Wednesday, June 17, 2009

His Promises Are Sure. Healing Comes.

While searching for decent poetry material to share a couple of weeks ago for my poetry meeting, I found an interesting journal entry. It was a list titled "Moments I am grateful for in my life that I never thought I'd be grateful for..."

Number four on the list says this:

"The moment I lay on an ultrasound table, searching with my midwife for the flicker of a heartbeat and hearing the words: I'm sorry, there's no heartbeat. Surrendering to this experience tore me wide open. In the years since, gallons of years of unacknowledged grief have come spilling out of the hole created by that moment. Grace, compassion, gratitude and joy have come rushing in to the void."
Miscarriage was, for me, a heart-wrenching experience. At the time, I wrote this:
"It was a difficult truth to face. My baby’s beginnings of a body would not, could not be a recognizable embryo with legs and arms and face. She had barely begun to develop those characteristics when she died. She had stopped growing at around five weeks, even though my hope of her had not died for eight weeks, when I lay on an ultrasound table looking at her lifeless form. My hope that somehow my dates were wrong, that the ultrasound technician was wrong, that I’d misunderstood him hadn’t died until the day I sat in my bathtub, blood streaming from my body. And even after that day, I had still been growing her in my mind. I was nine and a half weeks pregnant, surely she had continued growing to be a nine and a half week embryo. Surely her body had stayed as safe and as whole as it was in my mind. She had grown in my mind not only as an embryo, but from a tiny newborn baby and then to a little girl with big blue eyes and bouncing curls.

I knew I had to stop growing her, to stop waiting for her, for she had not grown for nearly a month. Her spirit had been with me, was still with me, would continue to be with me. But the healthy, lively body in my imagination had flitted away to a bitter and amorphous reality. There would be no tangible evidence of the very whole and beautiful child I had lost."
I was talking to my sister, just a little bit, about this experience. I told her that I don't feel much grief over losing my baby anymore. I said that it was probably because I already had three children and have since been blessed with one (almost two) more.

But that is only partly true. Yes, my hands and heart are full to bursting with the blessing of these gorgeous children I am inexplicably privileged to raise. But really, the loss of that little one, so real only to me, is not really eased by the gift of my four other children any more than losing Coco would be eased by the fact that I still have Kaitybean and Scud and Mashuga.

So, I suppose that's the bad news. The crying tapers off. It gets easier. But every once in a while, there's still a little pain. Or at least the reminder of pain.

But the good news is found in Isaiah:
"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness: that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified." Isaiah 61:3

"For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody." Isaiah 51:3

"Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away." Isaiah 51:11
Words like these can be cold comfort during times of loss and sadness. But they are true, nonetheless. The Lord always gives more than is taken from us. The recompense is not always what we expect it to be, or when we expect it to be. But it always comes.

For me, it has come in the form of peace, a settled feeling that all is well and as it should be. When I think about that time, I just can't feel the pain as clearly anymore because it has been so deeply overcome by the joy, gladness, thanksgiving and praise that have filled that place.

There are many amazing, good, courageous women who have struggled with infertility and with miscarriage. It wouldn't be fair for me to say, from my one experience with loss, that I understand exactly how they feel. I don't. I hope and pray that comfort will come for them in the form of arms and hearts bursting with love for the children they get to raise. Even if it does, I hope even more that the sweet feeling of recompense that comes only from opening up to the love offered by the Savior and our Heavenly Father will bless them as deeply as it has blessed me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


One of Coco's favorite words, lately is "Why?".

"Coco, time to get dressed."

"No, you can't have any candy right now."

Or if it's really serious...
"No, you can't play outside right now."
"Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?!?"

Sometimes I answer him. Sometimes I give him more answer than he wants and that seems to be pretty effective. It goes like this:

"Coco, it's time to get pajamas on."
"Because it's bedtime."
"Because it's getting dark outside."
"Because the earth has been rotating all day and has now rotated to the point where the sun is going to be on the other side of the earth for a few hours. So now it's time for us to have nighttime and for children on the other side of the earth to wake up and play."

My absolute favorite "Why?" moment of the last week was a few days ago. I was putting him to bed and he was having a particularly hard time going to sleep. Daddy came in to help. I'd already told him his two favorite stories (three bears and three pigs). So Daddy came up with another story.

"Once upon a time there were three sharks..."

We laughed and laughed and laughed. And it took even longer for Coco to settle down and go to sleep. But it was so worth it.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Singin' In the Rain and Accostin' Pregnant Mamas

Last night, JDub and I went to see Singin' In the Rain at the Hale Center Theatre with my parents, my sister and brother in law. It was SO much fun. I didn't know what to expect, since I'm a HUGE fan of the movie. I didn't want it to be too copycat. I didn't want it to stray too far. I was convinced that nobody could possibly play Cosmo as well as Donald O'Connor.

I was more than pleased with the production. Wow. It was just SO good. The dancing was incredible. There was real "rain" and we got very wet in the front row. The costumes were amazing. The guy who played Cosmo gave an EXQUISITE performance. He was hilarious and spot-on through the whole show. When it was finished, my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so much. All in all, a well spent night. Thanks mom for treating us all!

During intermission I had a little conversation with JDub. I determined that there are three things that are hard for me to watch: live theatre, live soccer and pregnant women. With all three, I just want so much to be involved and it takes some doing to just relax and enjoy.

Today I've been particularly thinking about the pregnant mama connection. Perhaps it's because I'm currently not doing any birth work, but every time I see a pregnant mom (especially one who looks like a first time mom), I just want to accost her. In a loving way, of course. :)

I want to ask every pregnant woman I see the following questions:

"Who is your care provider? Do you trust and feel comfortable with them and do you know about their intervention rates?"
"What childbirth books have you read? Can I give you a good list?"
"Have you taken or do you plan to take a GOOD childbirth preparation class?" (Typical hospital classes don't offer much more than VERY basic physical and consumer information.)

I just want every pregnant woman to have a positive, healthy pregnancy and birth based on the following criteria:

  • excellent, compassionate care from a provider who respects her body's ability to give birth and her desires and choices
  • true choice based on solid information, not scare-tactics or pressure from others
  • a wealth of resources to help her navigate the physical, social, emotional and cultural aspects of birth
  • a feeling of empowerment and the confidence to, at each moment, mindfully make the best decisions for her and her baby -- no matter what those decisions are
For many women, their first birth is not a positive experience. This makes me sad beyond words. I want all women to have the best experiences possible with birth.

Understand, that by "best" I have few definitions of what "type of birth" is best. The one thing I've learned over my last 6 years of birth work is that women know. When well cared for, well-informed and given the message that their bodies work, women inherently know what it is they need at each moment to birth their baby. It is different from woman to woman and from one birth to another. A peacefully accepted, necessary emergency cesarean. A drug-free home birth with music and candles. A hospital birth with a speedy epidural. When mindfully chosen, any of these scenarios can be positive birth experiences.

I find that knowledge, compassionate care, mindfulness and a sense of personal sovereignty have much more impact on how a woman feels about her birth than the actual physical circumstances of that birth.

So, I'm planning to write (and probably have a few guest posts) on enjoying pregnancy and preparing for birth. I hope they will be helpful and that everyone who reads here regularly will disseminate them to as many people as possible.

I have a few ideas of what I will be writing. But I'd like to know what you would like to see. What do you wish you had known with your first birth? What books, advice and preparation have been most helpful for you during pregnancy and birth?

Monday, June 01, 2009

It's 11:34am on the first day of summer break...

So far we have:

  • Taken Kaitybean to sign her up (at the last minute) for summer orchestra, where we managed to get her the same district cello she used during the school year which is a really good thing because she left her rosin and book in the case. Whew!
  • Tried to sign up (at the last minute) for swimming lessons, but to no avail. For some reason they didn't have space for four children in four different levels at the same time on the first day of lessons. Who knew? (To my credit, I tried several times over the last few weeks to sign up over the phone, but never got through.)
  • Settled for signing up for swimming lessons beginning the first part of July.
  • Picked Kaitybean up from summer orchestra.
  • Filled the car with gas.
  • Sang several VERY LOUD and very silly songs on the way home.
  • Made up silly names for each other. My favorites: Billy Cheesestick, Mama Stromboli, Philly Baby, Eshkimo Pete.
  • Fought over a couple of random, half-full water bottles in the car.
  • Fought over a random beach ball Mashuga found in the car.
  • Argued about the correct wording of "Great Green Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts"
  • Stopped at IFA to price vermiculite, peat moss and compost. (HOLY CRAP, this square foot gardening thing can get expensive. Better pay off over the next few years.)
  • Eaten two bowls each of vanilla ice cream with caramel on top.
  • Watched about 20 movie trailers on the Apple TV
  • Cleaned up spilled ice cream. Twice.
All in all, a pretty good summer morning. Can I just say how incredibly, exhaustingly joyful it is to be the mother of four spirited kiddos.

All Finished

Two Quilts, two Pillowcases and two VERY happy boys. Mashuga and Coco love their new quilts. Coco even (almost) slept in his own bed last night. :)

Here they are: