Friday, January 14, 2011

Days #136-142: "Taboo"

The last week has been a metaphorical roller coaster. I find myself feeling "fine" one minute, then ready to burst into tears the next. And it can be the most mundane and insignificant of things that seem to trigger the faucet to my tears. In my quest for comfort and consolation of this horrible loss, I have found myself scouring the Internet for any tangible relief to our situation. What is the best way to cope? Should I be home curled in a ball under the covers or should I forge onward like a valiant Roman worrier? Unfortunately, my humble quest has become futile.

Why is the concept of miscarriage, pregnancy loss, stillbirth, etc... so taboo in our society? Is it that we fear the absolution of death or is that any any "difficult" situation leaves the majority of us in a panic, unsure of how to react or what to say. Sadly, this leaves the woman suffering the loss alone and overwhelmed by grief. It's an abyss of not knowing how to feel, feeling as if no one on this entire planet understands exactly what you are going through, and of course the real and understandable anxiety of "can I get pregnant again" or "what will happen if and when I get pregnant again?"

A 1999 article from Primary Care Update OB/GYN delves into the concept of the connection with the fetus and the ultimate sense of loss when the miscarriage occurs. Researchers found that a woman feels a sense of oneness with her child and the early stages of pregnancy represent all of the hopes and dreams of the future. When the loss occurs, the woman feels empty and incomplete because that little being was never seen as its own separate entity. And unlike the normal death process, there is no tangible ritual of grieving. There is no funeral or death notice.

I have felt each and everyone of those emotions. I have felt complete and utter emptiness, disappointment in my own self, betrayal of my body, and the fear that Chris and I will never have a child again. I have felt such sadness that at times I don't know what to do with myself. I long for the little person that never made it to the physical world. I wonder what would have been and what he or she would have been like. I grieve the loss of never getting to know our child, or rocking him or her to sleep, or watching Chris read the little one prose in Latin.

The few things that have allowed me to carry on are of course my wonderful fiance who has stood by me like the biggest and greatest of oaks, of course my family and friends, and spirituality. The one thing that has been most poignant for me has been the other women in my life who have come to me and opened up about their own experiences of loss and miscarriage. They all seem to know exactly what to say and also know exactly what it is I am feeling. And you know what, they don't use the ubiquitous lines-they just say it like it is. They allow me to grieve, and to feel the loss of this greatly wanted child-because they too have also felt it.

The only thing I wish is that all of us that have gone through this didn't have to share our stories and the accompanying emotions and tears in quiet corners and hushed whispers. I wish it could be something that could be discussed more openly and without awkward silences or the "stereotypical" condolences. For any woman or couple who has experienced a miscarriage, the loss is so real. And for someone who has experienced the loss of a parent, the loss of a pregnancy is certainly akin if not worse.

So Chris and I, and all those touched by miscarriage, will never forget our first little baby. He or she may not be with us physically, but will always live in our hearts. I learned today about the concept of pregnancy loss in Judaism. In Judaism (and my Jewish friends, please forgive me and correct me if my interpretation is not completely accurate), the loss of a baby is not viewed as a loss, but rather it is believed that that little soul that did not make it to Earth was much closer to God and perfection. He or she was too perfect for the physicality of human life, but rather, was created exactly for a spiritual life. So that is how I see our little one. Much too perfect for this world. And frankly, what could make a parent more proud.

I'd like to end with something I read from Helen Keller. Living a life shut off from site and sound, Helen Keller once wrote, "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched, but are felt in the heart."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Days #131-135: The One.

"An Angel in the book of life wrote down my baby's birth. And whispered as she closed the book 'too beautiful for earth.'"

There are not enough words in the human language to describe two of the most poignant happenings in life-love and loss. John Greenleaf Whittier, "For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.'" He or she might have been his or her one true love. The job promotion lost may have been the ticket to great success. And the tiny being growing in the womb may have grown into an amazing human being, until God and the angels had decided he or she was best left in heaven.

Some of you know, but some of you do not, but Chris and I were blessed enough to find out a few weeks ago that we were expecting. Although a complete and utter surprise, it was none-the-less one of the happiest times in our lives. This little miracle, against all odds, decided to make its presence known and bring a whole lot of joy and happiness to its mommy and daddy for a short period of time. Sadly, after a grueling day on Thursday without a detectable heartbeat and a horrible experience in ultrasound, our worst fears were confirmed....we had lost our baby. I wish there were words to express the devastation we felt, but luckily tears and tender embraces did the job.

Now, I know for many couples, the gravity of such a tragedy has the inexplicable ability to either meld you together like glue or irreversibly tear you apart as Moses parted the Red Sea. If this little being has done anything for us, it has brought us together and given us an unimaginable gift It has also left no doubt in my mind that this wonderful man is the person I am meant to spend the rest of my life with. Chris and I had planned to announce our engagement and the baby at once, but unfortunately the little one is no longer with us, but our love for each other and our desire to marry is stronger than ever.

It really is amazing what you learn about a person at times of tragedy. You learn that person's capability for strength and endurance as well as his magnitude for compassion and undying and unconditional love. I remember vividly sitting on the gurney in the ultrasound suite, naked from the waste down, only a sheet covering me. I was taking in the awful news and the day and there sitting next to me was Chris holding my hand. It was at that very moment that I realized all of my wishes had come true.

As my wonderful doctor says, "This just really sucks." And you know what, it does. It sucks to every reach of this big old planet and probably across some distant unknown galaxies. But you know what, I have to thank this little creature for even the short time he or she was with us. Because, it was because of his or her presence that her parents found each other and grew together. So, Chris and I will go on, we will most definitely get married :)-and we have every intention of eventually producing another spawn-those are Chris' words :) And, like the little being that existed for a short period of time, our next production will be just as priceless and equally created out of love.

I also couldn't write this without telling my family and my friends how wonderful they are and how much they mean to me. If it wasn't for my mom, my siblings, my soon to be in-laws and Chris' family, and my closest girlfriends taking my texts and frantic calls, I don't know how I could have gotten through all of this. You are my angels holding me up when all I want to do is fall down.

Finally-I know our little is one is up in heaven surrounded by his grandfather, great-grandparents, great uncles, great aunts, etc....undoubtedly being spoiled and doted on. I'm also sure my father is the ring leader of the group and getting to enjoy his grandchild a little bit earlier than the rest of us. And, I know he's doing a spectacular job, and will keep our angel safe until we get to meet him or her one day

Monday, January 3, 2011

Days #124-130: Smooth as butter or as jagged as the White Cliff's of Ireland

It pains me to see my family or any of my closet friends suffer. Nothing pains me more than witnessing the cruelty of a broken heart and the injustice of feelings not reciprocated. It's devastating to see a friend's optimism for love flicker like a fragile flame and the hope of a brilliant and billowing future with that one special person reach a road block. There seem to be no words or actions that seem to bring any comfort or relief to the situation.

What pains me the most about the cruelty of love and loss is that I can clearly empathize and understand what my friends are experiencing. I understand the piercing blow through the heart; the inability to catch your breath when he creeps back in to your head; or the deep sadness and loneliness that accompanies the aftermath. Freud wrote, "We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love."

Love seems to fall into two categories: one that proceeds as smooth as butter and the other that is as sharp and as jagged as a cliff. OK, so perhaps this is a bit too black and white. However, realistically, a good love proceeds like a the gentle waves of the ocean, occasionally hitting a few bumps and mildly crashing, but in the end it finds it's equilibrium. A tortuous love involved diving off a cliff bouncing off each and every sharp edge and blunted rock, crashing unprotected to the bottom, only to get back up and do it all over again. The idea being that there is never ever any consistency. There is no equilibrium, no balance, no back up plan. It's either higher than a kite or pummeling to the bottom.

Now to everyone out there, I don't pretend to me an expert. I wish an expert, then maybe I could have avoided all of the pain and suffering I had to endure these past 10 plus years. All I know is what I have learned and what I have experienced. Abigail Van Buren said, "If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we'd all be millionaires."

I want all of my friends to know how wonderful they are and how much they deserve to find a love that does not leave them guessing. They deserve a love in which two people give and take equally, work together as a team, and at the end of the day smile at each other with delight. Maybe after we have all bounced off a jagged edge or two, shed a few tears, and hit the bottom, we will stand up and keep from climbing back up that cliff to continue the vicious cycle. Instead, ride those waves for a while and allow the good love to finally decide to hop on our wave and enjoy the ride together.