Thursday, October 16, 2014

Until We Can Hold You In Heaven...

I had written yesterday that I wanted to start a tradition of writing to our baby every year on October 15th. 

Unbeknown to me, Tom had already done so.  He gave this to me last night when I got home from work.  Framed.  I read it and cried.  It took me a while to read it because I couldn't see through the flood of tears welling up in my eyes.  All I could say was, "thank you", and bury my face in his shoulder. 

Finally, after almost 6 years, we're beginning to grieve together, differently, but together.  I am so incredibly grateful.  This will be hanging on the wall next to my vanity in our bedroom.  I'll see it every morning as I begin my days and every evening as I prepare for sleep.

Thank you, honey, for such a beautiful gift.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Rembrance Day

I'm sure that most of you do not know that today is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day.  In 1988, President Ronald Reagan named October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month saying, "When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan.  When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower.  When parents lose their child, there is no word to describe them." It seems insignificant to people that have never experienced it.  I don't expect anyone to drop what they're doing to recognize this.

I'll tell you what it means to me, though.

It means I'm not alone.  It means I'm not the only person that feels this pain and has a hard time getting past it.  It means I'm not weird or abnormal.  It means that what I'm feeling is okay, it's allowed.  Also, it means today I'm allowed to be sad and I don't have to hide it. This really should be the case every day, but I'm letting myself be free today and feel these things openly. 

I know that the pain of a lost pregnancy isn't as well understood by people who have not endured it.  It isn't tangible.  We never held our baby, never saw it's face, never touched them, but the grieving is just as real.  The reality is that we have lost a child, too.  Nothing changes that.

I think that now, since I'm beginning this grieving process after so long, it's time to start a tradition for every year on October 15th.  I'm not sure what Tom and I will do, but here are some ideas I've seen and come up with myself.
  • Buy something special in memory of our baby
    • Charm Bracelet - add a new charm each year
  • Write a letter or poem for our baby
  • Create a piece of art each year - pouring all of the emotions of the loss into it
  • Dinner out, taking time to talk about how the feelings have changed over the past year
If you've lost an infant, child or pregnancy, I encourage you to start a tradition, too.  These precious little lives should be honored, however short they were. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Self-Deprecation & Finding My Worth

I've spent the better part of the last 6 years vacillating between considering trying for a baby again and not trying again.  There is so much fear.  Fear of losing another baby.  Fear that it might break me completely if we lose it again.  Fear that I will die. 

The fear, though, seems secondary to everything else I've been thinking and feeling.
  • What if I can't conceive because God knows I would be a bad mother?
  • What if I can't conceive because I did something wrong and God is punishing me?
  • What if I take fertility drugs and it ends up killing me like it almost did last time?
  • Maybe I'm just not meant to be a mother.
  • Maybe I'm not good enough.
  • I don't want to do this if it means forcing the hand of God and taking matters into my own hands. (in vitro, fertility drugs, surrogacy, adoption)
  • What if my hormonal/emotional issues will stop me from being a good parent?
  • What if my husband really doesn't want more children and ends up resenting me if we do have one?

I've tied my inability to conceive to who I believe I am as a person. 

I have become the master of self-deprecation.

There are so many days when my mind is overwhelmed with the thought "I am nothing."  It consumes me.  A lot of people say "there's a voice that tells me I'm not worth anything."  For me, it's not some disconnected voice, I know it's me saying it.  The past 6 years have molded this image of worthlessness inside of me.  I never recognized it, though, until my therapist read my blog biography for Eat.Sleep.Make. 

My first assignment was to rewrite it.  I couldn't do it.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't write something that didn't humiliate me in some way.  It was absolutely impossible for me to be proud of myself for any aspect of my life.  As far as I was (and mostly still am) concerned, I had(have) nothing to contribute to the world.  (Even now it's still hard for me to believe that people actually voluntarily read these blog posts.)

It's a terrible thing... living each day in such a haze of deception and depression.  I know what the Bible says.  I know I am intelligent.  I know I am talented.  I know I am beautiful.

But, I don't know that any of that is worth anything if I'm not a mother.  The things I do, the things I know, the things I create will leave no lasting impression on this planet when I am gone.  These things will have no affect on my life after death.  The only thing I can find that kind of meaning in is raising children to be world changers, too.  I'm not destined for greatness as far as business or being an evangelist is concerned.  Being a mother was the greatness I wanted. 

I observe my brothers and their wives with their children.  My nieces and nephews running to their parents when something happens... they're hurt, they're hungry, they're tired, they're scared. They find everything they need in their parents... love, affection, protection, guidance... It is such an amazing and beautiful thing.  To see how all the effort they've planted and fostered has begun growing into tiny adults who can make their own choices and so eagerly learn new things... it's an absolute miracle.  To know that your body contributed to the creation of this amazing being who never ceases to astonish you, it must be incredible.  God chose you for a miracle.

For some reason, though, I have not been chosen for such.

To be honest with you, it's a lot of the reason why I started writing this blog.  If I can't make an impact on this world by raising a child, then I will make an impact by sharing about it.  Exposing the pain, the depression, the surrender, the hope, the battle...

I am aware that right now a lot of these posts are dark and sad, but the only way of expelling the darkness is to expose it.  I have to share this all before moving forward.  I know there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I know I will not be stuck in this rut forever.  I know my God has not forsaken me. 

However, I am human.  I am not completely immune to the things that happen as a result of being part of this world.  So, I'm working through it.  I'm just choosing to do it in front of all of you. 

I know this is helping others because some have reached out to me already, but it is also helping me.  SO MUCH.  It's helping me to be honest with myself.  It's helping to hold me accountable to this healing process I've committed myself to.  It's helping bridge the gap between me and my family because they know what I'm going through now.  Most of all, it's giving me hope because now I see so many others that have been where I am and have come through it successfully and joyfully. 

I know I'll find my worth again.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Brutal Side Effects of Smothered Grief

This is especially difficult for me to post.  Almost all of these feelings, thoughts, insecurities, I never shared with anyone.  That would have negated the fa├žade of the strong, untainted woman I was pretending to be.  I never even let Tom see these parts of me.  However, now that I'm moving forward in my healing process, allowing myself to grieve and hurt, being vulnerable is essential.  I'm slowly peeling back the layers of shame I've acquired over the years that created this emotional exoskeleton. 

My road through grief has been horrendous. 

I didn't grieve.  Not for years. (I am only now, after 5 1/2 years, beginning the process.) I felt abandoned by my family, friends, everyone I loved.  My husband seemed to have moved on, carefree, downright relieved and jubilant, while I drowned silently in my suffering, slowly losing everything I ever dreamed of becoming. Family and friends said, "It's okay, you can just try again."  If you've experienced this kind of loss, that sort of optimism is the absolute worst thing someone could say to you.  It made me angry.  It made me feel ashamed for pouring so much sorrow into something everyone else perceived as inconsequential.

Every life around me carried on while I stood completely still, my feet cemented in my loss.  I never even attempted to break free of it.  I resigned myself to where I was, fixed in place in sorrow.  Alone.

I didn't even trust that my husband could empathize.  After all, he had 2 children already, so if this didn't work out, he wouldn't have the giant gaping hole in his soul like I did.  He was already fulfilled. 

I watched longingly as the people surrounding me were given what was taken from me.

My sister-in-law conceived.  I was thrilled for her.  I felt pity for me.  I had so desperately wanted to give my parents their first grandchild.  I failed.

My husband's ex-wife conceived.  I was overcome with jealousy.  Then more pity. 

My other sister in-law conceived.  Again, thrilled.  Again, pity.

My best friend conceived.  Again, jealousy.  Again, pity.

That's when I started asking, "why?"  Why was everyone else having babies, but I wasn't?  Which consequently turned into, not a list of answers to the question why, but a list of reasons I believed I should not be allowed to have children.

These are the answers that manifested in the fog of depression and suffering I had inhabited:
  • I wasn't strong enough to be a mother.
  • I wasn't stable enough to be a mother.
  • I had done something to remove God's favor from my life.
  • Being a mother was the highest calling of which I am obviously not good enough.
  • I'm the family failure. The black sheep. Always the one making mistakes and causing humiliation.
  • God knew the baby would be better off with Him.
  • I'm too selfish.
  • My husband loved his 2 children and didn't want anymore.
  • My husband believed only his first wife should be the mother of his children and I wasn't worthy.
I know these are fictitious.  However, the head does funny things when it's judgment is clouded by depression.  I believed (and still struggle with) these things for years.  Undoing so much ingrained deception takes time, and effort, and most likely professional help.  Which, I am getting and it's working, slowly and painfully, but working nonetheless.

Ultimately, all of these boil down to one simple thing:  In the loss of my baby, I lost my worth.

I always assumed I'd be a mother.  A mother that conceived and birthed her own children.  I have always believed motherhood to be a divine calling, the greatest entrusted charge by God.

I wasn't and am not enough to be tasked with this vocation.  I say "am" because this is something I battle daily.  Over the past six years I have tried to find my worth in school, being top of my class, graduating with honors and a degree in Architectural Drafting.  I tried to find my worth by starting Eat.Sleep.Make. with Jen and even after rocket success, I am still unfulfilled.  I throw myself into my job, decorating my house, developing new skills and talents... but absolutely nothing fills the void, that black hole that losing my baby created in my soul. 

I feel disappointment in myself.  I wonder constantly how I could have been a better person so God would trust me to birth and raise one of His children.  I question my purpose in life... if not to be a mother... what is the point?  What am I supposed to do?  What is the point of being a woman, enduring so much pain every month, if I can't have children?  The suffering of cramps and cysts bursting every month could be tolerable if I knew it would lead to the miracle of conception.  But, it doesn't.  In fact, it seems every cycle I go through gets me further and further away from making the dream a reality.

I compare myself to those closest to me that have been granted the miracle of childbirth and wonder what they have, what they are that I am not.  I hold them so high above myself that sometimes the weight of it crushes every grain of joy from me.  I resent myself for the failure to conceive, nurture and deliver a child. 

I feel out of place at family functions.  My nieces and nephews are my parents' pride and joy, and obviously, I assume that means my brothers are the favored of the family.  I'm the failure.  I have one failed marriage and a dead baby.  I adore my nieces and nephews more than life itself, but even that can't push out the feelings of inadequacy I have when I'm with my family. I feel useless.

I feel cursed.

Honestly, as I'm sitting here writing this I'm asking myself if I should really post this.  Those last few paragraphs are so intimate, things I haven't shared with anyone but my husband and my therapist.  Like I said, though, the transparency and the vulnerability are necessary for me to heal. So I'm posting it.  There's no use in holding it all in anymore.

The Tie That Binds - Sandra McCracken

The sorrow of a friend
From a long way we stand
Grief is second hand
But I'll send my tears in a locket

Amelia smiles under lights & wires
Thorns for every flower
We number every hour
And live the days we are given

Oh, the pain
It makes you feel alive
Oh, the broken heart is the tie that binds
And I pray to God, these things will be made right

When the morning shines
On tear stained eyes
Oh we shall overcome
The Father gave the Son
To break the curse we are under

Oh the pain that no man can escape
Oh the sting of death, the empty grave,
And I pray to God where comfort has no place

When our tired eyes look through the veil
The colors are so pale but we raise high the sail
And call the winds to carry us home
Call the winds to carry us home.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Days That Followed & The Wall I Built

I love poetry.  I read it every day and I find it mesmerizing
and beautiful.  This is by Erin Hanson.
The days that followed the loss of my child are dull, covered in a haze of depression.  All I remember is laying on the couch.  I don't think I bathed that often.  It seemed trivial.  Tom went to work.  I stayed home, I had to. I was losing tremendous amounts of blood, waiting for my body to dispel my baby... or "cancer" as the doctors had so gently put it. 

Every trip to the bathroom, I'd examine what resulted, searching for something... a blood clot, perhaps, that might have had arms and legs.  It was gruesome and morbid.  However, the thought of flushing my child down the toilet and sending it to decay inside the septic tank under the backyard was too much for me to bare.  Of course, I never found anything.  Only more signs that life was leaving my body.

The following week I returned to work.  I had been candid with my coworkers about what had happened and expected to be welcomed back with arms full of compassion and encouragement.  Much to my dismay, my experience was quite contrary.

A few acknowledged the loss.  I was grateful.  All others acted as if nothing had happened.  In fact, my boss (who I did not have a very good relationship with) had told everyone I had a cold.  I am still unsure as to his intentions, but what it produced was a lot of pain and awkward situations for me.  I was unaware that he had told people this.  I thought everyone knew the truth.  So when I started hearing, "Hey, glad you're feeling better! I can't believe you were out for that long!" or "everybody around here is dealing with that, too.  'So and so' only missed one day, you missed 5"... I thought I was surrounded by a bunch of self-centered, heartless jerks.  I was only partially wrong.

I had only been in the office a few hours.  My mood was understandably somber.  I did my job, though.  Right before lunch my boss asked me to join him in a conference room.  I had no idea what he was going to say, but what he did say, I certainly never would have expected.

"Shannon, I know you're going through something difficult, but we all have personal issues to deal with.  You need to leave it at home and not let it affect you here.  Nobody needs to see you moping around."

I felt sick.  I felt foolish.  I felt angry... full of rage... and then I felt shame. 

I felt as if my desperate need for support was uncalled for and selfish.  I felt embarrassed by everyone seeing my despair so openly, seeing me vulnerable.  I felt foolish for thinking my sadness was justified.

That was the day I turned everything off.  I built a wall of silence.  I reinforced it with bitterness and resentment and promised myself that no one would ever have the opportunity to find the "chink in my armor" ever again.  I'd be air tight. Protected. Safe.... Alone. Scared.

The Hospital, The Treatment & Losing Life

After I calmed the crying enough to clothe myself, we quickly made our way to the car and onto the hospital.  I wept the entire duration of the drive.  I don't remember if Tom or I had called all of the family, but one of us did and by the time we arrived there was an entourage of support waiting at the ER for us. 

I was escorted to a curtained off area and instructed to put on a hospital gown and get in bed.  A male nurse came in once I was settled and extremely unsuccessfully attempted to insert an I.V.  The result was blood all over the bed, my gown, the sheets, the floor and even the wall.  After countless attempts, he found a vein and began sucking the life out of me.  I'm not sure how much blood he drew, but it was enough to facilitate a transfusion should something go horribly awry.  I felt faint, I saw stars, my stomach churned. 

Life just kept leaving my body.

As the nurse walked away Tom noticed he had left the bloody needles on the counter top in a puddle of blood... surrounded by splatter marks from the multiple failed insertion attempts.  He yelled after the nurse and got a response of, "Oh yeah, whoops!"  Seriously?

I managed to stop crying for a few moments, but when I would look at the faces of my family and see the pity and sorrow, I'd break again.  I felt like I couldn't do anything anymore.  I had no control over myself or my life or anything that happened to me.  I was a victim.

After a while, my bed was rolled back to a private room where the doctor met us.  He was jovial, pleasant, uplifting.  He tried to make us laugh, and succeeded.  He was and is a good man.  I thanked God that he treated me that day.

A female doctor came in to perform an ultrasound.  Another internal.  This was to determine if medication could handle "the issue" or if surgery was required. 

My wonderful team of doctors decided against surgery.  Instead, I was to undergo a round of chemo.  I was informed that chemo stops rapidly growing cells, and essentially, that's all a fetus is.  Cancer. My baby had now been downgraded to a life-threatening disease.

I wasn't given an option.  This is what was going to happen.  I was going to be injected with something that would stop the growth of my baby.  I was being forced to have an abortion.  I was killing my baby.  I was killing my baby to save my own life. 

The doctors said it wasn't my fault.  They said that the fetus never would have grown to be a baby and it would have died anyway, but without this, it would have taken me with it.  They said I didn't have a choice. 

I heard it all, but I didn't believe any of it.

What I saw was that I was choosing my own life over the life of my baby.  I was having an abortion.

After a few hours the doctors were relatively confident that I would be okay.  I was instructed to get regular blood tests over the next few weeks to monitor my hormone levels and assure the chemo was acting as intended.  I was then informed that I am also RH negative.  If you are not familiar with that, read here.  Basically, it means if my baby is RH positive, my body will attack it like a disease.  When I heard that, I knew that it was the worst day of my life.

I didn't think things could get any worse.  Then I was given my discharge papers.

In large capital letters, the only thing I saw, was "PREGNANCY TERMINATED".


I did this.  I voluntarily killed my baby.

After leaving the hospital, my family decided it would be a good idea to go out to eat.  Distraction was good.  To be quite honest I don't remember much else from that day.  The next thing I do remember is a nightmare about having aborted my baby. Every night in my dreams I saw those words, "PREGNANCY TERMINATED," harshly written across various surfaces, belligerently reminding me of what happened. Of what I had done.  Of what was lost. It recurred for weeks, feeding the guilt and crushing my spirit.

I spent the days following in darkness.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Ultrasound, The Doctor and The Grave Truth

I went to work the Monday after the test was positive.  A few coworkers I was close with had known my battle with fertility, so I was ecstatic to share the news with them.  We decided to go out to lunch to celebrate.

Finally, after all this time, I was getting what I wanted... to be a mother.  I felt like God had entrusted me with a mission that far outshone any other... The most honorable of callings a woman could receive...  Like I had been given unprecedented favor despite the doctors' report that conceiving would be difficult for me, if even possible at all.  I felt fulfilled.

I ran to the restroom a few minutes before we planned to leave for lunch as I normally would have.


It wasn't much, but still. I called my doctor and she told me not to worry and to come in the next morning for an ultrasound.

We went to lunch.  I felt a heaviness steadily settling on my heart.  Impending tragedy slowly crushing the hope I had let thrive for 3 days.

I went through my day as normal, trying not to focus my mind on the blood I had seen and what I believed it was foretelling.

I was fine.  Until that evening.  The cramping began.  The bleeding increased.  Despair began drowning me, replacing the hope and joy that filled me with sorrow.  It seeped into every corner of me until I felt nothing else but sadness.

I took a bath that evening in  a feeble attempt to relieve the cramping momentarily.  I cried.  I laid there, soaking in water and tears, speaking to my unborn baby.  I knew it was the last time I'd be with it.  I told it I was sorry, but I knew it would be better where it was going anyway.  I said, "I love you" over and over, just to make sure it knew that what was going to happen the next day wasn't because I didn't.  I felt more love for that little blob of cells in my fallopian tube than I had any other creature I had ever cared for.  It was part of me, my spirit, my soul, my body. 

I barely slept that night.  Between the physical pain and the anxiety over what I knew was happening, there was no rest to be had. 

Morning came.  I could hardly find the fortitude to stand, let alone get dressed and make myself presentable for public speculation.  I didn't care.  Nothing mattered that day.  I threw on some of the grubbiest clothes I owned, pulled my hair back and did absolutely nothing to my swollen sobbing face. 

At the doctor's office, we were received with a sullen atmosphere. The medical assistant ushered us back immediately to the ultrasound room.  The technician was gentle, endearing, sympathetic.  She was surprisingly good at concealing her reaction to what she was seeing. I suppose that is from years of practice delivering awful news to hormonally imbalanced women. After 20 minutes of internal ultrasound and finding no semblance of a fetus, combined with the agony I was feeling physically, I was on the verge of breaking down.  The technician exited the room sweetly.  She gave us no indication of what was happening.  But, I knew.  I think women, mothers, always know these things. 

A short moment passed, the door opened and my doctor came in.  She sat quietly for a moment, offering a compassionate smile, then told us the news.

"You have an ectopic pregnancy.  The fetus is stuck inside your fallopian tubes.  You need to go to the hospital immediately.  If you wait any longer your fallopian tube could rupture and you could hemorrhage to death internally.  I am so sorry."

The weeping from my already swollen eyes started before she even had the chance to say she was sorry.  Tom and I cried together.  The doctor left us alone in the room to absorb the severity of what we were just told. 

I will never forget that room and the reality that struck me, wounding my spirit and altering my life. 

Either I am going to die or my baby is going to die. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

3 Days of Joy - 6 Years of Grief

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant.  We had been trying for so long.  We'd seen doctors. I'd taken fertility drugs that made me feel something other than myself, but I did it because I wanted a baby.

It seemed I was a healthy person overall before the moment I decided to try and get pregnant.  Ostensibly, as soon as that choice was made, my life fell apart.  We couldn't get pregnant. I was then diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  My body was indisputably raging an all out mutiny against the thought of being pregnant.  My cycle vanished for months.  I had been regular before, not anymore. I was told I wasn't ovulating anymore.  Seriously?  I decide to get pregnant and my body stops doing THE ONE THING it needs to do for me to get pregnant?

The fertility drugs fixed that.  They kick started my ovaries into ovulation mode.  So we tried again. and again. and again. and again.

One night around the holidays we were planning to go out with some friends and have dinner.  I love wine and was planning on having a glass or two with my meal.  Cognizant of the fact that we had been trying to get pregnant, I decided to take a test before going.  I didn't want to chance drinking if I could possibly be nurturing a tiny little fetus inside me.  I honestly was not expecting it to be anything other than negative.  But, it's better to be safe than sorry.

It was positive.

I was pregnant.

We took a cliche "we're pregnant" picture and sent it to all of our family.  They knew the struggle, they knew the yearning, they reveled with us.

The friends we had dinner with had bought a stuffed monster for us that they had been hanging onto for this occasion.  They gave it to us at dinner.  My sister-in-law sewed 3 adorable onesies for my babe.

3 days later, it was over.

3 days later the doctors told me the chances were that every pregnancy I'd ever have would end the same way because of what the PCOS did to my body.

I had hope and joy and everything I ever wanted for 3 days.  Then it was ripped away from me in a bloody massacre.

I felt like a piece of me died with my baby.

I still have the monster.  I still have the onesies.  I still have the grief.

I just wanted to share this part of my story today.  Writing all this down, reliving it, unearthing the grief is overwhelming.  Unfortunately for me, my grief has yet to be dealt with. I'm in the process and will share that eventually... just not today. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Anxiety, PMDD & The Relentless Love of My God

This post talks about some heavy, negative emotions I deal with, so at the end I've added a video of a song that lifts all the heaviness.  Watch it.  It's worth the couple minutes it takes up.
I have to say that the most terrifying thing I withstand is anxiety. The source of anxiety for every person is different. For me, it's a physical imbalance. I was diagnosed 4 years ago with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Essentially, PMS x 1,000,000. It causes such an extreme fluctuation in my hormones that I become either petrifyingly depressed or hysterically anxious. Fortunately for me, there is medication that offers relief and keeps my hormones balanced when my body can't regulate on its own.  Some are ashamed of needing medication, but I’m not.  I believe God gave the doctors knowledge to help us.  It doesn’t mean I am not putting my trust in Him when I turn to doctors.  I’m just not stubborn, and I want to live my life to the fullest and be productive and happy… not live in sadness and fear.
There are times, though, that the medication just isn't sufficient.
A few nights ago I was feeling particularly on edge.  There was tension at work that I just couldn't seem to shake. Knowing I was already anxious, I came home, drew a hot bubble bath, turned on my favorite meditation app, and for 45 minutes did nothing but relax.  I focused on my breath, connecting each intake with the movements of my body, relaxing my jaw, putting zero effort into what my body needed.  I actively forced the tension out of myself.
Feeling sleepy, I nestled into my favorite robe and initiated my evening skincare routine (which usually takes about 20 minutes) when all of a sudden, I felt like a train full of hot water crashed into my chest.  A warm feeling saturated my heart and chest, I was dizzy, my hands went numb and I couldn't breathe.  I ran downstairs to find Tom and told him I was having an anxiety attack.  I burst into tears and sat on the steps sobbing for 10 minutes.

I’m going to interject here into my own story and tell you what I feel when anxiety hits me.  I stand, overwhelmed by a feeling of loneliness and fear, blackness covers me, it’s so heavy. I can feel it on my chest, pressing the life out of my lungs and crushing my heart.  I have to go somewhere, anywhere, to get away from it, but it’s everywhere. So I cry.  I don’t know why I cry, but it’s hysterical, uncontrollable.  I feel like if I say I don’t know what to do that someone will give me an answer, so I say it over and over between sobs.  I’m always afraid that it won’t pass and I’ll be hysterical/crazy forever and have to be committed.  I feel abandoned by God. 
Then I know it’s something I can beat, because I know that feeling of abandonment goes against everything I know to be true. 
I made my way to the bedroom, frantic.  I couldn't sit still, I couldn't stop crying, I kept saying "I'm so scared, I don't know what to do!"  I felt like I had cracked and I would never be fixed again.  I could see the fear and panic in Tom's eyes which made me more frenzied.  Finally, Tom suggested reading the Bible to me.  I immediately said yes and laid down with my head on his lap, still sobbing, as he began to read.  I don't know where he was reading from, although, I could find it if I looked it up.  I remember the story of the woman with the issue of blood, and the story of the old man beside the Pool of Bethesda.

Then the next thing I knew... it was morning.  Tom told me he read until I snored (which I never do, but it was most likely from crying and being swollen... just had to clarify! ;)

That day I read a devotional from Joyce Meyer... and coincidentally, it was about the old man beside the Pool of Bethesda.

"Okay, God. I'm listening."  Obviously, someone was trying to tell me something.
I haven't let go of my maladies.  I've been holding onto them... for absolutely no justifiable reason. I've been letting the fear of my sicknesses control me, dictate my every day, consume my spirit.
It's time for me to stop making excuses. It's time for me to let go.  Maybe they'll hang onto me for a little longer, but that bond will eventually fail and there will be nothing connecting these things to me.  My ailments do not define me. They are not who I am.
Who I am is a child of God.  Perfect. Whole. Favored.

I am incessantly grateful that my God loves me so relentlessly.  I'm a part of this deficient world, but He's offered me absolution from all the garbage that comes along with it.  All I have to do is ask... and then praise Him.  Something I do so eagerly.  What a small sacrifice to make for everything He does for me...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Leap Towards Transparency

I’m not really sure how to start this.  It’s been a while since I’ve shared here, cutting myself open and revealing the most intimate details of what makes me who I am.  It’s been on my heart, though… sharing.  Someone I trust and confide in unknowingly confirmed that this is what I should be doing.  So here I am. 

What good are the struggles we survive and challenges we overcome if no one ever sees the glory in our victories?  How can we embolden others when they don’t know what we’ve endured to get where we are?  Portraying perfection in yourself only causes others to feel inadequate.  Believe me, I know.  

I’m consistent in the habit of comparing myself to people around me.  However, my insecurities do not lie in my appearance, but in the fundamental fabric that defines me as a person... my feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, uselessness... They are so much deeper than satiating a diffidence of my physical aesthetics that sometimes it causes palpable pain to unearth these timidities and face them head on.  Most times, I choose to concede to them, feeling the pain bluntly beating inside me, but deep enough that I can pretend they don’t exist.  Until one day, the pressure becomes too great, the delicate barrier that detains it begins to wane, and all those trifling, seemingly insignificant insecurities become mountains that I cannot get over.

The only way to prevent this from happening is the gradual release of pressure so it never reaches a terminal force.  How does one do this?  Sharing.  Talking. Trusting. Confiding. 

One more thing that I think is absolutely necessary in this healing process is transparency.  (This, will most definitely be a challenge for me.)
I’m going to put things out here that I don’t even like acknowledging myself. 
But, I’m tired of doing this alone, feeling like no one else knows what I’m going through.

I know I am not the only person that has lost a child (albeit mine was in utero).

I know I’m not the only person who has had to grieve with no support, feeling that when people say, “Oh, you’ll be okay, you’ll get through it” was more of a dagger through my heart than someone acknowledging the loss. 

I know I am not the only person to suffer depression so quietly that people are shocked when they find out you aren’t sitting on rainbows and riding unicorns everyday of your life.

I know I’m not the only person to feel betrayed by the people closest to them because in their own grieving, they retreated and left you alone.

So, I will share.. Not to edify, but to encourage.  I don’t have a magic potion that makes grief disappear.  There are no essential oils to melt away feelings of worthlessness.  I've found no mantras to instantly calm anxiety.  I don’t know how to unbreak myself or anyone else.  But, I do know that knowing I’m not the only one will give me strength to keep searching for answers and keep persevering toward joy, forgiveness and wholeness.

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  I’m thinking it’s a good time for me to start thinking, talking, remembering this traumatizing event in my life and finally, after 5 years of suffering, begin to heal. 

Did you know?
  • One in four pregnancies ends in the loss of a baby
  • The loss of a child is recognized as the most intense cause of grief
  • Parents never “get over” the loss of a child – no matter the age or stage
  • Parents experiencing grief without supportive care can have debilitating consequences such as PTSD, depression and anxiety and could further result in job loss, divorce, difficulties in daily living, or impediments with parenting of living children.