Wednesday, April 25, 2012

After Miscarriage: a worthwhile read

Another post, another post gap.  Normally I would observe such a chasm with self-deprecating humor or excuses.  However, small waves of grief have unexpectedly come forth as the miscarriage aftermath fades away.  Added to that was witnessing our neighbors mourn the death of their 20-year-old daughter in a car accident two weeks ago.  She would have survived had she worn a seat belt.  I will never forget the face of the grieving mother, looking imploringly at KB as we left her house, who said, "Promise me you will always wear your seat belt."  Through teary eyes I assured her that we will always remind KB (it's a non-negotiable anyway).

I wrote the previous post thinking the miscarriage grief had passed.  To my great surprise, I was mistaken.  Without warning, waves of sadness came out of nowhere: a movie with a newborn baby, looking at newborn baby clothes, realizing that we wouldn't have a baby in November...these little things just added up. Thankfully, a couple girlfriends who have had miscarriages assured me my feelings were normal.  No need to call in the men in the white coats! Ha.

As Providence would have it, a recently published book has helped me tremendously: it's called After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman's Companion to Healing and Hope.
Karen Edmisten's book strikes a very good balance for grieving mothers: she doesn't dwell on the sorrow to the point of despair, yet she also doesn't linger on the "your baby is in heaven" to the point of forced giddyness.  A very difficult balance to obtain.  My grief feels very raw, very real.  Through Karen's stories (she endured 5 miscarriages) and the stories shared by others (moms, a father, a single mom...) I find affirmation in my grief yet also some hope to which to hold fast. The book also offers practical advice about burying the remains, holding a memorial Mass, grieving, etc. 

I'm a huge fan of my Kind.le, but this book works best in its natural, hard copy form.  The pages need  highlighting and folded corners.  I hope to purchase copies for some priest friends of mine, so they have an idea of what to say to a couple after miscarriage or a failed adoption. 

The passage that struck me the most: 

"And eventually a picture came to my mind.  I was weeping, and Jesus approached me, held me, a bloody, wounded hand on my hair, a strong arm around me.  He said that he would not tell me why but that he knew  what I felt."

I can very much relate to that image, and I think it also relates to the struggle with infertility/miscarriage.  Wanting something/someone good.  Watching pregnant teens who didn't want to be pregnant.  Surrounded by families.  Walking by the baby clothes, knowing what you had hoped will be there in 9 months will not.

Jesus will not tell us why, but He will comfort us.  And many times, His comfort comes in the forms of family, friends, bloggers, a kind word, cupcakes, or a book published at exactly the right time. 

By the way, after all of these heavy posts, a lighter one is in order. Stay tuned.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Padded Anvils and Prayer Buddy Reveal

Padded anvils? Huh?  Yep, it's another random metaphor courtesy of me.  Bear with me.  And for those of you young whippersnappers who did not grow up with Lo.oney Tu.nes, anvils often fell randomly from the sky onto unsuspecting characters.

I am still very touched at the kind comments, support, and prayers in response to our miscarriage.  Thank you, blogosphere, for the virtual hugs.  Our friends and family have stepped forward to pray and support us as well.  Two friends even left cupcakes on my doorstep! Our mantle is full of cards from friends, assuring prayers and support.

So what about the padded anvil?  Well, as the cliche goes, "Stuff" happens (insert your own moniker for "stuff") to all of us.  Many times the painful situation, illness, IF, etc. just falls out of the sky.  Our miscarriage felt like that: out of nowhere, exciting news turned to immense sorrow. And those two weeks of doctor appointments, ultrasounds, and most horrendous of all, not knowing if our baby was alive or dead, felt like one BIG random anvil.  And we felt rather crushed.

Frequently people will say, "all I can do is pray."  Well, I can attest that prayer made a huge difference.  I have found the prayers and support of family and friends have padded this anvil, lessening its blow.  Yes, the sorrow was ever present, but it did not destroy us.  Surprisingly, I have not been angry at God, unlike in calamities past, just very sad.  Many coincidences (Divine Providence) happened too.  And every card, text, email, comment, cupcake (oh, so delicious!), helped us go on further.

Without the prayers and kindness of our loved ones, our anvil would have hit much harder.  I'm grateful that the news accidentally got out on fa.cebook instead of me staying silent.  Thanks especially to those of you who have prayed for us behind the scenes.

For Lenten Prayer Buddies, I prayed for J at Growing the Garcia Family. I enjoyed reading her "small successes" posts!  My prayer buddy was none other than K of All You Who Hope.  Her prayers and support touched me deeply, particularly as hers was the first IF blog I read during my IF journey.

My friend K sent me a profound reflection on miscarriage as well as blessing of a couple who has just endured one.  We may try to have this blessing said at Rachel's memorial Mass next month.

Be blessed as the season of Easter continues. :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

One More Soul in Heaven

By far, this post will be the most gut-wrenching one I have ever written.  However, I have learned so much from other bloggers' sorrow and struggles through such posts, so perhaps the same will happen.  In the past few days, I have become more comfortable telling the world of our ordeal. 

In the middle of March, I had a positive pregnancy test.  My NaPro doctor put me on progesterone immediately, just like my previous pregnancy.  I took a blood test 3 days later.  Surprise and joy turned to sorrow when my doctor called to tell me I would miscarry very soon.  His voice on the phone was sad, yet compassionate.

My husband and I wanted closure, not wanting to wait for bleeding.  The NaPro doctor gave me a timeline for which to watch for bleeding, then to follow up with my OB.  For the next 2 weeks, I had four blood tests (mostly for HCG) and two ultrasounds.  My OB, who herself has biological and adopted children, compassionately tried to look for a miracle.  Both ultrasounds yielded no clear picture or heartbeat.  We found out towards the end of our ordeal that she also was concerned about an ec.topic pregnancy.  Thankfully, that's not a possibility:  not long after my last ultrasound, I started to bleed.  My OB is still monitoring me via blood tests (oh yeah, my favorite) to make sure the HCG numbers drop.

So we experienced the heartbreak that many bloggers and friends have tread before us: several appointments that started in an OB waiting room, looking at pregnant women (not that I was jealous, just knowing what could have been).  Going to the ultrasound, knowing the outcome would be good.  Waiting in the tiny patient room, wondering about outcomes and frustrated when answers weren't clear right away.  And of course, the constant question: WHY?

Once our situation became clear, I posted a prayer request in a girls' prayer group on Facebook.  Little did I know that my petition would post to other's news feeds.  So the word got out fast...and it was surprisingly liberating.  We have literally been surrounded in prayer as the days unfold. I've especially needed it, as chasing a 16-month-old while processing grief is not the easiest task. 

We decided to name our baby, to help us have closure.   My friend Kerri, who herself has three children in heaven, penned a profound post about why we name our miscarried children (thanks for saving me the work of explaining it too!) My miscarriage also coincided with Kerri's first miscarriage 4 years ago.  Her boldness in speaking and writing about her children and heaven has really inspired me. For some reason, my husband and I both felt our baby was a girl.  Even though she lived in my womb for a few weeks, she is a little soul in heaven. She is still a person!  

Our little saint's name is: Rachel Philomena.

My husband felt drawn to the name Rachel (she's depicted in the above sculpture).  It reminded him of Jeremiah 31:15:
"Thus says the LORD:  In Ramah is heard the sound of sobbing, bitter weeping! Rachel mourns for her children, she refuses to be consoled for her children—they are no more!"

I picked the name Philomena, which means "full of light."  St. Philom.ena was a young girl martyred in Roman times at age 13 (according to legend).  She is credited with interceding for many, many miracles.

As deep and heartbreaking as this sorrowful path has been, I am grateful to have suffered this miscarriage after our daughter was born.  She's a great distraction!  However, the biggest reason is that I tend towards pessimism and would not have reacted well to this during infertility.  Our miscarriage experience has helped us feel solidarity with two dear friends who recently suffered failed adoptions.

We plan to have a Mass to remember Rachel's brief life.  Thanks to fellow coffee lover Chasing Joy, I found out about the Church of the Holy Innocents, which has a shrine dedicated to children who died in the womb.  Parents can send in the names of their children to be inscribed in the "book of life."  

I'm grateful that we do not have to bear this heavy cross alone. 

Please feel free to ask my Rachel to pray for your intentions.  :)