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Sunday, November 29, 2015

focus on the good : finding hope two months after a miscarriage

It's been almost two months since my miscarriage, and I am starting to feel normal. I don't know that there necessarily is a "normal" after a miscarriage, but just like having a child changes you into having a new normal, so, too, does going through this experience of loss.

I'm focusing on the good. I'm finding positive things in my life and writing them down, taking moments to appreciate what I have versus what I lost.

And yet I'm also not stopping to pick up every red or orange leaf that I find beautiful or clear white rock that I feel compelled to hold onto in my car after a walk outside. I spent weeks doing this in the beginning, I think searching for something good.

I still find beautiful things, like sunsets and the way the clouds dance in the sky. But two months later, I'm realizing I already have beautiful things in my life. I have more beauty than loss. I know this now.

I've lost track of how many weeks pregnant we'd be. Although I then stop to think about it and I know exactly. When we reached the first trimester date, I cried. But I'm starting to forget. I still wonder on Fridays when we would have turned another week, but I'm starting to lose track of the number. I find this to be positive progress.

The crying has come to a slowed down pace. It's not over. It's not gone. I still cry a few times a week now, but that's a huge improvement from sobbing multiple times a day or only going two days without crying for more than a month.

Now I feel tears forming, but can focus on the good things instead of succumb to that pain again. It's not because I'm not grieving, it's not that I'm ignoring anything bad.

It's that I'm growing, getting stronger, learning to live with the sadness inside me and focusing on what's more important: what I do have, the good things. 

I see pregnant women at work or in stores and I smile. I am genuinely happy for them. I imagine the growing baby in their belly and think how sweet they look in maternity sweaters and leggings. I am not envious or jealous. I am not angry at them for having something I do not. I'm truly smiling at their bliss, because they deserve it.

Yet a few weeks ago I escaped to the bathroom to tear up a bit and have a moment of sadness while working at a consignment sale and putting my fingers through the baby clothes. And when my husband told me that not one, but two of his friends are due the exact same day as our original due date… that was heartbreaking. To hear of someone being pregnant does not hurt, but to hear of someone pregnant the exact same day means they have something I was also supposed to have but do not.

It's weird, crazy thoughts that come and go. It's intense, ebb and flow mood swings. It's anger and disappointment, sadness and guilt. It's sometimes gratitude, knowing it could have been worse. 

I have said to a few friends, and to my poor husband who has sat patiently by my side through my hormonal roller coaster, that these emotions I've experienced post-miscarriage are worse than anything I've ever felt before. Worse than pregnancy and delivery after babies. So unpredictable.

I'm finally feeling like I'm evening out though. My moods are going slowly back to some type of new normal.

What helps me find this new normal is my husband, number one, hands down, so supportive. Just being there, making me elaborate when I say I'm fine, having patience with me when I'm sobbing, again, over something that doesn't make sense. 

And my two amazing children. I am so fortunate to already have children. My heart breaks imagining anyone going through a miscarriage at all, but especially those who do not have children to remind them of how lucky they are. 

I know how lucky I am with these two beautiful, healthy children. I am blessed. For that, I'm thankful. I focus on the good, the best parts of my life, which are these two individuals, who teach me to get up daily, to laugh at little things, to move on to important things like taking baths and eating snacks and cleaning clothes for the fall colors day at school. I cannot sit idly in my room, under the darkness of covers and crying each day. I have to get up. For them. Because I'm needed. And that is a wonderful feeling. 

I also find myself focusing on these two so much more. Really taking them in, every little bit of their hair and how it's changing colors now that summer sunlight is gone. How they laugh or the new words they can say. Which toys they are into these days and the books they ask me to read over and over again. The way they squint their eyes in the morning when tired, and how they have all of a sudden learned to ride their bikes faster or zip their jackets without help this year. I am paying attention, greater attention, taking it all in one tiny moment at a time. Because I know that life is precious. And I'm forever blessed with these two. I need to remember that. 

I have stopped feeling my stomach, as though if I hold on tightly to it I could replace what was taken away two months ago. I now see a stomach, not a holding place where a baby was supposed to be. I embrace wearing clothing that isn't maternity. I went shopping and purchased a new pair of jeans, just because.

I even was thankful to have an alcoholic drink at dinner last week. I never drink, but sometimes it's nice to have a drink out with a friend. I've eaten feta cheese and made a bleu cheese pasta dish that I avoided when pregnant. I've gone in the hot tub with my kids.

I'm focusing on the good. 

And here's the thing: once you go through something so very bad, defeating, hopeless… you find that there really IS so much good in the world around you. That things can always be worse. That life is precious, albeit bittersweet sometimes. 

It takes strength to pay attention to the good things despite the bad experiences… believe me, I've had my fair share of anger and hurt the last two months, questioning why this happened, why on earth any bad thing happens to any person. Moving past that is hard work… it doesn't come quickly or easily. Patience with yourself is most important.

Running has helped me focus on the good. It's helped my moods. It's helped me feel strong again, physically.

The first week of the miscarriage, I could barely walk around my work building. I was weak, exhausted, physically in pain and bleeding. Fast forward weeks later, I was walking. Then about 6 weeks later I'm running, and just completed a 5k. This race was for me a significant moment in my healing. My friend referred to it as my "comeback" race. Like I was returning to being myself, my new normal.

For me, it was about being physically strong on the outside like I felt I was emotionally strong on the inside after this experience. I wanted to do something. Physically do something with this body that I was angry at for "failing" me in some way two months ago. I wanted it to do something that was positive, something that meant something good. I needed to prove to myself that I was getting stronger, that I could move through this experience and be OK.

Note: I ran 7 days a week for 4 months prior to my miscarriage, so getting back into running a month after was OK for my body. You should consult with your physician before doing any exercise after a miscarriage. Don't push yourself until you are ready. 

I realize now that yes, I've gone through this difficult time. It was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through actually, particularly emotionally.

I'm not over it. I don't know that you ever get "over" something like this. A loss is a loss, regardless of how few weeks along one is.

At this point though, I'm focusing on the good and finding hope for my future as a mother and as a strong person. I've realized I am strong and I can get through things. Each day that I move forward past October, I realize that I'm getting even stronger.

I have moments where I feel weak and like nothing makes sense. But that's when I force myself to focus on what I have, all that is right in my world. There is way more of that than the bad. 

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