. If I got things right.

Conceiving an idea is such great fun. There is so much joy in it, such hope. You can believe in something when the concept is broad and bright and entirely in the future. The execution of it is all together different. There are potholes, gaps, chasms, gorges between your dream and its fruition. You wonder if you fail, how many people will watch you go down.

Baby Dust is with six readers right now from various demographics. Women who’ve lost babies, women who haven’t. Doctors and editors and just writer friends who have no idea what darkness I’ve laid in their hands. I will listen to what they have to say about it, make my adjustments where need be.

For the people who read it who’ve never been through a miscarriage, I find they don’t believe some of it. “Of course you have to go to the hospital!” they say, and refuse to accept that this might not be the best course.

“No one would say that!” they exclaim when they see what comments are made to women fresh from their losses. They can’t imagine they might be told “It wasn’t really a baby anyway,” or “Just try again and you’ll be fine.” Or our favorite, “It was all in God’s plan.”

Initially I think–exactly, and that’s why you need to read this book. And learn. Then I think, what if they still don’t believe it? What if these scenarios do more harm than good? What if people think it’s gratuitous? Or disingenuous? Or manipulative? Or just bad?

Today I grapple with both anxiety and hope, much like we do when we learn we are pregnant again after a loss. Yes, it could turn terrible, and we might face awful devastation. But it could also be wonderful.

I take solace in Winston Churchill.

You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true and also fierce you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.

I sure do hope he’s right.