Several nights ago I was sitting in the dark of Braden’s room; he was cradled in my arms, breathing quietly. As we slowly swayed back and forth in the rocking chair together, lullabyes playing peacefully on the CD player, my mind jumped back and forth. It climbed mountains torturously, then lept off of the summits and plummited into the valleys below. My face was slack, but my thoughts rumbled and tumbled below the surface while I felt the warm, soft life in my embrace cuddle deeper into sleep.
Suddenly, I burst out crying. Crying for the tiny life that I wasn’t able to hold onto in this way. I sobbed – quietly, so as not to disturb Braden – for a few long moments. Then I placed him in his crib and left the room. As suddenly as it had come upon me, the weeping was gone.
It’s been like that for weeks now. Since the miscarriage.
The extreme dichotomy of my feelings and thoughts lately has been a confusion at times, to me. At others, it has made no less than perfect sense. See what I mean?
I was pregnant one day. Then, suddenly, I wasn’t.
Riding the rollercoasters at this Carnival From Hell that no woman wants to go to, but that is packed full of people, nonetheless, has been strange.
Some days, hearing about how many others have gone through this, multiple times, even, is a great comfort. I am actually incredibly buoyed by the scores of other women who feel somewhat betrayed by their bodies, or maybe even by God. By women who have experienced this same thing and are floating alongside me in this sea of uncertainty.
It means that I am not really standing out in the middle of a barren wasteland, alone, while a relentless wind tears and rips at my exposure ravaged limbs, muffling my cries and carrying them silently away into the vast nothingness surrounding me, where they will mean nothing and no one will ever respond to them.
Instead, at every bend, there are arms ready to pull me close, hugging me and imparting comfort and understanding; a place to cry and grieve and heal.
But on those other days, the “bad” ones, if this has happened to you? I want to pretend like you don’t exist. I don’t want to hear about what you’ve gone through. I especially don’t want to know that it has happened to you 2, 4, or 7 times. I don’t want to think about how sad it is that this happens all the time, multiple times to some women. And I really don’t want to think about how this could so easily happen to me again.
Then, the very next day, I probably want to run to you and make you hold me again.
(Please, if you shared these things with me, don’t be offended, and please don’t stop sharing. Please. This is the nature of the beast – while I sometimes want to pretend you don’t exist – I still find I need you! Just read the first part I wrote about it up there^! I just have a need to be really honest with myself and others about the dichotomy of my feelings right now, and this is part of it. If you have been through this, you will likely understand.)
The split, this back and forth, doesn’t end there, though. Ohhh, no. There is so much more.
Some days, I look forward to trying to have another child at some point. I think about a sibling for my son, a tiny baby to love and coo over, another dimension to our family. I think about the joy of being pregnant, meeting a new life, and discovering how another personality will fit into our home.
Other days, I am terrified at ever being pregnant again. I shrink away from thoughts of what it will be like to have another positive pregnancy test. Instead of bursting at the seams with Joy and Bliss like I did the past two times, I imagine that I will feel incredibly Anxious and Fearful.
I mourn the death of the joy that should accompany that positive test, and I imagine the fear and sorrow that will replace it – as well as the paranoia. I imagine it, and I feel a great sense of avoidance.
I picture a future pregnant me waiting to see blood every.time.I.urinate. And I can’t imagine being able to shoulder the endless stress that will inevitably invoke.
Some days, I feel strong and whole. Some days I actually feel more alive than before. I feel more passionate about living and doing and being. I feel more grateful and in awe of the life that courses through my veins, and that resonates through the bodies of my son and my husband.
Other days, I feel more vulnerable and fragile than ever. I feel more fearful and worried about the delicate nature of life – not just early life, either – any life. I feel guarded and over-protective about my son on those days. I feel anxious and worried about my husband. I feel scared. Terrified, even.
Some days, I take comfort in knowing that my baby is in Heaven. God wanted one of ours next to Him. I feel the complete peace that is, as a lovely friend of mine so eloquently said, knowing my baby will live for eternity never having to experience sadness.
But most days, I just want my baby back. And I feel selfish. (But it doesn’t stop me from wanting that.)
In fact, some days I want my baby back so bad that it really doesn’t matter to me one way or the other that I can probably have another child eventually. Hearing that does not really comfort, on those days. Because I don’t want another one. As John can tell you, because I’ve said it to him multiple times already, I just want back the baby I already had. I was feeling this so strongly one night that I just cried into my pillow, feeling guilty and selfish and immature. And whenever someone has said that to me… that I can have more… I have secretly been angry. Because you would never say that to me if Braden died. And this baby was no less my child than is he!
Then I read that I’m not the only one who feels this very way.
And it must have been a good day, because I felt a bit vindicated, and took comfort in that.
Proof that I need to hear all these things that you all have to say.
I’ve never wanted to get off a Carnival Ride so badly. I’m just ready to fall asleep in the car on the way home, you know?
And more than anything, I hate knowing that while I’m riding, the damn contraption is going to keep stopping over and over again to let, no, force new passengers on.
All I can hope for is that I’ll have something to say that will comfort them.
On the not so bad days, of course.
First, this happened.
Fast-forward two and a half years… quite a lot happened during that time, and I’m sure I’ll find the time to tell many stories about those two and a half years, but today I’m telling you about the day I said, “I Do.” So just insert lots of courting, romance, too much drinking, and just enough laughter and silliness.
I’ve never wanted a big ring, a big dress, or a big wedding. It’s fine if those were/are your dreams – we are all different, and that’s what makes life interesting. For me, all of those things were just never part of my fantasy about what would make me happy.
In fact, the idea of a big wedding really just made me want to throw up in my mouth a little. No, scratch that… it made me want to Monster Hurl.
As it happened, I was not to be disappointed, and the match between John and myself extended to the lack of desire for pomp and circumstance.
We looked around in our area for awhile, and decided on a lovely park, which was described as one of the most isolated and untouched parks in Travis County, and it did not disappoint. With 2 miles of shoreline along beautiful Lake Travis, we knew when we saw it the first time that it was where we’d come the day we wanted to unite.
How laid back was our wedding? Just to give you an idea… my dress, purchased from Goodwill, was $7.99 plus tax. The dress shoes John wore that day cost more than my wedding dress. 😉 The bouquet? I made it the morning of our wedding from some flowers I picked up at the HEB grocery store right by our house, tied with some craft ribbon I had. I matched it to the flowers on my dress.
We told our pastor to please dress casually – he did not disappoint, and wore one of his signature Hawaiian shirts for the occasion (I could not love him more for that). We told him, and our two witnesses (Elaine, a woman who helped me prepare for my baptism the previous year, and Joan, our pre-marital counselor) to meet us at the entrance to the park on Sunday, March 28, 2004.
When everyone was present, we all loaded up into John’s truck and headed in. At $8 per vehicle, it was a pretty cheap rate for our Wedding Site. 😉
Once inside, we made our way to the spot we had previously chosen, right along the banks of Lake Travis.
One problem. The forecast was for rain, and it was clouding and graying up rather nicely. The clouds above us were ugly and threatening, and we were anxious and nervous.
Our Pastor took his place, and, with our witnesses behind us, we stepped up to him.
He began the service.
Suddenly, like some crazy fairy-tale, the clouds directly above us shifted and opened up, revealing a section of blue sky and the sun, which shone down upon us, pushing against the clouds still bordering.
As that light and warmth hit us, I knew again that my heart had found the right place to live.
I will never forget that day and the promises I made. The way I felt and how hard it was for both of us just to speak our vows without crying like blubbering idiots.
Or how badly my highlights had grown out and that my hair was only a little bit longer than John’s.
Or how beautiful the man at my side was, inside and out.
And how, even when the sun isn’t shining on us, he is still where I want my heart to live.
Today, Saturday, marks the one week point. It’s been one week since the bleeding of miscarriage began. One week since I sat on the toilet, with Braden happily splashing in the tub to my left, looking down at the blood in disbelief. Just one week since I began crying hysterically as more blood came. One week since I fumbled the phone, almost dropping it into the toilet, to give my husband the worst news I have ever delivered to anyone.
One week since I laid my face on the floor next to the bathtub crying, begging out loud that this not be what I thought it was. One week since I sobbed uncontrollably there, and Braden giggled in response because he thought I was laughing.
Last Friday night, I took this photo.
I was tired and emotional after watching a movie and thinking of an old hurt.
I attributed much of my emotional response then to pregnancy hormones. You know how they are.
Almost exactly 24 hours after I took this photo, I started bleeding; miscarrying.
Twenty-four hours after that, I was waiting with high anxiety and nervous trepidation to visit my doctor the next morning for blood tests.
Twenty-four hours later yet, I was standing in my kitchen, having not received the test results yet, speaking to my (empty) uterus with fractured, clinging hope.
“Are you still in there? Is it possible? I love you. Please fight; please hold on, little baby.”
That night, I fell asleep while I repeated the same thing over and over again in my head.
“God, please let my baby live. God, please let my baby live. God, please….”
The photo is sad irony.
It is a perfect portrait of how I feel right now.
All I can hope for is for each new 24 hour passage to take me closer to whole again.
As I write this post, it is Tuesday morning.
John and I have waited since Saturday night for news about our baby.
I started bleeding on Saturday night.
The experience continued through the weekend and into Monday. I won’t describe it in detail.
I had blood tests on Monday. The results we got this morning confirmed the worst.
It was a miscarriage.
The baby I had already begun to love is gone.
I feel rather empty, in more ways than one.
I need to go hold my son very tightly and be held very tightly by my husband.
I may not post for awhile – not sure. I appreciate your patience and understanding while I carefully fold another Swan.
It was August 2001.
I had been in Grad School for two years. In 1999, I arrived on the campus of Wake Forest University with a full scholarship and a fantastic, freaking gleam in my eye. Beaming with pride and excitement, I was ready to Get My Masters Degree On. Here I was, ready to start real research and studies in my chosen field!
Fastforward through 2 long years of huge disappointments and lows, both personal and professional, which I cannot even begin to describe to you in detail. Run on past the frustration of being forced to spend those years deep in research I had not wanted to conduct. Fastforward through years when I suffered my first bouts of serious Clinical Depression (my counselor sucked, btw) and skip over the night when my bathroom contained me, my full bathtub, a bottle of weakness, and a razor. Pass by the dissalusionment, betrayal, and building hopelessness in bloom.
By August of 2001 I had reached a point where I felt like a complete loser and failure. My thesis defense was textbook ugly. I went into it actually thinking I was on top of my game. Apparently, I was an idiot. They hated my work. My own professor did not back me up during the meeting. That is unheard of, frankly. My deadline had been extended. Extensive revisions loomed before me and an impending second thesis defense stood out there in the near future, mocking me with fears of a second failure.
And all of this? Wrapped up in a ball of research that I hadn’t been interested in conducting in the first place. So thanks a lot, asshats.
Grad School had definitely not been all I had hoped it would be. And this was the first time in my life that I could truly appreciate the term “burned out.”
That year, I was so very burned out.
And what did I do? You got it. I ran to the Internets to save me. “OOOOhhhhh, Internets! Please take me away from all of this!”
I was a Chatter. A Chat Rat. A Chatroom Addict. Classic Escapism.
Over months of avoiding my thesis revisions for large chunks of time, I forged oddly strong and special friendships with people all over the globe. Several of them I actually met in person, and it was really nice. Many of them I still have relationships with.
My boyfriend thought it was dumb. The Chatting. It was soooo lame and geekful.
Here’s the part where I could say lots of really mean things about him, but I’m not going to do it. Because that would overshadow all the nice things I could say about him but have no reason to say right now, and while our relationship was never perfect, there were really good times balancing out the really bad times. And there’s no reason to dwell too much on any of it anymore.
But, you know, he really was an asshat to me sometimes. Heh. (Obviously, I just couldn’t stop myself from pooping out a lil’ negative there, eh?)
By August 2001, I was a regular in a particular chatroom. I recognized other regulars and gave those I rarely talked to the standard greeting… those I spoke with often, I was rowdy and silly with. A good time was had by all. And when a jerk entered the room, a beat-down was administered by all. It was fun times.
Occasionally, a “bot” would enter the chatroom. Bots are basically programs designed to annoy the CRAP out of normal people, making them lose sanity and have homicidal rages. No? Just me? Bots often showed up and started spouting programmed messages like, “OMG, like, totally come see my naked web cam, hot-naked-shots! Click over to http://blahblahblahimaho.com now!”
You get the picture, right?
Well, one night one of the chatters programmed a bot and brought it into the room. Only this bot was funny. It was designed to go off when certain words were used – “potty-type” words. For example, if someone said, “BRB, I have to pee!” (happened often) the bot might quip, “Don’t forget to wipe!” HAR HAR HAR! *slaps knee*
At first, it just appeared to be a dorkus fellow chatter. But before long, it became apparent what was going on, and everyone kind of fell into a silly game of trying to come up with words that the bot would key in on, just to see what the response would be.
“I heard your mom’s got a big one!”
“Ew, what’s that smell?!”
“Someone needs a butt-plug.”
And so on….
You can imagine the torrent of colorful words that started being Manually Blurted.
Apparently, the charm wore off rather quickly for most chatters.
But not for 2 of them. Two of them must really think Potty Mouth is funny.
Two of them kept throwing out more and more imaginative terms for the bot to chew on.
And when John finally typed, “Browneye?” I was cracking up too much to type any more of my own entries.
We’ve been best friends ever since.
And soon after, in September, I was single. Maybe I’ll talk about how that happened one day. Maybe not.
I was almost stupid enough to push John away, to hold him to just being a friend, thinking I needed time to “be my own person.”
But it’s silly to take a pass when love is up for grabs. And I’m glad I didn’t.
How did you meet your honey?