I have accepted that the timeline for writing my Empowered Miscarriage book is going to be quite a bit longer than I originally hoped, partially because I didn’t get as many stories as I had hoped for and so the “feel” I had envisioned for the book is evolving. If you submitted a story, rest assured that I have not forgotten it and continue to hold it with the honor and respect it deserves. I have also decided to turn this blog into a book and I’m working on that project first, since it is more readily completable in the context of the rest of my life.
In the meantime, I just discovered this helpful resource: Stillbirthday. It is EXACTLY what I wished I had available to me during my own miscarriage experiences and in part, it contains exactly the type of information and support that I envisioned my own book providing. It has a section about birth methods, including a good one about natural miscarriage. The most helpful part is the “early pregnancy home birth plan” printable and customizable document. It is exactly what I wished I had when I faced my own miscarriage-birth of Noah. His birth was such uncharted terrain for me and I felt the lack of a “guide” for it very keenly.The website does say that you should not have your baby at home alone and that natural miscarriage is safest for pregnancies 10 weeks or younger—my baby was over 10 weeks and I did have him at home alone (with my husband). These are not decisions that I regret, but I do think it is important to be aware that what I chose to do is not necessarily the safest route. I did not realize that at the time and looking back I feel somewhat horrified that the doctor’s office just sent me home to go it alone! Since my outcome was “positive,” I wouldn’t change how I handled it, but knowing everything I know now, I would probably make some different decisions if I ever had the experience again.
As an example of the kinds of things I wish I had known or had available to me before my own miscarriage-birth, the birth plan section of the Stillbirthday site makes the suggestion to have saline solution and a clear jar available to put the baby in. This is to “restore the baby’s fullness” and give you a chance to spend time looking at the baby without worrying about damaging its skin. While I’m happy that I knew enough to take pictures and to look at the baby at the time, I think I will always regret that I didn’t spend more time with his body. By the time my dad brought him back to us in the afternoon to bury, his form was very different (less full) than it had been originally and I feel like we missed out on important time and observations.
The Stillbirthday website does seem to assume that most women will be coming from a Christian/traditional spiritual belief system, which is not the same as my own, so do be aware of that.
This month a short version of Noah’s birth story was published in Midwifery Today. I feel like it was another tribute to him and his role in my life. The same week that I got my copies of the publication, I noticed that the tulip tree we planted in memorial had a bud on the top!
I was so excited! I hadn’t known if the tree would survive or not and this felt like another tribute, as well as a “new hope” sort of message.
Then, temperatures dropped back below freezing and I thought it probably wasn’t going to bloom, but last night we went out for our walk and look what we saw:
Tiny tulip tree from a distance
Noah's tree bloomed!
I wanted to share some pictures from the things we did in honor of the one year anniversary of Noah’s birth. It was actually important to me that we NOT spend all day on it/thinking about it/having a big event, but as it was, I was preoccupied by memories all day anyway. I must have cried most of what I needed to cry the day before though, because I didn’t feel weepy really, more like I was, “waiting for something” (all day). I also just felt reflective as well as a little “down” about life in general.
We made prayer flags to hang in his tree:
The flag I made
We went out together and set my new footprints candle out by his tree as well as the jizo figure that I bought (it is holding two babies) as well as my angel bear from Angel Whispers and the lavender sachet I smelled when I was in labor with him. I said a quick little prayer and the kids asked if we could sing happy birthday to him and so we did. We also each placed a sprig of lavender on the ground from our lavender plants.
Then, I scattered the rosemary from my friend and read her little notes out loud and scattered them around too (they said things like, “you are loved” and “we remember you”).
Then, I decided I wanted to celebrate the kids we have with us who are happy and alive and so I gave them a “birthday” present, which was customizable Stikfas actions figures to assemble. They were getting over being sick (Z had a fever and slept on the couch most of the day on Sunday) and so that is why they look sort of glazed over.
My mom hooks primitive rugs and has a tradition of making a rug for each baby for when it is born (adds their birthday after they are born. She also makes a wedding rug for each of her children to stand on when they get married—so that they can always take the place where they got married with them 🙂 )So, she touched my heart by giving me a small birthday rug for Noah as well:
My parents came over at sunset and added their prayer flags to our string of them and we hung them all up:
We remember you, baby Noah!
I’ve been anticipating the anniversary of Noah’s birth all fall—tomorrow is the one year anniversary of his birth/loss. There has not been a single day that has passed this whole year that I haven’t thought about him, his birth, about miscarriage, etc. I used to think about his actual birth many times a day and that intensity has faded in recent months so that I think about something Noah-related once or a couple of times a day, vs. a couple of times an hour. I’ve been feeling “milestone-ish” about his birthday more than anything, just like I felt with his due date. However, I realized after having a mini-meltdown this evening, that I have not spent much time at all remembering/thinking about November 6th. Indeed, I’ve actively pushed it away and can hardly stand to let myself remember it. As I put on Facebook, today is the anniversary of the second worst day of my life. The worst was the day of the physical experience, the hospital trip, and the return—the coming back home “empty” and having everything that had happened come flooding in. Watching my husband dig a hole to bury our baby. Lying in the bathtub and crying and talking to my no-longer-there baby and having to realize that I was not pregnant anymore. (And, FYI, the third worst day was the whole placenta aftermath deal—maybe I’m just not remembering other “worst days of my life,” but I’m pretty sure that these three are the top of my list. Okay, I remembered another—in the first year that we were married, we had a traumatic ER trip one night where they thought my husband had a clot in his brain. It was a horribly awful day and probably ties for third place.)
Anyway, today I went to a women’s spirituality retreat today with some friends and then stopped for lunch with another friend (who, thoughtfully, brought me a little bottle of “rosemary for remembrance” which also had 5 little notes in it to put out tomorrow at Noah’s burial place). After I dropped those friends off and was heading home, the whole “what was I doing last year at this time” thoughts started—but they were about Nov. 6th and not the 7th—I was thinking about how I had to call in and cancel my class at the last minute. Things like that. Telling people what had happened. I got home (tonight, not a year ago) and had dinner with my visiting grandma and then when I got back home I started to do it again—“this time last year…” and I got very emotional remembering that awful day of finding out the baby had no heartbeat and then sitting on the couch at home waiting and wondering what was going to happen. It was so, so, so very intense and filled with grief and despair that I can hardly stand to think about it/look at it/re-visit it. And, that was my realization—I’ve spent this year thinking about my baby and his birth every day. I’ve worked on that, processed that, and even found beauty and strength in that. What has not had any room allowed in my memory is the “finding out” day. I can’t even really describe that anguish of that day—with his physical birth, there was a story to tell. Something to go over and to “refine” and integrate into my life. With the preceding day—the lead-in—there is nothing but a terribly painful memory of terribly painful feelings. I cried about it for a while and had a sort of small freak-out session with my husband about how I didn’t want to think about it (the 6th) and that while it was okay to acknowledge that, “this time last year…” had happened, I wanted to stop there—to keep it put away and not to re-live it. It was very startling to suddenly experience this “secret” other set of memories and feelings. I can’t even really write about it clearly. Perhaps I don’t actually want to go any further, perhaps I’ve said what I needed to say.
For the past couple of months, I have been involved with the founding of a new network for miscarriage doulas. Today, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, The Amethyst Network officially launches! (Facebook page can be found here.) While I have not been as directly involved with the day to day work as some of the other founders (like Jenni, who has been deeply invested in making this actually get off the ground), I really care about the mission, purpose, and scope of this organization and I hope doulas around the country to rise to the opportunity to provide direct miscarriage support to grieving women and families.
Noah’s birthday is coming up on November 7th and I’ve been thinking about ways to commemorate the occasion. I keep only thinking of buying things and need to find something non-purchasing to do as well! However, ever since he died, I’ve wanted to buy a jizo sculpture. My mom made me two (see picture below) that are very sweet and that I really like, but I still want one that stands up and looks more traditional.
I’ve found a couple on ebay that were so-so and plenty that are simply too expensive and today I thought I’d check one more time and amazingly, there was a new one on ebay that just felt perfect. So, I ordered it this morning. It is coming from Australia and I hope it gets here in time. The only problem with it is that I don’t think it can go outside and I’d really like to have one to put out by his tree.
I also want to get a new memory box that can actually hold the cards, folders, etc. that I have. I have them in a box right now, but it is too small and the folders don’t fit. I can’t quite find the right one though. I’ve tried several and end up rejecting them.
I am involved with the founding of a new miscarriage-support organization (The Amethyst Network) that is going to be launched on October 15th.
Recently the subject of multiple losses came up and I shared some of my feelings about my second loss, which I hardly ever talk about.
While both my losses were emotionally very painful, they each had their own “special” kind of pain—with the first it was primarily over the BABY. My baby that I wanted so badly, had died. Since I was 15 weeks pregnant—and thus saw and touched my baby after his birth—and labored and gave birth to him in my own way, the “closure” so to speak was better with him. I can barely write about my second loss, because the pain that came with it was so different and in many ways harder—I felt shame about that loss (for having tried again “too soon”). Confusion because of the earliness of it. Despair that perhaps I was refusing to get the “message” that maybe we weren’t meant to have more children. No “closure” because I only saw blood and later a tiny, tiny embryo. Guilt that I had “replaced” my other little baby’s meaning and loss with this new, lesser (in gestation) loss. Muted and closed in (instead of reaching out to others, I felt like I didn’t want anyone to know and didn’t want to talk about it). Horror that now I was two for two—two living children and two dead ones. Sadness and grief that I just had to “layer” on top of my first loss, because I was unable to separate the two/fully think about the second. It was so complicated and awful to go through all these feelings. The first loss was much “cleaner” in a way (emotionally).
As I’ve noted, I’m kind of putting this blog on hold until January when my new baby is born. I still have a LOT I’d like to share about miscarriage, coming now from a sharing/helping others place, rather than a processing or “dwelling” place as well as work I’d like to do on my book. During my current pregnancy just doesn’t feel like the right time for writing the posts that I do plan to eventually write, however, since the topic came up and I’d written about it, I felt like sharing here as well!
This weekend I was part of a wedding. At the reception, I was talking to my friend who recently experienced the loss of her baby and I started thinking about the amount of pregnancies represented in our group of friends compared to the amount of children—I then expanded this outward to think about all the people in the room whose loss histories I did not know, and wondering how many pregnancies total the room had experienced. It was kind of staggering.
I also had several awkward moments with being asked about how many kids I have. I’m almost 23 weeks pregnant now and so was obviously pregnant in my bridesmaid’s dress. The mother of the bride asked me, “so, is this your third baby now?” The awkwardness of how to respond to questions like this is pretty big (before getting pregnant again, I addressed something similar, in “how many children DO I have?“)—I just said, “yes,” even though my heart was saying, no. This is my FOURTH baby (and it is my fifth pregnancy–I didn’t really identify my second miscarriage as a baby to me yet, but it was a pregnancy. Side note: my oldest son’s 7th birthday was yesterday and I thought about how I’d been pregnant with all four of my babies on Sept. 21st, but only with three of them on Sept. 22nd!). This isn’t something I really want to get into explaining in this setting, but the sense of guilt and “betrayal” of not acknowledging Noah stuck with me for the rest of the evening. I talked with my friend about it and I know that what matters in the end is that he is always acknowledged in my heart—it doesn’t always have to be spoken aloud (though, by not speaking, I am choosing to miss moments of awareness-raising…).
The wedding was beautiful and wonderful and the most fun wedding I’ve ever been to—I think because it was the first wedding I’ve been to as an adult where I cared so much about the wedding couple as well as had so many other friends in attendance (as opposed to having to sit with random distant relatives and make awkward small talk as often occurs at weddings!) And, I was so, so, so thankful and aware of blessedly still being pregnant. One of the things I wrote about early in this pregnancy was the fear that I had already *clicked* forward to the wedding day and what if instead of being halfway through my pregnancy, instead I ended up flat-bellied and empty again?! We’d talked about how the dress would fit me pregnant, etc. and what if it was irrelevant? I’d imagined how sad I would be standing up there alone, knowing I “should” have been pretty pregnant. But, thankfully, when the real moment arrived this weekend I was full both of joy AND a kicky little baby!