5 Years Ago Today: Trigger Warning-Miscarriage

Trigger Warning: Miscarriage

5 Years Ago Today was the day I lost my first child.

5 Years Ago Today was the day she died.

Today, I lived my life like nothing was wrong.

I played with my double rainbow babies.

I did the dishes.

I cleaned the house.

But I saw a butterfly and I asked if it was her.

I asked her to be with me, but only if she wants to be,

Because I hope she’s happy in heaven without me,

Even though she’s without me, and I’m without her.

5 Years Ago Today, I screamed like I had never screamed before.

5 Years Ago Today, I held her body.

5 Years Ago Today, there was blood all over the floor

Of the tub. I didn’t know that that could happen.

Usually I don’t bleed when I shower,

But when you’re losing them it doesn’t stop, even for the water flow.

5 Years Ago Today, I thought I would die if it didn’t stop.

5 Years Ago Today, she died and I did not.

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I Need to Calm Down: Weight Loss Angry Day

I am so angry.

This week I hopped on the scale to see that I had gained pretty much all of the weight I had lost back. Seriously?? After all of this time? What was the point of any of it if I’m back at this? My BMI was back up by a full point, and my muscle was down. I started to do my inches and I just gave up, “Nope, I am not putting myself through this.”

I rested on it a little while and everything felt a little more stressful all day. I survived the day though and I started to realize. I didn’t gain EVERYTHING back. I gained some weight back yes, but considering that from when I started I had two pregnancies and ended up even heavier than I had ever been, but got it back down, That’s incredible. I started to slow down a little bit and take some time to give myself some credit.

Here’s a list of my achievements:

I have still lost 32.5 inches. It is not as amazing as the 60 I originally had lost, but that is still a lot! Especially if you consider what else I have done in the last couple of years. I had 2 pregnancies, and not just normal pregnancies but pregnancies where I was super sick and under a great deal of stress. We moved-THREE TIMES, changed jobs twice, lost the higher income paycheck to me becoming a stay at home mom, and all of this while dealing with severe anxiety and depression made worse by hormones that are skyrocketing and plummeting constantly.

Plus, there are a lot of mitigating factors to my numbers. Ok, my boobs are bigger, I AM BREASTFEEDING SO FREAKING DUH! They are STILL less than they originally were, and that is awesome! I got them down way small before they had to hold the morning noon and night buffet! (I love breastfeeding but it does add inches, lol)

Also, my weight? I went way up when I was pregnant with Sage! And managed to get it all the way back down to AGAIN?! In a year? While breastfeeding and raising two toddlers and under ridiculous amounts of stress? That’s pretty awesome.

Even still, some of those measurements were really exciting measurements to improve.

That difference on my calves made the difference between me buying regular or wide calf boots.

The inches on my hips made it to where I can shop in stores now for my pants and shorts, I don’t have to order online anymore.

The two inches on my arm got rid of a lot of the flabbiness that drove me crazy.

Also, I GOT TO MY GOALS. This year, I got a Victoria’s Secret pajama set! I didn’t like the fabric so I returned them, but I FIT IN IT. I was able to shop in stores for the clothes I wanted. I still am. In fact the shorts I bought in Target are now too big and I need new smaller ones. My body has completely changed over and over again and I am still better off than I was.

Biggest of all, I achieved a goal that I didn’t think was possible. I balanced my hormones enough to have two babies. That is a huge enormous deal for me. My babies lived. ❤

Time to set new goals, but those are some pretty amazing goals to have achieved.

The Demon that Won’t Go Away: A little known fact about HG

Hyperemesis Gravidarum has been getting a little more publicity lately as Amy Schumer and Kate Middleton have been honest about some of their struggles with it. HG is really severe morning sickness that can end women up in the hospital, on IVs, and with many different pregnancy complications. Many don’t know though, that HG doesn’t always end completely when the pregnancy ends.

I didn’t know about HG during my first pregnancy. I thought that either it was just normal or I was making up in my head the constant nausea and stomachaches that came with pregnancy for me. Almost every day I was bowed over my desk at work(I was teaching full time) desperately holding on to keep myself from passing. Some days I would be almost in tears from the stabbing pain in my side. I couldn’t eat anything but yogurt and cheese and saltine crackers. Believe me, I tried. Whenever I would try to eat anything normal I would vomit with a violence I have never experienced outside of HG. I will never forget the spinach I ate one day when I got desperate for some vegetables. I could not move for the rest of the day without making myself sick again and again and again. My mom and I got in an argument because I didn’t want anyone to come visit for a baby shower because I was in so much pain I couldn’t fathom the idea of trying to keep up with people visiting. But I couldn’t express to people how awful it was because I thought this was just what pregnancy was like for everyone.

Thankfully, I found out about HG before my next pregnancy and I had a much easier time. It was still difficult, but there is medicine for HG and while it didn’t fix everything for me, it definitely helped. I was able to eat and drink a little more, and there were days where I felt good.

Since this last pregnancy, though, I have learned something about HG that makes me angry, and frustrated, and strikes fear and anxiety into me.

It doesn’t always end completely with pregnancy.

I am somewhat lucky in this regard because mine does mostly go away. However, recently my symptoms have been coming back around ovulation and PMS. That’s two weeks out of the month. It varies in how bad it gets, but there must be a huge hormonal shift at one year because lately it has been bad. Just last week, I couldn’t stop shaking, and I was lightheaded for several days, and everything I ate seemed to make me nauseous.

What sucks the most about this is the despair and anxiety that comes with it. I was just working on getting a job to get me out of the house when the week started. At the end of the week, I was shaking and in tears because it was taking everything I could do just to watch the girls during the day, and get enough to eat and drink. As the next week started, it didn’t go away like I thought it would and despair started to take over, I started to feel like it was never going to end, I started feeling consumed with my own inability to just “be better.”

What this means, is that in addition to any PPD or PPA that a woman has after pregnancy, a woman with HG must also deal with the paralyzing fear that, not only might it come back if she were to get pregnant, but it could come back whenever it darn well feels like it. It is terrifying to be at the mercy of a monster that could come back and take over your life with no warning at any given moment in time. My husband has repeatedly had to talk me down from panic attacks about death that I think are arising from feeling as helpless as I feel when this happens. 

Also, having all of these issues while having a baby, or two toddlers in my case, is a special challenge, because falling behind in chores and consistency with the kids is BAD. One week of feeling sick lost us a full day of cleaning, a week of laundry, a whole bunch of organizing and adulting things that needed to get done. So now that I’m recovering from the anxiety of seeing how sick I could get at the drop of a hat, everything in me is screaming out that I need to do a major overhaul to fix everything, and I feel like a complete failure. Now the healing process has to start all over again.

The healing process for me is a variety of stages of working through paralyzing fear of getting pregnant, anxiety attacks about death, getting back into physical activity, trying to learn to be fun or have fun again when you were too sick to even think about having fun, and the hardest part, learning to fight again after you feel like giving up. The mountain of tasks before me seems absolutely impossible while I am attempting to repair my body and mind, but it’s time to take it all back and pick the fight back up.

Take a second to imagine the worst flu you have ever had in your life, the one that made you feel like you were going to die. Now imagine that you feel that for 9 months straight, and just when you thought you were free a year later, it came back for seemingly no reason. That’s what HG is, and that’s why it sucks that it comes back with a vengeance after being silent for a time, like a demon that pops its head out of random corners so you never feel safe. I share this, so that you may know a little more about what HG survivors fight, but also for those women who feel lonely and miserable and hopeless when their HG seems like it will never go away. You are not alone, I see you. 


 

The Conversation about Abortion

With all of the abortion talk going around, I have been feeling so sad. There is so much pain on either side. It’s hard for me to take a side because I feel like I understand the arguments and feelings on either side. I have felt unwanted and that feeling is devastating, and I have seen how that particular painful feeling wreaks havoc in the lives of other people who have felt that way. I can understand why someone who has experienced that would want abortion to be an option, to avoid that deep all consuming pain.

I have also experienced pregnancy that scared me out of my mind. When I was pregnant with my first, we were not prepared financially or emotionally for her. We were terrified and emotional and taken aback by the amount of crazy hormones I was experiencing and we lost her. Later, after losses and fertility struggles, when I was pregnant with my first rainbow baby, I was devastated to find out I was pregnant. I was so sure I was going to lose her that I sobbed when I saw the test and cried that I didn’t want to go through that again. I didn’t really believe she wasn’t just another loss until I stepped into our apartment and realized we could keep all of the baby stuff. What’s more is I was very very sick the whole time I was pregnant, so I also felt that pain. I know what a surprise pregnancy feels like and how scary it is. I know what a painful pregnancy feels like and how scary that is. I understand the desire to make a pregnancy go away. I think a lot of pro-life women have experienced this, but the guilt of feeling that way while believing the way they do is unimaginable-at least it was for me.

That being said, I understand that if you believe that the baby in the womb is a baby, abortion is the most monstrous act that could possibly happen. A womb is traditionally supposed to be the safest place in the universe for the baby(not that it always is-there can be issues with it-but you get my point) to take a baby who is snuggled away that safe and end it’s life is horrifying. Absolutely horrifying. (( side note- again, I have never known a pro-choice person who believes they are actually killing a child, and it doesn’t help the argument to say that to them. Accusing anyone of being a murderer is a real quick way to end charitable conversation.))

I have also experienced pregnancy and pregnancy loss and these changed the abortion narrative completely for me. My first miscarriage Emma, had a distinct beautiful personality. She was wonderful. I was terrified to have her, but I loved having her with me. I doubted this strong understanding of who she was for a long time, but both of my now-loving daughters have exactly the personality I perceived from them when I was pregnant. Willow is just as determined and clear about what she wants as I told people she was, she loves music, she loves dancing, these were all things I saw about her before she was born. Sage is calm and serene most of the time. She is a happy peaceful little one, and it shows. She was so peaceful when I was pregnant with her that I was afraid that maybe I just didn’t have a good connection with her at all. Knowing these girls, and experiencing pregnancy, has me completely convinced that they are little humans and completely seperate from me.

All of that being said, there are so many mitigating factors to the abortion argument that distance me from the pro-life movement and make it hard for me to connect to it at all.

First of all, even as a Catholic, I have seen firsthand how little help is available for families and how hard and emotionally taxing it is to get that help. I have been in situations so stressful I hated the idea of having a child. A lot of Catholics say there is so much help out there, but a lot of it has a catch to it, and the catches tend to be really big. Our culture is not set up for families right now. I had help in a lot of ways and still was completely exhausted and miserable at times. Mothers need a better village if we are going to be pro-life, not because a life without money is not worth living but because a life of financial strain can be absolutely terrifying.

Second, The people who believe in abortion ARE NOT MURDERERS!!! This makes me crazy. For years, many many years, the human race did not know when a baby had a soul, some didn’t believe they had it until they were born. There is an article St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that basically insinuates that a child doesn’t have a soul until it is born. There just was not a lot of scientific evidence for when life as a human started. Science is starting to find some amazing things about babies in the womb that are arguments that the pro-life side uses to say that the other side is ridiculous, but there are HUNDREDS of years of debate about when exactly life begins, and it takes time for new science to prove itself. It also takes time for old knowledge and traditions to die out-so there are still a lot of people who do not believe it is a child in the womb. Just because the pro-life side believes they are right does not mean that the pro-choice side is savage monsters.

Third, most pro-lifers should not even be called pro-life. They should be called anti-abortion. I have heard vicious talk about war from pro-lifers, and talk about the death penalty that scared me, and that should not happen. If every life is sacred, then a 30 year old man should be too, a bad man should be too, anyone should be. If it is so evil to end any life in any circumstances, then you should believe in preserving it under any circumstances.

Fourth, pro-life people condemning unwed mothers and talking bad about them, judging them, making nasty comments to people about how many kids they have, or ignoring them because they are exhausted and have PPD, is a real thing. Maybe not everyone, but there are a lot of pro-life people who really hurt people when it comes to children, and it is ridiculous to me, because that kind of treatment is exactly the kind of treatment that could make someone want to end a pregnancy. Motherhood needs to become something of value in our country again, and that will make people excited to have babies instead of depleted and exhausted. This doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t be able to work outside the home, on the contrary, the way we work needs to change, for men and women. Some workplaces are already getting that the persons health and happiness needs to come first, and their work second, because the work is better if you take care of the person. More need to do this.

I guess the most important point of what I am trying to say, is both sides need to calm down and really understand the other sides point of view. Yes, it is important to protect women’s rights. Yes, it is important to protect children. But we are not getting anywhere with calling each other names and hurling our own facts at each other. What the world needs is honest discussion about what each person believes and a constant effort from both sides to take care of each other.

Surprise surprise, “what the world needs now is love, love, love.”

When Morning Sickness is not just Morning Sickness

Dear Reader,

I am so tired. I am here to talk to you about something that not many know about, and those who do know about it know it all too well. Morning sickness is an often joked about part of pregnancy. Women on television daintily vomit into a trash can and go on about their day. Then, second trimester they are fine. There are women for whom this is a reality, and I am so happy for them, but there are others who laugh at the term ‘morning sickness’ for its inept description of their 9 month personal hell. These women suffer from something called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which means severe morning sickness, and I am one of these women.

I am lucky as far as HG sufferers go. Many spend multiple days in the ER getting fluids to keep hydrated enough to survive, let alone nourish their growing baby. I have only one HG related scare that I may have to go into the ER, but I experience enough of the symptoms to tell you that HG is no joke.

Imagine the first day of the flu, you are weak and nothing seems to sit well. You gag at every smell and food is the worst thing you have ever heard of. What if told you that was your life 24/7 for 9 months? I am on medicine for my HG and I still have at least one day a week when every inch of my body is in pain and I can’t even imagine eating. Part of the curse of HG, though, is that this is not just a couple days. You can’t let yourself not eat because you and your baby will starve. So I force down whatever seems like it might not make me nauseous, and not just nauseous like a tummy-ache, but I literally have to sit in a certain position all day and chew ice chips to keep myself from vomiting.(Though I recognize I am lucky that I don’t experience uncontrollable all day vomiting like so many women do.)

What’s worse is stress makes my HG worse. This means that the struggle of trying to figure out what food won’t make me nauseous, just makes me sicker, and feeling the nausea makes me sicker, and having an uncomfortable conversation makes me sicker. I hate myself sometimes for the loss of patience this causes in me with the daughter I already have. She is precious and so well-behaved, but her cry releases cortisol in me which makes me feel like vomiting. So instead of selflessly worrying about what she needs, sometimes I just want to scream at her to stop because it just hurts so much when she cries, and it won’t stop hurting for hours after. I have less patience with other members of my family too, people who normally mildly irritate me, make me furious because my short stressful conversations with them result in a whole day of mindful breathing and panic attack management from how exhausted I am, and again trying not to vomit.

People often say to HG sufferers, “Oh just get someone to help you.” Well, unfortunately our culture has created the do-it-all woman, so now we are expected to do it all. While this may be great for women’s advances in business and careers, family members and friends no longer crowd around any pregnant woman to help her with anything she needs. There are lucky women, and I am lucky in many ways, but there are moments when I hide in the bathroom sobbing that I can’t go on, only to do it again the next day.

I feel so much guilt because I should feel grateful for the help that I have, for not working during this pregnancy(HG at a new job is a nightmare) for family who helps when they can. I am grateful for all of these things. Incredibly grateful. It is impossible to have enough help though, when one spends every day in so much stress and discomfort. This isn’t meant to be a pity party, but just, be there for your pregnant friends and family. Be kind to them, you don’t know what they might be going through silently.

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