Thursday, October 14, 2010

In honour of Loss

Today, October 15th, marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It's a day to openly remember the babies that we have lost and a time for others to take a peek into the lives of women who mourn these losses.

The official website advises people to light a candle at 7pm their time and allow the candle to burn for 1 hour. This way there will be a wave of light to show our respect and love.

I will be lighting 2 candles tomorrow, in honour of the twins I lost but I should be lighting 8 candles for the 8 little lives that have been lost.

I had my first miscarriage on July 15th 2002. I was 21 and had no idea what was going on. I had a suspicion I was pregnant but in complete denial, after all, I was only 21 and a full-time student. When I began feeling contractions, I knew it was over.

No one tells you about miscarriage. Or that your cervix must dilate to pass the baby and it's the same process as birth. Contractions hurt! And you feel light-headed and dizzy. Cold and sweaty and hot and irritated all at the same time.

I felt so sick to my stomach as the product passed. I collected it into my hand and pushed it around. A wee gelatinous glob. What do you do now? Like most overwhelmed women, I chucked it into the toilet and flushed.

Then came the bleeding. There was a lot of clotting and it hurt. I saw my university GP and she gave me a hug but it was a bit hollow. I think she felt better knowing I wasn't pregnant than if I had come to her with a strong pregnancy.

I began to feel sad and emotional. Hormones running high I started to cry over the thought of chucking my wee baby into the loo. What should I have done?

A miscarriage starting is so unexpected, so surprising. To find out you're miscarrying and there is nothing you can do, well, it's a hideous experience. You would literally eat garbage, streak naked, sell your soul to keep that pregnancy and can't. No one can.

Waiting to miscarry is a surreal experience. Every twinge, every feeling makes you rush off to check. Now? No. Now? No. NOW?! Yes! Oh no!

Miscarriage is the closest to natural birth I've come and I've found that the rocking, the visualizations, moving along with the natural rhythms helps. But nothing takes your mind off the fact that you're not actually having a baby. In fact, instead of welcoming life, you are about to pass death into your own hands.

I always tell women that if they can hack a natural miscarriage then to go for it. But that there is no shame or crime in seeking a D&C. I think, especially for recurrent miscarriers, the process of loss is so emotional and so deep that to have the choice taken out of their hands is a comfort.

I have buried the remains of my little lost babies and my SIL actually made me little wraps for the twins, however, the lab never returned the twins' remains. It's something that still catches my breath in my throat at times.

People have asked me over and over what gave me the strength to keep going through loss. And honestly, the thought of giving up and never having a child was worse than the thought of one more miscarriage. Now that I am a mother, I don't think I have what it takes to go through that again. I also think I wouldn't have wasted so many cycles naturally or with Clomid.

Those first days after miscarriage are so empty and lonely. When you miscarry, you aren't losing just a child. You're losing the dreams and the plans you've been making, as well as the stability and the certainty you had been feeling. You begin to fear the unknown, the future.

You look at the things you've bought, questioning whether that onesie will ever be worn. Will you ever have anyone in your lap to cuddle? Will this book ever be read?

For me, the anger was overwhelming. Why? Why me?

A lot of people dole out complete and utter rubbish. It's G-d's will. It wasn't meant to be. Maybe you're not meant to be a mother.

And some of those really hit me hard. Maybe I wasn't meant to be a mother. Maybe I've been so bad and done so many bad things that I don't deserve children. But over time you learn that it has nothing at all to do with you and more to do with science and biology and, in some cases, insane genetic conditions. I began to deny the existence of a Higher Power in my life because it seemed so unfair crack whores can become pregnant and have babies they don't want when I was trying so hard and failing.

The pain of my own childhood was brought out full-force in my battle with loss. And there was a lot of rage and aggression. A lot of jealousy and intense focus on what other people had. It was an experience I found I was sharing with a lot of other women.

There would be days I would scream and cry and throw teddy bears against walls. I boxed up all the baby things we had bought and gave them away. Life is full of challenges and more often than not we can find ways to overcome them. But failure to conceive or failure to remain pregnant isn't one of those things you can fix. You can try, certainly, but it doesn't always work.

And that powerlessness is overwhelming. As you watch your friends marry and become parents you question what the hell is going on. Why isn't this working for you too? And even the infertile friends you've made suddenly start succeeding at treatments and having families.

I knew that I had the right to be a mother, to have a family. And knowing that really further pushed me into the powerlessness I was feeling. When you look into dealing with the feeling of being overwhelmed or powerless, you are told to accept you have a right to all the good things in life. And's still unachievable.

It's since been a feeling I have come to know as I have gone through the diagnosis process.

Part of my trying to grasp some sort of control around the situation caused me to become so frustrated and depressed in trying to solve the unsolvable problems that I found my temper, anger and rage igniting and flaring up spontaneously, inappropriately and disproportionately.

I felt so defeated by the non-fixable realities of life that I came to believe that I was an inadequate person. I told Matt to leave me and find someone else. I wish he had then and not now.

But the worst of all was clinging onto the people whom I could not control or change until they one day walked out on me frustrated by my incessant efforts to change, correct or reform them. I know it's wrong and I wish I hadn't been so needy and clingy. I wish I had been more able to handle what was going on.

When I became ill, it was that same powerlessness all over again. And just as I was flaring, so were the bad behaviours. However, not only was I sick, but I was a mother in mourning, missing my girls.

I cried daily for months. My due date was one of the worst days of my life. Because of the trauma of 3 D&Cs, the process was so exaggerated and so extreme. It was so hard to finally let go of them and it took a long time for me to stop bleeding.

There are still some days I think of them and cry. For a time I couldn't stop thinking of them, couldn't stop crying. Now I struggle to remember them. I used to dream of them and how they would look. And now I can't remember at all what those dreams were about.

I will light my candles and breathe in the calm that surrounds me now. My heart may have healed, after all, it's been over 3 years, but I still long with such sharp pain, to hold them, to feel them, to know them. I still would eat garbage, streak naked or sell my soul just to have them once again.

"For A Moment"

I saw for just a moment, your little arms and legs.
The little blur they said was you, but now you've gone away.

I heard for just a moment,the beating of your heart.
The sound that held such promise, but soon it would depart.

I dreamt for just a moment,of the day I'd hold you tight.
I'd listen for your little breath, and rock you through the night.

I cried for just a moment, when they said that you had gone.
I laid alone in silence, that seemed so very long.

I prayed for just a moment,that you would be reborn.
Into my arms you would come and forever would be warm.

I was for just a moment, the mother of a child.
Who laughed and cried and ment so much, if only for a while.

In that single moment,when I finally said farewell.
I knew that we would meet again little baby, for time will only tell.

(c) Michelle Ann Burch All Rights Reserved

One of the best sites for pregnancy loss and memorial jewelry is La Belle Dame. Check them out.


Deanna said...

Jen - You describe it all so well. The pain, the fear, the self doubt. Thank you for sharing with us... It means a lot. And I hope it helps others dealing with similar situations.

If it all right, I'd like to borrow the graphic as well.

Much love, my friend...
- Deanna

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