Before we left for Thanksgiving I asked for prayer for my husband's grandmother, who wasn't doing well. She passed away the day after Thanksgiving and it ended up being a sad weekend for the family. It was good to be together but of course terribly sad to say goodbye to Grandma. We had her funeral that Sunday, November 30, which would have been her 87th birthday. I'm planning on writing a post all about her soon and I have an awesome photo that I can't wait to share with you, but today's post is just about loss in general.
Living with recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) is a strange thing. Much like celebrating Thanksgiving and then losing a loved one (and having their funeral on the day that you've always celebrated as their birthday), it's like living somewhere in between joy and sorrow. There is the initial joy that comes from finding out you're pregnant - yet for someone living with RPL that is perhaps the scariest time of all. Then in my experience, loss is soon to follow. Being stuck on a roller coaster like that for going on 8 years has affected me in so many ways. I hope I'm more sensitive to where others might be hurting. I've realized that support is needed not just immediately after someone experiences loss, but for the extended time of their grief (however long they need that to be).
I've definitely learned that living with regular grief is hard on the body and the mind. I know I'm getting older, and I hate all of the reminders of it. Birthdays are hard, anniversaries are hard, finding more and more gray hair is hard (I'm still pulling them out!) - it's hard feeling like you're watching life pass you by while you wait. There are times when I have hope, but there are days where hope is the last thing I feel. Sometimes it's good to forget about all of it and have temporary distractions (it's probably a good thing that I don't drink). Distractions for me are vacations, weekends away from home, a good movie or book, time out with friends, or anything out of the ordinary (even a surprise snowfall).
Forgetting is good sometimes, but I also think it's important to remember. On her blog Taking the Statistical Bullet, Katie has begun having Memorial Mondays. Each week she posts someone's story of loss, and I think it's wonderful to have a place to honor those lives. Last week while I was out of town Katie featured my story of loss, from an e-mail I sent her when I heard about her new project. You can find it by clicking HERE. It's a brief window into my six miscarriages - just a few short paragraphs that represent several years of pain and disappointment, but it meant a lot to me that others knew about those little lives that I never got to meet. Thanks, Katie. I think this project is so special.
Aside from a few early posts I wrote where I shared my complete story with RPL, I've spoken about my miscarriages only in general terms here on my blog. It's hard to discuss specifics, and I know that many of you can relate because you have been there. I know so many of you have those memories tucked away of the day you found out you were miscarrying. Most of the time for me the bad news came by ultrasound. I always have a hard time with u/s images now, because of my experiences with them. It's where I've found out that the sac is empty, or the baby isn't big enough for 10 weeks, or that there's no longer a heartbeat. I can see why the u/s is so exciting for parents-to-be. What could be better than those early glimpses of their little one? But for me they've always meant bad news, and that's why when I see them I feel so sad and empty inside. Of course I do cherish the very few ultrasound pictures that I have of my babies because they are the only images I will ever have of them on this earth. My fourth pregnancy was the most promising one of all. I remember finally having a hopeful u/s (I think the only good one we've ever had) where we saw growth, little leg buds, and a heartbeat. We were so sure that it was finally happening for us. Just a few days later, much to our surprise and our doctor's, another u/s showed that the heartbeat had stopped. Just like that it was over. Very quickly we went from elation to sadness, from the top of the mountain right back down into the valley. That was 3 1/2 years and two more miscarriages ago and it's still one of the hardest things for me to write about.
Because of RPL, my goal every day is to find joy while living with sorrow, happiness over grief, and hope through despair. I want you to know that writing it all down and reading your stories of dealing with infertility have been instrumental in helping me do that.