• Happy Stuff,  Hard Stuff,  Pregnancy,  recovery

    A Tale of Two Januaries

    It comes as no surprise that 2019 was simply not my year. In fact, by this time last year, I was already done with 2019. 

    This year has already proven to be different. 

    And I am so thankful.

    The past two Januaries are eerily similar, but with wildly different outcomes that span an exhaustive spectrum of emotions. I didn’t know the extent of this until the other day, but allow me to back-up here…

    Last year at this time, I was emerging from my first trimester feeling completely unscathed. While most women would be celebrating a sickness and symptoms free pregnancy, it did nothing to settle my gut instinct that something wasn’t right. Despite being reassured my doctors and ultrasounds that everything was progressing as normal, I knew it wasn’t. But Christmas and New Years came and we did the obligatory cutesy announcements to our close friends and family. I took the “congratulations” and well wishes with a cautious heart. As the second trimester loomed, I kept thinking that perhaps my paranoia was ruining what should have been a beautiful, celebratory moment. 

    This year, I am nine months pregnant and anxiously drinking labor tea and running several miles a day in an attempt to kickstart labor. This pregnancy has been a breeze. No sickness, no complaints. I feel like “me,” but with a little belly that shifts and reacts all day to remind me that yes, I am pregnant. This is happening. Again. This pregnancy has been complex: grateful that I’m pregnant, nervous it won’t last, gracious to well-wishers and yet too insecure to buy a baby onesie at Target. Everything feels like I’ll be jinxing the miracle I’m trying to maintain. It’s like tiptoeing around fire, walking on eggshells and holding my breath all at once– but for nine months and here I am…approaching the finish line of a race that I barely got to start last year. 

    As different as those Januaries are, they each had a defining day that changed the course of everything

    One day in January of last year, I lost the baby that I was so worried about carrying. 

    One day in January of this year, I delivered the baby that I was so grateful to be carrying. 

    It all seemed perfectly full-circle. A January that had robbed and wronged us had now redeemed itself in the most miraculous, unexpected way. I knew the timing of the miscarriage and birth were close, but I wanted to see how close. Going back into my medical records, I was left speechless…

    The incidents weren’t just close in dates.

    It was the same date. 

    Nearly at the same time. 

    In the afternoon of January 10th, 2019, I sat in a dark doctor’s room calling Ryan with that hyperventilating, panicked cry to tell him that the baby was gone. There was no heartbeat. There would be no baby.

    In the afternoon of January 10th, 2020, I laid in a brightly lit, peaceful hospital room with Ryan holding my left leg, a nurse holding my right and my midwife coaching me through each contraction. There would be a baby. 

    In the afternoon of January 10th, 2019 I lost a little girl that we would come to name Elizabeth.

    In the afternoon of January 10th, 2020 we welcomed another little girl and gave her Elizabeth as her middle name. 

    I keep asking myself, “what are the chances that these two events happened on the same day?” or “what does it mean that I had another girl on the same day as the one I had lost?”

    I don’t know the answers to those questions. No one does. In my heart, I want to believe something so generically comforting because it’s easier that way. I just know that she was and is with me and I believe January 10th is not only a new chapter for us but a true rebirth of sorts.

    I found the light at the end of the tunnel and her name is Penelope Elizabeth. 

    There are plenty of people out there that are still walking through the darkness, haven’t found their light and are unsure of what the future holds in the midst of loss. Admittedly, I am speaking from an obnoxiously optimistic and sentimental viewpoint. If you would have told me that “all would be well” last year, I would have responded with an eye roll and scolded you for being so cavalier and confident. Yet here I am, virtually preaching the cruel workings of the universe as if I understand why bad things happen. 

    But I don’t. I never will. 

    Right now, I’m comforted by my present and inspired by my past year.  I’ll never justify the saying, “everything happens for a reason” because that’s bullshit. Bad things happen that can’t be explained. 

    But good things happen that can’t be explained too. 

    And right now, I want to soak up every ounce of goodness that came out of January 10th. 

  • Hard Stuff,  miscarriage,  pregnancy loss,  recovery

    Rainbow

    When I first started documenting this process, I found myself titling each post with a single word that began with the letter “R.” I wish there was some type of poetic, deep explanation behind this, but in reality, it was just kind of organic.

    I never really thought that I’d be posting with a new “R” word.

    Rainbow.

    IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE BEAUTY OF A RAINBOW DOES NOT NEGATE THE RAVAGES OF ANY STORM. WHEN A RAINBOW APPEARS, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE STORM NEVER HAPPENED OR THAT WE ARE NOT STILL DEALING WITH ITS AFTERMATH.

    IT MEANS THAT SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL AND FULL OF LIGHT HAS APPEARED IN THE MIDST OF THE DARKNESS AND CLOUDS.

    STORM CLOUDS MAY STILL HOVER, BUT THE RAINBOW PROVIDES A COUNTERBALANCE OF COLOR, ENERGY AND HOPE

    A baby after a loss.

    I found out I was expecting again in April and was so frustratingly conflicted about everything. I was happy, but I also felt like I had to be happy. I was relieved that I got pregnant again, but panicked that I was pregnant again. I wanted to tell everyone, but also tell absolutely no one. I felt joy towards this new baby, but also resentment. I loved this baby but longed for the one before it.

    It’s a strange process to try and flick the lightswitch of grief “off” and to flick the one for “abounding happiness” on. The mind just isn’t that simple and no matter how desperate I was for clarity and for a “new beginning,” it just didn’t register right away.

    Many, many weeks and moments of my first trimester were spent wondering when this baby would go away too. The pregnancies were so oddly similar- no sickness, no overpowering textbook symptoms. There was just a line on a pregnancy test to tell me that I was pregnant. My mind, heart, and body were not entirely convinced of the science happening within it. It was very difficult to carry on with work, parenting, marriage, and life while carrying a new (secret) baby while simultaneously fielding questions about how I was doing after the last baby. It wasn’t the way anyone should have to spend those first months of pregnancy, but I know that so many do and for me, it felt safer to stay in my cocoon of secretness (and at times, indifference) than it was to be out in the open, excited with this news.

    As we started to reveal the news to those closest to us, it felt improper to accept congratulations or to celebrate with hugs and kisses. These people weren’t psychics. How and why were they so eager to be happy about something that ended in sorrow just four months ago? Maybe they were just putting on a brave face because that’s what they thought I wanted, but I just wanted acknowledgment and a quick change of topic. Once again, absolute conflict over how and what to feel.

    Every milestone has been met with comparison to the last pregnancy which brings on its own hellish mindset. . 

    The first ultrasound went well, but it went well last time too so…”

    We made it through the first doctor’s appointment and found the heartbeat. “They couldn’t find the heartbeat at this appointment last time and blamed it on the position of my uterus. Maybe she was already gone.”

    We made it through the second ultrasound. “She was gone by this ultrasound. We didn’t get this far last time.”

    We made it through the first trimester. 

    We allowed ourselves to breathe a slight and temporary sigh of relief. 

    Right after that deep exhale, I was back to being overly cautious, but maybe infused with a little bit of optimism. That’s where I am now. Lost between gratitude, hope, and happiness on one side and chronically thinking and expecting the worse on the other side. Some days I lean more towards one than the other, but it varies. Only when I am holding the baby will I ever feel truly at peace, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve to be happy over this right now. I took weekly bump pictures with Caroline, happily ate my weight in McDonald’s with Oliver– I need to find peace and contentment with this pregnancy. To truly enjoy pregnancy again.

    Sometimes I need that reminder from myself and sometimes I need that reminder from others. Announcing the pregnancy on social media was a big milestone. Once that picture was posted, there was no turning back. There was no avoiding the conversation, hiding my belly or dodging questions. People expected a glowing and elated pregnant woman and I wanted to be that. There was something about posting that picture to the world that allowed some chains of guilt to be removed. There is a duality to my emotions and that’s okay

    You can be happy, but still worried. 

    Worried, but excited. 

    Excited, but cautious. 

    Looking forward, but remembering the past. 

    I’m ready to embrace the rainbow.

    Finally.