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I came back.

30 Mar

Isn’t there some rule of blogging that you aren’t supposed to post about not posting?  Probably, but I don’t really care.  I took a really long and well needed break from social media.  Here’s my wordy advice to you: If you’re going through some crap and you just can’t seem to bear the seemingly non-stop flood of other people who seem to win at life while you continue to lose, well then TAKE A BREAK in order to get some perspective.  Since last summer, I’ve done a lot of thinking, complaining, crying, pouting, avoiding, and searching.  I’ve gone through all those freaking stages of grief that therapists like me love to talk about.  I actually got to the point where I could finally accept the fact that I lost my pregnancy, that many other people have healthy pregnancies, that lots of people have kids, and that I could actually have a pretty nice life even without procreating (think- trips abroad, lots of rescue dogs, a quiet and clean house, extra money… ahhh).  It took a long time to get to that place…and it’s still a process.  I still reference Idiocracy quite often.

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I gave myself three months of moping after the miscarriage.  When I found I was still bawling my eyes out over very basic and expected life stresses, I decided it was time to medically treat the depression I struggled with for years.  I managed it pretty horribly for a long time through denial, anger, and various vices, and then later with clean living.  But after the miscarriage I had no extra reserves and there was no motivation to exercise, eat well, rest effectively, or to do any of the other things that really did help manage my mood.  Last fall, I swallowed my pride and began swallowing an antidepressant every day.  And hot dog!  They worked!  I found myself doing things I hadn’t done in years, like blasting music while driving and dancing while cooking.  It occurred to me that I’d probably been a bit depressed for quite a few years and just got used to it, which is just really sad.  I recently stopped taking the meds for various reasons but I’m still doing okay.  I realize I’m having to work a bit harder to manage my mood again, but I’m able to put the effort in, and I even danced in the kitchen just this morning.

I gotta say, I sure do envy the people out there in the world who have their brain chemistry just nice and lined up.   Go ahead and enjoy that, you lucky dopamine blessed ones.

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And for those of you who are more like me and you live with a more cloudy disposition, well here’s some advice:

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As a mental health professional, it’s been hard to admit all of this.  Admittedly, being a therapist seemed very intriguing as a 25 year old because I assumed that line of work would assure I had all of my shit together, which I longed for desperately at that time.  Ten years later, I’ve found it’s actually quite the opposite.  I don’t have my shit together.  Instead, I am keenly aware of my baggage and in a constant state of reevaluation and improvement.  It sounds kinda tiresome, but it’s actually pretty awesome.

So after a long fall and winter, it is now spring time.  Last summer I planted a little baby Japanese maple in my messy garden as a way to memorialize the baby I lost.  I love those trees and they thrive here in the Pacific Northwest.  Its leaves are currently growing in for the season.  Most of last summer, I could only look at it peripherally while watering the garden as it was too painful to look at it directly.  But I’m able to see it in full view now and I’m quite happy to see it coming back for the year.

And, I’m sure I’ll be back to post more.

So hard to do the things I know I should do

14 Jul

In the mental health field we love that joke about not shoulding on yourself, meaning don’t harass yourself with self talk about what you should and shouldn’t do.  Yet that is precisely what I do-  I should do this, I shouldn’t do that, should, shouldn’t. should, shouldn’t. should.  shouldn’t.  SHOULD. SHOULDN’T.  SHOULD!  SHOULDN’T! 

Gross, huh.

Even though it’s been a month since I lost the baby, I’m a bit of a mess.  I stay up too late, forget to eat, then eat lots of crappy stuff, and lately I’ve been working way too much.  I often stay in the office until my brain shuts down in an effort to avoid free time.  Something I used to love and savor so much has become something I dread: free time usually means crying and moping.  Running my own business, I have no boss so it isn’t like someone stands in my doorway and says “your last client was 2 hours ago.  Why are you still here?”   Nope, it’s just me so I piddle away, listening to music, reorganizing my files and concocting new projects to occupy my mind.

So many of the shoulds are things that truly will help me feel better- eat more veggies, get more exercise, go outside more often, walk the dogs, lay off the coffee, lay off the sugar, for god’s sake PUT DOWN THE WINE, and so on.  But I just don’t do it.  Admittedly, there’s a part of me that really doesn’t want to.  In the moment I enjoy the chocolate, the wine, the coffee, and the 4 consecutive episodes of True Blood.  Also, part of me feels that I deserve to feel like crap and rush through each day like I’m white knuckling it on the interstate during rush hour traffic with only 1/8th of a tank of gas.  I don’t have much reason to treat my body like a temple right now. After all, it feels like my body betrayed me and because of that I had to give up one of the most meaningful dreams I’m ever had- the dream of being a mother.  I know it may still happen, but like I’ve written before, that dream feels far off.  Like, really, really far off.  I know, I see how irrational I am.  I know I’ll feel better if I take care of myself, I know I’ll be in better health both physically and mentally but it all seems really… really… annoying and difficult and stupid right now.  I should…. I should… I should…. 

I’m doing this big training for work all next week.  It is a two year training intensive so it is like being in school all over again.  Prior to the in-person training, I was to complete an online portion.  Wouldn’t you know I put most of it off until….um….yesterday.  I have to give myself some slack though, I planned to do mostof it this past month and well, things got a little crazy this last month.  So yesterday I stayed up late working on the online training and got right back to it this morning.  I was determined and when it was finally completed all of this dread and irritation washed over to me.  How odd, right?  I was so ready to be DONE with work and then when I was, I just couldn’t think straight.  I told my husband, very clearly, that he HAD to pick something for us to do, that I am incapable of making decisions in my free time because everything seems kind of pointless and annoying.  “Just pick something, I’ll go along with it and then I’ll be fine,” I told him.  Usually I’m pretty bossy and picky about just about everything, so this probably seem extremely exciting for Q, except that I’m probably rather scary to him these days.

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In case you wonder what I look like in real life! I admit that this isn’t a great photograph.

We managed to keep our cool (I’m so luck to have such a nice husband, because I’ve been acting really crazy lately.  Thanks hormones and grief!  What a combo!) and came up with a plan to take our dogs to a K9 FUN ZONE where we threw dog toys and chased the dogs around for an hour.  It was fun and exhausting for all.  That was followed by a walk, some sushi and then a visit from a dear friend, so I am feeling better now.

So this next week will probably be pretty hectic, which I admit is what I prefer these days.  I recently decided to change offices and billers and conveniently both of these tasks have proven to be quite time consuming and attention consuming.  It’s a blessing to love my work and it helps to find things to keep me busy, but I’m also aware that I’m keeping myself occupied as a way to avoid what I’m really feeling.

I’m going to keep trying, bit by bit, to take good care of myself.  The shoulds don’t really help, they just make me feel worse and more frustrated.  Eventually I will make it back to a yoga class and start cooking again.  Also, this week’s training might help because I’ll be by the water and much of the training is about mindfulness.  It might actually be beneficial to get out of the office and away from the overworking habits.  In the meantime, I’ll look at some pictures of corgis and maybe go see the new Guillermo del Toro movie.

It’s all gonna be okay.

Letting go of resentment

7 Jul

Buddha quoteAn old friend recently posted very openly on facebook about his recent losses.  Considering his pain and suffering, I sent him a few messages and  hoped for his healing and happiness as I moved throughout my day, states away from him and years since I have ever even seen  him.  I wonder how just those caring thoughts can offer comfort and help lighten the burden, even if just a bit.  If it actually works then that is quite amazing, especially if that process can occur from hundreds of miles away.

I admit my initial post online about our fertility issues and the recent miscarriage was primarily an act of rebellion.  I’ve written before about my love/hate relationship with facebook.  So recently I kind of snapped when I went online and found it to be so hollow, so fake.  I wanted to shake it up, I wanted to shout across the endless streams of clouded, filtered photos of lemonade and kiddie pools to declare that life isn’t all about a sugary drink and sometimes it really fucking sucks.  I know people out there are living life in complex ways just as I am.  I know you all hurt and struggle.  I know it is gritty and awful at times, and those happy lemonade moments make it all seem worthwhile.  And yet all we see online are the happy vacations, the selfies with no double chin, and the subtle bragging about #yummy meals.  I do it too.  This isn’t how any of our lives are though.  It’s fake.  I think we can all admit that.  We choose to display the best five minutes, or the parts that are the easiest to show publicly.  We don’t show the sadness, the arguments, the losses, the bitterness.  That’s all part of life too.   I can certainly understand not wanting to show everything publicly but I also compare my life to those happy pictures I see online, and I feel I’m falling short.  It feels hollow and sad.

Of course one of the simple remedies from this situation is to simply close the laptop and go outside, which I have been doing.  You should see my garden, it is looking nice!  Writing, and sharing, about the pain and craziness of infertility and miscarriage has quickly transformed my online life from a distraction that often led to resentment to a place of support.  I’ve heard from people all over the country and the world, old friends I’ve lost touch with and who I have missed.   Some of the very people I judged and resented because of their seemingly perfect lives have lovingly shared with me details about their own suffering and sadness.  It reminds me that we’re all in this together.  To anyone reading this, and to all of you who have written to me, thank you so much.  You have helped me let go of my resentment and to focus more of my energy on healing, rather than on anger and jealousy.  I can feel your love and support, not just online but in the real world too, and it helps me through each and every moment.  And for those of you out there who are suffering, I encourage you to speak up and reach out.  It really does help.

How to talk about a miscarriage

4 Jul

“A miscarriage is a natural and common event.  All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven’t.  Most don’t mention it, and they go on from day to day as if it hadn’t happened, so people imagine a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had.
But ask her sometime: how old would your child be now?  And she’ll know.”

-Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams.

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Right after my miscarriage I found this blog, Things People Said After My Miscarriage.  It is funny, kind of bitter and all rings very true. Like me, the author dealt with the double whammy of  miscarriage and fertility issues.  If you’ve had a miscarriage or you’re trying to talk to someone who has, please go check it out!  The only thing I don’t like about it is that she only posted for a while on it, because I wanted to read more and more.  I hope it means she went on to have a baby and worry about things like diapers and daycare.  I would like to have those worries someday too.

It’s interesting how different people respond to this kind of loss.  It has made me think a lot about how I’ve responded in the past when my loved ones had a loss, whether it was a miscarriage or a death in the family or something else.  Loss is hard.  It is uncomfortable to talk about and it feels like the elephant in the room.  You don’t know what to say.  You don’t want to upset the person.  God forbid you make them cry.

The thing is, you just don’t know what to say about miscarriage because we’re not given any scripts for it.  For so long, miscarriage was suffered through silently.  No one talked about it.  My hope is that this is changing and will continue to change.  It seems wrong that it is a taboo topic and that women should be quiet about it.  So now when people are starting to talk about it more, what do you say?

Here are some suggestions I have, based on my own experience.  The blog I posted above has some great suggestions too.

What to do/ say when someone you care about has a miscarriage:

Say something. Even if you say “I don’t know what to say”, say something.  Say “I’m sorry” or “I’ve been thinking of you” or “Wow this sucks”.  The timing may be off and it may be awkward, but it means a lot just to have the loss acknowledged.  It sucks to feel like you have to bring it up all the time.  Chances are, everyone’s sitting there thinking about it anyway, especially if it was a recent loss.

It’s no one’s fault/ it’s not your fault.   Of all things people said to me, this was the most comforting, just simply “It’s not your fault”.  The nurses and doctors are clearly well trained and used to this, because everyone in my Ob-gyn office said this and it really, really helped.  They reminded me that it happens for various reasons, but not because I did anything wrong.  This helped because sometimes I worried about the kombucha I drank one day (I didn’t know about the trace alcohol!) or that weekend when I didn’t know I was pregnant yet and I sat in the hot tub for hours and drank wine.

Make some concrete plans.  Many people offered to bring things, or to get together.  That was really nice, but I seem to benefit most from someone forcing me to make concrete plans, like “what night next week can you come over for dinner?” or “how about tomorrow?” Truth is, sometimes I just sit in my pj’s and cry or watch a marathon of stupid shows on netflix and the whole idea of making plans seems overwhelming.  It helps to have someone take the lead a bit more.

Don’t try to make it better.  My husband is the pro at saying things to try to make things seem more positive.  I love this about him, but after my miscarriage, it was NOT what I needed.  After a while I just told him “This sucks and nothing will change that.  I just need time to deal with it and you probably do too”.  I’m sure it was harsh of me to say that, but I was very upset about the comments like “at least you can get pregnant” and “you can try again” and things like that.  Nope, it just sucks.  Sucks, sucks, sucks, sucky sucks.  I know people mean well when they say such things, but it is hard.

Don’t tell me statistics.  Miscarriage is very common.  My doctor told me that one out of four pregnancies will end in miscarriage and that at my age, it is more like one in three.  I know it happens and it could very well happen again.  One woman who wrote to me pointed out that she felt she was being ridiculous when she felt so heartbroken by her miscarriage, if they are so common then why does it hurt so much?  While it is common to go through such a thing, it doesn’t make the pain any less.  Minimizing someone’s pain only invalidates them, it doesn’t help them to feel better.  It is also common for people to get sick and well, we all know that there is no escaping death.  I certainly wouldn’t tell someone who just lost a loved one “You know, every one dies someday” or “One out of 3 people get cancer”.  Come on, that’s messed up.  I’m fine getting that information from my doctor, but it really doesn’t help me to feel less crazy or less like a sad-wombed loser to hear that so many others have gone through this, it just makes it feel more awful that other people go through it so often, and yet we never talk about it.

Life after miscarriage

2 Jul

I’m in my mid-thirties.  Due to career ambitions and other practical, responsible reasons we waited a long time to try to start a family.  It’s a lot like that movie, Idiocracy, a film of pure genius that is quoted regularly in our household. (“Brawndo!  It’s got what plants crave!”)

Just like the smart couple in that movie, we waited a long time (too long? ) and ran into some issues getting pregnant.  To spare you too many boring and embarrassing details, we hit the mark that results in the label INFERTILITY.  I didn’t want to go on freaky hormonal treatments due to my hippie dippy ways and my long history of issues with hormonal birth control.  Instead I tried acupuncture and Chinese herbs and after a few months of regular treatments, I became pregnant.  We were overjoyed.  I felt sick and grumpy and nearly fell asleep at work on several occasions.  I had strange food cravings and even stranger aversions (broccoli has never seemed so gross).  But it was awesome.  I was SO excited.  Writing all of this out is really starting to feel like TMI and I am wincing at the screen, but I’m determined to write all of this out for those of you out there who might be going through the same thing, or something similar, or you care for someone who has had this kind of loss.

At 8 weeks, I had my first ultrasound and saw a little bean with a heartbeat.  It was one of the very coolest moments ever.  I’d often go to sleep thinking about that little baby growing inside.  I’d send him nice thoughts and imagine what it would be like as he continued his growth.  While I feel very connected to various family members and friends and also to my pets, that kind of connection was very special and like nothing I’ve encountered before.  I can’t really explain it, but I imagine that everyone out there who has grown a little baby knows exactly what I mean.

At 13 weeks, we went in for another ultrasound.  My husband Q wasn’t around for the first one so it would be his first time seeing the baby.  Since I’m at the dreaded and ancient age of 35, this ultrasound was at a different clinic and served as part of a screening for various genetic nightmares and heartbreaks that could occur.  Needless to say, I was a ball of nerves and nearly jumping out of my skin.

Turns out my nervousness was fitting.  Instead of the ultrasound technician showing me exciting things, she just pointed out the two sides of my uterus (snore) and then asked me to go to the bathroom “so we could see more”.  I had too pee so badly that I didn’t even question that.  By the way, making someone who is pregnant wait for a long time for an ultrasound is really mean, as you’re supposed to arrive with a full bladder.

The rest unfolded like a nightmare.  After I happily emptied my bladder I returned to the room where Q and I waited for a few silent minutes.  The technician returned with the doctor, who told me that she saw some “really concerning” things including that the baby had no heartbeat and hadn’t grown past 8 weeks.  Um, yeah, I still think “concerning” wasn’t quite the right word to use there, doc.   This was compounded by the fact that this isn’t my normal doctor’s office and they didn’t seem to have any of my information about how far along I should have been.  They didn’t tell me anything more  and said I could follow up with my regular doctor.  In retrospect, that seems pretty weird.  The technician left me with a giant box of wipes that were essentially giant kleenexes.  I imagine they are for wiping that ultrasound goo off of your belly, but for me they were for full face sobbing and snotting.  I was kind of a basket case.

We found the back way out of that horrible building full of happy pregnant women.  (Curse them!)  I told my husband that I’m never trying to get pregnant again, that I can’t deal with it and it is too sad.  I dreaded the idea of more medical appointments, more disappointing and stupid periods and more bitterness about everyone in the world having babies all over the place.  Even at the time I realized that was a bit silly to close up my womb since I had about 5 minutes of processing what had just happened.

I got home and called one of my closest friends who had a miscarriage several years ago.  We had  a talk that was helpful but very painful.  It was immensely comforting that she knew exactly what I was going through, although heartbreaking because I hate it that other people have been through something this awful.  She advised me, strongly, to get off the phone and call my doctor’s office and demand to be seen immediately.  She also recommended, based on her own experience and of other women she’s known, to get a D&C rather than wait to miscarry or take those pills that force you to miscarry.  I did just that and by 9 am the next morning, I was sobbing in the doctor’s office while they scheduled a surgery for me that evening.  I could have had it that morning, but I’d eaten a damn banana prior to my appointment so I had to hang out ALL DAY and wait to digest it so I could go in for surgery.  So I spent the whole day not drinking, not eating and cursing that stupid banana.

It has been 3 weeks since my surgery.  My body is starting to feel more normal and I’m sleeping well again.  I cry a lot.  I’ve find a lot of comfort in talking to other women who have had miscarriages because they know what it is like.  I can look directly at children again, strangely for the first week or so after the miscarriage I could not even do that because it was too painful.  My husband and I are talking a lot about different things and we planned a trip to Mexico for this winter, the same time the baby bean would have been born.  I have no idea if we’ll keep trying to get pregnant, or if we’ll let Idiocracy happen (haha, ugh, really it isn’t like we’re THAT smart).  Besides, my doctor recommended waiting a few months to let my body heal so we have time to figure it out.

Basically, the whole deal sucks.  We were preparing to be parents.  I was thinking of colors to paint the walls of the spare bedroom and my mom and I were talking about cribs.  We’d picked out baby names.  I ate lots of ice cream.  We passed the 12 week mark so we told all of our friends and family.  Then the next day, it was all over and everything changed.  That shift in mentality has been one of the hardest things and I don’t think I’ll ever really be the same because of it.  For just a few months, I really did feel like a mother and then I had to say goodbye to all of that hope.  It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever had to do.

In my internet searches I found some helpful blogs about miscarriages, but not too many.  Many of them were written by very serious bloggers who went on to have kids so their miscarriage seems like a blip in the craziness of their depicted lives of daycare and diapers.  I just don’t have the objectiveness to allow that kind of wide view and would like to write just about miscarriages, especially for those who miscarried during their first pregnancy.  I’ve written blogs before and usually life happens and I forget to update them.  I imagine someday that will happen to this one, which means I will have moved forward as much as one can with loss.  But for now, here I am.

Purging!

24 Feb
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Image from inhonorofdesign.com

No, not that kind of purging (the barfy kind).  I hit a limit and I am DONE with the clutter and the extra stuff.  Thinking a lot this month about the MIND, it dawned on me that there are constant distractions of some sort.  For example, I put things off and continually think about what I forgot to do so my mind stays cluttered and distracted.  There there is the physical clutter as I must wade through a certain about of physical items to find what is actually wanted/needed such as finding the sweater I want to wear on the floor of the closet because it got pushed off its hanger by the hardly worn clothes.   Then there’s the art supplies, the many books, Rock Band (oh so sad, but we don’t use it anymore), old dishes, appliances not used, so many sets of old sheets used for painting drop cloths, and on and on and on.  Just writing about it is overwhelming.

Strangely, I find myself fighting off impulses to buy new things even though there is so much around that is not used at all.  So I’m not going to Target or giving in to temptations to simplify by having more.  That is just plain silly.

So it is time to purge and clear it out, just have room for the things that are beautiful and/ or useful.  We’re starting with the office/ art room.  Why hold on to all of this stuff?  I really can’t see any reason.  So, bye bye stuff!  Oh yeah and get ready for us, Goodwill!

Today

14 Feb

A song:

To make a mountain of your life
Is just a choice
But I never learned enough
To listen to the voice that told me
Always love hate will get you every time
Always love don’t wait ’til the finish line 

-From the song ‘Always Love’ by Nada Surf.

This is not my favorite holiday, oh no. As a teen and young adult, I was often single and grumpy about this day.  And the times I wasn’t?  I honestly don’t remember what I did.  Instead, what stands out to me is how my friend Staci and I always celebrated this day in college, making presents for each other and calling it ‘Stupid Day’.  I also remember my dad giving my chocolate in the morning before school, all throughout my childhood and asking me to be his Valentine.  Of course, an age came upon me and that turned into “I’m a loser!  My dad has to give me presents today!”, but now that my brain is fully developed, I’m grateful for those gestures and can admit that it meant a lot even at the time.

It is a silly holiday, in my opinion.  I see the men walking around like robots buying flowers and chocolate, just because they are supposed to.  I like to think we show our love and affection regularly.  I also like to think that there are many kinds of valuable love in our lives, besides just romantic love.  So today?  I work until late and my husband has his martial arts class tonight.  So it’s like any other night, which means we’ll eat some good food, talk about things and play with the dogs in our cozy home.  And I’ll definitely eat some chocolate.

Oh yeah and this:

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What are you doing to celebrate love, not just today but every day?